Monday, September 29, 2008

Oh yeah, I've lost it...

The proof is in the 15+ (correction- 21) -pound bundle of
fawn and black coloring with big feet and floppy ears.

And big dark eyes...

And a little white ring on her chest...

Her name is Lucy.

Isn't she adorable?!?! Her mother is a mastiff/boxer mix and her daddy is a black lab. She's 12 weeks old.

Yeah, I know. I need another critter around here like a need another hole in my head, but she's just a sweetheart! Ben has been getting so upset when we leave the house lately, even for a few hours, when previously we could be gone all day or one night and the neighbors never heard a peep out of him. He's started barking and howling- we think he's lonely. He does that at the place we board him but only after about 6 days, though thankfully we don't go on many trips that require him being there more than 3 or 4 days normally. We've been looking for a friend for him since Kari died two years ago. I hope we've found the right friend! For an old dog, he still wears out the kids playing!

*Bonus* Grouchy old Ben might actually LIKE her! I set up a meeting in the front yard (he's contained to the back normally), brought him out and she gave a little yip to him but he never growled, no hair up, tail wagged the entire time-- I was floored. I'd prepared the kids for the worst. I was just waiting for snarling, teeth showing and pulling him off of her, but no. He acted like a little gentleman, like he understood she's only a baby.

We've had them meeting on leashes in the front about 6 times now and so far, he's given a little snip to her one time, but when he takes a stance at her (tail wagging though) she cowers her head like, "Ok, man, you're head honcho. I got it." She's totally submissive to him...which is good because she'll probably be at least twice his size when she's full grown. Then he relaxes and they both just sit together looking around, wagging tails. Color me 200% surprise and ecstatic! Much better than I could have hoped for. I figured it would take me a week just to get Ben to be near her without snarling, since he still snarls with fur raised at the neighbor dogs, one of which is still a pup and has been next door for about six months.

So now in addition to working on this disaster of a house and school work all day, I have a new distraction...puppy training! Woohoo!

Yes, my last marble just rolled down the road.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Thanks Ike!

Never figured I'd experience tropical storm conditions in Ohio! Jeesh! Hope those of you to the west of us, Michigan and Indiana are doing ok. Power was out for hundreds of thousands all across Ohio and power is still out in some places. We were lucky in our power only flashed off and on, but a tree took out our cable Sunday and it was restored yesterday afternoon- woohoo! We had the generator ready and firewood stacked for night time (temps dropped after the storm came through 25+ degrees) but were fortunate that we didn't need any of it this time. Our time will come I'm time we get 12 inches of snow in 5 hours, lol.

So those of you in the path of Ike at any point I hope your family is ok and you haven't had to deal with too much damage. Mainly hope everyone is safe!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


Lookie there!! Pickles! I apologize for the grainy cell phone photo in my sunporch fridge. You're lucky you have that!

Thanks to Angie at Are We There Yet? and her grandmother's pickle recipe, we started pickling our cucumbers from the garden! According to Mr. FixIt, Monster Man and the neighbors, they are a hit! I don't like pickles myself, but they really smelled "pickly" when I opened the "test" jar. I had to cut Monster Man off before he finished the jar by himself!

So far we have one batch of Angie's recipe- 5 quarts done including one quart of small whole cukes/pickles, and I have at least enough medium sized to large cukes left to do another batch of those recipe and I think enough for a batch of one-day sliced refrigerator pickles. Not bad from a very small garden with only about ten cucumber plants.

I don't have beautiful pics as Angie does for my recipe, but here's my great aunt Anne's recipe for One-Day Sweet Pickles. Though IMO Angie's grandmother's recipe was MUCH simpler as I'd rather spear than slice the cucumbers, lol. Mr. FixIt usually makes these one-day pickles really well.

One-Day Sweet Pickles
11 cups cucumbers (not peeled), sliced thin
1 large sliced onion (or diced, my gang likes sliced)
Layer those in a glass or non-metal dish.
Sprinkle with 1 TBPS salt.

