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Archive for January, 2008

I finally backed up my pictures..sortof

January 30th, 2008 at 08:37 am

The last few weeks about once every three times I turn my computer on it says there is no hard drive. I mentioned it to my tech support (husband) and made a mental note to back up some important 'stuff'. Of course you know how well mental notes work on me!

Actually I wasn't that bad I asked him how to go about it, and he said umm no DVD burner? will take forever on CD...(and I didn't point out my CD burner hasn't worked in years).

So instead I took my pictures folder and copied it over to my second hard drive...might not be perfect, but at least they are in two places. (yes I have two, he bought himself a new one several years ago, and I got his old plus mine - still only adds up to 40Gigs though)

I got my husband to agree to a rule that I am sticking to...no new computer parts until the car is paid off... AT the time I thought going 4 years between computer upgrades wouldn't be that hard....I forgot how often we use them! (old habit was a couple hundred spent on something new, hard drives or video cards or something about every 2 years)

Is your house presentable for company?

January 29th, 2008 at 10:05 am

Mine sort of is...but I think I have low standards...Discussing Games nights here, a friend was surprised that we are ready for any Friday, and frequently get guests on supposed 'off Fridays'.

We don't mind, any time we can play games and hang out with grown ups for free is cool with us.

Now truth to tell if you object to dust, sorry the kids are the only ones who dust, and not very well. or if you mind that the floor will be swept after I say hello, well it needs done after every meal, and dinner was just finished (and snack time is soon, so if you weren't here we cheat and do it after both...)

Or if you object to the stack of Christmas boxes on one chair in the living room..well I can't reach where they belong anymore (husbands stuff in my way) so umm sit on one of the other chairs please. If any of that bothers you, then no we are not company ready.

I would rather have company than feel worked up into needing a perfect house every time someone came over...just do give me 15 minutes of warning so I can make the kids clean up their mess and fill the dishwasher. Smile

Pizza for 11 folks...

January 28th, 2008 at 06:58 pm

If you were going to treat to pizza for 11 people, how much would you expect to pay? thats 4 adults, 4 teens and 3 of my kids....Wait take out my kids, they got free book it pizza....So I guess it was only 8.

Total cost was actually $27...I really expected more.

Not to often I get surprised with a lower cost than expected Smile

Of course you have to increase the days food cost, we try to take funish food to snack on while there...mostly because my family eats constantly... and it annoys me to be eating while others turn up their noses...

So WW. ritz, some fancy cheese, and summer sausage was the junk of the week.

Now I just have to figure out what to bring this week...the girls wanted to make more of the valentine 'bugs' (pipe cleaners wrapped around tubes of bubbles..attach googly eyes and paper wings..) So we will have to go this Sunday.

cheaper to be older/bigger

January 28th, 2008 at 09:57 am

So in the hunt for my sons math book, (ordered on ebay, being shipped today I hope) I went through the list of all the programs I knew of and thought about what would be best for him to learn with. And while I picked Saxon for him, I do NOT want Saxon for my daughter..she needs pretty flowers and fun graphics on her work...she is younger still. Plus she really is in about the middle of the year for math, and stuck...improving on old skills, but not progressing forward.

I don't know why, but my next attempt to move her will be with a 'new book' It worked on GMC (though I hadn't planned it that way.) So my memory of options came up with Abecka or Horizons..two programs I recall having lots of pretty pictures on each work page (and being a bit umm easier). Fluff and filler may not be educational, but it is fun for kids.

Unfortunately no one on ebay is selling either...and I really don't want to pay full price...

Bringing up the idea..it is WAY cheaper for a kid to know more! GMCs math is cheaper merely because it is an older grade...one that I can find Abecka and Horizons in! But I can't find JCs level... Just like clothing, the stuff in your kids size is never the stuff on sale!

Reward for effecient work...

January 26th, 2008 at 08:57 am

My kids all have 'morning chores'...And the goal is to have them done by 10am including breakfast, and getting ready for the day (yeah so we aren't in much of a hurry..it is good to home school)

Anyway, the amount of work would take an adult less than 20 minutes plus eating and showering..make it an hour. (Gmc usually starts around 8am)

They on the other hand have a HUGE problem getting done lately. I started offering a reward for completing work, a star for each day they both get done, and a special surprise for 3 days of stars. Well JC got a star each and every day. GMC on the other hand only made it twice.

