Friday, September 27, 2013

Best-Dessert-Ever

Okay, so it's not too pretty to look at. You're probably saying, "Gross! What is that?" It's just a scoop of vanilla ice cream topped with Robert Rothchild Farms Roasted Pineapple & Habanero Salsa. I found this stuff at Costco, so I have a big jar of it. I've put it on rice cakes, over meatless patties, on sausages, and so forth. Today I decided to try the ice cream. OH.MY.GOODNESS. Now I'm going to get so low-carb vanilla ice cream so I can enjoy this more often. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Blue Horses


Rick, the boys, and I are in Billings right now. Rick had a work conference here, so the boys and I tagged along so we could spend some time with Nicole. She goes to Rocky Mountain College and we haven't seen her since Christmas. So, when we found out Rick was coming here for work, we decided to join him and see her when she wasn't in class. Right now the boys are doing some school work in the hotel room, while Rick is at his conference all day. Nicole gets out of class at noon, so we're going to head over the Zoo Montana later on.

On our way here, we saw these blue horse sculptures near Three Forks, Montana. I took a couple of pictures, which I posted on Instagram the other day. Mind you, we were going about 70mph, so the pictures aren't that great. There are something like 39 sculptures on this hill, so it was pretty impressive. They're designed by Jim Dolan. If you click on his name, it leads to his website, but I don't know if you can get to anything about the horses there. There was an article in the Three Forks Herald, if you want to read more about them.

Friday, September 13, 2013

An Egyptian Sistrum


We made a Sistrum in school today. The boys are doing a simple study on the history of music and right now they're learning about ancient times. One of the instruments talked about was the Sistrum. It is basically a percussion instrument that is most often associated with Ancient Egypt. If you click on the link, you can read a little more about it. Obviously, ours isn't quite authentic, but it works. We did our best with an old coat hanger, some wire, and a couple of beads and bells. The boys were each going to make one, but we decided to work on just one together while we were learning about it. Even Denny got into the festivities ...

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Messing with Photoshop ...

Unlike my daughter, I have very little knowledge how to work Photoshop. All I ever use is the modified version — Photoshop Elements. Nichelle uses the big program and can do so much. She really amazes me. I found a picture and thought I'd play around with some of the special effects. The results are pretty freaky-deaky! The original photograph is shown above here.

Above effect: Cutout

Above effect:  Glowing Edges

Above effect:  Mosaic Tiles

Above effect:  Neon Glow

Above effect:  Note Paper

Above effect:  Stained Glass

Obviously, these are just a few of the effects. There are a bunch more. I can see how this would be addicting. I've also seen people make pictures out of the Cutout one. There's even one that could be used to make a cross-stitch design. Pretty cool stuff. One of these days I'll learn how to really work the program!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Back-To-School!


Yesterday was the first day of school for us. I have to say, it went really well. We started on time (well, almost), finished on time (maybe a little early), and got everything accomplished. I think the boys were happy to be back. They both showed up in the classroom dressed with their teeth brush and hair combed. I know! I was just as surprised — gasp!


Here are a few new pictures of our classroom. They're pretty much the same as our old pictures. I really haven't changed it around in a few years. This is a room in our walk-out basement and makes a perfect classroom and home office area. We do most of our school work on that round table, but the boys also use the small computer desk on the left of the bottom picture. We've got a lot of floor space, which is great, especially for reading, bigger projects, PE stuff, etc.


Here's a picture of the boys yesterday. I know I said they combed their hair — they did. Nathan's hair is so wavy, so it kind of gets the best of him. However, he did it by himself, so who am I to complain. So anyway, yesterday went well and it was nice to see the boys so eager to get started. Today? Neil came creeping into the classroom in his jammies and bathrobe. Nathan came in and plopped an ice cream sandwich down on the table. At least he was dressed, but it wasn't even 8:30am yet! Needless to say, they weren't too happy. Neil finally got dressed and Nathan saved his ice cream for after lunch. They never cease to surprise me.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Favorites ...

I've seen a few bloggers talking about favorites lately, so I thought I'd jump on the bandwagon with this one. Check out the blog by Green Girl in Wisconsin for her favorites because she has a lot of fun things listed. As for me, some of my favorites right now are ...