Let stand 2 hours. Drain.
Add 1 tsp celery seed to pickles and onions.

Mix to dissolve (do not cook):
1 cup vinegar
2 cups white sugar

Pour dissolved mix over combined pickles, onions and celery seed. Refrigerate for 24 hours. Ready to eat after 24 hours. Will keep in fridge for one year or put into containers and freeze.

Viola! Pickles! :-D

Excuse the gibberish below. It is there because I posted the pic from my phone. :-D


Monday, September 8, 2008

Justification-Part 1

As if I have to justify my decisions regarding my kids' lives and well being...but I'm going to do it anyway because I'm hurt and extremely pissed off. Grab a snack and a drink...this could be long and/or take several posts to get through.

I did not make the decision to school my children at home overnight, in fact it took months. As a former public and private school teacher, it was not my concern that I could teach or knowing how to teach various subjects, but more that I was doing the right thing by yanking my child (then both children) out of a school system with friends, rules and order, and all activities relating to "school." Also, as a teacher, I had seen way too many examples of "homeschooled" children being thrown into my classes mid-year, grossly unprepared and many levels behind their peers. Having taught K-5 through 5th grades, I knew that I would not do that to my children. I know what kids should be learning in math at each level and how to figure out my child's reading level or know what spelling rules and words are appropriate by that reading level. I know how to integrate history and science into reading as well as art and music back into those, but what about the other stuff?? Being in a classroom. Having that group of friends for recess and after-school functions. Playing in band or singing in chorus. Field day--I love field day! How could I deny my kids that??

My initial reason for even thinking about homeschooling was solely for academics. I had to make that priority over the other "stuff." It began with the horrible math program EveryDay Math. Groan with me. My last year teaching in SC we piloted that horrid waste of time and money. Ok-yes it does have some good points, EDM is an awesome tool for kids to learn problem-solving strategies and for those kids who don't 'get' math the traditional way, but it should be used as such...a TOOL. Not the main curriculum. Also Miss B started K-5 with EDM and completed 2nd grade with it. The local school here adopted it after we'd moved, coming from a district in SC that had BEEN using it (with much frustration). When B started 3rd grade locally, her math skills other than problem solving had not improved from K-5 level. Truly. Though by EDM standards, her scores were all As or checks (local school stopped using letter grades that same year) and the school, school board and curriculum director all assured me she was doing fine. Well yes, according to EDM she is-- though most of that is her ability to problem solve which integrates reading and comprehension which she does very well. My fuss was that third graders take achievement tests in MATH. Fourth graders take state proficiency tests in MATH which are not based on EDM style. Those tests check all aspects of math learning- knowing facts and working with large numbers included. EDM does not teach math facts. No practice of multiplication tables or division. Practice is sporadic through other problems, such as finding how many pints are in six quarts. You multiply right? Not if you don't know 6x2 off the top of your head you don't. You have to draw a diagram to figure it out. No such thing as , "Let's practice your 6 facts today." I know memorization is not everything or even learning truly, but there are some things you just have to know, to build other concepts from. Then one day when the whole multiplication "clicks" OMG- I know WHY 5x7=35! the child has the facts tucked in their brains already. But if that 4th grade child does not have that knowledge and takes four minutes of a timed test to draw pictures of seven groups and five sticks in each group then counts them all to add them up to figure out the above problem (which is a good early strategy to learn why/how for multiplication, don't get me wrong), that child's chance of finishing that 90-question timed test is slim to not happenin'. Especially if they have to do that for every single problem, not just the word problems because that child does not KNOW the facts because that child has not been allowed to practice those facts. Same goes for addition and subtraction. No facts practice- you end up with third graders counting 8+4 on their fingers or drawing sticks to add up. Not even touch counting is allowed. See my frustration??

