Thursday, August 28, 2008

Stop the World, I Want to Get Off

Hormones are a terrible thing when you're getting older. They run your life. They make you cry, they make you scream. Sometimes it feels like the world is spinning so fast that you have to hold on tight or you'll go flying off into space.

I totally know why women take homone replacement. If one little pill a day can relieve these symptoms, then the side affects seem like a small price to pay. Maybe one day I'll break down and just get a prescription, but until then, I'll continue to scream and cry and hold on tight.

It doesn't help at all that I'm living with a pre-pubescent child who is apparently feeling the same things!

For now, I'm planning to keep trying to eat right (although I truly believe that chocolate should be counted as a drug and that my prescription insurance plan should pay for it), get some exercise, get some sleep and try to find humor in each day.

My humor for today: I was complaining to a friend that I was too old for something, and the princess came in and said that 29 wasn't old, and that I wouldn't be old until I looked like grandma.

I'm going to go buy the princess a present.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

He Loves Me, He Really Loves Me

Well, after my tears on Monday, the man I married marched down to the dog boarding place to make them apologize for upsetting me. After lots of "sorry's" it turns out that what they so indelicately called "coping issues" turned out to be that Ed just really, really loves me.

Apparently Ed loves me so much that he just can't seem to cope without me. He doesn't mind me leaving him at home - he's got the house to guard and all; he minds me leaving him somewhere else. He's just worried that I won't be safe and happy if he's not there with me.

After being reassured that the dog place will indeed take good care of our baby, the man I married and I decided that it would be better for everyone concerned if he took Ed to doggie camp and not mom. It's a good thing too, I would have just been crying the whole time anyway.

We never leave our babies, and he's my baby. The man I married knows that Ed's my baby, the kids all know that Ed's the baby of the family. The princess even calls Ed her little brother and says that we need to get Ed a little brother.

So, we'll be leaving our baby in capable hands. The man I married will call the doggie camp from time to time to see how our baby is coping. We'll have fun; we won't worry; everything will be okay (repeat over and over until convinced).

Now I just have to figure out a way to pack without the dog seeing me. We've been told that if he sees us packing it will stress him out. My decision: Stress out the dog or stress out the man I married. You see, the man I married would prefer that I have all of the packing done now - a week ahead of time. But since I have to pack under the cover of darkness, I won't be finished until much closer to departure.

Now I'm stressed. Where's that margarita machine?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Homeschooling, Dogs and the "S" Word

The biggest question people always ask about homeschooling is about socialization. How do you socialize your kids? Do your kids get enough socialization? I've never had a problem with my kids and socialization. My dog is another story.

Poor Ed has to go to doggie camp while we're on vacation. We tried and tried, but it really won't work to take him along with us; so he's got to go.

We found a place that looks like it should be fun for dogs. Apparently it's not fun for Ed. The dogs are divided into groups and spend the day playing in fenced in yards. They go on a hike in the morning; the take an afternoon nap. Sounds like lots of doggie fun. Not to Ed.

Ed doesn't like to spend the day with other dogs playing in a yard. Ed doesn't believe that he's a dog, and doesn't like the commotion. Now, we have four kids around all day long, so it's not the noise. I really believe that it's because Ed doesn't know he's a dog. He thinks he's a real boy (like Pinocchio).

So, here we are, a week before we leave, trying to help Ed develop the "coping skills" that he apparently lacks. I'm used to people having negative comments about my parenting skills - we do things outside of the norm. I'm confident that we are doing what's best for our children, and they are wonderful kids who have proven us right. Unfortunately, I'm not so secure about my doggie parenting skills. When the doggie place told me that Ed didn't have "coping skills" I was reduced to tears. Multiple questions about how to help him develop coping skills was always met with "We've got trainers who can work with you." I don't want to spend hundreds of dollars to change my wonderful dog. I just want him to not be so sad at the doggie camp.

The man I married and I have lost hours of sleep worrying about poor Ed. Will we be able to enjoy our vacation knowing that Ed is sad? Will Ed suffer permanent damage from this? Will our poor baby be mad at us forever for leaving him?

