Sunday, May 31, 2009

To Homeschool or Not

Last year, when I decided to homeschool, I said "it's what's right for our family right now." This turned out to be more true than I could have imagined... with Frank getting sick, needing surgery, and our March vacation extending to help with the death of my Grandmother. Simply stated, Frank likely would have failed Kindergarten just because of the number of days he would have missed being sick. Not to mention we couldn't have helped my Aunt so much or for as long as we did, if we'd had to return for Traditional, Public School.

With all the (necessary) focus on Frank this year, I've seen some behavioral issues shooting up with Jack. Nothing out-of-control, but something I'm aware of and feel like I need to focus more on.

Additionally, when Tom recently hurt his back and possibly needed major back surgery, I was spurred into thinking about returning to school to finish a degree. For myself and for the welfare of my family.

I know I could homeschool Frank and go to college myself, but simply put, I think it will be easier to allow him to go to Public School while I focus on my schooling and time with Jack. In addition, the local College has a great Children's Center. I know Jack will get a lot out of attending it. It has great rates for college students' children. Our town is a Boom Town, which means, in part, that preschool's here have a one year, plus, waiting list. The only way (I've found) for Jack to be able to participate in a preschool program is for me to go back to college.

As I've been researching college, I could go back as a full-time student for one semester and be done with it. Of course, I'd be stressed out beyond belief and the family would suffer. I'm hoping, that by spreading it out over a year, just one or two classes at a time, I can enjoy what I'm doing and learn more. I'll also be setting a good example for the boys of completing a goal and also enjoying learning.

Am I excited about the idea of Frank going to Public School? No.

Frank and Tom are excited though.

Am I excited about the idea of completing my degree? Yes.

Am I excited about spending more time alone with Jack? Yes.

Am I excited about Jack participating in some structured schooling? Yes.

So. This year, for right now, full "Homeschooling" is being shelved. In my mind though, I think of it as "when I Homeschool again", not "if." I have enjoyed homeschooling tremendously. I am sorry not to be doing it again this year. But, I also feel that this will be best for the most people.

As Marie reminded me, I "have choices, it's all about choices." Right now I can choose to send Frank to Public School. In a year, or a month, or a semester, I can change my mind and do something different. For the moment though, I'm thinking he'll go to school and we'll continue to supplement at home.

As another homeschooling Mom told me, it's not like I'm "choosing between Public School and a Concentration Camp; it's just school." He won't be hurt forever by one year in Public School. And who knows, we may find that we all like it tremendously.

Coming to this choice, to enroll Frank in Public School has been a very hard one for me. I've been fretting over it for over three months now. Now that I've turned in the paperwork, I'm feeling better about it, not because of Frank himself, but because what Frank's going there will allow me to accomplish for myself and Jack.

I'm learning that oftentimes there isn't just one "right" choice, there are simply choices in life. We have to commit to one and then go with it. In the end, many paths can lead to the same destination. We must choose the one that feels right at the time and trust our instincts. That's what I'm learning.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Wyoming Life - Friday Playgroups

On Friday Morning's I continue to coordinate a Playgroup. The last three weeks, we've been meeting outside at parks and playgrounds. I'm making a point to explore each park in our town AT LEAST once this season.

Today we went to a park we'd never been to before. It has big, gorgeous, old trees; lots of shade and grass too! Today there were all sorts of bushes with purple booms and Cottonwood Fluff floating in the breeze.

There is also a Gazebo and a small Amphitheater. This site has a lot of Free Concerts in the Park.

I enjoyed the photo op presented by the lush greens, the gazebo and a happy, smiling boy. I'm just wishing I'd gotten the close-up photo in focus! Perhaps we'll go back and try again...

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Wyoming Life - The Great Outdoors

We've been living in the Least Densely Populated State in the Nation for two years now.

Last weekend we FINALLY went out for our first Exploratory Playtime.

It rained off and on all weekend.

We went out Saturday, and again Sunday.

