Friday, December 31, 2010

Board Games.

I mentioned that I do the shopping for my mom for Christmas.  Honestly, I'm glad she lets me do it.  It's my favorite part of the shopping.  From us, the kids ask for a specific list of things and they usually get those things.  It's checking-off-a-list shopping and it is about as much fun as grocery shopping. But, from my parents, they'v always gotten surprises, things they haven't expected, didn't ask for and didn't know that they wanted, in other words, some of their best gifts ever.   My Dad always had a rule that any money that he gave me for the kids did not go to video games and I am going to continue to follow that guideline.  I don't really enjoy shopping for video games anyway.   I'd rather get something that promotes family bonding, rather than having each person go off to do their own thing. 

So, this year, I went with board games.  Oh, it was so much fun to shop for and buy all of these board games that I've wanted to get the kids for a long time as well as discover new ones.  We've had a good time this week trying them out.   Here are the ones I bought.

Labyrinth Card Game:  This is one that I haven't actually played yet.  One of my sons said it was fun and the other said he didn't really care for it.

Fluxx - We had to replace our version of this because it got wet in a dishwasher flood.  I am not sure what it was doing on the floor.  The new version is even more confusing in a fun way.  At one point you cannot win unless you  have a radioactive potato.

Mille Bornes - We played this one for the first time yesterday.  It's pretty fun.  I liked it even the first run-through, which is unusual.

Chrononauts. My youngest son LOVES this game.  It has a solo version, so he can play it alone.  I think the rest of us will like it more once we get used to it.  It teaches history, as an added bonus.   We've only had 1 run through and will need a few more to be comfortable with the rules.

Ticket to Ride:  This one is fun and it will be even more fun if any of us can ever beat my husband at it.  It is a good combination of luck and strategy.

 Blokus - Simple to learn, but a good strategy game.


Think Fun Rush Hour Traffic Jam Game - This one surprised me by being a 1 person puzzle game, but it's very fun.

Last but not least, Word Pirates.  My daughter and I like this one very much.  It levels the playing field between us on word games, by throwing in the luck of the roll of the dice and the ability to block opponents and build bridges to the treasure.  The boys aren't as crazy about word games as I am, so this isn't their favorite.   

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Down, down, down, down, down (doobie do) down time.

We're still not trying to accomplish much of anything this week.  I will have to do regular housecleaning tomorrow and the kids will have to help as usual.  There's no escaping housework.  Our New Years plans have fallen through because of the flu, but we still have one more Christmas party to go to.  After the new year, I'll focus on scheduling all the appointments I need to schedule and making minor changes to the kid's school schedules.  I've ordered myself an exercise DVD with one of my gift cards and I hope to add that into my morning routine.   Meanwhile this week, we're watching videos, playing board games and video games.  Hey, it's Christmas week, that's what you are supposed to do!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


I'm enjoying this down-time week.  My husband and I have returned to work, but we're not schooling and we don't really have much of anything (actually, nothing at all!) scheduled until the weekend.  No 4H.  No co-ops.   No group meetings.  I don't mind any of those things and, in fact, like most of them, but it is nice not to have any for a few days.  Next week, we'll be stir crazy and ready to get out and go, I'm sure. 

This is the week I need to be thinking about any new subjects for January.  My daughter has finished spelling and now needs some other kind of language arts instruction.   I need to look into that.  I also 'need' to spend my Christmas gift cards soon.  :-P  

Monday, December 27, 2010

Schools out for the rest of the year!

Do you remember this week when you were a kid?  I remember reading, reading, reading, because if it was a really good Christmas, I had gotten some books.  I remember one year getting a pile of Trixie Belden books. I was in book-nerd heaven until I finished all of them and had to go back to school.  My kids are in their own version of kid heaven this week with no school, unlimited screen time, new board games and all kinds of things to do.  This week is all they'll get though and honestly, that's about all they need and they're ready for limits again, though they won't admit it, they'll just start acting bored with their new stuff and at that point, it's time to start school again. 

Sunday, December 26, 2010


I'm tired this morning.  We had that same issue we have every year in that our youngest son does not want to sleep on Christmas eve and therefore I do not get as much sleep as I would like, since he keeps waking me up.  Even my daughter  got into the act and had to be issued threats this year, including (gasp!) middle names! (That's when you know you're in trouble!).  I fortified myself as much as I could with my mother-in-law's fudge but I was still exhausted and consequently, I had to take a 3-hour Christmas afternoon nap.  After the nap we had a mini board game marathon and played Blokus and Word Pirates, 2 new games we received, which are really fun.  All in all, it was a pretty nice Christmas.  We've got another party today so it's really not over yet.  :-)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Wishing you

a wonderful Christmas day. 

