Friday, September 30

This was a fun one!

I discovered our camera (the one that's about to die) has a "self portrait" setting on it. I'm not sure what it does, precisely, but I do know that it means I can cross that arm extension surgery off my wishlist. That, and photos of all of us don't have to be one giant conglomeration of nostrils and eyeballs. WooHoo! Now, to figure out how not to lean so far back that my chin gets sucked into my neck...
I'm not sure what Jase was looking at, either. He really was having fun. He rode the carousel every chance he got. But from the expression on his face, it looks like he's waiting for one of the carousel horses to take off. *shrug* Maybe he knows something we dodn't. Anyway, today was a homeschool event at Spring Park. We met some friends there and enjoyed the festive atmosphere.
It's a small park, but maintained so beautifully, and laid out so thoughtfully, that it's easy to spend a whole day there without getting bored. Hungry, yes. But not bored.
Actually, I think there's a food stand there, as well, but by the time it opened, we were ready to head into town for ice cream. Which I then had to flake out on because of some stoopid hot flashes. I really hope it's sleep deprivation, or not enough red meat in my diet. Something. 20 years of this before hitting any of the actual perks of menopause really doesn't sound like a hot deal. But the walk through downtown Tuscumbia was nice.
We hit the Jack's drive-thru for milkshakes, instead, and when we got home, half of us napped and half of us played games for a bit. This silly game is one they all enjoy - Toss Up (Toss It? I honestly don't remember. I just take the pictures and keep score.)
The weather was gorgeous. The kids had a lovely time. I am completely bushed. And now, to bed.

Kiss those babies!

Thursday, September 29

The Canoe Trip

The boys went on a canoe-camping trip with their Troop last weekend. Between sign-ups and launch, we lost several to injuries and unexpected soccer tournaments, so only three boys ended up going. That didn't stop them from having a blast, though.

Jodi, the awesome owner of the marina they launched from, offered use of his services and a supply boat for their gear. The boys paddled out to the island, then unloaded the boat, set up camp, and enjoyed a great campout. That island is a bit of a party island for the local... party crowd. So the boys picked up trash while they were there. Between the three of them, they filled six 35 gal. trash bags and hauled it off the island! Wow! I'm glad they understand the importance of leaving a place in better shape than you found it. Can you imagine how beautiful it would be if everyone lived by that philosophy?

They had time to explore the various islands and bluffs while they were there. They marked a few places they'd like to go back and explore more. They fished and fished. One of the boys had a catfish on the line that was big enough to break the line. That left an impression!

 (That's a plow disc behind John's head, not huge hair or a jaunty hat.) I wish I could have gone. It sounds like they had an absolute blast.

They paddled over to an RV park on the far side of the lake for a soda. The owner of the park came out to visit with them a bit - invited them to karaoke that night (the boys were out cold before it started, but the adults said you could hear it clear across the lake!), and gave them some goodies just for fun. Nice people. I appreciate them being kind to our Scouts.

Then Zorak sent me this picture the next day. Because he's cool like that. Isn't that a gorgeous sight to wake up to in the morning?

We have a planning meeting to get the coming year sorted. I hope the boys are up for more adventures, and that they all get as much out of Scouting as they can. It will be time well spent.
Kiss those babies!

Monday, September 26

Week (an'a half) in Review

So, since last we surfaced for air...
We made sour cream and cheese,

We went fishing,

James broke his arm, then turned 13 (he got surgery for his birthday! Not quite what he'd asked for...),

 And we've... well, yeah, that's about it.

 The older boys went canoeing this weekend. I'm waiting on picture from that trip, since I had to stay home and watch Those Who Cannot Cook For Themselves. It sounds like they had a good time, though!

Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, September 14

Bring Out Your Dead!

I tossed Monty Python and the Holy Grail into our Netflix queue for this weekend. The Boy Scout Camporee this fall is going to be Holy Grail themed.

I'm torn between feeling this is a *wildly* inappropriate theme for Boy Scouts, and being really, really excited, because the itinerary sounds like a total blast. (There will be a killer rabbit!) It's hard to balance reverence/irreverence, sometimes.

