Monday, December 31, 2007

Africa Studies

Two links useful for studying the Africa countries and capitals:

Name the African Countries -- the country name is give, you click on its geographical location.

Learn the capitals of African countries, after you've memorized the countries, that is.

Nations of the World

Here's a cute video that sings the videos of the world. It's dated and there are errors in it, according to today's geography, but fun nonetheless.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Frugal Friday on Saturday

Topic: Books

Audrey at A Small Corner of Nowhere didn't just talk about Frugal Friday, she jumped right in.

And she hit a subject near and dear to my heart (and almost every homeschooler's heart, books!)

Hop on over and read her post.

Her post got me to thinking about some things. I don't use the library as much as I could/should. I think 2008 we'll strive to improve that.

I don't use the library that often because when we study something and I look for books, half are checked out, and it's usually the good half that are gone. Well, our library does have a system that you can place holds on books. So being organized would be the key to avoiding that problem. Organization is also the key for requesting ILLs so that they arrive when we want them.

I love to buy books, but as Audrey points out, we are disappointed with so many. My latest book purchase from Amazon cost $80ish. We got several books, but the one that Thomas really loved was the Eyewitness Africa book. That is one that he has read from cover to cover more than once. Facing the Lion was his second favorite. So only two of the books I bought satisfied Thomas. The rest, although not waste, was waste. lol

Another issue I have with buying books is that I have only one child. I don't have a bunch of kiddos to pass the books on to. That really does make a huge difference. If I had a house full of kids, I could see purchasing more as I'd get more bang for the buck.

I buy a lot of books at garage sales. We only have one thrift store in town, and the past couple of years their book selections have been dismal. I like to look for used books online, but with shipping, that adds up. Our Rotary Club has an annual book sale in the fall. Our library also has two book sales a year, and books are cheap. Other than that, we'd have to travel to a nearby city to find decent, used books. My small town does not have a book store!

Audrey also discussed the use of credit cards. I want to quit using credit cards this year. Impossible, for a homeschooling mom in a small town that has to order a lot online. My idea was to start a separate checking account of my own. Proceeds of anything I sell will go into the account. I'll budget so much per month to go into the account as well. I will get a check card/credit card to use with it so that I can buy online. The only difference is that I can't spend money that's not in the account. That will force me to choose very carefully what I actually buy. That will also make things easier for tax time, because in Minnesota, we get to claim our educational expenses on our state income taxes.

Friday, December 28, 2007

The Homer Simpson Rule

Awhile ago, our family was gathered in front of the television watching The Simpsons. We like it, we think it's funny. It doesn't take much to amuse us.

The particular episode we were watching had a kitchen trash can that everyone walked by, carefully added their trash, then walked away. It grew taller and taller and taller. Finally Homer put something on it and the whole pile went crashing.

That's when Bart and Lisa did their irritating laughs and reminded Homer of the rule: He who knocks the pile over has to take out the trash.

Well, I think we've been watching too many cartoons. The past few days I've been walking by our recycling pile, carefully adding to it, and so has Bob and Thomas. Surely, it has got to come down tomorrow. I wonder who will knock it over.

Frugal Friday

I've been toying with the idea of having a Frugral Friday post every week. I need it.

It seems that I've worked us up into a little bit of debt with which I'm not comfortable with. It will take awhile to get it paid off. That's a New Year's resolution or just a plain common-sense goal.

Time to visit my bookshelf and dust off my dated Tightwad Gazette books. I won't, repeat, won't be making popcicles out of the grape jelly jar reminants. I don't remember if that was in her book or if she mentioned it while on Oprah years ago, but ewww.

It's tough being a single-income family these days. It's even tougher when the mom of that family likes to buy books. And other stuff. And has an "I'm deserving" mentality.

I've put lots of thought into this for awhile: how to save money. I have lots of ideas floating around in my head. I don't know if many would save or not. I have to balance with my energy expenditure -- is it worth it. I need to start scouring the web for up-to-date skinflint sites. I need inspiration.

Next Friday I'll start with real posts on how I'm going to save money, reduce debt and feel a little better. For now, smoke will be coming from my ears as I think this through.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Goodbye, Jerry Lee

Rest in Peace

Monday, December 24, 2007


Coal for Jerry Lee!!!

We had a lovely Christmas Eve dinner. Bob bought wonderful steaks, and I baked some potatoes and warmed some brown-n-serve rolls. A nice green salad complimented the meal.

The table was set with my finest. Great-grandma's wine glasses, grandmother's salt and pepper shakers, mom's candle holders. A beautiful silver table cloth that I got especially for Christmas, and bright red plates.

It was perfect. For us. Not for a magazine. Bob was outside grilling, and I had just put the bun basket on the table. I turned to do something, turned back around and we were missing three dinner rolls.

Was it Jerry Lee or Apollo? Apollo is growing by leaps and bounds, but there was no way he could have reached the rolls. Jerry was the culprit. I didn't get mad, I actually chuckled. I threw some more rolls in the oven quickly.

When Bob came in, he was not happy. He doesn't want a dog grazing from our table. I told him to cut him some slack, he's dying after all, and we'll laugh about it some day.

We sat down, Bob gave a beautiful prayer, and we indulged in our Christmas Eve feast.

While we ate, Jerry kept pacing to the counter and back to the table. Bob informed me that he had purchased a pack of steaks, so there were four, not three. He grilled the fourth and figured we could have a steak sandwich for lunch tomorrow.

We finished our meal, Bob and I went outside for a minute, (after-dinner smoke) then came back in to put food up and clean up. On the counter, clear against the wall, was the plate where the steak had been. Some how, some way, Jerry Lee had got to that steak and had himself a nice Christmas Eve dinner.

It's mind boggling to both of us how he was able to get it. Our dog, the very dog that we've been struggling with "the" decision all week, who has labored breathing, gets out of breath easily, and is not doing so hot, was able to get to the back of the kitchen counter and steal a steak.

We will laugh about it some day. I sure hope he enjoyed it.

I think he needs a lump of coal instead of the nice, juicy bone we got for him for Christmas. Silly boy.

Okay, secretly, I'm overjoyed that he did such a naughty thing. His days are numbered, we've had "the" discussion a few times, and when we do, he seems to rebound and recover fast -- as if he knows. It has been a wonderful gift that we have been given so much extra time with him. He was only supposed to live until October 15, according to both vets. His being here was a wonderful Christmas gift.

I just hope Apollo did not see him in the act. We don't want puppy learning naughty things!

We really have been struggling with our decision. I just ordered him new medications, and I have been ordering a month's worth at a time. This time I ordered 15 days' worth. We pick up the second puppy, Tesla, on the 27th. Two puppies might just do him in. Then again, I have caught him bouncing around in the snow with Apollo. We have only seen him in pain one time, and that was when we had the first talk. I was going to call the vet the next morning, a Saturday. The next morning, he was fine. That Sunday, he was running up and down the stairs.

This is so hard. However, I am so thankful that we have Apollo and soon Tesla. Their arrival into our home takes the focus off the sadness. They've brought us joy when we really needed it. Apollo has definitely given Jerry a run for his money. If I dare say it, I think Apollo has given Jerry further will to live. Jerry is a jealous boy, and he wants me all to himself. So he gets right up, stands in front of me to protect me from the cute little puppy. He has barked at the puppy with the puppy was mouthing too hard on his humans. He has growled a few times when he didn't want to be disturbed yet the puppy wanted to crawl all over his head. He has given up all hope that the puppy will actually leave.

I love my Jerry Lee. I hope he enjoyed his steak. We will laugh and laugh about this for years to come, when we're remembering him fondly. I won't give him coal, but I do think all will be forgiven tomorrow and he'll get his juicy bone.

Jerry's being here for Christmas is truly the best Christmas gift this family has received this year.

Merry Christmas

I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas.

While I am a Christian, I do have a great sense of humor. I didn't hear any cursing in this video, which is why I'm posting it. I find it funny because I can never remember the words to songs -- ever. I always invent my own. So this was very in line with who I am.

May Santa be good to you all.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Tired Tuesday and Con Men

Yesterday Thomas did his two subjects in school: Three pages of math (with balking) and Nonfiction Reading. Today, he did the same.

Yesterday I was feeling daring and brave. I had things to do. I broke my rule about going out in public during school hours.

