"Do not go where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."

Friday, January 28, 2005

Badges, baking, and BVD's

This was a busy week, considering we spent the whole week at home! We had a playdate scheduled, but it was cancelled, and the day of their homeschool playgroup was a freezing, just-want-to-hibernate kind of day, so we skipped that too. Spencer is getting his wolf badge, along with his first gold and silver arrows, at his pack meeting tonight, so we spent a good part of the week finishing up some of his requirements. We talked about fire safety, religion, camping.... it ran the whole gamut. We both look forward to sitting down with that book and seeing what else there is to do. He's finished all his achievements now (and is among the first 3 boys to do so!) and is now working on electives. Among those he tried this week - sign language, writing in a secret code, and measurement. He also had to bake a cake last night with Mike. They are having a cake auction tonight to raise money for the tsunami victims, and the scouts needed to bake their cakes themselves with a male partner. He picked a strawberry cake, and decorated it with Dale Earnhardt Jr (of course :o) It's really cool to see him having so much fun being involved in Scouts. Last night I finally got around to sewing on his Bobcat badge, his numbers, and his council patch, so he's all good to go. We also worked on the house this week, STILL trying to get it back into shape after the holidays! The boys have been great helping out with putting things away, cleaning, de-cluttering, etc. I have 65 DVD's currently strewn all over the couch in the living room (ok, it's DVD's, not BVD's, but I was going with the B theme) so they're not helping with the clutter, but I'm still having a blast buying and selling. I'm beginning to think we need another computer. Between ebay and email and the internet and games, this one is almost constantly in use. I'm on an email list that sends me the link to a new educational website every day. Sometimes I just delete them, as they're often way too schooly for us, but once a week or so we get a really cool one. Yesterday's was awesome - full of word games - and both older boys, myself, and even Mike, have spent a great deal of time playing there. I like internet games too, because they never wear out, get lost, broken or scratched. I have four tabs open on my browser right now, because Paxton likes to leave his games up so they'll be ready and waiting for him in the morning!

Monday, January 24, 2005

New games and thank-you notes

The kids' Zoo Tycoon game came this Saturday, and they pretty much played it without pause all weekend. It's really cool. After they learned the basics of the game, they quickly started experimenting to see what would happy if they let the lion out of it's fence, or put a zebra in with a tiger. Fun stuff! They have some very elaborate games saved, zoos with typical zoo animals, as well as marine life and dinosaurs. Neat. I also found a lego set of Spencer's that has been missing for months, and he was very excited to get it back and put it back together. It is a futuristic looking loader with a million tiny pieces, and it took him and Mike the better part of an hour to put it together. The only problem with legos, and a lot of their toys lately, is that now that the Everett is getting more mobile, they can't dump them all over the floor with the same abandon when he's in the room. We're having to be extra vigilant. Everett is fast and he is clever, and he will reach for those teeny tiny parts in the blink of an eye... all with that sweet little grin on his face. We finally did our Christmas thank you notes this weekend too, and it was a big group project. Mike printed pictures from the digital camera on the computer, I wrote up the notes, and the kids helped decorate them and sign them. I learned something about Paxton - he needs to have white-out very handy when he's writing, in case he's unhappy with one of his letters. It's always so interesting to see those different personality traits emerging. Finally, we had another beautiful snowstorm this weekend, and the boys happily bundled up to go out and play, only to come in a few minutes later when they were getting cold. There are snowpants and hats and mittens and coats and scarves strewn all over the place. This is truly a house of happy and free children.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

