Friday, April 28, 2006

It's Friday and I have nothing prepared.

I was all set to do SPF this morning and my camera battery died. So while it's charging up, I thought I'd just do a regular-type post.

Problem is, I can't think of anything to write about. See, I usually decide before I go to sleep what I'm going to blog in the morning, because I know my morning pre-coffee brain is not capable. Well, it is, but it tends to be really difficult about it.

I still have a lot of cleaning to do around here. Parents' ETA is either Monday or Tuesday, so that gives me the weekend. I'm going to need it. My basement, especially, is a disaster.

Last night we were at Lowe's buying some stuff to make shelves. They have carts there that look like the Lowe's NASCAR car. So, the boys were racing it up and down the lumber aisle. At one point, the one pushing it tried to turn and the whole thing tipped over! The two middle boys were thrown out, and the baby, who was strapped in, was just hanging there sideways. Once I saw everyone was okay, I just had to laugh. Why would you put a race car on a shopping cart?

School is chugging right along. Caleb has been doing lots of fun science experiments out a book I got him. Science experiments tend to work better when I just let the kids do them. The other day, I tried to show Caleb that if you measure the mass of a cup of trail mix, and then you measure the raisins, the nuts, etc. separately, the separate measurements will add up to the whole one. It did not. Together, it measured at 42 grams. Separately, it measured 37 grams. How is that possible? Seriously, how??

Well, onward and upward. Lots of stuff to do today. Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

New names

I've added a few new names to my blogroll recently, and have really been enjoying some of the fresh and unique voices out there in blogland. So I thought I'd take a minute to highlight some of them.

I have to start with the Blogging Chicks blogroll. I have visited each of them and found some wonderful ladies out there. I particularly like My Life in the Kid Zoo and Life is a Buffet, but all of them are worth a visit. And if you're a female blogger, you really ought to join!

Thanks to one of the Blogging Chicks, I discovered, in a roundabout way, that Steve Camp, one of my all-time favorite singers, has a blog. CampOnThis is full of deep theological discussion. Steve often quotes great theologians of the past, and always supports his statements with verses from the Bible (which is one reason I love his songs so much). He will definitely make you think. It's become a daily must-read for me.

Now, I know this is the third day in a row that I've told you about my parents' blog, but last night they put up some stuff for my brother's birthday. You have got to see how cute he was as a baby. I don't know what happened to him. Haha, just kidding.

One of my dearest friends in the whole world started a Xanga blog a while back. She's still on dial-up, so she doesn't get on there every day, but check her out once a week or so. And definitely leave her a comment. She loves comments. Visit Cindy at Down on the Farm.

Finally, I found CameraDawktor through her comments on my blog, and I have thoroughly enjoyed reading hers. She takes awesome pictures, has a great sense of humor, and she's got an adventuresome streak, too. Go say hi.

And let me take this opportunity to say that if you link to me and you don't see yourself on my blogroll, let me know! I'll be happy to add you!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

WBW - You again?

This week, TKW wants to see that one article of clothing or accessory that keeps showing up in picture after picture. Here's mine.

This is me and my baby cousin Katy, who is now almost 26 and married. Anyway, one day my family was shopping at a brand new mall and there were people from the bank in the mall handing out t-shirts and balloons. The balloons eventually deflated, but the t-shirts stuck around for quite a while. This picture was obviously taken pre-braces. Now you all know my secret: I am a vampire.

This picture was taken on a completely different day. I know this because it was taken at my house, which was a good three hours away from Katy's house, where the above picture was taken. And there's the shirt again. Boy, those bank guys really got their advertising dollar out of me! And yet, strangely, no one in my family ever opened an account there.

And even though this is a different shirt, it's still yellow, and it jumped right out at me because it was on the same album page as the other two. A virtual sea of yellow t-shirts just staring back at me. I also wanted to point out that I am wearing a terry cloth wrap-around skirt, which I suspect was actually a beach cover-up. That skirt is another item I wore quite frequently.

So there you have it. Long before I learned that yellow is just not my color, I couldn't stop wearing it. Did you play?

Oh, and while you're here, check out my parents' blog (link in the below post).

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

And now they're blogging about it

I just found out my parents have started a blog, so naturally I must plug it!

Go see the Wandering Websters in their natural habitat!

My secret

My parents have a problem. I've lived with it for so long, I feel I must share it, if only to begin the recovery process. You see {sniffle, covering eyes in shame} they are full-time RVers.

