Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Saying Goodbye

After 3 surgeries and almost 4 months straight of being in a medical cone because of melanoma on her ear (which returned a 4th time), we decided that the quality of life for our cat was not what we felt it should be.  As of late she's been losing weight and hiding (something she hasn't done since we got her 4 years ago).  So today we did what my family does to pay homage to the pets we've loved. 

We had her put to sleep so she wouldn't suffer just because we wanted her around, and then we planted a tree over her as a tomb stone.

Although we got Mao almost 4 years ago when my husband's best friend moved overseas, we've known her for most of her 14 years of life because we kitten sat her before she was a year old.  Her name when she came to us was Raspkitten but we decided to change it to Mao because she said "mao" in our ears for a 10+ car drive when we took her home with us (and she acted a bit like a fuzzy little dictator when she entered our house). 

She will be missed, but we have the Mao tree to remember her by.  And we hope that we live in this house long enough to be able to eat the Palmello fruits that should grow in a few years.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Music as Inspiration

I'm so proud of my son.  He's been telling me for a while that he wanted to learn how to play violin, so this coming school year I've enrolled him in a homeschool orchestra in our area. 

I got a really good deal on a violin so he's had it for a month and a half now and he's been picking things up on his own (thank you YouTube and Google)!  And he's been really good about practicing each day too (without me telling him to do it - yay!)

Here's one of the four songs he's been working on.  He's already talking about how he's planning on performing at the County Fair in March.  I can't wait to see his progress over the next 8 months.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Complete Joy

It's interesting to see what can make your child happy.  For my daughter, it's books.  When I come home from the Goodwill book store with a book she's been wanting or even a book from a new series that looks interesting, her eyes light up and I get a hearty hug and a big thank you.

It's been a while since I've gotten a reaction like that from my son.  You see, he likes to program computers and build or fix electronics.  I don't really know much about those, and I certainly don't feel comfortable ordering something along those lines so I always leave that to hubby.  

Today I got a reaction from my son and it really made me happy to see him so happy.  I asked my son a few months back if there was an instrument he wanted to learn and he said violin.  There just so happens to be a local orchestra made up of homeschoolers, so a couple months back my son went to try out a violin as well as a couple other instruments (all stringed). 

Someone is just a little happy
After lots of contemplation about the commitment it would take for the next school year, he asked me to sign him up.  He's been begging me to get him the violin now even though classes don't start till late August or early September.  I've been pricing things online and found that the place recommended by the group leader had a "blemished" violin kit in my son's size for $39 less than than the kit I had been looking at.  The violin itself was a model one above the one I was looking at which means I got a better quality violin for $39 less than the one I was going to get. 

And the blemish?  In addition to the neck being lighter than the rest of the violin (see pic below), there are 2 small places (smaller than a pea each) on the back of the violin where the clear coat is missing.  Otherwise, it's perfect from what I can tell.

I actually like the color difference

Friday, June 12, 2015


Nothing like an anniversary to make you think back over the last few years and realize just how quickly time has gone.

Yes, folks... 16 years ago today I got hitched.  It's actually hard to believe that this was 16 years ago.

My husband and I met about a year before we got married which means I've known him for 17 years.  That means I've lived without him longer than I have lived with him (but only for a few more years).  It's hard to believe though because we've been through so much together.

We've experienced building a home (not for the faint of heart), Sept 11 (we were living outside of D.C. and I was working 20 miles from the Pentagon that morning and we had trouble reaching each other), the birth of our two children the first of which ended up with pneumonia and was rushed to the NICU in the wee hours of the morning (talk about traumatic for first time parents), the creation and closure of a business, a move that almost took us overseas but ended up resulting in us living like nomads for 8 months (3 of which were in a camper) and then moving 1,000 miles rather than across the globe, the sudden loss of a job which resulted in me going back to work while still homeschooling our kids, almost losing our homeowners insurance (and that possibility again), and the current layoffs at hubby's work that has resulted in reduced hours and a loss of insurance.

Although things haven't always been easy, I'm so glad I've gotten to take this journey with the man I have.  His ability to fix things (his nickname when I met him was MacGyver - and it fits him perfectly) is like no one else I know, his faith in me and my ability to do what needs to be done when he's not able to do it is refreshing, his ability and willingness to teach others how to do what he loves (programming and computer hardware stuff) is inspiring, and his willingness to try new things (he learned he enjoys cooking and he's good at it too) are just a few of the things I love about him.  And his sense of humor and ability to come up with metaphors has certainly made things interesting.  But I'd have it no other way.