This morning I decided to Google "dog coping skills" to see if there was any helpful advice. Amazingly, it was all about "We've got trainers who can work with you." Finally I found a little article containing some helpful information. So today we begin the week long attempt at helping Ed to develop his coping skills. First on the list is a visit to Pet's Mart. The we'll drop by a restaurant that lets dogs on the patio.

Wish me luck. My poor heart just can't take the stress!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Good, The Bad and The Itchy

First, the good: I finished my August mid month dishcloth for The Monthly Dishcloth KAL. It's pretty, and since I have tons of variegated yarn that I need to use up, it's wonderful.

The bad: Fireants. Why do we have fireants? Normally I'm totally willing to accept that some, otherwise yucky, animals have a place in the ecosystem. But fireants - they serve no purpose that I can even imagine if I try. The poor children of the south can't really ever just run outside in their bare feet to play. They must always be mindful of fireants. Even little bitties understand about fireants.

You really can't get rid of fireants; you can just encourage them to go somewhere else for a while. They're always around, and they always return.

Now to the Itchy: I got hot last night, so I took off my shirt in the middle of the night. I set it on the floor next to the bed. So far, not a problem. Ed woke me up to go outside around 7 am. Still, no problem. I reached down, picked up my shirt and put it on. Problem.

I walked into the kitchen and felt stinging all over. I turned on the light to see what was going on. Fire ants were crawling all over me!! I swatted off what I could and then went in to wake up the man I married so that he could get the little demons off my back.

For some reason, the fire ants had decided to colonize my shirt during the night. Now I know that Ed loves my dirty clothes; but I had always assumed that was because he loves me and likes to be near my smell. Yucky, yes, but it makes sense - he's a dog. But why the fireants? There was no food, no water - just a shirt.

Needless to say, the fireants are now gone. There weren't any that we could find outside of one or two who'd been shaken from the shirt when I picked it up. The shirt is in the laundry (even though I don't normally do laundry on Saturday - this was a special load). I'm a bit gun shy about putting any clothes on, but because the teen would probably die if he saw me without clothes, I'll conquer my fear.

All of this is actually due to hot flashes. Another reason to be a grumpy old lady.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Reading and "Mental Pause"

This is our second year of using Sonlight for school. The kids all like the books - yeah! Unfortunately, I now have four kids reading a minimum of 2 books each a week. My original plan was to read along with the kids.

That plan flew out the window almost immediately. The teen was reading Scarlet Letter. I kept up for the first two days - then fell behind. I tried to convince him to give me a few days for catch up, and he agreed - but even with that help I couldn't keep up. So, Scarlet Letter was abandoned.

I can usually keep up with reading for the smiling child, but am currently two days behind. My plan is to catch up today. What do they say about the best laid plans?

The books for the middle child and the teen are all hard enough that I really need to have my own copy. The teen and I tried to share a book once and it always worked out that he was actually reading the book at the very moment that I had time to read. So I decided that whenever there is a book with chapters that take me more than ten minutes or so to read, I would just get my own copy.

This is a great plan - we have Half Price bookstores all around us. Since the books are almost always classics, they are generally easy to find. I say "generally" because some of the books have proven impossible to find used. For those books, I order them new and acknowledge that I won't even try to read them.

So there I was, trying to read along with my kids (I don't read the novels aloud because there is always someone who feels the need to either talk or sing or play guitar whenever I start reading), and I was somehow unable to finish my reading.

I finally discovered that my biggest problem is that there is NEVER a quiet moment in my house! I really mean never. Either someone is talking, asking questions, practicing music, or in the case of the princess, just jabbering and singing. I find myself re-reading the same sentence over and over and still not remembering what I read.

You'd think that I'd just start reading at night, but nooooo! It's not quiet then either.

So here I sit, trying to make it through the reading with the smiling child. Luckily (?) I don't have copies of the books the middle child is reading. I've admitted to the teen that, although I really wanted to read My Antonia with him, I just won't be able to do it. Thank goodness that the princess's books are simple. That I can handle. Let me tell you about "Pat the Rat."

