Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Monday's Highlights

  • Rain

  • Band

  • Determiners

YAY FOR THE RAINY SEASON!! not. Oh. My. Goodness. I HATE winter rain. I mean I really hate it. It makes my joints hurt and I despise sinking up to my knees in mud. We got 3/4 of an inch today. If it had been just a few degrees colder it would have been 7 inches of snow (according to Tony Cavalier). Cold rain SUCKS. The cats and the chickens agree. The chickens spent the whole day in the hen house and the cats sat with their furry little knees crossed at the back door all day because they didn't wanna go out to do their biznuzz. When the hens stay inside for the entire day that means that the next day the poop will be EPIC. So yeah,, the boys are out cleaning it now.

It seems we have a few hawks watching the hens now. We're really going to have to build a larger covered run. Dang.... a lot of trouble for a few birds.

Oh, and I hope all the people who thought we were going to get snow last night are enjoying their bread and milk. Dang people,,, it's just snow. It goes away after a day or two, can't you survive without having to make a panic run to the grocery store?

The band is sounding very good. It sounds a lot like music they're playing now! WHOO HOO! Their Christmas Concert is on December 15th.

Joke for you:

A pirate was walking down the wharf and had a large steering wheel attached to his belt buckle. A sailor, feeling more confused than bold ask him "why do you have that there?" to which the pirate replied

"ARggghhhh, it drives me nuts!"

Buh-dum CRASH.... she'll be here all week folks... tip your waiter, try the veal.

T2 came to the place in his grammar book where he has to learn about determiners. I must admit that I do not remember ever learning about determiners. I can tell this seems totally pointless to him but Easy Grammar is such that you must learn it or you won't do well for the rest of the book. It says that you learn these to help you identify the noun. Is this really an issue? Identifying nouns I mean? I mean, I guess it is helpful when you have a sentence like '

"Sally's aunt is staying at her house"

Sally's is not a noun per se. It's a possessive noun determiner.

Whatever... it's just one of those times where he's having a hard time wrapping his mind around the big picture. Maybe I am too , a little.

Off to another day of big fun!


Leptovox? Have you ever heard of it? We'll probably all need a bit of it after Christmas!


Monday, November 24, 2008

New Week, New Book

Sunday Highlights:
  • Housework
  • My Desktop is gone
  • Started Holes

I told someone the other day that my house is a total rat hole. Well, maybe not but it's "pertnear" close. It seems like such a loosing battle. I get it cleaned up and then all someone has to do is breathe and it's messed back up again. We are too many people and we have too much stuff for this size house. It's just impossible to keep cleaned up. But with the help of my menfolk, we tried to clean up Sunday. It was for not because here I am Monday morning,, looking around and I see that it's right back to where it started. Blah.

My desktop computer is in the hospital. It's been doing all sorts of weird stuff for a long long time now but just recently it started that thing where it locks up completely every 5 minutes. It was driving me NUTS. I think I have a bad spot on my hard drive too because I was getting the blue screen of death like 4 times a week. If I turned it off and turned it back on,,, it was fine so I guess it wasn't total death. But yeah, it's pretty eat up with disease so it's going to spend some time in surgery and recovery.

PhotobucketT2 and I started reading "Holes" last night. T1 came to listen because he's never read it either. We read the first 6 chapters and that lead to them fighting over the book. They both wanted to take it to bed with them and finish reading it. I love it when I have to say I'm going to hide the book so we can all discover it together! ha ha ha.

Here are some learning links for "Holes" by Louis Sachar


Holes reading unit



Do you have a local trophy shop? Yeah, a Trophy shop! No? Do you need a trophy QUICK? Try quicktrophy.com. They do trophies for all kinds of things and can rush ship you one in 24 hours. They even do Pinewood derby trophies!


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Christmas Shopping 11/22/08

Saturday Highlights
  • Shopping, lots of it

  • Blisters

  • German Paper Folding- Stars

Chris didn't work today. I was given a budget and a task to go find Christmas presents, SANS KIDS! This is a task I can get into.

