Saturday, January 28, 2012

A Five Thousand Year Leap

At least it seems that way to me.  Last night I got a laptop.  I was up until after 1 a.m. setting it up (okay, playing with it).  Wow.  I now have my Quikbooks for the business installed on it, and it is connected via wi-fi to the printer, so I can sit at the kitchen table and work, instead of having to be in the office/schoolroom all by myself.  While I was figuring that out, I figured out how to hook that printer via wi-fi to the desktop in the office/schoolroom.  Now I can put the OTHER printer in storage and re-claim about 2' of desk area.

This is all so exciting.

I am going to put the boys' math (Teaching Textbooks) on the laptop as some point, so they can use it for their schoolwork, instead of the computer in my bedroom.  I may actually get to clean all their stuff out of my bedroom!

I know this may sound crazy, but this has been a really big day for me. Next I am going to go smoke some meat for dinner in my big electric smoker.

Life is all good.

Monday, January 23, 2012

It's Monday - What Are You Reading This Week?

Two books I started in the last week and then put back down:  Confessions of a Prairie B*, by Alison Arngrim, which I almost couldn't start because of the title.  Once I started it though, I decided that it probably wasn't worth my time.  I had read Melissa Gilbert's tell-all a few years ago, and I regret the loss of the hours of my life spent on that book.  This one is shorter, but still......

My bookmark is still moving slowly through Don't Waste Your Life, by John Piper.  It is something I usually read in the morning, along with my Bible and devotional reading.  So, it may take a while. 

This weekend I started the newest Flavia De Luce mystery I Am Half-Sick of Shadows, by Alan Bradley.  And today I received a lovely box from Amazon which contained Organized Simplicity: The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living by Tsh Oxenreider (why doesn't her first name have any vowels????).

I also put back Death At Wentwater Court by Carola Dunn.

It reminded me slightly of Her Royal Spyness mysteries, but just not as fun.  So back into the bag it went.  I also read a few pages of Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio.  I don't know what I was thinking.  I tossed that back into the library bag as well.

Hmmm, that was three books, not two.  Getting picky I guess.  But really, you need to be.  There is only so much time available for reading, and I refuse to waste that time on a bad book.  And that is that!

I will post some reviews on my monthly round up.

And what is YOUR bookmark moving through this week?

Monday, January 16, 2012

It's Monday! What are you reading this week?

I finished The Importance of Being Seven last week, and also read The Blind Side by Michael Lewis.  I will give complete reviews in my monthly round-up, but one got two stars and the other got four.

This week I continue with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban as a read aloud with the older boys, and the younger boys and I finished Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (four stars) and started Stuart Little.  I am also reading a short ebook, True Christian Motherhood by June Fuentes and I started Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper last night.  Don't Waste Your Life is one of my "goal" books for this year.

A lot of variety there - and what are YOU reading???

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Story of Esther

 A great big, really hairy, really friendly cat showed up at our home last fall.  She wandered over to our house in mid-November, while we were processing deer.  This is a wonderful time for all the outside cats, as they are tossed pieces of fresh venison to eat.  They also like to sniff around the skins, fight and wrestle and pretend they are themselves great hunters.

Hunter the Kitten, going after a fresh venison skin

Anyway, so we have this really big, really hairy cat hanging around our house now.  Living out in the forest we do get a lot of stray animals wandering by.  And usually, that is all they do - wander by.  They generally won't let you near them, but will sneak up and eat food when they think you aren't looking.

Not so with this girl, who we promptly named, "Big and Hairy" (our family is not particularly clever with words).  She came right up to you, wanted to be held, and purred, my goodness.

Please note that the injured left paw is now completely healed

So, she hung around, and we began to get used to her.  Then, on November 17, Nevin called me from the road.  I've gotten these calls before.  We live out in the country, but our driveway comes off a state road that seems to get it's fair share of fast drivers.  He just wanted to let me know that, "Big and Hairy is up on the road."

Well, shoot.  So, I get dressed, get a bag and an old towel to wrap the body in, and head up.  I see her lying in the road, right between my driveway and the neighbors.  I am thinking about how I really don't feel like digging a cat grave this morning, and pondering different means of disposal. 

And she turns her head and looks at me.

So I run over and check her out - one paw all bent over, blood on the eyes, nose and mouth.  I assume she has some internal injuries and is probably getting ready to die, so I wrap her in the towel and take her home.  I clean her up and wipe her face.  No more blood.  Hmmmm, odd.  So, I sit with her in my lap for a while, just rocking and waiting to see what happens.

Now, some of you may think I am cold and callous because I didn't get the kids up and dressed and drive into town to a vet to do immediate exploratory surgery.  I am going on the record as saying that I am, truly, a cat lover.  However, if I rescued every stray cat that wandered past the homestead, I would need to take a second job to pay for it.  In the country, cats come and go with a fair regularity, and that is just the way it is.

