Wednesday, September 29, 2010

the week so far

First, Ben became a little obsessed with his coins and dumped them ALL out on MY floor and proceeded to spend several days sorting and lining them up by date, usually hanging out of the hammock like the dad in Honey I Shrunk the Kids doing the backyard sweep.
He found a 1940 penny and climbed up in bed with me (it was early in the morning) and shoved it in my face.  "Have you EVER seen ANYTHING THIS OLD?"

Uh, the house was built in 1932, so...yes, right behind your head.  Sorry kid.

Friday was UFO (UnFinished Object) night for us moms!
Suzette had put off making these paper Muppets far too long!
She is thrilled to be let loose with paper and glue dots.
P.S.  I am not getting one.
Fall food!

Check out the meeting space we have now!  Oo-la-la!
Today we went to Karen's for lunch!

The girls hung out and chatted.
Everyone but Chandler played, "When I was in public school" and there were tales of running in extreme cold weather for P.E., mean kids and so on but the most heart-wrenching tale came from Kei, who once was told she would fail P.E. if she did not stop putting feathers on her gym shoes.

O-o, here she comes!
Watch out boy, she'll chew you up!
Whoa-oo, here she comes!
She's a man eater!

And finally, the piggers made short work of the grass today, but REALLY.  This is why they are called PIGS.  All of the grass poking up through the bottom of the cage and what is Mochii doing?  Shoving her head through the slats for the same grass an inch further out.  See Oly peeking out of the pigloo?  hehehe, I love the pigs.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

the weekend approacheth

I am so freaking excited about this weekend!  Woot!

Okay, so far I have our reservations made and confirmed, I have fresh bags of food to put in the hoppers for all 3 sets of critters, I had the van checked out this morning and other than the check engine light being back on, it looks to be in good shape.  I have parts ordered to come in next week and a guy lined up to replace the timing belt, spark plugs and wires and I am still debating on the water pump-do it now while he's in there and there's no extra labor charge or wait for it to actually go out?  It's a $150 part.  

That SHOULD fix the engine light, it's a fuel mixture issue and not a mechanical issue.  I have called around not just locally and everyone I explained the problem/diagnosis code to said it was fine to drive for now.  The 'worst case' I have heard is that over a period of a couple years, the catalytic converter would need to be replaced because of the fuel mixture being off.  It has not even affected the gas mileage, I can't find anyone to get excited about a small vacuum leak, so I am slowly calming down about it.  Though I admit, seeing that awful orange light on all the time does a number on my tummy.  : (  I don't want anything wrong with Nettlevan!  I love her.

I have Friday all planned out, Karen is on board, I have everything all worked out in my head.  Eep!  Lots of running around to do that day and still lots to get taken care of beforehand!  I need to air out the camper and get her all cleaned up today, that sun and cool air is inspiring!

We should be eating brick oven pizza for lunch on Saturday and stocking up on herbed flatbread for hiking at our favorite little bakery.  *sigh*  I can hardly wait!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Early Works

I am still a little enthralled with the morning glories!

We met several friends today at Early Works to see Harriet Tubman speak.
I really enjoyed the presentation, it lasted 45 minutes and we spent another hour going to different stations to hear more reenactors speak about different aspects of slavery and the Civil War.

Keilee was the first one up to ask a question!

Some of our smaller boys had enough of sitting nicely.  LOL

I think if Suzette bought a coffee grinder, she would never hear another peep from Zachary.

After the museum pretty much kicked us out, we went to play in the fountains.

First Day of Fall

Not jacket weather quite yet, more like...swimming weather.
So, we went with it.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

My morning

Two of my favorite things, combined.  : )

Hey, you got your Sedaris in my TAL!
Hey!  You got your TAL in my Sedaris!
Wait, this is delicious!

Sunday, September 19, 2010


Last night was Observe the Moon Night, which I learned about around 10 p.m.

We all ran outside to stare up at the moon for a few minutes.  I remembered seeing the remains of a dead vole somewhere near the sidewalk, so we all walked carefully.

The above and below images look identical, but they are not the same shot. 
I can't seem to get a crisp shot of the moon, even with a tripod.
I will keep trying, I am going to see if I can find some how-to's at DPS this afternoon.

Saturday, September 18, 2010


I have started re-reading John Taylor Gatto again, it was the very thing I needed to soothe my recent run-in with a book I picked up at the library called Family Learning that threw me into a panic over not making every second a delve into educational endeavors.  

