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Eclectic Thoughts from a Homeschool Mom » 2007 » September

Animal Trustees of Austin-Amazingly Great Folks!

September 13th, 2007

Canine dental exams cost big bucks. Especially, if you have a senior dog. Our dog has had some seriously nasty breath for a while now. He had never had his teeth cleaned (although I have tried to brush his teeth). It was time to take him to the “doggie dentist”.Delicious toothbrush

I called around town about 4 months ago to get a guesstimate quote. The cheapest I could find for a senior dog was STARTING at $250. That was just for the blood work and to see our dog. That didn’t include extractions or anything else. Yikes! For a family on one income, that really hurts.

I had taken our dog to Animal Trustees of Austin earlier in the year for shots. They were amazing. I thought I would give them a try for a dental exam. They did do dentals, but the wait was 3 months. As our dog’s breath was nasty (but, not deadly – yet), I made an appt. for 3 months away.

We went in the morning and dropped off our dog at 8am. Although our dog is a “big schweetie”, he doesn’t play well with other dogs. He literally freaks out and yelps the entire time. He isn’t mean or anything. It is like he is on doggie-overload and can’t process the information. As the waiting room was full of dogs and cats, we decided to stay outside with our stressed dog.

The vet technician was amazing and understood what was going on (apparently, we don’t own the only neurotic dog in Austin?). She took in our dog and sent us on our way.

We got a call 3 hours later saying that we could pick up our dog. This was 3 hours before most clients could pick them up. Hmm…weird. The reason why is that our dog was a bit too emotional and they wanted us to pick him up before other owners got their dogs. Too many dogs being picked up at the same time could start a fight. That would not be good.

I was thinking that I would get a monsterous bill (remember, the cheapest I found in Austin started at $250). I was amazed that the bill came to $95. That included blood work (as he is a senior), dental cleaning, free toe-nail clipping, and antibiotics for precaution due to tartar build-up in the system. No teeth needed to be extracted. The vet even said our dog was in great physical shape. Whew! That’s a relief!

If you live in Austin and own a dog or cat (and can’t afford to spend a ton of money on exams/procedures), I HIGHLY recommend Animal Trustees of Austin. The place isn’t all chrome and expensive furniture. It is bare-minimum accommodations. The staff is very nice and take lots of time to explain things to you. They are just great.

Thanks Animal Trustees of Austin. We will be back for future shots and to “see the doggie dentist” in the future.

The Ultimate Gift – A feel good movie for entire family

September 11th, 2007

Ultimate GiftI’m a sap. I love movies that make me cry. The Ultimate Gift did it…twice. It is one of those movies that makes you remember the “little things” in life. Kind of like an updated version of It’s a Wonderful Life with Jimmy Stewart.

It is one of those movies that makes you thankful for what you have. Makes you realize that your problems are small (even when they seemed huge before you sat down to watch a 90 minute movie). It is a “warm & fuzzy” flick.

If you are looking for a movie that the entire family can watch – I recommend the Ultimate Gift. Abigail Breslin is just adorable in this. She is turning out to be a real cutie, too.

As the movie guys would do, I give this a thumbs up.

Getting a “good” photo of a teenager

September 11th, 2007

Is it just me, or when a child gets close to being a teen – they forget to smile. I mean, they know HOW to smile. They just don’t use a real one in front of a camera.

Our homeschool tutor classes take a photo of the kids for the yearbook. The child takes a photo for the yearbook and then a casual one for the parents. Really easy. Give a nice smile and you are on your way. Not so.

Before my monster got his turn in front of the camera, a 12 yr. old “Joe Cool” takes the stage. His mom stands behind the photographer and literally begs this boy to smile. Nope. Nothing doing. He was intent on jamming his hands into his pockets and giving the photographer a look that would make BoSmile-You are on camera!nnie & Clyde quake in their shoes. Those wallet-sized pictures are going to look just great in Christmas cards, Mom. Grandma will be thrilled.

