Entries categorized "Who Arted?" Feed

Field Trip: Mattaponi Indian Reservation


The leader of one of the homeschooling groups to which we belong set up this field trip today (Saturday) to the Mattaponi Reservation Museum near West Point, VA, and the price was right, so we decided to go along for the adventure. It took 90 minutes to get there, and it was turned out to be worth every second of the trip. We had an awesome time, and I have lots of pictures to share with you. So sit back, grab a cuppa, and scroll down. We arrived 30 minutes before the rest of our group, all of the rest of whom lived much closer, so we sat and parked at the Reservation church, facing the small cemetery. 

I noted with interest that nearly all of the last names on the headstones was "Custalow," which turned out to be the significant, main last name of the Mattaponi Tribe, which is the last remnanat of one of the 32 tribes once ruled by the great Chief Powhatan. (If that name doesn't sound familiar, it should if you've been reading here, as we learned about him on our field trip to the Jamestown Settlement earlier this school year.)


The girls went on the swings of the Reservation school with some of the other children while we waited on a few more families. Jack hung back, cranky and tired, with his dad.


I really didn't know exactly what to expect from this field trip, other than that we were visiting an Indian Reservation. I didn't know we were going inside what seemed like this teeny-weeny museum, or what else we would be doing. So I just went with the flow. Here we are, entering the Mattaponi Indian Museum, which was much larger inside than it looked from afuera.


As you can see from the sign just inside, on the front door, Custalow was indeed the major last name of the Mattaponi Indian tribe, once ruled by the powerful Chief Powhatan.


A more descriptive explanation of the tribe; George, who you'll "meet" at the end of the post, was the son of the Chief who died in 1969. Two of his brothers later became Chief of the tribe.


I took this picture of Jack examining the bear's head, then listened to him telling me how dry the tongue was, and then noticed the "Do Not Touch" sign he was obscuring. Whoops.


There were several old wasps' nests hanging inside the museum ceiling. The children were very concerned about this at first, until I explained they were no longer inhabited by their former owners, and no stings would be happening this day.


Having touched a much smaller living specimen at the Living Museum a week prior, Sophia was fascinated by this "ginormous" horseshoe crab!


Jack, still unsure about those wasp nests...


A small diorama of a Mattaponi homestead provided interest to the girls. In front of another family's dad, I asked Sophia what she saw there. She said, "It's about Jesus' birth!" and the other dad laughed and laughed. She was so embarrassed, she ran away and hid, almost in tears. He felt bad about it, and so did I, but it was pretty cute.


"Mom, look at all these spears!"


The girls had no reservations (sorry) about touching the mounted deer head, and they were especially curious about touching his eyes and how cold he was.


There was a plethora of relics and artifacts to capture the eye and keep our attention throughout the visit. I'll show you plenty, up close. George "W." Wa-huh-sun-a-cock Custalow, museum curator and son of the chief who died in '69, told us that he kept the museum open on weekends only, unless a large group was coming, because daily opening wouldn't pay enough. He also shared that Richmond government helped pay for the display cases to keep the treasures preserved, since the tribe couldn't afford to do so alone.


The card reads, "Mercy Tomahawk used for mercy killing when braves were wounded in battle" - yowza. How'd you like that?


Spelling variants and errors were common in the museum, because, of course, English was not their, um, native language, and common spellings varied regionally. Anyway, do you remember the picture of Sophia dressed up like Pocahontas at Jamestown, with the necklace and all? We come full circle. I just have found all the learning we've done on this subject this year so fascinating and incredibly, richly educational - for me, personally. I just hope the kids have gotten as much out of it.


Incredible beadwork on a leather bag


I found a few things like this and thought they were, to be quite trite, very cool.


The club Captain Smith was supposed to have been executed with before Pocahontas pleaded on his behalf


A rudimentary canoe, for which Richmond supplied the preserving case


Sharks' teeth found "90 feet below the Mattaponi River Bed" (how??) and some yellow jasper found on the Res.


More sharks' teeth (still, how??), semi-precious stones, and yellow jasper found in Oklahoma in 1962. How they all wound up here was not explained.


I didn't see anything explaining whose skull and bones were in this case; I was just glad they weren't mine!


The card reads, "Statue of Chief Powhatan as he stood on the banks of Jamestown in 1607 to welcome the settlers."


A petrified turtle body, which invited an explanation of the different meanings of "petrified" to the kids


The card reads, "Indian Hunting Outfit: Quivver [sic], arrows, tommahawk [sic] and bow."


More native dress


The card tells us that these ornately beaded moccasins were passed down for three generations over 135 years, the beads were put on with "strip sinews of red deer" and last worn by a Mattaponi Indian princess.


Old coins


An eel pot, which George said they used for catching turtles, a better tasting meat, along with a Pomogan war weapon


The card reads, "Feathered Head-Dress (with horns symbolizing war" worn by Indian Warrior Opechaneough in 1622."


More heavily beaded bags, along with come "Japenese [sic] cigarettes" from 1943, evidently brought back from war by one of the Custalow sons.


Beaded bags; as someone who does handwork, I can appreciate how much time it must have taken to create these works.


Some arrows, weapons and pottery, among other relics


Various tools and weaponry hung from the museum ceiling, near the front.


I'm not exactly sure now what it was, but the card reads, "Hand Made by Brodia Newton, Father of Elizabeth Newton Custalow." Speaking of the Newtons, they were cousins to the Mattaponi Tribe out of Fredericksburg, and one famous Newton you'll know is Wayne, the Las Vegas relic himself, who denied his heritage for years and claimed to have come from Virginia Beach. George W. did not have a lot of good things to say about Wayne Newton, not at all.


An English-made portrait of Pocahontas and her son, Thomas Rolfe


Newspaper articles about Chief Custalow - George W.'s father - and the Pamunkey Tribe, also formerly ruled by the powerful chief Powhatan


The card reads, "Morter-Pestal [sic] used for grinding corn by hand"

As I made my way up to the front to find some postcards to send to my good friend Erin, who has a collection, I snapped some photos of the other items for sale in the small museum. Here are a few:





Dreamcatchers, which prompted Jack to ask George W., "How do they catch your dreams? I mean, how do the dreams get out of your head?" We all kind of just looked at each other and laughed, leaving the boy to wander off, scratching his sweet head...


Gorgeous beaded earrings, which I admit, I coveted a bit.


Thunderbird Necklaces, which made me think of my mamacita, Rob's mom, and her Boy Scout Camp Thunderbird...


More beaded handiwork; admittedly not the best photo...


I'm not sure where the $6 Head-dress was, but the canoes were $5 each, and a little girl proudly bought one with her own money while we spoke with George.

I found this trio of Cherokee prayers on wooden tablets; I could see these in my home:




I was amused when the jolly former chief's son, George, asked me about 3/4 of the way through our lengthy conversation if I believed in the "Great Spirit," pointing upward, telling me he didn't want to talk to me anymore if I didn't. I assured him that indeed, I did; I do. His father was also a minister; it was very important to him.



I made my way quickly around the small museum again, snapping anything of interest I missed on the first pass through, when I was equally interested in keeping the kids from touching anything they oughtn't. By this point, they were exploring outside, and I was free to do my exploring unpestered. I mean, uh,... yeah.


It reads, "Jewelry, Treasured, Belongs, for the women and girls, was kept in this {turtle} shell."


This one reads, "Treasure Chest used by the squaws of the Chiefs 1607 - ??46"




"Historic Mattaponi Indian Tom-Tom - over 200 yrs. old"


See the leaf-shaped white objects? The card reads, "Teeth from indian Marsh Hog used for necklaces." Cool.



A tray of various-sized arrowheads


Click to embiggerate, if you can't read the sign here.


I'm not sure if this was an Indian girl skirt or just what. The letter was a thank-you note for a visit from a long-ago group, so it wasn't any help, but still, it's beautiful.


This was a portrait of George W.'s mother, who died when he was 8, having hemmorhaged to death hours after giving birth to her 13th child. Very sad. Chief Custalow later remarried and had a 14th child. (I believe George was #8 or 9 in the family. He shared that five of his brothers then went to war at the same time, and as a young boy, he couldn't understand why his father spent so much time by himself, crying.)


A carving of Chief O.T. Custalow


Photograph of Powhatan's Chimney


I didn't see this on the first tour 'round the museum, but I sure caught how it sparkled in the light on the second pass. I've seen plenty of this sort of artwork for sale at the Pow-Wows we've attended here in the Beach.


This was an actual treaty! Fascinating. I love the peace pipes, and trying to figure out the rest. Fascinating!


A similarly-depicted of the story of Pocahontas' intercedence on behalf of John Smith. Priceless.



Oh, here's another kind of eel-pot. George, having discovered that I don't eat raw tomatoes, or mayo, or beef or pork, asked me if I had ever eaten eel. No, of course not, but now that I think about it, I'm pretty sure I have had eel sushi. We've exchanged phone numbers; maybe I'll call him up and let him know, because his next question was an amused-but-demanding, "Well, what DO you eat?" to which Rob replied, "Not much!" I redeemed myself by sharing that I had eaten frog legs on a cruise once, which started George on another story about gigging for frogs.



This hand-carved canoe also hung from the ceiling.


I'm not sure what the sign fully says, but it belonged to George W.'s dad, the Chief O.T. Custalow - the weapon, that is.


The card reads, "The back scales of a 200-lb sturgeon caught by Chief Custalow May 8, 1964."


A carving by a Seminole (blah!) Indian. Sorry for the (blah!) but I'm a Hurricane; it's a learned response.


At that point, I went out to check on the kids, who were out there with their dad. The Littles were swinging lazily in the sun, so I went off to find Chloƫ.


She had come in while we were engaged in conversation with George W. the first time, carrying one of these things, and he said he had no idea what it was. He immediately broke off a piece and ate it, telling us it tasted bitter, "like acorns. Have you ever eaten an acorn?" he asked me. I admitted that I had, as a young kid. Mattaponi eat them regularly, or at least they once did. Anyway, we're supposed to look up these things, because the childrenc collected bunches of them, but I haven't done that yet...



Small teepees in the yard outside the museum. Want a closer look? Okay:


I wanted to crawl inside, but I dared not.


How cool is this? I'll tell you how cool: pretty cool. Hee.


The kids were happy and safe playing outside the back of the museum, and I wanted to talk to the captivating chief's son some more, so I went back in and stole his attention for another hour or two. Really! Until Jack rammed his head into me one too many times, telling me how hungry he was, I chatted him up. I told Rob they could go have lunch and come back for me later, and I was only half-kidding!


This was behind the counter with George Custalow, who told me that it was funeral regalia, stressing the "regalia" and somberly cautioning me against ever calling it a "costume." (I hadn't. He was just warning me how offensive it was to Native Americans.)


This was the old car George had, which had a tree fall on it during the recent Hurricane Irene. He and his son are fixing it up. He said they wanted to haul it away to auction and give him $900 for it, but he stood his ground, got much more insurance money for it than that, and kept the car. Then he pointed to his head and said, "This isn't a hat rack; I use it for thinking!" with a wink.


I look terrible in this picture, but George, who recently turned 79, looks great. He kissed me on the cheek several times as we were saying our good-byes, and when Rob left the building to get the kids in the van, he told me, "now turn your face to me," and when I did, he planted one right on the lips! I just laughed giddily. He was sweet on me, definitely. I told Rob about it later, but he didn't believe me! What a guy. Both of them.

Hope you enjoyed our tour a fraction as much as I did. We'll definitely be seeing this guy again; keep your eyes open for a return to the Mattaponi later this year for their annual Pow-wow, the day before Father's Day.


On Being Crafty

Since this guy:

004 (2)

has been freaking me out since Thursday with his possibly having had a stroke or several (hi, two ER visits later and we have yet to have him see a Neurologist, grr), I've been what you might call "productively unproductive." Huh? Welp, instead of doing (mostly) what I ought to do, like school the chillens and clean the house and sech, I've been spending the time trying not to be One Big Worrywart by being crafty instead. Crafting helps soothe my frazzled nerves and so, in this case, I gave myself a free pass to do whatever it was that I needed to do.


Firstly, I was determined to conquer this beast, which all of our girls - including the little 5-7-year-old Daisies - were supposed to have made at our encampment last weekend, but which proved to be next to impossible for just about everyone (including us adults). Chloƫ massively impressed me - and, I think, several of the other Leaders there - by reinventing the wheel and coming up with her own successful way to do it, but even then, it wasn't "right," as the directions given were confusing and, well, it turns out, just wrong. Since we had several 2-L bottles in the recycling bin, I decided to take another whack at it, and behold! Once you follow the dang directions, it's really not too bad. And it looks kind of cool, so I ended up making, like, five. (Hey, it was nerve-soothing, remember??)


Ignoring the background, and the fact that I couldn't get off the entire Coke label, I think it turned out pretty well. I filled it with glass beads and water, then went outside and snipped what may be my last lily of the year to snap this picture. My mistake was leaving it there alone. Half-hour later, I went into the kitchen, and I found our two wee kittens had battered the flower and drunk all the water they could reach out of the vase. Cats!!

007 (2)

Ah, but they're so cute and sweet and innocent when they're sleeping (not unlike the kids, eh?), it's hard not to forgive them and just laugh it off...


I was enjoying the craft so much that when I ran out of 2-L bottles, I decided to try making one out of a much smaller and more rigid SoBe LifeWater bottle. That took all my strength to cut! But, I rescued what was by then left of the flower and think it turned out mighty purty with some blue glass beads (I almost typed "glue blass" instead, as I am the queen of Spoonerisms). Right?


I then turned my attention to making my SWAPS ("Something Whimsical Affectionately Pinned Somewhere") for my Outdoor II (camping) training session that I was supposed to be at, well, right now. (After the Rob scares, I had to cancel my attendance, but I didn't know that at the the time.) So what's this jumble of mess?