SKITTLES — Oh dear Lord. It honestly does not surprise me that this made the #1 spot on my list. I go through phases where I crave Skittles something awful. We've had them in the house so much lately that I'm beginning to wonder if I will ever get sick of them. I hope so.

APPLES — Well, this is no surprise, since you know I love apples almost as much as Eve. I tried Ginger Gold apples for the first time. I bought some at a fruit stand while we were traveling through Washington recently. Mmm, just a little bit of Heaven ... almost as good as Skittles.

PHOTO CHALLENGES — I've gotten myself hooked on Instagram lately, which is funny because it took me forever to get on that site. Right now I'm really into these photo-a-day challenges. I'm doing a regular one and this homeschool one. Lots of fun!

LIQUID EYELINER — Now this is a weird one for me because I've been wearing eyeliner for as long as I've known I had eyes. Well, just about that long. Why I never tried the liquid stuff is beyond me. Finding this water-proof one by Loreal changed everything. I'm also hooked on Loreal's Clean Artiste make-up remover. Wowsers — great stuff!

STAY24 — I love this lipcolor by Maybelline. As I've blogged about before, I'd been searching for a lipstain or non-transferable lipcolor, but was having a hard time finding a good one. This is it. Love the stuff so much that I now have three different shades.

FLATS — I've never really been one to wear ballet flats, with the exception of junior high school when those Chinese-type Mary Jane shoes were the big thing. Remember those? There were a few things I had to have back then, and those were one of them, along with clogs. Anyway, now I'm all into flats, especially brightly colored ones. So, I went from having none to having pink, red, navy, black, and most recent, camouflage. Yeah ... camo ... weird, huh?

YEARBOOKS — I have all my past yearbooks out right now. This picture shows all but three of them. I have one missing from the year Neil was born. The other two are the last two years. They're actually started and in my computer. I just need to finish them. Printing them up is the expensive part because I print them myself and like making copies for all 4 kids, one for Rick and I, and another for my in-laws. That gets expensive. Anyway, I included the yearbooks because we were going through them all yesterday and it made me realize just how much I love creating them AND looking back on them year after year.

So, these are a few of my favorites right now. How about you?

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Hmmm ...

Well, it's that time of year again — time for school pictures. As you know, I homeschool my kids. My girls are in college, so now it's just the boys. I don't like spending money to have someone take their portraits, so I do them myself. We have a local homeschool group that does them, but I've never used them. I did when we lived in CA with my girls. They turned out okay, but I'm such a miser that I perfer to take them myself. The ones above were taken in the 2010-2011 school year. It's funny though because those denim jackets were way too small. I liked how the denim and white t-shirts looked , so we made due. Yay for cropping!

These above were taken for the 2011-2012 school year. I decided to go with the dress shirts for them that year. Knowing my boys, they had shorts or pajama pants on when we took these.

And these were last year for 2012-2013. I had both of their hair slicked back and figured the plaid shirts would be fun. Then Nathan crossed his arms like that, and well ... I loved it so much that I had Neil go for the same pose. They both look so ornery. I love it. 

I'm trying to think of something fun to do this year. We haven't officially started school year because I'm still waiting on a few books to get here. They should be here tomorrow or the next day, so I figure we will be starting fresh on Monday. Sometime within the next few weeks I have to come up with a clever way to take their 2013-2014 school pictures. Hmmm ...


Edited to add the picture above. I totally forgot this one from 2009-2010!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

School vs Homeschool


This photo is of our classroom. It's an older picture, probably from last year, but the room is still set up pretty much like this. Well, except for the piles of papers, forms, books, and crud that's carpeting my floor right now. As soon as I get it picked up, I might take a new one, but you get the idea. As we start up another school year, I'm seeing the typical posts by parents of school-age children. Some are happy their kids are going back to school. Others are sad because they enjoyed the time they spent with their kids. And then there are the homeschoolers ...

Most of you know I'm a homeschooling mom. I'm about to start my 15th year, so this is hardly a new thing for me. After 15 years, I have accumulated so much stuff that I could pretty much do it without buying any new curriculum. It's worked great for my family, even though we started out the private school route when my girls were younger. I began homeschooling them because the school they attended—which we loved—was getting too expensive. Education shouldn't have to compete with a house payment, but they were getting to be about the same amount, so I looked into an alternative. Homeschooling was the answer for us.

