Thursday, May 31, 2007

Rest in Peace

Today a local community near me, Avon, Ohio, mourns the death of Cleveland Heights Police Officer Jason West, who was killed in the line of duty last Friday. I had to run errands this morning in Avon, and took the picture above of luminaries lining the sidewalk outside an Avon school, which incidentally has the day off, as do all schools in Avon. I also saw police officers arriving from all over for the funeral, one car from as far away as Niagara Falls, New York. I am glad that the family left behind has hope in Christ and the support of his brother police officers to see them through this difficult time, and I pray for them.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Progress Report

Since I have been bemoaning Wildchild's lack of interest in reading, I should update to say that her reading ability is improving. She still is most interested in reading about subjects that are interesting to her, like rabbits and ballet, but that's not surprising, is it? :) She is also reading more spontaneously on her own when we are out doing things. She still gets impatient and frustrated sounding out words, but she gets impatient easily in general.

The Scientist got an impromptu lesson on bell curves and the mode, median and mean averages at lunchtime. Even when we weren't homeschooling, we never passed up an opportunity to teach something, and we still don't. :)

Monday, May 28, 2007

Woodsy Walk

We took a nice hike in the woods today.

There were some pretty views, and we caught a glimpse of a few natural inhabitants of the woods. I saw a cardinal, Scottius, but he didn't have a glove or a baseball bat. :)

Memorial Day

Memorial Day is almost a surreal holiday for me. I appreciate the sacrifices so many brave men and women have made to keep this country free, and I know the sacrifices were great. However, although I have had relatives who served our country in the armed forces, I know of no relative who served our country in a time of war. I have nothing to make this holiday "personal" for me. In addition, like Laura Lee Donoho, who has the association of Memorial Day with losing her first dog, I have, for as long as I can remember, associated Memorial Day with my sister's birthday celebrations. Her birthday is always close to Memorial Day, if not on it, and a three-day weekend was always perfect to celebrate, especially as we grew up and moved apart. As I'm taking a "mental health break" from my family, no celebration with family this year.

Redstate has a nice roundup of Memorial Day posts.

Saturday, May 26, 2007


Do any of you who are stay-at-home moms have the same problem I do? On the weekends, my husband likes to hang out at home and just veg, whereas I get moody and depressed just sitting around on a Saturday. I like to have plans and do things, get out of the house. I suppose having my daughters around me pretty much 24-7 just exacerbates the situation. Yeah. I need to get out of the house more.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Gorgeous Weather

Yet another advantage to homeschooling is that the girls and I can enjoy the weather, especially now when the summer weather is coming in and it is warm and sunny outside. With lots of schools doing away with recess altogether, I can't imagine how students (and teachers!) can stand not having a break. When I look back, most of my fondest memories of grade school are of recesses! And I mostly enjoyed learning, except for math. Children are just made to run around outside and play, I think. My girls can even do some school work outside, much pleasanter than being cooped indoors. It wasn't until I started college that I ever had a class taught outside. There were some places that were perfect for sitting outside.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Pretty Neat News

Completely by accident, I just read that the 2009 U.S. Figure Skating Championships are to be held right here in Cleveland, Ohio. Go, Cleveland! Cleveland has already hosted one other U.S. championship, in 2000. For Christmas, 1999, my DH got me two of what were called "all-event" tickets, which meant I got to see every event in Mens, Ladies, Pairs and Ice Dancing, at the Senior, Junior and Novice Levels. I also got to attend open practices at Winterhurst Ice Rink, which was also where the lower level competitions took place, and open practices at what was then Gund Arena.

There were a few quirks with the set-up, at least at Winterhurst. There are just normal bleachers, for watching hockey games, and only on one side of the rink, as Winterhurst is a double rink. There was no way to assign seats, and there were more people there than seats. Perhaps they underestimated the interest in Juniors and Novice skating? But with no assigned seats, once you got a seat, you could not leave for any reason, or risk losing your seat. Or you were stuck standing the whole time.

