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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: Being Themselves, Week 3

This is the child we periodically babysit, wearing Bigboy's outrigger hat. I love her hammed up expression.

For more of Wordless Wednesday, visit 5minutesformom or Wordless Wednesday

Friday, November 21, 2008

Taking a Time Out, the Computer Is Anyway

I have no problem coming back to my irregularly scheduled blog posting.

Just as soon as I have the screen taken care of on the computer. The screen on my laptop cracked today. This would be, out of all irony, the only computer in this house.

I'll be posting once again, once I have this screen issue taken care of.

And I'll tell you all about it.

Have a Great Day!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

And The Final Three Top Reasons For Using k12 Begins

And so it would be that the life of this hectic homeschooler got just a little too hectic to keep up with her own blog. But then again, my life doesn't always give me the time to sit and write in front of the computer. Once again, I'm back to my continuation of my top ten reasons for using k12. My number 3 reason would just so happen to be:

k12 writes directions with a purpose.

I've learned in life there are two types of directions.

One type of directions is designed to exercise social control over people. I've found, through experience that this type of direction is designed by people and given by people for the pure purpose of watching the victim person execute the directions. I'm not sure what thrill people get out giving directions for the pure pleasure of making someone else do something. I find this behavior oppressive and revolting. May someone please bring the porcelain goddess? I'd like to throw up from over exertion of social control.

My dad Dick Fife is very good at doing this. I remember being asked to do stuff just so he could look important. He never gained any respect out of anything he asked us to do. then again, we never felt respected in the first place.

School teachers are another good example of directions being given for personal pleasure. Frequently, I hear from parents, complaints about directions teachers give. I hear all about Johnny's teacher tells him to do something just because she wants him to. Or I hear about how Johnny gets bored in school because she spends so much time giving directions that there isn't time left for doing the work he's supposed to do in the first place. I've heard it all. I've witnessed it all.

If there is a teacher reading this post, please tell me in non-union speak what kind of example you think KNOW you are setting. For the desire to see if you can handle practicing what you preach my sake, and my sake only, I can only accept scholastic format essays with your bibliography in AP format. Please send me a "Thought for the Day" comment requesting complete instructions.

Notice my kids aren't in a regular school anymore for a reason.

Bigfoot was subjected to a teacher who did this. Yes, I would happen to be talking about the last teacher he had in a school. She turned him off from school by using social control as a silent excuse for giving the directions that she did.

After all, If a child has a math worksheet sitting on his desk when he comes back from recess. Wouldn't you think the child already knows he's supposed to complete the work? I would think so. So, Bigfoot (before the big feet came) would find a worksheet on his desk, take out his pencil and do the work. typically, he would finish before she would even begin the math lesson. Of course, this means he now has nothing better to do than dance on his desk, talk to third graders, talk to second graders (who were doing the worksheet he had already finished), read a book, fall out of his chair, and just be generally distracting.

Her response? Get ready for this. She would tell him to sit down and follow along.

Hello!!! He is already DONE! Why aren't you following along with him? His answers are correct. What is your problem? He did what you expected him to do. He finished early. Give him more work. Let him work two pages of math to everyone else's one.

Every time she would give directions, as far as I can figure out, she had no other purpose but to keep the kids where she wanted them. If anything moved beyond her box, she lost all understanding of her classroom. Every time I was in that classroom, I got the message that she wanted these kids to follow her pace for no other reason than to keep them where she wanted them.

Will someone please educate me as to how kids are expected to grow mentally if they're repeatedly told to be controlled by another person? This is nothing more than the same social control of Red China. I don't dig it.

On the other hand, there are directions that can be given that will actually help kids become better people. This type of direction is meant to make the world a better place.

I have come to the conclusion that public schools aren't allowed to exercise this type of direction giving. Kids may become high achievers out of their own individual gifts rather than the suppressed work force that now drives Bill Gates into India for employment recruiting. Kids may end up sounding intelligent if given directions made for sheer purpose of generating a greater good.

Which brings me to why I dig using k12 for homeschool material. There are no directions given out of social control. All directions given come with a purpose designed for learning. My kids need to write some of their math answers using complete sentences, not for the sake of passing the waste-of-taxes WASL, but for the development of communication. My kids are put through directions explaining the writing process, not as a waste of time, of clearly to teach the benefit of thinking about what you really want to say before you say it. I've never seen directions given in any k12 material that didn't have learning clearly in mind.

As a result, my kids now have a better understanding of handling their schoolwork. They both understand what needs to be done, and the benefits that come from it. I have better listeners in my kids (for the most part). I have two kids on their way to becoming better citizens.

I can't help but enjoy it.

Monday, November 3, 2008

My Top Ten Reasons to Use k12 Continues

This last spring, I began, through the inspiration of our off-campus enrollment, a ten part series on why I love using the k12 program. Somewhere along the line, I fell off my own bandwagon. I can go into further detail about that later. It feels good to be back on my own track.

My #4 top reason for enjoying the presence of k12 in my life...

On-line lesson planning.

Every morning, I log into k12.com check our daily lesson schedule, and attempt to set two kids into gear for the day.

Lesson planning isn't entirely done for me. I have to participate in the planning process just as much as the program does. I have to pay attention to everything Bigfoot and Beadgirl are doing.

If they need more work to do, I can add to their day. If they need to spend more time on certain material, I can adjust the daily lesson plan to meet their needs.

All of this on-line convenience sure beats writing out lesson material for everything. Before our discovery of k12, I was hand planning everything. That meant going through each textbook, deciding how much of what to cover, assigning it, and hoping nothing distracted the plan.

Like that never happened.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: Being Themselves, Week 2

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: Being Themselves, Week 1

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Thursday, October 2, 2008

I've resigned to being techologically impaired

By request, I'm bringing this post over from Yahoo. the original post was written October 5, 2007 on my Yahoo 360 page. I realize I am severely technologically challenged in the cell phone world. However, I do need to inform you that I have to date kept my Fire MotoKRZR for a period of one full year. And guess what! It still WORKS!!! I can't be more proud of myself.

In less than seven years, I have figured out I've owned or borrowed a total of ten cell phones. Yes, ten in less than seven years. It might be less than six years, I really don't know. I've had so many phones, I can't remember when I got my first one. I ordered number eleven today from Verizon.

I really didn't want to quit using the old Samsung thing I was borrowing from my father-in-law. I really did try to make it to my free upgrade period in January. Somehow, that just didn't work. The dropping of the phone into the toilet today didn't help. Now the screen doesn't work at all. I didn't try to drop it in the toilet. It just kind of flew into the wonderful porcelain princess.

I've only had one phone for a full twelve months and that was a Motorola V60i. That was six phones ago. I couldn't charge it. Why? I'm not an engineer. Paper clips, duct tape and rubber bands aren't in my language of creative uses. Rubber bands are for holding together groups of things so they can stay together in a junk drawer or school supply box. Duct tape is for temporary patches that are actually permanent. Paper clips are for keeping groups of paper together. Non of these are for charging cell phones unless you are an engineer. I literally would have had to rig it with the engineering tools of life in order to keep it working. I really did try to keep that phone for a full two year period; but couldn't make it past twelve. That phone was the easy insurance claim.

This latest phone was a borrowed Samsung. Borrowed only because my Motorola E815 (which I loved) fried before the warranty period was up form the insurance. The thing keeled over dead and they won't take it back without filing another claim. They sent me a refurbished phone, they should take it back. We decided if we were going to pay $50 for a replacement this time, we'd pay for a new phone instead of risking another piece of junk.

That phone came from the insurance because I decided it would be a good thing to throw my phone into the sofa. The sofa was supposed to prevent it from breaking on the laminate flooring. Did it? NO! It had to rebound off the edge of the sofa and fly into four pieces in four different locations. Unfortunately, the argument I was having was partially my fault.

Now that my new phone and all necessary gadgets are on the way from Verizon, I'll be on phone number eleven. Lets see how long i can keep this one. I will be good to this phone. I will not download ring tones until I have paid off the bill for the phone itself. I will not put on games so my kids think they can snatch it for idle boredom. I will not rack up the monthly bill with anything unnecessary such as sending photos to friends. I can email photos I take from the phone. I will be good. I will keep this phone until the full two year contract is up.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Toothfariy Letter

As transcribed from the original letter, written by Beadgirl:

Dear Toothfairy,

You have given me money when I lose a tooth so I wood like to give you something. I hope you like it.


Along with the tooth awaiting departure into the land of child lost teeth, were two pieces of dark chocolate acquired from Tillamook, OR. Mmmmmmm.

Following the original note, was written the following follow-up note:


Thank you for the treat. You are a very special girl. Enjoy your money.


Yes, the toothfairy signed her half of the letter as Thootfairy. Maybe she was tired and wanting to go to bed. I;m sure she has a busy life chasing down the teeth of kids every night. I can imagine she'd be quite exhausted by the time she gets to our house. I'm not to sure I'd be able to

I saw this letter from Beadgirl and almost cried on my way to job #1. My trip to job #2 didn't fair much better.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Just How Much Did She Miss Him?

