Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Getting fit for the new school year

Okay so we finally got our Wii fit thingy last week - I say finally because I put a deposit on one back in May, We were supposed to get one by the end of June, and the local Gamestop actually coughed up one in the middle of August. They kept promising to call, and not doing it, and not holding them at all, and then saying things like "I didn't know we had anyone else still waiting" & (later) "But we have 72 people with a hold on it"(they admitted none of those were deposit people). They never honored that deposit by actually putting our name on one and holding it until I came in with the paperwork - until the day hubby managed to wander in while some were available and growled in their face about it. He stayed there and watched it until I could arrive.

I really wanted it to aid in my son's PE this year, but I wasn't in a super rush, as I had other kiddo books to buy etc. I truly didn't mind at first, but after awhile it was getting ridiculous. All in all, I am seriously inclined to do my pre-orders with somebody else. They honored the first few things I pre-ordered with them - but I can't honestly say that I felt they did right by us this time. I gotta wonder if those 72 other people had a better experience than I did.

But the good news is that we have one now, and its better than I'd hoped. Wii Fit has yoga, aerobics, balance games, and what they call 'strength training' - those seem to be 'regular' exercises. The kids both love doing their exercises indoor now, when the weather's too hot or mosquito-ish.
We didn't actually stop homeschooling this summer. Our kids covered the crucial subjects during these years of medical trial. In fact, they did very well on their end- of -year exams. I knew, however, they had some areas we really needed to work on when DH finally felt well enough for me to concentrate the way I felt was necessary. That turned out to be this year. So - as hubby got better, I got more into it. This effectively turned into summer homeschool, despite my concerns about bookworm burnout. Its gone pretty well. DS, in particular, has made a lot of progress.

Thankfully, the Wii fitness program does make the new school year feel - new. An effect that should only be intensified when the Teaching Textbook Math programs arrive. DS is looking forward to those. We did several of their lessons online and he felt they were much superior to the SOS math disks he had tried. Our son will be - actually already is - using Jensen's Grammer & ABeka I Comp, reading Huckleberry Finn (I'm using a collection of children's classics to start), studying basic Physics, and continuing the Spanish he ignored last year when I couldn't pay enough attention. Becka (DD) is officially off the public school's radar & did fine on her SAT. She is studying history, literature, logic lessons, etc - and continuing her CG stuff. Mom is enjoying the Wii fit program too, though Pat isn't officially 'studying' it as a kind of PE. We just finished our American history study and will start readings on the (European) Middle Ages asap. I am hoping to work in some real leather working soon. DS has some artistically ability, but is not as much into drawing as his sister. He prefers to work with his hands. We've done models & clay modeling to excess IMO. He's learned some practical home crafts, he's done one of those circuit board kits, but he's wanting to do something 'real' and, understandably, he doesn't mean a lot more sewing. Its time for 'guy stuff.' Hoping to work in some leather crafting for him soon. We have some leather, as it happens, and - if his orthodontist visit doesn't' break the bank, we may manage a small kit of tools soon. Hubby sounds reasonably enthused about giving a few lessons. Here's hoping!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Michael Card

Its Sunday, and in honor of El Shaddai on this Protestant Sabbath, I decided I'd like to share from one Christian artist whose work blesses me every often, most every day. I am blessed by his music, his books, and the witness of his and his wife's life. He shares decent devotionals too. Card's loves the Mysteries of our faith, and has found great consolation in Christ for the worldly Things We Leave Behind. (What John Michael Talbot - JMT called 'the marvelous exchange').

It bothers me that the artists who have most encouraged me to walk closely with Jesus Christ are often marginalized by the largest Christian venues. I am sincerely hoping that showing a few samples of his work here will bless you so much you will look for them from your favored Christian music suppliers. Michael Card's site allows you to buy directly if you don't know any others. You can buy the dvd with all these and many more of his greatest hits on michealcard.com too ^_^ Its called "Scribbling in the Sand"

"Starkindler" is my husband's favorite, from the Starkindler cd.

"Why?" [My favorite version of this song is on the Brother to Brother cd with JMT.]

"Love Crucified Arose"

"God's Own Fool" from Scandalon

"Poem of Your Life" (Poiema) is one of the best Christian living songs I ever heard. Its become virtually my personal mission statement ever since I first heard it. May the poem of my life ever praise my Lord & King!

Here's Michael Card in a concert in our area.
"Come Lift Up Your Sorrows" from his album The Hidden Face of God

May we always find "Joy in the Journey" as we wend our way toward heavenly shores

All Praise to our Risen Redeemer!

