Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Taylor Swift

Lorna received her first CD yesterday. She listens to a lot of our music but this was the first time she asked for something that would be hers. I was able to get the deluxe edition of Taylor Swift's CD for her stocking. One thing that jumped out at me was the wholesomeness of the songs. Normally when you listen to music sung by young artists the songs are about mature themes, this wasn't the case. The songs were fun and cute, exactly what I want our 12 year old listening to! There was also a DVD included that had some videos and interviews.

Our day seemed a bit harried but that's always the case when we spend the morning at church. Due to the long drive and getting up so early we didn't actually get around to opening gifts until 5pm after we all got up from our naps. It made for a very relaxing evening that ended way too soon.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Good & Bad

Lorna had her quarterly visit with the pediatric endocrinologist yesterday. There are no useful specialists near us so we have to drive 3 hours to Los Angeles which makes for a really long day. Usually these visits are a whole 5 minutes but this time was a bit longer. The actual doctor isn't the one who does the visit, we always spend most of our time with the doctors in training. The actual endocrinologist only comes in at the end to say hello. This time we met a very nice woman who is in her first year of specialty training. She asked us all kinds of questions about what surgery Lorna had as a baby and if we would do it again given the chance. It seems there is a vocal group who feels the non-life threatening surgery usually done on infant girls with this condition shouldn't be done until the teen years. They feel these girls should be able to decide for themselves. Funny thing is, this has to be done once you reach puberty so I don't understand what the issue is. The new techniques now mean it's a one time thing, unlike Lorna's which will be have to be completed with a second surgery in the next few months.

The good news is that the labs look great, the bad news is that she hasn't grown any in the last 4 months. The doctors feel that she won't be growing much more. They said she may gain 1/2 inch over the next few years but they don't expect her to hit 5 feet. We already knew her bones had started fusing early but we didn't realize she was this far off in bone age. They were concerned but I didn't get the impression that there is anything they can do about it. She took the news really well and said that she would just have to get small horses to ride.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Wal-Mart

Is Wal-Mart really any different than any other retailer?

That's the question I'm asking myself after reading the Wake-up Wal-Mart site. Statistics can be skewed any way you want. What I found somewhat amusing is the idea that Wal-Mart costs taxpayers money. The complaint is that they don't pay their associates enough and the costs for medical insurance are too high.

I only have our experiences with low paying jobs to look to but here is what we have found. The McDonald's in town pays it's workers $7.50 an hour (minimum wage in CA). The managers make $8.00 no matter how long they have worked there. There are no benefits given to the employees and no opportunities for raises. Wal-Mart is looking like a good employer right now. The unionized grocery store here in town pays better IF you can get hours. They are only required to give you 24 hours a week if you don't have any availability restrictions in which case they aren't required to give you any hours. The pay is better but at 24 hour a week you make less than minimum wage after union dues are taken out. The medical plans offered are useless, being more like a discount plan, and you don't qualify for medical for your spouse until you've worked there 4 years! Again Wal-Mart is looking really good.

If you want to just look at medical plans I can tell you that the plans offered by Paul's day job (outside sales) aren't any better than what is offered to Wal-Mart employees and for a higher premium. The plan we are currently enrolled in has deductibles of $1000 and only pays 65% after you have reached the deductible. To be eligible you have to meet a certain sales plan for the year or you don't get coverage for the next year. Just in case you missed it, we actually qualify for state sponsored insurance for our kids so you this supposed professional type job can be said to be costing the taxpayers money.

Putting aside all of the above I still question whether or not there is a problem with Wal-Mart. I get the impression that there is a growing idea that afforable medical coverage and high wages are a right. That everyone deserves these things no matter what they are capable of doing. If workers are unhappy with the pay and benefits of a job isn't it their responsibility to look for a better employer? The idea that kept popping in my head as I read the stories from Wal-Mart employees and the "facts" on this site is that Wal-Mart is no different than any other retailer. The complaints and frustrations of the employees can be heard at any other place that hires unskilled labor.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Medical Insurance

I've read an article that stated that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger wants to make it mandatory that all people in CA have health insurance. If you cannot get the insurance from your employer then the state would offer insurance coverage. This is a problem on so many levels. We've had a recent problem that just proves this won't work.

We were unable to get private insurance for our daughter because of her genetic disorder. We had the option of taking the state Healthy Families coverage or going without coverage. We swallowed our pride and took the state coverage. The plan is administered by Blue Cross. As of October of this year we were told that UCLA, where her specialist is located, will no longer accept the insurance. Since then I've found out that the medical group in Fresno and San Diego has terminated their contracts. I was told that it looks like Stanford and San Francisco will also be going this route. The medical groups want more money and the plan administrator cannot authorize more since the state tells them how much they can pay. What this means is that we cannot get an authorization to continue seeing the specialist our daughter goes to. The plan administer has referred our case to another state program who can authorize different doctors for special cases. When I talked to them, the names they gave us were for doctors that I was told had retired! They can refer her to one hospital in Los Angeles county but having dealt with them in the past it is the last place I would feel comfortable taking her. Since all the patients from the surrounding areas will also be switched to that particular hospital I cannot even imagine what the wait for an appointment will be since it was 4-6 months before this happened. How can you require people to have insurance that no medical group will take?

I have no idea what we are going to do at this point. I have messages in to Blue Cross about an appointment we have scheduled next week. At this point I'm hoping to get them to cover this one appointment so I have time for the other state program to go into effect and find a doctor who will take it.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

What is it?

We have a cast iron pot on the wood stove to add humidity to the air when we burn. Last night it gave a loud pop and actually jumped on the stove. I opened it up to find this.



We couldn't figure it out until Malachi gave a little sound and turned red. It seems he wanted to hide something from his sister yesterday and put it in the pot. He forgot about it and later filled the pot with water and set it on the stove. Have you guessed what it was? It's a golf ball.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Another sewing project

I put the pictures and description under this link so I don't scare anyone away. If you are easily embarassed by items of a personal nature don't look. If you aren't then have a look at my newest creations!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Boring

That's how you can describe my life right now, and I'm loving every moment of it!

My posting has been erratic because I just don't have much to say. Well, I could go on and on but I wouldn't have anything of interest to say. I've spent the last week doing laundry, more laundry, reading, laundry, and getting a few loads of water in town because I've been doing so much laundry. It's gotten cold so the blankets and warm clothes needed to be brought out. Unfortunately the tubs that contained said blankets and clothes had been opened earlier in the year and the lids were never put back on properly. That left dirt and spiders in the stuff, the tubs are kept under our deck since we don't have a garage. So on top of our normal laundry I had to wash all that stuff too. Luckily my kids do their own clothes and sheets so I only had to wash every one's blankets. This is one of those times that I'm really glad I made the kids learn to do their laundry when they were young. In case you are wondering how young, I taught them to do their laundry at about 5. I had to help with adding the soap but they had to put their clothes in the washer and transfer them to the dryer. At this point I don't have to help at all. They wash their clothes, hang them on the line, take them down, and put them away. I'm not picky about how they fold them and I don't look in their dresser unless I have to.

My other exciting and big project was cleaning out the closet. I told you my life was boring! Since our closet is tiny (2 x 5) and we don't have room for a dresser I have to switch out the summer and winter clothes. I spent yesterday doing just that since the clothes I washed were dry and folded. It's always fun to see the clothes I forgot I had. Today I'm going to make myself sit down and sew up some of the fabric I bought at a day after Thanksgiving sale, it's been sitting on the ironing board tauting me for a week.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Content

I was thinking about what it means to be content the last few weeks. When I think about being content I automatically associate that with being complacent. I’m not ready to be complacent, I’m still looking for ways to change and improve our way of life. I’m still looking at ways to implement my “less is more” attitude towards living. If I am content then that means I’m done looking and changing. That doesn’t mean I’m unhappy with everything in our situation, I’m finding things that this particular place offers us that we may not have elsewhere. At the same time I’m continuing to dream and plan about what I’d like in the future. So I’m not content with our life but that’s okay because I’m still striving for ways to make our life even better.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Christmas Parade

I couldn't have been more pleased with the way things went at the Christmas parade!