According to the world of Douglas Adams and Beadgirl: None at all.

None at all is exactly just how much she claimed to have missed him.

Conversations in the house during Bigfoot's week at summer camp sounded something like this:

"I'm waiting for the ice cream truck to come by today."

"Oh, okay. Just who is buying this ice cream?"

"I am, with the money I made from Dad washing cars."

"Okay. I thought you wanted to save for an ipod." As if she'll ever get to the ipod. She's too busy buying ice cream.

"Mom, if I want ice cream, I have to buy it today."

"Why do you have to buy it today?" Remember, buying ice cream today is more important than the ipod of tomorrow.

"So I can eat it before Bigfoot comes home."

"Oh, okay." Watch out Miley Cyrus, my daughter's future album download from iTunes just got replaced by a Choco Taco.

Ice cream truck comes through the neighborhood. Beadgirl makes her purchase, and proceeds to consume the ever so important ice cream. Life depends upon buying and eating as much ice cream as possible before the older brother comes home from summer camp.

She swore up and down all week that she didn't miss her brother all week. In fact, she claimed to be glad he was gone. Everyday, she would mention his name and declare she didn't miss him in the slightest.

Author's note:
I considered posting this in early August. However, due to the coming of DeMolay Leadership Conference and the Weekend of Friendship and Brotherhood, time delay was given. After summer camp, we spent the following two events in similar manner.

How much did she miss him?

None at All.

Monday, September 8, 2008

The k12 Top 10 Continues... Finally, We Come to Part 6

It's about time I found my notebook. Somewhere in the disaster zone at home, I left my notebook. Where it went, I had no clue until today. For the sake of this blog,and a few other whatnots, this notebook holds essential value. This notebook is life. It is the first source of on-the-road notes for the blog. This blog will survive without my laptop. However, without that notebook, all is lost.

With the notebook found, and the starting of a new school year, I'm setting out on a great mission. My self-imposed mission is, should I choose to accept it:

Complete my Top Ten reasons for using k12 series. I've spend way too much time not getting to the punch line.

Well, without further adieu, The Number 5 Reason I have for using k12...

All proprietary equipment is provided by the k12 corporation. If the science program calls for equipment, they send it. I don't have to spend my time and money hunting down scientific equipment. Most of this kind of stuff isn't easy to come across in the general public.

After all, do you really want to hunt down stuff like test tubes, beakers, and microscopes? No thank you. Not on our budget.

I appreciate the sending me of supplies well needed.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Fine, He Can Have His New Toy

I've learned...

Electronic toys aren't made the way they used to be. I remember the old Zenith TV my parents had. That TV was built like a rock.

Interruptive note: Electronics were, at that time, BUILT IN AMERICA.

Now, back to the story.

The old Zenith had a decent twenty inch screen, Dial knobs, and a color screen.


Now, back again to my story.

I remember owning this Zenith from the time I was born to my ripe old age of when I was fifteen. I've seen old home family movies of this particular Zenith from days before I was born. Therefore, I know this particular TV was much older than me when it was replaced. I was in third grade when dad Dick hooked the Beta VCR to it. Only a few years later, our VHS was connected along with cable to the same dial knobbed television. Within months, our first taste of cable service was connected.

Interruptive note: Televisions once were huge boxes containing a tube of rapidly pulsating light. These televisions were very large and heavy. Some of them even sat on the floor due to size and weight.

Now, Can I get back to my story?

That TV only tried to die only once on us, leaving me almost devastated as a child. What can I say, it was during the 1984 summer Olympic Games.

Interruptive note: Network Television once actually knew how to broadcast the Olympics without talking to hear their own voices.


I can’t exactly watch Mary Lou Reton score perfect 10s if the tube is fading black. Synchronized Swimming looses the fulfillment when half the routine is lost to turning off the TV to let the tube cool down. The end of the world loomed for an eight year old girl.

In 1984, that old Zenith TV was repaired, and all sign of devastation was gone. By 1991, there was nothing to be done for the old TV that would last. The old Zenith had filled twenty years of service, and needed retirement. Dad Dick came home with the new, larger, sleeker box of flashing light. Dials would exist on our TV no more. This had buttons and came with a remote. WOW! Cable could be connected without a router box. Amazing!

Our lives could go on. The Animaniacs were now in brilliant color. Movies were more like movies. This was new technology. Life was good.

The first TV of my adult life is a twenty inch RCA that, as of yesterday, is currently sitting atop my washer. After twelve years of loyal service, AV connections no longer hold for DVD players or Game Cubes. Sound ability no longer functions on the scale it used to. Buzzing is quite common during use. Packing tape is holding the outer casing together. This twenty inch RCA just isn’t made the way the old Zenith was.

So, the new HDTV came home yesterday. According to Bigboy, this is more my toy that his.


In just a few weeks, I’ll be watching the individual sequins and rhinestones on Dancing with the Stars.

Okay, he can have his new toy.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Birthday for Beadgirl time!

I've learned...

When purchasing birthday cake and ice cream, two methods are readily available with short notice.

If I had the time, energy and skill, I wouldn't even buy a cake. I'd just make it myself. As it is, I haven't made a cake in years. The last time I attempted birthday cake for Beadgirl, I was trying to create a white and chocolate swirl. I think I over swirled the two mixes and ended up with a light colored chocolate with clumps of white and dark cake spots.

I've never had a cake rise evenly. I mix it. I pour it. I drop the daylights out of it to get the air bubbles out. I bake it. Inevitably, any cake I bake ends up huge in the center and short on the edges. How I am supposed to properly layer a cake for decorating if I can't get the thing to rise evenly?

Decorating, I'm not so bad at. Until you ask me for flowers. Flowers on a cake? Not yet. Let me get a few classes under my belt first. The last time I tried flowers, I'm not sure if I had roses or cabbages.

Due to the existence of my current job (which I am trying to replace with something less expensive to operate) I have no time left in my day for baking. Bigfoot and Beadgirl bake more than I do. They have no problem at all with whipping out cookies. I'm waiting for the breads to start coming. Maybe they'll even become interested in baking cakes.

If Bigfoot and Beadgirl get to the cake stage, I may not end up having to buy a cake again. I can just ask them to procure one from the mixer and oven for me. And family. And friends.

Bestowed upon me yesterday was the honor and privilege of buy the cake for Beadgirl's birthday. Between my mother-in-law and myself, the decision was made to find the smallest cake possible for eleven people. The goal of the birthday cake shopping was to walk away with no left overs at the end.

Which leaves me with two primary methods of buying cake and ice cream on short notice. By the way, I knew about the family birthday party. Delegation of cake buying had gone undecided until yesterday.

This is probably the most common method of cake purchasing. I can pick up a quarter-sheet cake and a separate container of ice cream. This means paying somewhere in the vicinity of $16 for the cake and $5 for the ice cream. For eleven people, this $21 expenditure leaves plenty left over.

Left over cake ends up getting taken home. Once home, it faces devourment by the dog, resulting in a sick-to-the-stomach mix of English-Springer and Chow. What chance the dog has of digesting birthday cake relies upon the speed of two weeds known as Bigfoot and Beadgirl. At least I know if the hyperactive weeds get to the leftovers prior to the dog, the dog will be getting plenty of leashed exercise with Bigfoot and Beadgirl. As much as I relish in the idea of the kids not coming in the house for several days, this does not mean I like the idea of them eating all that extra sugar.

All this means leftovers from birthdays end up going to waist. Butt, unfortunate as it may be for birthday leftovers, my butt is big enough. Extra birthday cake and ice cream don't need to add any more tread to the spare tire.

I learned there is a much better option when it comes to birthday cake. Ice cream cake, I found at Fred Meyer, comes in a sheet smaller than a regular quarter sheet. This option carries many benefits not normally seen in times of last-minute cake needs. With ice cream cake, I am able to serve two desserts for a single slightly lower price than two separate items. I carry fewer packages out of the store and into the party scene. Cake stays hidden in the freezer until the appropriate time. And most importantly, I have fewer, if any, left overs. With a smaller ice cream cake, I can cut smaller pieces. The thought of human weeds running from a sugar high at speeds faster than scotch broom can grow isn't exactly appealing. Smaller pieces are welcomed with pleasure.

All in all, Beadgirl had a wonderful family birthday party. Life is good when there is the presence of the grill, burgers, gifts, cards, and ice cream cake.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

k12's Top 10 , Part 5

Will someone please get out the camera? We have a Kodak moment here. If you use high enough resolution, you can get a really good shot of the steam coming from the ears today.

I had to really stop and think about this series today. I never really intended to run a ten part series on using k12. Originally, this was meant to be only one post with a list of nine, then the number one post would take the bulk of the entry. I found, as I was writing, I had more to say about each section than I planned.

Each post in the series has been pretty easy so far. "This is why I like using k12." I've tried giving consideration to each reason and where I place it in my top 10. I know most of these haven't really been funny at all. They've been more of a soapbox for right now. That's okay in this case. I'm saving the fun part for last.

So, here it is. My #6 reason for using k12 is...