So I decided JC deserves a reward, she didn't pout when she noticed her brother talking to himself and not working, but I could see the disappointed look. She had to have been thinking "I worked hard and I don't get anything because he wont."

Now I actually have to come up with the reward! Today we picked Dave and Busters, we need to go to the grocery store which is right beside it sortof. So 'us girls' will head off to the fun arcade, and the boys will go grocery shopping.

She happens to have money, so the treat is me taking her, the money for the arcade comes from her own stash Smile Though I think I will put some in ING for her just remove it from the 'spendable total'..that way I can hear less "can I buy that pink thing?" Half the time it is a totally useless item for a kid, like a pink car air freshener or something, she just wants to spend on pink! ugh.

fudge phooey and fiddlesticks

January 24th, 2008 at 08:33 am

I thought I was set on math worksheets for my oldest, but now it turns out the Singapore math book is written in..for the most essential fraction section!

Now I have to scramble to find something for him to do, he needs review of division, and multiplication (3 digit) and fraction work.

I am looking into finding a saxon math book on ebay, I think at this level they are hardback reusable books.

Did I mention phooey?

the bills and math..

January 23rd, 2008 at 09:54 am

I was cold yesterday, so I thought I would walk out to the mailbox..to remind myself it could be worse, I could be without a house!

In the mail was a gas bill, perfect timing (gas heat) I figured I could look at the bill suffer some sticker shock at the price and be thankful for a warm sweater.

Instead I found a bill of 67.66 Now no it isn't cheap, but compared to previous years of 80 dollar gas bills in January, it was nice. I peeked at the graph to see how we compared 'thermwise' to last year. 55 last year and only 42 this year! Wow I thought pretty nifty. The average temp (also info on the bill) was 50 degrees last year and 47 this year, so life was colder and we still spent less!

Then I caught the 'days' entry, last January was a bill for 39 days, this year only 31 (I have no idea why they bill such odd cycles)

Phooey, now I have to do the math to see if we are really spending less. Errr let me go get my math brain son....

Last year... 55therms/39 days = 1.41th/dy
This year... 42 therms/31 days = 1.35th/dy

So a smidgen less this year than last. Nothing to write home about really.

The hidden cost of pregnancy, that no one talks about

January 22nd, 2008 at 09:22 am

Read any pregnancy book and you are likely to get a hint at some of the costs. Aside from the medical care, there are clothing costs and usually some mention of extra food is made.

Unfortunately that is missing a large chunk of change every pregnant woman has to dish out, for things we don't like to mention.

First the most non acceptable topic, Bathroom breaks. Sure we joke about having to go 10 or more times in the morning alone, but does anyone point out the vast amounts of TP one goes through when visiting the John every half hour? So you think TP is fairly inexpensive... but then you are buying for 3-5 trips a day, not 10-20! Quadruple your TP expense for about 1 year (you will need to visit more after birth too, until your pelvic floor muscles recover..if they do.)

Then on to food. Everyone knows a pregnant woman needs to eat more, though surprisingly only about 300 calories more. But those 300 calories somewhere in the later months will have to be split into two or more meals, due to a cramped stomach! This means a major increase in dishes, one set washed for breakfast, one for second breakfast, one for elevensies, one for lunch, one for afternoon snack, one for afternoon tea, one for dinner, and one for second dinner, oh and of course the midnight snack. Going from 4 meals of dishes a day to 9 is almost double the dishes, needing water and soap paid for to keep them clean. (or a lot of take out)

Add to all that food the frequent, nausea and loss of food, and you have one major amount of cleaning to be done.

Then there is lost work time..not just in paid work, though many women work for pay every day of pregnancy, even making up time spent at Drs. Somewhere else in life some tasks are skipped. Maybe it is those dishes- leaving crusted on food for to long leads to more water needed to clean it. Or it could be filing- risking some bill going missing and unpaid. Or for most women the most common tasks ignored is..the spouse. Sorry Hunny we are busy with a baby and all the other tasks of life. - possibly leading up to marital distress, and that is the most expensive risk of pregnancy!

Men if you are reading, take heart, she wont be pregnant forever, so go buy some extra TP, wash the dishes, ask her what chore would most help, and you just might be bumped up her priority list. If she isn't too sick...

Cute kid quotes

January 21st, 2008 at 09:26 am

I have cute kids if I do say so myself (and I do, frequently)

The latest from GMC came just after some torrential rain started Friday night. He mentioned it was really raining a lot. I replied yep, it does that. He suggested "Maybe God decided the drought was over"

On the one hand, Sooo cute. On the other hand he falls into the classic problem in a drought, one good rain and folks thing they can stop conserving.