The set-up at Gund Arena was nice, though. The arena is connected by an underground tunnel to Tower City, a shopping, dining and hotel complex in the Terminal Tower building in Cleveland. As the name implies, there are also subway terminals at the bottom of Terminal Tower. Lots of the skaters and their coaches stayed at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Tower City, so one could see lots of big names in the ice-skating world, walking to and from their hotel rooms, in the tunnel. There were also lots of former U.S. top skaters attending, such as Paul Wylie, so lots of skating celebrities to see.

I had a pleasant surprise, after taking the then-almost-one-year-old Wildchild and just-turned-four-year-old Scientist to one afternoon event, that people who sat in the same area I did asked about them at the next event I attended, and wondered why I didn't bring them back! I was glad they had been well-behaved. I got lots of smiles leading the Scientist around by the hand, and carrying Wildchild in a baby pack strapped on in front of me. :) I also took the girls to a practice, and remember a figure-skating judge of Italian descent commenting on how the Scientists cuteness must be because she was half-Italian. :) She was one of those kids who attracted attention everywhere she went.

There were lots of good skaters to see. Michelle Kwan, of course, Kyoko Ina and John Zimmerman, Timothy Goebel. It was Sasha's Cohen's first Seniors championship, and Naomi Nari Nam was still skating in singles. Now she skates in Pairs with Themistocles Leftheris. Lots of good performances were given during that week.

It would be cool if Cleveland could get a world figure skating championship someday. I know I heard during the 2000 event, that the-powers-that-be in Cleveland would like to try to get a world championship located here. A well-planned event in 2009 can only help the cause. I think I will start saving money for a ticket or two in 2009.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Just Drifting

Not much of note over here right now. We got to have two nice meals with friends over the weekend, which made the weekend enjoyable. Actually, it saved the weekend for me.

I need to find a project to work on. It's not like the girls and Mr. Evil Genius and I don't need more clothes for the summer... My ADD brain just can't settle on one thing. Which my sewing room shows, a lot of the time, when I have projects scattered all over.

I have a lot of plans for the summer, but nothing is happening right *now*. I don't even want to go to Cedar Point until Maverick, their newest and 17th roller coaster, is running. Sigh. I hate being in a holding pattern.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Seven Things About Me

Elephant's Child tagged me, so are seven random, uninteresting things about me.

1. I started going gray in my late teens/early twenties.

2. I am a picky eater.

3. Our family is acquiring a lovely set of glassware via my husband's drinking of POM tea.

4. I've never seen ET.

5. My mother wanted to name me Judy, except she didn't like my father's sister Judy. I think I'm grateful for that.

6. Except that I like Judy Garland.

7. I just got my ears pierced in April for the first time in my life.

If they feel like it, I'm tagging Susan, 'cause she writes interesting posts, my alter ego Barb, if she wants something else to blog about, and kate5kiwis, who I'd like to see come up with seven uninteresting things about herself!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Play Ball!

Today was Weather Education Day at Jacob's Field in Cleveland, Ohio. Four weather forecasters from WKYC News spoke to over 11,000 kids and adults about forecasting the weather and how weather can affect how far a ball will fly. We had a speaker from the National Weather Service give tips for safety during floods, thunderstorms and tornadoes. We also had someone from NASA demonstrate a nifty computer program which shows how weather conditions can change the flight of a baseball. I also found this neat program which lets you play with the aerodynamic forces on a curveball.

It was this little one's first game. She sits with some others from our homeschool group.

For Scottius Maximus, a few pictures of the ballpark. I'll take more next time we go.

Here is the Home Run Porch in left field. You can see how close Jacob's Field is to Quicken Loans Arena, home of the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball team. Also notice the giant Cavaliers shirt hanging from the Terminal Tower behind the Q. The Cavaliers are in the NBA playoffs.

Here is the Terrace Club restaurant, where people with season tickets can go and enjoy a nice meal while taking in a game. I'm not sure what else, if anything, qualifies you to get in there.

Right field, from where we were sitting during the weather part.

Here's right field from our seats during the game. We were up high, but it was worth every bit of the $5 per seat we paid. :) You can see the walkway from the parking garage, and the Caxton Building, where Mr. Evil Genius worked for a short time.

