Thursday, April 30, 2009

Your Local Library

I think I'm falling in love with my local library. The more I'm around it (in person and online) the more I discover that they offer.
  • In addition to checking out DOZENS and dozens of books, we check out a lot of movies and audio books from them.
  • I now check out many materials by first requesting them online, then the librarians (from my branch and other local branches) gather the materials and call me when they are available.
  • I also use a meeting room once per week for my Mom's Playgroup.
  • Being at the library so often (at least twice a week) the librarians have given me carte blanche to request new books... which they then order and add to the library's collection!
  • I JUST discovered that I can download audio books for free from my local library! You may want to contact your library and ask if they offer a similar service.
I REALLY need to start donating time and books (from our unused home-library)! They give us SO MUCH, I must start reciprocating.

What services do you use at your local library?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Hulu - Legend of the Seeker - Terry Goodkind

I think I'm the last one in the world to find out about HULU. Everyone I mention it to, seems already to know about this internet resource for watching free movies and TV. I have an Amazon subscription to Season 8 of Smallville. From what I've seen, Hulu videos are of a better quality than the ones that I PAY FOR on Amazon!

The TV series that was pointed out to me, is in the Family Section, and is called Legend of the Seeker. The first few videos, Tom and I thought the acting was poor, but around the 4th episode, the actors seem to be "clicking" with each other and their characters. Now, we quite enjoy them. So much so, that I looked up the books (The Sword of Truth) that the TV series is based on... by Terry Goodkind. Currently, there are ELEVEN books in his series, plus a Prequel.

Since I'm sick, and my library has all of them, I'm devouring the books. In #1, Wizard's First Rule, there is one section in particular (Chapter 24) that is gory and gruesome and just nasty disgusting. I think I could have skipped those six pages and just been told that The Bad Guy is REALLY EVIL and I would have been happier. Still, I'm enjoying the books (on #2, Stone of Tears now), and if you pick up the first book, just skip chapter 24 to avoid being grossed out.

As far as the series versus the books. The main characters are fairly accurate. There are some scripts that seem to have been taken straight from the pages of the book. Most of the show though, uses the general ideas and traits from the book, and then mixes them up for story lines.

Even though the show isn't dead-on, it's close enough, and (since I watched it first) I enjoy reading the books and finding out the "real story" behind things.

Now, I need someone else to read these books, so I can compare notes with you and see what you think is going on in them!

Are there any other really cool websites I've been missing?

Postscript added 8 May 2009: I've had SO MANY people calling me about this series, I've currently got at least three people started reading with me, and at least three more ready to check the books out of their libraries.

I wanted to add a disclaimer / warning / rating. Now I'm on book four, and I know that this stuff is definitely "R" rated, for mature audiences, not anything I'd let me teens read. Not that many teens would willingly dive into a series of books nearly 9,000 pages and twelve books long, but I just wanted to throw that warning out there for those of you with kids that might be interested in Fantasy... I'd keep this away from them for a few more years. :)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Official Transcript Requests

yeah me!

I just spent the past hour and a half requesting my transcripts to be sent from my previous schools (HS + 4 Colleges). Can you believe that I've been to FOUR different colleges (2 Community Colleges and 2 Universities) and I've still never finished a Simple-Two-Year-Degree!?

It's been one of the biggest nagging things in my life. When I met Tom this was one of the first things he knew about me. He told me that I could go back to school after our children were weaned... which happened right before we moved to Wyoming. Then to wait for residency, and then life.

In any case, as of today, all the forms are filled out, checks written and letters mailed.

As I was going to the different sites and writing letters, I felt much more prepared to deal with the inevitable bureaucracies and forms and such that accompany school. I also know how to ask questions and make phone calls. Of course, I could do that before, but now I feel better prepared to follow through and make a degree happen.

I've been more motivated by the local college campus than any of the others I've ever been near... I can even see the school (and I think it's a nice looking building) out my back windows. I think that (plus all my local friends who've recently started back to school) will set me up for success! :D

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Metaphysics - Mental Causes for Physical Illness

For several years now I have found great help from a book by Louise L. Hay, "Heal Your Body The Mental Causes for Physical Illness and the Metaphysical Way to Overcome Them". This was my first (and so far, only) introduction to "Metaphysical" things. I'm sure that I still don't use them to the fullest of my ability, but I do find this gem of a book to be immensely helpful. Here's what I do. (Usually when things get "really bad" and my body's screaming "LISTEN TO ME!!!") I write a list out of my current ailments, noting the side of the body they are on (if any). Today's list looked like this:

cough, congestion, runny nose, slight fever, 3 canker sores.