Just to give you an idea of why this was such a groundbreaking thing I need to explain how far Lorna has come with Ginger. When she first saved up and purchased her horse 2 years ago her expectation was that Ginger would be a great beginner horse. The acquaintance we bought her from had purchased the horse at an auction and only had her for 6 months before he sold her to us. He really wanted to help Lorna get her first horse so he sold her for a lot less than she was worth.

Lorna didn't have much experience with riding so she really needed a "kid-proof" horse. Ginger quickly found that she could take control and promptly threw Lorna off twice. After that Lorna would only sit on the horse and have us lead her around. Once we got settled here we told Lorna she either had to work with Ginger or sell her because the cost of upkeep was too much for a lawn ornament. She started lessons in August and now is able to maintain control of her horse. Today she proudly rode Ginger down the street with sirens blaring and people cheering. Never once did Ginger give her a problem, that's a long way from throwing Lorna off and running down the road! Lorna is now confident enough that she is going to ride Ginger at her next gymkhana event.

The group Lorna rode with (they won 1st place for the equestrian division).


Coming down the street.


Lorna and Ginger


Malachi greatly enjoyed all the candy the various participants threw to the spectators.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

A Nontraditional Thanksgiving

We don't celebrate Thanksgiving like most others do. A number of years ago, after a failed attempt to hold a traditional dinner at our house where all but 2 people cancelled the day of, we decided it was a waste to do all that cooking for just our small family. In addition to that, none of us care for turkey and we just don't have the money to attempt such an extravagant dinner. We now have the tradition of doing appetizers all day.

I started the day by making homemade french and brown bread.


The french bread was used for a goat cheese spread topped with sun dried tomatoes.


Lorna made homemade crescent rolls for the next 2 snacks. These are filled with cream cheese, dried onion, asiago, and bacon.


The last batch was filled with cream cheese, asiago, and roasted red peppers.


The only ingredient that we bought special for today was the cream cheese so the cost was really minimal. And just so you don't get the idea that we ate junk all day I should add that our lunch consisted of chicken salads.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Nothing

I've been remiss in posting lately. There just isn't much going on so I'm enjoying the relative calm of our lives right now.

We celebrated Lorna's 12th birthday last week by taking her to the American Girl Store in Los Angeles. She was surprised since we didn't tell her where we were going. We were able to get a couple of her grandparents to give her money so she could shop while there. We left with 2 dolls, their accessories, and an outfit that was on special. Since the store is in an outdoor mall we walked around and enjoyed being out and about.

This Saturday we are gearing up to take Lorna and her horse into town to be in the Christmas parade. The gymkhana club that she is now a member of is part of the parade and asked if she wanted to join them. I know it doesn't sound like any big deal but we are taking her horse, Ginger, for her to ride. This will be the first time she's done anything with her horse besides ride her around the property. Lorna's been working with her horse daily. She's gone from not being able to control the horse very well to trotting around trashcans set up as barrels. Now we will see how Ginger does out with other horses and lots of people. We are hoping Lorna will be able to start riding Ginger in the gymkhana events sometime next year.

Even with the addition of transportation available I find that we aren't really using it. We've gotten so used to being home and working our errands into one day that I forget we can go out. Today we will take a trip to the library to pick up some books the kids requested in. Since we have found another branch with a nice librarian we have started using the library again. This branch is only open 2 days a week and has one small room full of books but I can order in just about anything at no charge.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Transportation

We finally broke down and purchased another vehicle. The rising fuel costs and maintenance on the truck pushed us into this as a way to save money.



We found this on a local dealer's website after visiting a few used car lots. It seems everyone wants a small fuel efficient vehicle so the prices were out of our range. This particular vehicle had been sitting at the dealer since April so they had just lowered the price by almost half. It's in really good shape considering the price. The best part is that our yearly premium for insurance went down by $11!

This now leaves me with the truck during the week. I don't foresee actually going anywhere because of the cost of fuel, but at least we will have it available in case of emergency.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Typical day

I’m in the middle of reading Homeschooling: A Patchwork of Days and I’ve been thinking about what our days are like. I also had a nice discussion with a woman at the stables last Friday. She was wondering about what resources we use and how we go about doing school at home. I decided to actually write down an average day just to prove that we aren’t normal!

Here is what Monday looked like at our house…

Since the time change was yesterday we were all up by 8am! That is an unusual occurrence for me, I usually get up closer to 9am. I’ve given up getting the kids out of bed so they get up when they want, which is usually after 9.

8-9am I spent reading email and blogs.

The next hour I spent getting dressed, making the bed, getting a list of books together for Paul so he can go to the library for me, printing out the planning sheets for school, cleaning off the kitchen counter, washing dishes, and hanging up the wet laundry from yesterday.

At 10am the kids put away the Legos they were playing with so they could start their schoolwork. I needed to make bread so I started that while they worked on their individual stuff. While the bread was rising I checked the stuff Lorna had already finished and got her working on some overdue thank you notes. Between kneading the dough and letting it rise a few more times we worked on science and history together. We finished up with catechism work and prayers. By this point it was after 1pm so I left Malachi to finish his thank you notes while I cleaned the bathroom. Lorna decided to move her horse riding to the afternoon since it gets dark so early so she went out to ride Ginger. After I finished cleaning, the bread was ready to go in the oven and Lorna was ready to start her afternoon chores.

I got off easy today since there were leftovers from last night for lunch today. So at 2pm, I sat down to eat and read a bit. Malachi was still working on those notes so I helped out a bit before I finished lunch. The kids ate lunch after I did because they were busy with their own stuff. From 2:30-3:30 I read some more email and decided to start this blog post.

Paul got home relatively early, 3:30, with the load of library books. From then until Paul left for his night job at 5:30pm I read one of the books he brought home. At 5pm the kids were finished with their chores so we put in the movie we got in the mail from Netflix. About an hour into it I started making dinner. Once the movie and dinner were finished I went back to my book. I started getting ready for bed around 10 pm. The kids finished up showers around this time as well, getting to bed around 10:30pm.

I finished my book and started another one until Paul got home at midnight.

This is a pretty typical day for us. The kids don’t have set times to go to bed or get up and they have chores that help the house run pretty smoothly. I have a lot of time to read or sew because I don’t have access to a vehicle during the week so I am home all day without any errands to run. I frequently read 5-7 fun books a week and check my email numerous times a day. I sometimes feel guilty that I have so much time for my own amusements but I don’t have many of the same opportunities for adult conversation that others do so these things help keep me sane. I used to try to clean a lot more but realized it’s useless to try to keep things picked up. The house is so small that it is really impossible for it not to be cluttered. One benefit of it being so small is that it is a quick job when I do go on a cleaning spree.

An average day for school is only about 2-3 hours. We are using fewer and fewer textbooks every year. I started out really regimented but have relaxed a lot over the past few years. Even though "school" is only a few hours we all spend a lot of time reading and doing things that could be counted as school related.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Changes

I hadn't realized that it had been so long since I posted!

We are in the middle of yet another change in schedule. Paul was informed by the manager at the market he works at overnight that they are eliminating the produce position overnight so he would be switched to days. The guy tried to just schedule him during the day without saying anything but was reminded, again, that Paul has a day job. Back and forth they went until the manager scheduled him overnight this week. When Paul thanked him the manager preceded to tell him that he will be on days next week. I'm not sure what he doesn't understand about the statement, "I have a day job and cannot work during the day." So Paul went on a job hunt over the last few days.

On Monday he starts working at McDonald's. Certainly not the most glorious or highest paying position but they need someone to work nights. The biggest benefit of all, in my mind, is that he will be able to get more sleep. Also, no more union dues!!! Even though the rate of pay is less, the lack of union dues will more than make up the difference when the new minimum wage takes effect Jan 1st.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Mona Lisa Smile

When I originally looked at this movie all the reviews I saw said it was a feminist movie. I finally broke down and ordered it from Netflix because I really like the actresses in the film, I was pleasantly surprised. We all really enjoyed the movie for several reasons.

First, having it set in the early 50's was interesting. I was fascinated by the clothes and such.

Second, the views of the time were almost the complete opposite of what we see now in society. The movie focuses on a woman's place, whether it's in the home or not. Those that chose something other than getting married and being a full-time homemaker are the misfits.

