Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A Haunted Time

I love doing all kinds of crafts. It is good for me to do, keeps the brain working. You know that Alzheimer's is the devils playground. So, I think that I will try to avoid that as much as I can.

This weekend we headed to AC Moore, a craft store in Chattanooga that is going out of business. Since I already had to be there, I figured a stop there won't hurt anything. Yeah right!

I am trying to get the boys more involved in some crafts. I like them to work with their hands in things other than video games. It is good for Eric, it helps his motor skills, and hand eye coordination too. Plus, for him it makes the creative juices moving. And also, it helps with his lack of wanting to clean. If he makes a mess while making something, then he has to clean it up.

For PJ it is just for him to make something. He has wonderful motor skills and his coordination is just fine, so it is more of the fact that he is doing something. And if Eric is doing something, PJ wants to do it too. Fine with me, it just gives me a chance to help them, but it also gives them a chance to be creative.

At AC Moore, I found all kinds of stuff that, well, I just don't need. But I did need it in a way. And the stuff I bought will be fun for us to do. I am looking forward to another year of gingerbread houses and gingerbread Christmas tree. I can't wait.

I found a foam Haunted Halloween Castle. I thought that would be fun to do and have on the table in the kitchen. Yep, something that requires the glue gun, oh, I am in my element!

So the boys take it out of the box and we start having problems, once I sat and looked at it, I figured out an easier way. And it went better after that. We did originally try with Elmer's glue. The only thing Elmer's is good for is construction paper, not heavy foam at the top of a tower. The top kept sliding down. It really was a mess! But once we remembered the hot glue gun, we were moving along much better.

I think I served to take pictures. But I did have to sort all the stuff that came with it. "Ok, PJ you get 2 bats, 2 ghosts, 1 tree, 1 web, 1 pumpkin, and the "Velcome" sign. Eric you get the same thing, but you get the extra bat." That way all is fair.

PJ got started first, and he is so picky. He followed the picture on the box, with the exception of the pumpkin. He wanted it just right. And he worked that glue gun like a professional! He knew exactly what he wanted to do. He would sit there, look, examine, and then glue. I got a kick out of him.

I have to separate them when they work like this, it is a mess, and it is just too much trouble to keep everything straight, who has what. So, PJ gets done, and Eric takes over. Working the glue gun is a little tricky for him, but he gets the hang of it quickly. He decides that he wants to do his own stuff on there. And that just sets PJ off, he wants it perfect, Eric is more of a free spirit, where ever it lands is fine with him. He is the more creative one too.

In the end, we got done, had fun, had a mess, and ended up with a foam tower for the kitchen. PJ loves to decorate, he is happy decorating. He had to get signs for around the house for Halloween and pumpkins for the outside. It is fine; I would rather have them doing this, and staying out of trouble or even sitting playing video games.

PJ's audition

Back about 2 months ago I spotted a flyer for auditions for the Christmas play here in town. It was being put on by the local playhouse and I thought that this would be good for PJ to try out for. I asked him about it, and he thought that this would be ok to try to do.

Well, this was originally supposed to take place on Sept. 24, the day of the Fall Mall. He and I were planning to do the Fall Mall and then head over there and get that done too. I pack up everything, go home, unload the car, have him eat something, and then leave. Well, we got there, and the auditions had been moved to Oct 20. Great, he had his hopes up and his nerves under control and now this. He seemed ok with all of it, understanding too.

The original production was only going to be children and teens, 16 and under. Turns out the playhouse changed their minds and decided to open it up for all of the family to try out. But the school system that sends out the announcements like this dropped the ball, and they failed to tell us about the change of dates.

For weeks PJ was just wishy washy about it. He would go back and forth, wanting to do this, not wanting to do this. Now, I am not one of those parents that demand that my kids do something, even if they don't want to. I have seen too much of that in my life, and stuff like that nearly ruined my life. So, I don't push them to do things that they have no desire to do. The only thing that I ask is that if I pay for it, you need to finish it. If you start something, you are committed to it, and you need to finish it. I ask that they think about this stuff before getting involved in anything. That isn't asking for too much, I just want to instill values like this in them and their lives.