Anyway, the boys haven't seen more than a few clips here and there, and the weekend will be significantly more fun if they've seen the movie. (I knew this would be an issue as the Scoutmaster mentioned the activities, and others in the room promptly chimed in with pertinent quotes from the movie. The boys looked most confused when somebody asked if they'll have a duck for the weighing of the witch. So, ok, yeah, that makes zero sense if you haven't seen the movie.)

I suspect Zorak will take the three littles fishing, if only to get out of having to sit through an entire Monty Python movie. (I know! The poor man. I can barely remember plot lines from important movies we've actually seen together. You would not believe how often he'll quote a line and I'll tell him, "Hey, that sounds like an interesting movie. We should watch it." And yet, I can still quote entire swaths of Monty Python, which I haven't watched to any extent in 25+ years. I don't know why he loves me, but I'm glad he does!) Also, I'm looking forward to sharing something with the boys that *I* remember first discovering in my youth. I hope they enjoy it as much as I did.

Kiss those babies!

Domestic Bliss? Sure, okay.

Today, I wished it was still Saturday. Saturday, we ate with friends, enjoyed the mother of all household bon fires, played with the kids, and wallowed in the gorgeous weather.

Today, we were at the dentist again, then to the post office, the museum, music lessons, gas, errands, groceries, Scout preparation, and... and that's when I fell asleep on the couch. The Novocaine had worn off, but the Ibuprofen hadn't kicked in, so sleep seemed best.

Naps were a lot more restful before I had small children. Namely, Jase. A prone adult figure just begs to be scaled, leapt from, leapt on, kneed, poked, and coated in whatever he's eating at the moment. I'm sure it's great fun when you're three, but it's not so much fun for the prone adult.

Zorak made enchiladas (because he loves us), and then we enjoyed piling everybody on the couch to watch Shaun the Sheep. By the end of the day, I was glad it was today, because even the busiest of days end up with all of us, together. I can't beat that.

Kiss those babies!

Monday, September 12

Our Reward

Shortly after we moved here, I finally discovered what the Big Deal is about Spring. A month or two later, I then realized there is a price to be paid. We call it Summer. But, we've survived the hot 'n sticky - and this year with surprisingly less grousing (although, admittedly, I did not blog much, so really, you'll just have to take me at my word on that), and now, we reap the reward -- Gorgeous Weather from now until next May!

Friday, our wee Den (and ALL the siblings) went hiking at Hurricane Creek. It was a fantastic day, with a fantastic group, and a fantastic outing. We did get into a nest of yellowjackets at the end, which was a bit rough on those of us who got stung, but that was the only downside to the trek. (Side note: in spite of having been stung three times, John carried Jase half a mile uphill, of his own volition. Jase had been stung twice, once in the inner thigh, and walking at all just hurt like all get out. I carried him a bit, but the yellowjackets were still following us, and I needed to help the others move more quickly. John has enjoyed serious Super Hero status for the past few days.)

Jase was a little scared the first 200 yards of the trail (which are pretty much straight down - there are steps, but they're Park Service steps - so plenty of railroad stakes and old rocks). Once he found his balance, though, he kept announcing, "And I'm not scared at all! This is FUN! It's not even a little scary!" I'm glad for that. For a while, there, I was sweating the end result, and having to explain to Zorak just how'd I'd scarred our smallest child so terribly. But, no. All is well.

My favorite spot of the day was the picnic area. The water is *right there*, so the kids sort of inhaled just enough food and water to get their second winds and then they dispersed to play in the creek. Thankfully, this was our last stop before climbing back up the mountain side, so we weren't wet for the whole day.

I hope we get back there again soon. It's just a stunning place to enjoy being out and about. You can hike, mountain bike, rock climb, or curl up on a sunny rock and enjoy the peace.

Kiss those babies!

Friday, September 9

Happy Birthday, Jake Rabbit!

Jacob turns 8 today. Wow. We celebrated a little early, thinking Zorak would be on the road to pick up a friend today. So when he got home, he brought a bike with him. Jacob's been using John's old bike. We got it for John's 4th Birthday, so not only has Jacob looked like a Shriner on the 4th of July for most of the Summer, but this new bike seemed HUGE to him.

