Saturday, December 31, 2011

2012 To-Do list

Happy New Years Eve!
I told the kids that if they were able, they could stay up until midnight tonight. Am I crazy? I haven't actually made it to midnight in years! HA! We got a Wii for Christmas, so I'm thinking some game play along with movies and snacks might help them last?? We will see.
New Years always kind of brings up funny feelings for me. Seems even more so this year. There's always sort of that holiday let-down afterwords and then the long boring winter days of January that seem to drag on endlessly. And yet there still is that excitement of starting new, fresh and wondering what's to come.
This year I sort of feel like hurry, hurry, get me out of 2011! And yet part of me wants to dwell here forever. Like if I hurry past it, I'll be leaving my dad here and I don't feel ready to do that.
I'm sure that sounds weird, doesn't it?? It's hard to explain without sounding crazy. I miss him so, so, so much. There's a place inside me that I didn't even know existed until this year....a place that holds a heartache I don't think will ever go away. My dad existed it 2011 and in 2012 he doesn't. Not here on Earth. I know he exists for eternity in heaven. I'll see him again. ♥ that I've brought the mood down in the room. Jeez! Sorry.
Lets move on.
As you all know I don't make resolutions. Resolutions are made to be broken. Last year I made a 2011 to-do list...kind of a little poking fun at myself and the new year, but surprisingly, I actually accomplished all but two of the short list.
So without further adieu.... My 2012 To-Do List:

1. Take an out of state road trip. (Nevada doesn't count) This is a repeat from last year. One of the 2 that we never got around to doing. I really hope we do this year. We've been talking about going for a week to Jackson Hole, Wyoming and taking the kids to Yellowstone. I love that place.
2. Take better care of my skin. I've already been trying to do this, but I want to continue and I'm thinking of trying more natural ways of taking care of my skin--particularly my face. Maybe try the oil cleansing method.
3. Continue to learn more and practice photography.
4. Do another garden and this year include a bigger, more diversified herb garden.
5. Eat more real food. Continue to weed out the processed foods in our diet. Get a cow.
6. Make a quilt. (must get sewing machine fixed first)
7. Find an extra curricular activity for Megan to do. That's just for her.
8. Work harder to be in the present. Not live in the past. And not worry about the future.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The new year is coming...

I just realized I accomplished all but 2 of my 2011 to-do list. That ain't bad, if I do say so myself. Not that there was anything groundbreaking on the list, but it feels good to look back and say: HEY! I did that!
So I guess I need to come up with another to-do list since I did so well this year. I'll take a few days to think and reflect on the year past and see what I can come up with for the next one. Anyone picking a word for 2012? Haven't done that one in a couple years either....I'll have to see if one comes to me.
Please forgive me for the blog break. I just didn't feel like it, honestly. But I think things are about to get back to regularly scheduled programming around more blog posts to come.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The First Thanksgiving.

Megan and I were really sick over the weekend. In fact, we're both just now feeling better. It's amazing how much tissue+napkins+ TP two girls can blow through. Goodness.
Anyway, so what are we supposed to do when we feel cruddy? Well, I spent the entire weekend watching Food Network Thanksgiving specials on the internet. Yes I curled up with my laptop and Bobby Flay and Alton Brown all weekend long. That's comfort. HA! Seriously, I could watch Food Network and HGTV all day. Those are the only 2 reasons I ever miss having cable. The funny thing about internet TV is that usually they only post a few episodes of this or that. And being that Thanksgiving is nearly upon us, Comcast online or Xfinity as it's now called is only listing a bunch of Thanksgiving related Food Network shows right now. Fine by me.
So all weekend I was flooded with images of juicy turkey, all variations of stuffing/dressing, sweet potatoes made this way and that, and green bean casseroles aplenty, all while Giada and Bobby and Tyler and Alton explained just how delicious + easy each and every recipe was and how I MUST add this dish to my Thanksgiving menu.
I'm very easily influenced.
So Monday morning, when I was feeling just a bit better, I headed out to the store. I filled my cart with all things Thanksgiving. Sweet potatoes, fresh green beans, Trader Joe's corn bread stuffing and....even a turkey. As previously mentioned, I've never cooked a turkey before. Food Network told me I could do it, told me not to be afraid, so I believed them, so I bought one. Though, I decided to only go with the bone-in breast only though. I really didn't need a whole giant turkey a week before Thanksgiving. I also didn't want to wait for it to defrost. I have no patience. And I wanted Thanksgiving now. Food Network told me to do it. I'm very easily influenced.
Tuesday I spent all day preparing our feast.
"Is today Thanksgiving??", Megan asked.
"No", I said. "I just thought it would be fun to make our own Thanksgiving since we've never done it before and next week on real Thanksgiving we're going to Auntie Kim's".
"Ok, Momma".
"It is NOT Thanksgiving, Mommy. I do not want to eat all this stuff today," declared Jake.
"Too bad." I replied. "You will eat it and you will like it."
"I have the best wife ever." said Pete.
Our menu:
Mayo roasted Turkey (breast): said to make the turkey really moist without brinning. (again--no patience to wait for the brine)
Sweet potatoes: courtesy The Pioneer Woman. I am not a sweet potato fan. But these were really good.
Green bean casserole: also courtesy PW. This was really, really good! We didn't even miss the canned fried onions.
Stuffing: I used Trader Joe's cornbread stuffing mix. I just wanted to try it. It was pretty good. I added my own onions, carrots and celery to it. I think next time I'll go for straight up from scratch and see how it compares.
Gravy: from scratch made with butter, flour, turkey juices and broth. No Wondra.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie: Our Best Bites. I've blogged about this one before I think. Very, very good and super easy.
All in all, I'd call this first Thanksgiving very successful! Everything was really good. The only thing was I think the turkey could have cooked just a little longer. It tasted great and was definitely moist, but a little pink towards the bone. The Food Network told me to pull it out of the oven when it reached an internal temp of 160*. I do what the Food Network tells me to. I'm very easily influenced. But some episodes went all the way up to 180*. That's a pretty big difference in temp. I took mine out at 160*. Maybe next time 170* would be better.
I've got no pictures, but you can click on the links and look at other peoples food, if you want :)

