Thursday, June 28, 2007

Been busy lately

Sorry about the wait between posts. I've been a little busy lately. We are currently dealing with our fresh fruit crop which was supplemented by a gift of fruit from our neighbors. It has resulted in a blackberry pie, three batches of plum jelly and some soon to be made dried apricots. In addition we have some more plums and nectarines for fresh eating (I may need to dry some of the nectarines, too).

In addition I've been reading up on a homeschool book that talks about the classical education method. It is titled "The Well Trained Mind" by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Bauer, if you were wondering. We really like the classical ideas and will probably use a lot of them in our homeschool. I have already revised some ideas for the coming school year. We will be concentrating on continued reading practice, with more handwriting practice, and continuing the math curriculum we recently started. We will hold off on the science and my own ideas about beginning history lessons for a year. The reasoning for this is that reading, writing and math are the building blocks for every thing else and we want to lay a good foundation during her kindergarten year. I am tempted to jump the gun on the recommended time to start spelling lessons, since she has recently shown interest in writing and is frustrated by not knowing what letters to use. Besides, spelling lessons could be a repeat of phonics rules which would strengthen her reading skills too. Besides trimming down the curricula we had originally planned, we will be wanting to increase gradually the structure and amount of time she is spending on lessons this year so that the first grade year will not be as much of a shock with the added subjects. I now have some interesting ideas to use for art and music when the kids want that as an extra treat. I am only halfway through the book. The other half that I have yet to read talks about 5th grade through graduating high school. There are a lot of things yet to be decided yet, but we have lots of ideas and, yes, Latin is one of them. I really like this book and would recommend it to anyone who is considering homeschooling, especially if they are starting out with an early elementary child.

The last thing that has had me occupied is that all three kids have colds and my husband and I are trying to fight off our own cases with Zicam.

That is all for now. The family needs me again.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A change of plans

Do you ever go along a well thought out path blissfully unaware that other people can very easily change their plans and knock you off course? Today was one of those days.

Today our backfence neighbor to the south cut down four very annoying trees in his backyard that had been giving us most of the little shade that we had. We knew they didn't like them and were considering cutting them down. We also found them annoying too in that most of the leaves from two of these trees would land in our yard every fall and we would occasionally get large limbs as well. But, we were in denial about their eventual departure. We had planted plants next to the fence that needed partial shade, that now get virtually no shade at all during our hot summers. We are not sure whether our plants will be able to weather the change.

We will weather the change in our plans at least. We have already started to revise our master plan for our backyard landscaping. We need some relatively fast growing shade trees. We have such a big backyard, the lack of trees makes it look vacant. We have put in 14 trees since we have moved in nearly four years ago, but only one of those is supposed to get much height. The backyard doesn't look as empty as it used to, but we definitely need some shade. Fortunately, this won't change our plans drastically.

I keep thinking that I'm O.K. with change. I've had lots of change in my life plans. But, somehow, most of those changes were initiated by me. Yeah, some required someone else's plans, too (marriage takes two after all). Yet, in many ways, I'm a control freak. I like to be in control of my world. So, this sudden lack of trees to the South is just a small thing in the grand scheme of things. But it still makes me sad and a little huffy that someone changed my world without my permission.

Now, that I have that off my chest, I'll just go back to the everyday routines of life and "get a life". After all, there is more things to life than landscaping, and I spend most of my days with three little important ones.

Friday, June 08, 2007

8 Things about me

I have been tagged by momtoanangel to participate in the meme "8 things about me."

Here are the rules:
The rules are simple…Each player lists 8 facts/habits about themselves. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning before those facts/habits are listed. At the end of the post, the player then tags 8 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

1. I would rather read a good history book than a novel any day. Sure there are some good entertaining stories out there that I enjoy, but history is just as fascinating and it was real.

2. I know how to ride a unicycle. This was the result of a mixture of curiosity and the desire to be like my peers (there were about five of us preteens on my street who learned to ride unicycles at about the same time.)

