Monday, November 14, 2011

My Memories Suite - Digital Scrapbooking Software GIVEAWAY!

Have you ever wanted to try digital scrapbooking? Are you a "traditional" scrapbooker (like me) with more stuff than you can use and no time to use it?  Perhaps you have one or more small people in your house that don't allow for a dedicated scrapping area.  I have one with a scissors fetish who will cut anything he can lay his hands on - tablecloths, winter coats, and the cords to the window blinds, just to name a few. There is NO WAY I would leave scissors laying around, much less my Cricut machine (which I love) or my other paper cutters.

Enter My Memories Suite! This software is fun and simple to use.  I have not done much digital scrapbooking.  I have never taken the time to organize myself, for one thing.  Nor have I bothered to learn how to do it, even though I have Photoshop at my disposal.  I have just not taken the time.

I was asked to review this scrapbooking software, and I have to tell you, I am hooked!  I installed it, opened it up and started playing around, had a grand old time exploring all the possibilities.  Of course, one of the best things about digital scrapbooking is the ability to drag and drop a picture into a pre-made template.  This is one of my favorite pictures of the kids from when Isaac was a baby:

This is a freebie I received from the Share My Memories newsletter.  I thought the colors were great for a picture in the fall leaves.

After watching a tutorial, I created this layout using the free elements included in the software package:

Not too shabby, eh?  I found a picture of Todd and Isaac at Lake Superior this summer.  Then, I chose a paper, added a texture, border, mat, shape and photo corners - all with a few simple clicks.  Easy as that!

I also made a few pages using pictures from Isaac's Halloween party at preschool.  I used some things from My Memories Suite, but included elements I had from other places, too. 

It did take an extra step to import embellishments (the overlay & buttons on the first page, the  hand print and the cat on the last two) but there were no issues with using them.  My Memories Suite comes with a ton of great stuff, and they have lots on their website you can download for free, too.  However, I had quite a bit of stuff I've downloaded for free from here and there, and I wanted to be sure I could use what I already had.  The pumpkins on page 2 are actually a nifty font I downloaded and installed.  I just clicked to add a text box, typed them in, sized and dragged my text box, and voila: a pumpkin border!

I am excited to do more with this nifty software. I have not even scratched the surface of what it can do.  The best part is, I HAVE A FREE COPY TO GIVE AWAY TO A LUCKY WINNER!

Here's what you do:

1. (Required) Visit the My Memories Suite website and poke around.  Come back and share your favorite products with me in the comments.
2. (Optional) "Like" My Memories Suite on Facebook (let me know that you did so in the comments)

3. (Optional) Follow My Memories on Twitter (let me know that you did so in the comments)
4. (Optional) Share about the giveaway on your blog, Facebook page or Twitter account! (let me know you did this &leave me a link in the comments)  If you'd like, you can copy & paste this:

Visit Acorn Hill Academy for a chance to win FREE digital scrapbooking software!

I will announce the lucky winner on Monday, November 28.  Good luck!

If you just can't wait to get started, I have a fabulous coupon code for you!  You can go to the My Memories Suite site and use code STMMMS31018 for $10 discount on your very own copy of the My Memories Suite software, and a $10 credit in the My Memories Store!

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Soup - It's What's For Dinner

I do love fall in North Carolina.  After a summer of oppressive humidity, the bright fall days bringing cooler temperatures are quite welcome.  I love the colors and scents of fall, too. Autumn also ushers in soup season.

I made one of my family's favorite soups tonight, and I thought I'd share the recipe.  I got it from Todd's mother, because it's one of his favorites, and have made a few modifications.

Here is the original recipe:

Chicken Tortellini Soup
9 oz pckg frozen broccoli
6 cups water
3 - 1.75 oz cans of condensed chicken broth
1 - 10.75 oz can cream of chicken soup
2 cups cubed, cooked chicken
1 cup chopped onions
1 cup sliced carrots
1/2 cup vermouth or water
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp basil leaves
1/2 tsp oregano leaves
7 oz pckg cheese tortellini
Parmesan cheese, if desired

In large saucepan or Dutch oven, combine water, broth, soup, chicken, onions, carrots, vermouth, garlic, basil & oregano.  Bring to a boil & add tortellini.  Reduce heat & simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes.  Add broccoli; simmer 5-10 minutes more until broccoli is tender.  Serve with cheese.

