Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Is Something Going On With Blogger?

There are some of your blogs I can't seem to leave a comment on - depends on the format of the comments.  Q, that would be you, for one.  Don't know why.  I'll try something different later (safari, firefox, etc.)

If anyone from blogger sees this... when I click on 'leave a comment', at the bottom of the post, I can see other comments, but there is NO BOX visible for me to LEAVE a comment.


Monday, May 30, 2011

Grasshopper Days 5-30-11

Grasshopper Days

For Today, May 30, 2011

Outside my window...  beautiful dogwood blossoms... dripping with rain.  *sigh*

I am thinking...  about all the things I'd like to do.

I am thankful for...  my nutso family ;D

I am praying for...  good decision making, work for Kerry, attentiveness and attitudes for the boys.

I am wearing...  jeans, navy t-shirt, navy sweater.

I am creating...  plans, plans, plans.

I am going...  slowly crazy???   *sigh*   Well, it feels like it anyway.

I am reading...  more Richard Peck, The Teacher's Funeral: A Comedy in Three Parts

I am hearing...  boys running laps around the house, getting some fresh air and exercise.

I am remembering...  what a sunny day looks like.

From the learning rooms...  China's Cultural Revolution, the end of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany, words with sym/syn, solving equations with variables, percents/decimals/fractions, story problems with multiplication and division, what makes a bird a bird, paleontology/archaeology/geology, and still... memorizing... Philippians... 2.....

From the kitchen...  lots of leftovers from the weekend.  Time to thaw out another turkey.

Around the house...  I am feeling in a rut.  Must do something about all our books.  Those of you with large home libraries - how do you organize them?

On my mind...  how fast the boys are growing up.  Very bittersweet.

Noticing that...  the boys are working more independently :D

Pondering these words...
 Thought breeds thought; children familiar with great thoughts take as naturally to thinking for themselves as the well-nourished body takes to growing;
 - Charlotte Mason 

One of my favorite things...  orderly spaces, ahhhhhhh :D

A few plans for the rest of the week...  the boys are hoping to go see Pirates 4, in 3D.  Maybe even in Seattle, on the big IMAX screen.

Here is a picture I am sharing...
Memorial Day... remember.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Quilts AND Sports

Not a combination that usually comes to mind, is it?  (Unless you've spent hours, freezing on the sidelines, but I digress...)

Gorgeous?  I think so.  I'm mentally cutting these five pieces, laying them on their sides, and joining them into one long strip.  It works.  Do you see it?

But what does this have to do with sports?

These are the colors of the 2014 Sochi Olympics.  Believe it.

Photos by Roustem Adagamov.  See more here, and you'll want your google translate on.

Things I Cannot Explain

Friday, May 27, 2011

Friday Brain Dump

Well.  I was really hoping something fabulous and interesting would happen, but unless you count doing three loads of laundry and trying a new crock-pot recipe, I'm fresh out of fabulous.

Plain old ordinary will have to do ;D

1.  Two weeks of school to go, and I just got around to ordering tests.  Because it's really not important to me.  We do it to meet our state requirements (one of several options) and I have tried to minimize it with the boys, having been disgusted with all the hoop-la and anxiety surrounding testing back when they were in public school.  Completely ridiculous.  In the four years we've been homeschooling, I have yet to be surprised by any of their results.

2.  I'll have you know - why, I'm not sure, but I'll have you know - low temps are still in the mid-40's.  If this trend continues, I'm told, we'll soon break our record for the number of consecutive days the temp has remained below 70F (21C).  We're close to 250.  Since we're bustin' out in numbers, that's nearly 70% of the year.  The YEAR, I tell you.  We look like a bunch of pasty zombies.  What do you bet that at our next check-ups the doctor will be shocked - shocked - at how low our Vitamin D is?  Maybe he'd like take us all to Hawaii.  Yah.  I'll get right on that.

3. The quilt was a success.  :D 

4.  The boys and I just read Basher Five-Two Very dramatic.  Now on to humor... Here Lies the Librarian

5.  I was talking with a bloggy friend about the Little House on the Prairie books.  My grandma introduced me to them when I was in 1st or 2nd grade.  She told me she liked Farmer Boy best, and I figured it was because she was kind of a tomboy, like me.  But no, it was because of the food.  All those enticing, detailed, mouth-watering descriptions of food!  Did you ever notice that when you read the books?  Laura's family (not exactly the best planners, ya get the feeling?) scraped by on game meat, beans, and cornbread, while Almanzo started the day with a 10 course breakfast.  Which included PIE.

6.  Kerry just got another project - yay!  He is the self-proclaimed King of the Mall Food Court.  The same client he just worked with on a Mexican restaurant also wants to put in an Indian restaurant.  Bring it on.  And the boys are busy mowing, between showers.  (Of rain.)

7.  And oh-my-goodness the boys were just a bit excited after their first (visit) Civil Air Patrol meeting.  They can't officially join until the next intake in July, but were encouraged to keep coming to the meetings until then.  About talked my ears off that night and when I finally shooed them off to bed, promised to tell me the rest of the story in the morning.  And (imagine Tate's eyes, huge with hope) he was told by someone there that it IS possible that he could get into the Air Force, even with his hearing loss.  That is not what I've ever heard before about any branch of the military.  Can anyone who knows more confirm or deny?  This person may not have realized the extent of his hearing loss.  But, maybe in times like these... who knows.  It may be that there are certain paths open to him I didn't think possible.  And the thought that it wouldn't include combat is all the more enticing. ;D

8.  With the long daylight hours the boys have been up at 6am most mornings, and some mornings earlier.  Because, you know, those Legos don't just build themselves.  This morning Tate thought it would be a great idea to bring a bunny into my bedroom to greet me.  Before 6:30.  Um, no, thank you.

