Camp Cailey

To put things in perspective, this is how Cailey looked when I began this blog.

Camp_Cailey1

She was five.  I closed many of my older posts because my blog was rather bloated with ALL THE WORDS.  But some of my favorite posts about Cailey included her penchant for exacting revenge on unsuspected siblings with the use of boogers.  I remember the early years when she took a shine to a particular boy who only liked to wear one shoe.  A concerned Emme confided in me, “Mom, why does she like him, he PICKS HIS NOSE.”  I thought, well, at least they share an interest.

A couple of weeks ago we celebrated that little pistol’s THIRTEENTH birthday.  Since 13 is a momentous occasion, I threw all caution to the wind and agreed to host a birthday party.  Since we’re on a budget, I knew it had to be a creative birthday party.

Between my 3 children, I can count on one hand the number of birthday parties that I’ve thrown.  I’ve gotten away with LET’S GO TO DISNEY WORLD for nearly all of their birthdays.  Which is a wonderful treat.  But I knew that Cailey’s heart’s desire was to celebrate with her sweet posse of giggly girlfriends.  And she is truly blessed with a gang of adorable fellow teens and tweens.

I sold her on the idea of Camp Cailey because I thought it would be fun (and NOT EXPENSIVE) to set up the camping equipment in our postage stamp sized back yard.  Cailey helped to organize camp-style backyard games such as Musical Camping Chairs, Paint a Pet Rock, and general story telling and much frivolity.

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Because I overestimated what needed to be done and underestimated the time it would take to get everything ready, about 30 minutes before the girls were to arrive I suffered a near-fatal mental breakdown.  I wish I were kidding.  My girlfriend, Andrea, texted me at that moment to see if there was anything I needed.  I replied, “I’m in over my head.  Help.”  She texted back, “I’m on my way.”  And in that moment I knew everything was going to be okay.

And it was.

The party was scheduled from 4 until 9 that evening.  Because I’m insane.  I finally did the math, and that was FIVE HOURS OF PARTY.  There was nothing to worry about, as the time was filled with festive eating of Ants on a Log, Chili Dogs, Chips, and what have you.  After dark we put a movie on in the tent (on our old TV with a VCR) and the girls huddled up with blankets and watched a princess movie.  Afterwards, a camp fire was lit and s’mores were consumed.

As moms and dads arrived to take their campers home, a friend of mine remarked, “Wow, your yard looks great!”  (You would laugh if you knew of our yard-keeping inabilities.)  I said, “Yes, in the dark and if you squint, it’s not bad!”

Cailey had the best birthday party ever, spent with precious friends.

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It is hard for me to believe that my baby girl is a tall and lanky teenager now.  We can only hope that when the right time comes, she’ll be attracted to a young Godly man who wears both shoes.  And perhaps one who keeps his fingers out of his nose.

I am so going to owe her a hundred dollars for this post.

DeeDeeSig

Where there’s a will…

Jensen is still on lizard restriction.  It’s been a long long 3 months.  The biggest reason for this harsh punishment (besides the greatly reduced lizard population that we feel is necessary for bug control in our backyard) is that Jensen often has open sores on his hands.  This is a result of his Atopic Dermatitis.  He has come a long long way, and for the most part, his skin is under control.  But the hands have taken the brunt of the affliction, as he has a hard time not picking at the skin when it begins to heal.

His dermatologist issued the edict “no handling of lizards, snakes, bugs, frogs, and alligators.”  We are simply the messengers.  And the enforcers.

We went camping with dear friends to celebrate Emme’s 15th birthday last week.  This is our first time camping since All The Florida Hot and since Lizard Restriction.  Jensen has one of his best buddies with him to do his bidding.  Jensen located the creatures.  His buddy did the capturing.

Jensen did find a way to enjoy the fruits of his labor up close and personal.  I wanted to share the experience with you.

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I would also like to report that I left my frozen cocktails at home in the freezer.  Special thanks to Michelle for bringing extra and for the Fort Wilderness snack bar for serving a delightful concoction for a mere $8.25.  WORTH IT.

DeeDeeSig

A Quick Note from the Cheap Linoleum

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I’ve received some really really sweet notes from you all regarding my whereabouts and checking to make sure I’m okay.  I am!  I’m just up to my eyeballs in the day-to-day dealings of a homeschool mom with TWO TEENAGERS and a reluctant 4th grader.