JC had a cute line this morning. I was making oatmeal and happened to place it on the table before stirring in the brown sugar and cinnamon. "Oatmeal is all white?" in that why are we eating white food tone. You see with all the attempts to teach my kids that whole grains are better I fall into mentioning 'white flour' as evil all to often. So now she wants to know why I think Oatmeal is good for them when it is pasty white!

I noticed this morning that if I get one more oatmeal eater, I am going to have to learn to cook the stuff on the stove! microwave directions are not recommended for more than one serving, and my bowl is too small for more than 2. (one adult, three small kids, who are also eating fruit and nuts...)

Jump start vs Reader rabbit.

January 19th, 2008 at 10:11 am

Being a computer geek family we always want to play games for kids and adults. Being an education minded homeschooling family, we try to find educational games to fill that desire. (at least for the kids)

Over the years I have learned a thing or two about the two 'big name' computer games. I thought I would share, for anyone interested in buying one or the other. Don't go suing me if your game differs, I am just a mom.

Reader Rabbit generally has a simple plot with basic skills covered in the course of a mission. At 3rd grade RR becomes 'Clue Finders'. The same company makes both, just the characters on the screen change (and the missions require more work).

Todays versions 'auto level' quite well, meaning if your kid answers right enough times in a row, the difficulty of questions will bump up. Most of the time the questions get harder...rarely more computer skill is needed. Older versions required more 'game skills'. But as I buy newer and newer versions I find my kids can handle the mouse clicks all by themselves. Since I buy games for younger kids this is VERY important. RR/CF games also offer an option to change levels yourself, so if I know my kid is good at a subject I can bump him up immediately. Newer versions will record if your child has tried a level and had difficulty with it.

The skills covered for each 'grade' seem about on par with what I would teach for a grade. (They also match up to many text books such as Singapore math, or Abecka reading) Level one being a bit too easy, and level 4 being a bit challenging. Perfect for a kid who is excelling in one area, but rusty in another.

On a non educational note, RR/CF games tend to have different voices for different games...unless you have listened to the same voice encourage your kid to click something for 30 minutes straight you have no idea how wonderful it is to hear a different voice! The graphics on the other hand seem generations behind adult games. Total game play varies, with the 'lower grades' having less. We have not beat a game in less than 2 hours, and one took closer to 10 or 15. (multiple sessions of course) My kids who do not get to play console games, don't seem to mind the graphics, and will replay the games to beat them on harder levels.

We are a RR/CF family, we own one for every level my kids are on (3 kids 3 different games of course)

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Jump start seems to have too many 'arcade' skills necessary to beat a game. One game required 'skateboarding' down a street to move from one area to another. Unfortunately younger children still look at the arrow keys before knowing if they will go up or down! The graphics to match these fancy arcade games are only a step or two down from adult games...often looking like a cheap console game, instead of a ancient scroll game. The most recent JS game I found was a 'world' where the walking is 'dynamic' meaning your character moves and the screen 'flows' as opposed to older style screens that had the character move one frame at a time. Pretty, but harder to control for a younger child.

Jump start used to have harder skill sets, nice if you don't want your 5 year old playing 6th grade games. But I am not certain of that any more. The last game we bought was a first grade game, and it still has nothing challenging for my daughter. (she is smart, but not that smart)

JS games have a different system of leveling, most of the time the arcade skill gets harder not the educational questions. Since I want the kids to answer without my bias, I hate having to be the one in charge of the mouse.

The most recent JS game we tried was a the JS world, where winning a race is part of completing the mission. I of course had to race for my 4 year old. While she didn't mind, I do! I fail to understand the importance of a first grader racing. No not racing to answer math first, just racing to move your character from point A to point B faster than the computer. Nothing against racing games, but I see no need to force my 4 year old to figure them out! (I do know many 4 year olds who can race quite well, I also know more who cannot)

JS games also tend to have the same voice through out the game that reminds you you are playing (I hate computer 'are you there' reminders!)

The levels are often static, meaning not only that I cannot change them for my children. But also in order to beat the game you must be able to perform ALL the skills. While I am all for requiring children to know a certain skill set before graduation, I do not hold playing a game to the same standards. So long as a kid can perform on level one, they aught to be able to win (and if they can't you have the wrong grade - or too many arcade skills needed)

JS games would be better for a family of 'console gamers'. If your kid can beat x-box racing games, they will prolly want the better graphics of JS, and enjoy the arcade side trips.