We fished both days... and caught three nice Rainbow Trout.

We had SO.MUCH.FUN!!!

We're already making plans for this weekend's excursion.

We're also shopping around for a tent four our family of four. Tom's 75" tall and would like to be able to stand in our tent.

Any suggestions? What size footprint do you use? Would you recommend your particular brand and model? If so, why? What do you like/hate about your camping set-up?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

School Forms

I'm busy getting forms and applications and such done for me to start back to college and to get the boys enrolled at the College Children's Center (Preschool/Daycare) and Elementary School.

I'm going to enroll Frank in the Public School for first grade. Then Jack and I will have more time together AND Jack will be able to go to Pre-K at the college while I'm taking classes.

I had a meeting yesterday with an Academic Adviser. I already have 59 college units. I need 64 for an Associates, and 14 need to be from this school... which just about is perfect for the classes I need to complete the Associates (English, WY History, Science Lab, PE, and one other). The credits I need line up just right with what I have left to take.

With those few classes, it should be pretty simple for me to get it done within a year, just taking one or two things at a time. :D

I think I'm going to take a Summer Course (probably Online English) just to start getting back in the groove.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Summer Flies

Summer is rapidly approaching and anyone with pets knows this means one thing...


This is the fur from less than 10 minutes spent brushing our two year old cat. The one year old cat ventured over to see what we were up to, but was more interested in licking the brush than being brushed. Plus, she still has kitten fur, so her little tuft of black is small.

To borrow an idea from Marie, I have a Nifty Thrifty Idea for you...

My Dad use to Fly Fish. My Mom use to tie him custom flies. The best flies she ever made included fur from our Siamese, much like this big pile of fluff I've got. Whenever she made a fly with fur from Dusty, it only lasted a cast or two before being gobbled up.

Now, whenever I brush my cat I feel GUILTY about throwing away all that Great Fur! I've even thought of selling the fluff online, but always talk myself out of it.

Today, I saved all that fur in a container.

Here's my proposal to you... if you fly fish and would like to try some flies made with cat fur.... go brush your cat / neighbor's cat / etc. BUT! If you don't have access to a cat, PayPal me $0.82 (to pay postage and PayPal Fees) and I'll drop some fur in an envelope and send it to you. Then, you'll have to let us know if cat fur on your flies works as well for you as it always did on the flies my Mom made.

If you'd like some Free Cat Fur for Fly Fishing Flies, PayPal eighty-two cents to me at me at leavemealone {at} yours {dot} com, along with your address, and I'll send some right over to you!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Terry Goodkind The Sword of Truth Quote

To all those I've interested in Terry Goodkind's "Sword of Truth" Books and or "Legends of the Seeker" TV Series-

Here's a little quote from the book series I recently enjoyed.
"Cara, you and Raina stay here, along with Egan. Ulic, I'm sorry I yelled at you. ... Bernadine, ... you can come with me.

Nadine, rather than looking impressed, appeared dumbfounded... Nadine finally turned a haughty look on Richard. She folded her arms across her breasts.

"And are you going to boss me around, too? Are you going to tell me what to do, like you seem to enjoy doing to everyone else?"

Richard, rather than getting angry... looked more disinterested than ever.

"There are a lot of people fighting for our freedom. I lead those willing to fight for their own freedom and on behalf of innocent people who would otherwise be enslaved. I lead because circumstances have placed me in command. I don't do it for power or because I enjoy it. I do it because I must.

"To my enemies, or potential enemies, I deliver demands. To those loyal to me, I issue orders.

"You are neither, Nadine. Do as you wish.

-pg 60, Temple of the Winds (book 4, The Sword of Truth series) by Terry Goodkind
The last two paragraphs were the main ones I was looking for, the other gives you an idea of what's happening.

