Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year

I wish all of you a happy and blessed New Year. Do any of you make New Year's resolutions? I usually do, if only because I usually see a lot of areas where I want to improve. This year is no exception. We'll see how well I did a year from now!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas 2007


Hope you all had a very nice Christmas. We did, spending it with friends. The girls were very pleased with their gifts, and I got some nice clothes, two pairs of earrings, and a new, soft, suede-y cushion for my papasan chair. My husband loves that I have pierced ears because it opens up a whole new gift-buying category for him.

Plus, we will probably be getting together with my in-laws on New Year's Day, so it will be like Christmas all over again!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Success

Wildchild's Christmas dress is just about done. I have to say, my Bernette sewing machine and serger did a great job going through layers of both the taffeta-type skirt and the heavy cotton velveteen. I did break one needle, but once I put a 90 needle in, I had no problems with the thick layers. I had problems getting the zipper right and ended up hand-basting it first. There's a couple of things I'd like to do, but it's very wearable the way it is. It mainly needs a hook and eye on the top back, which I will sew on tonight, and a velvet ribbon sewn around the bottom of the skirt, to hide a little patchwork I had to do on the back of the skirt, when I discovered that I bought a little less fabric than I needed. Of course, the four Joann's stores I checked had every other holiday fabric still in stock but that one. However, I was careful to match the plaids, and the join is way down at the bottom of the skirt, so I doubt it would be very noticeable, except by those people with whom I attend church who also read my blog!

I'm not sure that my Christmas apparel will be done by Christmas, but I'm glad the girls will have something nice to wear. Once I'm done with Christmas, I will go back to sewing everyday clothes, hopefully getting lots of sewing lessons in with the girls. I should also emulate The Elephant's Child and get started on Easter dresses, since Easter comes so early this year!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Round and Round It Goes

I got tagged by Lynn at Homeschool 2.0, and I have to name seven random things about myself. I've done this a couple of times before, so bear with me if you've been reading this blog for a long time and know all about me. :)

1) I lived in the same small western suburb of Cleveland, OH, until I got married at the age of 24 (not counting boarding at college.) This included one house move when I was very young.
2) I fantasize about owning a summer house along Lake Erie near Cedar Point, or even living there year-round, even though I couldn't go to Cedar Point in the winter. Lake Erie in the winter has its own stark beauty.
3) I usually get the same thing at a restaurant, or the same flavor of ice cream at an ice cream parlor. I know what I like, and I stick with it.
4) I wanted to be a writer when I was young. Now, I don't know how good I'd be at it, or at least how good at making money at it. I think I got the writer idea because in so many of books I read, the girl characters ended up as writers. I imagine that's because so many of them were at least semi-autobiographical, like Maud Hart Lovelace's Betsy-Tacy series.
5) I was never allowed to take piano lessons as a child. I took beginner piano in college, and kept it up for a couple of years after I graduated. I might not mind studying it again if I didn't have so many other priorities.
6) My adult doll collecting started with a Caboodle Barbie doll my husband got me as a little birthday gift one year. Did anyone else own a Caboodle? It was a plastic makeup case, rather like a tackle box, all the rage in the early nineties. I've moved to more upscale dolls in my collecting, but I still have that doll, and my Caboodle.
7) I'm not a very good swimmer. I do well enough to keep myself afloat, but I hate to put my head under the water.

I'm not going to tag anyone, since I've already done this meme before. If you want to do it, go for it.

Birthday

Twelve years ago today, the Scientist entered the world. It was definitely colder and snowier then than it is now; we drove through a blizzard to the hospital (two nights in a row!) I don't know what we were thinking having a baby so close to Christmas, except, well, you can't always time these things!

Here's some pics of her through the year. Happy Birthday, Scientist! One more year and I'll have a teenager!




Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Catching Up

So, let's see. Our furnace got fixed on Monday. It just took an adjustment to the computer controls, so the guy that fixed it was barely here. It's nice to have the house warm again.

Now our printer is acting up. It's not recognizing the cartridge on the right side properly, even though the cartridge is not out of ink. I use the printer quite a bit for school, so that is frustrating.

Also, the Evil Genius Mobile was in a little accident on Saturday, when Mr. EG was taking the Scientist to her horseback riding lesson. I'm thankful that 1)it wasn't Mr. EG's fault and 2)the woman who hit us has good insurance. We've already had the estimate and we're cleared to get the necessary repairs done.

Speaking of the Evil Genius Mobile, I got a little chuckle last week. Mr. EG was meeting the girls and me one night at a restaurant in the same shopping area as our grocery store. I was still inside the grocery store when Mr. EG came by from work. He sat in our minivan for a short time waiting for me, then left me a note and left. When I came out, a woman parked across from me asked if I had somebody watching my car. I guess she was concerned Mr. EG might be a bad guy. I did appreciate the concern, but I still laughed. Of course, I was glad Mr. EG left me a note, or I wouldn't have understood what the woman was talking about.

I'm ready to put the zipper in Wildchild's dress; I just have to go buy one. Maybe tonight.

UPDATE: We just got our first piece of mail today from an ambulance-chasing chiropractor. I'd forgotten about that fun detail of getting into an accident.

Pay It Forward Contest

Since I am a winner at Kate's Pay It Forward thang, now I get to play too. Here's the scoop: You have until December 26 to leave a comment in this post if you want to play. I will pick three people. If you win, you get a handmade (sewn) gift sent to you, sometime after the New Year. Hopefully in January, lol. :) Here's the rules: you need to have a blog of your own, and you need to agree to promise to send something handmade to three of your readers if you win. So comment away; let's have fun!

Monday, December 17, 2007

It's Makin' the Rounds



What Kind of Drink Are You?

You are a Fine Glass of Wine. You are sophisticated and refined, but also complicated and hard to deal with. Not everyone loves you, but those who do swear that you're the coolest thing since sliced bread. One of these days the people that matter will understand you. Until then, you will be sitting on your throne as the distinguished product that not everyone has the taste to appreciate.
Find Your Character @ BrainFall.com

Calling All Lutherans

A host is needed for the next Lutheran Carnival. Please go check out the Carnival home page, find out what the Carnival is all about, and let Dan know if you want to volunteer. In the meantime, check out the latest carnival for some Advent reading.

Keeping Warm

Of course the furnace picked yesterday to go wonky, as the temperature dropped and the blizzard started. Fortunately, it's not completely dead, so it does keep the house from getting dangerously cold; it's just not as warm as we would like. So things are a little disrupted here. Hope to get back to blogging soon!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Rights

I'm seeing examples in the news where people's rights are being or may be taken away, whether it's the right to live while not wearing a headscarf, or the right to have children without being taxed yearly because of their very existence (carbon footprints, y'know), but for homeschoolers, the decision of a German court (h/t Dana) in the case of a family that wishes to homeschool their children is a definite blow to their rights, and the rights of all parents there. Here's a quote from the decision:

"The mental and emotional welfare of the children is lastingly endangered because the first Party rejects and hinders the school education which is important for the development of the children in a pluralistic society. It is a moot point whether the home education of the children ensures an adequate transfer of knowledge, as children should also grow up in communal life."

Then there's some gibberish about "tolerance, the ability to stand up for oneself and to uphold a conviction that dissents with that of the majority." Hullo, isn't that just what the parents were trying to do in this case? Uphold their convictions to homeschool in dissent of the majority of Germans? Guess you can only stand up for yourself until the State squashes you down.