I don't know why I have that rule. I feel very uncomfortable in our town out and about while all the other kids are in school. Yesterday it was delightful. We did Christmas shopping and went to lunch. (Don't tell Bob!) We shopped til we dropped. I was so tired by the time we got home, that we ordered Pizza Hut. Yum.

Today? We did it again. Today's plans were to finalize shopping and then come home and start baking. Well, that didn't work out. We finished shopping, I ran Thomas to his art class, and I came home. I held Apollo and petted Jerry at the same time. In a blink of an eye it was time to go get Thomas again, and we also stopped at the grocery store. I had nothing for dinner. I bought hamburger so Bob could cook up some burgers because, wah, I was tired.

My mom could shop all day and into the night with an indefatigable spirit. Me? I'm exhausted after two stores. Christmas season has us darting to every store there is, and walking on all those hard surfaces hurts my back and feet and legs. I wish I had my mom's energy for shopping. I've never been much of a shopper.

When our Wal-mart opened, I noticed a lot of people with backpacks begging right next to it. That was something we didn't see in our little town. Today, right down the road from Wal-mart, I had just got out of my car to gas up. A man in a white car, which I had noticed when I pulled in, approached me. He started telling me a sob story about how he was stranded here with no money, a job promise that fell through, and he and his wife had slept in their car for five days straight. He told me numerous times he was a Christian. I stood there staring at him, not saying a word, because I couldn't have got a word in edgewise. He told me he was from Kentucky.

He then showed me a 20- and 5-dollar bill. He said some kind lady gave him this cash, and could I please--Frankie interrupts. Nope, I don't have any cash, sorry. There is a Salvation Army at the corner of Main and North Street. He bumbled a sarcastic thanks, and drove to the next unsuspecting victim. I forced Thomas to come into the store with me, told the clerk there was a panhandler out there with Missouri licence plates (not Kentucky) and we were trying to get the license plate when he noticed and sped off.

There were four other customers in the store and the all said he had hit them up for money.

I'm not in the spirit, am I?

In the first place, if I were to bestow charity upon someone in need, I couldn't care less if he were a Christian, a Martian or whatever. Why should that matter? I don't get that. Why do people play the Christian card? Perhaps because the fundamentalist movement is so strong. Instead of making me sympathetic, it really turned me off and fast.

In the second place, he was a con artist. I sat in a courtroom for 11 years, I've seen criminals on every single level and lots of them. I had him pegged in 10 seconds flat.

What a discussion Thomas and I had. See, Thomas felt really sorry for him -- at first. As he has every single backpack-wielding, sign-holding beggar we've seen near the new Wal-mart.

We discussed need, charity and con men. Thomas couldn't understand why we were trying to get his license plate. Thomas also couldn't understand why he drove off after I mentioned where the Salvation Army was.

I hate bursting the trusting bubble of a child. Yet, I want him to be wise to the world.

Ho Ho Ho

Maybe tomorrow we'll get to our baking -- after we run more errands and take Apollo for his first vet visit. I'm ready for a day at home.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Sunday Evening

Yeah, Todd, winner of Survivor! I liked him, Denise, and I loved James. I'm glad Todd won.

I haven't had a lot to blog about lately. We've been plugging away at school. Thomas has continued his study of Africa with gusto. We've been getting our "core
5" done on a daily basis. For us, this has just been the year of the dog.

Friday night Jerry had a very bad night. He lost the shine in his eyes, his breathing was extremely labored and we thought he was in pain. We had a family talk and decided to call the vet on Monday morning. Gulp. Well, he has rebounded. Saturday was better and today he was his normal self. Shine was back in his eyes, tail wagging, and he bounded up and down the stairs several times.

The time is nearing, though. I feel it. Bob feels it. Thomas is in denial. Hard for a 12 year old kid -- hard for anyone, but harder for a kid.

I don't want Jer to suffer, and Friday night I felt that he was. So we'll keep a very close watch.

Apollo is doing wonderful! He is such a joy and brings us so much hope and happiness. He learned to roll over in a matter of minutes. He is just as smart as a whip.

I'm excited for Tesla to come, but with Christmas, it takes my focus away from that time waiting. I ordered a bunch of little stuff online Saturday and hope it comes in time. I went to Wal-mart all by myself, too. Wal-mart is this bored housewife's favorite place to go on a Saturday night.

Tomorrow we're going to drop down to two subjects daily: Math and whatever Thomas chooses. He's working the Key To Fractions book right now and I have requested three pages a day. He begged for two with another subject thrown in. I'm mean, I said no. He hates math worse than I hate paying bills.

Our breeder hooked Thomas up with a young man from Italy who is also getting a border collie. They've been emailing back and forth. His English is very good. He's older, 16, but very friendly. It's a small world, and very exciting to have a new e-penpal. This boy's mom is on an agility world team, and they have four dogs. So perhaps he'll give Thomas some doggie tips.

I have been busy preparing for Tesla. Getting two puppies at the same time is never advisable. Ever. lol We had a long talk with the breeder, I asked lots of questions, as did she, and we determined we could make it work and work well.

The trick is to keep the pups separated. They won't eat together, they won't sleep together, walk together, train together and they won't be together. Well, for about 90% of the time. Thus, we'll probably have puppy playtime for 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the evening. This will go on until they're about five months old. They then can be together more frequently.

The reason to do this is so that they bond with their humans, not each other. There will be plenty of time for them to bond together. They need to know that humans are the best thing on the planet.

We have purchased two ex-pens. I call them puppy playpens. One is in our living room, and the other, when it gets here, will be in our basement. Our pups are also crate trained. We have a wonderful breeder who actually trains them before they leave her home. So they've been used to being in a crate since 6 weeks old working up to four hours in the evenings by 9 weeks. Apollo is wonderful in his crate and always has been.

This will be a lot of work, time consuming, and hard, but lots of fun, too. I am so excited for Tesla to come because I have really held myself back from Apollo so his bond would be strong with Thomas. It is.

This week we will start our holiday baking. Snickerdoodles, chocolate dipped peanut butter balls (taste like Reeses), fudge, and chocolate chip bar cookies. Lots of 'em. I'll need to start my diet ASAP, I fear.

We're also going to try a real gingerbread house. I saved candy all year for that.

And that's my life in a nutshell on a Sunday night.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Can't Keep a Secret

I can't keep another secret. Our breeder called today with great news. The puppy I fell in love with was available to us! I am beyond thrilled. So are Bob and Thomas. So is Apollo, but he doesn't know it yet.

The breeder is so fantastic, that she's going to send him a few days early. She typically ships the pups when they're 9 weeks old, but she's going to ship him a few days early so we can enjoy him while Bob has time off for the holidays.

He'll be arriving on December 27. What a Christmas present!

This guy's litter name was Batman, but we are changing it to Tesla. Bob, the electrical engineer, picked the name Tesla after Nikola Tesla, the great electrical engineer.

We are overjoyed!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Good or Bad? Geography!

As I mentioned before, I had planned on doing a unit on Africa. I went ahead and ordered a few books from Amazon:

Eyewitness: Africa
Facing the Lion: Growing Up Maasai on the African Savanna by Joseph Lemasolai Lekuton
Africa for Kids: Exploring a Vibrant Continent, 19 Activities (For Kids series)
The Kids Multicultural Craft Book: 35 Crafts from Around the World (Williamson Multicultural Kids Can! Book
Africa Evan-Moor Workbook
Material World: A Global Family Portrait

My plan was to look through all the books, check our resources on the shelf, check the library and put together a unit study.

Thomas saw the books. He has already read Facing the Lion, which he proclaimed is his new favorite book. (He says that after every book he finishes--almost.) I am reading it too--a short book, but very good. He has also read Africa for Kids and Eyewitness Africa.

How on earth am I to put together a unit study if the kid pulls the books from under my nose and beats me to it? Huh? lol I guess I won't. We'll do the Evan-Moor workbook, study the countries of Africa and try to memorize them, and check out some more library books.

I love all the books we bought but for ... The Kids Multicultural Craft Book. It's okay. It would be great for a class setting. We looked through the Africa projects and some looked okay, but I don't know how many we'll do. I guess it's nice to have on the shelf. Would be better for a younger family, though.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007


A friend of mine asked me why I haven't blogged lately. Um -- baby in the house?? Is that a good excuse?