Basic concepts get taught everywhere and at all reasonable levels. Sentence structure, essay structure, SPELLING (now that's one we don't see too much of anymore), vocabulary, reading skills, and math computation all get taught as essential learning needs over teaching "skills we'll need as adults."

Teaching of basic concepts that develop and strengthen basic skills is a realm of success for the k12 corporation. If a child doesn't have a clue how to write a sentence, what good does it do to expect an essay? These people understand this. K12 teaches grammar, parts of speech, and sentence development before they put any focus on analyzing how well a student has developed communication skills.

Writing education actually goes into detailed lessons. When working the program, kids develop skills in writing quality introductions, essay bodies, and conclusions. At the end of a unit, each kid has a final piece of work to be proud of. In the process of getting to the final production, a student learns about the value of grammar and sentence structure in writing while learning to develop thoughts into written word.

Spelling is taught from lists that cover the rules of English. There is actually a reason "i" comes before "e" except after "c." There is a time and place for "ph" and a different time and place for "f" to be used. K12 takes the time to help kids understand the difference. There aren't too many programs out there in schools that make the effort to help kids understand the background of how to spell. It takes more than practice to win the spelling bee. It takes understanding.

Communication skills are even more well developed when a child understands the words he's reading, and knows how to use them. This is why k12 teaches vocabulary. Teaching vocabulary may be dabbling into more in-depth and advanced skills. A strong vocabulary may just make a person a better communicator. In the process of learning the usage of our own English language, we are developing dedicated work habits.

The program developers at k12 are not worried about weather or not a child reads for a variety of purposes. They just go ahead and let the kid do it. They care that a child enjoys reading. When a kid loves reading, there's no need to worry about why he reads. Its far easier to teach a child to understand reading material when the child is willing to read.

Right along with the ability to communicate comes the ability to compute the numerical side of life. K12 doesn't use calculators. I respect this decision with high regard. I just don't comprehend how someone can even learn math processes if he doesn't know how to add or subtract without a machine doing it for him. Besides, learning math is kind of one of those "practice makes perfect" fields. Just keep working at it, add some encouragement, and you get more than just really good math skills. You may just find the development of delayed gratification, a stronger work ethic, and a self-developed sense of accomplishment.

Oh my, it looks like the teaching of skills doesn't really need to be "taught" after all. looks more to me like we need to just teach basic content with a little bit of practice. The "skills" come with the flow of learning.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Part 4, Why I Love Using k12

7. Material is selected and written with homeschoolers in mind. Instructions speak to kids as well as adults. Looking back at some of the other programs I've used, I wonder how we ever did anything without the kids already having a college degree.

This brings me back to rambling on about Everyday Math and the two years I struggled using it. I don't recommend Everyday Math as a homeschooling program. The teacher's guides don't speak well to parents. I found myself spending more time on Google learning about the topics Bigfoot was covering than he spent in actual learning time.

Please understand there are some things about Everyday Math that are quite good. The connective development between language and math skills excels beyond most math programs. Developing the connection between concrete and abstract thoughts creates a well understanding person. This is all about The ability of a person to connect and communicate with a variety of people in the world holds the key to making proficiency in a field matter.

Application of math in the real world has always been an issue with public schools. Everyday Math does a very good job in this category. Everything taught in Everyday Math has a practical application to it. There isn't much of a point in teaching anything if it can't be used.

Now come the issues I have with Everyday Math. Why teach a pre-calculus concept if a child doesn't even understand how to do the work? Everyday Math has very little focus on basic skills. Parents are realizing this more and more as our public schools carry lower and lower math scores in Washington State. Homeschoolers for years have sworn by programs that teach basic computation skills over advanced applications. I didn't like the idea of not having a clue of what was going on in Bigfoot's math program just because I don't have a college degree. I became uncomfortable real quick with spending half my time on Google learning about what he was supposed to be learning.

Which brings me back to why I like k12. The program developers speak to kids. Kids should be able to read instructions and be able to follow them without translations into plain English. Material is explained in a way parents can help kids understand. A great weight has been taken off my shoulders this year. I don't feel uneducated in our learning process.

If the purpose of education is to develop the future of America, are we doing any good in writing directions our kids can't follow?

I don't think so.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

k12's Top 10, Part 3

8. I will always know just what my kids are doing. Even if they work far ahead of the regular lesson.

I'm a firm believer that kids should work at their own pace. Sometimes, this means kids progress slower than others. Other kids whiz through everything. No problem for me here, specially when k12 is in our lives.

All k12 lesson plans are accessible by students. Should Bigfoot and Beadgirl finish early, they can move onto the next set of lessons. However, there are times they need more time to fully learn a concept. Taking the time is great. I'd rather they learn completely than hurriedly. Kids need to learn at their own pace, not at the schedule of a teacher or set program.

We faced that many times in school. I found I was paying tuition for a private school to control Bigfoot's learning schedule. This particular school was using ABeka; a fabulous program I even used as a kid through first grade. ABeka provides a comprehensive curriculum. Everything under the sun gets covered with a Christian viewpoint.

This is a very good program at what it does. If you know how to apply creativity to the program, ABeka is fantastic. If you only stick to the material, everything will get repeated to the digging of the grave. I do not give high recommendations for ABeka to parents of children with Edison-like brains. Nothing stands still very long. Bigfoot was bored at school. I didn't realize just how bored he was until we took him out of school. He understands things quickly and doesn't do well with over-redundant repetition.

For the past two years, we've used Everyday Math. This was the same material used in our local public school system. Everyday Math is an excellent program for gifted kids. So long as they understand basic math concepts. Kids do some pretty advanced stuff in Everyday Math, such as statistics and calculus. Have the time, I wouldn't have a clue what was going on. Eventually, I found myself spending more time on Google trying to learn about what he was supposed to be doing.

There were some days over the last two years, I'd not even know what point he was at in the lesson plan. I could hand him his math book last year, and in one hour, he'd have a full unit finished. Sometimes, I couldn't tell where he was in the lesson plan.

My lesson plan worries are gone. Now, I log onto the k12 website. I can see everything each of the kids did for the day. I can tell if Beadgirl needs help in her Social Studies, or if she's doing just fine. Using k12 allows me the ability to see where both kids are in the lesson plan and what they are learning. I'll always be there for help when they need it.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The hectichomeschooler reason for k12 Top 10... Part 2

9. Worksheet material is provided. Everything considered a reproducible worksheet or black-line master is provided for the convenience of your family. All worksheets are bound in books titled by subject and grade. Workbooks are even color coded by subject, therefore allowing parents and children to pull the appropriate material from the homeschooling bookshelves for the correct subject. Children who choose to loose material books can simply locate them by color.

I will always know science is green, math is blue, and language is purple. Fortunately, nothing is coded in pretty-girl pink, mauve, or lavender. I realize those are very good colors for girls. Anything feminine responds well to pink, lavender, and mauve quite well. On the other hand, I can't say testosterone-infused brains fair nearly as well. By the intelligence given by God, the k12 organizers chose much more gender neutral colors for the program. I am a firm believer in education equality. Yes, that means you cater to everyone, not just a certain group of people.

Since Bigfoot and Beadgirl like to loose everything, workbooks aren't always readily available. k12 knows my kids very well. All of their workbooks are fully available on the Internet for printing. When Bigfoot decides he "can't" find his student pages, everything he needs is readily available. Just click "print" and make sure there is still paper and ink for the printer. Out come all needed pages for the day's work. Now I just wish he'd just get into the habit of looking for the books first. My Costco case of paper if half-full and ink for the printer isn't cheap.

Oh well. At least we've eliminated his lack-of-materials excuse for not doing his work.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

And My Top 10 Reasons for Using k12 Are... Part 1 of 10

10. It's "free" to use, as a courtesy of my school property tax dollars. Personally, I'd like to see property tax allowances for families who homeschool. Thus allowing parents to spend on their own children the money they would have paid the school district for less than quality programs and teachers who don't really care about kids in the first place.

Most of your education alloted tax dollars don't buy program. They buy teachers. How many of these teachers do you actually trust? I've heard enough union whining I'm not convinced these people really want to bother working in schools.

Teachers whine over anything they can. I've heard about class size.
The classes are too big. I have 20+ kids in this room. I can't keep track of everything that goes on in here. I just don't have the time for your child's needs. He needs to enter special programs.
I thank God you don't work in business, retail, or food service, especially management. You'd never survive. If you can't handle 20 kids, you'd be eaten alive in the adult world.

I've heard it all about ADHD.
Johnny is a brilliant kid, but he's so out of control. I want you to make him behave in my classroom. I just can't handle him. What am I supposed to do? You need to take him in for an evaluation. I really think he needs medication.
What did you go to college for? Pizza and beer? My boy was born with more testosterone than estrogen by God's will. I don't expect him to behave like a girl. Why should you? Don't even think about mentioning medication. I can haul your tush into the principal's office and have a nice legal/disciplinary chat about medication. I already told you his doctor is not recommending it. You're the one with the college eduction. Act like it.