Makes 10 servings, 1/2 C

I don't know about you, but I have yet to find anything labeled "condensed chicken broth" at the grocery store.  The cans of broth I have (usually Swanson's) specifically say on the label "Do not dilute."  I have diluted them, but I don't think the soup is as tasty.  Tonight, I used 6 cans of chicken broth and 2 cups of vegetable broth.  (I think the 6 cans of broth would have been sufficient, but I didn't look at the labels and assumed that they were 10.75 oz cans instead of 14.5 oz cans and decided I needed extra liquid.  Vegetable broth has a nice flavor.)

I like to add celery to the soup.  I think I added about a cup tonight.  Chicken soup should have celery in it.

I have learned over the years that I am not a huge fan of oregano, so I leave that out and add 1 tsp of basil and approximated 1/2 tsp allspice.  My mother tells me that allspice is a great thing to add to chicken soups, so I do.  I say "approximately," because as I was attempting to measure the allspice over the soup pot, a whole bunch of it dumped onto my half-teaspoon and overflowed into the pot.  I put back what was still on the spoon and called what was still in the pot, good enough.  (I would guess that you are beginning to see why this is not a cooking blog.)

I never have vermouth so I don't put that in.

The best thing about this recipe is that it doesn't ask that you sauté the vegetables first.  You just dump it all in and boil it.  It's wonderful!  I also love that it has lots of veggies so it can be a one-dish meal.  I wish I had remembered to throw some bread in the bread machine, but I will do that tomorrow when we have the leftovers. :-)

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Paperback Swap!

Homeschoolers:  have you signed up for Paperback Swap yet?  If not, get thee hence and do so now!

Here is how it works:
1. Sign up for your FREE account.
2. Post books that you would like someone else to have.
3. You receive 2 credits for posting books, and then one credit for each book you send.  With your credits, you can request books that people send to you for FREE!
4. When someone requests a book from you, you have to send it in a fairly timely fashion and pay for media mail postage.

I had heard of Paperback Swap (PBS) quite a while ago, but it seemed like too much work at the time to get books together to post so I could get credits to get books.  However, this past week, I was looking at my bookshelves, which are overrun with books again, and realized that I had a stack right in front of me that could go.  I am terrible about getting them to the library or to Goodwill, but I got them entered into Paperback Swap, and instantly had requests for 4 books.  I mailed those last week and just mailed 4 more today.  I figured it would be a good way for me to get some books to read inexpensively.  Honestly, considering what a new book costs, even from Amazon, it's a good deal even after you pay for the postage.

One of the things I sent off was my boxed set of the Twilight series, in hardcover.  It was expensive to send, and the person requesting it had a lot of restrictions on what she would and would not accept.  My set was in nearly perfect condition, but it was a bugger to get packed, and I do confess to feeling a small amount of irritation at knowing I would get only one credit for all that work.  However, I sent it, because I wanted the books out of my house.  Guess what?  The person who received them emailed me to thank me for packing the books so carefully and said they arrived in perfect condition.  She also gave me 3 more credits, because she didn't think it was fair that I only received one for a  4-book set, especially considering the cost of the postage.  Is that not fabulous? 

Why is this good for homeschoolers?  Well, let me tell you!  When I went the post office, the very nice man who helped me turned out to be a fellow homeschooler.  He told me that his wife gets lots of books for their homeschool from Paperback Swap.  I had an epiphany.  I had not considered the possibility of looking there for school books!  Immediately, I went home and started looking up books we will need for next year.  I have 2 on the way to me as I type this!  If you homeschool, you know how expensive books are, and therefore the gleefulness I feel at getting some from PBS.

I hope I've inspired you to at least consider PBS.  If you homeschool, or read at all, you know you have too many books.  This is a great way to get rid of some that didn't turn out to be fabulous, and get some that you either really want or need in return.  Bibliophiles helping bibliophiles - it's a beautiful thing.