Yesterday I let something happen... I ran out of books! I normally request the next book when I start one, but Saturday night, with only 150 pages left in book 5 (Soul of the Fire) I realized I'd forgotten to request book 6 (Faith of the Fallen). I finished 150 pages by mid-afternoon. In the evening, I made up for it by watching this weeks' episode, 21 of Legend of the Seeker... but was disappointed because the story line strayed SO FAR from book 4 (Temple of the Winds), upon which it was based. Oh well! I still like the books, I guess I'll have to suffer the shows inadequacies!

Speaking of which, we looked it up, and Legend of the Seeker has been renewed for a second season... I only hope Hulu will continue to carry it next season!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Some of My Ear History

I recently received a comment from Colin about Frank's brush with ototoxicity as a result of Mycin Drugs. As a result of Colin's comment, I wound up writing a very brief bit of my ear history.

It's not exactly the entertaining stuff you've come to expect from me (or perhaps it is), but all the same I thought to document it here. My ongoing
Battle with the World of Sound affects me every day.

Everyday I think about my ability to hear (or not) as well as the frequent
tinnitus I experience (even now, as I type).

In any case, here's a bit about what's happened/ing with me and my ears:
I myself am very aware of hearing troubles since I've experienced partial hearing loss as the result of a bicycle accident when I was 8.

The hearing loss was the result of the my incus (which is the second smallest bone in your body, not quite 1/4" across) becoming dislocated as a result of my impact with the ground. I also became a "Crack Head" - that is, I fractured in my skull in the accident.

At 25, I had my first surgery to restore hearing. It was more successful than they expected... until a sinus infection caused a rupture which dislocated the titanium prosthetic in my middle ear. I was 30.

Due to other people in my household having more urgent needs of surgery and care, I had to wait two months after the rupture (with the prosthetic through the ear drum the whole time) before having another prosthetic, as well as the ear drum repaired.

Then, some (oh, I'm forgetting the technical name of it) but my body didn't like the "new" ear drum and was growing skin over the ear drum. That's right, it's called cholesteatoma. The doctor ripped it off (during an office visit), and caused pain, as well as a lot of bleeding and a clot.

This was when I was 32.

Oh... I'm going on and on here. The long and short of it is, I need to have YET ANOTHER surgery to replace the prosthetic (with a third one). Every surgery I have gives me an 80% chance of hearing... or a 1 in 5 chance of coming out of it deaf. There's no guarantee that the hearing will be better than it was before the surgery.

Gratefully, I still have a "good", natural ear. I fear that having chosen that first surgery (in my 20's) has led me to a lifetime of ear surgeries.

I have a lot of environmental allergies and every time one leads to a sinus infection, it risks the integrity of my prosthetic. I am grateful I have options, but I hate having to have the surgeries.

I'm always intrigued by how much such a "simple little surgery" on such a small area of our body affects our lives... ie: no lifting of more than 10 pounds for a whole month, and how dizzy and sick you can feel from ear surgery. Yuck!

Also, my surgeon (who now is more 800 miles from me, because I moved) is a leading specialist of cochlear implants in Southwestern America. I've read quite a bit about it at his office.

Because he's so highly regarded (and I like him so much), I'll go back to see him for my next surgery... traveling (as you know) adds more elements to planning a surgery than when the office and hospital are "just down the road from you".

I'm now 35 and havn't been able to schedule the new surgery. As soon as we can gather the finances, I'll be going back again... currently, if I'm laying in bed with my good ear down, I can't hear my husband, right next to me speaking, but I can feel the vibration of his voice.

Thanks for listening to a part of my story!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Smallville - Season 9?

Last night Tom was telling me that Smallville was ending after this Season 8. I found that confusing, because I'd just watched episode 21 and it didn't really feel like they're building to a grand finale for the whole show. So, I surfed around last night and, indeed, it looks like there will be a Season 9 since The CW has already signed Tom Welling. I'll be happy to watch another season (or more).

In the process of searching around, I came across a personality quiz. I was not surprised to be compared to Smallville's Martha Kent. :D

Friday, May 08, 2009

Sleepover Plans

My cousin called me to see if she could drive down (2 hours), pick up my boys, and take them to her place for a couple of days. She's got two weeks off between college terms, and is missing my kiddos (we lived with her family for three months two summers ago, when we first moved to Wyoming, and she misses my boys).