9.  And that concludes this week's brain dump.  We mowed the lawn!  We got groceries!  We did math!  *sigh*  I know, not everyone can handle this much fabulous, so try to contain your envy.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Shower Tonight

Well, actually, I shower in the morning. 

But tonight I'm going to a shower... a baby shower for a new mom at church!  And baby showers mean baby quilts, yah?

The mom-to-be doesn't know if she's having a boy or a girl, but I probably would've made the same quilt either way.  I'm just not a pastel person, y'know?

Inspired by this...
... by the fabulously creative Monica, at Happy Zombie, I decided to add a bit more color by widening the strips, and came up with this:

A summer baby deserves (my version of) a lawn chair quilt, yah?

I love, love, love the wrinkly vibe a quilt has after it's been washed a time or two.  And that batik fabric in the border is my personal all-time favorite.  I'm hoarding what I have left for The Perfect Project.  For me.  But in the meantime, I sprinkle a little of it here and there.  Just right for a summer quilt.

Hope she likes it :D

Monday, May 23, 2011

Grasshopper Days 5-23-11

Grasshopper Days

For today, May 23, 2011

Outside my window...  dogwoods finally blooming (late!) - one pink and one white, grass growing like crazy, and robins all over the yard.  Tate found some blue eggshell.

I am thinking...  three more weeks of school!  Not that I'm counting, or anything.

I am thankful for...  family, friends, our church.

I am praying for...  good results on my mom's recent tests, work for Kerry, and a friend whose husband fell from a ladder and has a brain injury.

I am wearing...  jeans, white shirt, periwinkle sweater.  Spring is trying to come, but it's only 57F.

I am creating...  working on plans for the summer and the next school year...

I am going...  for walks with Gunnar, to a baby shower on Tuesday, and to keep on plodding through our school days ;D

I am reading...  A Long Way From Chicago, by Richard Peck.  Must read this to the boys.  Hilarious.

I am hoping...  for more sunshine this week!

I am hearing...  Kerry, putting the screen door back on.

I am remembering...  family trips we took when I was little.

From the learning rooms...  the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union, Reagan and Gorbachev, Chernobyl, solving equations with variables, words with pict, working with scale (maps and models), pterosaurs, journal writing, multiplying two digit numbers, and memorizing Philippians 2.  Still.

Around the house...  the Legos seem to be multiplying.

On my mind... there always seems to be more to do than there is time to do it.

Noticing that...  well, it's the end of an era.  Took the kids to the dentist last week and Wyatt has two cavities.  That's a first.  He is just a wee bit nervous about the whole drill-in-your-mouth thing.  The dentist picked right up on that and told me they'll give him nitrous oxide.  The possibilities for black mail are churning in my mind ;D

Pondering these words...  
Grandma saved herself a lot of bother by not being the kind of person you question.
from A Long Way from Chicago, by Richard Peck.

One of my favorite things...  good stories.

A few plans for the rest of the week...  schooling, baby shower, and the usual round of parenting and housework.  Ordinary life.

Here is a picture I am sharing...
On one of our walks we saw some garbage that had blown into the brush and Tate climbed over some sticker bushes to retrieve it.  He stopped when he realized that a bird had woven it into her nest.  Very clever waterproofing?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Friday Brain Dump

1.  Four consecutive sunny days.  I can hear the Hallelujah chorus, ringing in my head.  Four days.  That means seven loads of laundry dried on the line,  six neighbor kids over to play, five a.m. and it's light out, four pairs of muddy shoes after nature walks,  three boys that need showers, two lawns mowed, and one happy mama.  But no partridges or pears.

2.  PTO Day.  I let Wyatt drive up the driveway and he did great except for that near miss at the gate.  I may have shrieked.  I think he missed the code box at the gate by the width of a hair.  My dad - Grampa Grasshopper - said maybe the width of a finger, but I was in the front seat and I know better.  But in happier news, Grampa took them to the rifle range and everyone came home intact.

3.  Tidy cords.  Keep your (little) extension cords tidy by folding them loosely and sliding them into a cardboard toilet paper core.  (I hate twist ties.)  You're welcome.

4. The walking foot is a wonderful invention.  When you remember to use it.  I got the baby quilt pieced, and the batting and backing cut, and chickened out decided to have my friend quilt it for me, on her long-arm.  So today, as I sewed the binding on, I kept getting frustrated, wondering why it was going so slowly, and not as smoothly as it usually does.  Well, duh.  Had I done the quilting myself I would've had the walking foot on, and I would've left it on to do the binding.  But instead I was trying to feed four layers of cloth and the batting through my machine with my 1/4" foot still attached.  Genius.  (If you're not a quilter, just skip this.  The various feet and the long-arm have nothing to do with the human body.  Nothing to see here.  Move along.)

5.  Sharp objects.  Since the little incident on Sunday morning I've been a a tad leery of sharp objects.  Like my fabric cutter (thanks Q). And since finishing the quilt involved cutting fabric for the binding, I've procrastinated a bit.  Okay, a lot.  But with the boys gone this morning (and flushed with the success of actually finding various objects in my office... hello, four year old dental x-rays!) I decided the time was now.  Cut the binding with no further casualties, machine-sewed it on the top, and took it along on errands today (with my mom, to a couple of appointments) and got that thing finished.  Without poking my tender finger with the needle.  (Which is a Very Good Thing as I was out in public and might possibly have uttered something unholy had that happened.)  No pics yet.  It's in the dryer getting its wrinkly-crinkly vibe on.

And, PS, I can type without wincing.