I wanted to post proof (above) that I’m alive and well and haven’t killed anyone.  Fiddledaddy is pictured as well, so you can know that he’s alive and well and surviving TWO TEENAGERS and a MENOPAUSAL WIFE.  (This was taken over the weekend at our church’s Trunk or Treat celebration.  I was Minnie Mom.)

I will begin micro-blogging this week.  Pinky swear.  I say “micro” because as Fiddledaddy reminds me, IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE WAR & PEACE.  (Not that I’ve ever been one to gild the lily.)

Missing you all!!!

DeeDeeSig

Dolphin Tale 2

I thought I’d like to dust off my keyboard and let you all know I haven’t fallen into a Florida sinkhole.  I just needed to cut myself a healthy portion of slack and not pressure myself to sit in front of an empty screen and be all, OH LOOK AT ALL THAT WHITE SPACE.  Especially when I got nothin’.

The honest truth is homeschooling 3 kids, with one in high school, got a whole lot harder this year.  And what with ALL THE SOCIAL, I hardly have time to string together real words.  Next time someone quizzes me about my children’s potential lack of socialization because of homeschooling, I’m going to punch them in the throat.

Which reminds me.  All three kids are doing swim team this year.  Yes.  Three.  This means that Jensen, who swore he’d NEVER be on swim team because he’d rather die catch lizards during the girls’ practice time, is on the swim team.  And loving it.  He’s still on lizard restriction, so I’m sure that swayed his decision.  His fear of being bored at swim practice.

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We call him the bullet.

And now I need to do a little bragging.  One of Fiddledaddy’s jobs is that of actor.  Last Fall he was able to travel to Clearwater, Florida to film a small cameo role in Dolphin Tale 2, which just opened last weekend.  He plays a morning show host who appears about three quarters of the way through.  The casting breakdown described this role as “chirpy shallow comedic morning show host.”  I think he nailed it.  He’s adorable.

He had an opportunity to attend the Clearwater premiere a couple of weeks ago.  I knew it would be a very late night, and I don’t do late very well, so we determined that his date should be Emme.  I don’t think she slept for 3 days before the event.  So exciting.  And it was her first time to wear heals.

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On the blue carpet…

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The really big stars attended the Los Angeles premiere a few days prior, but the younger stars were in attendance in Clearwater.  Emme got to meet a lot of the sweet people that her dad worked with.  It was such a great working experience for him.

I took the rest of my crew to see the film with some of my friends and their kids on opening weekend.  I think my favorite moment was looking over at my son, sitting with his favorite friends, beaming when his daddy came on the screen.

We really are so proud of this movie and Fiddledaddy.  It is an awesome family film.  I give it two thumbs up and a whoop-whoop.  :)  #notbiased

DeeDeeSig

The Wisdom Teeth Should Fetch a Pretty Penny

I’ve never understood how the teeth in the back of your head, which are more than likely impacted, and if not impacted, don’t appear until your early teens when wisdom is often fleeting, are called Wisdom Teeth.

Nevertheless, we learned earlier in the year that Emme, who is teetering on the brink of 15, needed her 4 wisdom teeth removed, as they were impacted and crowding out her fairly straight teeth.  Plus causing some pain and suffering.  After learning of the cost of removing said teeth, we considered rendering the same offer we gave her a couple of years earlier when she had 4 stubborn baby teeth that needed to be removed.  Ten bucks for each tooth if she did it herself.

The same child that created a scene of carnage that any horror movie special affects person would appreciate when losing her first tooth, got those 4 teeth out within a week.  Netting herself $40.  Worth it, as the dentist office wanted $100 bucks a tooth.

The Tooth Fairy in our house, when she isn’t falling down on the job, only shells out a buck a tooth.  And for the record, the children no longer officially believe in the Tooth Fairy, but instead enjoy the look of horror on their mother’s face when she misses a visit to sneak a tooth out from under a pillow.  The job simply became too treacherous as two of the children live on the top bunk in their respective rooms.  And the Tooth Fairy likes to turn in early.  Nowadays, they baggie and date the lost tooth themselves and hand it to me.  I say this loses some of the childhood magic, but this way they are guaranteed the dollar.