Good News:

1. I got an "award" for finishing my socks on Ravelry.

2. The middle child was playing something that sounded so much like Stairway to Heaven, that I have him listening to the opening so he can have something new to play!!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Olympics and Knitting

Ravelry had a knit along called Ravelympics and I joined. The idea was that you would sign up as part of a group and knit something during the Olympics. I decided to knit socks (the Sock Put). As a member of Team Browncoat I decided to knit my own pattern called "Leaf on the Wind" in honor of Wash.

Well, they're finished! It sure is a lot more fun to knit someone else's pattern, but I may have to try my own design again.
The sad part is that now I've finished my Sockamania socks and my Ravelympics socks for this month, and I'll need to find something else to knit.
Hmmm.......that blue and green yarn is calling my name - maybe the Whale socks? Or I could wind and use the pretty yarn the man I married got for me - but what pattern - maybe the Magic Mirror Socks? No, they don't remind me of leaves and the fall. Whoa - here's a pattern called Falling Leaves! That's just the thing I was looking for. Just gotta remember to make sure the leaves will be falling down when I knit (cause I knit toe-up) - so we don't have a replay of the upside down waterfall debacle.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Music and TV in Our Lives

Today we had the first little bit of rain in a long time. The Beatles's song Here Comes the Sun keeps going through my mind. Not sure why, cause that song is not about rain - but there's no rhyme or reason to earworms. Anyway, we had to drive to our music/art lessons today and it picked that exact 15 minutes to pour. I'm not going to complain, though, because we REALLY need rain. And to make it even better, the rain meant that it wasn't hot today.

This was the princesses last piano lesson with her teacher. Ms. Katie is moving to Ireland next week. I'm not sure that the princess understands that Ms. Katie won't be back for her next lesson, so we'll have to see how that goes. Fortunately, the princess will be taking piano class with the "big girls" next session, so I'm hoping that the novelty of being considered a big girl will outweigh the fact that there will be a new teacher.

The boy's guitar teacher agreed to let them take group lessons for the next session, so that is wonderful news to my bank account. He really wanted the teen and the middle child to take private lessons; but since it only takes three to make a group, my three boys will be a "group" and lessons will be a lot less costly. The only person is really affects is the smiling child, and he's keeping up with his older brothers (more or less).

We're recently re-discovered our packed away stash of video tapes. One old favorite enjoying a renaissance is Amazing Animals. The teen loved these when he was little, so we have most of the series. Now, ten years later, they're still good shows. I think that watching them can count as science for the day. Don't you hate it when you find a good show for children and then it's gone?

Speaking of great shows for kids - let's hear it for Magic Schoolbus! When I first started homeschooling I would watch that show and feel like a terrible teacher because I didn't take the kids on wonderful field trips like Miss Frizzle. The man I married lovingly pointed out to me that all of the episodes he'd seen were actually impossible field trips anyway. Not sure it helped, but he was sweet to point out an obvious flaw in my logic without making me feel like a goofball.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Feeding Kids

It's hot again! Not as hot as last week; but then, anything is better than 104°. We've been pretty much stuck in the house during the day, and have been eating at home the whole time.

While it's healthier and cheaper to eat at home, sometimes I really just want a big salad. The teen has us all watching Seinfeld episodes in the afternoon, so the term "big salad" is in our collective consciousness. So now, when I say I want a salad the whole crew replies: "You mean a BIG salad?" And then everyone giggles.

It's lunch time. I don't want another sandwich. I don't want saltines (the princess currently wants saltines). I don't want mac and cheese. I don't want leftovers. There's nothing cool for lunch in the freezer. I want a big salad.

How disgusting do I have to make going out to lunch sound before I can go get a big salad and not have to share? Will I need to put tofu on it? Will it need to include sea urchin? The smiling child won't want any as long as there's anything green in it, so he's not a problem (at least as far as having to share a salad!). The middle child would eat the tofu just to share food - he loves to share everyone's food. The princess will eat anything. The teen will eat most anything; and he doesn't make sick faces when he's picking out things he doesn't like (unlike the smiling child).