It all started the summer before I turned seven. They rented a "Mini Winnie" for a family trip to the Smoky Mountains. They say that most people who try the small ones will eventually move on to the bigger ones. I'm here to tell you it's true. A few years later, they bought a large coach, and while I don't remember its exact specifications, I'm sure my father could tell you everything from its length to its horsepower. Such is the nature of the sickness.

They tried for a year or so, with the help of a local pusher or "dealer," to rent out their coach when they weren't using it. They figured this would help support their habit. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, it didn't, and they were forced to sell it. But once you've owned, you can never go back.

After I had moved out of the house and there was no one to stop them, they bought another one. They began traveling on weekends and meeting other people like them. It was only a matter of time. They sold their house and traded in their coach for an even bigger one, a forty-footer. They had become full-timers.

Ever since then, they've become immersed in the RV culture. They attend secret meetings known as "rallies" where dealers show up and try to sell the weaker members of the group an even larger coach. My parents haven't succumbed yet, but it's only a matter of time. They've also bought property in Florida where they can park their coach in the winter. And I have to admit that I am an enabler. I allowed them to build a pad next to my house with electric and water hookups.

So now you know my secret. My parents are hooked. I'd call an intervention, but all their friends are full-timers too.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Disaster! Keep out!

My parents are coming for a visit soon, and are bringing my grandmother with them from Florida. This worries me. You see, chances are they are going to want to come into my house.

I know there are plenty of people in the world who manage to keep their houses neat and tidy while keeping four or more kids at home all day. All I can say is that these people have not met my kids. If I take ten minutes to clean a bathroom, they will be in another room inflicting damage which will take half an hour to put straight.

Make them clean it up, you say? Tell me, how do you get a child to clean up when he would rather I confiscate all his toys than pick them up himself? My oldest will clean up, but only the things he messed up, and he's not all that messy.

And then there's the baby, my little bulldozer on legs. Oh sure, he looks all sweet and innocent, but leave him alone for ten seconds and everything that was within his reach will be on the floor. How can I possibly compete with that?

I will try valiantly to get this place in order. I may even hire someone to help. But in case I don't, do you think they'd stay in their RV if I surrounded the entire house with that yellow disaster tape?

{Note to my parents and Gran: I am just kidding. Of course you can come in. I recommend bringing a shovel with you.}

Friday, April 21, 2006

SPF - Initially

Kristine has assigned us this week to take pictures of things beginning with the same letters as our initials. No problem.

J:This is Joshua. He crawled into my bed early this morning.

C:Coffee given to me by my Secret Sister at church. Mmm!

H stands for hungry! I haven't eaten yet. I'm gonna go get some cereal!

Did you play?

Thursday, April 20, 2006

No surgery required

Now that the baby's down to nursing once a day, I decided it was time to ditch the nursing bras and buy some regular ones. We were at Wal-Mart, and I steered the family toward the women's clothing area.

Since my boys are all too young to be embarrassed by bra shopping with their mother, they were eager to help. I asked them to look for my size, and for the two who can read I asked them to look for cotton. Eventually, I came away with two new bras and a sports bra for sleeping in.

That night, I put on my new sports bra and pajama pants and began my nightly rituals. As I stood brushing my teeth, Isaac (3) came in.

"Mommy, are those your new ones?" he asked, pointing at my chest.

I choked on the toothpaste. "What?"

Getting closer, he poked me in the sports bra. "Are those your new ones?"

Trying not to laugh, I said, "Oh, yes, this is one of my new ones."

Satisfied, he turned to go. Suddenly, I realized the embarrassment to come if I didn't say something. "Isaac?" I said.

He turned back. "What?"

"Please don't go around telling people, 'Mommy got new ones.'"

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

WBW - Psychic

Last week, TKW told me I must be psychic. I posted the earliest picture I have at my disposal of me with my parents. Well, that's this week's assignment. So you can scroll down to last week for the absolute earliest one I have. But in the meantime, take a look at these other pictures, which were taken before my baby brother came along to mess things up join the family.
This is circa 1972. Look at the great muscle shirt my dad's sporting! And the hairstyle is so very 70s. Look at the sideburns! Love it, Dad, love it.

Here is my gorgeous mother in her lovely blue polyester pantsuit. I'm actually not 100% sure this is polyester, but in 1972, what else could it be? I am clearly sporting a new dress and shoes and looking absolutely adorable doing so.

So, did you play?

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Morning already?