Back to the story.  Nothing is happening with the cat, but she smells really bad, and I do have other things to do.  So I wrap her in the towel on a rug by the back door and let her sleep in the sun.  Meanwhile, Vivien, my Princess indoor cat, is losing her mind.  I am not sure that Vivien understands that she is a cat, just like the ones outside, but whoever she thinks she is, she was NOT happy.

Big and Hairy slept for approximately 15 hours.  That night I moved all Vivien's food and litterbox out of the schoolroom into the laundry room, and put Big and Hairy in there for the night.

And she is still with us.  She looks sort of Persian, so I named her Esther.  She has completely recovered, with only a very slight limp when she runs.  She has made her home under our shed.  I tried to set her up in a nicer place, put blankets and food in a doghouse, but she wanted nothing to do with it.  She lives under the shed.  Every morning she is out on the front porch with the other cats, waiting for breakfast.  When she hears me outside during the day she comes running to be picked up.  She loves to be held and petted.  She has managed to acclimate herself to the other cats as well.

We have since learned that in her previous life, her name was Ashley, and she is 13 years old.  I cannot imagine a cat living out by us that long - between the road, coyotes and stray dogs.  But there she is. 

And now she is Esther.  Nevin says she looks like an Ashley.  She might look like an Ashley, but she is my Esther.  So our family has expanded to four cats - Daisy and her son Hunter on the front porch, Vivien (Daisy's daughter) inside the house, and Esther the queen, under the shed.

Vivien, the Princess inside the house.  She does not mingle with the riff-raff on the front porch.

Esther, always ready to eat.  Notice the left paw.

Esther and Hunter have learned to live together in harmony. 

Daisy looks on in disdain.  She is really the one who thinks she is royalty around here!

Mice and vermin, beware!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Homeschool Snow Days

Snow throws the schedule into disarray.  It always does.  I have often noted that it ONLY snowed on days that I had to be at work (back in my employment-for-money days).  Then it ONLY snowed on days I really needed to get to the shop (back in the days when I worked-for-free at my husband's cabinet shop). 

Now I suppose it will only snow on the days when I have fun things planned to do, since my husband works from a shop at home and I can work from the desk in the school room. 

We got our first snowfall of the season early Thursday morning.  There was maybe an inch in some of the drifts.  Enough to make the back roads where I live hazardous, so I chose not to leave the house at all. 

But this little bit was enough to throw my school plans into disarray.  I got the boys up with the promise that if they hurried up and ate and fed the animals they could play outside BEFORE school.  Usually, I would at least attempt to make them do some bookwork first, but it is a losing battle.  And besides, the sun was shining and I was afraid it would melt.  Would YOU want to be the mom who made them do school while the only snow all winter melted?  No, I didn't want that on my tombstone, either. 

And so, here they are.  This is the slope off our driveway, which ends in the woods.  I am always waiting for it it end with someone slamming into a tree, but in nine years they haven't broken any bones.

Getting ready to go again.  The figure on the right is my husband, getting ready to videotape.

Henry is ready for the snowboard.

Joe makes everything look easy.

They look so young.  These guys are 11 and 13, 5'3" and 5'11", respectively.  But everyone is a little kid when they are out in the snow.

Afterwards, hot chocolate, lunch, some book work.  The local school district also had a snow day, so the boys next door came over and sledded down our hill, then they all went inside for a wii tournament, followed by xbox at the neighbors' house.

We got the really important stuff done, anyway!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Cold Morning In the Henhouse

We got a little bit of snow and ice last night - maybe an inch - nothing for around here.  But, it is blowing and cold (in the 20s) and there is still flurries....flurrying...around .  I went out this morning to check on the hens, and most likely, break the ice on their waterers.

Look who got locked in the house last night.  He must have already snuck in before we closed the house up for the night.
Rule #1 - LOOK inside the house before you lock it up.  Need to remind Eldest Son of this rule again!

Yep, playing dead, the little possum is.  Now I know why my hens were hollering this morning!

Not so cute when you can see his evil eyes, sharp teeth, and hear him hissing at you.

He hadn't killed any chickens (Praise God!).  I think the little ones aren't quite ready to take on a full-grown hen yet.  They mainly eat the eggs and the chicken food. 

The hens are not at all pleased.  Not at all.

He stayed out there all morning.  I chucked a few rocks in at him and was rewarded with the evil hissing and snarling.  He did not want to come out in the daylight - I think he was just going to stay in there all day, then mosey on out when it got dark.

But, alas (for him) Nevin came home and shot him. 

The moral to this story - unless you are invited, you better stay out of my henhouses!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Good Morning, Monday! Where Is Your Bookmark Today?

I finished Free Land last week - excellent book, highly recommended to any Little House on the Prairie, A Lantern In Her Hand, O Pioneer! or Mrs. Mike fans.

If you don't recognize any of those titles, run, don't walk, to your library.  Now!

