About Me

My photo

I am a very lucky woman with a husband and son who are smart, witty and entertaining. Our son, B, attended public school for two years, and then we embarked on a new adventure in the Fall of 2010 - homeschooling. We don't have all the answers, but we know B and this has been the best thing for him. I blog to preserve our stories and our memories, share recipes, vent and ramble on about our crazy, yet blessed, life. Would you care to follow along?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Yin and Yang

For Mother's Day, I got breakfast in bed, the hubs checked B in and out of Sunday school at church for me, a drive in the country and 2 kittens! :o) We'd been going back and forth about pets for a year. He claims to be a dog person and I am a cat person. However, we have had 2 cats in the past, and they loved the hubs more than me! He is a closet cat whisperer. ;o) We rent, so permission was needed from the owner to get any pet. The hubs told me he had received permission from the owner six months ago to get a dog but I was not OK with it. One of the many things I love about my marriage - we do NOT make big decision, like getting a pet, without the OK from the other. So, we had no dog but no cat, either. Unbeknownst to me, the hubs contacted the landlord in late April and asked her if we could have a cat; she said yes.

After church on Mother's Day, the hubs told me we were going for a drive in the country. We ended up at our county's animal shelter. I was so excited when he told me, "We are here to just LOOK. LOOK!" This man has been my soulmate for 16 years; if he drove us here, we were getting a cat. It was 11:10am, and although their website stated they were open from 10am - 4pm, their 10am hours were administrative; they did not open for adoptions until 12pm. I was worried the hubs would take it as a sign and chuck the cat idea altogether. Luckily he didn't.

There is a farmer's market further down the road that we frequented last Summer, so the hubs suggested we go piddle around there while we wait for the animal shelter to open for adoptions. As we perused their fruits and vegetable and savored the smells of their homemade breads and pies, I remembered a visit from last year. While we checked out the previous July, one of the owner's daughters came up to us with a kitten. "Would you like to take a kitten home with you? They're free," she said. My face lit up, but the hubs informed her that we rented and were unable to have pets. I quickly reminded the hubs of our last visit as it was our turn to check out. As the gentleman was just about done ringing up our purchases the hubs said, "You know? The last time we were here, you had some kittens to give away..." A woman behind the checkout man stepped up immediately and said, "KITTENS?! Do you want a kitten? Some kittens? Our barn cat has had another litter and they just happen to be ready to leave the mother right now! After you pay for your things, I'll ride in your car out to my farm and you can choose whichever one you want!"

True to her word, she followed us out to the car, climbed in and proceeded to direct the hubs to her farm. We got out, walked to the barn and the owner ushered us in quickly, so as to not let the kittens out. They were so beautiful! There was 5 in the litter and they were 7 weeks old. The owner had started them on cat food 1 week prior, so they were weened from their mother's milk. Three kitties were grey and black tabbies like their mom. The sole girl and one boy were what I call tuxedo looking - all black except for white paws and a white diamond on their chests.

I really wanted a girl. Our 2 previous cats were girls and very loving. My favorite cat that I owned, Emmie, was a grey and black tabby. I was so disappointed that all the tabbies in this litter were boys. The owner put the only girl cat in my arms and she let me pet her. Paul picked up one of the tabby boys and placed it in B's arms. Although the cats were not used to being held at all, they were calm while in our arms. I was torn and the hubs could tell. He said to the owner, "I'm worried that a cat who has never been inside a home and is not used to being held by humans may not adjust well to our situation." My heart sank and I refused to look up at him and show my tears. I just continued to nuzzle the boy in my arms. "I was wondering," the hubs continued, "if taking two cats, instead of one, would make the transition easier on them..." My head shot up, and I dared to be hopeful as I looked at him. He was trying so hard not to smile at me! The owner replied, jokingly, "I actually think it would best if all 5 of them stayed together." We all laughed at that. "But you are right. Two is better for them than just one. In fact, if you were to adopt from the county shelter, you'd be hard pressed to just get one. They want animals to be adopted in pairs so they have company." I happily left with the girl in my arms while B was just as proud to be carrying a boy!

We tried to come up with names on the way home - Luke and Leia; Sonny and Cher; Donny and Marie - but none seemed to fit. We got them home, let them loose and they promptly disappeared! I do not know how the 3 of us had no clue where the 2 cats were, but that's what happened. We decided to give them some space to adjust to the new environment. After a few hours, however, we became concerned. We started to search and found them under a sofa. The hubs had lifted it up, and they were curled up, butt to face, asleep. B and I said at the same time, "Awe! They look like the Yin Yang symbol." *Light Bulb Moment* We all exchanged looks and yelled, "That's what we should call them!"

They were perfect names for our pets! The hubs and I have alway felt that we are Yin and Yang to each other. We never saw differences when we got together; we realized that we complemented each other perfectly. His strengths were my weaknesses and vice versa. So, Yin is the boy and Yang is the girl. I decided on that to make it easier for ME to remember which is which. I am a Grey's Anatomy fan and Christina Yang is one of the characters. That is why I named the female cat, Yang.

