Friday, December 29, 2006

Trains - Part 3

Here is the train. The engine is a Union Pacific SD50. There's a Burlington Northern reefer, a Chesapeake & Ohio gondola, a UP wrecking car, a Canadian National gondola, a UP box car and a Chicago Northwestern way car (caboose.)

Thomas has ordered a new RS3 Rock Island engine , which is a switch engine, with his Christmas money. It seems our UP SD50 is just a hair long for the 18-inch radius and switching on the shorter track. The new RS3 is shorter so he shouldn't have a problem.

Trains - Part 2

This is the control panel that Thomas built -- with just a little help from his dad.

The table top that Bob built sits on the old play table that Bob built a few years ago. Bob had a huge piece of styrofoam in the garage, so they used that to elevate the new table while they did their wiring. Thomas is doing his soldering.

A tape measure comes in handy to hold the wires to be soldered.

Ignore the ugly basement, please. Someday I'll finish painting the walls.

Trains -- Part 1

This is the train table. Bob built the 4 x 8 board and attached insulation board on top. That was part of Thomas's Christmas present. The tracks are True Track by Atlas. We bought a layout set because it was easier. Thomas and Bob have been working on this since Christmas. The track is all nailed down and they are working on the wiring.

Thomas dug out some of his old Thomas the Tank Engine stuff to play with while they were working. Any trains you see on the table are not HO scale, just his old toys. Once they get all the wiring done, they will work on scenery.

Go to bed already

It's 2:30 am and I'm still up. In my perfect world, I'd stay up until 4 or so every night, sleep until noon or so, then start my day. Well, it obviously is impossible to live my perfect world on a day-to-day basis because I'm a mom -- a homeschooling mom. I wonder when Thomas is grown and leaves the house if I will indeed go to that schedule.

It was a slow day, I putzed around the house in the morning. I talked to a friend on the phone in the afternoon, and that was a very special treat. Then my stomach started hurting. I took a nap after super until 7:30. I realized it was Thursday and my dream of deep cleaning the kitchen on our break was not going to be realized unless I got off my butt and started to work. So I did. And I felt very ill while I was doing it but I plugged away.

One of the things I find most troublesome about homeschooling is that I don't have time to devote to my home that I would like. I am not a multi-tasker, I cannot do two things at once. I have to give undivided attention to the task at hand. And that makes it impossible for me to clean during school. I mean deep clean.

Thomas and his dad worked on the electrical wiring of his model train set tonight, so I had peace and quiet. I was able to get a lot done, but I still have a good solid day's worth of cleaning in the kitchen to do. Maybe two. I also want to get the Christmas stuff packed away. I also want to get the laundry caught up. I also want to... you name it, I want to do it.

What is it about the Christmas holiday that turns your house upside down? I haven't done laundry in a week. The house is a mess. Perhaps it is because my husband has the week off and is underfoot. Sometimes I miss the days that I worked outside the home. My house was always in good shape and clean then. Yes, I had a cleaning lady come once a week, but that wasn't why it was in good shape. It was because no one was there during the day to mess it up.

Even though we're on break this week, the learning has not stopped. Thomas has learned so much about electricity this week. He's learned terms of all the doodads: terminals, switches, amps, etc. -- stuff I know nothing about (nor do I care to know!). He has spent hours wiring that track. It's a long process, definitely longer than I thought it would be. His dad taught him how to solder today. What surprised me most is that the boys spent several hours together today and tonight working on it, and Bob got tired and curled up with a book. Thomas plugged away and continued to work. All by himself. I was very impressed by that because the train stuff is in the basement, and he hates to be in the basement alone, and secondly, because he usually doesn't like to work on projects by himself.

Tomorrow should be more of the same: me cleaning the kitchen and the boys working on the train.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Give me Eight More

Anyone who has ever done an exercise tape knows that phrase, Give me eight more.

I don't know WHAT I was thinking today, but I actually popped an exercise tape into the machine, stood in front of the TV, and moved. Yes, mark this down on the calendar, I exercised. Now I did go "lite" and chose a 30-minute tape instead of an hour long, but I did it!

Thomas was so shocked he ran to tell his father who was in the basement. His father had already figured out what was going on because the house was shaking. (It wasn't really that bad.)

With all the junk we've been eating, I can actually feel that extra weight coming on -- and believe me, I don't need any more, thank you very much. I'm also on a quest to raise my HDL cholesterol number and exercise is the way to do that.

Exercise is something we lack in our homeschool. Thomas plays, and plays hard, and I think that he gets adequate exercise through that. However, I want him to learn that adult daily exercise is a good thing. Kids learn by example, right?

I want to find some kind of exercise tape he can do with me. I have almost everything put out by Richard Simmons, but Thomas doesn't care for my beloved Richard. I think a trip to the library is in order. Hopefully there will be something out there that Thomas can stomach and that I like as well.

I'm still in shock, though. I exercised today. Woo-hoo.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas & our 3D Puzzle

Last summer, we went to a neighboring town for their city-wide garage sales. I found lots of bargains, including this 3D Camelot Puzzle for a mere two dollars. I opened it up and found that only one bag of puzzle pieces had been opened. There were several bags inside. The woman running the sale told me she took out a few pieces, decided it was going to be way too difficult and time consuming, and put them back. She assured me all the pieces were there, which I believed. (They were.)

I bought the puzzle because I knew we would be studying the middle ages and castles this year. I thought it would be a fun project. I didn't realize two things: First, that this castle would be sitting in my living room for almost two months. Secondly, that this castle is listed as advanced challenge on Milton Bradley's difficulty scale.

Now in all fairness, we had a lot going on in November. We were gone for two weeks. When we returned home, we were a little down considering we had just lost the Cowboy. So none of us were really feeling like working on the puzzle.

We put up our Christmas trees and decorated the house around the puzzle. (Yes, we have two fake Christmas trees in our living room.) The puzzle sat untouched.

Yesterday I was cleaning the living room for Christmas and I decided I had had enough of that puzzle sitting there. I sat down in the early afternoon. Eventually I moved the entire puzzle to my kitchen table -- much more comfortable chairs in there. Thomas helped off and on. Bob even sat down for a good five minutes. We worked and worked and worked. In between, we finished wrapping presents, made goodies, went grocery shopping, did a few loads of laundry, etc. Work on the house a little, work on the puzzle a little.

Finally, at 2:45 am, I had finished the puzzle. My Christmas wish of getting that thing out of my living room had been realized.

The sad thing was, there were four pieces that were left over. In the wee hours of the morning, I couldn't figure out where they went. Sick of the puzzle, Thomas and Bob sat down this morning and finally figured out where they went. Thomas dismantled the puzzle and put in the missing pieces. Let me just say it is a bear to take these apart.

I told Bob that he could buy me another 3D puzzle as a gift some day. I really enjoyed it. Thomas did, too, but he doesn't have the patience for puzzles that I have.

My two-dollar puzzle was quite the bargain. They typically sell for $29.99. In fact, my puzzle is so old that they have re-vamped it. It is now called King Arthur's Camelot and has much prettier graphics. I think I would like to do The Capitol puzzle next. I don't know if it's in the budget, though. Thomas is game, though I know I'd end up doing the majority of it. And that's okay.

From our castle to yours, we'd like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.