Since our group's chosen Patrol name, with the overall camp theme was "Under the Sea," was the Sassy Sharks, I came up with this SWAP(s) first: A Sassy Shark intentionally pinned to the TOP of the crocheted chain. Get it? Sharks are apex predators, at the top of the food chain? Yes? You see? C'mon, it's jeenyus. Okay, okay, whatever, I liked it.

001 (2)

This was the second set of SWAPS I worked out. Up close:

002 (2)

A baggy containing a little card reading, "Make no bones (get it? Get it? Sharks have no bones! I'm so damn clever) about it, we Sharks sure are Sassy!" with another sassy, dancing little shark clip-art photo, and some frou-frous thrown in there for extra sass. I wanted to make a third set of SWAPS, but time was running short, and I still needed to make our Patrol's name tags, for which I was responsible.


A lot of Google Imaging, printing, cutting, laminating, and badge-attaching later, and my name tags were done. I was SO proud of them, and that's probably the one disappointment I had about not going camping this weekend; "that" being able to explain to each of our participants why I assigned them the sharks that I did. So, you'll have to sit through while I explain them to you, 'cause someone has to know the truth of the matter.

Top, L to R: Hard to see, but N was our "Ghost Shark," because she was absent for our initial training and planning session, so we only had her in spirit. J was our Hammerhead, because they're one of the few sharks that really school in groups and they're quite dominant, and I got the sense that J was a real team player but also a natural-born leader-type. See?

Middle, L to R: S was our Wobbegong, one of my favorite sharks, because she struck me as gentle and shy, like these more docile fish. D wanted to be the Great White, and I forget why, but I gave that to her. She had a strong personality as well, so it seemed fitting, anyway. And, my Assistant Troop Leader, Miss D, was our Patrol Leader, a.k.a. the group cheerleader, so I made her our Megamouth Shark. Get it? Like she had a megaphone to cheer us all on with? Ha. I kill The Me.

Bottom, L to R: I made myself the Nurse Shark, because I was our Patrol's elected First Aider (which makes it suck even more that I couldn't go! Hope no one gets any boo-boos...). The next one was a Chimaera, which I LOVE because it belongs to AD: The overall camp trainer, she gets a name tag from EVERY Patrol to keep for her collection. So why a Chimaera? Well, they are related to sharks, but not really sharks, for one, and for another, in mythology, chimaerae are thought to be able to change themselves into different things, and since she gets to be part of all the Patrols, technically, she's changing roles depending on which one she's with. Love it? I do!! Our Patrol Trainer, C, is a runner, so I made her our super-fast Mako Shark. And last, but not least, A, the oldest (by far) in our group, was the now-extinct but long-lived Megalodon Shark. Heehee.

Yup. I'm proud of these and hope everyone was able to figure out their sharky identities without my help. Am I a nerd? You betcha!

005 (2)

Once I finished that, I was still distracted by my fretting, so I turned to the one guaranteed nerve-calmer for me: needlework. The knitting project (my Sparkle! dress), I deemed to be at a point to stressful to get the job properly done, so I switched tactics and started a pretty doily (Ravlink) instead. (PDF here) I was so glad to finally finish those 10 flowers last night! After about six, I was bored of that. But sometimes, a little tedium is just what the doctor ordered, so that was okay, too.

003 (3)

Last night, I worked on the center of the doily, a fast work-up, and am now at the point where I'll switch colors again (this is actually a light mint green, if you can't tell from the pic; click to embiggerate, as usual) and start attaching the flowers. I can't wait and will jump into that as soon as I finish this post!

008 (2)

And finally, I made the creamed corn at which my teen cooking class balked,and since I was so exhausted from my ongoing Hell Week, I gave them a pass and let them have Study Hall instead, agreeing to make the four (nope, three, since one student did agree to make the rice dish, so I sent her home with the ingredients for that) side dishes on last week's cooking agenda myself and report back to them. My report? Utter deliciousness, and I have since engulfed about 2/3 of the dish. Rob's pronouncement? "Ugh.That is all you." Fine by me! Yum!

Today, I'll make up the other two dishes and show you those, later.

Have a swell week!


Flower Power

My girls, they like to craft with Mommy. And who wouldn't? Mommy has lots of stuff with which to craft. I open a drawer or cabinet, and ideas come forth.

So last night and tonight, while the boy-child was occupying himself with instructional, informative and sometimes gross videos on YouTube (you can a learn a lot on that thing, like how to autopsy a baby or how a giant centipede eats a mouse...), we did some crafts.


I was looking for Easter-related crafts for them, so we could decorate the house like we did for Valentine's Day, but this came up first, and so that was a done deal. The ladies got right to work.


Perfectionist Chloƫ somehow managed to be first to finish cutting out her flowers. I asked her to spread them out randomly on the cutting mat for a photo. She immediately got to work sorting them out just so. "No, no, randomly - just spread out! LIke this!" I insisted. Then I mashed them all up and moved them all around, willy-nilly. I thought she would pass out. She is too much like me.


She picked out her ribbons and strung her paper flowers, and look! Instant Flower Child. Isn't she a darling? I thought so, too.


Sophia took a little while longer, and she had a harder time stringing the smaller flowers without ripping them, but I think she looked pretty cute, too.  (Plus, I just realized she strung them in the wrong way, with the ribbon atop the flowers. Oops.)



This picture gets me. I could look at it all and not stop finding things to inspect. Look how long her hair has become!


Tonight, with my help, the girls made this version of the Pop-Up Egg, also on the Family Fun site, which I adore. As you can see, I still had plenty of that patterned, glittered paper to use up (it was all over the Advent box, among other things), so they begged to use that. But of course!



It's pretty rad. 

Now I'm in search of any Easter- or Springtime-related crafts we could do using the Cricut, so if you know of any, holla!

Craft on.


Makin' Stuff

We've been in the middle of a semi-major crisis (again), which either will or won't come to a head this afternoon. Hopefully the whole thing will just quietly go away, like it should, and all my anxiety will have been for naught. But in the meantime, I've been knitting and crafting, which is what I do when my stomach (what's left of it) is in knots. So I've got some stuff to show ya, 'k?


This was made from the beautiful beaded silk from Artyarns that I picked up at the Loopy Ewe in St. Louis. Remember? If you're on Ravelry, the pattern is the Sagebrush Shrug, and I loved making it (although I screwed it up and kept doing 3 pattern repeats instead of 4, but I did the math and worked it out). I think I'll make it again in a less-fancy (read: less majorly expensive) yarn, just because I really like the pattern. As far as the yarn, it makes an absolutely gorgeous product, but man, oh man, is it ever fiddly. It would have to be something really special for me to work with it again. Sirrusly. I totally love every Artyarns product I've ever worked with - and there have been a bunch - but this was a total pain in my arse. Hopefully, when I wear it with the dress I made it expressly to go with (listen, it's not even 0800 and I don't feel like making that grammatically correct), I'll get some better snaps. And it'll look beautiful. And people will say nice things about it. And actually notice the beads. Because if they don't notice the beads, well, then, shit.


Hey, do you remember I was making this thing, back in November or something? I'll be darned if I didn't tag that post with any of the usual suspects, so I can't find it, but I know you remember, 'cause you hang on my every word. It's a knitted dodecahedron! How cool is that? If you're a math fan like I am, anyway. I made about 7 of the bumps and then set it aside for, oh... five months. I picked Celestine back up on Monday or so, and I finished it in the wee hours of this morning. Fun knit! I loved almost every minute of it, except for maybe that last nubby, which made my hands cramp up something fierce. No, I can't lie, I liked that, too. It made me feel alive. ALIVE! (Caffeine on board, can you tell?) Anyway, it's a big mother, compared to that chapstick there, so we won't be using it for an ornament like I originally planned. I may list it on Etsy. I can't decide. The kids love it though, so maybe I shan't. Hmm.

Oh, PS, this was also made with Artyarns, in their ultramerino flavor. I've had this yarn for ages and have made several projects out of it. A little goes a long way! Now this, this yarn, I love. It's divine.


Speaking of my Etsy shop, I got a bug up my rear in the middle of the night, after I finished tidying up, to do some crafting. I got a bunch of bottle caps from various people, intending to do crafts with my Daisy troop with them, but (a) I don't think we will anymore and (b) I was given a LOT more than I needed at the time, so I've been looking at them and looking at them, wondering what I'd do with them all. Magnets! And thumbtacks! That's what I made, just looking around my craft room and grabbing this, that an' the other. The one above is from the last batch.  I really like it, and if they don't sell, fine by me! I'll just use them myself.


I think these turned out really cool.  Kinda wish I had a cork bulletin board, to stick the tacks on and use... Guess I have another project to add to my (crazy long) list of... projects.


I love these, too!! I think they turned out super cute, and I only wish I had more flowers to make more of these guys. Well, anyway, it was a fast and fun project and satisfied my little bout of midnight mania. And I only burned myself once on the high-temp glue gun. Note to self: Restock low-temp glue sticks!

Hey, I just made a coupon code for you blog readers: If you would like to order from my Etsy shop, get free shipping with your order! Use code SSA0311 and have yourself a little gift on me. Thanks!


As for us, we're going to be missing our military homeschool co-op classes for the third time today in, like, six weeks. Kind of ridick, but it can't be helped. I signed up for this field trip to hear the Virginia Symphony Orchestra long before the co-op started, so that'll be nice. Think I can get away with wearing a sweatshirt to the concert? I don't feel like changing.


Treats For My Sweets

On Thursday, we have a homeschoolers' Valentine's Day party to attend. The guest list seemed rather short at only 8, so I figured I could whip up some cute valentines for the kids to give out in no time. I got started this morning at 0500. (I only slept from midnight to 0230, when I ran out of sleep. No time like the present to get workin'!) Anyway, I really liked these candy cones, but I can't give credit because I forgot where I saw the idea. Pretty simple and commonplace, anyway. I made these:


And are they not so cute?! I love them. Love. I wish I could keep them and admire them longer, but alas, the photos will have to do. (I'm so queer, I know.)



I used my thick, sparkly scrapbook paper (which you might recognize from the now-destroyed-by-Sophia Advent box we've used for the past two Christmases) for the cones, and lots and lots of hot glue. Which is now all over my craft table. And my manicure. But who cares? I had fun. Each cone was filled with a bunch of gummy hearts, a couple Starbursts, and a Lindt milk chocolate truffle. My favorite! I can't believe I actually gave them away. I am insane, people. (I mean, seriously - have you tried them? Insane.) 


And then I found out, no, no, there are way more children coming than just eight! But I had used up all these candies for these cones, so what was I going to do? And more importantly, what to do with the cones? Ah, but Thursday afternoon, I am meeting with my Daisies to do - what else?- some more crafting, for upcoming events, and there just so happen to be eight of THEM! VoilĆ ! I will give these cones to my Daisies, and they will love them and go home happy. Yes. Perfect.


I remembered I still had many of the organic lollipops from the 5-lb bag I'd ordered from Amazon, so I searched for lollipop valentines for the kiddos to make. I found these somewhere I also can't remember, and so the kids and I got to work cutting out all the bears and tags. These are for Jack to give out at the homeschoolers' party. I'm glad I've been collecting all kinds of ribbons for a while; I love that each one is different. That sort of thing rocks my boat.


I was originally going to make enough bear pops for all three kids to pass out, but hello, that is boring craftiness, and anyway, I was getting sick of waiting forever for the kids to cut them out! So I found these cute lolli-mice, for Sophia to give out. She traced and cut out the big hearts for the bodies. On one, she messed up, and she asked if that one could be hers. I've explained it to her eleventeen times, but she still doesn't quite get that not any of these will be hers! Oh, well. Come Thursday, she'll figure it out.


Of course, then I had to figure out a third lollipop design for ChloĆ«, and this recipe was handy. She wanted lovebirds, but I didn't find lovebirds, and anyway, these are adorable. She claims to have made them all by herself, but really, she just traced and cut out the flowers and signed the backs. I did everything else. That kid kills me! So now we are finished, and there is just ONE lonely lollipop left in that huge bag. Which makes me glad, because I am utterly sick and tired of finding the finished sticks stuck all over the house. (Ahem, Sophia.)


And that is what we spent hours upon hours doing today, instead of working on Reading, Math, or any other school-y stuff. Hey, it was terribly important, you know?


For My Husband On Our Tenth Anniversary


I was going to write you a long letter full of pithy prose, but I've decided to let this video stand for itself. The images, of course, are of the building of our beautiful family and life together. The song is like the musical version of our Britto work, in that it represents our singular, unique brand of love and our joint "you and me against the world" mentality.

So here's to you and me, up in the trees... and I know there's more for us in this life.


You've Already Won Me Over

Great. Now I have this song in my head. And I'm warning you right now, this is going to be one of my signature super-long posts.

So, Monday and Tuesday were pretty busy. Recap, anyone? Yes, good. I was going to anyway.

Oh, since I've been asked, I thought I'd update on the whole almost-at-goal-weight thing: My 18-month anniversary was Monday, and I did NOT hit goal (150 lbs) yet! I haven't gained anything, but I haven't lost that last 2Ā½ lbs, either. I'm not worried. I haven't been eating properly. No excuses. I'll get back on track, probably starting today.