6.  Every Friday I read the latest Hither and Thither Swiped this from today's post.  Yes, I know it's been altered, but still funny.  Semper Fi.

7.  Squirrels.  This post has been interrupted by squirrels performing *ahem* tactical maneuvers in the impossibly tiny branches of the tree, right outside my window.  Well.  That gives new meaning to the word "fast".

8.  Good news for my friend Deborah and her family.  Better than good.  AWESOME news.  They just got The Call.  They'll be traveling to the P.I. to add three daughters to their family of six.  Woo-hoo!

9. Tomorrow.  Clouds are moving in and spoiling our streak of good weather.  And the boys have dentist appointments.  Another thrilling day with the Grasshoppers.

Have a great weekend :D

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Things I Cannot Explain

Well, boys in general.  But in particular...

You'd think I was trying to kill them, asking them to write a two paragraph summary of what we've covered in history.  Or getting them to write much of anything.

But in the thirty minutes I spent checking email and reading blogs before school this morning, the three of them jointly wrote a story.  Granted, it was not exactly a literary masterpiece, but GOOD GOLLY MISS MOLLY it was seven pages long!  In usual testosterzone fashion, it was an action-packed, globe-spanning epic.  There were the inevitable explosions and militant rabbits and battles and nuclear-whatever and odd runway vehicles.  And priceless gems, such as this:
The seats were tossed about, funneling Irish* Indiana Jones fans through the windshield into the Wiener-Mobile.  It crashed through the wall, Irish movie-goers clinging to all parts of the thundering hot dog.
But write about Indira Gandhi?  Or taxonomy?  Surely you jest.

* (No Irishmen were harmed in the telling of this tale.)

P.S.  Can I just tell you, in the midst of all the raw BOY-ness of their story, how adorable I find the way Gunnar uses the word presently?  He's been reading The Secret Garden again.

Nature Walk

Hurray for the third consecutive day of sunshine!!!  (Shall I whine some more about what a cold, wet spring we've had?  No?)  I feel like we're coming out of a long hibernation!

We're taking advantage of the beautiful weather to explore some of our favorite places.  I mentioned earlier that we have nesting eagles nearby, so the boys and I went to see if we could see any activity around the nest.  That nest has been used for several years, and it just keeps getting bigger and bigger!

Here's a close-up.  Nobody home that we could see, though we've been told there are chicks in the nest.  We decided to walk around behind it to try a different view.

I love this trail.  Kind of feels like you could end up in Narnia :D

Even better with my boys on it!
And yes, they're carrying sticks, and they're authorized to use them...
ONLY on stinging nettles, the bane of our existence.

Here's the nest from the other side.  Still nothing visible.

The boys weren't too disappointed, with the pond to explore.
Looks empty at first, but when we slow down and watch and listen...

Daddy mallard is paddling around, keeping his eye on...

... Mama mallard, and her little tennis-ball-sized fluffy ducklings.

And a wood duck, too.  Don't see those as often.

Tate, my devoted entomologist, found this big dragonfly.
I love the shadows his wings make on Tate's fingers!

We were 'out of position' when one of the adult eagles returned to the nest.
With my awesome photography skills (eyes roll) I managed to catch this stunning shot.
(See if you can find his wing-tip, poking out from behind a branch.)

Oh well, the boys prefer to watch the redwing blackbirds.  They like to nest in cattails, and sing constantly.  Gunnar describes their call as, Woo-kah-duh-DEEEEE-doo.

We'll try again, for photos of the eagles, but there's plenty of other things to see :D

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Driving Miss Daisy or Driving Me Crazy

Have I mentioned how much we all love PTO days?  Probably.  But humor me, while I reiterate.

When we started homeschooling, the boys were younger.  Well, duh.  Four years younger.  Which would make them 10, 8, and 5.  They were like perpetual motion machines.  Like wild monkeys, hopped up on Red Bull.  Well, maybe I exaggerate.  And they've never been near a Red Bull.  But they were (and still are) very busy little creatures.

And (have I mentioned?  Why yes, I have...) very talkative.   Some days it was like having my whole life narrated.  And it wasn't necessarily a gripping, action-packed adventure.

Now, I love my boys.  But there are times I feel like I am drowning in them (and the peanut butter, the soccer practices, and the Lego creations.)  So while I felt drawn to homeschooling, I had a bit of trepidation about that whole together-all-the-time thing.

But then I had a happy thought:

Gramma and Grampa Grasshopper live just fifteen minutes away, AND had both recently retired.

And because they are totally awesome, they agreed to my sanity plan.

We call them PTO days - Personal Time Off.   About once every two weeks the boys spend the day with Grampa and Gramma.  The boys think PTO Days are for them, but I have a little secret.  They are for ME!  Uninterrupted time to do everything, anything, or nothing.

Granted, my need is less pressing, as they've grown older and more independent.  And they're hard workers when properly motivated, so they're good to have around when I have a big project ;D  But we still like our PTO Days.  I know I can count on Grampa and Gramma Grasshopper to feed them, have a good time with them, and keep them busy.  In other words, keep from sitting before the Eye of Mordor all day long.  The kids are happy and safe.

And they're learning all kinds of wonderful things.  Shooting rifles, hunting, burning, zip-lining...

... and driving.

Grampa Grasshopper decide it was time.

Since Gunnar couldn't reach the pedals reliably, and braking is kind of important, he started out with steering lessons on Grampa's lap.

Wyatt, however, was ready for the Real Deal.  Driving the Green Bean, our nickname for Gramma's Expedition Explorer, all the way down the driveway and back, more than a mile each way.

And Tate too! 
And yes, those are my boys, popping up out of the sunroof and hanging out of the windows.

