Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The tree in my house

We've got a vaulted ceiling in our living room.  It's got to be 12 feet at its highest.  We have an artificial tree that is 6 feet tall.  It looks very puny in such a high ceiling room.  This year we decided to get a real tree.  Hubby and his dad cut it down themselves.  We brought it home on top of our vehicle like it was a prize buck.  It survived 13 hours strapped to the top of the SUV. 

How do you get a 12 foot tree to stand?  Well, we had to buy a heavy duty stand.  Hubby was sad, though when he realized to even get the tree into the stand, he would have to cut off a number of branches off the bottom.  Well, he cut off the bottom branches, put it in the stand and brought that huge tree into the house.  It scrapped the top of our 12 foot ceiling!  To get the tree topper on the tree, we had to cut another 5 inches off the top. 

That sucker is huge!  I've never had a tree that tall before.

So, the next step was to figure out if I had any working lights for the tree.  I must have sat for 15 minutes testing out a strand of blue lights and trying to figure out which bulb was the broken one.  Half of the strand was lit, half was not.  It took a while, but I finally found the bulb and replaced it.  Now, the next task was to figure out how to get lights around  the top of the tree.  Me, climbing a ladder, can only get so high.

With good teamwork on Hubby and my part, we got lights on the top 3rd of the tree.  Then I ran out of lights.  I guess I'll have to get some more.  That is one tall tree!  I can't wait until we can finish decorating it.  I'll defiantly get a picture.  Until I get out and buy more lights, the tree is going to wait with lights wrapped 1/3 of the way around it. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

can I leave?

I'm having a rough day.  I just want to get in my van and drive away to the mountains of Colorado and get lost in it's beauty.  That's about  9 - 10 hour drive.  When we moved here, I expected that I would be able to go to Colorado once in a while.  I've been to Colorado once in the two years since we moved here and was seriously disappointed.  I drove through the entire state north to south.  I didn't see a single mountain the entire trip because the state was covered in low storm clouds.

I keep telling myself it was a sign that I need to forget about ever going to Colorado.  I went there, didn't see my beautiful mountains and so I never will.  Still, the idea makes me sad.

However, today I want to go.  I'd even take my little kids with me, but I can't go.  The older kids need to be picked up from school.  There are piano lessons and scouts.  There is a house to clean, homework to do, laundry to be folded, dinner to be cooked and that ever present money issue for the purchase of gas for the van.

I almost left for Colorado last night.  I started down the road, when I remembered something important I had forgotten at home.  I was forced to turn around and so, here I still am.  Oh well. 

Monday, November 15, 2010

Parades: The volume of the spectators

On Saturday, I enjoyed going to the Veteran's Day parade in the downtown area.  This is my second year to watch the parade.  Last year, my two Boy Scouts marched.  This year, my American Heritage Girl marched/rode on a float.

I loved watching the old cars drive by with horns honking and the motorcycles in their many varietites and sizes.  I love watching the Vets ride by in floats or march by in pride. Music played in the background.  I LOVED the marching bands.  They are fun to watch, fun to hear, fun for me to march down memory lane and my high school marching days.  The Cub and Boy Scouts marched past.  The Girl Scouts marched past.  The American Heritage Girls marched past.  Even the the library had several librarians march in the parade.  Each librarian pushed a cart of books and they handed out pencils.  Many groups tossed candy at my three children who joined me on the side of the road.

It was great fun! I was surprised, however, by the spectators.  Most of them just clapped politely when the Vets went by.  Other wise, they simply waved.  Me, on the other hand, cheered and yelled.  When the bands would march by, I was yelling, "Go Band!" and "Alright drum line!"  When the Boy Scouts passed by, I yelled, "Yeah Boy Scouts!"  and I yelled hi to them as they marched passed.  When the librarians walked by with their carts of books, I yelled, "Yay, Library!"  And of course, when my daughter went by on her float, I yelled to her, took lots of pictures, and waved like crazy.

I was the only one cheering on the parade as they passed.  The people on either side of me left partway through the parade.

Now, don't get me wrong, I am very respectful of the US Flag, and the more serious and patriotic moments in the parade.  I know when not to yell and when to stand in respect and reverence. Still, I thought parades were more fun and I like to happily acknowledge those who make the effort to make the parade great.  Maybe I'm just a noisy Texan in New Mexico, but I know I wouldn't have nearly as much fun at the parade if I didn't yell and cheer.

We are all watching the parade pass us by, but at least I'm noisily happy while it goes by.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Happy kids, happy pet

My kids have had a fun week.  They have played more than schooled.  Play is important, though.  They've played with their toys.  They've hidden away in their rooms and had adventures.

Kids learn a lot when they play and it keeps them happy, which make me a much happier mom.

We got a cat back in April.  I've pretty much hated it.  He has been mean and naughty since we got him.  Several times I've been on the verge of taking him to the animal shelter.  He would run out the door every time it was opened and because we had decided he was to be an indoor cat, I or the kids had to chase him down and bring him back.  Well, last week he got out and this time, I just shut the door on him.  I didn't care if I never saw him again.  Several hours later, I heard him meow at the door.  I opened it and he came in.  We've been letting him out now and many times he has stayed out overnight.  He always returns.  And do you know what?  He has become a better cat!  He doesn't fight us or bite us.  He doesn't attack my 6 year olds legs when she walks through the house  and he isn't getting into trouble in the house anymore.  Whatever adventures he is having when he is outside has taken care of his aggression.  Thank goodness!

