Thursday, August 31, 2006


We leave tomorrow afternoon for White Sulphur Springs, for the OCF retreat. I should, technically, be packing for the trip, but instead, here I am on the computer. Some of this computer time was legitimate--I typed up a Latin review worksheet for the boys for tomorrow. But now I am clearly done with all the valid stuff, and I should be packing. But I'm not. I think I'm just packed out. Also, this trip is going to take more packing brain cells than the last few weekends have. WSS is in the Allegheny mountains, and I know it is going to be chillier up there, so I need to pack sweatshirts, jeans, etc., as well as shorts and t-shirts for the warmer times. You know, for one person, packing for varying weather is no big deal. Packing for 7 people, however, makes that not a very fun task! Time to haul out the big suitcases!

Well, that answers the question of who all is going on this trip! Yep, it's all of us. Pam, I typed out a response to your comment, but it disappeared into thin air when I tried to post it, and I never got around to retyping it! Although we are all going, there will be classes for the kids (and a nursery for Anna) during the adult teaching sessions, so it will be still a nice break for Bob and me. Also, my parents are going to be there (yay!), so there are some more pairs of hands to help, especially with Anna. She has not been as crabby today, so I'm hopeful that the worst of this bout of teething is past though. My mom has already volunteered to stay at the hotel with Anna so I can square dance Saturday night. This is good because I've already got a partner--Nathan has asked me to dance with him again! : ) It will be twice as much fun, since I'm not pregnant this year!

Alright, alright, I hear you . . . enough stalling. Okay, I am logging off. At least I can pack my stuff tonight!

*Update* Well, it's now 1:00 Friday afternoon, and I am proud to say that we are all packed up, the van is loaded, and we're now just waiting for Bob to get home in another hour and a half, hopefully. Whew! My biggest issue was that I had to find long pants and sweatshirts that fit each boy, since I haven't gotten back out the winter stuff. Everyone moved up a size, and I really had to scrounge for Nathan. I knew his jeans didn't fit anymore, so we had bought some Wedensday at WalMart. Fortunately, a friend of ours gave us some hand-me-downs last year, and they included some sweats that him fit now. Praise the Lord for good friends! Poor Anna will have to wear a boy's jacket, though, because I have no little pink or purple ones yet! : )

Something funny for Grandpa

We were in Trader Joe's Tuesday afternoon, and a nice man opened up a new checkout lane for us (because he could see I was "traveling with such a herd", LOL!). As we're checking out, Caleb whispers up to me that "He looks like Grandpa." Well, I could see somewhat of a slight resemblance through the face, but I couldn't get past the earrings . . . 3 gold hoops on one ear, and 4 on the other. Just like Grandpa, for sure! Pirate Grandpa, anyhow. LOL!

We were at Trader Joe's this particular afternoon to look for soy butter. Thanks to the randomness of the commissary stocking system, they have ceased to carry it, in favor of not one or even two, but three varieties of natural peanut butter. That's all very well and good, but of course it does nothing for those who can't have any peanut butter, natural or otherwise. I know the health food store near us carries the same brand of soy butter, but I figured Trader Joe's would be cheaper (and it was!). We bought 2 jars of it, so hopefully it tastes the same as what Caleb eats (and loves) now, and we also bought a jar of almond butter. As I was looking at it on the shelf, I was musing aloud to the boys about how that sounded good, and a man stopped and told me that he and some of his friends had held a taste test of all the natural nut butters Trader Joe's carries, and the "crunchy unsalted almond butter" had won, hands-down. Well, after a recommendation like that, how could I not buy it?! People are so friendly at Trader Joe's! So we rushed home to sample it. Well, Caleb hated it. He spit it into the trashcan, that's how much he hated it. The other boys were more neutral, LOL. I loved it though! I have started eating it on my toast in the mornings when I don't have any muffins cooked (I'm still on that no-diary thing, remember). I would have to say I don't prefer it in a one-on-one test against Skippy, my favorite peanut butter, but I like it a ton better than natural peanut butters. I've never been able to stomach them at all. So hey, here's to trying new things!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Back Home Once More

Well, we made it back again, this time from Rose's house in northeast PA. We left Sunday afternoon around 3:00. We had wanted to leave by 2:00, but Bob had the sort of last minute idea that we should print out some pictures from Ann and Wally's anniversary celebration and put them in a frame as a present for them, since we didn't give them anything other than a card last weekend (obviously they came up to Rose's for the weekend too!). We did that, and it turned out really well. They were thrilled, because now they don't have to rush out and print their pictures right away to show people. Do people ever just rush out and print pictures off their digital cameras? We sure don't. It seems to me, even after having finally printed digital pictures at Sams, that there is just something quicker about finishing up the roll of film and dropping it off there. But I digress . . .

We listened to "The Silver Chair" (one of the Chronicles of Narnia) on the way up. We haven't listened to Narnia for awhile. We have the Focus on the Fmaily Radio Theatre ones, and they are just so well-done. I love listening to them. There is not a sound from the boys while the story is playing! Anna was still teething, and she's not as into C.S. Lewis, so we did have to turn it off occasionally and wait for her to cry herself off to sleep, poor thing. Her second tooth came through sometime Sunday night. Thank goodness for children's motrin!

