Saturday, February 18, 2006

Up, Down, All Around

Joke of the day:

The church had an aging pastor. He got this new glasses with
lined bifocals as the congregation would not afford no-line bifocal lenses for him.The Sunday morning he came wearing this new pair of bifocals for the sermon. The lower reading portion of the glasses improved his reading, but the top portion of the glasses didn't work so well. In fact he was experiencing dizziness every time he looked through them or switched from lower reading lenses to upper distance lenses. Worried about his job, he apologized to the congregation and said, "I hope you
will excuse my continually removing my glasses. You see when I look down I can see fine, but when I look at you, it makes me sick."

tee hee hee

Rant of the Day: I have springfeveritis -- cabin fever-- lack of sunlight infliction -- mild seasonal depression -- whatever you want to call it. Today sucked and I couldn't even get myself too excited over the "troll" visiting my favorite homeschool HAUNT. I was feeling icky all week but I think this darned cold snap really snapped me.

So...tomorrow I'm going to get my butt up, shower immediately, hit a friendly mart store and get a full spectrum light.

This garbage has been cyclical since I moved to Minnesota. Just another reason I don't care for Minnesota -- lack of sunshine.

OH -- if anyone ever tells you that Minnesota's motto is Minnesota Friendly -- don't believe them. Maybe in the twin cities where there are more people, but small-town Minnesota -- forget about it. Rude, rude, rude.

Happy Thought for the Day: My sister is alive and well, her family is safe, even the poodle.

My sister and family just built a big, beautiful home in Colorado. A couple of days ago, a wildfire burned over 700 acres coming up on their property. The fence separating her house from the neighbors burned. She was extremely fortunate that they were the only home that did not get smoke damage.

She was doing her taxes and there was a loud knock at the door. It was a deputy telling her to prepare to evacuate. She put the dog in the car and her taxes in the car, went to the bedroom to pack a change of clothes and then another knock at the door. It was the deputy telling her to get out NOW. She grabbed her suitcase which only contained a change of clothes for her, and out she went. There was zero visibility on the road and she was scared she was going to hit a firetruck. She was amazed at how fast the fire spread because she had just looked out the window and saw smoke far away. They were let back in later that evening. Only a few trees on her property were charred.

Thank you fire fighters, deputies, and anyone involved in saving the 12 houses in the fire's path.

Today, a few days later, they are still putting out hot spots on their property. Scary.

Moral of the story: Don't burn your trash. This fire was caused by someone who burned their garbage a few days earlier and didn't put dirt on it when they were done. High winds scattered the debris and there were burning embers still that started the fire.

This is a photo of the fire -- her house is behind the flames.

Friday, February 17, 2006

My Hot Date Tonight (Exciting times for a 40-year-old housewife)

I hate to cook. I never hated it before I got married. My dh is picky and doesn't like 3/4 of what I prepare. He's a hot and spicy, Mexican and meat and potatoes kind of guy and I'm a bland and mild Mexican and Italian kind of gal. That sounds funny. I actually am 1/8 Italian, but I digress.

Our family is having several issues with food at the moment.

1) DS is on a growth spurt. (I think this one will last through his teen years.)
2) Mom is on an unneeded growth spurt
3) Dad is on a growth spurt, but at 6'5 he only needs to lose 10 maybe 15 pounds.
4) Snacks in this household are un-nutritious and unhealthy (think Goldfish crackers, processed gunk, store-bought muffins, store-bought cookies, etc.)
5) DH and I are starting to have that NO YOU COOK DINNER battle.
6) There's never anything to eat.
7) They know our first names at the local Subway, Taco Bell, Taco Johns and Wendy's

We are in a rut with our dinners.

Here it is 7:00 at night and I won out...DH couldn't stand it any longer. He's cooking dinner. I won't be eating. He's making bacon and eggs. He fries the eggs in the bacon grease and the smell alone makes me sick. I'll have yet another meatloaf sandwich for dinner.

So...time to check my arsenal of cookbooks.

Make-a-Mix and More Make-a-Mix (or something like that), two books I bought off ebay a few year ago. I need to actually MAKE the mixes.
The Freezer Cooking Manual from 30 Day Gourmet: A Month of Meals Made Easy
My old white three-ring binder full of my favorite Weight Watchers recipes that the whole family will eat.

Yes, I need to become a freezer cooker again. You know the type, they spend two days cooking, preparing, throwing it altogether and into the freezer so they can prepare dinner at a moment's notice -- well, enough time to bake in the oven.

The 30-day Gourmet book is an excellent book on how to become a freezer cooker. However, their recipes suck. Our library has Frozen Assets which I need to check out.

Tonight, the kitchen table and I have a date. We're doing some major menu planning. Tomorrow I'm hitting the store and Sunday I'll, gasp, cook all day.