Monday, October 24, 2011

As You Were

My friend Kenny died last week.  He was 58.  He leaves behind his wife of 39 years, his only son, his daughter-in-law, 3 beautiful grandchildren, his mother, and innumerable extended family and friends who loved him.  He had a heart attack quite unexpectedly and died at church in a meeting.

My heart aches with missing him, and I cannot imagine how his family must feel.  His son gave a beautiful eulogy, and ended with saying that he hopes to be as good a husband and father as his dad was, but he doesn't know how to be himself without his dad.  They were best friends and did most things together.  They recorded 2 CDs together, which fulfilled a dream of Kenny's.  I know my world would be turned upside down if I lost my dad, and I don't get to see him every day because we live so far apart.

Kenny loved music.  He particularly loved the Beatles, and the funeral people found an interesting CD with funeral music arrangements of Beatles songs to play.  Apparently Kenny had said he didn't want funeral music at his funeral someday, but the Beatles.  I can't say I cared for the funeral-ish versions of their music, but I suppose it was an acceptable compromise.  I do wonder if Kenny would have cringed at those arrangements.

Kenny and I were both on the praise team at our church.  Even though I only knew him for a little over a year and a half, I saw him every week and we shared music and laughter together.  He shared those things with everyone.  We had a little inside joke about one of the songs we performed, and in listening to people talk about their experiences with Kenny, I think he had an inside joke with just about everyone.  It was a great way to connect with people.

I learned some things about Kenny during his eulogy that made me wish I'd had more time to get to know him and that my husband had had the same opportunity.  He loved Star Trek and Star Wars, and so do we.  He was also into science fiction and space, and loved model rockets.  Todd would have loved that!

Kenny's son told a story about starting a Star Wars fan club with his dad and some friends, and how much his dad loved being a part of that.  One night Kenny fell asleep while watching a movie and startled himself awake, and the other guys were laughing.  He just looked at them and said, "As you were."  (I think this is a Star Trek quote, but I can't be sure.)  That's how Brad ended his eulogy: by telling us all, "As you were."

We had a get-together at our house on the 4th of July for our praise team, and Kenny and his lovely wife, Renae, came and brought the most amazing baked beans.  I didn't learn until after they arrived that they had a family dinner at their house, and had sat their family down to eat and then came over to join us.  I can't tell you how much that meant to me.  He and Renae said we'd have to get together with the kids, and I was looking forward to getting to know them as part of our North Carolina family.

The best thing about Kenny is that although I know he would not have chosen to leave his life on earth just yet, everyone knew how much he loved them.  His family knew beyond all doubt that he adored them and were the most important thing to them.  He didn't leave any broken relationships behind.  We all miss him terribly, but I don't believe there are any regrets of things we didn't get to say.  I hope the same will be said about me, someday.

Thanks, Kenny, for being a great friend.  I will miss you greatly and look forward to seeing you in heaven.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Homeschool: Our Scintillating Conversation

Me: (Child), Get your math.

Child: I don't know where it is.

Me: Well, find it.

Child: Will you help me?

Me: Is it in your bag?

Child: (spoken without moving from couch) No, I took it out.

Me: Look in the bonus room.

Child: It's not there.

Me: What about your bedroom?

Child: It's not there.


Child: walks straight out to car and gets her math books

Me: Deep breathing and counting to 10 (or more) so as not to go choke said child and whack her on the head with said math book.

Monday, September 19, 2011

There is No Peace with Preschoolers

We started our homeschool year a couple of weeks ago - the day after Labor Day, to coincide with Isaac starting preschool again.  We took the plunge into Ambleside Online, combining years 1 & 2 so we don't miss any of the wonderful books.  The first week went REALLY well.  It was even better than I'd hoped!  The girls enjoyed the books we're reading and even though we're doubling up, it's not a terribly heavy workload.  Of course, our math books hadn't arrived yet and we don't have our microscope for science; it's going to take another week or two to get up to our full load, but still, it was good.