I also don't know what to blog about other than my beautiful puppy, my loving and loyal companion Jerry Lee, my gorgeous son who lights my life.

We've been going on fumes here. We have a big white board in the kitchen. The week we got Apollo, I wrote: Reading/Science, Math, Writing, History, Spelling. Those were the cores that we simply must do while we are adjusting to the puppy. I combined reading and science, which really is cheating. Thomas reads from a science text book I bought. (It's actually good, I'm not anti-text in this case.)

Today he had an experiment to perform: Put an egg in 250 ml vinegar and measure another jar and put 250 ml Karo syrup in that. He wrote out his beautiful chart, in Sharpie marker, no less, measured carefully, and dropped his egg in. The bubbles started immediately and he was excited when the egg floated. His guess is that the egg will change shape. This experiment is supposed to take 3 days. I admit I have not read the book so I don't know what the Karo syrup is for yet. I have a guess, the chapter is on osmosis.

So, we've been plowing along doing our core stuff every day. We've been listening to Joy Hakim on the Zen. Did I ever mention we bought a Zen? Ah, something to blog about tomorrow. Today I set my nap alarm for 30 minutes when we started Ms. Hakim up. When the alarm went off, Thomas was fast asleep. Yup, being a parent will exhaust you. Poor kid, I woke him up and barked orders to take your puppy potty.

It was colder than um, please forgive, this is my dad's phrase I heard all my life, it's been colder than snot here today. I don't know where that phrase originated and why I continue to use it other than habit. Dad also says, "He's worse than a fart in a skillet." That one I get and actually use in real life on rare occasion. It's still gross, though. Could those be Hoosierisms? Anyway, the cold -- poor Thomas sat at the kitchen table doing work today wearing a pair if sweatpants, a red sweatshirt, and his snow bibs. I have to get a picture of him in his snow bibs. He's had the same pair for three years running. They still fit around the middle, but now the go to about the middle of his shins. It doesn't matter because he tucks them into his boots, but it is a really bad case of high waters. Our kitchen wasn't that cold, but we're housebreaking a puppy and that means constant runs outside. So he just gave up and kept the snow gear on. Perhaps I could turn the heat down and we could save on our gas bill? Eh? (As they say in Minnesota and a nasty one I picked up and say all the time.) Eh? Eh? <--Frankie says way too often, but no one ever answers.

So school has been getting done. Cooking has been done. Grocery shopping, check. Art classes, check. After-school hang out: Nope. Thomas was going to go today but he didn't have a clean pair of jeans. We both thought it inappropriate for him to wear red sweat pants and shirt to the hang out. Fine for home, but not out and about. So he didn't get to go.

This afternoon after school, the DHL man came. He brought to me an Ex Pen. It's 3 feet tall and has eight 2-foot wide panels. It's containment for Apollo. Got that all set up in the school room. Our school room is so small that now we cannot walk in there. Worried about it being on carpet. Off we went to the local Railroad Salvage Store. At that store they sell carpeting and flooring. They used to sell furniture, too. Our living room was furnished from floor to ceiling by them. Cheap, but good enough quality.

I went up to the nice man and told him what I had, an Ex pen for a puppy, and I needed some vinyl to put under it. He asked if I was going to glue it down. OH no, I'm going to save the ugly 30-year-old carpet underneath from the puppy. OH, he got it then. He took me to the remnants. I need 4 1/2 by 4 1/2 for my 4x4 Ex Pen. I started seeing pricetags of $120, $150, and thought...well, this is a g-rated blog, so I won't tell you what I thought. It began with an S, though. Then the nice man picked up an ugly black piece of industrial vinyl. It was 5 by 6 or 7, he thought. I asked how much. FIVE BUCKS. I couldn't believe it! Five dollars? Woo-hoo, my lucky day. I didn't care that it was black. He even carried it to the car for me, what a gentleman. I think he knows me (but I don't know him) because he knows Bob. This is a small town so everyone knows of someone else by site here. I was thrilled!

Got that set up. Puppy liked it. Went in, peed all over it. Welcome to my world. Cleaned it up, and then he enjoyed it. So he can move around while we're doing school. Trouble is, we've been doing school at the kitchen table again this year. The rest of the school room is so stuffed it may just explode. So tomorrow on the agenda is to get that organized.

Right now life revolves around Reading/Science, Math, Writing, Spelling and History. When that is done, it is glorious. Now I need to step it up a notch and get the dishes done, the laundry done, and the floors scrubbed, the bills paid, etc.

Right as the DHL man was leaving, the UPS man pulled in. My Amazon order came. I bought: How to Train a New Dog Old Tricks, recommended by my breeder. Haven't had a chance to read it. Oh, yeah, and don't tell Bob: I also bought $60 worth of books on Africa. Will post more on that later, after I get everything outlined.

Here I sit, at 11 at night, when I should be in bed. Apollo slept through the night last night, and I'm ever so hopeful he'll do the same tonight. I'm ever so hopeful I'll get my house back in order again.

And I'm ever so proud of Thomas. He's doing a fantastic job with his puppy. he LOVES, LOVES, LOVES his puppy. His puppy follows him everywhere. That's the kind of thing that makes a mom's heart melt. Thomas admitted to me today that it is getting old. I asked what was getting old? ALL THE WORK, mom. I need a break. I can't even watch a TV program at night. (He rarely watches TV) I smiled and said, "Welcome to parenthood."

And just not to leave my beloved Jerry Lee out of things, here he is. Notice his horribly long nails. He hates having them done, we can't do them at home, and the vet has to muzzle him. We decided not to traumatize him by taking him to the vet to get them clipped. Little did we know he'd last so long and they've double in size since he was diagnosed. Poor guy. Also notice how large his belly is. I love that guy.

Sunday, December 02, 2007


I am going to be putting together a unit study for Thomas on Africa this week. I have found some books that look good, but thought I'd ask my friends if they have any extraordinary books on the subject.

When I get everything organized, I'll post it here and perhaps it can give someone else a jumping off point for their own Africa study.

Favorite books

Any ideas are welcome.


Saturday, December 01, 2007

Adjusting Well

I cannot begin to describe the amount of joy that this little critter has brought to us. This year it has felt as if as rain cloud was permanently above us. Things were just so sad. That's still there, Jerry is still dying, but Apollo has brought us hope and joy and laughs and snuggles.

Jerry has developed little blood-blister type things on his belly. His eyes are also extremely red and/or bloodshot. He's still perky, wags his tail and is not showing any signs of pain. My heart aches for him. It aches for me, because I will miss him so. I've been mourning his loss since we got the news, though, and that's not good. I try to focus on living in the moment, as Jerry does.

At any rate, the mood has changed drastically in this house. Apollo was the god of medicine and healing, among other things. He's done a great deal to heal us already.

And he's so darned cute, too.

Adjusting Well

I cannot begin to describe the amount of joy that this little critter has brought to us. This year it has felt as if as rain cloud was permanently above us. Things were just so sad. That's still there, Jerry is still dying, but Apollo has brought us hope and joy and laughs and snuggles.

Jerry has developed little blood-blister type things on his belly. His eyes are also extremely red and/or bloodshot. He's still perky, wags his tail and is not showing any signs of pain. My heart aches for him. It aches for me, because I will miss him so. I've been mourning his loss since we got the news, though, and that's not good. I try to focus on living in the moment, as Jerry does.

At any rate, the mood has changed drastically in this house. Apollo was the god of medicine and healing, among other things. He's done a great deal to heal us already.

And he's so darned cute, too.

Thursday, November 29, 2007


Please meet the newest member of our family: Apollo.

We were going to name him MacLeod with the call name Mac. His litter name was Apollo. When we picked him up at the airport today, we started calling him Apollo immediately.

He is a border collie. He's nine weeks old today. He is absolutely precious. We are in love.

Jerry Lee would prefer to be the only dog, though.

And just guess how crazy we are? We put a deposit down on two pups. So we're on the waiting list for our second. One for Thomas, one for me. Apollo was supposed to be mine, but Thomas just wouldn't have that! That's fine, as it was a very good match between the two.

Our hopes are to do agility. If we can find a 4H Dog Program, I'd like Thomas to do that, too.

