Thursday, December 21, 2006

A Fun Fiasco

Oh my. We did our gingerbread house yesterday and today. I was too tired to make actual gingerbread, so we went the cheap and easy route by using icing to glue graham crackers onto boxes to make our house. It isn't pretty, but here's the house. One of the critters decided that it looked pretty tasty and ate three of the cookies.

Okay, I'll admit it, I made the darned house. I was tired and just didn't feel like decorating, so Thomas took over. I think this has to be the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree of Gingerbread houses, it's SO ugly! BUT...we had fun, so that's what counts. Our memory this year will be of the ugly house.

Thomas decided to be creative and make a gingerbread train. He used Daisy from the Thomas the Tank Engine line for an engine, and plain graham crackers for Anne and Clarabel. Velveeta boxes are underneath. You can tell that he cared and had energy when he was working on Daisy, and he too got tired and in a hurry as time went on.


A friend of mine sent me photos of her gingerbread house making experience from last year. She also sent me a recipe. So, next year I promise we'll have beautiful gingerbread houses. Hers were!

I'm not crafty, I don't enjoy making crafts. I don't like the mess. I am a perfectionist and I can't stand it when it is anything but perfect. Just imagine how difficult this was on me! But motherhood has taught me patience. I can do the craft thing, I can put a smile on my face, I can encourage Thomas. I can actually enjoy the experience -- through him. I thought his train was rather clever.

We made fudge tonight. Well, Thomas made fudge, I supervised. Have I ever mentioned, I just don't like cooking, either? I love to eat, but the cooking part is boring. So again, I put a smile on my face and pretend to enjoy myself. Thomas's enthusasim grabs hold of me and I eventually enjoy it. Tonight, though, this thought ran through my head: Who on earth can enjoy standing in front of a stove, stirring for ten minutes so it doesn't burn, then stirring to melt chocolate and marshmallow fluff? My arm got tired, I hate standing still, and it just wasn't fun.

I think in my next life I want to come back as a man. And I want to come back in the 1950s. Then I won't have to cook or do crafts. I can go target shooting, work in a shop, and do manly things that are so much fun. Sheesh, I think I sound a little sexist here.

Well, at least Thomas's train is cute.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Many late-night random thoughts

First, regarding the Brown fire. There is a follow up to the article. Tammy posted the link. Go to her blog, click the link, and you'll see a photo. You'll see one of the children trying to salvage the tree. Click on that photo to enlarge it. You'll also see a room with chairs, a TV -- lots of stuff. So if you've never been through a fire, you might think everything is salvageable, right? It all looks okay in the photo -- messy due to people, fire fighters, etc. But what you don't get through seeing the picture is smell.

My sister had a house fire several years ago. I was in college at the time, still living at home. Mom and dad left me at home to help her recover from the fire. I think they were gone about a week. They stayed at a motel, so they were in clean surroundings. The night they got home, I raced to the door to let them in, and although they were in clean clothes, showered, fresh -- they stunk the worse stink I have ever smelled. The smell they carried on their bodies nearly made me get sick. Everything they brought into the house had that smell. I cannot describe it with accuracy. Yes, it smelled like burnt goods, but it was much worse. It took a long time to get that stink out of our house.

So you see, you don't see the smell in the photos. Trust me, it's there, and it's bad. And nearly impossible to get out of the stuff that may still otherwise be good. The other thing you don't see is water everywhere. Water ruins things.


On another note, Thomas and I will be making gingerbread houses tomorrow. It seems if you don't buy a kit when you first see them, you're scre -- erh, out of luck. So I've been looking for recipes. I'll post photos when we're done.


On a final note, I did the unthinkable today. After I mentioned here that we use Rod and Staff math and that I hand make worksheets, I thought how silly for me to do that. So I got an exacto knife and cut the spine out of the student book. I then sliced the spine into five chunks that will fit in my extra-special high performance ($100) three-hole punch left over from my court reporting days. We then put the pages in a notebook (some people call them three-ring binders). I now have a book that I can circle what problems Thomas has to do, that he can take individual sheets out of, and he will now be forced to copy and do his own problems that can't be worked in tea book. I think I'd babied him far too long on that. I also feared keeping books in pristine condition so that I could resell them.

Phooey to that. He worked two lessons today and LOVED that he could write in his book. Amazingly, he did math in record time this morning as well. And he had to copy about 10 problems out of the book and work on graph paper -- it still went so much faster than our typical two-hour math sessions.

Whew. Why didn't I do that sooner? The photo is at the top -- I couldn't get it to move down here where I want it. It was very, very hard for me to cut up a perfect condion book.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Big Heart

As I was getting my donation for the Brown family ready for the mail today, Thomas asked what I was doing. I had told him the story, but he wanted to know more. So I read the article to him. Thomas then bolted straight to his room, dug for money, and came out with five old and weathered dollar bills. "It was all I could find, mom, but I'd like to give it to the family."

And so he did. He wrote a short note, folded up his dollars, and off we went to the post office.

Thomas is very tight with his money, so mom and dad were very proud of him. He has a big heart and wished he had more money to give.

On another note, we did a math marathon this morning. Thomas hates math, but we got ourselves a little behind. So this is math catch-up week. It went surprisingly well. Gee, the week before Christmas, the thought of "Santa" watching (yes, he knows) just got him in the spirit to work well. I wish that would happen every week with math, but I'll just be thankful that he works well with everything else the rest of the time besides math.

We did not start our Christmas unit today because we were busy catching up with other stuff, cleaning the house, being interrupted by the city wanting to change our water meter, phone calls, etc. So tomorrow nothing but math and Christmas. Reminds me of cramming for a test -- but at least we'll have fun.

I don't think I've ever mentioned this on the blog, but we switched math programs yet again this year. We are using Rod and Staff. We both love it. In all honesty, Thomas really does like it -- as much as he can like any math program. He likes it better than Lial's and Singapore. I like it because there is so much practice and review. Thomas really needs that. The only thing I don't like is that I have to make worksheets for Thomas. He is so slow time-wise with math that I simply have to write the problems out for him. I guess that's a mixed blessing, because I use graph paper. Thomas does much better aligning his numbers with graph paper than on notebook paper.

Our second choice is Lial's. We would have continued with Lial's except that I think Thomas needed lots more practice than it afforded.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

I have an idea

I want to do something and I'm wondering if it would work. I want to start a website called Homeschoolers helping Homeschoolers. Then when we learn of a tragedy, like the recent Brown Family fire in PA, we could verify that it was real, and get local contact information.

I am the type that cries when I read these stories. I really do hurt for the families. If I can spare a few bucks, I do. So if I did this, would it help? Would it make a difference? Would it work?

Any ideas?

Of course, if this were my site, I would have something along the lines of this: Your race, religion, sex or sexual orientation doesn't matter. This is a matter of homeschoolers reaching out to humanity. You know, some kind of caveat like that, to include any homeschooler.

What does anyone think?

Homeschoolers, Fire, Contact Information

I emailed the reporter, Jill King Greenwood, who wrote the story about the family of 10, who happen to homeschool, who lost their home, their belongings, and all of their school in a fire last week. She gave me the contact information.

read article here

I'm going to send what I can. I know nothing more about this family, but my heart just aches for them. If you can spare a few dollars, I'm sure they would more than appreciate it.

Brown Family Fund

c/o Knoxville United Church

148 Jucunda Street

Pittsburgh, Pa. 15210

(412) 381-3317