Rose's girls were with Chuck Sunday night, so Bob and I slept in their twin beds, with Anna in her pack-n-play. The boys were back in their sleeping bags on the floor in their playroom. The hearing was Monday afternoon at 1:15. Chuck dropped the girls off at about 11:55 (he had to have them back in the morning), and I babysat them while Bob, Rose, Ann, and Wally went off to the hearing. Chuck and his lawyer had requested this hearing because want to revisit the amount of support Rose gets. of course he is not feeling more generous! Well, even though Rose's lawyer had requested a whole bunch of his tax records and other financial papers, Chuck had never bothered to send them. So the afternoon was spent with Chuck on the phone have his accountant fax papers over. But because Rose's side didn't have the info in time to look it over, nothing could really be done, so the hearing was postponed. Rose told Bob the afternoon cost her $3000. I think Chuck is jsut stalling to try to break her financially. Also, Rose's lawyer told her that Chuck has appealed the custody judgement, which gave Chuck one more overnight per week than he was getting. Chuck wants to split custody, with him having the girls one week, and then Rose the next. Wow, I can't imagine a more disruptive schedule to the girls than that! Chuck and Rose aren't exactly next-door neighbors--they live about 40 minutes apart in completely different school districts. How would that even work?!

Anyhow, nothing much happened, and they got home around 3:00. We were really thankful that Wally was there. Since he is an accountant, he could look over Chuck's documents and make some sense of them for us. Chuck has his own business, and the general consensus is that he is making a lot more money than he is telling anyone about, at least based on his buying patterns and what not. He has not been above "shoddy" bookkeeping in the past. He's something.

We ended up leaving last night after dinner to drive back home. It was a nice visit, but well, let's just say that our big family can overwhelm Rose's 100 year old septic system, for one thing. LOL! Also, we weren't sure exactly how the sleeping arrangements were going to work out for the night. The girls were back, and they had their first day of school today. We figured it would be better for them to sleep in their own beds before that, but then where would we go? And by going back yesterday, Bob could save a day of leave, which is always nice. We left after dinner at around 6:00, and we made it home by 10:30, having listened to "The Horse and His Boy".

Saturday, August 26, 2006

It's finally here . . .

[WARNING: This is being posted at 11:00 at night, after a long day of loud and crabby children. There will be no spell or grammar check. You are lucky I am posting at all. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!]

Today was a big day--Anna got her first tooth! It is her bottom left one. She was really crabby all day today, as well as most of yesterday. Bob ran his finger inside her mouth tonight and found the tooth had poked through finally!! We knew it was coming because she has been madly gnawing on anything within reach. I've even given her Tylenol a few times, knowing that it must be teething that was making her so cranky. She's 2 days shy of 5 months. That's fairly early, but she's not my earliest teether. Caleb got his first tooth one day before he turned 4 months old. Before you get too impressed with my steel-trap memory, let me put in a plug for baby sticker calendars . Who has time to meticulously fill in those thick baby books? Not me! So for each child, I have a sticker calendar, and all I have to do is put the appropriate stickers on the date blocks of the calendar pages. It's easy, and even a little fun. And then I can look back at each calendar and see when each child teethed, slept through the night, started solids, crawled, etc. Unfortunately, stores like WalMart and even Baries R Us have stopped selling the calendars and are only selling these huge, unwieldly baby books where you are supposed to fill in all sorts of esoteric details about your baby's first year of life. Maybe some people really do have that kind of time and inclination. Since I couldn't find a calendar in a store, I had to search online, and the one I linked above (and bought for Anna) is at Amazon.

In other news, tomorrow we leave to drive up to Rose's house. Her support hearing is Monday afternoon. We will come back Tuesday, and then we leave again on Friday for the Wright-Patterson retreat at White Sulphur Springs. I can't wait! But, as much as this may surprise you, it is actually a little bit stressful to have to keep packing and unpacking for these little weekend jaunts, so I will also be glad when we are home for a weekend once.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

An oracle of the gods?

"This is the most anoying speling test ever."

This cryptic message was found written on an eraser several weeks ago. What could it possibly mean?! Who could be trying to communicate with me? Well, the last one was easy--it's obviously Nathan, since there are 2 big spelling errors in the message! Yes, spelling is his big bugaboo, and it's been frustrating for me too. Sometimes he will get the words right on Friday for our spelling test, but by the next week, it's as if he has never seen the words before. Sometimes he doesn't even get them right on Fridays! So I have really been looking for a new spelling program for him, one that would just turn the spelling key in his mind. Several people told me that once he really learned how to read, spelling would just come naturally, since he would see all those words in print. This never happened though. He is an excellent reader now, with a huge vocabulary, and he still can't even spell "they", which has to be one of the most common words in any book! I mean, he ALWAYS spells it "thay". Ack!