Grace Be With you All

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Finally! some pics

This is a very small smattering of the photographs we taken this year, but the delay and small selection hasn't been entirely my fault.

Every service I have ever seen online has been glitchy sometime, and I ran into a snag the last time I seriously tried to upload everything. Some pictures I know I added just didn't stay up. I was disappointed that one of them was a spectacular shot of a wisteria 'waterfall' in the nearby woods - which is probably why I didn't bother to post then, figuring I'd make some time and fix it soon. This decision seems to have resulted in sharing nothing for months - so - now that I've teased you sufficiently about the one that got away- here are some of the others. lol

These are mostly from this spring.

Seriously, I will make an effort to upload the wisteria picture soon. :-)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

news gripes

Still waiting to hear if either of the presidential candidates will pick a good running mate we can live with. Both are so flip-flopp-ish this matters enormously. I think the proof of that lies in how long it has taken both of them to pick a running mate. I don't recall any election that delayed on this point for so long!

Now I'd love it if Obama picked up Bill Richardson (my real Dem fav among the earlier prez candidates) . Naturally, I also like Gov Kaine as a choice. Kaine has been a good governor for VA. Obama still has inspiring rhetoric, but some of the terms he uses are beginning to concern me. He's coming off as an advocate for radical change all right, but not necessarily the best kind . His comments about foreign language use sounded way too Nanny Government, even a bit elitist - even though I agree that all who can should learn a foreign language. I also think we need some kind of regulation of the health insurance & medical industries, but what exactly does Obama have in mind? People can't afford it anymore because the prices are so insane, but that doesn't mean they want even more over-priced under-efficient 'charity' that sacrifices even more personal freedoms! He's not making a good showing here in VA lately all around. Some veterans even expressed displeasure over his European tour, and especially the big speech at Brandenburg gate, saying something him 'not having earned the privilege.' (?) MY question is - does he recognize religious, familial, & educational rights outside the NEA? Other people are wondering if he would respect our constitutional freedoms, especially those relating to self-defense. Kaine does, and that makes him a well-balanced governor for our state. Even the hard-line conservatives here have come to respect our governor. If he could promise to be like Kaine, VA might just vote Democrat this time around.

Then again, if McCain picked up Huckabee, that would just about ensure my vote. No other candidate all season has mattered as much as Huckabee IMHO. Romney isn't even close. I kinda saw him as a younger McCain with less military experience.

& I have a strong feeling that the VP job is gonna be an important slot in the days ahead. This business with Russia invading Georgia is bad, bad news - worse than the oil crisis and the economy together IMHO. Something like this was always predicted to kick off WWIII. I don't want that, obviously, but we can't just look away while this peaceful little nation goes down either. Hoping Glen Beck is wrong and Georgia's Western allies offer some substantive help real soon.

No, the big news isn't good right now, in more ways than one. With all the extreme weather & big fires etc, another failing is becoming increasingly obvious. News outlets sometimes fail to put the various disasters in proper context (How big is this fire compared with the usual? How will this affect the ecosystem down the road? How many pollutants will be released by this?How many people affected by this latest problem are still down from the last storm/earthquake/tornado?)

But they always seem to miss 'the bottom line' these days. At one point, the USA was nearly split again by the Mississippi River. Highways/bridges were affected, and boats couldn't cross. All that was left were HUGE redirects of hundreds of miles - and air traffic. They actually had to tell people to give it up, and wait for the water to go down. Some bridges needed repair afterward - SO, when and where did the media get around to telling folks which major highways & bridges were safe & available? No when. No where. Not that I saw. Ditto for the thousands of acres/towns/roads burnt up in California, Washington and N.C. Okay, its under control now, great. Now...what is left? What roads are safe to use around there? Don't they think people want to know these things? What if there were a major earthquake? Its a major omission not to find out how the infrastructure is affected and make sure the public can easily access the information.

My biggest whinge about the local news lately has been the uneven coverage. All news outlets- video & print- are devoting much time to the latest fallen hero, a police officer. I am glad they are honoring a guy who seems to have lived a commendable life and fell in the line of duty, but sadly this much more deserving recipient is coming after many similar stories and we wish they would spend a bit more time making sure they get out all the major news events. A deadly accident of motorcyclist this last weekend appeared ONLY in one newspaper. A suspected sex offender case was briefly on tv, but local papers didn't seem to have any follow-up. Only the main regional paper keeps up with the ongoing political investigations in several counties & the continuing fallout from these situations (recall petitions etc). No one seems to know even yet any more about that guy who got run over by a vehicle some months back, or they just don't care. Gives the impression of an odd weighting given to some lives over others, even when there's continuing risk to the public, but I think its partly due to these nearly continuous tributes cutting so badly into their 'real news' space. TV News Media here basically suspends much of their regular newscast in order to give more time to personal tributes and time spent at ALL the local memorial services for each dignitary- sometimes for weeks on end. One case was a high school guard/police officer who died in a single car accident. Several others were for military heroes whose bodies had just arrived from Iraq or Afghanistan. We're starting to have to skim all the news sources regularly even to learn about major local incidents & accidents, but, overall, the newspapers are doing the best job lately - except for weather forecasts.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Summer changes

