Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Dominic's Chorus Concert

Right before we found out Dominic had pneumonia (read- we sent him to school sick), he had his chorus concert. He has been looking forward to this all year. The school offers chorus as an after school activity. We paid $30 for a year's worth of chorus. I think we're getting a pretty good deal. My taxes didn't go up to support it, but my kid still gets to enjoy music.

This was Dominic's favorite song. He drove us absolutely nutters singing it, but after watching him perform it, I can understand why it was his favorite.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Under Quarantine

Last Monday, Dominic was diagnosed with pneumonia. He was the third kid in his class to come down with it. Today, Xavier got his formal diagnosis, although we had already figured out that was what he had. Gary is also sick, although he doesn't sound like he has pneumonia. We'll see.

Right now, I'm considering locking Gabriel in the basement with some MREs and a few cases of water until everything is cleared out of the house. I have been assured, via Facebook, that this would not be considered child abuse. It would be in his best interest, after all. For myself, I'm considering a chem suit. That should protect me while I take care of all the sickies in the house.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Have I Mentioned

how much I hate Scrabble? Since this post, Xavier and Gabriel have become big fans of Scrabble. Even Dominic has developed a passing interest. It's only been a couple weeks!

Even though he still reverses letters (and sometimes whole words) on the Scrabble board, he still won. I found it humorous that he misspelled "better" in his victory message.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

In the Garden

Last winter I abandoned all garden plans. I knew that I did not have a good place to plant, and I was focused on providing a good permanent home for our chickens. 

We cut down trees, put up fences, and gave our chickens a permanent pen. Ah, but then we decided that we needed to put the chickens on hold. The chickens, you see, could not be left out past dark without putting them in danger. The number of days we're away from home during that critical time of dusk were just too many. We decided to give our chickens a new home. While I miss my hens, I know it was the right choice. One day I will have chickens again, this is just not the right time.

It is the right time for a nice big garden, though! I love gardening. It has been extremely frustrating not having a garden since we've lived here. I am spending the winter planning, growing, ordering, perusing. A few of the plans I have made so far include fruit trees, herbs, potatoes (oh my yes), tomatoes, peppers, corn... Oh, did I mention the garden is taking over the chicken pen? We never had someplace that had enough sun for a vegetable garden that we'd also like to fence. We needed to clear out trees in the backyard. I have planted a garden in the front yard, but the deer eat it. They eat all of it. It is very depressing. We do have to take a couple more trees down to reduce the amount of shade just a tad bit. 

We'll plant an herb garden in the front yard around the patio I am building out in the middle of the yard from river rock harvested from our yard. We will include a few apple trees. I'd love to have a couple plum trees as well. That will also be my cutting garden for flowers. I can't wait to get started.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Down Time

We are all gamers. For the most part, my video games consist of things like Plants vs. Zombies and Zuma. That's only because first person shooter games make me sick, though. Mine was the first Nintendo generation. We got a Nintendo when I was in fifth grade, I think. My older brother and I played that thing obsessively. I was good. I still am. I've got great hand eye coordination. My boys cannot even begin to come close to beating me at the original Super Mario Bros. And, when I can get over my motion sickness, I can hold my own in other games. But, for the most part, I just leave that to the boys.

Last week, Gary got an invitation to help test a new game. All of my boys were in alt. They spent Thanksgiving downloading it. 

Today, Xavier woke up at 3:30 and hopped in the shower. He had no idea it was so early. He woke up, thought it was time to get up, and started getting around. He hasn't been feeling well, so I thought he was taking a shower to warm up. Sure enough, midway through his shower I could hear him vomiting. Poor kid. Gary went and told him not to take a long shower so that he could get back to sleep. That's when he realized it was still the middle of the night.