Last week, we were all sick.  We did do some reading, but for the most part, we laid around and felt pathetic.  It was pretty bad.

So, today, my goal was to get back on track!  We started off with some math, and Abbie finished reading the two things she was unable to read last week.  It wasn't terrible.

The thing is, Isaac is not terribly quiet while we're schooling - the child talks incessantly, bless him.  He also kept asking when we were going to go outside.  Abbie really needs quiet for reading and Emma would do just about anything to get out of school work, so we didn't get as much done as I'd hoped.  After math, we did go outside, and I decided to take a look at my plans for the week and tweak a bit (already).

I hope to be able to do a 4-day school week this year, with Fridays off for co-op twice per month and some fun field trips on the other weeks.  Isaac has preschool 3 mornings per week this year, which is wonderful.  We can get a lot done while he's gone and be mostly finished with our work before I need to pick him up.

Mondays, however, are going to have to be filled primarily with things he can either do with us, or that his talking won't bring to a screeching halt.  I think this might be a good thing, actually.  There are many things that will allow him to tag along.  We can do our hymn study (he LOVES) to sing, composer study (he loves all music), nature study, and geography - we're reading Paddle to the Sea, and I know he would enjoy listening in.  These are things that are easy to overlook when faced with finishing math and trying to get grammar done, so I'm hopeful that it will work out for the best for our homeschool year overall.  The girls will still have to do math on Monday, and some language arts, but we can keep history and other things that require more conversation and concentration for times when Isaac is in school.

I have to say that I have no idea how all this is going to play out when he's ready to start school at home with us.  He is so active and talkative that I'm glad he will not go to public school, but those same traits make it tough in the homeschool sometimes too.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Abbie's Math Instruction

We got a cool set of math manipulatives, called See & Solve Manipulative Kit by Lakeshore Learning for Isaac in the mail today.  They were recommended by Erica at Confessions of a Homeschooler, and I was able to get them for a great price on Ebay, so I ordered them.

Isaac, of course, had to take them out of the box RIGHT THEN and play with them, and Abbie can't resist anything math related, so she started trying to show him some simple addition.

Abbie:  "Isaac, how many fingers am I holding up:

Isaac: "One."

Abbie: "And how many fingers on my other hand?"

Isaac: "One."

Abbie: "If I put my fingers together, how many are there?"

Isaac: "Two."

Abbie:  "So, one plus one is....?"

Isaac (confidently): "Six!"

I managed not to laugh out loud.  He did get better with the next problem.  When she asked him, after showing him her fingers and all, how many two plus one equalled, he did say "Three!"  So cute.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Guidecraft Givewaway - Interlox Blocks!

Head over to Cindy's blog, Along The Way, and check out her Guidecraft giveaway!  A lucky winner will receive the Interlox 96 piece building set.  It looks like a lot of fun!  I know my budding engineer(s) would enjoy it.  Check them out:

Doesn't that look nifty? You definitely want to enter to win these!  I will be adding them to Schmooey's wish list!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Archimedes Discussions

The girls and I have been reading Archimedes and the Door of Science together, as part of Living Books Curriculum Year 3.  It's been interesting to read what life was like in Ancient Greece.  We're now starting to learn about some of Archimedes' discoveries of simple machines, like the screw and the lever.

Today, we read about Archimedes making a bet with King Hiero that he could move whatever heavy object King Hiero gave him to move, no matter how large.  The king told him to move a ship out of the harbor that all the king's slaves had not been able to move.  Archimedes set up a system of pulleys, and moved the ship with one hand.  Needless to say, he impressed the king.

We also read about a discussion Archimedes liked to have with King Hiero.  Archimedes believed that the most perfect thing was a well-reasoned idea.  King Hiero said that such ideas were useless unless they could be applied in a practical way.  I asked the girls which they thought was better - thought, or application. They told me they agreed with Archimedes.