Normally, I'm all a-flutter (that would be nervous) about spending time away from my boys. I almost always panic and can't sleep when I'm away from them... just for a night. But today, after the long week I've had battling Jack, this offer is just too incredible to pass up!

We just spoke again and ironed out some dates, and it looks like she'll have them the day of our Neighborhood Block Sale. Not having the boys around while I'm selling off their old toys definitely sounds appealing!

Now, the goal is for me to kick some butt this week on cleaning in the garage so that I can rest and enjoy two days without the boys... ie: I can sew to my heart's content!

Thanks Jessica! I'm so excited about your offer and for the chance for the boys to go and play for a few days at "Tia's". :D

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Yes. I AM Crazy!

At least I think taking five children ages (4, 4, 5, 5, & 7) to a concert qualifies as being crazy. Even if it was at the community college, and even if it was a free choral concert, and even if the choir was kinda (okay really) bad.

Who does that?

I think it would have been challenging enough with just my two boys, but my friend calls and says she’s going to a movie, but I know her hubby’s at work, and she just let Tom and I go to a movie on Saturday, and so her kids are going to a teenage who’s watching like NINE kids tonight, so, I open my mouth and say “I’m going to a free concert at the college, I can take them with me.” Then, I call and tell her “I’m making spaghetti and cooking a whole pound of pasta, so come over if you want” and then she’s like “we’ll be right down” because, I didn’t know it, but she LOVES my homemade spaghetti, even if it’s the “quick” version.

(Amy... I love you and your kids and OBVIOUSLY, this is just a total rant on my week and evening and not really about taking the kids at all, but just a great demonstration of how wacky I can be.)

Wow! I’m rambling and that’s QUITE the set of run-on sentences.

Anyway. I love being busy and going and doing and now that I’m feeling just a LITTLE BIT better (and Tom’s out of town and therefore unable to rein me in) I find myself doing crazy-fun stuff like that.

When I’m out with Amy’s kids, I always wonder what other people must think of me with the five stair-stepped kids. I mean, it looks like I cranked out one kid a year for five years in a row! Who does that? I know people do, but I honestly don’t think I could handle it. I mean, if the pregnancies, births and breast feeding didn’t kill me, trying to wash diapers and potty train all of them. And then, oy! I mean, this week, I waged war with Jack. I can't even imagine dealing with so many toddlers at one time - all.the.time.

This week, I decided it was high time Jack learn to clean up his room, on his own. The boys share a room and USUALLY, Tom or I or Erik will go in and clean it up. But no. I wanted Jack to do it.

I've learned that Jack really does know where all his toys and things go... he just honestly and truly wants someone else to clean up for him. What's more, he's OKAY with hanging out in his room all.the.time and just having occasional time-outs to interrupt his playing (because he seldom... okay, NEVER is actually CLEANING).

This week has been a long, harrowing journey for me. I’ve wanted to scream and yell (okay, I HAVE screamed and yelled). I wanted to strangle and cry (did the crying). Okay. The only thing I wanted to do and HAVEN’T done is strangle, gag, and bind my kids. I mean, I really thought about gagging them Tuesday afternoon. Which is when I first called Amy and she then came to my rescue. It’s been SO GOOD to have her support this week as I pitched this battle with Jack.

Come to think of it, that’s probably why I wound up with five kids at a concert tonight. I felt SO much more sanity this week because Amy has been coming over and calming me down when I wanted to strangle, gag, and tie Jack.

Tom would say something like “never wrestle a pig in the mud… the pig likes it and you just get dirty.” Same thing with this battle with Jack. But, I have learned somethings.

