Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Time management and the dark side of virtual academies

It's not even noon yet and I'm exhausted. Sure, I got my requisite 8 hours of sleep; I eat well--and even healthfully, ooh-rah... but it's my brain that's the problem!

Looking through my planner book over the last two weeks.... of 16 days I've scanned, 13 of them had a time commitment of some sort or another outside the home. Things that I can't skip--or skip very easily.

The end result is that school hours have been shortened around here. And now, today is February 28. Time to settle accounts. The standard must be met!! So we've been playing school catchup, to everyone's stress, irritation and grief.

This is my fault, though. Who manages the home schedule around here but myself? I have only myself to blame. This is the constant time-management battle.

Why am I staying at home, really? To homeschool my children. In order to FISCALLY be able to do this, I teach piano lessons. I take piano lessons to make myself a better teacher.

And it piles on from there....things that, though good, eat away at my primary reason for staying home in the first place. The Great Balancing to keep the plates spinning.

So, anyway.... we're supposed to be at 53% in all core subjects by 7:30 a.m. tomorrow morning. Core subjects=WASL test subjects; ergo, Math, Science, and Language Arts (lit, comp, grammar, etc.) And we've been busting our tails to get there.

It's nice in many ways to have these setpoints to shoot for--but right now I'm SO not enjoying homeschooling. I feel like I'm not really teaching, I'm pushing to meet an arbitrary standard.

Again, there have been distractions that I need to carefully evaluate and/or eliminate from our time. For example - weekends are for shopping, not weekdays. (Unless you send the husband!) And never never allow salespeople into your home for estimates on X, Y, or Z for this product or service. It takes up an hour and a half of precious time.

LOL - so you see I got roped into the last one. Some place called Celebrity Foods called us up out of the blue, wanting to make a presentation to us about their products, which have no hormones, preservatives, yadda yadda.. so, I, the fool, allowed them to come. It took an hour and a half, and at the end of it all, we can't afford their services anyway. Wasted time. My fault.

And blogging. You see that lately I've been sporadic at best. I am truly attempting to "redeem the time" in some small fashion - so blogging has fallen to the back burner. (I'm good right now because it's lunchtime.)

Anyway.... we will not meet the 53% in math. I will not push where the concepts have not been learned. Fortunately the next unit is on measurements and on time. Fast units! So theoretically we can get ahead - but not by tomorrow morning!! After those units, we're back to multiplying/dividing numbers past 5 - so, 6, 7, 8, 9.

But with Grammar....there's no excuse for me there. These kids ought to be at 70%, I being their mother. But... time management! I've spent so much time on the time-sucker (math) that I'm mentally exhausted by the time grammar rolls around.

Okay, I am sounding whiny, which I'm really not feeling- just overdrawn.

So, closing with a funny.

Last weekend we went to Happy Teriyaki for dinner. A. and I arranged ourselves on one side of the table, D. and S. on the other. As I read their sweatshirts from left to right as they sat across from me, I noted that, put together, they said "BUM GAP."

This sent me into convulsions of laughter, as it did the rest of the family. It is now the "in joke" of the household.

Until the next time I have time... ciao!

Monday, February 19, 2007

The battery bites the dust

It finally happened: my laptop battery died. Wouldn't hold a charge, even if plugged in. I knew it was just a matter of time. Approximate cost to replace a laptop battery= $200!!!

Cost of a brand-spankin' new laptop at Best Buy: $399.

Guess which option I chose? :>

So the 2001 laptop ($1200 on the original invoice I found) is now in the capable hands of our techhie friend Mr. Funk, who can refurbish it and do as he wishes with it. And I'm here trying to learn the ins and outs of Windows Vista on the cheap new system. It has some features I like (like a "doublecheck" feature that asks "are you sure you want to do this??") and several I don't - like, I can't set Firefox to be my default browser. Hmmm, not that that truly surprises me. Also it came preloaded with the Yahoo! toolbar, which I deplore. But I got rid of it.

So I'm having fun fun fun!

Mr. Funk asked if I would rather have a new dress or a new laptop. My answer: "Duh!"

I'm not a proper sort of female at all, I guess.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

"Hey nonny-nonny and a hot cha-cha"

My kids like to sing this song about Saturday: "It's Saturday, oh it's Saturday... hey nonny-nonny and a hot-cha-cha..." I think it came from a Little Rascals episode.

Last night A. and I prepared and served the Valentine's Banquet at church. Fire Department regulations now forbid the use of the church kitchen for anything but reheating pre-cooked food, so we had to do the cooking at home. That seemed like a headache to me at first, but it played out to be very convenient. The evening went very smoothly since I wasn't frantically preparing things in the kitchen, just serving what was reheated.

The menu:
Grilled chicken
Roast beef (done for us on the smoker at Green Valley Meats in Auburn, WA)

Garlic Mashed Potatoes (eeeeeeevil, must post the recipe so you can all faint- it's the recipe from the restaurant Buca di Beppo's)
Rice Pilaf

Mediterranean veggies (which means green beans, artichoke hearts, yellow squash and a few other veggies tossed in together and steamed)

Spring mix salad with craisins, feta cheese, and slivered almonds, served with raspberry vinaigrette

And mustn't forget dessert!
Raspberry cheesecake
Chocolate Fudge cake with ice cream
Tiramisu (NOBODY chose this! GO FIGURE! more for me hehehe)

We did well... got finished cleaning up the church kitchen, dishes and all, by 9:30 pm.

Went home and crawled into bed, where I dreamed about how tired I was, all night long. D'you know how difficult it is to wake up in the morning when you've been dreaming about how tired you are!?