I told them we would try dinner using Archimedes' method.  I would think about a fabulous dinner, from preparation to serving.  I would ponder all the ingredients and think about exactly what I needed to do to make such a dinner.  I would ruminate on the process of cooking and what would happen when the ingredients were combined.  Then, when Todd came home, I would tell him all about my well-reasoned dinner plan, and see what he thought of it - all theory, no food on the table.  Somehow, they didn't think that sounded like a very good idea!  Ha.

We read about "work," and how the scientific definition of work is the action of forces on things.  I showed them how hard I could work by poking Emma in the leg several times.  She didn't find that nearly as amusing as I did.  

We also read about level 1, level 2 and level 3 levers today, and found them a bit confusing.  We're going to make real levers tomorrow so we can see how they work.  A level 3 lever is something like a fishing pole.  It really makes no sense looking at the pictures in the book, but we could imagine it better when we thought about how a fishing pole works.  I have a feeling we may need to involve Todd with this lesson.  They are supposed to be "simple" machines, and I'm sure we can make the levers.  I guess I should be thankful we're not to the math part yet.  Bleah.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Another Confessions of a Homeschooler Giveaway!

Well, I didn't win the nifty geography curriculum, but I'm going for the new giveaway!  Erica at Confessions of a Homeschooler has a really fun, inexpensive preschool curriculum, Letter of the Week.  I'm getting it ready to use with Isaac, mostly as a way to keep him busy while the girls are doing school.  I think he's going to love it!


Erica just came out with her K4 Expansion for the LOTW curriculum, and is giving away a copy to one lucky winner!  Go check it out.  She has made some great activities for an older preschooler.  (Is that possible? An older preschooler?  LOL.)  There are beginning math, reading, and writing activities.  Isaac already knows most of his letters, so we are going to move ahead with beginning reading.  He will love the colorful, fun activities in this curriculum

Go over and enter now!  You know you want to. :-)

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Expedition Earth Giveaway!

Erica at Confessions of a Homeschooler is giving away a copy of her Expedition Earth geography curriculum!  I've enjoyed reading about it on the blog.  It looks like a lot of fun.

Here is the blurb from her blog:

Get ready for an exciting voyage across the world! Come along as we walk on the Great Wall of China, wander through the Amazon Rainforest, and climb the Egyptian Pyramids! Within this curriculum you'll discover the sights and sounds of 31 countries across the globe. You’ll get hands-on with fun activities, crafts, recipes and more! So grab your passports, and get ready to go! It's time for Expedition Earth!
CLICK HERE to enter - there are lots of ways to get extra entries, too! I believe it's targeted at K-3, since she has younger children, but we all know you can make of it what you want when you homeschool. :-)  Head on over and enter to win!

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Look what I found!

Today, since we finally have some sunshine, I was outside trimming some bushes. It's probably not the right time, but they have been ignored for a long time (since before we moved in a year ago - eek) and some of them are out of control. Actually, Abbie did a lot of the trimming for me last week, but she didn't do the Giant Holly Bush or the Rose Bush Trying to Take Over the World (RBTTOW).

I decided, after attempting to trim the RBTTOW a bit, that it needed a good whacking off down to about 24". I should have done it earlier, and it's showing lots of lovely new growth, but the thing is immense and needs to be brought back under control. As I was trimming, though, I found this:

It's a cardinal's nest!  Of course, I immediately stopped trimming the bush and cleaned up, to get away from there as quickly as possible.  That poor mother bird must have been having heart palpitations.  The RBTTOW looks a little, shall we say, interesting at this point, half trimmed, but I'd rather have the baby cardinals.

Isaac was very helpful yesterday.  He picked up branches for me in his little red wagon, and dumped them on the edge of the yard - almost in the "natural area."  He also used his wagon to clean up after the lawn mower.

He is so cute sometimes, I can hardly stand it.

Update:  The mother cardinal was back on her nest this morning when we came home from church!  I'm hoping to get some pictures of the babies as they grow.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Toyboxes & More Giveaway!

Be sure you head over to the Crafty Classroom blog and checkout the Toyboxes & More Giveaway!