It's one of those mornings where my brain just isn't awake yet. Hubby woke me up around 7:30 and then joked, "You got up yesterday, so why do you need to do it again today?" I mumbled, "Good point," and rolled over.

But I did get up, got my shower, came downstairs to get the baby out of bed. Went through all the motions. The whole time, all I was thinking was, "When do I get to go back to sleep?"

I'm sure the fog will lift once I've been up for a couple of hours and had my coffee. Until then, I'm just going to pretend this is a pleasant dream in which I am well-rested, my children are happy and playing quietly, and the sun is setting so I can go back to bed soon.

Good night.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Milking the future

Now that the price of gasoline has gone higher than the price of milk, I can reveal my plan for the future. First, we need to work on making an engine that will run on milk. Step two, we begin converting all dairy farms to fuel stations, as in the above photo. It might even be cheaper than producing milk for consumption, because you wouldn't have to pasteurize or homogenize it. People with pasture space could even keep one or two cows for their own personal fuel supply.

I think the only downside would be the exhaust. I've never smelled burning milk, but it can't be pleasant.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Tax day

Hubby sat down at the table this morning to sign the state tax return.

"Ew, there's some kind of goo on the table," he said, trying to wipe it off the papers.

"Honey, it's the state department of revenue. Leave it. In fact, is there any more goo you can throw in there?"

He grinned mischievously. "Are you saying we should throw goo at them?"

Friday, April 14, 2006

SPF - Easterishness

This week, Kristine has chosen some Easter-like themes for our photos of stuff.

Your "Peeps" (aka people you hang with):As a SAHM, my sons are my main peeps. These are the two younger ones. I actually could've used the baby as "something fuzzy." Look at his hair! Hubby wants to cut it, but I can't stand the thought of losing those precious curls just yet.

I don't have any pictures of the adult peeps I hang with!

Something fuzzy:
Our kitten, Smokey, chilling out in my bedroom. Is he the king of the house or what?

Someone or something you want to dye or die:
This is our third spring in this house, and I am still fighting the weed battle. I took this picture two steps out our front door. There's a really nice garden area, with little pathway lights and a bench and everything, but every spring, it turns into a mass of weeds. Hopefully this year, we'll conquer them; we've been putting down weed-blocker fabric and then mulching over it. Die, weeds, die!!

Did you play?

Hey, while you're here, can I get your opinion on this template I made? I based it on Red Dwarf, one of my all-time favorite shows. It looks fine in Firefox, but not in IE and I'm trying to figure it out. Tell me what you see. Thanks!

Thursday, April 13, 2006


After hearing Donald Trump pick on my man Tarek (several times) about not being very smart considering the fact he is a MENSA member, I decided to check out the requirements to join. Exactly how smart is Tarek, and what did he have to do to prove it?

MENSA requires anyone interested in a membership to submit test results from any of a number of standardized tests (the list of which can be found on their site) or their own test. They charge $30 to review your test results and verify you are qualified for membership. Once they do, you just pay your yearly dues ($52) and you're in.

So he did actually have to test as being pretty intelligent. If he took one of the IQ tests, he had to score around 130. It makes me wonder if Trump qualifies. I mean, he's obviously got a very high financial IQ. There are all different kinds of intelligence. And just because you have a high IQ doesn't mean you have a lick of common sense. My best friend in high school was valedictorian, but she couldn't figure out the most simple things sometimes, and she had little aptitude for writing. I suppose that's why MENSA has such a long list of tests they accept.

Here's the surprising thing: I looked down the list and found that the SAT, as long as you took it before 1994, is one of the tests they accept. For the year I took the SAT, the lowest score they accept is 1250. Guess what? I scored 1340.

So here's a question for you: should I join? Just because I can? Now would be the time, because they're waiving the $30 fee this month. Should I go hang out with smart people every so often? This year they're gathering at my favorite place in the world: Disney World! Then again, Florida in August? Like I said, sometimes there's a lack of common sense!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Blogging Chicks

If you look down the left side there, you'll find a picture of little baby chicks. Under that is the Blogging Chicks blogroll, which you'll notice I've joined! The requirements are kind of strict - you have to be a woman and you have to have a blog. For full details, go here. Join in the fun!

And thanks for the welcome, Michele!

WBW - Way, Way Back

This week, TKW, feeling nostalgic about pregnancy (but not enough to actually want to try it again), has requested pictures of our moms when they were pregnant with us. My parents did manage to find some pics, but couldn't get them to come up on their computer. So I had to opt for newborn shots of myself.

