Friday, May 8, 2009

Murray's House of Learnin'

(A Gilmore Girls reference, sorry.)

I wrote my last preschool tuition check this week. The year end is winding down. K- had her last show & tell/snack day (for preschool), we have the end of the year trip to the zoo, then we end with -- eek! -- preschool graduation.

Preschool graduation, people. Okay, so it isn't real live graduation, but still.

K-'s school sent home an advertisement that the local university is offering beginning reading programs, one of which is for entering kindergartners! I called, checked out cost and while it isn't inexpensive, Hubs and I do believe that it is well worth the cost. They work on alphabet skills, reading readiness, phonics, comprehension and truly want to foster a love for reading in children. We have two nieces who have had quite a bit of problem with reading skills (one has tackled her issues through formal tutoring and one is still struggling). The class offered is a parent/child class so that as a parent, you learn skills to help your child. That is great since I'm winging it and have no idea what I'm doing. I'm especially excited that this will be for the first half of summer so I'll know what I'm doing to help her prepare for kindergarten the last half of the summer.

K- has really started loving "reading" books to us through pictures. She'll ask me how to spell things and wants to write. I work on workbooks with K- throughout the summer and the class that I've signed us up for has instructional materials and CD's that are passed onto the parents and you are taught how to use them. Hoorah!

I'm also trying to work some visual games with K-. We've been working with the game Tantrix this week, and I plan on pulling our Rush Hour game back out. (Happily, both brand new thrift store finds for 1.50 each!) I think that it is important to exercise some problem solving skills (as with Tantrix), or copying skills (as with our Rush Hour game.) Grant you, we don't play these games according to their directions, but it's fun to see if we can get all the Tantrix pieces used properly and just to see if we can copy the pattern on the Rush Hour card. I plan on purchasing the color triangle puzzle at the Dollar Tree this week. (I have no idea the name, but it's a bunch of colored triangles that you use to copy patterns and make shapes out of.)

I have a basket of sight reading cards that we're going to work harder on now, but not push. I don't want to force K-, but if we can make learning fun, why not?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Goofy Searches brought to you by Google

Every few months, I like to share with you the searches that have pulled my little tiny blog page up for the world to see. Oh, what have people been looking for lately? With a giggle, here's the list:

1. "Do Amish climb trees to get leafs" -- Um, I'm not certain. I think that they probably do what the rest of us do and either wait for them to fall or just reach up and grab the ones that they can reach.
2. "Genetically engineered Kentucky Wonder Pole Bean" -- I went completely heirloom and non-GMO. Cruise on over to Baker Creek Seeds for the good stuff that won't make your child grow a third eye, please.
3. "Is Claritin bad for kids" -- I suspect the adult version isn't a great idea for kids, but the Children's Claritin works great in our house.
4. "How weed killer works" -- I'm not certain exactly, but I'm certain that when you spray the vinegar on the weed, it soaks down in and the sun makes the vinegar burn the weed and root up. I could be wrong, though.
5. "Trucking accidents on HWY 80 4-29-09" -- I have no idea why I came up on this search other than 80 being the Ohio Turnpike.
6. "Virgo weed killer" -- This one made me giggle just a little. :)
7. "My child is a nudist" -- Oh, this one made me laugh, too. This went back to my second post ever on this little blog. I was talking about our tent camping vacation.
8. "All kinds of piturs of dolls and polly pockets" -- I once did a WFMW on Polly Pocket organization. I don't know that it would qualify as "all kinds of piturs" though.
9. "The Queen of Clean weed killer" -- I'm not the Queen of Clean, though I appreciate the label!
10. "Automatic shower cleaner safe for baby toys" -- NO! It's cleaner and though I realize it says it's okay to be sprayed on stuff around it, please don't let your child go gnawing on sprayed toys. Uck.
11. "Krabby batty hat from Spong Bob picturs" -- I suppose that I mentioned Sponge Bob once, but have no idea what they are talking about. Sponge Bob is Hubs' and K-'s thing.
12. "Baby Party" -- Oh, I am quite sure that they wanted ideas for planning a baby shower and not pictures of my sister's big ole creature home for Baby Pine Cone.
13. "Kentucky Wonder starting with heating pad" -- I would say not to even worry about it. They grow so fast that even if you are late planting them, they will catch up soon enough. In my zone, we can't even plant them until the end of the month. I'm always so jealous to see when plants can hit dirt for other people so much earlier than us!
14. "Po*t Leaf Pajamas." -- And I came up on this search why? Never have I ever partaken nor have I ever mentioned. I don't even have jammies with leaves on them. It's a search mystery to me.
15. "Should a robin egg float or sink if it is alive?" -- Um, I don't know. Can't you hold it up to the light to see if anyone is in there?
16. "Handcrafted hair dryer organizer." -- I don't use a hair dryer. Do you really need more than one? Ooo! But my co-worker said that she bought a new attachment for her hair dryer that twirls your hair as you dry it. It makes it look curled if it isn't and for me, oh what wonders would it do? Would it force my curls to behave?
17. "Carnival hair." -- Catch me on a humid morning and yes, I have carnival hair.
18. "Will Graco Nautilus fit in Ford Ranger?" -- Can't tell you. I can tell you that a Britax Regent will fit nicely in a 2008 RAV4 and a 1997 Tercel.
19. "Mess free + elmer" -- If you are looking to have me tell you that the mess free fingerpaint is mess free, you've got to go to another blog. I must be honest with you, it is a big fat mess.
20. "Leaf of Bailey" -- It makes me sound all regal and whatnot. (I don't know why I think that.) I'm really not, though. We also get "Bailey Leafs" or "Bailey Leaves," but we're just Bailey's Leaf.

So, I suppose that this time wasn't nearly as bizarre as last time's toe dissection search, but still a giggle to share!

Have a great day!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Works for Me Wednesday: Little Bits of Frugality

We're on a theme this week with Works for Me Wednesday. Kristin has picked frugalness as the theme. I think that I've kind of done a post on this anyhow, but let me think some more . . .