The writing on the table

...and the mirrors and the windows. The boys got some window markers in their Christmas stockings, and we are just now getting around to really using them. These are the neatest things!! We started out with windows, then moved onto the glass coffee table, and then leaving each notes on the mirrors. They write so nice, and clean off so easy. Our coffee table, at any given time, is now covered in an eclectic assortment of doodles, drawings, words, and numbers. I think every home should have a set of window markers! Paxton's sickness was thankfully in and out even faster than we'd hoped. By the end of the day on Saturday, he was up and eating and playing, and solved his Veggie Tales computer game for the third time. Mike went through their stack of computer programs, carefully sorting out the ones that don't work on this computer, replacing broken or missing cases, and just generally re-organizing them. They were really excited about that, and it inspired me to order them another game, Zoo Tycoon, which from what I hear they'll really like. Last night, we all piled in one bed to watch the first American Idol for the season. The boys just love that (except for Everett, who was trying to nurse himself to sleep and looked annoyed everytime someone would sing too loud or screechy) Today is a quiet morning, followed by an afternoon playdate at a friend's house. It occurs to me that we haven't been out of the house since last Thursday, so this'll likely be rejuvinating for all of us!

Saturday, January 15, 2005

New Year bugs

It was a good week, but our weekend, so looked forward to as a nice weekend of rest, has started out with a stomach bug! Paxton is the only one who has it so far, and is handling it well, all things considered. He is snuggled up on the couch watching his second Blue's Clues tape. Every time one of the kids gets sick, I always seem to mentally try to count back the days to see where they could have gotten it. It likely came from Cub Scouts on Thursday night, which was actually a great meeting. Spencer was very, very excited to get presented with another award, a Progress Toward Rank badge, which will hold one bead for every three achievements he finishes. We've never placed much emphasis on external rewards, but it warmed my heart to see how very proud he was to receive that little plastic triangle, and his first two beads. We also talked about the tsunami at the meeting, and how the den will be raising money to help the victims. Yesterday, the big boys got to play with Uncle Joe while Allison and Everett and I went to lunch at a great little diner that serves breakfast all day. It was a fun day for everyone, and we all turned in early. Now, we're just praying that this stomach bug makes a quick exit and doesn't come back.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

The Big Three-One

Happy Birthday to me. Sunday I had a wonderful day spending a girls' day out with my sister and mother (who also just had a birthday), and capped it off by meeting all the boys in our lives for a nice italian dinner out. Yesterday, the day of my birthday, was special in no small part because we finally sold the station wagon! The couple who bought it was a very nice, conservative older couple, and I had to laugh (on the inside) at the picture they got of homeschooling. Paxton was in nothing but underwear the first time they came, and the second he was playing playstation in mismatched pajamas at two in the afternoon. When the wife asked Spencer what he'd done that day he answered the way he usually does, "played," as if it was a silly question. She was happy to hear that he had read a book though. He actually has four books going right now, not counting all the books we pull out to look things up. He's reading 2 of the Boxcar Children books, Pigs Might Fly, and Henry's Clubhouse - a book I was excited to find for him at the used bookstore, since he'd enjoyed Henry Huggins so much. Today we spent a long time making little people out of pipe cleaners, and Paxton got the idea to give them parachutes, which started a rather lengthy trial and error process to find what worked the best. Paxton was playing Thinking Things Science on the computer today when there was suddenly a big popping noise, a blank monitor, and the smell of burning plastic. We were without a computer the rest of the day, and I feared the worst, but it was something Mike easily replaced when he got home from work. I'm thankful I'm not single.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Friends and Neighbors

