Friday, February 24, 2006

Minesweeper Update

My best time is now 298 seconds on expert. :)

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Ho, Ho, Ho!

My Christmas cards are now in the mail, en route to diverse points in the Continental US and abroad.

I take heart that it isn't the Fourth of July as I write this.

Now the next task, and pronto: Get the taxes done!!

Monday, February 20, 2006

training cavies

My dear daughter came up with a great game for the guinea pigs this morning. The young Snippet, who was an early Christmas present, was chewing the bars of the cage because cavies need to chew to wear down their ever-growing incisors. I suggested to S. that she put an empty tp roll in their cage to play with, chew, etc. Then S. came up with a good idea: put a small carrot in the center of the roll, and see how long it takes the guinea pigs to get at it!

We had a great time watching the pigs bump the roll around, fight over it, struggle to get that nugget of orange goodness...

So I'm not sure if it was really a game for the pigs, or just entertainment for humans. I think both!

The weather has warmed up to mid 30's, but with it, the humidity has jumped back up too, making it feel much colder. A. has been stomping all over the house trying to keep warm and complaining about Cispus-like conditions. Cispus is a learning center/campground in SW Washington where I swear they NEVER turn their heat above 60 in the buildings/dorms, so you spend your time there wrapped up in flannel shirts and sweats, clinging to your cup o' joe not only for its caffeine content, but also for its WARMTH. The tip of your nose is red and drippy, and chaperones huddle together in small groups, wondering when the educational experience will be over so you can take the 8th graders back home and you can WARM UP. That is Cispus, in a nutshell.

Science today involved a review/assessment of simple machines: lever, wheel and axle, pulley, inclined plane, screw, and wedge. Then there was a link to Rube Goldberg devices, and now the kids are drawing inventions, making simple things more difficult by the use of machines. Rather creative! D came up with a balloon-popping device involving scissors, a pulley, an anvil, a balance, a broom and a knife.

and it was snowing briefly today!

OK! I'm off to the gym, I think. I'm ready to get out of the house, because we did 2 days' worth of science and 4 days of history all today, so we're DONE. I love playing catch-up! :p not.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Blow, blow, thou winter wind

With sunny days and bitter cold nights around here, somehow some fronts got all tangled up and we had quite the windstorm here yesterday in the South Puget Sound. We lost power several times for a few moments over the course of 10 hours, then about noon it went down for good until nearly 4 pm.

All this would be well and good, were it not for the fact that I had a church banquet to prepare for. Fortunately the church did not lose power, and I was able to proceed as planned with my end of the cooking.

A, however, had a rough time with the grilling. His job was to grill pork ribs and marinated chicken, but with the winds howling and the wind chill somewhere around 3ยบ, the flame kept blowing out! It was a grueling grill gig. (wuahah)

The meal we were preparing featured Southern comfort foods: pork ribs, chicken, coleslaw, baked macaroni and cheese, cornbread - and banana pudding and peach cobbler for dessert. I received a phone call from A. a little after 4 (the power had come back on at the house; I was cooking at the church). He'd had so much trouble with the chicken - he had put it on like 45 minutes before and it was still raw after 45 minutes of grill time. He walked back into the house for 15 min (who wants to stay outside in that nasty wind?) - came back out, and the chicken was charred black.

!!! What to do!? That's half of the banquet right there~!! He was just sick at heart. So, using his noggin and his car, he blazed a trail to Famous Dave's and got two grilled chickens to go!! Oh, the accolades from the dinner guests!!

Meanwhile with the wind storm, virtually all of South Hill was without power; parts of it are still without power even now. 6 people called and cancelled their reservations at the banquet, so we have tons of leftover food. Woot~ no cooking fo me!

I think the most popular menu items were the macaroni and cheese and the banana pudding. I have no leftovers of the banana pudding, sadly. I'll have to make some more; it was truly scrumptious. I got the recipe from Lori, whose MIL is a southerner. I also used her green beans recipe, which I love. That reminds me, some of the food is still on the back porch. Hey, if it's in the low low 30's, it's not going to go bad, and my fridge was rather full.

So the banquet was a success, cooking-wise. It was one of the more relaxing banquets, because much of the food was made in advance (coleslaw, muffins, desserts) and the only cooking I did on the day of the banquet was the mac, the beans, and the cobbler. A. had the harder job of grilling all that meat.

