Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Few Random Thoughts

Today has been a deluge of Biblical proportions, which is nice if you don't have to go anywhere. I like sitting here in a quiet house, listening to the rain fall outside. And since it's dark, I don't have to look at the back yard and see the puddles turning into lakes! Here are a few random thoughts from the past week:

1. We had all sorts of technical difficulties getting ready for science on Tuesday. I was doing a demonstration of anaerobic respiration with yeast, involving a bottle, 2-hole stopper, thermometer, and glass tube. Monday night I tried to put the thermometer and the glass tube in the stopper--no way, even with copious lubrication. I asked Bob for help after I snapped a glass tube. After suggesting we drill the holes wider (which I shot down right away), he struggled manfully until he broke a thermometer. Sooo . . . before we broke anything else, he drilled the holes bigger on the second stopper, and I decided we would not have any control bottle. That worked fine.

Today I finally got around to emailing Home Science Tools, which is where I ordered all my stuff, and I asked them what they thought the problem could possibly be, since I didn't think my technique was wrong, and I had never had any problems inserting tubes into stoppers in all my previous lab experience (*massive run-on sentence alert*). Well, a very nice lady called this afternoon, and she told me that after she read my email, she had grabbed several stopper and measured the holes--they were all almost 2 mm too small (they should all be 5mm)! So they are going to talk to their supplier to correct this, but in the meantime, she was refunding what I paid for the stoppers, as well as sending me a new thermometer and glass tube! I was so excited! I had heard that this company had good customer service, but now I really believe it! I was also just glad to know that I wasn't crazy, LOL. There really WAS a problem!

2. After Tuesday, my left foot has been really hurting. I couldn't figure out what I possibly did to it, but today I wore my good running shoes to exercise, and after that, my foot felt better. But when I put my old tennis shoes back on to run to the post office and library . . . my foot started hurting again. Hmmm, might be time for new shoes. I remembered I had posted about buying this pair of shoes back in November 2007, and I said there that I usually wear shoes for 2-3 years. It'll be 3 years in November . . . call me Nostradamus!

3. Anna has been bugging me to paint her toenails for quite awhile, so tonight we had a little party up in my bathroom, and I painted hers, Grace's, and mine. Faith was quite upset about being left out of this girly fest, even after my explanation of, "You just have to get potty-trained and start wearing big-girl panties!" The funny thing is that this afternoon Luke took it upon himself to put her on the little potty several times, and she did indeed produce pee (she was very proud of herself and we all celebrated with M&Ms, as usual). But she is nowhere near being ready to potty-train. Maybe next summer, I am thinking. Seems like she will be motivated, though!

Hmmm, I thought there was more I was going to mention, but I can't remember. My brain is such a sieve these days! We have been enjoying the break in football practices with all the rain. Otherwise, we are just busy doing school, laundry, trying to keep the house from becoming a disaster area, and the other usual stuff. I am actually putting off reading through the next science chapter by doing all this blogging. I guess I should at least skim it before turning in!

Sunday, September 26, 2010


We are having such a fun time with our company! We first met Ted and Beverly when we were all stationed together in Ohio, and we were all attending the same church. They had a daughter and were expecting their second child, while I was expecting our third. After we moved to VA, they moved to MD for a year, and we did get together once. Since then they have moved to Las Vegas and then back to Ohio. We kept up originally by Christmas cards, but now we can stay in touch much better with the great convenience of Facebook!

Now Ted and Beverly have 5 kids--2 girls and 3 boys. Their oldest daughter, Charis, doesn't have any girls here her age (and so has had to content herself with books from our bookshelf), but their next 2 are boys Caleb and Jonathan's age. All the boys have been having fun playing outside as well as playing many games of Stratego. They also have a girl, Kenna, who is the same age as Grace. She, Grace, and Anna have been having a ball dressing up as many variations of princesses and playing all sorts of girly games involving lots of giggling. So cute! Faith either tags along with them, or plays with Ted and Beverly's youngest, a boy named Lucan, who is about 6 weeks younger than her. She calls him "Baby" however, since he is soooo much younger than her, LOL. Sometimes she calls him "Theodore", which is the name of Ed and Elizabeth's baby, and that seems to be the name she thinks all babies are technically called by. Anyhow, she and Lucan are getting along well. Sometimes they play Duplos together, and they enjoy chasing each other up and down the stairs.

They are all actually here to sightsee, this being a big "American history vacation". They went to Monticello, then to Williamsburg for homeschool days, and now 4 days in D.C. They will continue on to Philadelphia for 2 days before heading home. That's a nice little history vacation! Right now Ted, Beverly, and the older 3 kids are on a night-time bike tour of the monuments. It was raining this morning when we all went to church, but we prayed the rain would go away, and the Lord answered! It seems like it should be a lovely niight for a bike ride, with nice, cool weather. I'm eager to get the report when they return!