Rain and ice, and .... snow?

January 17th, 2008 at 09:29 am

My husband woke me up last night to tell me it was snowing... I think he expected me to go see it Smile.

When my youngest woke me to use the potty (being pregnant I had to use it as well) we peeked behind the curtains to see a blanket of white outside.

Of course while I was still trying to fall back asleep, it started to rain...there ends the pretty snow.

This being Charlotte, a city in the mostly south, snow doesn't last, if anything it turns into an ice storm, which I believe they are predicting a one this Saturday...wouldn't you know it just in time for the cub scout field trip...one of two GMC needs to obtain his Tiger badge...

Oh well, it was pretty at 2am.

subscription games for kids

January 16th, 2008 at 09:34 am

You know that game I let JC buy? Well first, it is pathetically easy, I mean my mostly normal 2 year old could play if I handled the mouse for him! (don't get me wrong he is smart, but nothing to write a novel on.)

The game begins with skills such as asking her to gather 2 bugs, or crash icebergs with 5 objects (or the number 5). Or put shoes on 4 bears!!!! how is that a skill for a first grader?

I might have a bit umm pushy standards, but please!

Then there is NO way for me to change the skill level! I cannot tell it to jump ahead to at least larger numbers or adding, it doesn't have a level setting option for most games, and the one that did made it rain on her boat...but still only hunting numbers less than 5.

AND they want her to subscribe to get more levels...I would guess that by level 12 she would be doing real challenging work, but I have no intentions of spending $8 for 10 months to find out!

I don't know if I should take the game back and trade for second grade, or if I should get rid of it completely...the controls are similar to a console game, the graphics are pretty nifty, and the variety of games is nice (claims 40, I have seen 10, all too easy)..she likes being able to choose her own character, but I do NOT like her wasting time on reviewing skills her little brother needs to know...maybe I should keep it for him....

I am SOOO glad GMC couldn't afford his grade level game...

Phooey...He did his job, now I have to do mine...

January 15th, 2008 at 09:00 am

I needed some info before I could proceed with a cubscout task...I sent an email or two, spoke in person, and today (the deadline day) I found the lovely info in my inbox...You know, I really was looking forward to an easy day, no work, no stress, a bit of goofing off, some surfing 'in the name of finances'. But now I have actual work to do...people, if you are going to procrastinate, do so long enough to let me off the hook Smile

Will that Christmas money ever be gone?

January 14th, 2008 at 09:14 am

At BJ's a cool new jump start computer game caught my sons eye...I didn't want him to get it (seemed too easy for him) and was relieved to discover it cost $17...he didn't quite have enough. His sister on the other hand...she had plenty for her grade version and snatched it up. GMC found a different Carmen game for only $8.

Now I am sitting here with two new computer games wondering if those kids will ever run out of money! They already put a little more than %20 in savings and about %10 for church...now we are just at the 'wasting money' phase...I don't mind them wasting their own money...if it weren't for the fact that I have to store the stuff they buy (or toss it when it breaks)

Kids want to buy a flock of geese

January 12th, 2008 at 09:21 am

We read a story about http://www.heifer.org/site/c.edJRKQNiFiG/b.204586/k.9430/Gif... from a magazine the other day and the kids really want to buy an animal.

I did some online checking and it seems that aside from being a bit http://a.wholelottanothing.org/2007/01/01/heifer-internation... as to just who gets your money (it may not even go to geese, but it will go to animals and training in the countries listed) It seems like a http://charityreports.bbb.org/Public/Report.aspx?CharityID=5... with a decent mission.

So I think I am going to let the kids buy a flock of geese with their leftover Christmas money.

Procrastination....

January 11th, 2008 at 10:12 am

I am a natural procrastinator, even though I know I prefer a short todo list, and I feel better when things are done on time, or early..but I still naturally tend to procrastinate. Curing myself of this terrible habit is on my todo list.

For now I have my good days and my bad days.

Today is a bad day, I have several nursery and cub scout tasks that I am flat out avoiding...mainly because I am not sure the best course.

I find that if I know how to do something, or at least mostly how, I don't mind doing it. But when I am in a quandary (I always liked that word) I am never sure where to start, so I just don't start at all.

Prolly silly, but true.