I'm reminding myself that God has allowed evil rulers to unleash evil in certain areas for a season, and that He is with us no matter what principalities and powers may do. For I know very well that there are people in this country who would agree with this court decision, who want the State to have the ultimate authority over parents. May God protect and keep us.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Little by Little

Thanks to you guys, I made progress on Wildchild's Christmas dress - the front is sewn together. Next comes cutting out the back skirt pieces and sewing them on to the top, cutting out the belt and sewing that on, doing the hems. I have to buy a zipper, too, and one for my dress, which I still need to start the muslin for. Maybe later after school, chores and taking Wildchild to her dance lessons.

Monday, December 10, 2007

In the Navy

You can make music videos.


The VAW-113 Black Eagles' answer to the VAW-116 Sun Kings.

Glad to see they're able to have fun while serving our country.

h/t Dave in Texas at Ace's.

Homeschool and Sports

Heisman winner for 2007, Tim Tebow, quarterback for the University of Florida, was homeschooled through high school. Apparently, there was some controversy during his high school years, due to the fact that he was homeschooled but was playing on the high school football team, even though this was legal by Florida law. He and his mom did have to move into an apartment to get him playing on the high school team he wanted, but how many parents have made such sacrifices to get their kids into a better academic environment?

It probably won't be an issue for our family, but I do think homeschooled kids should get the opportunity to take part in extracurricular school activities such as sports and band. I've read about homeschool sports teams, and sometimes they do very well, but I just don't think there are enough homeschoolers here in the Cleveland area. It seems strange in such a large metropolitan area, but in searching for local homeschool groups it seems as though most of Ohio's homeschool groups are found in the rural areas. Perhaps more parents in this area, who would otherwise homeschool, take advantage of the many parochial and private schools.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Well...

I got some pieces to Wildchild's Christmas dress cut out. I had to lengthen the bodice and shorten the sleeves. I put off cutting out the skirt pieces, as I think they'll be a pain to cut out. She wants a long skirt, otherwise "it's not a Christmas dress." So I'll be cutting out around 30" long pieces, and fairly wide, since they're going to be gathered.

I'm not looking forward to cutting out the pieces of my test dress. I want a nice dress, though, so I have to make myself do it. If I tell you guys that I'll try to do it tomorrow, maybe that will motivate me. :)

The Scientist is enjoying her horseback riding lessons.

Friday, December 07, 2007

A Little at a Time


I made progress in the sewing room today, finishing a top for Wildchild out of the pink fabric. I used KWIKSEW's Sewing for Children, which is a great book of basic patterns. I have the toddler and baby books, too, and got plenty of use out of those as well. Now, one top for the Scientist out of that fabric to go.

I need to get started cutting out Wildchild's Christmas dress, and I would like to work on a muslin (or "test-run") for a Christmas dress for me. Hopefully this will be a good weekend.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Return to Narnia

Via The Common Room, I see that the trailer for the movie Prince Caspian, sequel to The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe is now up. Although definitely not for purists, it looks like it will be a good film, that my daughters will enjoy. They liked the first movie well enough, although they are not Narnia crazy like their mother. I read the Narnia books over and over, and I wanted to *live* in Narnia. Or at least visit. Which is funny, really, because I'm not a person who likes the out-of-doors much, where most of the action takes place in the books. Not that I don't find Nature beautiful, and enjoy reading well-written depictions of things in Nature, but a lot of the time I'd personally just as soon be indoors. Just who I am, I suppose. Maybe I just liked the adventures.

Be warned, the trailer took a while to view properly, even with cable internet.

Spinning

It's not exactly chaotic here at the home of the Evil Genius, but I feel like I'm going in circles. I'm just sort of drifting to whatever hits me at the moment, which is usually staying on top of the girls to make sure they get their assignments done. I'm the Cookie Mom for Wildchild's Brownie troop, there's a meeting tonight for Cookie Moms, and the pants I want to wear need to go in the dryer. I also need to get my fajita meat marinating so I can cook it for dinner tonight. Also, I know there were some errands I thought about yesterday that I wanted to run today, and I have completely forgotten what I wanted to get. Ack!

I'm having a "grass is greener at the other homeschool" kind of feeling. Now, there's a good reason we're thinking about switching the Scientist's math curriculum. My husband hates the way math is taught in this country (and not the fuzzy math kind, which I read so many horror stories about.) He's hated the way math is taught since he was in grade school. The Scientist thinks the same way he does, mathematically, and the result is that I get frustrated teaching her math, she gets frustrated trying to learn it, and her father can help her understand but is frustrated with the curriculum. So we're looking at Singapore math. In this case, it's good. But I have this general tendency to be constantly re-evaluating our curriculum and thinking there's something better out there. Not healthy, I know. I need to focus more on working with what I have.

BTW, the Scientist just took care of the dryer for me. She has some things she wants to get in the washer. Now I remember why having older kids is good. I'll try to remember this during her next hormonal moment.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Fabric Department

Miss Kate should love this fabric. It's pink, and evokes Paris with le Eiffel Tower and les Aristocats. I just got this lovely soft knit in the mail today from The Fabric Fairy, and I plan on making long-sleeved tops for the girls. Two more things to add to my sewing list!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Deja Vu, Sort Of

So, the four of us are sitting at the card table playing Settlers of Catan, when the pizza arrives, and we whip out plastic plates and paper towels, and I quip, "Why do I feel like we're in college?" Only I was never part of the gaming crowd in college. I did eat lots of pizza, though.

It's touching to me how you can keep being part of people's lives long after you are gone. The board game we played was inherited from a friend who's been dead just over two years. We just played the game at someone else's house, so we opened up his copy that's been in our garage. I bet he would have loved playing with us. Maybe we will play together someday.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Tangled

It's been a hectic weekend so far. The Scientist had catechism class, then a horseback riding lesson. Now Wildchild is off with her Brownie troop, Christmas caroling. Tomorrow morning is church, and then youth choir. Maybe I'll be able to relax tomorrow afternoon, if I don't get caught up with a sewing project with the girls.

And speaking of sewing... I'd like to start saving up for a new sewing machine next year. I'd like to get one with more stitches, and maybe an embroidery feature. I'm just frustrated, for starters, because sewing machine manufacturers don't give prices online. I can see lots of marketing-related reasons for doing that; from my point of view they just don't seem like good ones. I really can't afford to drop six grand on a sewing machine, and I'd like to have an idea what machines I can reasonably look at. Plus, prices can be found through other resources anyway, like ebay or sewing machine reviews, so why not give a list price? It would save my time trying to dig up this information.

I'm also annoyed because at least one sewing machine manufacturer puts a lot of restrictions on what their embroidery cards can be used for, and as far as I can tell, these restrictions are illegal. That is, once an item is sold, the manufacturer of the item cannot restrict what you do with the item. A pattern can be used to make an item for resale, fabric can be used to make an item for resale; I don't see any legal reason why you can't use an embroidery card to embroider anything you like for whatever reason. Of course, I'm not a lawyer, but Mr. Evil Genius knows something about copyrights and trademarks, as they relate to software and the creation of said. Anyway, it will be a while before I've saved up enough for any nice sewing machine, so I have time to look and explore things.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Lesson Learned

The Scientist went to bed tonight wearing a pajama top sewn by me and pajama pants sewn completely by herself! Yeah! I cut out the pieces for her, but she did all of the sewing by herself. She already has her next project planned, a fleece hat, and Wildchild is clamoring for a sewing lesson. I'm hoping we'll have lots of fun hours together, and afraid I'll have to fight my daughters for sewing machine time, all at the same time.