Ted made us whole wheat pancakes for breakfast this morning, with fresh strawberries for topping. YUM! The recipe was his parents' (grandparents too maybe?), and it uses fresh ground wheat berries that you grind in the blender. I'm definitely going to have to get that recipe! We all ate several pancakes this morning and noticed how full we felt all through church!

Well, I am supposed to be working some more on my science lesson for Tuesday, but I am clearly procrastinating by blogging, LOL. I must get back to work . . .

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


I'm done teaching at the morning elementary co-op!! I got my two weeks of teaching out of the way early this year, and I am so glad! The unit was chemistry, and I taught the 5th and 6th graders. I can't believe Luke is in 6th grade this year!

The first week we talked about the periodic table--who is creditied with discovering it, how you read it, what all the numbers mean, what the different families mean--and also atomic structure. Then this week we made models of sodium and chlorine on paper using red and blue hole punches for protons and electrons, by way of reviewing what we learned last week. That led into talk about bonding, with those two elements representing ionic bonding, so they could really see the outer shells electrons. I told "The Love Story of the Two Ions", just like Mr. Belue told us in 8th grade! We also talked about covalent bonding and modeled water as an example. At the very end I passed out some "edible electrons" (M&Ms) for a little treat. That went over well!

I know the kids probably would have preferred some showy and cool experiment, but I think it's time for them to be introduced to some of the principles behind why things react like they do. And for the next 2 weeks the teacher will be doing some labs, where they have to write up lab sheets and everything, so that will be good experience for them, and fun.

It has been kind of hard to switch gears in the afternoon and go straight over to Rivendell, where I'm teaching life science! This week we talked about parts of cells, and we did a lot of introductory microscope work for the lab. That was fun. Last night I made some fresh slides to go along with the prepared ones I have. I did a geranium leaf cross-section (yes, Elizabeth, your plant donated one small leaf to the cause of science! Thank you!!), and a section of onion skin, which I stained with methylene blue. The onion skin turned out great, but I had quite a hard time with the leaf cross-section. I needed to go find Bob's box cutters. My scalpel was just not sharp enough. But you could see the chloroplasts and some other things. The hairs on the outside of the leaf looked like huge spikes! I'm hoping my slide-making skills improve over the course of the year. Plenty of room for improvement, LOL.

So now you know what has been keeping me too busy to post since last Wednesday! Well, all that science, plus Bible study, football (Nathan's team won on Saturday!!), church and small, group, and other sundry things! Tomorrow I'm heading to the commissary because we're having company this weekend! I can't wait to see Beverly and her family!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Few Random Pictures

Here is a picture of Nathan in his football uniform. After being demolished in their first game by a team that was much larger and more experienced than they (Nathan's team is a new expansion team this year), they had another game tonight. This one went much better, and the teams were much more evenly matched! Nathan's team lost 27-19, but it was obviously a much closer and more exciting game! His team played well, and they scored 3 times!
Here is Bob with a relic from the past--something archeologists call a "typewriter". You can see the interest it has aroused from curious onlookers! Bob was filling out a job application, but the file was a read-only one. So he printed it out, and we commenced a grand search for the typewriter we knew we once had. I was quite worried that it had not survived the "Guam purging" last year when we thought we were moving there. But no worries--it was down at the very bottom of the same box it inhabited when it moved here to VA 6 years ago, LOL. We do not, however, have any White-Out.

This rag-tag bunch of insects were all collected by us over the summer so the jr. high boys could work on classifying insects according to order for science. I just wanted to have a record of them, LOL. I should have put something beside them so you could get a better idea of size. The big bugs on the left are cicadas, and they are actually on the larger side--2 inches from nose to tip of wings. The big brown grasshopper is about that same size. Jonathan also found a very impressive black beetle, which you can see up in the top right corner.
I got quite a few bugs from the L's deck and kiddie swimming pool when we were taking care of Ned this summer. The others were found mainly by the boys around the yard or at my parents' house. I did have to make a "killing jar", which was very galling for me. In a tupperware container we cut a cardboard circle and put cotton balls soaked in rubbing alcohol on the bottom, underneath the cardboard circle. Theoretically the bug would stay neatly on the top of the carboard circle, but that didn't always happen, unless it was one of the big bugs. I will say that we only had to use the jar a few times. Most of our specimens we found dead. Phew! I am really not the insect-collecting kind.

And last but not least, here is a picture of one of my maps that I got laminated for the co-op. It turned out pretty well, I thought! It has a fairly wide range so that we can see the extent of all the ancient empires, as well as where the Germanic tribes came from who ended up conquering Rome. Since it's laminated, I can just draw each week's stuff on there! It's not really to scale at all, so don't look too closely. I just winged it as far as the drawing went!

Look at That Smile!