I've heard it all over personal salary.
I just don't make enough in this job. I can't live on this job alone.
I have several things to say here. First off, I do realize teachers don't get paid well compared to everything else that requires a BS or BA for entry level work. I also realize teachers are pushed in MA programs to a point I feel the MA in Education has lost its core value. I'm not opposed to salary increases for teachers. I don't dig the whining over it.

In the real world, no one is ever paid what they're worth. If your income is supported by tax problems and you have a problem with that, I suggest you get another source of income. Try owning a business where you have to sign someone else's paychecks. You may learn something about your school district income. Besides, why should your income be an issue? Isn't the greatest reward in education the satisfaction of teaching kids?

Your tax supported income is a matter of perspective. I realize living under your means is not always easy. Toys and bling are tempting. I know. But if I can go without stuff simply because I don't have the CASH, why can't you?

I've heard it over expectations.
I have all this stuff I'm told to cover. They want it covered this way. I have to teach the material using this method. I can't just veer from the program. We all have to do exactly the same thing. Even if what your child is doing makes no common sense what so ever, I can't make any exceptions to the rules. I have to stick to what I'm told.
Do you do any thinking for yourself? Are you even teaching my child HOW to think? Or is it more like WHAT to think? No wonder America is so messed up in the head. We quit developing thought processes.

Whining makes me sick as it is. I don't need my kids being sent to whining class just because someone has a personal issue with her job.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Is It Just My Kids?

The word is now official. Both of my children have big feet. This news is now confirmed with Beadgirl's size 8 shoe. Nicknames will not be changing. Bigfoot and Beadgirl will continue to carry their personal identities. Their shoe sizes will be forever changing, only to cease growing upon the end of the world.

Awed as I may be, I must now fess up to the fact that my daughter, Beadgirl, will soon be wearing the same shoe size as me. Only last weekend did we buy her size 8 shoes. I only bought the size 7s four months ago.

I have officially validated my reason for restricting shoe purchases to Payless Shoe Source. I can't afford anything else anywhere else. You try buying $50 shoes every three months for your kids and see what it does to your endless limited budget for four people. Only at Payless can I write a check without showing ID due to our loyal consumer purchases. A trip to Payless usually looks something like this:
Entering into the store are three people: Bigfoot, Beadgirl and Mom. Upon our arrival and recognition by the manager, we are directed to the location of the shoe sizing tool. As we are loyal customers every three months, Bigfoot and Beadgirl have complete comprehension of how to size their own feet. Off come shoes and feet are placed onto the tool. Gawking is made by Mom as I stand in amazement that their feet have grown yet another shoe size.

New sizes are pronounced, and children are sent to the appropriate section of the store. Typically, I will go along with Beadgirl to her section of the Ladies department. This is a crucial time in my need to exercise my right of parental influence. Most shoes in her size reflect an age bracket at least five years older than hers. I prefer to have my nine-year-old daughter look as if she is nine, not fifteen. We find several pairs for trying on containing pink somewhere in the fabric of these shoes.

While she is lacing up shoes, I wander to the mens large feet section where Bigfoot is looking at several different pairs. All must be black, or contain as much black as possible. White is disgusting in the mind of the twelve-year-old. No where on any pair of his shoes shall white be allowed. Shoes must have a key color: black. His shoes are found, tried on.

Perfect fits are found for both children. New shoes are packed into boxes and carried to the register. Bar codes are scanned and shoes are bagged. The bags don't last long for us. Just long enough to take everything to the car. They'll done their new footwear before I turn the engine on. I pull out the checkbook, and proceed to write the check. The manager and I carry on over the size of my children's feet. She has gotten to know us quite well. We come in every three months. Not for a replacement of worn out shoes, but an upgrade of foot size.

Shoes are then taken to the car. Bigfoot and Beadgirl pile into our two-door compact car. Before I can fasten my seatbelt, two rear-seat seat belts have been buckled and new shoes are donned. I a fix the bluetooth to the ear, and call Bigboy. He needs to know our weeds children have grown once again.

I thank God for a very good blessing He has given my life. I don't have to deal with status pressure such as the desire for Sketchers, Nike, or Doc Maartens on the feet of my children. I don't know what I would without that blessing.

Actually, yes I do know what I'd do. I wouldn't buy every cool name brand they want. I'd buy them what we can afford, proceeding to lecture two kids on the importance of not having everything everybody else has. We buy for them the shoes and clothes we can afford, and all that blah, blah, blah. We have to remember to be ourselves. We need to live within our means. Even if that means we don't have all the cool stuff. Stuff does not make the person. Our actions do, and all that yada yada yada.

Kids don't need cool popular shoes anyway.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Test Time!

Oh here we go a WASL-ing
Among the April spring
There's tests to be taken
And students nowhere to be seen.

So may state tests come to you,
And to you, a WASL too
May this test truly prove what our kids can really do
May the WASL prove what our kids can really do.

In all the glory sarcasm provides, I just love WASL time. Thrills and chills come to my spine every year as I read through our current WASL testing schedule. Suddenly, the realizing questions hits me harder than military tanks:
Why did I decide to use a public school support program?
I know exactly why. Because I'm broke and can't afford our own curriculum. We've been living the past four years at half the income we were at in 2003. Homeschooling two kids in our house shack isn't easy when we are living with low high enough income to qualify for the earned income tax credit.

I can't afford to buy the stuff on my own. When I started homeschooling over two years ago, my clueless rating was on Pluto when it came to knowing what I was doing. I had no clue how to write lesson plans my kids would respond to. I had no money to buy anything for school use. Nor, did I want to revert to doing nothing more than the worksheets he'd gotten bored with in the private school I was paying tuition for. K12 was not available through the WAVA yet. I needed resources, and was told I could get them through my public school district.

Two years later, here we are, using K12 through our public school district. If I had the ability to pay for the program on my own, I would. For the next several years, that's just not happening. In the mean time, I can handle living under public school umbrella. Yes, including the wonderful pointless WASL.

After reading the information published about the WASL by the wonderful state of Washington, I have come to this conclusion:
The sole purpose of the WASL is to test how much the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction can spend our tax payers' dollars saying the same thing we've been saying for the past twenty years.
Big Brother does not care in the least if the common American can read, write, spell, or compute math. Big Brother prefers to veer so far away from the basics that kids will no longer understand anything beyond demands made by corporate employers. If Big Brother did care about education in America, we'd go back to the reading, writing and math methods we used over 100 years ago. I don''t think our government leaders and teachers union have figured out, or even care about, what has happened to education in America.

When I started this post, my intention was to poke at the on-site operational regulations. These rules are not posted on the Internet anywhere. Testing classroom rules include stuff like the restriction of people entering or leaving the room. Absolutely under no circumstance shall anyone enter the room. No student shall leave the room until all testing is finished. If there were to be a deranged and jaded dropout coming to campus to engage in gunfire, there is no need for alarm. The school is already in testing lock down.

More rules of our practical over-priced WASL: You may only take one test section at a time. Since we parents are not allowed to sit in a testing room, I can only speculate a proctor reads something like this:
Take only one test at a time. Do not pass STOP. Do not continue into the next section. This is not a game of Monopoly; there will be no payment of $200 dollars for your progression through each round of the test. The State of Washington has no care for your time efficiency skills. There is no concern for how bored you may be. Please take another Ritalin and sit down.

Here's another one. Just remember, I have to guess what is said. we parents aren't considered privy to this information, since we parents apparently cannot be trusted:
Speak nothing of the WASL. Speaking of the WASL before, during, or after may result in sudden and instant arrest or even death.
Should anyone even enter the room storing cases of test booklets, that person can face criminal charges. Beadgirl told me she was instructed not to discuss anything about the test before, during, or after. I realize, on this note, that the public schools were initially a concept brought about by Freemasonry to educate and elevate the honorable status of society. Since the inception of the Industrial Revolution, that dream has not been seen. Just because the Blue Lodge has secrets private information, and the school system evolved away from the dreams of the Free and Accepted Masons, doesn't mean the State of Washington has to restrict children in their use of speech. That really should be left to the parents. If speaking about the WASL is so detrimental to the taking of the test, where is the armed guard for the door? Let alone, why are tests not coming to schools via armored transport?

I have yet to see anything worth while in this particular test. Don't get my wrong. I'm a believer in routine evaluation. I just don't see how the WASL is measuring anything beyond how much tax money Washington can spend on it.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Time for a Walk

Warning: the following post contains events and activities of strange nature. Taking part in activities of this nature can be extremely dangerous to your health. I don't highly recommend regular participation in this type of behavior on a regular basis. Not every day in a person's life should someone just get out of a vehicle and walk down the middle of a major freeway. Walking in the middle of traffic will ultimately result in death in most circumstances.

Therefore, as of this point, if you or someone you know chooses to walk down the middle of a major interstate, I AM BY NO MEANS RESPONSIBLE. Under no circumstances shall I take any responsibility for the behavior of people dumb enough to walk or run down any busy highway. I do not, under any circumstances, give permission to participate in this activity.

Please do take consideration in understanding that this may be a common practice of some people in the state of California. Only in California, does one see billboards along I-5 recommending a 55 mph speed because you might hit some poor mother with two kids running across the freeway. This I never believed actually happens until I saw it on TV one night.