Today, driving up to South Hill, I thought I'd save time and take 94th instead of Meridian. BAD CHOICE. Power out at 128th caused a long long backup. Took me 45 minutes to get to 152nd street. Fir branches everywhere!! And many people out with their yard waste cans, wheel barrows, chippers, what-have-you, just to deal with the mess. I am so glad we do not have many fir trees near us anymore. D and S were playing in the backyard when the next-door-neighbors' fir tree decided to drop a largish branch right next to David! The fir tree does not hang over the fence; it BLEW over into our yard! I told them to play on the WEST side of the yard after that, because the winds were coming from the NE.

I am glad I didn't have all the tree litter to pick up, but I did do a fair amount of picking up everyone's recyclables from down the street......cans, papers, cardboard, etc. I know someone had to pick up mine, too, because my recycle can was not as full as when I'd first pushed it out there!

Now the winds are calm, and we're expecting low 20's/teens tonight. The guinea pigs are in the living room so they don't turn into hairy ice cubes. And I'm heating up leftover mac and cheese.

Life is good!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Diamonds in the Rough

Yesterday, upon returning from their weekly walk to the library, David presented me with a paper lunch bag with the label "DIMONDS (EMRALDS)"

When opening the bag, I saw some lovely broken auto glass that had broken into gem-sized pieces. They had a slightly bluish-green cast to them, so they did indeed look a little bit like diamonds/emeralds.

I've never gotten a sack full of gems before! What a thoughtful Valentine's present.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Valentine's Rant and a Tribute

Why I think Valentine's Day is a load of tripe:

1. Because it's supposed to be all about me, darn it, and nobody else but myself realizes it!

There. Rant accomplished.

Today was not very Valentiney. I'd bought doughnuts at Top Foods after choir practice last night so I wouldn't have to cook breakfast - present #1 to myself. While there I also bought some cinnamon jelly hearts - present #2 (I love cinnamon things). Today I rushed the kids through LA and Science, plus a smidge of Math (we're finally moving on past double-digit addition with regrouping, yay!). Lest one read this and think I only valentined myself (I love backformation - creating new words from existing ones) - I did indeed make sure that the 3 beloved ones in my home received a modicum of chocolate to sustain them. The little heart-shaped boxes went to the kids, and the medium box of Dove milk chocolate with almonds went to the hubby. and like I said, I'd made sure I got what I wanted. :) I have experience in these matters.

Hurried the kids over to a babysitter so Andy and I could attend Sharon's funeral --mom of Crystal and Richard, former kids in our youth group who are no longer kids, but GROWNUPS. It was a good funeral. God was magnified. Richard read scripture from Job and Isaiah 40; Crystal delivered part of the eulogy. She made it through until the end. I was proud of her to be able to do such a hard thing.

Then there was the open mic time. I thought about what I could say to 200-odd assembled people and decided I'd rather share it here in my blog, where there's an edit button. I did share some of this with Richard afterwards, too, so these thoughts are not just entering the void, so to speak.

I will always remember Sharon as loving her children passionately. I remember Crystal and Richard referring to her, eyes rolling, as the "ball and chain," because teens do not understand (nor can they, really) the depth of love/caring/fear that parents have for their children. Sharon was very protective of her children. She was also quick-witted and sharp-tongued. :) Andy found that out when Richard, the quietest kid in the youth group, was accidentally left at the top of Mount Hood while the remaining youth group vans drove down the hill to Sandy, OR. Yes, Richard was retrieved and made it home safely, but Sharon had plenty to say once they got home. (I was not there at the time; still finishing my senior year of college).

Sharon taught me and Crystal how to make jam. She'd been diagnosed with breast cancer in 1993 and was undergoing treatment. Her hair was gone, and she was wearing a little terry-knit cap on her head, but she still took the time to teach me and Crystal how to make strawberry jam. I know now it must have been tiring for her, but she never mentioned it. Crystal and I wandered off at one point, and when we came back to the kitchen, Sharon's cap was off, and on the back of her bald head was a beautiful tattoo of a butterfly!! (temporary). I didn't quite know what to say or do (what is the proper protocol for admiring one's head tattoo??) but Sharon jumped in and brought it up by saying "do you like my tattoo?" I stammered out some funny gibberish, yeah-that's-really-interesting-type comment, then Sharon said, in a confidential tone, "Rex is not amused." (Rex being her husband).

I will always remember Sharon with that butterfly, and in the back of my mind, Rex just rolling his eyes at her.

So Sharon is finally well and whole and free of cancer. Would that we all could live our lives realizing that we're not on our way to the land of the dying, we're on our way to the land of the living.

Monday, February 13, 2006

My Candy Heart says:

Your Candy Heart Says "Get Real"

You're a bit of a cynic when it comes to love.
You don't lose your head, and hardly anyone penetrates your heart.

