Obsidian and Other Treasures

Finally something worth posting!!  It just took me a month to get it here (and a YEAR since my last “real” post).

In August and September, we spent almost 3 weeks traveling around South Dakota and Wyoming.  It was the most amazing trip ever.  If I can get my face out of Facebook, I’ll try to post a real summary of our trip.  For now, I just wanted to point out something in my photos that I found really interesting.

Here are the collections of rocks Simon and Alvin found on a beach near Grant Village in Yellowstone National Park.  Since you can’t take stuff with you from the parks — not even rocks (shame on you if you did!), we took photographs of their treasures.  I found it so interesting the difference in their collections.

Simon’s collection looked like this:

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Alvin’s collection looked like this:

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Isn’t that fascinating?  Or is it just me?

South Dakota and Wyoming

Don’t anyone drop dead! I’m posting on my blog! So much for my new year’s resolution to blog more. Damn Facebook. It has taken over my life. There is just something appealing about writing to/for people you actually know (well, except I don’t actually know Laura, but feel like I do since we have a common mutual friend — small world!).

Anyway…

Soon we will be spending 17 days in South Dakota (Black Hills, Badlands, Mitchell, De Smet) and Wyoming (Yellowstone and Grand Tetons).

Anyone have specific recommendations? We have pretty much everything common on our list. Would appreciate some uncommon advice.

Thanks.

4th Picture Folder, 4th Photo

Colleen at The New Unschooler tagged me for the 4th Picture Folder, 4th Photo meme and it seemed so easy, I couldn’t ignore it (not that I would have ignored it if hadn’t been so easy — or would I have?)…

Here are the rules:

1. Go to the 4th picture folder on your computer.
2. Post the 4th picture in that folder.
3. Explain the picture.
4. Tag 4 more bloggers.

My folders are dated, so since I got my first digital camera in early 2001, the fourth folder was 2001-06. I knew right away the photo was going to be one of Theodore since he was born that year. What fun it was to find the 4th photo!! It really brought back memories.

Push Up 2

Regular readers of my blog may recall that my youngest son is a competitive gymnast.  He’s really good (if I do say so myself!).  Seeing this photo again reminded me of a bunch of other photos similar to this one that I took in June and July of 2001 when he was 5 and 6 months old.  The kid had amazing control of and awareness of his body.

I called this photo “Strength Training for the Great Crib Escape”:

Push Up 1

I swear he was trying to do a forward roll here:

Push Up 3

He never did anything the easy way:

Climber 1

So it was no surprise at all to me when he foiled the barricade and climbed the stairs at 6 months:

Climber 2

And just look where it has taken him:

parallel bars

I’m now tagging (gosh it was hard to select only 4, but nice not to have to select a lot or I would have just let people select themselves):

Throwing Marshmallows

Wistful Wanderlust

Day by Day Discoveries

Get In Hang On

Anyone Else Notice the Similarity?

“An ant on the move does more than a dozing ox. “  ~Lao Tzu

Anyone else notice the similarity?

Real Ants

Inaugural Ants

Maybe there was a Jumbotron in the grass by the sidewalk.

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I Triple Dog Dare You!

A scene from one of my favorite movies of all times comes true!

I Triple Dog Dare You!

Stick Boy

I was tagging photos today and I found this funny stick figure picture taken on the driveway in January 2005.  I wish I knew which kid drew it.  They all deny it.

No doubt this is a stick boy.  Don’t you just love the front and rear views?  Too funny.

Stick Man

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Changes

What I really want to know is how this:

Boys 2001

Became this:

Boys 2008

And how I ever survived those days when I had 3 in diapers.

My baby turned 8 on Wednesday.  It hardly seems possible.

New Year’s Day

Nothing says Happy New Year like a big dinner with family.

New Year’s Day 2009

I make no resolutions nor promises, but I do want to try to blog more this year.  I have a lot to say and not enough time to figure out how to say it in an interesting way.  Perfectionism sucks.

Happy New Year!

Recess

Just in case your playground is too dark (saw this in front of me at the Taco Bell drive thru lane recently):

Recess Lighting 2

 MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Not Dead (yet), just stuck in Facebook

Nope.  Still alive and kicking.

