Thursday, June 30, 2005

Ok, Book Meme

Gretchen, over at, tagged me for a book meme. Now I will have to confess to you the junk I read, LOL. I used to like good stuff, back in high school and college, but now all I have time for are trashy novels that are easy to put down when life calls.

Total Number of Books Owned:

Does that include children's books? We just got rid of a bunch of college text books when we moved, and boxes of paper back novels too, so between us Chris and I probably have only a few hundred books, but the kids have another 2 hundred or so. It's hard to really say; whatever the number is, Chris is always reassuring me it is too many LOL

Last Book I Bought:

AstroBall Free-4-All, a book for Troyer. I've been very good about going to the library for my own reading, instead of spending $. If I could have found it, it would have been a book titled King Me, a Christian book on Dads raising sons. I heard about it on Mid-Day Connection a few months ago. I was hoping it would turn up in a bookstore near me, but I haven't seen it. Yeah yeah yeah I know, I could get it online.

Last Book I Read:

Here is where you find out just how low my literary tastes have fallen since I had kids, LOL. I just finished a trilogy by Michael Phillips called The Stonewycke Trilogy. It is a set of historical romance novels set in 19th century Scotland. Somehow in college I became fascinated by Scotland, and also my roommate got me hooked on reading time-travel novels. I read the series of books by Diana Gabaldon and enjoyed the parts about the history of Scotland and time traveling, and even for the most part the plots; the sex part, ick. I'd have been just as happy if they had left it up to our imaginations LOL.

I am currently reading another Michael Phillips series, The Secrets of Heathersleigh Hall, starting with Wild Grows the Heather in Devon. Michael Phillips is a Christian author so at least there isn't any sex in these, LOL.

5 Books That Mean A Lot to Me:

Wow, that is tough. It would be hard to pick out only 5. At the same time, it is hard to pick out a whole 5. I have read sooo many books, I am sure I'll post the answers to this meme and then in a few days smack my forehead and say "I can't believe I forgot THAT book!" Ok, so here goes:
First that comes to mind is The Great Controversy, by E G White. It is a fascinating book about the ultimate battle between Good and Evil, and how the Earth got caught in the middle of it.

Second is Northwest Passage, by Kenneth Roberts. I read it in 10th grade English class. It stands out for me because it is totally a guy's book, all about an exploration party searching for a Northwest Passage through Canada in the 19th century, not the sort of book I'd ever read, yet I remember enjoying it so much. I loved that class because we read so much that year, most of it books I'd never pick up on my own.

Third, another Christian novel Some Wildflower In My Heart, by Jamie Langston Turner. This is part of another series, and I don't think it is the first one, but it is the first one I read of them. What got me about this book is that there is a character, Birdie Freeman, who I shouldn't like at all; plain, sticky sweet kind, a total overkill of Christian goodness that normally I would be gagging over, and yet this book actually succeeded in making me want to be like her. I liked this book best out of the series.

Fourth, Hmmm, I knew this would start getting hard, lol. How to choose which ones meant more than others? Really, I blow through books so fast, I hardly remember one from another after I'm done. Well, I guess this is where the truth comes out. I don't have a high standard for my daily reading, lol. I will critique one romance novelist over another, because honestly some of them are really horrible and not even worth finishing the book yet others are fun to read. (I enjoyed Victoria Holt books, but even they get predictable when you've read 7 in a row. There is one author my sister and I have read who is remarkably inconsistent. Some of her books are great, and others just make us gag.) In the end, though, I guess I just read for escape at this point. Reading the really good stuff was more fun in school where we discussed the books in groups. It's no fun to have profound personal discoveries and insights if you don't have anyone to share them with. My husband doesn't like to read with me because he always feels dumb trying to discuss it. I read the Hobbit and was going to read The Lord of the Rings, since he read them and liked them, but he wouldn't discuss any of it and I lost interest. Romance is fun because there is seldom anything profound in them LOL.

Saturday, June 25, 2005


After we got home from Thomas, the boys jumped in the pool for a little bit and then played on the computer for a while. There was a knock on the door, it was a friend of the boys', Sam, bringing an invitation to a cookout at his house. His mom called while he was here to make sure the message came through ok and see if we could come. Chris wasn't home yet, so I told her that unless he had plans we would be there. He got home while Sam was still here, and said he'd come along, so we sent Sam home with the message that we'd be over after dinner. I made a quick pizza for dinner, and then off we went. They live just 2 blocks over, so we walked.