This past Saturday was the day for the auditions. PJ wanted to go; he talked about it for several days. He told me that he wasn't nervous, that he was looking forward to this. And also, "If I don't make it, well, I will keep trying until I do." That is a wonderful way to look at things. Sometimes, I have to stop what I am doing and take a lesson from my kids. They don't give up when things get too hard.

I was up early on Saturday; I seem to get more done when I do. And as I am getting ready, here comes PJ around the corner. Ready and raring to go, he wanted to get his day going too. We head out to go shopping and then to get his haircut, he looks so cute. And then home to get something to eat only to go out again for the auditions.

We got there first, and he was the first one to have his paperwork filled out. He was excited and ready to go. Of course, the little 4 year old girl jumping all over him, pestering him didn't help much, but when I got him to concentrate on it, he was calm, no nerves, no problems, just ready to get this going.

I didn't know what to expect when we got in there. I have never been in there, I was thinking it was a rather large playhouse, but it is not. It only holds about 75 people; it is your typical small town production theatre. Nothing really special, but just enough for the amount of people that they get to come out and see something at a reasonable price. It does get costly to pay the price of theatre and this little playhouse just brings a little bit of art to lives that are so very busy with technology. This is a place that you can't get lost in the crowd, but enjoy the play and the moment to escape.

Inside was so cute, I was so impressed with the little space that they utilized so well. A small space, chairs against both wall, a small space behind a curtain, and a small stage, but they use the floor area too. It works very well for what they want to do.

The director worked only with 4 people at a time. Very nice, not a large crowd to decide from, but from just a select few. He knew what he was doing, and I was really impressed on how the younger kids listened to him, and how they followed his orders on how to play the roles the right way. The girls did a great job. I loved watching them, listening to them, and hearing the way that they played the role, albeit short. But it was neat, I never was in any plays, I wasn't talented like that, and for my, well, why bother, no one would have been there for me.

PJ had his turn, finally. And I was just so excited for him and for me too. But he got his character that he was going to do, and I went over to him while he was looking over the part. It was just a few lines, but the director only wanted to see how well he would act a line. It was so cute; he had to be a little boy that had his lunch stolen from him by the meanest little boy. I had to laugh, because the little boy opposite of PJ just was not the acting type, but he did try. And for that, he needs to be commended.

The director had the boys try that again, this time with a little more direction, the first time he wanted to see what they had, this time he wanted to see if they could take direction. And they both followed him nicely. And then he switched roles, he had PJ play the little mean boy. That is not PJ, but he did what he had to do. And when he sat back down, he immediately asked how he did. Ok, I am partial, I really am, and I should be. But he really did a very good job at it, first time, he was just fine.

He was asked to read another line. This time with more people involved. It was a part that consisted of 4 other people, so this was a bit more difficult to do. He only had one line, and he didn't know how to say Gladys, ha, it was too cute! And then the other group did the same part, once again, they were all very good, and I was really impressed with the girls mostly. Some of them played the role of the drama queen rather easily.

The director then told us that he was letting us go home, he had said that this does not mean that they are cut, but that he was just clearing out the room for more people to come in. That is understandable. And he also made the decision that he would call later on that day to let us know if they made it or not, and that he would like us back on Sunday afternoon.

The boys and I headed out to Chattanooga for a while, did some shopping and bought things that we didn't need, but oh well. We waited by the phone, all day Saturday into the night we waited. Ok, so we didn't hear anything. We figured that maybe, just maybe they would call Sunday, because they wanted to do more auditions.

We waited patiently on Sunday, and nothing. PJ kept busy with odds and ends. We didn't go to church, the boys played video games, helped me in the kitchen, played outside and just had fun being brothers. It was a nice afternoon, we all had fun, and we forgot all about not getting the all important phone call.

PJ went to bed and read for a little while and finally fell asleep. He told me that he was disappointed at all, and that he wouldn't mind trying again. I told him that was the right way to think and that I was proud of him for trying. And I am it takes a lot to get up there and to try something new.

I was getting ready to watch the game, and I got online one last time before I shut it all down for the night. I popped up on the email to see if there was anything interesting, and there was an email announcing all the people that made it in the play. And there was PJ's name closer to the bottom. He doesn't have a major role; I didn't expect him to get anything like that. But this is a start, and even if it is one or two lines, it is a start. He will also be singing in the ensemble.

