Tuesday, October 31, 2006
At the first two houses, Batman was tentative. "Will you go up with me?"
By the third house the refrain was, "You wait here, Mom, I can do it." or "Stand here, don't come with me." and "Did we do this house yet?"
Starting off strong, the girls, dh and I stood and watched as his little pumpkin full of candy started tiring him. We recounted stories of Halloweens past, like the time I got a really cute costume for him at a consignment shop. What was it? Oh, yeah, a honey pot! And I made him try it on and he bawled. I have a photo of him screaming his fool head off in that costume. Ended up wearing his cowboy pajamas that year.
Dh recounted how his brothers grew up around the time Zorro was popular, and they'd tie a bath towel around their necks and run through the farm, dragging their capes through the cow manure. We laughed as we watched Batman starting to drag.
The girls didn't dress up this year, the first year. Instead, they would ask to see Batman's stash and steal a piece right in front of him. I have only a few years left to see the excitement, the fun of being someone else for a night before he, too, will grow up on me. Trick or treat?
Based on results, it does indeed look like progress is being made, tests scores are improving. They claim to be meeting "No Child Left Behind Act" guidelines. Now, I am no statistician, but the results for high school as I see them say that with the exception of "practical living vocational studies", the percentage of students that were proficient or above was no higher than 65%. I found that astounding. In one of the richest counties in the state, 35% of the high school students are not reaching "proficiency" (not excellence, mind you, just "good enough") in any subject. On Demand Writing was a dismal 17%.
In addition, it is reported that:
Overall, 53 percent of first-year students entering
Kentucky's public colleges and universities in 2004
were not prepared, compared with 54 percent of those
entering in 2002.
Tell me, what business could survive with such results? If the money did not come from taxes, but came directly out of the pockets of parents, would they expect more? Are we expecting too much?
Monday, October 30, 2006
Eagerly, she showed us about the house and introduced the pets. What struck me, however, was that a number of times, she mentioned how lonely she was. New to the area, her husband went off to work each day, and somehow, she'd not yet fit into the community or connected with friends. How sad, I thought, that our world, so connected was so isolationist, that is is so easy to live so close to other people and be lonely. We've lost our social connectiveness somehow.
And yet, maybe it's not so hard to be the one that helps to fix that. Maybe, it's a free pancake breakfast for one person that begins the changes that can cure what ails this world. Maybe its just the reaching out to care. Perhaps I'll get Anna to make her a pumpkin pie.
Another daughter watched from her pony, member of the second place team. Having ridden with the team for the first time, and the first time on the Masters level, she was very happy with the results. She sat on Stealth, her mount for the past two years. It was her last competition with him, as she's outgrown him, both in size and ability. Her sadness was cushioned by the prospect of another horse which we ended up buying. Though needing more training, the mare appears to have the temperment, size, and speed needed.
It's the time of their lives, these girls. Riding at one of the most beautiful places in the world, the Kentucky Horse Park, sharing the experience with wonderful people of all ages, seeing the generosity and good sportsmanship of the competition, it doesn't get any better than this.
And dh is what makes it possible. Driving a beige mini-van to work and explaining his recent purchase for new work shoes, he didn't blink when I said that I again wanted to buy a horse. (He did ask when I was going to be sending Morty on to his new home. Answer: less than a month.) Riding horses is expensive, though this particular discipline of riding is less than other disciplines, dh and I could be taking cruises or at least driving a car with under 100,000 miles. But, as he often says, it is an investment in their character and childhood, and who can put a price on that?
Friday, October 27, 2006
Firstly, a story that I heard on NPR one day while driving to get hay for the horses. It's about a Toad Sucking Dog. Now, why would a dog do that, you might wonder? Read it here.
The following links are to International blogs that I've found meandering around the blogosphere. Often, I think about how circumstances and choices bring us to the life we lead, but there are so many other lives and views out there which we'll not experience, except maybe through the eyes of someone else. So, I check in now and again on the lives of these people, not celebrities, not newsmakers, but real people living real lives. I'll eventually put those that I check regularly in a links section on my blog.