Your ideal Valentine's Day date: is all about the person you're seeing (with no mentions of v-day!)

Your flirting style: honest and even slightly sarcastic

What turns you off: romantic expectations and "greeting card" holidays

Why you're hot: you don't just play hard to get - you are hard to get

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Never Underestimate Your Children

Somehow I've managed to get tendonitis or something in my right wrist. This is interfering with my Schumann and Beethoven. So Mimi's taken me off the big boomy, chordal sounds and put me into Czernys and various etudes that involve an overemphasis on wrist rotation so I do not aggravate the issue further. She encouraged me to look at a Rondo by Bartok and Trois pieces pour la legende doree by Pepin in my Celebration Series Repertoire book.

Darn it, and I was getting good at the Schumann, too. But it was painful to play, and piano shouldn't hurt.

Had a lovely practice this afternoon with a soloist at church who's been classically trained. Together we are working on Panis Angelicus/O Lord We Pray to Thee, and she's planning to sing a Dvorak solo ("I Will Sing New Songs") in the South Sound Classical Choir concerts in May, so I was helping her through some trouble spots.

Friday I went on a field trip with the kids to the Washington State History Museum in Tacoma. The docent got us all seated in the media room for orientation before we got started, and began her presentation talking about artifacts. "Do you know what artifacts are?" Well, in a room full of homeschoolers, duh, yes, there's several junior/junior high boys that can tell you exactly what artifacts are, and they proceeded to do so. Perhaps a little surprised that we rube homeschooling families knew what artifacts are, she continued on...."what artifacts do you think our generation will be remembered by, 500 years from now?"

A few seconds of silence, while the students pondered. Being helpful, the docent volunteers ideas: "Who in here has a Playstation?"


"An X-box?"

Crickets chirp.

Desperation in voice: "a computer??!"

And every hand shot up. Of course we have computers, we use k12!

The docent then drew the conclusion that years from now, archaeologists may find our computers as artifacts, yada yada. But I got a secret chuckle over the fact that there were no playstations or xboxes in our group.

It got better though. The docent then began to discuss some things we would see in the museum upstairs, one exciting find being some Clovis Points (they look like stone spearheads) found near Wenatchee just after the Ice Age 16000 years ago.

David's hand shoots up.

"Uhm, yes?" the docent asks politely.

"Only one problem..." David begins, with the air of explaining something to one who is slow.

"What's that?" the puzzled docent responds.

"It wasn't 16000 years ago." He is certain.
I smile inwardly.

"Oh,, that's what I have on my information sheet." The docent hurriedly got us up and started on our self-guided tour, no doubt glad to wash her hands of this weird homeschooling group.

Later on I thanked David for standing up for his beliefs, but reminded him that it might have been better received had he not corrected an adult in public.

Five minutes later we're upstairs and in the first section of the museum--how Washington looked 17 million years ago. Sammie chimes in loudly: "But Washington wasn't even HERE 17 million years ago!!"

I know of the 5 or 6 families that came on this museum trip, four of them are families of faith, so we all had about the same perspective on the old earth viewpoint.

I need to arm my children with more facts so they can defend their faith against an unbelieving world. This means I need more education in this area myself. I can't just depend on Andy to do it all/answer all the questions. but doggone it, this has been a lifelong passion for him. Me, I didn't even believe dinosaurs existed until I was in late in my high school years, no doubt due to other people like myself who didn't consider themselves qualified to deal with the dinosaur/ice age/history of the world from a Creationist viewpoint. So there is a great silence in my particular history of the world. Andy throws out certain words at me and I have to sort through whether it's an evolutionary term, or if it is a legitimate description of an actual era of world history.

So many things to learn, and only one lifetime to do it. *sigh*

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Repost: The Pirate Who Doesn't Do Anything

My pirate name is:

Bloody Anne Vane

Every pirate lives for something different. For some, it's the open sea. For others (the masochists), it's the food. For you, it's definitely the fighting. You tend to blend into the background occaisionally, but that's okay, because it's much easier to sneak up on people and disembowel them that way. Arr!

Get your own pirate name from

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Just for the record!

The Stupid Quiz said I am "Pretty Smart!" How stupid are you? Click here to find out!

Ain't I somethin' ?

I love taking these useless internet tests. Thanks to grisaleen (nope, don't know her personally) for leaving a link on her site!

Monday, February 06, 2006

are you ready for some football?