Monday, November 07, 2011


* I know people tend to really like this whole time changy/fall back thingy. At least they all SAY that on Sunday. Yay! We get to sleep in! But you all know it sucks when it's dark at 5PM. Admit it. I much prefer springing forward.
* Because of said time change, I've been wide awake since 4AM. I am now in a punchy mood. Don't mess with me.
* I don't like to plan things more than a few weeks to a month out. Except you know, like a big vacation or something. But day to day things I don't plan meticulously. I do not plan my entire homeschool year out in July. Or August. Or ever. I look over our materials and I know what's coming up and what to expect. But nothing is planned more than a few weeks out.
* My friend and neighbor/fellow homeschool parent is already planning school for NEXT year. It's driving me nuts. I'm sure I'm driving her equally nuts with my non planning.
Story: a few months ago my friend and neighbor was asking me: how many days of school are you planning this year? And I was all: HUH? what do you mean? School is over May 18th?? And she goes: so you're planning a full 180 days? And I'm like: I guess?? I don't know, people! I know school started on August 15, I know it ends on May 18th. I know there are 'scheduled' breaks somewhere in between, but honestly...what does it matter? As long as the work gets done, learning is happening and progression is being made..who cares if we only have school 2 days a week or if we don't take time off at Christmas? I mean, that's NOT how we do it, but there's not really any rules to this gig.
* I've never cooked a turkey. For some reason I'm completely intimidated by this task. I guess maybe because I've never had to do it. Either my Grandma, or mom or Mike or Pete's mom has always just done it. I'm not afraid of baking bread or a pot roast or grilling or really anything else in the kitchen. But I'm totally afraid of making a turkey.
* I have visions of the perfect Martha Stewart-esque Thanksgiving/Christmas dinner table complete with a white linen table cloth, home made gorgeous center piece,fresh herbs surrounding the perfectly golden crisp turkey,  cloth napkins and stylish place cards at each setting. It's just a vision. It would never happen! I think the closest we've ever gotten is paper napkins with a cartoon turkey printed on them.
* I love how my landlord sends us our garbage bill a week AFTER it's due. {insert eye roll here}
* I started using "anti-aging" make-up. Oh how that makes me feel old. But guess what? Fat fills in wrinkles. YEP. And I don't have all that much fat any more. Well, at least not on my face, apparently.
*That last one was a tough one to type. Maybe that's all I can really confess to today.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Halloween Camping, round 3!

We went camping for Halloween again! It is still just as much fun as it was the first time we went. Pete was actually gone hunting in Idaho the week before we were supposed to go. I begged and begged him the entire time he was gone to come home in time so we could take our own trailer this time. He actually got home around 3:30 AM on Friday and we pulled out with the trailer hitched to the truck around 11:30 AM the same day. He must really love me, or I'm really good at nagging. Let's go with both. ;-)
Oh, but it was so nice to have our own trailer this time. Honestly, I can not wait to take it out more. I'm bummed the weather is changing and we won't be going camping for a few months, I'm sure.
Anyway, here are some pics of our weekend. I tried to take a few more of how people decorated their sites and a few of the crowds as we tricked and treated.
First, here are the kids. They both decided to be pirates. This is Jake's 3rd time being a pirate! I made Megan's tu-tu all by myself! Seriously this is the easiest costume ever, and CHEAP. I think I'll make her some kind of tu-tu every year if she'll let me. :)

Megan, of course, was sick. Because you know, we can not take her anywhere without her blowing chunks.  I'm not kidding, I'm sure you could look back in my archives and find that 9 times out of 10, the girl gets sick when we go out of town. In all seriousness, she was really sick. Fever, chills, barf, the works. :( Her costume and trick or treating only lasted about 15 minutes.

Campsite displays:

 We saw this one right before the Texas Chainsaw Massacre Guy scared the sh*t out of me with his chainsaw. I screamed and spilled my adult beverage (that another campsite was kindly handing out) all over myself. And if you've ever been around me when I get scared, you know that no matter what, I start crying. I can not help it. That's what I get for saying, "I'm not scared of you, or your chainsaw!". I know, easy target. I've decided next year I will get my own scary mask and walk around with it scaring people in order to combat the people trying to scare me.

 This one below looked better in person, the fog machine kinda ruined what it really looked like. Very cool graveyard scene.

 The crowds: the picture really doesn't do it justice.

 This was cool....skeletons made out of PVC pipe. They were sittin' on lawn chairs having drinks. Too cute!

That's about it. There were so many more, but that covers the good ones. There was also a 'fun house' haunted house. They did the same thing last year, but this time it was much bigger. Not as scary, I thought though.
We can't wait till next year! Already made our reservations.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Where does time go?

