Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Jerry's new friend!

Weird Happenings!

Yesterday just as I was typing the last line of my blog, Jerry called me and said to get Andy and come over to the neighbor's house quickly - that we would not believe what he had. He had been at Hilda's house replacing the string in her weed trimmer and they were sitting out in her back yard by her shed. I must confess that I thought he must have found some sort of reptile or other creature that boys tend to appreciate more than girls, but I dutifully grabbed Andy and went over. Boy was I wrong! Jerry was standing there holding a parrot! Hilda had been sitting in a chair under a large tree in her back yard when she saw something swoop down and then felt something on her back. Not being able to see what it was, she was understandably alarmed and told Jerry to "Get it off me!" Turns out, it was a parrot that had flown down out of the tree and onto her back. What are the odds of that happening?! Jerry held out his finger and the bird very gently climbed onto it. We got some bird seed and water and it ate and drank very heartily! He wasn't inclined to fly away, either. When Jerry put it down for a moment, it walked and followed him until Jerry picked him up again and then he climbed up on his shoulder and just sat there. We put it in our cat carrier (how's that for irony?!) and brought him home. We looked him up and found out that he (she?) is a Quaker parakeet, or Monk parrot. We also found out that they are wild in some places, the nearest to us being Delaware. There were pictures on the web of actual flocks of them in places like Florida and Tennessee. I don't think this one is wild, although it could be. It's leg is banded, although the band doesn't give any information that would let us track it. We found that some state agencies track birds by banding and that it may not necessarily have belonged to anyone. Just to be sure we didn't have someone's pet, Andy made a big sign and we posted it on the community bulletin board which is on the side of the road as you enter our community. No one has called yet. Jerry has certainly gotten attached to it already. The bird nips at everyone but Jerry, but as long as I don't act afraid (and can stand the pain for a bit), the bird will eventually let me pet him.

Now if that weren't strange enough, Tom called this afternoon from work and said, "Mom, you are NOT going to believe this!" There is a bench outside of the store where he works and he said he looked outside today and saw sitting on the bench - you guessed it - a Quaker parakeet. He said that a girl that works at the store went up to it gently and tried to get it on her finger. It didn't fly away, but wouldn't get on her finger, either. Tom said it just backed away from her a little on the bench. Then Tom said apparently the people working in the hair place next door saw the bird. They came rushing out, making lots of noise and chased the poor thing trying to catch it. Of course, then it flew away and Tom said they didn't see where it went. Tom said this one had a band on it's leg, too. Something very strange is going on here. If the hurricane had been closer to us I tend to think that maybe somehow that had something to do with it. Or a truckload of birds escaped somewhere close by!

Monday, August 29, 2005

Not a lot has been going on around here lately. On Friday I drove (yes, you read that right!) Andy and I to BJs to get the last of our school supplies that we needed. He needed a sketch pad and art pencils which we got at Michael's which was next to BJs. I was really nervous driving there, especially going over that VERY HIGH bridge, but I did it. I was exhausted when I got home, but I did it! I kept reminding myself as I drove that "anything that is not faith is sin". You can't have fear and faith at the same time!

Today we are expecting the last of his materials - his Japanese course and Grammar book. Even though we had school last week, tomorrow it begins for really. Looks like I need that grammar book!

I think I have created a monster. In Andy's science book we were learning about the sun. One of the activities was to take a magnifying glass outside and burn leaves. Well, I think we have run out of things to burn, or attempt to burn. Andy enjoyed that activity so much, that I think I've created a monster (or a pyro!).

On Saturday Andy's friend came over and they had a very nice time together. Well, actually there's no such thing as 11-year-old boys having a nice time - more like a rambunctious time! This was his friend Kody, the one who went to the beach with us earlier in the summer. I had a nice visit with Kody's mom, who unintentionally stayed chatting the entire time Kody was here! We started talking and well, the next thing we knew four hours had gone by and they needed to get home because they were expecting the grandparents over for dinner. It was a great afternoon for Andy and I.

Well, now I need to get some coffee and get some work done. The nap bug is trying to bite me, and I just have too much to do for that!

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Back To School

Today was Andy's first day. I had as much fun as he did! And I think I actually learned some things, too. He made a design in plaster of paris that turned out very nice. He chose a plate from extra dishes that I had stored to take to the thrift shop and broke it carefully and then embedded those pieces into the plaster. As we were walking back into the house, he decided to snip off a black-eyed susan to put in the middle.