I pulled an all-nighter, because... ??? Just because I seem to do it once or thrice a week anymore. I really need to stop doing it, but the body wants what it wants, right now, and arguing doesn't help. So I worked on coupons (I have a TON, as you're probably aware, and accidentally dumped my entire box upside-down on the floor, so it took me forever to reorganize them) and finished this:


I think it's gorgeous, if I do say so myself! It's the "Ishbel" shawlette, designed by Ysolda Teague, that I started 2Ā½ weeks ago and have been plugging away at off and on, ever since. Knit in the emerald-hued Yarn Love that I won, with zero modifications. It's not perfect, but it's VERY close; I actually went back and fixed my mistakes for once! (I normally hate to 'frog' and will avoid it at all costs.) I plan on wearing it with the black dress I'm wearing up there in my profile pic, when a little covering-up becomes necessary. Should be nice. The only disappointment I have in it is that I had a lot more yardage left over than I should have, and I could have made the larger size. Eh, well; probably, if I had attempted that from the beginning, I would have run out of yarn and had to rip the entire thing. So it's just as well.

A little close-up of the lace

Anyway, after the kids woke up, we had a long breakfast session, during which everyone wanted something different: blueberry waffle for Jack, oatmeal for Sophie, scrambled eggs for Chloƫ. Everything organic, natch. I didn't mind. It made me feel like a proper mother.

Afterward, I decided to finally, at long last, take the children to the beach for the first time this summer. Only, money is always an issue, and it costs to park at the oceanfront. (Yes, only 5-7 bucks, but if the kids don't want to stay, I'm not down with shelling out precious dollars for a half-hour jaunt, you know what I'm sayin'?) So after getting directions from Stephanie, we headed to a much more exclusive, non-touristy, beach somewhere else in town. I'd only been there once, and I think it was before Sophia was a gleam in my eye, so I couldn't remember exactly how to get there. But it's free to park, and the waves are calmer, so I hoped the kids would be less intimidated and actually enjoy themselves.

After a quick stop at McD's for the free caramel frappƩ for which I had a coupon (and I'm glad that was free, because I barfed it all up as soon as we got to the beach), and the bank to deposit a check, we were on our way.

Beach 026

You've already seen all the pictures on the previous WW post (and on Facebook, if you're my pal there), so I'll only show a few. They're not great, anyway; I'd forgotten my camera, so all these beach pics are from the iPhone. This picture keeps drawing my eye because Chloƫ's physique looks amazing in it, does it not? I keep marveling, lately, at the fact that she will soon turn nine. I can still vividly remember her first days, when it was just Baby and Mama - and Daddy, during the off-hours, of course - day in and day out. And now she is a tween. SHOOM! Those years just flew.

Beach 010

Yes, that IS Master Jack running TO the water, and not AWAY from it! I know!!! Amazing! He had an absolute blast and spent almost the entire six hours we were beachbound playing in the surf. I had the time of my life watching him, I truly did. (True to his nature, though, he complained on the way home that it was NOT fun and he did not enjoy himself or want to go back! I've learned to just chuckle to myself and ignore this from him, though, and sure enough, the next day he was asking to go back.)

Beach 016
Sophia spent plenty of time in the water, to be sure, but to my surprise, she spent more time than any of the kids on the sand. Rob had retrieved all our beach stuff from the attic, and she visited each sand toy in turn, making and remaking castles and immediately destroying them. I couldn't seem to convince her of where to find the "perfect" sand to shape the castles just right; she just didn't seem to care. True to self there, too.

Halfway through our stay, Rob rode in like a White Knight (only, in yellow) to stand watch over the kiddos while I drove off to a very necessary appointment with my psychiatrist. He and the kids crossed the street for sandwiches, while I sat with Dr. P. and told him of my latest troubles. I've been on the same bipolar meds for a while now, so it's disheartening that lately they have seemed to have lost their efficacy. My mood changes have been been quicker (sorry, honey), my temper has been flashing more (sorry, kids), I've felt myself slipping lower into a funk, and I've had a few "thoughts" (none of which I'd act on, these days). It hasn't been fun for me, and I'm sure it hasn't been terrific for my family. Dr. P. quickly agreed that a change was in order and wrote the scripts.

I headed back to the beach, or at least I thought I did, but my car had a mind of its own and took me home. Whoops! I grabbed the mail and then drove back to relieve Rob who, suckily enough, had to return to work for several more hours. He's changing commands for the second time in two weeks and has lots to do.

Beach 005

The kids wanted to stay until dark - actually, they wanted to sleep on the beach - but we ended up leaving around 1830 when bellies grew hungry. It was quite a fun day: they swam, made castles, found new temporary friends, played with abandoned crab shells, and generally had a superb time. I was extremely content watching them; my heart was swollen with adoration. It brought my back to my own many childhood days spent at the shore. I can't wait to go back. Maybe today?

Even though I'm saving the MO tax refund we just got for my abdominoplasty, I decided a dinner out was in order. No one felt like cooking, the kitchen was a mess, and food was in short supply. I had a couple Restaurant.com certificates and made Rob choose one. He picked Guadalajara in the Va Beach Town Center.

To put it plainly, dinner was a disaster. It was terrible. We will NEVER go back. We complained to the manager, who volunteered to cover our tab. Good thing: The food was almost entirely awful, the service was worse, and I observed that we weren't the only ones complaining to him. My recommendation? Don't go there.

Everyone was pretty much exhausted when we arrived home, and we all conked out pretty quickly.


At my request, Rob had temporarily jailed the cat in the dog's kennel, so that she wouldn't walk all over Ishbel, which was busily being blocked on the floor near the litter box. I had nowhere else to put it, really... well, sorry Tinkerbell, but we forgot to let her out! She peed and pooped in the kennel, and now the house reeked ferociously. Before I entirely woke up, Sophia let her out, and she immediately went and walked on Ishbel, pulling a few stitches. Argh!! But that is beside the point, and totally my fault.

Anyway, so the stench in the house was overpowering and giving me a huge headache. I couldn't take it! I asked the kids where they wanted to go. Anywhere, I was game. Anywhere.

To my chagrin, they asked to go to McDonalds. Bah! But I'd promised. Why couldn't they have said, I don't know, Tahiti?!

So we went to the new McDonald's on Holland. I figured since it was big and new, there would be a PlayPlace. I'd planned to spend a long time there, letting them play while I read a magazine. So I was annoyed when we got there and there was no such place of play. Wha?! I could have sworn... but whatevs. I broke down and got them each a Happy Meal (normally I'd get a 20-piece McNugget and split it), because, you know, I felt like spoiling them a little. I even went back up to the counter to switch out Sophia's Littlest Pet Shop toy for the one she really wanted. They probably hate people like me, but rest assured, normally I don't do that. Normally, in such a case, we all repeat to the injured party, "You get what you get and you don't throw a fit!"

We stayed a while, long enough for the kids to each eat half their lunches and play with their toys, and for me to throw up no fewer than three times. I don't know why I even ate there; I knew it wouldn't agree with Oscar. What a waste. Oh, well.


I still didn't want to go home to the cat pee stench, so I decided to take the kids to the big playground at Mt. Trashmore park. It's huge, and I didn't follow the kids around with my camera (which I didn't have with me anyway), so you just get this iPhone pic of the sign. We stayed a few hours, and the kids ran around, smiled, had fun, made new friends... oh, and so did I!

Her name is Ali. She's 21, cute as a stinkin' button, and now on our babysitter roster. She was there with two of her charges, including another Chloe. So that was a little confusing, but in a good way. Ali is GREAT!! The kids love her and can't wait for her to babysit them. I'd tell you more, but she probably doesn't want her whole life story on my blog, so suffice it to say that she's super-qualified and I'm thrilled to have met her.

Rob had come to the park about halfway through our time there (I sense a trend), to get my prescriptions from Dr. P and my military ID, so he could fill my Rxs. After he left, my phone died, so I stayed for what seemed a sufficient amount of time and then a lot more, before deciding he must certainly be home by now.

He wasn't. My phone charged up a wee bit in the car on the way home, so I called and found out he was still on base. Apparently, my script was higher than the max dosage, and they didn't want to give it to him. Awesome, what's that say about me? But they got it straightened out with Dr. P., so now I'm a highly medicated freakazoid once again.

I still didn't want to go home, so I asked the kids where to go next. Jack wanted to drive his truck around the lake in our neighborhood, and the girls agreed, so we went home and fetched the trucks and the Big Wheel. No pics of that either, sorreh! I tried to grab a few off the iPhone, but it died again just as I was about to catch a super one of Jack with a huge, joyous grin on his face as he drove his flashy wheels. He does love that thing! It's great for picking up chicks, too.

When they finally tired of the lake, we crossed the street back to our house just as Rob was getting home with my pharmaceutical sanity. I begged him to clean up the pee. I had cleaned it up off the floor where it had spilled out from the kennel, but there was no way I was touching the kennel. Seriously, ick. His 'solution' was to throw the kennel outside, NOT clean it yet, and spray Oust throughout the entire house. Let me just say right now, it didn't work. It still stinks in here. So whatever.

Now for some fun (for ME) stuff:


I'd purchased this cart online a few days ago, and it arrived while we were out. Yay! Another step in getting ready for homeschooling, I'd planned to use it to hold our art and music and crafting supplies. The kids all sat outside on the stoop with me while I put it together. Jack was thrilled when I gave him the little wrenches that came with it; he pretended to take apart and put together his truck and Rob's motorcycle while I put the finishing touches on the cart.


It turned out to be strong, sturdy, just the right size, and exactly what I was expecting, so for $19 including free shipping, you just can't beat it. Score!

Wanna see what goes in it? Yeah? 'Kay. This past Saturday, TAPS (the Teachers and Parents Store) was having a 20%-off-everything birthday sale, so I planned on going to get our music stuff. And that I did:


Hardwood block, "Flutophone," sand blocks, and crow sounder


My "Teaching Music to Children' manual, a kiddy castanet (we have real ones from "Spain" in Epcot... but darned if I know where they are at the moment), and finger cymbals


Tambourine (yay, fun!), harmonica, and a little baby ratchety-ratch thingy I thought would make another great percussive.

Later, the kids went and fetched the singular maraca they could find (there are at least two more somewhere), and my recorder. Those went into the top drawer, too. The only thing we won't put in there is Daddy's set of bongos!


Drawer full of muzak schtuff

Here's s'more stuff I bought at the 20% sale:


Three 200-pc Melissa & Doug puzzles, which I bought for the children to work on when it's their night to stay up late with us. I plan on getting a bunch more for cheap at thrift stores, too. If you have puzzles you no longer want, we'd be happy to be their new home, too! ;D


A thing of Silly Putty for each of them, because... every kid should have some? Chloƫ has played with some at her therapist's office and LOVES it, so I bought it with that in mind. I always liked it, too.


For Chloƫ. I got it on clearance, not for the price marked :)


More stuff for those later nights, one for each kid


I don't think I ever showed you this stuff? Maybe I did, but I don't think so? This is the art curriculum I bought for the kids at the HEAV homeschooling conference last month.


All our goodies for the art drawer. Looking at everything coming in, and all the set-up I've been doing, the kids are DYING to start homeschooling!! I am loving their enthusiasm, and it's infectious! I was going to start on 2 August, but I've bumped that back to mid-August, because ChloĆ« is going to camp the 2nd week of the month, and I don't want to interrupt our schooling that early in the game. That will give me more time to prepare, too, which is great since I haven't done anything with it this whole month, really. 

The only things missing from these pictures of what I picked up at TAPS on Saturday are a few posters I bought and our "classroom" calendar. I'll show you that stuff when I get it hung on the walls.


I 017

 I don't think I ever told ya, I managed to get this whole boxed set of Hooked on Phonics for truly a STEAL from a homeschooling message group I'm on. I was SO excited when it was posted; I pounced on it!! That's what I wanted for Jack and Soph from the beginning, and I have it for pennies on the dollar compared to what I would have spent originally. w00t!!


Also, while I'm on the subject, here's the rest of our homeschooling stuff! The bottom shelf (and what little you can see in the pile of white stuff to the left) is our Math-U-See stuff for the next however many years it takes us to go through it. On the top, to the right, are various workbooks and things we've collected over the years. The yellow books - and the bookshelf itself - were picked up from a Freecycler (the same one, two separate times). The books are a vintage set of children's encyclopedias, which I plan to use for ripping the pages out and using in the lapbooks we make. Don't cringe! This is done by many lapbookers. Okay, you can cringe a little; I am, and so maybe we don't do that. But that's the plan.


Since I'm showing you pictures of stuff, here's the food dehydrator I got for $3 on Amazon, after cashing in my Swagbucks for Amazon gift cards. It just came yesterday! I'm so excited to start drying all kinds of things (fruit leathers, turkey jerky, socks...), but I still haven't cleaned up the kitchen, so it's still in the box. I'll do that today, fo' sho'!


And finally, to wrap up this supah-long post, we decided to try our luck again after the fiasco at Guadalajara with another Restaurant.com certificate for Tines Restaurant down the road.  Our experience was like night and day, compared to Guad. At first, I didn't think it was going to be any good, because we waited an age at the podium with no staff in sight. I finally stepped to the back and called "Hellooo?" and someone, who turned out to be our server, came out. She apologized and I asked, "Are you still open?" She said yes, so I rather bitchily responded, "Good. I wasn't sure, because we've been waiting a really long time already." But she completely won us over. She was beyond excellent with the children, and she bent over backward to make sure we were happy, too. The food was great, and they even turned the TV to a kids' station just to keep our kids happy. Not that I'm looking for my kids to watch TV when we go out for a nice dinner, but it was a nice touch. We left a good tip. My recommendation? Go there!

And now, after all that, I have to go back to work.You may now leave an abundance of delightful comments. Ha!


P.S. I forgot some things we did after the beach on Monday! Oh, well, I'll spare ya. ;)

Aloha Friday


Link up with Kailani if you're playing along this week!

My question for you this week is:

Painted car

Would you ever do something like this to your car??

I totally would! If I had a talented artist friend who wanted to muralize something cool on my minivan (yes, my minivan, haha), I'd do it in a heartbeat. Why not? Fun stuff.