This is the BEST breeder. Apollo comes to us already knowing these commands: sit, down, come and wave hello. The breeder suggested clicker train starting immediately, so we did just that. Where Thomas is bending down in the photo, he's treating Apollo for coming to him when called.

We are so happy tonight! Well, Jerry's a little disgruntled, and the cats are still a little out of shape, but the people in the house are very happy!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Monday, Monday

We're still enjoying Thanksgiving leftovers. Today will probably be the last day of that, though.

Today we did a light day of school. Thomas did writing, math, read from his science book so he could kill two birds with one stone: reading/science, spelling and now he's listening to A History of Us on the Creative Zen.

Thomas is sitting on the floor playing with something some cars of his. Mom and dad are surfing on the net three feet from him.

Bob took the afternoon off today to get some things done that we didn't get done over the weekend. The snow blower is now ready to go. We haven't had but one skiff of snow so far, which is very unusual. The garage has been cleaned. The back yard "doggie duty" mess has been cleaned up. The Christmas boxes are all in the garage waiting for me to dig through them and start decorating.

We have weird neighbors so I'm not one to let Thomas run around outside during school hours. However, he did that at 1 this afternoon. It was nice having all three of us home. It was nice taking a break from school, knowing full well we would come back in and get it done on our own time frame.

We've got a very busy week ahead of us. Lots of errands, art class, a play date -- is Thomas too old to have official play dates now? I guess I should say get together. We have a lot of things we have to get done at home, too. That's partly why Bob took the afternoon off today.

I have a great big secret that I cannot reveal until Thursday night. All our errands and work relate around this secret, though.

Thursday can't come soon enough.

Gee, I wonder what that secret could be. lol

Thursday, November 22, 2007

I'm Only Human -- and So is Thomas

This post contains "light" religious content, a ghost (my mom) from my past, and a crazed woman, played by Frankie.

Oh, we had bad scene in Frankie's kitchen today.

After we had our Thanksgiving feast, Bob and I were doing dishes and putting food away. I asked Thomas to take Jerry potty. Thomas is 12. He's at that age where he's pushing boundaries. He's beginning to use his voice when he doesn't want to do something. He yelled at me that I was being mean. Then he just went off on a rant, yelling at me the whole time.

When this happened, I had taken a seat and watched him reacting. I nearly scared the Thanksgiving dinner right out of him. I jumped up out of that chair faster than you can say boo, was in his face, and, not yelling, but with a firm voice stated: Don't you DARE yell at me, young man. You do as you are told. You were asked to take the dog out, and I expect you to do it. You will never be allowed to yell at me. Okay, the firm voice is putting it mildly. It was a mad woman's voice. Not yelling, yet very scary.

The look on Thomas' face was complete horror. I glanced at Bob and his eyes were as big as saucers.

Not one of my best mom moments. Nope. I felt about two inches high. No, I felt lower than a pregnant ant. (My friends and I used to use that term in elementary school.)

Thomas started crying as he took Jerry potty. When he came in, he went straight to his room. Bob quietly took over clean up duties. I sat in the table with my head in my hands. I wasn't crying, but close.

You see, my mother, who has been gone for 13 years now, came to our Thanksgiving dinner today. That's the kind of crap (ohh, bad word there) that she used to pull on her kids. On me. I vowed I would never act that way.

I blew it big time. We teach our kids that we have to be able to trust them. We teach our children that when they screw up, it will take awhile to build trust up again. So play that in reverse. How on earth will Thomas be able to trust his mother when she rants like a crazed woman.

Apologies were said, hugs were given, but I have felt deflated the rest of the evening.

I have tried to make it all better in my mind. I don't hit my child, so I was thinking: well, at least you didn't physically hit him. I bet that a hit or slap would have been easier to handle than a mom losing it. Emotional harm is just as bad, if not worse, sometimes, than the physical stuff.

Rationalizing again, what I said wasn't that bad. True. He does not have permission to yell at me. He is not allowed to show such disrespect. Period. But --as Pee Wee Herman once said, there's always a big butt involved -- I did it in a very negative, scary, bad, meanie mom kinda-way.

He's over it. He sulked for awhile and then went on with his business. He's happily playing around in the basement, close to me, with a smile on my face. I need to get over it.

Thing is, I don't like acting like my mom. I did grow up in an emotionally abusive home. I have tried my hardest to overcome all of her responses. This was pure MY MOM all the way. It's not healthy for anyone.

The other thing is: Thomas is 12. He's going through one helluva time right now. Stretching those boundaries, becoming himself, finding himself, sharing his wants, needs, desires and frustrations in new ways. Whining. A lot. Enough that one night last week I told Bob that I cannot deal, please do something with Thomas for supper because I need peace. I need quiet. I need no whines.

At this point, my mother just appeared over my shoulder. She just whispered in my ear that you get what you give. And now I can hear her laughing hysterically! You see, I was a whiner. Still am. So he's learned it all from me.

There I am again, lower than a pregnant ant.

On blogs, most people only share the great stuff. I am usually that way. This has been such a hard school year for me in so many ways. The moment Thomas turned 12, it was as if a light switch flipped and he changed. I'm having a hard time dealing with it. Not that he's growing up, but just the attitudes. All our things with animals, sick, dying, running over them with cars -- it's all taken its toll on me.

Gaaaa. I'm picturing Goldie Hawn in Overboard in the water barrel with the blank stare on her face repeatedly chanting buh buh buh buh buh buh.

That's where I feel right now.

My relationship with my son is of highest importance to me. How am I going to earn his trust back. How am I going to deal with his terrible 12s. He's been so easy up to now. Frankly, he's still easy. He's a good kid. Kind, considerate, extremely compassionate. It's just that he doesn't want to do anything, whines, whines, whines.

Buh, buh, buh, buh, buh.

So what am I thankful for today? This is going to be completely self-centered. I'm thankful I'm human. I'm thankful I screw up. When I screw up, I usually do it BIG, and then I reflect, sulk, think, think and think some more. Then I try to take action to change.

Mom's standing at my shoulder again telling me, "God won't give you more than you can handle." For my secular friends, I'll translate that: The universe won't give you more than you can handle. Or perhaps life won't give you more. (I choose God, but that's who I am.)

I'm thankful that I love my son so much that I feel like shee it right now because I hurt his feelings. I'm thankful that I'm human, so that I can learn and grow from my mistakes.

I'm mostly thankful that he has forgiven me.

God, I love that boy.

Just to share how I feel completely:

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

Every once in awhile, your child makes something so special that you know you will cherish it forever. Thomas did just that recently.

Three weeks ago I dropped Thomas off at his ceramics class and the instructor had this big white turkey sitting on display. I begged Thomas to do this project for me. He happily agreed. It took him three weeks because it was detailed and big, but it is the best piece he has made to date.

The pictures do not come close to what it looks like in person. I tried adjusting the flash, but that still doesn't work. The red head looks very funky and cartoonish in the photos, but in real life it is stunning. Bob warned me that it would not photograph well. Of course he was right.

I am so proud. This lovely turkey will be the perfect centerpiece for all our Thanksgivings to come.

Thank you so much, Thomas.

please ignore the dirty kitchen table!!!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Merry Christmas in November

Tonight our town had its annual Christmas parade. I swear, every year it gets earlier and earlier!

Bob was rather annoyed because he didn't want to go out and about. However, he was a good sport. We enjoyed free coffee put out by a church, and bought three chocolate chip bars from them to help the coffee go down. Thomas had to pass on the free cider because he doesn't care for it.

The parade was funny! The first five floats drove by SO fast you could barely read who they represented. Then we waited. And waited. And waited some more. Finally the rest of the parade caught up.

Thomas scored a lot of candy.

I just have to talk about something, though. There was a family to the left of us. The mom was standing by Thomas. She had a daughter, about five years old. The daughter was standing about six people down from us by her grandparents. She was a cutie. So anyway, as the candy was being thrown to groups of kids as it always is, it was thrown to Thomas, who was the only kid for about 15 adults. He bent down to pick up his candy and so did the mom standing next to him. She scooped a great majority of it up, turned to Thomas and handed him one piece. She then declared the rest was for her daughter.