(The capes and hat are part of their costumes - they were Porthos and Athos at the time.) He ditched the cape (according to our stringent No Capes On Bikes rule, or something like that) and off he went. It's nice to be able to keep up with your big brothers. He can hardly wait to take his bike to Tannehill with him this fall.

We had his birthday dinner and cake last night, too, and we called it a day.

This morning, he got the rest of his presents (a couple of books I hadn't ordered in time - oops). His brothers did the wrapping, and they couldn't resist the bag-in-a-bag-in-a-bag-in-a-bag trick. Then we took his Cub Scout Den to Dairy Queen after today's meeting (which was an awesome hike to Hurricane Creek). He said it was a pretty darn great way to turn eight.

Ah, but he makes it so easy, with his laid back, happy nature and his willingness to find happiness in everyday things. Really, how could we not want to celebrate *him*?

Kiss those babies!

Thursday, September 8

Back to School - 3rd Grade

HOW is he in third grade? Sheesh, that happened quickly. Ah, well, that seems to be what they do.

So, Jacob's 3rd Grade year is shaping up thusly:

Math - MUS Gamma. I kind of hate this one, but it won't last forever. (Seriously, it's good. It's thorough, but it also seems to be the only one that causes stress and angst in my children. I don't get it, but I suspect it's a housekeeping issue with respect to multiple digit work. So far, though, we're three for three on that point. :sigh:)

Greek - Year One, Elementary Greek. He's rocking this.

Reading - (this list develops as we go)
Huckleberry Finn, The Doll People, Twenty-One Balloons, Calendar Quest. He reads a lot on his own - he's read a good many of the Boxcar Children, is re-reading the Harry Potter books, and informed me the other day the he really prefers mystery, fantasy, and action genres. Funny kiddo.

Writing - Imitations in Writing, Aesop.

History - Story of the World, Vol. 4 (Modern History)

Science - nature jourals, taking things apart, building things, setting things on fire - general curiosity, coupled with plenty of discussion and engagement, goes so far at this age.

Music - he'll start piano in January

Typing - Typing Instructor Deluxe

Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, September 6

Back to School - 6th Grade

John's sixth grade year is shaping up like this...

Math - Math-U-See Epsilon. He went a little slowly through Delta, in order to master it. We'll all be glad he did when he hits the higher level math!

Latin - Latin Prep 2, from Galore Park. He still doesn't *love* Latin, but he learned so much more with Latin Prep than he did with anything else, so when he completed the first level, it seemed a no-brainer to stick with what works. While we've been waiting for his books to arrive, he's been working through Visual Latin. I think we'll keep using both throughout the year. Although I come down fairly strongly on the side of grammar-based approaches to learning foreign languages, we are enjoying the synthesis and multi-sensory approach of Visual Latin.

Language Arts - Michael Clay Thompson's Voyage series. The material is about dead-on for a rigorous language arts program for an 11yo boy. Truly great material, presented in an engaging manner, at a level that expects you will strive to do well. *Love it!* This series covers Grammar, Poetics, and Writing.

Greek - he's also halfway through Year One in Elementary Greek.

Science - normally, I leave them be to do nature studies, build and break things, and read biographies for science. That's worked well. This year, however, I thought I'd try something new. He's using Galore Park's So You Really Want To Learn Science. He said the book looks lame, and he's not terribly thrilled about it. Honestly, from perusing the table of contents, it does seem he knows most of the material. (Score one for biographies and hands-on learning, at least!) But we have the book - we'll use it to filter out any gaps, and go on. I'll know more about the program after we've used it a bit.

Typing - Typing Instructor Deluxe. He's already doubled his typing speed. Yay!

History - finishing up Modern History (I try to keep everyone somewhat together with history, adding in additional material for the older children). He'll begin Ancients with us, though not with Omnibus, this time around.

Music - piano and guitar. He just started a new book for guitar - it's pretty amazing to Zorak and I, to sit and listen to them play. Wow.

I think that's it. That sounds about right. But he has a question... so I'm going to sign off!