{Also, I love that Smart Car. Too cute.}


Gourmet Popping Corn


Jack is a HUGE popcorn aficionado. The boy simply cannot watch TV or a movie without begging for some. A long time ago - regular readers may remember - Stephanie taught me how to make "real" non-microwaved popcorn, in a pot over the stove. I promptly forgot how to do it, though. At my last shopping trip to the organic mart, I picked up a couple bags of organic kernels, since of course that's the only type they have. Fine by me. Waaay cheaper this way! We finally ran out of my stockpile of the microwave stuff over the weekend, so I had to check wiki-how, or something, for directions. They told me to use a pan. I used a pan. I should have stuck with Stephanie's instructions to use a big pot!


All went swimmingly at first. Silence, then one by one, the kernels started pop-pop-popping underneath the lid.


Soon, though I was holding it down, the popcorn was exploding out from under the lid and flying all over the kitchen! It was bouncing off the ceiling, off the walls, off the fridge, off the counters, and landing every-damn-where!! Jack ran in and was in hysterics, laughing and shrieking for the dog to come in and eat it off the floor! It was pretty freaking hilarious. I only had one big bowl ready but really needed two, so somehow with all that going on, I had to dig around for another one!

Jack wanted his plain, and Sophia wanted hers buttered and salted, so I melted some butter that the dairy delivered last week with our milk and lightly salted hers. Delicious! When Chloƫ came home, she finished it all and declared it positively yummy. Yup, we'll stick with this method, though Mommy has learned a few tricks!


In other news, when we haven't been driving Chloƫ to camp, rushing Rob to the ER, or spending entire days trying not to get sunburned at the pool, I've been working morning, noon and night on the new blog, Fishing and Wishing. Have you checked it out yet? We have some really cool giveaways right now, including:

Twig Ring 1

this silver "twig" ring, and

Picking Flowers Girl

these funky dolls... so go check it out, enter to win some fun stuff, and stay tuned! I have LOTS more coming up, and I don't want you to miss it!





That guy is supposed to be "overwhelmed," which is what I was when I first arrived at the Greater Richmond Convention Center on Thursday afternoon, but I don't know if that's what I think of when I look at it. But never mind him. OMG, the GRCC is huge, the amount of people there was huge, the number of things to see and do was huge, it was all just... huge.

I was really wishing that the rest of my family, or at least my husband, were with me, but alas, I was alone. (They were supposed to come, but then Chloƫ had a mandatory dance rehearsal on Saturday morning, and Sophia had preschool graduation on Friday afternoon, followed by a picnic, followed by Chloƫ's party for being Super Citizen of tte month for her class...)

After checking into my cheaper-than-cheap hotel room in a not-so-classy part of Richmond, I drove the 2.5-mile, 25-minute (yes, I'm serious) drive down to the convention center, paid six bucks to park, and followed the crowd. I was semi-organized in that I had highlighted in green all of the workshops I definitely wanted to attend, and in orange, those that I might possibly want to attend... but I probably should have studied the maps more, because I had no idea where to go.


Fortunately, the home-schooling community is made up of Generally Nice People, and one such GNP noticed me standing in the middle of things, wide-eyed, looking around in bewilderment. She walked me to the registration table and then pointed out where I should go after that. She told me to try not to get too overwhelmed (too late) and before walking away, said, "You're here alone, for your first time? Oh, bless your heart." I think my poor heart was blessed about 75 times during the course of the convention.


Anyway, for the next 5Ā½ hours, I sat through four workshops on, basically, "how to homeschool." There were half-hour breaks after each hour-long session, during which I crocheted on a baby blanket for CARE Package. Unfortunately, I have done a TON of research on home-schooling, homeschool laws in the state of Virginia, and choosing curricula, so I really didn't get a single new piece of information out of that period of time. Suckage. But, had I not gone, of course I would not have learned that much, right? And there was nothing else that I really could have done in that time, so it wasn't a total waste.


After the workshops, I had about an hour left before my parking garage closed at 1900 (lame!), so I went to explore the ginormous Exhibit Hall full of vendors selling everything from Christian Curriculum (80%) to crafts (5%) to gadgets (5%) to miscellaneous stuff (8%) to, uh, oh yeah - secular curriculum (2%). YEAH. It's VERY hard to be a secular home-schooler, at least in the state of Virginia. Er, commonwealth. Whatever.

Which brings me to the point where I could editorialize for hours about home-schooling from a Christian-based point of view, but I will try not to do that. Suffice it to say, I am Christian, but I am also a scientist, a biologist, and I not only "believe in" evolution but know that is an actual, real, observable phenomenon. I can do nothing but roll my eyes at the people who believe and teach their kids otherwise, and I do. A lot. Sorry if you're one, but oh, my God, learn some science. Evolution does NOT contradict Creationism, and if you want to read a great explanation about that, read the top of this page. Just the top. ;)

Anyway, before I get myself worked up, let's move on to this funny sign I spotted on one vendor's table:


I asked her before I took the picture, and I think she was tickled that I noticed it. Maybe you've seen it before, but I hadn't and thought it was too funny!


I looked through half the Exhibit Hall, spending just a tiny bit of money on a couple things for the kids, before I had to go rescue Vanna from the garage and head out for something to eat. On the short-but-long drive "home" to my hotel, I took a few pictures of some of the houses. Richmond is full of really great, old architecture, and I would have loved to have more time to walk around, take it in, and snap some pictures. But I have one more, and that's it:


I look at houses like that and see faces. I see faces on cars, too. Do you?

One picture that I really wish I had been able to take: near the GRCC was a very old apartment building, very stylish and well maintained but obviously as old as the country itself, probably. Well, probably not that old, but OLD. But smack-dab in front of it was a sign promoting a "move-in special," and it was bright and splashy and couldn't have been more in contrast with the old building. I stopped and looked at it every time I passed it.

I tried to find this place to get something to eat, since I wanted to continue eating local, organic food and this was definitely The Place to go for that, but I couldn't find it. Not because the GPS on my iPhone wasn't sufficient - it was, and it was my lifeline while in the city - but there was so much construction going on around Broad Street where I mainly traveled, that I couldn't figure out where to actually turn to stay on path. So I skipped it in favor of a tiny Mexican restaurante that promised authentic food.


Um, so why was half the menu Greek food? I didn't get it. I ordered a vegetarian plate, subbing beans for the rice I can't eat, and ate about a third of it, and two sips of my drink. The service was terrible, and no one came to ask if I needed anything. I was reading many of the things I'd picked up at the Exhibit Hall, so when the server came to check on me, finally, I told her I was "all set." Normally, when someone leaves a ton of food, you'd think they might want a box, right? Or at least you'd ask? No. She whisked my plate and drink away and dumped them in the trash! I was mortified! I planned on eating more later that night, or the following night. I was so dumbfounded, I just paid and left. But holy cow, I was not happy.

I had stayed up all night the night before, planning my trip and generally being too excited to sleep, and my two cups of coffee had long since worn off. I went back to the hotel and crashed. Hard.



My phone had died, and I forgot to set the room's alarm clock, so I slept really, really late. I missed the free hotel breakfast, and I missed the first workshop session at the convention center. It wasn't that upsetting, though, because I really hadn't settled in on one that I felt I had to attend. I would have liked to have gotten something out of it. Oh, well.

For breakfast, I spent a buck and had a bag of seeds and nuts out of the vending machine. It more than filled me up. I'm glad I can eat so little, so cheaply, since I had very little to spend!

Driving back to the convention center, I happened to find a GREAT parking spot that someone else was just vacating, just two blocks from the hall. I tried the parking garage, but it was full, as was every parking lot around, so I sent up a prayer of thanks when I happened upon this space. And it was FREE! The limit was two hours, but I decided to chance it and stay there the whole time. I was right, no ticket. Yay!


It was during the long lunch break when I arrived, so I meandered around for a minute, until I decided to which workshop I wanted to go. These two home-schooled students were playing classical music for the crowd during breaks, and they were great. Very talented.


I settled on a class about teaching your children art. I was the first person there, so the presenter, Barry Stebbing, asked me to run the projector for him. We chatted for a minute, and he asked where I was from. I told him, and he said, "Oh, Pat Robertson! Right? Do you ever watch the 700 Club?" I should have known that he was yet another deeply conservative Christian, but I didn't, so when I replied, "Uh, well, I've seen it, but I don't go out of my way to watch it," his face changed slightly. He didn't really chat with me much after that, at that time.  But remember him, because he will come back later in this post.

The class was great, and I learned a great deal. It changed a lot about how I planned to run our art classes this year, from willy-nilly and unfocused, to fundamental and well-planned. I knew what I needed to buy and where I needed to start.  Perfect.

I headed down to my next workshop room and crocheted for the half-hour until it started. I did that a lot: got there early, sat and crocheted, and listened to the people around me whispering about what I was doing. Sometimes I saw them point. Sometimes they tapped me on the shoulder and either said I was really fast or asked what I was amaking. Sometimes they said I was industrious or something like that. Some lamented that they hadn't brought their own needlework. That surprised me. Why wouldn't you bring it? I can't even imagine why not. Knitters and crocheters never complain about having to wait.




The workshop was on evaluating your child's writing, and I enjoyed the speaker. I got a lot out of it, but maybe not as much as I would have liked, since it was mainly geared toward older students. The main thought in my head when I left was that I definitely needed to find a grading rubric for my kids' writing assignments.


After class was over, I was finished for the day, so I decided to explore the second half of the Exhibit Hall. I loved these tiny violins, which were about the length of my forearm; I should have put something in the picture for scale. They were too cute. 

I do think it's time to get ChloĆ« playing an instrument, but we can't afford lessons. And I certainly am not the one to teach her. We'll do music class as best as I can, but... I don't know. I guess I'll just pray and put on my thinking cap and see what develops.


After I left, I was starving, so I decided to check out the little hole-in-the-wall pizza place on the corner near where I parked. For $1.76, I ate one huge slice of cheese pizza, and that was more than enough for me. It was delicious, so I intended to go back the next day for more! If you're ever in Richmond, go to Romanza pizza at the corner of 1st St and Marshall. It's run by Africans. The service and ambiance are non-existent, but the prices and food more than make up for it!


I had three hours to kill, so I decided to take a bath. I hate baths. I get bored. I don't want to just sit there and do nothing, but I can't do anything much, because it'll get wet. I tried to read, but my magazine was getting wet, so I hurried through it and hopped out of there in five or six minutes. Baths are so boring for me! Rob laughed that I actually took one, but I told him, "hey, I've got a clean tub, no kids to interrupt me, and nothing much else to do."

Actually, I was living in the lap of luxury at that seedy hotel room. It was clean and clutter-free, I had all the AC and TV I wanted, and no one wanted my constant attention. So different from home. I decided to enjoy it... but truthfully, I missed my hubs and kids dreadfully.



A friend of mine was coming into town to hang out and have a drink or two, so I got dressed up for the occasion. A stranger in the hotel said I looked "really nice," and another stranger at the bar called me a MILF when told that I had three kids at home. A MILF! Hello, I am a MILF! I have arrived! I derived great pleasure out of that one!



I wasn't out that late, but I couldn't sleep well and didn't get to rest until about 0400.  I tried to read, crochet, watch TV, but nothing was holding my interest, so I just kind of lay there and stared out the window. It sucked, because even though I set my alarms this time, I still woke up late!

Actually, I didn't. I woke up and went downstairs to eat breakfast (a muffin, whoop-de-doo), and then I went back up and fell asleep again. I did set an alarm, but... I didn't hear it. So again, I missed the first workshop session. Damn it!

When I got to the convention center - after finding another free parking space, across the street from the one the day before, woot! - it was lunchtime again, and I was starving. I should have just gone to the pizza place, because I ended up spending over 7 bucks on a sandwich I couldn't eat, and I threw most of it away. I hated that. Hated it. I had nowhere to put it, though, and I didn't have anyone else to take it. Boo.


Remember Joel Salatin from Food, Inc.? (If you haven't seen it yet, you should!) He was the speaker I was most excited to see, and he was giving two back-to-back workshops. I was a little star-struck. I loved the man in the documentary, and I couldn't wait to meet him. I crocheted nervously away, waiting for him to arrive. And then he did:


He was busy setting up his book table, so I got a lovely picture of his butt. No cowboy hat, which I had expected, so I almost didn't recognize him.

I was sitting front and center for both talks. I didn't like the first one at all. He made jab after jab at liberals and tree-huggers like moi, and I thought for a moment about walking out of there. Except for that, though, I liked his message, and really, I was interested in the questions that would be asked at the end. The main thing I got out of it was when one lady asked, "What should we eat when we're traveling? What about eating out, what about eating at someone's home?" And he answered, "Be gracious. If you're served (whatever, can't remember what he said, but basically non-organic, non-local, processed food), smile and be gracious. But remember, I didn't say you have to pig out!"

Smart answer. I hadn't even thought of that myself.

I decided to sit through the second talk anyway, and see what else he had to say about hippy-dippy types like me. Really, I had no idea he was such a "fundy," as my friend J put it, and I was pretty surprised. But the talk was good, less insulting to types like me, and I learned a lot. Nothing about home-schooling, but a lot about his business ethic.


Immediately after that last workshop, I hurried right over to him and asked to have a picture with him. He was more than willing; he's a very nice, approachable, regular guy, even though he gives talks all around the world and is well sought-after at the moment. He cracked a joke just as this picture was being taken, if you can't tell!

Rob arrived right after that, on his motorcycle. He had left the kids home with our friend Linda, so that he could come up with the credit card that we have been trying so hard not to use. But, I really needed to get some things for "doing school," which I'll show you in a minute, and I'm going to aggressively pay that back, so it'll be okay.


Before we left, I picked up a copy of Joel's book (yes, we're on a first-name basis now, didn't you know?) for him to sign. I had been wanting to get it, from either Michele at the organic food shop we patronize or from Amazon, but I figured this was the perfect opportunity to have him sign it. Right?