Friday, December 24, 2010

It's here!

It's here.  First I'm not ready to even THINK about Christmas.  Then I start thinking and worrying about what I'm going to get and when I'm going to start and then finally I start Christmas shopping and go crazy buying things, then something is wrong with what I've bought, I make last minute changes and substitutions and then, it's here.  Christmas.   A time of peace and joy.  Now if only I can shift out of high gear, down to a slow, easy speed and enjoy the season.

Hopefully I will be able to, but I need to wait until I get finished working!   

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Something like this always happens.

We got out all the presents today, from their various nooks and crannies, to examine them, sort them and make sure they had all arrived, since most of our shopping was done on-line and most of it has been delivered this week.  It turns out that one of the very first things I put in the cart on was still in the cart.  They hadn't charged me for it and they hadn't shipped it.  So I had to go to Gamestop today and make an emergency substitution.  I would not advise anyone to go to Gamestop on December 23rd. It took a long, long, long time.  Finally, I did get free and then had to (The Horror!) go to Walmart due to another shipping issue.  Anyway, I think I'm done shopping now.  I really don't want to go get anything tomorrow.   I'm going to have to think really hard and be very creative about what I can contribute to the Christmas dinner at my Mom's house tomorrow night because Friday is my grocery day and I don't want to go.  I'll just have to cook something that is already in the house.   I am shopped out.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Okay, maybe not.

At some point today I just cancelled school for tomorrow and the next day.  There was a point this afternoon when I said to my youngest, "Listen, if you will just leave me alone for 1 hour, I will let this be the last day of school!"  I'm not proud of it, but there it is.  I had in the back of my mind anyway that it would be a good day to quit.  We're ahead on our days, we've got all of the basics covered for this week thanks to our block schedule and we've got a ton of things to do tomorrow because tomorrow is Christmas Eve Eve.  The kids haven't even shopped for each other yet and they traditionally exchange their gifts on the day before Christmas Eve (traditionally known as the "Eve Eve" around here.) 

I did get work done and I finally took my Mom's cat to the vet, but I didn't bring her back.  The condition that she had in her ear was cancer and it was too advanced to do anything about.  I feel kind of bad about it, but I'm glad the cat is not suffering.  It needed to be done and I'm glad I was able to get victory over my squeamishness and finally got my schedule worked out so I could do it.  

Tomorrow I'll be frantically crossing things off my list and then Friday morning I'll be working and then, ah the holiday weekend.  


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Still going.

We're still doing school. We had a Christmas party with the homeschool group today and so we only did half a day but that's more than most school districts did today I bet.  I think the kids will better appreciate the days after Christmas off, when they have new toys and games to occupy their time, rather than now when they don't   Might as well work now and get those days in.  That way, when a particularly beautiful day or a nice opportunity to visit with someone comes up, we can take a day off without having to worry about getting behind. 

I am getting just the slightest bit excited about Christmas.  Now that my shopping is done, I can relax a little.   I still have to work tomorrow and Friday and I still have to grocery shop, take my mom's cat to the vet, open all the packages and make sure all the gifts have arrived (some are scheduled to arrive tomorrow, how's that for cutting it close?) , clean the house and then take a deep breath and try and enjoy it.  I've been wound up awfully tight lately, kind of overwhelmed, and it's been more difficult for me to relax and enjoy the season.  I hope that feeling goes away soon.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Busy day planned.

We've got a busy day planned and we've got lots of things on the calendar until Wednesday.  We don't have anything written on Wednesday or Thursday and I'm hoping to have those days to savor the season a little bit.  Unfortunately, I imagine the fact that there is nothing written on there is just an oversight and someone will remember things we have to do those days.  It will be fine either way.  We finally got the van up our driveway last night so wherever we're going, hopefully we won't have to walk the first quarter mile to the bottom of our drive where the van is waiting.  We're going to keep doing school as long as we can, maybe even on Friday which is Christmas Eve.  I have to work that day so why can't the kids do school? Right?  Although if they argue, I'll let them off.  You're only a kid once and that time for them is passing very quickly anyway.  If we do school all week, we'll have 97 days in, which means that currently we have 92 days of school. That's more than we've ever had at this time of year, even if we stop now!  