Luke had an orthodontist appointment this morning. The doctor said he didn't have to wear his headgear any more! Luke was really crushed to hear this, but I managed to console him. Then the doctor started talking about phase 2 . . .

I had been quite happy with Luke's smile, especially considering where he was when we started! But it turns out the the $1300 we spent was only on the TOP part of Luke's mouth. His lower jaw is also narrow. And there are 2 teeth fully formed and waiting to emerge--with absolutely no room for them to do so. You can clearly see them on x-rays! If you don't know they are lurking down there, then his bottom teeth look great too--all nice and lined up!

So phase 2 of the operation involves braces to move the bottom teeth out of the way to let these 2 teeth come up in peace. I don't recall mention of another expander, but I could be wrong. Otherwise, the danger is that they will become impacted and require surgery. Without taking any off for insurance, this will cost another $3700. Sooooo . . . now Bob just has to find a job with good dental insurance, LOL. Actually, even if he had stayed active duty, since the military dental insurance also paid $1300 for the first phase (1/2 of it), then they would only have paid $200 for this. Each person only gets $1500 total for orthodontic care under the United Concordia dental plan. No real loss there!

And once again, Nathan's need for an expander and braces because of a crossbite moves down to the bottom of the priority pile. His mouth just doesn't seem too bad! Nice, wide jaw--plenty of room for teeth!

Saturday, September 11, 2010


We have several little chairs. We got the blue one free from someone who was giving it away at our co-op. The two white ones we picked up from someone's trash pile on a walk through our neighborhood one morning several years ago. And the brown one was given to us by our good frined neighbors down the street after their kids got a little too big and old for it. Unfortunately, these chairs don't stay lined up by the wall . . .

Usually they are arranged in a "minivan" formation, smack-dab in the middle of some room. In this case, they are in the middle of the entry way, effectively blocking traffic both in front and in back.
The driver steers with a genuine "Tonka Joe" dashboard that came with a really cool "Tonka Joe" computer game my brother gave the boys many, many years ago. All 4 boys thoroughly enjoyed driving the big dump truck, bulldozer, crane, etc., but we don't anymore have anyone who fits the game's target audience. Not to worry! Anna has discovered you can pilot an imaginary minivan just as effectively as an imaginary big rig with this steering wheel, complete with horn you "honk" by pulling down on.

There's always a row of "carseats" for the babies. Where do they get these ideas? LOL--looks like our vans! We don't have quite enough small chairs, as it turns out, so strollers have to be pressed into service. I'm sure they're very secure and safe, LOL.

There are various and assorted passengers riding along with whatever actual little girls are in the minivan. Today's passengers include this bear from Aunt Rose, dressed up in princess dress-up clothes, also from Aunt Rose. Anna hit upon the idea of dressing up this big bear just last week, and we were all pretty impressed that she made it work! Princess Bear lends a touch of elegance to the backseat of the van, don't you think?

I actually cleaned up the entry way and playroom this morning, while the girls were outside, but I thought I should memorialize one of Anna's minivan arrangements before I destroyed it. Even though all the chairs and toys have been moved back into the playroom, I'm sure they will make their way out into some other inconvenient place as a new minivan soon!

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

First OB Appointment!

This afternoon I had my first OB appointment with this pregnancy. I got to see one of the midwives there at Bethesda, and she was so very nice. She told me she would refer me for a level 2 ultrasound, since I am over 35 (of course, I was over 35 with Faith too, and I don't recall anyone even mentioning a level 2 ultrasound!). She said I could also have genetic counseling with that ultrasound, which I declined. At the OB orientation I was alarmed when the lady leading it said that to be referred to your regular 20 week ultrasound, you now had to take this mandatory 1 hour genetic counseling class. What in the world?! I absolutely do not want to waste an afternoon listening to someone blather on about stuff I either already know or could certainly read up on my own! So I asked the midwife about this mandatory class, and she said, "Oh, I really don't think anyone is going to make YOU take that class! It's mainly for first-time moms with lots of questions." Whew! It did seem like the powers-that-be wanted people getting the level 2 ultrasound to have had the genetic counseling though. The midwife asked if I had any counseling with Faith, but I did not. So then she said, "Well, if anyone asks, I'll just say you were over 35 when you had your last baby, and you delivered here . . . I don't think anyone will ask any more questions . . ."

She did a dating ultrasound, and each picture showed the baby measuring 9 weeks, 2 days, instead of the 10 weeks, 4 days just going by my LMP date. But I have longer cycles usually, so I am sure that is right. That gestational age moves my due date back a week, to April 11. I would much rather have an accurate due date, especially if I have gestational diabetes again and feel pressured to deliver before 40 weeks, when they will induce! Jonathan was 2 weeks overdue, but I think his due date was off. He did not look like a very post-term baby when he came out. Also, he was the last baby I had the triple screen done, and that number came back very low (so we worried until the ultrasound, which didn't show any problems). But one reason the number could be low is if the baby is not as old as they think he is!