These last months have felt eventful, and flown right past, but I haven't felt like talking about it outside the family much. I have uploaded some pictures from this year. Maybe soon I will get around to making & sharing some cool slide shows again. It won't be today, though.

I've been busy in the garden, reading my histories & mysteries, sewing clothes, teaching, knitting, and all that good stuff. Sorry to have neglected so many of you online, but I lose track of the days during periods like this. We've had a few household changes. We lost Greylady, the elderly Russian blue-mix kitty who delighted us for so many years. Another kitty, Sandy, never was ours, but used to like to visit occasionally. It seems he has now moved on.
My natural father, who I've hardly known at all since I was my son's age - and didn't know well even then, decided to visit near my birthday to celebrate it with us. The weather didn't entirely cooperate. It was unusually hot those weeks, with tropical systems threatening both times he planned to come by, but we did see him finally for a couple of days. Finally got him to our favorite Mexican restaurant but the planned museums will mostly have to wait for another trip. He dropped off his old laptop to the kids as well, which has been well received.

It works remarkably well for being 8 yrs old, and plays a few older excellent edutainment titles we had held on to for our son, but had trouble running on the pcs here when the time came. (one was too old, the others too new). Nice to have Stowaway and The Way Things Work running perfectly again. (TWTW ran on newer systems, but was a bit glitchy/crashy. Some of these links go to updated versions, for your convenience.) Pinball Science & the old teaching disks (Switched-On-Schoolhouse, Dinosaur Hunter, Spanish etc..) ran well already.
I was watching those tropical systems very carefully indeed especially TS Bertha, since the last Bertha in 1996 prompted one of our evacuations because, when it came toward us, our son was still little and endangered by any lengthy power outages. Taking the road north, I encountered numerous little tornadoes on either side of the highway...for miles. We arrived to our haven safely, but you never forget stuff like that, especially given its proximity to my birthday both times. Becka says she will never forget it either! Ironically Bertha did no damage at all in our county in '96, not even lost power (which back then seemed to happen every time a butterfly sneezed.) The old Bertha was supposed to have 120mph winds, but the meteorologists said afterward that these high winds were not on the ground, which explained why it was such a non-event outside of that tornado zone I drove through. I was surprised they never retired the name given the official strength of the storm, but apparently this is tied only to damage. The new Bertha strengthened & weakened & strengthened & weakened, but never made land, so one supposes there will be another Bertha years from now. Hope she's as polite as the last two, especially if she wants to celebrate with me again.

My presents were pretty cool. I got some comfy clothes, some fancy clothes, Crosswords DS, and one of those Nifty Knitter doohickeys. Its actually fun! Will probably go back to handwork in fall, as the weave is pretty open with the big loom set I have, but am working on a dandy summer throw right now. When my natural father was here we saw Journey to the Center of the Earth with him, which proved to be a decent choice for a Verne fan like me. The kids and I also went to see Wall-E (Pixar makes yet another instant children's classic!) & Space Chimps in July, which wasn't bad either.

Hubby and I went out to our favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurant. We've been going there since we first dated and the place never changes - which is a good thing, because the people are nice & the food is excellent.
The biggest event of all was the passing of my hubby's eldest brother, which I guess is why its the hardest to talk about - maybe later.
The yard continues to recover, with effort. Still haven't replaced all the plants lost after Hurricane Isabel, but there are some new azaleas in the ground & amazingly the fig tree came back from the dead yet again. This is the third time! Seriously, its the phoenix of fruit trees!

Hubby continues to heal and managed to fix the old family tiller, and though it was a little late by then to get in everything, we did get a garden going this year. It is doing us some good. Its been great having one to work on again - and the fresh veggies were right on time when they started all those recall concerns in the news. We're still more cucumber heavy, than tomato-ish supplied, but that should change soon. The peppers produced well earlier, but we may have lost them to the extreme conditions. The extreme storms skipped us every time, but the heat and tropical-style cloudbursts seemed to be too much for the hot peppers. How ironic is that?