Now you have to know Thomas, but if there were a little child standing next to him, he'd probably give them 3/4 of the candy he picked up. He's very generous. I figured the little girl didn't get candy thrown to her. So the snarky mom that I am, I started watching. Every time Thomas had candy thrown to him and he was picking it up, I looked down at that mom's daughter. She was getting candy thrown to her, too. She was picking it up and putting it in the bag her grandma was holding. Yet her mom continued to grab Thomas' candy -- for her daughter, don't you know. I can't believe I wrote "don't you know." I am turning into a Minnesotan!

I'm mean. I pulled Thomas aside and told him he needed to be more aggressive. I told him that the candy is for kids. He was worried about the little girl and didn't mind sharing his candy. I told him I'd been watching and she got candy every time he did. So I pushed him off the sidewalk and onto the curb. Literally. I said, "If you want candy, you get the candy." He's not an aggressive child, so this is against his grain. However, he did it. They'd throw the candy to him and he'd grab to his left first, where the mom was standing, and then to his right. Momma backed off and let Thomas have his fair share.

After a few times candy was passed out, the mom changed her tactics. She then started saying, "This mom wants candy, won't you give a mom some candy, too?" So they'd give to Thomas and hand her a piece or two.

That made the parade very interesting to me. I love watching people in action. Here was a woman very well dressed, and her husband and daughter were, too. The grandparents looked affluent. So it was fun trying to figure out why she needed my son's candy.

I just had to share my snarkiness. It was a fun parade. And thankfully it was in the 40s. We have gone to the Christmas parade in the past when it was 10 degrees out. This was much more fun.

As we drove home, all the neighborhood had their Christmas decorations up and lights on. Wow, we're behind the times. We don't decorate until after Thanksgiving.

Ho, Ho, Ho

Thursday, November 15, 2007

A Favorite Blog of Mine

I've been meaning to share this for a long time, but I keep forgetting. I finally remembered.


This is one of my favorite blogs. Its full title is: Shorpy The 100-Year-Old-Photo Blog

Not all are 100 years old, but is a wonderful glimpse into the past. There are all kinds of photos, with many famous photographers. My favorites are the housewives of the past. Especially during the depression era.

I eagerly anticipate each new entry at Shorpy's. It's a blog that really touches me.

Monday, November 12, 2007

2 things

Too tired to blog tonight, so I'm going to be a copycat instead.

First, from Sam's blog, what kind of crappy Christmas Present are you?
You Are a Christmas Sweater!

Over the top, colorful, and totally flashy.
You're not afraid to be a little tacky.

Tacky? Um, yes, I can be very tacky. It's actually quite fun!

Second, from COD, the Blog Readability Test. Does this make me boring? Or does it mean I am so crazy that you have to be a genius to figure me out? Scary.
cash advance

What could possibly give my blog, which is mostly fluff, this rating? Made me laugh for sure.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Back from the vet

We went to the local vet. Belly did indeed have an abscess that had burst. (Thanks Doc and Johnny!) He did give her a shot of cortisone and antibiotics. I have to put cream in the wound three times a day. That really hits my "eww" nerve, which is a very short nerve, but I'll manage for the love of the cat.

Whew, thankfully that's all it is and hopefully the meds will clear things right up.

You know, the vet was fine. I assume the great vet would have done the same. I think the local vet just doesn't have the end-of-life compassion that the great vet does. We've gone to the local vet for ten years. He gave my Cub Scouts a tour and was pretty good with the kids. During this tour, I point blank asked him what was the favorite part of his job. Surgery. And I think he's very good at surgery. He's just not a good people person, and isn't good with the death part.

He is always great at answering Thomas' million and one questions that he asks, though.

What a morning. Our other kitty, Snowball, escaped this morning. (Our cats are indoor cats because in our town it's illegal for cats to be outside.) I spent 20 minutes trying to find him. I came within a foot several times, but he is too fast for this old lady. So he's still out and about, but he's staying in our yard. Hopefully he'll get tired and come in soon.

We haven't done school. Not one single thing. So it's going to be a busy afternoon. Plus Bob decided to take the afternoon off from work. It's more difficult doing school with Bob around because he breaks up our routine. Oh well.

Time for a math test, some art, some history and science. I think we'll skip all the other stuff today.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Oh no

My heart hurts tonight, even worse than it's been lately.

We bought the cats new cat food tonight and I mixed it with the old cat food. I couldn't find my black and white kitty so I went searching. She was on my bed. I picked her up and she was crying, but she's not one that likes to be held unless it's on her terms, so I figured she was just unhappy. I brought her to the kitchen and her food bowl.

Thomas let out a shriek. "Mom, look at her butt!" It's actually on the far left side of her hind quarters, but there is a huge open sore that is completely gross and disgusting looking. She didn't want any food, and wanted out of there-NOW. I gently picked her up and took her back to my bedroom.

I have no idea what it is. My stomach is churning. She was fine all day, she begged for a bite of my lunch, she let me know when the water bowl was empty. She was moving around just find and I didn't see the sore earlier today.

I'll be calling a vet first thing tomorrow. Here's my dilemma. Do I call the old vet, who has all her records, and has treated her for the past 10 years OR do I call the new vet that is fantastic but an hour and a half away. (Well, okay, an hour and 15 minutes.)

The old vet has NO compassion and we did not feel comfortable with his treatment of Jerry Lee. Jerry would be long gone by now had we not found the new vet for a second opinion. He has been good, though, just for routine stuff. I was going to get a copy of the cats' records and send them to the new vet, I just hadn't got around to it.

Isabelle, or Belly as I call her, is 13 years old.

It's raining and snowing tonight, both. First snow I've seen all year. And it's supposed to get down to 27, so the chicken that I am, I don't want to drive an hour and a half first thing in the morning on icy roads. It will thaw quickly as it's supposed to warm up, but....

aaaack, what do I do. How do I make my kitty comfy tonight?

I just can't lose two animals at once. It will do me in. I hope it's just some weird thing that can be cured easily. I know I'm panicking prematurely, not knowing what this is, but my luck with animals lately has just really sucked.


On a more positive note:

We had a fantastic school day today. Everything clicked. I love it when that happens. In fact, it's been a really great, productive week.

We resumed our Spanish studies this week. I kind of "conveniently forgot" to do Spanish for a long time. I struggle with the vocabulary. We are going SO slow, but we are using a college text. Thanks, Bob, for refusing to get rid of your college textbooks. It's starting to sink in, and I think we'll just continue to take little bites out of the text every day. It's amazing that my 42-year-old brain isn't the sponge it once was.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

A funny

Warning: This video contains nudity. Male. But not frontal. And it's not a 1500's statue, either. It's funny. Thomas thinks it's funny, too.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

A Very Scary Post

Be forwarned, this is a freightening post. Think cobwebs, dark, dank, creepy, scary places...

Welcome to my basement.

The photo you are about to see is of the stairs. Please, do not be jealous of my beautiful carpeting. It is original to the house and in mint condition. They just don't make it like that anymore. In fact, I think it is impossible to be desroyed.

Please, do not be jealous of our exposure: Poorly-laid dry wall, exposed joists, cobwebs, extension cords, phone cords, support beams.

It is the design style we have chosen: CHEAP, CAME WITH THE HOUSE. (I did add the rather cute construction paper triangles to cheer the place up. GAG)

Seriously, the photo is taken from my computer chair. Every night Jerry Lee lays on that stair staring at me. I can feel his stares, they are so intense. If I ignore him, he begins to breathe heavy. Heavier, and heavier -- it is actually creepy. The dog knows how to touch my soul by creepig me out. There's nothing worse than sitting here, reading a favorite blog, then the feeling someone is watching and the breathing starts. Sends chills down my spine every time. I should know better, he does this every single night. I just had to take a photo of it for remembering.

All he wants is to go potty and get his peanut butter treat (with hidden medications inside.)

Crazy dog, God love him.

I don't let anyone into my ugly basement. So here I am, putting it on the internet. Go figure.

Election Day

Thomas and I ended school early today and drove to the polls. Two questions were on the ballot this year.

1) Yada yada yada...should we give the school district $20 million to build a new school.

2) Yada yada If number 1 passes, should we give them an additional $9 million for maintenance of the current schools?

NO -- NO NO NO NO NO NO NO!!!!!!!

Our schools are really weird here. There's one school for K-2 for the whole city. There's another school for 3-6 for the entire city. High school is 7th-12th grade for the entire city. That bugged me before I ever sent Thomas off to kindergarten.

