Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

Monday, September 29, 2008

Gas Crisis

Is "crisis" the right word?

When you have to drive 20 miles away from home to find the nearest station with gasoline? When you find that station, but you're only allowed to pump $20 worth? When you wait in a line of cars for 25 minutes so you can pump that $20 of gas? When the vast majority of gas stations have plastic bags over their pumps or zeros on their price signs? When it isn't expected to get any better for another THREE WEEKS?!

I'd call that a crisis.

Lines at the pumps.

No gas here.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Fall is in the Air

With the windows open and the crickets calling outside, I'm relieved to find that, at long last, Fall is here. Of course, knowing the weather around here, there may be a few more days where the temp will spike to 80 degrees, but the Summer of '08 is a thing of the past. Ah, the signs of Fall:

School began over six weeks ago - that's usually part of the phase-in for Fall.

Then the overnight lows began to drop - but the daytime temps were still pretty high.

The networks began their Fall programming - not that I have TV, but I still live on the planet, so I'm aware of the television shift.

I can start opening my windows during the day and turn off the a/c - a special blessing this year given the ever-increasing energy prices.

Last weekend I started shifting the summer clothes out and purchasing and bringing the fall/winter clothes in.

Soon, I'll start making cider, apple spice cakes, pumpkin pies, and setting out the fall decorations. The leaves will turn brown, we'll wear sweaters during the day... then, before we know it, this wonderful season will have passed and we'll be in the Christmas/Winter season.

But I'll enjoy this while I can - bundling up under the covers, with the window open and cozying with my family, sipping on hot tea.

Our Week Ending 9/25/08

We spent much of our homeschooling week discussing, reading, and learning about Japan. We're gearing up for JapanFest this weekend.

We read a simplified version of Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, which forced me to explain (in first grade terms) the atomic bomb and what war is. Although, Casey and I have discussed war before, in the context of her three uncles proudly serving our country in Iraq (all 3 were there at the same time for a brief period). This time was a bit different though because the title character dies in the book. But, to make it not seem so sad, we went to YouTube and watched some video of children singing at the Sadako memorial (which is beautiful, by the way).

We also read several other books about Japan - books about the culture, clothing, government, food, etc.; and also listened to some traditional and popular music from Japan.

And the crowning achievement of our week: the Lap Book...

In bottom left-hand corner is Casey's name in Japanese. I found the translation here. From a similar translation website, I found the characters to print Japan - A Lap Book. Casey supplied the rest of the artwork on the cover. She found pictures she liked in Japan ABCs by Sarah Heiman.

Many of these templates came from these sources:

My Japanese Counting Book
The Japan Book in the center is from Enchanted Learning.

Map of Japan
Alphabet - the characters at this site are in the Alphabet flap
Japan Shutterfold Map
And many other generic country templates can be found at HomeschoolShare.com.

The back cover is from Enchanted Learning.

We had so much fun this week studying Japan!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: 9/24/08

More pictures from our camping trip this past weekend. See this post for more on our getaway.

Notice the sign to the left (the No Horseback Riding sign) and the sign to the right (Horse Trough Falls) ... then ponder the irony.

Some of the many, many, many mushrooms we saw.

The kids

From our hiking detour

Tricky swinging from a bar in the glorified portapotty.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


Congratulations to J, M, J, and H on the birth of the newest addition to the family!

Match-O-Matic (from ABC)

Fun little quiz from abc.com to determine which of the Presidential candidates best matches with your political views. (Be sure to read the little commentaries along the way - CUTE!)

Leave a comment with your matches!

Our Camping Trip

Friday afternoon, we loaded up the car with 1 cooler, 2 tents, 3 kids, warm clothes, and smiles on our faces as we headed out to go camping.

Once we got there (2 hours after we left home - although the place we went camping was only 40 minutes away - errands, you know), we unpacked the car and set up the tents - the little tent for the kids goes inside of the huge tent.

We headed out for a brief hike, then came back to our site to build the fire, roast some hot dogs, and make s'mores.

BTW, the area where we camped was located relatively close to the restroom (using that term loosely as it had no running water, but instead uses a lever system to run the blue scented "stuff" to wash the toilet bowl). It was also beside a stream which was a very pleasant sound.

While making the s'mores, Casey insisted that we tell "spooky stories and play spooky games." We told the stories - still not quite sure what she meant by "spooky games."