France: Poppy Fields
Italy: italian trivia
China: One Child Policy
Korea: Here in Korea
Mauritania: Planet Nomad
And speaking of celebrities, the Madonna adoption controversy is getting a lot of press. I cannot help but wonder if it has occurred to her to help the father with this little boy, so that the boy can be raised knowing his biological father, who seems to have not enough sophistication to handle this situation. Certainly, she has enough money to do so. Lifting parents from poverty lifts the children, and keeps the family intact.
It was well worth it. His cape dragging on the wet pavement, the drizzle abated long enough for us to enjoy walking through the park. He looked around for a disembodied voice (recording) in the vegetation.
"Hey, you! You in the costume!" it called. "You're scaring me!" another voice wavered. William looked all around, smiling tentatively. Where were they?
As we traveled station to station, he would look in his pumkin bucket. "Look at all the candy I'm getting!" he'd say as I mentally took note of what I could steal later without his notice.
We all later rode the little rip-off train (designed to get my last dollar as we exit the zoo), and it, too surprised me. While the headless horseman just waved at the train, not daring to race it in the slippery mud, the erie lights in the tunnels flickered. "Was that cool or what?" Batman exclaimed as we got off. It was. But only through the eyes of a child.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
The phone is ringing though, off the wall. I think dh and I are registered with different parties, not that it matters for neither of us are extremely devoted to either party and change with the candidates we like. But, since both parties want to reach one of us or the other, the phone rings continually at dinner time. This is the time of day most people are home, I suppose. UNKNOWN makes frequent calls, according to Caller ID.
Do they really think that interupting my dinner will make me more inclined to vote for their candidate? I'd love to complain but usually it's a recording, which I discover if I make the mistake of answering.
One call I made the mistake of answering was for the Fraternal Order of Police. Afraid I'd be put on an APB for a ticket if I didn't support their donut fund, I gave them a donation. Unknowingly, dh also gave to the State Police Retirement Fund or some such thing. Now, we are on "the list". I have had at least five calls this month from ambulance drivers, police, and fire departments. Evidently, word's gotten out we're an easy target.
I think I'll have to take the phone off the hook as elections draw nearer.
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Only she thinks the limericks are funny,
Only she laughs when something is punny,
But it brightens the day,
When words become play,
Making gray skies a little more sunny.
So, I wasn't at all surprised upon hearing that a taping of Dr. Phil on homeschooling didn't go as an invited guest thought it would. Rumor has it that the episod may/may not be aired on October 27th.
So, I wasn't at all surprised upon hearing that a taping of
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
But now, still young enough but not young enough, I try fantastic feats of home and yard repair. Yes, I can climb up into the attic and fix that wiring. No problem to help move that couch. It all seems so reasonable at the time. My back and shoulders scream the next day "na-na-na-na-boo-boo, you're getting older!"
Yesterday, Anna and I volunteered some time doing yard work for a disabled woman. Normally, I don't do fallen leaves. And, I tried to stay away from them as I pulled ivy from her brick house, but somehow, the leaves got me anyway, and today, my head is pounding. I don't know what it is in leaves, but my head doesn't like them. Thank goodness for aspririn.
Saturday, October 21, 2006
Or are they? Recently, some beliefs have been gathering in my mind:
I believe I am the only person in my house who knows where the light switches are and that they turn OFF lights. The fact that electricity powers those lights and costs money does not seem to enter anyone else's mind.
I believe that I am the only one that believes in shutting and locking the doors when leaving the house to go somewhere. When it is time to leave, everyone heads down the stairs, lights blazing, doors inviting robbers in.
Speaking of doors open, I believe that kitchen cabinets and doors ought to have automatic door closers so they aren't all open all the time. Wait a minute, that's my job.
