Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

LOL - this one looks like this year on the ranch...

...and this one just made me laugh...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Join the Army of Women

Here's a short video of Dr. Susan Love in an NBC Today Show interview discussing the importance of moving breast cancer research into finding ways of preventing this cancer to begin with, better predicting who is at risk, and how Army of Women will help make that happen.

Sign-up at Army of Women today! Once in a while you'll receive an email from AoW detailing a research study you may be eligible for (I haven't yet been eligible). If you want to participate, you follow the directions contained within that email to find out how to get involved. What a great opportunity to help affect positive change that may benefit your grandmother, mother, sister, daughter, cousin, or friend.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

and now a little humor

Tonight, after reading a story to the kids, Little Brother was laying down next to me. He was being very still, with his body very straight, and his arms straight down along his body. Then he said to me:

"Look, Mom! I'm the Floating Bridge!"

For my non-local blog readers, the 520 Floating Bridge is one of two bridges connecting the Eastside with Seattle, across Lake Washington. My kids are both fans of this bridge. I'm not really sure why, other than we drive across it when we're on our way to cool places, like the zoo or the science center.

I should also mention that Little Brother announced to me yesterday that he'd recently had a "color divorce". This term was new to me, so he was kind enough to fill me in:

"You know how sometimes people get married, and then they decide they want to marry someone else? Well, a color divorce is like that. It's when your favorite color isn't your favorite color anymore."

For anyone keeping track, the color "green" is now single. Purple and Little Brother are now hitched.

And in other news, we were able to create a fix so that we didn't have to replace the $100 piece that broke off the washing machine earlier today. I love it when we manage to figure things out for ourselves and avoid large repair bills. The internet was hugely helpful, especially - we were able to look at schematics online, and get an idea what we were looking for.

Off to do laundry!

They don't make them like they used to...

It seems our washing machine is broken. I'm not sure how broken, but the dial you turn to start the cycle? it just spins without any resistance. In the process of trying to pry the knob off/get it to do something other than spin there uselessly, I somehow got it to start up again. I have no idea what kind of a cycle it's currently doing, but it filled with water and sounds like its agitating. We'll see what happens.

Have you ever noticed that these sorts of things only happen after you've been out-of-town for a couple of days and are preparing to leave town again in the next 48 hours? This would never have happened if I were caught up on laundry! They also generally happen when the dear hubby is working 60+ hours/week. I'd like to have another adult in the house before I go poking around the insides of large appliances, seeing as how my mechanical aptitude doesn't extend much beyond "righty-tighty, lefty-loosey". These incidences also tend to occur immediately following the completion of all your online Christmas shopping for the kids (if I didn't get to your gifts prior to the WMI (washing machine incident), you have my apologies - don't be too surprised if you receive these from us this year, seeing as how any remaining Xmas budget may have a new purpose). Karma is kooky that way.

Recent article on homeschooling demographics, etc.

Of particular note in this article is the section regarding admission of homeschool graduates to colleges. It's reassuring to know there are so many paving the way before us, since we'll be joining those ranks in another nine years!

Full text of article at the Hoover Institution

As Popularity of Home Schooling Grows, Greater Numbers and More Diversity among Families Choosing Option

November 19, 2008

Contact:Milton Gaither, Messiah College

STANFORD – Home schooling is now popular among a broader and more representative group of the American public than ever before. According to recent findings from the Education Next/Program on Education Policy and Governance (PEPG) 2008 national education survey, 45 percent of Americans report that they know a family that home schools a child--up from 40 percent in 2007--and 64 percent of public school teachers report knowing a home schooling family.

Interestingly, household income levels of home schooling families closely mirror those of public school families, reports education professor Milton Gaither in the new issue of Education Next. Among both homeschooling families and public school families, about 26 percent have an income of $25,000 or less; less than 10 percent of private school families come from the same income bracket. On the other end of the spectrum, less than 22 percent of homeschooling families and slightly more than 25 percent of public school families have an income of more than $75,000, compared to 50 percent of private school families.

U.S. Department of Education data shows the overall number of homeschooled children increased by 29 percent to 1.1 million students between 1999 and 2003. Among minorities, h ome schooling increased by 20 percent to over a quarter of a million students over the same period. Movement leaders suggest even higher overall estimates of around 2 to 2.5 million homeschoolers nationwide.

As the popularity of homeschooling has grown, the College Board has seen the number of home schoolers who take Advanced Placement tests more than triple. Colleges and universities are also reporting an increase in applications by students without a traditional high-school background, spurring the creation of new admissions policies to explicitly address home-schooling. In 1986, no more than 10 percent of the nation’s colleges and universities had such admissions policies; by 2004, over 75 percent did.

The advent of online education and the rise of cyber charter schools may account for some of the extraordinary growth in home schooling in recent years. Led by states like Florida, which enrolled more than 52,000 students in its statewide virtual school for 2006-07, there are now 22 states and several local districts with online learning programs which enable students to do some or all of their schooling at home. Cyber charters have seen a similar rising trend of interest: as of 2006, 18 states had a combined total of 147 virtual charter schools educating over 65,000 students.