Where was I?

Oh yes.  Wisdom teeth.  I really intended to schedule Emme’s surgery for the summer when there was no school and fewer activities, but I blinked and OH LOOK, IT’S AUGUST.  I had set the appointment up for a couple of weeks back, but had to reschedule when a head cold was eminent.  And it’s not like she planned the illness because we simply didn’t tell her about the surgery.  We don’t prefer to give her too much lead time to obsess, worry, panic, revise her will, or run away.

And it wasn’t like we were just going to spring it on her that morning, WAKE UP, IT’S A BEAUTIFUL DAY, YOU’RE GOING TO HAVE SURGERY THIS MORNING.  We planned to tell her a couple of days prior.  But when I had to reschedule, she caught wind of it, giving her plenty of time to discuss it with friends who all recounted their own personal horror stories.  She was pretty sure she was going to die.  Or swell up like a puffer fish.

She also had opportunity to watch episodes of 19 Kids and Counting and Duck Dynasty in which teenaged family members had their wisdom teeth removed on camera.  She decided she wanted NO PART of laughing gas and/or photographic evidence.  And she heard rumors that her own mother SANG to the doctor while on laughing gas 10 years prior.  And since this was the same doctor, she wanted to take no chances of history repeating.

She had the surgery bright and early last Friday morning.  It was decided that Fiddledaddy would attend while I took one for the team and conducted homeschooling duties with the other two at home.  Emme, who was diagnosed with asthma earlier this year (fun times as I have YET to find the humor and write about it), has had a few impromptu fainting jags, and at this point, all I can do is step over her on my way to get help.  And there is always the threat of post surgery vomit.  If that were the case, everyone would be stepping over me.

The surgery went off without a hitch, since her roots were not wrapped around stuff they shouldn’t be.  But Emme was later dismayed that her doctor did not give her the teeth as a parting gift.  {She did receive two fresh muffins from Perkins, and they were DELIGHTFUL.}  She also came home with a black ice head wrap which happened to match her surgical outfit she painstakingly selected the night prior.

Her dad let her FaceTime me on the drive home, and she looked pitiful.  I couldn’t understand a word she spoke, but I was awfully glad that we had stocked the freezer with no fewer than 3 gallons of ice cream.  She had requested Peanut Butter flavor, so that she was assured her nut allergy-infested siblings wouldn’t want to share.

Her doctor told us to get her on normal food as soon as possible, and not to let her lay around all day.  He said that the kids who recover the fastest, do so with Motrin, a regular diet, and normal activities.  By the afternoon, my girl looked pretty normal.  And she began planning her social calendar for the week.  She was a trooper.

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There has been very minimal swelling.  She was disheartened by All The Sore on Sunday, but an afternoon visit by one of her bestest girlfriends cheered her up greatly.  Laughter is truly the best medicine.

Copious amounts of Motrin make for a close second.

I think we got off very easy with this particular patient (except for the bill, which aged me).  It’s the next two I worry about.  I’m thinking we might up the ante and offer them a small sum to get their own wisdom teeth out.

DeeDeeSig

The Christmas List

Nevermind that it’s still August.  Or that our Crocs are still sticking to the asphalt.  My son has already taken it upon himself to make his Wish List for Christmas.

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As you might see, he’s still in the dinosaur phase.  I believe we’re going on 3 or 7 years now.  I’ve lost count.  But what you might have noticed if you look beyond the spelling errors, is something a bit new.

Jensen is still on Lizard restriction.  He cannot seize, catch, hunt, or track reptilians in our yard.  Or anyone else’s (as we found we must be very specific).  My apologies to the elderly neighbors who may have spotted a 9 year old boy in camouflage skulking around their rain gutters.  Also, all televised viewing which contained episodes of animal violence have been removed from his Netflix lineup.

In their stead, Fiddledaddy placed Animal Planets Too Cute into Netflix for Jensen’s viewing pleasure.  This is a tug at your heartstrings type of show which features liters of tiny puppies and kittens.  There was one particular breed which caught Jensen’s fancy; Bengal Kittens.

