Monday, April 30, 2012

Doubting Thomas

Why do I doubt my son?  After all these years you would think I would have learned that when he puts his mind to something he's going to get it done.

On Saturday we went to a birthday party and one of the gifts was a gyroscope.  It was no surprise that my son thought it was "awesome!"  He immediately told everyone in the area who was listening that he was going to make one out of K'Nex.  Of course I shrugged it off and said something like, I don't think it's possible but you can certainly try.

Yesterday, he created this....

I admit it's not exactly a gyroscope but it is definitely more than I was expecting him to be able to do.  Oh, and he's already destroyed that one and is working on a bigger and better one.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Dodged That Bullet

Today, I was able to witness, yet again, how the Lord protects me and my family (and our possessions). 

The kids usually have Lego class on Thursdays, but due to a conflict for some of the teachers there is no class this week.  Class last week was cancelled at the last minute as well, so I decided to make a trip to that area so my kids could meet with a friend at a park.  The friend was available yesterday and today and for whatever reason, we decided on today.

On the way to meet our friends today, I stopped by the new house to drop off some stuff.  While there, I noticed the power was out.  Based on the rather soft ice cream in the freezer, it had been a few hours.  I called the electric company and found out it was only our house.  It took them about 4.5 hours to fix the problem; apparently a transformer that serves only our house had blown and it took a while to get the replacement installed.

As I was sitting at the park with our friends, I couldn't get over the fact that if we had gotten together with our friends yesterday, we would have gotten to the house on Friday afternoon to no power and rotten food.  It also made me thankful that hubby had not moved and plugged in the chest freezer he bought at a yard sale a few weeks ago because if he had, I probably would have had even more stuff in the freezer that could have gone bad.

God is great, all the time!  Even with the little things.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Kissing My Bank Goodbye

Well, I'm officially over it... my bank that is.  I've been with them for over 6 years even sticking with them through a merger.  When I was informed that I would be charged a $30 per month fee on one of my accounts I decided it was time to go. 

I know it was the right decision to make, but can I just say how much of a pain it is to switch while still being able to pay your bills.  Add to that, we are trying to buy things for the new house while not digging into savings too much.  Hard to do when your savings is spread among multiple banks.  Ugghh!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Saving Money

I have always thought of myself as being frugal with my money.  I've been balancing a checkbook since I was 16 (down to the penny I might add - hey, I'm type A).  For as long as I can remember, I've always looked at those lists that give you ideas on how to save money.  After all, maybe there is something new that I could be trying. 

One of the things that has started to show up on lists in the last few years is cutting your own hair.  I've cut my husband's hair since we've been married (easy to do since it's a buzz cut).  I've cut my kid's hair since they were born (I did pay to have my daughter's done once and it wasn't worth it so I never took her back).  The thought of doing my own hair though has been a bit petrifying.  What if I cut it crooked?  Will I notice?  Will everyone else notice?

I think I am finally to the point where I am going to try to trim my own hair.  When I was about 16 I tried to trim my bangs and it didn't go well.  Not even a little bit.  I think my bangs ended up being maybe 2" long and I have a big forehead so it was not pretty.  I don't have bangs anymore and I'm letting my hair grow out so even if I mess it up the fix will not end up shorter than cuts I've had in the past.  The thought of paying someone $12 just to trim my hair is more than I'm willing to spend on my hair right now.

Considering I can cut my daughter's hair which is three times as thick as my hair and it turns out like this....

Front Before

Back Before  
Front After

Back After
I think I'm going to give it a try.  I'll let you all know how it goes.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Melting This Mommy's Heart

As my regular readers know, my son was recently given a computer.  As part of setting up his computer I set up his email account with the email addresses of family and his closest friend back in Virginia.  He's been sending quick message back and forth with his friend as well as some family members.  How surprised was I when I got this message in my Inbox yesterday?

