Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year!!!

I hope your new year is filled with all sorts of good things!! :)

Friday, December 29, 2006

Hard decisions for a 6 yr old

Matthew has $40 in his bank...mostly Christmas money, though some was saved from his birthday in Sept. As I previously blogged, Transformers are THE theme in his life in the way of toys. He got the ultimate one for Christmas and several others but wanted to get more with his money. So we went to the ol' WM today and looked around. In the regular Transformers aisle, he was trying to decide between two - Quickmix for $15 and Red Alert for $25 or getting both or keeping his money for someone he'd like better. I do have to say that he's quite discerning in the way of which ones he wants. We decided to let him think on it a bit while I got some groceries when we came to the end of the aisle. There they had two of his favorite characters that he's badly been wanting - Megatron and Cybertron Primus. They were each $38. He quickly stopped thinking about the first two and focused on these. After about 10 minutes of saying it was just too hard to decide between them, we decided to get the groceries and come back.

He was thinking really hard about this the whole time we shopped. At one point, he said, "Mommy, remember yesterday we were reading that review of Megatron on Amazon and they said he was hard to transform? Maybe Primus would be a better decision." Indeed we did look up Megatron yesterday on Amazon and several of the reviewers said he was hard to transform. In the end, he landed on deciding to get Primus but it was interesting to watch his decision process. He also had an understanding that this was a lot of money to spend...that he could get 6-7 smaller Transformers or this big one for the same price. But he has wanted this one for a long time. In the end, he handed over his money willingly and hasn't looked back. He's thoroughly pleased with his purchase.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Blog readers

I admit, I read quite a few blogs. And in my time online, I have tried out several different kinds of feed readers, only to be frustrated with their very complexity. I want something that is fast, easy and doesn't necessarily have all that personalization jazz that seems to hose everything up. Andrea, over at posted recently about *free* I'm surprised I even attempted yet one more reader but this one is actually easy and fast and works great! So I'm passing it along to you.

If you don't know what a feed reader is...basically, it's a site where you keep all your favorite blogs on one page - and it tells YOU when that author has updated a new post AND displays the post for you. So no more clicking 20 different bookmarks every morning (and then some, if you haven't had your coffee yet)...just go to your one bloglines site and all your favorite blogs' new entries will be there for you to read. Try it out, I know you'll love it. :)

Oh, and in my right side-panel under my Links section, you can subscribe to my feed too. :)

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Really sorry for the lag time!

Homeschoolblogger upgraded their stuff in the beginning of Dec. I have to say - I was absolutely fine with the strip down bare version (even though I'm considered a pc 'techie'). But the lag time was hideous just to log into the site. So posting had become a nightmare for me and I haven't even logged in here for several weeks. However today, it looks like all is well so perhaps they've worked out the kinks now. ;)

Well, we've been inundated with Cmas stuff, which I'm sure most of you have as well. We've been making a lot of homemade projects this year and I'd show you pictures but can you believe I FORGOT to take pictures before handing them out?? Arrrgh.

Pregnancy is going well (knock on wood) and not much to write home about there. Matthew is adjusting to having another sister very well though I think he still holds out a little hope that the tech was wrong. ;)

Jade has finally been working on saying words a lot more lately and I think it's finally sinking in that she gets things faster when she names them instead of pointing and grunting. Rose is...well...she's at that "I'm about to turn 4 and therefore, turn into a monster for a year" stage. You know, as a young parent, you're warned about the "terrible twos" and the "trying threes" but no one talks about four. That's because it's B-A-D. There's really nothing you can say to sugar coat it like the other ages. Somehow, "ferocious fours" just makes it 'cute' - and it's NOT. It's just a rough year.