Me and a friend set out today at 11:30am. We stopped at an Estate sale because,,, it was an ESTATE SALE! Wow, I do love me an estate sale. This one did not disappoint in the normal estate sale fodder. There were 1000 books on how to get closer to Jesus, pans that no one should ever cook with again, a bird sitting on a log (inside joke), and old shoes. Just about the time I thought we'd found everything worth having, we went downstairs.




This person had a typesetting business in his basement! It looked like (by the style of the things) that it hadn't been used since the 60s but it was amazing! Such cool stuff to look through.


I ended up coming out of there with a few boxes of envelopes but that's about it. I was overwhelmed! I sent Chris back with more money to get more stuff but it was all gone by the time he got there.

So then we went off to shop. Oh man... did we shop. In 8 hours of scouring every store we came home with a very disappointing amount of stuff. It doesn't help that the boys weren't very helpful in telling us what they want. I made them tell me 4 things they wanted the other day and I was able to find a few of them but it looks like I'll have to order a good bit of it from the internet.
At one of the first places we went I found the cutest pair of shoes. I love them so much. They went perfectly with my shirt so I bought them and put them on.
Blisters, swelling, pain. Breaking in a new pair of shoes on shopping day was a huge mistake. I knew it was but did I listen? No. I let the lure of cuteness suck me in. I ended up putting my old shoes back on. Ack.
Here's another issue, there's nothing to buy out there. I mean... NOTHING. It's all just junk. The stuff under the tree is going to look sad sad sad this year. I mean... a MP3 player doesn't really wrap up very pretty,, ya know?

On crafty fronts... Do you need a rainy day activity? I've taught T2 to make German Stars. He's getting really good at it! I think I'll string these and make a garland or maybe make Christmas cards. You can find a tutorial HERE.

Thursday/Friday catch up

Thursday Highlights

  • catching up on bookwork

  • 4H Leaders meeting

Let's talk about math. Both boys are very very math minded lately! They are doing so well. T2 and I have been concentrating on multiplication and division since September. Yes, I know this is a 3rd grade skill and T2 is technically in 4th but he didn't really grasp it fully last year. This year I decided that we would immerse ourselves in it until he "got it". Well I think he finally has. He can get 50 multiplication/division facts in under 2 minutes. I think it's almost time to get back to the books for him! We've been using manipulatives and drills until this point.

T1 and algebra. He's seeing the light. He's doing very well. I know I mentioned wanting to get the Teaching Textbooks math but I never seemed to be able to come up with the money (it's really pricey). A good friend gave me the entire "Key to" series and we LOVE IT! He's really getting it and is doing algebra problems that make him feel so proud of himself. I asked him the other day, " If I'd shown you that problem 2 months ago, would you have believed that you could not only DO it but you UNDERSTAND it?". He just grinned from ear to ear. For the first time ever he's been getting 100%s on his work. I'm proud of him!


Thursday night I went to a 4H leader training meeting. Good stuff. We learned how to help the kids keep track of the money and how to record the meetings. We learned how to put on a "Skill-o-Thon" which were kinda cool. I got to meet some of the other local 4H leaders. They gave me the skunk eye, btw. I'm not "one of them" LOL. I'm so glad I went though because they were having the first Rifle Team meeting too and I got the boys the last 2 slots on the team. Now you'd think my kids would be just overwhelmed with excitement over this... right? Not so much, they're whining about it. I think they'll have a blast once they get to practice. They have to now,, they have tshirts. ha ha. We'll have our first meeting on December 9th. We're officially a 4H club now!


  • Made a turkey
  • Took the kids Christmas shopping
  • Finished a book
  • Foxy Brown is back.

I cooked a turkey Friday evening. Now I generally cook a pretty rockin' bird. It's not hard and if you loosen the breast skin up and ram about 10 pats of butter under there,, how can you go wrong?

I'll tell ya how.

Forget about it. Yeah,, I kinda forgot about the turkey cooking and over cooked it. It's still yummy, just a little... tough? ha ha ha. That's what mayonnaise if for right? Geeze, it's no wonder we're the fattest people in the country. I'm not talking about Huntington,, I'm just talking about my family! ha ha ha.