I believe no one knows how to change out a garbage bag. Instead, it is a time saver to just smush the garbage down further in the can until the bag breaks. At this point, it becomes "not my problem".
I've not seen anyone yet replace toilet paper on the holder. Forget "over" or "under". In fact, forget even putting it on the holder. Let's just get some out of the supply closet when we're out in the bathroom. I believe in toilet paper.
I believe my dh doesn't have a clue of a mom's daily frustrations. Today, a weekend, he came up puffing because he couldn't find Wm's shoes, coat, etc. and it was taking him a long time to get out the door to his weekend errands. Talk to the hand, man.
I believe my teens would sleep into the next day if I'd let them. I believe they'd rather build a bridge over the dirty (and clean) clothes on their floor than pick them up.
I believe a clean kitchen inspires appetites and causes teens to start cooking, assembling foods, dripping jelly on the floor.
I believe that putting a horse in a clean stall acts as a laxative.
If you are five minutes late already and trying to get everyone out the door, I believe that is when your four year old will tell you that he needs to go to the bathroom, and "I need a magazine".
Speaking of four year olds, ever try to tell one that it is cold outside and you need a coat and shoes? I believe that after giving in, letting him go coatless and shoeless up to the barn, that I'll be walking back down to the house ten minutes later because he's cold. I believe I'll bring the coat and shoes under my arm everywhere I go.
Well, shooo, I'm outa breath! I guess I do have a lot of beliefs to write about!
"Do you have some place you can keep it under lock and key?" he asked.
Lauren and I looked at each other and smiled.
"Well, if I cheat," she answered, "how will I pass the test?"
See, she's studying this music theory for the next leg of her RACE level. The book helps her to learn the theory that will be tested in a proctored room at the University. If she cheats on the study workbook, she will have no chance whatsoever of passing the final test and she understands that.
This pointed out something so very different between the approach we are taking to education and maybe the more traditional view of it (with which I was raised). We are not comparing ourselves to other people in our abilities to learn new material. The grade is not the ultimate measure of self-worth, not worth attaining at any cost or by cheating. In the end, the only thing that matters is whether you learned and have the knowledge that you have the knowledge.
Friday, October 20, 2006
I suppose, as Meredith found, this could get you locked up if you are in the wrong place at the wrong time. But she escaped at the last minute.
Yesterday, I received a compound microscope I'd ordered for the girls' biology class. I was as excited as Christmas to see the UPS truck, but disappointed when he found the box containing slides, but the package with my microscope was missing! What good are slides without a microscope??
Late in the evening, I found an email in my spam folder telling me that the package was on the back porch. It was raining! Luckily, he'd covered it with plastic, but why, tell, did he not put it on the covered front porch?
I opened the box to find the microscope must be assembled. A thin booklet poorly described how to use the microscope, but no instructions were given to put it together. In fact, it says on page 1 "Do not take down or assemble yourself." Well, pretty hard to use it then, isn't it? Good thing I have my "no instructions" gene, so I was able to get the microscope together anyway.
The kids were off watching TV as dh and I happily looked at slides.
"Look at this one! Mouth parts of a mosquito!"
I think we were more taken with our new toy than the kids, but Anna did come in and look at slides for awhile. Today's lab is "Mystery Slides" in which I choose slides for them and they have to decide if they are plant or animal cells.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Now, I will say that the barn, being open and free of knicknacks, kids shoes and toys on the floor (no, I take that back, Wm already has a few of his tractors and cars in the aisleway), and floorboards, is in general cleaner than most houses. And yes, we'll be using shavings to bed the stalls, but not sawdust as in a lumber mill. I will not be storing vast quantities of grain as in a granary. The electrical inspector insists, however, that someday, some dusty horse owner may own the barn if I sell it.
