Thursday, December 20, 2007

December Update

Must update blog.

We're still alive in spite of everything. Yay! But it's been an exhausting year and a half. I can't remember the last time I felt rested.

Part of my updating problem has been that Blogspot's new owners were constantly losing my password, making it too much of a hassle. That appears to have been fixed. Cross your fingers.

Brighteyes is eight now, and surprisingly responsible. She's doing a few chores and gets a $1/week allowance. Her handwriting has improved remarkably, and her ability to correlate things has grown in leaps and bounds. She's also finally started to figure out how to crochet, which she has tried to do without success for years. She no longer throws screaming fits over loose teath, although they still make her fussy.

Sunshine is six. She's incredibly bright, but she has the attention span of a kitten. Her handwriting has been very bad, but it's started to improve after I started making her try to read what she herself had written and she couldn't do it. Must remember that trick. She has also lost her first tooth.

We've been writing a jewelry-making book and trying to teach classes in Jackson, three hours away. We could now write a separate book titled Logistical Nightmares Associated With Distance Teaching.

We had a wonderful babysitter for many months whom the girls loved. Unfortunately transportation problems have recently prevented her from being with us anymore. We're going to see if we can fix this.

I haven't been doing much of anything else. The house is a complete disaster area and the tree isn't up yet. I sewed the girls up some pants for the fall, but that's all I've been able to sew. I've started crocheting while I sit with the girls for lessons to get something creative done so I don't go insane. I crocheted six hats for the winter. The girls got striped hats and got to pick out the colors. Then I took all the untangled a ball of cut yarn and crocheted the individual strings into flowers. I gave them to the girls to sew onto their sweaters. They've had fun arranging the flowers and sewing them on with a big yarn needle and yarn.

Now I'm feeling a bit more ambitious. Tonight I found a pound of a lovely varigated bulky wool yarn originally sold for $70 on sale for $15. After a quick look around I found a beautiful pattern that calls for just that. The problem is, it's got Martha Stewart's name attached to it. I don't care for Martha Stewart. In over 25 years, I have never heard anything that woman has said or done that wasn't stupid, venal, petty, ridiculous, and/or a health hazard. I don't want to look like I'm the sort of person who idolizes her. But that said, it's a real nice pattern. I really want to make it up. So I think I'll chalk it up to my philosophy that no human being is a complete waste of space, even Martha Stewart.

I'll try to post again before 2008.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

School's Back

After limping through our first 100F summer in 10 years, cooler weather has finally arrived. We did lessons once or twice a week during the summer, now we're trying to get back to a daily schedule. The fact that it's cool enough to tempt the girls to go out more is helping keep them focused on getting through.

We're just doing math, handwriting, spelling, grammar, and a little Latin at the moment. We're all out of practice, so I'm holding off history and science until the girls get more used to the schedule.

Brighteyes is 8 now. She has lost four baby teeth and has 3 1/5 adult teeth. Unfortunately she fusses and screams up a storm when a tooth is getting loose. I've had to pull her last three teeth just to help her with the pain. Immediately after the tooth comes out she calms down, even though she insists has cranky mood has nothing to do with her bad mood and that the real reason is that the world hates her. I'm hearing a lot these days about how much I her daddy, and the world at large hater her. I'm told that some sensitive children are like this. Her father is of the opinion that it's better if she gets it out of her system now than when she's a teenager. There's some truth to that.

Sunshine is 6. She is smart as a whip and surprises us with the things she says. Unfortunately she rarely speaks clearly, usually rushing or mumbling her words, usually both. It drives me to distraction. I know she hates getting asked to repeat herself, but often even I can't make out what she's saying.

As for me, I'm getting over my depression. Previously I self-censored myself on this blog. I tried not to write about anything I couldn't put a positive spin on. Then came things like the Iraq War and mad cow disease, and how do you put a positive spin on those? The effort just made me frustrated and depressed. So you may see me ranting a bit more in these posts. Consider yourself warned.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

First Lost Tooth

Brighteyes didn't cut her first tooth until she was 14 months old, so I wasn't too surprised that she didn't lose her first tooth until she was almost eight. We've been telling her to expect it for two years now. Still, she sobbed when she came ran up to me, crying, "Momma, Momma! My toothy fell out when I bit Sister! It hurts!"

For some reason she didn't understand why Momma fell out laughing, and chuckled all day long.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Long Time, No See

Hello, again. It's been a busy fall and winter, and I'm trying to get back to something resembling a schedule. But first let's catch up on old times.


When you last saw us, we were heading toward Chimneyville for our first major show. It weeks to get everything ready. Finally, after a last-minute babysitter cancellation and replacement we were on our way. We were ready. We got there and found the other vendors were ready.