I was just browsing through my blog archives tonight and I came upon this post. Oh my gosh, the video. It slays me. Still. I'm in tears. I watched the last one over and over. Thank God for video. Seriously. I don't use it enough. Note to self: get out the video camera tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The punkin patch

Come know you say puNkin and not puMPkin, right? Or is is that just me?
Well here's some pictures of our trip out to the punkin patch last week. Really, it ended up being a picnic in a field of pumpkins because most of the "fun" stuff (according to Jake) was not open. Like the corn maze and the panning gold and gems. That last thing is Jake favorite thing ever. He's obsessed with anything gold, gem-like or what he deems as 'treasure'. He was very disappointed that it was closed, not to mention the fact he was the oldest in our group and most of the kids there were either babies or Kindergarteners on a field trip, he was not happy. Not happy at all. Lucky for him, we're going again this Friday with kids his age. So expect more pictures.

 I will sit here because you asked me to, but know that I am not happy. Not happy at all. 

 Do I really have to act like I like these kids? Uhg. Fine. But this is as close as I get. He actually does really like these guys. But he was in such a mood. 

 This 'lil donkey was so cute. She came right up to us. Of course because she looked slightly like a horse, Megan loved her.

Tree climbing did make things slightly better for the boy. By the end of the day he had perked up. It may have been because I threatened him. You WILL have fun or I am never taking you anywhere again! Now SMILE for Mommy Dearest! Just kidding. Sort of. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tuesday things

1. My blogging has been pretty sporadic lately. Sometimes I get overwhelmed with things I think I should blog about or maybe want to blog about and then my head gets full. And you know what I do? I don't blog. Or I blog about lame things. Or I make lists ;-)
2. I quit using my dishwasher. Yep. I'm crazy. But the thing is...the dishes were looking better going in than coming out! I can't figure out what's wrong with it. I tried all kinds of soaps, I put Jet Dry in, the water heats, the spinners spin. So what's the deal?? I don't know. So I just said screw it. Even though I hate washing dishes (or so I thought). The best thing? My favorite coffee cup is always clean and ready for me in the morning. And the sinks are always shinny and clean. Win + win!
3. School is going along great. We had a little rough bit of it today, but 99% of the time we're good!. I've been thinking of doing a 'day in the life' homeschool style post soon.
4. One thing I have learned to accept is that schooling 2 kids IS harder than just one. And it IS going to take a little more time than originally planned. It took me a little getting used to, but I'm totally ok with it now.
5. The crock pot has been my saving grace lately. Our busiest days are Monday's and Wednesdays (we have extra curricular classes those days)  so I've been trying to have stuff ready to go so I have one less thing to worry about.
6. Pinterest. Can't say it enough. But I love, love, love this site. I know a lot of people say its a time waster or a place to put things and then never do them. But not for me. I do actually use the site for more than just pretty things. This is my recipe board I really have tried at least 70-80% of the things I've pinned. Here are a couple favorites:

Salsa Chicken (crock pot) kids favorite.

Lemon bars. Oh my gosh these are SO GOOD.
7. I also use Pinterest for school stuff. There are tons and tons of homeschool references, grade level things, freebies from teachers, or just really good ideas you could adapt for your own kids. I'm planning on doing  these two things before the end of the month:

Pumpkin Math Day

Science investigation
8. These images are ginormous! I'm sorry. I have no idea how to fix them. :-/
9. What are your kids going to be for Halloween? I'm usually so excited for it...but I'm just not prepared at all this year! I can't believe it's coming so soon. We are excited, however, to go on our annual Halloween camping trip! (I hope it doesn't rain this time!)
10. Certain things always remind me of either a song or a movie. Or a song will remind me of a movie. Or something like that. Example: Pete was just going to make a phone call. Jake says: Who ya gonna call? And I immediately think: GHOST BUSTERS! My children think I'm crazy because they have no idea what I'm talking about. Note to self: rent Ghost Busters.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Just because...

Earlier this week:

The rain came down in sheets. I thought for a moment the Good Lord had forgotten about fall. It poured and poured and poured. And thunder and lighting too. So weird.
But the beautiful fall weather has returned. It really is what keeps me sane, since summer isn't too much like summer here...with the fog and all. Anyway, I got a few good ones of the girl in the warm, soft afternoon light as the boys were busy blowing all the evidence of the storm away down the hill. {this place is a mess after it rains!}

Going to go enjoy the rest of Sunday. ♥
side note: i guess blogger has gone and changed the picture format again?? i don't know, but these seem to look a lot better when you click on them to get the larger image. 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Do you see what I see?

This was last night looking out Megan's bedroom window. A momma and two baby deer just chillin' in our driveway.
It's not really an unusual thing. We see her and the babies all the time. Just the first time I really got a pic of it. Momma is so not afraid of humans at all. I've come out my garage/carport door and she's been standing right behind the car (which you can't see in this pic) and all she does is look up. She eventually walks off slowly, but she's got no fear.
Baby #1 was born just this year. He's a little buck. He's so cute. Right now he's got two tiny little antler stubs on the top of his head. Earlier this summer he had cute little white spots all over his rump but they're gone now.
Baby #2 is actually a yearling. She should be 'leaving the nest' soon.
Anyway, just a peek into this amazing place we get to live. Right smack dab in the middle of a city, right above a busy freeway, yet worlds away from everything. I love it.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tuesday Things.

Not sure if I'll make it to 10 or not.