Kiss those babies!

Back to School - 8th Grade

We've been back to school for a while. Sometimes, the school year blends together. Sometimes we have a delineated break. We tried a longer break this summer, but it just about killed us. So, we started back and worked through the hotter part of the year. Today's high is 58, and we're finding it hard to stay motivated when all we really want to do is play in the rain, then curl up in bed with hot tea and good stories.

James' material this year is pretty exciting (he says that's fairly subjective, but he smiles when he says that, so I don't think he's complaining too loudly).

Math - MUS Geometry, which he's finishing up this month. I'm torn on moving him into Algebra II/Trig right away, or giving him some other material to play with for a while so he will go deeper with it. It's hard to tell with him, sometimes.

Language Arts - we've picked up Michael Clay Thompson's language arts program. It includes Grammar, Poetics, and Writing. I'm thoroughly enjoying it. James and John are both working through the Voyage series. James could probably move into Magic Lens, but I don't honestly think he's missing out on anything by working through this series in the fall. His writing is fantastic, and this program is helping him organize his thoughts and develop some structure.

Science - Physical Science with Derek Owens. Wow. James is so happy. I am so happy. This is a great program. I'm thankful to the friend who recommended Mr. Owens' courses.

Greek - we're about halfway through Year One of Elementary Greek. It's coming along nicely. James said the hard part was mastering the characters, which are so different from English and Latin. The grammar, however, is fairly similar, so now we're into familiar territory and making good time.

Latin - he's very nearly done with Latin Book One. It's taken SO long to finish, but he's learned so very much that I cannot complain. We'll start with Henle after the Christmas break. I'm not sure where we'll pick up in Henle, though. I need to find a placement test of sorts, or go through the tables of contents to find a good transition point.

History - we're mid-year-ish on History. We are wrapping up our study of Modern History, preparing to go back into Ancients. I'm planning to use Omnibus I, starting this fall. This is exciting for me, and a bit overwhelming for James. But he's promised to do his best, and I've promised not to be a total slave-driver. I think we'll make a good go of it, between the two of us.

Reading - He's reading The Last of the Mohicans this month, as well as some collections of Poe, and beginning the Hornblower series. He spent the summer on a Gothic Horror and Michael Crichton kick. It's been a good year for reading.

Music - still playing piano and guitar. The house is filled with music.

Typing - I finally bought Typing Instructor Deluxe. The kids love it, and their typing has improved. Goal met! Chocolate chip cookies, all around! James' goal with this is to complete the program so that he can take some online coding courses. He's working on designing a web page for his Boy Scout Troop as part of a project. Good stuff.

Kiss those babies!

Saturday, September 3

A Day Out

It was hot today, but under 100, so I guess if you grade on a curve, it wasn't bad. We made it to the Battle for Decatur, and had a truly lovely time talking with the participants. The displays are always interesting - from the weaponry to the furnishings and food, the participants go the extra mile to make it as authentic and realistic and educational as possible. Some of them came from quite a distance, and all of them were absolutely delightful. The Union Army won today's skirmish -- here they are, returning to camp.

The boys took their earnings and bought birch beer and cream soda to soothe the effects of the heat. There were kegs of various beverages - root beer, cream soda, birch beer, cherry lemonade, and the like - you could purchase the bottle for a sum, then refills were significantly less expensive. The bottles were all different, and the set up was unique. Jase particularly enjoyed the cream soda from the bottle that's as big as he is.

We walked and walked, talked and visited. Eventually, the littles began asking if we can go home. History is great, but there is much to be said for the modern conveniences of HVAC systems, glass windows, and bagged ice in the freezer. I asked them to give me a wave for the camera on the way - not sure what Em's doing, but it was fun, nonetheless.

We had a thousand and one other things to get done today, but they will hold until tomorrow. It is worth the wait to have had the day with the whole family together.

Kiss those babies!