Then it was my monster’s turn. Sure, he looked clean in his white button-down oxford (notice, no chocolate syrup stains or dog hair) and his fresh haircut. He was all smiles until the photographer asked him to get on mark and “smile please”. Ah oh! Big mistake. My little angel puts on a plastic smile that Barbie would kill for. *snap* There goes a photo.

While this is going on, I am thinking “not again”. My monster is usually all giggles. He loves to laugh and does it quite a lot. He sees the funny side of many “not so funny” situations. A trait that I have lost somewhere along the way. However, when he gets in front of a camera, he looks like Mr. Universe talking to millions of viewers. He puts on a “let me just smile and get this torture over with” grin.

After the photographer took about 8 digital photos, he looks at me and says: “Your son is very photogenic. He did fantastic!” Ahh…poor man. If he only knew that those weren’t real smiles. Those were “my Mom is making me do this and I hate it” smiles. I know that the family will love the pictures. I suppose I shouldn’t be too discouraged. He could have said NO WAY to the photo shoot. Then I wouldn’t have anything to send in our Christmas cards.

Pre-teens and Teenagers…what an interesting time. More fun and challenging than a toddler!

The harsh side of teaching responsibility

September 7th, 2007

Ever have those moments where you wish you could bail your child out of a sticky situation, but know that doing so wouldn’t be right? I had one of those moments this evening.

My dear son came to me just moments before going to bed in a panic. He realized that he had forgotten over the last MONTH to have his various tutors/teachers sign a progress report. He needs all 6 of them to sign and comment by tomorrow morning. Obviously, at 8:30pm, this is an impossibility. As one of his teachers, I can sign it. That just leaves 5 others that he won’t have.

The sticky part of this situation is that the piece of paper is really important. He needs to take it to his Young Marines commander in the morning for review. If the review goes well, he can take a written test (which we have studied for 3 times and just barely failed) in order to move up a rank. This was an important piece of paper indeed.

Here I am – a mom torn. Part of me feels badly for my son as he failed to assume responsibility for something so important. The other part of me realizes that this is a harsh lesson, but one that HAS to be learned. Parents can not shelter their children forever. Although I want to be there for all the boo-boos and disappointments, I can’t.

I really hope that he is given some slack on this, but I also realize that it shouldn’t happen. When my son’s future boss asks for a report by a given date, he can’t hope that his boss will understand that his fishing trip took precedence. The world doesn’t wait and forgive so easily. Ouch! What a hard lesson to learn.

Robotech-The Movie? OH YEAH!

September 7th, 2007

I was not a huge anime lover when I was kid. Ok, there was one series that I just “had” to see when I got home from school each day – Robotech. Ahhh…the days of Rick Hunter, Minmei, Lisa, Scott Bernhard, Marlene, Rand, Rook…fond memories. It was like aRobotech cartoon soap opera with robots. I was addicted then, and I am now. I have passed on my love for this series to my son. We have the entire set and watch all the DVDs each year.

Recently, I read an article stating that there “might” be a Robotech movie in the future. Not a cartoon like I remember it. No, this is live action (and lots of computer magic). Schweet! That is like bringing back Transformers for my brother to relive (which I enjoyed too).

It looks like Mr. Spiderman, Tobey Maguire, might be bringing the anime trilogy (or at least the first one and then wait and see about the profits) to the big screen. Does that mean the Spidey will be trading in his tights for Rick Hunter’s Skull Squadron uniform? I can only hope. I know that I will gladly plunk down $8 to see a live-action Robotech.

I am just giddy with anticipation. Bring on the SDF-1 and Protoculture. Que Minmei to sing “Stagefright” (don’t quit your day job, by the way). Let’s see some Invid battles. Woohoo! Gotta love cheesy movies!

Ahh…simpler times. How did we survive?

