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Curriculum Give Away

The March give away at Secular Homeschool website is for Moving Beyond the Page!  We love this curriculum and we are about to start into our fourth level in another month or so.

 

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Books for Spring!

Books we’ve returned to again and again for our spring season reading:

        

 

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Moving Beyond the Page Give Away!

We love this curriculum and are about to move into our third level (having completed 4-5 and 5-7).  I have won products from two other give aways from this site before and this is the jack pot of give aways :)

Moving Beyond the Page Curriculum give away!

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Jana Elise Denovich!

8:00 am GMT, 8.3 lbs via c-section (long story to come). She’s healthy, perfect and just beautiful!

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Sunday, November 29.

T plus 9 days. Seriously Epsilon, what’s your plan here? Are you going to be a December baby? Are you going to be three weeks younger than your buddy Finn?!

Alternate log entry c/o Mark: “This could be our last night together, just the two of us,” we say to each other just before bed for the fifteenth consecutive night.

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Wednesday, November 25.

T plus 5 days. Provisions for both an easy and full Thanksgiving arrive today, in case Epsilon decides to make an appearance, we’ll be ready. The sun is actually out, I lost track of how many dark, rainy, windy days we’ve had keeping us hunkered down at base camp.

log addendum: It’s the afternoon and still no sign of labour. Starting in on the cooking getting the cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie out of the way.

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Tuesday, November 24.

T plus 4 days. Yep. Still pregnant. Actually slept well last night, well, after I fell asleep after four this morning (after having sushi at 2am and pineapple at 3am). We’re still solidly stuck in at base camp. Hoping desperately we don’t make it to our next sherpa visit on Thursday.

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Monday, November 23.

T plus 3 days. As much as I enjoy backrubs and hot chocolate at 3:30 in the morning, base camp would be a happier and more comfortable place if Epsilon would join us on the outside.

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Saturday, November 21.

T plus 1 day. Up late listening to foxes yelping and what I can only guess was a Lapwing calling right outside my window. Epsilon showing no signs of budging from base camp today. Hopefully the grey lifts before sundown for a vigorous constitutional down the wooded trail and back.

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Happy 10th Anniversary!

Every year I feel compelled to retell the tale of our three wedding anniversaries, but there are only so many ways to talk about it from my perspective. This year, I give you Mark’s perspective, which he wrote and posted elsewhere.

“I’ve told this story a number of times, but I imagine there are a few people here who haven’t heard it… So, gather round the intertubes while I tell the tale…

It was a time long, long, ago… way back when the S&P 500 was below 800 (uh, the first time), the Matrix was still awesome, and there was a new love of my life… a brand new search engine called Google.

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Orchids Love England

Who knew?  Orchids love the English climate.  I have always had a soft spot for orchids.  Occasionally bringing one home adding to my large managerie of house plants.  I would diligently mist it while it sat in a window with filtered light.  Inevitably, the long lived blooms would wither and fade, I would prune back the dried flower stalk and patiently care for the plant waiting for it to rebloom.  Only to manage to have killed it in due course.

I don’t know why I didn’t write about this several months ago when it happened.  But.  For the first time in my  life of caring for house plants (it’s an addiction really), I have had an orchid rebloom.  And reblooming without doing anything special either!  This orchid is sitting in a south facing window getting direct sunlight.  It’s on a window sill directly above a radiator.  It’s gone a couple weeks without it’s regular watering while we traveled.  Yet, it is thriving!  All I can figure is, despite the direct sun and baking over the heat, it is just that humid here to provide the perfect microclimate on my window sill for orchids.

That being said, since we now know we are going to be living here another year, I have been inspired by this success.   Rather ambitiously, I have gone out (and Mark has picked up another) and purchased a number of additional orchids.  (p.s. an aside on how awesome it is that I have my own car now and can pop out for some orchid shopping).  It’s a veritable tropical paradise on that window sill.  I expect there to be more, as I would like to have a spectrum of color and varieties.  (if it were sunny I would take a photo of all the blooms, but that will have to wait, it’s 1pm and dark and gloomy out).