Bah Humbug

I went shopping for Christmas cards today, and it was so hard to find a card somewhere between the generic "Have a happy holiday season" and the overly-schmaltzy "Christmas is a special time of love and miracles and peace on earth and gooey stuff like that." Sometimes I think I should write for a greeting card company. They don't always seem to represent the Christian POV very well.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Latest Craze

We're all absolutely talking with accents at our house, because our very, very, very favourite television show is Charlie and Lola.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Hittin' the Books

I presume most of you took off school for the Thanksgiving festivities last weekend? Husband took off work all last week. Now he's back to work, and I'm trying to get the girls back to school. It's sad how much easier it was to get motivated to throw on clothes and wander down a hotel corridor and down the stairs to the restaurant with an all-you-can-eat breakfast, than it is to get up and make your own breakfast and face a home full of housework and try to motivate your daughters to do something.

In the sewing department, I'm working on pajamas and nightgowns for the girls. I whipped out a pajama top for the Scientist before we left for vacation. It's a knit top, finished at the neck with an interfaced facing. This proved to be a little bit of a challenge, as the neckline stretched as I sewed, but the facing didn't. Today the Scientist is going to help me sew her pajama bottoms, in a comfy soft flannel.

The Scientist had her first horseback riding lesson on Saturday. They didn't actually ride for the first lesson; they groomed the horses and learned about the tack and all that. My poor Scientist groomed a large pony named Bugs, as she is rather petite. Now she can talk about little else, and she claims she's dreaming about Bugs. She can't wait until her next lesson when she'll get to ride. She also wants to be one of the girls who were there who seem to hang out all the time at the stable. I know in ice skating they're called "rink rats." I wonder what the term is for a girl who spends all her time in a stable?

Friday, November 23, 2007

Be It Ever So Humble

Well, I think it was a very good vacation, since I'm very glad to be back at home and having a go at real life again. Well, tomorrow, anyway. I'm worn out! Great Wolf Lodge is a pretty nice place. The rooms are nice; the waterpark is nice; the food prices are reasonable although the drink prices were kind of high.

We checked out nearby Kalahari Waterpark on the way out. It's *enormous* but then they claim to be the largest indoor waterpark anywhere. It seemed a bit overwhelming; I don't know if we'd enjoy it or not. I thought Sandusky, with three indoor waterparks and another one being built, had a lot of indoor water action until I read that Wisconsin Dells has 18! Wow! I also discovered that Sandusky was going to get a fifth waterpark, Coyote Falls, but Ohio was not willing to put up as much money to help with construction as Rhode Island will. To be honest, I don't see why any state or municipality should help with a private money-making venture such as an indoor waterpark. If it's not a feasible enough venture for a investor to pay, why should public funds be used? Of course, I'm glad that Sandusky is doing well and seems to be becoming a real resort area. It's a nice thing to have, and only a half hour or so away!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Vacation Blogging

Our family semi-tradition of going on vacation for a holiday started in November of 2001, when my husband's college roommate got married in California near L.A. the Saturday following Thanksgiving. Since we had a five-year-old and two-year-old at the time, we spent over a week in California, visiting all the sights, like LEGOland, Knott's Berry Farm, and Disneyland, or as Wildchild called it, Princessland. We had a Thanksgiving meal with our college friend, his fiancée, and their families, at a restaurant, but we also went to Disneyland that day. It was somehow even more fun exploring Disneyland while most people were in their homes having Thanksgiving meals.

Then in 2004, my husband was consulting in Chicago, so we didn't see him very much for about six months. So with some of his crazy consultant money, we stayed at Great Wolf Lodge in Sandusky, Ohio, over Christmas for some quality family time. I suppose someone who has not lived their whole life in someplace like Ohio might not understand the exhilaration of splashing in a waterpark in the middle of winter. Great Wolf has two very nice restaurants in the building, so once you get your stuff in, you don't have to leave until you check out.

So here we again, for Thanksgiving at Great Wolf Lodge. We're in our hotel room right now, recovering after an enormous buffet. There were also yummy desserts, including a chocolate fountain, and of course, pumpkin pie.

And here's where we'll be after we recover from our holiday meal.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Report Card

I've been meaning to mention that within the past few weeks, Wildchild has started reading for pleasure. Princess books, mostly. She also reads to me more readily. This is a major milestone in her reading skills, and I'm very happy about it.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Lutheran Carnival LXIII – Thanksgiving Edition


Since Thanksgiving Day will soon be upon us, I decided to make that the theme of this carnival. As Christians, we are called to “thank and praise, serve and obey” God, and so surely there is nothing wrong with setting aside a special day directly related to praising God for everything He has given us, as long as we remember our duty to give thanks every day, in all things. In Deuteronomy 26:1-15, we see how God called His people to bring the first of everything that their land produced and bring it to God's altar. “Then you, your family, the Levite, and the foreigner living among you should feast on all the good things the Lord your God has given you.” (Deuteronomy 26:11, An American Translation). Leviticus 23:33-43 also mentions Sukkot, the festival of booths, a harvest festival. We also should make God the center of our modern-day harvest festival, and remember that all our blessings come from Him. In closing, here is George Washington's first Thanksgiving proclamation, 1789, when he set aside Thursday, November 26 of that year, as a day to acknowledge God's blessings upon our nation. Frederick Muhlenberg, a Lutheran pastor, was the first Speaker of the United States House of Representatives in 1789 when the joint committee of Congress asked George Washington “to recommend to the people of the United States a DAY OF PUBLICK THANSGIVING and PRAYER.” You can see how the original document appeared here.

General Thanksgiving
by the President of the United States of America
A Proclamation
WHEREAS it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favour; and Whereas both Houfes of Congress have, by their joint committee, requefted me "to recommend to the people of the United States a DAY OF PUBLICK THANSGIVING and PRAYER, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to eftablifh a form of government for their safety and happiness:"
NOW THEREFORE, I do recommend and affign THURSDAY, the TWENTY-SIXTH DAY of NOVEMBER next, to be devoted by the people of thefe States to the fervice of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our fincere and humble thanksfor His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the fignal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpofitions of His providence in the courfe and conclufion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have fince enjoyed;-- for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to eftablish Conftitutions of government for our fafety and happinefs, and particularly the national one now lately instituted;-- for the civil and religious liberty with which we are bleffed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffufing useful knowledge;-- and, in general, for all the great and various favours which He has been pleafed to confer upon us.
And also, that we may then unite in moft humbly offering our prayers and fupplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and befeech Him to pardon our national and other tranfgreffions;-- to enable us all, whether in publick or private ftations, to perform our feveral and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a bleffing to all the people by conftantly being a Government of wife, juft, and conftitutional laws, difcreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all fovereigns and nations (especially fuch as have shewn kindnefs unto us); and to blefs them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increafe of fcience among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind fuch a degree of temporal profperity as he alone knows to be beft.
GIVEN under my hand, at the city of New-York, the third day of October, in the year of our Lord, one thousand feven hundred and eighty-nine.
(signed) G. Washington

Now on to the meat of the carnival!

Let's start with Ask the Pastor, who put together a timely post on the beginnings of Lutheranism with All Hallows' Eve and the Dawn of the Reformation.

And speaking of the Reformation, Scottius Maximus wonders if the splintering of the Church on earth is really something to be happy about, in Why Celebrate?

Aardvark Alley touched upon the intersection of Church and state in a pair of recent posts. Veterans' Day: Eleven, Eleven, Eleven moves from the origins of the holiday to a comparison of false hopes for earthly peace with the true peace Christians have in our Savior. The Aardvark then went much farther back in history to examine and commemorate the religious and societal contributions of Justinian, Christian Ruler.