Aw, don't you just want to pinch her cheeks?

I don't even have an pre-Jana pictures of my parents to show, but I do have this one of my mom soon after I was born.

And here's me with my parents, which is the earliest one I could find of all three of us. I'm about 14 months here.

And I don't care what anybody says, Ace rocked last night. I still think Chris should win, though.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Just follow these simple instructions

When we got our new futon a few months back, I couldn't help but notice something about the instructions.

This is Step 1 in putting together the futon:

Piece of cake. Put little part P in each end of the frame.

And here is Step 2:
Put little part P in the other two ends of the frame.

Nothing too complicated, right? My nine year old could probably put this thing together. How hard could it be?

Now, take a look at Step 3:Oh, okay, no problem!

Monday, April 10, 2006

Frequently Asked Questions

Okay, admit it. There's something you've been wondering about me. Maybe it's something I discussed before you started reading my blog and you haven't perused my archives. Maybe it's something I haven't gotten around to yet. Now you can satisfy your burning curiosity. If you look to the left, there's a little flashing FAQ button. Just click!

I've asked myself a few questions already and was quite happy with the answers I provided, so I'm sure my answers to your questions will be just as enlightening. I'll check for new questions every couple of days.

Friday, April 07, 2006

SPF - Camera tricks

So now that I've gotten all that school stuff out of my system (see below), I'm ready to play SPF. This week, Kristine has us playing with our cameras.

A macro shot:My cup of coffee this morning.

A shot without flash:
Isaac grinning. Of course, it's a nasty rainy day, so there's only the overhead lights for this shot.

A shot from a different perspective:
This is what the dinner table looks like to my 16 month old.

Did you play? Let me know and I'll come admire your artistry!


Okay, so there is a group of people who do not want me to say that I "homeschool" my 1st grader because I am using a public cyber charter. Whatever floats your boat. But I have seen so many untruths out there about how the charter schools work that I thought it might be helpful to hear directly from someone who uses one.

Myth 1: The computer lent to families comes from the school. This is not true. The boxes come directly from K12. When I call for tech support, I call K12. I am not told by the government or the school what I can or can't put on it. In fact, the boys use it for computer games all the time.

Myth 2: The government tells me what I can and can't teach. Not true. In three years of use, I have never once been told I couldn't teach my kids something. I am free to share my own opinions and beliefs. Likewise, if I come across something objectionable in the curriculum, I am free to skip it. I can also add in as much supplementary material and as many field trips as I want.

Myth 3: Once they're in, it's hard to get them out. Also not true. Last year, I decided not to re-enroll my oldest son. I emailed the school and said he wouldn't be returning. That was it. I then had to tell the local school district I'd be homeschooling him this year, the same way every other independently homeschooling parent does every year.

Myth 4: Cyber charters are much more restrictive than homeschooling independently. In my experience, they're just different. I have to keep track of hours instead of days in school. And, for example, a Language Arts lesson counts as one hour, whether it takes me that long or not. Sometimes I get in a crunch at the end of the year, but I always get there. If you are someone who counts a trip to the grocery store as a day in school, then yeah, I could see how it could be called restrictive. I am required to give standardized tests at certain grade levels, and so are homeschoolers, the difference being that the school picks which test. And like I said before, they are not restrictive about the curriculum. Obviously, though, you shouldn't choose this curriculum if you don't like it. You can download an entire scope and sequence from K12, as well as view sample lessons, to determine that ahead of time. Other differences are: the students are evaluated (by phone) every other week in the charter school, as opposed to once a year with homeschooling, and the students turn in a work sample once a month, as opposed to once a year with homeschooling. Personally, I don't find either one more restrictive, just different.

Now, of course, I can only speak to how things work in Pennsylvania. Maybe in other states the cyber charters do put a lot more restrictions on people than homeschooling would. But I have heard these myths from people right here in my community, too.

So if you have any other questions about how the school works and would like answers from someone who actually uses it, feel free to ask.

And by the way, ignoramus means someone who lacks knowledge concerning a particular subject. I, for example, am an ignoramus when it comes to sports. It's not an insult. Now if I were to call you an idiot, that would be an insult.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Homeschool vs. School at home

It's been about a year since I originally wrote a post which I then later deleted because I was sick of people coming here and making idiotic statements in the comments. I even had to turn off the comments for a while. I didn't even have more than five regular readers at the time, so all the comments were quite a shock. Now, if you're a regular reader, you know I am the farthest thing from controversial. I don't like conflict and I don't engage in it on purpose. But this is one of those things that has been eating at me.

