Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Daily Day

The boys are growing like dandelions.  This is good and right.  But it makes me a bit crazy.  I've only maybe got a half inch on Wyatt, and he's gaining fast.  Yet they still say things that crack me up.

Tate, seeing a fireworks stand,
I need to get busy.  After all, this is the only time of year I can buy explosives.

Gunnar watched Home Alone 3.
I like that movie, Mom, even though it's way too improbable. 

In other news, it is 61F and raining.  Welcome to June-uary.

I'm sure you are intrigued by these weather updates from a place that most of you don't live in.  This crucial information must be why you visit me.

Since we're not swimming at the lake (lacking a love for hypothermia), we did house chores after we finished our science work this morning.  The boys are awesome.  We moved the furniture.  We vacuumed the living room, dining room and stairs.  We dusted.  We took everything out for garbage day.  We put away all the birthday presents.  We got all the squirt guns out to the garage.  (Why do they keep coming into the house?  Yet another thing I don't understand.)  We unloaded the big freezer to defrost it.  Again.  But I'm not bitter.  We got books picked up all over the place.  We even swept.  But didn't mop.  And by "we", I mean I organized and they scurried.

Salute and execute. 

That's my motto.

And now the big boys are over at the neighbors', trying to conquer the world.  Or playing Risk.  Same thing.  And Gunnar got to go to the pool with friends.  The indoor pool, in case you were wondering.  (Again with the hypothermia aversion.  Crazy, I know.)

And that is a daily day.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Boys and Shoes

 Attention:  This is a boring, practical-mom post.  Not your thing?  Catch ya later.

Yes, we found shoes.  Not Keens, but that style, which is what I wanted. 

Shoes for the boys are kind of a dilemma for me.  Do I pay more for better shoes, hoping they'll last longer, but knowing the boys will likely outgrow them?  Or, buy cheap ones more often?  I've tended toward the latter as they're growing so fast!  Although over the years I've made quite a few treks to a Vans outlet, hence the sort of matching shoes in the "Cone Age" photo below. 

And I've learned a little bit.  So this is for my friends with "littles":

1.  Most kids' shoes are made too narrow.

I don't know what the deal is, because my boys' feet weren't particularly wide, but most kids' shoes are too narrow.  Maybe they're proportioned for adult feet, which are different than kids'.  I don't know.  I just know they're narrow.  How do I know?  I'd slide in my cardboard "feet" and test them.

When the boys were little, every three months or so I'd flatten out a cereal box and stand them on it in their sock feet, trace around them, and cut them out.  I just never really trusted the boys to be able to tell me if their shoes were fitting properly.  And for good reason...

2.  Kids won't tell you the shoes are too small until they're REALLY too small. 

They may really love their shoes and not want to grow out of them.  Or they may just not notice it, because it crept up on them so slowly.  But they won't tell you their shoes are pinching until they're painfully tight.  So I'd slide their little cardboard feet into the shoes they were currently wearing, just to test, from time to time.  Then I'd take the them (the cardboard) to the store, to shop for shoes.

I realized I could either shell out for expensive shoes that come in widths or find an alternative.  So that's why I started buying Vans when they were toddlers.  Skate shoes are boxy, like kids' feet.  And they outgrew them before they wore them out.  WIN-WIN!

And at the outlet mall I used to be able to get last year's styles (or the year before's) at twenty bucks for the first pair, and the second pair for half.  Which works for me because I'm totally a cheapskate really frugal.  And how cute are little shoes like these?!

So there ya go.

Grasshopper Days 6-28-11

Grasshopper Days

For Today,  June 28, 2011

Outside my window... cloudy, may get some showers today.  Everything is green, green, green and lots of birds in the yard.

I am thinking...  it's supposed to be summer.  Doesn't look much like it today, but it's coming.  The calendar may say that summer started in June, but around here the weather isn't very reliable until after the 4th of July.  Still, being summer, I'll probably not be blogging much.  I may rework this in the fall with different headings.

I am thankful for...  a friend who is pregnant (!), boys who love to read, and that my birthday chocolate hasn't quite run out yet ;D

I am praying for...  my mom's health, work for Kerry, and good attitudes around the house.

I am creating...  order in the house - I'm getting a better idea of how I want to organize our home library.  And when that's done, hope to do some sewing...

I am going...  HA!  Spent too much of yesterday "going".  Had an 8:15 Cram-o-gram and decided to take the boys along because my appointment was near several stores and they all needed shoes.  Kill two birds with one stone, yah?  

Well.  The boys are troopers, I'll say that.

Even though we live in the Pacific Northwest, where summer is late arriving, apparently all the stores take their cues from California.  We were supposed to buy summer clothes in March.  Now the stores have back-to-school fall clothes.  I must be insane to think I could buy summer clothes in June.  Because the boys needed sandals, and do you think we could just go to any store and buy some?

Eight stores.  It took EIGHT.  Understand something about me.  I don't enjoy shopping.  I must be missing that gene or something.  I just want to go somewhere, find the thing I need for a good price, get it, and go home.  What I wanted was something like this:

What I didn't want, was to pay $95 a pair, at REI.  Hence our difficulty.
But, eventually, we had success and headed for home, lunch, and ibuprofen.