I was so excited that I woke up Eric to let him know, but I had to wait until this morning to let PJ know. I told him and he was very happy that he made it. He wanted to know his role, and he wanted to see the email. I explained to him with getting this role, it means dedication, listening, and that we will have to rearrange his schedule until it is over with. I told him that all everything needs to be done before rehearsal, the extra school work that he has will be taken care of on the weekends. That way it is out of the way.

This should be very interesting. Rehearsals start on the 29th. He is ready for this. For him, this is a big step in his young life. I am so happy for him. It is a start; he has his foot in the door. And if he likes this, then I will pursue him to try for more.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Salvation Army is calling.....

I spoke with the Salvation Army today. I was rather impressed with them and the conversation that we had. I have to say that I throughly enjoyed speaking with them today.

I called and the gentleman that I spoke with was very pleasant and very patient with me and some of my questions. I told him that we are all interested in volunteering for Thanksgiving and I would like more information on what we needed to do.

Turns out that the Salvation Army, along with several churches, and the Mayor are joining forces and having a rather larger event than usual this year. They will be serving dinner to over 1000 people this year at the Chattanooga Community Center. Unity in the Community. They won't only be serving the homeless, but they will also be serving the needy.

He and I spoke for a considerable amount of time. He told me that they need people to not only serve, but to fill cups with ice, to clear tables, and even to hold babies while parents get to eat. That there are some parents out there that don't get a meal without the child stuck to their hip.

I asked him about the boys, and I told him that they were 12 and 8. Not a problem, bring them. There will be security there, so that wouldn't be a problem. I felt better about that. We would work in shifts and whatever we can do to help would be greatly appreciated.

He told me that these people don't want your handouts, they don't want your money, more than anything they just want your compassion. They just want for one day for someone to help them. Not to where they are helping others. I told him that ever since we had Eric that we wanted to do something like this for Thanksgiving. And that the boys are old enough to help out.

I had told him that I don't have much to give. But we want to give up our Thanksgiving to help others. That is all these people want. They are tired of being looked at, for being condemned, for being homeless. Some can't help it, we all know that there are some out there that are homeless because of drugs and gambling. But there are some that their luck was bad, and the world just basically turned against them.

So, I will talk to Chuck about this. I feel that this is the way to go this year. It is something that we need to do. We have been so blessed over the years to be able to have the Thanksgivings that we have had, to have the family around us, to have all the food on the table, the warmth of a house, the laughter that fills the rooms, and the love that comes into our home. So it is our turn to give back to the community. Cleveland doesn't have this for us to do. So, we have to go to Chattanooga. A larger community with more need. They are working on something in Cleveland in the near future, but for now they are hitting the area with the most need.

This Thanksgiving will be a little different for us. But I think it will be the most rewarding, the most eye opening, and the most blessed Thanksgiving that we have had in our lifetime.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Our Thanksgiving Tradition

I guess I would have to say that for the better part of the last 13 years, Chuck and I have been cooking Thanksgiving dinner. Now, 13 years ago, I was 6 months pregnant with Eric, so I didn't do a lot of the cooking. I did what I could do in the little bitty kitchen we had at the time. For the most part Chuck did everything.

Over the years we have either cooked at our place or taken the food to my in-laws because our place was either too far away or way to small to accomodate 15 or more people.

There was one year, PJ's first Thanksgiving, I remember this so clearly. We had a very small 2 bedroom apt, we really didn't have the room for the 4 of us. So, we decided that we would do all the cooking at my in-laws. My dad was here for that Thanksgiving, so we just could not handle all the people in our home.

Chuck takes off with all the goods and I have the boys, my dad and some of the odds and ends that Chuck didn't need. So, I get there shortly behind Chuck and I go and help him in the kitchen.

Since then, we have bought our own home and have continued to cook for the family and friends. It has always been one of the best days for me. I guess because I am in my element. It has always pleased me to cook, feed and assist in the cleaning of Thanksgiving. I just love it. And as the years have gone on, I have gotten Eric more involved in the preparation of dinner and desserts. It is great that he and I can work together in the kitchen. Now, he isn't in there with me on the day, but the days leading up to it, he is making pumpkin pies, cornbread for the dressing, and even that morning he has been known to make the cranberry relish. I just love it!