Can you read it? It says, "To Melanie and Rob - Thanks for being on the right side of the food system. Joel Salatin." And now I can cross meeting him off my bucket list. I'd still like to go for a lunatic tour on his farm sometime this year, though!

So... after that, we ran through the Exhibit Hall once more, to get the goods. We shopped 'til we dropped, or at least, until we hit the credit limit on our card. I didn't get everything I wanted, but it's okay. I was going to buy the huge Spelling Power book, but I can easily find spelling plans online for free. And I was going to buy a Spanish program to teach all three kids, but there is a German teacher in my home-school group who wants to trade lessons for knitting and crochet lessons for her kids, so I might do that instead.

Here's what I did get:


This small kaleidoscope for the kids, because they've never looked through one before, and I think every kid should have one. 


Some really inexpensive flash cards that the kids couldn't wait to get their hands on


Sophia really liked the Disney-themed Phonics flashcards. Jack helped her read the words when she couldn't guess from the pictures.


ChloĆ« was, hm, a mite less thrilled about the division and multiplication flash cards I'd picked up for her, but she was still enthusiastic about them.


And before I could take the picture, Jack was already putting away the fourth set of cards, dealing with time and money. "This is boring! I hate this!" LOL we'll see...


The kids delved into the box from Math-U-See right away. I bought everything from the Primer to Epsilon, which will teach them for years. Well, the younger two, anyway. Hopefully ChloĆ« will progress quickly through the levels, although I am going to start her off on the primer, just to make sure we fill any gaps she has. I know there will be some; she really flounders when it comes to math, and unlike at school, I am going to stay on a concept until she masters it. We will not just move along because it's time to teach something else, whether she gets it or not, which is the beauty of schooling at home, isn't it?


Math, math, math!


The math manipulatives, about which Jack was very excited. Apparently they used something similar in his class at school, and he knows all about these. He wanted to know if we could start using them right away!


I ended up going to Barry Stebbing's How Great Thou Art booth in the exhibit hall. Remember him? He's the guy who taught the art workshop I attended. I really liked his presentation, so I decided to go ahead and get the goods. We have a manual, paint cards for each kid, paintbrushes, paints, markers, drawing pens, colored pencils, erasers, pencil sharpeners... we are set! His wife, Sandra (I think), told me that this should last us for three years! Unless the kids are really gung-ho about doing art, in which case we could get through it all in a year. Either way is fine with me; I have a feeling they'll want to do it a lot, as they were very excited and wanted to get started today!

I wanted to share something really heartwarming that happened while at his booth: Our card got blocked, because it was a new card, and we had already charged a large amount at the Math-U-See booth. So while Rob was on the phone with the bank to get it unblocked, I was letting the Stebbings know what was was going on, since we had already picked everything out that we wanted to buy, and they were waiting to charge us. Mr. Stebbing told me to just go ahead and take anything I wanted, and if the card didn't go through, I could send him the money in a month or two when I had it. What! I was all, "No, no, I can't do that," but he insisted, saying, "I've never had a homeschooler not pay me." Wow. What a guy. But the card got unblocked, and we were able to use it, so that was good. Still. I was touched.


And last but not least, I picked up this book from the Kids Love Travel booth. It will provide lots of information for taking field trips with the kids throughout the coming year and beyond, and I can't wait to get started. Should be lots of fun!

Okay, I've held you captive long enough. And I need a drink. Ciao!






I Am


I am simple and complicated
I wonder why people can't be nice to each other, just because
I hear footsteps in the sky
I see flickers of light in the corners of my eye
I want to swim in a sea of soft, colorful yarn
I am simple and complicated

I pretend my mother and son are still with me
I feel people don't care about the environment as much as they should
I touch your skin when I need a connection
I worry that I won't be perfect, and the world will fall apart because of it
I cry when I learn of another baby becoming an angel
I am simple and complicated

I understand that science and spirituality don't have to contradict each other
I say that tomorrow is always another chance to do things right
I dream of seeing the world, one country at a time
I try to be the person my mother would have wanted me to be
I hope my children will always know how much I love them
I am simple and complicated


Click here to make your own "I AM" poem. Then send me the link, so I can see it!


Operation Lamination


So much for not knowing why I'll need my new Scotch laminator!

I found this site last night, and I decided I'll be making some sort of alphabet strip for Sophia with the Britto letters we create. ChloĆ« and Jack helped me start last night. We made the "A," "B," "C," and "J." Guess who made the "J"?

Romero Britto is just so cool, isn't he? Well, I don't know the guy, but I like his art, man.


We used it to laminate two of the letters and our homeschool ID cards, before we ran out of the two laminating pouches with which it came. Now I've gone and ordered bunches more pouches from Amazon with all the Swagbucks money I've been accumulating - for free! (That's also how I got the organic cereal in the previous post, too.) Love that site!


And speaking of Britto, lucky us! I was looking through his shop, and there are easy ways we can add to our Britto collection without breaking the bank. These salt and pepper shakers are only $15! Too cute, right?!


I'll definitely have to save up for this $35 "Deeply in Love" umbrella; it so closely resembles our Deep Night Romance giclĆ©e of his. I love it! 


Another "Deeply in Love" piece, this spoon rest of Britto's will be great to replace the one we just broke. It's only 13 bucks! 

Too bad we don't really have anywhere to hang this $40 "Deeply" windchime - I love them.


Of course, if money were no object, we'd probably love to add this "Fish Fun" to our collection. At $595, it's a steal - but not for us, not today.

Well, that was fun. If you adore Britto as much as we do, have a look at all the fun pieces in his home dƩcor collection. I have a feeling that a few pieces will have new homes in our kitchen in the coming months!



Friday Fragments

Friday Fragments

Be sure and link up with Mrs. 4444 if you're fragmentin' today!


All three of my kids have now lost their new glasses. I think they got them about a month ago. So... awesome! Especially for Chloƫ, who is blind as a bat without them and has been having her SOL (standardized tests) at school for the past two weeks. Their favorite line, when we tell them to go look for them, is, "I don't know where they are!!!" Hello, that's what "LOOK FOR IT" means!



We continue with our pledge to buy locally, eat organically, and make our own for everything possible. I scored a new breadmaker off Freecycle, with the warning that the giver wasn't sure if it works. It does! (I also asked for a juicer and an ice cream maker; Hubs was quick to point out the irony, since we gave our bread maker and juicer away years ago when we first joined Freecycle...)


The kids and I have made at least half a dozen loaves since we got the machine, including regular white bread for sandwiches (they didn't have wheat flour the last time I picked some up), cinnamon raisin bread, and buttermilk cheese bread. All SOOO good - even the one I messed up on and forgot to start the machine until the next morning. Whoops!



Wednesday, our first weekly delivery from South Mountain Creamery arrived. They are an "almost local" dairy farm in southern Maryland (where's northern Maryland, 5 minutes from that??) and are the closest working dairy farm to our area, so that works. Virginia law requires sold milk to be pasteurized, so the only way we could get raw milk is by buying shares in a cow, which our budget prohibits at the moment. So this works for us. OMG, the milk is crazy delicious. I bought a bottle of skim for me, chocolate for a dinner treat, and five bottles of whole milk for my chugging kids. They're already well into their second bottle, so I fear I'll need to increase the weekly delivery!

I loved putting out the cooler full of ice on Tuesday night and peeking out my window all day Wednesday to see if the milkman was coming. It all felt so old-fashioned, in a good way. I love knowing my kids are getting healthy, fresh milk, with no preservatives and which comes from happy, grass-fed cows. When we get a chance, I plan to take a road trip up to South Mountain Farm, because I want the kids to be able to know exactly where their food comes from - something you can't exactly do with milk from the supermarket!

The delivery also included fresh-squeezed juice from Florida (not local, but really, how could it be?) and a half-pound each of SMC's salmon cream cheese (ick, for Rob) and apple-raisin cream cheese (for the kids and me). The latter is extraordinary, and paired with the cinnamon raisin bread we made, ho-leee cow! ChloĆ« and I have been indulging in that snack far too much!



Bye-bye, Britto! Remember the Britto? If not, it was the artwork that Rob and I purchased during our European cruise almost 2 years ago, an original by Romero Britto, whom we now adore. If we had the money, we'd definitely have a nice little collection of his works, but the Deep Night Romance that we DO own speaks to us personally. 

Anyway, it's a giclĆ©e painting, and it's three-dimensional. Two of the 3D pieces fell from grace their original positions during transit, and the corner of the frame was damaged as well. It's taken us more than a year to break down and pull it off the wall (or I should say, have Steph's husband Tim pull it down for us), but Thursday, it was finally picked up by Park West to be repaired. There's a big, blank spot of wall over my desk right now, and I miss my little big ol' Britto dearly! Come back, giclĆ©e!

(BTW, if you go to Britto's site, linked above, check out that car he painted. Hello, I want it!)



I'm steadfastly refusing to frog the mis-knit sweater, even though both Steph and Gloria said I should. Why? Because I'm a stubborn ass like that. I don't like to work hard on something and then just undo it; I prefer to do as Tim Gunn famously says: "Make it work!" So that's what I'm doing. The button bands are on (the ripply one will be fixed with blocking) and close together when I'm wearing it. Next the collar, and lastly, the sleeves, which I'll make as long as possible with whatever yarn I have left. If I can't wear this sweater - which was originally intended for my 5yo Sophia, but now fits me, hehe - because it's kinda short, then I'll sell it or give it away to a particularly, um, chubby little girl. SOMEONE will fit this (&^%$^$ sweater!!



Check this out - I got this $37 Scotch laminator for FREE, with $13 worth of additional stuff, from Kmart! We've finished 3 weeks of mostly deschooling Jack, so I'm not exactly sure yet WHY I will need a laminator for home-schooling, but everyone says that I will. I had $50 in free gift cards (regular readers might remember the Hershey's Pieces candy promotion from Kmart a few months ago, which turned out to be a huge moneymaker for me) for Kmart, so the girls stopped by there Wednesday after dance classes, to see if they had one. They told me they didn't on the phone, but go figure, I found two on the shelf. SWEET. 

I also picked up two packages of legal-size file folders for our lapbooking projects and a dry erase marker and eraser set. Slowly but surely, our classroom-to-be is taking shape. Now if the Missouri Department of Revenue would get its act together and send us our tax refund, I could really get started!


I guess that's about it for me this week. Have a great weekend, everybody!


You Wanna See Something Gross???

Okay, but don't say I didn't warn you:


My camera sucks, so that's the best picture I could get of my torn-off, battered pinky nail. I pulled off the band-aid this morning to have a look at the situation, and it was pretty gruesome. The nail was hanging by a thread; I thought about gluing it down, but then I didn't want to make the nailbed have some sort of sick reation. So I lifted it up, as in the above pic, and then I clenched my teeth, squeezed my eyes shut, and YANKED it off.

Holy effing cow, that hurt!!! It bled all over again. But now it's done, and it won't keep catching on things. I went the whole day without the bandage, which was a mistake, because everything kept digging into the tender nailbed.

You know, I'm not so smart sometimes. I'm wearing another Ni-hao Kailan band-aid to cover up my widdle booboo, and it's much happier that way.

But enough about that.

Another pretty low-key day for us in Chez Odette. Jack and I made some more bread:


which, again, I found to be delicious, but the kids didn't like. Not sure if Rob sampled it yet. I stuck it in the freezer for later, which will probably be tomorrow, the way we go through bread around here.


(Damn; where can I find some of THAT?!!) 

I made the girls an organic lunch for school today: PB and the organic Nutella-like chocolate spread on the sunflower-and-hemp bread from the other day, organic peach-and-orange juice boxes, organic applesauce, and... okay, non-organic fruit snacks, complete with Red dye #40, because I can't be a completely wonderful mother, now can I? Hey, they were in the snack stockpile bin, and ChloĆ« gave me those puppy-dog eyes, so I caved. We'll have to use them up sometime, right?

My point in mentioning this was just to say how good that chocolate stuff was, and that the girls LOVED their sandwiches. Both of them came home begging for more! I gave them smaller versions, since the organic stuff is about half the size of a jar of Nutella and cost about $7.50! Needless to say, that will be a once-in-a-while kind of treat.

In the afternoon, Jack and I went to a class, which you can read about here.

We came back just in time to get the girls off the bus. I was hoping Rob would be up do it, because it was cold and rainy, but no such luck. I went down in my shorts and t-shirt and froze to death in the rain until another mom offered to let me sit in her warm van with her and her three adorable daughters. I readily accepted! (She's the one who kept the girls for me while I was at the hospital with Jack on Thursday; nice girl.)


ChloĆ« has her Virginia SOL tests this week, so no homework. And no Cub Scouts for Jack tonight, since there's a committee meeting; he'll have it on Thursday instead. Which meant we took it very easy tonight. Dinner was snacks (cereal, bread, more cereal, more bread), and we lazed around in the living room accomplishing a whole lot of nuttin' much.

I sent ChloĆ« to bed right at 8 pm, so she could get plenty of rest before her stupid test tomorrow. I was highly annoyed to find her still awake and reading when I sent Sophia to bed an hour later! I should just give her a reading lamp in her room, so she doesn't have to crawl out into the hallway to read by the bathroom light!


 While she was upstairs, Jack and Sophia were downstairs busily coloring the shrinky dink pieces that Aunt Stacey gave Soap for her 5th birthday last month. (And no, we still haven't written thank-you notes. I suck. They WILL get done this week - I mean it!!)  The two of them were so nicely engaged in their activity that there wasn't one moment of arguing. No squabbles. I loved it. 


Their favorite part (and mine, I must confess) was watching the 'dinks curl up and shrink in the oven. I'd forgotten how quickly it goes - only a few minutes!


