Yearly Archives: 2009

The kids are playing but Dad is working

We had a great four day break, but now I am back at work.  The only really big thing left on my plate for this year is to reorganize our homeschool schedule based on fluctuating priorities.  There is not much to report.  My big failure was to only get one workout over the four days, but I am taking my workout clothes to work today.  The kids do not have anything until January 4 other than goofing off and a trip to Charlotte (which is also goofing off).

Kelly and Christian cook for Christmas

We had a great Christmas dinner yesterday.  Christian and Kelly cooked.  I am now simmering down the remainders of the turkey for soup.  Right after we were married, I made the best turkey soup I have ever made, then somehow lost the formula.  I have been spending all the years since then trying to recreate what was so good back then.  Maybe this year will be the year!  I will work on that when we return from the gym later today.

Last day before the holiday break

We have both Christmas Eve and Christmas day off this year so this is my last day of work before a four day weekend.  I am going to work between Christmas and the New Year holiday this year.  I very much enjoy working between the two holidays, not only because it is quiet and I can get a lot done, but because the people who are there with me always seem to be more relaxed and open than usual.  The kids and I have decided to try to do workouts every day the YMCA is open during the break.  I have been going like crazy for about two months now which means (of course) the first thing to fall by the wayside was my workouts.  It is painful to get started again after such a long break, but it will be nice to go into the New Year with at least the start of a little bit of conditioning under my belt.  What with the great food we have planned, I am just hoping to break even weight-wise.  The only way I will be able to do that is to get some exercise.

Kelly drives on the freeway

Kelly has been taking driving lessons from a teacher at Wake Christian Academy.  She has been having a great time not only with the driving but with her talks with the instructor and the one other kid in the class.  Yesterday she reported that she drove on I-40 and that she had merged two times.  It sounded fun but pretty scary, too.  Today is her last lesson from this instructor.  Then she will have the piece of paper she needs to go down and get her drivers permit.  After that, there will be  LOT more instruction and driving in the neighborhood.

A quiet weekend

This weekend was great in that all we did was work on the puzzle, do a little shopping and worked on finishing all our planned homeschool before the holiday break.  Things have slowed down at work.  After our big trip to Mexico we are looking forward to a little quiet time together as a family.  Kelly has been cooking like crazy.  That should accelerate right into the weekend with Christian’s help.  We plan to eat a lot and do some workouts over the next two weeks capped by a trip to Charlotte.

Today was Political/Religious blogging day in my schedule… it was hard.

I am a feminist! I believe in rights for women everywhere. I don’t think women should be oppressed or downtrodden. That’s wrong. I am not, however, a feminist in the colloquial sense of the word. I am painfully girly. Modern feminists don’t seem girly to me. Like at all.  I’m probably just repeating a cliche, but modern feminists seem to be trying to prove they’re just as strong as men by becoming more like them. Can you say ironic? They’re upholding women’s rights and putting men down, while adopting a faux-man macho attitude.  I’m envisioning a future full of unisex clothing departments and a booming daycare business.  Or maybe not so booming. Anyway, boys and girls are different!  It drives me bonkers when boys treat girls like they’re one of the guys, and girls go along with it.  This happens a LOT with my friends. I know we’re not living in 19th century America, we’re not supposed to act like we’re living in the 19th century, I wouldn’t like to be living in the 19th century, but there are some morals and parts of the culture that I wish we could have kept with us. Men and women have like, zero respect for each other anymore.  Even many of my Christian girlfriends have some weird ideas about feminism and women’s roles in our culture.  I don’t have it all figured out, but I do know this. When in doubt, think pink*!!

*not the feminist group pink, or Victoria’s Secret Pink (although I do adore their T-shirt and perfume line!!!), or the singer Pink, or communists, but just the plain old girly pink color.  I don’t know any boy who likes that.