Their house is on a block that has a large grassy field in the middle of it, so the houses that are on the surrounding streets have this as their back yard. I showed Chris the shortcut to their house so that he could see how to get the boys to the field if he wanted to play ball with them.

We had a nice time cooking s'mores and meeting some more neighbors. I really like this neighborhood. Chris isn't so keen on all the people, but I feel so much more friendly with people to talk to. It is just too easy for me to hide inside my house and keep to myself when it takes so much energy and scheduling to get out to activities. It is nice to be able to walk down the street and wave hi to people.

Chris ended up leaving a bit early to take Levi home and put him to bed, and I stayed to let the older boys play a little longer. It was a lot of fun.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

A Day Out With Thomas

After I picked up Noah and Samuel, I made a spur of the moment decision to take the boys to see Thomas the Tank Engine at the Strasburg Railroad. Noah made a big fuss about it being for babies, and I realized Caleb wasn't home to go along, so I postponed it for a day. I dropped Troyer and Noah off with MIL and exchanged them for Caleb.

We got an early start to the day, because I hadn't been able to order tickets for the train ride online, they were sold out already, so I wanted to get there first thing to buy tickets from the counter. The website said they had limited amts of tickets available at the event. I was dubious, but I hoped that it would be fun even if we didn't get to ride on the train. We left just before 8 am, and had to take a major commuting route through two large cities (ok, large for *this* area, not major metropolises or anything). I hoped to get there by 9, but guessed that it may take longer because of it being rush hour, and also in case I missed a turn or something.

We were lucky, it really did take only an hour, so we arrived just at 9 am. We got a parking spot right in front, I couldn't believe it. Apparently not everyone with toddlers either plans well enough or is able to get out of the house so quickly, LOL. We found the ticket counter first thing, and bought tickets for the 10:15 ride. That way we would have the rest of the day to explore all the other activities. I was so happy that we were able to get an early train.

I took the boys over to have their picture taken in front of the train. This one was so much better than the last one I went to, in Ohio over 7 years ago. That time they had just a shell of an engine painted like Thomas. This one was a real working engine, which I thought was really cool. Samuel and Caleb got all the way to the front of the line and then decided they weren't going to have their picture taken. Thank goodness there was no obligation and parents were also allowed to take pictures at the same time, because I grabbed the kids and pushed them onto the bench and took a few quick pictures. No way would I have paid for this:

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Micah, on the other hand, was so thrilled with the whole thing, he jumped right up and posed. Luckily he was oblivious to his brothers' reluctance.

After the pictures, we wandered around a bit while we waited for our turn to ride the train. All the little rides were free, or rather the cost was included in the price of the train ride ticket, so we wanted to see what else there was to do. There still were hardly any lines yet. Samuel and Caleb went on a ride where they could crank themselves around a track. Micah wasn't strong enough to get himself around, so he waited with Levi and me. We found one toy store open already, and spent some time inside browsing, and then it was time to line up for the train ride.

Caleb and Samuel were still grumping, but Micah was excited. He didn't like having to wait on line. Luckily we didn't have to wait more than 10 minutes. I did have to leave the stroller behind at the line entrance, and I hated to do that, but there was a huge group of strollers there, so I figured I'd have to be as trusting as everyone else. I thought about leaving all my junk in the stroller and just bringing $, keys, and id, and my camera, but since I was carrying Levi, it ended up being too much to carry, so I took along the whole diaper bag. I had so much stuff in it that it took up as much room as Micah, lol.

We boarded the train, and soon we were off! It was a simple trip straight down the track for 10 minutes, and then reversing direction and coming back again. The train didn't really pick up much speed at all, but the boys had fun. I think seeing all the people at the road crossings waving at the train made it even more so.

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After the ride we picked up the stroller, which of course was fine, and walked down the the hay bale maze. We had seen this out the window of the train and the boys wanted to do that next. On the way I bought a huge lemonade and a funnel cake. The prices were waaaaay too high, but hey, when else do you get the chance to buy funnel cake? The boys never got that hungry, so that was all the food I had to buy all day. They had a great time in the maze:

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They went through at least 5 times each. I got a little nervous with them running from exit back to entrance while I watched, and the 3 started splitting up since Micah was slower than the others, but I rounded them all up again and took Micah over to the tatoo tables.