We learned about the migration habits of Canadian geese, a little about the Vikings and began on astronomy. Did you know that you can remember the order of the planets by the phrase "My Very Early Morning Just Started Under Nancy's Pancakes"?! Using the first letter of each word - Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto. Next time Andy has to make a mnemonic phrase of his own to remember. That should be interesting. He made a model using balloons and hung them from his ceiling . I thought it was a very good first day. Apparently so did Andy - we had already finished for the day and this evening he asked if we could "do more science", so we went to the next thing in his book which was the balloon planet project. I hope his enthusiasm continues.

Today began my 4 AM schedule again, though - and I am TIRED! I admit that I had gotten away from that over the summer, but I needed to get back to it so I could get my work done early and have the rest of the day free. I must confess that I took a short nap this afternoon. Well, my work was done, school was finished for the day, dinner was planned, and I was TIRED! I don't intend to make that an everyday habit, though.

At 3 o'clock this morning Andy walked into my room (where I was soundly sleeping) and announced (shouted, actually) "Do you NOT HEAR what I'm saying?" I sat straight up in bed (and checked that I hadn't wet myself in my fright!) and said "Huh?" He then began to talk nonstop about a video game that he plays. Realizing that he was still asleep, (which is a good thing for him - if he EVER talked to me like that when he was awake, I likely would whomp him!) I told him to come over to my side of the bed and tell me about it. After about three sentences he was snoring loudly! He doesn't remember anything about it. He talks in his sleep quite a bit, but this is the first time he's walked too! It would have been funny if he hadn't scared me half to death!

The solar system - in Andy's room!

The finished product.

Here's Andy - creating his masterpiece.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Today was nice. Dad, Sherri, Zack and Alyssa came to visit for a while. I had a crockpot full of spaghetti, but Dad wanted to get home to cut his grass this evening, so they didn't stay for dinner. We will have to have a nice, long visit sometime soon. I pray for Dad each day, as I can only imagine what a struggle it must be for him. I have difficulty trying to imagine what it would be like without Jerry, and without the boys too, but just imagining it for a moment feels very lonely.

Sherri has done a terrible/wonderful thing. She has shown me how to use Comcast's photo show feature. Now I'll never get anything done. It's her fault. I made a photo show of Tom and one of Andy, but Tom did some creative editing to Andy's photo show, and now I need to do some editing of my own before it's web-worthy!

I gave Andy the choice of starting school tomorrow or Tuesday, which is when everyone here does - and he chose Tuesday. He's squeezing every last bit of summer out that he can!

On Friday we went to BJs, which is a warehouse club store like Sam's Club. Never go hungry. There are mutant-looking sized boxes of goodies there, and pies that are approximately two feet in diameter. Want croissants? Have a case. Or two. If the rich pastry gives you indigestion, pick up an industrial-sized bottle of Pepto-Bismol. In the past I bought my hair color there because it came in a pack of two (one must always have a spare, you know!), but I wasn't able to this time. They have never offered the full selection of hair color that a Wal-Mart or even a grocery store would carry - that's the nature of a warehouse store - but usually I could find an acceptable shade of brown, anyway. Well, not this time. This time they only had TWO colors available - blonde and black. I decided I could live with my gray a bit longer, rather than going to either of those extremes.

Jerry is installing windows in a house across the street from us, and he has finished now and just took the warranty information over to them, so I guess I'd better get the rest of dinner ready and on the table. He is so tired. He worked all day yesterday with his uncle taking down trees. He enjoys the change of pace from his construction work and has found that he rather enjoys doing tree work - as long as it's his uncle up in the top of the tree and not him!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

How Long, Lord?!

What is wrong with people these days? Many, many things, I'm afraid. This story is unbelievable. Sometimes I just wonder, "How long, Lord? How long are you going to put up with this?!"

Andy's math materials came in yesterday. His student book and manipulative blocks were backordered, so what we got was the teacher's book and DVD and his test book. I told him we would just go with that! He failed to see the humor in that. The rest of the materials are expected this week.