One night last week while I was out shuttling teenagers to and fro (this is a whole new aspect of homeschooling a high schooler which deserves a post of its own), I received a text from Fiddledaddy about Jensen’s brand new obsession.   It began with a link to the cat breed in question.

The conversation went as follows:

Me:  Stop it!!!

Him:  I know.  I’m canceling Netflix.

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Me:  WHAT ARE YOU DOING?

Him:  Help me.

Me:  Step away from the internet.

Him:  I’m holding a weeping boy who is negotiating away all toys for Christmas if only he could have a Bengal Cat.

Me:  Tell him we will get him a snake.

And for the record, the No Pet Clause is still safely in place.  I love the idea that the only things I have to keep alive in the house is the husband and the children.  The boys tried to give me some mumbo jumbo about this particular cat (which can set you back a couple thousand, btw) being hypo-allergenic.  Phhhttttt.  This is so NOT my first rodeo.

Legos for Christmas.  What would be wrong with Legos for crying out loud?

DeeDeeSig

Math is a 4-letter word

It’s crunch time.  We begin school next Monday, since the girls begin Co-op a few days after that.  I’ve spent my entire day setting up Math.  Math has consumed me.  So this is a math review.  I sense that your eyes are rolling to the back of your head.

I can tell you that I love math.  That love is not shared by anyone else that I live with.  Or know.  Not long after we were married, Fiddledaddy asked me to play the banker in this little game of Monopoly because Math is not his gift.  It seemed natural since my accountant offered me a job every single year that I brought in my taxes.  You should see my check register.  It is a work of art.

Yes.  I could benefit from therapy.  But IT’S NOT IN THE BUDGET.  HAHAHAHAHA.

Proving that He has a sense of humor, God gave me 3 children who hate math.  And then to add insult to injury, He encouraged me to HOMESCHOOL them.

We’ve been through nearly every Math curriculum ever created, including A Beka, Math U See, Saxon, Singapore, and Accelerated Christian Education.  Some worked okay with one or another, but it wasn’t until I discovered Teaching Textbooks that I found a curriculum that worked well for all 3 kids.

Teaching Textbooks is a curriculum which has verbal and visual instruction on CD-ROM, and can come with a written student spiral.  It was created specifically for homeschoolers.  It begins with the 3rd grade and ends with high school Pre-Calculus.  I think it works well for most kids because the lecture is conversational, and includes bright colored interactive visuals.  So it appeals to the visual AND the auditory learner.

Math

We switched to Teaching Textbooks when Emme was struggling mid-way through her 6th grade year.  It was an immediate relief, as it took much of the explaining off of my shoulders, and allowed her to work through the problems at her own pace, not moving on to the next concept until mastery.  There is just the right amount of review, and she knows immediately if her answer is correct.  If incorrect, she is able to view how to do the problem.  OH YEAH.  And it’s self grading.  I get the second edition versions which are Mac compatible and therefore self-grading.

I do like getting the spiral text, even though my kids show their work in a graph spiral (I get these from Office Depot).  That way I can still re-sell the text, but it’s nice to visually see the lesson in print, and know what topics are going to be covered.

Teaching Textbooks is not cheap.  I can attest to that since all 3 of my kids are doing it.  I’ve been able to buy it used in all cases.  I have had to purchase an occasional spiral text, or buy a replacement disc for one that is damaged.  This company does not mind that this curriculum is sold used among homeschoolers.  And their telephone customer service is awesome.

My math task today included installing Math 4, Math 7, and Algebra 1 on the computers.  I also make it a practice of burning copy discs so my kids aren’t using the originals and risking all the scratches, dropping, and general mayhem that accompanies disc usage.  The copies I make are only for our use and I destroy them when we’re finished.

I did run into a snag, however.  I spent a good deal of my afternoon trying to make copies of Algebra 1.  The first disc copied, but no others would.  I thought that perhaps I had defective discs, but then I realized that they might be copy-protected.  A quick call to the company confirmed this.  She apologized, but said that some of the newer versions (like Algebra 1) were copy-protected.  I completely understand this, since I can see where that might be abused.

So I’ve instructed my Algebra student that she cannot use her discs as a coaster, or a frisbee, or a weapon…

I also discovered a Math Worksheet website last year which allows you to customize worksheets to cover those topics your own reluctant student might need additional help with.  There are plenty of free topics, but I did subscribe for a year (I believe it was about $25) so that I had access to more specific math topics.