With that said, here's a sample of just what I did today:Yes, this is me standing next to the Expedition of a good friend. Located on I-90 in the wonderful Snoqualmie Pass, we were waiting for an avalanche to clear from the highway. Since our travel to Yakima was interrupted temporarily, I chose to stretch my legs. Yes, I took a walk on the highway. I don't encourage walking like this in the middle of the road on a regular basis. My excuse? Traffic was stopped. We knew we had a wait. Semi long haulers had shut off their engines, and some were taking naps. I drive all morning long for my job. The last thing I need to do is sit for hours waiting for traffic to move. I decided to take a walk.The Little-Big Brother and Bigboy chose to get out of the truck as well. They just didn't choose to walk with me.I have to admit, I think I may have had them well worried when traffic started moving again. I did make it safely back to our little clan, considering I decide to get out of the lanes and onto the shoulder.

Just remember, I don't recommend walking down the middle of highways with fast moving traffic. If you do choose to walk down highways in stopped traffic, do so with intelligence.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Return the child to Sender, Half Asleep

Earlier today, I asked Bigboy to take something out for dinner. His protein source of choice: chicken and bacon. The Plan A: fry up the bacon as bacon bits, stuff them into the chicken with cheese, bread everything and bake it. By the time I needed to start dinner, neither chicken nor bacon was thawed enough to bother. Plan B: run to town for pizza. Bigfoot won't mind pizza in the least bit. Coming home from four days of mischief and mayhem with 1000 other boys generates a bottomless need for pizza.

As I'm checking out of the grocery store, what should I encounter, but a ringing phone. Bigfoot has come home. According to Mom Mouse and Dad Jordan, he was awake until Gig Harbor, and asleep by Olalla. As the rented SUV came into Port Orchard, several countless attempts were made to wake him up before he got home.

His exhaustion is out of my hands. Powerless I am to aid him in his need for sleep. He was only surrounded by 1000 other boys from around Washington State. Testosterone went flying all around the Wenatchee Convention Center for four straight days.

Coming to you, from my reliable source Bigfoot, I have been told the 1.5K run was held at 1am Saturday. Yes, several hundred boys ran laps around the convention center in the middle of the morning. Can you say testosterone? I was also told four boys were riding the elevator up and down for the sheer pleasure of riding an elevator. Generation of this pleasure resulted in two boys pushing each other into the elevator alarm. Once this alarm was set off, and appropriately turned off, four boys went running from said elevator, one of whom ended up in a girls bathroom out of extreme requirement to pee.

Sleep was temporarily obtained over the weekend. Certain activities provided perfect opportunities for nodding heads, dozing off, short lived snoozing, and power naps. Every one of these from breakfast to initiatory degree sessions were taken advantage of. Bigfoot testifies to sleeping for somewhere around half an hour over the four day weekend.

Pizza came home, went into the oven, and within one hour of eating, Bigfoot crawled into bed. Never to be seen again that night, the child, who fights off sleep on a regular basis, willingly shut his eyes. He may wake up tomorrow. then again, maybe not.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Peace and Quiet, I Think

I haven't gotten a phone call yet. If I were to receive a phone call from Bigfoot, he would come home to the Apocalypse of groundings. Why? Because he would be done in for the last time.

In translation:

Bigfoot is off at Washington DeMolay Convention this weekend. He is spending four days with almost 1000 teenage boys from around Washington State. Events for this weekend range from official business and election of state officers to spending all night with XBoxes and Wiis. This is a hyperactivity breeding ground. Allowing almost 1000 boys to concoct mischief and mayhem in a hotel can be dangerous business. I stayed home, where there is safety and protection from the wild animals.

There are certain things I expect out of this.
1. I do expect him to stay up all night all weekend.
2. I do expect him to sleep all the way home from being crazy enough to stay up all night all weekend long.
3. I fully expect him to run laps around the hotel should he be caught with an energy drink in hand. I have made it known to his adviser dad that running off unnecessary sugar and caffeine from energy drinks will not take long. Bigfoot is a fast runner.
4. I half expect him to come home a better person with higher moral values. I only half expect this simply due to the fact that I can never know what to expect from Bigfoot.
5. Most importantly, I expect him to have an excellent time being a twelve year old boy running a muck along side almost 1000 other teenage boys.

Beadgirl is reveling in this joyful four days without her big brother. On the flip side, life without a big brother for a few days has generated requirement of the room cleaning to end all room cleaning. Never again, according to her mom and dad, shall her room ever become this big of a chore. If it shall become the tremendous chore she has made it, all fun activities shall become forfeit and her parents will engage in the privilege of cleaning for her. Engagement of this parental right may involve, but is not limited to the removal of toys, beads, and other nonessential wants.

She has had her fun. Her aunt took her out to a park for disc golf yesterday. I'm not sure what we'll do tomorrow, but we'll make sure to have some good quality time.

As for me and my Bigboy, we have four days of peace and quiet. There is no fighting amongst siblings. There is none of the usual only half of our regular dose of whining from the mouths of children. Ah, the relaxation of having a child out of the house for the weekend.

There might be peace and quiet for a while. So long as I'm not blaring TobyMac on the stereo.

In Loving Memory

Yesterday afternoon, after several months living with lung cancer, our Grandfather, John Arnold Hazel laid down his working tools and traveled to that undiscovered country. He no longer carries the pain cancer inflicts upon man. His love for his family is well cherished and returned to him now in heaven.

Although we will miss his presence here on earth, we praise his being received by our maker. His life was well lived and Godly. We lift up to God, Grandpa's life, lived in His honor. May he continue his blessings to the world in spirit through God's will.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Lent is Over! I Made It!

He Is Risen! He has indeed risen from the tomb. He sacrificed his life for the benefit of humanity. His rising has brought the promise of salvation from the evils that desire our hearts. Our gratitude to Him is shown through our choice to dedicate ourselves to his counsel, guidance, grace and love. Live His will through our gift of free will from Him and receive His redemption.

Well, I made it all the way to Easter Sunday without any sugar. I knew I could if I tried without giving up. Giving up sugar was a major challenge for me, as you may know from previous postings. I overcame not only sugar, but I lost ten pounds in the process. I'm proud of myself. I filled my Lenten promise this year. I haven't made a Lenten sacrifice for several years. This time, I did it fully and completely. I can overcome, and I did.

Sorry this is so belated. I've been working part time for the circulation department of our local newspaper. My primary job is to redeliver mistakes and check up on carriers. We're going through an adjustment period over the next several weeks. I haven't had a regular "job" for over four years at this point. Early hours requiring conscious efforts need time for adjustment. I haven't had some of teh energy I'd like for blogging.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Bigfoot has BIG FEET!

I've learned...

Kids grow. Tall kids grow like weeds. At one point, I had nicknamed our kids Weed and Feed. Feed one, the other grows like a Weed. Which one was which changed on a regular basis. One would eat insanely, the other would grow insanely. Then, after a new shoe size in one, they'd switch. Both Bigfoot and Beadgirl are above their height growth chart. Bigfoot in particular, is way over his growth chart. So are his feet.

I just bought him size thirteen shoes earlier this week. I only bought his size twelve shoes in September. Actually, six months is a long time for him to wear one shoe size. I replaced shoes in December due to wear, not from growth. I got lucky this time around. I replace shoes resulting from growth every three months. Five months without foot growth is a first. We haven't seen this in almost four years.

I wonder how long this shoe size will last?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Green Tissue Paper, Coming Back to Haunt Me

My green tissue paper issues almost rose from the dead last Friday. Don't get me wrong, the flags came out wonderful. I'm glad I decided to use fabric instead of tissue paper for them. Trying to starch them wasn't so friendly.

Starch has not been seen by my iron for over three years. Of course, I forgot how much of the stuff sticks to the heat plate of the iron. As I was starching these three-inch flags, they were sticking to the iron, removable only with utensils such as forks and table knives. In the end, the flags turned out wonderful.

Stuffing them into the flower boxes was the issue now at hand. Craft sticks hold in floral foam quite well, so long as nothing covers the foam. I can't put these decorations on display with foam showing. I didn't have enough moss for all six boxes, and there was no time left to shop. Tissue paper would work. I need green tissue paper for these boxes, I thought . I'll call Kevin and ask if he can pick some up. Nope, he wouldn't be available to stop in Silverdale for green tissue paper. Tony works in Silverdale. I'm sure he can stop for some. Yeah right. He got the message AFTER he left Silverdale. Great, time for plan “b,” use something else. I guess I can go out for the stuff I need after dinner. I'll just stay later and stuff the boxes after I get green tissue paper.

I began to assess my situation with these decorations after dinner. I realized then, I had white and orange tissue paper. I never needed green tissue paper in the first place.

Orange tissue paper turned out just fine. Unfortunately, NO ONE took any pictures at dinner, and my phone was dead. I had to bring this one home for photos. I really must learn to not forget my camera.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

Happy St. Patrick's Day to all. May the luck of the Irish be with you today and always. Enjoy your day in which we celebrate the patron saint of Ireland, Saint Patrick. I found some interesting websites on Saint Patrick's Day. Just a few of them include:
The History Channel Online. They have a page dedicated to St. Patrick's Day.
Wilstar.com has a section on the holiday.
Teachers.net has some lesson plans here.