But they have proved to be perfect names for the cats, as well. They are complete opposites, or complements. Yin is very trusting and loving. Yang is defensive, protective of Yin and independent. Yang will rub up against you and purr, but as soon as you start to pet her she takes off. Yin wants to be held and petted all the time. Neither one wants to use the litter box alone, however. One stands outside and mews for the other and they both go in together. It's getting mighty tight in there; don't know how long this can go on.

Yin was on the sink in the master bath (I was getting ready to clean it, that is why I let him up there) and looking in the mirror. He kept pacing back and forth, trying to get into the "other room" but "another cat" would NOT get out of his way! He was so annoyed! LOL!

The first time I pulled the vacuum cleaner out of the closet was hilarious. They looked up. Heads turned to the side. Eyes widened. Pupils dilated. "Hmm! What's that? Let's go see." They ran up to it and started sniffing. After sniffing around it they looked up, up, all the way to the top. "Wow! That's big! And so pretty - blue and purple! I want to climb it!" Before they could climb, I started unraveling the cord and they were distracted. "Game! Get the cord, get the cord, get the cord... I got it, no wait, another piece! I got my front paws around this piece and my back legs around that piece and I'm gonna bite THIS piece...." Before turning it on, I warned them. "I think you may want to step back now. It makes a loud noise!" I nudged them with my foot. "Go on, now, shoo." "Are you kidding me?! Not with all this heavenly cord to attack!" "OK, here we go!" I turned on the vacuum cleaner and they took off like bats out of Hell! They poked their heads around a safe corner in another room and glared at the vacuum cleaner with a mixture of fear and defiance in their eyes. When I turned it off to move a piece of furniture or pick up something off the floor, they both attacked the vacuum with all their might. "Yeah! You're not so scary now, are ya, Big Blue! Not when mommy ain't holding your hand! You're not that tough. We can take you!" WHRRRRRR, went the vacuum, as I turned it back on, and those cats ran so fast you'd think Scotty beamed them out of the room! They are so funny!

They can be frustrating, too, though. As they were running all over the place, reeking toddler-like havoc this evening, I was getting annoyed. Then I had a Divine intervention. I have those from time to time. Usually they save my life in traffic or prevent me from putting my foot in my mouth. This one whispered to me, "They are preparing you for the real thing." What was that? What does that mean? I've learned to be still in moments like these, listen and this is what I got from it - we are almost 9 years older than we were when we had B. And we had B later in life than most people. Having another child or baby is going to be so much harder on us. But we want one; have prayed for one. Dealing with these kittens and kitten-proofing the house, may be training, preparation for the real thing. Now, I am NOT claiming to be Mary's cousin, Elizabeth here! And another child to love may never pan out. But I heard something, and I will be open to receive. If there is one thing I have learned in my 39 years it's this - God doesn't always answer your prayers the way you want Him to, but he does answer you.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Curriculum Decision

This 1st year of homeschooling, we spent getting to know B's learning style and my teaching style. I started the year with a few 2nd grade workbooks. I knew B would not be able/willing to do worksheets all year, but it was a cheap place to start. And, as long as we did them together, and I had some background noise on, B was good for the most part. I tried out a curriculum with Five In A Row, but that was not right for us. The learning was below B, I think and maybe even too abstract for what I was looking for. But I did learn from FIAR that we both enjoyed their type of learning - a literature-based program where we snuggled up on the couch. I also found a hands-ons Math curriculum that is working. But I want to step it up for 3rd grade. Not only do I want more learning to happen, but I want to get on a set schedule, which is something I have trouble doing.

I had been stressing myself out for several weeks over what I'll use to teach B next school year. Not sleeping much while I research curriculums after B and the hubs went to bed. There are SO MANY to choose from! Online; textbooks; child-directed; step-by-step, detailed lesson plans; independent study; high parent involvement; expensive; cheap; bible-based; secular; and on and on. How do I choose? What if I'm wrong?

I narrowed it down to 2 different ones - Sonlight and Konos. Both are Christian curriculums, which I never thought I would use when we started. I said many, many times, "We go to a great church and talk about God with our friends and family so we don't need it in our schooling, too." Even at 39 yrs old, I am still learning, growing and changing. Konos, IMO has much more Bible in every lesson than Sonlight. Konos' lessons are character unit-studys, i.e responsibility, patience, self-control, wisdom, inquisitiveness, etc. Sonlight is a literature-based curriculum that offers detailed lesson plans and books in the subjects of History, Geography, Bible, Reading, Science, Math, Language Arts, Spelling, Handwriting and Art. A woman in one of my HSing groups was selling 7 yrs of Konos curriculum for $15. I was looking at a new Sonlight curriculum for 3rd grade, only, with history, geography, reading, science and language arts for $800.