OK so I did it. I watched the Superbowl. I am not a Seahawks fan, but when your hometown team does something right, you support them when you can. So I plugged in the cable for the afternoon. D and S were really hyped up, OOH BOY< CABLE!! FOOTBALL!! COOL!!

(for the record, I have a cable internet connection. It is marginally cheaper when you get it with the basic cable TV package deal. Because I turn into a TV zombie if it's on, I unplug the cable so I don't watch TV. Make sense? I don't need the hindrance in my life.) (LOL, the Internet is bad enough of a hindrance for me!!)

Anyway, when I first turned on KOMO, there was Stevie Wonder singing Motown favorites during the pregame show. Man has he gotten big! We watched/listened for about 5 minutes, then David voiced the opinion for all of us: "I've had about enough of this." So I found the Hallmark Channel and we watched about 20 min of Little House on the Prairie.

Back to Channel 4! I missed the kickoff, but only just. It was all Seahawks in the 1st Q. But my stars, the refereeing!! Hm, a little biased?! I am glad I do not wrap my life around pro sports any longer as I used to----because it was bad enough NOT being a fan and getting extremely hyped up at the horrible horrible reffing. Standing and shouting at the TV, I was. Shaking my fist and jumping up and down. Take away that touchdown for offensive pass interference? GADS that was an incredibly lame call.

Oh and don't forget that NON Touchdown by the Steelers --the guy never even crossed the line until after the down! What was that all about? I'd love to know that ref's bookie.

Anyway, LIKE I SAID, I'm glad I don't follow pro sports on a regular basis. It's a real snare! LOL.

To be honest, though, I must confess: It's all about the commercials for me. The corporate megabucks spent on advertising ensures a VERY entertaining afternoon. There were 4 or 5 that were VERY good. So here's the list:
The Five Best Commercials During the Superbowl (ranked from lowest to highest, but I can't turn it around to make it say 5-1!):
  1. Jackie Chan and Diet Pepsi: Stunt Double
  2. Bud Light: Bear Attack
  3. Fed Ex: Caveman
  4. Bud Light: Magic Fridge
  5. Budweiser: The Clydesdale Football Game
Honorable Mention: Michelob: A Little Darker ("You were open, but now you are CLOSED!")
(I am waiting for D to try this on S very soon)

Now I need to go unplug the cable before I forget and discover my kids watching Dr. Phil or some such thing.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

making butter

I had some heavy cream left over from a 1/2 gallon jug (that's how it comes at Costco!!) so A. suggested I make butter with it when it looked like I wasn't going to be able to use it all up. I mean, really, what do you do with a HALF GALLON of whipping cream, besides get arteriosclerosis?

So this morning after making waffles, I decided it was time to give it a shot. But how? A. suggested put it in the mixer on low. Then I remembered waaaay back when I was teaching, the 2nd grade teacher actually made butter with her kiddies by pouring cream into baby food jars, and having the kids shake the jars until the butter formed. I thought that was worth a try. So into a tupperware bowl the leftover cream went!

I've spent my afternoon shaking the cream, off and on. A little ways into it, it stopped shaking and sounding liquidy. I pulled off the lid: whipped cream. Not good enough! So off and on again, I went back to smacking the bowl around. And HEY! it worked! Finally it started to sound watery inside the bowl, and voila! I now have butter and buttermilk!

So now I have to decide what to do with said butter. But still, cool!

My computer just made a thunderstorm sound at me. My alert went off. High winds on Saturday with wet, soggy soils means trees down and power outages, according to the National Weather Service. Fun!

The "best" windstorm ever was on Bill Clinton's inauguration day in January of 1993. I've never experienced anything like it. It was so powerful and awesome.

I do want to be careful here. I know that the Gulf Coast states experience this thing all too often and that most people certainly would not use any words like "best" in association with a wind event, and that I really have no clue as to what a "real" windstorm (hurricane) is all about.

But with my limited experience, I'd never witnessed such raw power before, and it was exhilarating; both fear-trembly and exciting at the same time.

My dear son is sitting next to me on my bed, grousing about math and school in general. Addition with regrouping (carrying over) is the current bane of my--and my children's existence. We're spending lots of time but not getting very far! All in good time, I suppose.

Meanwhile, A. has found his sermon title for Sunday: "Another Night With the Frogs." Moses is the current Sunday morning message series, and this is a reference to Pharaoh begging Moses to withdraw the plague of frogs from the land. Moses asks Pharaoh just when he would like them removed, and Pharaoh responds, "tomorrow." WHat's up with that?! Why not, "RIGHT NOW!!" ?

I'm out of here. I'm going to the gym. My jeans do not fit!! rgh.