Because, clearly, we are very concerned about safety.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Look! It's The Sun!

Good golly, Miss Molly, for today at least, spring finally came.  We rushed accelerated through our school work so we could get out in it.  Wyatt and Tate got busy mowing the neighbor's lawn (two mowers), and that was a CHORE.  The grass was knee high, thick, and damp.  But they got it done. 

Meanwhile, Gunnar and I got a load of laundry on the line, did all the dishes, got all the garbage and recycling out, swept up, and then started on our lawn - he picking up cones and me mowing.  But when Wyatt and Tate finished the neighbor's I redirected them onto our lawn, while Gunnar and I mixed up chocolate chip cookies for a reward :D

Took a walk down into a neighborhood park and saw mallards, wood ducks, red-wing blackbirds, crows, and - the highlight - bald eagles coming and going from their nest, high in a cottonwood tree.  Gunnar and Tate have dubbed them the Regal Eagle family, and they do look very majestic.  But did I bring a camera?  Uhhh... no.

If the weather forecast can be believed, we'll have some more sunny days, and - *gasp* - temps possibly up to 68F.  That's a whopping 20C, for you metric friends.  Laugh if you want, but the last couple weeks have been in the 40s, so this is a Big Deal.  Well, now that you've waited patiently through a weather report, for a town most of you will never see...

I let the kids stay up late, eating chocolate chip cookies and watching The Gods Must Be Crazy, 2, and I am pooped.  So, pics of their big adventure... tomorrow.

I hope.

It's good to have goals ;D

The Finger

You ghuys arte all so sweety.  Tyhanks fgor yourt concertn.  Tyyping is tyhe bigtgtesty challengfe.  Mostrly I jusrt fgeel like an idiort.


That's how my typing looks without editing.  Fabulous.

I changed the bandaging today, to get a good look under there.  I almost took a picture for you, but that was kind of gross.  It's not pretty.  (Though not nearly as bad as some of your injuries!)  Still, nasty as it was, it looked good - no more bleeding, and no sign of infection.  *sigh of relief*  It will just take awhile to heal, and the bandaging gives me nice padding, as it's quite tender.

But enough about The Finger.  (Yes, I'm thankful it wasn't the next finger...)

I must get the boys moving through their schoolwork because (*gasp*) it's SUNNY and they must mow the neighbor's yard today.

If I have time later, I'll be back later with some EXCITING PICTURES of an adventure the boys had on Friday.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Grasshopper Days 5-16-11

Grasshopper Days

For today, May 16, 2011

 Outside my window... gray and wet.  Again.  This has got to be the coldest, wettest spring I can remember.  And our gas bill (heat with natural gas) bears that out.  Sheesh.
Still, trees are mostly leafed out, and the cherry and apple blossoms are blowing all over town.  One of the main streets we drive looks like there has been a pink snow.

I am thinking...  I missed church again yesterday, after being out of town last week for Mother's Day.  My in-laws were coming over and I was running behind, trying to get a roast in the crock-pot before we left for church.  Might have made it too but, being an idiot, I hurried to peel the spuds and... dang, that new peeler is sharp.
Yah.  Really sharp.
In fact, I cut a chunk of the pad right off my left pointer finger.  And it bled.  And bled.  And bled.  For about forty-five minutes.  I wrapped it up in gauze and squeezed until my fingers were tired of squeezing, and then put a clothes-pin on it.  Kept setting the timer.  Sit in a chair.  Be still.  Elevate it above my head, while squeezing.  Five minutes.  Still bleeding.  Ten minutes.  Still bleeding.  Ten more minutes.  Fifteen.  Give it another fifteen.  Until it finally slowed down enough that I could let go.
Well.  That was exciting.  But not the good kind.
So I missed you all at church.  Meanwhile, the end of my finger is wrapped and taped in a big white blob, which I keep raised a lot of the time.  Consequently, I appear to be perpetually about to break out in a chorus of This Little Light of Mine, and typing is a bit of a challenge.  Every time I put that finger down I get extra letters... lots of editing.  *sigh*

I am thankful for...  had a good visit yesterday, the boys enthusiastically pitched in with clearing up and doing dishes and did NOT break any of the nice ones, Kerry is improving (still coughing, but better), and we have just four more weeks of school.  And testing, but that's no biggie.

I am praying for...  a friend's husband, Dominic, who apparently fell from a height and has a brain injury.  His wife and toddler are shuttling back and forth between here and Seattle, to be with him.  And she's about to have another baby.
Always praying for my mom and the treatment she'll be having for her breast cancer.  Praying she will be healed.

I am creating...  nearly done with the baby quilt.  Just have to bind it.  Pics when it's done.

I am going...  stay-at-home Monday :D  No major plans this week, but the boys have dentist appointments on Saturday.  

I am reading...  James Herriott, with the boys, and between books for me.

I am hoping...  the quietness I'm hearing isn't a bad sign ;D

I am hearing...  yes, quietness, hmmmm.....  And rain dripping.

I am remembering...  very, very strange dreams.

From the learning rooms...  onward with Algebra, finding the area of irregular shapes, and multiplying two digit numbers, (Wyatt, Tate, and Gunnar, respectively), words with dict, courtesy in the car, India after partition and Pakistan, Iraq and Iran and the hostage crisis, creative writing with Harris Burdick, and winding up much of our language work - yay!

From the kitchen...  lots of leftovers, hurray!

Around the house...  relatively tidy, but I just noticed an Easter decoration I forgot to put away.  Oops.

On my mind...  hoping it will dry out.  The boys have a mowing job to do for a neighbor and it has been too wet.  The grass is getting pretty long...