When everyone was awake, the gaming started. I'm pretty sure Gary and Gabriel are still at it. I left to go to a friend's swim meet. I spent four hours chatting with a friend and watching her daughter swim. It was wonderful, and I was out of the boys' hair. Our family certainly did our part to test the system. I sure do hope the other gamers were as diligent. Oh, right, we're talking about gamers. Never mind.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Grape

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.- Soule Mama

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Our Way

Our very first Thanksgiving together, we spent in the hospital. We had been dating for about a month, when I ended up in the hospital. Since we were in Greece, far away from family, Gary fixed me Thanksgiving dinner, complete with turkey, mashed potatoes, candied yams, rolls, and two kinds of pie, all served out of little Rubbermaid containers. I have a picture somewhere. The nurses at the hospital thought he was so cute. I did too. It was at that point I decided to marry him.

Fast forward fifteen years. We have spent at least five Thanksgivings at my parents' house, four at Gary's parents' house (one which included my brother- Thank you family, for welcoming him!), and one at his sister's house. Two of the last four Thanksgivings have been without Gary, and my uncle spent his last Thanksgiving at our house.

This year it is just the five of us, and we were fine with that. Some of us stayed in our pajamas all day. One of us got dressed. One of us got partially dressed. We all played Settlers of Catan. Dominic is recovering, but is still tired. Everyone was happy to be together and, yes, thankful too.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Birth of a Friendship

I remember sitting in my best friend's living room. Her mother was sitting in one of the dining room chairs, and we were ranged around her on the floor. I was twelve years old. We were listening to her read Dragonsong. I fell in love that night. I know how old I was because I still have my set of the Harper Hall Trilogy that my parents gave me on my thirteenth birthday.

I still have that trilogy, and they have been well loved. They have been all over the world, and have introduced science fiction to my children. I quickly moved on to her other Pern books, and introduced them to my brothers and father. Fortunately, I had the forethought to write my name in all the books. My brothers were not able to claim them. 

(*ahem* These really were my books. Anyone who tells you that I had the bad habit of adding my name to any and all books that fell into my hands if full of bunk. And, if the random book says "Kristina Swan", ignore that. He was a childhood crush. It doesn't negate my claim.)

Throughout my life, I have turned to Anne McCaffrey's books. I have worked my way through all her Pern books, right up until the ones she wrote with her son. I have not started those, yet. I loved The Rowan series. Oh my. My father did not like them as much. He felt that she was too wordy. I do have a partiality to Pern. Who wouldn't? But The Rowan series speaks to me. 

Crystal Singer! Oh, had I only perfect pitch so that I could be a Crystal Singer. Sure, I could be a Talent, but there's no way I could even dream of being a singer.

And what sci-fi junky hasn't thought about what would happen if aliens invaded the Earth? The idea that humans could fight back, and even make a better life for ourselves on another planet, is what made Freedom's Landing so fascinating for me.

Then, as a homeschooling mom, I was introduced to something I didn't even know Anne McCaffrey had done. It isn't science fiction, this one. It is historical fiction of a fantastical bent that only Anne McCaffrey can accomplish. If your children have not read Black Horses for the King, I highly recommend it. It is one that will reside permanently on my shelf, just as her other books do.

I was sad to hear that Anne McCaffrey died. It hurts. I am so thankful to her for writing. You see, that night in C's living room, I was experiencing the birth of a lifelong friendship. Thank you to V for letting me be part of your family's read aloud. Thank you to Anne McCaffrey for introducing us all to Pern.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Swatching and Sick Babies

Joining Ginny for the Yarn Along again this week.

I am about 26 rows from the end of my tube top, and I ran out of yarn. Fortunately, the yarn store is local. I'll stop by and pick up some more yarn tomorrow. In the meantime, I am swatching for a last minute Christmas gift.

This is a beautiful alpaca from a local source, Moose Breath Alpacas. I've used their yarn before and been very pleased. I was so excited to see this yarn, since it fits the pattern I had in mind perfectly.

Now, I can't tell you much about the pattern, since it is a Christmas gift. I'll share some shots as I work on it. Of course, I haven't finished swatching yet. Do you swatch? I have become a diehard swatcher. I can modify a pattern to fit my yarn/needles. But, boy do I hate frogging or starting over!

