Making It Work

For Christmas I got an MP3 player from Darling Hubby.  It’s something that I’ve wanted for a while now and I’m really loving it.  It will help me get through the boring chores like folding laundry, dishes, sweeping/mopping, etc.  I don’t have a radio in every room and I usually do my cleaning while Fidget naps, so I tend to try to stay quiet.

So I have this tiny little MP3 player, cute purple and blue earbuds and Outlander the Musical to rock out to while I’m cleaning.  For those of you who enjoy Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, Outlander the Musical is a musical adaptation written to go along with the first book.   I love it, except for the woman they chose to do Jaimie’s sister Jenny’s voice…she sounds like an elderly Chinese woman, but I digress.  I can sing and dance around while cleaning and no one is the wiser.  🙂

Another perk of having a little MP3 player is that I can use it in my car.  The only down side is that it won’t work in my car…For some reason when I plug it into my USB port in my car I get nothing…I called the dealership and brought it in to be looked at.  They deterimed that the UBS/AUX port wasn’t sending signals to the stereo, so they ordered the part to replace it.  I had the new part installed yesterday and when I went out into the parking lot and tried it before I left, it still didn’t work, even though they assured me it did.  The tech ended up coming out and taking a look with me.  They only tried it with an auxilliary cable and his smart phone and not a USB cable.  I know my USB cable isn’t faulty since it works with my computer to both charge the player and transfer data.  After a few tries of him running back into the shop a couple times (which I felt bad about since it was like 20 degrees out and windy) for a couple USB cables he determined that it just wasn’t working.

He ended up taking it back into the shop and looking at it again in the warmth and decided that it’s possibly the radio not receiving the signals from the port.  He did tell me that this was an updated port since the original model that came with the car had a tendency to malfunction…Great!  Our next step is to order and install a whole new radio…Which means another trip and time spent waiting for that to be installed  (at least I was able to get 4 rows knitted on my Bella Sweater and read a little of A Breath of Snow and Ashes this time around.)  I’m hoping that this is the last time…It’s starting to seem silly to go through all the trouble just so I can have a little extra music, but it would be nice to be able to switch between all my music without having a ton of cd’s clogging up my glove box…

The car is 16 months old, so it should have worked from the get go, but I had no way of knowing since I never had reason to use it.  The only good thing is that it’s all still under warranty, so I don’t have to pay anything out of pocket…or you can believe that I’d just say forget it.  Hopefully this time we can make it work…fingers crossed for me.

One Proud Mama!

I went to Bug’s first 1st grade Parent Teacher Conference this morning and I couldn’t be prouder of my boy.  He’s doing fantastically!  Both his teachers just love having him in class (and they told me they weren’t just saying that!)  He makes them smile everyday and his excitement at learning  is contagious!

I already knew that Bug is a phenomenal reader, but Mrs. J confirmed that he’s reading well above the typical 1st grade level.  He’s actually reading at a 5th grade level (S on the Fountas & Pinnell Test)…and the only reason it’s not higher isn’t because he can’t sound out the words, it’s because he doesn’t understand the unspoken/inferred things and feelings between characters.  Our challenge is to find works that will hold his interest and are age appropriate.  Mrs. J gave me 2 huge lists of books to try to find something that takes him longer than 5 minutes to tear through (like the library book he brought home last week that was a level 2 early reader that he polished off in 4 minutes flat and correctly answered every question I asked.)

I did find several Beverly Cleary books on the list and we stopped at the library this afternoon and picked up Henry Huggins and Ribsy.  He was already eyeballing the other Henry books.  Hopefully those will be age appropriate for him and will hold his interest.  I also found some of my old non fiction books that I had when I was in college for elementary education and had to write lesson plans.  I found some books on the human body and several on mummies/pyramids.  He took right to the grossology book (of course!)

Over the summer I read a children’s version of Homer’s Odyssey written by Mary Pope Osborne (the author of the Magic Treehouse series) and last week, we started reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and he seems to be really enjoying it.  I’ve been reading a chapter to him at bedtime and if I know there is a word he wouldn’t know I take the time to explain it to him and he’s been good about asking questions if there is something he doesn’t understand.  I actually really enjoy reading chapter books to him.  Picture books are great, but sometimes making him think about what we read the day before is better.