When Eric came around in 1995, we had said that when he was old enough that we were going to start working in a soup kitchen or shelter for Thanksgiving. Then PJ came along and that set us back a few years.

This year I told Chuck that I wanted Thanksgiving just the 4 of us. Not that I am tired of cooking and cleaning for the entire family. But my dad and his wife will be in Baton Rouge this year, and Chuck's sister and her family are going up to visit her husband's grandmother, this very well may be her last Thanksgiving. So that leaves Chuck's parents and us. Not that I mind cooking for 6 people, but I just would like a peaceful, uneventful Thanksgiving.

Last night we were talking. Chuck told me that since I had mentioned about having just the 4 of us for Thanksgiving that maybe we can find a shelter to work at for the day and then hit Cracker Barrel for dinner that night.

He said that the boys are old enough now, and that this would be good for all of us to get a wake up call. It would be good for the boys to learn how to volunteer and help others. I feel this would be a good experience for all of us.

So, this morning, I am on the phone calling around looking for some place here in town to go to. There is nothing in Cleveland on Thanksgiving Day that serves a meal. Last year, our church, with lots of help, rented out a dining hall and had free dinner for families in need. This was on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, and the boys and I helped out. This was a little different, they weren't homeless people.They had homes, but a meal like a Thanksgiving dinner just wasn't gonna happen for them. I remember Eric leaving the house Monday morning, "tomorrow's the day, tomorrow's the day!" I didn't know what he was talking about, "Tomorrow is the day that we help feed the people that won't get Thanksgiving. Isn't it nice that we are helping the ones that need it more than we do?!" Wow, what do you say when your 11 year old looks at you like that?

We had linen table clothes, china, and real silverware. They treated them like we would like to have a dinner for ourselves. The table had candles and centerpieces. I saw all kinds of people come in. And it broke my heart that there were so many in need. I remember one family in particular. They barely had clothes on their back. She grabbed my hand, and with tears in her eyes, she told me thank you. She pointed to her children that weren't getting Christmas this year, but she was so grateful that she had a hot meal that day, and that her kids were fed. It turns out, that they did have Christmas. The Dr. that put this one had kids fill out a wish list and then he would have people in the community pitch in and help all the kids to have a Christmas.

Yes, this year the boys and I will go do that again. I hope not to see the same people, but most likely will. But it is such a good experience for them to help others. Instead of me helping them with things, they get to help people that need it more than they do.

But we are also going to the Chattanooga Community Kitchen or the Salvation Army to help the truly needy. The homeless or the ones that just can't put food on their table no matter what day it is.

It was rewarding for the boys last year to help in the situation that they helped in. Eric helps feed the needy at church on Sundays and he loves it. It blesses me to see him so blessed. But for us as a family to do this, to help out, to realize that we are so very blessed in our lives, well, it will probably be one of the best Thanksgiving day ever.

Traditions are nice. And for the years that we did have the family over, it was great. But now, as a family of 4, we need to start a new tradition.

Will I miss cooking everything that takes me 3 days to make? I sure will. Will I miss the smell of turkey in the kitchen, the laughter in the living room, the kids in the yard? Yes, I will. But there are others that need to have a nice Thanksgiving dinner too. There won't be china with silverware and crystal on the tables.There won't be linen tableclothes and padded chairs. There won't be music or football playing in the background. But there will be a lot of smiles, thank yous and tears.

I am so ready for a wonderful holiday season. And I am so thankful that I have a family that is more than willing to do what it takes to make a day great.

Gooble, gooble... let's eat turkey

Oh how I love turkey. Any kind of turkey too. I love turkey burgers, turkey tenderloins and any kind of turkey (not sausage though).

Anyway, I love my slow cooker. It is a great thing for me with the family. I can put dinner on in the morning and have it ready when I get home. The boys just love pinto beans. They love coming home and having pinto beans and cornbread. Eric calls it the poor man's meal. I love the stuff. It makes me warm inside, and no, it is not the gas that makes me warm.