Last, the message wasn't what I expected. The message seemed to be to think for yourself. The idea of being a homemaker wasn't condemned and in fact one of the main characters struggles with whether she wants to further her studies to become a lawyer or get married. Although the character played by Julia Roberts tells her she doesn't have to make a choice this character explains that she does if she's not wiling to sacrifice her (possible) family.

The special features on the disk were also really good. It gave us some interesting topics for discussion.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Gymkhana




Lorna just finished her first show with the local Gymkhana club. She thoroughly enjoyed herself and looks forward to making this a monthly ritual. She rode the horse she's been taking lessons on for the last few months. We are hoping to eventually get her out there on her own horse after they start lessons together in a few months.

For those that don't want to wade through the link above, Gymkhana is a timed event kind of thing. Each month the local club gets together to go through 7 different events, there are a total of 13 events that alternate each month. The events involve going around poles, barrels, and over small jumps. You can go as fast or slow as you want. This particular club has a very wide age range and is very relaxed.

Lorna did great and the other members cheered her on, which made her day. She placed 2nd in 2 events, 3rd in one event, and we are awaiting the results for 2 others (technical difficulties). Not bad for her first try!


Thinking Blogger Award

Elizabeth at Muddy Boots has named this as one of the blogs that makes her think. It's kinda scary since mostly I just like to whine and now the pressure is going to make me whine more.

The rules:
1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think,
2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme,
3. Optional: Proudly display the 'Thinking Blogger Award' with a link to the post that you wrote.

My brain is fried from preparing for and cheering at Lorna's first horse event so I'm going to have to ponder more before listing 5 blogs that make me think. I know, I'm already breaking the rules...

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Tagged

I was tagged by Glenda so here it goes...

The rules of this are:

1. Link the person who has tagged you.
2. Tell seven true things about yourself.
3. Tag seven new people.
4. Leave a message with the person you have tagged so they know about it.

Seven true things...
1. I'm addicted to Diet Pepsi, but if I'm really desperate I'll drink Diet Coke.

2. I love to read, I always have.

3. I like to sew but not enough to make time to do it on a regular basis, I'd rather read.

4. I love dogs, as shown by the 5 we currently have. I can't visit animal shelter websites because I'm too tempted to go adopt more!

5. Sleeping is one of my hobbies, it's right up there with reading.

6. I hate shopping for clothes and shoes.

7. I'm blond and I have a BA in math which most people don't think go together :)

Everyone I would have tagged has already done this or has been tagged so if you are reading this and have been overlooked consider yourself tagged.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Frustration

Why is it that employers love to guilt their employees into giving to whatever charity they are sponsoring?

Paul received a United Way packet from his employer last week. Honestly after I considered writing a note to human resources saying we would love to help but since we don't get enough from his job to afford the necessities we can't participate, I just threw it away. Today he got both a voicemail and email from his region manager saying he wants 100% participation in this campaign. I want Paul to make enough money so he isn't working an additional 25-35 hours a week at another job but we don't all get what we want!

This comes on the heels of being told that he couldn't get the motorcycle he was considering, not only would it save on gas but we figured it would save on the tire eating problem. His employer requires a 4-door vehicle, which is news to us since there is nothing in his contract about this! I'm getting really tired of employers who have control over the vehicles we buy, where we live, and requiring things like high-speed internet and fax services without allowing us to expense these things. Now we have to consider whether or not the lack of participation in a "voluntary" giving campaign is going to affect his yearly review. I know they can't legally do anything but we've seen too much at other companies not to realize they can find other ways to punish you for not complying with their whims...

Feeling guilty

I've spent a lot of time recently feeling guilty that I have so much extra time. Most of that time has come at the expense of housework, I just can't seem to make myself want to clean. I'm still battling the feeling that we should be getting ready for another move.

I've been feeling guilty for how much sleep I get too. Kind of a weird thing to feel guilty about but since Paul gets so few hours of sleep it just seems wrong that I get so much.

The biggest thing I feel guilty about is our inability to settle on a church. I feel like I'm failing the kids. I don't feel like our basic requirements are all that much. We want a church that is liturgical, doesn't have women lay leaders/readers/communion assistants, practices closed communion, and has a pastor that preaches law and gospel. We've spent the last few weeks attending the last 2 churches in the area on our list. Nothing fits within the parameters we set up, and yes I am well aware that no church is perfect! The one that comes closest falls short in the preaching, and the communion practices are such that we don't feel comfortable communing at this time. *Sigh*, I keep telling myself that at least we hear the Word in this particular church each Sunday. The preaching just leads me further into despair though because I know I'm not doing enough. Both times we attended I feel crushed under the weight of sin and I've spent the week just miserable. I know I'm forgiven but not hearing it during the sermon after being shown my sin is so hard to deal with.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Tire mystery solved

So we got some good and bad news about the truck. There isn't anything wrong with it, I think that's good news. The bad news is that this is just what this truck does to tires. It seems we noticed it sooner than most others because Paul drives so much for work. We got the truck in May '06 and we have 63,000 miles on it. The front end mechanic at the dealer we took it to has the same type of truck, although a few years older, and he is on his third set of tires in about 60,000 miles. His wear pattern is the same as ours and he said this is normal. This puts us in a bad position since it means we would need to replace the tires about twice a year. The only suggestion is that we try going down to 17 inch wheels and tires. We may try it next time we need tires but the idea of buying new wheels AND tires doesn't make me very happy. If we do decide to try it there is no guarantee it's going to make any difference. I wish an older used car was an option but I don't think anything in our price range can handle the amount of driving Paul does.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Remaking our school

In my increasing effort to remake our homeschool I had Paul pick up Beyond Survival by Diane Waring last time he was at the library. I’m still trying to figure out if this was a good idea. I’m bogged down in the section on teaching/learning styles. I can see myself fitting into a number of the types listed. I’ve also come to the realization that I’ve changed a great deal over the last 7 years.

I started out this school year with a year’s worth of plans already drawn up because my biggest failing was getting the planning done each Sunday. I used to be a very scheduled person but now I find myself rebelling against the weekly plans.

Contrary to everything I’ve read about homeschooling my kids don’t like to be read to very much. They both would much prefer to do their own thing. Lorna wants to read it herself because she gets more out of it. Malachi just tunes me out while he daydreams. They will both listen intently as Paul reads fun books to them but when it comes to anything else they would rather do chores then sit and listen to me read. I continue making them sit there even though none of us enjoys the experience (I hate reading aloud) and I’m now questioning why I’m insisting on this torture. I know there are benefits to making them process thing in this manner but I think we would all be a lot happier and retain more by throwing out the daily history and science read aloud.

I’m still trying to figure out whether we need to approach everything a bit differently or if this is just a phase. I dislike being a slave to our school plans. I’m thinking maybe it’s time to throw out some of those plans and let the kids’ interests determine where we head for a while. I think we will attempt it with science and then go from there. We usually order school books in November and our order this year will probably reflect our new approach to things. I’m expecting we will be ordering a whole bunch of literature and only a few workbook types of things.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Another dress completed

I love the feeling of getting a sewing project completed, especially one with a new pattern. This pattern came from the same place as the chemise I finished a few weeks ago. It was relatively easy and went quickly once I traced the pieces. Lorna picked out the fabric and the color looks great on her.

Here is the front.



This is the back. It closes with 5 buttons which are difficult to see since they are clear.

Wood cutting

This was our last trip into the forest for the year. Once we got up there we were surprised to see snow all over the place including the road. We only go about 7 miles up the road from our house and we didn't get any snow.

Since there was enough snow to play in the kids spent lots of time throwing snow at each other. Malachi got the better of his sister a number of times.




Malachi also spent some time climbing the rocks next to the side of the road.



Of course it's not all fun we had to work too. Paul cut the trees down.



Lorna and Malachi brought the pieces to the wagon.



I loaded the truck.