Well, it's about time for our walk.  I don't like the time the walks take.  It takes a big chunk of school time right in the middle of the best time of day for school work.  But, I need the walk, in more ways than one.  I guess I had better get dressed and get the kids dressed warmly.  It's getting chilly!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Some pictures

We live in New Mexico.  You play in the dirt here.

Whoa!  It's a card catalog!  I thought those were long gone antiques. 
I guess not, though, I took this picture today in a real public library.

The race car cake.  A happy birthday to my youngest son.
He wanted race cars and mud on his cake.  The mud and dirt are actually chocolate icing and crushed Oreos.  The sprinkles are suppose to be brightly colored racing spectators.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Homeschool review

I haven't updated our homeschool review in a while.

In math, I'm just giving her math page after math page with answers equaling no more than 20.  I want her to learn the basics.  The rest of math is so much easier when you don't need to count on your fingers 8+7.  She is getting bored, though, so we might have to mix up the math for a while.

She is still loving reading her Magic Tree House books, although her reading has slowed down.  When it's reading time she wants to run off and play with toys.  We recently discussed compound words and now she is identifying them all over the place. 

She has learned most of her cursive lower case letters.  There's just a few that she isn't able to do without looking at an example.  Once she's got those down, we'll start capital letters.  Her handwriting is just beautiful when it's in cursive.

We have discussed some early American History by reading about and watching videos about the Mayflower and the early Pilgrims.  We also talked about the Liberty Bell and watched a fun video on how bells are made.  Then, we tried to make our own bell, but not with metal.  First we tried papier mache, but that didn't work well.  We couldn't get the dried bell off the cup we used as a mold.  Then we tried it with clay, but that was a disaster too.  It was lots of fun, but we couldn't make it work.

We've talked about tons of stuff.  Every moment with her is an opportunity to learn.  We talked about what a Coat of Arms was and I tried to get her to draw one for our family but she just didn't get the idea, even after looking at pictures of several.

In other art, we read about self-portraits and I had her draw one of herself.  Poor girl, she got my drawing abilities.  (I'm pretty untalented)  It doesn't keep us from trying and having fun though.

This week we will start a new science section - animal habitats and biomes.  I think she will enjoy it.  We will continue to do math, reading, grammar, art, history, cursive writing and what ever else we can squeeze into our days.  I've realized, though, we have not been doing any creative writing.  Her birthday is coming up and she will be getting a real journal.  Shhh, don't tell her.  Perhaps she will be inspired to write great things in her new journal.  I know I love writing in mine.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Getting cable

We haven't had TV for about 5 years.  Really, I can't say I've missed it at all.

Well, last month, we decided to get the introduction cable package.  I wasn't sure I was going to like it.  I like that my kids don't know the latest shows and are unexposed to commercials.

We got cable.  It has 21 channels.  Half of them are in Spanish.  We only watch the TV for one hour each day.  From 4:00-5:00 we watch America's Funniest Home video re-runs.  Those are a hoot!  It's good to belly laugh every day. 

We also get about 30 music channels.  Most of them I don't care for, but I love Soundscapes.  It's just peaceful instrumental music.  However, the station right next to Soundscapes is called "Sounds of the Seasons".  It's playing Christmas music non-stop!!!!!  I'm so happy!!!!

The selection of music on the TV station is so much better than the Christmas music that you hear on the radio.  Radio stations have a small selection of Christmas music that they play over and over and over.  Some of them are nice, but really, by the end of the month, I'm sick of the radio's music selection.  Not with the TV station.  I'm so very happy with our cable right now.

Let the Christmas season begin!

Monday, November 01, 2010

Taking a deep breath

Halloween was so much fun.  The kids are older and just a lot more fun to do stuff with. 

Now it's time for a deep breath.  Ready?  In through the nose.... ssssnnnniiiiiffff, out through the mouth.... phoooooo.

Very nice and refreshing.  Now it's time to put away the Halloween decorations.  I bought a nice big orange tub this year to store our Halloween stuff in.  We've been using the same tub for about a decade and it's never been big enough to store 5 pumpkin buckets plus the few decorations and books we have for the holiday.  An orange bucket.  How great is that?

The kids have today and tomorrow off from school.  Tomorrow is election day.  I can't find my voter's registration card!!!  If I can't find it by tomorrow, I'll go anyway with a photo ID and see if they will still let me vote. 

We are down to two months on our house rental.  We don't know what to do.  The house is really a very nice house.  It's large and has lots of space for our family.  I just can't stand the concrete tiles anymore.  My feet and legs hurt all the time from being in this house.  We have no yard and that's not fair to the kids to not have a space free of rocks to play in.  We don't know what to do, where to look or what. 

My 7th grader is happy at school and that is very good.  But do you know why he is happy?  He doesn't have to do anything while he is there.  I asked him last week to pull out his huge, heavy backpack and show me what it is he lugs around.  I know that he doesn't have textbooks and never brings home homework, so what is in there?  Three free time reading books.  About 7 folders filled with nothing except his drawings.  His music folder for orchestra.  And about 10 broken pencils.  That's it!  Well, that and about 15 pounds of trash and old drawings.  While he is in orchestra class, I know he is doing something good.  The other 6 hours?  I'm really questioning his education.  The boy has never come home with homework, has done zero projects, book reports or research papers, has never studied for a test, has nothing to show for the many hours he spends weekly in school.  I'm quite concerned.  VERY.  This is also weighing on my mind.

I have a paper for school to write today.  It's only a page, but it needs to be thoughtfully done.  That's hard to do with 5 kids in the house today.  It's only a page.  I just need to sit down and do it.  I'll just growl at any kid who tried to interrupt. 

I think I need that deep breath again - sssnnniiiffffff.... phooooooo.  OK.  I'm ready to take it all on!