Ta-da!! I wish they made something a little more functional, because who really needs these? Next time, we'll make something useful. But they were fun for the kids, so I suppose that's all the usefulness we need. 

And I'm off... hope your week started out well!


Back To Basics


Tuesday morning, I turned off my alarm instead of hitting the snooze button, so I overslept by an hour. Whoops! I could seriously kick my own butt when I do that; makes me so mad at myself and is NOT a great way to start the day. Luckily, Sophia wasn't late at all, as it was kindergarten registration day. We got to the school right at 0900, and the older two children picked up their "tardy" slips and headed off to class.

I took Sophia to her classroom ahead of time, letting them know that I would not, in fact, be registering her for kindy that morning, because I'm going to homeschool her next year. They were curious about that, whether it was going to be just her or all three kids, etc., but they were positive and supportive about it. I definitely feel like I need lots of encouragement right now, so that was good.

Back in the big school, after letting go of Jack and Chloƫ, I walked down to the cafeteria where the registration was taking place, to talk to Mrs. P. about it. I let her know, too, that I wouldn't be registering Sophia that morning, or any morning, and why. She got a sad, "We'll miss you guys" look on her face and wished me luck.

I kind of wish we could start tomorrow! I'm certainly not ready, materials- and curriculum-wise, but I am ready to pull them out of school and begin the next chapter. And, of course, stop the medicating with Adderall that I'm only giving them so they can get along in the "sit down and shut up" world of public schooling. That really bites. Fortunately, later this afternoon is their appointment with Dr. P., my prescribing shrink, to have further and more comprehensive evaluations for ADHD.


I went home, to find that Rob was still not back from work. Poor guy. I piddled on the computer for an hour, as I almost always do to start my day, and he arrived home during that time. I was hoping he'd finish cleaning up the kitchen so I could make my banana breads, but he was exhausted and pretty much knocked out immediately. The laundry monster was once again taking over our upstairs, so I resigned myself to a day of washing, drying, folding, and putting away.

And that I did.

I colored my hair in the beginning - I'm a little crunchy, but not so granola that I won't use chemicals to hide my roots, man - set my iPod to my latest obsession (the soundtrack from The Princess and the Frog), and got to work. First, I had to finish putting together all the girls' Spring/Summer outfits and hanging them in their closets (school clothes in Sophia's and non-school clothes, ie., dresses and short shorts with tank tops, in ChloĆ«'s, since they're both wearing a size 5T). Then it was time to tackle the rest of the wash. I had about four or five loads to launder, and about that many loads of clean ones to fold and put away. I showered, rinsed out my hair, dressed and straighened my 'do, but otherwise I worked on laundry straight up until the bus came at 1530. And I'm STILL NOT DONE. Oy-to-the-vey.


The laundry, it drives me to the crazy place.


As usual, once the kids came home, we were on the move. I had to wake up Rob then - but by that point, he'd gotten more sleep than I had, at least 7 or 8 hours, so I didn't feel awful about it - to take charge of The Littles, so they wouldn't have to accompany ChloĆ« and me to Ballet class. She and I left late, because she took forever to change into her leotard, and arrived a few minutes after the start time. I know that irks her teachers, but I do the best I can.


I worked on knitting Luke's shorties during dance class. It was slow going; the yarn had gotten all messed up in my bag, somehow. Peas and carrots, that drives me nuts. I managed to get a couple inches knit up, anyhow, and soon enough I'll be needing to get some size 8 DPNs so that I can work the legs. Don't have 'em; it always surprises me to need a needle I don't have, since I have so many already! (Thanks to MIL for that, mostly.) :D


Immediately after we came home, we had to get ready for ChloĆ«'s Author Party. She and her classmates each wrote fables and published these Studentreasure books. I was going to show you the cover of her story, "The Cheetah and the Leopard," but my scanner is being a piece of dirty bathwater. It's cute, though.

Sadly, I don't have anything to show you from the party - during which the kids all read their books - because I couldn't go, and Rob had camnesia. Apparently ChloĆ« did a really good job. However, I have the book, and without the author's permission, I am going to share her fable with you here:

 "The Cheetah and the Leopard"

A Fable by Chloƫ

Dedicated to My Mom and Dad

Once there was a cheetah and a leopard. They were very good friends,

but one day they had a really hard test.

During the test leopard and cheetah needed help, but they didn't ask for any.

They missed every question on the test. The next week they had some of the same questions.

This time they asked for help and got them all right.

Moral: If you need help ask!

"About the Author"

Hi! My name is Chloe Odette. I have a brother and his name is Jack. He is in first grade. I have a sister and her name is Sophia. She is in Early Discoveries. My dad works in the Navy. My mom is a substitute teacher. [snort] I am in third grade. I hope you like my book.

Cute, right?? Not the most fabulous story in the world, but maybe we can finesse that in homeschool next year.


Apparently there was cake and punch at the party, but Daddy didn't let them have any. I told him that he should have let them have a small piece, but he said nope! because they didn't have dinner yet.


Before the party, Rob and the kids had dropped me off at the Girl Scout Leader meeting down the road. I'm officially a Daisy leader now, for Sophia's troop! We even have our troop number assigned, and I have my approval letter. Exciting! I'm nervous about that, too, but somehow it'll all come together, I'm sure.

I had lots to take care of at the meeting. I needed to act as Treasurer and write the check for the Brownies (well, they'll be bridging to Juniors) to pre-register for next year, and submit the packet with all of their forms. I needed to get and fill out a pre-reg for Sophia and submit that along with Miss Nikki's youngest daughter's pre-reg, and pay for that. (I didn't have to pay for ChloĆ«, because she earned it from selling cookies!) I had to take notes, since Nikki doesn't attend the Leader meetings, and I'll be acting as Leader of the Daisies and Co-Leader of the Juniors next year. And there was a lot more I needed to do, but I forget what now. I got a present, too! A little lanyard thing with a carabiner on it, for my keys. I got one for Nikki as well. A little gift for all the Leaders, from the Service Unit chairwoman. It says something about being a Girl Scout volunteer on it.


So I thought about homeschooling all day, while I was folding laundry.


First, I decided our little school should have a name, so it will be called Sweet Pea Academy, after the planned name of our boat. (That plan may be on hold for a while, but I can't spill the beans yet on just why right now. Hopefully soon!) Do you like the name? Well, I do.

(Oh, it was funny. I told ChloĆ« about our new school name on the way home from Ballet. I jokingly told her I was going to print up t-shirts with the name and logo on them, for each of the kids to wear every day to school. Then she said, "Oh, and we can make up a poster and put it on the front door, so other kids can come to our school, too!" I told her that the school was just for the three of them, and she wanted to know why. I said, "Well, first of all, they'd have to PAY me to attend, and second of all, I'd want to at least practice on you guys for a year or so, so I can figure out if I even know what I'm doing!" She replied, "Of COURSE you know what you're doing - you have THREE books!!!!" I cracked up laughing and said, "You mean the ones from the library?" She rolled her eyes and said, "Yeah, they're HUGE!"

Too funny. Well, at least she has the confidence in me, so that was reassuring!)


Most of what I was thinking about, though, was curriculum. I already know what they want to work on, so I thought I'd expand it a bit. For Jack, we'll not just learn about cars and boats, but we'll work on Transportation in general. We can study so many things, and I know he will just love it. The library will be our best friend. In time, we'll learn about not just boats and cars, but planes, trains, and every other form of locomotion we can think of. We can take field trips to look at these things, I hope, and it will be just the funnest thing for him.  


ChloĆ« wants to study animals, and Sophia wants to study birds. I have a thick binder or two filled with beginner information on all sorts of animals, so I thought we'd pick one each (day? week?) to discover and learn more about in detail. I want to get some sort of family membership, either to the zoo or the aquarium or the children's musuem or something, but I'm thinking the zoo will be good for this area of study. I'd love to have family memberships to all of them, but I just don't think we can afford it. But think of it, we could go to the zoo all the time! It will be great.


ChloĆ« also stressed learning about art and music. I'm not sure yet what I'm going to do about music, but I'm going to talk to my friend Shana, who IS a music teacher, and see if she has any recommendations. But we are going to explore so many kinds of art. I'm going to teach them to knit and crochet! We have painting jobs that need doing in the house, so I'll do that with the kids and explore painting with them! There's a ceramics studio just down the road, so I thought I'd take them to that for one or more of our field trips. I'm also going to encourage them to keep a journal - not just for writing, but for drawing, too.


For physical education, and to boost our study of the natural world, we'll go on lots of nature walks and stuff. I'm also going to find out if the gym(s) on the Navy base(s) have anything for kids, so we can go and exercise for free. If not, I'm hoping we can find room in the budget for either a family membership to the YMCA or the local rec centers, which are pretty good. We used to be members, but we hardly ever used it; I'm determined to have them be physically active, though. Of course, the girls will stay in their dance classes, and I'm hoping to get Jack involved in something, too. Maybe karate?


For socialization, of course the Scouts (Daisies, Cubs and Juniors) and athletic pursuits will help fill that void. There are also a number of homeschooling groups in the Hampton Roads area, and I'm planning on contacting the ones that seem like a good fit soon, to find out how and when they meet up, what they do, etc. They'll get plenty of interaction with other people.

Of course, that all takes care of many things, but what about math? Reading and writing? Well, I'm still working on that. If you couldn't tell, I'm definitely not the unschooling type, I don't think.  I mean, some of what we'll be doing IS considered unschooling, but I have a concern about math and language. I need the children to learn those things. I can't have them NOT learn those things. It's important to me that they do, and so they will. I'll make it as fun as possible, without a billion worksheets and with a lot of hands-on manipulation, but they will learn. I'm going to go to the TAPS store and see what resources I can find there, I'm going to see what I can get from Mindware and elsewhere online... I want to make this whole experience as fun and painless as possible for them, but they WILL learn to read, write and do math. I insist upon it!


We're going to learn other things, too. As a family, we're going to tear up our backyard and make it more nature-friendly. Right now, it's a morass and only the dog is really able to use that. I want to change that. I want to rent a rototiller and tear up all the grass and then plant as much of our own local and natural and organic and sustainable food as we can.  And we are FINALLY going to have a compost pile. Or heap. Or whatever you call it. I've been throwing out our compostable food scraps behind the bushes in the front of the house for too long. It's time to change that and make it 'official.' Yay, I can't wait!

We're going to learn new recipes, and spend lots of time in the kitchen. They will become proficient at cooking and baking, and using what's local and at-hand to make a nutritious, wholesome meal. No more Red # 40 dye, no more high fructose corn syrup, no more genetically-modified whoosy-whatsit. We'll can our food and freeze it for later, when there are no crops.

We'll go camping. Fishing. If Rob wants to take them hunting, so be it, but if they want to become semi-vegetarians like their mama, I'll be pleased with that, too. We'll learn how to live a "greener" life. We're going to learn more about conservation and taking care of the planet.

And taking care of each other, too. We're going to learn how to be not only global citizens but community menbers. We'll visit the elderly, bring cookies to the firefighters and police, maybe work in a soup kitchen.

I'm terribly excited. I can't wait to start. Bring on the Sweet Pea Academy!!







TWIR: Thursday, Music & Art Night

Thursday, I wasn't able to sub, because I had to stay home with sick Jack.

Sick Jack was feeling much better, so we decided to run around a little bit, around late morning, after he'd watched a video or two on the couch.

The goal was to get both the Toy Story and Toy Story 2 Blu-Ray/DVD combo packs. And I had a VERY good deal to get them, too: Toys 'R Us had them on sale for $16.99 each when you bought both, plus I had a $10-off coupon for both from the Disney Movie Rewards website, plus each combo back was supposed to include a movie ticket for Toy Story 3, coming out later this year! An EXCELLENT deal.

Since I had been reading up on the Hip2Save website all morning while Jack rested, I knew that many of the TRU stores were out of these combos, unfortunately. However, I also knew who DID have them in stock and would price-match them to TRU.


I called TRU, and the woman who answered said, "Oh, yeah, we have plenty of both, come on in."

So we came on in, only to find that they did not, in fact, have Toy Story 2. At all!

I was pissed! And I let the manager know it. He tried to tell me that the number I called wasn't his store, but I showed him my phone, pressed redial, and it rang right up to the front desk four feet away from us. So uh, yeah. Take that.

There was really nothing he could do, despite the fact that I had driven 15 minutes away ONLY because I'd called and been told they had them in stock, so he just said "I'm sorry" and sent me on my way. He could have done more than that, in my opinion, but it is what it is, so we left.

We stopped home to get the ad that I'd forgotten, and I called Best Buy to make sure they still had them in stock. They did. It was around the corner, so we rushed right over. Only, when I tried to use my coupons, for $10 off each, they balked. They called it "double-dipping" and said I couldn't use that AND the price-match. Really? That makes absolutely no damn sense. If I could go to TRU right now and get the same merchandise for that price AND use my coupons, then why should I go to Best Buy? Isn't the whole point to get me in the store with the best possible price? It makes NO sense! But they efused to let me use the coupons, so I took them and left.

Unfortunately, I forgot to take my ad with me. BUT, I get two newspapers, so I went home to get the second one. It was at this point that Jack's tummy troubles returned, and he barely had time to get to the bathroom before exploding. Poor kid! While he was in there, I called up Best Buy corporate to question them on their price matching and coupon policy, and they said it was up to store discretion to allow it. Stupid! But I already seriously hate Best Buy, for ten-hundred other reasons, so really it's not a shocker that they suck on this score, too.

I called Target to make sure THEY would allow both price-matching and coupons (they do), and to make sure they had both movies in stock (they did), so once Jack was squared away, we ran down there. I mean, I REALLY wanted this deal, y'all.  I also had 9 coupons for a free 20-oz Coke, from using My Coke Rewards points (if you drink Coke and don't use the points, why?? I mean, send me your points, please!), so I gathered up 9 bottles of soda, and the two movies.