My favorite freezer-friendly recipe that my whole family loves is Bean Burrito Casserole. Recipe below.
Hopefully sitting down and doing this will make my life easier. Hopefully we'll have some decent snacks at our fingertips. Hopefully DH and I won't have that NO YOU COOK DINNER argument.

I said it before, but I'll say it again: I hate to cook.

Makes two 9X13" pans
2 pounds ground beef
1 package taco seasoning (I use about 4 tsp)
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 large can of refried beans
1 can olives
4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
20-24 flour tortillas, burrito size
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 can condensed nacho cheese soup
8 ounces sour cream
Brown hamburger. Add taco seasoning according to directions.Add cumin and chili powder. Add olives, breaking them up with your fingers (or chop them). Stir in refried beans. Mix soups and sour cream in bowl. Add enough milk to make it pourable but still very thick. Spread about 1/2 cup soup mixture into each of two sprayed 9x13 pans. Divide meat mixture evenly between tortillas. Roll enchilada style. Place seam side down in pans. If any meat mixture remains, spread it over the top of the burritos. Pour soup mixture over burritos dividing evenly between pans. Top with cheese. Bake at 350 degrees 20-30 minutes. If frozen, let thaw and bake about 40 minutes. If frozen bake about an hour and ahalf.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Don't You Wish You Lived in M~i~n~n~e~s~o~t~a?

Rest of Tonight
Colder. Partly cloudy. Lows around 5 below. Northwest winds 15 to 20 mph. Lowest wind chill readings 20 below to 30 below zero after midnight.

Colder. Partly cloudy. Highs 5 below to zero. Northwest winds 10 to 20 mph. Wind chill readings 25 below to 35 below zero.

Friday Night
Colder. Partly cloudy. Lows around 15 below. West winds 5 to 10 mph.

Not good for one suffering from springfeveritis.

I will break from my habit of 1) letting my DS take the dog out. DS usually goes out barefooted. 2) I go out barefooted, too, so I will wear shoes and coat and gloves for the few seconds I will be out in it.


Introducing Tommy's Island Oasis (aka my son's website)

My son has been begging me to share the link to his website.

He started out great guns and then slowed down. We need to figure out more content for his site.

He would really appreciate some visits and comments in his guestbook.
He also started a blog, but only has two entries. I'll get him writing yet.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

It's snowing. It's expected to continue well into the night. Public schools were closed today. Our homeschool field trip was cancelled. The Cub Scouts pack meeting tonight was cancelled.

Ah -- another day off this week, and this one "legal." lol My husband even took the afternoon off work to stay home and play.

I'm enjoying this time off SO much that I decided to take tomorrow off, too.

Funny thing is that when we take school off, we still do informal school. Yesterday we had to drive to Iowa (20 miles from where we live) to do some shopping. We listened to our SOTW CD. Then we discussed it.

For a child that was diagnosed with CAPD, was labeled an impaired visual-spatial learner but currently a conceptual learner, with caveats that he will not learn by auditory means, he sure is learning history and remembering it through those CDs. I think there was an error in diagnosis.

Let it snow. Bring it on. All is well in our world. After we dig out this afternoon, I think hot chocolate, a good book, a warm blanket and the big snuggle chair are in order for DS and I.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Lial's Basic College Math

Our Lial's Basic College Math book arrived yesterday. I'm still waiting on the teacher's manual to arrive.

After looking it over, I decided it was a good choice. A very good choice. My husband thought it looked difficult but doable. My son panicked when he saw the book -- maybe because his first view was a page with 100 problems on it. I told him to look closer, as it was easy multiplication problems that he could handle. That gave him some relief, but he didn't like the amount of problems. The page layout is much more grown-up, too, which I think threw DS for a loop.

I think, gulp, that I am going to take the book apart. Thankfully it has perforated pages. (We don't have a Kinkos or Office Max close so it would be a pain to go to one to get the binding cut.) I will put each section into a binder. The pages are very shiny and slippery. There also isn't a lot of room to work, especially for a 10-year-old with large handwriting. I think that I will probably type up worksheets to go along with the book and put them in the binder. Either that or do it by hand as we are working along. I guess we need to dive in and I'll figure that out as we go.

Our Key to Fractions books arrived the same day and I must say I'm really glad I bought those. So we have two Key to sets....Fractions and Decimals. I think when we start a chapter that we have a Key to set for, I will have DS work the Key to books first, then do the corresponding chapter in the BCM book. I may buy some of the other Key to sets as well. The BCM books introduces concepts on very basic and easy terms that DS will be able to handle. It moves fast, though, and I think the Key to series will help with the confidence and practice factor.

I'm having trouble figuring out where to start. We've been working on fractions. DS is doing well, but I think he needs a lot more practice. I don't know whether to start in the middle of the book and continue with fractions or just start at the beginning of the book. Actually I'd like to just start at the beginning, but here's the thing. We are required to do standardized testing yearly in Minnesota. I want to make sure that DS has adequate coverage of grade-appropriate skills that will be on that test. I think we are far enough with fractions that he will be okay -- but we still need some decimal work and some geometry. And this screws up my methodical plan of starting at the beginning.