Our annual Christmas puzzle

Sunday afternoon, Kelly and I stayed at home while Lorena and Christian ran to the store to do some shopping.  As they were leaving, I reminded them to pick up a 750 piece puzzle to put together over the holidays.  I emphasized the 750 piece part, then reminded them that anything bigger than that would take too long.  So now we have the 1000 piece puzzle all laid out on the coffee table in the living room.  It is a beautiful puzzle, but the difference between 750 pieces and 1000 pieces seems a little daunting.  The kids say “no problem”.  We will see.  I have to admit, though, that it is going pretty well so far.

One new little thing that is happening as part of our homeschool is that Kelly and Christian spend a little bit of time every day singing together.  Christian plays the guitar and they both sing.  Christian’s new instructor is truly amazing.  All of us take great pleasure in Alex’s knowledge and great work ethic.  We want to find a voice teacher for Kelly starting this summer or in the fall.

New Year’s Resolution + Kelly’s Top 3 emotional songs! (Long Post)

So Dad is reading aloud the social-skills book again, and I have to admit that I’m getting a lot out of it.  I’m inclined to think that my people skills are immaculate (far, far from the truth) or that even if they aren’t immaculate my bubbly (self-appointed adjective, people) personality will make up for my social faux pas.  Wrong, wrong, wrong.  Bubbly often equals overbearing and loud in my case.  The book that we are reading has some wonderful suggestions for overcoming this however. One tip that had never occurred was to emulate the other person’s attitude.  This makes the other person more comfortable/non-awkward around you.
This is how conversations with my peers usually go:
Margaret: Hi I’m Marge, nice to meet you!

Me:Oooohmywordit’ssogoodtomeetyouI’veheardsomuchaboutyouandIjustknowthatwe’regoingtobesuch
goodfriendsthatwhenwegrowupwe’llbebridesmaidsateachother’sweddingsandourchildrenwillgrowup
togetherisn’tthatjustwonderful?!?!?

Margaret: Ummm… bye.

This is not appopriate.  It makes people wonder what kind of meds you’re on. Imagine what would happen if I mirrored her attitude and made a civil response

Margaret: Hi I’m Marge, nice to meet you!

Me: Hi Marge, I’m Kelly! Nice to meet you too.

Margaret: Isn’t it a beautiful day out?
 
Calm and collected and peaceful, with a conservative amount of exclamation points. The conversation can then continue with some calm and collected and strategic conversational questions. However, if someone greeted me with

Them: HIIIII!!!You’rekellyright?oooohmywordit’ssoooogoodtomeetyou!!

I would heartily respond with:

Me:Oooohmywordit’ssogoodtomeetyoutooI’veheardsomuchaboutyouandIjustknowthatwe’regoingtobe- suchgoodfriendsthatwhenwegrowupwe’llbebridesmaidsateachother’sweddingsandourchildrenwillgrowup-
togetherisn’tthatjustwonderful?!?!?

Isn’t that smart?  Emulating other’s attitudes. I struggle with this year in and year out, but my bubbly/manic-meter reaches a high during the August-September convention season.  This is because there are more people that I know and love and haven’t seen in a long time in one place than at any other time of the year. Plus there are gobs of opportunities for meeting new people, and since I love people, I get very, very excited. Excited can turn into manic faster than a pat butter melts on top of broccolli. Again, this is not appropriate, especially since a side effect of manic-ness is saying weird things like ‘our children will grow up together’. πŸ˜€ Anyway, I KNOW I know I know this is wrong. Convention is supposed to be refreshing and peaceful and about the fellowship. But it’s hard!!  So my new year’s resolution is going to be to work on my manic-i-ness so by convention time I can focus on the important things.

I’ve been listening to lots of Christmas carols lately and they have reminded me of some of my all-time favorite emotional songs.  Here, a song qualifies as ’emotional’ if it makes you feel inexplicably happy or if it makes you want to cry, jump up and down/run around the house, sing loudly or do all 3 at once. Unfortunately these are not technically sing-along songs so I’ll usually stick with the crying and the jumping up and down.  I have other favorites, many of them non-classical, but I think the classical ones are the best.

BTW… Scribefire is being lame and won’t let me put up videos or links so I’m just going to post the URL.