We had to go to Customer Service (or Guest Services, whatev) to do the price-matching, which I'd never done before. I was kind of nervous. And the CSR was really quite grumpy, as they often seem to be at Target. Go figure??  But after they figured out how to ring it all up - which, apparently, they don't do very often either - I had my two movie combos and 9 Cokes for just $15 including tax - AND two free movie tickets to boot. Super sweet!!

Jack didn't know I had gotten the movies, since he wasn't really paying attention to the whole thing and was off in his own little world, so I kept that secret from him. Once home, we went upstairs so I could work on laundry and the kids' Easter baskets some more. I sent him to his room, since he was feeling better, to work on picking up all his books and laundry. He tried not to notice that I was working on Easter baskets right in front of him - after all, though I'd made it clear at Christmas time that there is not a Santa, I never spelled out the Easter Bunny for them - but eventually, he just stood there, grinning and asking questions about what I was doing. Hee. He didn't care! He just wants Easter to hury up and come so he can get his basket! 

I gave each of the girls a Toy Story DVD combo in their baskets, and I gave him a mini-monster truck Hot Wheels thing. They each received a Webkinz, a bunch of candy, a couple other small toys... and some more candy. I'm really going to have to monitor the candy intake this year. Sophia would eat all hers in one sitting if we let her, and with Jack's faceful of cavities,... oy, vey!


After Jack fetched me the tape so I could get the cellophane wrapped around the baskets tightly, I was going to get started on folding some more laundry. Only... the boy came over to me and lay down on the bed next to me, and he was so irresistible, I had to lie down and snuggled up next to him... and we fell fast asleep. Sound, sound asleep. Good thing Daddy came home to get the girls from the bus, because neither of us really wanted to get p at that point!

Daddy let the two of us sleep - I think he took a picture, but it's on his phone - a while longer, while he took care of the girls. There was no immediate after-school activity, no Brownies, no dance class, nothing, but we did have Chloƫ's little show to go to at school at 1800. And Rob knew I wanted to get there a bit early, so he woke us up at 1715 to go.

I looked like I had just rolled out of bed - and, well, I did, but I didn't really care. At that point, I was starting not to feel too well myself. It was all I could do just to get there. So even though Chloƫ was supposed to dress up like a movie star, she pretty much just put on a dress, and we called it good. Most of the other kids weren't really dressed like movie stars either, so it didn't matter a bit.


The kids arrived one by one for their show, for which they'd been rehearsing for at least a couple months. I guess since they came back from Christmas break, maybe. It was called, oh, I'm forgetting now, but something to do with Hollywood. "Lights, Camera, Action" maybe?


They sang "Lights, Camera, Action" at the opening and close of the show, along with the SpongeBob SquarePants theme song, Beyond the Sea, and a couple others I'm not remembering. And I lost my program. :( Which, by the way, was most impressive in that they actually got the "Ć«" right in her name! That's a first, they NEVER do it at her school.


After the Third Grade music show, we walked down to the library to see the Art Show. There were maybe a dozen art works on display from each grade, and ChloĆ« was selected to have one of her pieces on display! It was the same one as was shown at the Norfolk Airport, which, sadly, we never made it down to see. But here was our chance, and I was so glad. First thing into the library, and Sophia crawled up on the bench with the stuffies. I guess she was tired. 

But that was until she saw the elaborate spread that had been laid out, down the center of the library. Holy cow, they really went all out! There were cookies, and pretzels, and chocolate-covered strawberries, and cheesy poofs, and all manner of goodies, all over the place. SO. MUCH. JUNK. FOOD. Oh, my. And we hadn't eaten dinner yet! The kids' eyes were as round as saucers, though, as they loaded up their plates with goodies. I tried to be good and ate some cheese, crackers and hummus, but I did manage to sneak in a cookie, too. I should NOT have eaten that... but the hummus was good, at least!




Finally, we made it past all that food, and found the Third Grade art on display. And there was ChloĆ«'s artwork, right in the middle. And behold, it was good. Very, very good! I couldn't believe it, nor could Rob - we were both so impressed. She did such a great job. I didn't know she had it in her, really, I didn't! Awesome job, ChloĆ« Raine!! Mom and Dad are so proud of you!

You know, she is forever telling me that Music and Art are her favorite subjects, but I haven't really paid much attention or encouraged that too much, since it seems like reading is really her thing. But now, I have to sit up and take notice! I mean, don't y'all think her "Matisse Me" is quite good??? I especially love the background colors, and the placement she used. The orange and yellows seem to be in exactly the right spot... it's really "resolved" for me. I love it. I truly do.

So after that, I went upstairs to work on the laundry, but I was utterly exhausted by that point, and starting not to feel well. I restarted the dryer, because the clothes were still wet, and then I sat down to wait for it to run its course. That was at 1930, and I didn't wake up until 12 hours later, at 0730 on Friday morning!

Next up: Friday!






I was a trouble-maker at the doctor's office today, but you know what? I don't care.

After I posted last night, I ended up soaking in a tub that Rob says was very hot but felt like lukewarm to me. It did the trick, though, and I was able to stop shivering. And crying.

When I got up to go to the doctor this morning, I put on layer after layer after layer to keep warm. It worked. I looked like the Michelin man, but I was warm, dammit!

So when the nurse or whatever called me back, and took me to the scale, I half-jokingly asked if it was really necessary to be weighed, since I had about ten layers on and was just there last month. She looked at me and said, "Well, you'll need to take them off..."

"Oh, no," I returned. "I'm not taking it off."

"You're not taking it off?!"

"I'm not taking it off."

"Okay, then. Let's go," she muttered, walking me to the exam room. Then, she told me I had to take all my clothes off so she could check my vitals. I took off my coat, but I told her I wasn't taking anything else off.

"You have to take it off!"

"No, I don't. My blood pressure is good, really good, like 110 over 60 the last time I was hear, and I promise it hasn't changed. I'm freezing, and I'm not going to get naked in here."

"Listen, you can't just come in here for a weight loss follow-up and not be weighed, not have your vitals checked..."

"I'm not in here for a weight loss follow-up!"

"Well, that's what your paper says!"

"Then the paper is wrong!"

"Listen, they don't just write down any old thing, they write down what you tell them!"

"I didn't write it down, they can write down whatever they want, but that doesn't make it so!"

And 'round and 'round we went, until she huffed out, muttering under her breath, and into the provider's office next door. Still bitching; I could hear her for several minutes. I didn't care. I was NOT going to take off all my clothes and ruin the good warmth I had goin' on, you hear me??  One layer, and that would have been the end of it. Chills and shivers all over again. No thanks.

The provider (he's not a doctor, but I'm not sure if he's an NP or a PA or just what) came in after a few minutes, shrugging his shoulders and telling me he's sorry it's cold, but it's standard procedure to take the vitals of every patient, for every visit.

I said, look, all I need is to get my referral to my surgeon updated, and maybe some chelated iron if you can prescribe that. You don't even have to look at me.

He agreed, wrote "refused" on my chart for the vitals, and told me that the next time I needed this same referral, to just call him up - I didn't even need to come in! So I could have saved myself the trouble of dealing with the angry nurse.

Who was probably in a fine mood until I came in wearing my ten layers, but whatever.

I stayed warm, people!

I relayed the above to Rob after I got out, and he called me a trouble-maker. Laughingly, of course. So the word "shenaniganizer," I think from Cloudy With... has been in my head all day because of it.


The Girl Scout cookies are coming in this Saturday, so to make room for dozens and dozens of cases in the office, here, I planned to finally get clean it up and clear it out. Well, that didn't happen. I was so tired after I got home from the doc, after being up all hours of the night taking a bath, that I just needed a nap. And so I did, for two hours, until the kids came home.

Chloƫ didn't come home, though, because she started back to the math tutoring today. Jack and Sophie played and snacked, until it was time to pick her up. I was going to let her come home on the activity bus - last time I picked her up each time - but between Ballet lessons every Tuesday and Brownies every other Thursday (the two days of tutoring), it's just not going to happen too often!

We picked up and intended to rush right over to dance class, but we sat in traffic for ages instead. So she was ten minutes late. Have I mentioned that I hate being late?? Hate it.

While she pranced, the Littles played in the back. I made their dentist appointments and my follow-up with the plastic surgeon (for this morning at 0830, which is why I'm still up instead of trying to get any sleep), and then I read a magazine. Pretty uneventful, which is why I'm telling you. I think you need to know every breath I take, don't you?

The rest of the evening went quickly and calmly. The kids wanted pizza (groan) for dinner, and they ate the entire thing. At least they're not sick of it, and it's somewhat healthy...

Homework was done - but not without Jack getting pizza grease all over his math paper, ugh - and everyone washed up. They took a shower, I worked on laundry, The End.


After they went to bed and the laundry was all folded, I finally got the motivation to do some work. I swept the floor and then got out the CARE Package bins containing donated items for the layettes (the vast majority of which came from Rob's mom).  There was a lot more going on in there than it may look like; my office was covered with knit, crocheted, sewn and quilted goodness!


I'm glad I went through the bins. I found this cowl that I knitted a while back and promptly forgot about. I wore it for over an hour, until I was so hot that I had to strip down a few layers to a single one! And I found the kids' tooth pillows that have been missing for over a year (did I really need to buy three? What's the likelihood of three kids losing a tooth on the same night? Probably nil), along with all those nice dishcloths and towels that I made to sell at the craft shows. But didn't. So, they're ours now, and now I don't have to make more! I never did do that last night...


I worked for hours assembling packages - stopping only to cook yet another pizza for Rob's return from work, and ew, don't eat the buffalo chicken one. Too spicy! - and printing out cards to put in them. Each package gets a sweater or gown or other body covering, a hat, a pair of booties or socks, and a blanket. They also get a card with information about our charity on one side and suggestions for what to do with their baby as they're saying good-bye on the other, our business card, and a "CARE" silicone bracelet.

I've long wanted to include disposable cameras, but of course we don't have the budget for that. I've been meaning to write to the various camera companies (Kodak, Fuji, etc.) and see if they'll donate some, but I haven't yet. Then I got the idea tonight to see if Ziploc would sponsor us, too, since I use a great deal of their bags for the packages!

I do have lots of gift bags from baby showers, but I haven't started using them yet. First, because that would only be a temporary solution as I don't plan to buy more when they're gone and don't get a lot donated, and second, because it doesn't work well with the way I like the packages to work. You can't really see what you're getting through a gift bag, and my stickers labeling size and sex might not be seen as well on the gift bags. So... I don't know. Maybe I'll just give them to the hospital and let them deal with them?


In the end, I was able to assemble exactly 30 complete packages for donation to the children's hospital, without having to lift a needle or hook myself to add something! This is exciting; usually I have to work for ages to make booties or hats to finish half the packages, but I had everything I needed and more. Thank you, to all of you out there who made this possible!

There were a surprising number of items in the packages that I did make, though, just not tonight. Beautiful sweaters out of Rowan yarn, and Malabrigo, and other fancy stuff. I love to squish and squeeze those soft, fine wools. Ohhh, how I do.

The hardest part of the night was assembling two or three toddler packages. I would just sit there with the items on my lap, pouting and frowning and trying hard not to think of the child who would need to receive them. So very sad. Of course, they're all sad... but the longer you have your child with you, I think the harder it is to say good-bye. Just my theory, anyway.


Remember this Baby Suprise jacket that I made? Probably not, it's been a LONG time. I never put buttons on it! Sorry, Steph, I had to take your job tonight, and these are the buttons I ended up with. Not too exciting, but they'll do. They'll do.

And that was the last item for the 30th package. Tomorrow, after I get home from plastics (and hopefully scheduling my abdominoplasty!!), I'll call up my contact at the Children's and see if I can arrange a drop-off. I haven't talked to her in over a year; that's how long it's been since CARE Package has made a substantial donation. We've mailed out packages to parents here and there, but this is the first one in a while, as I took 2009 off to mostly do what I felt like.

I'm ready now, though, to get back into working hard, full-time for our charity. I do have to make some longies - or shorties, now that Luke is almost 4 mos? - that I promised Steph, but otherwise, I am going to pick up hooks and needles for CARE Package again. I'm excited!!


P.S. I keep forgetting to add that I got a letter Monday, saying that Chloƫ had some artwork chosen to be put on display down at the airport! Her artwork will be exhibited throughout February. I can't wait to go and see it. She asked me not to, though, very modestly saying it was terrible and that she's "not creative." Whatever! She is SO crafty and clever. She thinks it's a clown, of which she doesn't seem to be very proud, but she's not sure. Will keep you posted.

Parent Night x Two

I had stayed up late Monday night for no good reason, so I was a sleepy, sleepy girl Tuesday. I napped all morning instead of getting the things done I needed to do, waking up just in time to go do my drug test at Harris Teeter. This whole getting-hired process is taking an annoyingly long time; I thought I would start working last Friday!  I didn't have to go pee in a cup for the test; instead, I had to stick a thing under my tongue for, like, 10 minutes until it turned blue.

And C., who was now in charge of hiring me, finally mentioned the nose ring. It had to go come out; I couldn't even cover it with a band-aid. I was worried about that. I mean, I really tried to get it out, but it wasn't budging. Eep. I was afraid I'd have to cut my nose!

Aaaaand, she told me that my availability basically sucked, and she was going to have a hard time giving me hours. I want to work during school hours, pretty much leaving nights and weekends for my family. In her words, HT is "a nights-and-weekends business," so there wasn't a lot she can do for me. I'm starting to re-think this whole working crap. Bah.