It went really well and we ended up bringing out about 3/4 of a cord. The wagon was a last minute thought since we sometimes have a hard time carrying the wood to the truck. It worked superbly so we will use it again next year when we go back into the forest.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

More tire problems

We've had our current tires for about 11,000 miles and they are wearing funny just like the last set and need to be replaced. We had the truck aligned so we know that's not the problem. The salesman at the tire store today asked Paul if he drove the canyon frequently. He drives that particular road to work and back 5 days a week. According to this guy the problem is the road and all the curves. The tires we have on the truck have a 50,000 miles warranty so at least we have the option of getting another set, but what good will that do if we have to replace them every 10-12,000 miles?

This whole thing is becoming more frustrating by the minute. Our first set of tires lasted 35,000 miles and would have lasted longer if the dealership who did our oil change hadn't messed up the alignment. Those tires weren't the best considering the type of driving we do, they slipped around corners and on the sandy roads we live on. This last set was supposed to be wonderful and solve all our problems but now it seems they won't work on curvy mountain roads. We are running out of options since the truck came with 20 inch wheels, stupid for a 4x4 I know.

Does anyone have any recommendations for great tires that will work on curvy mountain roads?

Hiding

I've spent the last week or so hiding in books by Tanya Huff. They remind me a lot of the stuff by Anne Bishop but not nearly as deep. Since I felt the need to hide I have read 5 of her books and I'm almost done with the 6th. No time for cleaning or sewing or much of anything because I'm busy hiding. If you are easily offended by homosexuality or bad language don't try them. There isn't anything explicit but some of the characters are homosexual and they flirt a bit. I find her books amusing and distracting which is what I need right now. Off to see how the romance writing vampire saves the day...

Friday, September 28, 2007

Stereotypes

Homeschoolers have plenty of stereotypes thrown around about them. In our own circles we have the different types of schooling. Here are some that I've seen... The unschoolers who of course do nothing. The textbook users who only use textbooks and are trying to recreate a traditional school setting. We have those that plan out their lessons and follow a rigorous schedule, they aren't flexible at all and their kids always go to college when they are 7 years old. We have homeschoolers that give the rest of us a bad name (whoever they may be). I could go on but I think you get the point.

From the outside we have those stereotypes that say we are all hermits who are hiding our children at home. These kids never see the light of day and are unsocialized. We've all heard the dreaded question, "What about socialization?" from those outside of the homeschooling world. The answer most people throw at them is that there are park days, field trips, boy/girl scouts, sports, co-op classes, college classes, support groups, church youth groups, 4H, etc. But I'm going to go out on a limb and say that even that is a stereotype. In our quest to prove to the world that our kids are socialized we are assuming they need any and all of those opportunities not to become what everyone else thinks they are. By listing all those things, what are we saying about those homeschoolers who either aren't involved in any of those thing or don't have access to groups and classes and such? I think we are giving the impression that those who aren't involved in outside activities of some sort are still unsocialized hermits. Maybe these are the homeschoolers who give the rest of us a bad name...

Our family falls into this category. We aren't involved in much of anything. I used to shy away from these things because I didn't feel comfortable and the groups I happened to find were too much into religious beliefs that didn't match mine and wanted me to believe the same way they did. Now we don't have access to any of these things because of where we live and the fact that we only have one vehicle. I can't even pull out that old favorite that the kids are out in the world with me when we go shopping because I don't do the shopping anymore! What I've realized is that this doesn't make the kids any less socialized. We haven't turned into the dreaded hermits that people must imagine when they ask about socialization. We still talk to one another, have conversations about politics or current events, and once in awhile talk to other people on the phone. When we do go out the kids don't stick out like aliens with 2 heads, they can still speak and be polite (although that does tend to make them stick out a bit). With school just having started up people's favorite question is, "What grade are you going into?" Followed by, "What school do you attend?" They wouldn't bother asking if our kids stuck out like unsocialized hermits because they would automatically know that we must homeschool. They always seem to be surprised that we do this homeschooling thing. We must not look like what everyone assumes homeschoolers look like. I have a hunch that homeschoolers don't look like anything specific. Of course most of us homeschooling moms wear denim jumpers with Birkenstocks and have long hair...

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Reevaluating our schedule

As I was looking at other people's blogs and such it made me realize how little fun stuff we do for school. When we first started hsing we did fun projects like paper mache and crafty stuff. Over the years that stuff has gradually been replaced by just getting through the day. In an effort to introduce a little more fun and creativity into our school time I've decided to take Fridays off for projects.

This week we will just do some coloring and salt dough. I have all these worksheet books left over from teaching and Lorna is interested in trying a few. It doesn't sound like all that much fun to me but she's excited. The sheets involve solving equations, coloring the figures, then cutting them out to make 3d shapes. Malachi is on a painting kick right now so he wants to make salt dough figures and paint them. I've ordered a book on volcanoes from the library for next week.

One of the things I always see people suggest to moms just starting out hsing is the idea of going on field trips or to the park or the library. We used to do those things. I miss being able to pick up and drive to a museum or the library but having only one vehicle in the family doesn't allow that. The one thing the kids remember with great fondness about living in IN were the times we drove to Chicago to go the Field Museum. They still talk about those trips. It makes me feel guilty that we can't do those kinds of things here. I'm hoping that these Friday project days will help to brighten up our school days.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Sundays

Sundays are the hardest day for me. I get up in the morning feelings like I'm missing something and of course I am missing something, church.

We are still searching but haven't got past the calling stage. The problem is getting calls back. We have finally given up on one church, Paul's left 3 messages over the last 6 weeks. He explained each time that we are looking for a church for our family and he had a few questions. We called another church 1.5 weeks ago. The answering machine said the pastor only picks up the messages on Sunday so we were prepared for a little bit of a wait but were hoping for a call sometimes this past week. The last church we called only had a generic message so we think it was the church but we aren't totally sure. All of these places are over an hour away so we need to verify service times and make sure they use a hymnal before we drive all the way there.

This would be funny if it wasn't so important.

Paul has been working almost 40 hours at the grocery store at night so I'm very limited on the amount of time I have access to the truck. He got home this morning at 8:20 so any church we try has to be late enough that I have enough time to drive there. So far that hasn't been a problem since we can't even get one to call us back and most places have service times of 9:30 or later. Maybe next week we will have better luck, Paul is off next Sunday so at least I don't have to worry about drive time.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Weather

We have had internet problems this week, first our dish couldn't get a lock on the satellite and then the power was out. Today I have cause to hope that we will have more problems.



Those are clouds! We've had rain the past 2 nights and we have hope for more today and tomorrow. It's amazing how much you appreciate the smell of rain when you haven't had any since last year. We had one or two small snow storms at the beginning of this year but we hadn't had any rain until 2 nights ago.

The kids and I even went outside yesterday evening and washed the truck in the rain. I figured we might as well take advantage of the water!

Along with the rain has come chilly temperatures. It's amazing the difference the colder weather has made in my outlook. The oppressive summer heat seems to be finished for the year. Even before this storm moved in, the temps were down in the low 80s and we all seemed to have more energy. Now the temps are in the 60s and we are all enjoying it immensely! I'm hoping that we will have no further reason to wear shorts this year.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Shopping locally

I'm all for shopping locally except when it seems the local store is trying to take advantage of people.

We have an authorized Cingular store in town. When we were looking to get Paul a phone a year ago we went to them after looking online. We walked in and asked which "free phones" they had in stock. Cingular's site offered the choice of almost 20 phones free with activation. The store closest to us didn't offer any, the cheapest one they had in-stock was $50 with a 2 year contract. Needless to say we signed up online and received the phone in the mail in 3 days.

Paul needs a new battery for his phone. We did a little bit of research online and found a number of batteries that will work, the price was between $4 and $20 depending on the brand and strength. I called the store here in town, they want $50 for the $4 battery I found online! We've decided to just order the battery and pay shipping since we will save ourselves around $40.

I really don't know how this place in town stays in business!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

What color crayon

I saw this on a number of blogs I read so I decided to give it a try. It's a pretty accurate representation of how I see myself.

You Are a Red Crayon

Your world is colored with bright, vivid, wild colors.
You have a deep, complex personality - and you are always expressing something about yourself.
Bold and dominant, you are a natural leader. You have an energy that is intense... and sometimes overwhelming.
Your reaction to everything tends to be strong. You are the master of love-hate relationships.