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Turkey: Back to Reality

We are home from Turkey after a glorious vacation involving lounging on the beach on the coast of the Aegean Sea. We were near Assos and the Greek island of Lesbos dominated the skyline of our view across the sea. We stayed with our friends parents summer home and who were the most marvelous hosts. The sun shone bright and hot every day and we were treated to a full moon, it’s light shimmering like a bridge across the water. Every meal was lovingly prepared by our friend’s mother, every meal a Turkish feast. My daily itinerary was something like this:

Sleep in waking briefly for the sunrise.
Enjoy huge breakfast.
Lounge by the shore.
Go for a swim, snorkle with the fishes and octopi.
Read lounging by the sea.
Nap hypnotized by the sound of the water.
Light lunch.
Afternoon, more of the same.
Shower for dinner.
Fabulous feasts for dinner, complete with desserts.
Maybe a moonlit stroll, or gazing at the night sky, sometimes with a telescope.

We felt so welcome and genuinely like part of the family, complete with Turkish mom piling more and more food on our plates :) It wasn’t all lounging, we did visit some ruins. The are more details to write about later, the private traditional music performance by a neighbor who was a guest for our last dinner, the pile of kittens, special Ramadan dessert, the little things too are to come.

Simple pleasures
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Travel: Turkey
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England: Tring

In our effort to have more but smaller adventures around England I suggested Tring. I had been wanting to go to the museum at Tring for quite some time now.  Once the private museum of the Rothschild’s, it is located in the grounds of the former Rothschild family home of Tring Park.  The building was constructed in 1889 specifically to house The 2nd Baron Rothschild’s collection of mounted specimens and first opened to the public in 1892.  It became part of the Natural History Museum in 1937, and if you’re an ornithologist employed by the museum this is where you would work as the bird collections are housed here.

It is a place that appeals to me because of the nature of the exhibits.  Here, you won’t find computer screens flashing and blinking or otherwise detracting from the displays.  What you do find are classic collections of articulated skeletons and taxodermically prepared skins of mammals and birds.  They are carefully arranged in related groups in Victorian era wood and glass cabinets.   I can’t think of a better way to capture the imagination of a visitor, to spark curiosity about a group of organisms, than to have actual specimens illustrating the incredible diversity of life right in front of you.  Well, visiting a zoo or seeing wildlife in their natural habitats undisturbed would be better.  But, for most people and for young people, the specimens can be powerful tools in exciting the imagination.

What was the impetus for this visit, however, was an article I read on the Blaschka glass marine animals, of which there was going to be a small special exhibit gallery devoted to them.    The Blaschka’s were a father son team who created glass models of natural history objects.  The accuracy and attention to detail of the organisms they crafted even impresses scientists who study the animals in real life.  They are more famous for their flowers, which are housed at Harvard’s Botanical Museum.  But they created hundreds of marine animals in glass as well.

This is a clear mix of science and art, as any scientific preparation of a specimen is, in my humble opinion.

England Sites
Museums
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Travel: England
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Ten Years of Photo Negatives!

We bought a negative scanner while we were home and also brought along a pile of our old negatives. Check out these two kids from 1998!

At Ethan's Graduation

Our Flickr feed will be full of gems in the coming months :)

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Who Put In Bets?

And the answer is? WE DROVE HOME FROM D.C. FOR THE FOURTH TIME!!!

Our flight out of London was running late due to strong head winds, making the flight about eight and half hours.  We had a really tight connection to make.  When we arrived at Dulles, our flight wasn’t even on the departure boards anymore.  We needed to scramble around to find out where to even go.  We found and made it to the gate.  Luckily, the plane was still sitting there.   They took us outside to the plane, I was physically ON the plane, while we waited as something was being discussed and decided.

We were pulled off the flight, in addition to four other passengers.  Due to the weather and wind, more fuel needed to be put on the plane in case they needed to divert the flight.  Weight, in the form of passengers, had to come off.

This was at 4:00.  They offered us tickets on the next flight out.  At 10:00.  We could be home well before then by driving.  With other people already pulled off the same plane and diverted to the later flight, we didn’t like the odds that we would actually be on a flight to Pittsburgh this night.  Thankfully Mark had the forethought to reserve a rental car there.  We wouldn’t have our luggage.  But at least we would be on our way. 

At least this time we got two free air tickets to anywhere in the continental U.S. to be used anytime in the next year.

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You’re not going to believe this

No, it almost sounds like I would be making this stuff up by now.