When MIL took the boys a few years ago, they had face painting, which was really cool; I'm not sure why the difference, but I think I like this better. The tatoos are the usual kiddie sticker you apply with a wet sponge. Micah was the only one who wanted them, but he loved them. They stand up to quite a bit, too, they are still looking pretty good for a week old:

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After that we went on some more little rides. I had to go on all of them with the boys because they all said children under 6 had to be accompanied by an adult, and only Samuel was over 6. Each time I had to leave the stroller behind, and I just hated it. I did leave the diaper bag hanging on it one time; I noticed a lot of strollers with bags in them left along the lines, so I thought it would be ok. That particular ride was pretty crowded and I couldn't take up an extra seat with the bag. I got so nervous for the whole ride though, that I didn't do that again.

They had one tent set up with Thomas toys out on tables so the kids could play, which was nice, though nerve wracking trying to keep track of the 3 of them each running from table to table mixing in with all the other little kids there. Micah especially seemed to blend in too well. Lego has just come out with a new line of Thomas and Friends Duplo sets, so they had a really cool giant Lego Thomas. It really was made out of Duplos and Legos. Troyer and Noah were a bit disappointed to have missed that, lol.

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We did pick out some things to bring home; I got 2 sing along tapes for in the car, and a glow in the dark t shirt for Caleb. Micah already has 2 Thomas shirts that are hand-me-downs, so he didn't need another, and Samuel didn't want one. The boys of course begged for toy trains but honestly, there isn't much we don't already have that I'd be willing to pay for. So much of that stuff is very expensive, and we don't need more junk stuffed into this house! I did find a really neat unit study pack about the transcontinental railroad, so I bought that for the start of school next year.

By 12:30 Levi was getting pretty grumpy. He was tired of water and graham crackers, and wanted some milk and a nap. I found a bench under a tree and nursed him and he fell right asleep. The other 3 were super bored waiting, so I suggested that since it was lunch time and we'd gone on most of the rides that didn't have lines that were too long, why didn't we just call it a day and head home, and we could stop for lunch on the way. They were a bit disappointed but I just couldn't take standing on another line holding Levi and leaving the stroller behind, and they were ok with it. As we headed back to the van, I couldn't believe how crowded it had become. Not only was the lot I was in full, they were parking cars out in a field and shuttling people in. Wow! I am so glad we got there early.

We got to the van and found ourselves parked next to a Jaguar. Bad enough to try to load kids into a van without letting them touch the car next to you, but this had to be a $$$$ car. Plus, the family was still in it! The grandmother had a pillow in the front seat and was sleeping. Ugh ugh ugh. Of course these were not pull through spots so I had to back out, but I was so close to that car that I had almost zero turning room. I backed in and out and in and out until finally I flagged down a dad who was going to walk behind us, and asked him to please guide me out. He was so nice to help out and we got out without incident. Whew!

We stopped at McDonald's on the way home, and were home by 2. It seemed like a short day, especially considering how much money I spent, but I decided it was ok, because we never got tired and were still in a good mood all the way home. Levi fell asleep and Micah did too for the last part.

I am so glad we went; I almost chickened out when I couldn't find another adult to come along and help out, but I was brave and it all worked out. The weather was beautiful and the kids had fun, and I didn't lose anyone or anything, lol.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Happy Retirement!

Chris' dad retired last fall, after 30 years working for the same company. In today's world that is impressive. It's very hard to work at the same place for so long. These days it seems the only way to advance your career is to move around. Chris even know one guy at his last company that had to quit and get hired by another company for a few weeks, and then get rehired by his old company in a new position, just to get the promotion. They just don't promote in-house anymore. It all seems stupid, as he would never have left if they'd have given him a raise, but they were too tight-fisted, yet when they hired him back he ended up with a salary higher than the raise he had asked for. dumb.

Anyway, SIL decided to have a surprise party for FIL at her house. She wanted to wait for warm weather so it could be outside, as her house isn't all that big. She set it for June 11. As I said before, our van was not acting right, and we were worried that we wouldn't be able to come. Since MIL was at my house to watch the boys while I took Troyer and Noah to their evaluations, she was able to take 3 of the boys home with her that day, and we could drive over in the car. The back seat is a tight squeeze with 3 kids back there, 2 in carseats, but Troyer was a good sport and we did fine. I am glad it worked out, because the party was a lot of fun.