1. Sunday was the memorial service for one of the people from our church that had passed away. It was a wonderful memorial. She was a little younger than I thought she was. She'd been through so much in her life, and it showed on the surface. But on the inside...she young. She never, ever complained about the things that had happened to her. She always smiled. She always said she was "alright", even if you knew she wasn't. She was a wonderful example of faith, in that way. She always knew He would take care of her. I'd like to think I'm that way, but I'm not. I worry way too much. I don't put my problems over to Him as much or as trusting as maybe I should.
2. I made the photo board for the memorial service. I only knew her the last 11 years of her life. It was amazing looking through a lifetime of memories. Once again, I'm reminded of the power of photographs.
3. I started watching Thirty Something on Hulu back when I first had my surgery. I needed something to do whilst I sat in a recliner for a week. My parents never watched that show when it was on TV. I thought, hmmm maybe I would like it now that I actually am thirty-something. It's funny even though I am the same age as the people in the show...they will always seem older than me. Always.
4. I also started watching Felicity on Netflix thanks to my friend Allison. (Pete is gone this week, that's why I am filling my time with TV shows LOL!) I loved Felicity when I was younger. LOVED it. And when I watch that show now, I am exactly the same age as the characters. (as I was when the show first aired...18-19 years old)  Do you know what I'm talking about? Is that just me?
5. The fridge repairman came today. He was late. As expected. But the good news was it wasn't the compressor. And I don't have to go out and buy a new fridge. It was only a $279 fix. Not bad considering what it could have been. But dang, the labor was 3 TIMES the cost of the part. And he was only here an hour. Ca-razy!
6. Pete's in Wyoming this week. Hunting. Of course. I'm glad it's only a week this time. His dad went with him. I'm glad his dad decided to go. I hope they're having fun and will be home soon.
7. My children decided it would be awesome to lick their fingers and stick them in the sugar bowl I have on the counter for coffee. Yeah. I wanted to get really mad at them for doing that. Then I remembered I used to do the exact same thing to the butter when I was a kid. Gross. Don't worry, I threw out the sugar and moved it so they couldn't easily get it. You won't have to worry if you come over for coffee ;-)
8. So I have this friend. Well I guess technically she's more like an acquaintance. I've known her for a long time, and we have mutual friends. We've just never really hung out before. So all of a sudden she wants to hang out. Which is fine. Only she didn't call me to ask. She asked one of our mutual friends to "set it up". Isn't that kind of strange? I guess she's maybe intimidated by me? Or at least that's sort of the way I feel whenever I'm around her. I don't know why that is. I can hardly intimidate my own children let alone someone adult. I don't really know what to make of all this. Only now, I'm supper uncomfortable to hang out with her. I'm uncomfortable because obviously she is. I don't know. It's just weird.
9. Um well....that's all I can come up with. I need to go get all the food from outside in the carport and put them back in the house. fuuuuuun!

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

No more drama, please.

This picture has absolutely nothing to do with this post. But I figured y'all needed something to look at since I haven't posted a picture in forever.
I don't really want this to become a "poor me" post. But I'm afraid it will probably come off that way.
You know those "friends" you have on facebook? The ones who maybe aren't really your friends or a friend you haven't seen since high school anyway? You know, the ones who seem to always have something wrong happening? Some horrible drama? You know the ones. The ones who seem to get off on the drama and enjoy the attention it gets them for posting their crap on facebook?
I get really annoyed with those friends.
But you know what? I sort of feel like I am that girl lately.  Only I don't like the drama. I don't like it one bit. And I don't get off on getting attention because of said drama. I'm only writing this, not for sympathy, not for attention, but only for pure venting purposes. Because, I'm totally sick of it.  I just can not take anymore drama.
Lets see here's some things that have gone down in the past year.

* My dog died
* My dad got sick
* various family dramas because of it
* My gallbladder starts going bad
* Dad in the hospital multiple times
* Dad passes away
* More family drama
* My house sells, yet they won't turn off the water because the bank hasn't recorded the new owners name yet. So I keep getting charged for water and garbage.
* various other instances dealing with my old house.
* I have surgery to remove my gallbladder.

Here's what's happened just in the last few weeks/ 24 hours:
* 2 church members pass away on the same day (our church is small, so this is kinda a big deal)
* our pastor is in poor health and it's sad, but we're pretty sure it could be any day now for him too.
* we've had 3 mice in the house. All dead now, thank goodness. But I've since been cleaning like crazy. There is not enough bleach in the world to disinfect after mouse droppings, in my opinion.
* I can't really write about it on the internet since it's not completely resolved yet, but some lady is trying to say we did something when we didn't do. Or well, trying to blame us for something that was her fault. I don't see anything really coming of this, but STILL. It's just one more thing.
* One of my incisions from my surgery (after more than a month) has all of a sudden started "leaking". Yeah. Not blood or anything, but clear fluid, and it's red and irritated and kinda hurts if anything touches it. So that can't be good.
* My computer is on the fritz. It's 5 years old, Dell won't warranty it anymore and it's moving slow and crashes at least once a day. I have a laptop, and it works fine and we can make due, but with the kids homeschooling and Jake being required to be on the computer for a class 30 minutes a day, we really do need 2.
* THEN TODAY all of a sudden, my freezer quits freezing. I've turned it all the way up and it's still leaking water all over my kitchen floor. The ice cream is melted and veggies unfrozen. Luckily the meat seems to be holding up ok. We bought this fridge about 9 years ago when we bought our first house. Nine years isn't old in refrigerator years, is it? They're not like dogs, are they?

Anyway, I realize in the scheme of things, 90% of what I just wrote isn't any big deal. It's just life stuff. We all go through it. I totally get that. Again, I'm not looking for sympathy. I just needed to get it off my chest.
I'm just....*ugh*.... warn out I guess.
I'm just ready for some normal days.