Noticing that...  such a little injury is SO ANNOYING.  (Like some cheese with that whine?)

Pondering these words...  
saw this on a friend - Mike Edsall's - blog -
Marriage is like a mismatched couple in a three-legged race.
The winners have learned to run in sync,
each limiting their freedom to maximize the effort.

One of my favorite things...  all the spontaneous hugs I get from the boys :D

A few plans for the rest of the week...  not much, and I like it.

Here is a picture I am sharing...

Tate loves to set up what he calls an Arrange.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

17 Years Ago...

... we tied the knot, jumped the broom, took the plunge...

got married!

Our home church was too small, so we 'borrowed' a Presby church across town.
Pretty, yah?

And had a big celebration :D

Kerry will tell you that he was so nervous during the ceremony his dad said he looked like a wooden Indian, but I didn't notice, because I was having a ball.
Also, my shoes were killing me.
Somehow we both managed to stay upright through the ceremony, and then sashayed down the aisle to the Big Band sound of Glenn Miller's In the Mood.

I know I know, you may be shocked.  (And not just because we look so young and skinny.)  My dress was deep, deep blue.  Nothing symbolic there (note the white flowers and candles), I just couldn't bring myself to pay hundreds of dollars for a poofy white dress.  I'm truly happy for all of you who did. More power to you.  It just wasn't me.  For a die-hard tomboy, this was as princessed-up as I cared to get.  (Besides, we were flat broke.)  And if you could only see under the table you'd know that I was sporting giant (UW) Husky slippers for most of the reception... much to the chagrin of my died-in-the-wool WSU Cougar husband (and many of his friends and guests.)  Oh well.  Who says mixed marriages won't work? ;D

We flew off the next morning for two glorious weeks in Hawaii.  Hallelujah and Amen.

Kerry was only three years post-cancer, so we waited a while to start a family.  Seems like forever ago, now.  We spent the first year and a half in a little apartment with kind, but eccentric and elderly neighbors, whose daily highlight was the eagerly awaited arrival of the mailman.  If, by chance, we failed to head directly to the box when we got home from work we'd likely hear one or the other of them call out from his balcony,

"Hey!  You forgot to get yer mail!  And I think ya got some!"  

Kerry was convinced that Frank, the story-teller next door, was in the witness protection program, but I think he was just lonely.  On the other side, Jane's cat - Inky - must've loved us, because he continually left little tokens of his affection on our doorstep.  (Can anyone tell me why a cat will eat all the bird but the feathers, but leave behind the tails and the little kidneys of the mice?  How do they do that?  And why???)  And then downstairs, right below us, Ernestine faithfully kept up with her hobbies -  every morning, playing the organ and singing along in a quavery voice (The..... hiiiiiills... are.... a.... liiiiiiiiiiiive....), followed by enthusiastic clog dancing (thumpety, thumpety, thumpety.)

Well, we kept busy, working our tails off, paying off Kerry's medical bills and saving up for a down-payment on a house.  Moved in when I was four or five months pregnant.  Nothing like taking on a fixer-upper when you feel like Shamu.  But we had a lot of help.  (Thanks Mom and Dad!)  I try not to be too picky, but I really did want a shower - not just a tub - in our only bathroom.  We scraped and sanded and painted and cleaned and it turned out pretty cute.  We didn't mind that none of the floors were level, some of the doors were hung upside down (hence the nickname The Duffer House), the nursery was a tiny 9'4" x 9'8" (and eventually shared by all three boys), and the carpet was pre-disastered.  The ancient wiring and the roof?  Well...  we just prayed a lot about what we couldn't afford to fix.

And if I go any further, it'll be all about kids, so thus endeth the saga of our newly-wed years.


Happy Anniversary, Honey :D

Friday, May 13, 2011

Friday Brain Dump


Now that blogger appears to be functioning again, life as we know it may resume.  I thought for a moment that I was going to be denied my usual Friday morning pleasure - the eclectic cornucopia of news, trivia, and giggles that is Hither and Thither - but, thankfully, we are back to our regularly scheduled programming.

And, once again, I have some Friday randomness of my own for you, my friends.

1.  Blogger may be back, but they seem to have misplaced everything posted since Wednesday morning.  For me, that was a sum total of two sentences having something to do with Gunnar's talkativeness.  (Oh!  It's back!)

Yes, it's a blessing to have kids - boys, no less - who are chatty and communicative (as opposed to communicable).  But the content of that communication, on the other hand...  Well, let me just tell you, in case you were wondering:
  • I don't actually have a favorite Jedi.
  • Much less a favorite Sith.  (There's more than one?)
  • And no, I don't even remember that other thing you asked me about from Episode 2.  Or 3.
  • Yes, I ordered the books you requested from the library.
  • No, they have not come in yet.
  • Yes, you can have Grape-Nuts with your yogurt for breakfast.
  • No, I have absolutely no idea why they're called Grape-Nuts, being made of neither grapes nor nuts.
  • Hmm.  If I could be an animal for a day I would be a cougar.  Or an eagle.  Or an orca whale.  Something at the top of the food chain.
  • No, thank you, I don't actually want to watch Dudley Do-Right.
  • Yes, we are doing school today.  (yesterday)
  • Yes,  we will be doing a science experiment.
  • Yes, I do think bunnies are adorable.
  • Yes, it would be really fun if all the wild animals were not afraid of us.  (Also, if the bigger ones didn't want to eat us.)
  • No, the books have probably not come in, in the two minutes since you last asked me.
  • Yes, I will let you know.
  • Yes, we can probably have a Mommy-date this weekend.
  • Yes, you can get a Blizzard with cookie dough.  And brownies.
  • And yes, I am eternally and whole-heartedly with you in your hope that in heaven broccoli will taste as good as chocolate.
  • And would you please, fortheloveofmike, finish your breakfast.