Liz may be blonde, but BlondeMoment has some very insightful (and timely, for her!) looks into the baptism of infants in On Baptism, On Baptism 2, On Baptism 3, and On Baptism 4. She also examines The Heart of Our Debate.

Also related to the Means of Grace, Rev. Chryst of Preacherblog talks about where God's true promises are to be found in Why My Trip to Israel Wasn't Spiritually Uplifting.

For more on God's promises, read this sermon by Rev. Lehmann of Drowning Myself Wherever I Can on Why I'm Not a Calvinist.

A Cleveland Confessional Lutheran relates a quote from Mythbusters to our modern sinful attitude in A Real Myth Buster.

And also examining our sinfulness, Thinking-Out-Loud looks at how our wish to correct others stems from our own works righteousness in Differences of a Pinion.

Thus ends this edition of the Lutheran Carnival. I wish you all a happy Thanksgiving rich with God's blessings! And I wish to express my thankfulness to my husband for fixing my laptop!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Roadblock

I'm supposed to be doing the Lutheran Carnival this week; I had it all typed up and saved last night and my computer crashed this morning. I'd like to try (or rather, have my husband try) to get the information off of my hard drive as I put a lot of time into writing it already. I appreciate your understanding.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Fencing. Fighting. Torture. Revenge. Giants. Monsters. Chases. Escapes. True love. Miracles.


With thanks to Laura, I discovered that the Princess Bride has been re-released on DVD this week, with new extras, in a special twentieth anniversary edition. Suh-weet! And also thanks to Laura, look how you can still read the title if you flip the box! I think we definitely need this for Beer, Brats and Bride next year. What is BB&B, you ask? It's a time-honored tradition wherein a group of Lutheran homeschooling moms (called Martin Loopers) gather in various locales on a Saturday in September at 4 PM to drink beer, eat brats and watch the Princess Bride. Twentieth anniversary, though? I'm getting old.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Poor Me

I have a cold, and I'm feeling sorry for myself. For a family that homeschools and doesn't seem to go a lot of places, we seem to get sick an awful lot. I also have some sewing I *need* to get done before next Wednesday. You'll never guess what - a bathing suit for Wildchild. Yes, we are totally cheating on Thanksgiving Day and we're staying at Great Wolf Lodge, enjoying their indoor waterpark, and their fantabulous Thanksgiving buffet. So I guess I can't feel too sorry for myself. :)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Virtual Fun

Ready to get into the mood for some winter-y virtual fun? Go make a snowflake or two at Make-a-Flake! No little scraps of paper to clutter your table. :)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Culture of Education

Matthew K. Tabor and Lynn both have posts up reviewing Two Million Minutes: A Global Examination, a documentary following the lives of a male and female high school senior in the U.S., China and India. Here is the trailer, which seems to paint a pretty bleak picture of the future for the U.S.

For my own daughters, I hope they are more serious about their studies than the two American students were portrayed to be. However, I don't want them to be forced to spend all their spare time studying. For me, the question is whether academic excellence requires a single-minded devotion to book studies every waking hour of the day. I'd think most homeschoolers would say no. After all, one of the advantages of homeschooling is that we can cover more in less time, leaving our children free to pursue interests that may incidentally include learning, such as playing with LEGO building blocks, playing chess, sewing, or planting a garden. Homeschoolers see more to life than books, even though we value our children's education. If the Scientist does follow through with her plan of being a vet, taking horseback riding lessons or volunteering at a shelter may be seen as working towards her career.

From what I have read, American high schools do not always do a good job of challenging the best and brightest, and may give in too often to parental pressure to give out good grades at the expense of actual hard work and studies. There's anecdotal evidence that more students are entering college not prepared to do college work. However, as Lynn points out, for Americans, high school is not the be-all-end-all of our future. I completely disagree that high school is a measure of our economic future, or at least not the only measure. As long as Americans keep freedom and liberty, our future can be whatever we are willing to work for.

Go Figure

The weather must have looked at yesterday's post, because today is glorious, almost 60°F (14°C) and sunny. We even got to go out and enjoy it, having an impromptu lunch with Dad, who needed some stuff from home to resurrect his laptop, and then we stopped at the grocery store. Later on, Wildchild and I are going out for her dance classes. These nice days can become a lot more special this time of year.

I think we have a fantastic grocery store, but did you know that anti-biotic-free meat goes bad a lot faster? We're getting to the point of buying our meat just about every day. Fortunately the grocery store is very close by.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Fighting Hibernation

The weather here in Cleveland has taken a serious turn towards cold, dark winter recently, and we're feeling its effects. While, thank God, my mood has not been seriously impacted, the girls are feeling some "cabin fever." Even into October, the weather was warm enough that they could spend a lot of time and burn up a lot of their energy outside. They don't quite know what to do with themselves now that they are spending most of their time indoors. On the plus side, this has driven them into actually putting some real effort into cleaning up their room. Hooray! As far as I can tell, they're 1)bored enough to actually do it and 2)wanting to have their room nice so they have a cool place of their own to hang out in indoors. I don't know yet if I'll be able to parlay their boredom into extra attention to schoolwork as well. We didn't do much today schoolwise; I gave them a break as they had a couple of days off last week due to illness. I'm hoping we'll get back into the school groove as the week goes on.

I also need to get into some nice indoor projects now that the weather is getting inclement. There's so many things I *want* to try, but between finances and my ADD self, getting all the materials for a project bought and together can be problematic. On the other hand, it's not like I have a lack of sewing projects to do. Every time I think maybe it's just my ego driving me to make most of the girls' clothes ("See how special I am! I made all of these myself!"), I look at the prices of ready-made clothes and realize why I still sew so much. On the *other* other hand, we're getting into the Christmas-dress season, and velvet does make such a mess when you cut it....

Sunday, November 11, 2007

I Got an Award!

Miss Sniz was kind enough to nominate me for a Mathetes Award. This award originated with Dan King over at Management by God, who states, "Mathetes is the Greek word for disciple, and the role of the disciple (per the Great Commission) is to make more disciples. The role of a disciple of Christ is to carry His message to the ends of the earth. It is with this heart that I have created the Mathetes Award."

I am supposed to pass this on to five other disciples, mentioning the originator of the award and the person who gave it to me. Unfortunately, I'm not really able to name five people right now. It's been a crazy weekend with a strange sickness in the family. Maybe I'll be able to come up with 5 names later.

Friday, November 09, 2007

The Linux of Sewing Pages?

Via a link at the lovely Kate's, I found this Burda web site featuring "open source sewing" - free patterns! Nothing better than free patterns! Now to track down a printer big enough to print them out....

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Fred's Right on Rights

I just got up from a long nap, having a sore throat, and taking the old adage "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" to heart. But I'm impressed, and surprised, that Fred Thompson actually says, in his latest campaign video, that our rights come from God, not the government. Absolutely true, but in today's political climate, gutsy, I think.

h/t JunkYardBlog.

Bleah

Life is stale, flat and unprofitable. Wildchild got a tummy bug a couple of days ago; now the Scientist has it, and is curled up in the recliner with a pillow, a sleeping bag and her favorite stuffed animal. And her favorite cat is catching some Zzzzzs next to her on the armrest. Don't think we'll be getting much done today. And I was prepared, too! :)

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Doll Update

Since I talked with you all earlier about getting Wildchild an 18" doll for Christmas, I thought I'd give the update that Wildchild has her heart set on an American Girl doll, so that is what she will get. Her older sister does have two American Girl dolls of her own (one came from her grandparents), and her mom has one, so it's only natural for her to want one too, and only fair for her to get one if she wants it. I will probably look on ebay, however, for one made in Germany pre-Mattel, if the price does not go too high. I mean, what is the difference nowadays between the American Girl doll and the much less expensive version from Wal-Mart or Target? Both are made in China, and both are probably about the same quality. I do have to admit I find the American Girl doll to have one of the more attractive face molds out there, though.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Little Bits of Life

On a projects redux note, we did a little bit of clearing out yesterday, and I went through the girls' old school papers. The Scientist attended a parochial school Preschool-Second Grade, and Wildchild had a year of Preschool and a year of Pre-K at the same school. Some of the work they did then actually had pretty good concepts behind it. For example, in Pre-K Wildchild did one self-portrait towards the beginning of the year, and one self-portrait towards the end of the year. It was also interesting to see how her idea of how she looked, the parts of her body she felt important enough to draw, etc., changed even during that short period of time.