After the careful shuffling of baggage packing, making sure each bag is under 50 lbs., we head to the airport, teary eyed after saying goodbye to Bean, packed into the taxi and on our way.

All was going swimmingly. Until THE DELAY. Our plane needed a new tire, there would be a slight delay. That delay turned into an estimated take off around the time we needed to be checking in at Dulles for our connecting flight to London.

We tried to sort out our options, fly into another city, Chicago perhaps, no, they were having “weather” and delays galore were coming out of there. We had no options. There was no way we could make our connecting flight.

The whole point of switching the flight was to get Mark to work by noon today and there was no way it was going to happen. Now, we’re not sure when we’ll fly back.

We could have driven to Dulles, if we left when our taxi picked us up here, and made it plenty of time to catch our connecting flight. The taxi from our house to the airport? 55 dollars. A one way rental to D.C.? 126 dollars.

After having to drive from Dulles to Pittsburgh on our last THREE flights home due to delays and cancellations. It’s starting to sound like a perfectly reasonable decision to make that we just start driving to D.C. just to avoid any complications with connecting flights. International flights always take off. It’s just a matter of getting to them.

But as it turns out, it was a really good thing that we had to go back to the house. Since it was raining, we didn’t notice the sound at first, but then we were like, “WHAT is THAT NOISE!?!?”

The hot water heater in the basement was hemorrhaging water, just gushing!

We were planning on replacing it soon anyway, with it’s sporadic unexplainable leaks…

At least we know what we’re going to be doing today!

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Container Gardening

We were again considering subscribing to the organic vegetable delivery service offered by Kretchman Farms but I was inspired by a trip to a nursery to try my hand at container gardening.

Since we are usually overrun by the quantity of produce from the delivery service, I’m focusing on the items I know we enjoy having a fresh supply of. A large pot has a couple varieties of bell and hot peppers, there is a container for “window box” Roma tomatoes, a pot for green onions and chives, one for basil, and a long container for lettuce, mesclun and spinach. I have designs for yellow squash, peas, cherry tomatoes and additional herbs.

Next year a project to consider will be creating raised beds for a vegetable garden and a few more berry bushes. For now, we’ll see what success container gardening on the patio brings.

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A whole lotta nothin’ in between


create your own visited states map

Hmm… time for a road trip, there are a lot of states I haven’t been to… I’ve flown over many more of them… but still, hmmm… Mark should fill this one out in light of his road trip in July.

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Mark, super-husband

Two days in a row now, I have come home to find Mark almost done making dinner and did some cleaning and tidying around the house.

Yesterday was cold, bitterly cold. So when I walked in the door and the house smelled full of warm food smells, I was in heaven. There was homemade buttermilk pancakes on the griddle, complete with enormous sweet blackberries (three per pancake) and naughty, naughty bacon frying in the skillet. Today, I came home to find him making bagel pizza

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T-4

t-4 days till Mark’s departure on his epic journey across the U.S.

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Why oh why…

…do I give in to such memes!

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ugh!

I just realized the phone has been off the charger too long and the battery is dead. I had kept it by my side during the night in case Mark called and simply forgot to put it on the charger before I left for work. There is another phone in the house, but I keep its ringer off because even on low it’s too loud and obnoxious for me.

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New specs

Went to Eyetique for an eye exam and new glasses today. A bit overdue, since it has been about three years since I

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Wacky movies

I’ve been watching the Sundance channel quite a bit lately. They show independent films, documentaries, shorts and animation that you wouldn’t necessarily hear about in the mainstream media, or they may not be advertised in such a way to truly reflect how worthwhile of watching they actually are. Here are a few wacky movies that I found to be entertaining and would recommend:

Ghost World: Based on a comic book. The general silliness reminded me of me and my high-school girlfriends Robyn and Jon_anne, but the cynicism and overall philosophy and critiques on society, which underlies most of the story, I identified more with my current personality.

waydowntown: Kind of a bizarre story. Quite a few unusual visuals.

Amelie: I

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Hmm. That’s odd

Just received a thank you note in the mail from Sears for purchasing our stove (see below). I’ve never heard anyone comment on or be surprised by this before.

I wonder: do they do this for everyone or just the folks who bite the bullet and purchase the big ticket items?

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