I am reading...  just finished A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.  I had never read it before and nearly went through it in one sitting.  Lots to think about.

I am hearing...  the dryer tumbling.  No laundry on the line on this drippy day.

I am remembering...  summer goals, gotta keep working the summer goals :D

From the learning rooms...  just science, for the summer.  Wyatt is plugging away through Wile's General Science, and Tate and Gunnar and I are Exploring Creation in Zoology 1, with birds, bats, and bugs.  I posted below about our latest bird rescue :D

From the kitchen...  nothing happening.  Wyatt and Tate have CAP tonight, so dinner will be sandwiches.  But in other kitchen news... I just defrosted and cleaned the big freezer a couple of weeks ago - removed over TWELVE CUPS of melted ice, and now somebody left the door ajar and it's all frosted over.  Again. That does not make me happy.

Around the house...  boys, flopped over chairs, reading.  Birthday presents to put away.  And dust, dust, dust.  Actually, it's probably mostly pollen.

On my mind...  the Mother Load.  (My to-do list.)

Noticing that...  one more little growth spurt and Wyatt will be taller than me.  *sigh*

Pondering these words...  
Having boys is just God's opinion that your house is too neat.

One of my favorite things...  home.

A few plans for the rest of the week...  having a friend over for lunch,
re-tidying my office,
moving the furniture,
defrosting the freezer (again!).
It's a wild and fabulous existence ;D

Here is a picture I am sharing...
 They were SO LITTLE!  This is the beginning of Dino-opolis.
The Cone Age.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Hands-On Summer Science

Although it's summer, I'm cruelly forcing the boys to continue reading and learning.  Which they do a pretty good job of all on their own, but we're also doing some organized science studies.  They always think they want completely free, unstructured time, but that doesn't usually go well.  

Wyatt's doing his own upper level science (an overview of geology, archaeology and paleontology, and then quite a bit of human anatomy).  Wasn't sure what to do with Tate, but decided to include him with Gunnar, whom I gave a choice of six options - Botany, Astronomy, Human Anatomy, Flying Creatures, Swimming Creatures, or Land Animals.  His first choice was Flying Creatures - Birds, Bats, and Bugs - which is also great for Tate, my junior entomologist.  Right now, we're all enjoying learning more about the birds, especially with so many visiting our yard and feeders.

Yesterday, as I was hanging out laundry, the birds were squawking up a storm, when Gunnar noticed...

 It's a flicker, which is a kind of woodpecker, and it was flopping around in the yard below a couple of large windows.  We've had that happen before, and the birds usually recover after awhile and fly away, so we watched this one for awhile.  Apparently dazed and confused, it wasn't going anywhere.

There are a lot of dogs and cats in the neighborhood, as well as raccoons and bald eagles, so we didn't want to leave it just lying around for too long.  I tried holding it up to our trees, to see if it would grip the bark, as we've seen them doing.  Maybe that would feel natural, and its instincts would kick in.  But no luck.  It would hang there for awhile, then lose its grip.

 We started calling it a her, because she doesn't have the bright red cheek patches the males have.  Later we realized that "she" is pretty young (though nearly fledged) so "her" coloring may not be fully developed.  Oh well, we'll stick with "her".

 Since it was coming into evening, we set her up in a box for the night, with water and suet available.  Flickers' favorite food is ants, and we brought her to a little ant hill in the yard, but she seemed too dazed to do much about it.

 This morning she seemed much improved - much more alert, trying to "walk" (still a bit like a drunken sailor) around the yard, and greedily snatching ants with her long sticky tongue, but still unable to fly.

 Isn't she beautiful?  She has striped feathers on her back, orange in her tail, and spots on her belly.  Since we weren't sure if she was hurt or just young, and that we would be able to keep her adequately fed, we took her to a rehabilitation shelter this morning.  The boys were sad to see her go, but it was the right thing to do.  And what a lot they've learned!

This is what she'll look like when she's mature.

And here's a male.  Gorgeous, yah?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Mixed Bag

I never claimed to be a genius.  Because if I were smarter I'd have had a camera at the ready this morning when I announced at breakfast that

Gramma Grasshopper got two tattoos yesterday.  

The looks on the boys' faces were priceless.  I'm talking deer-in-the-headlights-this-does-not-compute-and-I-cannot-process-this.  We're not a tramp-stamp, Daisy Duke kind of family, y'know? (Lev. 19:28)

They tried to convince me that I was only joking, but NO, I was serious.  Gramma Grasshopper got two tatoos yesterday, and what do you think they are?  Wyatt and Tate couldn't even bring themselves to guess.  But Gunnar had ideas...  a snake?  (Very funny.  Gramma is absolutely phobic about reptiles.)  A spider?  (To scare Aunty Tami with?  Don't think so.)  Grampa's tractor?  (Cute.  But no.)

I'll give you a clue:  They have to do with her radiation treatment for her breast cancer.  They're the size of a pencil dot.  Huge relief on the part of the boys.  The world is still spinning on its axis.