Your color wheel opposite is green. Green people are way too mellow to understand what drives your energy.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Something I never thought I would say

Lorna came in laughing and out of breath. I asked what she had been up to and she said she was trying to hit her brother with horse manure. When I asked why, she said he started it. My reaction to both of them, "We do not throw manure!"

I couldn't help but laugh. I never would have guessed I would have to tell my kids not to throw horse apples at each other!

Monday, September 10, 2007

It's done



I finished the chemise last night and overall I'm pleased with how it came out. The directions were really quite good and easy to follow.



Here is an up close view of the gusset. I really like the way it looks and fits.


I think I might have reversed the front and back pieces but I'm not sure. I guess if I can't tell for sure it's not the end of the world! I made this one of muslin even though the pattern calls for a lighter weight fabric. I couldn't find anything that was still breathable and this seemed to be rather thin anyway.

We've decided to get some fun pajama type fabric to do a few more for Lorna to wear to bed. Right now she sleeps in big, holey t-shirts and cotton shorts so I'm all for making more if she will wear them!

Friday, September 07, 2007

A chemise and flat felled seams

I've been working on a pattern I received from Sense and Sensibility last week. I purchased both the underthings pattern and the regency gown pattern for Lorna. I thought it would make more sense to start with the chemise since it goes under the dress. I'm really hoping that it looks better on than it does off. Right now it looks about 5 sizes too big. I measured her 3 times before deciding on a size and the arms should fit perfectly but the rest looks too big. It's possible it's supposed to be really loose since the pattern calls for a drawstring around the neckline.

The pattern had a gusset that goes underneath the sleeves. I couldn't picture how this was going to work so I just followed the pattern one tiny step at a time. The whole thing is so neat looking!

The most tedious and frustrating part of the pattern in the flat felled seams. The result is really nice but it seems like such a waste of time for something that goes under a dress. I just keep thinking that this is the reason I own a serger! When I do another one I'm going to see if I can figure out how to finish the seams on the serger and save myself a lot of time and frustration.

Once I finish the neck and hem I'll post a picture on Lorna 2 (the duct tape dummy).

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Duct tape dummy


One of the most frustrating things with sewing is trying to fit things so they look good on our bodies. The patterns are a good general guideline but as Lorna grows I'm having more trouble getting things to fit well. I gave up sewing for myself a long time ago because the outfit never looked quite right once I had it finished. I looked into dress forms but found them to be a bit pricey. So I decided to take instructions I found here and I would try to make one out of duct tape.




Since I used the freebie instructions I had to kind of wing it as to how to place the tape so it didn't wrinkle too much. I'm pleased with how it turned out and it should make sewing for Lorna that much easier. Since it came out so well I'm going to have Paul tape me up next so that I can attempt to sew something for myself!

Break from School

Most people only had Monday off but we are taking the whole week off!

You might think that is a silly thing to do since we just started school but that's one of the joys of homeschooling, I make the schedule. We have finished 4 straight weeks of school with very few interruptions. I really dislike having 4 day weeks because it throws off all future weeks. We start school early so we can take lots of weeks off during the year and still be finished in June.

Of course I thought it would be a treat but the kids were bummed because they thought they would be bored. No one is allowed to be bored in this house, I can always find more chores to do. It's funny they seem to be finding plenty of things to do around the house when I reminded them I had work that needed to be done :)

Friday, August 31, 2007

What I've been doing

Absolutely nothing that I should be doing.

I had planned to do all this sewing but haven't done anything more than wash some fabric. Since I'm planning on sewing a number of dresses for Lorna I wanted a dress form to use to fit the clothes better. Looking at all the options I decided we would make our own using duct tape. It went well but it's been sitting for a few days waiting to be stuffed because I just can't get up enough umph to finish anything. Instead I've thrown myself into reading a few books I've read before. I guess I really just needed the escapism of a few fun fantasy novels. Now if I can just get myself back to reality, finish the dress form, and clean the bathroom we'd all be a lot better off!

Monday, August 27, 2007

More medical billing junk

This has turned from frustrating to funny.

Paul was able to get ahold of someone at the billing office who said they sent over 2 claims to the agency. Once we get a call back from them we can hopefully get everything settled there. We enquired about the bill from the X-Ray that seems not to exist. They don't have a record of it but suggested we try a different office.

Paul called and they don't have it but they do have 4 bills for other visits, 3 of which happened while we lived in CO! I think we have gotten it at least started to be worked out. It seems these 4 visits were to pediatricians and were for normal visits and immunizations. The date of birth on the claims didn't match Lorna's so it should be really easy to fix. We only see 2 specialists and have never seen pediatricians there so that should be a great indication that these aren't our claims!

It makes me wonder how come no one ever noticed the records don't match. If we hadn't known about the first claim problem we wouldn't have ever realized the accounts had been mixed up! I just hope they don't mess up the medical records like they do the billing records.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Confirmation and Communion

I read this post by Pastor Stuckwisch last week and then Susan posted an entry on her blog on the topic. I highly recommend you read them if you haven't already!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Lack of patience

I find myself with less and less patience as time goes on. I literally lost it this morning while trying to get the medical billing stuff straightened out. I sat on hold for 20 minutes only to have the person I was speaking to hang up on me. I called back, prepared to wait on hold again, and got the answering machine. I left a very blunt message saying that I want to have a supervisor call me back. I really did not want to leave a message but I was told by the main operator that I have no other option. Before I was hung up on the billing person was less than helpful telling me that I needed an account number (I only have a patient number). I tried to explain that I never received a bill so I don't have an account number. That was the point at which she hung up.

This just added to my already bad mood. I've had countless headaches and migraines over the past few months. They stopped for about a week and I thought maybe things were on the mend but they returned a few days ago. Tracking them I've noticed that they pop up whenever the temperatures get around 100 degrees. That is also when the swamp cooler starts to have problems cooling the house off. This summer has had more days over 100 than last year so it's starting to wear me down.

I'm also starting to really miss attending church on a regular basis. We have a trip planned for this weekend but it is so stressful to plan for 3 meals on the road and a 7 hour round trip that I just don't think I can do this anymore. We've called 2 more churches within a 2 hour radius with no luck. One doesn't have a pastor and hasn't had one since they were organized 4 years ago and the other one hasn't returned our calls. That leaves us with the option of attending the one church we found that uses the liturgy but does not place a high value on the sacraments or law and gospel preaching. We will probably try this church a few more times before making a final decision.

I'm just unhappy and I don't know how to fix it. I pray daily that God would give me the strength to get through the day knowing that He is faithful. I want so much to be a happier person, to be able to accept the situation we have been given with a cheerful heart but I just can't seem to get there. Being so unhappy makes it difficult to have any patience.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Medical billing frustrations

I got a call from a collection agency today which surprised me. It seems the doctor's office messed up the billing information for Lorna's visit almost 6 months ago. The person who entered it put down we were a cash patient. We've never been sent a bill or had a phone call telling us there was a problem. In fact we were there not 3 weeks ago and no one mentioned they were having a problem.

I think we have everything straightened out. I called the billing department only to be put on hold and then hung up on once 4:30 hit, that is when they go home. I guess even if you call and are on hold before they close, if they can't get to you they just hang up and you have to sit on hold the next business day hoping the same thing doesn't happen.

I was frustrated to learn that they have an address and phone number on file that is almost 6 years old. It seems that there was a glitch somewhere and the correct information was sent to everyone but billing. They have been sending bills to this old address. Even more frustrating was the information that the medical coverage can deny coverage if the doctor submits the claim more than 6 months after the services. If that happens it is the patient's responsibility to pay the full amount even though you have insurance. My question was how I can protect myself from the idiocy of the billing department. The answer was that I'm supposed to call 30 days after each visit to make sure that all the claims have been submitted. So that's what I was trying to do when they hung up on me. So tomorrow I will be on the phone again trying to make sure they have submitted all the claims to the medical plan. The amount I was given today doesn't sound correct for all the services that were performed so I have a feeling there are a few more claims that need to be filed before that 180 days is up.