It was nice to hear from Mike today. I had sent books to Dad, Sherri and Mike and he said he was already a good way into his copy. The book is Heaven by Randy Alcorn. I have only read a little of mine, but it seemed wonderful and was very highly rated and so in light of all the conversations we had been having after Maggie's passing, I thought they would enjoy the book too. This is from the front cover flap: "What is Heaven really going to be like? What will we look like? What will we do? Won't Heaven get boring after a while? We all have questions about what Heaven will be like, and after twenty-five years of extensive research, Dr. Randy Alcorn has the answers. In the most comprehensive and definitive book on Heaven to date, Randy invites you to picture Heaven the way Scripture describes it - a bright, vibrant and physical New Earth, free from sin, suffering and death, and brimming with Christ's presence, wondrous natural beauty, and the richness of human culture as God intended it. ......And the next time you hear someone say, "We can't begin to imagine what Heaven will be like," you'll be able to tell them, "I can."

It's not an easy read, but definitely a good one. As usual though, I am reading more than one thing at a time. Yesterday a new issue of Countryside magazine arrived. That is always a dangerous thing around here! Reading it always makes me want to just stick a For Sale sign in the yard and run for the mountains.

Jerry has been very busy lately, working 12 to 14-hour days, so we haven't had a chance to look at property. It seems that as soon as people heard that we wanted to move away, everybody wanted something built or done "before you go"! Businesses could use that to boost sales - just tell people you're moving out of state! It's just as well though, because we figured that with Maggie's passing, it's a good thing to stick around here for a while for Dad, and then when He (God - not Dad!) decides it's time for us to move, He'll see to it that "all our paths are made straight". He has never failed us yet when we wait on Him for major decisions.

Now I think I will go and do some reading and get ready for bed. For some reason I have been very tired today. Probably because this old body did more housecleaning this weekend than it has in years! My house (and my old body) didn't know what hit it!

Sunday, August 14, 2005

What a boring weekend. A wonderfully boring weekend! Actually, I did a lot of cleaning this weekend. I actually scrubbed my kitchen floor with a scrub brush - on my hands and knees! That is not how I usually clean the floor (although those who really know me know that I usually don't clean the floor at all!) But we won't mention that. Anyway, it needed a serious cleaning. My knees are very sore, but the floor looks great! Yesterday it was the bathroom. Thoroughly. Ugh. Now the rest of the house still looks like a cyclone went through it, but I'm making some progress.

We got a course booklet from the local college the other day. They are now offering many courses online and devoted a large portion of their catalog to their online course offerings. However, one course in particular caught my eye. It is an online course called Using the Internet. Hmmm.....shouldn't you kind of already know that before taking an online course?!

Andy's history and geography materials came in. I think we are both looking forward to starting school. Now we are waiting for his math to come in, and then I still need to order his foreign language course (he chose Japanese). I wasn't able to order that with everything else and needed to wait for another pay day! Homeschooling is wonderful, but definitely not cheap!

This has been a great day. My floor is clean, there are brownies baking in the oven, and Andy is cleaning his room (without even having been asked!) Life is good!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Boring days - yay!

These past few days have been boring - and I'm glad. I've just been working and working on decluttering. Yes, it's taking me a while.

Andy's science stuff arrived the other day . It looks like it's going to be lots of fun. It was the book he is using (which is Astronomy) plus all the materials he needs to do all the experiments and projects throughout the year. I was happy when, after looking through all the goodies, he asked, "Can we start school whenever we want, or do we have to wait until everyone else does?" We have not started yet, though. All of his other subject materials have not arrived yet.

We were at the used-book store last week and on the bookmark they gave us it says, "Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read". This is attributed to Groucho Marx. I think it's a hoot!

Sunday, August 07, 2005



Saturday, August 06, 2005

I finally got Tom's birthday pictures off of his camera. These were the only two I could manage as the batteries were low (dead!) and kept cutting off when I tried to take a picture. We gave him an iPod. Once children get older it's hard to get gifts for them. I have to say that I really like his iPod - I may just have to get myself one - well, after I get a decent camera!