The quote I liked most was
"When children are given whole lives instead of age-graded ones in cell blocks, they learn to read, write, and do arithmetic with ease, if those things make sense in the kind of life that unfolds around them."

I know that.  I do.  So why, after ten years of this, am I still playing second guess with myself? 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Just a quick note to note, I only have 7 of the first 22.5 pounds left to lose! 

I am feeling pretty good about things, my jeans are starting to slide off, which gives me that Ghetto look I have been wanting to explore.  I am thinking about dreads maybe?  Or a piercing?  36 is a good age to start experimenting with new looks.  I may start dating.

I took last week off the kettleball because of all the puking and other...extreme potty sports left me puny.  It was Wednesday before I felt like doing more than folding laundry.  Blah.  So I did a session today, which kicked my rear end.  Woo! 

But seriously, it has been...8 years or so since I was this low and that was only briefly because we lost the weight so quickly, it piled right back on when the strict diet was deviated from.  I like my current approach of  basic calorie-cutting, a little exercise and not freaking out.  It's coming off, it's staying off, it's taking a week or more to drop a pound, but I did not gain it all in one go.  It was 3 gos, 25 pounds a baby.  LOL! 

More like 40 with Jake and 30 with Chan and 5 with Ben.  He was pretty little. I was at nearly pre-preg weight in 2 weeks with him-which ain't saying much.  hahaha!  I still currently weigh more than I did when I gave birth to Jake.  That's a LOT of fat and a LOT of stress on my body.  I want that mess gone before it starts giving me health problems.  Shoo, fat, shoo!

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Aquarium

The Georgia Aquarium...

Okay, so I bought everything online before we left and did not really research it very well other than finding out we did not need to waste money on the Deepo show and Shark exhibit.

I bought general admission tickets at $26 each for Matt, me and Jake and $19.50 each for Chan and Ben.
Walk-up, they are $27 and $21 each, so a little savings.  Plus, walk-up you can have to wait up to 2 hours to get in, they only sell a certain number of tickets each hour.  Our tickets were for an 11 a.m. entry.

I pre-paid parking at $9, a savings of $1 off just driving up to the garage.  Then found there are multiple lots on the same street for $5 a day.  The aquarium parking was more secure, in a covered deck and about 30 seconds from the stairs, so it was not a TOTAL rip-off. 

I also pre-paid for lunch at $10 each for either a burger and fries, chicken strips and fries or pizza and fries all with fruit and a drink.  I got pizza and saved a whole .45 cents on my combo!  Matt and Jake saved a little more, they had bacon cheeseburgers and fries, that would have been over $10 even without the $1 fruit and $3.75 drink.  The fruit was bad, the apples were mealy and the bananas were black.  Nothing was washed, so we just kind of rubbed the skins with damp paper towels and then tossed them after a bite or two. 

I think we would have been better off buying what we wanted, which was stuffed potatoes for $4.50 each.  Or just skipping lunch because the aquarium is not an all-day thing like I had thought.  3 hours would be plenty of time to see everything.  So we could have saved THAT $50.  In all, it was $181 for the day.  Or, $30 more than a ticket 10 days at Disney World.  If we went back, I would skip the parking deck and the food.

More tomorrow...tired

Day Two

Sunday we got up, ate breakfast and headed to Indian Springs State Park where we checked out the beach and opted to skip the swim, had a picnic and the kids played putt-putt golf and we picked up a geocache at an old cemetery in the park.

We ended up buying a fan at Dollar General and then drove to Macon to that cemetery I saw last year driving through.  It was not as cool up close, just really big.  We got a couple caches in Macon and headed back to the yurt where we picnicked again for dinner.  We managed to go the whole trip without eating out other than at the aquarium.  I am a little tired of cheese sandwiches, though.

Everyone had a shower but me, I was exhausted.  I slept fairly well all night and we were up early this morning to go to the aquarium.


We got back in earlier than I imagined, the trip was okay-I have to say, I was prepared for...something more.  

Anyway, it took 7 hours to get to the state park, engine light stayed off the whole drive.  We got into the yurt, which was cool-but hot.  Oh man, it was stifling.  We opened the windows and doors and got all set up, had dinner from the cooler and ended up borrowing the bathroom fan from the park host.  That helped a lot, but we were still laying on the sheets, sweating and pretty miserable.  