We won't be dining on corned beef and cabbage tonight. I'm not entirely into cultural celebrations during the week. This is especially true when Dancing With the Stars is opening season six tonight. There is no time tonight for Irish food. There will be time, however, for my tush to plant itself on the sofa and drool in front of the television.

Instead, we celebrated Saturday night, we dined on Irish stew and soda bread. I loved this stew, made by my friends, Kevin and Tony. Tony stayed up late Friday night roasting lamb all night long for this stew. Friends were many and fun Saturday night. For the past two years, we've served corned beef and cabbage at this particular dinner. Irish stew this year was a delightful change.

Enjoy your holiday. If you choose to drink; do so RESPONSIBLY! Don't forget, HAVE FUN!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Science Lesson Anyone?

My thumb had a science lesson today in motion. As of the time I'm writing this, it still has not forgotten todays lesson. We spent the day in Olympia cleaning Grandpa's house. Don't worry, he hasn't passed away yet. Some of the regular weekly chores have become more of a chore than they used to be. We spent several hours today scrubbing kitchen counters, doing laundry, cleaning windows, and scrubbing bathrooms.

The spare bathroom is where our little science lesson takes place. In this bathroom, lived a very dusty vent. Grandpa has lung cancer and is living on oxygen. Dust in this house is bad. We were on a mission to remove dust. This vent needed dusting badly. What's the best thing to remove dust from a vent without taking it down and washing it? How about a vacuum cleaner? This shouldn't be too hard. Just run the vacuum hose over the vent and its done.

It works just fine if you can get the vacuum hose detached from the floor runner. This is how we come to our little science lesson in the laws of motion.

When the vacuum hose has inertia, outside force is required to set it in motion. In this case, my hand was the outside force. Remember, once an object, such as a hand holding a vacuum hose, is in motion, it stays in motion unless acted upon by an outside force, such as the vacuum motor itself. Finally, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. When a hand, holding a hose hits a vacuum motor, the motor gives off an action of equal force to that of the hand holding the hose. This is why my thumb now has two red marks that will very likely bruise by tomorrow morning.

Has the party ended?

Oh well, the end is here. The Ultimate Blog Party is over for 2008. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to visit all 1470 party guests. I only got up to number 200 on the Mister Linky list. yesterday, I had too much to do to even visit anybody.

My deserts of choice last night were two different cobblers. One was my classic apple/blueberry, the other was apple/blueberry/strawberry. I saved myself time at home by making the crumble here at home, then putting everything together and baking there.

My crumble is fairly easy to make. I'll be sweet and give you the recipe.

Cobbler Crumble
(enough for two or more cobblers)

3 cups flour, don't worry about running through a sifter, you can get away with stirring with a spoon
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, does not need to be well packed
1 cup oatmeal, any kind works. Right now, I have the regular stuff
2 sticks butter or margarine

In a large mixing bowl, combine all of your dry ingredients, except the oatmeal (add that at the end) . If you wish, add some fun spices like nutmeg or cinnamon. I typically only use those for straight apple cobbler. But, have fun and play with this. Make it your own. Post a comment later to let me know what you did to it.

Cut in the two sticks of butter, and blend until crumbly. I still haven't unpacked my mixer, so I do things the pre-electricity way; I use a pastry blender. You can use a mixer if you like. Add the oatmeal and fold into mix.

In a casserole dish or two, or a dutch oven if you like, pour crumble over fruit of choice. I do not use pie mix. I prefer to use fresh or frozen fruit. Pie mix tends to have too much sugar and liquid for my preference. Besides, its precooked and you loose flavor in the fruit. Pie mix is for pies, not cobblers in my world.

Bake everything for about an hour at 350 or 375. It depends on how cooperative your oven is. serve this with whipped cream, cool whip, or ice cream. Drizzle caramel or chocolate if you wish. Enjoy and Have Fun!

By the way, in case you missed someone during the Ultimate Blog Party, you can still get to the Mister Linky. Have fun!

Ultimate Blog Party 2008

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Green Tissue Paper, That's All I Ask For

Did you know you cannot find true green tissue paper five days away from St. Patrick's Day? Why, you ask. do I need plain true green tissue paper five days before St. Patrick's Day?

Well, the answer has to do with the fact that I'm just a bit crazy. I sucker myself assist Bigboy's blue lodge with event decorations. There are anywhere from five to eight events I decorate each year. This year, there are more like ten (counting from January to December). Of those ten, two have been dropped from my plate this year. That is for another story. I covered that story yesterday. One of these events is a Shamrock Dinner, this Saturday.

For this dinner of Irish celebration, I am planning on stuffing miniature Irish flags into flower boxes Bigboy made last year, along with some curling ribbon and little black pots. There will be quite adorable by the time I'm done. If I can find the green tissue paper. I honestly thought the orange paper would be the most difficult. Boy, was I wrong there. I found that on my second stop. But green?

I can find bright-neon green, "candy apple" green, and "so-dark-its-almost-black" green. I can find green with shamrocks, green with rainbow colored polka-dots, green with who-knows-what-kind-of-design-that-is, but plain true green? HA!

I drove all over Port Orchard last night looking for that darned green tissue paper. this is not exactly an easy trip. Port Orchard is one of those everything-suburban-sprawling-everywhere towns. Albertson's is in one part of town. Wal-Mart is a mile away. Over a full mile from that is Fred Meyer. Somewhere in between in Jo-Ann's, Dollar Tree, and Safeway. There are no seriously dedicated shopping centers. Everything sprawls away from everything in such a way that you cannot simply park you car in one place and walk to everything. What public transportation we do have doesn't support anything being done efficiently by bus. I am a firm believer that Port Orchard is a poster-child town of big-box retail and the exploitation by big oil.

So, back to my story. I'm looking everywhere for this green tissue paper. None of the elusive paper existing in Port Orchard means only one thing: a trip to Silverdale. Silverdale is twenty minutes from my house. Gas is currently $3.50 a gallon right now in Kitsap County. I do not, under any condition go into Silverdale unless I am desperate for something that can only be found there. Even if I am desperate for green tissue paper, I am willing to avoid driving into Silverdale. I am now to the point of finding an alternative to the green tissue paper.

Find an alternative, I did. Fabric. Fabric and I are friends. I have orange fabric. I have green fabric. I picked up white fabric today. I can fashion my little Irish flags out of fabric. Ah, peace has come.

Take a Deep Breath, Take a Deep Breath

Please do not feel disappointed today. I am on hiatus from Wordless Wednesday for a few weeks. Our plate is plentiful with everything on it already with things I need to get of my chest.

Much of our time over the past few weeks has been routed to caring for Bigboy's grandfather. He is slowly dying of lung cancer. This dear man is almost ninety years old. Due to the location of the lump, treatments aren't effectively possible. The lump, I'm told is located at the top of one of his lungs. Surgically removing it would risk cutting the very muscles they are trying to save, therefore killing him. Radiation treatments would end up cooking those same muscles within the lungs. Chemotherapy isn't an option for, obviously, the same reason.

In the mean time, Grandpa is living on oxygen. Just a few moths ago, the oxygen treatments were only for a few hours a day. Now he's living on borrowed time with oxygen all twenty-four hours. Pain is increasing each day. Just two weeks ago, Grandpa fell out of bed, tearing his shoulder muscles and breaking a rib. Hospice has brought in a hospital bed for him since then.

We've been traveling to Olympia every weekend for the past month. Grandpa has his good days, and his bad days. Saturday, as we arrived at his house, Bigboy was asked to come in, and assist with taking him to the ER. Fortunately, that trip was only for a reaction to pain killers. We didn't have much of a visit that day. Hopefully this next visit to him will be much more pleasant. We would like him to stay alive long enough to see the tulips bloom this Easter.

In the mean time, I have my hands full as usual. I have kids to educate, laundry to take care of, errands to run, a dinner to decorate this weekend, desert to bake for the lodge, and I just got stuck with babysitting for the next few days.

Of course, I haven't done any of the decorations am totally prepared for this dinner Saturday. I still have to shop for have all the stuff I need. This is another story to be posted tomorrow.

At the last minute I have selected three deserts for twenty people or so. Amazingly, I have no shopping to do, as everything I need, I have here at home. Yeah! I don't have to shop any more than necessary this week.

I was not supposed to babysit this week. I got a call yesterday, asking if I could. Her grandma went back into the hospital in Seattle Tuesday. Sure, we can take her this week. I think it may be all week that she's with us. Not something I was expecting, or really prepared for, Just something I have to do for this mom. There isn't anyone else she can go to for sitting help. The retail industry is not friendly toward moms in the least. I've worked retail before and know just how bad it bites.