The past 2 years I have really wanted to go to the HEAV homeschool convention because I saw in their schedule that Andrew Pudewa was teaching a session called, "Spelling and the Brain". Maybe he could help! But 2 years ago we were in Colorado during it, and this past year, I was still nursing too much to be able to go and enjoy it. Finally I got smart and just ordered the CD from the HEAV website! It finally came, and I was able to listen to it last night. First, let me say that now I can agree with all the people who have told me about what a wonderful speaker he is. He was so funny and interesting! I wasn't all that excited about listening to what is basically a lecture after the boys went down, but it just flew by. Now I wish I had also ordered his session called, "How to teach boys who would rather by building forts". LOL--that also sounds pretty applicable!

He did have some good points about spelling. One thing he said was that I should be mainly doing oral drill with Nathan. Auditory pathways develop sooner than visual pathways. Also, auditory input is sequential, as is spelling. So when you spell out loud, the brain stores the input in the sequential order. This is very counter-intuitive for me. I am very much a visual learner. If I see something, I will really remember it, like a map. But if someone just tells me directions, I have a very hard time remembering them. And I also have a hard time hearing words spelled out and putting the word together from that. But apparently I am in the minority, especially considering boys! So we have been doing exactly what he said we should not do--have a workbook-based spelling system, with games and stuff, and then have them copy the spelling words each day. Whoops! But for me, that would have been very helpful! So I've started drilling him orally. We'll see if that helps cement things in his memory. In a side note, I have also started drilling math facts orally. That was also something that he mainly did on a speed drill worksheet every day, and there's not been much improvement in his speed there. Hopefully oral drill will help there too. It's so interesting how we can all learn so differently!

He talked about the methods of storing information in the brain. There are 3 of them--frequency, intensity, and duration. The repetition must be sufficient to permanently store the material in the brain. If the stimulus is powerful, then you don't need as much frequency (but spelling is not very exciting or whatever, so this probably won't apply!). Duration means you stretch out the frequency, and this is the most effective way to remember things (be reminded of things over the course of a fairly long period of time). He said that most spelling plans simply teach kids how to not learn words. They get a list of words, practice them, miss 20 percent on the test, and then get a new set of words. He said really you should keep giving the same test until the child gets 100%--then move on! There's not enough duration.

He also said we needed to help the child categorize the words based on the letter blends (esp. vowels) that just don't make sense, so they have a system of storing info and retrieving it. For example, you would have a separate list for each vowel pair and sound. "'EA' says EEE" would be one category, and you'd list words that fit there--spear, leaf, bean, etc. Then as you learned others, you could add them to that "house". But you'd have another house for the "'EA' says eh" words, like bread. And so on. This makes it seem a little more organized and less random, although, as he says, we have a language built on spelling anomalies, so anomaly becomes the norm!

I think the Lord has been putting all this together for me. A few weeks ago, my friend Christine (who also has a very poor speller) showed me a new spelling curriculum she was planning to use this year called "How to Teach Spelling". It basically teaches each vowel sound separately. Then a few days later, my friend Amy P. let me borrow a book she'd just ordered called, "ABCs and All Their Tricks". This book also talked about each letter and all the possible sounds that it could make, and what words have what sounds and spellings. The goal of both books is to help people see that spelling is not as random as it seems. I had already ordered both of those books by the time my CD finally got here, but listening to it just confirmed my order. I guess this year will be the year of breaking down spelling words into categories. Vowels are a big problem of his, but he also has lots of problems for example remembering that an "er" sound at the end of a word is an "Er", not just as "r". Or that an "el" sound at the end is usually "le", like mumble. So we have lots of sounds to work on. I'm sure it will be a lot more time-consuming, especially for me, but hopefully it will bear some positive fruit. Now I'm just not sure what to do for Luke! He is obviously doing just fine with a traditional spelling program, since he learns mainly like me. I'm afraid he might be a little bored going back to the basics like I am planning with Nathan. When my new books finally come, and I really have a chance to put together a plan, then maybe I'll be able to figure out what to do for him. I already have the next Bob Jones spelling book, so he could just go ahead and do that.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Celebrating 30 Years

This past weekend we went down to Richmond to help Bob's sister Ann and her husband Wally celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary with a renewing of their vows. Bob's parents were there, as well as 4 of Bob's 5 siblings and their families. We just spent one night there, going down Saturday and coming back late Sunday night. The worst part of the trip was the drive down I-95. It's about 110 miles, and it took us 4 hours. Not fun! We knew it would be crazy coming back up Sunday night, so we went some backroads. It took us about 2 1/2 hours, but at least we were moving! But I digress . . .

We had a wonderful visit. Really, it was one of the best ones. I will confess I was a little worried, given how our last visit ended up, but it was great. No problems. The ceremony was just lovely. It was actually during the church service. Their pastor, whom we liked very much, preached a sermon on God's purpose and plan for marriage, and then they played a brief slideshow of pictures of Ann and Wally that a friend put together. He did a great job. Then Paul and Bob walked Jane and Rose down the aisle, followed by Ann and Wally's 21 year old daughter Christi, who carried their rings on a pillow. Then Maddie and Amanda, Rose's daughters, acted as flower girls, and were so cute. Then their son Matthew walked Ann down the aisle. They went through their vows again, as well as putting on the rings. It was really neat.