We’ve also noticed that his handwriting and word spacing has improved ten fold since the start of the year.  It’s so obvious in his personal journal entries he does each week.  Now if we could only get him to enjoy the drawing and coloring portion of the journaling we’d be golden…though he’s never been one to color or draw…it was always like pulling teeth to get him to draw pictures at home…even before he started school.

The only downside is that Mrs. J is concerned that he’s not going to show a lot of growth in the reading department.  There’s always room for improvement, but if he doesn’t at least show some growth by the end of the year, the district may complain to the teacher that he didn’t make some improvement.  They only look for improvement, not the fact that he’s reading at well above his grade level…  We are all going to continue to encourage him with his reading and find things that interest him to keep him going.  He’s such a smart cookie that I’d hate to see him plateau out.

He’s also doing really well in his math.  I love that Mrs. J doesn’t want the kids competing against one another.  I can remember when I was in 1st/2nd grade we had to tear through a page of math facts and see how many we could get correct in a minute.  I always felt bad if I didn’t score high.  Mrs. J plans to have the kids compete with themselves and challenge them to improve upon their prior day’s score.  She gave me a set of flash cards that I have to cut out and a chart for his MOOSE book (Management of Organizational Skills Everyday).  I’ll time him and keep track of how many facts he gets correct and chart it.  I’m sure we’ll see improvement.

Needless to say, I’m one very proud Mommy!  It’s great seeing Bug make such strides in his learning.

Finding The Time

Finding the time to either blog, read or craft always seems to be the problem.  There are never enough hours in the day to do everything that needs to be done and do all the things I want to do.  Like knit or read (I’m currently on book 6 of the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon.  If you don’t know about this series you should go check it out.  Seriously!  It’s about a hot Scotsman and there’s some time travel, too!  Picture Chris Hemsworth (Thor) with red hair and a kilt!  Meow!  What’s not to love!?)

I was sick Tuesday and yesterday with a weird stomach bug, so things have started to pile up and I have no motivation to take care of any of it now, despite the fact that Darling Hubby’s game group (I don’t play anymore) is coming over tonight.  (ETA – I did manage to get everything accomplished before everyone arrived and I fed everyone dinner, too.)

There’s still a ton of things around the house that should be done like sweeping and mopping, dusting, folding the clean clothes…but if I spend all my time cleaning I’ll never have time for me or my family.  Sometimes I just want or need to sit on the couch and play on the computer or knit.

I did find the time to knit a little this past weekend.  On Friday I started a ScWiNoNa scarf for one of Bug’s 1st grade teachers for Christmas.  I was looking for something that was kinda mindless and easy and would work with the yarn I have. All of the patterns I tried wouldn’t work either because I didn’t have enough yarn or because the pattern was too complex for my liking.  The ScWiNoNa actually matches the slanted raised rows in the Divine Hat that I crocheted a couple weeks ago (I’m making a hat/scarf set for both of his teachers.)

I’m hoping to get this first scarf done within the next couple weeks so I can start on the 2nd one.  I’ve got to get them done before Bug gets out of school for Christmas break.  I’ve decided that I’m not making crochet or knit Christmas presents this year.  They aren’t always appreciated (which breaks my heart) and I just don’t have time this year.  I did make a couple necklaces as gifts, but aside from that everything will be store bought this year.

For now I’ve got a few minutes of downtime before I have to get the kids to bed…now to decide if I want to knit or read…

Photo Challenge – June 6-10

Here are the 5 newest pictures for the June Photo Challenge

June 6th – Books.  Since I couldn’t choose just a few books, I took a picture of my favorite spot in our office.  This is my bookshelf with all my favorite books and knick-knacks.  There are 3 more in the room with more books and knick-knacks, but all of those aren’t mine!  We love books in our family!

June 6 - Books

 June 7th -High Angle – I trapped my cute little model in his playpen and stood on my coffee table for this shot.  I’m sure he was trying to figure out why I’m standing on the furniture like and idjit!  lol

June 7 - High Angle

 June 8th – Sunset – This was a Wednesday night and it was just me and the boys.  We had some terrible thunderstorms roll through our area, so I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to get a sunset shot being alone with the 2 kids and the storms.  This was taken after I got both kids bathed and into bed, after the 2nd storm blew through (the first was complete with hail!)  Our house location doesn’t lend itself well to good sunset pictures, but I quickly snapped this shot as the sun was sinking below our neighbor’s garage.