September 7th, 2007

kids at play My husband was sent this today. I enjoyed it so much, I thought I would put it down here:

TO ALL THE KIDS WHO SURVIVED THE 1930’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s:

First, we survived being born to mothers who smoked and/or drank while they were pregnant.

They took aspirin, ate blue cheese dressing, tuna from a can, and didn’t get tested for diabetes.

Then after that trauma, we were put to sleep on our tummies in baby cribs covered with bright colored lead-based paints.

We had no child-proof lids on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets and when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets, not to mention, the risks we took hitchhiking.

As infants & children, we would ride in cars with no car seats, booster seats, seat belts or air bags.

Riding in the back of a pick up on a warm day was always a special treat.

We drank water from the garden hose and NOT from a bottle.

We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle and NO ONE actually died from this.

We ate cupcakes, white bread and real butter and drank Kool-aid made with sugar, but we weren’t overweight because WE WERE ALWAYS OUTSIDE PLAYING!

We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on.

No one was able to reach us all day, and we were okay.

We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps and then ride down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into the bushes a few times, we learned to solve the problem.

We did not have Playstations, Nintendo’s, X-Boxes, no video games at all, no 150 channels on cable, no video movies or DVD’s, no surround-sound or Cd’s, no cell phones, no personal computers, no Internet or chat rooms…WE HAD FRIENDS and we went outside and found them!

We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and there were no lawsuits from these accidents.

We ate worms and mud pies made from dirt, and the worms did not live in us forever.

We were given BB guns for our 10th birthdays, made up games with sticks and tennis balls, and although we were told it would happen, we did not put out very many eyes.

We rode bikes or walked to a friend’s house and knocked on the door or rang the bell, or just walked in and talked to them.

Little League had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn’t, had to learn to deal with disappointment. Imagine that!

The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law!

These generations have produced some fo the best risk-takers, problem solvers, and inventors ever!

The past 50 years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas. We had freedom, failure, success and resposibility, and we learned HOW TO DEAL WITH IT ALL!

If YOU are one of them: CONGRATULATIONS!

You might want to share this with others who have had the luck to grow up as kids, before the lawyers and the government regulated so much of our lives for our own good.

While you are at it, forward it to your kids so they will know how brave (and lucky) their parents were.


Why can’t children dress like children?

September 5th, 2007

Just a question here. Not really directed to anyone in particular – just to myself. Why are the children of today (especially girls) dressing like small versions of adults?Bratz

Case in point, some of the girls in our neighborhood. These little girls will be lovely women one day. Until then, they need to dress their age. Just a few days ago, my husband noticed a little girl walking up our street. The little girl was dressed in a tight blouse, low-rise jeans, and heels. She looked about 10 years old. That is TEN, folks. Still in elementary school. That is the type of clothing that a woman would wear if she were to go out dancing or on a date. I don’t believe that is appropriate for a child, do you?

On to boys…who came up with the fashion felony of pulling pants down extremely low (needing to wear a belt to keep them from falling down) and then wearing a huge t-shirt? Has anyone actually seen one of these boys trying to walk with this outfit? It is hilarious. Really looks like a penguin out of water. When your waistband impedes your movement, it is TIME TO PULL YOUR PANTS UP!Where'd my pants go?

I remember the day of Tough Skins, Keds, Dittos, Holly Hobby dresses, and sandals with socks. Back then, boys dressed like…boys and girls dressed like girls. I am seeing more and more “penguins” and “Bratz wannabees” lately.

Why is it that youth want so much to grow up and adults want to look younger? Wouldn’t it be nice if children enjoyed their childhood (getting dirty, getting into trouble, enjoying life as it comes) instead of rushing through it?

Kids, start dressing your age. Wear clothing that fits, doesn’t say “Juicy” on the butt, and make you look like a 30-yr. old looking for a date. There will be plenty of time to be an adult. Enjoy skinning your knee, playing tag, and deciding which boy/girl has Cooties. The time for responsibility and heavy decisions is closer than you think.

Light a fire under that student!