My friend Christine said something neat about celebrating anniversaries. She said that when you celebrate a couple's marriage, you are really just celebrating the love they have for the IDEA of each other, but when you celebrate a couple's 30th wedding anniversary, you are celebrating the love they have for each other, because now they really know the other person, and have chosen to stick with him or her! The pastor made a good impression on Bob's parents, in part, I think, because he talked up their 58 year marriage, and said they had left a legacy behind them. And it is certainly true that except for Rose, the other siblings have had very long marriages--Dennis and Dotty for 28 years, Paul and Sherry for 22, Jane and Terry for 21, and then last but not least, us at 13. Yes, we're by far the babies of the group!

After the service was over, we took a bunch of pictures and then went back to their house for an open house. A lot of church friends came, as well as some neighbors. Anna reveled in all the attention, as I don't think she got set down one single time! The boys had a fun time with their cousins, running through the sprinkler, playing volleyball, having a water balloon toss, and so on. Boy, was it steamy outside--I think even more humid than here! It was a good weekend. Next weekend we are gone again--this time up to Rose's. She has a support hearing next Monday morning, and Bob is going to go with her as a show of support. Ann and Wally are going up too, so we'll just continue the party then!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

I'm forever in debt

Well, that "Lord of the Rings" party that Caleb McC had 2 weeks ago is yielding even more fruit! Luke is deep into "The Hobbit"!! I am so excited I can hardly stand it. Luke is such a good reader. He basically taught himself when he was about 4, and he's been a strong reader, and an excellent sight-reader, even since. But he has been a reluctant reader too, unwilling to challenge himself at all in his reading selections. In fact, he would rather play with Jonathan and Caleb or play on the computer or well, do about anything else, than read. Nathan suggested books he thought Luke would really like, and I did the same. Occasionally he would read one, but he would never just pick one up and read it for pleasure. I always had to tell him it was "time to read". The only books he would really read on his own were Bionicle books (can you say "TWADDLE"?!!!), Dragon Slayers' Academy (more twaddle, but at least funny--and now the boys comunicate to each other in Pig Latin, which they learned from them. LOL!), and the odd Encyclopedia Brown ones (which have short chapters, his big sticking point).

But last week Nathan flew through "The Hobbit", and now he's not too far from finished with "Fellowship of the RIngs". I guess Luke had a good time at the party, and he felt left out of Nathan's and my LOTR discussions, so two nights ago he asked if he could read "The Hobbit". Well . . . let me think about it . . . hmmm. LOL! No, I said sure in as casual a manner as I could possibly maintain. I really doubted he would get too far in it. Not only are the chapters quite long by his standards, the print is really small! But he has read steadily last night and all of today, and he's about halfway done. I am over the moon! Maybe NOW he will decide to give "Henry and Ribsy", 'The Boxcar Children", and all these other great books we have a chance! I'm hoping anyways.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Switching Things Around

Parenthetically, still no pictures. Oh well.

So, while Nathan was away this summer at Camp Caleb, our Caleb slept with Luke while Jonathan slept by himself. When Nathan came back, Luke thought he should get a chance to sleep in Jonathan's room, so we did that for a few nights. Then Nathan thought it wasn't fair for Luke to get to sleep with Jonathan while he never had a turn, so then he had 3 nights with Jonathan. Then Caleb wanted to go back with Jonathan, and so on. So we've worked out an every 3 night schedule for who sleeps where, with Jonathan always being in his futon bed, and everyone else switching beds and rooms.

Having all this flexibility really surprised me. I really thought that Nathan and Luke would never want to sleep with the little guys. This has opened up a whole new world of possibilities. For example, I really want to get another set of bunk beds for Jonathan's room. I really want a set with a full bed on the bottom and a twin on the top. I've been looking on craigs list, but so far I haven't found exactly what I'm looking for (I want some kind of storage too--like drawers underneath--and since I'm not desperate, I can afford to wait!). I've been thinking about these bunkbeds for awhile now, but I just couldn't figure out how it would work, since Caleb really isn't ready to be on the top bunk yet. But now I see that Nathan and Luke will just take turns up there, while the other one will be on the top bunk in their room!

Also, it has been so helpful to have an older boy in with Jonathan. When he and Caleb are together, there is more giggling and goofing around. Also, Jonathan has started having to go poopy a few minutes after he is kissed goodnight and the door shut. This morning Luke casually mentioned that Jonathan had gone last night. I was surprised, since I had never heard him get up or call or anything. Luke had wiped him and put his bedtime diaper back on him! Woo hoo! When I put the boys down, I really like to be TOTALLY done, and the whole potty thing with Jonathan has been quite frustrating. I am so delighted with this new turn of events! How nice!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Nathan's lost!