The kids turned in around 9:00 and Richard and I read ourselves to sleep around 11:00. Some time later, Tricky started screaming - as she usually does - so I put her in bed with us and grabbed the down blanket she had been wrapped in. I slept quite well once Tricky was with us. *NOTE TO SELF: A down blanket over two thermal blankets make for VERY toasty sleeping.*

Yesterday morning, after breakfast, we headed out for a longer hike - much longer than we had anticipated. We found an unmarked trail and decided to follow it. [When I say "unmarked," I mean it had no trail blazes - however, it was a very well-traveled path.] We walked up, up, up - over (or under) fallen trees, dodging poison ivy, looking at all of the various mushrooms along the way.

We eventually reached a waterfall - not the waterfall we had seen before, the waterfall the camping area was named for - this was a neat little waterfall set back from the unmarked trail. We spent quite some time there, went a little further on the trail, then decided to head back.

We packed up our things and headed out. It was so much fun! I only wish that we could have had company for our camping adventure.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Our Week Ending 9/18/2008

We've been studying ponds, courtesy of My World Science, for the better part of the last two months. The frog study has definitely been a favorite...until this week. About a month ago, we purchased 2 tadpoles from the local pet store [I had also mailed a coupon for a free transparent frog as part of a kit I ordered, but it hasn't arrived yet - and I'm impatient]. Well, a few days ago one of the tadpoles died. When we got the tadpoles, the kids named one Padge and one Texas. I'm not sure which one died, but Casey was extremely upset. Although, I'm not sure if she was more upset that one died or the fact that I couldn't tell her which one died.

BTW, none of the kids saw the dead tadpole - we evacuated the carcass from its home (and our home) before the children were aware. [Quick thinking, Dad!]

Other than that, all is well with our studies...

Casey is loving history as we're starting our venture into Ancient Greece. I'm reading The Adventures of Odysseus to the kids whenever we get a moment. They've even been begging for it for their bedtime story this week!

Casey also started choir practice again. They took a two-week break. I think Will enjoys the music more than Casey. Casey enjoyed seeing some of her teenage friends. Yes, my 5 year old has a couple of homeschooled friends who are 15 and they adore her just as much as she does them.

Will is enjoying both Singapore Earlybird Math and Saxon K Math. With Saxon, I'm omitting the meeting book/calendar info because he's not reading yet (we're still working on learning letters in Get Ready for the Code) and I feel it would be more frustrating than it's worth.

And I am reading The History of the Ancient World - the chapters applicable to what Casey is learning. I really need to brush up on my history.

So, this week was a little sad, but next week is sure to be better: not only are we going camping (finally), but we're also going to JapanFest next weekend, so we'll be studying up on Japan and making a lapbook! Woo-hoo!

Homeschool Memoirs #5: My Favorite Sites

Freebie sites
Forums/book clubs
Kid Sites
  • Wordless Wednesday
  • Weekly Report
Homeschool Method
Family Blog
[EXTRA] My Personal Favorites

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Free Legal Advice

The intercom buzzed and the receptionist's voice blared through my phone that Mrs. Somebody was on line 3 with a question. I pushed the blinking line and the non-client woman proceeded to ask me, in a rapid-fire, no-nonsense voice, a legal question.

While I knew the answer to her question, I didn't want to answer it. As an attorney, if I give someone wrong advice and they attempt to use that advice and get burned, I can get in trouble for it - in the form of a legal malpractice claim or a bar complaint, or both. It was a fairly innocuous question, so I gave her a one-word answer. However, that wasn't enough. She then proceeded to ask me where an action could be filed - in Georgia, where she lives, or in South Carolina, where the other party lives. I told her that is a question that would require some more information about her facts (which she was ready to give) and some legal research. She asked if I would do the research. "For a fee," was my response. She didn't like that and she hung up on me. Fine.

I don't mind helping people. I rather enjoy answering questions. But there is a point when my knowledge is worth something. I went to law school - I'm still paying for law school. When Mrs. Somebody goes to the grocery store, she knows she will have to pay for the food she buys. When Mrs. Somebody goes to the doctor and has an exam, she knows she will either have to pay up front, pay a bill when it is sent, or pay for the insurance that will cover the visit. So why does Mrs. Somebody feel as though she can call me, rely on my education and skill, have me do work in the form of research, and not have to pay me for that work? Just because she can't see what I do or touch the information I produce, doesn't mean I'm not entitled to compensation for my efforts.

