Wednesday, September 30, 2009

You Capture - Fall

The calendar does indeed say it's fall:

But I live in Georgia. And in Georgia, we're a little slow about certain things. Quick to spring into spring, but always slow to fall into fall. Which is certainly fine with me. If I had my druthers, I'd skip fall and winter and maybe even spring and live a life of perpetual summer...

Anyway, here in Georgia, everything is still green:

We have really only encountered two things that give us an inkling that fall is on the way. The first is cooling temperatures, but even those will probably rise again before fall is really, truly ushered in. And, of course, cooling is such a relative term. Today's high in the mid-70s is cool to me but probably warm to someone up north.

Secondly, there is the matter of this mini-Darth Vader we have loitering around the house:

Yep, 31 days and counting.

To see some real fall pictures, visit Beth at I Should Be Folding Laundry.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Weather Forecast

OK, so today it's raining. Again. And tomorrow it's supposed to rain. Again. And Monday it's supposed to rain. Again.

But yesterday...

Yesterday was only Cloudy...

with a Chance of Meatballs.

Throw in a warmfront of Fun, barometric pressure rising on the huge IMAX screen, and some Best Friends precipitation, and you get the Perfect Storm of three dimensional delight.

Of course such a storm would have been better preserved had Mom remembered the good camera, but since Mom ditched her purse (and thus the good camera) and opted to bring Mama's Magic Bag instead, camera phone it was.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Sunshine (You Capture - Happiness)

(Cue deep, resonating voice of movie trailer guy.)

In a world which has endured six days and six nights of torrential downpour, a world where many have lost all they possess, one woman feels infinitely blessed to have escaped major catastrophe. One woman who looks out her window on the morning after the storms and is welcomed by rays of sunlight shimmering through the trees, and shadows playing across the lawn and on the wall and fence.

Though the woman must take matters into her own hands to battle the hoards of ants which have invaded her home in search of drier ground, these streams of sunshine bring with them rays of hope. Hope for a brighter, happier day.

Rated H for Happiness.
For more Happiness shots, visit I Should Be Folding Laundry.

Sudden Change

A big part of our lives is about to change. And suddenly, with so little I imagine has happened to many here in our area after so much was lost to the floods. Since our home was not affected adversely, I did not think I would be personally affected by it at all. However, our church is a big part of our lives, and it was affected seemingly--at least from where we stand now--beyond repair.

The storms apparently and according to our Pastor, caused an underground spring to break loose, flooding the downstairs. Even after the rains have ceased, water continues to flow into the walls and flooring, and mold has already begun to grow. Estimated repairs are in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, money we do not have right now as a church that was already struggling financially.

So just like that, we've moved out. Perhaps not permanently, but I would venture to say indefinitely. Tonight's activities had already been canceled, but like so many daily challenges, my assumption was that the water would be pumped out, the mess cleaned out, back to business as usual on Sunday. However, instead there are already movers helping get valuable items out of harm's way, and we have plans to meet with another church on Sunday.

I realize church is not about the building. It's about the people. I love the people at our church, and I rest safely each week in the familiarity. I know that I will pass certain familiar faces in the children's area, in the preschool area, in the long hallway. And I know that when I take my usual seat in the sanctuary I can glance over at specific areas and see the same people sitting there. While I know many of these same people will venture over to the new church, there will inevitably be many who do not. They will go other directions. Last week may have been the last time I saw them.

I know my children will experience this as well. I haven't even told them yet. What stopped us dead in our tracks a couple years ago from pursuing a move to Florida was our children's comments that "We will miss our friends at church." I know they will miss some of them now, even without a move a state away. Not only will they miss friends, but I have a sneaking suspicion we will have to start all over with Jacob. He has been so brave for the last year and half going into this class. But it was all familiar to him.