Lost in Middle-Earth, that is. Last Sunday Nathan and Luke's good friend Caleb McC had a "Lord of the Rings" birthday party. The McCs are reading "The Fellowship of the Ring" (borrowed our copy, in fact) as their read-aloud, and they are almost done. Nathan was so interested in the whole idea that I told him he could try "The Hobbit" if he wished. He sped through that, finishing it by last Friday. He absolutely loved it and couldn't wait to start "Fellowship". The McCs have a few more chapters to go, but hey, I understand really wanting to read something, so last night I got a copy of it out of the library for him to start on. It's a huge book, but he has had his nose buried in it the entire day, taking only forced breaks for meals and art class (he and Luke are in an art camp each morning this week). He's over a quarter of the way through it. One thing I really love about my children learning to read is being able to share my favorite books with them and hear them enjoy them as much as I have. "Lord of the Rings" is one of my favorite series of all times, and I have read all the books several times. I told Nathan that these will be books he too can read over and over, and each time he will come away with more things from them--different things will make stronger impressions, some scenes will come alive in a different way--but each time you read a great book, you get something deeper. In fact, right off the top of my head, I would have to say that sharing books with my kids is one of my favorite parts of having children.

P.S. Sorry there are still no pictures to post. I can't get Blogger to upload them, and Pam, I tried Photobucket too, but they wouldn't work there either. I think my dial-up connection is just too slow. The site says it's uploading, but eventually all I get is a blank screen that says "done" at the bottom, and no pictures. Ah well. Sometimes I get lucky with Blogger though, so I'll just keep trying randomly.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Revolutionary War Party

Whew, the party is over! The chairs are put back, the tables wiped off, the floor vacuumed. It was a lot of fun, but now I'm so tired! We ended up with 13 kids and 11 adults (not counting Anna). First we made our "Sons of Liberty" medals. For those of you who need some "Revolution review", the Sons of Liberty were a radical group of colonists who protested a lot of the British taxes and whatnots, and they wore medals with a liberty tree picture on them to identify themselves to each other. So we wrapped these little wooden disks that I got from Michael's in foil and put a string through 2 holes in top that Bob and the boys had already drilled. Then we put a sticker of a tree on the front.

Now that it was proven that we were all patriots here at the house, we went outside to our own Liberty Tree, where we discussed our plans for the British tea that they were trying to make us pay tax on. We decided we would find that tea and throw it into the harbor! So we had a little tea bag treasure hunt. I had hidden tea bags all around the yard, and when they found some, they went on the deck behind our house (also know as the British ship "Beaver") and tried to throw them into a tub of water on the ground below. Kudos to my dad for coming up with that great Revolutionary War game! The kids had a ball with it.

Then I realized I had forgotten to make the tricorn hats for everyone, so they trooped back inside to get "fitted" for their own custom-stapled construction paper hat. After everyone was wearing the proper headgear, we went back outside, since we had heard that the British were coming. We had a Paul Revere relay race where everyone had to ride around the house on a stick horse shouting, The British are coming!" By the end, it all sort of fell apart. Actually, it fell apart at the beginning, LOL, as we could hardly get everyone to stand still long enough to divide them up into 2 teams! But everyone made it around the house, and I am sure that everyone in the surrounding neighborhood heard that the British are coming, so they could take proper precautions!

We were all hungry by then, so it was back inside for dinner at a cozy local Colonial tavern, LOL. We served stew, cornbread, and cooked apples, with gingersnaps and candied orange peel for dessert. It all turned out quite good, even the stew, which I had never made before. I needed a recipe without flour, and I sort of picked one at random from my crockpot cookbook that fit the bill. The apples were a big hit--almost none left over, and I sliced up 17 of them!

After we cleaned up from dinner, everyone made a construction paper "Betsy Ross" type flag, with the stars in a circle. Then the grownups visited for awhile, and the kids all played in the basement--probably their favorite time, LOL!

Nathan is already asking what next year's theme will be. Not even going there right now, thank you! I tried to post a few pictures, but I couldn't get them to upload into Blogger. (Bob did get the camera software working again, so they are on the computer already, praise the Lord!) I'll try again tomorrow. And now I'm pooped. One more time to feed Anna, and then it's off to bed for me!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

We have a winner!

As a special treat, here is the apple recipe that tastes the most like the cinnamon apples from Boston Market except with no flour. I did a bit of tweaking, but it's quite tasty! Hopefully it will turn out just as well Sunday evening.

3 golden delicious apples
1/2 cup water
3 tsp. cornstarch
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 dash salt
1 T butter or margarine

Preheat oven to 350. Peel and core the apples. Cut each apple into 16 slices and place in an 8x8 baking dish.

In a small microwavable bowl, combine water, cornstarch, sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Microwave for a minute or 2, until mixture comes to a boil. And butter and stir until melted. Pour over apple slices. Cover tightly, and bake for 20-30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.

An Invitation

The Unanimous Declaration of the Family of B-----

When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one family to celebrate the American Revolution with a party, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they invite their friends to celebrate with them. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. We will be celebrating these truths in such form as shall seem most likely to effect our safety and happiness. Please join our party at 4---- (Street name) on Sunday, the 13th of August, at six o’clock in the evening. Let this invitation be submitted to a candid world.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


First, let me apologize for the departure from the insightful and thoughtful stories that Claire does. Since I'm currently active duty military, and don't want to post anything controversial, here is a stock we bought yesterday (and again today) and why. We may sell it anytime, however. It's a company called Western Refining (WNR).