3. I have no mercy. Really! I took a test at church that was supposed to help me determine what my ministry strengths and weaknesses were. I scored 3 on a scale of about 30 when it came to mercy. My poor kids :)

4. I like music (just about any kind), but I prefer music that I can sing. Usually these days that means hymns at church and either veggietales silly songs or standard kids songs with innovative lyrics (Old MacDonald has about 17 verses)

5. I hate shopping. I actually went to the mall today because I needed some new jeans. I found what I needed in about 15 minutes (including trying them on) and was tempted to continue shopping since that is a rare thing to do without having all the kids with me. But, when I tried to think about what I would shop for, I couldn't think of anything so I came back home. My husband isn't sure how he ended up with a woman like this, but he is very thankful.

6. I am a Silicon Valley girl. My husband and I were discussing the best way to reheat a lasagna in the microwave so that it is heated all the way through. I said "maybe we should reformat the lasagna." My husband laughed and responded that the lasagna wasn't configured properly.

7. As a former librarian, there are very few excuses that I accept for unreturned library books. The ones that I have accepted include: "I was in the hospital" and "My car was stolen and they were in the trunk." Common lame excuses that receive the aformentioned no mercy include "I loaned it to a friend," "I forgot it wasn't mine," "I didn't return them yet?" "But, I need it to finish my report that I'm late on," and the most annoying considering that we have the ability to renew books checked out from the library "but I'm not done with it yet."

8. I never pass along these things which people send me. It reminds me of the chain letters I would get as a kid. I never liked them. So this meme stops here.

We all have a few quirks

Everybody has a few quirks. This was brought home to me last night at dinner. You see... I don't like to cook. But, I still cook. I like to think that I am a competent cook even though I don't usually take much pleasure in it. Last night I was cooking dinner for my family and my parents (who are visiting for the weekend). I was fixing something easy since time was running short... taco salad. You just brown meat, add seasonings, provide warmed refried beans, chips, cheese and salsa and ta da... dinner is ready! Everything was going well, when I noticed that we were a bit low on salsa. I like to make my life easier by just adding salsa to the meat so I don't have to add a bit of this spice and a bit of that spice. But, I knew that some of those present would like to add salsa to their salads once completed.

Side note: I have a bad habit for a cook. I dislike tasting the food I cook before I sit down at the table to eat it. I'm just not a taster. Usually this isn't a problem.

So, last night I decide to go ahead and add various spices instead of using the salsa. I go into the cupboard and find a bag that looks like chili powder. I bought the spice bulk at our local grocery store and duly noted the ID number so the cashier could type it in properly at check out. However, I didn't ever write the name of the spice on the little tag. I was going to go home and add it to my little spice jar. But, the spice jar had already been thrown out. So it was a mystery spice in the cupboard by this point. I opened the bag and carefully smelled it. It smelled like chili powder. I estimated that it was about a tablespoon worth. Remembering some of the chili powders we sometimes get at the store were a bit on the mild side, I poured the whole thing in. I then added a little cumin, garlic, salt, black pepper, and just a little vinegar. It was smelling lovely.

We served up dinner, said the prayer, and started to eat. I knew a mistake had been made with my first bite. My lips were tingling and my mouth was on fire. I barely had any meat in that bite. What could that mystery spice have been. By a process of elimination we figured out that I had added about a tablespoon of cayenne pepper to a pound of meat.

Fortunately, my husband and dad are fond of spicy foods and Mom and I are tolerant (especially when it so helpfully clears out our problematic sinuses). The kids were eating what they call kid foods and were spared the experience. This hasn't been the first time that I have over spiced something. I've made some extremely hot chilis by mistake. Oddly enough (or reasonably enough) my Mom has done the same thing on occasion and I did learn to cook from her. I usually trust my nose to warn me of a spicing problem, but that won't catch a too much spicy heat issue. Will I learn my lesson and start tasting foods before I set them on the table? Of course not. But, I do think that I will start labeling my bulk goods better.