So it is with some great frustration that I see all the outlets and switches covered with plastic boxes that will crack off like a dry twig the first time my girls go to turn on the lights. This will keep my new barn from burning down? I have to laugh because many barns that I visit have not only no dust covers, but exposed coated wire or open boxes. In fact, my old barn was wired from my house, and every time I turned on the microwave and the electric skillet at the same time, the breaker would trip. We found out that was because the barn fans, lights and heaters were also running on the same circuit. At least we've made some improvement!
George, the 90 year old father of the electrician, stood in my barn with the caulk gun, dribbling caulk all over like an old man eating cereal with milk running down his chin. The white special caulk was supposed to be used to dust proof the boxes that were in the barn. It looks like some giant bird has pooped all over our barn. I was devastated. Dh said it was like having a new pair of white tennis shoes that someone stopped all over and got dirty the first day. But, they insisted that they had to use this butyl rubber caulk.
Just now, I spoke with the inspector who told me that clear silicone caulk was okay, so I guess I'll be scraping and recaulking the worst of it. If you want to reach me, I'll be in the barn.
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Sunday, October 15, 2006
Last night, we worked until dusk and tired, went to the local Mexican restaurant. While driving there, I laughed aloud to my family that a politcal sign proclaimed a guy with the last name "Kidney" was running for local office. Perhaps his opponent can run an ad, "Kidney, he hasn't the stomach for the job". Dh laughed and comment that another person named "Bowel" could run with the slogan, "Bowel, he gets shit done."
Ah, such is the camraderie of family life, laughing all the way.
Saturday, October 14, 2006
Today, however, it is going to get into the upper 50's, perfect weather for the day ahead. We are going to be working on the horse stalls, preparing them for the rubber mats that we'll have to lay and cut to size. The mats are heavy, but should make cleaning stalls a breeze compared to having dirt floors.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Myself, I've never quite enjoyed Alice in Wonderland, thinking it was more like a drug-induced hallucination of some adult. Evidently, the producers also picked up on this as the stage props were largely psychadelic, reminiscent of the 70's. In fact, I enjoyed the music they used, including the Beatles and the Monkeys, a little nostalgia for the old folks in the audience. Perhaps it went over the tikes' heads, but more than one dad in the audience chuckled at the caterpillar-man that was blowing bubbles on a bong.
Checking William's facial expressions periodically for signs of enjoyment, my son dashed my dreams of his appreciation of my efforts with "Can we leave now? I'm hungry." To his defense, he hadn't eaten breakfast, as he rarely does, waiting until about 11 a.m. before his stomach awakens. That was just about the time that he expressed the desire to leave.
"It's almost over," I pleaded. "We'll leave soon."
He turned his head into his seat, mad at me for not leaving right away.
As we left, he stated loudly, in front of other attendees that he had found it boring. I asked why.
"Well, the kids don't get to do ANYTHING! You just have to sit and sit and do nothing. And it was boring." He then went on to declare the costumes unbelievable, particularly the man with a rabbit mask.
I would have bought this argument had we not passed our local movie theater on the way home.
"I wish we could go to a movie," he said wistfully.
A movie. Well, don't you just sit and do NOTHING at a movie? I don't suppose I'll ever understand the mind of a 4 year old. Anyone need tickets to an upcoming play?
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
I am a bit sad about the change. I've enjoyed catching the regular local commentators in the morning, finding out what they were writing as a clue to what I might write. I enjoyed the fantasy of having a voice on the air. Though I'll probably one day write an essay for "This I Believe", by it's nature, how many essays can one write about what one believes? It looks as if the essays pay well, $200 each, but not much if you consider that the essay can be used in any form, including books that will go out like Chicken Soup books most likely. Chicken Soup for the Chicken Lover's Soul.
If you believe they should continue the local commentaries, you could write to Heidi Caravan at email@example.com and let her know.
Right now, I believe my four year old is impatient with me because he wants yet another tuna fish sandwich, so I believe I'll go make it.
And Christine, city-born and raised, was perplexed to find that five of our chickens, one of which was the precious “Chicken-Lickin’” had settled themselves for the night on a tree branch. And, not any old tree branch. They’d scooted out along the limb to the end, which hung over our creek bed eight feet below.