Just a heads up to anyone dealing with large medical groups, make sure you cover yourself!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Hilarious link

This ebay listing was posted to Loopers. After reading it I wandered over to the sellers blog which had our whole family laughing hysterically. We spent over an hour reading the previous posts which made me laugh so hard I cried. I highly recommend you start with the oldest post first, you won't be sorry!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Dogs and neighbors

I really don't think they mix well. We have 5 dogs, 3 large and 2 small. The smaller ones can become quite annoying at times with all their barking. We do make every effort to quiet them down when they start up. They usually don't bark more than 2-3 minutes before we get them quiet again. Because we have so many dogs everyone around here thinks that it is always our dogs that are barking no matter what direction it's coming from.

I met a new neighbor today and let me preface this by saying that he was very nice. He lives a ways up the road but because of the way the land slopes it creates a coliseum effect. The sound of our barking dogs echos right up to his house. I tried to explain that we're working with them and that they really don't bark much but he didn't believe it. The problem is that it's not just our dogs but that's what he can see so that is what he blames. I also let him know that we've had problems with people coming by and taunting our dogs getting them riled up. I can't control other people's actions and I can't blame the dogs for getting worked up. There are coyotes that live right behind the property, unleashed dogs that roam the neighborhood, and inconsiderate people. With all of that it's no wonder the dogs bark. I know for a fact that they don't bark at night because my window is open, yet the neighbor talked about how loud they are at night.

We are making an effort to keep the little dogs inside more but since it's not just our dogs I can't stop all the noise. I've made sure to check the county ordinances and we aren't in violation of any of those, they would have to bark for 15 minutes straight and a majority of the property owners would have to willing to file a written complaint. I don't want to annoy the few neighbors we have but I also love our dogs. We are going to continue working with the little ones to curb their barking and I can only hope people will notice as they quiet down even further. I do understand the frustration of the neighbors, especially this one that has been here for 20 years, at the changes we have brought with our dogs. Along with the bad changes we have made some for the better, we are cleaning up a property that has been vacant for a number of years. Since news travels fast around here I'm hoping my comments that we are working on the problem will make people realize we are trying. Of course if we could get the rest of the neighborhood to keep their dogs from roaming and the inconsiderate people from deliberately stirring them up we would all be a lot better off.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Nourishing Traditions

I've heard so much about this book that I was excited when my request at the library was finally filled (yes I'm still using the library but sparingly and never in town, we send everything for pickup at a more friendly branch).

I'm so disappointed. I keep reading this stuff and thinking who can eat like this! We just don't have any of this stuff available and even if we did it would be way out of our price range. Everything we eat is on one of the pages that says how bad this stuff is for you. We eat processed everything, white everything, and refined sugar. Even the veggies and legumes we eat are not organic and full of pesticides and thus not great.

At this point I'm ready to send the book back. Since it's not a matter of just changing some stuff but literally everything, I don't even want to try. I figure if we are gonna die because our diet is so bad we may as well live it up and enjoy those things we love. Bring on the Diet Pepsi, margaritas, and chocolate!

Activity envy

I keep reading emails that talk about how busy everyone has been this summer. They talk about all these trips they've made, visitors they've had, activities, and fairs. They say they can't wait for stuff to go back to normal. All I keep thinking is that I wish I had that problem!

We've had a very boring summer. There has been no packing or unpacking since we are not moving this year. We haven't had tons of visitors, no trips, no VBS, and the fair isn't till next month. None of our kids are involved in 4H because I can't find a local group so there are no projects to work on or finish up. So even if we go to the fair it will only be for the day so we can look at all the animals and crafts.

Excitement in our schedule is our twice monthly trip to the stables for Lorna's riding lessons. Yesterday I even got to have a conversation with a couple of nice grandparents that were there with their grandchildren. I don't get out much so yesterday's trip to the city was a real treat for all of us, it's been at least a month since the last time I got out like that. For those that are super busy this probably sounds like a wonderful thing, and it is nice to have enough free-time to read or sew, but sometimes I miss being busy.

Friday, August 17, 2007

I just wanna hide

Today we spent the day out in the big city (population 330,000) with Paul as he worked. He only had a few quick things to do and I wanted to do some price shopping at the grocery store. The kids and I don't go out of our little valley very often and really don't go many other places than the post office and hardware store even when we do get out. I was honestly shocked as I watched people today.

I saw a newborn baby in a carrier with a bottle propped up in it's mouth. I just kept thinking how much the baby should be cuddled and loved as he was fed. Kids grow up so fast and to actively ignore such a little baby just broke my heart.

I saw toddlers running around unsupervised in a fast food restaurant. In and out of the bathroom and in the outside play area while their parents sat and ignored them.

I saw young girls wearing clothes that looked like they belonged on a street-walker.

I watched drivers weaving in and out of lanes not caring if there was someone in their way.

It was all enough to make me want to run home and hide!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Who's to blame?

I read an article about one family's experience with a sub-prime loan today that had me questioning if the writer really thought I would feel sorry for the family.

The further I read the more bewildered and frustrated I became. I kept wondering if these people really understand how irresponsible they sound. Then I wondered if this is what mainstream Americans are like. This is a frightening thought!

For those that don't want to bother with the article I'll sum it up... This family took out a mortgage on a $567,000 house with little or no down payment. The payments were interest only for 2 years at which time the payment would go up by almost $1000. They knew when the 2 years were up that they wouldn't be able to afford the payments but planned on refinancing using the equity gained as the price of the house climbed. It's now been almost 2 years, the house isn't worth enough to refinance and they don't know what they are going to do.

The family states that they didn't know about the large prepayment penalty and that they believed the mortgage broker who told them they would be able to refinance after 2 years. They aren't first time home buyers so they can't feign ignorance about how mortgages work. Having bought and sold a couple of homes I know that you have to sign a document on every aspect of your loan, this means they didn't bother to at least scan what they were signing.

I'm just left shaking my head. With their combined income of $90,000 why didn't they buy a less expensive house? Or couldn't they have saved money during the 2 years they were renting? There is no way their rent payment was as much as their $3200 mortgage payment! Now they are going to have to cut back on eating out (only 1-2 a month instead of weekly) and discontinue piano lessons for their teen-age daughter. I'm still sitting here trying to figure out why they are going out at all if they are having such a difficult time.

Ultimately they can only blame themselves for taking out a mortgage they knew they couldn't pay. It's too bad they don't seem to see that it isn't any one's fault but their own. It's difficult to feel sorry for either this family or the mortgage lender who lent them money knowing they wouldn't be able to afford the payments after 2 years.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Gorilla

Malachi came into the kitchen a few days ago and said, "Don't forget to make the gorilla."
I asked him what he said and he repeated it. I asked him what gorilla was and his response was, "You know that cereal you make for Daddy!"
My response was, "Oh, you mean granola."
He said, "That's what I just said!"

Now I laugh every time I look at the gorilla :)

Monday, August 13, 2007

Preparing for the future

Loopers (the Lutheran hsing list I belong to) has been talking about preparing our kids for the future, specifically working and supporting a family. This has given me an occasion to really think about what I expect to teach our kids about the real world. The conversation has included sending your kids to college or not but also finding a career field. My question is, do you have to love what you do?

A few years ago I would have said that was something we should teach is a necessity but now I'm not so convinced. I would say that a majority of people out in the world are not working in a job that they love. Now this is all my opinion based on our experiences and the people we have met...

I think God gives us the ability to earn a living but I don't think that ability is always something we love to do. Some people have the great fortune to be able to spend a lifetime working at something they love. I just keep thinking that if everyone insisted that they only do something that they love then we wouldn't have enough food servers, grocery clerks, and garbage collectors to go around. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't try to find something that you like but at the same time I don't want to set our kids up with a belief that it is of the utmost importance.

I think there are many ways to find enjoyment in a job that you don't care for. The ability to provide for your family and the needs of your neighbor is one such way. Even though you don't like the actual work I think you can find pleasure in the idea that you are serving those around you. You can find fulfillment in doing your job well and being successful. I also think that sometimes your job gives you an opportunity to do those things you do love. Maybe you will be able to save up enough money to pursue that hobby that you've always wanted to try. Or your job may help you on your way to be in a position to try farming when you are older and more financially stable. In that way, the job is a means to an end. It can enable you to do things that never would have been possible otherwise.