I'll admit it, I teared up.  Not only did he send me this on his own, but he figured out how to put the emoticons in the message and he also figured out how to enlarge it.  This is one proud mama.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Writers Block

A couple days ago I was asked if I could write a guest blog post for a "commercial" blog site.  The only blogs I've written so far is for my own blog and once for a friend's blog (not commercial by any means, but she does have a few more followers that I do).

Luckily I have one more week to write it, because right now I've hit a wall.  I know I want to write something about my kids but other than that, I'm at a complete loss.  

I was told I could even reuse an old post.  So can any of my faithful readers give me ideas on a post you enjoyed or one that I could enhance, or even a topic you'd like me to cover?  Any thoughts would be appreciated because at this point, I'm empty.  Thanks.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

If you give a boy a computer...

...he exceeds your expectations by leaps and bounds. 

My son is into everything techie.  His father is a computer programmer who made his own robot a couple years ago, so being that he's "75% like Daddy" he's very into robots and has started talking recently about programming as well.

Hubby's rule is that our kids can't get their own computer till they can read well and can start to spell at least a little.  So  they've been using mine.  It was a daily routine for my son to ask to use my computer to look up some K'Nex creation he wanted to make.  Needless to say, it got to the point where this Mommy would go for long stretches where she didn't have access to her computer (I realize that can be a good thing, but I will leave that discussion for another day).  At the end of the day, I would find that I had a TON of things that piled up that I needed to get done on my computer (among them invoicing customers and paying bills).

Yesterday, was the first full day my son had his new computer (I think it's safe to say we were both equally excited about that).  So far, he's done a search on K'Nex (of course), watched a Bill Nye video, but he's also sent emails to all the grandparents.  He even sent an email to his great-grandparents.  When he was using my computer, it was torture to get him to send an email.  Granted the emails weren't that long, but he took the initiative and he did all the typing on his own (he just asked me to check the spelling).  He's even gotten responses back (boy was he excited about that)!

I am hoping that having a little more access to a computer (yes I monitor what he can do and how much) will continue to help him expand his learning.  So far, it's going great!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Torn Between Two Houses

Owning a house that you are renovating and renting a house that is an hour away from the house you bought... well, it's for the birds!

For four weekends in a row now we have gone to the "new house" on Friday after lunch and don't come back to the rental till Saturday around 9PM or so.  It's nice to be able to get some solid work done on the house for those 1.5 days, but my Saturday night just doesn't seem to end.  Add to that that this weekend was Easter and my Saturday night (and even Sunday morning) were a bit hectic to say the least.

Today I am in the process of trying to catch up on things I didn't get done over the weekend because we were at the other house.  Things like laundry, grocery shopping (don't get me started on keeping groceries at two houses), and paying bills.

The good news is that we made a lot of progress this weekend.  It's the first weekend where after leaving I feel like we are quite a bit closer to moving into the house full-time.  Hubby mentioned that he hoped we would be living in the other house by the middle of May.  After this weekend, I'm thinking that might be possible.

I can't wait for us to be in one house.  It will make my life SO much easier.

Saturday, April 7, 2012


How many of you feel like you just don't have enough time in the day to accomplish everything you'd like?  No?  Not you?  Liar!

It's been such a common thought that a movie has even been made about it.  Do you remember the movie Multiplicity?  That came out in 1996, so I know it's been an issue for a while.

The other day, hubby mentioned that he has so many projects he's working on or would like to do that he wishes he could duplicate himself.  Then he looked at me and said, "You know what, I'd want to duplicate you first, because you do everything."   As sweet as that comment is, it got me thinking.  What are the things I would hand off to my "duplicate"?

I love to cook, so not that.  Dishes perhaps.  I HATE cleaning bathrooms, so definitely that.  I always seem to have trouble finding the desire to sweep and mop (I mean, why bother when the kids will get it dirty 5 minutes later), so perhaps cleaning the floors.

I guess what I've learned is that I need a housekeeper.  Now to find the money in the budget for that...

