If you do what you have always done, you will get what you have always had.

Friday, July 21, 2006


It appears that this coming school year might be my last for homeschooling. Vicky wants to go to high school (for now, at least). We're looking into dual enrollment for this year; she would take a couple of classes at the middle school to get her used to the atmosphere/class changing/etc., and I would handle the rest.

Curriculum has been a challenge for me. I think it is for almost every homeschooler, truth be told. Every kid has different needs, and curriculum companies try to accomodate such a wide range that I have pieces and parts that don't get used. Home made curriculum is a lot less expensive and can be tailor-made for each child, but it's time consuming. My solution for this year was to use the Language Arts that I'd gotten when Alex was in 8th grade and custom make History, which will include studies of the US and Illinois constitutions, as well as art history and culture of the time. (It's going to be pretty extensive.) I'll buy a math program, and Lord willing, the middle school will handle art and science. Last year I bought all of our curriculum, right down to the kits we needed for science experiments, and I spent almost $800.00. (Yeah! For one kid!) This year, I'll probably top out at $150, but it might be less.

Last night I went upstairs to get the 8th grade LA book and there on the next shelf was a set of books my mom bought us a few years ago. It's a set of five volumes put out by the Southwestern Company (total weight is about 25 lbs!), wherein lies the makings of a complete curriculum. We referred to them on and off in the last three or four years, but I didn't take the time to sit down and really look through them. Yes, I'm kicking myself now, and yes, Mom is going to fuss at me now that she has the web address for the blog!

I just can't tell you what a relief it is to know that I don't have to go hunting for reference books. I have timelines, socio-economic conditions, culture, important people and events broken down by period, plus an overview of our government and the US Constitution in those five books. I picked up a couple of art books last spring that will round it out.

Now I just have to get busy and put it together.


Thursday, July 20, 2006

Bizarre weather

Last night I was watching Rockstar when the weather guy, Kent, cut in. He told me all about a nasty storm heading into the area from the north, and sure enough, I could see the leading clouds, gray and heavy, to the east through the windows flanking the TV.

We got about ten more minutes of Rockstar before Kent was back, updating the track of the storm, which, at that point, was heading right for us. Kent also said that the storm was packing high winds, hail, and possible tornados.

About twenty minutes after that, the tornado sirens went off and the wind picked up. I went out the back door to put away things that would blow away and to move smaller plants into sheltered areas. As we were finishing I noticed the neighbor pulling chairs to the middle of their back yard, facing north, watching the storm.

By this time, Rockstar was effectively preempted. Kent tracked the storm minute by minute. In the back yard, we watched lighting splay in fingers through the clouds for a while before it seemed to clear up a little. Further investigation in the front yard and on the radar map showed that the storm was sliding to our east.

We got the wind. We got the lightning. We got NO rain! It didn’t shift much; I’m sure the base (five miles southwest) got some but I haven’t verified it yet.


Then it got stranger. The wind, which had been gusting from the north, shifted to gust from the south as the storm passed us. My tomato plants, which had been stoically standing up to the north wind, threatened to topple over. (They’re heavier on the north side of the pots.) We did a little more rearranging and finished just in time to see a power substation, probably at least a mile due east of us, pop and catch fire. Our power blinked but stayed on.

We had the better part of an hour to watch two more red pops and one blue one, and the first responders who came to deal with them. I have no idea what they were or why they were different colors. Eric might know, but he would give me the $5.00 answer instead of the $1.00 answer, and I haven’t had enough coffee to follow that whole explanation.

We saw enough of the news to learn that the Cards game was interrupted by the storm. Hurricane force winds (80 mph) ripped through St. Louis, knocking part of a partially renovated building onto the Eads Bridge. It was closed for a couple of hours and caused additional traffic problems for those who were trying to escape from Busch Stadium. Those same winds knocked lamp posts and traffic light poles flat onto the ground. One lamp post was made from ten inches of concrete and broke in two places. Lambert International Airport lost part of the roof of the main terminal.

