Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Postcard Geography

Is so fun! The postcards have been coming in since September but I had trouble finding a laminated map. Needed it to be laminated so we could plot out all the small towns and easily hang the postcards along the sides.

As you can see, we are heavy on the east coast, but it's still very fun to read about all the towns and states. Plus, we're learning about geography, which I need more than anyone :-)

THANKS again to Nanci for lending us a couple of maps to use.

Monday, November 21, 2005

And he went wherever I did go...

There are fish in the fish tank! Yay!!!

We have started with four. We'll give them some time to get the tank going and then add four more later. Katie picked out two--Angel (the 2nd) and I think she settled on mermaid for the other. Zack picked Archie (the 2nd) and Spot.

They seem happy. We went to a real fish store this time, since the last time the fish from Walmart were so sick. These seemed to at least come from a healthy tank.

So happy to have pets again, even if they are just fish.

Saturday we went over to church to help bake bread for the Sunday Thanksgiving service. It was such fun. Here's kneading the dough and after the first rise:

Even though I know the dough will rise, I still am shocked when I see it.

We tasted a small loaf that day, but didn't get to try the ones we made until Sunday. It was so good. We really ought to make bread at home more often.

What did that title mean anyway?

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Thank Goodnes for Girl Friends

I got great advice (and commiseration) from several good friends about the playground incident and of course, the solution lies with speaking to Katie and not the other kids. I talked to her yesterday about some choices she can make and let her know she deserves to receive nice treatment, etc. I wouldn't be surprised if we have to repeat this conversation, but if she hears it enough times, I hope it will sink in.

Special thanks to Allison, Julie and Ivanna for helping me get my head screwed back on right :-)

Our Friday playdate had to be re-scheduled at the last minute, which left us with the whole day. That worked out nicely, since there were lots of projects hanging out there that we hadn't gotten to.

Katie finished the math program! She is incredibly proud of herself, and should be--she worked hard. It took me a while to figure out how to control the difficulty level, so she was handling a lot of mixed fractions and shedding a lot of frustration tears before I could make it more on-level.

Zack is heading through the program for the second time and for him it's now getting very challenging. His was set up to stay at the easiest level for the whole game the first time through, so he breezed through it in two weeks. This time he's having to work at it and also work on his patience levels.

We made some nice votive holders, which we'll give as gifts on Thanksgiving. Crafts are still daunting to me, but this one was very easy and both kids liked it. Zack even announced that he enjoys crafts--news to me!

The one with the white streaks will dry to look like the frosted one on the right. Fun with white glue, stickers and glitter glue. Oh no!--Just realized I forgot to wash out those paintbrushes.

Oh well.

Also set up the fish tank. No fish yet, just getting the filter going. Pete was happy to notice that the filter is really quiet, since the tank is in the living room and basically just outside our bedroom door.

Cold weather is here, so I think the fish will make a nice indoor project for us.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


Tough time at Park Day yesterday.

It was cloudy, damp and chilly so the crowd was small and there were only two other girls besides Katie. Katie will play with the boys, but once girls arrive she wants to play with them. One is a bit younger than Kate and the other is a few years older and the girls obviously know each other from home. The older one didn't want Katie to join them but instead of saying something, she led the younger girl to ditch Katie whenever she turned around. Kate was slow on the uptake and it took a few ditchings for her to get the message.

I hated seeing this play out. It's happened before and Katie keeps trying to join in with that crowd.

I was getting pretty upset and decided we'd just leave a bit earlier than planned. Kate had a playdate with an old school friend that afternoon, so I wasn't going to stay much longer anyway.

Katie, ofcourse got over the whole thing by the afternoon, but I've been agitated about it all night! Thought dumping it here might help. It's hard to tell when I should intervene and when I should let Katie learn via the school of hard knocks. Also don't want to project my feelings about being left out onto Kate.

I think I've decided, if it happens again, to pull the older girl aside and ask her to tell Katie that that she and her friend want to play alone right now, rather than running away. Then I'll try to lead Katie to a more inclusive groups of girls. I'd hate to cut out Park Day altogether. I enjoy the other parents and there's generally a mob of boys for Zack to run with. Perhaps we'll trade off with another group or simply leave earlier when there aren't friendlier options for Katie. We'll see.

Pete's been in Salt Lake City since Friday. Looking forward to him getting back late tonight. I wouldn't have tossed and turned over park day quite as much last night if he had been home.

We had a lot going on while he was gone, but I tried to keep it to manageable levels. Saturday, Katie's ballet class danced at St. Albans' bazaar. I passed on trying to fit in the Cub Scout food drive just before the dance call and when we were all feeling funky in the evening, passed on the Girl Scout dance and the UUCA auction.

Sunday I took the kids to RE at church and took a walk outside myself to get some alone time. Afterwards we went over to the Storks to play and then headed out late to go apple-picking. There weren't many apples left on the trees, but we found enough to make the kids happy and bought more to make pies.