Here is a little info from the Toyboxes and More website: offers high quality, affordable Wood Toy Boxes that are perfect for children of all ages; All of our products are built for real kids in the real world. The furniture and toys featured in our store are built to pass on for generations and make fantastic gifts and keepsakes. Our goal is to inspire children with the power of their imagination through unique and creative heirloom-quality wooden toys and room furnishings.

All you have to do is register an account with Toyboxes & More, and leave a comment on the Crafty Classroom blog telling her that you'd like to enter the contest and that you've created your account. Of course, if you already have one, just mention that. There are a couple of other things you can do for extra entries - like blogging about it! :-D

One lucky winner will receive a very cool Wooden Bead Maze. I know my little guy will enjoy it, and so will the many smallish visitors that come to my house. Make sure you go over and enter to win!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Aquarium Update

Abbie told me at the beginning of the school year that she wanted to study aquatic plants. I had no idea what we were going to do to accomplish that, until my mom reminded me that we could set up a fish tank. We still had a 20 gallon tank left from all the fish tanks we used to have, so we got that set up using Diana Walstead's "el Natural" approach. Basically, you put down a layer of potting soil (we used Miracle Gro Organic Choice, at the recommendation of our local fish guru), then tuck the plants in, and then add a layer of gravel on top. You can see a blog post about it here, and someone else's step-by-step instructions here. There's also a forum about it here, I've gotten lots of great help from the folks at Aquatic Plant Central.

To date, we have a breeding pair of dalmation lyretail mollies, and 4 of their babies are now about an inch long. We've recently seen at least one brand-new baby, so that's exciting. Here is a picture of what I'm talking about:

We recently added two golden wonder killifish, and they are a lot of fun. I think they are helping with controlling the molly population, which is good. I believe we have two male fish, so we won't be getting any killi babies.

We also added two creamsicle lyretail mollies. Here is a picture of someone else's:

They are so pretty! Abbie loves them. The female is pregnant, and we currently have her in a little breeding tank until she has her babies. She has figured out how to escape said tank, so we've had to re-capture her several times and put her back in there.

We also added some peppered cory catfish and an algae eater. We have a lot of algae in the tank, and our one little algae eater isn't making much of a dent. I don't think our planted tank plan is working out quite like it should. We shouldn't really need a filter, but we had a BioWheel mini running on it (I believe they are now called BioWheel 100), and it wasn't enough. The water was cloudy, and it just wouldn't clear up, even with frequent water changes. We ended up putting our Eclipse system on the tank. The Eclipse is an awesome system, but it's for more than our tank should need. I don't think the tank is getting enough light for the plants. We're supposed to install two fairly high-powered compact fluorescent lights over the tank specifically for the plants, but we haven't gotten around to doing that, so I think we're going to have to keep the Eclipse in place for now. The water is clearing up nicely. Unfortunately, part of the tube on the filter portion was cracked. Todd repaired it with some electrical tape, but it's LOUD. We ordered replacement parts and I hope they will be there this week. I don't think the fish like the noise.

On a very happy note, I called a fish store in Charlotte called Fintastic, and they are going to find me some julidochromis ornatus!

Todd and I had a breeding pair of them when we lived in Michigan, and we loved them. They had 21 babies, and we had to sell them back to the pet shop. I think they are my all-time favorite fish. We have a little 5.5 gallon tank, and it's all set up and waiting for the julies to come home. I can't wait!

Guidecraft Giveaway!

Head on over to Granola Mom for God for a giveaway for Guidecraft Block Mates Farm Animals! They are very cute. I think Isaac would have a blast with them.

Guidecraft also makes dinosaurs and safari animals. They are all cute! I can't decide which ones I like best, but I think Isaac would prefer the dinosaurs. :-) If we don't win the giveaway, I will have to put them on his wish list!

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

I am not having fun today.

I decided to give up Facebook for Lent. I spend a lot of time online playing games and such, and as a homeschooling mom, I really don't have time to do that. Also, I should really focus on finding some friends I can hang out with in real life. I do love my online friends, and am going to miss them terribly for the next few weeks, but it would be fabulous if I could spend time with some folks face to face.