Now, friends and family, that's a little different. I either wouldn't charge for my services, or would charge well below what my going rate would be. But I'm also pretty confident that if I draft a Will for my Dad, his beneficiaries won't sue me if I do something wrong. [An aside... I'm an only child, so it's not likely that I would sue myself if there is an error in his will.] That's another thing people pay for when they retain an attorney - the attorney knows that there is a possibility, no matter how large or how slight, that he or she could be facing a lawsuit or bar complaint due to something the client was unhappy about in the course of representation - that retainer is to make risk worth it.

So, if you have a question for me, I will try to help; but, please don't be offended if I reach a point where I feel as though I have to say, "For any more legal counsel, I'll have to send you a bill." I am worth something.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

Tricky saw an airplane!

I love it when they play together sweetly...and quietly.

Daddy helping out with home school -
making a volcano, then explaining to the kidlets the chemical reaction that made the explosion.


I'm sick and tired of ants. I want them gone. Smooshing them isn't working, although it's fun. Spraying them isn't working (not to mention it smells, but it is the "safe to use around kids and pets" kind of spray - WHATEVER). And, Terro isn't really working. I hate ants.

But... at least they're not the biting kind.

An Article Regarding the Upcoming Election

"Commentary: How Palin Changed the Game

By Ed Rollins
CNN Contributor

Editor's note: Ed Rollins, who served as political director for President Reagan, is a Republican strategist who was national chairman of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee's 2008 presidential campaign.

Ed Rollins says voters don't care whether Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin knows about the Bush doctrine.

NEW YORK (CNN) -- It seems like just yesterday when Sen. Barack Obama impressed our troops in Kuwait by shooting his flawless three-pointer into the basket without hitting the rim.

Two days later, he spoke to 200,000 Berliners. It looked like he could do no wrong and the campaign was only a formality on his way to inauguration day.

But it wasn't yesterday. It was the third week in July, and that's a lifetime ago in presidential politics.

Obama looked unbeatable then. He looked unbeatable the night of his acceptance speech before 85,000 cheering supporters. If victory went to the guy who could make the best speech or could win the schoolyard basketball game of "horse," he was thought to be unstoppable.

Then his world stopped with Sen. John McCain's shocking selection of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin for the vice presidential nomination. And over the last two weeks, the governor of Alaska has deflected the arc of Obama's campaign. She can match his pretty words. The outdoor game has changed from "horse" to "moose," and only one candidate in this race has shot "moose."

Obama's campaign diminished itself by challenging her experience. The candidate who ranked 99th in Senate seniority, with one of the thinnest resumes ever when he began his presidential quest, looked foolish challenging a governor who made decisions every day while he was missing votes in the Senate running for president.

The good news for Obama is the Europeans still want him to be our president. Unfortunately for him they don't vote here, and the independent voters who do are shifting to McCain-Palin.

The other good news for Obama is that this race is far from over. But he is not going to win by telling voters McCain is too old and doesn't know how to use the Internet. Many of McCain's supporters are old and could care less about the Internet.

What the country wants to know is do these candidates understand what's going on in their lives and in their neighbors' lives, and are they willing to try and fix it.

They want to get our soldiers home from Iraq as quickly as possible and leave that country as stable as it can be without us being there for another decade. They want someone who understands ordinary Americans are hurting and will try to find solutions to the economic mess we are in.

The leading "mainstream media" including ABC's condescending Charlie Gibson and The New York Times' Maureen Dowd have raced "North to Alaska" to find out what makes this woman tick. But alas, they show again and again that they just don't get it.

Nobody cares if Palin knows the Bush doctrine. I defy anyone to tell you what the Bush-Cheney strategy has been over the last seven years (other than getting re-elected) or what doctrine has been practiced by this "gang that can't shoot straight." And who cares? They are gone in 126 days.

What the media doesn't get is that Palin is one of us. She got to the top of the heap because she could relate to ordinary people, because she is ordinary people and through extraordinary efforts made it.

She's got kids; she worked her way through college (state college like most of us). Her husband is a working stiff.

She started at the bottom and worked her way to the top by being better, not prettier. She did her job at the top by being smarter and tougher than the good old boys who stood in her way.

One thing we do know is Palin is not going to look into the eyes of her neighbor across the Bering Sea and say Vladimir Putin's an honest man.

What she's going to see is a fearless adversary who we need to be wary of. Equally important, if she is elected, she's not going to be one of the boys in D.C. Behind her charm is a certain toughness. And that's a good thing.