Then, I start reading through the book.
Excerpt from "Heal Your Body"



Thought Pattern


A desire
to bark at the world. "See
me! Listen to me!"

I am
noticed and appreciated in the most positive ways. I am loved.


see: Bronchitis, Colds, Influenza

(Upper Respitory Illness)
see: Respitory Aliments

much going on at once. Mental
confusion, disorder. Small hurts.
"I get three colds every winter," type of belief.

I allow
my mind to relax and be at peace.
Clarity and harmony are within me and around me. All is well.

see: Bronchitis, Colds, Cough, Influenza

Fear of
taking life in fully.

I am
safe. I love my life.



recognize my own intuitive ability.


for help. Inner crying.

I love
and comfort myself in ways that are pleasing to me.


recognizing the self-worth

I love
and appreciate myself.


Anger. Burning up.

I am the
cool, calm expression of peace and love.


words held back by the lips. Blame.

I great
only joyful experiences in my loving world!
I find it interesting to compare and summarize the similar thread that ALWAYS seems to run through the ailments Probable Causes and New Thought Patterns.

Holding words / thoughts back.
Too busy.
Acknowledge and care for self.

Then I write out the New Thought Patterns as a list / paragraph of phrases for a new Mantra. Then, I put it somewhere I see it each morning (in the bathroom/bedside/dresser). Each morning, I pause and think about the list. I don't always read it all, but I think about it. I find focusing on the positive new thoughts is more helpful than pondering over the more negative causes. Just being aware of the causes helps, but the biggest help comes from the new thoughts I'm focused on.
I am noticed and appreciated in the most positive ways.
I am loved.
I allow my mind to relax and be at peace.
Clarity and harmony are within me and around me.
All is well.
I am safe.
I love my life.
I recognize my own intuitive ability.
I love and comfort myself in ways that are pleasing to me.
I love and appreciate myself.
I am the cool, calm expression of peace and love.
I create only joyful experiences in my loving world!
I must say, this post is (even for me) a little daring to write. It "puts me out there", opens me up, shows a weak-side, and also gives you plenty to "judge" me on. That makes it hard to share. BUT, this book and method has worked many wonders in my life, and I feel that the risk of sharing is less than the guilt of not sharing and giving you the opportunity to try it for yourself.

I sincerely hope that you too can get your hands on a copy of Louise L. Hay's "Heal Your Body" and try this out for yourself. It's been amazing for me!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Wyoming Life - Something Cool About Being In A Small Town

You can get an email about a fun, FREE, event going on NOW at the local Community College, and hubby can shower, kids can get their shoes on and hair brushed, and we can BE THERE LESS THAN 15 minutes later!

Enjoying all sorts of fun things like Kindermusik, Dinosaur Exhibits, Golf Putting, Face Painting, REAL Custom Army Dog-Tags, Lunch, Cake, Cookies, Soda, Frisbees, Planetarium Show, Live Music, Hula-Hoops, making our own Silly Putty, Rock Climbing… ALL FOR FREE!

We spent three hours wandering around, running into the neighbors, and just enjoying ourselves.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Baby Gift - Ribbon Tag Lovey Blanket

Q: When you hand a baby a stuffed animal, what's the first thing they do?

A: They flip it over to suck on the tag!

Around the time Frank was born, a Genius Lady in Gilbert, Arizona started creating Taggies. Since that time, I've created many similar variations myself, to give to my own children and others.

Yesterday I created this variation for Nicole's baby, due on with her third girl on the 28th. Her family has been calling this little one "Ducky" and Nicole likes bright colors.

I was very pleased with the brightness of this, as well as the baby-esque colors, without being Over-the-Top Pink and Pastel.

The duck is my own sketch and was appliqued with my own method that is similar to Angie's (Lunch Box Quilt) applique method.

As always, whenever I sew with Minky, I never want to give the finished item away... they are just so cuddly and soft! This item also has some small bits of flannel around the edges on the back... just a little more tactile sensation. In addition, the beak is made from a fun bright, woven fabric from Heather's Scrap Bag. The border fabrics are from Connie at The Quilter's Outpost in Payson, Arizona. The baby fabric on the back came from Nancy Haldeman. And the ribbons came from my ribbon bag... which I keep stocked with items appropriate for this very gift item. Basically, the whole project came out of my sewing room in under 3 hours, and with lots of thought given to the people who have shared scraps and tidbits with me over the years. Thanks to all! :D

If you are interested in making a similar snuggly item, check out this tutorial.