Friday, December 17, 2010

Boy has it been a long winter.

Looonngg winter.   Today has already been a looonnnggg day and its' only 10:37 a.m.

Long day, long week, long year.


Iced in.

We stayed in last night.  Our driveway was a solid sheet of ice, still, when it was time to go skating, so we didn't.  I'm tired of being in.  I have a chance to go shopping today with a wonderful friend, but I don't think I'm going to be able to.  It all hinges on me finishing work early and I am kind of afraid to go without getting my husband's opinion on the road situation so right now I'm waiting.  If I was still working at home, I'd be working, getting it done.  It's very frustrating not to be able to do that.  Waiting is not my best thing.

While snowed and iced in this week, we've made paper snowflakes and paper snowmen garlands, read, watched movies, did school, cooked, cleaned and played board games.  It's not like we are suffering, but we do like to get out occasionally.  (okay, daily!).  I did have a funny moment yesterday when I went out to assess the driveway ice situation and got to observe our dogs trying to cope with it.  Freckles' back legs tried to get in front of her front legs at one point and I laughed until I cried at her facial expression, which said "help!".  Oh how I wish I had had a camera in my hand.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Guess what we ate for dinner?

The hamburgers, corn and baked french fries that the kids made in their home-ec cooking class today, plus the very last home grown tomato of the season.  Can you believe we still had a tomato on December 16?  I went out and picked them all right before the frost and they've been ripening one by one on the window sill.   It was tiny, but yummy.

Trying not to waste the day, but feeling lazy.

It's my day off from work and I'm trying to get some things done.  I have gotten a few appointments made and a few things cleaned, but not that much really.  We had an ice storm last night ,but it wasn't as severe as the last one that left us without power for 9 days.  This one has left us stranded in our house though, I'm afraid.  We want to go skating tonight but I don't know if we'll be able to leave our driveway.  :-(   I'm not sure how to check that either.  I mean if the van will go part of the way down the hill, but then I hit a tree .... ?!  Anyway, we don't have to make that decision for a few hours, so  we'll wait and see what the temperature is, I guess.

I'm almost done with the onerous job of Christmas shopping.  I have one thing I need to take back and exchange because I bought the wrong one and my daughter and I might make some crafts to make some of the gifts more personal if we get time.  Otherwise, we just need to wait for UPS to deliver them.  Ooh, I hope they can get up our driveway.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Trying to get it done today.

It's 3:00 in the afternoon and I am just getting started on work.  After I had my husband drive me over here this morning, the cable was down again and I had to go back home.  Before we left earlier today though my husband did salt the top of my mom's driveway which is a steep hill.  That helped and I was able to drive myself back over here this afternoon to start on my full day of work at 3:00 p.m.  After I get done here, I need to go to town and pick up my Walmart site-to-store merchandise and take some movies to the library.  I'm trying to hurry and beat the winter storm that is on the way.  It is supposed to snow again tonight so we may have to stay home for a while after this.  All of the kid's activities have been canceled this week.  They haven't been enjoying that, but what can they do?  They like the winter weather so they just have to take the good with the bad.  Personally, I want to move someplace tropical. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Spelling revisited.

If you've been reading my blog from the very beginning, you'll know that we changed from public schooling to homeschooling right after our kids had finished kindergarten, second grade and fifth grade.  My oldest son at that point was a good speller and I didn't feel that there was a need to do spelling with him.  My daughter needed quite a bit of help with spelling.  At one point, I thought that she might be dyslexic so when I was looking for a spelling curriculum, I looked for something that might help with that.  I found Sequential Spelling and it has been wonderful for the girl.  She is a really good speller now too.  Today I finally just told her that she can quit doing it and we'll start something else in January.  Unbelievably, she didn't want to stop, but I really think her time would be better used on something else language arts related.  She spells all the words right, every single time.  There's just no point in going over and over it.  She finally agreed with me and we'll start something else.  (I'll decide what later - let me get through Christmas first!)  

Now youngest son is a different matter.  He is probably dyslexic.  He has always had trouble with reversing letters and he took a long time learning to read well.  Now he finishes a book every couple of days we've been addressing the writing with occupational therapy and copywork and that's getting better and now we need to find something that works for his spelling.  He's been doing Sequential Spelling for several years now too, but I think that the time has come to admit that it just isn't working for him.   I've also tried All About Spelling, which is a good program, but he felt that he was being tortured when we did it.  So anyway, I'm going to have to look for something else.  Anyone have suggestions? 