We lost power around 10:15, and it stayed off about four hours, as near as I can tell. I woke up briefly when the ceiling fan turned back on. Eric was apparently awake when it happened because he rolled out of bed muttering about four hours without power and went to turn off lights downstairs that we’d missed. Personally, I think maybe we were pretty lucky to get the power back on so soon. It’s going to be hot today and I fell asleep trying to figure out where we could go in the hot part of the day. I’m glad not to have to worry about that. I think I’m happy to take hot but calm today and to count air conditioning among my blessings again.


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Blissfully laid off

I reported for duty to job #2 yesterday, just on time. When I shoved the van in park and prepared to jump and run for the door (OK, walk quickly; I don't run since I got out of the AF) I noticed that the lights inside were still off. I checked my watch: Yup, it was 11:00 on Monday. That's a work day. The manager was running late again, which is not an uncommon occurence.

I waited in the air conditioned comfort of my van and watched for the lights to come on. After fifteen minutes they still hadn't, so I went to the door to investigate. The store hours had magically changed while I was away: Monday through Friday 4-8.


Back to the van (it was hot outside!) and out with the cell phone.

As it turns out, he'd forgotten to call me because I was away. Business has been slow, so they've revised the business plan. The hired help was laid off, and I was home by 12:30, even with a little shopping.

A few years ago, this would have been devastating. When we lived in Texas our budget was round because there were no more corners to cut. Guilt at leaving my kids home to do their lessons in the morning took a back seat to keeping bills paid. Now, with Eric's contract settled and our debt dramatically reduced, I'm in a party mood. It frees up the time I needed to work on laundry and sewing and, more importantly, really relaxing for the first time this summer.

Nothing but good times ahead. (At least for the short term.)


Monday, July 17, 2006


Ryan was sitting in my lap this morning while I was cruising blogs. I didn't think much of it when he stared hard at the wall or when he grumbled and started toward it via the over desk route. I thought he saw a fly and I was happy to let him hunt it. When I realized there was no fly I grabbed the camera. The camera is a little slower on the draw than I like so I didn't get the exact shots I wanted.

First he got on the back of the printer stand and reached for it, but it was a little too high.

So he got onto the printer, and that proved a little easier. (Note to self: Get a plastic cover for the printer, and make sure to keep it off when not in use or he'll be faxing copies of his tail to Japan.)

Finally, after considerable grumbling, he was able to get to the object of his attention and took a good swat at the second hand of the clock. He missed, of course. Naturally my shot went wild when he leaped for it and ended up on the floor. He didn't scratch the paint on the wall nearly as badly as I thought he had.

The clock has come down temporarily. Hopefully he'll figure out that he can't get to the second hand while it's on the floor and won't try to catch it again when I put it back up. I guess it's time to go find the toys they've lost.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

back again

We rolled back into town late last night. It was a good trip, and although we had a little rain, there was nothing severe. It was, however, very hot for a couple of days. Alex took first place in a flintlock rifle match, and both kids got some archery in. I mostly loafed and tried not to melt. I thought I might come home with a 12x14 wall tent, but it was out of my price range. Way out. I did participate in a panel on 18th century women's clothing, and since I'm far from an authority, I learned more than I taught. It went far better than I expected.

Today I managed to get myself to a Dudleys Rush rehearsal. That's about it. The rest of the day has been devoted to a little light unpacking and not much else. I have about a dozen loads of laundry to do. After that I have some costume pieces to modify and research to do for other types of costumes that will still be period correct but cooler than the standard. Who knows; maybe I'll be able to come up with something that will allow me to use the Ojibwa name I got as a child. (At least, I'm pretty sure it was Ojibwa. My dad's friend was raised by that tribe. If anyone reading this is familiar with that language, the name is Miskwa Somona Sunsquaw, which I was told means Old Redheaded Woman. Please leave me a comment to corroborate either way.)