Wednesday, September 29, 2010

What a small bloggy world!

Sophia and Nigel are back in school full time again; both have two classes here with me and three at the local community college. It is nice at this age to farm out classes like pre-calculus and chemistry. I did them back in college, but since that was a million years ago, it is pleasant not to have to re-learn this stuff to teach it. Bad attitude, I know!

Sophia had a funny thing happen to her. She sat next to a young lady in Spanish class who kept looking at Sophia like, “Don’t I know you?”. She finally asked Sophia, “Do you have a blog?” Turns out that Sophia has this young lady’s blog in her sidebar and the young lady has Sophia’s blog in her sidebar! They’d read and enjoyed each other’s blogs for over a year, and didn’t even know what part of the United States each other was from. And ended up sitting next to each other in Spanish 121.

They blinked at one another for a moment, then Sophia said, “So how is your grandmother doing, is she better?” and there is an instant study partner!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Update on the Dream House

The Dream House is still listed all over the web as "sale pending". The listing changed to "sale pending" on August 13th. At first, the delay in closing made me a little hopeful . . . "hmmm, maybe it will fall through" hummed a little corner of my mind. But I dunno, it being delayed for this long makes me think that their inspection found needed repairs, and they're being done, which makes me think it won't fall through. All of that said, progress around here has ground to a halt. I did the free stuff first. And unfortunately, this is an expensive time of the year, so "extra" money (hahahahahah) is going to college textbooks for Nigel and Sophia, car repair (natch) and items that conspire around the house to break down.

Thought I'd post an update on that house! It did also occur to me that the sellers might have accepted a contingency offer, and that might be the delay.

I am appreciating the wisdom of The Patriarch in being firm against my initial raptures of house-love, that we couldn't free up the funds to QUICK do repairs/remodel here. That was true. I was short sighted. And also, I'm appreciating the (scolding?)(kick in the pants?)(call to reality?)(tough love?) ____________ (fill in blank from aforementioned choices) that my sister gave while visiting here. Her words, "This is a wake-up call. This is a great opportunity you guys missed because you weren't ready" might as well have been tattooed on my forearm, since they rattle around in my brain continually. Great, great motivator.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

New Student

Hoo boy, this will be interesting . . . we’ve added Tarquin somewhat unexpectedly to our schoolroom a couple of mornings a week. Today was the first day. For most of the years we’ve homeschooled, I’ve juggled nurslings and toddlers and students, but I must admit: I’ve gotten spoiled rotten the past two years. These past two years The Patriarch has hung out with Tarquin from 9 am to 1 pm, while the rest of us disappear into the schoolroom, emerging for lunch. What luxury! We’ve gotten so much accomplished, too. Today was sort of crazy. It will take us a little while to figure out this new routine.

I’ll post a few random pictures, but the floor isn’t freshly vacuumed, sorry!

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Tarquin pays attention for about an hour total

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Sophia is back in her chosen corner, working on a wool bodice for her reenacting.

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Clara is figuring out a coding issue in “Computing and Computation I”

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Nigel looks puzzled by this geometry problem. He is just finishing geometry – all out of order, since he’s finished precalculus and one term of calculus at the local community college. Ah well, it’s all getting done.

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Gareth works on his math online.

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The little girls work on history books.

OK, so that was just a random post . . . took a pic to document Tarquin’s joining us today and decided to make it into a post. Mostly I needed a wee break from typing recipes into the firefox recipe extension. Still working on that, but almost done with weeks 3 & 4, just in time to generate the shopping list we’ll need this Saturday! When this is all done, it will be totally worth it, but it’s a little tedious now.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Menu Binder

My friend Sarah, quite awhile ago now, made up a menu binder . . . or I believe in her case, this is part of her homemaking binder. I thought it was a good idea, but I’ve tried many organizational binder things over the years, and my mind/family/home just don’t work that way, I guess.

The big girls both get together every other Thursday and make a menu plan/shopping list, then The Patriarch usually does the grocery shopping on Saturday mornings, bless him. I will often join the big girls in a sort of menu party, but it does get to be something of a drag.

So when another mama that I know, Val, posted on adapting Sarah’s menu plan, I perked up. Val’s adaptation was something I could further adapt to my purposes . . . or morph the two approaches.

I used the Firefox extension “grocery list generator” which rocks. The big girls and I sat down and listed out all of the dinners we make/like in our rotation, plus one Saturday each that says “New Recipe Trial – Nigel”, “New Recipe Trial – Sophia”, and “New Recipe Trial – Clara”, which keeps things livened up and helps them to add new recipes to their skill set. Plus that only works out to once every two months, so not too bad. We ended up with an 8 week rotation.

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Work in progress – used Val’s good idea of stickies so that they could be moved around for variety.

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Typed up, laminated to stay clean, and inserted into front of binder. Back cover has the remaining 3 weeks. 

I typed each recipe into the Firefox grocery generator, from which I could easily generate a shopping list, arranged the way we actually shop, for each 2-week cycle. I laminated that, too:

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This way, the day before shopping, the list-maker can grab out that list and make a list by checking what we do and don’t have. When I typed up the recipes, I typed them up even for recipes that we make without recipes . . . things like spaghetti where we all have our sauce recipe memorized. This has two functions: it puts the ingredients into the list generator, and also, now that the younger ones are cooking more, they can cook from these very basic recipes. A person can print from the generator, but that does include the shopping list for each recipe, so I took the time to cut and paste to “Word” so that it was just each recipe. Slid this into page protectors, and into tabs for the two-week rotations.

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This is what recipes look like in the Firefox generator:

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One cool thing about this extension is that you can import recipes directly from some common websites – some of them work better than others, though. I imported one we use from allrecipes successfully.

No more racking our collective brain every other Thursday! We are also planning to do this with lunches and breakfasts, but I still have to catch up with typing dinner recipes in and printing them all out. This is all for the “regular” eaters in our family. We still generate separate menus for the little girls with their special dietary restrictions, Sophia has gone gluten-free, and The Patriarch cooks himself Jamaican food. Whew. But this helps the crazy!  

Happy Birthday Gareth

Life worked out a two day birthday celebration for Gareth’s twelfth birthday this year! Yesterday Clara had a gymnastics performance at the local fair, and we usually try to have a fun day at the fair in connection with that. Her performance was later in the day this year, so we experienced the fair after dark, which was different. Because The Patriarch works today, Gareth’s actual birthday, we had cake and presents yesterday so that everyone could join in. Today the birthday boy is still let off regular chores and everyone is playing his favorite games with him, and his favorite foods are on the menu.

093 A new way to see the fair . . .

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Of course, if you’re Clara, you see it upside down!

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The merry-go-round was scary enough for Tarquin

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This is the one scary ride the big girls do each year

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Here we go – now why exactly do we do this?!!?

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Leave it to the little girls to find a pink & purple glittery ride

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Gareth always loves the Big Big slide!

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Home in time for cake and presents! Gareth currently wants to be a . . . no wait, if I tell you, I’ll have to kill you . . . let’s just say his cake was in the shape of a magnifying glass.

021He was very excited to receive a cassette player from Grandpa and Grandma, since doing dishes is much easier when “Hank the Cowdog” amuses you while you work. BUT . . . not only was this a cassette player, but ooo la la, a voice activated recorder as well! Perfect when you want to be a Occupation Which Shall Not Be Named.

026Look out Poirot . . . 

An altogether good time!