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Being Stealthy

A couple days ago, I attended a Facebook party for a new website and Facebook page.  It's called Homeschool Mosaics.  Essentially, what it does is have various writers submit articles on a topic that is specific to their skill set and the editor then posts it on their page.  The page rotates through the authors, which means they don't have to come up with a new article every day.

For example two days ago the article was about preparing for college.  Needless to say, I'm not ready for that yet, so I completely skipped that article.

Yesterday's article was about organizing your school papers.  I am a lover of organization, so although the article covered things I already feel comfortable with in my house, it was still an interesting read.

Today's article was about "Stealth Schooling."  What's that you say?  It's another more accurate name for Unschooling, so needless to say it jumped out at me.  I love to read what others are doing because it can give me some ideas.  This article was about letting your kids get involved with your business.

Needless to say, I have personal experience with that.  At the age of 16, I was responsible for office duties for 2 days while my dad and his business partner were out of town.  Talk about a learning opportunity!  Now my wheels are turning as to how we can get our kids involved. I always thought they'd be involved when they are a bit older, but now I'm trying to figure out a stealthy way to get them involved now.

For those of you out there who think that Unschooling is not for you, I have this to say:  you already do it.   Each and everyone of you has found a stealthy was of helping your kids to learn.  You've signed them up for the summer reading program at the local library to get them to read more.  You've had them help you cook in the kitchen to help them learn that life skill (or to practice their measuring skills).

For those of us who've decided to do this full-time, it gives us the opportunity to focus our efforts in areas where our kids enjoy learning.  For my son that's his desire to build robots one day.  For my daughter that's her desire to help animals one day.

So how do you sneak that kind of learning in?  You buy pounds and pounds, and pounds of K'nex and sign your son up for a Lego class.  When you (hubby actually) are asked to be the mentor for a First Robotics team next school year, you say yes, and that although your son will technically be a year too young, he will be participating as well.  You also check out books on animals and make lapbooks about them.  You make trips to the zoo (and lots of different ones so you get variety).   You order National Geographics for Kids and you get an annual membership to a zoo or aquarium so that you don't have the excuse that you can't afford a spontaneous trip to the local zoo.

What are some ways you "Stealth School" your children?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Living the Dream

So last night I had a dream... maybe nightmare is more accurate.  I dreamed that the kids I and went out to run a few errands.  One of the errands was just to drop something off, so I left my purse in the car.  Apparently, I had not locked the car, because when I got back, my wallet had been pilfered.  I mean, cash, credit cards, and debit cards had all been removed.

To add to the anxiety of this dream nightmare, I was on my way to the dentist and of course knew that I would not make it because cancelling my cards was more important than going to the dentist.  For some reason I didn't have the dentist's phone number, so I also knew I would be charged a no-show fee.  Joy!  Stolen debit card and a no-show fee at the dentist!  What a day right?

This kind of dream hits close to home with me because last month I found out that someone had used my credit card to purchase $100 worth of stuff.  Luckily my credit card company credited me for the charge.  Based on a call to the company who received my credit card information, we know the thief had my credit card number, the secret code on the back, my name and my address.  That's almost everything they need to get a bogus credit card in my name, so I had to contact all the credit agencies to make sure no new credit is issued in my name.  I also filed a complaint with the local police.  I figure not everyone will be as lucky as I was so I'm doing this to help prevent others from being hurt by this person(s).

I have also found that I can be distracted on occasion.  You see, when I was about 12, I left my purse at a McDonalds.  We went back pretty quickly, but when we got there, the cash had been removed from my wallet.  I've also been in such a hurry to get to a meeting that I left my iPad and digital camera on top of the car and drove away.  Luckily I saw them slide down the back of the car and went back and got them before someone ran over them (The iPad had cover damage, but that's it.  The camera doesn't zoom correctly anymore.).

Well, today I had some errands to run, so guess what I did before leaving the house?  I removed all the gift cards and the debit card from my wallet (since I knew I wouldn't need either of them).  Don't think for a second that my dream was the only reason I did this because it's not.  I've actually been thinking about it for a while (see previous 2 paragraphs).  I guess the dream is what convinced me to do it now.  After all, the dream was bad enough.  I don't want to deal with it in reality.