Here is what I use to evaluate a stock (CANSLIM from Investors Business Daily--IBD--IBD Homepage; however, I invert the order to remember the importance of only trying to buying when the market is favorable):

[ ]M=Markets="Confirmed Rally"; Is Democracy increasing or decreasing today, this week? & "The change in the discount rate is a valuable indicator to watch as a confirmation of market moves" --watch EVERY WEEK, EVEN EVERY DAY for 4 distribution days in a market go to at least 25% cash. Watch for high volume w/o increases, and go more and more and stay more and more in cash as market has more distribution days. Initial market decline may be on light volume. If in doubt, market leading stocks should send signals to rest of the markets.

[ ]I=A/D Grade & Money Flow=Institutional Sponsors=Look for stocks bought and being bought--however, watch for everyone owning, may start selling.

[ ]L=Leader or Laggard= A) Recognized Base or Pattern; & B) usually 70 < RS Grade < 90; & C) Among Top Stocks of a Strong (non-C) Industry Group =Want Leaders that are not overbought--may sell-off big

[ ]S=Supply & Demand ((Big Splash Up best w/ Small Floats (although big caps have more watchers), Usually Smaller Caps))=companies decreasing debt & buying back stock

[ ]N=New: New Highs; (cool or new) Listing (IPO) or PRODUCT, New MANAGEMENT (esp after a bad run)

[ ]C&A=Current & Annual Earnings: EPS Grades, inc 1) PE under 35; and, 2) 99 EPS? EPS generally higher than RS

Market (M):
- in a downtrend
? no comment on democracy increasing or decreasing (not from IBD, instead Forbes)
+ the discount rate has gone from being raised to yesterday not

+ IBD Industry Group: A+
+ IBD Accumulation: A+

+ IBD Cup w/ Handle pattern
? IBD RS almost too high at 96 (max is 99)
+ #1 of 28 in it's industry

+ Today it had 180% of normal volume (incredible volume for the last 3 trading days)

+ It's at a high
+ 2006 IPO
+ Refines crude oil and markets refined products ("hot")

+ IBD EPS: 99
+ EPS of 99 higher than RS of 96
? P/E (new)

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Keeping Busy

The main focus of this week is preparing for our annual summer party, which is going to be Sunday evening at 6:00. We generally don't do traditional birthday parties for the kids--we eat a special dinner, and I make whatever cake they can think of, which we take to Bible study some night close to their actual birthday. And then we have one big party in the summer where we can invite all their friends, and no one feels obligated to bring presents. The "problem" with homeschooling is that we tend to be friends with whole families, especially ones whose kids' ages all line up with ours. It would be too tricky to have to decide which family members to invite to individual parties, when really everyone is friends with and plays with everyone else, and it seems a bit overkill to me to have 5 separate big parties during the year, so this is our solution. Last year we had a medieval feast, and this year our theme is "Revolutionary War".

Today we went to Michael's and Walmart to buy supplies for the various crafts we will be doing. I made a nice pattern for tricorn hats out of contruction paper, so we'll make those before everyone arrives. Then we are going to make "Sons of Liberty" medals, which had trees on them, and the Sons of Liberty wore to show everyone who they were (and we'll all be dedicated patriots at this party, that's for sure!). I found some round wooden disks at Michaels that Bob and Nathan will drill holes in beforehand for the string. Then we'll cover them in foil and put a tree sticker on them. Voila! I have a few ideas for games, such as a Paul Revere relay race, where the participants have to race around the house on stick horses shouting, "The British are coming!". No prep work needed for that one! Also, we're going to do some game with tea bags--you know, for the Boston Tea Party. I'm not sure exactly what though. Then after dinner we'll make lovely construction paper flags, the kind with the 13 stars in a circle. I need to cut a lot of red strips and blue squares!

For dinner, we're going to have a sort of colonial tavern type meal--stew, barley, cornbread, and sliced baked apples, like you get at Boston Market. I've been searching the internet for a good recipe, and so we've been experimenting at home. We tried recipe #2 today, and it was a lot closer. I'm going to adjust a few things and try it again tomorrow. Hopefully we'll have a winner! We're doing it with no flour so Ed can have it, which is why it's not perfect. For dessert, we'll have ginger snaps and some butter/nut candies, the recipe for which I found in one of the colonial days project books I checked out of the library.

Tomorrow we're hopefully going to trek to the commissary (depending on Anna's whims and schedule vagarities--if it doesn't work tomorrow, then Thursday for sure). We also have a lot of cleaning to do, as well as much cutting of construction paper. If I don't blog anymore, you'll know what i'm doing, LOL! I hope to be able to post pictures after the party, but I can't guarantee I'll be able to. Something is wrong with our computer or something, in that we are no longer able to upload pictures from our camera. We connect the cable, the computer makes it's little "be-bop" sound to show it's connected, and then . . . nothing. Nothing ever happens. Eventually the camera shuts itself off, and if you turn it back on again, the computer gives a message about how the program is already open, so the startup is aborted. What is going on?!! Grrrr. I will take pictures for sure on my RELIABLE regular camera, the one where I take the film to Sams, and I get back real pictures, NOT annoying error messages! Curse this digital age!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Today I am thankful for . . .