I really haven't gotten much reading done outside the doctor's office. Dominic has been to see the doctor three times in the last week. Come to find out, he has pneumonia. He is the third kid in his class to get pneumonia in the last month. I am not happy. I do wonder if their parents would have kept them home longer, if the school didn't push attendance so hard. Of course, the doctor said I could send him to school tomorrow, since he's been on antibiotics and fever free for 24 hours. I wouldn't, though. He's still coughing, and at times, lethargic. I am of the firm opinion that he needs more time to heal. He's only just starting to recover a bit. Why chance a setback? Fortunately, I don't even need to worry about it, since there's no school for the rest of the week.

I did get to read a magazine that I'd been trying to get in between other things. I got a subscription to Hobby Farms Home Magazine. Last month's issue was my first one and I love it. There are so many great recipes and ideas in it. This month, they have an entire section on gardening, including ornamental and edible. They have information on canning and couponing (for organic food!). I spent much of the two hours of Dominic's doctor's visit last night reading to him from the magazine. We learned about opossums, working dogs, and planting seedlings in eggshells, all very interesting things for a perpetually curious little boy and his just as curious mother.

I hope you all have a wonderful week of knitting and reading, and, if the time permits, fun with family.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Evolution Debate

Gabriel is studying Biology this year. As part of his studies, he is pursuing one of his favorite subjects, evolution. He's not studying the theory of evolution, though. Instead, he's studying the raging debate surrounding evolution. Since this is an immensely interesting subject, I am studying it as well. I thought I might share a few of the resources that we've used so far, and our take on them at this time.

First, we started listening to The Teaching Company's Darwinian Revolution. First, the professor does a good job keeping the pace moving. Even Dominic-8, and Xavier-10, enjoyed the episodes they listened to. Granted, Dominic said we were going to bore him to death by listening to it, but he still managed to pipe up with questions every few minutes.

Within the first 15 minutes of listening, I learned something. The debate about evolution was around long before Darwin came on the scene. In fact, Charles Darwin's own grandfather had been part of that debate before Charles came along. This fact was interesting to me. Surely it would make sense to teach some of this to high school biology students. That would require teaching evolution, though. And, as the following video shows, many people don't want that. Some schools avoid the conflict by avoiding the subject. Others dance around the subject. Others just try to do an end run around the subject.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Educational Paradigms

One of my main frustrations with traditional methods of schooling is the forced creativity. Today, I saw a video that I loved that addresses this very problem.

You see, although we try to force creativity, we do not allow it to happen in it's organic form. It is so important to our future that our children learn to think creatively.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Race Relations and Our Family

Children are not known for being particularly tactful, and my children are no exception. We have had some interesting moments when it comes to race integration in their minds. I imagine that some people could be offended by some of them, I just find it humorous the way children think. Granted, for this first story, I've had some time to get over the embarrassment.

When Gabriel was 5, we lived in Maine. The town we lived in had a large population of Somalian immigrants. Gabriel went to school with them, so I'm not sure what was going on in his mind when this incident happened. Xavier had just turned two when we visited the library. He was riding in a stroller on the way up the elevator. In the elevator with us was a little Somalian girl who was probably around 4. She kept staring at Xavier and, finally, reached out a hand to rub his hand. Gabriel jumped between them and said, "Don't touch him. You'll turn him brown!" I was overcome with embarrassment. Of course, what was there to be embarrassed about? It wasn't as though I had taught him that. After years of reflection, I've come to the conclusion that most embarrassment on parents' part is unwarranted. It is all about how we think other people perceive us, and probably causes more problems than any other parenting neurosis. (Besides which, most of the Somalian women spoke very little English. I'm not even sure she understood what he said, since her expression did not change at all.)