1. Carol of the Bells. For running around the house and jumping up and down.
The Trans-Siberian Orchestra version is not my favorite (although it is very good), and neither is the Mannheim Steamroller version, but I couldn’t find the one that I wanted so I’m just going to put up the TSO one:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=alIcwofkrS8

2. Pachelbel’s Canon in D. For crying.
The man was a genius. Who doesn’t like this song?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DZHw9uyj81g

3. Handel’s Messiah. For just being happy + singing.
Handel was also incredibly talented.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nnHksDFHTQI

And this one’s not emotional and you’ve probably already seen it, but since I’m a fan of men’s acapella, Christmas carols, and familiar songs gone crazy, I’m going to put it up anyway:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Fe11OlMiz8

Keeping energized with Betty Blonde

Kelly did a bunch of comic strips in advance of our trip to Mexico, then Christian did a stint (six days) worth of Betty Blonde comic strips to give Kelly a break while we were on vacation.  I am amazed we did not miss even one day!  I particularly like today’s strip as it engages with one of my favorite topics (donuts).  We are moving toward the New Year with renewed vigor.  I think I am going to try to talk Kelly into doing a couple of Sunday style color strips over the holidays.  We continue to have big plans for the strip.  Christian continues to work (as time permits) on his graphic novel, too. 

Homeschool update – 2009 December

We spent two weeks during the month of November in Mexico so our homeschool efforts were just a little bit truncated. Still, we continued to move forward in most of the subject matter. The big push between now and the end of the year for Kelly will be on Precalculus, Chemistry, and preparation for the Western Civilization I CLEP test. After passing the Spanish CLEP test with a high A (12 semester hours of college credit), Christian’s focus will be very similar to Kelly’s, but on the subjects of Geometry, Biology, and preparation for the US History I CLEP test.

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving did not feel much like the normal cozy America Thanksgiving that we have every year, but I’m not complaining!  I’d put up the pictures, but Christian’s computer broke down and that’s the only computer I can use to post pictures, so I’m going to have to wait until we get home. We had Mexican macaroni and cheese (coditos verdes, or macaroni in a green chili cream sauce), Mexican spaghetti (spaghetti in a red cream sauce), smoked turkey, scalloped potatoes, and lots of pie.  Mom brought sweet potatoes with marshmallows and ambrosia salad, both Thanksgiving musts. Ambrosia salad is my favorite Thanksgiving food.  We just mix together a lot of diced apples, sliced grapes, tangerine wedges, pineapple chunks, shredded coconut, pecan pieces, mini marshmallows, and Cool Whip.  It’s heavenly. 

Today is the first day I get to listen to Christmas carols!!!  Dad has a strict no-carols-until-the-day-after-Thanksgiving rule. I think it’s ridiculous and sad and lame, but I’m not the dictator for life, so Dad’s word goes.

Here are a few pictures of the Quincenera.  It was a surprise!!! And it was lovely! I think I would go so far as to call it my best birthday party ever:
(sorry about the red eyes)


With some of my girl cousins


More cousins πŸ™‚


Tia Mary with Jorgito, Valeria & Brandon

haha… my little cousins were enjoying the cake while we took pictures πŸ˜€

With tio Rigo y Tia Minita.  Tia Minita put it allll together! She is amazing!

The PINK centerpiece! πŸ™‚ They know me well.

With Brandon

awww… cousins!

Kelly’s party

Kelly and Christian have put up a bunch of pictures on Facebook of Kelly’s 15th birthday party (six months late) in Monterrey.  It was a GREAT party at the Safi Hotel.  Grandma Conchita and Aunt Minita rented a fabulous salon big enough for about thirty people.  Here is a picture of Grandpa Lauro, Grandma Conchita, Uncle Lynn, and Kelly.

Hola!!