I got a really great deal through Swagbucks today on a game called Bookworm Adventures that is supposed to help with spelling.  I hope so because games are better for my youngest's learning style.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The choice.

My husband gave the kids a choice today.  They could go outside and play in the snow, getting fresh air and exercise, or they could stay in and do math.  They chose sleigh riding.  Is anyone surprised? 

After the first hour or so they came in and my youngest son yelled from the front door "Mom?!  I NEED hot chocolate!"

Snow day!

It snowed several inches.  The younger kids are very excited.  They went out sledding around 8:30 last night.  I am not as excited because I have to go to work.  I'm no longer a work-at-home mom who can laugh at the weather and keep bringing in the bucks.  I have to go to my mom's house and it's only 3 miles, but it's up and down a lot of hills.  Today my husband can take me in the 4 wheel drive truck, but I don't know how the rest of the winter is going to work out.  Several people on our road are paying huge amounts of money to get cable internet back here, but the closest one is still about a mile from our house and we're half a mile from the nearest neighbor, so I don't know if it will ever be affordable/accessible to us.   If we ever get it here, I'll be able to work at home again.  Anyway, I'm off to work and the kids are going to try and get Dad to give them a snow day.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

It's cold outside.

I'm staying in today and getting some things done.  The kids and I have done some cleaning and some laundry and we've got dinner in the crock pot so now I'm trying to get the Christmas shopping done (on-line) and then maybe we'll watch a Christmas movie together and drink hot chocolate.  There is a little bit of snow on with a little bit of ice underneath it so we haven't gone anywhere today.  We might venture out later on this afternoon after we get some road reports.  Meanwhile, I'm enjoying being home after several busy, busy days in a row. 

At the party last night there were several questions about homeschooling.  I hope I answered them well enough.  No we don't have to test.  I think we're doing pretty well.  No, the kids don't miss school.  Yes, they see their friends a lot.  Etc.  

Friday, December 10, 2010

Getting there, school and other things.

My attitude is better now.  I had a really nice time at both the movie and the party.  The only thing is, at parties like this, I feel a little bit of the odd one out when people start talking about kids and school.  Being the lone homeschooler in a group of several people makes me feel a little bit weird, but I wouldn't trade the experience for anything.  It's been great for our family.  Speaking of school, we're still on track to get over halfway done by Christmas.  I may take a couple of days out of those to clean and we still won't be behind.  It will be nice for me if there is some deep cleaning done before the holiday begins.  It will help me enjoy it more.  I don't think the kids will feel the same way, but they'll help me anyway.  :-P 

The movie we saw today was Voyage of the Dawn Treader, one of the Narnia stories. I feel that I should read the books because even though I've seen all 3 movies, I feel like I'm missing about 75% of the story.  Right now I have a stack of books on my desk that is 5 high, but I haven't had time to read them and I'm not sure when I will.

Gotta get this shopping done!

Maybe it's more like this guy.

I'm actually making progress on the Christmas lists.  I'm just kind of grouchily doing it.  I'll feel better once it's done. 

I've got a busy day today.  I've got to work, then we've got a field trip this afternoon and then I'll have to work again more than likely because I won't be done and then a party tonight.  December can get really crazy.  Sometimes I feel like it's too much but I wouldn't want to miss these things.  I kind of wish we as a society, didn't try to do so much in one month! 

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Christmas Shopping.

I have begun my Christmas shopping.   I'm not really enjoying it.  It seems like a tremendous chore.   I have gotten quite a bit of it done the last couple of days, yesterday on-line and today in the stores.  I might even be getting close to halfway.  I'd just like to know one thing.  When, exactly, did I turn into this guy?
And I'm talking about before his heart grew three sizes!

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Today on our favorite radio station

the DJ accidentally said "Carol of the Bears" instead of "Carol of the Bells" which led to a spontaneous rendition of the song from the back seat.

It went like this:
Roar, roar, roar, roar
roar, roar, roar, roar
roar, roar, roar roar,
roar, roar, roar, roar
roar, roar, roar, roar,
roar, roar, roar roar,
roar, roar, roar, roar

roar, roar, roar, roar ...


So much nothing.

My youngest son did not get his school work done yesterday so he was grounded and did not get any screen time at all last night.  Tonight's not looking good either.  He is taking it well though.  He told me a few minutes ago that he had went through with a marker and marked all the blank spaces in the schedule grid because he had "done so much nothing today."  