Actually, it reminded me of Steel Magnolias, where Dolly Parton's character - Truvy - says, 
Louie brought his new girlfriend over, and the nicest thing I can say about her is all her tattoos are spelled correctly.
Sadly, not something one should take for granted in the tat world.

 Truly, you have a dizzying intellect.

So, how's the diabetes?

But I digress.  Gramma's tats are tiny and unlikely to be seen by anyone but Grampa and the doctor.  'Nuff said.

In other news, Gunnar came to me this morning with a confession.  For whatever reason, he decided to get both bunnies out at once.  He set them on the trampoline and bent to take his shoes off, to join them, and...

Mama, Podger did that thing he does to Polly.

Yes, that thing.  

Well.  Even bunnies don't get pregnant every time.  But we'll be watching her closely around July 23rd. Oh boy....

So there you have it.  A Bible reference, two movie quotes, tattoos, and reproduction, all in one post.  You're welcome.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Back in the Land of the Living

Thanks, friends, for your concern.  Whatever it was passed quickly (no pun intended...)

I started the library project yesterday.  So far I'm just trying to make a list of the books we own.  Sounds simple, right?  But immediately I have questions.  What about magazines?  Workbooks?  (Not counting them - no consumbables.)  I haven't begun to count all our Bibles.  Then there are books (mostly in Kerry's piles) that I don't know if we own.  Are they ours?  Are they borrowed?  Are they transient or permanent?

Honestly, I had no idea we have so many books.  They're in nearly every room of the house.  I keep thinking I've got them all and then I find another little pocket.  There are the comic books I 'stashed' during the school year (Calvin and Hobbes, The Far Side, etc.)  And the Christmas books are all in a tub in the garage.  I'll have to catalog them later.  But loose, in the house... how many?  Take a guess.

I need to leave that project for a day or two, and get to some other jobs.  That's better for my sanity and the state of the house.

Meanwhile, yes, Gunnar and I have been for our walk this morning - yay, us!  It was perfect weather for walking - breezy and mid 60's.  I'd like to think it's causing me to lose weight, but I think being sick Monday may have had more of an effect.  Because we're very distractable walkers.  I mean, Look!  Both of the bald eagle parents are flying out of the nest!  And they found a thermal, and they're soaring in circles!  And those crazy crows are pestering them!  And LOOK!  There's a chickadee!  And I found a flicker feather!  And the mama Wood Duck has babies!  And I see two fish!  And... and... and...  well.  We walked for an hour, anyway, but there were a lot of pauses.

So there you go.  That's our whirlwind of life.  But you know what was awesome?  As we were walking through the woods, holding hands (because 10 is not too old to hold hands, you know), Gunnar said,

You know what, Mom?  I have a very happy life.  I'm mostly content.

That's good for a Mama's heart.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Grasshopper Days 6-20-11

Grasshopper Days

For today,  June 20, 2011
 Outside my window...  after a cool, cloudy morning we're having a lovely evening :D  The sun is shining on the hills all around the lake and lighting up the big, puffy clouds to the east of us.  Beautiful.

I am thinking...  I wonder how many books we actually have?

I am thankful for...  we had a good day yesterday, celebrating three fathers and six birthdays!
Thankful for MY dad and for Kerry-dad.

I am praying for...  two moms with new babies last week, the boys to adjust to our "summer schedule", and that I will feel better.  Had a yucky morning you'll thank me not to tell you more about.

I am creating...  HA!  Nothing.  I had great plans for a productive day, since the boys spent the night at Aunt Tami's after the party, but I spent most of the morning in a comfy chair, looking out the window.  The squirrels kept raiding the bird feeders, the birds were chasing each other around, and I kept plotting about how to foil the squirrels... and then waking up.

I am going...  it's only 7:30.  Is that too soon to go to bed?

I am reading...  Taking Back Astronomy, by Jason Lisle.

I am hoping...  to feel back to normal tomorrow.

I am hearing...  silence.  All the males are out in the garage.

I am remembering...  did not go for a walk today.  Um... walked from my chair to the bathroom and back several times.  Does that count?

From the learning rooms...  Wyatt is reading about the various kinds of fossils and how they form this week, while Tate and Gunnar and I are studying birds and flight.

Around the house...  I did do some picking up when I had moments of energy, but not much else.  Everything needs to be wiped off and dusted.  And moved around.  It's time.

On my mind...  sadly, not much.  Really, really not feeling great.  Utterly pathetic, I know.
And yes, I think I'm done whining about it.
You're welcome.

Noticing that...  I really should measure the boys again.  I think Wyatt may be as tall as me.
Don't tell him, though.

Pondering these words...  Kerry mentioned an article he read lately about the expansion of the universe.  Scientists have known for years that the galaxies are all getting further and further apart.  Evolutionary theory says that this is because of the The Big Bang propelling everything outward.  Scientists speculate about what will happen when everything stops moving outward.  Will it all collapse back inward?  How long will that take?  They have assumed all along that the expansion is slowing down because, after all, their Big Bang was bazillions of years ago, right?

