Sunday, November 30, 2008


Museum Volunteer to James: Are you an intern?

Ken to Volunteer: He's in his mid-forties!

Volunteer to Ken: No, he's got to be in his twenties!

James: Well actually, I'm forty.

Ken: He's been working for the department for almost twenty years!

Volunteer to James: You look so young!

James: You are not the first person to say that.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Should We Call the Fire Department?

I am thankful that my husband did not turn into a human torch this week.

About 8 pm Tuesday night, I sat at the computer desk finalizing the family reunion photo book that I'd been working on all day. When James walked by and asked me, "What is that noise?" I tuned back into reality and heard a loud rushing sound.

At first I replied, "Do the kids have the water on upstairs?" but the sound was different... and louder. Next my mind formed the idea that a pipe from the sprinkler system had blown, creating a giant geyser outside. James must have had the same thought, because he dashed outside.

Seconds later, he ran back in exclaiming, "It's a gas leak! Get out of the house!"

We rounded up the kids, telling them to put their boots on in the garage as we headed out. We didn't take the time to grab coats and stood shivering on the street with our next door neighbor, listening to the loud hissing noise between our houses. James called public service and was told not to attempt to turn off the valve himself. They were probably worried that he might pass out.

Since the leak seemed to be outside only, I ran back inside to quickly grab coats. We donned them outside and I put Logan's cold feet in my pockets while I held him. Soon the strong sulfur smell of mercaptan filled the air in the neighborhood.

James decided to call the fire department and neighbors across the street invited us into their warm house. We watched at the front window as a fire truck arrived, parking down the street, while firefighters ran to our house. They turned off the gas and then monitored inside. When they found no gas inside the house, we returned home, waiting for public service.

Hours later, public service had the leak fixed. It had been caused by the ground settling around our house, snapping the pipe leading to our gas meter.

We are very thankful that we were home and awake to hear the gas leak and take steps to get it fixed right away!

James had another big adventure in store for him just the next day when he and a coworker named Ken went to Kiowa to assist the Elbert County Museum sort through some donated items from a local doctor who worked in Kiowa during the late 1800s to mid-1900s. When James and Ken arrived, a retired couple volunteering at the museum showed them a large cabinet in the basement with three large shelves packed with boxes. James and Ken carefully sorted through the boxes and came across several interesting items including an unused flu vaccine from 1934, tablets for infants with the ingredients of codeine and a narcotic, and drugs with opium, barbituates and habit-forming narcotics. They found a license that the doctor owned to distribute cocaine and opium.

When James picked up a corked bottle of dried white powder labeled Picric Acid, his eyes got really big as he gingerly and carefully set the bottle back down. The doctor probably used the picric acid as an antiseptic and maybe as a treatment for burns or herpes. The acid has a molecular formula similar to TNT and becomes unstable when dry. In other words, it could have blown up if James dropped it!

James and Ken found other explosive substances and called the fire department. The local police and fire department showed up and evacuated the building. The Elbert county sheriff came, and since Kiowa didn't have a bomb squad, they called the Douglas County sheriff's office. Their bomb squad came with other sheriffs. Several fire trucks arrived from the Castle Rock and Elizabeth fire departments with an ambulance. They put police tape along the highway in front of the museum. Kiowa police directed traffic and other police were stationed around to keep people out of the area. A rumor circulated around the tiny town that a hostage situation was in progress. James and Ken left before the explosives were detonated. They stirred up trouble and then left!

Click here to read the newspaper article about it, though it is not quite accurate. It makes it sound like the volunteers discovered the chemical and knew enough to call for help. Actually, they were more concerned that they got sent out of the building and couldn't get back in to retrieve their soda pop.

We had some stories to tell this Thanksgiving, and we are thankful for God's protection this week.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Wordless Wednesday


Cute kid by my sister Jen
Photo by my sister Jackie
Edited by me

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wordy As I Wanna Be Wednesday: Toddler Smiles

Here's Logan with a big, goofy smile plastered on his face, posing with the town he built with his brothers.

Zoom in on the "Smile big for the camera" face. How is it possible for him to stick his jaw out so crooked?!

I had to scan in this picture of Evan (now 12) at close to the same age, flashing the same crooked grin!

Friday, November 07, 2008

Rambling Homeschool Post

There has been an increase of foot-dragging and time-wasting lately in Home Sweet Homeschool. This week I have been trying a new strategy to encourage the kids to stay on-task and to complete their work in a timely fashion.

Previously, each child had...

this type of weekly planner to keep track of assignments. This week, I gave them a different kind of checklist.

Here is Evan's:

Evan's Assignments November 3-7

Piano (30 minutes per day):

Math (60 minutes per day):

Latin (Together with Mom & Matthew):

Grammar (30 minutes per day in Analytical Grammar review activities):

Activity #8 - Parse, then Check & Correct

Activity #8 - Read any past lessons assigned by Mom and diagram all sentences

Check & Correct diagrams; Activity #9: Parse, then Check & Correct

Activity #9 - Read any past lesson assigned by Mom and diagram all sentences.

