Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I love party planning.

Truth be told, I'm not that sociable.  I can be sociable, I just prefer not to be.  Until a party comes around.

As mentioned in this post, I'm hosting a baby shower for my sister and she wants a monkey theme.  So I searched around the net and stole all kinds of ideas.

Actually, I never steal anything - I'm too much of a goody goody to do such things, but sometimes I borrow. (a Spongebob episode is coming to mind here)

Here are some goodies I've made so far.

The monkey heads will be toppers for my large diaper cake (4 tiers) that will be the centerpiece for the food table and smaller ones will grace side tables around the family room.  This idea came from her and her.

These tags will go on the ribbons that wrap up the gifts for winners of games.  My idea but graphic is from her.  She offered downloads for free.

And these matchbooks (with mints inside) will just be lying around or in little bowls.  I got this idea from Oriental Trading Co.  Ignore my nails.  I had a few break so I cut the rest off in a fit.

While it might be easier just to buy these things, I never do for a couple of reasons.  First, I'm super picky and I always have an idea of just what I want.  Unfortunately, I can never find just what I want.  Secondly, paper crafts are just plain fun to do.  Nothing here was hard.  

For the tags, I had to clear out the mod monkey print and type in my sister's shower info.  The monkey heads were simple since I used my circle cutters from CM.  For the matchbooks, I had to type up quotes and figure out how to line everything up.  Btw, I have 18 matchbooks with the quotes upside down for sell.  Grrr.  That was the toughest part.  Apparently, I have spatial reasoning issues.

So that's my start and I have less than two weeks before the big day.  Thankfully, the rest is in my head.


Thursday, August 26, 2010


When BN went back to school after getting out of the Navy, he went to work for a man named Rolando.  Rolando had special gifts.

This is our grill.

 This is a tree frog that I have named Rolando.  When I saw him hiding under the grill cover, being perfectly still, hoping I couldn't see him, I immediately thought of Rolando the Boss.

Rolando the Boss once told BN that he could make himself disappear.  He was never able to show this to BN and he gave BN the heebie jeebies anyway so thankfully, a wonderful internship became available and BN moved on to bigger and better things.

Not only does Rolando the tree frog live on our grill and scare the poop right out of me every single time I remove the grill cover, but I think he hides there because he it makes him feel invisible to the rest of the swamp creatures.

Why he's chosen our grill to reside instead of the huge wooded area and marsh behind our house we'll never know.  And other than the immediate bowel release he causes in me, I'm glad he chose us.


Friday, August 20, 2010

Baby Shower Mania

My sister is having her second child...15 years later...and it's so exciting to get to throw her a baby shower since I was done six years ago and most of my friends are done having babies.

I spent the better part of my day today searching online for baby shower invitations.  I know it's hip and eco-friendly to do the evites nowadays, but there's just something about a little card with all the specifics that the mom-to-be can hang onto and cherish for years to come.  Besides I'm old fashioned and all that new-fangled stuff scares me.

I used to be a stamper and I made all kinds of beautious cards.  I cut, I stamped, I glued, I glittered and I had fun for a while.  But not having a dedicated craft room had its drawbacks.  When my free time (what little there was of it) was up, I'd have to put everything away so my boys wouldn't get into it.  Such a drag.

So I sold my scrappin' stuff on ebay and made a killin'.

Wait, baby shower, baby shower, ... oh yes, I was online looking at invitations since I no longer make cards and couldn't find the one I wanted.  My sister has decided to use monkeys as a theme and none of the cards were just right.  I also don't like the commercial looking ones and that narrowed my choices greatly.

I did find one where the style was perfect.  The block print type animals were exactly right.  The monkey... left a lot to be desired.  It was just his head poking from the vines at the top of the card.  But it was enough of a start that I decided I would make my own using those ideas.

Now I am assuming I didn't infringe on any copyright things because I actually drew everything freehand on Photoshop.  And though I sampled the colors in that card, those colors are available freely on my program, so no problem there.  The monkey I added was from a card also, but again, I drew him myself rather than using the actual graphic and I used free brushes for the vines.  Besides, I'm not selling them, right.

And here it is and I am so in love with it.

The gray background has just the slightest hint of texture and since grays, yellows and browns are all neutrals, the color scheme works perfectly.  And who doesn't love a lime green.  I was going to put the babies name in the monkey's belly but just talked to my sister and they might be changing their minds on his name.  That's alright.  She can ink that in after he's born.