Well, guess what.  The expansion of the universe is not slowing, it's accelerating.

This is a huge problem for evolutionary theory.  For the universe to not only be expanding, but to be increasing the speed at which it is expanding, well... there must be more energy being added to the system, and where is it coming from?

Interestingly, in Job, Psalms, Isaiah, and Zechariah - all written hundreds of years BC - the Bible says that God "stretches out the heavens".  I know it's poetic language, but interesting, don't you think?

In Isaiah 40:22 it says,
He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers.
He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in.
 Coincidentally, that verse also mentions the roundness of the earth, which wasn't accepted as a scientific fact until about the time of Columbus.

One of my favorite things...  not having to cook dinner or clean up after - thanks guys :D

A few of my plans for the rest of the week...  apparently my plans for this week include buying yet more socks, as Gunnar just informed me the pair he has on both have holes.  *sigh*

Here is a picture I am sharing...
 being the awesome mom that I am, I completely forgot to bring a camera to the Father's Day / birthday extravaganza.  Thankfully Aunt Tami snapped some pics... which I don't have yet.
My "baby", my Gunnar, turned 10.  All my kids are in the double digits!  Time flies.
Imagine this adorable little guy...

... absolutely thrilled with an owl Webkinz, and a snow-leopard Webkinz, and Legos, and over-joyed to find what he's been requesting for at least two years - a real violin.

Pics when I get them.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Friday Brain Dump

Well, it's Friday.  Time for a mental download.  Although with all I shared yesterday, I'm not sure there's much left.  Especially, you know, being so old and all.  But here goes.

1.  Gunnar finished his testing yesterday, and Wyatt and Tate finished this morning before ten.  WOOT!  Now, if I can just keep them from killing all their brain cells, sitting mesmerized before the Eye of Mordor (the PS2, in the garage)...

2.  Local public schools are out today also, so neighborhood friends will be available.  Double WOOT!

3.  I may be over-reacting about this, but I think not.  What do you think?

A couple days ago Kerry offered to take Gunnar on a little bike ride, up to the neighborhood school (trying to get Gunnar more exercise, and more confidence on his bike - he's a bit shaky).  Wyatt and Tate were doing something else, but two neighborhood boys decided they would go along too (they're a couple years older than Gunnar).  As they were about to head out, Kerry found a slug in his helmet (the slimy kind, not the ballistic kind) and was delayed (ewwww) - told the boys to go ahead and he'd meet them at the school.

Except the older boys decided not to wait at the school and persuaded Gunnar to take off with them on the trails into the woods.  And when Gunnar couldn't keep up with them, they ditched him, all alone in the woods, out of sight or sound of anyone.  Let's just say that when he got home he was a little freaked out and leave it at that.

Of course, Mama Bear was ready to march over to the neighbors' and give them a piece of my mind (which I didn't) and Kerry - much calmer - wanted to avoid any confrontation, because it's unpleasant and probably won't accomplish anything anyway. But I asked him to at least call and speak to the parents, which he did.  Most of the time I try to let/help the kids settle their differences themselves, but if MY kids did that, I'd want to know.

4.  These little brain farts of mine are not ranked in order of importance, so here's a big one:  My mom got good news back from a test she had (some sort of biopsy of the cancerous lymph node).  She apparently got the lowest score possible for risk of recurrence.  AND got final results from a PET (I think) that showed NO other cancer, anywhere in her.  Biggest WOOT of all!  Of course, there are no guarantees.  Any of us could get cancer, and we're all gonna die.  (I guess that IS one guarantee.)  But we will celebrate good news when we get it!  This means - unless something else crops up - just radiation and no chemo for her :D

5.  I thought it was quite a coincidence that a friend of mine posted this ON MY BIRTHDAY.  Even funnier because of the way my family "does" birthdays.  We're big celebrators.  We "do" birthdays.  But not always (or even usually) ON the actual birthday.  We celebrate when it's convenient for appropriate and interested family members and friends to gather.  So your actual birthday may pass with little notice, and that's fine.

In fact, (I tell the boys), that means you're really important.  You're like a President!  For those of you old enough to remember *ahem* Washington and Lincoln's birthdays both used to be marked on the calendar twice, as in "Washington's Birthday" - the actual day, and "Washington's Birthday, Observed" - on a Monday, for a holiday.  So we may have "Gunnar's birthday", and "Gunnar's birthday - observed."  ;D

Anyway, enough about my family's obsession with birthdays.

6.  We are all about birds right now.  Before we finished breakfast the boys and I saw:  5 European starlings, 2 crows, 2 hummingbirds, 2 robins, a steller jay, and a flicker.  The steller jay was particularly pleased with the bird food we put out.  He really, REALLY likes the corn.  We also noticed that he appears to be banded.  Very cool.

7.  Gunnar and I have been busy.  We now have two feeders out with different kind of seed, two suet feeders, and two bird baths.  Making hummingbird juice next.