The kids have no idea what they'd like for Christmas. Not only is there nothing big that's a must have this year, my spoiled rotten brats have everything they want! I told them to think of FOUR things they really really want. No dice. They couldn't come up with anything. After much window shopping they finally came up with 4 things each.


  1. An Iron Maiden "A Matter of Life or Death" Tshirt
  2. A video Mp3 player
  3. A professional Yo-yo
  4. Zelda for the Wii


  1. Lego Indiana Jones for the XboX
  2. Lego Indiana Jones legos
  3. Nerf Vulcan Gun
  4. A Metallica/ACDC/Aerosmith Tshirt

I finally finished a book I was reading. I've been reading it for well over a month. It's a GREAT book I just haven't had time to sit down and commit to finishing it. It's called The Legend of Mammy Jane by Sibyl Jarvis Pischke. Just an awesome book if you love reading about the old ways. It wasn't the deepest or the best written book I've ever read but come on... it's spectacular considering the woman who wrote it is a hairdresser!

It's the semi-fictional account of the history of the Jarvis family in Oka, WV (just past Charleston). More importantly it's a tale of how good sense and hard work will always prevail over any situation. I think a few people in government should read this book. I think a few people that think they're going to get something for nothing should read this book. I'll get off my soap box.

It's a great book. If you can get your hands on a copy, read it! The Cabell Co. Library has it (or will soon) but the cheapest you can get it on Amazon is $30.00. It's just not widely available.


Our fox is back. He is crafty, that's for sure. We've seen evidence around the hen house of fox infiltration. Unfortunately, I'm never ready for that fox when he shows up so we'll have to trap him. I don't want my girls being "Triple Delight" for that fox!

On the upside of this though,, T2 has been feverishly researching foxes. He wants to do an entire presentation on foxes. I've never been more grateful for the laptop! He can sit in the same room with me and do his internet thing while I keep a watchful eye on him. I had to make a potty run and as I was coming back down the hall I heard him say "I'm going to w w w dot FOX dot com" and I was like.... "NNNNNNNNNOOOOOoooooooooo" Thank goodness it's just Fox Network's website but you just don't know do you? ha ha.

Well, now I'm caught up. Don't you feel better now that you know all the exciting stuff that is going on here at Backyard Academy?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Highlights from today?

  • Our last Spanish Class

  • Science Club

  • A trip to the bank

  • I finished a hat.

  • The chickens are alive

So our Spanish tutor has decided to discontinue our classes. The kids are a little disappointed but I think they'll get over it. It was starting to be a little hard on the pocketbook anyway. What I was paying out a month for lessons almost equaled a weeks worth of groceries and you know how I'm feeling about that!

I started her a hat last night as a thank you gift. It was a quick knit and I think I'll definately do it again but I may work it out so it can be knit in the round instead of the 2 needle way the pattern called for.

Ravelers can find the pattern


I have no idea what yarn I used. I just know it's some lovely GGH stuff that I got on clearance at ACMoore a long time ago. The pattern says less than 2 50g balls but I didn't even come close to breaking into the second ball. It only used one. This hat looks really smart if you have hair. My model there doesn't really do the hat justice.

Anyway... I finished it up this morning, stuck it in a gift bag... and VIOLA!,, gift.

Science club rocked hard today! I mean really, it could not have gone better! Last time we learned about how electric current worked and there were so many great hands on activities. This time Mrs. Racina dumped out a bunch of supplies and said "Now, take what you know and make a flash light!".

And you know what?

They did! So cool. I just love it when everything comes together!

I made my third trip to the bank this month. Hmmm,,, lets see,, it's the 3rd week so yeah,, 3 trips. Band monies are due on the first Monday of every month and I inevitably get checks every single week. This annoys me and is hard to keep up with.

ok,... griping about that is over. Just had to get it off my chest.

Last thing,, it was COLD last night. Really cold. When I got up this morning the chickens coop door was hanging open on the side.


After I yell at and guilt my children to almost tears I go out to investigate the coop myself. Not only was the door open all night but there is NO BEDDING in the coop! Poor poor chickie hens.