And right after I wrote that....a GIANT spider jumped out of my printer onto my desk and across my keyboard!  (*&$(@)(&*%)(*&^!  I freaking HATE spiders!!
Someone give me a break! :-P

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

10 on Tuesday

1. Oakland + September = my favorite. If it would only stay like this all year.
2. I desperately need a new computer. My next one will most certainly be a Mac.
3. Crockpots may be one of the 20th century's greatest inventions. Especially for busy moms. One of our favorite recipes: chicken + BBQ sauce + pineapple. Hawaiian pulled chicken. Sooo good.
4. Photo shoots are fun but I think they take a lot out of me. I didn't have a desire to take a pic for a week.
5. I'm completely sold on local + organic food. I have been for a while but recently since I found a great farmers market, I've been buying ALL my produce there or getting it from my own garden. Besides the obvious health reasons... It just TASTES so much better. I'm excited to continue this into the fall and winter and see if I can make it eating 'in season' produce only.
6. School has been much much better. I've got some things ironed out and we're going much smoother.
7. Today we finished school around 1. So much better than 3.
8. Girls are so much easier to teach. And they just inherently have better handwriting.
9. Got my first pair of TOMS. I was sure Pete would say they were ugly. But he actually likes them. I see more in my future. They are comfy.
10. Thinking of starting a winter garden. Have you ever done one? What grows in winter?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, August 29, 2011

Random blathering about time. Or the lack thereof.

I feel like there is no time. No time for anything lately. School has completely overwhelmed me the past two weeks. I feel like I have no time to go to the store. No time to take a shower. (don't worry, i find the time ;-) ) No time to fold laundry or sweep the floor. No time to work. No time to play. No time to relax.
Not to worry. I'm not going to quit homeschooling or anything. I just haven't quite found my balance yet. It takes time. I wasn't as prepared this year as I was last. And then some changes in our curriculum have made it harder to find a good groove.
The thing with the school from my last post: It's not really anything. I'm not going to quit the charter school. The thought has crossed my mind only because sometimes the reasons behind me wanting to homeschool, but yet still going through a 'public school', sort of clash. I want my kids to have a love of learning and sometimes the school would rather focus on spitting out mindless information on a standardized test. Those two things in my mind clash.
Anyway it turns out I was right, and our school is being audited because they are trying to get an accreditation from some national school accreditation thingy. Don't ask me LOL! But basically, they're wanting to improve standardized testing scores across the board. So we've had to do a little adjusting in our curriculum to meet their needs. It's not necessarily a bad thing. Its actually good. We're getting some more support (as parents/teachers) in order to meet these goals. So I've been talking a lot with our teacher, ordering new materials, and trying to find a balance in our daily schedules to make sure we get this stuff all in.
Last week I only left the house once. I'm not kidding. Used to we could get our schooling done within a couple hours and then be able to go on a field trip, or to the grocery store or the library in the afternoon. This year so far,with all the extra stuff I've been doing, and the extra curriculum load with two students, I just haven't found the 'smooth' yet. We haven't been finishing school work until about 2:30 and then Pete is home by 3. When he gets home all I want is a break! But yet there's still laundry to fold, dishes to wash, dinner to make...... .....
I also took on the task of a paid photo shoot last week. It was so fun. But now I need to find the time to process the images and get them to the client. I've done 15 so far. I promised her at least 30-40 good images. I guess I'm half done.
Anyway, I did find the time to sit here and write this random post about having no time. In the meantime, my dryer just buzzed, and the kids are ready for their math lessons. I must be off. I'm promising myself that by this time next week I will have a more smoothness to our day-to-day schedule. And maybe I'll start posting pics with my posts again. ;-)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

10 on Tuesday.

1. I made marinated tomato salad to go with dinner tonight. The tomatoes are fresh from our garden. They're tiny and smell like sunshine.
2. I'm the only one in the family who actually likes tomatoes. Funny...we have at least 564 tomato plants in our garden. Huh.
3. We got three new chickens in our coop. They lay green eggs! Would you eat a green egg?
4. I got some shocking news yesterday. Ok I guess it wasn't that shocking. It wasn't necessarily bad news either. Just annoying. Anyway, now I've got to change some things up, homeschooling wise. hmmm.
5. Homeschooling through a charter sometimes feels like being employed by a giant national or statewide corporation. Only.....I don't even get paid.
6. Ditching the charter school all together has seriously crossed my mind.
7. Thursday I have my very first paid photo shoot. I'm totally nervous. And kinda freaking out about it. I really hope it's not foggy.
8. I kinda miss the whole "first day of school" thing. The excitement, the newness, the tears. (from me dropping my baby off at Kindergarten) I guess I only get that experience once.
9. My little Meggsy Beggsy turns 5 on Sunday. Where did this baby go?

10. Who is this big girl?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Week one. Done.

We started school this week. I'm not gonna wasn't all giggles and smiles. After a really busy, really fun summer, and coming right off of surgery + recovery, jumping right into school Monday morning wasn't the easiest thing. Jake was the most reluctant and rightly so, I suppose. Monday was his birthday, after all. (don't worry, I didn't make him do too much, plus I decorated our school room and made him a cake! Not to mention the Harry Potter DSi game he got)

But even I forgot how much it work it was for me. I was seriously exhausted by the end of the day, Monday. Poor Megan....I forget this is Kindergarten for her, and she's still little. And though she participated a lot last year, she wasn't really expected to do a whole lot. So by about 3:30 (even though we'd been done for hours by then) she was SO ready for a nap! I can always tell when she just starts cryin' for no reason!