8.  There is no eight, but I like even numbers :D

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Too Lazy or Too Busy To Post... You Decide

It's been an interesting week.  Since Monday I have -

*  done a bazillion (or maybe five) loads of laundry, folded and put away
*  unclogged and cleaned a very nasty toilet  (Who left it like that?  You OWE me.)
*  finished birthday shopping for the Father's Day / June birthday extravaganza
*  continued with our science study of Flying Creatures, setting up two experiments with the boys involving the birds' seed and location-of-bird-bath preferences
*  propelled the boys through their testing (one finished and two very nearly done)
*  canceled school and testing for good weather, meaning we needed to mow
*  mowed half of our yard myself with the push mower, which I think Kerry found free beside the road somewhere, and works about that well
*  made a calendar / schedule for next year's homeschool and started assembling notebooks and supplies (waiting for the back-to-school sales for some things)
*  made and organized a ridiculous amount of photo-copies for Tate and Gunnar's history projects
*  cleaned our shower, and I mean totally scrubbed the walls and floor, and even cleaned way down in the very nasty drain, which nastiness may just possibly have been mostly the fault of my former long hair (yes, I did get it cut, and it's about an inch and a half at its longest point right now)
*  made some progress toward tidying my office
*  gone for daily walks with Gunnar (missed today, though) to get our exercise, which presents a bit of a dilemma.

Gunnar and I both need more exercise than we're getting, and he likes the one-on-one of going for walks with me.  So I explained to him that we need to keep walking fairly briskly to keep our hearts and muscles working, which he understands.  However, OOOOO!  LOOK!  A SQUIRREL!  and four mama ducks with ducklings, and I found a robin's egg, and I hear a red-winged blackbird; can you see it, Mama? and Look! There are some feathers we need to collect for our bird study, and I hear a chickadee calling, and Mama, what is that bird? and What are these pretty purple flowers?  and Can we go and see the waterfall?  and Look!  It's the bald eagle going back to its nest and it's carrying something!  and I found an ant nest and I want to stomp around it to see them come boiling out, and Is it feeding time at the fish ponds, and can we go watch?

So I'm not entirely convinced that the exercise component of our time together is being adequately addressed, but I can't bear to squelch his interest in God's wonderful creation.


In other news, it's my birthday today.  I'm 45, and I don't mind admitting it.  So there!  ;D

I told my family not to get me a present because what I really want is a camera bag (and to pick it out myself).  Still, Kerry brought me flowers, Gunnar bought me chocolate (with his own money), and Wyatt and Tate chipped in to take me out to dinner to (their choice) Denny's.  After which we shopped for a camera bag, which I ordered online for twenty bucks cheaper.

Want to see my birthday presents?

 Okay, yes, the book is for the whole family.
 But this is for me :D

And now that my stomach is finally starting to settle, I'd better head for bed.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Grasshopper Days 6-13-11

Grasshopper Days

For today,  June 13, 2011

Outside my window...  rain this morning, but sunny and breezy this afternoon.  The dogwood blossoms have almost all blown off the trees and everything is looking leafed out and summery.  Now, if the weather would get the memo...

I am thinking...  June birthdays are upon us.  June is big in my family.  Seven birthdays and Father's Day.  We have one big get-together and it's almost like Christmas.  Got out shopping with my mom today, and I think I've got it covered.  Whew!  Just one more thing to pick up for Gunnar...

I am thankful for...  
*  Family!
*  We are DONE with school.
(Okay we're puttering away at testing this week, and we'll be doing science all summer.
But that's easy ;D)
*  Longer daylight.  I don't mind the cool, wet winters, but the darkness gets to me.  Right now we have daylight from about 4:30am until 10pm.  I feel energized.

I am praying for...  work (of course), my mom's health, friends just back from the Philippines with their THREE new daughters!

I am wearing...  capri jeans, navy t-shirt.  (No sweater!)

I am creating...  I've been busily working on all kinds of plans for the summer and fall.
I LOVE planning.

I am going...  to order up a bunch of fun books from the library for summer reading.

I am reading...  Always True, by James McDonald, which I won from the Hibbards several weeks ago (thanks again!) and now have time to dig into.

I am hoping...  to accomplish much this summer.
Organizing our home library is high on the agenda.

I am hearing...  the breeze in the tree outside my window.

I am remembering...  going to VBS as a kid.  You know, before it came in a box.

From the learning rooms...  HA!!!  Okay, it's something.
Yes, we are testing this week.  But it's nothing.
The kids go at their own pace (which is usually FAST),
and they know I'm not stressed about it, so neither are they.
It's just a hoop we jump through, and it's never told me anything I don't already know.

That said...
Wyatt is working through Apologia's General Science over the summer,
and Tate and Gunnar are doing Apologia's Zoology 1
officially Flying Creatures of the 4th Day,
informally Birds, Bugs, and Bats.

From the kitchen...  looking for inspiration for tonight.
The boys have requested Turkey Taquitos later this week, but we just had turkey the last two days.

Around the house...  the clutter is confined to my office, and it's multiplying...

On my mind... variables.  Too many variables!