Let me give credit to:
The card  And let me just say that if that card had been perfect, I would have ordered it.  The prices are so great here.  And I love that you can customize the cards.  Not just the words but the graphics a bit too.
The monkey  Again, great prices, just not exactly what I wanted.  But I'm really picky like that.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Whole Lotta Work

We're planning to sell our house next year and we walked around it this weekend to see what needed fixin'.

A Lot.

Much of it is cosmetic.  With two small boys, I find it extremely difficult to keep the paint in perfect repair or blinds.  What is it with blinds?  We have the two inch faux wood blinds which are pretty sturdy until my boys walk by.  It doesn't help that RePete think those pole things that open and close them is the perfect vine for his Tarzan routine.   I'll never have blinds again.

So anyway, BN likes to wait until it is absolutely necessary to fix things, but I think we should start now.  After compiling the list, he thinks so too.

His little boxes for checking them off crack me up.  And there's 8 more things on the back.  Time to get to work.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Getting it Done.

I've used many ways to organize our home schooling and the filing system works the best for many reasons.  First, I'm too lazy to worry with workboxes.  Every week you've got to unload them and reload them and frankly, that doesn't work for me.  Then there's the big plastic bins that have to sit in plain site in our dining room where we do school.  Again, that doesn't work for me.

Last year, I pulled together about 4 weeks worth of school work and for four weeks, our school days were smooth sailing.  Unfortunately, I never got around to doing the next four weeks or any week after that and we had to wing it all year.  We ended up doing whatever was next in the books, which works, but I always felt discombobulated.  So last month, I sat down with all of our books for the year.  Hardcover, softcover, pdf (all printed out) and workbooks and got to work.  I can't destroy hardcover books, so those were safe.  For the rest, may they rest in peace.  I despined them.  Is that even a word?

Whatever.  So I determined what needed to be done from each book to complete it in 36 weeks.  Then grouped the pages together and stapled.  It was as simple as that.  I did not tear apart my All About Spelling book or our Easy Grammar books.  All spelling exercises are written in a spiral notebook and the grammar has it's own spiral bound workbook.  

I keep the spelling, grammar and supplemental books in this cabinet above my computer.  My computer area is just inside the kitchen on the other side of the dining room wall.  Everything we need is close at hand.

Here's the **FILES**.  I feel like music should play when this comes into view.  All 36 weeks are in here and a few extra things are in a folder in the back.  When we complete a week, the whole folder with the completed work is filed in the back.  We don't make the fancy notebooks as suggested in the WTM because my boys just aren't into all that.  Once the work is done, it's done.  Neither have any inclination to go back and reminisce.

Here's what a typical weekly folder holds.  From back left to front right.  Mind Benders, History (SOTW), Writing with Ease (student and teacher pages), Math Mammoth for RePete, Classic Science, and Pete's Math Mammoth.  Again, spelling and grammar are on the shelf as are the Usborne and Kingfisher history encyclopedias.  I use online sources for RePete's reading and writing so no space is needed for that although I do have a few reading resources on the shelves in case he needs a little extra help.

And finally, I use Homeschool Tracker (the free version) to type lesson plans if I'm feeling sassy.  Although, it requires dates, I just plan all the work needed (based on what is in our folder) for that week and we don't look at the dates.  For instance, we are working on Week 2.  We're in our third week of school, but visiting relatives have forced us to split the work between two weeks.  ***Update:  Forget this paragraph.  WAAAY too lazy for this program.***

It used to be that if we didn't complete what I had planned for August 17, I would have a nervous breakdown.  Not any more.  ***I should add in here that sometimes we take two weeks to finish a folder or maybe we don't get to science due to visiting family, dr appts, etc, and that's okay with my folder system.  We either keep plugging along the second week until the work is done or that one subject gets moved into the next week.  Our schedule is not so jam packed that we don't have room for extra science experiments.  In fact, they are relished.***

I've also started making Pete his own weekly planner.  He's in fifth grade this year and I'm trying to groom him for more independent work.  He completes his math, logic, history and grammar on his own and we work together on science, spelling and writing.  He also has free and required reading that we are working in this year.  Art and music are sourced out although BN teaches Pete drums and I teach art to the boys.  We use the art and music classes through our co-ops more for social time and a break from the work week.  Pete also takes drama through a local theater group and both boys are in sports.