I recently joined Facebook after someone started a group for my old high school (which doesn’t exist anymore as of like the mid-1980s, so it is a little different than just any old reunion group).  It just adds one more wasteful thing to my already busy list of way more important things to do.

So, in Facebook, you suddenly get reconnected with all sorts of people you probably didn’t really want to reconnect with.  You also get to find people you really wanted to find but never could.  It’s a tradeoff of sorts.  Sometimes you even find that the world is really really small and one of your blog buddies from Illinois is friends with your Virginia coworker from 1991.  That was sort of eerie in a Six Degrees sort of way.

As I was poking around on Facebook, I had an interesting thought (interesting to me anyway).  People are pulling out various and sundry photos from the past and posting them.  They are few and far between.  There’s a little implied blackmail thing going on, in a fun sort of way, of course.

So the revelation for me was how different my childrens’ lives will be in the future.  There will be photos of every waking moment of their lives.  We got our first digital camera in 2001.  Simon was 4, Alvin was not quite 2, and Theodore had just been born.  We have TONS of film photos of the older 2 (well, more truthfully, the oldest), but since the moment we got a digital camera, I have taken kept (let me go check my Photoshop catalog….) 25,513 photos!.  I have tagged about 70% of them (I’ve been really good in the last year about tagging as I import them to the catalog).

Every.single.milestone in their lives has been captured in a photo.  Will anyone give a crap later on?  Who is going to look at these photos?  We certainly aren’t going to force people to sit through slideshows!  Oh wait.  We already do that.

I have noticed that kids today also document their own worlds.  My kids are no exception.  They have digital cameras and a digital video camera.  This could definitely come back to haunt them or their families sometime (an example would be the Facebook and MySpace pages of 4 local teens killed in a tragic highway accident showing pictures of themselves drinking, etc.).   We used to protect our privacy, but now we advertise our lives on the web via blogs and personal pages.  Isn’t that weird?

In their free time, they do school

So, parents of schooled kids wonder what schooled kids do in their free time.  They play video games, of course.

My kids?  Well, in their free time, they do school.

I’m being completely serious.

Alasandra just linked to a relatively positive article about homeschooling in Illinios.  The article just made me think about how we homeschool.  People are positive when they think you are doing school at home.  You know — the way they imagine school should be.  That has to be better than school, right?  It’s one-on-one and individualized to the learner.  But what about people who don’t do school at home?  What about those of us who completely buck the system?  Are they so congratulatory then?  Probably not.  It doesn’t fit into their educational paradigm.

Tonight, we visited News Channel 8 studios.  The kids actually got to be on live TV (that was a surprise to all).  When we got home, they got out their video camera (we got them a cheap digitial videocam last year) and pretended to do newscasts.  I was chuckling over things I heard them say like, “Back to you, Phil,” and “We’ll be live in 5-4-3-2-1…”

You may have already read my recent post about how Simon has decided to become a writer.  He has continued to write about 2 pages every day (handwritten).  He is choosing this as a fun thing to do.  I’m so happy! He only does this at night though, after a good long day of video gaming!

Nighttime around here is filled with educational activities.  Their days are spent on the computer playing games — which, by the way, include an amazing amount of learning about economics, math, and social interactions/getting along with others/cooperation.  I’m not ready to argue that computer time is a positive thing, but I’m beginning to believe that it is.

At night we do our AVKO Sequential Spelling tests (all three boys do it together at the same level).  They complain and laugh and try to get out of it, but we do it anyway.  They know that spelling is important.  That is really the only non-unschool thing we do.  We have math books that we work through, but not consistently.  They are great with math, all of them, but in different ways.  I truly believe that when they are ready, they will learn it.

So, the big difference I see with homeschooled and schooled kids is how they spend their free time. Do you see that too?

Unschooling

I never push writing.  I worry about it a lot — too much, I’m sure, but I never push.  It’s scary for me, but I really want them to want to write.

Last night, Simon (age 11) came to me and said, “Mom, maybe as one of my learning things, I could write stories.”

