Friday, August 21, 2009

Small Town Living

Episode Number 1: On Wednesday I called a girl to babysit. I've never met her or her family before (which is rather unnerving, entrusting your children to a stranger!), but she came well recommended from a friend of mine. She said she could get a ride to our house so not to bother picking her up. I was about to start giving her our address and directions when she interrupted, "Oh I know where you live. I'll see you Friday."

Episode Number 2: I had a doctor appointment this afternoon (just routine, no worries, mothers-of-mine) and left the boys with the above-mentioned sitter. As the receptionist typed in my info, she said, "Oh, you're a friend of Grace's, right? The one with the four adorable boys!" Why yes, those would be mine, thanks. "Oh, and tell your husband thanks for getting our computer hooked up the other day." Will do. Now I don't know this woman from Eve, but in a town this size, everybody (except me) knows pretty much everybody (including me).

Episode Number 3: This morning I put an outgoing card in the mailbox. This afternoon I returned to find a phone message from the post office saying that because of its shape, said card required an extra 20 cents postage. I grabbed a quarter and walked to the post office. Before I got to the front desk the postmaster had pulled my card from somewhere out of sight, and before I plunked down my quarter he'd slapped a 20 cent sticker on it and handed me my change. And when I said that I'll try to make my cards more rectangular in the future (rather than square), he handed me a "mail dimensional standards template" for my own personal use.

I love small towns.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Back to School Grinch

Is it awful for a homeschooling mom and writer to say I'm dreading teaching English this year?

I feel like I have no room to gripe. "If you don't like doing it, then don't do it!" I can just hear people say, or at least think.

Well I'm saying it anyway -- I'm dreading teaching English!

Now don't get me wrong, I'm all about good writing and proper grammar. It's of utmost importance to me that our children learn to write and speak well. Poor English drives me nuts. There's one local publication that I can't read without suffering near-physical pain and agony due to the atrocious writing. Perhaps this sensitivity comes from having had an editor for seven years.

But the idea of learning (or teaching) predicates, subjects, direct objects and the like holds no interest for me. Seriously, do we need these terms? As long as my children learn to write and speak well, do they really need these words in their vocabulary? I know, the argument can be made that in order to learn what a proper sentence is, they need to know that it contains various parts of speech in a particular order, thus requiring a knowledge of those parts. Blah, blah, blah. Sorry, I'm feeling rather Grinchy about this right now.

I think most of the problem lies in the fact that I haven't found a grammar book I like yet. I have a second grade English book from a now defunct elementary school, but it just looks so... boring. Not that learning always has to be fun and exciting, but this is mind-numbing! If I could find a book that actually makes it interesting, perhaps my outlook would change.

I have my eye on a couple to check out next time we're in a town with a Barnes & Noble -- please, please, please be interesting! I really don't remember my own second grade English curriculum. Mom, was it great? I welcome input from anyone who had an elementary English program they loved or loved teaching!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

In the Garden

I finally got the camera out in the garden to capture some of the bugs and blooms that decorate our yard.

These last two I spotted at Mirror Lake Park. The one that looks like a tiger was in a planter, but the sunflowery one is a wildflower growing along the trail.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Thus the title of this blog

Levi: "Mom, our house is fraught with Legos!"

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Recipe of the Summer

Actually it's two recipes that struck my fancy -- and my taste buds! -- this week. The first is hardly even a recipe it's so simple. It's just a cup or so of cut up strawberries in a pitcher of lemonade. Let it sit overnight, mix well and enjoy! And once the lemonade is gone, dump the juicy berries into a bowl of fruit salad!

The second recipe we had for lunch today. It was an experiment based on an idea I saw in a magazine. Now to keep from bragging up my own cooking, I'll let Wade do it for me. His first words after biting into it -- "This may be the best ham I've ever tasted!" Here's the scoop:

Slice a ham into half-inch-thick slices. Brush with a mixture of 1/4 c of maple syrup and 1/4 t liquid smoke. Grill for 5-10 minutes on each side or until heated through. Add more syrup/smoke mixture during cooking if desired, and after removing from the grill. Easy and yummy -- just ask Wade!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

And I Quote..

Levi, age 6, as he took a big swig of kool-aid: "Ahhh, it makes me feel young again!"

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

And I Quote

While following a trail around Devils Tower, Luke suddenly exclaimed, "a butterfly was showing me the way!" To which Isaac responded, "Earlier a grasshopper showed me the way."

"The trail shows me the way," Levi added on.

It's called Devils Tower, but God made it.

Here it is the beginning of August and we've only just taken our second camping trip of the year! There have been other vacations in there though, so I really can't complain.

This trip was to Devils Tower in the Black Hills of Wyoming. Levi, our future volcanologist, has been hankering to go there since finding out it's our nearest volcano (one possible explanation for the monument is that it's an old volcano flume; another theory is that it never actually erupted, but magma pushed up toward the earth's surface, cooled, then pushed up again and again, shoving the enormous pillar higher and higher). Another plausible explanation (that you won't see on any signs around the tower) is that God just made it that way. Any way about it, it's a hugely impressive sight to see!

We got there late in the evening and were greeted with this sunset silhouette.

Come morning, we awoke in this beautiful camp setting. And to top it all off, there were no mosquitos! Not a one! There were, however, thousands of grasshoppers. Do hoppers eat skeeters, I wonder? This would explain much.

Several trails wind around the monument. Saturday we hiked 1.3 miles around the monument and saw quite a few climbers scaling it's vertical sides. I'm sure the climbing would be exhilarating, and the view from the top breathtaking, but there is NO WAY you'd ever get me down off that thing without either a helicopter or a big club to knock me out with.

On Sunday we hiked 1.5 miles on a loop that wound around a prairie dog town. Although the signs say not to approach or feed the animals, the prairie dogs' bravery testifies to a few people trying to get friendly with them. * Picture further down.

Here's one of the critters now.

Wyoming's Black Hills really are a beautiful sight. Red rocks, clear rivers and tree-covered hills make it a place we would have liked to stay longer.

Epilogue: On the way home, the van broke down a few miles outside of Spearfish. We got a tow truck to haul us the ten miles to the Spearfish City Park parking lot where we had many hours to burn while awaiting our rescue vehicle -- Dad and Mom H. Now, being stranded for five hours with four children may seem awful, but God was so good to us. The park we waited at boasts a Million Smiles playground, lots of shade trees, green grass and a stream, and it's adjacent to the D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery where we were able to feed the fish, tour some of the old buildings, look around an old fish-transporting train car and see a boat that once navigated the Yellowstone River for fish eggs. We still had food in the cooler, so come dinner time we enjoyed a hotdog picnic at the park. Whiling away five hours was never so enjoyable!

At last Dad and Mom arrived and towed us safely back home... not without event, but safely nonetheless.