As a teacher who made sure her third graders (and above of course) knew their facts so we could work with other math concepts, this system just frustrates me. My kids (class) could do conversions of weights and measures like nothing else. Fractions?? Oh yeah, my kids smoked fractions on state tests. Try to reduce fractions or make common denominators without knowing your multiplication facts?? Skills which are expected for fourth grade and definitely in fifth grade. Found out this local school touting EDM and arguing with me that it is "the best" does not use EDM for grades 5 and up. What?? So you take them from this lack of fact-learning system and toss them in the pre-algebra math REQUIRING facts mastery?? Oh, THAT makes sense. About as much sense as TP holder mounted in the hallway. Sorry, I'm done. My child had been a guinea pig for EDM across two states for three years and I'd had enough. No more. Good luck with these kids when they all bomb the proficiency test and require tutors for middle school math. Mine will not. I'll find somewhere with a better math program. That's exactly what I told the curriculum director for the local school. And that's exactly what I did.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


Wow! Time does fly when you're as busy as a one-legged man in the ass kicking contest known as my life! Sheesh! We are back home, again. School is underway, both kiddos doing very well. We are still missing some materials, but we have enough to make do. Monster Man is doing surprisingly well, with only a slight bit of fussing the first day. We had a little discussion about what is to be expected and how much WORSE things COULD be, and he's been cooperating just fine since. :-D Slight bit of grumbling from Miss B but that is from her newly found love and addiction to Webkinz. Holy crap that is all we need- another distraction from school work and room upkeep. Though I have to admit they are pretty cool. Monster man has the Ty Beanie 2.0 version and the activities do seem more appropriate for his age.

We had a great vacation with Dad over the weekend on the bikes in southern Ohio. Awesome weekend- gorgeous weather, couple hundred miles of riding country roads, yummy fair-like food (yeah like I needed that, but the gyros and fried mushrooms call my name every year). Did I mention sun? LOTS of sun!! Of course Dad's best friend and a couple other guys joined them, but that just makes it more entertaining. We did get to visit a good bit through the long weekend with him, which we don't get to do through the year since dad works every day, all year long. We don't even see him for holidays unless we drive to WV and still, he'll be gone 10-12 hours a day. The man doesn't even get the day before or after Christmas off unless one of those happen to fall on a Sunday. Ironically, mom doesn't go on these trips. I think she went once 15 or 16 years ago. Then when I started going to the rodeos, mom kind of felt off the hook to not have to go. She's never been crazy about motorcycles anyway, so after I started going with him, that holiday wekeend turned into kind of a dad-daughter vacation...with several thousand other people, lol. I use to ride with Dad all over the place, though OH and WV during high school and college, even in different state. I'd drive there or he'd pick me up. After Mr. FixIt got his motorcycle, we started meeting on our bike so we could all have a weekend away and still visit Dad, some much needed catch up time with him. Hate to sound morbid, but not sure how many of those we have left since Dad seems destined to smoke and glutton his existing stents right out of his chest and into another heart attack or a stroke. He did cough hard enough to pass out on me last week, and though I thought at first he was being dramatic, he scared the crap out of me when I realized he wasn't faking. Mom says he's doing it all the time again. Great. He's with us riding full dresser Harley, down the highway at 70 mph, and he has potential to pass out if he starts hacking and coughing- nice. Every year I have this fear that when I call him in the mornings to meet for breakfast one morning he won't answer. Go ahead and have another half pack of cigs, dad- GRRRRR!!!

Ok back to positive. The sun is shining and warm weather is still here thankfully. School has begun, dance is about to start back up, and deer season for Mr. FixIt lurking around the corner. I'm not looking forward to cold weather, but I am excited for the leaves to change. Fall season- so far, so good!

**If you haven't visited Mon and I over here or you have tried but can't get in, send me an email ang_mt2 at yahoo you know the rest, and let me know your email so I can invite you. If you've already requested to join in, but have yet to receive an invite, that's because I don't have an email addy for you to send the request to, so please do the above. :-D