There may have even been an instance one day this week when I threatened: "I WILL SEND YOU BACK TO PUBLIC SCHOOL SO FAST...!!!" I think all homeschooling parents threaten with that at least once a year. :) Even though public school wasn't all that bad for Jake when he went. But unless we move to a better school district, I could never follow through with that threat! Anyway, it took a day or two to get into a groove, but we ended on a high note. I think we're all more prepared for the weeks to come.

We ended the week today with mostly games and projects. I liked that. The kids, of course liked it too. It brought everything we worked on during the week together. The project above was something I got from here.
I haven't received our science curriculum yet, so for now I'm kinda flying by the seat of my pants. I'm really looking forward to NOT having to do that anymore! However, I did want to share these fantastic books I got at Costco yesterday. I'm a HUGE fan of the kids book section at Costco. Especially this time of year (when they start getting the Christmas stuff out O_o ) they usually have some great finds. If you look at the top picture, on the right, I've got those 10 tall skinny books. That's what I picked up yesterday. I think they were 5 books for $12--something. They're all science related, from space, to the human body, inventions etc.. The 2nd set is the animal kingdoms. Each book has 100 facts + quizzes and activities about the subject. Each set also came with a huge, ginormous, too big to fit in my tiny room, but still awesome anyway posters. One of the human body and one of the animal kingdoms. So, if you have a Costco near you, go look and see what you can find. Honestly, if I didn't have a lot of money for science curriculum, I would use these books as a base and then supplement. The pictures are great and really catch the attention of the kids. My two sat down with these yesterday and just poured over them. These books are excellent additions to any science curriculum or kids home library! They are well worth the $12 and some change for a set. In fact, there was one more set I didn't get and I'm going to go back for it!
P.S. Several of the other books in the picture were also Costco finds. I just can't resist a good kids book.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

This may look like some ordinary sandwich. And I suppose it mostly is. I had some left over bacon (i know...who has leftover bacon??!) and decided the perfect lunch today would be a BLTT. That would be bacon, lettuce, tomato, and turkey. Oh and red onion. Because I love red onion on sandwiches.
Anyway as I stood there gathering my ingredients and waiting for the toaster to pop, I pulled a butter knife out of the drawer for the mayo and all of a sudden I had an instant rush of memory.
My dad loved sandwiches. He took his sandwiches seriously. It was never just PB&J or turkey and cheese. The bread was always toasted. Always Miracle Whip, not mayo. One side of the bread was always mixed: Miracle Whip + yellow mustard. It was always over the top: turkey, cheese, tomato, onion, bacon, cheese....and what ever else sounded good. He even had a special spatula thingy for the spread: a butter knife would never do.
I always told dad he made the best sandwiches. We would joke that he should quit his job and open a sandwich shop in town.
So today as I stood there and spread my own Miracle Whip on my toasted bread and added all my toppings, I couldn't think of anything else but dad. I imagined him making it for me. And I remembered how many times we stood over the little island in the kitchen and made sandwiches together. Funny how such a mundane task can do that to you.
I sat down with my BLTT and enjoyed every bite. Today it wasn't just an ordinary sandwich.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Back to reality.

Weekend Random.

*On Monday it will be 2 weeks since my surgery. I'm feeling 99% of normal. Every day I feel just a bit better. If I could just bend over without discomfort I'd be 100%

*I never want to have surgery again. I'm fine. It went fine. But anesthesia is just not my thing. Nor is pain. It was a little more than I had expected.

*Monday is also Jake's birthday. He'll be 8. I love him. He's just a really, really good kid. Sometimes I think we expect too much out of him. But he handles it. He's such a help around here.

*Monday is also our first official day of school. I'm ready. I spent all week lesson planning and I'm ready. And excited.

*Just because I totally dig this pic. And cuz she's cute.

*We went to the farmers market this morning. I'm totally loving the one on Grand Ave in Oakland. I actually convinced Pete to come with me...and he loved it! I bought 5 avocados. I can't wait to eat them. Guacamole.

*Oh! AND! My camera...I got a new one. Most of you already know. Canon 60D. So far I'm loving it. Weird, but it's easier to operate than my old Rebel? True story. And full manual is so not as hard as I thought it'd be.

*Looking forward to getting back into a more even schedule with life and blogging and all that.

*Happy weekend!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Dinner tonight

Please excuse the lackluster slightly unappetizing photo above. It was taken with my iPhone. But I assure you....this dinner was delicious!
I made roasted veggie Pasta Primavera. 98% of the veggies came straight from our garden. Our pea plants are about done so the peas are frozen from Trader Joes and my tomatoes aren't quite ripe yet, so the ones I used were mini organic heirlooms also from the Trader named Joe.
First I went out to the garden and picked a bunch of carrots, some zucchini, green beans and some green onion. Oh and I grabbed a small handful of fresh basil too. Then I cleaned and chopped everything up and added the tomatoes and some fresh garlic as well. Then I tossed everything with a little bit of EVOO and salt and pepper. Everything went one layer on a cookie sheet and into the oven at 450* for about 10 minutes. I flipped the veggies and roasted them for another 10 minutes.
Then I grabbed a bag of frozen fettuccine alfredo (also from Trader Joes). I know I'm a little obsessed with Joe. But he has really good food! And I've been diligently reading labels. This stuff is all natural. There's nothing I can't pronounce or don't know what it is listed on the ingredients. No chemicals, no preservatives. You could certainly make your own pasta sauce if you wanted, it's easy. Anyway, I followed the directions on the package. When it was just about done I added all my roasted veggies, plus the frozen peas, plus some fresh green beans I had previously blanched. And dinner was done. 25 minutes. Oh and that basil I picked? I tossed that in at the last minute too. mmm mmm mmm m m!!
Dang it was good. Roasting the veggies gave them such a sweet taste. The carrots were delicious. Zucchini--divine. Tomatoes-sweet, sweet. What an awesome summer time meal.
Oh and I also made pizza on the grill. Have you done this yet? I'm telling you, you're missing out if you haven't. Google it, there's all kinds of tutorials and instructions and recipes. There's nothing like it and it's so, so much better than store bought.
Do you have a good summer recipe you want to share?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Collins Lake camp trip