I’d told her before I left to not worry if chickens somehow came to an unfortunate end, as they were aging chickens, rarely laying, and hey, raccoons have to eat, too. Except for Chicken Lickin’. Chicken Lickin’ is the small black Silkie cross that we have who broods our eggs and lets young children catch and hold her. She’s a therapy chicken, if you will. And here she was, dangling over the creek.
Bless her heart, Christine positioned her daughter, Crisann, below on the banks of the creek. She grabbed a long pole and began pushing the chickens one by one out of the tree. Christine’s mother, visiting from Virginia, was also along, and they all got to laughing. I’m sure she was thinking Christine has surely moved to the ends of the earth, for here was her city daughter climbing out over a creek bank to catch chickens in a tree. She called Christine’s dad on the cell phone to report on her daughter’s exploits. He then took the story to their church, which spread the news all over town. I’m sure it won’t be long before it hits the local papers.
Successful in their attempts, the chickens were retrieved one by one. Worried about a repeat episode, Christine called to let me know that Chickin’ Lickin’ was not given the liberty of free-range the next day, but remained in her cage. Can’t say’s I blame her!
NOTE: I'd add photos but it seems blogger is having difficulties this a.m. and my task bar and html tab is missing. Arrgghhh!!
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
In many sports, its all about winning. Despite the large commitment, we've continued in this sport because everyone seems more focused on how they are progressing, how well they rode that day, or how well they are doing on their horse. Each rider and team can progress, and be congratulated for it.
Even so, it is fun to win. Anna and her partner won first place in the Novice division! Anna has been amazing at her progress, only learning to ride two years ago.
See the horse she is on? She can lean down and pick up a ball off the ground without leaving the saddle. It's so fun for her that they've won first place, though now that means moving up into the next division, where she'll have to work her way up again.
Here is Lauren and Quid. Quid is going to be a terrific horse for Lauren. They turn perfectly, and rode brilliantly the first day. The second day, Quid came up tender-footed and had to be pulled from the race. We hope that she just caught a stone, as she seemed better yesterday. Lauren finished the races on another borrowed pony, one she wasn't used to riding, so the competiton didn't turn out the way she wanted, riding her new horse. Still, she and her partner enjoyed the weekend.
Many thanks to all the kind and hard-working people at USMGA for making the weekend happen.
Sunday, October 08, 2006
Only after returning home this evening from a weekend riding competition, could I appreciate how quiet our backyard is. Camping should be a quiet experience, a oneness with nature. Not so at the Hoosier Horse Park. A western horse show was in progress (that's another blog!). Loud speakers announced the winners well into the evening. One of the horses on the western show side whinnied all night, missing a companion or anxious at being away from home. The participants arrived at intervals with enormous trailers that had both living quarters and horse trailer. After dropping the trailer, the monster trucks needed to pull these semi-sized trailers pulled in and out of the camp area all night. The Western riders do like a night on the town and they like to camp in heated trailers.
Between the rumble of the diesel trucks, the coyotes continued to howl all of Friday night. Saturday night, they were a bit quieter, though the moon was now full. Might it have been that the National Guard was patrolling the field just east of us in their tanks?? Perhaps it was the large remote-control vehicle track in the adjacent campground, where the cars of boy scouts sent out a constant high pitched whine. No, they were probably put off by the flock of Canadian honking geese at the pond. Or maybe, just those trucks pulling in and out. But I didn't hear the coyotes again Saturday night until about five in the morning.
Sunday morning, I awoke in the frigid tent air to the sound of a man shouting. Should I be concerned? You hear stories of people murdered because no one paid attention when someone shouted. I listened. Getting louder, I could hear voices in response. A sing-song of response to the "a-left, right-a, a-left, right-a, left". It was the Guard, out marching. I pulled my covers closer, thankful that I wasn't in the army.
