Friday, January 30, 2015

This Past Week...

I haven't been blogging this past week. We've been sick. Don't worry, we don't have the measles. Seems like that's the big thing in the news lately. No, it's just a stinkin' cold that's been going around. Baby started getting sick about a week and a half ago, and then we've all had it to some degree. We're all coughing and hacking and spewing snot all over the place. Not terribly much fun. I have a sore throat right now. I don't think it's strep. But I do know it's the second cold I've had since Christmas and I don't like it.  This morning I slept till 8:00. Usually I'm up around 6:30-6:40 or so, but I just couldn't do it this morning. And since the only other kid who was up was  Baby, I just decided to let her play in my bedroom while the other kids and I slept.  And  you know what? We still got all our Friday schooling done. I find that to be amazing.  Just another testimony to the efficiency of homeschooling.  Started school at 9:00, did Bible, Greek (yes, we are doing Greek and loving it, I'll blog about that at a later date), Reading, Math, Health, Science, Writing and Bubba is just finishing up his Latin right now at 2:38 pm.  The only thing we skipped today was music appreciation. Oh well! Anyhow, so, that's what's going on around here. We're all getting a little cabin feverish because we haven't been going out, because we've been sick. And being a good mother, I don't want to expose everyone and his brother to our germs. Even though my kids are really good at coughing into the crook of their arm. So, we haven't been doing piano lessons or practices or anything!  Although last night we did go to Duh-duh's first basketball game. He did great. He hasn't played basketball before, so there's definitely a lack of experience going on there, but he wasn't any worse than any of the other kids out there, and he played with a lot of vigor and assertiveness. I don' want to say "aggression" because that kind of has negative connotations, but he was assertive out there and loved to handle the ball. So, I believe that when he gets enough experience he should be pretty good. So, I'm hoping that next week we're all feeling better.

Friday, January 23, 2015

It's For the Birds!

I started up a new hobby this year. Hobbies and I don't generally do very well. I don't collect things. Collecting things becomes expensive (you have to generally buy the things you collect) and you have to store or display the collection, which can easily turn into clutter.  I'm not good at crafty things.  Most crafty things don't turn out well for me. And crafty things can become expensive, too.  I  used to cross-stitch. And that was fun, but then I couldn't figure out what to do with all my finished projects.  I used to scrap book. Talk about expensive. And what a mess, too. If I had a room dedicated to hobby/crafty things, that would be one thing, but I don't have a dedicated craft room. So,  I'd  have to drag out all my stuff. And then organize my pictures. And then do the work. And then put it all away. That didn't work out so well! And yes, I did try the digital scrapbooking. Meh! Not for me.  So, I don't have a great history with hobbies.

However, this Christmas vacation I was on a message board I frequent and they were talking about bird-watching. And I looked outside and I saw... a hummingbird feeder,
 
and a bird feeder
that I had made using a plastic plant saucer screwed on to the top of a tree prop,
well out of reach of....and I thought to myself,  "Hey, I can do bird watching!"
 
So, with some Christmas money I bought a binoculars, a bird guide and made a nifty little bird journal with a notebook and I decoupaged it using bits of tissue paper and watered down glue.

 
 
 It's been a fun hobby. And one that is manageable.  I just need to remember to keep the bird feeder and the hummingbird feeder filled.  We have a lot of hummingbirds around.  This one is an Anna's Hummingbird. I never would have known that before. I would have just thought it was a hummingbird, but now that I'm a bird-watcher, I actually try to identify the birds I see.

 
 I found this wonderful website Cornell University Ornithology to help with bird identification. It even has a great ap I put on the iPad.  So, between that ap and my Sibley's book I can tell you that what you are looking at is not just any old sparrow, it is a Lark Sparrow.  And that's not just any old finch, it is a House Finch. I do wish we had some more interesting birds in out backyard, though. Basically it's the sparrows and the finches. I have spotted a couple of Scrub Jays and a pair of Mourning Doves. And there are Great Horned Owls down by the river, but they are out only at night.
And I do work at journaling. I don't do it every day, but I try to keep up with it. Nothing fancy. Just a brief weather report, a list of the birds I see and a few comments if there is anything noteworthy to report. So, this has become a fun and manageable hobby. Nothing to buy, nothing to store, but definitely lots of new things to learn!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

So, Who Do You Open Your Door To?

