Monday, November 30, 2009

Arms & Armor Wrap-Up

REMINDER! Enter for a chance to win the red LED AntWorks! (See this post.)


The end of the semester at Friday Co-op came and went, and I neglected to fill you in on the last several classes. So here goes ...

The final week:

We studied the Mongols, and the kids had a great time making swords.

Mongol swords (think Genghis Khan), as close to the real thing as possible
(at least with my limited imagination and budget).

The boys took great pride in their weapons.

Amazing what you can do with cardboard, paint sticks, and duct tape.

There were only a few casualties.

The week before it was Australia, complete with boomerangs and aboriginal dot art.

It's all in the details.

Careful! Some boomerangs will pinch off a nose if not caught at the precisely right moment!

Whadya know! They actually flew! Who woulda thunk it?

Not only did they fly, they came back! Wonder of wonders!

The week before that we studied the Plains Indians of North America, and we made coup sticks and atlatls. Unfortunately, I didn't have my camera, so I didn't get any great shots of the kids working on their sticks or their weapons. You'll have to take my word for it that the atlatls shot their darts fantastically long distances and perfectly on target. (Cough.)

Actually, it's probably best that I didn't have my camera for that effort. But you do have my word that many, many harmless coups were made with the coup sticks, and no scalps were taken. At least no parents complained.

At least not to my face.

This is my attempt, and I only got a bit of help from the cat. I promise.

My heartfelt thanks to all the parents who entrusted me with the safety and education of their boys this semester! I thoroughly enjoyed the class.

Just not the night before.

When I was up at 3:00 cutting fabric, getting burned with hot glue, and slicing my fingers with exacto knives. But it was worth it.

Um, next semester I'm offering a word roots class.
If you liked this post, you might like Zulu Warriors Right Here in Texas.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday Giveaway

Picture Black Friday at your nearest mall, as seen from a helicopter. Does an image of little, tiny, scurrying critters, all illuminated by the red light of fury, come to mind?

In honor of Black Friday - and to ease the holiday shopping pain in the wallet - I'm giving away this Antworks with Red LED
(Somehow the symbolism seem entirely appropriate.)

You may enter in one of two ways:

Leave a comment here telling me how you'll use this ant farm, who will receive it, how you'll incorporate it into your homeschooling, or how you wished for an ant farm as a kid and how I'm fulfilling your lifelong desire of having an even better ant farm than you ever could have had at nine years old.

Or email me offlist at

Enter by midnight CST Monday. Good luck, and happy shopping!

If you're not so lucky on Monday, you can also buy Antworks with Green and Antworks with Blue

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Decisions and Changes

All these years of pretending I'm SuperMom ... well, those years are over. I just can't pretend anymore. And with my approaching-fiftyish age (yikes!), I guess I need to admit that I just can't handle it. It. "It" being all those things that I can't handle. How's that for circular reasoning?

A couple of days ago I sent an innocent email to another homeschooling mom who asked me to tell her a little about myself, presumably to get to know me somewhat virtually and maybe make a bit of a connection. Well (cough), I think I scared the poor woman off when I started listing all the things I'm into, and frankly, I kind of scared myself. (Okay, it's not what you're thinking ... I'm not "into" anything kinky or illegal - at least not anymore. Hey, I'm a mom now.)

I was trying to give her a picture of who I was, since I have my fingers in so many pies (and that's not completely a figure of speech - just look at my butt lately). After the long list of things I volunteer for and take on, I was exhausted. What I mean is, I was exhausted just reading about them, never mind having to actually do them. I realized just how stretched I am. How I'm not doing any favors for myself, my kids, my husband, or my family.

I know there are plenty of other moms who accomplish a whole lot more than I ever will, and there are those who'll do so with a smile and a bounce in their step. But, like I said, I'm not SuperMom (be sure to say that with a booming, echoing voice). I just can't handle it like lots of other folks.

So now I'm trying to figure out the balance that works for me. I'm not quite sure what that looks like yet, but I know that I have to say "no" a lot more often. I need to figure out how to balance the needs of my kids, my husband, and my parents, along my own interests and needs. After that comes the needs of the world around me (and gosh, aren't there just a butt load of those?) and I get to pick those that I feel a connection to.

The bottom line is, I have to make some changes and some decisions. I need to volunteer to do less, and make the time that I devote to volunteering really count. I need to devote much of my energy to facilitating the education of my children, making sure they get raised up to be reasonably independent and responsible adults. I need to be committed to making my home a place where my husband and family feel nurtured and loved.

I need to do the things that make me feel whole and valuable. That's the one that's my sticking point. What do I give up? I enjoy everything I do, but I'm terribly inefficient and can't seem to manage everything I want to do. So that means I must give up something, or maybe several somethings.

You'll see some changes here on this blog. Heck, you've already seen them ... I've been virtually silent for the last several weeks. I've spent that time caring for aging parents, sitting on the couch with my husband occasionally (well, at least once, I'm sure), getting at least twenty minutes extra sleep a night, and starting my Christmas presents (that deserves a whole 'nother blog post, the whole Christmas tradition in my family). I haven't been posting.

Actually, writing is one of those things that I do all the time. Problem is, it's all in my head. Once they come up with the Mind-O-Matic - that mind transfer thing where my thoughts magically appear on the screen - I'll be all set. Until then, I'm screwed. One of my problems is that, with menopause crashing unceremoniously into my life full force - unlike all those pleasant stories I heard about women slowly sliding into a new hormonal balance - I can't remember a damned thing. I have this absolutely fabulous blog post or article written entirely in my head, and then when I sit down at the computer to write it out, this is what I remember: "Uh, kids are good, um, sleepy tired, respect, read a good book lately, uh ..."

See? I can't make heads or tails out of it either, so I'd suggest you don't even try.

In the next few weeks (hopefully), you'll see me hammer out a new plan. One that includes posting here (although not daily), lovin' on my husband (well, you won't actually see that), writing articles, homeschooling my kids, teaching a co-op class or two, taking field trips with my kids and friends, sewing, reading, and other things that fulfill me. I'm a work in progress.

Shit, I thought by this age I'd have it all figured out.


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sunday's Gratitude Post

When life takes over and weighs me down, this refreshes me. Even with peeling paint, pet stains, torn screens, and pencil scribbles on the wall - mere blemishes on a fundamentally glorious base, the perfect representation of my life - this view rejuvenates me.

These are the doors in my bedroom, and the tree you see just outside is actually the top of a tall oak tree, as the deck here is about fifteen feet off the ground.

I've been staring out this window quite a bit lately.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Life Happens

I've been quiet lately, as some of you may have noticed. I tend to get swept up in the cycles of life. Sometimes I'll have weeks where the world bounces joyfully along, and all is easy. Other times I struggle with my own issues and inadequacies, and it takes me a while to get out of my funk.

At still other times, life steps in and changes things. Yesterday my dad had another stroke. He's recovering, and so far he's bounced back to about 80% of his normal. I'm hopeful that he'll recover much of that 20%, but only time will reveal that.

The last couple of weeks I've been preoccupied with Halloween, H and G's trip to the Appalachian Trail, my Arms and Armor class, and various other little things. For some reason, I just wanted to turn within and shut off the world. I tend to do that from time to time, and I always emerge refreshed.

This time I emerged to family crisis. Fortunately, things seem to be working out okay, but it could have been very different. I'm grateful for what I have.

As they say, "Always blessings. Never losses."