Other projects allowed the girls to share their own thoughts. It is fun now to go back and see how although the girls' mindsets were immature, in a lot of ways their core personalities have not really changed. The Scientist is still very thoughtful and introspective; Wildchild still likes bunnies and ice cream.

Of course, these were relatively simple projects, done on paper, but they still took some creative thought. I might try to capture some memories, some snapshots of who the girls are, on paper this year. Of course, being the girls' teacher I see much more of them than I did when they were in school, but it's nice to have something physical to look back on later when memories are not as fresh. I wonder if there's a book or anything with ideas for clever projects out there?

I still would like to do more "big" projects with the girls, like holiday art projects, science projects, and projects related to history: dressing up, historically accurate meals, historically-based art projects and so forth. I just need to not beat myself up for not doing as much as I'd like; guilt will just paralyze me into not doing anything. Still it's good to have goals to work toward, even as I realize I won't always accomplish them.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Griping

I forgot to mention a gripe I have at the moment. We live near a major U.S. city, so why don't we have an art gallery we can visit?? The Cleveland Museum of Art is undergoing major renovations, and although I believe there are a few small exhibitions, the main exhibits will not even be available until spring of next year, and then not even all of them. I don't doubt the need for renovations and expansion per se, but I think it's a bit much that an institution that would be so useful for teaching, to give but one of its uses to the metropolitan area, can be unavailable for so long. The renovations started in 2005, and won't be completely finished until 2011. Think of all the great opportunities being lost for kids right now.

Zzzzzzzz

Despite the fact that we got an extra hour of sleep last night, I've been tired this weekend. I did sort of kick-start my sewing ambition a little working on Halloween costumes, so I've been doing a little sewing this weekend. Other than that, not much. I'm looking forward to the school routine tomorrow, at least. And hoping I get a good night's sleep tonight.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Projects

If you homeschool, do you do lots of projects with your kids? I'm wondering why lots of homeschooling parents seem to enjoy and encourage projects to help the learning process, but parents that send their children to school find them a waste of time. From what I can tell, non-homeschooling parents object to projects because the fundamentals are not being taught and the education establishment seems to be going for feel-good-but-teach-nothing projects instead of actually teaching the basics. Homeschooling parents, with their one-on-one, or close to it, teaching ratio, seem able to impart knowledge to their pupils while they work on the projects together. Is that what you see/think?

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

If You Could

be in our neighborhood tonight, you might see Tinkerbell and a veterinarian running around!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Tagged Again!

This time by Indiana Jane. I have to “devise a list of 5-10 courses you would take to fix your life. It’s more fun to be in classes with friends, so include one class from the person who tagged you that you’d also like to take. Tag five.”

Picking the course I'd take with Indiana Jane is easy: German. I majored in German in college; I studied it for five years (not all in college :P.) My skills have gotten, not surprisingly, a little rusty since I have not been speaking or reading it as much. I'd like to get better again, especially because I am teaching it to my daughters.

Art. Say, watercolors or pencil drawing, preferably with colored pencils. My younger sister was always pegged as the "artistic one," but I do have some artistic talent, and I'd love to see if I could expand it. I'd like to study figure drawing too, as that would go well with my next course.

Fashion History. I've discovered a real interest in fashion history over the years. I'm especially interested in the period of about 1893-1912. I've learned a lot on my own, but a class would be great.

Sewing. Specifically a course on draping and fitting, and drafting my own patterns.

Jewelry Making. This is one of the things I am interested in that I do not have time, money or space to do.

Acting. Just because I think it would be fun.

Dance. To give me more grace and better posture, and for the weight-loss aspect.

So now, I'm going to tag: Barbara, silvermine, Elephant's Child (yes, I know, but you're likely to get tagged with this one sooner or later anyway!), Lilac Rose (I haven't tagged her in a while), and um, Deb, I guess, but only after she gets back from vacation and tells us all about it!

The Role of a Mother

Towards the end of a very bad day yesterday, the oh-so-insightful Scientist made a comment that really made me realize that my responsibilities in the home do not just lie with making sure the dishes are clean, the dinner is cooked and the laundry is done. It even goes beyond bringing up the girls properly and teaching them well. In some ways I am responsible for the emotional tenor through the house as well. Of course the girls need to learn self-control of and responsibility for their thoughts and actions, but if Mom is mopey or snappish, that atmosphere, as it were, will carry over to everybody in the home. I need to think about what kind of tone I am setting for my children's days.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Planning Ahead

I'm a little conflicted. I think it's insane that, when we went to Target last night, they were in the process of taking down the Halloween decorations and going all out Christmas. If only Thanksgiving really did have a turkey tree, perhaps we could forgo this rush to Christmas.

On the other hand, I'm already starting to plan Christmas presents, and I'll probably buy some soon as well. It's nice to spread out the cost in gift buying. I'd like to get some stuff out of the way early, like addressing Christmas cards, so during the holiday season I have more time for fun stuff, like baking cookies, and driving around to see holiday lights. Why shouldn't merchants cater to the desire to plan ahead for the holidays?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Oh Fabric Gals...

I don't know how many of you have heard of/bought from Denver Fabrics, but they're having a big clearance sale. I think someone else is taking them over, so they're liquidating their inventory first. See if you can find some good buys!

And for a place to find lots of fabric links, you gotta love the name FabricWhore.com. Ah, adding to my stash....

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Teaching With Television

I think I'll give up teaching science and just have the girls watch every episode of Mythbusters. :)

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Downside of the Beach Life

Apparently, Avon Lake, a city here in Lorain County just west of Cleveland, and right on Lake Erie, had higher cases of melanoma than expected from 1996 to 2002. Sure, living by a lake, it's fun to hang out at the beach, go boating or jet skiing, or just walk by the lake and enjoy the beautiful scenery. But we do live towards the north, so we get cold winter and grey days, when people aren't exactly out working on their tan. Maybe water reflection combined with the sun's rays has an even stronger effect than one would think?

Your Predictions?

Homeschooling parents obviously are not enamored with the public and private school systems. But if you look around, there are lots of blogs written by teachers and parents who are also not happy with what public schools, especially, are providing. Private schools do have to face some competition, and so I think there is a bit more catering to "the customer," which ultimately, I believe is the parents of the children being educated. But even in public schools in wealthy suburban neighborhoods, parents are not always pleased with the curriculum chosen, the way the school communicates (or doesn't) with them about what happens within their walls, and a myriad of other things.

But will this dissatisfaction with public schools ultimately lead to anything? Some parents who can't or don't want to homeschool are fighting the system by expressing their concerns to principals, superintendents and school boards. In the meantime, well-off and well-educated parents can afford to plug the gaps in their children's education with afterschooling or tutors. But these parents eventually leave the system. School boards can be voted out if enough parents are dissatisfied, but principals and superintendents can always hope to ride out the malcontents until their children move on.