My best day, was also the one when I was the most exhausted (haven’t been sleeping well with hubby on a trip, and a good book series in my face!) Anyway, I was tired on Wednesday. Therefore, I couldn’t muster as much energy for the fight. But bigger than that, I made an effort to check on Jack FREQUENTLY, and made sure to catch him DOING WHAT HE WAS SUPPOSE TO. Then. I’d have him come sit on my lap for a cuddle and usually a story book. That little bit of positive attention was SO MUCH more productive than all the fighting, crying, etc I’d been doing.

Another change on Wednesday… some different forms of time-outs. In our house, time outs have almost always been served in a rocking chair… gives them the chance to move while still doing what you want, sit in one spot. Monday and Tuesday I was doing time outs on a step stool (little and hard and not-mobile). Well, Wednesday, we switched. Time outs were either Nose-in-the-Corner or (a new idea to me) hands above your head on the wall touching an item (either a piece of tape, or for Jack, until he figured out he could blink them off and on, he just had to put his hands on a switch plate). That worked out MUCH BETTER. I also made sure I could see him while serving these new time-outs. I’m loving the hands over the head one. It doesn’t take long until I hear “Mom! My arms are tired! Can I PLEASE go clean my room?”

I really hope I didn’t thwart my four days of effort here though… tonight, I left the concert early. And then, the five kids, when ask “do you think we should help Jack or just let him work on cleaning his room again tomorrow?” They decided to help! I gave each child an assignment (1 – clothes and hangers, 2 – stuffed animals and books, 3 – cars, 4 – little things, 5 – everything else). In TEN MINUTES, they had the pile down to small bits and trash. Another twenty minutes and the room was clean and vacuumed!

EVERY DAY this week has been a battle. I really and truly hope that I didn’t undermine my efforts by allowing the children to help.

Perhaps tomorrow I’ll have Jack do something nice to thank his friends and brother. Help him realize that he needs to be grateful to people when they do something nice for him, instead of just expecting them to do it because he’s the littlest/youngest/cutest/laziest/whatever.

Anyway. I do think I’m crazy… actually, in my family, it’s hard NOT to be Certifiable, but that’s DEFINITELY another story for another time! :D

Three Important Sentences

Whenever I think of it, I smile over one thing I learned from my second husband. He often said these three VERY important sentences to me:
You were right.
I was wrong.
I'm sorry.
Today, I must offer these up to Tom... since I wrongly accused him of taking a charging plug for a cell phone. Tom is on a trip and we have two phones that use the same plug... I just found "my" plug still packed in a bag since my Arizona trip... which means I've been using his plug all month (not a big deal) until he packed it to take with him on a trip this week.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Super Good Mornin' TO YA!

Everything comes with a price.

For instance, sleeping in an extra hour while a four and six year old are left unattended, comes with the price of walking downstairs to discover (in part) this scene:

Additionally, trash-can components were spread around the floor, old-stale-cookies were removed from the trash and set on the counter. A shiny-new-apple was on the floor, rolled under the table (apparently knocked off while retrieving the cookie tin).

Yes. The red tin marked "cookie" has cookies in it. So, it's not bad enough they decided to open a new box of sugary "snack" cereal when there were already two boxes of granola, a box of rice Chex, and a box of Cheerios open, but they also, apparently, needed to get into the cookie tin too!

What's more, the cereal spill wasn't restricted to the counter, but also the floor all around.

And, yes, that thing in the background...

Is a mirror that Jack decided he "didn't want anymore". So, he took it off the hallway wall by his bedroom door, walked into his bedroom, and "smacked it" on his upholstered chair (the same chair that Sunday I found he'd tipped over to sit on the bottom side (thus damaging the bottom cover)). Then, when the mirror (AND FRAME) broke, he walked it downstairs. Amazingly, I can't find any shards of glass anywhere in the house, and even more astounding, Jack is cut-free!

Last weekend our neighbor brought "Nanny McPhee" over to watch. While I enjoyed it, afterwords I told her "we don't usually let the kids watch movies like that, because I consider them "Training Videos". Apparently, I was right, Jack obviously got some new devious ideas about the kinds of havoc children can reek.