I was just texting my friend. We text a lot. We're both stay-at-home homeschooling moms (is that redundant? Are there homeschooling moms that do not stay-at-home?), who prefer to not go anywhere or see other people. Well, I prefer not to go anywhere.  Happiness to me is when my mini-van has not seen the light of day all week long! So, we text each other a lot!  Anyhow, she was saying how a couple of girls from a certain religion came by her house.  We get a lot of foot traffic at our door, too. People from certain religions, wanting to share their faith. People coming by wanting to drum up a little business painting my address number on the curb. In December I had a man come by wanting to rake my leaves. My yard was a mess, but I said "no". And then I suffered tremendous guilt because he looked like a nice, honest man, I think he was with a yard-care business and he probably wanted to make a little extra money for Christmas. Presents for his kids and all. And I said, "No!" I felt really bad.  We also have people coming by trying to sell me things. Now, I don't mind the local school kids coming by to sell candy bars or raffle tickets for their school for a buck, but it does tick me off when they're trying to sell me cookie dough, or wrapping paper or magazine subscriptions for $20. Good grief, what do they think? I'm made of money?

Now, I make it a practice not to buy things from door-to-door salesmen. I just.... don't trust them. Sorry! But, I do try to listen to the people who come to my door. I figure, it's a tough gig going out and sharing your faith or trying to sell things, and the least I can do is spend a few minutes listening to what they have to say. So,  I try to do that. I never invite them in my house, though, and I do try to be firm in my "I'm not buying anything from you!" stand. It's a routine that has worked pretty well for me over the years.  Except this one time. It was in the middle of summer and this guy comes up to my door. Since he was a man, I really really really didn't want to invite him inside, so I offered to listen to him out on the front porch. Oh my word. He was still there 45 minutes later when Hubby came home from work. And he was trying to sell me cancer insurance. Cancer insurance.  He was a very nice man, trying to earn a living, and he knew all the sales techniques. First, he tried to find something we had in common. I think he said his wife homeschooled.  And he also said they were former missionaries, home now. So, I could trust him. You'd never expect a missionary to be dishonest, would you? Well, that was all fine, but I still wouldn't budge. So, onto the next technique. It was the old "your neighbor, Mr. Smith, was very interested in this product" because if Mr. Smith was interested in this product then I should be too. Although that's kind of risky, because what if Mr. Smith is a mean, old curmudgeon who everyone hates? That wouldn't make me more likely to buy the product. And then, since that tactic didn't work, he gave me all kinds of statistics and numbers that were supposed to scare me. "If I got cancer, it could cost me $25 gazillion dollars and could I really afford that?" Well, of course not. "So, I need this insurance!" I wasn't going to argue with the guy. I'm not the argumentative type. I listened to his presentation, and I'm not sure if he was just up for the challenge or if he was really so clueless that after 45 minutes of talking to me he didn't realize that he was no closer to selling me this insurance than he was when he rang my doorbell. Anyhow, Hubby came home, and he is not nearly as kind-hearted (read: wimpy) as me and sent him on his way in short order. (Of course Hubby is very polite and was nice to the guy, but let him know we just were not interested).  I never saw the likes of him again.

January Days....

Didn't sleep well last night. Even though our bedroom is across the house from the kids' rooms, I still heard Baby coughing all night. Poor thing. She's sick. It's one of those post-nasal-drip coughs.  I know she didn't sleep well, either. I got up about 6:45. This was later than I would have liked, but I woke up at the normal time, heard the coffee maker turn on (music to my ears) and then for some bizarre reason, snuggled back under the covers and fell back asleep for a half an hour and had one of those crazy dreams. You know those kind. They make  no sense at all.  And then I woke up and realized, "I need to get up!" And Baby was up. I picked her up, and she was shivering, even though she was wearing one of those footed blanket sleepers. I took her temp and it was 101 degrees.  Gave her some Ibuprofen and by breakfast time her temp was normal.  So, anyhow, she's sick. Took a nap on the couch this afternoon. She hates taking naps, but she really needs one, so I just kind of let her nap where she drops and put a blanket on her.