So, hot-cha-cha, today was Saturday! To celebrate, we had steak and eggs for breakfast (beef leftovers from last night's banquet) - then I decided to thoroughly clean the kitchen floors and countertops. EWWW. I moved the refrigerator. EEEEEEWWWWW! That was a gloriously sticky, dusty mess. At one point some 7UP had spilled and run underneath the fridge, making a glue-like substance to which was affixed a penny, a hairband, a button, a photograph, and a missionary prayer card.

Irrecoverable items went straight into the trash, and I spent a good 20 minutes with a scrub brush and a bucket of Murphy's Oil Soap to remove the residue. Ah, looked great! So I carried on with the rest of the kitchen floor and am now guarding it jealously against all debris.

This has reinforced my realization that I MUST get this kitchen painted, and soon. However, I still need to paint the crown moulding all around the living/dining areas, as well as change the color on the piano wall once again (remember the Nacho Cheese wall incident? - well, we're growing tired of looking at Buttered Rum now, too.)

Fortunately Monday is a holiday, so I plan to sleep in and perhaps get that piano wall taken care of. I pinched a bucket of Audra's leftover living room paint because it's close to the color I want to try - Carob brown. Looks rusty red, which will set off my shiny black piano nicely. :)

Photos if and when I paint, of course. Happy weekending, all! See you in church tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

She blinded me with science

This, dear readers, is an oxygen atom made out of common household ingredients: 16 green grapes (8 protons, 8 neutrons) form a nucleus, wrapped in saran wrap, and peas and toothpicks comprise the electron cloud of 8. My children were awed at their ability to create an element; captured forever on my RAZR phone, and now recorded here.

A. continues to rack his lungs and his sleeping ability with his seemingly annual bout with bronchitis. The poor man doesn't just plain ol' cough; he hacks, hawks, barks, croups, and expectorates. TMI? SO Sorry. This has been going on since a week ago Monday night. We are all a little short: with sleep, with tempers...with patience... and long on wakefulness and irritability. He went to the doctor yesterday and was given 4 different medications- an antibiotic, an inhaler, a steroid, and a cough syrup with codeine. So life is getting better in the sleep department for him (and by extension, me).

My daughter just came and told me that I'd made the best meal EVER in the whole world. So you can be amazed (sarcasm font!), this is what I did: emptied out/cooked some stray bags of pasta that only had a little bit of noodles left; emptied a sack of peas into a casserole dish and tossed leftover bacon in it and microwaved; prepared an envelope of Newburg sauce (Knorr's makes it, I think?) and emptied a leftover remnant of Costco frozen, cooked shrimp into the Newburg sauce. Put it all into bowls. Whatever it was called, the kids ate seconds. Pasta, peas, bacon, shrimp, and Newburg sauce.

This meal happened because I have not made a menu for this week!!!

Coming up: Valentine's Day. I'd better get cracking, Gromit.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

This one hit my email inbox today

(Click the title above if you want to visit Snopes)... the one where a woman returns from shopping at Wal Mart to find a flat tire-- a gentleman in a suit offers to change it for her and she gratefully accepts... when he finishes, he asks for a ride back to his car, which is on the other side of the mall, etc.... woman is suspicious, goes back into store, feigning to the man that she forgot something; she notifies security....and lo and behold in the man's briefcase is ROPE And KNIVES and DUCT TAPE!!!

urban legend strikes again!

But forward it to all your girlfriends so they don't become victims too!! .......Of the legend, that is.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

My Ya-Ya Name Princess Gigglebox.

Thought you ought to know.

Friday, February 02, 2007

"Bowl" Games

...or, "Where on earth have you been for the last week?"

It started last Sunday evening. We were watching The Two Towers, and S. was not feeling well. She kicked it up several notches and continued to "not feel well" rather violently from 9:15 p.m. Sunday night until...5:00 a.m. Monday morning. Poor kid. She finally was able to sleep from 7 a.m. until about 3:30 Monday afternoon. I slept in as long as I could, but had things to do and places to go, so I was a little sleep deprived all day.

Monday night: 12:45 a.m. - D. decided to join in on the "fun" by having a bowl episode himself. My dear husband took pity on me and tended to the boy in his distress. His bout with sickness only happened once, though he was very peaked the following day. S. had a nightmare Monday night that I thought was D. getting sick again, so we ran searching for the crying child - to find S. blinking sadly in the glow of her nightlight. "A Star Destroyed me," she said tearfully. She had been watching Star Wars earlier that day so it's amazing what the mind pulls out in the middle of the night! I laughed it off and went back to bed.

Why do these things always happen in the middle of the night?

So Wednesday night and Thursday night we all gratefully got enough sleep - though I'm not feeling so hot today. It's been a 7UP day while I have my own version of the Superbowl.

In the midst of this, I made a baby shower cake--thankfully, before I started to feel so gross. The technique I used is called Buttercream Transfer (google it) and it's a fabulous way to reproduce a complicated pattern on a cake. I meant to do a step-by-step and post here, but got all wrapped up in the DOING of it that I forgot to take the "along-the-way" type pictures. There's lots of them out there on the 'Net that are just ducky if you care to have a go at it yourself for your kid's next birthday!

Oooo-lah-lah, that's pretty! The cake is 12x18 (takes two mixes), vanilla with raspberry filling, and the frosting is just regular American buttercream with paste food coloring. (ARGH--THE KIDS GOT INTO THE LEFTOVER FROSTING and ate a ton of it. A NO NO for them!~! no colors or preservatives allowed!! We shall see how things go over the next few days).

So now you are filled in on the more unsavory aspects of our week. I pray yours is exponetnially better!! :) :)

To steal an idea from Susan:
Things I am Thankful For:
1) The cake was done before I started to feel gross
2) I feel gross NOW, not in the middle of the night
3) A loving husband who has been watching kids all day, taught them two history lessons, and prepared dinner for everyone so I wouldn't have to smell it.