An overview of the infield.

It was a fun game. Fausto Carmona pitched a complete game and his first career shutout, while Victor Martinez and Ryan Garko hit back-to-back homeruns off of Johan Santana for a 2-0 victory over the Minnesota Twins. Go Tribe!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Divorce Hurts

Pointed out to me by Mr. Evil Genius, the top ten myths of divorce. Most of the truths of these already familiar to me, such as the fact that those who live together before marriage actually have a higher rate of divorce, and that when parents don't get along, it's not always best for the kids if the parents divorce. Now, my parents were among those who created a high-conflict home for their kids, and I have to admit I was relieved when my father moved out, just because the everyday fighting would cease. However, it certainly didn't stop the problems or the stress. We had the heartbreak of finding out by accident that my dad was already living with someone else four months after the divorce was final. I still don't know who she was. My parents still fought about money and possessions, and our standard of living definitely went down after my father left. And all three of us daughters suffered in regards to relationships with men. I've said this before, but my parents' divorce still affects me today, almost twenty-one years since it happened. Parents, be there for your kids, and dads, be there for your daughters!

Potluck Post

So, first of all, what to look for in a basic sewing machine: forward and backwards straight stitch and zig-zag stitch. Buttonholes are also useful, but most machines that zig-zag can also do buttonholes. Pfaff, Bernina and Viking are the top brands. Singer is not as good as they used to be.

If you are tall and thin, Vogue patterns are good. If you are more "full-figured" Burda patterns are nice. Sometimes the "Big Four" patterns, Simplicity, Vogue, Butterick and McCall's, will have a pattern for what is called a "fitting shell." This is a very close-fitting garment that is meant only for you to work on your fit. It has no "ease," or extra room so you can sit down, etc. in the garment. It is just a way to see how the company's patterns fit you. Ease is included in all other patterns. I would probably try a simple pull-on skirt before a fitted skirt or blouse.

Speaking of sewing, I just bought a quilting book from Japan. This ebay seller sells a lot of sewing and beading books from Japan that have some very neat projects in them, although I find the gothic Lolita stuff kinda disturbing. Anyway, I found this picture from the book to be an interesting juxtaposition of Japanese and Americana styles.

In some ways politically, I lean libertarian. I'm definitely for smaller government and more control of things at the local level. I just wonder why on earth the libertarians cannot get anyone better to represent them than Ron Paul. The man comes off as a total fruit basket. Rudy Guiliani pwned him last night

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Fred Thompson Brings It

Go here to this post by Redstate to see Fred Thompson calmly telling Michael Moore where to get off - while puffing on a big cigar. You go, Fred!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Fighting the Demon

After being free from it for quite a while, my old enemy depression has returned. In some ways, it's natural, I suppose. There are a lot of stressful things going on in my life right now; that can bring on depression in anybody. When you've been fighting depression for so long, however, even "normal" periods of depression bring on a "Oh, no, not again" feeling. I'm also feeling unable to fight this, unsure what to do. Right now, I'm listening to music; it's one of the only things I can think of to do. Perhaps later in the evening I'll take a walk with my husband.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to all you moms out there! I'm enjoying the day hanging out with my family, although I'll probably get some sewing in too.

I want to show off the great necklace Kate5Kiwis made for me! When the Scientist was in kindergarten, for Mother's Day all the kids made mom a beaded necklace that said "(kid's name) LOVES MOM". But Wildchild never went to regular kindergarten, and I couldn't have a necklace from only one daughter! So seeing what a great beader Kate is, I asked her to make a matching necklace for me that says "(Wildchild) LOVES MOM" and she did. I wore them with pride to church today! I sent Kate a super-secret package of goodies in return. Hope she likes what's in it! Kate did a great job on my necklace!

To see some examples of moms whose kids are probably letter-bombing them for Mother's Day, go check out Baby's Named a Bad, Bad Thing. Hilariously funny, with snarky commentary!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Love Ya, Hon!