Monday, I took the kids to my yoga class and they did schoolwork while I ohhmed. They also played around on the rec center playground and I ran into a PBS colleague's husband. Kate went to Brownies and Zack and I played legos.

Tuesday started with the 1s, 10s and 100s places--a concept we've been stuck on lately. I tried using buttons and columns, now we'll let it bake until next week. Then there was the dreaded Park Day incident, a play date,and while Katie watched a DVD on the portable player (love that thing), Zack went to Cub Scouts and I attended my first Civic Assoc. meeting.

And today it's chilly and cloudy. The kind of day I like to go back to bed. I think we'll cozy up with some books, do a little computer math and then maybe head over to the botanical garden and dream of Spring. Or, maybe we'll set up that fish tank that's been sitting in the living room empty. Thanks to Nanci and Louis for the freebie!

Friday, November 11, 2005


I don't want to make dinner, but we already ate out for breakfast this morning...bah....

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


Having anxiety about math again. This always passes but until it does it drives me crazy. Just have to have faith that Katie will figure it out but not the very second I explain it!

Dreary day. Cloudy out and cold weather rolling in for the weekend. Zack has a cold and has taken a record 3 hours to get dressed. Mind you, I haven't been pushing him much since he feels so crummy but really 3 HOURS!

Zack had a little cry about Spats yesterday. It's coming up on a year since we put him to sleep and he was wishing that Spats was here to snuggle up with on the couch while he fights his cold. :-( Zack's a sweetie.

At least my candidate won the VA governorship! Also, a friend is bringing sweet treats from her custard shop to a meeting tonight. Yum!

Remembering our good cat Spats.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Surprising things and other stuff

Pete and I have been noticing how the stress level in the house has gone down since starting HSing in Sept. I figured the kids' stress would go down but not the whole family's. The days are just so much more relaxed. No fights to get the homework done between 4-5 pm--just when my energy and patience drops for the day-- sooner if there was an activity that night. No rushing home for the 3pm pick up and desperately trying to get the household stuff done before 3pm. No teacher conferences, Thursday folders or reams of paper to wade through. It's nice.

Pete's also a lot more involved in our activities. He can't go to all of them but I feel like he's more aware of everything we're up to and it has made dinnertime more chatty and fun too.

Katie is already expressing the desire to HS next year. Another surprise. I thought she would be the one missing her friends at school but neither of them mentions it much. Yesterday I was getting all twisted up because they don't seem to have any particular "best friends" or kids they see every day. Then, later in the day, I remembered that by 8th grade I was not friends with a single person I had been friends with in grade school. So I don't really know what I'm worrying about.

But those are the kinds of stresses HSing has brought to me, all the worries about what I am or am not supplying in a given second. Hopefully these stresses will pass the more times I look back and notice that things aren't such a big deal over the long haul. It turns out that Katie did learn how to count out change, playdates are being made, science is getting done, etc, etc, etc.

Did get the bad news that their closest neighborhood friends may be moving. This has happened to them over and over again and it's very tough on them. It's not certain yet, so we'll wait and see.

Find myself being harder on them than I'd like to be. Zack knocked over a can of varnish on the lawn last week and I really ripped into him about it. I'd rather mention it once and then let it go but I brought it up over and over again and I think I ended overshadowing the activity of painting the swing set. An accident isn't worth ruining an entire experience over. Signs that I need to get more sleep and plan less too.

Live and learn--literally!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


Happy Halloween!

The lead up to my favorite holiday is now a distant blur, but I'll take a shot at a quick recap of what we've been doing.

According to my calendar:
  • We've been to the Baltimore Science Museum with our friends, the Marts. It was recently re-done and is terrific. We spent 5 hours there and no one got bored. The kids all had a great time with each other too.
  • Decorated for the holiday
  • Park Day with the Unschoolers
  • Brownies, Katie earned her first triad patch, but we don't have it yet, so she's really not aware of it
  • Cox Farm's harvest festival
  • Ready Readers at the library
  • Wolf Cubs, Zack earned his Bobcat badge and was extremely proud.
  • Bowling with the SpringTree HS group
  • Dance class for Katie
  • "Bingoween" over at the elementary school
  • Boo at the Zoo
  • Made another Halloween Pie
  • Cookies for the Brownies Halloween party
  • Pumpkin carving and painting
  • Trick-or-Treating
Somewhere in there we also made some paper mache ghosts, which turned out OK considering I didn't realize that you should pop the balloons only AFTER painting them. The paper got all soft and mushy again after the paint went on and not having the balloons to hold the shapes made it pretty tricky to do. And, you know, math, reading, talk about planets and some other schooly stuff.

Whew. All of this was great, but I'm dead and fairly grouchy, so I need to take a look at our schedule and slow us down a bit. It was a tough week with Zack too. All the crazy hours and excitement over the holiday had him completely unfocused and difficult to move along to do anything.

I really get what they mean when they tell me that the challenge with HSing is scheduling time to be home!