So what will happen to schools in this country? Will public schools eventually get left to only those children whose parents are not educated enough to help them, or who are too busy to work for better solutions, or too poor to provide alternatives? Will parents who are already fighting from within, and homeschoolers who vote, manage to get some sort of competitive program, with vouchers or something similar, created, or will homeschoolers continue to be on the outside, and parents in the school system just give up once their own offspring are through?

You see, I'm seeing a real growth of unhappiness with the way education works in this country. And the internet enables us to link up with like-minded parents not only in our area, but all over the globe. I see real potential for change, but wonder how long it might take to reorganize such a large system so entrenched in many of our childhoods. Perhaps it will take the current generation of homeschooled, afterschooled and tutored children to grow up and make things different. What do you think?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Vanity, Vanity

One of our vehicles needed a new license plate, so my husband took care of it one day while coming home from work. He surprised me by getting a special "vanity" or custom license plate just for me. Check it out!

Doesn't he spoil me? :) I guess I can't quit blogging now!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Festive Fall Weekend

On Saturday we went to a pumpkin patch. We went on a hayride, Mr. Evil Genius and the girls made it through a corn maze, and we bought over 70 pounds worth of pumpkins, some for carving, some for painting, and some for making pumpkin pies later.

We also brought home other some local produce: corn, apples, tomatoes, and yummy apple cider.

We had a big pumpkin painting party when we got home. Mr. Evil Genius cleverly created a "reverse" pumpkin.



Then yesterday we went down to the Akron area to celebrate my sister-in-law and her husband's 25th wedding anniversary. They were included in a special Mass for people who had been married 25 years or more. There were over a hundred couples there; one couple has been married 71 years!

After the Mass, we went to a lovely restaurant. It was nice to enjoy the weekend and forget about baseball. :(

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Baseball Talk

I thought some of you might be interested in Paul Byrd's take on being a Christian in the major leagues, and the personal struggles he's faced. He's got a book coming out and I might get it; it sounds interesting. This is a nice article about Byrdie too. He may not be our ace, but I hope he's earned some respect for his pitching ability.

Also, I just discovered on Let's Go Tribe that first baseman Ryan Garko has a playoff blog. He's had some interesting quotes during the playoffs, so check it out if you want one Indian's perspective on what they're doing. How can you not like a guy who says, talking about what he did before the last game they played in Boston, "I spent my day at the food court eating chicken fingers with my cousin, Corey “Big Body” Erb." :)

Cat Magnet

How many of you out there have that big cat magnet attached to you, the one that draws all the hard luck feline cases your way? The biggest cat rescue we ever pulled off was when a feral cat gave birth to four kittens in our back yard. We managed to snag Mama Cat in a humane trap, got her spayed and got her a round of shots, and let her loose at the local grain elevator, with the blessing of the owners there. Two of the kittens went to a good home, and the other two went to a shelter where presumably they found good homes as well.

We've been living where we're at for about four months, and I guess it's taken that long for the "Cat Signal" to come on, because tonight a beautiful black cat showed up at our door. Using our extensive cat knowledge, we discovered that a)it's a girl and b)she's in heat. So she's spending the night in our garage, safe from any boy kitties that might happen to be around, and away from our four kitties in case she has any sicknesses, or fleas, for that matter. We figure she's about seven months or so, and this is probably her first heat. We're also guessing that her owners got tired of her caterwauling, and dumped her. Those kind of people disgust me. Hopefully we can get her to the local no-kill shelter tomorrow.

Wake Me Up When the Game Starts

I really hope the Indians finish up and win the pennant tomorrow, because all these late night games are making me tired! I took a nap today; that's the second one in about a week. I think Scottius can commiserate with how I feel, since his Cards took the Big Enchilada last year. So here's for winning against Boston tomorrow, and sweeping the Rockies in the World Series! Go Tribe!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Truth or Dare

So I've been tagged again, and I need to come up with seven true things about myself. Since when has an evil genius ever told the truth? Well, you won't get the Whole Truth (grins evilly)!
1) I've waded in the Pacific Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico and the Mediterranean Sea, but not the Atlantic Ocean. Need to rectify that with a trip out east sometime.
2) I enjoy bicycling. Too bad there's not a lot of suitable area for it where I live.
3) I love buying fabric.
4) I love buying and selling on ebay.
5) The longer I homeschool, the easier it gets and the more I enjoy it.
6) I enjoy lots of quiet time.
7) I need to work on getting things around my house organized.

Um, now I'm supposed to tag seven people, and tell them I did. So, who should be my chosen victims?

1) Presbytera, 'cause she hasn't blogged in ages.
2) The Mom. Same reason.
3) The Young Explorer. Again.... And because she's my daughter and I can make her do it.
4) The Elephant's Child. Because she did the other one I gave her so promptly. :)
5) Scottius. Because it'll be great to see what he comes up with.
6) Des Moines Girl. She's got a great sense of humor.
7) Blonde Moment. She's fun.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

For All You Princess Bride Fans

Since I know there's several of you, I'm putting the URL here on my blog. Which one of you will get the URL? :)

http://ars.userfriendly.org/cartoons/?id=20071014

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Full Weekend

A fun Friday night started off with picking up my husband from work. As we were pulling out of the parking lot of his building, which is definitely in an urban area, although close to a park, we saw two does.

Wildchild, my husband and I went to Jacobs Field last night, along with several thousand others, and watched the Indians play on the big screen. It was a little chilly, but a fun night, except for the fact that CC was off, and we lost rather decisively. Oh well. We had a good time, and we were bundled up well so we didn't get too cold. Even Wildchild's doll, who came along to keep Wildchild company, wore a lovely hat and sweater.

Then today Wildchild and I met some friends at a farm park in Lake County, where there were activities such as pumpkin painting and cornhusk doll making. We had a fun time, and dinner afterwards with them was nice as well.


I think Sunday after church will definitely be a day of rest!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

They're Coming to Take It Away

A little background first. Metropolitan Cleveland occupies a large area; like many large cities it now occupies more than one county. The city of Akron, south in Summit County, is arguably a suburb of Cleveland. Metro Cleveland expands eastward into Lake County, all the way out to Painesville. And on the west side, everywhere out to the city of Lorain has become a suburb of Cleveland. I feel especially well qualified to talk about the west side of Cleveland, because I've lived there for most of my life. I spent the first twenty-four years of my life living in Bay Village, a suburb of Cleveland at the very edge of Cuyahoga County, the same county the city of Cleveland occupies. For the past six years we've been living in Lorain County.

There's lots of housing being built in Lorain County, especially in the cities closer to a)the lake and b)the city of Cleveland. Shopping and restaurants are popping up like mushrooms at one exit off of the interstate in Avon, OH. And there's been talk for years of building another freeway exit in Avon, a little further east. All this is good for Lorain County, whose mainstay for years was and to some extent still is automobile plants. As we've seen lately, these plants aren't reliable places to base an economy on, and in any case these jobs will likely become more obsolete as automation takes over.

Now to the interesting stuff. There is apparently a regional planning group called the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA) which votes on measures concerning the local interstates. As I wrote above, Avon would like to build another freeway exit. Fortunately for Avon, the Cleveland Clinic wants to build a family medical center there. Unfortunately for Avon, the city of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County mayors want their cut. For 10 years. And those in Cuyahoga County on the NOACA are threatening to veto the freeway exit proposal, even though the city of Avon and the development group that owns the land currently would be paying for the project.