My mind began a sing-song of it's own:
I don't know but I've been told,
Camping out is mighty cold.
Still, we enjoyed the night by the fire with friends, laughing at our attempts to cook hotdogs on sticks, the full moon, and the fog of the morning.
Next: more on our weekend.
Friday, October 06, 2006
Reading my piece was a little harder yesterday. Bobby, who records the commentaries, says that this Ohio Valley climate affects our voices. My voice was either getting too dry or it sounded weak after water loosened not only my voice, but the gunk that collects from the air. What I needed was a good swig of whiskey, which would really clear it all out, but I suppose that wouldn't be compatible with trying to speak crisply. So, I struggled on, trying to clear my throat without blowing out the large mike in front of me.
You might think that reading 350 words without a mistake would be no problem, but it is really rather difficult. It takes one read through for me to calm down, and one or two more for the one I like. Some words are difficult, and you realize that until you try to read them in a paragraph. Yesterday, it was "the disasters" (in reference to the space shuttles). I get a lot of practice, however, reading aloud to Willliam, who will sit for as long as the voice holds out.
Thursday, October 05, 2006
As we gather the items we need to camp at the girls' riding competition this weekend, the temperature has dropped significantly and a light rain has continued all day. My resolve is beginning to drop with the temperature, and I wonder what I've done.
The last time we went camping, the girls were much smaller, four and two, to be exact. William was but a dream. We were city dwellers, hoping to find some solitude. We drove to Indiana, set up our new tent, and started a campfire. It all went well at first. The girls were asleep, we had some wine and sat at the fire relaxing, a romantic moment. That's when the skunk waddled into our campsite. We crept backwards, not knowing what to do, and retreated to the tent, firmly pulling the zippers. So much for romantic.
We tried to go to sleep, though the rednecks next door, closely resembling the relatives from Christmas Vacation, kept their radio on loud, guns propped against a tree. These same campers were our concern when Lauren woke up in the dead of night, screaming from a nightmare. We worried that they might put their rifles to good use. That was the last time we camped.
So, now I'm giving it another try. Sleeping on the ground will also be a challenge with my aging back. Whatever possessed me?
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Lauren has found her horse for Games finally. Her name is "Quid" (for Quidditch, the game in Harry Potter books). She's about 5 or 6 years old, is a POA (Pony of the Americas) breed, and is smart, yet quiet, and she and Lauren just match.
Monday, October 02, 2006
So of course, we had to make Monkey Bananas. To make your own, cut bananas in half, push in a popsicle stick and freeze. (This varies slightly from the book's recipe, in which they did not freeze the bananas first. The advantage to freezing the bananas first is that they can then be eaten immediately, and we all know that pre-schoolers like "immediately".)
Melt chocolate, carefully to not burn, in the microwave. (Spoken from experience.) Then, dip the frozen bananas in the chocolate and add sprinkles. Eat! Put extras on wax paper and into the freezer. One variation of this recipe is to dip the banana into honey and roll in nuts. Wm ate a lot of bananas this week. One advantage to this project is the opportunity for the mom to steal bites of chocolate in the name of education.
Sunday, October 01, 2006
At any rate, this morning, dh and I discussed who would take which role this morning. It is tempting to take the church-going role. Though it was my turn, dh offered to do the shopping.
Okay, I agreed, if you'll do the groceries the way I do groceries. What did I mean? Well, before going, the dishwasher must be unloaded, loaded, the refrigerator cleaned (to make room for the new groceries), and the diswasher started. When he returned, he was not to deposit the groceries on the counter like a fisherman who's returned home with a string of trout that he expects the little wife to clean and fry up for dinner. No, he would have to put them away, too. Just like I would. Dh rapidly agreed that he'd go to church. And, bless his soul, he did help me put away the groceries.
I'm off now to watch the girls ride in a mini-competition while dh cuts grass and Wm plays in the dirt. Now there's a good division of labor!
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