Change is never easy. This one is so sudden and heartbreaking. I know life--and what is so significantly a part of it--will ease back in to some sense of normalcy at some point. The transition will be uncomfortable, but hopefully we come full circle back to familiarity sooner rather than later.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Stuff That's Happened

My mother-in-law is probably my most faithful reader, so when I received her email last night asking me if I was OK because she hadn't seen any blog posts lately, I knew I was in trouble. It's been a little busy around here lately. Nothing all that out of the ordinary, just Life. Here are a few samplings...

This past weekend, we rearranged the house. Again. Honestly, I've hated living here the last year and half because of that For Sale sign out front. With the ever-present possibility that this may not be our house for long, it's been difficult to settle down and make it our house. But I decided that I'd had enough of that. I'm just going to pretend that sign isn't there, and, really--who am I fooling anyway? No one but myself. Perhaps the sign will come down soon. Not that it's doing any good. I know, I already said that in so many words.

We had already done some rearranging at the beginning of the summer. The boys welcomed summer in their over-sized bedroom, otherwise known as the playroom. The problem with this room is that it's over the garage and thus is deathly hot in the summer and frigidly cold in the winter. I didn't want them to suffer another unbearable summer in it, so we moved them in with Audrey...back in to the room that was originally theirs in the beginning.

Although we tolerated this arrangement for the summer, things had to change. The problem is that Audrey enjoys an audience, especially after the lights are supposed to be out and little children are supposed to be dreaming of sugarplums. So it was a fight every night to get the three of them to sleep. We considered moving one of the girls back down to the guest room; however, the guest room has slowly but surely become of the Room of Homeschooling Mom. I am not ready to give up MY room.

So we moved Audrey into Alex's room. Alex was actually the one who suggested it, so she's OK with it. And she promised she would be firm with Audrey at bedtime! We moved the queen bed from the guest room to the boys' room. Now when I tuck them in at night, I call them Grandpa Joe and Grandpa George, a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory reference for those of you who have not read that in a long forever. We then spent an afternoon stealing a daybed/trundle bed from my brother-in-law's house (he's moving) for the guest room, which was much too crowded with the queen.

To make a long story short ('bout time, you're saying), I love my new Homeschool Room the Guest Room now. So much space, and the daybed makes a great reading area. In fact, Alex spends an hour or so in there every night after we bed the little one down. That way Audrey is already asleep by the time Alex goes in.

I know...waaay too many details. In other news, because we spent all weekend NOT cleaning the house, NOT preparing our Sunday School lesson, NOT planning for Bright Futures, and NOT planning for our new homeschool unit, I was very stressed out by Sunday. In fact, had it not been raining, I was willing to give up my afternoon of volleyball to get home and get things done.

That's when it dawned on me.

I am a homeschooler.

I can do whatever I want.

So I decided that I would take this week to plan things, clean things, prepare things, and take things a little more easy. It would not, however, be a week off entirely for the kids. They have had to do their core work, but it's been almost all independent work for them (translation: no work for me), and I'm not counting it as school (translation: checking the boxes on the attendance forms). Of course, it's already Wednesday tomorrow and I haven't cracked open a single lesson plan on Ancient Greece, but we'll get there. We've had other things going on anyway.

In case you haven't been watching the news, we've had a little rain down here. Thankfully, we have had no more than an old leak in the skylight, but it was a little scary to watch the water rise. The pool level got all the way to the top, but I was able to hook the hose up to it and siphon some out so our patio and then living room would not get flooded. Of course when I mentioned the siphoning on Facebook, I got some snide remarks about acknowledging modern times and purchasing a pump from Home Depot. Well, 1) I did not want to haul 4 children to the Home Depot in the pouring rain, and 2) I will not spend money on something I will not use again; the pool level has never gotten that high before.

Today the sun has been shining, and life has resumed Normal. For us anyway. We made our usual jaunt downtown this morning for Bright Futures and enjoyed a new book on tape during our journey: Dealing with Dragons by Patricia Wrede. All of the kids (well, minus maybe the Princess) are thoroughly enjoying it and can't wait to hear more next Tuesday. After, we stopped at a new mall downtown that I've always wanted to visit. Turns out not to be as exciting as it promised, but we indulged in a wonderful lunch at California Pizza Kitchen.