Another, even more humorous event, was when Xavier informed us that he didn't want to be "peach" anymore, but would much prefer to be "brown." Now, this was especially humorous since I had always wanted to be black when I was a child. When asked whether he wanted to be light brown or dark brown, he said, "Dark brown, like Ms. Coleman." Ms. Coleman was his beloved preschool teacher, and he loved everything about her.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Little Something for Me

Yesterday, I finished my third Cladonia. This one is for my mom for Christmas. I should have been done with long ago. But, I kept running out of yarn! You would think I would have ordered two extra skeins the first time I ran out. I didn't, though. And, there I was, halfway through the picot bind off, when I ran out of yarn. Again. So, I ordered more. I used Claudia Hand Painted yarn. It is lovely, ever so soft, and has a beautiful drape. Plus, since I get it from Eat, Sleep, Knit, I am getting miles on my yarnathon. Oooh, soon I will get free stuff. Oh, wait. I already have. They give you a scratch off card in every order. So far, I've won $10 in store credit. Yay!

For the last few weeks, I've been working on the Labyrinth by Stitch Diva Studios. I'm almost done. All I have left to do is finish the sleeves (I'm about halfway down- knitting two at a time), and do the borders. I am very pleased with how it is turning out. I love the yarn I am using. It is put out by Weaver's Loft. I have used quite a bit of their yarn and absolutely love it. It knits beautifully, and comes in large skeins. This project is only taking one skein of yarn. One skein- for a whole sweater! I am thrilled at the ability to knit an entire sweater without having to do a lot of joining.

However, I have a special event coming up in December. So, I have temporarily abandoned the Labyrinth in favor of making a project for our Tae Kwon Do awards banquent. That's right folks (anyone else find it humerous that I accidentally typed “fight” instead of right?); I am getting my black belt in December! That calls for something special.

Last week, I checked out Fitted Knits by Stefanie Japel from the library. It is now on my Christmas list. My boys took note of the fact that I want it. I'm hoping it is wrapped up under the tree on Christmas morning. At any rate, I found the perfect project for the ceremony. I am making the Coquette Lace tube top. It is knitting up so beautifully. I am using grey Class yarn, with a lavender String Me Along to add sparkle. It's hard to see the sparkle, but not only do the sequins add sparkle, but the thread is iridescent, adding a little something. The Class yarn is beautiful all by itself. It is a Merino/Alpaca blend, which gives a nice halo for the dressier garment that I want this to be.

Currently, I am reading Parenting Beyond Belief

I'm only to the first chapter, but I've already gotten a lot out of it. My favorite quote so far is
It's easy to assume that every parent on your block, everyone cheering in the stands at the soccer game or walking the aisles of the supermarket, is a churchgoing believer. It's the assumed default in our culture. But it isn't true. All you need is to realize that they are making the same assumption about you. You are not remotely alone.

Ah, what a wonderful thought. And it's true. I'm looking forward to the rest of the book.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Eleven Years Ago

Eleven years ago, we were waiting, oh so impatiently, for our little pumpkin to be born.

Monday, November 14, 2011

I Just Have to Bind Off...

Ah, famous last words.

I am working on a Cladonia shawl for my mom. This is the third time I've made this pattern. Every single time, I say, "I just have the bind off left." That's right. I just have the bind off left. Too bad it's a picot bind off, which increases the number of stitches by about 600%. So, I just have to bind off, then I'll be done. And, I think I'll lay off the Cladonia shawls for a bit. I need a bit of a change.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Go Have a Date

When Gary came home from Afghanistan, I had a very difficult time reconnecting with him. My sub-conscience had decided he was going to die while he was there, and I just disconnected. It was even difficult for me to convince myself to try to reconnect. I did though. You see, one day, I looked at my husband and thought, "I don't want to live like this. I love him. I need him. Now, I just have to remember that." One of the important things in a relationship is spending time together. Gary and I try to spend time alone together as often as possible. It nourishes our relationship. It is necessary. Our children are better for it, since our relationship is better for it.

Many of my friends say, "Well, I don't have time/money/energy/etc to go on a date." Let's face it, folks. Going on a date doesn't have to cost a lot of money. If your children are young, see if you can find someone to trade date nights with. If your children are old enough to stay home alone, you can go grocery shopping together.