Driver’s Ed was a blast! I took it at the local private Christian school with 20 other kids my age. Most of them were a year younger, but there were 5 other sophomores, and one of them was homeschooled like me! Oddly enough, I had sat next to him during my PSAT two weeks before. He was nice, but he always pushed the desk in front of him halfway across the room to be funny. I would not have had a problem with this, but, being a homeschooler, I had to sit in front of him on most days. I found him less than entertaining. Our instructor was great. He was actually the school’s chemistry teacher, but he taught Driver’s Ed on the side. His five grown children provided him with lots of good driving stories with morals. We were constantly warned not to drink and drive, not to take drugs and drive, not to take drugs and drink and drive. We learned about parking. We learned about U turns. We learned about driving in snow and rain and night and fog. We watched sad, violent car crash videos. We learned about the sordid costs of insurance. We learned about how immature and self-centered our age group is (He didn’t have to tell me that. I had first hand experience from the kid behind me). We learned about tires. We learned about all sorts of different drive-y things, but the hard part is yet to come. The actual driving is scheduled for late December. I’m getting into a little white car with a little white sign on the top and I’ll be driving in the evening, during the Christmas rush-hour, with two passengers, on the freeway, on my second day behind the wheel. Phew!

Mexico: is awesome. Always has been and always will be. Whenever we visit, I always notice something new that American should have, but doesn’t. This year it was the panaderia. They have Mexican bakeries in the US too, but they’re not real Mexican bakeries. They are posers. They don’t have wonderfully greasy fresh-from-the-oven, sugar-coated donuts, churros, enpanadas, cake or puffy bread in America. America just has Dunkin’ Donuts and garlic bread. What’s up with that?

America also doesn’t have good tortillas, good carne asadas, good guacamole, El Pollo Loco, 45 cent giant glass bottled Coke, Toronja, LaLa Leche, good tamarind candies, saltine crackers in adorable packages, or Wiwichus. Wiwichus are a Pepsi-sponsored Mexican toy. They are little white plastic snowboarding men with funny interchangeable snowboarder hats. They come in clear plastic ornament balls, with festive gold strings attatched. Their catchphrase? Wiwichu a Meri Creesmas an a Japi Nu Yir. Spelled just like that. Coca Cola has stiff competition going on here.

The cousins are great πŸ™‚ I love them all to pieces. There’s Brandon (aged almost 2), then Luis Leonardo (3), then Marlon (4), then Valeria (almost 5), Lynnsito (5), Jorgito (9), Laurito (12), Dayanita (14 yesterday), Christian (14), and last of all, me (15). It makes me kinda sad to come here and be the oldest cousin. I remember being the entertainee, not the entertainer! Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE LOVE LOVE playing with my cousins. They are all really creative and smart and fun and beautiful and handsome… but nostalgia sets in. I feel old. πŸ˜€

I will keep you posted on what we are doing here! Mostly we’ve been eating and sitting pretty and hanging out with family. We did go to Wednesday night Bible study the other day. That was great. I was again reminded that no matter where you are, Oregon, Texas, North Carolina, or Mexico… meeting and the spirit of God is always the same.

They say ‘amen’ here though. I like that.

Last day before vacation

We head down to Mexico tomorrow morning early.  I am getting to the end of the really intense work I have been on.  I hope to be able to post more frequently and completely starting about Wednesday.  We are taking both the video camera and the still camera down to Mexico with us so I will try to post a little of both as our time in Monterrey progresses.  We have the neighbors all set up to watch the house and the cats.  We will finish packing tonight then get up at O’dark thirty and head to the airport in the morning!

Cooking with Grandpa

Here are the long awaited pictures!!

We had lots of fun cooking with Grandpa Milo while he was visiting.  We made chicken cordon bleu, berry trifles, baked apples, fancy pasta, and Cornish game hens! :


Chicken Cordon Bleu cooking in the oven

Garnished with basil from the garden

Baked apples!! My new favorite dessert. We just cut up some apples and put them in a baking dish with water, cinnamon, brown sugar, raisins, and a little pat of butter on top!

They were delicious warm with some heavy cream

Cornish game hens with garnish. The garnish is always very important.

The chef at work!!


Setting up the table

Sorry for the blur! This is to show the whole spread πŸ™‚

Diced angel food cake + mixed berries + whipped cream = berry trifles. Almost as delicious at the baked apples!!

Grandpa with his scrumptious dessert

Thank you for coming and showing us how to cook again Grandpa!! We love you πŸ™‚