The charisma of Palin was even evident on "Saturday Night Live" this weekend. There in the opening skit was Sarah Palin (played by her wonderful look-alike Tina Fey) opposite Hillary Clinton (played by "SNL" regular Amy Poehler).

Even though it was a spoof, Palin stood out. Besides anyone who brings Fey back to "SNL" does the country and the show a big favor.

Palin has certainly energized McCain's campaign and drawn record crowds to boot. What Democrats didn't realize is that Palin was not about getting Hillary's voters. It was about energizing the base and getting independent voters. She has done that in spades.

Both Obama and Palin have compelling stories and are great talents. In the end, the margin of victory may be the voters who say I like him, or I trust her.

Of course, the big choice is McCain or Obama. But this is one race where the "veep" choice may really matter. The rise of Palin certainly has made this the most exciting presidential race in my lifetime. And I am one of those old guys who thought he had seen it all.

After the marathon of the primaries, we are down to a 100-yard dash, and McCain's got a 2-yard lead with Obama close on his tail. There's a lot ahead before the finish line."

Published sometime over the weekend of September 13, 2008.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Overhead Lights

Richard, my husband, doesn't understand my dislike for overhead lights. "But you can see so much better with an overhead light," he'll say after I plead with him for the 10th time to turn it off.

I've never liked overhead lights. I think the reason is two-fold... 1) Flashing florescent lights trigger migraines for me - and those lights are usually overhead lights; and 2) I prefer natural lighting - you know, shades drawn, blinds open - no need for overhead lights if you have the sun shining in. Even in my office at work, I had the contractor put in small spotlights instead of overhead florescents - I have 3 lamps in my office (but unfortunately, no windows) to provide the light I need.

So, despite my husband's need to constantly try to improve my life by flipping on the switch to the overhead, he surprised me last night... he installed a new ceiling fan in our bedroom. And guess what? It has NO LIGHTS! I'm still in shock!

Although, I do suppose Richard is right about one thing. Perhaps my contacts prescription wouldn't be -5.50 for my right eye and -7.00 for my left if I took advantage of the overheads!

Poem for Memorization - The Swing

The Swing
by Robert Louis Stevenson

How do you like to go up in a swing,
Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
Ever a child can do!

Up in the air and over the wall,
Till I can see so wide,
Rivers and trees and cattle and all
Over the countryside--

Till I look down on the garden green,
Down on the roof so brown--
Up in the air I go flying again,
Up in the air and down!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Little Flowers - September 13 meeting

I think our Little Flowers meeting went well this morning. I finally feel as though we're really up and running and it thrills me to no end!

The first saint we're studying is Saint Catherine of Siena, a personal favorite for me - she's my patron saint! I read to the girls from one of the many books about saints that I own. When I got to the part where we learn that at times St. Catherine subsisted on nothing other than the Holy Eucharist, water and a spoonful of herbs a day, I had the girls take a pinch of Italian herbs (hey, St. Catherine was from Siena) and taste it. Many of the girls said, "Ew." And I told them that's sort of the point - St. Catherine "prayed with her body and soul" - she made sacrifices to God all of the time, including in what she ate. The herbs don't taste good (without being put on food), but that was the sacrifice St. Catherine made.

Our next meeting will be in early October - we'll talk about virtues and focus on the virtue of faith. Hopefully in late October or November, we can have our Sashing Ceremony!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Our Week Ending 9-11-2008

We had a fabulous week!

We crammed 4 days of work into 3 on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, so that we could go to the Carlos Museum on Monday. I blogged about it here.

The kids, my mom and I had so much fun! My only complaint is that we didn't get to spend much time looking at the artifacts from the Ancient Americas - and we'd just spent all weekend studying about the Ancient Americas. So, I emailed the director of the program - she asked for some pictures, since I, the new-camera-obsessed woman I've become, was the only one with a camera. In the email, I asked if we could spend 10-15 minutes in the exhibit at the next Monday at the Museum. She replied, "Of course!" (So, Michele, meet us there in October!) The next story will be read in the Ancient Greeks collection and we're about to embark on a month long study of Ancient Greece, so I need those minutes in the collection!

Our craft project at the Museum:

Unfortunately, because of the weather (not that I'm complaining about the rain, we need it), we haven't been able to meet our home school group for park outings the past couple of weeks. Maybe soon!