The days are just cold and gray. I tend to not like January very much. It doesn't matter what the temperature is like inside (it's usually pretty constant), if it is cloudy then I am cold. If it is sunny, I am comfortable.  The kids don't like much to go outside and I don't make them. It's cold. I'm heating up some leftover coffee on the stove right now. I really need to go through stuff in my closet. I don't like to throw anything away. I think it's that old Depression-Era sensibility that was instilled in me.... don't throw away that --- piece of yarn, plastic bag, wooden spool. You may need it some day. I do that with my clothes. So what if it doesn't fit, is out of style or I just plain hate it. I may want to wear it some day. I feel especially guilty if I bought it and never wore it and accidentally threw away the receipt so I can't take it back. Generally speaking, if that's the case, then I keep it hanging in my closet for a couple of years out of guilt. And then I give it away.  Kind of like left overs from dinner. Sometimes, I just don't like what I made. But we have leftovers. So, I dutifully put them in a container and put it in the fridge. I can't throw them away. There are starving children all over the world, you know.  And then I conveniently forget about it. And then, when it is moldy, I throw it away. Of course you can't eat moldy food. What's wrong with you? 

So, now you know how I operate. And how, in January, my mind is as grey as the clouds outside.  But, I just thought I'd let the world know about that!  In case y'all were wondering!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Readin' A Good Book!

I do like to read. Well, I used to. No.... I still do.  But it's hard to read now that I have so many distractions.  But when I was a kid, I read the same books over and over again. I think it's because the characters became friends, really. I read Marguerite Henry's "Misty" and "Stormy Misty's Foal" more times than I can count.  They're great for girls - horse-y books.  But I felt like Paul and Maureen were more than just characters in a book. They became my friends. I read the Laura Ingall's Wilder's books dozens of times as well.  But now, I don't really have time to read, and when I do, it is hard to get my head into a book. If I try to read in the daytime, then I have to prepare for a million interruptions and if I try to read in the evenings....I fall asleep.  I've become more picky about what I read, too. I hate trashy books, depressing books, "meaningful" books that really aren't that meaningful.  I don't read a whole lot of fiction for all those reasons, and a lot of the fiction I've read, I'll pick it up, read a chapter and toss it. Generally, I read biographies and histories. One biography I read a year or so ago was about Hitler's mistress - Eva Braun. That was a great book. It really was.  I mean, the man was a monster and haven't you always wondered.... What kind of woman? What kind of woman would be his mistress? I always wondered that.  So, I when I saw her biography "The Lost Life of Eva Braun" by Angela Lambert, I picked it up and read it. It was interesting. And you know what? She really wasn't a very unusual woman. Ordinary, really.

Right now I'm reading two books. "Rubicon: The Last Years of the Roman Republic" by Tom Holland and "The Company We Keep: A Husband-and-Wife True-Life Spy Story" by Robert Baer and Dayna Baer.  Both are awesome books. I bought "Rubicon" and have been working on it in the evenings. It has actually been keeping me awake. It's an interesting read. But what has really hooked me is the spy book.  One summer, several years ago, I got addicted to the "Alias" tv series on Amazon Prime. Some days I'd watch 2-3 episodes. My alter-ego was Sydney Bristow. I wanted to join the CIA so bad. I'd be the perfect spy. No one would ever suspect a middle aged housewife, right? I ended up not watching the last season. For some reason, that show kept getting more and more over the top and it just got too much for me. There's unrealistic and then there's really unrealistic. And you know, sometimes a series that was good just gets.... it's like they run out of the storyline. Anyhow, I just got tired of it. But then, when I decided to suck it up and actually watch the last season, it wasn't free anymore. That kind of irritated me. So, I never watched it. Anyhow, I kind of got hooked on spy stuff.  And then the other day we were at the library after avoiding it for the past 6 months because of the colossal fines I owed (I did pay off most of them, and strangely enough, shortly after that, they installed new carpeting and all the librarians were driving new cars) (not really) and I was browsing and killing time (we hit the library between dropping Cee-Cee off at tumbling at 4:30 and dropping Duh-duh off at Basketball practice at 5:00, so we had to time everything just right) and I saw this book and I thought, hmm, I can check it out and have it sit on the countertop unread for 3 weeks and hopefully bring it back before its due date.  So, I grabbed it and checked it out. On Missie Lou's library card because mine still has a huge fine on it and they wouldn't let me use it. Shhhh, don't tell her! We still got to Duh-duh's practice early, so I decided to open up the book and give it a go while we waited for his coach to get there. And you know what? I was hooked. It's a good read. It really is. It's only been three days and I'm half way through the book.  That's what a good book will do for you!