The Things I Worry About

Oh sure, there are LOTS of things I worry about. Actually, I worry so much that I don't know what I'd do if I had NOTHING to worry about. Luckily, I don't have to think about that because I can always find something else worthy of giving my time and energy and emotion to.

Wow! That's depressing and enlightening all at once.

In any case. I realized I've been fretting and thinking and debating and pondering over a lowly sock toe for something like three days now!

First I spent almost three hours on a test swatch for a Jaywalker sock pattern, before deciding I wanted to try a toe-up sock. Then, I spent a measly hour starting my first pair of toe-up socks only to realize I'm ... using the wrong yarn. I mean, it's the right yarn, but my Aunt indicated she'd *like* it if the toes and heels were made form a different, contrasting color.

The Jaywalker test swatch is on the right. And, yes. I know! That LITTLE BIT of knitting on the left ACTUALLY took at least an hour! But hey! It's all new stuff to me... figuring out the Magic Cast On and then trying to keep stitches tight between two needles while adding stitches. I don't like the increases. I don't like one side where it's all poking out and big.

So, for several days now I've been debating... keep the blue start, add a red stripe, then return to blue. Or just rip it all out so both socks have two matching red toes?

On one hand, my only pair of handmade socks (so far) have toes that are slightly different, and I have found that I like this because it's easier for me to wear the same sock on the same foot each time (and I don't know WHY I do that, probably because the toes are different and I can). So, do I allow my Aunt the same touch of wonkiness and keep going by putting a red stripe in this toe and a solid red toe on the other sock? Or do I try to make them "match"?

Every time I think I have the answer, I trick myself by thinking of something else.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Boredom Haiku

Coughing and Hacking,
Killing Time on Computer,
Hacking and Coughing.

After several days of restraint, I'm bored. I'm surfing more, but not really accomplishing much.

I could be blogging more.
I could be editing pictures.
I could be knitting more.
I could be reading.

I still can't talk much.
My sinuses are blocked.
My cough is ever present.

I'm lethargic.
I'm bored.

Monday, April 13, 2009

A Knight and His Squire

We made Jack The Greatest Costume last month for our Annual Pilgrimage to the Arizona Renaissance Festival. I've told some of you about it, and some have seen it in person, but I have hear cries from far away for pictures to be posted on the website. And so, without further ado, here is Sir Jack...

As I said, we've gone EVERY year since before the boys were born, but never had they had so much as a hat. Well, I decided, THIS YEAR, was the year to change that. I took a duffel bag of fabrics with me to Arizona to finally make the boys Renaissance Costumes.

Jack wanted to be a knight, with chain mail. Knowing this, I also brought along the template from last summer's Sports Camp T-Shirt Painting. Jack had been asking for his own Red Dragon ever since I painted Frank one.

I had this idea for Jack's costume. My Mom and I cut the top pieces. I sewed the tunic. Mom sewed the chemise. Mom's friend, Melinda, sewed the "Chain Mail". Then, I added the pants.

We never got around to making Jack a hat... and he never seemed to notice the deficiency. I do have a hat in my mind for him, I just have to put my hands on "the right" fabrics.

Frank, on the other hand, told me "Mom, I won't wear a costume; just make me a Fancy Hat."

Frank was right. Frank liked his hat, wore it a time or two, and has moved on.

I'd already realized that Frank's lack of interest in costumes was why I'd never yet sewn them Renaissance Costumes. Jack loves to dress up though, so we were able to really focus on his costume, and make Frank a quick hat with a fancy pin and feathers.

Here, are the boys with my brother. I've told many of you about my brother, and his hair (which is longer than either of his sister's), and so, here is a rare picture Ivan for you.

And that, is that.

Can you tell that I'm catching up on rest (and computer stuff) today? I did about 45 minutes of cleaning in my bedroom this morning and have spent the rest of the day (save eating quick snacks) on the couch with my feet up. It actually FEELS GOOD to just set and rest! :D

Happy Birthday Sera!

Hey, Sera's just one year from driving and *I HOPE* just three years from being able to talk with me again. When her Dad and I divorced, she and I were cut off from each other. As I've told you before, I miss her terribly and am just biding my time until she's old enough that we can talk again.

I love you, Sera and hope you're having a GREAT BIRTHDAY!!!

It's Time to Get Up and Move!

Thanks to my friend Marie, I've been thinking of riding bikes again.

Today, during a break from cleaning MY bedroom (usually I'm cleaning my BOYS' room) I started looking at pictures from our recent trip. Wherein I found a photo I'd snapped of a super cute Sunflower Beach Cruiser by Nirve. ACK! I guess I *do* have good taste, at least in bikes... I don't think I can justify $450 for a new bike, not when I have a Juki TL 98Q Quilting Sewing Machine I've been eyeballing. So, what to do? I remembered Becky raving about Craigslist recently, so I thought I'd peek around there.