BECAUSE WHO CAN GET ENOUGH MATH?

At one point this last year, one of my children (unnamed) looked up from her computer, “MOM, if I’m going to be a Disney Princess, I do NOT need Math.”

That’s where you’re wrong, my friend.  Math is the one subject you WILL use every single day of your life.

And that thought fills me with an unending amount of joy.

DeeDeeSig

The Skates

I grew up on 8 wheels, throwing myself around a roller skating rink on a weekly basis.  During the pre-disco era.  Between the pom-pom bedazzled roller skates, 18 inch bellbottoms, and requisite platform shoes, it’s a wonder I never broke a femur during that decade.

The one and only time I tried ice skating was in my early 20’s.  I was a struggling actress in Dallas and my agent called, “Can you ice skate?”  “I’ll let you know.”  I mean, how different could it be?

I headed out to the local rink and stuffed my feet into a pair of white ice skates.  This is when I discovered that the two types of skates WERE VASTLY DIFFERENT.  I hobbled around on the carpet before getting the nerve to try the ice.  After about an hour of hugging the rail, I took a break to make my way to a pay phone.  I called my agent, “How good do I have to be?”  “You have to look like you know what you’re doing.”  A couple of moments of tortured silence, and then I said, “I’ll call you back.”

I made my way back to the ice and put in another hour or two until I could get around the rink without hanging on to another patron or the wall.

I went to the audition and was never even asked if I could skate.  And to add insult to injury, I didn’t book the commercial.   Showbiz.

Fast forward many many decades.  My girls and a gaggle of their teenaged and tween-aged friends want to spend a carefree afternoon at the ice skating rink.  I don’t ever mind trips to the ice rink, what with ALL THE HOT FLASHES.  And since this is Florida, ALL THE HOT.

And if this is the part of the story wherein you think I applied a pair of ice skates to my own feet and showed up the youngsters, you would be wrong.  Not enough insurance in the world, my friends.

But the unusual part of this saga is that for the first time EVER, my 9 year old boy wanted to check out the ice skating rink.  With ideas of possibly giving it a whirl.  My 9 year old son, who has never ever shown ANY interest ANY sport, thought ice skating might be fun.

I’m guessing this could stem from the boredom one might experience if you’re 9 and you’ve been placed on lizard restriction.  To save the remainder of the lizard population, we’ve had to instill a conservationist mindset in our boy.  This means no hunting, touching, and accidental murder of any more lizards.  (Long gruesome story.  Best left untold.)

So my son joined his sisters, a bunch of teen and tweenagers, and two of my sweet mom friends at the rink.  Ice skating is not a cheap adventure, so I was really hoping Jensen would not only place the skates on his feet, but also, you know, venture onto the ice.  After I got him strapped in, things did not look good.  He couldn’t get his ankles to cooperate.  I even rented him a walker.  Yes, just like the elderly, except the bottom is flat and can glide on the ice.

He wanted to quit 3 minutes after getting the skates on his feet.  Visions of a shredded $10 bill danced in my head.  I encouraged him first to stand, then to try walking around the rubber perimeter.  After a time, he saw his sisters and friends heading out onto the ice.  He made it to the ice entrance.  And then his sisters and all of their friends enveloped him and began encouraging him.

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The cute blonde is my dear friend, Beth, who took one for the team and strapped on her leg brace and skates to hit the ice with the kids.  She was supremely instrumental in getting Jensen onto the ice.  She promised him a handful of M&M’s.

One of Emme’s buddies is well over 6 feet tall, and he began leading Jensen around the rink.  He earned his angel wings for all of his patience that day, even taking a tumble when Jensen pulled them both down.  But they got back up and continued skating the impromptu lesson.

Before the skating session had ended, Jensen made it around the rink THREE times by himself.  He was a wall hugger.  But had lots of encouragement along the way.  I’ve never seen that little boy be so proud of an accomplishment.

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When I was helping him take off his skates, he asked, “Mom, is ice skating a sport?”  “Yes, yes it is.”  “HEY! I HAVE A SPORT NOW!”

And my heart melted all over the ice.

 

DeeDeeSig

 

My view of life from the linoleum.