I love having this file system.  No more flipping through 8 different books and their workbooks.  Everything tidy in one place makes me happy.


Monday, August 16, 2010

The Fruits of Our Labor

We ran outside everyday to check on the progress of this watermelon.  We use the vertical method to grow viney plants and this watermelon became so heavy, the vine was choked off and the watermelon fell off before it was ripe.  We cut it open to find this..

It smelled heavenly, but was so bitter.  No sweetness yet.  It was such a disappointment.  So I decided to make hammocks for them.  My dad calls them diapers but I read this can help with the issue we had and so far so good.  Can't wait for the first one to be ready.

And cucumbers have been coming out since the first of July.  They are doing so great that I had to send four home with my dad the other day.

The exposure in my house is not conducive to indoor plants but I do have three that I bring in in the winter months.  The one in the front and back right are both from the tops of pineapples.  I planted the one in the front about three years ago and the one in the back right about a month ago.  My MIL has one she planted about three years ago and it has a tiny pineapple growing from the center.  Of course she can grow something from nothing, so I don't have high expectations for my pineapple plants.

The one on the left is a peanut plant.  We went to the Peanut Fest here in Suffolk last October and the boys were given a peanut plant.  We brought it home and BN cultivated and babied it over the winter.

Out of curiosity we dug around in the pot this past weekend and found some peanuts!  BN tasted them and they weren't quite ready.  I'm thinking since the peanut festival is in October, that's probably when peanuts should be ready, so we'll check again in a couple of months.


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Our 2010 Garden

This is our second year growing a garden.  And while this year hasn't been anymore profitable in terms of vegetables consumed, I think we are learning bit by bit as times goes by.

I did not start the composting bin as I wanted.  That's still on my list of garden-type things I want to do. We did change the location.  Last year's site was constantly in peril.  Boys, basketballs and gardens do not a stocked pantry make.  And that ancient Chinese proverb, out of sight out of mind, er, okay so maybe the Chinese didn't say it, but not being able to see the garden from the house made it easy to forget watering on the super hot days of summer.

But not this year.  This year, I can see the garden from both kitchen windows and the rear glass door.   With that door right off our laundry room, it is no wonder I can never forget the garden.  I spend a lot of time in the laundry room.  sigh.  Anyhoo, we can also see it from the upper deck and the lower deck.  Here's how it looks from both angles.

You are welcome to biggen these, although the lighting was horrible when I took these with my point and shoot, but please don't leave comments about the sad grass.  This is the first year we've had grass since we cut down a buttload of trees last fall and we are proud of it, no matter how pitiful.

I know there is some other proverb about not airing your dirty laundry but since this is clean, I'm free to share it with the world.  We also switched from untreated lumber, which the termites LOVED! to concrete blocks, and weed paper and chicken wire for the base.

What we're growing:  (all seeds are from Heirloom Acres Seeds)
  • Eggplant - currently growing, no fruit.
  • Watermelon - many fruits growing, none edible yet
  • Cucumbers - haven't had to buy one since the first of July - yipee
  • Zuchinni - RIP
  • Broccoli - RIP
  • Roma tomatoes - one tomato so far, bushes are beautiful and flowering
  • Cherokee purple tomatoes - no fruit, but beautious and flowering
  • Cantaloupe - currently one fruit on the vine - anticipation!
  • Asparagus - shoots above the ground, have no idea if anything below ??
  • Lima beans - huge flowering bush, one bean, was so excited and then it turned brown and fell off
We also planted strawberries, lettuces of all kinds, spinach, green beans and peppers all of which never showed up for the party.   We'll try the cold varieties again soon when we plant the pumpkins.

Tomorrow, I'll show pics of some of the fruits of our labor. 


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Dragonfly Whisperer

RePete was so excited about his new friend.  This little fellow allowed RePete to carrry him (I am assuming it was a he because I doubt a she would have stayed long on his dirty little hands) all over the yard and around front to show me.  RePete has such a gentle touch with nature and it shows when he helps me in the garden.


Friday, August 6, 2010

I know I shouldn't gripe...

because it's free, but...

I just drove over to the library to pick up my long awaited Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris and was DENIED!

I had my little ID/change wallet instead of my big one that had my library card in it. The librarian stated I could not check out books without the card. So I waltzed (literally) over to the membership desk and asked for a new card.

I figured two dollars for a new card was less than the gas it took to get there, drive back home and come back.