I am all about the money and I am cheap as hell! Drives the hubs batty how cheap I am. I was leaning towards the Konos b/c of the price. So I borrowed the 3 Konos volumes and looked through them. Konos is very labor intensive for the parents, putting together the lesson plans. Plus, most of the activities and learning seem to be group activities. It's a great program if you have more than one child. You can use the same curriculum for all children at the same time. Each child is learning the same things, but at their level. Each child's assignment is at his age/ability level. But for an only child, B would not have much fun acting out lessons all by himself.

So, I decided to calm myself, pray, get centered and listen for the answer. I needed His guidance b/c I could not make the best decision for B on my own. And the answer came back - Sonlight. It has the subjects that I want B to learn. And since they provide you with all the books and supplies and create the lesson plans for you, it would be easier on me. The hubs and I will still be working outside of the home, and with Sonlight we can just concentrate on teaching. Things are listed out so nicely that the hubs and I can both teach with ease, picking up where the other left off. Phew! So happy that decision was made! Now, how to pay for it?

A friend of mine told me, "Where there's a will, there's a way!" and I took heart in those words. I hate asking my parents for money. They are so generous with their time and love, I don't want to ask them for more. They had told me, after they digested and accepted our decision to HS last year, that where ever they could help out financial, they'd be happy to. B and I went over to my parents to plant a garden and I started sharing with my mom that I had decided on the curriculum I wanted and it was expensive. She said, "Who should your father make the check out to?" And that was it. I have the best parents in the world. My dad had questions, b/c he wanted to make sure this is what I really wanted and was comfortable with. He asked if I needed more time or options before deciding. I gave a resounding, "NO"; I was done with my research, thank you very much, and at peace with my decision. "Alright," he said. We truly understand how blessed we are!

Now that the decision was made, I could not WAIT for our program to arrive. I checked Sonlight's website and then FedEx's tracking page daily. It all came in one, heavy box,

that converts to a castle after it's been emptied.

How cool is that? I lovingly took out all 66 items from the box and laid them out on the living room floor:

I called B into the room to show him. "This is your curriculum for 3rd grade! What do you think," I asked. He stared at it for at least a full minute and then said, "I think this is going to be a very. Long. Year." Hehehe. It is daunting to look at, that's for sure.

The lesson plans are called Instructor's Guides (IG) and I had 4: History/Geography, Science, Language Arts, Readers. I organized the IGs in the big, 4" thick Sonlight binder. I took this pick of B and the binder so y'all can better comprehend it's size:


I am so excited!!! I fell asleep the other night reading from the binder. I still have to decide if I want to follow the 4 day/week lesson plan or the 5 day/week one, when we will start and when we will take breaks during our school year. Sonlight's curriculum is separated into 36 weeks, so that leaves us 16 weeks of breaks to work in as we see fit. All I know is that I will NOT be able to wait until September to start!

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that we still have our Math-U-See curriculum for Math learning. Didn't want anyone to think we weren't going to be learning any of that.

Here is a shot of everything on the bookshelf:
On the 2nd to last shelf is History, Geography, Language Arts and Science books. The bottom Shelf is Math, dictionaries, box of Science experiment consumables, box of Science experiment non-consumables and the Sonlight binder. See why I'm so excited? I'm all set and ready to go!!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Toilet Paper

There is a recent commercial out there with "real" moms talking the "truth" about toilet paper; talking about things that "no one else has talked about before". <:-O Whatever. There is only so far a commercial is going to go when it talks about going to the bathroom b/c they would be worried about "controversy" or offending "family values" with potty talk. But I could care less, so I am going to talk about it b/c I am having a problem finding a toilet paper that meets all MY needs. You may be, too, but may not feel comfortable bringing it up in polite conversation. Y'all know I have no problem talking about just about anything, so here goes...

I have been trying out lots of toilet papers and have yet to find one that meets my needs up front as well as out back. There. I said it. When I find a paper that is strong enough to hold together and take care of business out back, it is too rough and chafes me up front. The papers that are soft and gentle enough on my front fall apart or shred when I need to take care of business out back.

You know what, it just dawned on me that although I have struggled with this issue and have been trying out all different brands, I have not once brought up this issue with my guys. After all, I am the only female living with 2 males. And since they only use TP for out back, I should consult them and see which one(s) they like best. As a side note, I am not pleased they only use TP out back. I think they should use at least ONE square up front to dab, but the hubs has passed on his habit to B of just flicking the penis like Indiana Jones' whip to "shake off the excess". *eye rolling*

I am starting to think that I am placing too much importance on the performance of a paper up front. I mean, to avoid any kind of chafing up front, I should just be dabbing, not wiping, right? That way, as long as I select a TP that gets the job done out back, I'll be happy up front! *Oprah-light-bulb-moment* or, as the hubs CONSTANTLY says to me, "Talk your way through it, babe, talk your way through it..."