September 5th, 2007

I KNOW it isn’t just me. Although, on days like today – I sure feel like it is. What am I babbling about? The lack of educational enthusiasm that my students are exuding. Going to the bathroom with a fun reading book, daydreaming, talking about everything under the sun EXCEPT school (“Hey Mom, I wonder how many inches of rain we will get this week. I bet it will be a lot. Do you want to guess how many inches?”), playing with their feet, talking to the dog, doodling…..it is enough to drive a mother INSANE!

Of course, there are amazing school days too. The days when everything just “clicks”. When the students just seem to “get it”. When we finish school earlier than expected and got far more accomplished than planned. Ahhh…how I love those days.

Today, I have tried quiet coaxing, bribing, and threatening. Nothing. Our day is still dragging on. Our typical homeschooling schedule allows us to do between 8-13 subjects a day. Today, we are doing: Grammar, devotions, spelling, vocabulary, dictionary skills, proofreading/writing, history, guitar practice, and reading. There is also math, spanish, and science homework.

I know part of my situation is that children love to squirm. Daydreaming is much more fun than having to diagram a sentence or multiply fractions.

We have been told in the past that our child would need to be on Ridolyn if we decided to public school. I really believe that there are way too many children medicated nowadays. I have been around boys that were once the the spitting image of Tom Sawyer. Now, they are walking zombies thanks do Ridolyn. Sure, it would be easier to teach my monsters if they were on drugs. They would sit still and listen. However, I would miss that inner spark that I see from time to time. I would miss the excitement of “getting it” when we do a great lesson.

So, I will have to think of another way to light a fire under my students. Maybe I need to take up juggling while giving a spelling test? That would keep them interested.

Where does all this clutter come from anyway?

September 5th, 2007

Clutter: “To fill or cover with scattered or disordered things that impede movement or reduce effectiveness.”

Yup, that about sums it up for me. I really do try to tidy our home on a daily (if not hourly) basis. It amazes me how a very busy family can destroy a clean home in a matter of minutes. Shoes, mail, backpacks, car keys, coffee mugs, books….AH! Where does thisMy desk stuff come from? It is like a clutter-gremlin throws things around when I am not looking.

I have tried to follow the wise teaching of the Fly Lady . Although in a perfect world, her methods would be awesome…well, perfection doesn’t live here. So, I am on to self-help, declutter books. Recently, I have looked into Don Aslett books. I particularly liked Clutter’s Last Stand.

Now, I am reading Emilie Barnes’ Cleaning Up the Clutter. It all sounds so wonderful. Throw away what you don’t need. Everything has a place. Put things away after you use them. Do these authors have any idea how tough that is with a crazy schedule and other people living with you? Next to IMPOSSIBLE.

One of my goals this year was to declutter our home. I did manage to get to a few areas (i.e. junk drawer, linen closets, craft area, children’s closets, paperwork files). However, I still feel like I don’t have a grip on things. As I look around my desk, I can barely see my beautiful student doing his vocabulary. All of those textbook catalogs are staring at me and blocking my view.

It isn’t that I don’t want to tackle the clutter. I really do. It is just a matter of priority. Do I want to spend time with my family or clean the garage? Do I want to clean/organize my closet or go for a run?

So, I am back to reading and getting ideas. Maybe if I read these organizational books long enough, I will find the time to actually do something about the clutter? One could wish.

What makes a strong marriage?

September 4th, 2007

Like many children, I came from a broken home. It wasn’t a matter of who did or didn’tRomantic kiss do what. My parents just fell out of love. They didn’t work at it. They gave up on each other and the idea of marriage.

I feel blessed to have been married for 17 yrs. now. By today’s standards, that is a really long time. It has taken work. There have been ups and downs. There has been money (not a lot – but enough to put a good chunk into savings each paycheck) and bordering on poverty.