This is not the end of this rant.. let me tell ya. They are alive though,, as I knew they would be but it's the principle of the matter you know?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


It snowed a bit last night. Nov. 17th. Just as a matter of record, we had a bit of accumulation on Nov. 16th last year! I love this blogging thing! Now I can really see the benefit of keeping a diary. I can see why so many have done it for so long. It's really cool to look back and see when the first snow fall was on the previous year or how motivated you are to start school.
Today we have a smidge more than a dusting. It's supposed to snow/rain all day today. We also have schoolwork to complete and many errands to run.
I have to get my glasses tightened, go to the store, and take the kids skating.
If we're going to do all of that, we better get at it! Just had to make a note of the weater for today!

Monday, November 17, 2008


For years now, I've been a proponent of not celebrating commercial Christmas. Oh sure,, the birth of Christ is always first and foremost but he really wasn't born on Dec. 25th anyway so why not just forget the whole thing? I'm sick of padding corporate pockets. What in the world would happen if people stopped going on a spending spree the last month of the year?

Black Friday is the day that stores hope to quit operating in the red and move to the black (financially). So if everyone decided that they were not going to buy a bunch of dumb crap that no one needs between the dates Nov. 28th and Dec 24th, what would happen to all of these stores?

I say, let 'em fall.

Perhaps after the initial shock wears off, small businesses will start to thrive and value for your dollar will be restored. I don't know,, it's just a theory. I don't have any financial models to back it up or any articles to point to, I'm just thinking out loud.

Instead, I want to celebrate Festivus.

Festivus is traditionally held any time between December and May but it can be held at any time in response to family tention. It begins with the annual Airing of Grievances. This can be done in any way you like. This is an opportunity to create your own family traditions. Legend has it that one family wrote their grievances on the refrigerator with black magic marker every year. Feel free to not deface your appliances.

During this Airing of Grievances, a celebratory dinner is served. Nothing like your family telling you where you've failed in life during dinner huh? The Festivus dinner traditionally consists of Meatloaf or Spaghetti with Red Sauce, and is followed by a Pepperidge Farm cake decorated with M&Ms. Acceptable beverages are Bourbon, Rum, Beer and Wine. The only unacceptable food are bagels.

After dinner and the Airing of Grievances, Feats of Strength are preformed. The head of the household chooses someone to challenge in a wrestling match. The chosen one may decline if he or she has something else to do, such as pull a double shift at work. Festivus is not over until the head of the household has been pinned to the living room floor in said wrestling match.

Festivus Miracles have been known to happen. They generally consist of minor coincidences like running into your drunken neighbor at the liquor store or getting a phone call during an uncomfortable conversation. (see Airing of Greivances). These can also be recognized year round.

As for decorations, there are few. A festivus pole is the centerpiece. It should be made of a heavy gauge aluminum with a "high strength to weight ratio". Nothing should adorn the pole and serve as a distraction from the Feats of Strength and the Airing of Grievances. When not in use, the pole must be stored in the crawlspace of your home.

In lieu of buying gifts for other people, you donate money to the Human Fund. This often involves going out and purchasing yourself something or just withdrawing money from your bank and putting it in your pocket.

Doesn't this sound like a better holiday? I mean, it's frugal, not fussy, you get some excersize, and your mental health is clear.

Festivus! A holiday for the Rest of Us!!!

Saturday, November 15, 2008


Seriously. Who can afford to eat these days? We did our grocery shopping today and it was insane. We spent half as much as we would have on gas but we're spending more on food. The food is about to break the bank.

I won't even tell you what we spent today and last week and the week before, it's totally embarassing. I'm ashamed. I will tell yo that I am resovled to do better.

The first thing I need is a plan. I need to know what we're eating that week.

The second thing I need is a list. No "oh wow! it's on sale, let's get it" purchases.

The third thing I need is an organized coupon system.

The fourth thing I need is time to go to the store ALONE. The shopping should not be a family project. The family feels like they need to go so they don't miss out on any prime snack food. This is costing us.

The next thing I'm thinking about is TheGroceryGame.com . Does anyone do this? I saw a lady on the local news the other night who is feeding a family of 6 on $50 a week. I investigated our area's offers and the only one I'd really use was Kroger. I'm not too thrilled with the price either. There is a monthly fee.