June 8th - Sunset

June 9th – Fresh Fruit – Fruit doesn’t tend to last long in our house. I haven’t been shopping in nearly a week and there was only 1 kiwi, 2 strawberries and a few apples left in the fridge.

June 9th - Fresh Fruit

June 10th – This is a woodpecker in our ornamental cherry tree in our front yard.  I have fond memories of this bird.  It’s not a real bird, you see. Our former neighbors hung this bird in a big tree in their backyard, one that I could see from my kitchen window.  I spent a good long time attempting to take a good photograph of it before it flew away…when it didn’t move for over an hour…it dawned on me it was fake.  We had a good laugh over it.  Well, our neighbors moved to a new house a few weeks ago and gave me the bird.  We hung it in the cherry tree and now when I see it, I think of them.  They were awesome neighbors, but I have high hopes that the new neighbors will be just as nice. A bonus is that they have a little girl who is only 3 days younger that Fidget!

June 10th - Animal

Bitten…By the Vampire Bug

When it comes to books I’m not the first one to jump on the “everyone is reading it bandwagon.”   I’ll admit I did with the Harry Potter books, but it was more because I had easy access to them at the library where I worked so I did, and was instantly hooked.  One reason I don’t get on the bandwagon is because I’m afraid I’ll enjoy the book and then, like everyone else, I have to wait for the next book in the series to be written and released.  I hate waiting.  I much rather be able to pick up the next book and keep reading so I don’t forget what happened already.  I will admit that in the months before the final Harry Potter book was to be released, I re-read the first 6 to refresh my memory, but since those books were actually geared toward teens, I whipped through all 6 in probably a month.

I recently finished re-reading the Clan of the Cave Bear (Earth’s Children Series) by Jean M. Auel.  It’s my favorite all time series and I got the urge to read it all again, so I did.  Since I finished the last book that’s been released so far (I’m hoping she’ll come out with the next book soon, although there hasn’t been any talk of it) I needed to move on to something else.  My friend Shannon gave me her paperback copy of Twilight and I figured since it was another young adult novel, I’d burn through it fast.   I was right.  I read a couple chapters Thursday night, picked it up a couple times on Friday, read a bit before bed on Saturday and finished it today cause I curled up on the couch with it.

My opinion on it?  Well, it’s definitely an easy read.  I had a bit of trouble getting into it initially, not because of the writing style or anything like that, but because it was all about the teenage drama that happens daily…I kinda lived through that in high school and it seemed to be typical day to day drama – new girl comes to a small country town, she’s pretty, all the boys faun over her, she’s attracted to the bad boy type, who has his own issues with her…then comes the part where you find out he’s a vampire and things start to heat up (which is kinda ironic since vampires are cold!)

By the end of the book, I was actually really hoping that Edward would turn Bella and give her what she wants, a life forever with Edward.  I really enjoyed seeing how much they really loved each other and how much Edward has to do to keep her safe, both from himself and from other vampires.  As for the sparkling in the sunlight thing, I’d heard about this from people who where down on the movies, calling the vampires “fairies,” but I actually found it to be an interesting twist on why vampires only come out at night, or in this case, on overcast days, which gives them a little more freedom.

As for seeing the movies, I think I’m going to wait until I’ve read all the books first, then I’ll watch the movies.  I don’t want someone else’s vision of Bella, Edward and the other Cullens to cloud my mind’s eye.

I think tomorrow after I drop Darling Hubby off at work, I’ll swing by the Walmart (I could go to Borders, but they don’t open til 10 – boo) and pick up the other 3 books.  I was going to borrow them from the library, but apparently the copies that are “checked in” are in fact missing and I don’t feel much like waiting.  I guess you can say, I’ve been “bitten by the vampire bug.”

Yeah!!!