Unfortunately the management wasn't ready. There were new people running the show who didn't know what they were doing, and who had driven off the best customers with their pre-show scheduling blunders. Sales were terrible. We had entire days where we didn't sell a thing. So did the more experienced vendors around us. All in all we spent over $600 to get there and made $37.

But hey. It's just the first show. If we really get a move on, we can improve the look of our setup and quadruple our sales. We can slash expenses to the bone (after upgrading our setup, of course) and cut our costs in half. Then next year maybe we can spend $300 to go there and make $150.

It was even worse than I've said so far, but I don't want to go into the gory details yet. Just thinking about writing them down has kept me away from this blog for months. Maybe later.

New Project

My husband and I are working on a new project which is eating up large chunks of our time. Details to follow.


We've had trouble with homeschooling for the past year. Last summer we let the girls take a couple of classes at the local summer workshop program. The year before they had been very well run, but last year they were run badly. All the girls came home with was a bunch of excuses in their repetoire, such as:

"It's too hard!"

"You can't make me!"

"I won't do X unless you do Y!"

*random screaming fits to disrupt lessons and everything else*

Those wear Mom out fast.

Then came Rightstart Mathematics. It's a lovely math program which I've heard nothing but good things about. It seems perfect for closing up some holes in my daughters' math education. But it takes 4 - 5 times the work out of the parent as any other math program.

Between the girls' fit-throwing, the work for the show and the new project, and the extra work for Rightstart -- I crashed. I crashed long and hard. We got down to doing lessons a few times a week, then not at all over the winter.

Spring came, and we're back to doing lessons now. Enough time has passed that Brighteyes actually wants them instead of fights them. We were far enough ahead that we're not behind on too much with her. I'm concentrating on math and English, catching up on the rest when I have the energy for it. Sunshine is still way ahead.

I haven't tried the Rigthstart program again, although I do pull out the manipulatives when Sunshine gets bogged down by mathematical concepts. I just don't have the energy to do more with it at the moment.

Doctor Who and Torchwood

While all this was going down, I found someplace to escape to from the madness for a while: Doctor Who. I loved the show as a teenager, but I was dubious of it's revival. Have you ever seen a show where the revival was as good as the original? It's theoretically possible but it never happens. It didn't happen with Doctor Who either. The revival is better than the original, which is way beyond all but my wildest dreams.

I've reviewed the first season here already. The second season was not as good as the first, due to it being rushed and revised several times (long story, but it wasn't the production crew's fault), but had some stellar individual episodes.

Then came Torchwood, the adults-only spin off of Doctor Who. Words cannot express how much I love this show. And yes, before we go any further, the first season was badly flawed. The series didn't have enough production time, and what little they did have was cut in half by technical problems with their cameras. The writing was experimental, and not all the experiments worked. But what they did right hit all my buttons.

Torchwood is about a group of ordinary people whose job it is to save the world from alien invasions without letting the world know that aliens exist. They don't know very much about aliens, they are hideously underpowered and understaffed, the job has an incredible stress load, a tremendous death toll, and nobody who works there longer than six months is sane anymore -- they know all this and they still show up for work every morning because somebody has to do the job, and for lack of anybody better qualified it looks like its going to be them. That whacks the biggest button I've got square on the nose.

In the first episode you find out that a fairly likeable Torchwood employee has been driven crazy by the job and become a serial killer. The policewoman who uncovers that is offered the job of replacing her. In spite of what she just uncovered she thinks she can turn the organization around and make them all happier, saner people.

You just know she's going to end up the craziest one of the lot. Well, I did at any rate. And by the end of the sixth episode she's jumped off the deep end with the rest of them. But she's just one member of an ensemble cast, and some of her coworkers are far more interesting and/or admirable than she is.

But Torchwood is an adults-only show, and I don't feel comfortable talking in detail about it on a homeschooling blog that children can read. It's rated for ages 15 and up, with good reason. I don't let my own 6yo and 7yo watch it. So I have a separate lj account for my analysis, speculations and fan fiction about Torchwood. If you're old enough and interested enough in the show, click on it.


You read me right. I've been writing fiction. Well, it's "missing scene" sorts of things, with someone else's characters and setup, but it's a start on something that has absolutely terrified me in the past. I'm told I'm pretty good with voices and pacing, which is good to know. It was very hard the first time, but the basics have become easier. I'm still setting new challenges for myself though, and each one is scarier than the last. Hopefully I'll eventually work my way up to original setups, and then on to original characters.

In the meantime it looks like I may be doing some nonfiction for publication. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

A poem from my husband.

There is grass under the swings.
There is grass under the seesaw.
There is a bird's nest on the slide.
Testing is more important than childhood.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Happy New Year

After a long and frustrating December, I'm back.  We're in the middle of a computer upgrade that should be finished in a day or so (knock on wood).  After that blogging should recommence with commentary, war stories, reviews and maybe even a bit of comedy.  Maybe.   Looking forward to seeing you then.