The baby looked like a little teddy graham in there, and the little heart was beating away. I love seeing that beating heart! I definitely don't take that for granted.

I do have to take a one hour glucose tolerance test before 20 weeks. I'm not looking forward to that, but I'm not surprised either. I have another appointment on Oct. 12 (maybe--I'm not looking at my calendar), so I'm hoping to do it before or after that appointment. I had a fasting blood sugar draw the end of August, and that was fine.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Nathan's Very Large Water Bottle

Nathan has his first football tonight at 5:15, and I wanted to post a picture of this enormous water bottle his coach provided for everyone on the team. They use it for exercises, like squats. Almost like a kettlebell or something! There's a line on the front so we can see how high to fill it each night. And it's motivation to drink the water during practice! They have really long bendy straws that fit down inside the bottles to make it easier to drink from. Even during all the really hot practices, I never had to worry that Nathan wouldn't have enough water available, LOL. He brings 2 1/2 gallons! You can also see his "leadership stickers" there on the front. I just want to comment again on how organized his coach is, and what a great motivator he is! We are so blessed to have Nathan be on his team for his first year of football!

Thursday, September 02, 2010

A Good Day

It's late and I should be in bed, but I figured I'd take advantage of the quiet house and blog really quickly! Nothing red-letter is happening, but today was a good day, so I thought I'd write about it.

1. A friend of ours from way back stopped by with 4 garbage bags of hand-me-downs this morning! It's been like Christmas here, as the girls especially have excitedly pulled out dresses and other clothes to try on! Mark and Lori have 6 kids, and their youngest is a girl a year older than Anna. So the sizes are perfect, the clothes are cute, and the girls were in heaven! There were shoes too . . . too much excitement! There were boys' clothes too, but somehow the boys just weren't as excited, LOL. I am always so thankful for clothes we can use! What a huge savings!

2. Nathan just missed one on his first life science test! He's got this really great teacher, you see . . . LOL! No, the material is not that difficult so far. But I'm glad he is remembering it!

3. Caleb drew this really great map of the the world (well, technically it was yesterday), with all the continents and everything labeled. I know that was a result of the time last year in Classical Conversations, so I am glad to see fruit from that! Then he made up his own continent, divided it up into countries, made a flag for one country, and stationed armies in various places in it, LOL.

4. I got my maps laminated today! I spent a good deal of time drawing 2 maps for the memory work/mapwork part of Rivendell. One covered the Mediterranean area all the way over to India. On the back of it, I drew a close-up of Israel. I put all the cities, mountains, and rivers that we'll be learning on the maps. I also already had a map I drew of Greece (for the Greece unit in the other co-op several years ago, when I was pregnant with Grace), and on the other side of that is a slightly closer view of the Mediterranean area. I added cities and features to both those maps, and then I started asking around for places to laminate them. I made a big map of Africa and the Mediterranean last year for CC, and I never laminated it, and by the end of the year, that poor map was looking a bit wilted! People on my homeschool email loop recommended Staples, Office Depot, and a teacher store about 20 minutes away. Staples quoted me $20 EACH, Office Depot said $1.99/sq. foot (each sheet of poster board was less than 2'x3'), and the teacher store said $1.oo per sq. ft. Clear winner there, so I drove out there this afternoon. The girl at the counter told me she couldn't work the laminator, so they'd have to take my maps and call me when they were done. Ack! I need one Tuesday, and I really hadn't planned on driving back out to the store to pick up the things! But what could I do, so I left them. I went outside and called Bob to relate my tale of misery. As we were talking, he told me the store was calling our home phone, which for some reason was the number I had given them. I ran back inside, since I had never left the parking lot, and there were my maps, all done! I'm so glad I took my time leaving! And the grand total was only $5.25! I'm not sure exactly how they calculate the square footage, but I'll take it! They look great! (Well, as great as hand-drawn maps can look, LOL.)

5. Tonight Nathan's team got their jerseys. Well, they aren't really the permanent jerseys. Because his team is an expansion team, they get new jerseys, and apparently the jerseys are journeying here from the factory by mule train, because the coach thought we'd have them by last Monday. The first game is Saturday, so they are using some other team's old jerseys (Steeler colors, woo hoo!). Nathan got to pick his number first because he had the most "leadership points". These came from times when he led exercises and what not. Sometimes the coaches picked him to lead, and sometimes the other team members picked him. That was really cool! He picked #7, which is Ben Rothlisberger's number, LOL.

6. I got to talk to Amy tonight! It's been several weeks, but that always makes a nice end to a day! It was great catching up with her!

So that's where we are. Still no job for Bob, so keep praying! And now I really must get to bed, or I will REALLY be sorry in the morning!