They want to close the K-2 school and build new next to the 3-6 school. A few years ago they used to have a 3-4 school and it was really close to our house. They closed that and packed the kids together at the middle school. It is just strange.

Anyway, they just need to learn how to budget their money for the repairs they need to make. I've been to the school they want to close many, many times. The only thing I saw wrong with it was that the ceiling tiles in the basement needed repair. What I didn't see wrong, but I suspect they need, is to replace the heating system.

Let's throw the baby out with the bath water and just build a brand-new school instead. I would vote for needed repairs in a heartbeat. I don't understand why they don't budget that to begin with, though.

And on another note, I am proud to announce that this blog is:

online dating

I knew this was a G-rated blog even before I checked out that website. Thomas reads the blog so I mind my manners. I know that some moms and kids read my blog, too. I keep it clean.

Speaking of elections, when are the powers that be going to include some categories that glorify home education? Categories such as best science blog, best literary blog, best math blog, best art blog, etc.? The stuff that really counts and puts homeschooling in a good light? You know, academics? Isn't that what homeschooling is all about? There are some fantastic blogs out there that really should receive such an award. That has always seemed so obvious to me and I've never understood why those types of blogs aren't first on their list. ???

Friday, November 02, 2007

Jerry Update

Here's a photo, taken three minutes ago, of Jerry. He's chewing on a bone and making a mess of my carpet. He doesn't act or look sick at all. That's one reason this is so difficult -- we get lulled into the false belief that he's okay. He's not.

On October 1st we saw the second vet. That was the day he was diagnosed and given two weeks to live. Good job, Jerry. He's just not ready yet.

Happy November

My mood continues to be extremely melancholic. I am just so heartbroken over Jerry Lee. He is doing very well.

We live on a street where lots of homes give out trick or treat candy, but the houses on either side of us do not. Plus we do not have sidewalks, and that is a recipe for exclusion. I watched out my door and counted 50 trick or treaters, and not one came to my house. So I told Bob to grab Jerry's leash, and we'd go T&Ting too.

Jerry did great. We went around the block, and it is a long block. We stopped at every house and had jerry in a sit stay. Jerry was a perfect angel and really enjoyed watching all the kids running around in ghost and goblin and witch and devil form. He would rest, but was raring to go. He had a great night. His tail wagged the whole time.

Thomas got more candy than ever. He split it into two piles: That which he would eat and the other pile was for dad. It was about a 50/50 split. My child will not eat Nestle Crunch, KitKats or most suckers. He will take a very long time to devour the consumable stash, although he's been picking away at it.

Halloween was fun. It lifted my spirits to be out and about and get fresh air.

This year we made three pumpkins. I did a very generic haunted house, the first time I've used a pattern wihtout Bob's help. What a PITA that was! It took forever. Thoams and I watched spooky haunted house shows while we carved pumpkins. I kept asking him if it would scare him and he assured me that it would not.

Later that evening, Bob fell asleep on the couch and guess who requested to sleep with him. I asked him why and he sheepishly informed me that the shows did scare him a little. So nice to know I'm still a safety net.

We're still looking forward to our new puppy. We're wondering if Jerry Lee might be around when she comes. Stranger things could happen. He's doing very well, but if he tunrs, I'm sure it will go fast. We take things one day at a time with him and enjoy him to pieces.

We're thinking of puppy names. We've made lists and lists. We've added on, scratched out, inked in many more. We've searched every pet naming site online, plus baby nameing online sites. Some of our favorites are:

Sadie, Sasha, Licorish, Misty, Missy, Cassie, Inky, Patsy, and Black Beauty, BB for short.

That list changes on a daily basis, but those names always remain.

We have not heard back from our breeder for awhile. We have asked a few questions, specifically when we can come visit and she hasn't gottne back to us. Oh well. Pups are two weeks old now, so they're at that "finally getting cute" stage. Newborn puppies are beautiful, but definitely not cute yet.

School today was pajama school! I love those days when we do that, but dread the doorbell ringing. We got a lot done today, even though we were slow and relaxed. Thomas finished reading The Call of the Wild. It is now his favorite book of all time. Of course after he finishes reading every book, it becomes his favorite book of all time. Next book on the agenda is Anne Frank.

I broke my rule and we watched the movie before he had read the book. Thanks to our library for that. I should own that book myself, though, so it's my fault. I'm thinking of buying a copy and donating it to our library. Will talk to the librarian about that in the future.

I got a comment on my blog entry about my library not having Anne Frank that I wish to share.
Anonymous said...
My name is Lucy, I'm the Head of Education at the Anne Frank Trust in the UK. Your blog showed up on my Google alert. (Big Brother's watching!!!)

I am appalled at the lack of the Diary in your library - I'd send you one to put in there is it didn't cost twice as mush as a the book itself to get it there!

I see you're homeschooling. I thought I'd mention an online tool which has just launched its American arm you might like to use with the children:

You don't need a library for that!

Good luck.


4:50 AM

Anonymous said...
Apologies for the typos in my previous post - they don't do my reputation much good!

- Lucy

4:52 AM

I checked out the website, and it looks good. Will spend more time there next week. Thank you for sharing. As I said, I am thinking of donating a copy. No library should be without Anne Frank.

I'm looking forward to the changing of the clocks this weekend. With all this extra sun, trick or treating in the sunlight was just weird.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Wally World

We hit our two grocery stores tonight and not a pumpkin was to be found. The three of us then set out for our brand-spanking-new Walmart. Okay, it's two months old, but it's there...thankfully.

Bob found a nice pumpkin and put it in the cart. I told him we needed at least two. Bob was very agitated. I am not staying up until all hours tonight carving pumpkins. There will be no time to do this tomorrow.

Me: Why?

Bob: Because of school.

Me: Ever hear of art? Go with the flow, bud.

Bob: Oh.

Me: Let's get three, one for each of us.

And so we did.

Thomas and I have this homeschool thing down, but Bob forgets.

So tomorrow, after math and language arts, we'll be doing art. Most likely for the rest of the day.


Did anyone else buy all their Halloween candy early and then eat it all?

We're off to the store tonight to buy more. We're hoping they have a pumpkin left because we didn't get that ahead of time. Our priorities were all messed up.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

We're winners

Last week I got a letter in the mail from my City. I had no idea what it could be. I had completely forgotten that we had gone to the city hall open house the week prior. Bob and I each got a free CF Light bulb equivalent to a 100 watt bulb. Fantastic! They're expensive and we have been slowly making the switch to all CF's in our house.

I opened my letter and...I'm a winner. I won a conservation kit. I took my letter to city hall to pick up my prize. I got three more CF light bulbs, 20 switch plate insulators, a refrigerator thermometer, a nightlight that only costs 26 cents a year to run (and it is completely worthless), an attachment for my heater filter that will whistle when it's time to change the filter -- I'm forgetting something. There were a couple more doohickeys in there, but I forget what they are now.

When I said thank you, the nice lady at city hall said, "Here, have another free light bulb." So I actually came home with four.

How cool is that!

On Saturday, Bob took Thomas to Kmart for their in-store Halloween celebration. They both told me it was very lame. Thomas brought home about six candy bars, a few stickers and a bag. Oh, and they bought all our Halloween candy while they were there. Thomas signed up for a free drawing for a Kmart cash card while there.

I got the strangest phone call last night. A teen-aged boy said, "Is Tom there? I'm thinking -- who the heck is Tom? OH. Okay, who the heck are you? I told him yes and what was this regarding. Luckily he told me. Tom has won a Kmart gift card from the Halloween thing we had. I don't know anything about it, they gave me his number to call him, and all I know is they don't have the gift cards here right now."

lol...So who knows if Thomas will actually receive the card. I asked how much the card was for and, of course, he didn't know. We think it's either five or ten dollars. Still cool for a 12-year-old.

So we're winners.

We need a few positives around here right now.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Unreal -- A rant!

We went to the library tonight to get Anne Frank. We picked up about six other books on the topic, but not Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl.


Our library does not have Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl.

I cannot believe this! I lectured the poor librarian. I said every library in America should have this book on their shelves. This is unbelievable.

She was very polite and offered to submit an ILL request. I took her up on her offer.