2.  I think it is wrong, just wrong I tell you, that it is mid-May and I am still forced to wear sweaters and wool socks in order to avoid hypothermia.  Thank you very much, algore, for this wonderful global warming you've invented.

3.  Yes, I know the calendar says spring.  And further, I know it's spring because all the signs are there.  Like the delightful little present I found on the kitchen counter - a lizard skin Tate left, very thoughtfully, in a ziplock bag.

4.  You may have noticed the absence of Royal Wedding hoopla around here.  There's a very simple explanation for that.  I'm not interested.  I have to confess, though, that I could not resist this photo.

Does anyone else see this and think


5.  In spite of my general indifference to the royals, I have always kind of liked Queen Elizabeth, funny little hats and all.  Especially since a speech she gave back in November of 1992 following a string of dismal events which included the failing marriages of three of her four children, the release of Diana's tell-all book, and culminated in the fire at Windsor Castle.  But did QE whine and complain?  No.   She merely sniffed,

1992 is not a year I shall look back upon with undiluted pleasure.

6.  Have you ever wondered what happens when OCD gets Alzheimer's?  No?  Well, I'll tell you.

I was in a church kitchen recently (not ours), looking at all the meticulously labeled cupboards.  Plates, platters, coffee cups, dish towels, pitchers, and soup containers.  Huh?

Most of us just call them bowls.

7.  The boys are having a PTO day and I've wasted spent most of it running errands and making sure you have all this critical information.

Hope your Friday is fabulous.

Oh My Word... word...word... word...

I've read that men speak, on average, 7000 words per day.

It's only 8:19 in the morning and I'm pretty sure that Gunnar is already over his quota.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Good, Better, Best


Polly (or, the-rabbit-formerly-known-as-Poly) appears to be doing just fine.  Which amazes me, because if I'd cranked out five babies and all of them were DEAD I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be hopping around the very next day going, "Oooo!  A dandelion!  Yum!"  Which just goes to show that there are overlooked advantages to being of limited intelligence.  She also appears to be about half the size she was on Sunday, and I'm pretty sure that didn't happen to me after I had my kids either.

Coincidentally, one of our vocabulary words this week is anthropomorphize.  So there ya go.


Kerry saw the doc yesterday and he pulled out the big guns (prescription meds).  He's not fully back up to speed yet, but on the mend.  And back at work today, hallelujah.


My mom got good news from her cancer doc.  When they found cancer in the first lymph node that was bad, but they took out ten nodes and all the other nine were completely clear.


I know I'm oversimplifying, here.  That's not a guarantee of we're-home-free-nothing-bad-can-happen.  But we're praising God for good news :D

About the bunnies.  Some of you asked if we're going to breed them again.  I would really like to, at least once.  It would be a great experience for the boys.  The trick, of course, is finding homes for the little ones.

We'll have to think more about that.

Grasshopper days 5-9-11

Grasshopper Days... a day late :D

For today, May 9, 2011
Outside my window...  a few signs of spring, trees beginning to leaf out, blossoms on cherry and apple trees, and a cloudy, breezy sky.  
I am thinking...  It's been a Big Day for the boys and the bunnies, though.  (See post below.)
And we're still waiting on news from my mom's doctor.
Later... Good News!  They took 10 lymph nodes and only the ONE showed cancer.  The other nine were CLEAR!  Hallelujah!

I am thankful for...  my boys' tender hearts (when they let that show.)

I am praying for...  my mom to get good news, Kerry to feel better (sick, but nothing frightening), and my brother to adjust to his new job.

I am creating...  not much, right now.  With Kerry sick our daily rhythms are different.

I am going...  ??? anywhere?  anything?  Need to regain some order in my office!

I am reading...  just read When You Rise Up, by R.C. Sproul.  I tend to read through books very quickly, and then want to take a second more thoughtful look.  This book is worth that.

I am hoping...  and praying for "clear margins' for my mom.  (Yay!)

I am hearing...  quiet in the house.  Schoolwork finished for the day, the boys are outside.  (I think they're looking for snakes, but I don't really want to know.)

I am remembering...  how much ground we've covered in homeschool over the last four years.  Wow.

From the learning rooms...  adding and subtracting with decimals, the Soviet invasions of Czechoslovakia (1968) and Afghanistan (1979), words with anthro/homo/hum, coordinating conjunctions, predicate nominatives and predicate adjectives, terrorism and the 1972 Munich Olympics, math problems with multiple steps (pre-Algebra), starting Zoology 1 - bugs, bats, birds, courtesy at church, and still working on Philippians 2.

From the kitchen...  not sure yet.  Depends on who feels like eating.

Around the house...  sun coming in the windows (!) - such a welcome sight.

On my mind...  way too many swirling thoughts.  Praying Philippians 4:8 - that God will guard my heart and my mind with His peace.

Noticing that...  Wyatt did really well at his work today, and worked more independently.
(Please God, more?!)

One of my favorite things...  finishing things.

A few plans for the rest of the week...  the usual whirlwind of activity.  Trying to win grocery store Monopoly, cruelly forcing the boys to do school work and yard chores, and beating back chaos, one pile at a time.

Here is a picture I am sharing... 

Podger and Poly/Polly a couple months ago.
Aren't they adorable?

I just went out and checked on Poly/Polly before bed and she is doing fine.
Clean, dry, and perky again.

Monday, May 9, 2011

A Mother's Day Surprise...

Well, we had a Mother's Day surprise.  There's another mother in our midst...