So, there you have it. Most of my kids would be willing to get a big salad for lunch. Now to find a place.....

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Socks, Yarn and Wonderful Husbands

I finished my Sockamania socks today. The pattern is "Little Flowers" and they are so cute. I used Panda Cotton for the first time, and it's cozy (although a bit of a pain to knit with). Cotton yarn means that I can wear them even during these 100° days.

The man I married and I decided to hit a local Home and Garden show today. We've been talking about re-doing the awning on the back porch, and also doing some landscaping, so this seemed like a great place to hang out. While there wasn't really any information on what we wanted to do, there were lot's of gimme's. We got coozies, highlighters, caps and even two thermal coffee mugs! Score!

After we finished the show we were hungry, so we went to one of those restaurants that we always think of eating at after we've already finished eating somewhere else. Lot's of veggies - this place gives you free refills on the veggies!

Then, the man I married wanted to go look through a local "green" store, so off we went. Since this store is right across the street from a yarn store, we decided to check that out too.

Well, and here's the wonderful part; the man I married actually picked out some new sock yarn for me! I usually buy pink/purple/red yarn, and he found this beautiful orange/brown yarn that he said I should get. This yarn reminds me so much of fall. Totally out of my comfort zone, colorwise, but they'll be so beautiful (and I think I saw a smidge of purple in there too!).

I know what yarn I'm using next (after I finish my Homage to Wash socks). Knitting with fall color socks can only help cope with this heat. Yeah - for the man I married! He knows me well.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Legos in the Computer Age

The smiling child and the princess were playing Lego's. Normally the smiling child goes off to a protected corner and builds elaborate Lego creations and then lets us see; but this morning he was feeling benevolent and allowed the princess to play along.

Not wanting to disrupt the magic, I quietly eavesdropped while pretending to ignore them. The conversation went something like this:

Princess: Can I just email my order to you or do I need to do it online?
Smiling Child: Our internet connection is down, you'll have to wait.
P: Do you have any girl clothes in your inventory?
SC: I'll have to check my database. Wait, the internet is up again; you can order online.
P: Will you deliver it tomorrow? Do I have to pay extra for that?

This went on and on. Finally the decision was made that the Smiling Child didn't have any girl clothes and wasn't interested in delivering girl clothes anyway, so they just had a war with Lego horses.

Then the middle child went in to practice guitar; the Princess had to accompany him with her chimes and the Smiling Child went in to read.

There's never quiet, but at least the Lego war is over.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Rain, Rain, Don't Go Away

Hurricane Edouard hit Texas yesterday. Now, we never want anyone to have damage; but we were hoping that we would get a bit of rain from it.

What we actually got were a few drops of rain and a day of only 95° (a brief respite from our days and days of over 100° weather).

It has been so bad that the princess brought out her Christmas CD and we listened to it in the car. Unfortunately, we also had the air conditioning going and were sucking on ice cubes, but it was fun.

I continue to knit socks in the hope that one day it will dip below 90° and I'll be able to wear them. Until then, I can wear them with crocs and shorts. Amazingly, wool socks aren't any hotter than cotton socks. Although, when it's this hot, no socks at all (no shoes, no shirt, no problem).

A snow cone machine looks great about now.

Friday, August 1, 2008

And Now We Weave

My local basket weaving store was offering a class. This was the basket we were supposed to weave.

This is the basket I made. Not too bad.

When we lived in Florida a lot of the people were weavers, so I joined in. My complete experience in weaving involved two small baskets and a lot of left over reed. So, after the class I asked how to tell if the reed was still usable. When I came home, I checked the reed stash and found that it was all still good!

And now we weave!

The pottery was a lot of fun, but really needs to be done outside (we don't have a big enough house to have a room dedicated to pottery). The basket weaving can be done inside (yeah!) and as a plus, involves water. Great for those of us who never really outgrew water play.

I can even sit outside with my feet in a kiddie pool, reed soaking along with my hot tootsies, and watch my kids play. I'll just need to convince the dog that the reed isn't for him to chew on.