At the same time, public school districts with high rates of home schooling have seen significant drops in funding as district enrollments have declined. Many school districts, having lost early fights to criminalize home schooling, now openly court home schoolers. With millions of per pupil funding dollars at stake, some districts are being motivated to innovate in exciting ways that are more responsive to the needs of their families. Some school districts are experimenting with programs that allow students to home school for part of the day but take certain classes at the local public school; others are offering à la carte classes and services through satellite campuses at strip malls and other locations.

“It’s likely we’ll see more accommodation, adaptation, and hybridization taking place as U.S. education policy strives to catch up to the sweeping demographic, economic and technological changes that are affecting our schools,” says Gaither .

--snip--- (go to the Hoover Institution to read the article in its entirety)

Monday, November 17, 2008

When I grow up...

On Sunday we had a lot of yardwork to accomplish, seeing as how sunny weekend days are hard to come by this time of year. We also had my nephew, J-Man, over. When I went to pick him up at my sister's, I mentioned to him that I had a couple of jobs in mind for him, and that there might be payment involved.

"Quarters??!" he asked, enthusiastically.

LOL - that's my kind of yard help!

Little Brother wasn't interested in helping in the yard, even when I dangled the prospect of quarters in his face. Big Sister and J-Man were my eager helpers. I set my nephew to work raking leaves under the apple tree, and my girl was supposed to pick up all the nasty, rotten, moldy, disgusting apples from off the ground. Turns out that neither of them was too impressed with their assigned tasks, and they switched after five minutes or so. It turns out that tossing putrid apples into a yard waste bin from 20 feet away is a much sought after job if you're a 6-yr. old boy. 9-yr. old girls would rather be distanced from such filth by the length of a rake handle. Or more.

And, as luck would have it, both kids walked off the job within 15 minutes. I raked leaves AND picked up all of the sour, decomposed apple flesh that littered the ground, all by myself.

Not one to be deterred from possible financial gain, J-Man came over and asked when he was getting paid. I told him no work, no pay. To which Big Sister concurred...

Sister: "That's true. You have to do something to make money".

J-Man: "Not guards. Guards just have to stand in one spot. I want to be a guard".

Sister: "Or a judge - they just sit down all day. I think I'd like to be a judge when I grow up. They get paid to do nothing".

Kids are brilliant, aren't they?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I'm not above bribery

I made a deal with the kids yesterday that we'd get them a small Christmas tree for the family room/play room if they can get it clean, and keep it clean for a week. And it has to stay clean for the duration of the tree's time in the room, or it gets taken away. I'm hoping that if they manage that for the amount of time the tree is up, they'll have gotten into some better habits. Probably wishful thinking. I just hate going into that room, and pretty much avoid it at all costs. I can't remember the last time I watched television (our only tv is in that room), or went on the treadmill - I hate walking in there. Between hubby and the two kids, the room is a complete disaster most of the time - toys, dirty socks, used dishes, etc. The four of us tackled it together last night, and it's looking much better. When I'm the only one cleaning, I find myself resenting the three of them because I truly have nothing to do with that space in the house. It irritates me that they seem to think a Cleaning Fairy will swoop in and make it all better (and that goes for the adult child I live with, too, LOL). So, in short, I hope they earn their Christmas tree, and that it gets to stay up for a long, long time.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Last time - I'll leave this alone after this...

Feeling elated today, like things are finally heading in the right direction. People are energized, engaged, and involved. Such a stark contrast to the despair I felt after each of the past two presidential elections. My condolences going out to my friends out there who hoped it would go the other way. I know you want the best for the country. Get inspired, seek change, make your voice heard!

(image from the Obama website this morning)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


What an amazing night.

From the president-elect to his faithful supporters:

I'm about to head to Grant Park to talk to everyone gathered there, but I wanted to write to you first.

We just made history.

And I don't want you to forget how we did it.

You made history every single day during this campaign -- every day you knocked on doors, made a donation, or talked to your family, friends, and neighbors about why you believe it's time for change.

I want to thank all of you who gave your time, talent, and passion to this campaign.

We have a lot of work to do to get our country back on track, and I'll be in touch soon about what comes next.

But I want to be very clear about one thing...

All of this happened because of you.

Thank you,


The suspense is going to kill me...(update)

Please go vote today, if you haven't already. I've been hearing estimates as high as 85% for voter turn out, which would be phenomenal. This election is a real nailbiter, and the suspense today may just do me in. I'm taking Big Sister to the polls with me after I get Little Brother on the bus. That gives me about 2 1/2 hours to stand in line if need be. Rumor has it that 50% of my county's voters are absentee, so I'm hopeful my polling place won't be too crowded. I'll let you know how it goes.

UPDATE: Big Sister and I went out to vote this morning. We waited briefly to get checked in, opted for the paper ballot, walked right up to a voting booth and bubbled in all my choices. Then we were on our way! Easy schmeezy. Quite a few provisional ballots were handed out while I was there, for voters with names missing off the books, or who had lost their mail-in ballots and still wanted to vote.

And now we wait....

Sunday, November 2, 2008

I think I've discovered the source of socialization...

...and it's not school. It's cable television. If my kids turn out weird, it won't be for lack of being out in the world - no, it will be because they were watching the wrong stuff on tv. After an afternoon with friends, Big Sister said that she feels left out because she doesn't know what the heck they're playing (pretending to be characters from shows on cable). "How come everyone has cable except for us???!!!" waaaah.