Tomorrow will be some more independent schoolwork for the kids while I begin that planning. And then, because our church flooded on the first floor, all Wednesday night activities are canceled. I think I have a little plan, though, that will make the kids happy. They love sleeping in my room. More than that, they love getting in my bed and watching a movie and then sleeping in my room.

I noticed Meet the Robinsons mysteriously appeared on our DVR, so apparently at least one of the kids wants to watch it. Since TravelDaddy's place is empty this week, I think we'll have a little slumber party in my room tomorrow night. But, Shhhh! It's a surprise. I think I'll begin to send them to bed and then start setting up the mattress (they can't all fit in Daddy's spot!). Then I'll start popping the popcorn (and, yes, I'll allow them to eat it in my bed--don't worry, TravelDaddy, I'll change the sheets), all the while dodging the questions, "Mommy, what are you doing? Mommy, who is that mattress for? Mommy, why do you get popcorn? Mommy, mommy, mommy..."

Thursday, September 17, 2009

You Capture - Up Close

I have missed participating in You Capture. Up until 2 weeks ago, I was so faithful completing my assignment--and having so much fun with it. But then Life got in the way. Oh, and a vacation too. This week will be a little half-hearted, but I promise I will try to do better next week...already contemplating the topic of Happiness!

So, I only have a couple of photos this week, but they capture a few more sights from our Not Disney Disney Vacation. And I did not use a macro lens for these; I did have it with us on our vacation and intended to use it since I was aware of the macro assignment. Too lazy, I guess!

Here is a close-up of a gigantic piece of African art:

This piece takes up a sizable space in the Animal Kingdom Lodge lobby. We didn't stay there this year but popped over for an African lunch one day. We enjoy looking at the artifacts and other art in the lobby as many of the pieces are from "home".

And, according to our eldest daughter, one of the many reasons we returned to Animal Kingdom was to search for Hidden Mickeys we failed to find last year because we bought the Hidden Mickey book on our second-to-last day and ran out of time. This was the most difficult Hidden Mickey we have uncovered yet. Truth be told, we had to have some help from an employee with this one. Can you see the side profile Mickey?

A Hidden Mickey hiding on a horse and jockey statue at our resort:

Here is a colorful Hidden Mickey from a different resort:

Finally, can you guess where this last shot was taken?

Identity Secure

Have you seen that commercial? The one where the guy plasters his social security number on a city bus because he's so confident his company will keep his identity safe? I've never paid all that much attention to it because I've always been of the mind that something like that could never happen to me.

Thankfully it hasn't. Yet. Yesterday, however, we got a phone call from the Fraud Department at Chase. (And major kudos to them for being the ones to contact us.) Apparently someone attempted to spend $600 at a Florida Wal-Mart Monday followed by a trip to the Home Depot yesterday morning.

First of all, you'll remember we came home from Florida on Sunday. So, unless my husband made some major detours on his travels this week, we were most certainly NOT in Florida on Monday or yesterday. Moreover, as for the Home Depot charge and as my husband told the kind Chase lady, "[His] wife wouldn't be caught dead in a Home Depot." OK, so sometimes I go to HD just because I'm along for the ride, but you must know that a princess queen does not do her own home repair. So, although the HD charges were not mine, I do have to own up to the Dover Publications and Learning Things charges. Charges I had not yet divulged to TravelDaddy. Incidentally, I've given up on calling him midday and beginning the conversation with, "Don't be mad at me, but I just dropped a boatload of money on more books and curriculum." He's totally on to that one. Now I just wait for the blessed brown truck to pull up and give me my package. Then, package in hand, I smile at him and say, "These are just a few items for the educational betterment of your precious children. You do want them to be smart, don't you?" Seriously, this might be an addiction.