The fog had rolled back in last week so we were SO ready to get out of here and find some sun! It's funny how quickly the Bay Area can turn from warm summery days to butt cold in just hours! I had my heater on last week! Anyway, Thursday afternoon we rolled off the hill with our 5th wheel and off camping we went.
We weren't going to leave until Friday. But then all of a sudden Thursday morning Pete sends me a text and says "we can leave today if you want. I'll be home at 1:30". So I rushed to get everything in the trailer, make one last run for ice etc....and when does he finally show up home?? Um. 3:30. Two hours past when he said he would be home. I should have known. My husband is notorious for that. LOL! It all worked out in the end though. We finally got going around 4:30 and made it to the campground with just enough light left to set up camp.
This was the first time out in the 5th wheel, so I was really excited. Camping in the trailer is SO MUCH nicer than a tent. I had a pantry and a sink...and a toilet! And a real bed!
The campground kind of sucked though. I don't know that we'll go back to this place. The campsites were tiny. Basically just parking spots. Ours was so small we had to move the picnic table out of the way just to back the trailer in. And forget sitting around the campfire. At least in our spot there was just no room at all. Our friends got there before us and well....they basically took the better of the two spots. I don't blame them I guess!
Other than the campground itself, we did manage to have a great time. The boys slept in their own tent, which they loved. They were up at 6 am each morning ready to fish.

We spent most of the day Friday and Saturday at the swimming beach.

Us adults were outnumbered 8 to 4. Erin and Mike have 4 kids + they also brought their niece and nephew + our two kids. Luckily they all get along really well!
We also managed a S'more or two. Or three.

Saturday was Amanda's birthday.

Erin made the cake before we left. Yes, she MADE it. And brought it 3 hours in a Suburban full of kids to a campground! She's totally that kind of mom.

She even brought this stuff for the kids to play with. If you can't tell from the picture, she brought a whole little western play set complete with general store, sheriff office and cowboys etc...She's nicer than me. haha
I did manage to bring Hillbilly Golf with us, though. We discovered this at our church camp last month and decided it was the perfect thing to bring camping. We were going to make our own, but I couldn't pass up a set at Target for 20 bucks! But see....our campsites were so small we had to play in the road!

It was so nice to get away. I hope we can at least take the trailer out one more time before summer is over.

I have my surgery August 1st so I'm hoping to feel up to going again by mid-August? The doctor said I needed about a weeks recovery time so I think that should be good enough, right?
Swimming lessons started today! Oh how I love summer!

Friday, July 08, 2011

Homeschool past and future.

I realize that in my last post I was all gushy, gushy over summer and now here I am talking about starting school again.
I think I have ADD.
But really, I have just one month until we start school so it's time to get planning!
First, let me give my thoughts on our school year last year and homeschooling through a charter. I think most of you know that I really loved homeschooling. Like way more than I thought I would. First of all it's given me something to do. A job other than sweeping floors and folding clothes. Not that that isn't great and all...but I think I really needed something else to focus on, goals to achieve etc... I think I'm a happier person and better mom and wife because of homeschooling. And secondly, it's allowed me to step out of my comfort zone in a lot of ways. I've gone places, done things and met people all because of this homeschooling gig and for the sake of my kids. I'm a pretty shy person. I tend to always want to go somewhere new with someone I know because I get a little freaked by new social situations. I'm awkward. I'd rather just stay home all day. But I can't do that. My kids need to get out and see the world and meet people and socialize. (and they are not like me at all--both social butterflies!) So I signed us up for every field trip, class and activity I could get us in to. And it was fun. And I'm not scared to do it anymore.
As I mentioned we are homeschooling through a charter. A charter school is basically a 'parent run' public school (sometimes these schools are just like any other public school..sometimes they are more of an independent study program). The school receives funding through the state just like any other school and is held to testing standards results (among other things) in order to hold on to their charter. So the major plus to homeschooling this way (for me) is basic: money. The school gives each enrolled student a certain amount of money each semester for curriculum and classes. It sounds perfect. Someone will BUY all my curriculum for me?!! Well, yes... and no. Here's were some of the drawbacks come in. First there's a TON of homeschooling curriculum choices nowadays. Way more than there used to be. BUT a lot of them still lean towards a more Christian view, rather than secular. Which is fine by me...but not fine to the public school system. So I found that even though I had all this money to spend last year, I ended up spending a lot of my own money anyway. The other + and - to using a charter school is having to be held accountable. At first this seemed like the perfect thing for me-someone who was a little reluctant in the beginning-to have someone to help guide me and to know that I was being held accountable so that we wouldn't just sleep in till noon every day. I still view this as a plus and a minus. A plus because I really, really like our teacher. And because schedules and deadlines really do drive me. I am a notorious procrastinator. But knowing that I have to report to someone else, forces me to get going. So all that works for me. But...but, but, but....sometimes I just don't like being told what to do. LOL! Three categories that bug me every month (subjects that we have to list on our learning record that gets submitted to the state) are: special interests, PE, and life skills. Now, Jake's 'special interest' is archery. Doesn't that qualify also as PE and a life skill?? I think so. But apparently the school wants more. I have to list new life skills each month. And I have to show a progression in his special interest. And he needs to be doing other things for PE too. It's annoying. Especially when it's winter and freezing and raining. I do not care about PE in the winter.
But anyway overall I'm still glad to be going with a charter school because bottom line: we just don't have the money not to do it this way. Did I mention they also pay for classes like swimming, gymnastics, dance, karate etc...? Jake got to take this really cool outdoor explorer class that was very expensive and it was completely payed for by the school. It was an opportunity he would have never had if we didn't go through the charter.
So here we are with a month left until school starts for both Jake and Megan so I've been busy getting us ready. Here's our curriculum line up for the 2011-2012 school year:

Language Arts:
For Jake this will be a hodgepodge of things we'll put together. First I will be ordering several literature packs from a company called Moving Beyond the Page. The lessons use literature for comprehension, writing, spelling and grammar.
We will also use Writing Strands 3 (continued from last year) And I'm pretty sure I'm going to order All About Spelling for both kids. Spelling is by far Jake's worst subject. This program takes a phonetic method along with common spelling rules to teach spelling. I know for a fact that Jake has many gaps in his early teachings of phonics and was never taught any spelling rules at all until last year. So I'm hoping that by taking a small step backwards we can quickly make a giant step forward with spelling.
For Megan I am using Explode the Code workbooks for phonics/reading and handwriting. I will also use the All About Spelling with her along with a computer program we began last year called Reading Eggs.
For Jake we will continue with Singapore Math 2B, 3A and 3B. (each level takes about a semester and we've already started 2B) It's worked well for him and we're just going to keep going. For Megan....I'm still on the fence with this one. I'd like to just use Singapore since I already have it. But she's a different kid and numbers don't seem to a) interest her and b) I think she may just learn differently than Jake. We've begun the kindergarten curriculum, but I don't really like it. I'm thinking of starting Megan with Math U See.
History/Geography: We will continue with our study of Early American history and move into Western Expansion. We'll use Beautiful Feet Books for this again. The guide says this is for 4-8th grade, but I think we can make this work for us since we will be doing this as a family. And since this seems to go right along with the US and western expansion, we will be doing a geography study of the 50 states. I purchased a curriculum online that looks fun called Road Trip USA.
Science: My kids love science and unfortunately, last year was kinda boring. I tried to make it more interesting, but it was a lot of work gathering ideas and supplies for experiments etc...So this year I'm going to try out Nancy Larson Science. It's expensive, but it comes with everything. No hunting around for things or trying to come up with ideas on my own! sounds good to me!
PE/extra curricular/special interests:
Jake will continue to study archery and go to his outdoor explorer class. Pete also promised him he could play baseball this year so we will be looking for that ( in spring?) too.
Megan: for now we're looking for either a gymnastics or dance class (or both) for her and just kind of see where her interests lead her. I already know that she's extremely interested in horses. I'd love to get her into some lessons or something, but our school only will pay 30% (because they're generally so expensive) and a lot of the lessons won't start her until she's 7 AND a lot of the lessons around here are for English ridding and I'd rather her learn Western Pleasure. (i grew up with horses and it's what I would prefer her to learn).
And I think that's it. *Whew* It only took me 4 days to write that all up! I know it doesn't pertain to many of you, but I don't know...It's our life right now. :)
Now to go pack the trailer for camping!

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Taking Summer by the Horns

I haven't been blogging much.
We are way too busy enjoying summer.
Oh yes, it showed up here finally and we are taking advantage of it...because who knows when the fog might roll back in!
We've been swimming.

my niece Caitlin and our friend Amanda
And gone to the county fair. Where Megan participated in a little show and got up and sang in front of everyone. (Oh my goodness that was CUTE!) She is fearless.

Our niece is here from Georgia and stayed with us for an entire week. That was so fun. I'd almost forgotten how much we all missed her.

We had a big party out our house for 4th of July. Lots of kids and adults and FOOD. Yeah, my friends and I tend to get carried away. But in a good way. The best part? Introducing the art of S'mores to some of the young'ns. Sticky, gooey, hot marshmallows + kids who've never even had them = funny.

The kids went and spent 2 days with Grandma and Grandpa. I'm not gonna lie, we missed them and kinda didn't know what to do with ourselves. (except eat dinner on the couch!) But it was a very nice and welcome break. When you homeschool, there just aren't as many breaks from kids. Most of the time, that's fine. But just need a break.
The rest of the summer is shaping up to look like this:
Camping next week
Swim lessons as soon as we return
The Big Wilcox Month of Birthdays (all of August--mine, Jake's then Megan's)
Camping again?
The start of our 2nd year homeschooling and Megan officially starting Kindergarten.
And.....Surgery. mmm mmm Yep. The 'ol gallbladder is coming out. I know, I sound like such an old lady! but I've got to get this thing out of me because the pain and annoyance of it all is becoming unbearable. It seems I'm having 'episodes' of passing a gallstone (not to be confused with passing a kidney stone-still painful, but entirely different) quite often lately. It is extremely painful, causes me to not sleep because it always happens at night, and gives me a lot of anxiety when it comes to eating. I just never know what is going to trigger an attack or what is not. Anyway...I want it gone. I met with the surgeon on Tuesday and though a specific date has not been set yet, he said the surgery should be sometime in either August or September. I'm a little bit scared, but I'm just really hoping that this pain will go away and I can go back to being normal. Whatever that is!
And well, that's that for now. I hope you are enjoying your summer as much as we are!