Just to keep my busy, as if I wasn't busy enough, I am trying to visit every site participating in The Ultimate Blog Party. Monday, I started at number one. As of this blog entry, I've visited up to #125. I already know I won't get to everyone by the end of the party. over 1000 people have registered on Mister Linky. I figure I will spend at least one month getting to everybody. Yes, I'm crazy. I know this already. Just look at my family. You know I have to know I'm crazy.

With everything going on, I'm not expecting anything to slow down for me. I don't think I'd know what to do.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Recipe Time! Party Bean Dip

Since this is a party, The Ultimate Blog Party, for that matter, we need some food, right? One recipe I love to make for parties is a classic party bean dip. I know you'll love this, as well as your guests. If you decide to tweak it, let me know. I'm always open to new ideas for this classic.

1 can (15 oz ish) chili of choice, I prefer the thick stuff for this.
4 oz cream cheese, Let it soften, brick style works best in my book.
½ medium onion, chopped well
8 oz package shredded cheese, I like the Mexican style.
1 can sliced olives, the small can
green onion, sliced. This is a garnishment. Use as much as you like.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees (Farenheit if you're not in the US)

Over medium heat, using a medium saucepan, cook chili and cream cheese together. Mix in onion, and cook until cream cheese is melted.

Pour chili mix into a baking dish, top with shredded cheese, olive and green onion. Melt in the oven. Let it set for twenty minutes or so, Serve with chips like Fritos or tortilla chips.

Don't forget to visit 5minutesformom and visit others in the Ultimate Blog Party

Ultimate Blog Party 2008

Monday, March 10, 2008

Getting Closer...

"Moreover when you fast, don't be like the hypocrites, with sad faces. For they disfigure their faces, that they may be seen by men to be fasting. Most certainly I tell you, they have received their reward." Matthew 6:16

Getting closer to Easter that is. What happens on Easter? Enough is happening Easter Sunday to keep me busy well enough. Easter is a very good day this year. It is the day Christ has risen. It is the day of new birth for humanity. Easter marks the end of Lent, and a new beginning for life.

For me, the end of Lent means the end of my sugar fasting. I've been sugar-free with the exception of one Sunday. You can read more about that one here. Yes, one time, thankfully, only one time this Lent season, I gave in and partook of delicious carrot cake. A few times, I've been told to let go and treat myself. I don't think so.

The whole idea behind Lenten sacrifice is to honor the forty days Christ spent in fasting in order to fend off temptation. We, as humans and Christians, make a sacrifice of some sort in order to face and overcome temptation. Lent is not about making excuses, but about sticking to what you decide to make of your time.

I felt this passage is reflective of Lent because it shows people with high status and position often cheat at basic principles. If everyone of high status acted honestly about themselves we would live in a very different world. Wouldn't that be nice? Jesus is telling the common people to act as their words speak. There were already too many people abusing position in his world. He didn't want the people he was trying to touch fall into the same pit as those who didn't want to receive his message.

People in a position of leadership should not lie about themselves in order to control others around them, but should act as they expect others to. This is appropriate during Lent because as humans, we are tempted into breaking our promises. We are tempted to lie about ourselves for the control of others. Several times during this Lenten season, I've been tempted to eat candy, syrup, cake, ice cream, donuts, and anything in general loaded with sugar. I've pondered ways I can be sneaky about it. Fortunately for me, I haven't given in. I don't need to be proven a liar to my family.

As of today, I have thirteen days left. Easter Sunday, I don't plan on over-indulging myself. There won't be a need to. I will have proven I can live without something unhealthy.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Ultimate Blog Party, 2008!

Welcome to the Party!

Ultimate Blog Party 2008

Come inside, kick of your shoes, drink coffee in your jammies, play with your kids, do whatever you do to party. The Ultimate Blog Party is going on right now at 5minutesformom.com. Visit blogging moms, meet people from all over the Blogsphere, even possibly win some prizes. Don't forget to sign the Mr. Linky for entrance fro prizes.

I though about writing a short description of me and my blog. When your life is a hectic as mine, short descriptions turn into autobiographies. If you want the super-short version, I do have an “about me” to your right. Feel free to read up. That's about as short as I can get for a description of myself.

But, since we're having a party, and I love getting to know people, I'll spend some time, and some web space telling a little about myself.

First, I'm a child of God. I wasn't always Christian. Most of my life, I've been turned off from Christianity by the church. Everything seemed to be extremely judgmental against people who weren't Christian. But, what can I say when I was attending a Southern Baptist school in South Carolina. Some of the treatment I received because I wasn't Christian was pretty corporal. Most of the stuff I went through would bring dropped jaws by loving people, approved of only by psychotic abusers. To top it off, growing up in a house with a man (whom I once called dad) who felt non-Christians were of lesser value to the world than Christians, didn't help. I didn't become a Christian until I re-met my current husband. Now, I'm a Sunday School teacher, Alter Guild member, and support for Lutheran World Relief. I'm trying to read my Bible everyday. I don't always get to it, but I try. Before I met First Lutheran Community Church, I didn't know God's grace was actually that- grace.

Secondly, I'm a wife to my wonderful Bigboy. I support everything he does. That makes me the wife of a master mason, who happens to be Senior Deacon in his lodge. I also have ended up being the wife of a Shriner, clown for that matter. Being his supporter, I decorate event for his lodge on a regular basis. I make sure he has plenty of balloons and make-up for clowning. I can't say out loud what my current lodge project is; at least not yet. Do come back at the end of the month. You'll get to see some of the results.

I'm a mother to two homeschooling kids. We have Bigfoot, who happens to wear a size 12 shoe. He loves his legos. Then again, what boy wouldn't? He's involved with Boy Scouts and Demolay. Needless to say,I drive him around a lot.

We also have Beadgirl, who is exactly that. She loves beading everything she can make. She will bead her gifts for birthdays and Christmas before she'll buy gifts. She's doing some pretty advanced stuff for her age. Pony beads are no longer an interest. Glass beads, wire and pliers are more up her alley now. At this point, what excites her most is her soon-to-be entrance into Job's Daughters.

Not only am I all of the above, I'm Webelos leader for a group of at-risk Cub Scouts. These are kids I've taken heart to in a special way. They live in a low-income housing development built toward the end of the Great Depression. Most of these kids live in houses older and smaller than mine (our 850 square-foot house was built in 1942). Parents aren't always involved with their own kids. We give them, through scouting, something they can hopefully attach to and grow from.

With all said, I'm a teacher, personal secretary, accountant, seamstress, human resource manager, janitor, chef, decorator, and errand runner. I love every minute of it, with the exception of the rotten times. In my spare left over time, I do anything and everything I can with yarn and fabric. I think I may blog in that time too.

So, I am a long-listed mom-of-all trades. I love doing everything I do, and wouldn't trade them for the world. I had a job outside of home at one time. Giving consideration for what I did, the pay was good, but the hours were rotten. I don't miss getting up at two every morning. I do miss the people I served every day. Since I've been home, I've had the opportunity to explore the many thing I do.

Well, that wraps up my life in more than just a few words. Do come back to visit. I'm planning some personal responses to some Bible passages, maybe posting some recipes, I'll be back to Wordless Wednesday this week. I'll see you soon. Please feel free to visit my new blog at Flat Feet Anyone? I'll be blogging about my experiences in living with Bigfoot and his severe flat foot condition, our progress at the Shriners' Hospital for Children- Portland,OR. I'll also cover the growing issue of health insurance in America, and its effect on kids.

March 14, 2008 Edit:

I have finally decided on my prizes. Don't get me wrong,I never do anything at last minute I am always prepared for everything several days in advance.
Hysterical 3

There are so many good prizes, I spent 7 sticky notes writing everything down. My top 10 turned out to be:

#136 Knitty Goody Bag by Craftymom
Yarn, give me yarn. And there shall remain life.
#128 Yoga for Christians Book and DVD set from Kathleen Marie
I've always believed in yoga, even if my dad Dick Fife doesn't. I need to learn about this art from a Christian perspective.
#24 Blog Design by Sweet n' Simple Designs
#45 Custom Blog Design by Summer
#67 Blog Makeover by Shauna
#123 Blog Makeover by Lady in Waiting Blog Design
I could always use a face-lift on my page. Don't worry, I only need one of these, not all of them.
#100 Set of 3 books covering cooking and entertaining given by Jill Norwood.
Ah food. did you know, my kids eat food?
#104 Book Package given by Melissa Mashburn including Confessions of a Prayer Wimp and the lovely pink journal with "This is the Day the Lord Has Made."
I'm such a prayer whimp. I need this book.
#124 Rachael Ray's 2,4,6,8 Cookbook Given by Kristen at Loving Life
Did I mention my kids eat food? So do Masons, I posted about that before.
#8 Fifty Nights of Family Fun by Essential Family Living
What good is a family that doesn't have any fun?
As for the rest of these excellent prizes, I'm going for numbers: 7, 18, 29, 39, 58, 59, 61, 70, 80, 92 94, 119, 129, 140 and 143.

Have a Great time at the Party! If you are participating, don't forget to sign the Mr. Linky at 5minutesformom.com. Leave a comment, say "Hi." Serve up some punch and Toby mac and we'll all have a Great time!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

One of My Many Joys of Homeschooling

Bringing homeschooling into my life has been quite the emotional experience. Its had it ups and downs. I shed, probably more than my share of, tears. I've also had plenty of moments when I thank God, He allowed homeschooling into my life.