My husband and I have very few friends that have been married as long as we have. We have both been asked what makes a good marriage. Honestly, I think it is a combination of things. Here are some that come to mind:

*Be honest – don’t hide things from your spouse. If they ask about your new pair of shoes, be honest and tell him that you bought them yesterday. Hiding small things now just might encourage you to hide bigger (and more detrimental to your relationship) things later.

*Communication – TALK TO ONE ANOTHER! When something is bothering you, get it off your chest. Your mate should be the one that you come to with ANY problem. They should be your best friend. Talk to them. If you both put your trust in each other, you will make a very strong team.

*Listen to your mate. When your mate gets home and wants to tell you about their day, LISTEN. Close your mouth and hear what they have to say. Listening is a huge component in a successful marriage.

*Work on how you will spend your money. I really believe that most of our fights (strong discussions?) have been about money. We aren’t great with budgeting, but we both know when to “tighten the financial belt”. When a couple agrees on how income should be spent, the savings account and marriage prosper.

*Respect your differences. Your mate loves to garden. You love to read. Do you really have to do EVERYTHING that they like to do? Certainly not! Having hobbies and friends that you don’t share makes life interesting. Personally, I love to run, draw, and watch old movies. My husband enjoys cigars, computers, and working on his car. We don’t have to share our hobbies to appreciate them. Hobbies are important. Encourage your mate to enjoy what they love. They will help your mate to stay relaxed and happy.

*Discuss childrearing issues AWAY from the children. Come to an agreement about how discipline will be handled with children. Believe it or not, children sense weakness and disagreements between parents. If a child senses that one parent is “weak” vs. the other parent in an issue….who do you think they will target? Make sure NOT to contradict your mate in front of the child. Always do it in private. You need to be a supportive team in marriage. That goes for in front of the kids too.

*Share responsibilities. In a perfect world, everyone would know what was needed to be done and do it. Well, this isn’t a perfect world. Sharing responsibilities can save a lot of heartache. If both parents work, the chores need to be shared equally. If one parent is at home, more responsibilities need to go to that parent. For example, I mostly handle: housework, paying bills, grocery shopping, cooking, and light yardwork (mowing, pulling weeds, trimming trees, etc.) My husband handles: bringing in the income, auto maintenance, home repair, and any mechanical repairs that are needed. We do help each other when needed. We also both do the childrearing. We SHARE discipline (No “wait until your father gets home” with us) and praise when it comes to our kids.

*Be supportive regarding extended family. I have heard that many couples have problems about where they will go for the holidays, etc. Just like all marital issues, it is give and take. Take turns and play nice.

*Be open-minded with your mate. Intimacy is a delicate issue for many people. Do not be afraid to try something new with your mate. Remember that what ever you do in the bedroom is between JUST YOU TWO. Do not be embarrassed or ashamed of what pleases each other. Also, DO NOT share intimate details with friends or family. That is the quickest way to hurt your mate. Honesty also means confidence.

*Tell/show your spouse you love them whenever you can. So many couples say “I love you” on Feb. 14 and forget the other 364 days of the year. Hallmark Cards love it though. Honestly, if you care for someone tell/show them. Make them feel special. Use the Golden Rule: “Treat your mate as you want to be treated”.

*Don’t try to change your mate. When we first got married, I thought: “I am going to break my husband from throwing his dirty socks onto the floor instead of in the hamper.” You know what? Seventeen years later and he still throws his socks on the floor.

I once met a married couple that had been married 50 yrs. I asked the husband: “What do you think has kept you together for so long?” He simply said: “If you go out of your way to please your spouse, and they do the same…you will be very happy.” How easy is that?

My last piece of advice is don’t forget to date each other. Make a point of having alone time (no kids, no phones, no work from home, etc.) Go for a walk, go to a movie, go for an inexpensive meal, go for a drink, go dancing. Do things together as a couple. It also reminds you of what you found so interesting about the person your married. If at all possible, get away for a long weekend. Remember that dating your mate keeps romance alive. Something that is incredibly important as the years go on.

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