With the increasing risks of downsizing and outsourcing I cringe at the thought of suggesting that going into a field that doesn't have a lot of options is a good idea just because you enjoy it. Sometimes we are called to make sacrifices in what we want to do in order to fulfill the vocation of providing for our family. That doesn't mean we cannot find an outlet for our passions but that in reality we probably won't be able to use those things to provide for our needs.

A couple more thoughts...
Paul and I have spent lots of time reading books and watching programs that talk about "living the good life" or finding a way to live the way you want. One of the common themes in all of these things is that you have to sacrifice in order to get there. The common element in what we have read is that these people are older and have a source of investment or income that makes it possible to do the things they want. The people have worked jobs they didn't like but those same jobs have given them the ability to perfect their goals. They didn't start out making carved wooden bird and supporting themselves on the income, they worked a boring job to provide for their family while saving to make their dreams a reality. Of course there are some people that are very lucky in that they fall into something that works both financially and makes them excited to get up in the morning, but I think the majority of people have to make the best of a less that perfect situation.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Why am I doing this?

I was reading Cheryl's blog today and her comment about "Where have we been?" really got me thinking about how far we've come in our homeschooling journey.

It's amazing for me to look back at where we started and see how our lives have morphed during all of this. I started out refusing to homeschool, thinking that people who did such things were just insane. After all, you can't protect your kids from the world. It's ironic that the only reason I started looking at this possibilities was for that protection.

Lorna went to the kindergarten at the LCMS church we were attending. She was harassed by a little boy who would go around pinching the behinds of all the little girls. He would also go around hitting them "below the belt". Our daughter decided not to take it any longer and hit back. Of course she was the one who got into trouble and we were asked to pick her up. During our talk with the teachers it came out that they knew this boy was doing it but wouldn't do anything about it. We sent her back to school the next day with assurances that they would separate the two kids. A few days later I was called again to pick her up. At this point I was upset and went to talk to the two pastors whose office was adjacent to the classroom. They were sympathetic and said they would look into it. They didn't and the problems continued. This was the final straw that pushed me to realize that we couldn't continue to expose Lorna to such things, especially when she was being blamed for standing up to this child. I thought we could try this homeschooling thing for a year and see what our choices were then.

Six years later we are committed to doing this for the long haul. It only took a few weeks into that first year when we decided that this was the life for us. It was my first experience with being a SAHM too so we had some serious adjustments to make. Our first year was so structured, I really tried to recreate a classroom. I can look back and see how overboard I went, planning our life down to the minute. I had just finished up 2 years of teaching jr/sr high school age kids, so I was determined to teach my daughter to sit still and pay attention. It took awhile for me to realize that I needed to lighten up. It's a good thing I practiced on Lorna first because there is no way Malachi could have made it through that first year!

I'm still fighting with the idea that I should be out contributing to the household income. I look at the faces of family and friends who hear about Paul's second job and I feel their accusing stare. I know I'm imagining it for some and I am seeing the truth in others. Maybe someday I will be able to completely let go of society's expectations of me. This last year has been the most difficult for me in this regard. I was the odd one in our neighborhood before we left CA, no one else stayed home with their kids. When we left and moved to Indiana I found an entire community of SAHMs, that's what most people did. When we came back here I found myself back in an environment where I am asked, "So what do you do for a living?" I haven't run into one other woman who stays home, let alone homeschools. I realized this week that this is adding to my negative attitude the past few months, I feel so alone.

Thankfully I'm not alone. I'm somewhat active on a Lutheran homeschooling email list, Loopers, and I have lots of blogs to read from some of the people on that list. Now all I have to do is find a way to make it to the get-togethers that always seem to be held in the Midwest!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Start of School



We started school on Monday and I'm surprised that it is going so well. The past few weeks I'd noticed that chores were being done less thoroughly so my fear was that adding school on top of fixing the chore problem was going to be too much. It seems that this isn't the case.

Our dc aren't the type who can do schoolwork anywhere in the house. On the occasions I have allowed work to be done on the couch or in their rooms, nothing gets accomplished. They work best when they are sitting at the table with the books spread out in front of them. Lorna does much of her work on her own using the planning sheets as a guide for what needs to be done. By the end of the year I expect Malachi will be doing the same.

I think the craziness of our schedule the past few weeks has made school seem more appealing because it's a return to a more scheduled life.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Changing schedules

I don't think I ever really appreciated how our schedules determine our sense of time. Both Paul and I are having a hard time keeping up with what happened on which day. I guess that's what comes of Paul having a night job that starts at 10pm one day and ends at 7am the next morning.

It's taken 2 weeks but we are all starting to feel a bit more alive. Our eating schedule had to be adjusted to accommodate family dinners. We moved dinner to between 8 and 9 so Paul can still get some sleep. We are all eating smaller meals more often so we can make it to the family meal at night. Sleeping also seems to be coming easier for all of us. I've never seen someone be able to fall asleep as quickly as Paul does now. His head hits the pillow and he's completely gone in less than 60 seconds which is a necessity with the odd times that he is given to sleep.

Overall, we are adjusting and it looks like we will be able to cope with this. More importantly, it looks like Paul will be able to keep up with both jobs indefinitely and still have time to fit in all the important things like sleep.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Church dilemna

I've mentioned before that we cannot go to the local LCMS church because the teachings are not solid. We were driving the 3.5 hours to church but had to cut back for financial reasons. When Paul got the second job our hope was that it would allow us to attend church on a more regular basis but we are finding that there just isn't enough time for that kind of drive.

Paul isn't working this Sunday morning but is working Sunday night. Next week he is working Sunday morning. Neither of these scenarios works to gets us to church because of the excessively long drive and early time for the Divine Service. As much as I hate to admit it, this just isn't going to work. Which leaves us back in the same situation we were in before, where are we supposed to go to church?

I've been investigating a church that is 2 hours north of us (we've exhausted all the possibilities within an hour or so). The drive is still long but the service is later so Paul would have time to get home and get ready. We would also be home in enough time for him to take a nap if he had to work in the evenings. The difficult things is that neither of us wants to try again. We've attempted this a couple of times in the past few months only to be woefully disappointed in the teachings and practice of the churches we tried. I keep thinking there has to be a better option but I can't find one.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

What I should be doing

There are so many things that I should be doing. The most pressing thing is planning for school since we are starting on Monday. In an effort to be more efficient I am planning for the whole year before we start. My biggest weakness is not wanting to sit down every week or two and plan out lessons. My hope is that doing it ahead of time will see us getting things done on a more consistent basis. Of course as I start planning I start thinking of all the stuff I'd love to accomplish. It makes me want to just go back to bed because I know that we can only get so much done!

I should be sewing the rest of the curtains. I should be making Lorna some more clothes. I should really finish that suit for Malachi that I started all those months ago.

We've lived back in CA for 15 months now and owned this house for almost a year. I feel like we should be packing, it just doesn't seem right that we aren't moving again anytime soon. I should be trying to make this place even more comfortable. I should be going through the stuff we've moved and haven't used. I can't seem to make myself do any of this. I keep hoping my inability to make myself do things will pass but it's been a month and it's not getting any better.

I should be insisting that the property be cleaned up some more. We've made 3 trips to the dump and 1 to the scrap yard with stuff that was here when we moved in but it doesn't look much better. There is still stuff everywhere that needs to be cleaned up. I've come to the realization that I just don't care. Maybe when the weather gets better I'll be able to make myself start in again.

Monday, July 30, 2007

More about the Union

Today we stopped by the Union office for Paul to pay the $110 they are demanding in order for him to work. That is only for the first 2 months dues. The initiation fee will be taken out weekly for the first 30 weeks he works, along with his further monthly dues. There is just something unnatural about paying someone so you can work.

Paul asked what exactly he is getting for his $500 initiation fee since a regular clerk only pays $100 (he is a food clerk because he touches produce that isn't canned). The woman said he can buy discounted theme park tickets (not like we could ever afford to go) and a shorter waiting period for medical coverage. Ummm, the medical coverage is one of the worst plans I've ever seen. With the new contract he will ONLY have to wait 7 months to get coverage. The kids will be eligible for coverage when he becomes eligible. I, on the other hand, wouldn't be eligible until he has worked for 2.5 years. The coverage has a very large deductible and doesn't cover RX, vision, or dental for 3.5 years. The co-insurance payments are 25% after you pay the deductible. I will admit that it's cheap but that's because the coverage is so lousy!