I've been branching out and seeing what other homeschooling groups are in the area that we could fit into well. There are some really great ones that offer just what we're looking for but they're quite a drive and only really offer things for Matthew. I'm thinking of starting up a young homeschoolers group in our area. I'd like a co-op where the moms can offer one-two hour classes in a subject they enjoy and think the kids would enjoy. Nothing too structured, of course, but a way for the kids to be involved and meet other homeschoolers and make friends. So I'll be getting together soon with a friend of mine who is homeschooling to see what we can come up with.

Our Christmas was great! The kids seem very content and pleased with their toys and they have a little money to spend on whatever they're missing too.

Matthew's Christmas was all about Transformers. Oh sure, he got some books and craft materials and a Darth Vader helmet but what he really wanted was Optimus Prime. What a story - this summer, they repainted the toy (I think to match the movie coming out next July) and Matthew insists that "he's the wrong colors!" Thus began my search to find the older painted OP that "connected to Leobreaker" (also a requirement). None of the stores had any. The only place online I could find it was Ebay and collectors were bidding the prices pretty far up there (plus an extra $15 shipping charge would have made this his only Cmas present from us). I began to lose hope and started dropping lines like, "Matthew, they don't make him with the old colors anymore. I haven't seen any in any of the stores." He began helping me search online and at every store that sold Transformers. Nada. I so desperately wanted to get this toy for him because he's wanted it since last spring. It was his #1 wish. I'd almost given up and as Cmas got closer, Matthew began saying, "Mommy, if you can't find the one with the right colors, I would like the new one too." Poor guy was desperate. :( The Saturday after Thanksgiving, Hubby took the older two kids to work with him because they'd been begging since last Thanksgiving when he took Matthew. I decided Rose wouldn't last all day long (plus she was sick) so Jade and I did a little shopping then met them for lunch and brought the girls home for a nap. While Jade and I were shopping, I decided to stop at a Walmart that I rarely ever visit in another town along the way to Hubby's work. I've been to this particular Walmart maybe three times ever. I went back to the Transformers section, just because I was in the habit of looking. I held no hope. I scanned the packages and looked all the way to the end of each row. Nope, the one he wanted wasn't there. I think my last flicker of hope died at that moment. As I listened to the happy after-Thanksgiving shoppers all around me finding what they wanted, I just stood and stared at the section, wondering if another Transformer would suffice and yet knowing it wouldn't. After letting the reality set in that I wasn't going to find it, I turned to leave. When suddenly, my eyes drifted up the shelf. I don't know why - I never look way up top. But my eyes drifted. There were lots of extra stock Transformers in all the new packaging and then...what was that?? Was it?? COULD IT BE??? No, I dared not hope. I held my breath and tried to stay calm. I couldn't see it very well. The box was dust covered and a little banged up but it just *might* be the one. Quickly, before anyone else could possibly steal it from me, I ran like a lunatic for a sales person with a ladder. He was helping someone a few rows down and I asked him to come down when he was done. After a very long 5 minutes, he came with the ladder and pulled down the dusty box. "THIS one??" he asked. I looked at it. I couldn't believe my eyes. Old colors: check. But was it the one that connected to Leobreaker?? I scanned the back of the box but there was no mention of connecting to another Transformer. I still wasn't sure. I bought it anyway and kept the receipt, just in case I needed to return it. In the next aisle, there was a Darth Vader voice changer that he'd wanted since last Cmas - down to $10 from about $35. I grabbed that one. In the next aisle, there was a basket of return items that someone hadn't restocked yet. Searching through the basket, I found the Han Solo and Chewbacca Transformers that combine to make the Millenium Falcon. Target's ad that day said they had it for $15, down from $35. Would Walmart give me the Target price?? I took it up to the service desk and they gave it to me, no problem. I was giddy with excitement and barely made it through lunch with everyone before rushing home to see if THIS OP was THE one that connected to Leobreaker. I searched and searched online. Couldn't tell. I emailed Hasbro but got no response. Finally I stumbled across a blog that is purely all about Transformers (FYI parents, I'll warn you that it does contain some language). *This guy* knows his Transformers. I emailed him. He wrote back a wonderfully nice huge dissertation about how the toy was the same and just got repainted and that both the old one and the new one will connect to Leobreaker and even sent me a picture of the one my son wanted, according to his specifications. The picture was exactly what I had in my hot little hands. Bless this man's soul!!
Christmas morning, I was more excited than Matthew. Rose had been easy - she just wanted more stuffed cats and dogs. Easy peasy. Jade was too little to voice much but she seemed very happy with her new Weeble village ($15, down from $50 from SamsClub). I also found a used Gauntlet: Dark Legacy xbox game. Our version had gotten scratched from the kids playing around with it and was unplayable. He hadn't asked for a replacement but when he opened the package and saw what it was, he immediately started crying big alligator tears! "It's the game that I thought I'd never get to play again!" I held my breath as he opened Optimus Prime. But he was too excited to cry this time. He jumped around the living room like a crazy person. He whooped and hollered and screamed with delight. I've never seen him so happy. It was worth it...all the blood, sweat and tears of trying to find it...I'd do it all over again. He has been attached at the hip to OP the last two days and I suspect that will continue for quite a while. He is now trying to find Galvatron, Wing Saber and Megatron, who also attach to this OP, but all the stores are picked over of course so it might be a while before we can find them locally.