The weather was beautiful, and FIL was totally surprised. I heard that he has never had a party thrown for him before, so he was really touched. It got really hot, but SIL has air conditioning so we were in and out of the house a lot, to cool off. There was lots of food, and we got to see some family that we haven't seen in a long while. I brought some chocolate chip cookies that I had made the night before. It had been so hot all week, that even though I left the cookies out on the cooling racks all night, they still didn't fully set, and were soft and crumbly even the next day. They still tasted good though :-)

The next day SIL invited us back over to help eat the left overs, especially the chicken. We were more than happy to come back. Chris got to play horseshoes with the guys; he has never played before, but he did pretty respectably for a first time. He had a lot of fun. I was proud of the boys too, they all behaved very well. Levi is very sociable, so everyone got to hold him and play with him. They asked if he was always as good at home, and I got to answer honestly, yes! lol

The 3 boys stayed with MIL another few days, because she and FIL like to have the company. I was not really missing them all that much, as she had the noisiest ones with her, and it was so peaceful and quiet here, LOL. But I worried about her feeling like I was taking advantage of her and wearing out their welcome, so I had her bring Noah and Samuel home on Tuesday. I let Caleb stay another few days. I have to say, it is nice to be closer to them now, so the boys can stay however long we want and it is so easy to just pick them up again and drop some others off. FIL's retirement worked in nicely with that, since now he is home all day to be with them while MIL works.

I Thought School Was Over

We celebrated the last day of school on June 3, as that was the last day we had to count school days to reach the required 180 days, but I still had some more to do before the school district considered us finished. The boys had their evaluation on June10. MIL came over in the morning to watch the youngest 4 so I wouldn't have to worry about them getting bored and into trouble, and distracting the boys from the interview. Our van had broken down the week before, and Chris hadn't found a garage for us yet. We really had no idea what was wrong with it, just that it was driving funny. Chris was supposed to take the day off of work so I could take his car and he could watch the boys. He never got around to asking for the day off (though I'd been bugging him for a month) and it turned out he was scheduled to go out of town that day. So no Chris, no car. I'm really glad MIL could come over. I would not have been happy if the van had given up on us with everyone in the car. As it was I was nervous driving it.

We only had to go less than 10 miles to get to the evaluator's house, but the van was driving really badly. It almost stalled out a few times. It was very scary, I sure didn't want to stall right in the middle of a turn or backing out of a driveway. Luckily we were able to limp to the lady's house.

The evaluations went well, the lady is very nice and helpful, and she said I had more than enough in the portfolios to make the district happy. She chatted with the boys and showed them her cats and fish. She also gave me information on summer programs that are being run by the homeschool group in the area.

As we got back into the van, I told the boys to "pray without ceasing" and hope that angels would carry us home, LOL. It must have worked because the ride home was fine. The van didn't act funny at all, whatever it was was now better. I was so relieved when we pulled back into the driveway at home.

Finally, the very last thing we had to do for school this year was turn the portfolios in to the district office, along with the evaluator's report. I just got that done yesterday morning. While I was at the office, I turned in my affidavit for next year's schooling, to save myself the trip. The woman there seemed a bit confused, she thought the affidavit I was turning in was for the current year. I had already brought that in to them over a month ago, so I explained that it was for the next year. Now, unless they have any issues with what I turned in, we are done until next year.

When I got home I found a letter from the district in the mail. It had actually come before we left the house, but I hadn't looked through the mail. I wish I had, so I could bring the letter along and work out the confusion. They sent me a note to say they received my affidavit for next year. Huh? I just dropped it off, so they must be referring to the one I turned in last month. Well no wonder they were confused today, if they didn't realize I had registered to homeschool for *this* year. Ugh. I've been trying to call them today, but no one is answering the phone. I'm hoping this is just a simple mix up and won't take long to fix.

Happy Magna Carta Day! (A Week Late)

Last Wednesday, June 15, was my Dad's birthday. He is 67. I had a friend who was born on June 14, Flag Day, who used to taunt my dad about having his own holiday. My dad was a bit disappointed that he missed the holiday by one day, and then he found out he had his own holiday after all. Ever since, he has never failed to remind us, each year, of this important day.