From my point of view, Cuyahoga County's demand for money is nothing but unmitigated greed. When the neighboring city of Westlake (in Cuyahoga County) was growing like wildfire along the interstate, did they offer to "share" their profits with neighboring cities? I would guess not. And mind you, this growth has occurred not only within my lifetime, but a great deal of it has taken place within the last twenty years. Does the city of Westlake owe the city of Rocky River tax revenue from its swanky and flourishing shopping development, Crocker Park? After all, the recent shopping and restaurant development in Westlake may very well have helped put the final nails in the coffin of Westgate Shopping Center in Rocky River, which is now a distant memory. For that matter, if Avon is "sharing" taxes with Cuyahoga County, does that mean that Avon residents could be allowed to use the city of Bay Village's lovely pool, or Westlake's fancy recreation center? Both of these are currently for city residents only. If Avon is paying taxes into these cities' coffers, shouldn't Avon residents be able to take advantage of these cities' benefits as well?

Yes, the city of Cleveland, and Cuyahoga County, are bleeding. They're losing hundreds of thousands of people, and losing jobs. However, instead of trying to reach out and grab what others are getting, perhaps they should take a good look in the mirror and try to fix their own problems. No, they'd rather just take from an area that is doing better. You know, this whole scheme sounds very familiar. I'm not surprised that the city government of Cleveland and the Cuyahoga County Commissioner are all from the same party. You guess which one.

And If the Last Quiz Wasn't Nerdy Enough...



I am a d20


Take the quiz at dicepool.com



Via Pauli.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

I Can Haz Free Healthcare?

I guess we've been doing it wrong all this time. My husband should quit his job, become a woodworker, and then we too can live in a 3,000 square foot house, drive SUVs, send our kids to tony private schools, and get free healthcare for our kids off of you sucker tax payers. I guess we can drop our auto insurance too. Yeah!

Michelle Malkin has a pretty thorough run-down. Don Surber chimes in also.

It Can Happen Here

So I was just about to post about my own trivial little happenings when I see that yet another school shooting has taken place, this time right in Cleveland. I'm glad to have my kids at home with me right now, and I'm glad there seem to be no fatalities from this, apart from the shooter. Although it was of course wrong to shoot people, I'm sorry the young gunman seems to have taken his own life. I'm wondering when we'll start hearing about how this kid was never in trouble, etc.

I suppose the mayor will now call for stricter gun laws, or security at the school building, or something similar. I would want my children to hide from someone running around with a gun, but I would also want there to be someone similarly armed who could protect my children in a dangerous situation. Here's some great quotes: "Schools are supposed to be a safe place." With all the shootings that have happened in schools, can we really think like that anymore? Also, one parent says about security personnel that used to be in the school: "To take away the only source of protection is just not right." Well, if they allowed teachers who had a concealed carry permit to carry a firearm during the course of their work, there would be another source of protection, and without the cost of extra security. Isn't it time that politicians and school boards learned that simply forbidding guns in school will not keep guns out of schools?

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Natural Consequences

Of course it makes sense that a woman who shoots herself in the stomach and killed her unborn child may not be charged for murder. After all, she could have just had it sucked down a sink without any consequences at all, right? At least, no *legal* consequences. Ironic that a woman is being charged for drowning her two children in the bathtub at the same time. She should have just killed them before they were born. Then she wouldn't have to deal with all this.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Yeah! It's Friday!

I notice that I've been posting quite a bit on learning-related matters lately. I don't want this blog to become a strictly homeschooling blog; I like being able to talk or rant about whatever is moving me. At the moment, teaching the girls and planning their lessons is taking up a lot of my time and interest. I'm also fascinated by the egregious failings within the public educational system. Of course, I can afford to find it fascinating because I don't have children whose educations are being ruined in the system. In the big picture, though, it is not good for our country's future to have children receive such poor educations. But then, I can't do anything about our country's system of education, and I certainly don't have all the answers in any case. All I can do is make sure my own children are learning, to the best of my ability and theirs.

Frankly, the political scene right now is rather discouraging to me. It seems as though there is a lot of cheating, back room deals, lying and everything else being brought to light, but nothing is coming of it. Ah, well. The wheels of God grind slowly.

Still waiting to get our van back. I'm tired of driving the old beater I'm in right now. Thus, I hate going anywhere.

Mr. Evil Genius had asthma as a child, and it now appears as though some of the things he's suffered from as an adult stem from that. His doctor is starting him on some asthma medication. It's discouraging to be tied to medication and pills, but we're hopeful that he can improve his physical state now that this has been diagnosed.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

I Don't Think So

It's bad enough that parents who have their children in public schools may have to have them tutored to help them understand the material, or tutor them themselves. It's sad that some parents are afterschooling, teaching them what they want them to learn outside of school, like art or music, or even afterschooling to cover gaps in the public schools learning curriculum. Now it's cool for a teacher to assign parents to read what their children are reading in high school, and have the parents comment on it? Um, no. Read about it here; use Bugmenot if you don't want to create a log-in yourself.

This is not to say I don't read things myself. As a matter of fact, in some areas I feel I've given myself a better education than even college gave me. I read The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Buccaneers for leisure reading, just for examples. But if I'm going to, or have to, go to the trouble to read everything my child reads and discuss it with her and comment on it, I might as well just teach her myself. I can tell you there wouldn't be any "hip-hop poetry" in my dream high school curriculum. And “I take it as giving back to the teacher what he is apparently giving to our kids, a lot of attention and a lot of requirements.” Um, wouldn't that be called "doing his job"? Maybe not.

Via kitchen table math, the sequel.

The Joys of Homeschooling

Having your daughter come in to show you her latest art project while you're in the shower.

(Yes, this does sound rather like The Joys of Mothering. But then homeschooling is a lot like mothering, which is another one of The Joys of Mothering.)

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Doll Discussion

Wildchild is ready to "move on" from Bitty Baby and get an 18" (or so) doll. I'm not sure I want to get her an American Girl doll, both because I feel the American Girl company under Mattel has gotten into political advocacy through the dolls, and because it's my understanding that the dolls are made in China now, and the price is rather high for that. However, it seems that some of the other high quality doll makers, such as Götz, have gone out of business, and there is not much of a selection out there other than American Girl. Does anyone have any thoughts or suggestions?

Update: Apparently Götz was rumored to have gone out of business, but hasn't. Now if I could find a dealer, and if Wildchild likes the dolls...

A Project Completed

Yeah! Wildchild's ballet bag is finally complete! As a special touch, I put in a cross-stitch design of every little girl's favorite dancing mouse, Angelina Ballerina. My little ballerina will be so happy to carry her things in it to ballet class tomorrow.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

LOL Cat Meets Lord of the Rings


From here.

Weekend Roundup

So, let's see... bought the cord I need to make Wildchild's ballet bag, and the fabric I need to make her Halloween costume. She's going as Tinkerbell.

Refreshed my educational supplies with a few books I needed, and also a little specialty paper, the kind with ruled lines and some space above for a picture. I want to write some cute little stories for Wildchild to read. Maybe I'll let her illustrate them.

Bought shoes for both of the girls, although one pair needs to go back. Wildchild wasn't with me, and they didn't have her size, but the salesperson said they ran a little big, so we tried the next smaller size. They didn't work.

Made a new skirt for each of the girls, which they wore to church this morning. I should try to finish Wildchild's ballet bag before her class on Tuesday. I desperately need more clothes. Mr. Evil Genius could use some more clothes as well. It's wonderful having clothes especially made to fit you, but right now I have a lot in the "to do" pile.

Kept my husband and Wildchild company this afternoon as my husband found his 100th cache. Now my husband is off with the girls planting his very first cache (that he is responsible for maintaining.)