Anyway. So the Chase cards are cut up, new ones on the way, and that's the end of that. Chase will do no further investigation since there were no actual fraudulent charges that went through. If we wanted to launch our own investigation, though, it would be easy peasy. We only used the card twice in Florida, and I'm really good with names. If Horatio Cane only knew how good I was, he'd want me for his partner. Of course, if I was his partner, I'd snatch those shiny sunglasses off of his big head, hurl them to the ground, and stomp them into little, tiny pieces. I digress...

We used the card at the resort gift shop where we spent $20 on some postcards and trading pins. Michael was our cashier. I remember his name because, well, duh, my son is Michael. Plus, this Michael was very amiable and helpful. However, he looked to be only a couple years this side of puberty and probably does not possess the wherewithal to pull off such a crime.

Then there was Brian at Landry's. (And, no, I'm not telling how much we dropped on that meal.) He was a very pleasant waiter or server or whatever, but of the two gentleman, he was the only one who scored some alone time with our credit card. So my money's definitely on him. Not that I'm letting him have it. The money, that is.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

More Bright Futures Writing

Thank you so much to all who commented on my kids' last writing! It meant so much to them. We began that following class by reviewing the papers I had graded and on which you had commented. I thought that would be a quick activity...a few minutes to make some general comments about the papers and talk about what we would do next time. But the minutes ticked by as they poured over your comments. They were quiet at first reading them, but then one would nudge another and whisper, "Hey, look what this person wrote about mine!" I could tell they were very touched.

I hope you will take the opportunity to read and comment on their newest papers. These too are personal narratives. The assignment was to do sort of a show-and-tell. Each student brought in an item that is special to them--a memento, a picture, whatever. That was our brainstorming, and the personal narratives that you see at Writer's Block is the result.

Please understand how much these narratives mean to the kids. I had them do oral presentations on them, and two of the guys (the author of "Life with Montrell" and the author of "A Lifetime Treasure") had a difficult time getting through their presentation, the one with tears streaming down his cheeks.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Post Vacation

So I did actually consider resuming school today. But there was all this mess--these piles of laundry, the unpacked suitcases--glaring at me, so I opted for a final vacation day, a working vacation day. I really needed to get all of this squared away to be happy. Because if Mama ain't happy, (altogether now) ain't nobody happy!

It's been a productive day, but I miss being on vacation. It was a magical week even though we didn't do any of the major attractions. Our last day was a misty one, but we made the most of it by continuing our resort-hopping.

One of our first stops was the Contemporary, which is one of the older resorts and the closest to the Magic Kingdom. In fact, we could see this from there:
And the kids got to ride the Monorail, which we boarded right from the lobby of the hotel!
In fact, we took the train to a few other resorts, one of which was the Polynesian where the kids enjoyed the volcanic water slide.

This was my favorite slide, but then, I never tried the pirate slide from the day before; that one was our critics' number one choice:

I hated to leave on Sunday (was that just yesterday?) and couldn't leave without my usual, "Let's move here!" Mark asked, "Where would we live?" "At Disney, of course." Duh! Yes, it was indeed magical. Already planning next year. I suppose we need to get through the next 354 days, however.

So it's back to the laundry, the housekeeping, the cooking in TravelDaddy's absence, Bright Futures tomorrow morning, our first day of co-op following, and our regularly scheduled school days in the weeks to come.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Not Disney Disney Vacation, Day 3

As Disney Vacation Club Members, we are permitted to visit all other Disney resorts, even the ones in which we have not unpacked our suitcases. Technically, there are a few whose pools are just for direct guests, but as we found out today, you don't always need an open invitation to try out a new slide.

Our resort-hopping began when we returned to the Animal Kingdom Lodge where we stayed last year. Had we made our arrangements sooner this year, we would have called this home for the week again. Since we didn't, however, we had to visit for an African lunch. After we enjoyed our chicken and couscous, we visited the animals and explored the lodge a bit.