So that's my big Cmas ultimate toy story for this year. I hope your kids were equally as thrilled! :) Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 04, 2006

I stumbled across this today

I stumbled across this today

And I've decided it's a must-read for any parent, homeschooling or not.

Soooo many times I feel this conversation going on in my head as I talk to my schooling friends. And I DO feel that they 'hear' what this person says they heard, while I'm not meaning that in any shape or form. And, in the same way, I have 'heard' what "she" said the way this person interpreted as well.

I am passionate about homeschooling my own children...this should not reflect on you and your decisions, nor should your decision to school your children relect on me. These are choices we've made for our own families and I hope we can still be good friends, just the same as if you choose to drive a truck and I drive a van. They're just different choices.

I don't know what is best for your children. God gave them to you, not me. And He gave my kids to me, not you. I'm sure there was a good reason for it. ;)


Matthew: And Mommy, someday when I'm a dad, which I hope to be, I hope I can have two boys. You know I'm planning on marrying Kayla, right?
[Kayla is his best friends little sister - she's 7 months old - too cute]
Me: Really?
Matthew: Yep. And I hope we have twiiiiiiiiiiin boys! And we name them after me.
Me: (thinking to myself) To increase your chances with her, you might not want to let that ball drop until after you get married. ;)

I’m engrossed in a blog entry and I hear Matthew yell upstairs to Rose, “you mean you’re stuck at the zoo, waiting to be adopted?” “yeah” comes the reply. I ask Matthew, “What animal is she?” He says, “A meerkat.” Then as he makes his way upstairs after finding his Transformer for naptime he says to her, “A meerkat? What a nice animal to adopt! I’ll take you home with me!”


I know that every mom understands that when the kids are quiet, there's trouble afoot. This is especially true when you have 3 kids 6yrs and younger. I'm involved in a cookie exchange this weekend and to test out a new recipe, I made a small batch of them. YUM A version of haystacks - basically chow mein noodles covered in melted chocolate and butterscotch chips and left to harden. The kids love them and they're super simple to make (YAY, since I have to make SEVEN dozen!). So after a well-eaten lunch today, I offer one to each of the kids. Rose and Matthew down theirs very quickly and run upstairs to play. Jade, however, is quiet and taking her time with hers and seeing as how she's done perfectly fine and gobbled them up quickly the last few days, I didn't think much about it. I got involved in a mommy project and forgot I left her with a chocolate covered goo glob. She finally starts fussing to get down from her highchair and when I check on her, I find this (and to you savy baby-signing moms, can you see her signing "MORE"?? You gotta be kidding me, right girl?):