I asked the membership clerk why I couldn't check anything out without a card and she said she didn't know. Normally, I would have demanded an answer. Get me the supervisor, get me my state representative, whatever. I mean you're listening to a woman who beat the IRS at their own game. But I wasn't feeling well.

It's not about the two dollars. It's the principle of the whole durn thing. I have items checked out sitting on the table at home. I had two items on hold and I held them by using my library card, at home, on the computer. Why couldn't they just use my ID?

When this head cold clears up, I will go back and get my answer. They can have the money - it's for a worthy cause. I mean how many places let you borrow stuff for free? But at least know why you are doing it and it better be for a good reason.


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Distracted Much?

Yesterday, I drove the boys down the road a piece to the headquarters for the Great Dismal Swamp.  I wanted to get a map so we could all (including BN) go for a bike ride this weekend.

The ranger was great.  Very helpful.  Actually, she was too helpful, because one minute I was getting a map of bike routes and the next, the boys and I, armed with a combination lock, were taking the driving tour.  In fact, Gilligan's Island comes to mind because it was three hours later that I deposited the aforementioned lock on the park rangers desk.

Swamp was used as part of the Underground Railroad

The ranger said it was a 20 minute tour.  It's quite apparent that she doesn't know me very well.  I love nature.  I love adventures.  I love looking at nature during an adventure.  And that's what we did.
Here's a few SOOCs.

Beaver dam

This how the drive looked when we entered. And no I didn't stop driving to take this.

According to the park rangers, the black bears have been bored lately.

My fearless black bear hunters. 

Proof of the elusive black bears. 

I told the boys these guys were waiting for our car to break down.  I was only half joking. 

The lake spans 2-3 miles and is only 7 feet at its deepest. 

RePete tries out the binoculars.

I caught Pete adding liquid to the lake.  He's saying, "Hey!" in an "Aww Mom" sort of way.


Monday, August 2, 2010

Facebook - Best of 2009

Once I started Facebooking, I stopped blogging so much and I needed to "preserve" some moments.

Oh my God, I can't believe I found you. I have seriously missed you!!!! No my Mom hasn't changed a bit, trust me. How is Miss Judy your Mom doing? I hope you are all well. I can't wait to catch up. -Katie

Why haven't I packed? Off to the Land of Mouse in two days. - R

Time to celebrate my man's birthday! It's hard to keep topping the last when you've celebrated more than 20 birthdays together. - R

I can see so much of BN in Pete. - Mel

Realized I don't know what to pack to go camping! - R

We FINALLY did our required testing today. Pete is now a 4th grader. The best part of the test was hearing Pete say repeatedly, "I learned this in pre-school." - R

Farm Town is giving me carpal tunnel. - R

NEED FOOD DONATIONS!!! I have my boys (aged 9 and 5), brother (almost 13) and nephew (14). Who knew 4 little people could eat sooo much. - R

How much do you value your photos? Our Mac crashed and I lost all of 2009. I was ready to dig through the maggoty garbage for a disk I threw out. Thankfully, I found a backup. - R

Our boys are bouncing a basketball in their room upstairs while singing along to High School Musical's "Get Your Head in the Game". Sounds like they might come through the ceiling. Is that possible? - R

RePete's first game today. He scored two goals. Added to yesterday's album. - R

Surry Nuclear Power plant and Jamestown tomorrow. Should be interesting. Saying those two in the same sentence is akin to an oxymoron. :o) - R

Petespilledwateronmykeyboard.Nospacekey.Crud! - R

Busy week. Dentist, 19th wedding anniversary and ACL surgery. Fun, Fun. - R

Surgery last Thursday went well. Still very tight and sore, but healing nicely, I think. Post-op visit this Friday. My men have stepped up as I knew they would. Couldn't be in better hands. :o) - R

Brag alert! My son is finally reading chapter books. In fact, we picked up book two in the series and he started reading it on the way home. Woohoo! - R

Off my crutches and drove to the corner store today. Look out! - R

RePete found a locust shell at the zoo today and brought it home. He was thrilled that it stuck to his shirt and named it Sticky. - R

Mark woke me up to "Happy 40th Birthday"! That doesn't seem like a real number. Now to decide...grow old gracefully or stay at 39 forever. lol. - R

RePete got a whoopee cushion from the chiro today and my "not seeing" it everywhere I step is worth every single belly laugh from him. woohoo. good times. - R