Since I never look at a calendar, I assumed that Lent started today. I was wrong - I could have had another entire week of Facebooking! Rats! However, I know myself, and I know that if I waited until next week to stop, I would have lots of reasons why I shouldn't really have to give up FB. I decided to go ahead and be done today.

I am struggling. Isaac has been having one of "those" mornings. Before I even got up this morning, he'd clogged the downstairs toilet with an entire roll of toilet paper.

While I was having breakfast, he soaked his shirt trying to play with his toy coffee maker, so we had to take it off. Then, he wet his pants, and left wet footprints behind him through the living room as he walked in his wet socks, pants around his ankles, to find me in the kitchen and show me his conundrum.

Shortly after I got him dressed in his second set of clothes for the day, he came downstairs again with no pants on, and told me he'd gone to the bathroom (poo this time) upstairs. He managed to do quite well for himself and didn't even clog the toilet! Good for him.

Next, he found a jar of Nutella that I had clearly not put up high in the pantry, and proceeded to eat it with his fingers under the dining room table. When he was finished, he wiped it on the back of his shirt. Actually, I was glad to discover that it was Nutella on his shirt rather than poo, which I'm sure you understand after reading the previous paragraph.

And then, he got his Cariboo game and decided to fill it with water. The base of the game is a cardboard box which didn't respond favorably. It's currently drying on the front porch.

It's only noon. The girls are supposed to be doing school; their math is taking an inordinately long amount of time and it's all we're going to get done today. We have piano lessons this afternoon, then Emma goes to Girls on the Run, and then we have kids' choir and I have adult choir this evening.

I WANT to go play on Facebook and ignore all of the chaos around me. However, I decided to come share my morning here, which has given me a few moments of peace, and will now go make lunch for us so we can leave for piano. I have been picking up around the house, and trying to get some laundry done. I did not get on Facebook and play games, so I count it as a success! Woo hoo!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Baby Ladybugs!

Have you ever seen baby ladybugs? I had not, until today!

We've had a ladybug problem since we moved into our house. Well, not really a problem, because we have high ceilings and they like to hang out where we don't really notice them - except in the master bathroom. They seem to congregate in there. Whether it's because they can find water in there, or because of all the windows, I'm not sure. I know they seek out the water because when we're in the shower they like to drink tiny drops of water from the glass door. I had never seen ladybug footprints before I saw them walking through the steam on the glass. That was pretty cool too.

This morning, I was taking a bath when I should have been educating my children, and I noticed BABY ladybugs on the side of the tub! I have a fondness for most tiny things, and thought they were terribly cute. And, guess what? I took pictures! I knew you'd be thrilled.

Here is a picture of a traumatized adult ladybug near a baby ladybug - look closely at the molding if you can't see the baby. The adult was traumatized because as I tried to pick it up to move it near the baby, it fell a few times due to struggling with me. Apparently it could not sense the vibes of peace and goodwill I was projecting at it.

There is another baby on my razor:

And here is a picture of the adult and a baby on my hand. I thought it was interesting to see that the baby's back is patterned in brown and white - good camouflage for the great outdoors! Hence, the reason I had not seen them before they showed up against the white in my bathroom.

I did call the girls in to look at the baby ladybugs. They thought they were adorable. Look at that - we did science!

Note my amazing photography skills in that last picture. I was holding the "big" camera myself and took the picture one-handed. It's not as easy as you might think.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Fun At The Cat Show

If you know me, you know that I am a cat person. I love animals, generally, but I am partial to cats. I have five of them and am open to more (although I do not believe my husband shares that sentiment). There is nothing better than a purring cat!

A couple of years ago, when Isaac was a baby, we went to a cat show in Raleigh. There are two different cat clubs there that host shows, and I'm not sure which one we attended. We had a great time, and met several people who were just there showing their pet cats. They told us it was a lot of fun and we should try it. I was sure there was no way we'd ever do that. I love my cats, but I like them at home, you know? They all hate to be groomed, and you have to groom show cats a lot. And clip their nails - that's a whole 'nother barrel of laughs.