This week I am reading The Importance of Being Seven, Book 6 in the 44 Scotland Street series by Alexander McCall Smith.  Mr. Smith is more famous for his No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, but I may even enjoy this one more.  The series is actually published as a serial in a Scottish newspaper.  It follows the lives of the inhabitants of 44 Scotland Street. 

I will put a more thorough review of the book in my monthly reading log - after I have finished it!  I actually had to go to the trouble of getting this one inter-library loan, and so far it is worth it. 

I have gotten crazy on this week - I am not completely certain how the "friending" works there, but if you are there, please let me know and we can be friends!  I have a long "to be read" list now, based on their recommendations.  Just another fun website to while away valuable time on, but it does eliminate two logs I was maintaining, my "to be read" list and my "what I read this year" list.  I have a link down on the right, with my current reads and a link to some of my favorite books.

Happy reading - let me know what you are reading this week!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Good Morning, Monday! Where do you have a bookmark this week?

I took down and put away a couple books yesterday, trying to decide what to start next.  I was about 1/3 of the way into The Paris Wife by Paula McBain, a fictionalized account of the marriage of Ernest Hemingway and Hadley Richardson.  Just couldn't get into it.  Back into the library bag it goes.

I decided to pull a book off my shelves - and the winnah this week is Free Land, by Rose Wilder Lane.  I have been meaning to read this for a while.  A few years ago I read all the "Rose" Little House books by Roger Lea MacBride.  Highly fictionalized, of course, but in the same writing style as the original LH books (also highly fictionalized, but we won't grind that axe today - I love them anyway!).  After I read the "Rose" books, I read quite a few collections of hers and Laura's writings (Laura wrote a newspaper column for years).  I especially loved Rose's collections of short stories in Old Home Town.  Sort of Little Town on the Prairie - the Dark Side.  

Anyway, I am going to read Free Land, which is about pioneers on the Plains.  I am looking forward to it.  My bookmark is also moving through Things We Wished We'd Known, which is a compilation of articles on homeschooling (I read it several years ago, this is just a re-read) and a couple devotionals. 

My review of Free Land will be on the January reading log.

So......what is your bookmark moving through this week?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

December, 2011 Reading Log

Some of these showed up in my Superlatives list, but here is the final and complete list for the year. 
74. Of Thee I Zing – 3.5 – Laura Ingraham – Political. Just a collection of her observations on our culture. Generally witty, often right-on, some I thought overly-critical, sometimes just awfully opinionated (but I guess that is the point!). I cannot believe she really goes up to strangers and is as rude as she says she is.

75. Sick of Shadows: An Edwardian Murder Mystery – 3.5 – Period mystery. Not a great as the first two. A lot of the storyline revolves around misunderstandings, messages being thrown in the fire instead of delivered, etc. That gets tiresome. Also, the way the bad guys got their comeuppance was way too contrived, and I just didn’t buy the backstory on the murderers. Lots of missing pieces. Something else I have noticed in these books – lots of typos. I admit to marking and correcting a couple in the last book (it was a library book, so I shouldn’t have, but I could not help it). In this book, though – someone beat me to it. Corrections penciled in. I think there are only 4 books in the series, and I have the 4th, so hopefully it wraps up the storylines and doesn’t just end with a cliffhanger.

76. Our Lady of Pain: An Edwardian Murder Mystery – 3.75 – Period mystery. Last in the series, and the loose ends all tied up!

77. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever – 5 – Barbara Robinson – Childrens book. one of my favorite Christmas stories ever. This year I got to share it as a read aloud with my younger boys. Hey! Unto you a child is born!

78. Lord Is It Warfare? Teach Me To Stand – 5 – Kay Arthur – Bible study on spirtual warfare. I did this over the course of about 6 months with a small group of ladies. Excellent, life-changing. I highly recommend, and look forward to doing more of her studies.

79. A Crimson Warning: A Lady Emily Mystery – 3 – Tasha Alexander. Period mystery. I think I may be done with Lady Emily. She is getting dull, and the story on this one got very convoluted.

80. As The Pig Turns: An Agatha Raisin Mystery – 3.5 – M.C. Beaton – Cozy mystery. Okay mystery, not one of the better ones.

81. Wonderland Creek – 4 – Lynn Austin – Christian fiction. Allie is a librarian in Illinois in 1936. Her whole world is books – to the point where she doesn’t have a real life. A few unexpected events lead her on an adventure to Appalachia to deliver donated books to a rural area. There she is stranded, and caught up in a completely unfamiliar life of feuds, closed coal mines, and lack of 20th century conveniences. An interesting story about living the life and doing the work that God has called you to do.

82. Chosen by God – 5 – R.C. Sproul – Theology. Explanation of the Doctrines of Grace. Took me a long time to get through, because it is not something you can skim – you have to pay attention. It also cries out for lots of highlighting and re-reading.