So it looks like there is no benefits attached to the mandatory Union membership. And no, I'm not surprised. I'm very thankful that we won't be relying on this job for medical!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

13 years ago

Today is our 13Th wedding anniversary.

It's really hard to believe that it's been that long. I feel so blessed to be married to my best friend.

I look forward to many more years together. Happy Anniversary, Honey!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Unions

Paul's second job is at a grocery store. Since it's part of a chain they are unionized. There is no option, you must join. Paul said it was like the mafia, you had to pay money for protection but instead of breaking your knees you lose your job.

We got the initial paperwork in the mail yesterday. It will take, at least, his first full paycheck to pay for the dues to get started. After that they will take a monthly dues payment out of his check. Getting information about the amounts is almost impossible.

The industry is so scared of making a mistake here is some of the absolute ridiculous stuff he has already encountered...

No one could give him information on the local to being with. It took us looking online through countless Google searches to find the local branch in Bakersfield. Paul called and the lady said she was setting him up in the computer and would be sending out paperwork. It took a week to get the paperwork which said he had to go into the branch office to get things started! Luckily he is in Bakersfield every day for his day job. it makes me wonder what the people do who ride a bike to work (Bakerfield is 50+ miles away).

The assistant manager couldn't tell him how much he would be making, that's the Union's thing. She couldn't even tell him what his official job title was so that he could look at the current contract to find out his pay scale! We still don't know how much he is getting paid, I guess we will have to wait for his first paycheck.

So far we have yet to find out what the monthly dues are. I'm gathering from the letter sent stating how much he currently owes, did I mention he hasn't even gotten a paycheck yet, that the monthly dues are about $50 a month. This is after a $500 initiation fee. Of course they won't take a check but they will be more than happy to take a credit card.

All this so he can work a second job. Supposedly the Union gets the employees more money, which then goes to pay for the union. You can't get merit raises but you do get a raise every 4 months whether you deserve it or not. Hmmm, now I know why the employees don't go out of their way to be nice and helpful.

So Paul has to pay this money to the Union but the store has 90 days in which to decide whether they want to keep him. So my question is, if they decide to get rid of him does he get his money back?

It's no wonder so many of the store employees work a second job. The government gets their cut, the Union gets theirs, and you get what's left which means you have to get another job in order to live.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Here is one of the many things going around the blogosphere. I was tagged by Cheryl so here it goes.

Personal Style Quiz Rules: You have to choose one of the two. You cannot answer "neither" or "both." You can indicate that you like both or neither, but you must state a preference.

Animal fiber or plant? Plant, I don't know that I own much of anything that is made of animal fiber.

Natural or synthetic? Natural

Ornate or simple? Simple. I like ornate stuff but I feel most comfortable in simple.

Color or neutral? Color. I love lots of color, it makes up for m grumpy personality.

Pastel or vibrant? Vibrant, although I have a difficult time finding things that I like that are vibrant.

Blue/green or red/orange? Blue/green only because I'm not a huge fan of orange. I like red though.

White gold or yellow gold? White gold, most everything I wear is silver so yellow gold just doesn't match well.

Gems or texture? How do theses two things go together? I guess if I have to choose it would be texture.

Watch or no-watch? No watch although I collected watches for many years. I have watches and enjoy wearing them but can't keep up with the battery changes :)

Comfort or fashion? Comfort, I couldn't care less what anyone else is wearing as anyone who sees me can immediately tell!

Trendy or classic? Classic

Cables or lace? Cables cause I can't stand lace. Lace is itchy and reminds me of the 80s.

Heels or flats? Flats, I can't walk in heels.

Flip-flops or sandals? Sandals, although I only have flip-flops at the moment cause I can't find any comfy sandals.

Skirts or pants? Pants except for church.

Geometric or floral? Do I really have to choose? It would really depend on the floral, I don't want to look like I raided some old lady's closet. I guess floral.

V-neck or turtle-neck? Either/both. If it's cold I'll wear a turtle-neck but right now I would prefer a v-neck. I'm not picky I can wear just about anything.

Skulls or butterflies? Butterflies

Loose or snug? Loose, I like to be comfortable.

Long hair or short? Long, right now it's to my waist and hasn't been cut for 3 years or so. I've cut it short a number of times but I always hate it.

Headbands or barrettes? Barrettes if I can find ones that won't break. I have too much hair and can't usually find ones that work. I usually use rubber bands.

Shoulder bag or handbag? Shoulder bag, I like to have my hands free.

Thanks for tagging me Cheryl! I have a blog post and I didn't even have to think up a subject.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The problems with HMOs

We received a very disturbing letter today from Lorna's specialists. It seems Blue Cross and UCLA couldn't come to a contract agreement so they will no longer be accepting her insurance. I called the number on the letter to ask what we were supposed to do about her upcoming appointments, they had very few suggestions.

I called her primary doctor who said that we could get a special okay to see her doctors for the few things scheduled but then we would have to change specialists. The new doctors would be located 3 hours away in the other direction. I looked them up to find that they too couldn't come to an agreement so they are no longer accepting her insurance. I can't say I was at all calm. There are no other specialists within a 3 hour drive.

I called the insurance company who wasn't exactly helpful. Their solution was for us to put in for a special authorization for each appointment. They couldn't guarantee that they would accept the request, meaning at some point we would have to switch doctors and drive around 5 hours each way to see one of these specialists.

I was able to switch plans because of the extenuating circumstances. As soon as we have the new cards I can call the primary doctor to get us referrals to the UCLA doctors. I've already cancelled the special CAH clinic appointment in September. I did it before I found out we could switch midterm. I'm not all that broken up about it, I didn't feel right about going anyway. I have no idea what all of this is going to do to the tentative schedule for her surgery later this year.

All of this was caused because the doctors feel they aren't getting fairly reimbursed through Blue Cross. Looking at the charges and payments over the last few months I'm not sure who is right. $600 for a 10 minute office call with a pediatric urologist seems a bit much, only paying $120 of that charge seems a bit too little. The procedure Lorna had done as an outpatient was reimbursed at around 60%. That seems kind of low until you look at the charges. I just hope we can get the surgery done soon so the effects of any further changes in health plans won't be so far reaching.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Schedules

As I've posted before we are not a very scheduled household. The kids don't have set times for bed or getting up. Paul's day job is very flexible allowing him to set his day. Sometimes he won't leave until late morning because of phone calls and emails that need to be done first thing. I think all of this is about to change.

Paul starts his new 2ND job tonight. He will be working 10pm - 7am 4 nights a week. I realized today how hard of an adjustment it's going to be for all of us. Poor guy tried to sleep this afternoon but just couldn't, I'm thinking that this won't be a problem after tonight. The plan is for him to sleep from lunch till a late dinner. It should give him 6-7 hours on the days he works at both places. I'm sure the other days will find him sleeping at any hour he can.

I feel truly blessed to have a husband who believes so strongly that I need to be home that he is willing to work 2 jobs. I know this is an odd thing in today's society where women are expected and encouraged to work outside the home.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

It's Here!!!

I honestly didn't think the 7Th Harry Potter book was gonna make it here in time. I talked to UPS this morning after picking up the mail because the shipment wasn't there. They guaranteed it would be delivered by 6pm which would have done us little good since the post office is only open until 2pm. Actually it's not technically open, you can only pick up packages. After watching the computer anxiously all morning I gave up and decided to drive into town to talk to the person manning the window. The UPS driver was pulling away as we turned the corner so I was pretty sure he had delivered. I hope everyone else in town who ordered gets there in time to pick it up. Luckily they just extended the hours until 2, it used to be 1. If that was still the case everyone would have had a whopping 15 minutes to pick the book up!

Unlike many I won't get to sit and read it straight through. All four of us wanted it first so we decided to be fair and do it as a read aloud. As soon as Paul is off work this afternoon we will start. I'm hoping we can get through it quickly because I hate waiting and have no patience, usually I end up reading the ending of a book somewhere near the middle because I just can't wait to finish!