Spelling (2 lessons per day):

Writing (IEW's Student Writing Intensive):

History (Tapestry of Grace):

Geography – Complete everything listed on SAP 16, labeling and shading map. Use the historical atlas or Encyclopedia maps.

Together with Mom & Matthew – read and outline Streams of Civilization pp. 104-109 , then finish section on Persia on Mesopotamian Empires Comparison Chart

Read Usborne Encyclopedia of World Religions p. 98 on Zoroastrianism. Next re-read Streams of Civ. Pp. 108-109 (just the small section on religion). Write a summary of the beliefs of Zoroastrianism.

Bible (Tapestry of Grace):

First read the questions on Ezra on SAP 16, then read the Book of Ezra and answer the questions, using complete sentences, including the question in your answer. Please be specific and detailed in your answers.

Read the questions on Nehemiah on SAP 16, then read the Book of Nehemiah. Answer the questions, using complete sentences, including the question in your answer. Please be detailed and specific in your answers.

Read aloud and discuss the Book of Esther with Mom, Matthew & Sophie. Read Understanding Jewish Holidays and Customs pp. 62-69 (more of a history assignment.)

Discuss Bible and History with Mom & Matthew

Science (Apologia General Science, following a Sonlight schedule):

Each box equals one lesson or one day's worth of work. If the student does not get his work done in the time allotted, he has to pick up where he left off the next day and then any lessons not complete at the end of the week get done on Saturday. If the student chooses to work ahead in the allotted time, then he can have less to do at the end of the week. So far, this checklist approach with a daily time limit on certain subjects seems to be improving the kids' focus.

I have been wondering lately when my children will become more self-motivated (I don't mean selfishLY motivated, but motivated by their own desire rather than mine) to get their work done and to do their best at whatever they are given to do. I will have to say, though, that Evan is self-motivated when it comes to his Apologia General Science work. He never has to be prodded to do his science for the day, and he doesn't mind spending time on it. He uses a schedule published by Sonlight which assigns daily reading, writing or labs, and he follows it on his own. James and I just check his work: lab reports, study guides, other writing and tests.

This week, even though he can use more practice, Matthew has begun typing his "written work" which is less tiring to his hand, and he can more easily do corrections. Matthew says that his favorite part of school this week was our read aloud of the Book of Esther in one sitting.

Tapestry of Grace had the book Victory on the Walls, a fictional account of Nehemiah, scheduled for literature reading this week. I pre-read the book and despised it. The sketchy dialogue often left me wondering, "Who is talking?" and I did not like the harsh characterization of Nehemiah or the whiny fictional nephew that the author created. I kept the book on its shelf which left more time for the large amount of actual Bible reading for the week.

I enjoy using Writing With Ease Workbook 2 with Sophie. Since she is not pencil-phobic as the boys have been, she does two lessons per day. If Workbook 3 comes out on schedule, we can progress through that workbook as well this year. I appreciate having narration, copywork and dictation mapped out in a way that progresses through necessary writing skills. I am finding it quite thorough and helpful to Sophie. The writing models from quality children's literature have lead her to re-read old favorites and to find some new. Presently, during her free time, she can be found with her nose in The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling for the first time. Recently she has also re-read Pinky Pye by Eleanor Estes and Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry.

Speaking of books, Evan has had his nose in a Sherlock Holmes book lately and told me that it is his new favorite. This surprised me, since books usually do not measure up to Redwall in his estimation. (He has read Redwall seven times, not to mention the multiple times that he has read the other books in the series.)

Logan (2 yrs. old) is going through a stacking phase in his interest and development. He uses a set of small hardback books like blocks, either re-stacking them on the shelf itself, or loading them up in his wagon to carry to a different room to build on the floor. He also likes stacking cups in the kitchen and even gets into the Corelle dishes and stacks them on a different shelf or on the table. He continues to enjoy water play in the sink, playing with homemade playdough, and drawing. And now he can perform a mean somersault! (See the sidebar for his latest quotes.)

Picnik collage

Mistaken Identities

Alternate Post Title: I Used to be a Blond

Alternate Alternate Post Title: A Laugh at My Expense

I really need to pay closer attention to what I am doing in the kitchen.

I like to make homemade chocolate pudding occasionally. Recently while stirring my pudding on the stovetop, the mixture started to foam up when it got hot rather than thickening. I quickly removed the saucepan from the burner, perplexed at the crazy pudding. I looked around at the ingredients on the counter, realizing then that I had grabbed the wrong yellow box and had mixed in baking soda rather than cornstarch.

I know...DUH!

This morning, I swept the high traffic areas of the floors and, noticing some sticky spots, I grabbed the Bona spray floor cleaner to spot-mop. After mopping, I wondered at the strange smell in the kitchen and noticed that my feet were sticking to the mopped areas. I looked up at the counter, and got a closer look at the white spray bottle that I had grabbed: "Stainless Steel Magic" (No, we don't have stainless steel flooring.) The bottle also read, "Gently Polishes!" I'm thankful for the gentle part and that it did not take the finish off of the wood floor.

Double Duh!