26 January 2011


I'm pleased to report that Eggnog has been adopted by a young couple from Chicago.  His new family came out to meet him on Monday, and they all seemed to get along well.  Eggnog was so very excited to meet new people.  It was bittersweet for us, because we had grown to love him very much - but we are all very happy to see him go to a new home.

His owners have renamed him "Riggs" after a character from a movie they both love.  He was given his new tags and collar on the spot, and seemed to like the jingle sound the tags made.  He pranced out the door with his new owners, head held high - and didn't look back.  He looked ahead to his new life.

The house has felt kind of empty with him gone.  In the last two months, we've had Hamtaro (our hamster) pass away, Sapphire (another foster animal) got adopted, Alf (another foster cat) was sent to stay at the vet for a while because of reoccurring illness.  All we have left are our two cats, Ayla and Gryphon, and Lewis, a foster kitten.

Ayla just seems happy that the dog is gone.  She spent all yesterday purring and letting me know how very happy she was.  Gryphon, on the other hand, seemed stressed and kept coming to me for reassurance - but other than that, he seems fine.

Poor Lewis.  He and Eggnog were close friends, and he feels his loss very keenly.  The first night Eggnog was gone, Lewis ran into his doggie crate and kneaded the bedding, crying out every few minutes.  He really missed his friend!  I tried to distract him with other activities, and for a while it worked:

Today Lewis seems more accepting of the quietness in the house.  He's more relaxed, and spent some time tussling with Gryphon this morning.  But the house still seems too quiet.  I actually debated sending an email to Adopt-a-Pet asking if any other dogs needed fostering, but decided against it.

I just hope it doesn't stay quiet for too long.  I like an active household!

13 January 2011

Electives and big plans

When I was starting high school, I made the interesting decision to take both Spanish and German in the same semester.  Feeling (foolishly) confident, I figured I could easily learn two languages at once.

My confidence lasted a week, ending at a painful episode where my German teacher asked me to count to ten in German, and I started out "Uno, dos, tres..."  The laughter of my classmates still rings in my head all these years later....

...which is probably why I broke into laughter when I was handed Jon's picks for his high school electives, and saw that he had picked Spanish, German, AND French.

I'll admit I have to admire his determination to improve himself, but damn - three languages???  No way can he handle that.  We've told him to pick one and save the others for later in high school (or maybe even college). 

He's got an impressive list of choices for electives.  I don't think I had that many to chose from, and my hometown was twice as large as the little township we are currently living in.  He needs to choose four electives out of 52 choices!  And some of the electives are just plain awesome.  He can choose guitar lessons, for cripes sake.  I don't remember guitar being one of my choices when I was in high school.

We've made it clear to Jon that we will be having a hand in his elective decisions.  For example, he didn't even think of taking computer keyboarding, and without that skill, he's not going to do very well in high school (why the heck that is an elective rather than a requirement in this day and age, I have NO idea).  So we told him that while the school does not require him to take this course, WE do - and we explained why.  Fortunately, Jon agreed that knowing how to type quickly and accurately was a wise decision.

Now, what you should know is Jon has BIG plans for life during college.  Rather than paying a dorm fee or renting an efficiency while in college, he wants to build his own Tiny Tumbleweed home.  Here are a couple pictures from the internet of these tiny homes:

The concept behind the tiny homes is very simple.  The home is built on a trailer, and the size of the home depends on the size of the trailer you start out with.  Despite their size, these homes can include a small kitchen, bathroom with shower, living room and loft bedroom.  Ever since he saw these homes for the first time, he's wanted one. 

Having a tiny home built for you costs about $50,000...but building your own, using salvaged materials, can cost less than $10,000.  Jon did the math and discovered that if he works full time during summers, and part time during the school year, all the time at minimum wage, then he will have earned about $15,000 by the time he is ready for college - more than enough to build his own tiny home.  He also figures that living in the tiny home during four years of college will save him more money than he spent building the home in the first place.

So since this is a dream of his, his first choice of electives were "Intro to Production Tech" (Wood Shop) and "Intro to Welding".  And he just decided this morning that he wants to take Spanish as his foreign language option.

And last but not least, Jon discovered that he can get a head start by taking some of his required classes (and some of his electives) in the summer.  He figures that he can't get a job until he's sixteen, so until then he's going to take extra courses in the summer.  If he does well enough, he might be able to finish school a semester early, which would give him more time to work full time and save up money for college.

~GRINS~  He's got big plans, and he's looking at planning for his future rather than living in the now.  I don't know if he'll see all his plans come to pass, but I'm proud of him for thinking ahead.

11 January 2011

Cirque du Soleil

Our local library had a drawing for free tickets to go see Cirque du Soleil perform.  The entrants had to be 14 years of age or younger, so I signed up James and Jacob.

Yesterday I got the call - James had won the drawing and was the proud owner of two tickets to see Dralion!