I love you honey and I look forward to the next 17+ years!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Mommy Guilt

A few years ago I had a friend discover that her daughter had dyslexia.  At the time, I wondered if either of my children might have dyslexia.  My daughter wasn't really reading much at the time and neither was my son.  My hubby's always said he didn't really start to read (and comprehend what he was reading) till he was in 5th grade.  Hubby has a bachelor's degree so I chaulked my son up to being like his father and taking a long time to read.  My daughter has since started to read voraciously.

My son is now finishing up 5th grade and although his reading has progressed, it's not where it should be.  His penmanship isn't great either and his spelling is horrible.  I did a quick Google search with those issues and dyslexia was the first thing that popped up.  The last few days I've been researching dyslexia:  symptoms, best practices for helping deal with it, costs of various programs to help deal with it and have come to some conclusions:

1.  My son has dyslexia and he got it from his father (it's hereditary, and hubby has a few of the signs as well).  My son also appears to have dysgraphia (trouble with handwriting, spelling, and putting thoughts onto paper in general).
2.   Although my husband seems to have been able to overcome (for the most part) his dyslexia growing up (he has his bachelor's degree in Computer Engineering), I think intervention even as my son enters 6th grade is important.  I think my son's case may be worse than hubby's, and I think hubby still has some residual effects that intervention could have helped with.
3.  There are a few different programs that all use the same philosophy, and different programs work for different students.  And I've heard different people rave about different programs.
4.  As much as I wanted to try the cheapest program first, I read a few reviews which said that it was missing introductory pieces that the other programs have.  So what did I decide?  I'm not going to use the cheapest program and I'm not going to use the most expensive either.  I've chosen to use a package deal that has everything laid out easily for me.  It will cover reading and spelling spread out over various levels and has a one year money back guarantee if I'm not satisfied.  I figure it shouldn't take me the full year to figure out if I need to switch programs (at which point I will move to the more expensive option).

So when will we start?  As soon as it gets here.  I didn't catch this earlier and for that I feel lots of Mommy guilt.  The good news is that my son is eager to work on things immediately as well.  Being that we live in Florida, going outside can be a bit hot this time of year, so we homeschool year-round.  That allows us to take more breaks during the fall, winter, and spring to enjoy time with family and take advantage of local tourist locations when the tourists are in school.

For those interested, we did not have my son officially diagnosed.  I am comfortable that I will be able to help my son for the next few years, and since dyslexia is not currently a recognized disability in Florida, there really isn't a reason to have him tested.  If we discover down the road that he needs to be tested before attending college, we will address the issue then.

Friday, May 15, 2015

He Watches Over Us

Tonight my husband went into work fully anticipating on filling out paperwork that would terminate his employment.  They were making cutbacks and he had opted not to reapply for his position.

Needless to say, I was very surprised when my hubby called me at 6:45 and told me "I'm staying."  And he didn't mean just for the night.  He meant, for an undetermined amount of time.  The terms of his employment have changed some (he will only be working 32 hours a week and will not get paid vacation) but they were able to work it in such a way that he should be keeping his health benefits for a while.  After spending hours on the Internet and phone looking into our health insurance options that last part is such a blessing.

Hubby is not anticipating this on being a long-term solution (we think the place where he works will be closed in 6 months or less), but at least it gives us income and health benefits while he is searching for something better.

Although we've been anticipating for the last 2 weeks that hubby was going to be losing his job, we've been at peace the entire time.  Now I know why.  God knew what was going to happen and that we'd be okay.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Making Room

I mentioned a few weeks ago all the awards my kids got at the local county fair.  I also alluded to the fact that my son was going to get more awards.  A few weeks ago he received two more trophies.

These trophies were because of how well his robotics team did at two different competitions.  One trophy is for finishing first place with their project presentation (a skit they wrote and performed) at a practice tournament, and the other is for finishing first place in the robot competition at a qualifying tournament.  Anyone who knows my son knows the award for the robot is the award he's most proud of.  He helped put a LOT of work into it, so I don't blame him.

I've included the video of the winning robot run below for those who are curious about what exactly they did.

Although we will not be continuing with this robotics team next year (we wish them all the best), we are looking into how my son can continue to compete in a similar way in the years to come.  We know robotics is going to play a prominent roll in our son's life so we're making room now (starting with his first trophy).