Then we hopped over to the Boardwalk Resort, which boasts of the longest of all water slides of all Disney resorts. The kids wore it out. Jacob especially was all smiles each time he splashed into the water and would then climb out and run back up as quickly as he could.

The Boardwalk resort is actually called the Boardwalk for a reason. Walk around back, and enter a whole new world...a boardwalk surrounding the lagoon with colorful shops and restaurants lining it.

And on the other side of the lagoon we discovered the Yacht Club Resort. We spied the pirate ship from over on the Boardwalk side and, when we finally made it around, discovered it was another water slide. We noticed most of the guests wore yellow wrist bands, but we played ignorant and let the kids ride the slide a few times. Mark finally asked someone about the wrist bands and discovered only Yacht Club guests were permitted at the pool but that no one checked after 5:00. Since it was well after 6:00, we allowed the kids to ride a few more times.

After our resort-hopping, we returned to our home resort, had dinner, and headed to Downtown Disney. Definitely a lot more crowded than the other day, but we had fun anyway and enjoyed a street band featuring a didgeridoo (that can't be spelled correctly, I know), which the kids found fun because they learned all about the "things" (I could look it up if I weren't so tired and lazy) at the Aussie-themed VBS this past year.

Not Disney Disney Vacation, Day 2

Scavenger hunt at the resort this morning. When we showed up and they gave us a list, I was obviously under the impression that it was not a race. I don't enjoy things like this as much when there is no competition, but Alex loves it so off we went. We had to do things like count the 731 planks on one of the bridges. Of course I took a shortcut and just counted the sections which appeared to have about 10 planks per. I came up with 704. Anyway, once we got back, we found out there was another group out there, and it was indeed a competition. Should have told me that earlier, and I would have performed much better. We tied in correct answers and had a tiebreaker about the movie Dumbo which I haven't seen in forever years, so I didn't know the answer. So second place it was. However, at Disney everyone is a winner, and we made off with a brand new electronic Monopoly game. The winning group got stuck with Scrabble. So who was actually the winner?

We spend the rest of the day at the pool. The kids enjoyed another pool party filled with games. Like I said, everyone is a winner at Disney, so they all got beads and little pool critters.

We ended the day with a rousing game of electronic Monopoly, which, I must say, is not as fun as the good ol' fashioned paper money Monopoly. It does feature Atlanta-Hartsfield Airport and Centennial Olympic Park, so it's nice to be able to purchase a little bit of home.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Not Disney Disney Vacation, Day 1

Boat rides are much more fun than car rides.
We took a boat from the resort to Downtown Disney.

I love homeschooling.
We pretty much had Downtown Disney to ourselves.
The only place Michael cared about visiting was the Lego store.
And the Princess really got to be a princess.

After returning from Downtown Disney, we spent the afternoon at the pool.
The pool party included games like the limbo.

In the evening, we watched Race to Witch Mountain poolside.
Since the kids saw it twice last week, they soon lost interest.
Fun all the same.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Not Disney Disney Vacation, Day 1/2

Pictures that didn't get posted from the car. Technology's still pretty great, though, huh?

The kids have seen Tarzan a million-gazillion times, but it's so much better on a huge, inflatable screen, viewed from the pool:

On Our Way to Our Not Disney Disney Vacation

We've taken awhile to decide on a proper family vacation this year. It had to be cheap because we have some back therapy coming up for the mister (who, by the way, is doing better after his spinal injection last week) and Braces for Two. So we decided to just use our Disney Vacation Club points plain and simple. No Magic Kingdom. No Epcot. Just the resort. Which, incidentally, is on the grandiose Disney property...perhaps with a view of the fairy tale castle or the iconic gigantic golf ball thingy at Epcot. Enough of a view to be a huge tease to the kids: "Hey look, kids, I bet the people who are riding Soarin' or Test Track over there at Epcot are having a blast." Get them back for all of the gray hair they've given us.