Tomorrow we will not only be celebrating Mother's Day, but my family will be celebrating another year in my husband's life. Happy birthday, my dear husband! I'm thankful for all the great years we've had together, and looking forward to what the future will bring us.

(Pic is from when he was in his sister's wedding, and he's dancing with his cousin.)

Look, Cleveland Girls!

Sports Illustrated has come out with the equivalent of a swimsuit edition for us chicks! Hee!

Baby Blue


You give your love and friendship unconditionally. You enjoy long, thoughtful conversations rich in philosophy and spirituality. You are very loyal and intuitive.

Find out your color at!

And it's always been my favorite color!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Does That Make Me Crazy?

Via JunkYard Blog, a 31-year-old student at Hamline University in St. Paul, MN was suspended for suggesting, in emails to the vice-president of academic and student affairs and the president of the college, that students might feel safer around the campus if concealed-carry permit holders, such as himself, were permitted to carry their weapons. In order to have his suspension lifted, Troy Scheffler, the student, must undergo a psychological evaluation and also any treatment deemed necessary. Ironically, the powers-that-be at the university also stationed a policeman with a gun outside of Scheffler's classroom to enforce the suspension. Ooooh. Weren't all the students afraid of the big, scary gun?

I am tired of universities cracking down on students' free speech in this manner. After reading the article, I do not see anything that Scheffler said that warrants a psychological evaluation. Colleges and universities have become anti-free-speech zones, where only the currently correct ideas can be spouted. Unless you're a Muslim, in which case you're free to call for the destruction of Israel and goodness only knows what else. I'm going to have to be so careful where I send my daughters to college. Especially my eldest daughter, who wants to be a vet. Is she going to have undergo a psychological evaluation if she says that she doesn't believe she evolved from an amoeba?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

A Fascinating Find

I found this book on ebay. It includes patterns and instructions for doing embroidery, crewel work, cross-stitch, needlepoint, patchwork, appliqué, quilting, rug hooking, crochet, knitting, weaving, candlewicking, and rug making. In addition to a pattern for each skill in the book, there is also a box of patterns that came with it that is 2 1/2" thick (or 6cm for you, Kate.) I can't wait to really delve into it and work on everything, but it will have to wait, as I've a bunch of other things to do right now.

The other exciting thing about this book, for me, is that the author, Rose Wilder Lane, is the daughter of Laura Ingalls Wilder! I vaguely remembered reading that Rose had written such a book when I saw this on ebay, and it made me especially keen to get it. Rose writes, "The first needlepoint that I saw may have been an early example of it. My mother made it when she was a girl in Dakota Territory, during the Hard Winter of 1880-1881. It was a bookmark worked in silk on a strip of perforated paper. The design was free and lively, spaced on the paper and unframed. My mother said that she 'thought it up' herself and worked it in half-cross-stitch to make the thread go farther." This book goes into lots of detail about the history of each art, and how it developed in America. Rose's pride in America comes through on almost every page, and there are loads of color pictures of early American examples of each work.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007


I had a very full day yesterday! My sister-in-law came in to town and spent the whole day with us. We had wanted to go to the Monet exhibit at the Cleveland Museum of Art, but the museum is closed on Mondays (!*@!), so we went to the Children's Museum instead. The girls did have a great time there, probably more so than if we had gone to the Monet exhibit. They got to play with water, and learned about water wheels and locks.

They got to climb.

They got to be weather forecasters on TV.

They got to grocery shop and check out.

They got to drive a bus and fly a rocketship.

Among other things.

We joined my husband for lunch at his office, then hung out at a mall for a while, then joined my other sister-in-law and a friend and co-worker of hers for dinner, with my husband, at the fat fish blue restaurant in downtown Cleveland. The Scientist tried crawfish for the first time, and liked them. Wildchild and I are not big on seafood. However, my sister-in-law's friend got an awesome dessert called a Carpetbagger. It is chocolate poured into a paper bag mold, then filled with cake, whipped cream and fresh fruit, and chilled. It makes quite a sight when they bring it to the table. Yum!