Apparently Poly is Polly.  Sadly, her first litter - four kits (oops, make that five) - died.  Had we known she was a GIRL (pet store said BOY) we would've kept her completely apart from Podger, especially as young as she is (5 or 6 months).  Still, an interesting life-learning experience for the boys.

Tate found the babies first and didn't handle them, but came running to tell me... kind of in shock, as we had assumed all along that the pet store had sexed the bunnies correctly, and that Poly was a boy. 

Mom!  I think Poly is a GIRL!  There's some blood on her bottom and little pink things in the cage!  I think she had babies, but... they look dead.

Went right out to check, and found that he was quite correct.  

Tate has been reading a LOT about rabbit care, and I got online quickly to see what I could find.  She's really young and we never would've allowed them to breed had we known she was a she!

I've never seen newborn bunnnies before, but compared to photos in books, these appear normal.  I wondered if she just didn't have the maternal instinct to care for them (like keeping them warm!) but I don't think that's the case. 

The fur sticking to them is hers.  She had pulled her own fur out and prepared a soft nest for them.  And she had obviously cleaned them off.  We held the babies for several minutes, to see if warming them up would help, but no luck there.  Apparently, 50% of the time a doe's first litter will be born dead.  Sad.  I have no idea why.

The boys couldn't bear the thought of just throwing them away and decided to bury them.  Wyatt carved a headstone.

Tate did the digging, and Gunnar was the photographer.

Sorry, Polly, we had no idea.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

The Mother's Day Index 2011
Mom job
BLS occupation used
Hours per week/weeks per year
Hourly wage
Weeks per year
Annual Mom cost
14 hrs./52 weeks
Taxi drivers and chauffeurs
9 hrs./52 weeks
Helping with homework
Other teachers and instructors
10 hrs./40 weeks
Taking care of the kids
Child Care Worker
40 hrs./52 weeks
Nursing wounds
Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses
2 hrs./12 weeks
Cleaning up
Maids and housekeeping cleaners
10 hrs./52 weeks
Planning parties
Meeting & Convention Planners
64 hours a year

Summer activity planner
Miscellaneous community and social service specialists
40 hrs./12 weeks
Hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists
0.5 hrs./52 weeks
Shopping for the family
Personal and home care aides
3 hrs./52 weeks
Family finances
Accountants and auditors
0.5 hrs./52 weeks
Yard work
Grounds maintenance workers
1 hr./52 weeks
Fixing up the house
Interior Designers
40 hours a year

Finding out what the kids are up to
Private detectives and investigators
40 hours a year

Total annual Mom cost: $61,436
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Go thank your mom.  Right now.

Friday, May 6, 2011

What, There's More?

Yah.  Who knew?  From the truly important to the utterly trivial.

1.  Gramma Grasshopper is recovering nicely from her lumpectomy yesterday.  (Happy Cinco de Mayo!)  That's the good news.  The bad news is that the first lymph node showed cancer, so they took "a cluster".  We're waiting to hear if the margins were clear.

2.  Read for pizza!  Yah.  The legends are true ;D  Pizza Hut's Book It program will reward your kids for reading.  And now homeschoolers can win too!  The program is for Kindergarten through 6th grade, and runs for six months - October through March, but you have to register by the end of June.  You, the parent/teacher/supreme-commander, get to set the standards, whether it's minutes per day, books per month, or whatever you want.  They provide certificates for a personal pan pizza, per month, per student.  How cool is that?  Information and enrollment HERE

3.  A better mousetrap.  My hilarious bloggy buddy Jena recently mentioned a little problem in her basement.  She'd like to borrow a cat named Nimrod, (a la Genesis 10:9) but that might prove difficult, so I'm offering this alternate solution.  A better mousetrap.  I learned to make these at a ski area where I worked back in the day, and I can vouch for their success.  So, for your general edification, have at it.

You will need: 
  • an empty bucket - about five-gallon size
  • a wire - an old coat hanger is perfect
  • an empty pop or beer can
  • a piece of wood or a yardstick

First, make two holes, directly across from each other, near the top of the bucket.  If it had a handle, you can probably use the handle holes.

Second, punch a little hole in the bottom of the can.

Third, straighten out the wire and thread it through the can.  The can should be able to rotate easily on the wire, sort of like the TP does on the holder in your bathroom.  (It doesn't have to spin that easily, but it shouldn't stick.)  Come to think of it, the cardboard core from your TP would work fine too.  Because this is a high tech and very class-eeee mousetrap.

Fourth, put the two ends of the wire through the holes in the bucket, so the can is suspended over the bucket.

Fifth, put about three inches of water in the bottom of the bucket so little rodents that fall in will drown, instead of climbing or jumping out.  Besides, we don't want them squeaking and warning all their little friends.

Sixth, smear something tempting onto the can.  Peanut butter and jam works great.  Much better than cheese.  Keep it near the middle of the can where it's harder to get.

Last, lean something like a yardstick or a board against the side of the bucket for the mice to climb.

Confusing?  Here's a picture.

Clearly I was not an art major.  And ignore the bit about Coconut.  That was for friends trying to retrieve a lost pet.  Alive.

Make sense?  Good.  Then you're set.  Leave it out over night.  Works great. 

The idea is, the mouse smells something wonderful and is smart enough to get up the side of the bucket, where he sees the object of his desire.  NOT being smart enough to master physics, he does not realize that the can is not particularly stable.  He inches out the wire or jumps for the can, which spins, and drops him into the bucket.


And guess what?  You don't have to reset it!

Well, you'll want to empty out the dead mice, and replace the gooey can from time to time.  But there ya go.  As the boys say, There is no charge for awesomeness.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Brain Dump... and It's Not Even Friday

You know what I love about homeschooling? 