Our main librarian just gave notice and will be leaving the end of the month. He came on board about four years ago. First thing he did was pull about a quarter of the books from the shelves and sell them. I stocked up big time at that sale. The library shelves are bare. Then he pulled many shelves out, including the music shelves and replaced them with cheap fiber-board crap. He then put in several couches. All over the library.

He was really into aesthetics and creating a social scene. He put in a fake fireplace, too.

Bob and I jumped for joy when we heard he put in notice. I hope we get a librarian that actually likes BOOKS.

Oh, did I mention how supportive he is of homeschoolers? Every spring he has a homeschool day where he drives up to the capital and takes the homeschoolers to meet our lawmakers. The only problem is he only tells one family. The same family has gone in the library van up there with him every year. No one but that family. The mom recently told me about this and wondered why more homeschoolers didn't go. Uh, well, maybe if he would actually tell the homeschoolers about it, more would participate.

Bottom line: It is unbelievable that my library does not have Anne Frank's diary. Good grief!

Rant over.

Questions, Questions, Questions

Today we started school late. I overslept. Thomas will oversleep every day if I let him. I made my coffee, got him breakfast, and we both tried to wake up.

Thomas decided to work on his nonfiction reading book first. He loves this and will be finishing it very soon. He really learns a lot of things from this book. The other day he read about Koko the kitten-loving, signing gorilla. When he finished, we had to pause in our routine to google Koko. And let me just say, that was an experience. We first went to YouTube to search for videos. We clicked on one and realized it was a spoof. I shut it off because there was a woman talking to the fake gorilla and repeating what it was telling her in sign language. It was about nipples.

We then Googled, and found that there was a lawsuit filed by two former employees who stated that Penny Patterson, the president of the foundation that owns Koko, had requested that the women bare their breasts to Koko because Koko has a fascination with nipples. The suit was settled, but terms were not disclosed.

We then saw a photo of some man who modified a special transportation vehicle for Koko. Koko had her hand down the man's shirt, apparently fondling his nipples.

Okay, so you don't get that kind of education in public school.


Kind of took deflated our tires a bit. We were just hoping to see photos or clips of Koko with his live kittens.

So today Thomas is reading about Anne Frank. We don't have her book, but I do have some books on Anne Frank. Thomas and I spent some time last year at the official website, and he has looked at my Europe photo albums with tons of pictures and postcards from the Anne Frank Haus.

And then he started. He does this on occasion. It drives me nuts. A million questions. Rapid fire. I answer, boom, there's another. Question after question after question. And he doesn't ask easy questions, either. "Mom, I heard that Hitler's mother was Jewish. Is that true?" I don't know, I've heard that, but never confirmed it. Go look it up. "Mom, why did people join up with Hitler?" We discussed that in a lot of detail.

I don't know the answers to some of his questions! I don't know good answers. I think I know the answers, but I really started doubting myself.

Then he started asking questions about concentration camps. Then back to Hitler. Then about the country of Holland. Then about Anne Frank. Then about Germany. "Is Germany a good country today?"

"Why did the people not think for themselves and allow this to happen? Why did they not stand up and protest?" "What mental illness did Hitler have?"

This went on for an hour. He just doesn't stop. Curiosity.

It drives me crazy! I made him laugh because toward the end, I started banging my head on the table. He thought that was funny.

When he was done with his "session", I was worried about our schedule and all the things we were supposed to learn this morning. Then I voiced that concern. Then I started laughing and told him to heck with the schedule, aren't you glad you are in an environment that you are allowed to ask questions? To think for yourself? To form your own opinions?

So to heck with our scheduled history this week and next, we're going off on a tangent. It's off to the library tonight to get Anne Frank for him to read, and for me to search for age-appropriate books on the topic.

At his age, I was ahead of him in school by one year. When I was in the seventh grade, the made-for-TV movie Holocaust aired. (That's when I fell in love with Meryl Streep.) We watched it all. I was fascinated with the topic. Sickened, but fascinated. I think my fascination made me a more compassionate person.

I think it's hard to imagine such sickening cruelty and madness when you live in a fairly safe world.

A funny

This was sent to me by a friend. I thought it was funny. Add this to another reason homeschooling is good!

One of the ladies I work with retired last week. We had a going away
party for her. I ordered the cake over the phone from a nearby superstore. I told
them to write:

"Best Wishes, Suzanne"

and underneath that,

"We will miss you."

Here's what was picked up for the party. Everybody should laugh so
hard on their last day at work!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Oh Dear

Last night Jerry Lee was very clingy. He kept resting his head on my knee. He followed me everywhere, which isn't unusual, but when I got where I was going, he had to have physical contact. That is unusual.

I suspected something might be up.

This morning he threw up. Oh dear.

The doctor had requested I cut his Prednisone in half. I think I'll go back to the original dosage.

However, I just have a sinking feeling the end is near.

Bob's hoping it's just an isolated incident. Me too.

Yesterday Thomas was discussing Jerry Lee and hopeful he'd live to see the puppy. I explained that if he wasn't hurting and he was comfortable that was a possibility, but in reality, it probably wouldn't happen.

Gees, this just stinks.

Regarding the new puppy, the breeder asked us for names that begin with P. We sent her a list of our choices. Patsy was my first choice, as my dad's first German Shepherd was named Patsy.

We had decided on a name for a male: Charlie, after my dad. My dad got a kick out of that. However, we're on the list for a female so that probably won't happen. I'm hoping the breeder will choose Patsy. If not, that's fine, too, because we wouldn't call her by her AKC name. Sadie is topping our list. This week.

A very good friend sent me an email. She said it doesn't matter what my choice is for coloring, because the dog we get is choosing us. Meaning, in her new-age style, that we will get the dog that needs to be with us. Her exact wording was, "Me thinks the dog has chosen you." I get that. It made me feel a little better, a little more accepting of an all-black German Shepherd.

I just wish that Jerry weren't sick, though. This watching him die business is SO hard. We got that diagnosis October 1, yet he was sick a few weeks before that. He has lived longer than the vet thought he would.

Sigh....back to school now.

Sunday, October 21, 2007


I have been feeling bad about school this year. It just doesn't have the zip, the pow, the fun, the wow.

Well, duh. Started out okay, but then Jerry got sick. He's been sick since about the middle of September. He's still doing well considering. We watch him on a constant basis. Bob and I have discussed when to take him in, and we have our criteria down. Jerry Lee is still happy, eating well, enjoying an occasional short walk. He's not there yet.

No wonder I haven't been feeling it. There's that. There's also the fact that I never got off my big, fat you-know-what to get the school room really cleaned and really organized. We've missed watching birds at the feeder out the window.

Thomas and I cleaned the school room today. It's still not in the condition I want it, but much better. I don't know if we'll school in there tomorrow or not. At least I can vacuum the floor. (What homeschooler doesn't have piles and piles of books covering their floors?)

Things are getting messed up with our new puppy. We originally wanted one litter, then decided that Thomas might like to do agility, so talked to the breeder. She recommended a different litter. We said, "Okay, we'd like a female from that litter."

Well, lo and behold, the litter was born on Bob's birthday--that's a sign, right? But here's the thing. All the girls available are going to be solid black.

Might not be an issue to some, but -- but -- but -- it is to me. I am a person who loves color. I like lots of it. Jerry Lee has many colors in his coat: red, white, black, brown, tan, and lots of in between. I like that in a German Shepherd. Bob convinced me to go with a darker GS -- a smoky sable. It grew on me. I told him that there were two dogs that I didn't want: solid white or solid black.

I'm awful, I admit it. I just don't care for solid-colored German Shepherds. And I don't want one. Period. I love them for other people, I admire their beautiful shiny coats -- but I want a sable. (Sables can be light or dark, but they have lots of different colors.)

That's life here.

Tomorrow we start school after taking Wed, Thurs and Friday of last week off. Monday morning is going to come fast and furious.

But DUH -- I'm cutting myself some slack for our extremely unfun school year. Hopefully tomorrow we can put some zing into it.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Senator from I d a h o

I watched the senator from i d a h o last night on dateline.

I don't believe him. I do not care for him.

This video may not be appropriate for children, but I got a kick out of it. Thomas watched it and we discussed it. He didn't know who the Village People were.

Don't care to get into the entrampment issue, but I do think he's a liar.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Well, Well, Well

Another dog post. Skip on by if you're bored to tears.