The snow (several inches now) is giving the boys lots of opportunity to play with the girl across the street. They seem to follow the same pattern every time... some serious sledding, then back inside for a top-secret game they made up, involving strategy rooms, walkie-talkies, and lots of whispering. It is kind of funny how they cycle on and off with her. Sometimes they don't play together for weeks or months at a time, then will suddenly be together every day for days on end. Also of note: Mike did his brakes yesterday on the Saturn, which meant Spencer was right there by his side to assist, ask questions, keep him company, and come running in to give me frequent updates. Last night we all went to dinner at our new friends' house. I'd gone over with the boys for playdates before, but it was the first time that we'd all gotten together with husbands and everything. We had such a fantastic time! It was Spencer who really got us all together, when he bonded instantly with their son of the same age at homeschool group a couple months ago. Now that we're pretty much resigned to the fact that we're going to be making friends through our kids, we've experienced a few different scenarios... including when the kids get along famously, and the grown-ups not so much, and vice versa. So it was very nice indeed when we realized that not only were the kids (6 altogether) playing beautifully together, but the parents were also having a great time, comfortably chatting and laughing the evening away around the kitchen table. After dinner the kids dissappeared to the playroom in the basement, surfacing only to show us their latest creations - including a cereal crusher made out of tinker toys - as well as to get sympathy for their various tumbles. You know it's been a fun playdate when 2 out of six kids go to bed with a new, joyously aquired bruise.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Snowstorms and station wagons

Yesterday was our first good snowstorm of the season. It was beautiful. I was really surprised that the boys didn't go out to play in it till much later in the day, instead staying inside to continue with their Christmas toy marathon. They also helped me with my whirlwhind house cleaning because we had someone come over to look at our Buick Century, which we've been trying to sell unsuccessfully since July. This was very exciting for all of us, and sparked a flurry of questions about buying and selling and cars in general. Cubscouts was cancelled, but they weren't too disappointed because their friend from across the street came over to play. They started out outside, but soon came in to show off their new racetrack. The day ended with another dvd sorting party, filling one whole wall of our living room with more than 10 stacks of movies ready to be listed. Cool. We're all looking forward to the weekend, with a dinner with friends and a day with the grandparents in the works.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005


Yesterday, we finally got back out and about, after staying close to home first with sicknesses, then the holidays. It was great to catch up with our homeschool friends, but one of the best parts of going anywhere always seems to be the car ride! The boys and I have such great, spontaneous discussions... the kind that I sort of wish the doubters could witness - the people who don't think unschooling could possibly work. Every day is different, but yesterday we talked about the purpose of the sun and what would happen if it were closer or further from the earth; we talked about the Titanic (this was fascinating to them and took up most of the half hour ride); we talked about Tyrannasaurus Rex and what he ate; we talked about money, and why it still costs me real, actual cash even when I pay with a credit card or debit card. Good stuff. All this while singing along to the soundtrack to 13 Going on 30. The boys also helped me get my dvd's ready for ebay yesterday, carefully sorting and stacking them into little groups. When the time comes, they're also going to help with the packaging, printing out invoices, etc. They're going to earn a little paycheck for this, but they're just as excited by the project as they are by the paycheck. I hope they never lose that.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Happy New Year

Spencer and Paxton tried really hard to stay up for New Years, but they both only made it till around 10:30. We decided to just stay home for the holiday, and it was really nice. Mike and I rented a few movies, stayed up till 2:00 AM, and for the first time I can remember, didn't even watch the ball drop on tv. On New Year's Day we went to a party at my Aunt and Uncle's house, and we all had a great time. The boys all had belated Christmas presents to open, they played Foosball, played on the computer, and otherwise just mingled happily. We got home at 9:00, and while they didn't stay up till midnight on New Year's Eve, they did stay up till midnight on New Years Day! Still on an emotional high from the party, they played a few rounds of Paxton's new game, Mr Mouth, watched some tv shows they had on tivo, and kept us company while we did some more bidding on dvd's on ebay. It was after 12 when we all finally went up to bed. The boys are still raring to go, but I am feeling rather droopy! Mike is getting our new (used) computer ready to go today, and we promised Spencer that we'd all play his new game, Cranium Cadoo. We have a busy week coming up, with Cub Scouts and homeschool group both starting back up after the holiday vacation, but it'll be nice to get back into a somewhat normal rhythym again. I always get very excited in January.... I love the idea of a new year, fresh starts, and new possibilities. The New Year always makes me try just a little bit harder, whether it's learning a new skill, or having more patience in a difficult situation. That's one thing I'd like to pass on to my boys.


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