Apparently the girls have had the idea of showing a cat in the backs of their minds since then. We got a kitten from the local animal control in September 2010, and it didn't take long for them to start talking about showing her. They mentioned it a couple of times, and I said helpful things like "Mmm hmm" and tried to pretend I hadn't heard them, hoping they'd forget about it.

My children are nothing if not persistent, however, and they began to ask more specific questions regarding when, exactly, we might be able to take the kitten to a cat show and what we needed to do to get there. So, I sighed in resignation and began to do a little research in January. I learned that there was, indeed, a cat show in Raleigh in February, but we were a little late in signing up (not impossibly so, but enough that I could use it as an excuse to wait until the next one) and one in the town where we live in October. I made a deal with them that we'd go to the one in Raleigh and check it out, to see if they thought they really wanted to continue with their cat show plan, and then sign up for the local one if they thought it still sounded like a good idea.

Off to Raleigh we went on Friday afternoon, to stay with some dear friends, have pizza, and then see some cats. Todd and I decided that it would probably be best not to take Isaac to the cat show, as his window for being quiet is quite limited and there were too many opportunities to hide, as he is wont to do these days, or otherwise run amok. Todd stayed with Isaac at our friends' house and they played while the girls and I headed off to the fair grounds and the cat show.

We had such a good time! There were so many beautiful cats to see, both pets - many rescued - and purebred. I would have been willing to take home one of everything. There truly is something special and fun about each breed. There were also two local rescues present, which I thought was fabulous. I have to try not to get too close to them though because I always want one.

I was going to try to list all the breeds we saw, but I didn't write them down and I'm not sure, looking at the list on The International Cat Association's website, if we saw some this year or the last time we went. I'd say my favorite cats this time around were the Bengals. They are lovely, active, friendly, playful SHORTHAIRED cats. They are a lot of fun!

The most beautiful cat I saw there was Zabbie, a shaded silver British Shorthair. Her website is here. She's a kitten, and her mom wants to breed her, and is in the process of finding her a suitable mate. I adore silver cats. My Gabe, best cat EVER, was a silver tabby exotic shorthair. The British Shorthair breed was developed in Britain, and there are most certainly Persians in their origins. I think that's what I loved about Zabbie, besides her amazing color: her short nose. It's not squashed like a Persian's or an exotic's, which I love, but still short and cute.

Abbie fell in love with the Maine Coons. She thinks she would like a silver classic tabby, if she likes showing cats and we get her a pedigreed cat to show. That's a big IF, but Todd is quite partial to Maine Coons, so I think it would be fairly easy to sell him on the idea. Here's a picture of a kitten:


And here's a picture of an adult:

I think I could live with a cat like that.

I have to say, though, that the BEST cat I saw all weekend was a rescue named Deacon, a cat who was rescued from a trailer park with several others where they were being used to train fighting dogs. That is a soap box for another day, so I won't get started. Marley's Cat Tales was one of the rescues there, and they had cages for 3 cats. The first time we stopped by, there were only two - Deacon and a lovely red Persian male named Sparky (I think). Sparky was lovely, but as much as I love my Persians, I am done with their crazy coats and especially Dory's weepy eyes and cat snot. (I am sure that's TMI, sorry.) Anyhoo, the very nice woman who was minding the cats let me hold Deacon, and I was instantly in love. He is a cuddler. There are not many cats who relish being held and petted, but Deacon positively reveled while we were bonding. He curled up on my chest, tucked his head under my chin, and proceeded to purr loudly and make happy feet. When he got tired of one position, he readjusted and we resumed our love fest. He is a solid cat - much heavier than you expect when you pick him up - and the most loving cat I've ever met. If I'd been allowed to take him then and there, nothing would have prevented me from doing so. However, there is an application process, and Todd is pretty sure we're not adopting him. I'm pretty sure I'd like to at least consider it, though, so I am going to contact them and find out if anyone else figured out how wonderful he is and adopted him first.

This might be the longest post I've ever written! It has very little to do with homeschooling, except that the girls are possibly going to pursue showing cats, so I suppose I'll sign off and go make some dinner.