Noticing that...  my BABY is about to hit the double digits.  Yes, Gunnar is turning 10,
a week from today.

Pondering these words... 
Men and melons are hard to know.
Ben Franklin

One of my favorite things...  boys outside in the fresh air, as God intended ;D

A few plans for the rest of the week...  boys to CAP tomorrow, finishing our testing, getting ready for the Father's Day / June birthday party :D

Here is a picture I am sharing...
Two summers ago... my how they've grown!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Parties and Mummies

The boys were just a little bit excited.  And by "just a little bit" I mean completely overwound.  What is it about lack of sleep that makes them so hyper?  (Up until after midnight last night with the CAP cadets, up at 0700, and washing cars all day, for a fund-raiser.)

Well, they would've been excited anyway.  I mean, it's a PARTY, and there was ICE CREAM.  We had Grampa and Gramma Grasshopper over for dinner to celebrate the end of another year of homeschooling.  WOOOOO-HOOOOOO!

One of the first projects we did nearly four years ago, when we were studying Ancient Egypt, was to mummify a chicken.  (Actually - and here's a tip for you -

we paid a little extra and got a Cornish Game Hen

They're smaller, which means they'll dry out faster.  You can thank me later.) 

We followed the instructions meticulously, dried the thing out, wrapped it in strips of muslin (because I'm not buying linen), sealed it with (glitter!) glue and "amulets", and packed it in this lovely, be-jeweled, gold sarcophagus.

And tonight, the archaeology team opened the crypt (with all the drama of Geraldo Rivera...)

Tate, looking very mysterious.

Yes.  It looks like a loaf of bread.  But, ladies and gentlemen, we give you...
King Cluck!

We mummified him in the fall of 2007, and he's been sitting on the shelf in the school room, these nearly four years, so we were pretty sure we did it right.
How did we know?

No smell.

Not content just to open the crypt, the boys needed to open the mummy.
Clean and dry.
If it smelled like anything, think old-chicken-nugget-found-under-the-car-seat.
Not that I would know anything about that.

Actually, the view was a little surreal, since I just cooked a nineteen pound turkey, for dinner.

And here are my favorite overcooked hams.

Well done, guys!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Year Four - DONE!

And so, my fellow homeschoolers...
... we just finished our fourth year of homeschooling.


I know this is probably oversharing, but this is record-keeping for me at this point.
If you've ever wondered what we've been doing, this is for you.
Not that interested?  Move along, nothing to see here.

By and large, it's been a GREAT year.  Though I'm sure we'll continually tweak and fine-tune, we've settled into a groove that is working for us.  For the most part, we've been able to get the vast majority of our academic work done in four days a week.  (Yay!)  Those days are probably numbered for Wyatt, at least, but we love our relaxed schedule.  And hurray for Gramma and Grampa Grasshopper, who have provided many wonderful PTO days.

Some folks are comfortable with a looser arrangement, but my family works best with structure, so this is what weve been doing.

Wyatt, Tate, and Gunnar

As the boys get older they'll have to do more of their work separately, but up until now we've done most of the heavy lifting all together.

We just finished our last chapter of a four year tour - the Story of the World.  We've made models of Viking boats, Chinese lanterns, Roman shields and spears, baked hard-tack, cooked n'shima, and ollie bollen, and even mummified a chicken.  We've mapped the world, over and over, and read countless stories of rulers, explorers, heroes, and ordinary people.  It's been quite a ride!  Good memories :D

This year we waded (in the shallow end) into physics, working our way through Janice VanCleave's experiments, backed up with Eyewitness books.  We LOVE experiments.

The boys and I have been memorizing Philippians 1 and 2.  Still working on it... and cruising through these books also.  Actually, we did the 21 Rules last year, and Rules for Young Friends and Uncommon Courtesy this year.  Though they're aimed at fairly young children, I modified them for our family.  Rules for Young Friends instigated some VERY appropriate and much needed discussion about the expectations I have for our kids as well as their guests.

Technically, only Wyatt and Tate were working through Words on the Vine (Greek and Latin work roots), but Gunnar listened in on all the discussion, so when he works through the book later he'll probably have pretty smooth sailing.

I had all three do journal writing a couple times a week, and our subjects varied widely.  Their favorite is when I pick five random words and they make up a story using all of them.  But we did have some more focused writing.  They had fun with some of the poetry, but other times it fell flat.  We tried.  We really enjoyed using The Mysteries of Harris Burdick as a jumping off point.  The premise of the book, by Chris Van Allsburg, is that a man named Harris Burdick appeared at a publisher's office with a stack of sketches with captions that were proposals for books.  He left them with the publisher but - mysteriously - never returned.  Of course, they're all in Chris Van Allsburg's wonderful style.  The boys had fun with these and would usually come up with wildly different stories.  I've also had them all using online resources for learning keyboarding.  We'll continue that through the summer.

Tate and Gunnar

While Wyatt worked independently, Tate and Gunnar and I worked through Draw, Write, Now and Sequential Spelling.  Gunnar tends to get frustrated very easily with himself when trying to draw, and I thought this might help.  They mostly enjoyed it.  Tate struggles mightily with spelling and this book has been the most helpful of anything we've tried yet.  We'll be doing Book 2 next year.