Back at home, I spent a half-hour trying to get that nose ring out. It was a major struggle, which I wasn't winning. It's a short post with an attached ball on either end, and they don't unscrew. So I had to shove one ball through the hole in my nose, which since closed up to be much smaller than the ball. Eventually, I worked it halfway through (I seem to have thick nostrils!), but it wouldn't budge the rest of the way. I grabbed my small sewing shears and tried to yank it, but that wasn't happening and just made my eyes water. Finally, I was able to snip right through the post with those dinky little shears! But then, I couldn't get the inside half out, so that was another fun challenge. Finally I pushed on it with the tip of the scissors and out it popped! I was so relieved. But now, I miss my little nosey bling. I liked it, man.

When the kids came home from school, I sent the Littles down for naps, because they were beyond tired and cranky. I had Chloƫ work on her homework until it was time to get ready for soccer. Daddy came home in time for me to get her to S***c for a dinner mystery shop to feed her little belly before soccer practice. She ate a ton, and then we realized that we never brought her a water bottle for soccer! Gah, that's not good. But the practice field is waaay far from home, so it was pointless to think about going home for one. She'd have to do without.

Other than that, soccer went splendidly, and they learned the "diamond formation," and practice lots of scoring goals using passing techniques. She's starting to pick up on things and spent an awful lot of time shouting, "I'm open! I'm open!" She even made two goals, and I could tell she was elated about that!

Meanwhile, Rob had woken up the kids and taken them to school for Jack and Chloƫ's Open House. They sat through the opening PTA meeting - which I was glad to miss, as it's always boring and disorganized as hell - and then waited for us to meet them in C's class. Mrs. B. was already in the middle of talking about their daily schedules, which is a hectic one for those gifted students! They are go-go-go, all day, every day. I hope she can keep up. She seems to be doing all right so far. Mrs. B teaches the language arts, and Mrs W. teaches science, social studies and math. The students switch classrooms halfway through the day.

So during the second session, Rob went with her to Mrs. W's spiel, while the Littles and I walked to Jack's first grade class. Only one other family was in there for the second session, so Mrs. J quickly ran through her little presentation and then I had a chance to talk to her personally, since the other family had already done so beforehand. I guess Jack is having a LOT of trouble catching up and staying focused, which is news to me. He's been doing SO well on his homework, not only with most comprehension but with sitting down and getting it done in a timely manner. Also, I thought he was getting pull-out services (for his IEP), but apparently they're only doing inclusion. Mrs. J is going to talk to his Special Ed teacher about the need for more services, especially if his attention problem continues and/or worsens.

On the way home, I discussed this with Jack, and he admitted he wasn't paying attention in class. What I can do about it from afar, I don't know, other than continually reminding him that he's got to pay attention and focus on his classroom. First grade just ain't like kindergarten, pally!

At home, I gave the kids a quick dinner and sent them to bed before I crashed myself - at 2130!  But if you saw today's Wordless Wednesday post, then you'll see the pictures Rob took of Sophie "playing" the violin at Open House, with the 5th grade music teacher. They don't start chorus/orchestra/band until 5th grade at this school. Seems absurd to me, but what do I know?


After a good, long sleep, I was raring to go this morning at 0630. The kids got up on time, so we had plenty of time for a leisurely breakfast and preparation for Picture Day. This was a nice switch from my usual let's-go-let's-go-let's-go chant every other morning!

Of course, I didn't think to get pictures of the kids, but you'll see them when the pictures come back. I only hope they looked half as decent by picture time as they did when they got on the bus! Chloƫ looked especially nice, with her hair in a pretty barrette and a Fall dress on. Jack chose a green shirt and green camo pants, and he insisted that's what he wanted to wear, so... we went with it. Why the hell not?

I spent the whole day unpacking and rearranging the office, since it has been full of boxes since the downstairs floor was installed. It's been driving me crazy not having my yarn and patterns and craft table accessible so I can work! Plus I just hate a mess. It took me the whole day, and a lot of sweat, but I got it done. It looks good; I'm happy!

And no, HT didn't call me with the results of the drug test like they said they would, so yet another day passed without working. Frustrating!

Right after school, the kids had their usual snacktime, then the Littles and I did a little clean-up while Chloƫ got ready for Jazz class. She couldn't find her ballet shoes and was in absolute tears. She still hasn't found the new ones, which is driving me mad.

Just in time, she found the pair of shoes, and we zipped off to class. Both Littles fell asleep in the car, so after I dropped her off and found myself starving from busting my hump all day, I decided to go to Sonic for my new favorite, the egg and cheese Croissandwich, or whatever the thing is called. Good stuff, aye. Only, I ate too much of it and, on the way back to dance class, ended up yakking it all up. Nice. Fun. Good thing I had the Sonic bag to use!

We drove straight to school after dance, this time for Sophie's Parent Night at preschool. Rob met us there. It was his first time at the preschool, so he didn't know where to go and parked way far away. Oh, well.

Sophie reading

After a short discussion about the rules, regs and routines of the preschool, the children each took their parents around the different "centers" to show us what they do during the day. Sophie wanted to visit the "Library" first. She sat down to "read" us a story, which was absolutely the cutest thing ever. I wanted to cry, she was so adorable. Wish I could've taped it! I guess I could have, but I keep forgetting my iPhone has video!

Sophie reading 2

She didn't want to go to the next center just yet, so she "read" us another book, which was just as sweet. After she finished that, she went back and "read" us the first book again! It was definitely her favorite.

Sophie hand

The next center we visited was "Art." Here, the kids each colored a little wooden hand and put stickers on it, and then we put magnet tape on the back. Chloƫ did one, too, but Jack didn't want to. He wanted to skip ahead to the apple-tasting center with Daddy. There, the kids could choose to eat their apple slices plain, or with sugar, caramel or peanut butter, and then the class made a chart with everyone's choices. Peanut butter was the clear winner!

*Picture removed*

The next center was "Legos." That was Jack's favorite; after he discovered that, he did not want to leave, even when the whole shabang was over. He pitched a small fit about having to put down that airplane!

Sophie puzzle

We visited "Manipulatives" next. Basically, they had to do puzzles. They were really simple puzzles, so I challenged Sophie to do them as fast as she could. She was super-fast! And proud of it, too. :)

*picture removed*

The last center we had time to visit was "Easel." We missed "Blocks," which was on our little passport to the classroom, although there are several more available centers that weren't on our little tour. Sophie painted a picture with watercolors - see? She's our little Southpaw!

Sophie's painting

This was her finished work. She was so proud of that sun! So was I. Now the picture is on our fridge, of course.

*picture removed*

At the very end, all the kids, along with Mrs. P and Mrs. S, got up and recited the little grace that they say before breakfast and lunch. (Sophie eats breakfast at home, so, I found out, when she gets to school, she eats half her lunch at breakfast time with the other kids! I have since started packing her bigger lunches, and she eats every last thing, unlike her older siblings.) It was really cute, and they all knew every word. I can't remember it, or I'd share it with you. Maybe I'll ask her for tomorrow.

When it was over, we had to run and do another S***c dinner shop, but we can only get one meal, so everyone was still hungry after that little appetizer. We drove home, where I got the kids started on homework while Rob cleaned up the kitchen a little so I could cook. Jack had mac & cheese (I had gotten a few free Easy Macs this past week for when I knew he wouldn't eat the main meal), and everyone else had a Schwan's chicken/rice/broccoli meal from Schwan's. I have not been sticking to our menu plan as much this week! But it's good for a guide...

Jack homework

After dinner, I helped Jack with his math homework. They're learning tally marks. He had a lot of difficulty with this, wanting to make the "slash" its own thing, and then do the five for the next set, and so on. I went over and over and over it with him, before Rob pulled me aside and said he thinks Jack has a math learning disability, like we think Chloƫ has. I don't know, I think he just wasn't paying attention! Once he really paid attention, he got it pretty quickly. He has a very hard time recognizing numbers greater than 10, so I had him write the numbers 1-30, and then I tested them on the numbers. And then we tallied some more. We'll need to review that a lot more to get him back to where he was at the end of kindergarten and catch him up to first grade level!

And that, my friends, is the end.


Hump Day

I'm tired. Bullets it is:

  • Up early, kids up, off to school, hurrah
  • Did ~7-8 loads of laundry with Sophie's help

  • Watched new Veggies movie with Jack and Soap

  • Took short nap

  • Took kids to Sophie's dance class while Rob went to do motorcycle road test

  • Rob couldn't do test because of rain. Arghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

  • Stopped for 99Ā¢ chicken sandwich at Wendy's to fill hungry little tummies

  • Drove home during ChloĆ«'s class because I forgot my phone and wanted to see how the road test went. It didn't, so printed out all my shop paperwork, grabbed Rob & mail, and went back

  • Did first Exxon mystery shop. Gross poop in toilet & I had to photograph it

  • Did second Exxon mystery shop - thank God the restroom was clean

  • Did Shoe Carnival shop. Found pair of shoes to replace my most beloved shoes ever, a $5 Kmart special, that broke a year or two ago

  • Decided to do Texas Roadhouse shop tomorrow and went home so Rob could make dinner & I could do homework with the kids

  • ChloĆ«, who used to languish for hours over simple homework, is getting it done lickety-split now that I'm setting a time limit for earning Game of Life points. And she's getting it right, too!

  • 100_1002 

  • Helped ChloĆ« finish her special marine-life-made-of-recycled objects project. This is the seal she made, with an empty water bottle for the body. She was thrilled with it; she thought it was "so cute"

  • Ran to Farm Fresh for more bottled water and five bucks for Jack's 2 school parties next week - OOPS, forgot to give it to him, better get it out right now

  • Sonic Free Floats 

  • Took the family to Sonic for Free Root Beer Float night

  • Teared up a little when ChloĆ« said she was sad that I couldn't have one, but hid it

  • Think I might work on Jack's shirt a little before waking Rob to go upstairs.


Down In The Dumps

So I'm convinced I have MRSA. There's some stuff all over my neck. I should probably get to a dermatologist or something.


Rob didn't come home early and surprise me today. I was hoping he would, but nope.  I get spoiled easily!

Hmm... Oh. After the kids went off to school, I crawled back up in the bed until 10, when Sophia woke up. Thank God she slept in later than usual; I didn't get to sleep for doody last night. I was still pretty tired, so the rest of our morning wasn't very active. We mostly cuddled and played kitchen.

This afternoon, they napped, and I napped some more, while Rob took Curly Girl to dance class. When they got up, I asked if they wanted to fingerpaint, and the answer was a resounding YES!


I believe both the Crayola paints and the Crayola sticky mats came from Grandma. They love to use them, but since they reside on the top of the refrigerator, I rarely think of them.


The kids absolutely love them. I only had red, yellow and green, and they kept begging for purple, orange and blue.  Well, they made orange, but then everything got all mixed up, to become a lovely shade of barf green. Seriously, looking at them covered in it and watching it drip off their hands, I wanted to hurl! But I sat there and enjoyed them enjoying themselves like a champ.


They were pretty great. Each wrote their names and some other letters in the paint, and then they drew some basic shapes. Jack even drew a picture of Spongebob Squarepants, although he smeared it all up again before I could snap a picture.

After they filthed themselves up quite spectacularly, I took them one at a time, nakey, into the kitchen sink for a sponge bath. They both got quite a kick out of being naked in the sink, although not so much the scrubbing Mommy was giving them! Afterward, Jack fetched my special Royal Almond lotion, and I gave them each a rubdown to make them soft and smelly-good again. I got to rub soft tushies, yay!




Rob snapped these pictures of the kids showing off their 'guns,' and he was most impressed with Sophia's. I don't know, I think Jack has a nice set, too!

My dinner didn't go so well. They had pesto sauce and shells, plus corn, so I was out of that game. I made myself some protein tomato soup and then had a protein bar. It proved to be too much, somehow, I don't know, but on came my second bout with Dumping Syndrome. I knew in the middle of the bar that something was 'off,' and then came the shakes, the weakness, the upset tummy and the whole shabang that goes with it. Oh, it's miserable. I don't wish that on... well, any of you readers, anyway! Hehe.  This time, it was all over much faster than the first time, so that was good.


I did make a bunch of progress on the BSJ today, off and on during the day, but I don't think I'll have it finished by tomorrow as hoped. Oh, well, I'll still try! Definitely by Thursday, I think. I just love this yarn. It gives good squeeze. I'm starting to worry that I'll run out of yarn before I run out of pattern, though. And it's discontinued...eep!

Oh, also, I helped Jack with his homework, as usual. First, we read two books (with Sophia perched precariously on the back of the couch to follow along) from the Prize bucket. Then he wrote three words each that rhymed with "pen" and "hit." (Rob wouldn't let us use "tit.") Finally, we went over his sight words. Let me tell you, he is improving by leaps and bounds! And suddenly he is really responding to all the praise, and I'm way overdoing it when he gets a word right.  It was funny, when he missed one and I didn't smile and squeal and chill, he put his fingers to the corners of my mouth and said, "No, make a smile, Mommy!" But he missed eight, and the second time we went through, he only missed four of those, and then none on the third try! I told him when he gets them all right on the first try, we'll make lollipops. Hopefully soon!

Well, I'm off to Wii. Still no sign of my darn nunchuk, and I want to box. Hmph.



The Burrito Has Landed


It's not the greatest art photo in the world, I know, but after a long wait, we just wanted to get the show on the road! We bought this on our European cruise, which ended 7 July, so we have anxiously awaited its arrival for the past 6Ā½ months.

It is Deep Night Romance by Romero Britto, though to me it will always be "The Burrito." Go have a look, and a listen. I don't feel like doing much right now, but the music makes me want to get up and boogie. Maybe you will; I'll just sit here and sip my sugar-free-apple-thinned low-fat-oatmeal lunch and watch.

I like it. No, I love it. We love. It symbolizes so much for us, words that don't come right now. (Sorry for the typing, I still can't see straight.)

I'm happy it finally arrived!