I'm trying to console myself with reminders that we eat every meal at home. I cook at least 16 meals a week. That's a lot of groceries. The boys are eating more than ever too.

*sigh* I don't know. I just know something has to give.

How am I ever going to be able to afford vacation rentals at this rate? LOL

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Report by T1

Ok, so Project Day kinda snuck up on us this month. Not really snuck up on us so much as I have been oober busy and hasn't had time to do any extra cool stuff with the kids. I mean, we're getting in the basics but nothing they can show off. So T1 threw together a quicky report tonight.

Maurtis Cornelis Escher was one of the most famous artists of the 20th century. He is one of my favorite artists because I like his creative three dimensional drawings. They look really cool.

M.C.Escher was an illustrator as well as an accomplished artist. Like Michaelanglo and DaVinci he was left handed. Over his lifetime he created over 2500 original works of art.

Escher was born in 1898 in Leeuwarden, The Netherlands. He was the youngest of four sons born to George Arnold Escher and Sara Gleichman. “Mauk”, as he came to be nicknamed, was a sickly child and a very poor student. He actually failed the 2nd grade. He eventually left school in 1922, having gained experience in drawing and making woodcuts. Woodcuts are carvings that are used to reproduce artwork by inking the block and pressing it to a piece of paper.

Escher met and married Jetta Umiker. Together they had a son named Giorgio Arnaldo Escher, after his grandfather. 1937, the Escher family moved to Ukked, a small town near Brussels, Belgium. WW2 forced them to move again in January of 1941, this time to Baarn, The Netherlands. They lived there until 1970.

One of my favorite of his works is called Waterfall. His most famous work is called Metamorphosis III. It is large enough to cover an entire wall! Metamorphosis III uses a type of mathematical art called tessellation. Tessellation is using a shape over and over again to cover an area without any gaps.
Escher's works remain as popular today as they were during his life. Chances are that everyone of us has seen a piece of his art at one time or another. Mr. Escher died in March of 1972. He was 74 years old.
After he was done with his report we gave Tessellation a try. This was fun and easy too!

T2 is going to show off some of his Lego Stop Motion videos.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Happy Veteran's Day

Today was a really busy day and I'm BEAT. A successful day but it took more effort than I'm used to expending, ya know?
This morning I had to head out the door to our first EAGLE meeting. This entailed loading the SUV to the hilt. Food, decoration, paperwork, and supplies.
I made a tastey cranberry chicken salad, cresants, cornbread (my recipe, sorry, no link) and Taco Soup.
The day went wonderfully. It's going much better than I ever imagined. I think people are excited now which makes ME excited! And as if it couldn't get any better?
We got a ROAD grant for $500 for our group today! YEAH!! Wow, it's really a shot in the arm and boy do we need it! Just another sign that we're doing a great thing by starting this group!
We also had a 4H meeting today. I think we'll have a LOT of fun with this group. There are so many great things that you can do under the 4H umbrella. We're going to use it for all it's worth!

So, after all of that, I came home and found a taker for my little rooster. He's going to live with other mini chickens and hopefully be very happy. YAY!
The boys thing this day is full of win because COD 5 (Call of Duty 5) came out. They're at the store now picking it up. Oh yes,,, it was prepaid! LOL
Tomorrow? Spanish.
Friday? Project Day.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Happy 233rd Birthday USMC


During the American Revolution, many important political discussions took place in the inns and taverns of Philadelphia, including the founding of the Marine Corps.

A committee of the Continental Congress met at Tun Tavern to draft a resolution calling for two battalions of Marines able to fight for independence at sea and on shore.

The resolution was approved on November 10, 1775, officially forming the Continental Marines.

As the first order of business, Samuel Nicholas became Commandant of the newly formed Marines. Tun Tavern’s owner and popular patriot, Robert Mullan, became his first captain and recruiter. They began gathering support and were ready for action by early 1776.

Each year, the Marine Corps marks November 10th with a celebration of the brave spirit which compelled these men and thousands since to defend our country as United States Marines.

Our "Hen"

Is an imposter. Listen for yourself.