No luck anywhere near me in Wyoming, so, I started searching in Utah. Wherein I found this little setup:

Listed for JUST $100!

I guess I'd seen this type of trailer / tandem thing before, but never really thought about it. In the past, I've looked into getting a trailer for the boys, but it seemed cumbersome, after reading about the In-Step Pathfinder, it seems to be just what I'll need to ride with Frank and pull Jack along.

Even though it was 3 1/2 hours away from me, I was excited about it. Well, I have talked with the seller twice today. Turns out that TOMORROW, she's driving to Denver, and can drive right through my town and deliver it to me! YEAH!

So, I went from thinking about riding bikes one week ago, to being able to do it tomorrow! Sometimes this Law of Attraction stuff is just so cool!

New goal, starting as soon as I'm over this cold, I want to start riding with the boys to the grocery store (about 1 mile away) and then the library (1.5 miles). The rec center is about 2 miles, so we can go there too. I'm really excited about this!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Homeschooling Resources I Use

The rules for homeschooling vary by the state you live in. Here I don't have to send a letter until my child is turning 7 (about 1st grade), but you need to know your state's laws.

I have two sons, 4 & 6yo. My eldest son is just finishing his "first" year of homeschooling... Kindergarten. I've been at home with them though since they were born. I think someone told me that you don't "really" need "curriculum" for this age. I agree for the most part, but have found I need to spend more time writing, and worksheets seem to be a big help for this.

Here are some of my favorite materials resources I've used this year:
  • Scope and Sequence - This is what my state requires me to tell them about at the beginning of the year. I found that World Book offers a great overview by grade.
  • Library - I get on their online catalog and request books for upcoming events / topics of study, then they pull them from the shelves and hold them up front for me. This helps too for getting materials transferred from other small town libraries nearby (by county shares their books among all the little branches). At home, we have a special place in the Living Room for library books. We often sit and look at them on the couch. Reading is a BIG part of our learning program. I check out PILES of books according to seasons / holidays / events (my son recently had surgery, so we had hospital and surgery books).
  • Calendar (desk style) dedicated to each child. I picked these up on a school sale at the beginning of the year. I jot down what we are doing each day. Can also write comments / questions / concerns / observations, etc. These will be GREAT down the road to document what we've done! A simple, quick "journal" of school.
  • "30 minute a day learning system" from Brighter Minds. They have books for Pre-K, Kindergarten, 1st grade, etc. What I REALLY like about these is that they cover all different topics, but mix them up. So it's not a whole book or even a whole section of one topic (math or writting), it's mixed into something that keeps this young age's attention better. Also, very colorful.
  • Handwriting without tears. I think we'd be doing better with handwriting if I'd been more diligent with this program. Still, I like it and will be using it more as we've been integrating more bookwork into our days.
  • - free online phonics games / program. My boys LOVE to "play" on the computer with Starfall!
  • Dolche Word List. I wanted my boys to learn phonics, but I've finally come to understand that it IS important for them to learn some site words... very common words and or ones that don't obey normal rules of phonics. So, just search for a Dolche sight word list online and start using them. One easy thing to do is make your own flashcards (print on card stock and cut apart or just hand write on 3"x5" cards).
  • WinterPromise - My HSing neighbor bought this system in December. I've borrowed some of her Scholastic books of reproducilbles and made copies of worksheets. My son is LOVING these. I'm going to be looking into starting this system for our next schoolyear (1st grade and Pre-K)
  • Scholastic - WOW! I JUST discovered this online resource. Oh so easy to click and pick worksheets by age and topic. Looks like LOTS of online resources I can use. :D
  • Staples / Bookman's - I've found both of these retail stores offer discounts for teachers. When I ask about being a Homeschooling Teacher, they've signed me up for 10-20% discounts. Check your local vendors and ask about programs to give discounts to teachers.
  • Lakeshore Learning - Stores / Catalogs / Online - My family is supporting our Homeschooling choice. On a recent visit, my FIL took us to Lakeshore Learning. He said he wanders around and doesn't know what to buy... well I did! We walked out with two armfuls of books and materials. I'm going to start giving my family wish lists of school books / materials and or asking for gift cards to Lakeshore Learning. :D
Mostly, I follow my boys lead while keeping in mind the Scope and Sequence for their age. Many of these resources can help all children, not just those being Homeschooled. Let me know if any of these ideas help you... it's helped me just writing them all down in one place!