1. We handle doing our own lawn work. I realize that many people do, but we don't hire in the killer spray people, either. The dandelions and assorted weeks happily live, carpeting our bit of earth. That's okay with us. Well, that is until my lovely neighbor decides to share his weed and feed on our front yard. (We really do love him!)
2. We have a little garden. In our garden, we grow many plants that I have grown from seed. If it is something that I have not grown, we stop by roadside stands or Mom and Pop vegetable markets to make up the rest.
3. You've heard tales of line drying. I line dry in the basement in the winter/bad weather days. I dry outside when the weather permits. That includes our sheets, but not the towels. When the pollen settles down, I'll launder all the blankets and hang them out, too.
4. We run to the thrift store for clothing for all of us. Hubs ruins his pants at work by slogging through mud. K- doesn't typically ruin her clothes, but she does have a fondness for making "mud soup." She loves dresses and loves to play in the sandbox. The thrift store (AKA in my house as the all year yard sale) give me an opportunity to buy cute little dresses for about a buck that if trashed, I'm not so sad about it. As for me, my main job at work is display. I'm not really delicate with display. I've burned my hair with halogen lights (it smells horrible BTW), scraped my arms all up with metal Christmas trees and blown out knees of jeans from all the dragging around the floor that I do (among other things). I can get quite dirty doing my job and I'd hate to pay a lot for jeans that I wear the knees out on.
5. We're dinner re-servers. K- doesn't have to finish her dinner at dinner, but if she wants something else to eat later, she needs to finish her dinner before she can have something else. My mother-in-law will attest to the fact that K- can take two bites of this, three bites of that and decide that she wants something else. She had my poor mother-in-law so buffaloed that she seriously thought that K- only wanted junk. I told her that she was giving her a bail out option and too many options on top of that. She started doing what we do and voila! K- stopped doing it to grandma, too.
6. We use the heat and A/C only when needed. Seems weird that I say that, but when my parents turn their A/C on, it is on for the rest of the season. My neighbor NEVER opens his windows-- ever. We have a programmable thermostat that regulates the heat/cold according to the schedule we put in. I'm a fan of the open window, though. When we replaced our windows about 3 1/2 years ago, we put in the kind that will open from the top or bottom. This is helpful with rain. Typically, it won't rain in the windows when they are opened from the top.
7. Coupons and reimbursements. Yet another duh! but I've saved a lot over the years. Just recently, I received a check from Airborne for $65.00 from their class action lawsuit. We had saved the UPC's and receipts to get free Airborne, but it turned out that the lawsuit settlement was more worth our money. Besides, we like Oscillococinum better.
8. Fresh Step Scoop paw prints rebate. We've earned several free boxes of cat litter from just saving the points on the side of the box.
9. Being a My Points member. When we order something online, we run through the My Points site to see if it is a rewardable purchase. I also get their e-mails to click through to websites. It takes very little time. There have been times that I've been behind on the My Points and needed to ditch them because of expiration, but I'm pretty good at keeping up with them most of the time. I've been a member since 1998 (eek!) and have gotten more gift certificates than I can tell you. Typically now I use them for Christmas gifts. I work to save the points for certificates to restaurants, home improvement stores or to put towards more Christmas gifts for K-.
10. Discover Cash Back Rewards. We have been fortunate enough to be able to continue to pay our full balance off on our credit card monthly. By doing this, our interest rate is a little higher, but we earn cash rewards and we don't use the interest rate anyhow!
11. LL Bean Rewards. When you purchase with an LL Bean credit card, you get free shipping (returns, too), free monogramming and purchase rewards. Recently, we purchased boots for my husband with his work allowance. Their most recent promotion was when $50. or more was purchased, you would earn a $10.00 coupon to use at a later date. You could earn only one per day. We purchased each pair of boots on two different days, so now we have $20.00 in credit to use towards our little fire ring that we'd like to purchase. LL Bean is also just a great value in general as their items are guaranteed for life. Hubs called about a rain jacket that his father had purchased for him 16 years previous. It had shredded in the wash. You know what? They returned it. They also returned the sandals that ate big blisters into K-'s feet-- no questions asked.
12. We clean our own carpets. I know that the big boys do a lovely job, but we pull together and in an afternoon, we get the job done and nicely, too!
13. I wash the RAV in the driveway, as opposed to running it through a car wash. Well, I'll give it a run in the wintertime (this past year just once), but I've gotten the washing down to a science, so it isn't too bad.
14. We mulched heavily last year, with some in reserve, so as not to have to do the yearly mulch. We might even be good for next year!
15. I trade plant splits with friends. I've traded plants back and forth with people that I know. My sister has given me wonderful houseplants (she admitted to me a week ago that she gives me parts of her plants so that she can come back to be to replace if she kills hers). In return, I gave my sister more tomato plants than she could possibly plant (that year I accidentally had 80 seedlings), Yarrow, Obedient Plant, Echinacea, Lime Green Nicotiana and Basil. My friend Irina (hey Irina!) who has moved to Montreal (we miss you Irina!) traded me chives, Lily of the Valley, Brown Eyed Susans and Shasta Daisies for tomato plants. Hubs' aunt and uncle have gifted me cast-off's, as their gardens have been well established for quite sometime. Thanks to them we have Goosenecks, Forget Me Not*, Sedum, Rose of Sharon and Choral Bells*. (*Not coming up anymore! Eeek!) They also gave us peonies that came from Hubs' grandmothers garden. We have a whole slew of Day Lilies, Sedum and a large bush that came from my mother-in-law. My friend Cj has gifted me more Sedum (yes, I have several varieties as my backyard is unshaded and can use drought tolerant plants) and Wild Yarrow from her field.