Now, I'm off to start this week!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

My Rant Against Crocs

I hate Crocs. I think they're ugly - and I bet, if you really think about it and look at a pair, you'll realize they're ugly, too. They're plastic - yes, they really are. Ethylene vinyl acetate or EVA, which is a thermaplastic is what Crocs are made of.

Everyone says, "Oh, they're so comfortable." Maybe, for a few minutes. Until your feet start to sweat (which they will because, as I've noted above, they're plastic, and they have no absorbent lining). Then, if they aren't uncomfortable at that point, you'll at least have smelly feet.

But today I've learned of a new reason to hate Crocs. They're dangerous. This past summer, a 4 year old boy, on an escalator at Hartsfield Airport in Atlanta, had his toe almost severed from his foot after his Croc-laden foot got caught. I heard a report this morning about that Atlanta family suing Crocs for $2M. And there have been previous instances of similar occurrences.

This is happening so frequently that "[t]he Colorado-based Crocs released a statement July 22 announcing an escalator safety initiative. Over the next year, Crocs will be packaged and sold with educational hang tags, the statement said. Among other tips, it said, 'New language added to the hang tags reminds consumers to use care when riding escalators and moving walkways.'"

So, Crocs even concedes that they should essentially put WARNING LABELS on their shoes. Do any of my shoes need warning labels? No - because I don't wear Crocs. Nor do I let my children wear Crocs.

On an AJC blog, people were commenting on the lawsuit report that the parents were careless - they should have been watching their child. Hello? Do these people not have children? Come on! You know how easy it is for your child to be perfectly fine one second and in the next your child is doing something completely and utterly childish. They're children! And no parent since the dawn of time has been able to control every move their child makes - short of putting their child in a cage, which is not a good idea, according to my husband and his law partner (who represent DFCS).

This morning, I also learned that the mother of this child is none other than Belinda who is often on-air with Neal Boortz. Her child has had 2 surgeries and faces at least one more, plus he will probably have a lifelong disability as a result of his injury. He was millimeters away from losing his big toe.

So, before you slip that pair of Crocs on your child's pre
cious toes, read this with regard to Crocs safety (although, at this point I must seriously question your judgment if you haven't thrown away those Crocs by now), and read this with regard to how truly unattractive these shoes really are.

Go ahead... have a Crocs bonfire. NOTE: Scratch that. They may produce noxious fumes or something.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

Tricky Fairy Fits

I have no idea....

Lipstick on a pig?

Seriously... did he really say that? Unfortunately the answer is yes. And, although I know he's repeating a comment that either Bush or McCain has said in the past (there is some discrepancy out there as to who initially made that comment when referring to Hillary Clinton's health care plan), Obama's timing couldn't be worse - for him. Come on, politicians: SOUND BITES - you should know about those by now!!!

It's GREAT for the McCain-Palin team though.

Isn't it interesting to see what words will become the political hot buttons? And who would have ever thought it would be lipstick!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Our trip to the museum

The Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University has started a program for young children called Mondays at the Museum. Once a month, on a Monday morning, the museum will sponsor a storytelling activity - the story being set in a particular period - located in an area of the museum with a collection relevant to the story told, and followed by an art activity.

Yesterday's story was Rain Player by David Wisniewski. An ancient Mayan boy challenges the rain god to a game to force the god to send rain so his people won't starve.

After the story, the children (ages 3-5) were given a brief tour of the Mayan collection. I wish it could have been a little bit longer since Casey and I had spent the weekend studying the Ancient Americas.

Then, we made a paper craft, cutting out shapes of jaguars, rain gods, quetzals, and corn. The book was illustrated using beautiful paper cutouts; that was the inspiration for the craft.

Nana went with us and we all had a GREAT time!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

I'm in love! I just got my new camera (the one I've been pining for) and I LOVE IT! And it came just in time for our trip to Chattanooga - ahem, that is, I called Amazon.com when I realized that the camera wouldn't get to me until after our getaway, so I changed the shipping to 2-day. Look, look, look at a couple of the beautiful pictures DH took! (Actually, I took the first picture you see - I managed to wrestle MY camera way from Richard a couple of times.) Edited: The camera is a Nikon D60 SLR.

After a day of visiting friends at the Tennessee Aquarium:

Casey's 2008-2009 School Year Plan

I finally got around to drafting the schedule for this year. I've built in some weeks off. With any luck, this will force me to keep on track.

Casey's Plan for 2008-09.