I said, “Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God!  Yes! Yes! Yes! Please write stories!”  “Gee honey, that’s a great idea.”

He went up to his room and wrote two full pages of an adventure of some sort of fight the hero is having with a huge monster.  He is soooooo excited.  He wants to become a famous author now.

Be still my heart!

Greed Sucks

Remember about a year ago when I posted about the contractor who found money in the walls of a house he was working on? (sorry, the link to the original article within my post is now dead)

Well, apparently, there were heirs, but the homeowner spent most of the money (though she claims it was stolen). As a result, the heirs were left with pretty much nothing.

Since there were rightful heirs to the money, they should have gotten it all. The new home owner should have tried harder to find the heirs. The original article said there were no heirs, so I felt the money belonged to the homeowner and the contractor had no claim to it.

The thing I find surprising (or not, I guess) is how the attorney suggested that if they had just kept their mouths shut and worked out a deal between them, they could have kept it all. Sick.

Greed

Happy Halloween!

Wow! What a week.  Thankfully it is (almost) over.

I actually MADE a costume for Simon this year.  He really wanted it.  We went to the fabric store and found a pattern and fabric and I spent several hours sewing this tunic thing he wore.  He still doesn’t exactly know what he was, but he looked good.  There was a moment yesterday where I thought I was going to have to sell him to the lowest bidder though.  Just minutes before our halloween party at a friend’s house, I completed the finishing touches on the costume.  He refused to wear it.

All was well tonight though.  He wore it and even spiked his hair to look tough.

Here are the chipmunks and our honorary daughter, Anna, who is in most of our family photos.

Halloween 2008

Hair spiking was the big thing tonight, and we are now out of spiking gel.  Our next door neighbor told Simon he should spike his hair all the time, so now he wants me to go buy more gel.  Hmmmmm.

Once again, they all carved their own pumpkins.  Simon did his completely on his own (the one on the left), the others got a little help scooping out the guts.  The little guy up top is the last remaining small pumpkin from our trip to Cox Farms.  It’s the only one that didn’t grow the cool hairy mold.

Pumpkins 2008

Stephanie’s kids came over to trick-or-treat in our neighborhood.  They had heard about the 7 pound bags of loot the kids  got last year and wanted a piece of the action. Here’s the entire gang:

The Halloween Gang 2008

And no Halloween story would be complete with out pictures of the loot.  Ugh.  At least this year, the bags only weighed between 5 and 6 pounds.

Theodore’s Loot 2008

Simon’s Loot 2008

Alvin’s Loot 2008

Quick Update

Here is a quick update since I’m a pathetic blogger.

  • I made a Halloween costume (yes, I got a pattern, fabric, and sewed the damned thing) for Simon and he refused to wear it to the Halloween party today.  I still love him (I think).
  • I joined Facebook and have been wasting an inordinate amount of time reconnecting with people I’m not sure I really want to know.
  • My youngest competed in his intrasquad gymnastics meet tonight and won 1st place all around.  The first “real” meet is in 2 weeks.
  • My hair is too long.
  • We are on AVKO Sequential Spelling test 16.  All three kids are doing it, and I think the youngest is learning the most from it.  He’s also bitching the most about doing it.
  • Halloween is tomorrow and I still haven’t bought candy.
  • We are going “family camping” with the Cub Scouts on Saturday (after the 3 soccer games and final soccer game parties).  I haven’t pulled one single camping item out of the basement.  I’m hoping it will not be freezing because 2 of my kids have “fake” sleeping bags (the kind you take on sleepovers).
  • The little pumpkins the kids carved last week have grown really cool mold hair.  They carved the big ones tonight, so hopefully they will last until tomorrow.

Updating to add (how could I possibly forget these?!):

  • Ward Cleaver locked himself out of his car today and had to call AAA.
  • Ward Cleaver got his car unlocked by AAA and drove away only to discover he had a screw in his tire and it was flat.  This, of course, made him late to pick up the kids at a friend’s house, meaning they missed soccer practice.  I was happily attending a gymnastics meet and oblivious to his distress (cell phone conveniently left in car).