That's all that I can pick out of my brain for now. Good luck on saving! :)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Tales from the Trenches: Phones in the bathroom

Hi. I'll flat out admit something. I don't like to have people hear me pee or *um* otherwise in public. People being on the phone in the bathroom chatting to God knows who DRIVES ME INSANE! Since when did it become acceptable to talk on the cell phone no matter where you go, or *go*? On one of our trips to Amish Country, K- needed to use the bathroom. We went, got ourselves underway and a woman came in and ended up chatting it up with someone on the phone about things that were really not that important that they couldn't wait a few. A gentleman came into work the other day. He needed the restroom and I directed him. It's a small place with a small house-type bathroom. It is not insulated and I could hear him accepting a call and talking away as he was taking care of business. YUCK! My co-worker said that she'll talk on the phone in the public restrooms, too. I told her that people like her drove me crazy. (We can be honest with each other and not offend, don't worry.)

So what is your opinion about public bathroom cell phone usage? Are you as grossed out as me, or sympathetic?

Monday, May 4, 2009

An Anniversary at our Alma Mater: The May 4th Shootings at Kent State

Hubs and I attended the main campus of Kent State University. Hubs attended for 5 1/2 years and I did for 7. Long after having earned our Bachelor's degrees from our beloved university, every year we can't help but to think about the shootings of May 4th. I had architecture in Taylor Hall -- the building at the top of the hill. This is the building outside which all this happened. The Art building and Oscar Ritchie Hall -- where I took almost all of my art classes -- are at the bottom of the hill. Hubs and I walked through the memorial that was built, by the pagoda that had been shot and cut through the parking lot where students died. Our years at Kent State were very marked by this tragedy, even though neither one of us were alive when it happened.

To this day, it is still very sad.

I recall having started the university and knowing that this was a horrible tragedy. I read a book (I can't recall which one) that went in detail about the events surrounding the shootings. I'm sure that the book was skewed in a way, as I recall it only presented the students side.

I'm fully aware that there were two sides. There are so many things that happened that were wrong. The students were wrong. The National Guard was wrong. The whole thing should not have happened.

People argue that the students were being peaceful, yet they were told that because of the happenings of the previous days, they were not to assemble. They weren't even to be near the scheduled assembly site. From May 1 - May 3, 1970, downtown buildings had been damaged, the ROTC building was burned, rocks were lobbed at the fire department and God knows what else. The students were mad about the American invasion of Cambodia. They felt betrayed by Nixon. That still doesn't mean that they should have behaved badly.

Regarding the actual shootings, the National Guardsmen were brought in by Gov. Rhodes to maintain order after the City of Kent Mayor had declared an emergency asking Gov. Rhodes for help. One thing led to another and all 28 of the National Guardsmen turned around at once and started shooting. To this day, people insist that there was no command given, yet how do 28 people turn around at the same time and begin shooting simultaneously without command?

4 people were killed. 9 were injured. Lives were changed forever. Such sadness we need to remember. We needn't repeat it again.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

My formerly organic lawn

I had to pop in to tell y'all this story.

We love our neighbor. He shares many things with us. Upgrade in electronic equipment? I'll find him on my front porch offering us his discards. His friends have adopted us, too. They all pulled basement parts together to make us a computer, the same fine internet box I'm updating on.

He truly is a kind man. And yesterday while K- and I were out working on the VBS street sign, Mike decided to share.

He sprinkled my formerly organic lawn with his extra weed and feed because he feels bad that his dog pees on our front yard and kills spots of it. My husband had a heart attack when I told him. Oh, we're thrilled that he wants to share and he DID NOT spread his weed and feed in the backyard, which is a great thing. (Truly the organic area that counts, if I were to pick.) A few years ago, Mike shared his weed and feed with us and Hubs was left mowing the front yard every three days.

It looked like a jungle out there.

And today Hubs and I were just commenting on how people hate flowering weeds, but we're rather fond of them.

We'll enjoy them in our backyard. And don't worry, we'll never say anything to Mike. We don't want to hurt his feelings!