My posts of late have all been happy ones!  Yeah!  I finished our taxes last night and they have been accepted by both the feds and state people already.  It’s the first time we’ve e-filed, so I’m hoping it will be a good experience for us, overall.  Fingers crossed.   We are getting quite a bit back.  It’s the most we’ve ever received (I wonder how much we’ve overpaid in the past).  I know that we’re planning to pay off the credit card debt we owe and will probably put most of the money into savings.  Darling Hubby has been thinking about one of those Sony e-reader things for a while.  Maybe we’ll spend a little on that.  We did spend some of last years return on my laptop.  It seems only fair that he get a cool gadget, too.  lol

Speaking of e-filing taxes, I heard on the radio the other night that the government is considering making people who don’t e-file pay a fee for sending in paper forms.  I know this has already started an uproar.  My first thought went to my parents.  They are much older (seniors), don’t have access to a computer or the internet and wouldn’t know what to do if they did…They are also the type of people who don’t want/like to have someone else do their taxes.  My dad has always done his own taxes.  I don’t think this new fee will ever see daylight, but you never know.

On another good, non money related note, I got my office cleaned, purged and reorganized.  I went through the filing cabinet where I store all my statements from bills and things and pulled out a few years worth to feed to the shredder.  I still have several years left in the drawer, but now I have a ton more room.  I pay many of my bills online now, so I don’t think it will fill up as fast.  I also moved some books around on the bookshelves (I put the already read ones together and the “want to read someday” ones together) and pulled a few to put into the garage sale we plan to have this May/June.  I moved some other small pieces of furniture around to give the one side of the room a different look and so we could get to the bottom shelves of a built in shelf.  Before there was a footlocker/trunk pushed up against it and the many bags containing the bridesmaid dresses I am supposed to be making for a friends wedding.  I haven’t heard from this friend in a while and at this point I’m not even sure what’s going on…I think she may have already gotten married (according to her myspace page) so if I spent all those hours making dresses that aren’t going to be worn, I’m going to be a mite PO’ed.  I really should call her and find out what’s going on…I just haven’t been much in the mood to talk to anyone, really.   I haven’t even called my mom in weeks…

Anyway, there are just a few more little items around the office that need to be put in their places and a big stack of papers that needs to be shredded, but otherwise, the room is done (and dust free!)  Bug will help me with the shredding cause he likes that sort of thing (don’t worry, I supervise the whole time!)  It feels good to get a little bit of spring cleaning in, even though it’s below freezing outside.  lol

I think I’m going to pull out some yarn and start working on a scarf before putting Bug to bed.  It won’t take me long to do.  I think I want to start yet another projects…maybe a granny square afghan or something.  I haven’t done one of those before.  It’s not like a need another blanket floating around, but it might be nice to have one on the back of the couch that matches the room.   Darling Hubby would probably kick my butt!   Maybe I could sell a few old blankets at the garage sale and it would soften the blow!  🙂  lol

Reading, Muffins and Snow

I didn’t sleep well last night.  I just couldn’t turn off my mind and I had indigestion from the meatball subs we had for dinner.  I ended up getting out of bed, going downstairs and reading until 1:30 in the morning so I didn’t keep tossing and turning and keeping Darling Hubby up like I normally do.  I think part of it was that I was really into my book (Nora Roberts Blood Brothers, the first book in the Sign of Seven Trilogy) and I’m so close to finishing it that I didn’t want to stop once I started.  I’m closer to finishing it now, but I think it will have to wait a couple days.  I wish I could read in the car on the trip tomorrow, but I get bad headaches from that and I’d be a total mess from it.  It’s best that I don’t.  I’m thinking I’ll take my knitting and work on that a little in the car.  I’ve crocheted before and I don’t think that has bothered me.

When I finally roused myself out of bed at 10 (Darling Hubby got up with Bug around 8) I started a load of laundry and started the filling for my pumpkin cream cheese muffins.  While I was killing time for that to get ready I folded up the laundry from the other day, put that away and made the bed and hung up the fresh laundry.  I got the muffins in the oven and curled up on the couch just in time to watch my soaps.

I called my mom tonight to find out if they had snow and she said they’ve a good amount.  Probably more than a foot.  That will make Bug very happy.  Today he’s been asking to make snow angels and unfortunately we don’t have a single snowflake, yet.  I packed extra pants, socks and boots so he can go play at some point before it gets dark.  He wants to also build a snowman (my mom said it’s good packing snow) and he’s told me we can’t forget the carrot for it’s nose.

I’d better go either finish that book or work on my knitting a bit.  Christmas will be here fast than I know it…