What could I possibly have said that caused such an uproar? I wrote about homeschooling with a cyber charter school. I was told that despite the undeniable fact that both my school age children were at home every day being taught by me, I was not allowed to call that homeschooling, because I was using government money through a public charter school. Apparently, there is a group of homeschoolers out there who are very threatened by this, and if I call it homeschooling, I'm damaging their cause somehow.

So now I am permanently in these ignoramus's archives, and periodically I see on my site meter that someone has popped over here from there, probably looking for a fight. One of them even has little old me on a page full of people most damaging to the homeschool movement or some such nonsense. I mean, really! I'm not the one who started it. I'm not the one who told me I was stupid, fooling myself, and other such sweet compliments.

So, for the record, I am still using the cyber charter with my first grader. I am not using it because it's a public school paid for by tax money. I'm using it because I would be using that curriculum anyway, and it would be stupid not to get it for "free" if I can. Seriously, I would feel like an idiot paying $2000 a year for a curriculum when I'm already paying way more than that in school taxes.

I am not using the cyber charter for my fourth grader this year. It was too structured for him. He is being homeschooled independently, I guess. But I am still using some of the materials I got from the school last year, and sometimes he sits in on his brother's history lessons, so does that mean I can't say I'm homeschooling him either? What if you use the public library for homeschooling? That's paid for by public money. Do you drive on the roads to go on field trips? Public money. Do you see how idiotic this is?

I am sure that these people will find me again, in whatever way they found me last time. And all I can say to them is that I am doing what I am doing for my boys' future. It will not matter one bit to them whether I used public money or my own savings to teach them. They are in the best environment I can put them in, they are learning every day, they are not surrounded by the negative influences of a public school, and they know they have parents who care about their education. So go ahead. Bring it.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

WBW - Cosby's got nothing on us

Remember those ridiculous sweaters Bill Cosby used to wear (and maybe still does, I don't know)? This week, TKW wants to see our scary sweaters of the past. Now, I owned quite a few sweaters, and most of them were just plain, boring, all one color sweaters. And I didn't wear them a lot because I have a thing about itchy clothes, and sweaters are always itchy. Plus it seems that when I did wear the few scary sweaters I had, no one saw fit to snap my picture.

However, for Christmas 1982 I did receive two sweaters, and as I always did, I took a picture of my Christmas gifts. So I give you the matching sweaters:

Aren't they sweet? Oddly enough, I can't remember wearing these. In fact, I remember avoiding the white one (under the green one) because it was so itchy. Even with that white turtleneck on the right to go under it. (I think the thing under the socks is either a shirt or pajamas)

So, did you play? And if not, you should!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Future musician

For some reason I was holding the camera sideways, but you can tilt your head left, right?

The boys were having fun "playing" this toy saxophone.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Spring forward, fall down

Every year, I check the calendar to see when Daylight Savings Time begins. I have to mentally prepare myself at least a week in advance for the schedule change. This year, it snuck up on me. I flipped my calendar to April, and there it was, like a tiger out of the shadows, knocking me down and wrapping its big teeth around my throat: April 2, Daylight Savings Time begins.

I felt trapped. I don't mind saying I was even a little upset. How could I have let this sneak up on me? All thoughts of a nice, restful weekend went out the window. We were losing an hour that night and there was nothing I could do to stop it.

By now, you're laughing at me. Go on, admit it. One hour? Is she nuts? What's the big deal? Let me tell you: we are all night owls around here. None of us (except the baby) has any trouble staying up until 2 a.m. But we all (again, except the baby, though I'm sure that will change eventually) like to sleep in the morning. Do you begin to see the problem? On Saturday, as the clock struck what would be midnight after the time change, our bodies were telling us it was only 11 p.m. We don't go to sleep at 11. I know I was awake until almost 1.

The next morning when the alarm went off at 7:45 (or 6:45 as our atomic clock, which is supposed to change itself but didn't, read) there was no fooling our internal clocks. I don't get up that early. By the time my body was ready to wake up, it was after nine. I had the same problem last night. The clock said midnight, my body said 11. This morning, I am a wreck.

I know by Wednesday I'll be fine, but it's almost worse than jet lag. At least with jet lag, you've been somewhere interesting and exciting. The most exciting thing I did this weekend was watch some of the last season of 24.