Tis the season.

To celebrate the season, here are some links to free holiday MP3 downloads from

and my favorite

Sometimes homeschooling gets a little difficult this time of year because all the kids want to think about is Christmas.  Currclick has a Christmas Around the World unit study for 1.75 and all of the proceeds go to feed the hungry through World Vision.     Currclick

Coinstar is offering a ten dollar bonus if you put in your coins and get a gift card.  Frugal Living.

Why not do some good by visiting The Hunger Site and while you're there, take a look at the hunger site store.  They've got some really unique and fun gifts and the proceeds help people around the world. 

I'm getting into the spirit now.  :-)

Monday, December 06, 2010

Okay, I was too tired.

To have my Christmas-List panic attack the other day, but I don't think that I will have any trouble today.  Eeek!  I do have decent lists from the boys now, but still not the girl.  Honestly, she's worked so hard this year, earned money and bought things she wanted and doesn't want anything else right now.  She may just have to get a Hobby Lobby gift card or two.  Really none of the kids want that much this Christmas, the lists are shorter than usual. Maybe this would be a good year to give more to charity?  We are planning to buy a couple of chickens for a third world country and that seems like such a small gesture.

Today is the homeschool groups mom celebration, which means that all the moms are going to go out to eat, exchange presents and shop, so that will be fun.  Maybe this time I'll actually buy some gifts?  It could happen.  We're going to go to regular stores, not terribly expensive ones, so I hope I'll be able to find some things. 

My kids will stay home with their Dad and do their math.  They are so happy about that.  :-P  I need to print out their weekly lists, clean the kitchen up, get ready and go.  I hope the restaurant we are going to has a gluten free choice or two.  I'm so excited to get to go out and party with some of my very best friends.  They are another gift that homeschooling has given me.  :-)

Sunday, December 05, 2010


We had a great time at the craft fair yesterday.   My daughter sold 21 dollars worth of crafts, my sons 5 dollars and 3 dollars (theirs was with very minimal effort!) and she already has plans to do it again next year.  It was a lot of fun and we really enjoyed the people who came and shopped, about half of whom said "aw, just keep the change!". Everyone was so nice, it just really heartwarming to be there.  We came home really, really tired and I personally slept 12 hours last night!  It's funny because we almost didn't make it at all.  I had asked my youngest son to set my alarm for me, for 6:30 am..  He does it all the time with no problems, but it was not set when Freckles woke me up at 6:26 a.m. --- something she has not done for several months--- another Christmas miracle?  This one brought about by a half-chihuahua with a full bladder.  :-)

Friday, December 03, 2010

How did it get to be Friday already?

The time is passing so quickly.  I've made the decision not to worry too much about the Christmas lists until after the craft fair tomorrow.  So officially, tomorrow afternoon is when I am going to have a panic attack.  Around 3.   So with that planned, I'm helping my daughter a little bit with the crafts tonight, and while I'm doing that, I'm going to watch a couple episodes of The Mentalist.  I just now got back from returning movies at the library and going to the grocery, something I truly, truly hate.  I always come out of the grocery store feeling like a complete, utter failure as a shopper and as a human being.  I stayed under the budget tonight, but I feel that our budget is too high and I could easily skim at lot off of it if only I would just focus and do better.  I ran into a friend on the way in, whom I know for a fact, only spends about 40 dollars a week to feed a family of 5.  Once a while back, she went crazy and spent about 60.  By that standard, I spend absolutely an insane amount tonight. 

I hate grocery shopping.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Little by little.

I got a few things done today.   Not much though.  I printed out Christmas lists for everyone that have categories on them like books, music, clothes, things for my room, etc. to help the kids think about what they might want and I did get some good responses from the boys.  The girl hasn't filled hers out yet.  She's been busy crafting things for the craft fair.  I brought home a Martha Stewart craft book from the library and she's been making beaded flowers all day when she wasn't doing school.  I told her that if she wanted to start cleaning and organizing like Martha, that would be fine too.  I certainly have no Martha like qualities.  :-)  

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

December 1st.

It's been really cold today and this morning when I woke up there were big puffy snowflakes falling, the radio is playing Christmas music, Amazon is offering free downloads of Christmas songs, work is emailing me about when I'll need off this holiday season and I still can't wrap my head around the fact that I only have 23 days until CHRISTMAS!   I really should at least make my list ...


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