The kids wanted to know what the show was going to be like, so I found a video on youtube.

After watching that, the two younger boys grew VERY excited - which presented a problem.  James only won two tickets.  If I am to take both boys, we would need an additional ticket.  Fortunately, Jonathan doesn't want to go, and neither does Sean.  But finances are tough right now, and I was fairly certain we couldn't afford an extra ticket.

But Sean told me to make some calls and find out how much a ticket would be - if there was even a seat available next to the ones we had won.  So I called the library and explained the situation, and they happily gave me the seating info on the tickets - Section 110, Row 15, seats 15 & 16.  They also confirmed that the tickets did not specify adult or child, so could be used either way.

A quick call to the show center found that Row 15 was completely booked.  However, Row 14 had seats available - seat 16, right in front of the two seats we won!  When I explained the situation, the ticket lady was sympathetic, and gave me a small discount, enabling us to buy that needed third ticket for $78.25.

Now, we honestly can't afford that, but Sean said to go for it anyway.  We'll just have to be very very careful with our food budget this pay period - but I was able to work out a menu plan that should have us eating well the entire time for under $100.

Long story short - WE'RE GOING TO DRALION!!!!

06 January 2011

Letter to Teacher

Dear Ms. Tripp,

I know this is the oldest excuse in the book, so forgive me for having to use it.  But this afternoon, the dog DID in fact eat Jacob's homework.

Jacob had spilled his drink on the kitchen table, and in the hustle to clean it up, homework got swept to the floor.  I was alerted to the catastrophe by my son's shriek of "Bad dog!  BAD BAD DOG!"  I spun around to discover our puppy happily munching on a sheet of paper.  The bits of mangled, slobber-covered paper I managed to recover had math work on it, and I could just make out the words "Even and Odd".

Could you please give him another copy of this worksheet?  I will make sure the baby gate is up from now on, so the dog can't get into the kitchen while the boys are doing their homework.

Patricia Betts

03 January 2011

Improptu Geography lesson

It's the last day of Christmas break, and the kids were happily watching TV while I did some internet research.  I placed a couple orders for free seed catalogs, and decided to look up what hardiness zone we are in.  For those who aren't familiar with gardening, each plant grows best in its own climate, and hardiness zones are a great way to know what will grow best in your area.

Each seed packet comes with info telling you what zone (or zones) it will grow best in.  (I pulled the above image from google - and you can see that it has the hardiness zones listed for Australia).

Anyway, I was looking at the above map to double-check my hardiness zone  (click the map above to see it larger).  I lived in La Crosse for so long that I keep having this mental feeling that I am in zone 4, and I have to forcibly remind myself I am now in zone 5. ~sighs~

"What's that, Mom?"  Jacob was staring at the colorful map in fascination.  "It looks kinda like the map hanging behind Ms. Tripp's desk."  I grinned and started to explain that Ms. Tripp's map was probably colored by state, while this one was colored by temperature.  The warmer the overall temp, the brighter the color.

At this point, James came up and pointed at the state of Texas.  "That's the largest state." he said confidently.

"Actually, James, Alaska is larger than Texas"  I said.  He looked quizzically at the map (which DID make Alaska look slightly smaller than Texas)...then grinned at me and laughed, thinking I was pulling his leg.  So I pulled up a more realistic-sized map of North America, and he caught on.  He also was indignant at the makers of the zoning map for "lying" about the state size (which was so cute).

Then the questions started coming fast and furious.  "Which country is the biggest?"  So I pulled up a map of the world, and they quickly figured out it was Russia.  ("Wow...you could fit three United States inside of Russia!")  With a little bit of prompting, they realized that Russia and Alaska are very close to each other, even though they are on the opposite sides of a traditional map.  "It's because the world is round, right, Mom?"  Yup!

"Which country is the smallest?"  So I pulled up a map of Italy and showed them Vatican City.  "Wow...that's really small!"

"Which country is the one that's been in the news lately?"  That one caught me off-guard a bit, because a lot of countries have been in the news recently - so I asked for more details.  "You know, the one with all the big bombs."

"Oh, I think you mean Iran."

"No, Mom - it was "North" something, like North Carolina but a country, not a state...and you said your Grandpa fought there?  And their leader is sick all the time."

"Ahh, you mean North Korea."

"Yeah!  Where is North Korea?"

I showed them where North Korea was, while puzzling over the "leader is sick" comment...then I realized the name of the leader of N.K. is Kim Jong Il (which sounds a lot like "ill").  I have to admit it made me chuckle a bit.

After the North Korea conversation, they kinda lost interest in the maps and turned back to the TV.  The whole "lesson" couldn't have taken six or seven minutes, but they learned a lot.

This isn't the first time they have shown an interest in geography.  I'm thinking I might have to get a couple of large, classroom-quality maps to hang up for them.  Definitely a United States map, and I think a world map as well.

" A child educated only at school is an uneducated child" 
         - George Santayana