Quiet hour came and went-both neighbors were watching/listening to the NASCAR race, so we were patient while yurt 6 talked loudly and yurt 4 had a dozen kids running around yelling until after 11.  I spoke with 6 about shutting up-with the windows open and the yurts 20 feet apart, we could hear every word-and smell EVERY cigarette he lit, which was a couple packs overnight.  He said he'd be quiet.

After the race, they turned the radio UP and broke out the second cooler and got real drunk.  After another round of me talking to him, Matt called the cops.  We tried knocking on the camper door of the campground hosts, tried all the state park numbers-even the emergency numbers posted at the bathhouse.  One was busy and one never picked up.  He started calling local police stations and got one answer to and they directed us to the wrong county sheriff's office.  Finally got the right one and a deputy came by after 1 and sent the guy to bed.

There were signs ALL over the park saying no intoxicants allowed and here was a guy so drunk he could not stand up straight screaming his conversations and occasionally yelling woooo-wooooooo even in the middle of his own sentences who had a wife and young daughter who were actually encouraging his distance while he was pissing off the back porch of the yurt and if he called tomorrow for a reservation, they would give him one.  NO repercussions.  Not even the cop did anything more than get him to go inside and be quiet, which was a minor miracle, but honestly-no patrol after 10, no answer at a CAMPER door-where were they exactly, in a 15 foot camper that they could not hear me pounding?  I am waiting to cool down before I call the park headquarters because right now, I would yell. 

The rest of the trip was fine, #4 was dead quiet the second night and the new people in #6 did not even make the gravel crunch when they walked. 

I was just tagging this post.  I can't believe I didn't already have an 'idiot' tag. 

Friday, September 10, 2010

Weekend Plans

We have been home all stinking summer. One 4-day trip to LBL in May and one 3-day trip to Arkansas in June. We did not do anything in July or August and here it is halfway through September, well thirdway anyhow.

We are finally having a weekend away! Matt has a gig tonight, so we head out mid-morning tomorrow for Georgia! We are camping in a yurt! Then, Monday we are going to the Georgia Aquarium! I already have everything paid for including parking and lunch at the Aquarium. I will report back if it's a good deal to go that route.

I am already a little annoyed because while we can turn in our tickets toward an annual pass the day of our visit, if I had just bought them online-where they offer a 20% discount, which is $80 off for us-we could have saved that money and it would pay for itself in 2 visits.  Grrrr.

Jake and I have been listening to the first of the Kingdom Keepers series in the van, it was NOT the best choice for an already Disney-crazed family!  hehehe!  Now we are gung ho about the Halloween Party...but it's another $300 for the 5 of us-that dampened our desires PDQ. That's 2 days in Universal!  *sigh*  I still looked on ebay for Mickey ears...

School went well today!  We started 2 new things, research-based history and calculator math.  I have never let them use calculators before, but the GED has a big section where they are okay to use, so I thought they might as well learn to use them and score extra well on that part!  They are having so much more fun with the calculators that they asked me to print out extra sheets for them to work on during the drive tomorrow.  Ack! 

They are doing their research now.  Today's questions are:
Who is Elias Howe and what did he do?

How long did the first single-day Chicago to New York airmail trip take?

What long-running TV show first aired on this date in 1955?

Who won the Battle of Brandywine (1777)?

Who was the first US Secretary of the Treasury?

What was the Beatles first single?

What happened at the Battle of Northpoint?

What happened on this date  in 1944?  (specifically WWII)

What year did the show Lassie debut?

I went to a 'this day in history' site to make up the questions, I figure if we did 3 questions for each day for a whole year, doubling up when we won't be home (in this case, tripling) then they would get a good mix of all kinds of historic events-important and otherwise.

Plus, research and writing practice is always good.  This is not replacing our current history study, just extra.  It took me about 10 minutes to look up all of the questions, so it's not an insane amount of extra busywork.  We'll give it a go, see how it works out. 

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Better and Nettlevan

I woke up feeling like I might live after all. 

I have an appointment to get the van's vacuum hoses looked over tomorrow.  There is no way to know if we will find anything that way-or if the hoses are the problem.  But, it's a start.  I wanted to go camping and to Atlanta next weekend and other trips coming up, but not with that check engine light on and not with it being a lean fuel mix.  If left long enough, that would mean having to replace the catalytic converter, which smacks of high dollar signs.