Flustered and flabbergasted. That's me.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Making Progress

Now that I've been on antibiotics for a full week, I can feel my "Bronchitis, Asthma-Like-Flare-Up, Low-Blood-Oxygen, Almost Pneumonia" abating... finally.

While I've been sick these past four weeks, I've done A LOT of reading (over 1,200 pages in the past two weeks alone!), some knitting and a little crochet. Nothing's finished and not much worth mentioning (starting two different styles of sock - with the same yarn (and still not decided on a pattern), making dishcloths and coasters, continuing work on a never-ending-scarf).

Today I played with the scraps from the Happy Hour Quilt I started last July.

I finished the last four blocks of this group of String Pieced Blocks, inspired by Becky, who's inspired by Bonnie.

I was thinking of putting a sashing in between these blocks, to help with the bulk. But, after talking with Becky, I'll probably sew them together just like this (after trimming them up square). Since it's just planned as a 24" square table topper, I may not use batting. I'll have to see how it feels once it's pressed together. The muslin the strings are pieced to was cut 7.5". I'm in love with these blocks, but I'll probably be gifting this quilt away.

I always like to make one extra block, for myself. One day, I'll have this AMAZING sampler quilt full of blocks I've made in the past. Just thinking of the memories it will hold makes me smile.

After listening to my Aunt talk about making scrappy Log Cabins this week AND Amanda Jean blogging about the same thing. I took a page out of Amanda's book and added an inner border in white. I also allowed myself to go a little Wonky, remembering Jacquie's Wacky Tutorial. I'm planning to even this one up to 9.5" for a 9" finished block. I think I'll have to make some more of these fun Log Cabins.

Finally, when I was last in Arizona, Becky and I sat around one evening sewing her "crumbs" together into random little 3.5" blocks. She kindly sent one of her blocks home with me (the non-purple block you see below). So, as I was piecing the Wonky Log Cabin block, I started putting crumbs together and wound up with these two little gems:

I think I'll send one to Becky... kinda a long-distance Feel-the-Love thing. I am so tickled when I look over at the little crumb block she and I made, I think she might enjoy one from me. Actually, it's got me thinking about starting to trade little crumb blocks with my quilting buddies... since we can't always see what the others are doing, we could drop little crumbs in the mail for them. The thought makes me smile, now, to Share the Love!

I like making little scrappy things out of the bits and pieces from a specific quilt... even if you don't have the whole quilt, you get an idea for the feeling of the fabrics and colors in little things like these. As such, I actually PLANNED to do the string blocks when I was cutting the original Happy Hour Quilt, and I trimmed my selvages wide, making sure I had AT LEAST 3/4" at the narrowest point... that way I had plenty of fabric to play with scrappy things later.

It feels good to be putting thread to cloth and creating again!

I'm looking forward to cleaning up my sewing room and getting back on track with Suzy Qute Quilt Patterns again.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Technology Essay

I just entered a contest from HP for a $5,000 Electronic Make Over. You have to write a 200 word (or less) essay about how you use electronic to help in your busy life. I'm not sure my entry was quite what they had in mind. That is, I imagine they want something about how wonderful and grand the electronics are, and my essay, well, just read it for yourself...
I think the most important way I use technology is to control how much of it we have. I am constantly analyzing if an item is really “helping” us, or if it is just taking up time and space. As such, we live without “necessities” like a TV, Microwave, Dishwasher, Stereo, and Coffee Pot. When I bring something into my home, I want to make sure it helps us to stay focused on the things that matter… which aren’t things at all, but people. The other way I use technology, is limit the amount of time we spend in front of electronic items. There is so much to see and do in this world; I encourage my family to get out there and experience the real world, instead of the one on-screen. Some days I classify as a “Power Down” day, where all electronics (including computers and phones) get turned off, and we spend the day cuddling and relaxing and playing. I really think it’s important to remember the technology is here to serve us; we have to keep that in mind so we don’t let ourselves get overrun with the latest gadget or gizmo.