I can't believe how much Wyatt has grown this year, physically (looking quite the young man, and not the boy - even shaving) and personally.  He's able to take a lot more responsibility for himself when he wants to.  (However, motivating a 14 year old is no bed of roses.)  Still, he's making great strides.  He has fabulous drawing skills, and his coordination is unbelievable.  If we had the time and resources, I think he could succeed at any sport he cared to try.  Academically...

I had Wyatt start the year working through Lial's Basic College Mathematics, which was intended to be a review of everything he's learned previously.  My other goal was to encourage him to work more independently, which is very difficult for him.  Hard to know when to push and when to ease up, as he definitely has attention issues.  Over the years we've seen vast improvement.  He's not distracting others or misbehaving (as much), but sometimes struggles to get through his work.  Ugh.  When he finished with Lial's, we went right into Jacob's Elementary Algebra, and will finish that up next year.

For Language he's worked through all of these.  A Beka's Grammar and Composition is thorough, though very dull.  Vocabulary from Classical Roots is more Greek and Latin word roots.  I've seen this help the boys with understanding new words in their reading, so well worth doing.  Those 16 lessons balance out with 20 lessons of Wordly Wise to finish in an average school year.  I'll keep pairing these for at least a couple more years.  Editor in Chief is just what it says - practice in editing, something my boys can use, anyway.  And I love the Getty-Dubay Italic series for handwriting.


After all of Tate's medical surprises last year, we were very glad to have a "boring" year this time!  Tate's favorite subject is history, hands down, and I can usually count on him to supplement whatever we're covering with books and resources we have around the house.  Though he struggles with writing and spelling, all on his own he has decided to write a book, and is 70 or 80 pages in, last I heard.  Amazing.  He is tenacious and persistent.  And can think better if you rub his back ;D  Academically...

He cranked through Saxon 7/6 math.  He's pretty solid, so we'll skip 8/7 and go right into Pre-Algebra next year.

Tate's in his second year of doing A Beka grammar, this time Language B.  As with Wyatt's, it is rather dull and clunky, but good discipline.  Tate alternated Wordly Wise (vocabulary and comprehension) with Nonfiction Passages - practice reading, analyzing, and extracting information from non-fiction articles.  He faithfully churned through Spelling Workout D, but I think the Sequential Spelling works better for him, so we'll quit this series.  And, for handwriting, Italic D.  I may have him do that again next year.  All my boys could use more practice with their handwriting, but all making progress :D


Has really come a long way this year.  I have to remind myself to look back where we started the year to see how much progress we've made.  Gunnar doesn't like writing things down.  It takes way too long, and his brain (and usually his mouth) are going a mile a minute.  I'm always amazed at how much he understands and remembers - even his brothers' work!  He's my most cheerful worker, when Wyatt isn't provoking him.  Academically...

Gunnar is off-cycle for math, as we skipped Kindergarten math and jumped into first grade math midway through kindergarten.  Continuing that pattern, he finished his third grade math back in February and launched into 4th grade math.  Consequently, he has trouble remembering which grade he's in.

Together we skimmed through Paragraph Writing and Book Reports, while he worked (more) on his own through Daily Grams, Spelling Workout C, and Italic C.  It's hard, being the littlest, when everyone knows more than you.  And it's easy to get frustrated.  But he is doing GREAT.

And can you guess what his favorite color is? ;D

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Grasshopper Days 6-7-11

Ummm... I missed the boat yesterday.

 Yet somehow the world continues to spin on its axis. 

Everything is fine.  I was crazy-busy.  And now must get school going.  So, if you're interested, I'll be filling in pieces here and there, throughout the day.

Grasshopper Days

For today, June 7, 2011

Outside my window...  woke up to rain today, and - while I'd love some sunshine - everything seems fresh and clean.

I am thinking...  two more days of school!!!

I am thankful for...  see above.

I am praying for...  my mom, work for Kerry, our plans.

I am wearing...  again... jeans, navy t-shirt, gray cardigan.

I am creating...  plans, plans, plans ;D

I am going...  to do some birthday shopping.  June is a big month in my family.

I am reading...  A Long Way From Chicago, by Richard Peck, with the boys.  The first chapter had them hook, line, and sinker.  They were rolling on the floor at the tale of Shotgun Cheatham's Last Night Above Ground.

I am hoping...  Kerry gets swamped with work.

I am hearing...  silence.  The boys are all in bed.  Ahhhhhhhhhhh :D

I am remembering... sprawling out in the old Chevy station wagon (back in the day before seat belts) on family road trips.

From the learning rooms...  winding down.  Persian Gulf War, the horrible Tutsi/Hutu mess, the end of apartheid in South Africa, words with phil, solving equations with variables, volume of a cylinder, multiplying three-digit numbers (Wyatt, Tate and Gunnar, respectively), beginning a science experiment to see which kind of bird seed the birds prefer, and another one involving a jar of gravel, dirt, grit and water (shaken, not stirred), and whatever else we're still wrapping up.