I think we've found a home for him tho. He really is quite sweet.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Meet Chicken Little

When I came home today from picking up the boys at the slumber party, I had a message on my answering machine. One of the mom's in our homeschool group had called and asked if I knew anyone who wanted a small hen.

uhhm, no,, I don't know anyone like that! LOL

She said that it was just randomly clucking around in her neighborhood in the West End of Huntington. She didn't know if it was a small breed or just a baby chicken but I told her to come ahead and bring her down, we'd take her in.

She's a sweet little hen. Very docile. I don't know if the big girls will like her or not so we put her in the little run and let the big girls out into the yard. The big girls have been talking to her all afternoon. I think it was a good thing to put her in the small run. The pecking order might be a little hard on her.

She was so thristy! She drank and drank and drank. She appears healthy, just a little stressed.

I think she's a White Leghorn Bantam. She has a cute little cluck. I hope the girls adjust to her and welcome her to the flock!

Week in Review

This week went surprisingly well, considering how poorly I was expecting it to go.
Election Day could have been very depressing but it hasn't gotten me down. I have a sense of peace about it.
Nov.6th came and went and I didn't collapse into too many puddles of tears. Although, I may have just made a little puddle just thinking about it again.
Wednesday went wonderfully. Ms. Racina presented a SPECTACULAR lesson on electricity for our Science club and it totally rocked my socks off. I can't thank her enough. I'd put a picture up but my camera is mysteriously MIA. That happens almost every time I hear "MOM? can I use the camera?"
Thursday brought mom's night out and that was fun as usual. We went to Outback. We griped, commiserated, enjoyed a glass of wine and ate wonderful food and cheesecake. Doesn't everyone deserve that every once in a while? It really was lovely.
Friday- Took the kids to Tarahs and dropped them off. Ahhhhh, the noise level is drastically reduced in my house!
As for the week ahead?
It could prove to be very hectic.
Monday is band day and I'm supposed to go to my house cleaning job but I may have to once again scoot that to another day. We may or may not have a 4H meeting on that day. I'm sure my employers have just about had it with my scooting the days. I usually clean on Tuesday but this Tuesday is
E.A.G.L.E's Homeschool Parent Luncheon! So I have lots to do to prepare for that.
Wednesday we are free. Yay. Thursday also looks blissfully free. I'm sure that both of these days will find some way to fill up with some task or activity as they always do but for now... they are free.
Friday is Project Day. YAY PROJECT DAY! We love it. It's one of the best things that we do.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


The views expressed by the current political administration do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of myself, Crystal Newman, my immediate family, my friends, Christians, Conservatives, Americans, Liberals, Democrats, Libertarians, Constitutionalists, the Founding Fathers, Dogs, Cats, Goldfish, or any subgroup therein. Any laws, police actions, bills, or subversive take overs are solely the responsibility of the Marxist Party. Any member of the above groups and subgroups shall assume no responsibility nor accept liability for the downfall of freedom. By electing this administration, you agree and adhere to the terms of this disclaimer.
Jus' sayin.

Monday, November 3, 2008


But not like you'd think. We were doing algebra on the back porch today when T1 yells "FOX!!"

This is not something that I hear the kids yell every day. I darted out the back door expecting to see a teensy little red fox or possibly a very large squirrel scampering away but no.....

This guy was big and very very VERY determined to get my chickens!
I was barefoot but I grabbed the pitchfork and ran towards him yelling "GIT!! GIT!! GIT!!!" The fox just stood there and even came towards me a few times. Then he bared his teeth. I've never encountered a mean fox before. Heck, who am I kidding?, I've never been that close to ANY fox before. I'm thinking Copper from the Fox and the Hound. This guy's name was not Copper, let me tell ya.

This guy kept coming back for more. He had no fear what so ever of us. His eye was on the prize. The prize was a triple chicken dinner.

Not today foxy.... not today.


Do you see my poor stupid hens checking out the fox on the other side of the gate? They're all like "Hey! You wanna play?,, you wanna come join our flock?" and all the while Foxy is licking his lips. We don't live in the woods people! It may look like it from these pictures but we live right in town!

Ugh, now we can't let the hens out in the "barnyard". We have to keep them in the coop. They are not going to be happy.