This year my dad was down in Florida by himself. Well, not technically alone, because he had dinner with his girlfriend. All of his daughters are known for being slow with the mail, though we usually try to get a card within the week it is called for. I mailed out his card on Monday, so I figured it might be a day or two late. I did, however, call him to wish him Happy Birthday, and we had a nice chat. He was just on his way out the door to dinner. I told him that Troyer had made him a very nice card, but had only done it the day before, so it would be late. He told me don't bother to mail it out, since he would be leaving soon for his trip (he is driving up to Hershey for the Porsche Parade) and he wouldn't get it until he got home again. He will be stopping in at our house on the way home, so he said he'd just get it then. That was fine with me, I wasn't sure I could unearth an envelope anyway. Well, on Thursday he emailed all 3 of us girls to whine about not getting any cards. What the heck? I know for a fact that he had arranged with my older sister to wait until he saw her (he is stopping at her house on the way TO the Parade) to do the birthday thing. And I called ON his birthday! What the heck was he crying about? He tried a big guilt trip, invoked the name of our mother (said he was taking on her cause, since she always hated late cards - not that we daughters remember it that way), and then issued threats about withholding cards for future birthdays if his were late. Ugh ugh ugh. What a baby. I wish he would have waited until after his visit to do that. Now I'm not looking forward to it quite so much.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

So Much Catching Up To Do

I have so many things to post about, that I haven't been able to settle my thoughts enough to post about any of them. I am going to try to get to them this week, I hope! Noah is going off to camp next Sunday, so this week will be spent making sure he has all the right clothes to pack and everything else he needs, too. This year he is going a week ahead of Troyer. He wasn't sure he wanted to go alone, so I am glad they got to be together last year. Next year will be Samuel's first year at sleep-away camp and he will get to share with Noah, so this 2 year age gap seems to be working out really well :-)

I have been tagged for a reading meme (what the heck does that word mean, anyway? lol) which I am working on, but it will take a while. I think maybe some of you will be really disappointed in my answers (and maybe a few others of you will secretly be happy to see them, and feel less guilty LOL) when I come out of the closet about my reading habits. But I'll get to that in another post.

Finally, for today, I want to say Congratulations to my friend Catherine (aka Mabear) and welcome to her new baby daughter Robyn! She was not overdue according to due dates, but going by past deliveries she had us all on the edge of our seats for about a week now LOL I am looking forward to reading her birth story.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Last Day of School! And More Pictures

Today was our last day of school! Troyer and Noah each baked a cake and we layered them and frosted them, and had a party. It was fun, and I think I am just as happy as they are that we are done for the year, LOL. They will have evaluations done next Friday and then I have to get the portfolios together to turn in to the school district. If I am on the ball, I'll have next year's affidavits ready too, and can turn them all in at the same time. I am still going to try to squeeze in some field trips this month and next, but I don't know if we'll be able to count them as school days or not. It depends on when the affidavits get turned in.

Here are Troyer and Noah with their cake:

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For the past few days I have been letting them do fun things for school rather than just writing and workbook pages. One day they did a science experiment with balloons to study action and reaction. They set up some strings and straws and had balloon races:

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Troyer also did an experiment with magnets. It was pretty cool. It will be hard to keep them out of the stuff before we start next year, so I can count it towards next year's day count LOL.

A few weeks ago, Chris' aunt offered to give us her set of couch and chairs from her family room, so we got our old dead couch out of the house and onto the curb for pick up. We turned it upside down for a last toy check, and got tons of little legos and action figure accessories out of it, along with this gem:

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I have to say, actually touching it and looking at it isn't near as disgusting as the idea that that mouse had died and decomposed in the couch cushions years ago, and we have been sitting on it unaware all the while. ICK!

Here are some pictures from Caleb's birthday. I don't have pictures of his bike yet, but he has it and loves it!

I got take out pizza for dinner, a rare treat, since I can make a decent home-made pizza
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Caleb had a hard time choosing which Star Wars cake he wanted, since they didn't have one with Obi-Wan and Darth Vadar on the same cake. He wanted both, but ended up with Bobba Fett. He was happy. :-)
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As usual, all the boys wanted to dig right in to Caleb's stash of presents, but we have a rule that the Birthday Boy gets to hog all his stuff to himself for 24 hours before he is required to share. Here is Caleb with the bubble-blowing weed whacker that he was excited to get. It doesn't work, though; it won't suck the bubble solution down to the fan. He was happy with the bottle of bubbles and the wand, but I could have spared the extra $8 it cost, LOL. I hope Chris can get it going.
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And here is a picture of the Birthday Boy:
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I am so far behind on getting birthday pictures done. I had Levi done right before we moved, but I haven't gotten any done since. WalMart only lets you do one package per month, and I'm already 3 behind. I don't know that I can catch up at this point. I suppose I had better try. I will really hate myself in a few years if I don't have the pictures then. There were a few I missed of the boys as a group back when I only had 4 and I hate that I don't have them. Ugh, so many things to get done!