Looking forward the baseball playoffs this week, school, and sewing, sewing, sewing!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Cure for the Friday Blues

As I've gotten more into homeschooling, both increasing the scope of my teaching, and teaching the girls at higher grades, I'm realizing why Friday happy hour is popular. :) Not only am I tired, but my tired mind tends to focus on what I haven't achieved during the week, and what needs to be accomplished over the weekend. Fortunately, there is a couple with whom we go out to eat a couple/few times a month, and tonight was one of those times. I got some adult time, a good meal, a tasty sangria, and Mr. Evil Genius just ran out to the ice cream store and is bringing home a chocolate-with-hot-fudge sundae for me. I think I'll survive another day.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Jumping the Shark

I'm just minding my own business, doing one of my favorite activities, cruising around the 'net, looking at the wealth of educational materials for my girls. Today I'm looking specifically at reading material. Haven't been at Scholastic's site in a while; go to check it out. See nothing but Democratic presidential candidates on their front page in one of their flash pictures. Have flashbacks to when I discovered that Dorling Kindersley had John Kerry on the cover of their U.S. Presidents book. Getting a Bad Feeling about Scholastic. Decide to go over to the Scholastic Store anyway. See The Down-to-Earth Guide to Global Warming by Laurie David and Cambria Gordon. Okay, it's official. Scholastic has Jumped the Shark. I mean, Laurie David, who helped produce An Overblown Inconvenient Truth! Who got busted by Newsbusters when she pushed her, you know, very, you know, important book on the Today Show. Who lives in a huge house in Martha's Vineyard (language warning for the sensitive). Check here for some good humor by Jules Crittenden to get a good laugh, if you need it.

Aww, Scholastic kid reporters covered the Democratic debate on MSNBC. Wonder if they're going to cover any Republican debates? (crickets chirping) Holy cow, the questions and answers are so freakin' ridiculous! I really think you ought to go read for yourself. Okay, these are kids, and school is one of their biggest concerns right now, but someone ought to tell them that the federal government ought to get *out* of schools! Personally, I think we ought to vote for Mike Gravel. He says, and I quote: "I will end wars and you will have a world in peace. I will end the whole problem we have with the environment. We are cooking ourselves off the planet, and we've got to solve that problem now and we cannot do it with the leadership we have." Gee, can you also fix everyone's eyesight without that bothersome Lasik surgery, cure cancer and give everyone in the U.S. a flying car while you're at it, please?

I'm thinking of writing my own children's books. There's too much slop out there right now. Anyone want to join me?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Youth Movement

Gotta love the kids. In preparation for the playoffs, and since we have a doubleheader today against the Seattle Mariners, manager Eric Wedge is resting some of our everyday players and playing some of our second-string. We're currently up 9 to 2 in the first game. Veteran Victor Martinez is the only one on our squad currently without a hit, although he has drawn a walk, and has an RBI. In the "odd" category, we are the "home" team in this first game in Seattle, to make up for that last snowed-out game back here in April.

In a somewhat-related-in-my-own-head story, my indentured slave labor daughter made the mashed potatoes for dinner completely on her own. Well, her younger sister did help a little with putting in butter and mashing. I love having kids old enough to help with stuff. I've always hated making mashed potatoes, but I LOVE eating them! The Scientist also made cookies today, another thing I love to eat. :)

Creating a Pattern

We're settling into a routine here in Evil Genius Land. Wildchild has had her first Brownie meeting and is taking ballet and jazz dance once a week. I was gratified to hear Wildchild's new leader say that my daughter, homeschooled since kindergarten, fit right into her new troop. I'm hoping she'll make a friend or two in the troop. She's much more social than her sister (perhaps a second-born thing?) and she doesn't play as well alone. Just as moms are so busy today, so girls of eight are busy with schoolwork, homework, and innumerable activities.

And speaking of activities, I've been making phone calls trying to find a 4-H club for the Scientist. She tried Girl Scouts, but with her serious and studious nature, and love of animals, I think she'll be happier in 4-H, despite the fact that she can't do any animal raising where we're at right now. I found one 4-H club in the area whose leader has miniature horses. She'd be in heaven with that. Hope that works out, as we're experiencing much frustration with vehicles. Our minivan finally made it into the shop for a new (to us) engine, only to have to go back after a few days. I want my minivan! (sniffle) Horse stables and tack shops seem to generally be quite a drive from where we live, and Mr. Evil Genius and I don't trust the beater I am currently driving to make it that far. Meanwhile, the poor Scientist is chomping at the bit (ha!) to take horseback riding lessons.

Not content with three projects on the table, I started a fourth, one for which I've had the materials for a while: a ballet bag for Wildchild. This one should be done fairly quickly, being pretty straightforward. I hope so!

Oh, and of course there's school! I'm not getting as much German taught as I'd like, but we're not doing badly in the other subjects. We're doing ancient history right now, and I am jumping around a little bit more than I'd like in that. So many early civilizations started around the same time. I think I'll have the girls help me with a timeline to tie it all together. I'm happy with the girls' art curricula this year, where I felt I had a gap there before. Everything else, I have a direction I'm heading in, which is half the battle. Heck, that pretty much describes my life right now: everything is not exactly where I want it to be, but I know which way I'm going.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Nobody Will Win This

At least that's my take on the current strike by GM employees. Retirement and salaries seem to be driving American car companies into near-bankruptcy, and yet those things are under debate, as well as keeping jobs in the U.S. Yes, let's make sure auto workers are paid enormous salaries, that funding autoworkers' retirement is a significant part of the selling price on a new vehicle, and that auto manufacturers cannot try to save money by taking jobs someplace where labor is cheaper. I amend my blog title. Car companies competing against GM and the UAW will be the ones winning this. And the job markets and financial health of Cleveland, Youngstown and other cities will probably be losers.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Championship Baby!



The beer and champagne are still flowing hard in the clubhouse. Hee hee! Our mascot slider has his raingear on! Trot Nixon is going full out with the buckets of water. And our GM got the pie in the face today. Go Tribe!

Post in Search of a Title

If I could have typed telepathically yesterday, I would have put up a post. Thoughts were swirling around in my brain, but I was apathetic about typing them out onto a screen. Even the Indians game last night was not really noteworthy. Fortunately, our magic number is down to one just the same. Would have liked to have gone to the game, but Husband is not feeling well. Hopefully the Indians will do well today and not have to depend on the Tigers to lose for them to clinch at home.

I finished a shirt yesterday that's been in the works for a while. I've kind of put the quilted purse aside temporarily. The pattern calls for folding the raw edges of the quilted straps over and pressing them down. I've already discovered that doesn't work so well with the quilted material, so I've kind of dreaded putting the straps on, which is the next step.

I'm hoping we'll be able to take a little trip or two to enjoy the fall weather and the colors of the leaves. I think fall is my favorite season of the year, despite the fact that it predicates winter's chill.

Friday, September 21, 2007

I'm Cranky

Say what you like about public and private schools, but at least they give you a chance to meet lots of people in your own peer group. Why is it so hard to make friends once you leave school? In today's world, with so many mothers working, it seems even harder. Half the girls in my daughter's ballet class are ferried there by a grandmother. Knowing people online is nice, but I'd like to have a few pals in this area to do things with.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Three Is Our Magic Number

Since the Indians just beat the team right below us in the Central Division, our magic number goes down to three.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Five

After beating the Detroit Tigers tonight, the Indians magic number is down to five!! For those of you who are not baseball fans, that means the Indians only have to win five more games to clinch the American League Central Division championship. The Tribe is also only 1/2 game behind Boston for the best record in the American League. Hey, Hey, Hey, Let's Go Tribe!