All week, with Jerry at our feet, we've been researching dogs, breeders, shelters, etc. Do we get another dog? Do we wait? Maybe we could wait and get one in spring, giving us one winter free of freezing our tails off walking a dog and taking it outside. Do we get a shelter dog? Do we get a purebred? What do we do?

Jerry's still doing fairly well. Right now he's begging me for some food. We go to the vet again on Monday to get his prescriptions refilled because he's not hurting, he's happy, he has a healthy appetite, everything is working right. Looking for or even thinking about a new dog with Jerry still here is horrible. We are guilt ridden! I'll look online a bit, look down at old faithful, then apologize to him. He doesn't know what we're doing, but it just seems so wrong.

Then again, maybe not. We've never not had a dog. We've spent the week scouring our dog books for breed, looking online at petfinder and rescue organizations, and breeders.

Today we called breeders. Bob talked to one for over an hour and handed the phone to me and I talked to her for a long time. It just felt right. We are going to sleep on it, but I think tomorrow we are going to call her and put down a deposit. She's about three hours from us, so we will try to go to visit soon.

We debated back on forth on breeds. For some reason we like herding dogs. We like big dogs! We're NOT a small dog family. ***So to someone in particular who may read this blog that I know (and love) in real life who has a poodle who was just bred, PLEASE do NOT send us a puppy. We love your dog, we know her pups would be precious, but we don't want a poodle.***

We narrowed our choice down to a Border Collie, an Old English Sheepdog or a German Shepherd. I really wanted an OES. Really bad. But Bob and Thomas did not. That's okay. Someday I'll have one. We are going to get a purebred German Shepherd. Big surprise? That was my second choice and Bob and Thomas' first choice.

If this works out, we'll be getting a bitch. (ha ha, I got to say that word on my blog and it's not swearing, and still G-rated.) Grow up, Frankie. She will arrive in December. Bad month for a new puppy. Everything you read says don't get a dog near Christmas. However, it's just the three of us and we will puppy proof. I think it will be good timing in our case.

That gives me time to puppy proof the house. I look around and think how spoiled I am. I don't have a toddler and I don't have a baby puppy. Jerry doesn't get into anything except Kleenex. Nothing is baby proof here anymore, so I will have my work cut out for me. (Why did I sell that baby gate at the garage sale?)

Then we'll have to research. I've never had an 8-week-old puppy. I've had older puppies. Oy! (Minnesota slang thrown in for emphasis, I don't really say that.) My blogging friend Elisheva from Ragamuffin Studdies just recommended Cesar Millan's book Cesar's Way. I think I will buy it. We love to watch his TV show. I have a whole host of dog books that I got out tonight, stacked on the table and told Thomas to start reading. He decided to go to youtube instead and watch videos on clicker training. lol (By the way, there are some excellent clicker training videos there. Thomas was amazed at what he watched.)

We will make this into a homeschooling project, just as Elisheva has.

The past couple of weeks I have cried myself to sleep almost every night. Bob has dozed off on the couch every night (I'm sure for my benefit) and Jerry and I have snuggled in bed. I'm coming to terms with it, but I don't like it. My mom once told me that death was a part of life. And she died shortly after she said that, too. She was right, though. We have loved Jerry and given him a good life. We will be picking up a tranquilizer from the vet on Monday so that he will have a peaceful death.

But now we have something to look forward to. Hope. ? Is getting a new puppy hope? I guess not, but it is something to lift our spirits. It's something to look forward to. It is something that we can share our love with.

One final comment. It was a tough decision to choose a purebred over a rescue dog. Please don't give us grief over that. We have adopted three cats from shelters. Two have already passed, and one is 13 and still with us. We have adopted dogs from the shelter. We have adopted one stray dog and one stray cat. We have gone above and beyond with rescuing dogs and cats. We donate to our shelter when we can. I'll be donating several cans of the expensive special liver food that Jerry won't touch to our local shelter. I have been a foster mom for cats before. To be honest, that didn't work out because I ended up adopting those that I fostered. I don't feel guilty over choosing one purebred dog.

And one other thing. The puppy we get will already be named. The breeder we have chosen does that; however, she said we could choose a nickname. he he So we need to come up with a girl name. Any ideas?

Friday, October 12, 2007

That Great T-Shirt

I bought the t-shirt from Great Homeschool T-shirts. They're fairly cheap, and if memory serves me, they go on sale for five bucks at the beginning of the traditional school year every year.

I also bought a tote bag from them which we have used and used.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Thomas had a birthday

He's now 12. His request was for a double-layer cake. After I had baked the cake, he decided HE wanted to decorate -- and make two cakes instead of layered. Okay. (Mom felt a little torn because I really like making his birthday cakes every year. Oh well. It did turn out cute! THEY did turn out cute.)

Can you guess what he's into now by the theme of the cakes? Bob gave him permission to watch the show. Ahem. I've been watching with him and honestly, aside from the language and the sexual content, I actually like South Park. OMG, did I just admit that? There have only been a few episodes that I flew into a tirade over. I ranted and raved that is SICK and real people aren't like that. Thomas just looks at me in a funny way and informs me it's all a joke, mooooom, and of course people aren't really like that. Whew.


(Thomas' back-to-school picture above calendar! He's growing up too fast.)

See Frankie's Credit Card. See it smoke. Tons of vet bills and a calendar, too.

Awhile ago I was visiting a new-to-me blog, Bonni's. It's one I'll read daily. =) She had a photo of her calendar on her blog. I fell in love with it the second I saw it!

I'm not one to make spur-of-the-moment purchases on anything unless it's vet related or books or crafts for Thomas, but I just simply HAD to have this calendar.

I ordered it. On the spot. Didn't ask Bob. (He would have just said NO and hell no anyway.) It arrived only a couple days later in a great big box which Thomas took off with.

I have never loved a calendar more! I haven't used the stickers yet, but it's big, it's got cute critters on it, and it's perfect! It's so Frankie.

Thank you to Bonni for sharing her photos. May I blame you for smoking my credit card? lol

I just snapped this pix of Thomas and Jerry Lee tonight. Jerry is a trooper and hanging in there.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Back in the Saddle Again

Monday I was so emotionally drained I did nothing. NOTHING. It was wonderful. I turned my brain off and went into a vegetative state. Bliss. I did make Thomas clean his room, which took awhile. Once the bed was changed, Jerry Lee and I snuggled while Thomas worked. He enjoyed the company.

We decided that because Thomas' birthday had turned sour, we would take him to dinner. His request was Subway. To get to Subway, we had to drive by the scene. The owners were out in their driveway, talking to someone. No sign of the dog.

They never called us. We asked them to let us know how the dog was. I asked Bob if we should stop and he said no. And with that, I released myself from it all. I hope the dog is okay, but I just had to let it go.

Today we started school again. Thomas was very crabby and cranky. I assume it's all the stress of life in general right now. At one point I thought it was comical because he was acting like a drama king. He finally settled down and got into his routine.

Thomas is working his way through a geography workbook. We are currently studying Africa. Today he was working on rivers and we got stumped. The description of a river he had to find was that it bordered Zaire and another country. Zaire--yes, I have heard of it. No, I couldn't find it on our map. Thomas couldn't. Grabbed a different atlas and still couldn't find it. Google to the rescue. I don't know much about geography, especially Africa. Wasn't I surprised to find that Zaire is actually The Democratic Republic of the Congo. Then we had to read more about the country formerly known as Zaire.

The daytime hours ended with ceramics class. The teacher pulled me aside and wanted me to know that Thomas was very creative, an out-of-the-box thinker and very polite in class. I smiled, said thanks, and that I was very proud of him. Three things that I try to foster!

Jerry Lee is doing well, all things considered. He's getting skinnier, but he is still not exhibiting any pain. He still has pep in his step, surprisingly. I think it's getting closer, as he's getting bony. Last night I opened his can of Alpo (a treat I rarely gave him before he was sick, now a daily occurrence) and darned it all if Snowball didn't pounce on the food. The two shared the bowl for awhile, then Jerry stood back and gave me a look. If he could have spoken, I know he would have said, "But mom, I thought this was just for me!" I scooped the cat up and Jerry continued to eat, licking the bowl clean. Who knew cats would love Alpo.

That's our life today: the good, the bad and the ugly. The happy and the sad, too, I guess.