That's right. I said, "Go grocery shopping together." This is not the most wonderful chore. Many people hate it. Go and do it with the person you need to spend time with. This is time you can spend talking, bonding, and generally being together. Hold hands. Chat. Be together. That is the most important part of a date, being together. Go have a date with that person whose love you're wanting to cultivate. Spend time together. It will pay off.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Our Favorite Games

Our family is a board game family. We love playing board games. In fact, there is almost nothing Xavier loves more.

During the summer, our family seems to play games together rarely. The boys want to play outside, and we want them to as well. As soon as it starts getting dark earlier, we start playing games. We used to play games every night in front of the fire. Xavier and Dominic returning to school put a stop to that. We just didn't have time for it. What we do frequently have time for is card games over supper.

There are three games that we play over supper. The first is Uno. Uno is probably the game we play the most over supper. It is easy to play, and one hand is satisfying. The second is Spoons. Oh, how we love this game. We actually had to go out and buy spoons to be able to play this game. (For some reason, we are always losing spoons. I'm not sure how it happens. They're not allowed anywhere but the dining room and kitchen, but we were down to 4 spoons out of 16 before we started playing Spoons!) The first time we played, we played with plastic knives. We also like to play Phase 10. Did you know that you can download an extra 10 phases? We play Spoons and Phase 10 as ongoing games. We keep a notebook and just continue the games from day to day. This is easily accomplished by putting a star next to the person's score that dealt the last round.

Our family has many games that we enjoy playing. Almost all of them are strategy games. Gary is the only member of our family that likes Scrabble. *ahem* That may have something to do with the fact that he's good at it.

Our favorite strategy games are The Settlers of CatanRisk, and Monopoly. We also like Apples to Apples Junior . We use the Junior version, since we have children.

In looking for links for this post, I found out that Amazon is having a sale on games right now! We always buy a new game for the family for Christmas. So... What are your favorite games? We're open to suggestions!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veteran's Day

Today, we were supposed to go to a Veteran's Day parade. We didn't. This morning, Gary decided that he wanted to spend time with the family.

"You guys are what I fight for, not parades." So, we played a little Risk, ate a little food, played some Wii, watched a movie, and generally enjoyed our time together.

Happy Veteran's Day, and thank you to all the veterans who have made our day possible.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

He Was Posing

It's not a great picture, thanks to the dirty glass, but I love it anyway. This guy and I spent quite a bit of time looking at each other. As soon as I got out my camera, he started posing. He moved this way and that, put his hand under his chin, stretched out on the ground, all sorts of things, but maintained eye contact the entire time.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Yarn Along: Christmas Gifts

I'm joining along with Small Things for her Yarn Along this week.

I've been reading Robert Asprin's Another Fine Myth this week.  This is a young adult book and it is hilarious. I have been having to fight with Gabriel to find time to read it. The book is about a magician's  apprentice named Skeeve and a demon named Aahz. Their adventures will have you rolling. I love Asprin's consistent play on words, and would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fantasy.

While I was in Oklahoma, I took my niece, Cadence, to the local yarn store with me, or more properly, her mommy took us all to the store.  At any rate, I allowed her to pick out some yarn to go with a pattern she'd picked out the night before. She chose a lovely pink Plymouth worsted weight yarn. It has been a dream to work with.

The pattern, on the other hand, was a pain. It is Sea Princess by Elena Nodel.  This is a very detailed pattern. The pattern, without the cable pattern, is 25 pages long. For all that, it is extremely confusing. I don't consider myself a beginning knitter, and after I figured out how the pattern was written, it was actually not a hard pattern to knit, but wow. I ripped it out twice before I got it going correctly on the third try.  It was worth it, though. It is a gorgeous pattern, and I am glad I took the time to make it.  I am thrilled with the way it turned out. I just need to mail it to Sally now.

I have also finished my sister and brother-in-law's Christmas present. Of course, unlike the sweater, they haven't seen it, so I can't post pictures. I'm just thrilled that I've finished two of my hand knit gifts!  I'm almost finished with my mom's, which is another Cladonia shawl, but I ran out of yarn and have to order more. I am so close to being finished I can taste it!


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