Today, I've had the privilege of enjoying one of the more joyful moments. Beadgirl, out of her own initiative, made breakfast for us. Without being told, she asked permission to cook. In just a few minutes, she had whipped up and cooked cheese omelets for everyone. Yum, was breakfast good.


I'll get another morning off breakfast tomorrow as well. Beadgirl wants to cook, and Bigboy is taking the day off. Together, they've planned out breakfast for tomorrow. All I have to do is shop tonight for tomorrow. I'll have the perfect opportunity while Bigboy is in the Scottish Rite. Bigboy has already planned on waking the kids up early and letting me sleep. I will definitely be spoiled for the day.

This is one of those moments treasured by homeschoolers. We are blessed by God for the right and privilege to educate our children in the way we choose. Homeschooling gives us the opportunity to teach our children self-initiative. They may not always choose to complete their schoolwork, but the desire to do something for family at personal will is fantastic. Each day my children undertake a project on their own, with their own desire at the root, I remind myself that this is why we homeschool.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Tackle It Tuesday

Tackle It Tuesday Meme

I tackled it! I finished it! My three day filing project is complete. Filing is for me another one of those procrastination begging chores. I love the thought of stating organized. I just can't stand doing those necessary chores that would allow me to stay organized.

"Why?" You ask. Because there are just too many other things to do. After all, I'm a hectic homeschooler. I have kids to educate. I have mouths to feed, all four five of them. (You can tell just how often I forget to feed myself.) I have a husband too keep track of, masons to feed or desert, Boy scout meetings to attend, Webelos to lead, Sunday School to teach, kids to laugh with, a toddler to babysit, a blog to write, clothes to sew, yarn to knit, more yarn to crochet, and phone calls to make. I can always find chores to do instead of filing. there is laundry to put away, dishes to wash, floors to mop, and a bathroom to clean. when do I have the time to file important documents?

When I decide to crack down on myself and make the time. That's when. So, this last Thursday, I decided I would start this project three years in the making. I'm not kidding, three years. I haven't done this since we moved out of this house for remodel work.

Here's how it started:

This is what I ended with Saturday afternoon:


Enjoy this and other Tackle It Tuesday blogs at 5minutesformom

Welcome to My Clown Show Sunday School Class

In all the years I've volunteered with Sunday School, never have I laughed as much as I did yesterday. this year, I teach a section usually involving games and related messy projects. Our church uses a rotation system, leaving me with a group of first graders this week. Creative energy hit a new high this week in our discussion of baptism.

Please, enter into my clown show Sunday School room. Our topic of discussion is the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist. We have completed a somewhat messy, very cool disappearing message project. I have read the story of John the Baptist from the book of Matthew. We are now in a friendly discussion. During this time, I will ask some questions, children will answer.

"How would you feel if you were John when people came to be baptized?"

"Not good." This is now the fourth week kids have given me this answer.

"Not good? Why do you say that?"

"Because he ate bugs."

"I would have bad breath if I ate bugs. Some people have bad breath because they don't brush their teeth. I don't like being around people who have stinky breath."

"If I were John, I'd tell people I'd baptize them after I brushed my teeth."

"I don't think people had toothbrushes then. Maybe he ate honey to give himself good breath, and then the people wouldn't mind being around him."

Okay, time to move on.

"What was the special animal in the story?"

"I don't know."

"Oh, I know. It was a dove."

"Why was it a dove?"

Shrug the shoulders.

"Okay, why do you think God chose a dove, instead of a giraffe?" Yes, I know I walked into this one.

"Because a giraffe is really big, and it has a long neck, and long legs."

"A giraffe can't fly down and land on Jesus' shoulder. It's just way too big."

"Because a giraffes sit on toilets."

How many donuts has this kid had already? Too many, I'd guess.

"Do you know what my mom thinks doves are?"


"She thinks they're romantic."

"So why do you think God chose a dove to appear?" Let's try this question again.

"Um, because doves are white."

"And have feathers."

"Doves are small enough they can land on Jesus' shoulder."

In comes an older sister, picking up her younger brother.

"Hi, would you like to join the clown show?"

"Um," as she is looking around the room in a strange manner, "I don't think so."

That's cool. You probably don't comprehend what is going on anyway.

"What does the dove represent?"

"My dad says its love."

"How about God's peace?"

"Yeah, yeah, that's it."

All right, now we have a focused answer. This group of kids is probably the most creative I've had all month. Everybody else acts as if they'd rather sleep than come to Sunday School. Yesterday reminded me of the email sent around the world about what kids say in Sunday School. I'm not sure how much sugar these kids had before church. Whatever they did, I'd like them to keep it up. The clown show was fun.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Sugar in my Dreams? Yikes!

Weird dreams are uncommon for me. For some reason, strange dreams don't come to me like they do for other people. During my few hours of slumber each night, I don't envision clowns dancing in the clouds. Tea kettles don't speak to me. Fabric doesn't get up off the table and run from the machine. Silk flowers don't grab me by the legs, and either apply scalding hot glue, ribbon and tape, or jab me into foam.

I used to have dreams of being at my job. Most of those dreams were in an unbalanced time of my work and family. They wouldn't be weird, just dreams of being at work flipping eggs, or frying bacon.

For the most part, I don't remember dreams at all. I might, on rare occasion, remember dreams for a few minutes after I wake up. Most dreams I do remember, end up portraying the worst nightmares of my life. I don't usually remember the good dreams for very long. Sometimes, I wish I could be normal for a moment and have a subconscious clown show in the wee hours of the morning.

Early this morning, I learned, I am perfectly capable of dreaming of the desire to apply sugar to my digestive tract. Yum, sugar in my coffee. There I was, in my kitchen, pouring a cup of coffee. The sugar bowl sat on the counter with a spoon in it. Coating the spoon was sugar, as if someone was moronic enough to stir sugar into something, then place the spoon back in the bowl. Something had to be done about this particular spoon. Simply placing the spoon, and all of the wonderfully yummy sugary coating, into my coffee cup made perfect sense to me. But, when I stirred my coffee, the sugar formed chunks instead of dissolving. I didn't want the family catching me, so I broke one of the chunks on the side of my mug. Instantly, the sugar fizzled and dissolved. Oh, that tasted so good; and felt so wrong at the same time.

In some way, I understand why I'm still having craving after 29 days of living sugar free. Sugar was a highly incorporated ingredient in my diet until Ash Wednesday. Adding sugar to my coffee was bringing almost 1/8 cup each day. Pop was adding more. Now, add candy to all that. My sugar intake was considerably more than necessary.

I've still lived sugar-free since my last post on the topic. I only have 20 days to go. I'm praying that over these next 20 days, I'll loose most of the desire for sugar. Then, come Easter, I won't want an overdose of sweets.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Patience Little Puppy; The Internet Will be Online Shortly

Today, I have made technological history. I, for the first time in my life, am posting a blog entry from a laptop. I've had a laptop before; fourteen years ago. Those were my college days. Dad Dick gave me a laptop for my use in college. I remember this particluar portable computer being much smaller than what I'm using now. Color screens were a luxury, and public access to the internet was in its infancy. By the way, Windows 3.1 was advenced technology.

After my one year of college ( I decided having kids was a higher priority at that time.), Dad Dick took the laptop of old on a trip. Coming back, explicative Dick decided it was a good idea to check the computer in his luggage. He never did bother replacing the newly cracked lcd screen. Apparently, it wasn't worth his time to replace something that he didn't choose to own.

Please note, this computer situation is not why I strike out the word dad. That is for another post; waiting for a most opportune moment. This is a story about computers, not about why I disown Dick Fife as family relation.

With several factors to consider, including the growing internet needs of our family, Bigboy felt inspired to treat me to my very own laptop. After much consideration and shopping, we came to a life changing decision. Not only did I need a laptop, we needed a new desktop as well. The computer we've owned for the five years couldn't handle supporting the router for my computer. It's a well experienced machine, and probably be replaced.

The laptop came home Thursday. The new desktop came home Friday night. Today, Bigboy has been playing with his new toys. I honestly believe testosterone gets its kicks out of playing with things invloving cords and plugs. His side of the story may be slightly different. In his world, I was more excited than him. I can't say that is completely true.

However, I can say I wanted to take a short break from filing. The new desktop was connected to the internet. The perfect opportunity to check my hit counter had arrived. Bigboy would say I was more excited than he was; something like the dog in this:

This video has been provided by Disney Tube, the exercising of my skill in copying and pasting code, and my newly learned skill in inserting YouTube video into my blog. You can find this video my searching "Over The Hedge" in YouTube.

He caught me redhanded online, on a brand new desktop with no antivirus, firewall, or spam protection. Honestly, I didn't know. I figured that kind of important stuff was done already.

Eventually, he did tell me to calm down and turn on my laptop while he installed the printer, and a few other things for the network between all three computers. I turned out to be one happy puppy.