One of my pet peeves about homeschooling are parents that slam parents who have chosen to go the public or private school route. Every year I see comments and posts ridiculing parents who seem happy their kids are going back to school. Some (not all!) try to make it sound like parents hate their children and can't wait to get them back in the classroom so they can selfishly have their "me time". That's not true, and it's really unfair for those people to paint others with that kind of brush. Not everyone can homeschool their children. Some families can't afford to live off one income. Not everyone should homeschool. It's a choice. Homeschooling families should consider themselves lucky to have the choice, and not ridicule others for their decision. Every time an article on homeschool hits the media, I cringe. A lot of people drag it out with these huge debates. I just want the freedom to do what works for my family.

Then you get into the debate of which type of schooling is better. That's another pet peeve. Some homeschoolers feel their way is the only good way. When you confront them, their argument is that most of them went to either public or private school when they were kids, so they know what it's like. That's a load of BS too. I went to public and private school. I hated them both. Not because the schools were bad, but for a million other reasons that I'm not going to go into now. Granted, schools have changed, so I get that. There are good schools and there are bad schools. If you're stuck in a bad school, you have to work with it to try to make it better. That's your job as a parent. That's what PTAs are for. 

I have homeschooling friends and I have friends who have kids in public or private school. I even have friends who are still in school themselves. Whenever I see a homeschooler ragging on the school system, it leaves a bitter taste. There are just as many great kids coming out of the system as there are coming from homeschooling families. I'm sure the number is higher in the system because there are more kids using it. So, unless you're a homeschooling family who associates ONLY with other homeschoolers, it looks stupid for you to be making fun of others who choose to go a different route. If I did that, no one would talk to me because most of my friends (at least online) are teachers, school workers, or parents with kids in the school system. Then there are all of my writer friends who rely on the schools for their careers. My MIL and SIL are both teachers. My daughter (homeschooled from grade 2 through 12th) is in college working on an education major. Why? Because she wants to make a difference in kid's lives.

How we educate our children is a choice — there is no wrong or right way. There is only what is right for our kids. Who cares if a parent does a happy dance on back-to-school day. It hardly means they hate their children or that they don't want to be with them. Everyone has their own reasons. If you don't like the school system and you can/want to homeschool, then more power to you. It just bothers me to see people being made fun of for their choice. Homeschoolers dislike the stereotype and labels that get tossed at them for their choice. They shouldn't turn it around and do the same to non-homeschoolers.

Well, I better get off my soapbox ... I have a ton of laundry to do.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Almost that time again ...


I hope everyone had a nice Labor Day weekend. I'm sorry for not keeping up with everyone's blogs. I've totally sucked at that lately, and I hate it because I really enjoy hearing what everyone is up to. I'm hoping once I get back into a routine ... yeah, yeah, I say that all the time. Regardless, I am going to try a lot harder. I've missed catching up with all of your news.

I've spent the weekend working on school stuff, so my classroom is more of a disaster than I'd like. I had hoped to start school tomorrow, but it's going to wait a few more days. I'm still waiting on some materials, but I should get them this week sometime. I don't have a date yet, but it shouldn't be too much longer. I did manage to get a lot accomplished this weekend. I got the boys' binders from last year all organized. Now I'm working on updating all my records, forms, worksheets, calendars, and that sort of thing. 

The boys and I are going out of town in a few weeks also, but a lot of that is going to count for school time as well. We'll be tagging along with Rick on one of his work conferences, which just happens to be in Billings. That's where my daughter Nicole goes to college. Nicole didn't come home this summer because she needed a few extra classes to have enough credits to graduate on time. Between that and working full-time, she was busy all summer. The sad thing is that we haven't seen her since Christmas. When we found out Rick's conference was in Billings, we decided to go with him so we could see her. Maybe she can give us a tour of her college. We're also hoping to head over to Zoo Montana. So, even though we'll be away, there's lots of school-like activities to do. I'll probably bring some of their other work just so they don't get too bed. It will give them something to do in the hotel room at night. 

Okay, I better get back to the chaos now. I hope you're all doing well.