. . . friends at church who, having decided their family is complete with 2 daughters, are giving away all their clothes as they outgrow them. And they chose--us! This morning Jen gave me 2 big trashbags and 1 big box full of 3-9 month clothes. Wow. That is a serious lot of clothes. I've started to go through them, and I think that I won't have to wash clothes for Anna again until she is out of the 3-6 month size, since her wardrobe has now at least quadrupled. Jen told me that both her mom and her mother-in-law love to buy clothes for her girls, and I guess she is right! Their younger daughter is almost exactly 1 year older than Anna, so the seasons are right on. Now I am really hoping to have another daughter so we can get some more use out of all these clothes! It was so generous to give the clothes away, instead of consigning them, ebaying them, having a yard sale, whatever. And I'm thankful!!

Friday, August 04, 2006

The Curse of Genetics

I am struggling to come to grips with the fact that Luke and I may quite possibly be the only 2 members of our family who can drink regular milk with no problems! Bob is lactose intolerant, and Caleb has a bona-fide milk allergy with hives and the like. Anna is definitely sensitive to milk proteins in my milk now--she gets an eczema spot on her neck, a yeast diaper rash, and she spits up a ton. When Nathan was about 5 years old, he started having a little bit of blood on his bum when he would poop, and he was itchy down there. I took him in to the doctor, and he had a complete workup. Countless stool samples and exams later, the doctor said he couldn't see any reason for the blood. Nathan had a lot of diarrhea, so I decided to stop giving him regular milk with his breakfast cereal and to drink, and start him on soy milk. I figured maybe he was lactose intolerant like his dad. And by a few weeks later, the blood stopped, and he has had no problems since. Cheese never bothered him, and he can also drink regular milk if we are traveling or whatever for a few days without a problem. Now this summer Jonathan has started bleeding when he poops . Just a little bit of blood, right at the end of the stool or on the tissue when I wipe him. He doesn't complain of itching so much as his bottom hurting. I resisted the idea of it being milk--he never has diarrhea. He isn't constipated at all either, but there is definitely a little fissure or 2 down there. I can see it. Diaper rash cream hasn't worked, and there is no way I am going to bother taking him to this clinic when the very competent pediatrician at the huge Wright-Pat hospital couldn't find anything wrong with Nathan. But starting today, I have stopped giving him regular milk too. I guess we'll see in a few weeks if it has made a difference. Sigh. I might as well have soy milk piped directly into the house! So it's just Luke with the regular milk right now--I might have to start getting half gallons, LOL!

But unfortunately Luke has inheirited my propensity to get canker sores, poor boy. He has 2 of them now on his gums, just like I get them. Isn't genetics amazing?! I think his are a testament to the fact that we haven't been eating really well lately--quick meals that don't require the oven, and I haven't gone to get fresh fruit and vegetables for at least a week or so (but don't worry--I went yesterday!). And somehow the boys stopped taking their vitamin every morning too. Hopefully his will go away soon, now that I have gotten us back on track. I mixed up my concoction of milk of magnesia and liquid benedryl for him to swish around in his mouth last night. Let's just say he wasn't impressed with that taste, and he didn't ask for that again today, LOL!

I am also dealing with cankersores again. I started getting them again right after I stopped dairy in my diet, so it certainly could be that. I am taking Viactiv calcium supplements, as well as my prenatal vitamins. It was also the time when I battled strep throat for two weeks. I remember from biology classes that canker sores are latent viruses that pop up when triggered, and I am sure that my strep battle could have triggered them in me. This informative site lists some possible triggers for canker sores, including bacterial infections. I have 4 in my mouth now, and have had for a few weeks now. When one goes away, a new one starts. I have had almost none since I switched toothpastes a few years ago, and when the odd one would start, I would just swish my benedryl mixture, and it would go away a day or 2 later, having never really ripened into the huge ulcer that it potentially could have been. But the benedryl isn't working now either, so it is becoming pretty frustrating! This is what Luke has to look forward too. At least he will be able to soothe his canker sores with ice cream, as he certainly won't be nursing anyone!

*Update* Well, Luke woke up this morning (Saturday) with a fever of 102, so obviously he is fighting off some kind of bug as well. Maybe we're NOT all just incredibly malnourished!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

My Dreams

No, not my goals and ambitions. The vivid ones I have just about every night. Ree, over at Confessions of a Pioneer Woman, had a post the other day about her common dreams. Some people don't dream much, or at least don't remember their dreams. That is not me. I dream often, and in bright color. I usually remember at least some part of my dreams when I wake up. I also talk in my sleep. Amy has some pretty funny stories about when we roomed together in college. I slept on the top bunk, and one night she woke up feeling like someone was watching her. It was me, hanging over the edge of my bed with my hair dangling down. SHe asked me what was wrong, and I said, "My bear is fuzzier than yours." To prove my point, I hauled my stuffed polar bear over the edge to show her. She readily agreed with my crazy self, and, satisfied, I went back to bed.

I would also sleepwalk in college. Several times I would wake up to find myself standing by my desk, in the process of putting my robe on to go take a shower . . . at 4:00 in the morning, or whenever. Once Amy woke up too, and she asked me where I was going. Since I was now awake and realized that in fact, it was not time to wake up, I loftily said, "DON'T WORRY. I know what I'm doing." Then I went off to go potty, coming back to take my robe back off and put my pajamas back on. Yep, I had a plan and I KNEW what I was doing. LOL!