Friday, September 2

That's Done

I saw the doc today, to have him check out this cough that's not going completely away. He said it's normal to have a residual cough for up to six weeks after having pneumonia. I guess I looked a little queasy at that thought, because he was kind enough to assure me that's the outer edge of normal. (Then he not-so-encouragingly added that after about 12 weeks, it shifts from "acute" to "chronic" and then you have to start looking for other things.) I put in my vote for residual and acute, grabbed my prescription for more prednisone, thanked him profusely for his time, and got out of Dodge before he could think of anything else to share.

Then I came home and mopped the floors. Something had to give. If we ever win the lottery, I'm going to go hog wild and do crazy things, like hire contractors to finish the work I'm just too tired to spool up on, and pay someone Very, Very Well to come mop the floors once a week.

We missed the homeschool skate today - because I'm not the only person who holds off on seeing the doctor all week, then, when things don't clear up by Friday, decides it's better to go in *now* than risk an ER run at some point during the weekend. Bless the doctors who are open on Fridays, and deal with the backlog so gracefully. But the kids who lose out are also appreciated, and we'll try to catch the public skate tomorrow, after the Battle for Decatur. It's a Civil War display, and looks to be very interesting. I love historic re-enactments, regardless of the era. But I could never participate in them because of the attire. These things are always hosted in the dead-on heat of summer, and have you ever noticed the clothing for the dead-on heat of summer is *the exact same clothing* they'd wear - comfortably - in the stark, cold middle of winter. The kids love the presentations and lectures. I miss out on them, though, because of the monologue running through my head...

"You are so, incredibly, unbelievably tough... My word, but you've got to be dying in that thing... how many layers is that? Wow... I wonder if they've experienced spontaneous combustion at one of these things?"

And so on. Until I'm ready to go steal a Squishee machine and haul it to the field. FREE SQUISHEES FOR EVERYONE IN COSTUME!!!

The ice skating rink will be a lovely reprieve after that. The kids will love it! Maybe I'll try to steal a few of the participants, too, and buy them Squishees at the concession stand. They had Squishees in the 1800's, right? ;-)

Kiss those babies!

Thursday, September 1

Suddenly September!

And here we are, 2014... no? Not yet? Well, give it time. It'll be here before you know it. Or at least Autumn will be. Zorak and I sat out on the balcony tonight, cooking supper, looked at one another and said, "It's too hot for this." Soon, though. Soon, it will be gorgeous enough to spend all day out there! I'm ready. So very ready.

In the meantime, this entry hit me upside the head. (I know, Mrs. Voskamp's aim isn't necessarily to advocate assault or battery, but sometimes that's just how it all comes together. As a friend said today, "a God smackdown". Ayup.) Perfectionism is an illness, and it's one that robs us of our ability to give praise, to be joyful, to enjoy all the delicious blessings we have in our days. It's the kind of thing that betrays our best efforts, sincerely given, and leaves us feeling bitter, resentful, and filled with failure instead of love. I've had a downright paralyzing case of it lately -- evidenced clearly in my refusal to blog until I could get a picture "and do it properly", and my consequent stress and frustration at not being able to find my camera. Really? Because crappy pictures of stressed out kids is what it's all about, I'm sure. (Can you feel the self-deprecating eye rolls from there?)

And the thing is, it hasn't been perfect lately. The kitchen floor looks like I'm sneaking livestock in during the hours Zorak is at work. The laundry... oh, yes, the laundry. Yep. The projects that aren't getting done, the repairs that keep cropping up... that stoopid "check engine light" that comes on right after I've paid all the bills. (What IS that, anyway?) And the dishes? I've been on the verge of carving everyone *one* bowl and *one* cup (maybe, if they're good) that will hold their own personal utensils and just take the rest out to the shooting range. Dinner plates would make fun skeet, I'm sure.

But it's been good. So good. We can pay the bills. We can have the lessons. We can laugh and talk and work together. We are so blessed with the children and their funny, wonderful ways. James will be 13 this month, and you know - we still enjoy him so. For that, alone, I should be wallowing in joy and thankfulness every waking moment. This is better than whatever image of "perfect" creeps in with that illness.

I still really do need to mop that floor. But first, I'm going to kiss my babies and read to them. And, I'm glad I wrote. Even if (though) it isn't perfect.

Kiss those babies!