I am currently eating steamed veggies and drinking diet Dr. Pepper  I hope this is the last time I will see them both.  I dropped a full 5 pounds in 2 days, I am at a new low, but I am sure that will change once I am hydrated again.  Doing the kettlebell last week actually added a few pounds, but I can FEEL that it's muscle, so I did not freak.  My upper arms and thighs are much firmer and the muscle in my thighs is more pronounced, I also feel stronger in my back and shoulders.  I don't mind that kind of gain, muscle burns fat.  I am not even close to Matt in his loss, his shorts slide right off his butt, he was lifting something up the other day and they fell right off.  hehehehe!  He recently had to buy smaller underwear and he was wearing the red pair.  It was a great little side show for me.  : D

I was able to keep down 32 ounces of electrolyte stuff last night and slept fairly well all night, I did worry about the van, but such is my nature.  At least I can use that worry to figure out a game plan, I don't just fret in uselessness.  Maybe it's not worry, maybe I should call it...concentrated concern.  Heavy planning.  Weighing options...

Step one, vacuum hose inspection.  Step two, fuel pump and filter replacement (I need to anyway because it's at 100k and several people have said doing such fixed their fuel mix problem) and replacing the water pump and timing belt while I am gouging out the budget, better right here right now than somewhere else some unplanned time with towing and that hassle involved.  Screwing up my trip plans anyhow-budget and timing.  Step 3, not sure yet.  There is something going on with the AC on recycled air, the something motor is not working.  Actuator motor--it needs to be replaced.  It's only a $90 part, but the dash has to come out, so I have avoided thinking about it all summer.  But maybe that needs to be fixed?  Step 4, spark plugs changed out and cleaning the fuel injectors.  I actually put cleaner in there over the weekend, remotely via Matt.  But it was my idea.  LOL  It can't hurt...I hope.

Well, maybe that was not in order, but close enough.  I have a list, by damn.  That goes a LONG way toward making the voices in my head shut up.  Which in turn goes a long way toward taking some of the crazy gleam out of my eyes.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Saturday in TN

We had SUCH a great day yesterday!  We could not have planned more perfect weather for our day out, what a beautiful day it was! 

We met Suzette and her family at 11:37 (we were both running a little behind!) and swapped out kids and drove to Cowan, TN for our first stop at the train depot.

The boys headed off to play on the trains and the girls all went to the used book store!  We soon joined everyone at the train station and looked through the museum and climbed on the trains for nearly an hour! 

She can't not touch stuff!  : )

After Cowan, we stopped at the natural arch for a little while then we went straight to the visitor center at South Cumberland to see what we needed to do about checking in for the night canoe! 

A very back-lit tree
Grumpy old man

Our next stop was at Dutch Maid Bakery in Tracy City where we picked up bread and a goodie each, then a very quick pop-in at the grocery store for turkey and cheese and off to Grundy Lakes!

We had a picnic beside the upper lake and chatted and the little guys climbed the tree and we shooed the enthusiastic ducks away from our yummy bread more than once! 

After eating, we went over to the swim beach for a couple of hours and hopped out to get dressed in warm, dry clothes when we saw the truck arrive with the canoes!

Everyone dressed and ready, we split into groups of 3 and hopped on board our vessels, Suzette had never been canoeing before!  We had a great time paddling around the lake, the water was like glass and there was no wind at all.  The ranger in charge of the trip was more relaxed than our previous experience, we were able to paddle around anywhere we wanted while she cruised back and forth.  The girls and I stayed out until it was full dark, what a great experience!  We saw bats, heard barred owls and paddled alongside a beaver who was dragging a branch off across the lake.  Wonderful stuff.
yes, I am a dork
watching the beaver!

if you think this is a blurry branch in dark water, you are right!  Attached to the branch is a beaver!

Love this, Suzette finally gets to paddle and there's Dave, holding on for dear life!

We had dinner at Fazoli's in Tullahoma, which was like a round of applause at the end of a great show, I love Fazoli's!  : )  We got back home around 12:20 last night, the van rolled to 100k miles while we were out yesterday and...the check engine light came on!  LMAO!  It was EXACTLY when it rolled to 99900 while leaving Grundy Lakes.  We think it's a reminder to get the air filter changed, Matt is taking it in to Autozone today to have them run a scan.  I know the AC, transmission, brakes, battery, oil...all of that is working fine.  Last time it came on, the gas cap was not screwed on tight enough, so it's likely an emissions thing.