I had written to my cousin Lisa last week and she wrote back the other day. Her email had me in stitches. I had written in my letter to her that listening to conversation between her dad and mine (brothers) explained A LOT. She wrote back, "It's genetic. There's no hope. Give up now". She was packing for a trip to Australia the next day! I wish I had gotten her flight information so Andy and I could track her flight. We tracked Sherri's when she flew from New York to come to Maggie's funeral. At various points throughout her flight I jotted down the plane's altitude and speed. It's very interesting - and Sherri didn't realize until I showed her that she was hurtling through the air at 525 mph! The tracking must stop once a plane reaches an altitude of 5000 feet when it's getting ready to land, because we could see the plane steadily descending, then it got to 5000, then it read "altitude 0 - arrived". I'm quite sure the plane didn't just drop from 5000 to 0 in a minute's time! The last flight we tracked was the same way, when Jerry's mom was flying to Ohio. We even got to see that her flight had been delayed twice before taking off. She was supposed to have left at about 8 PM and arrived at around 10 PM. Jerry was at his brother's house and called me at 10 to let me know he was on his way home and he said, "I guess Mom's plane has arrived now". I was seeing on the screen that she was actually still sitting in BWI airport because there had been another delay. I don't get out much - therefore I live vicariously through relatives!

Tom was wearing a Hawaiian lei and decided to drape it around his ears. Don't ask. Here he is unwrapping the iPod that we gave him. That's a neat thing! I want one now!

Tom's birthday cake. Food Lion did this one - not us!

Friday, August 05, 2005

Whatever Happened To Modesty?

I just saw a television commercial for back-to-school clothes. Oh my. In the commercial there is a young pre-teen girl trying on different outfits, all of which cover very little of herself. Why do girls (and women for that matter) need to show so much of themselves? And at school, no less?! Oh, I'm not such a prude that I don't remember wanting clothes like that for myself when I was younger. I was not raised in a home where modesty (or the reasons for it) was really addressed, but then it was also understood that there were just some things we would not wear out of the house, young lady! Today's pre-teens are dressing like the streetwalkers of only a generation or two ago.

Back in the 1800s a man who caught a glimpse of a woman's ankle considered himself fortunate! A woman's shoulders were also considered to be an especially feminine part of herself, perhaps in contrast to a man's broad shoulders, and they also were not shown except to a husband. There used to be some mystique about what were considered feminine parts of a woman's body, such as her upper arms, shoulders, legs, ankles and feet. Doesn't it stand to reason that if a man only sees these things on his wife and not all day, every day, then some of that mystique would remain for him to enjoy? Now there is nothing left to the imagination. Proponents of video game bans claim that too much violence has "hardened" a generation of children and the shock value is no longer there. The same is true of television and movie violence and even sex on TV or in the movies. It's the same as developing a tolerance to a drug - you need more and more for there to be an effect. I view modesty the same way. How can a man ever appreciate a woman's feminine attributes when he sees them everywhere he goes? That makes them everyday and ordinary - not something to be treasured and appreciated because they are not seen often.

My point in all of this rambling is that amidst all the societal ills that we have today, I know modesty will probably never make a comeback, but it sure would be nice if it did. And that's my humble opinion on this Friday!

Monday, August 01, 2005

Another Monday

Today has been interesting. I went to the bank, the board of education, and the grocery store. Mundane things for everyone else, but anxiety-provoking for someone afraid to be on the road. It is confusing how my faith is what lets me even get out there to try to drive somewhere, but I can't seem to get any control over the gut-wrenching (literally!) fear that comes when I see a car approach in an intersection. I can actually start to feel comfortable behind the wheel until I come to an intersection, and then my knees start getting wobbly and my stomach feels most uncomfortable. I wasn't going to write about that, but as with so many other things, this is part of me - who I am, and that's what this blog is about. Writing a blog is kind of like just letting it all hang out - the good, the bad and the ugly! But it's also therapeutic, and that's why I do it, and so when my boys are older they can have this to look back on and see what their ol' mom was all about (which may answer many questions for them!)

I went to the board of education to withdraw Andy from THE SYSTEM. As I suspected, they didn't want to see what materials I was using. I just need to fill out a form stating my intent and that I agree to teach him what he would be learning in school, and that's that. There will be a review in January and in June in which I will need to show his work to the home school coordinator at the board, but that's it. It's kind of funny though - they made it very clear that Andy could not participate in any school activities of any kind, including extracurricular, and could not use any school materials - BUT he sure was welcome to take the state testing when it's given at the schools! I guess he is! - his and other homeschoolers' scores would tend to make the school's scores look very good, which translates into more money in the end. We can't use anything of theirs (even though I still must pay school taxes), but they can use our children with the education that we taught them, to make their school system look good. Puh-leeze. Okay - enough board-bashing. I will say that I am very pleased with the education that Andy got in elementary school, and for that I am grateful. It also helps when you have a smart kid - but then, I'm biased!


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