OK, stop laughing Andrea! Your time is coming....SOON!
And on the unschooling front...just to prove that your kids WILL be interested in anything you are...
Hubby went to a training seminar for a Network Security certification in October for his career. As the time nears for the test he has to pass, he spends more and more time studying. The kids have decided that this "studying stuff" is fun. Yes, fun. And it wasn't a one time thing. They "study" every weekend with him and whenever else Hubby has it out. Rose sets up a tv tray-table next to him and colors and works on printing her letters. Matthew sets up his tray-table and copies from Hubby's books into his own journal. Here's what it looks like:

Here's what he does with his time:

It reads: "Data link frames carry data packets in the information field. Simple routing traffic stays on local network. There..."
I have to pause here and really remark on this. Yes, some long words are carried over to the next line and there aren't many breaks between words and he gets off the lines, etc. But look at what detail he has. Let me remind you that he has had *no* formal training on writing. He absolutely refused to pick up a crayon or any other writing utensil until he was over four years old. He even used a yellow dot and labeled it #1 because Hubby has his book tabbed out in sections. He used white-out when he made a wrong letter. And most importantly, he thinks it's FUN. It's not homework or something he has to finish before he can get to recess or lunch. It's FUN because Daddy is interested in it. And who knows? Maybe he'll learn to be a great hacker by the time he's 9 too. :) ROFL

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Calling all creative friends...

I have a quandry. A year or two PK (pre-kids), I purchased a couple of panels of fabric at a local store which I'm sure they don't sell anymore. They're identical and they are really great looking maps of the US. I made one into a play blanket for the kids yesterday (what else do you do when you're snowed in?) and the other...well, that's where you come in.

I have this idea of gluing this piece of fabric to a bulletin board and the kids and I can have fun placing push-pin markers of sorts in each state we've visited or each state we know someone or each state we studied, etc. The first problem with that is maintaining a legend so we can determine why there are say, two red flags in Arizona, denoting two families we know there - I'd like to have a list of what each flag specifically means, etc. But after searching for cork board, the other problem I've found that a 3' by 4' piece is quite expensive...and the hardware chains don't sell it either. (Of course if all that tax money I'm paying for public schools wasn't coming out of my pocket, I might not be always looking for cheaper items...hmmmph...don't get me started.) And I worry about the littlest ones and the push pins falling out, etc. Soooo....I'm wondering if there's a better route to go down in this train of thought. Any ideas?? I know I have some teachers who frequent my site and I know your heads are just swimming right now. So, throw it at me! I'm not afraid of tools or building things or crafts by any means. Just give me an outside-the-box thought or two, will ya? :)

Friday, December 01, 2006

Snow Day!

Oh the first snowfall of the winter
Was a day that we all waited for
When it drifted to and fro
Why you shouldve seen the snow
It was near seven feet or more
By the old barn door
-Lyrics by Karen Carpenter

Well, not seven feet here but about an hours drive west of here, they had 16 inches. We mostly got ice. I haven't been out yet but there are major roads closed around us everywhere (including interstates) and as you can see below, at 9am our cul-de-sac hasn't been touched, nor has our main subdivision roads. I can't tell if our neighbor was sliding coming in last night or coming out this morning but I doubt he meant his car to be parked where it is. ;)

Though the ice has made our trees sparkle. My willow tree in back and Rose's Crabapple in front are both very sparkly in the early morning sun. We do have power (obviously I'm not running on my backup power supply just to blog...teehee...well, I but close to 500,000 don't have power yet.

My ice-covered sparkly willow. :)

The back yard. You can see the tops of our leeks poking through the garden so though I haven't measured anything yet, I'm sure it's maybe an inch or two of snow at best.

Our trashcan and cul-de-sac. See the neighbors car? It's not turned on. Was he coming or going when that happened? He does typically park in the garage and his truck made it up there. My Hubby did have some trouble getting up our driveway last night around 6pm. Neighbors car wasn't out there until later.