Great news!  I didn't leave my purse anywhere (including on top of my car), nor did anyone try to take my purse from me.  Even if they had, I wouldn't have been too stressed about it because I'd left all the scary-if-they-got-it stuff at home.

Monday, April 2, 2012

A Complete 180

A couple years ago when we were house hunting in Virginia, hubby and I agreed that we didn't want a house with a pool.  We were worried that the kids would end up sneaking into the pool area and would drown.  Neither of our kids were swimming at the time either so that was a bit of a deterrent.

One of the criteria when we bought our recent house was that it MUST have a pool.  So why the change of heart?  Our son can swim quite well on his own now and our daughter is almost there and that helps some.   We also realized that since our children were born, we've told it to them straight.  We've told them the potential dangers of falling into a body of water, running in the house, talking to strangers, and even swimming alone when you are a good swimmer.  We've also been sure to make sure they know that if their sibling is in trouble they are expected required to come and find us immediately to let us know.

One of the first rules we made once we started renting the house in Florida was that an adult MUST be in the pool area with them.  They can't even pass through the pool area without an adult at least knowing about it and watching them.

Although the pool at the new house is not currently usable (it's currently got an algae problem), they are definitely using the pool at the rental.  In fact, I'm pretty sure the kids have used the pool 5 of the last 7 days (the 2 days missing were days we were at the new house). 

Not only are my kids having fun and getting some exercise, but there are so many learning opportunities with a pool.  My daughter has made a K'Nex dolphin and my son made a K'Nex paddle boat.  Are you aware that one K'Nex will float briefly, but when you add a bunch together it sinks immediately?  Unless you attach an empty water or soda bottle to use for buoyancy.  And my son has also had to figure out how to make sure his K'Nex motor doesn't get wet.

The scuzzy water at the new pool has even given us opportunities to discuss why the water turned green, why we can't swim in it, and what the various chemicals do to help make the water usable again.

As hard as it is sometimes for me to find the time to sit by the pool while the kids are in it (it's still a bit cold for me right now), it has been such a great addition to this homeschool family and I'm so glad we changed our minds.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Drawn Toward the Sweetness

There is nothing like a little added incentive to get you to do something you've been putting off.  This weekend we discovered some incentive as it relates to our new house.  The first weekend we went to the new house the kids came home with bug bites all over.  We figured it was from mosquitoes because we'd seen them and the kids had been out at dusk playing quite a bit. 

The second weekend we went to the house, our daughter came back with a bunch of bites but no one else seemed to have gotten bitten.  My daughter has always been the first one to be bitten by anything.  I don't know what it is about her, but she always gets more bug bites than everyone else (I'm usually second so my contention is that we're sweeter). 

I digress... the disparity this time was baffling though.  I had kept both kids as well as myself, from going outside at dusk, so that made me wonder if perhaps we had flees.  You see, the house was previously occupied by 3 cats so it's a valid concern and my daughter really likes to play in her "new bedroom" which is carpeted.  And no one else has been spending time in the bedrooms like she has.

This weekend we went back, and hubby went into one of the bedrooms to do something and was ATTACKED by flees.  He said he literally watched them jump onto his pant leg.  He now has bug bites all over his legs and so does our daughter.  In fact, on the way home, she scratched so much she got herself bleeding.  Needless to say, our priorities for the new house have just been determined for us. 

We have a few other things we want to get done soon, but removing that carpet is now first and foremost on the list.  This is a bit daunting (since there are 4 bedrooms and a couple hallways all with furniture that will need to be moved) but at the same time it's exciting.  I have always enjoyed working side-by-side with my hubby on stuff like this, and now our son is getting into it too.  This is going to be a time of family bonding to be sure, and I can't wait.

I am however thinking of going to the house this week and putting a little Borax down to try to limit the number of flees that are alive when we rip out their habitat.  After all, I don't want the bonding to be based on commiserating about how much the bug bites itch.