Hint: it's not teaching grammar. 

Taking a day off whenever I feel like it.  Which was yesterday.  Because the sun was shining, the birds were singing,  and I had projects on my mind.

That may sound like a lame excuse to some of you, who live in places where you take dry days for granted.  But we don't.  "Make hay while the sun shines" is more than a figure of speech in these parts.  (And if you're worried about us getting behind at our schoolwork, the forecast calls for rain, right through the weekend.  I think we can catch up.)

Well, now that we've got that out of the way...

1.  I canceled school yesterday.  Yay me!  I made the boybarians work, instead.  Bwa-ha-ha-ha...
I started to list all the chores I cruelly forced them to do, but figured you'd get bored.  It was a lot.  Suffice it to say they worked HARD at HARD jobs all morning and I treated them to McDonald's for lunch.  Don't judge.

2.  Neighbors invited us to the First Cookout of the Year, a few days ago.  And I'll tell you - I like campfires, but I hate smelling like them.  You?

3.  And it - the cookout - was kind of funny.  These neighbors are from California.  (And we like them!)  We sat on camp chairs in their backyard, roasting wieners on sticks, and she was bringing out blankets for everyone because it was cold.  Mid 40s.  And there sat one of her kids in a t-shirt, wrapped in a blanket and sitting on his jacket because "he doesn't like to wear it."  Son, you are not in California anymore.  She was saying how she wants to buy four of those gigantic outdoor propane heaters for her patio.  And one of the other neighbors looked at her funny and said, "Layers!  Ya gotta learn about layers!" and pulled up the bottom of his jacket to show her his layers.  You'll be glad to know I refrained from showing her the pants under my sweat pants.  But I thought about it.

4.  I'm oddly intrigued by some of the email spam I get, though I never open it.  Just today I was offered:
* Reasonable hotels in my price range.  *sigh*  If they only knew!
* Job opportunities in forensics.  Possibly interesting, but really, no-thank-you.
Compare forklift prices!  Dang.  I probably bought too high, didn't I?
Have Lasik done for $299!  Because, yah, I really want to go with the lowball bidder when I'm considering surgery.  On my eyes.

5.  We are beginning to finish things we've been working on this school year.  Yay!

6.  I made a giant crock-pot of split pea soup yesterday, and turns out there were only three of us here to eat it.  Oh well.  Leftovers are always a good thing.

7.  I've pieced a new quilt top and decided not to quilt it myself.  It's small enough that it won't cost much to have my friend do it for me and I really want it free-motion quilted.  Pics later :D

8.  My mom is probably going into surgery as I write this.  Today is her lumpectomy.  Please pray for her recovery - from the surgery and from the cancer.  Thank you.

That will be all.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Grasshopper Days 5-2-11

Grasshopper Days

For today, May 2, 2011

Outside my window...  dark!  Maybe I should call this one "Grasshopper Nights", since it's so late.  All is quiet :D

I am thinking...  about fear vs. faith.

I am thankful for...  being home with my family.  And that the boys got a bunch of chores done over the weekend - especially, getting the lawn mowed.  It's kind of crazy this time of year.  When the weather warms up the grass grows like it's on steroids, but it rains nearly every day.  You have to mow it whenever you get a (dry) chance.  And Sunday was glorious.

I am praying for...  my mom, my brother (new job!), work for Kerry.

I am wearing...  this is getting so redundant.  I realize that on Monday I don't often go anywhere.  After a busy weekend I like to get back 'in the groove' on Monday... at home.
So, yes, my not-leaving-the-house sweats.  Again.
Because I am class-eeeeee.

I am creating...  a baby quilt.  Fun!

I am going...  to bed, very soon!

I am reading...  ugh.  Gunnar's friends have gotten him interested in a series of books about cat warriors, but I have a sinking feeling they're quite new-age-y.  I let him start reading, but no more until I read it and give my opinion.  Not looking forward to reading about Thunderclan and Windclan... nor to the likely prospect of denying him the "pleasure" of reading the 50-some other books in the series.

I am hoping...  my mom has a lot of medical stuff going on this week and I am hoping (praying!) all goes well for her.

I am hearing...  blessed silence.

I am remembering...  must pay bills.  Tomorrow.

From the learning rooms...  positive and negative numbers, the Six-Day War and the Yom Kippur War (Israel), words with phon-, perimeters of irregular shapes, writing concrete/shape poems (Wyatt did a wonderful seagull and Tate - predictably - did a tank), the Vietnam War, more experiments with sound, texture with painting, Eric Carle-ish collages (I hope), finishing Sequential Spelling (!), and talking about phone courtesy.

From the kitchen...  had stroganoff, corn, and salad.  And shared (between the five of us) a forgotten bag of chocolate Easter eggs while we watched a movie - Secretariat.  Wow.

Around the house...  just sent 36 books back to the library, but should have another bundle to pick up later this week.  So RIGHT NOW the house is pretty tidy ;D  Although Gunnar has a love for taking things apart, especially with the handy-dandy tools on the wonderful Swiss Army Knife he got from Uncle Dave last year.  I've promised him a trip to the Goodwill for some cheap junk he can dismantle all summer.

On my mind...  chewing on a (recorded) panel discussion I listened to earlier today.  Lots of food for thought.

Noticing that...  Wyatt is getting SO TALL!  Had him back to back with my mom lately, and if they're not even, he's got a hair on her.  He squinted at me, and said, "You're next!"

One of my favorite things...  crossing things off the Mother Load.

A few plans for the rest of the week...  school, sewing, planning.

Here is a picture I am sharing...
 Spring may be late this year, but it's coming.