But back to dreams. One dream from college that I remember very vividly, and so does Amy, is one I had after a botany field trip where we walked around the campus identifying all the tree species. There was a big weeping willow in front of one of the buildings, and in my dream, I was trapped underneath it, and I couldn't get out, although I was wildly scratching at the branches and struggling with it. What I found out later was that I was actually scratching at the walls of our room, muttering things like, "Help! I can't get out!" Amy thought someone was up there raping me!

The most common dream that I dream is one where I have to fill in for someone on a cheerleading squad at a competition. They grab me out of the stands and try to teach me the routine in about a minute, and then we go on stage. Of course, I can remember nothing, and it seems like my arms and legs are in quicksand. I wake up very embarrassed and very relieved that I am no longer a cheerleader. I don't recall ever having this dream when I actually WAS a cheerleader, however!

I also frequently dream that it is exam day, and although I have known about the exam, I never attended any classes, and I never even opened the book. I wonder how I could have been so stupid and what was I doing all that time? I try to think of a good and valid excuse, but my brain is in a fog. You would think that having been out of college now for 11 years, that those dreams would die away, but no. My dad says that he still has dreams where he is at the Academy, out on the terazzo, in the wrong uniform or whatever, and he graduated in 1965, so I guess I am doomed to continue dreaming these college dreams!

I also have a lot of dreams where my depth perception is really off, but I have to go up or down stairs or be in some other high place. One time I remeber that I had to sit down on the stairs and scoot the whole way down. Of course, in my dream there never really was a bottom to the stairs, so I kept on scooting and being very scared. No wonder I wake up tired sometimes!

Two nights ago, I had a new dream, and it affected my mood the entire day! I dreamed I was back at college (I think I spend more time there in my dreams than when I actually attended, LOL!), and I had to find a campus job. Like it was some kind of requirement or something. So everyone lined up in the big gym-like building to see what the different jobs descriptions were. I read them all and realized that I wasn't qualified for ANY of them, not even the housekeeping ones. I kept trying to think what else I could put on my resume, but I just drew a blank. Some of the jobs seemed interesting, like being in charge of these different groups of girls, but it was obvious that a million people were more qualified than me, and there was no job for me. I woke up feeling so discouraged! Obviously there is some connection to my deep-seated feelings of inadequacy about being a stay-at-home-mom, LOL! Or maybe about the sad state of my housekeeping here, to think that I wasn't even qualified for those jobs! Well, we all cleaned bathrooms today, so maybe that dream will never return! Anyone else have any interesting or recurring dreams?

Haircuts R Us

So last night, I kept noticing the front of Luke's hair just looked . . . different. Like the light played on it differently or something. I thought maybe he was trying to part his hair in the middle. Finally I actually took the time to peer closely at the area on question, and it was short. Really short. Evidently, he took a pair of scissors and cut short hair even shorter, in a line. One full snip of the scissors. I guess tonight I will break out the clippers and shorten ALL the hair on the top of his head. Apparently he didn't think it was short enough already! Luke--my cautious and steady, non-impulsive second born child. What is the world coming to?!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

4 Month Post-Partum Update

I am pleased to announce that this morning the scale read my pre-pregnancy weight. Yay! Of course, my clothes do not actually FIT as if I were at my prepregnancy weight! Sigh. I still have that attractive doughy mass of stretched out tummy skin. Shall I put a tummy tuck on the ol' Amazon wishlist for Christmas? LOL! I remember telling Bob after I had Caleb that I would have to do situps for at least 9 months to even start getting rid of it at all. I faithfully did sit-ups and exercised, and by August (he was born in November), I was feeling really great about myself, and I thought I HAD finally lost some of those pesky inches. But then my clothes started feeling tight, no matter how many situps I did, or how far I walked or ran. I distinctly remember one whiny conversation I had with Amy where I was so discouraged about this weight gain, and how I was really going to have to cut back on my portion sizes, etc. And then I got smart and took a pregnancy test, so those inches were actually Jonathan. Hmm--was the weight loss at all related to the pregnancy? LOL!!

After I had Jonathan, I never really got back into a consistent exercise program, however. We moved when he was one, and I quit nursing when he was 14 months. Then I all of a sudden put on 10 pounds over the course of 3 or 4 months! Ack! My non-pregnancy, non-nursing metabolism had somehow slowed while we were in Ohio, but since I was NEVER not pregnant or nursing those 3 years, I completely missed that! I was able to stop the weight gain at those 20 pounds, but I never lost them. Then I was sick for several months (well, I had pneumonia for a few weeks, but I think I broke a rib because it hart so badly so long after), and then we were traveling for a month, and then last July, what do you know, I turned up pregnant again. So those 10 pounds are finally in my sights again as well. Of course, who wants to bet that I will work really hard, lose the weight AND some inches, and then end up pregnant once again?! And all my efforts will be for naught! LOL! Break out the chocolate! Oh wait--I'm not eating dairy. I guess that's a good enough reason to keep on losing weight!