Monday, May 07, 2007

The Next Generation

Was just over at the International Women's Forum reading a review by Charlotte Hays of Leslie Bennetts book, The Feminine Mistake, Are We Giving Up Too Much?. You may remember Bennetts most as being one of those "alarmed by a New York Times report that an increasing number of women with degrees from top colleges are choosing to become stay-at-home mothers." The review brought two things to my mind that I'd like to discuss here.

One was the observation by Hays that many of the women in this book were living the stay-at-home lifestyle until the husband came home and announced he was leaving, often for someone else. Like Hays, I am the child of divorced parents (there are far too many of us.) I saw what my parents' divorce did to my mother, who after twenty years or so of staying home and looking after the home and my sisters and I, was now compelled to go out and re-join the work force, with only a high school education. It was very difficult for my mother, I know, but I believe she slid over-far into jaded cynicism. She found it very important that I go through college, and I found in her insistence on a career for me the unspoken addition "so you can get a job when your husband leaves you."

Consciously, I've rejected this idea. I've chosen to be a stay-at-home mom, and I'm even homeschooling them now. Deep down, my subconscious does fear being abandoned by my husband, being abandoned by people with whom I have relationships in general. I've just chosen to make the conscious choice to trust my husband, that when he says he meant our marriage vows and will not leave me, that he will stand by his word. It's not always easy to trust, but it's my decision to do it. I feel staying home with my children is the best choice for them, and it's what *I* want to do as their mother.

Which leads me to the second point I wished to make. Hays gives a quote in the book from Heidi Hartmann, founder of the Institute for Women's Policy Research: "As I once said at a conference, unless you are the mother of an Einstein or a Madame Curie, which most of us are not, your own work, if it is significant, is probably more important to society than raising your kids." Well, most parents are not Einstein or Madame Curie other. Many jobs done today, when looked at in the big picture, are not really significant in a long-term, world-changing way. Most jobs could be performed by someone else equally well. But no one else can bring up my children the way I want it done. No one else can care about them as I do; no one else can understand them as I do. Influencing the next generation of people has far more impact on the world than crunching numbers, or managing an office.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Lazy Sunday

Your Eyes Should Be Green

Your eyes reflect: Striking attractiveness and danger

What's hidden behind your eyes: A vivid inner world

via Lilac Rose.

My eyes in real life are mostly brown, with a little bit of green, by the way.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Learning Styles

On a previous post, Jau asked some questions about my girls' learning styles and talked about how one of her children might have been better off homeschooled and one flourished in school with other children. So I'd like to go into a little more detail about my kids and learning.

My eldest daughter is competitive, it's true. She has fairly nice cursive handwriting partially because she was in competition with another girl in her class, from when she was in a parochial school. However, she was not entirely a perfect fit for "regular school." She's fairly bright, and we found that in her private, parochial school, classes were mostly being taught at the lowest level. She didn't get a lot of encouragement or help in working at her level, even though we discussed this with her teachers. She and I do argue some when I am trying to teach her; she can be willful, as Jau said her daughter was. She thinks more like her father, and wants to know the "why" behind everything. In science and history, this may be good; in long division it can be trickier! Mathematics to me are hard and concrete, a simple follow-the-formula, but she still wants to put a reason to every little detail. She is fairly good at working independently when the subject interests her. I have to hold her back on her book reading, only because she would never get anything else done!

My younger daughter, Wildchild, still lives up to her name! If she went to a regular school, she'd probably have to be on medication, which is a definite consideration for *not* putting her in a regular school. She's not really interested in learning much at all besides dance. She already takes ballet once a week and would like to take jazz and Irish step. I've never liked to see parents who stick their kids in activity after activity just so the kids have something to do, but Wildchild seems to have some talent for dance which I would like to cultivate while she's still young. She's somewhat of a puzzle to me in her lackluster attitude towards learning; the rest of her family are voracious readers, but she's unenthusiastic even about reading. I may have to find more stories to read to her to try to teach her things. She loved the book about princesses that I found for her, and there was quite a lot of history slipped in there. I think things like mathematics will still keep being an upward climb, though.