Just kidding. Really, they're just fine with plain and simple and still have such vivid memories of our blow-out Disney vacation last year that there's really probably not room in their memory banks for a new adventure of that sort. So we're just going to hang out at the resort, splash around in the pool, explore Downtown Disney, and possibly visit Ripley's, something we haven't ever done on any of our many Orlando trips.

And that's where we're headed...if we ever get there. I had to teach my class at Bright Futures this morning, so the whole family headed down and waited for me so we would already be an hour down. And the pleasant Aussie GPS lady said we would arrive at 6:54. Usually we try to make up time and beat her. And we had made up 2 minutes until a kind sheriff from Podunk, GA, issued my dear husband a citation and kindly reminded us that we should not be trying to beat Aussie GPS woman.

Now we're at 7:04 arrival time. But that just might be on account of the fact that I had to have my Iced Grande Green Shaken Tea with Sweetener. Which goes through me mighty fast.

There has been a lot of "Are we there yet?" And that's just me. Aside from a couple of "How much longers", the children have been very quiet watching their movies. As much as I hate being in the car for hours on end, this is actually the most relaxing part of our vacation...a time where we can finish our sentences, hold complete conversations, and listen to our talk radio on absolute peace. I need to stop complaining and soak it all up.

One hour and 20 minutes left according to Aussie GPS lady.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Faceblog or Blogbook or Something Like That

In this crazy world of technology, my two outlets and only opportunity for adult interaction--Facebook and blogging--often pass each other in the virtual hallway. Which probably bores my very few blog readers because the majority of them are also Facebook friends. In other words, you, my few readers AND Facebook friends get to read my status and then elaboration here. Lucky you.

So, about those status updates today:

First, Kathleen wants to start Homeschoolers Anonymous. Hi, my name is Kathleen, and I'm a homeschooler. This morning I have a strong urge to run after the big, yellow bus screaming, "Wait! Wait! You forgot my children! PLEASE take them!"

It's true. It was a terrible day in our Humble Homeschool for the Gifted and Quirky. I know some days are like that, but it does get a bit discouraging to feel like certain boys who shall remain nameless haven't learned a thing. I ended up sending both boys to the Principal's Office which, this week, happens to be our bed where the principle Principal has lain prostrate for a week and a half. The Principal gave them, um, a pep talk and things went a little more smoothly.

Thankfully, there's always tomorrow. A new day. A new beginning. Here's to new days and new beginnings.

Of course, there were light moments of the day. Later, I posted this:

Kathleen --Audrey to me: When I was in your tummy, I touched your heart, and it felt like a raspberry.

One friend commented, "HOW do you reply to something like that?? Half of me wants to melt and say, "Awwwwwww!" the other half is going, "?? 0_o ??"

Exactly what I thought. WHERE did she come up with such a thing? And, well, it warmed my heart too, but then, I guess she's had lots of practice pulling my heartstrings.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A Re-Cap in Phrases

It's been a long week. Not a bad week, just a long one.

All day today I thought it was Thursday.

School is going pretty well. Nothing new to report.

Hubby's back is still paining him. He's still flat out.

We leave the house tomorrow morning at 7:15 to take him for his small surgical procedure. It's just a shot, but the needle is 1/2 a foot long and goes in to his spine, so it's a surgical procedure. And I'm required to go along. By default, the kids come too. We'll get breakfast while he's under the needle. Hopefully, he walks out a new man.

He managed to get out a little tonight. We went on a date while the kids were at church. Hey, you grab the opportunities when you can.

Co-op starts next Tuesday. Had a parent meeting this Tuesday. Went to dinner with some friends before the meeting. Grown-up friends. I enjoy spending time with grown-ups. It doesn't happen that often. I left Mark and the 3 younger kids in the capable hands of my 9-year-old. She did well.

Teaching went great this week. Lots to prepare for next week. They're reading Lord of the Flies, and I'm teaching analytical writing with an assignment based on the novel. Been awhile since I've read it, so I'm reading it again this week. Actually, I don't remember ever reading this novel, so I'm reading it this week.

And that's all I got.