I am toying with the idea of doing the standardized test immediately -- with a crash course in perimeters and decimals and just getting it over with so we can go on our merry way. I do know my son will be upset if he's taking "the test" and there is something that we haven't covered. He's very sensitive and he wouldn't handle that well.

There is no way we'll be able to finish this book in a year. I'm thinking two years. If we were to omit the Key to books, I think we could do the program in a little over a year -- but we're in no rush and I want DS to have his math down pat and be comfortable with it.

So, in the end I'm very happy we purchased this and excited to implement the book.

Blogging and time constraint woes

Last night I sat down and wrote a really long entry. Then I clicked "Publish Post" and I got a message stating I could not connect to Blogger. Then my computer froze up.

Gone, all gone.

That's okay, I guess, as it was a late-night, fatigue-induced rambling entry.

We're taking the day off school today. I am just spent. My house looks like a tornado went through it. My mind feels as if a tornado went through it. I am NOT a multitasker. Never have been and probably never will be.

Oh, the joys of homeschooling...being able to do this. Next week public school (and our homeschool calendar) has Monday and Tuesday off. I'll probably have school on Tuesday to make up for today.

One of the most frustrating components of homeschooling is my internal clock. I am a night owl. I am not a morning person. My son is a night owl, too. The problem with this is if you get up at 9, it's at least 10 before you're showered, fed, small chores (feeding and taking animals out) are done and you're ready to start the day. So that makes our school day longer.

We have never been the type of homeschoolers that can have school done in three hours. I just can't believe when I read people's posts stating they're done with school by noon. It boggles my mind. My son is a slow worker, but there's just so much to do that I cannot fathom how "they" get it done in such a small amount of time.

Then we have the component of "the husband." Ah, yes, "the husband" has a fit that I am a night owl. He has a fit that DS is a night owl. The husband is a morning person. He wakes up early and happy. He falls asleep on the couch almost nightly by 8 -- unless, of course, he and DS are playing Runescape online.

The husband is upset that we don't start school at 8 every morning. So is my father. They say I'm enforcing bad habits. They say DS will never be able to get a job and be at work on time. I counter with the fact that I worked for 11 years and was never late. It's called setting an alarm clock. You do what you have to do.

We were making DS go to bed at 9 and that was working much better -- but we got off track somewhere and DS is going to bed at 10 again. He gets up between 8 and 9.

I really need to think this through and come up with some sort of solution. DS never balks when we finish school at 4, but it would be really nice for me to have afternoon time to keep the house up, do laundry, etc. This goes back to multitasking -- I can't multitask, and if I could, I would be able to fold clothes while DS was doing some lessons. But DS needs me in the room so he can stay on task. If I'm not, he's daydreaming. Trying to teach him to focus and concentrate is very difficult -- something that I hope continued practice plus maturity will help.

My dad and my husband keep telling me a strict schedule will help. It's just against my grain to be strict. I can make schedules like crazy -- in fact, it's almost like a hobby. But implementing those schedules, ah, that's the tricky part.

In the end, school gets done, my son learns, his confidence is up, and he's happy. Maybe I should quit worrying so much. Maybe I should ignore two men in my life when they start bellyaching about time. Maybe I should just focus on the positives -- my son is learning well and is happy.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Sunday Ramblings

Quote of the day: Perfectionism is idiotic. -- my son

Ah, music to a mother's ears, that quote. My son is a perfectionist and we are trying to re-train his ways. He gets so frustrated when he tries something and it isn't perfect. Finally, I think we're making headway. I think he's getting it. Thank you, Ms. Frizzle, for your "Get messy, make mistakes" comments in all the MSB books. That helps reinforce that our teachings.

We are recovering from our Cub Scouts Blue and Gold Banquet tonight. I'll blog more on that tomorrow. However, my house is a disaster!!! I was sick Saturday, our normal cleaning day, and no one bothered to lift a finger. Today was spent decorating a cake, preparing our dish to take with us, picking up 50 helium balloons, decorating the hall where the banquet was held and finally enjoying the banquet. After the banquet I ended up staying late and cleaning. I am exhausted.

I declared tomorrow a home ec (meaning we're cleaning up this dump) day. My son cried: But MOM, I want to do school. That's not fair.

Ah, music to a mother's ears again. He wants to do school! Well, we'll have to venture out of the school room, find a spot at the kitchen table for him while I spend hours on a dirty kitchen. I'll then have to dig up his plastic portable lap desk thingamabob and he can do school in the living room with the background tune being the hum of the vacuum.

He wants to do school. I wonder...does he really want to do school or does he not want to clean! I'll just pretend that he desperately wants to do school and feel happy about that. Yeah, that's it, he desperately wants to do school. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.