As for getting together with other parents with the kids, yep, I couldn't survive if the girls and I didn't get together with other moms and kids. Our field trip yesterday included three other moms and a grandma, and loads of kids. Plus another mom and her two sons stopped by for the potluck lunch afterwards. Our trip to Jacob's Field to learn about weather and watch the Tribe play will also be taken with the homeschooling grandma and three of her grandchildren. The Scientist also takes Latin class once a week, led by our pastor, and the pastor's granddaughter, and another homeschooled girl and her father, also take the class.

It's interesting, and a generalization based only on my experience, but my girls often get on better with other homeschooled kids than kids who attend outside schooling. I noticed even before we started homeschooling our kids that there was aleady so much cliqueness even among little girls. Yes, my youngest was already out of the "cool" clique in Pre-K. But again, this is just based on my experience!!

I guess I'd have to say my girls both do best homeschooled. I have had my frustrations lately, but I really do think it's the way they'll get the best education.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Field Trip Season

Today, we went to see a puppet show featuring the Pied Piper of Hamelin, a little Edgar Allen Poe, and Casey at the Bat. Afterward, we had quite a potluck spread at the house of a homeschooling mom who lives nearby and organized the event. No tuna casserole, though.

Monday, we are going with my sister-in-law to see a special exhibit at the Cleveland Museum of Art, Monet in Normandy. Afterwards we will probably partake of lunch in Little Italy for a little ethnic culture. Although it's not that different from a family dinner at my sister-in-law's. :)

On Thursday, May 17, we will be going to a Weather Education Day with the Cleveland Indians. The meteorologists at a local radio station will teach some things about our weather along with the Indians mascot, Slider, and then we will take in a Indians game. Lots of fun to be had!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

More Dreaming

So since we've talked about our dream *vocation*, what would your dream *vacation* be? The more I think about it, the more I realize that sitting around on a beach somewhere is not for me. My dream vacation, and this is not a surprise for those who know me, would be to hit all the major amusement parks in the U.S. I want to ride on all the top roller coasters in the country! So far, besides all the biggies at Cedar Point, and that is saying a lot, I've only ridden the Beast at King's Island and GhostRider at Knott's Berry Farm, as far as top-flight roller coasters.

Yes, I love spinning in tea cups, and boat rides, and ferris wheels, and especially roller coasters, better than lying quietly in the sun. Am I insane? :)

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

If Pictures Could Talk

Isn't the look on this girl's face delightful? She looks lively, intelligent, happy, like someone it would be fun to have a conservation with. I wonder who she was, and why her descendants did not keep her picture. It amazes me how so many old pictures end up for sale to the public. This picture is part of my collection of old pictures, that I have purchased.

I also have some copies of old pictures of my ancestors, that I wouldn't get rid of for anything. I need to make sure my daughters will know who is in all the old pictures! We have it so much easier today. I can scan pictures into the computer off of our digital camera in seconds, with the date attached automatically, and adding a description is as easy as typing it into our online photo album. We can also make back-ups on CDs if we want, for extra security.

By the way, I date the picture of this girl to around 1908. :)

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Scary School Stuff

Whilst I'm debating what to do about schooling for the girls next year, I read yet another article, via JunkYard Blog, about why homeschooling is preferable, and I remember all the bad stuff from when the Scientist was in school. I remember that my daughter's second grade class would get punished as a whole class by taking away recess. Yeah, that's real smart. The kids are acting up, so make sure they don't have a chance to work off their energy. Do I want to deal with all the problems of "regular" school? Do I have a choice?

My biggest problem with the girls right now is that they just are not motivated - to do much of any type of learning. I don't want to and shouldn't have to stand over them making them learn things. I can't handle it, and it certainly wouldn't motivate them to learn. Right now I just don't know how I can motivate them to learn. Sigh. I feel like such an awful parent right now. And I have to deal with the state's regulations in addition to my own expectations.

This whole school thing is just getting to be insane. "'Kindergartners do not have [unstructured] free play,' said Maria McCool, public information officer for Woodland Hills, which has three elementary schools." I thought kindergarten was all about unstructured free play. It was, for the most part, when I went to kindergarten. But then I'm old, I guess.