From the kitchen... I just may cook a turkey tomorrow.

Around the house...  same old, same old.

On my mind...  must plan an end-of-school party.  One of our early history (science?) projects involved mummifying a chicken, along with our study of ancient Egypt.  I think we did it right, because he's been in a box, on a shelf in the school room for almost four years now, and I don't smell anything.  The boys want to open the crypt at this party, as we're finishing the fourth year of Story of the World.  I'll try to get some pictures of King Cluck, in all his glory.

Noticing that...  Wyatt's arms and legs are starting to look a lot like my brother's.

Pondering these words...
 Scientists have discovered that all human beings have a "happiness set point" - that just as our bodies have a preset weight to which they will tend to return after diet or binge, our minds are preprogrammed at a certain level of contentment. Thus, the mood-altering effects of winning a Pulitzer or losing a spouse will rarely endure.  Within a year, most people are again either the happy or morose persons they always were. 

Geraldine Brooks, in Foreign Correspondence
One of my favorite things... finishing things.  Like school ;D

A few plans for the rest of the week... did I mention that we're almost done with school?  Once or twice?

Here is a picture I am sharing...  

If it manages to warm up enough for anything to grow, I love these blue bachelor buttons.

Friday, June 3, 2011

A Reason to Celebrate

Brought to you by one happy grasshopper daddy.

And now, back to our regular programming.

Another Friday Brain Dump

It's been a strange kind of week, here at the Grasshopper House.  Lots of (good) commotion - mostly mental.  Plans are churning.  But in the mean time...

1.  Yes, I do 'get' the irony inherent in posting about blogger having issues with leaving comments... and expecting to get any comments about it :oP  (Genius, I know.)  Seems that just blogs with a certain commenting format were affected.  At least from my end.  But who knows.  And... pausing to try a friend's blog... it may be fixed now. 


I'm such a tech-neanderthal.  I have no idea how these things work or why they sometimes don't.  I just push the little buttons and hope the right things happen.

2.  Oh be still, my rapidly-beating-and-very-excited-planning-heart, my brand new Sonlight Instructor's Guide just came in the mail.  No, we are not lifetime Sonlight users.  Good grief, if I had that kind of money to throw around my kitchen cupboards wouldn't be full of Top Ramen.  But I decided that Wyatt will be doing their one-year-in-depth American History next year, and the literature reading as well.  And oh my goodness, it's planning nirvana over here at the Grasshopper house.  Because God is not a God of disorder and everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.  I love 1 Corinthians 14, even when I'm wrenching it out of context  ;D

3.  And speaking of Wyatt... sometimes.... I swear if that boy had a compass it would point south.  You just never know, with him.  We were having a conversation about various educational options for the future, such as taking classes P/T at the local high school. 

"No!  I don't want to go to high school!
I want to be homeschooled full time, all the way!"
This from my most *ahem* challenging student.  And I don't mean he's not bright, but definitely the most stubborn and resistant.  Good grief.  Where did that come from?

Well, if he wants to be home full time, boy howdy is he going to work next year!  He may end up begging me to send him to public school.

4.  Meanwhile, speaking of school, we have Four Days Left.  And testing.  Tests came in the mail this week.  The boys looked warily at the big envelopes.

"What's that?" - Wyatt, suspicious.
"Your tests." - Me
"Oh." - Gunnar, bored.
"It's no big deal." - Me
"I think they're kinda fun." - Tate, cruising for brownie points?

5.  I'm thinking of cutting my hair.  Possibly today, before I lose my nerve.

If you don't know me IRL, this means nothing to you.  I post very few pics of myself here.  For good reason.  P-L-A-I-N.  I'm not against make-up or stylish clothes, but in my case... I just don't think it helps.  ;D

About the only thing I even kinda-sorta have going for me is nice hair.  About 18 inches long and so thick that if I braid it in the morning it will still be damp at bedtime.  Ash blond, though if you look closely there's some silver mixed with the gold these days, so probably not saleable.  Here is what it looks like:

Still a bit wet on the sides.


Blurry, but in natural light, so more accurate color.

I usually put it in a braid, and I like it like that.  But here's the thing:  I can't stand to have it in my eyes or touching my face. 

Absolutely.  Can.  Not.  Stand.  It.   

Hair must be pulled back tightly at all times.  So what's the point of having long hair if it's always in a bun or a braid?  And short hair is so low maintenance.  Especially if you're camping...

6.  Which brings me to my idea.  A big idea.  A crazy idea.  You see, in spite of being basically broke, I really, really want to take my boys on vacation.  A big vacation.  A crazy vacation.  A financially un-justifiable vacation.  (Are you sensing just a little bit of my tension?)  Even if we camp every single night, I'm having trouble feeling okay about planning this.  I'm sure you'll hear more about it later.  Probably.

7.  In other news, I've got laundry and chores piled up, just begging to be ignored while I leaf through next year's planning notebooks in a haze of high expectations and too little contact with reality.

I'm off to get a hair cut.  Your plans for the weekend?