I was looking for a recipe online for turkey breast made in the crockpot. And then I realized that I have a book for slow cooker and I needed to go through it. Low-and-behold, but what do I find. Maple and Apricot Sauced Turkey Breast. Oh my, I think I am in heaven! I haven't tried it, but since Chuck's birthday is next week, I think I will do this for him.

2 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup chopped apricots
1/4 cup sweetened dried cranberries
1/4 cup real maple syrup ( I use Cracker Barrel for everything at home)
1/2 cup apple juice
2 Tbsp soy sauce
6 to 7 lb frozen bone-in turkey breast, thawed
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 Tbsp water
4 med green onions, sliced (1/4 cup)

Melt butter in 10 inch nonstick skillet over med heat. Cook apricots and cranberries in butter for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in maple syrup, 1/4 cup apple juice and soy sauce. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until mixture is reduced slightly. Cool 5 to 10 minutes. Mixture will thicken slightly.
Remove skin from turkey breast. Sprinkle turkey with salt and pepper. Place in 6 qt slow cooker. Spoon maple syrup mixture over turkey breast.
Cover and cook on low heat setting 5 to 6 hours or until juice of turkey is no longer pink when center is cut.
Remove turkey from cooker; cover to keep warm. Mix remaining apple sauce, cornstarch, water and onions; stir into mixture of cooker. Cover and cook on high heat setting for 10 - 15 minutes or until mixture thickens slightly. Serve sauce with turkey.

I will have to take out the onions, because Chuck just can't eat them. But this is something that I think would make a good meal for all of us.

Let me know what you think of this one!

The first nice Saturday in a long time

This past Saturday I had to getEric from my mother-in-law. He spent some time on his fall break over there, but I have a tendency to miss him when he is gone. I don't know, maybe because he can be such a big help.

PJ and I went shopping and then we got home, unloaded and took off to Birchwood to get Eric. We get there, I had to get something to eat, come out, move cars and there they are. So, I load up my sons and take off, heading to a pumpkin patch somewhere in Decatur that I don't know where I am going.

I was driving up Hwy 58, and hit our turn and start looking for this little road in the middle of no where, now I don't have Tom Tom or any kind of directional help, only Google Map. I drive down this little road, and drive and drive, and then finally realize that there are house numbers and I need to start looking at them. I went too far, and turned around. I find the place that it is supposed to be the pumpkin patch and organic produce, but there was nothing there. It is next weekend that they are having their fall festival.

One the way, we spotted Watts Bar power plant. Now, I spotted a photo opp, I am learning to take pictures of what is around me. They all aren't very good, but I am trying.

If only the trees were changing. Oh how I wish we had some kind of fall, some kind of color other than green or dying brown.

Ok, so I didn't find what I was looking for, but it was a nice day for a drive. Before the change in weather, it was a chore to go outside and do anything, even go for a nice drive.

We head on home and I decided that since we were close to Athens that we would go to the pumpkin farm out there. I get to somewhere that I have some kind of coverage and call for directions. Little did I know that it was all the way out in the mountain area. I was just about to give up, and there was my turn. Whoo Hoo! We are going out there today to get pumpkins.

We get there and I talk to the owner, due to the drought, they didn't have any pumpkins. They had several shipped in, same with apples, and they were costly! But the boys and I looked around and found some things to eat. The owner was making fried pies, so of course, you know I had to buy at least one. Walked away with 4! Eric and PJ found some very nice pumpkins. They were a little high, but since I drove all the way out there, I should be nice and buy them a nice pumpkin. Now we get to carve them tomorrow!!!!

On the way out, I observed several beautiful pictures that just beckoned me to take their picture. I just had to, I don't know why. But I have loved taking the pictures of the area that is slowly dying out.

I thought that since we were out, we would take 411 home, a nice drive, country area. Pleasant surroundings. I remember the old Midway Drive In in Etowah, so, I pull over and take a picture of it. It wasn't that long ago that this still held the movies, but times change, people change and all these old places are left empty, looking for someone to take over and restore them.

I knew it was getting late and the boys were getting hungry, but I had to make one last stop before going home. The Amish community in Delano. We have been there one time before and it was pretty cool that the boys get to go out there. There is a sign before you enter the building, "Please respect us, please dress properly. No tank tops, no low cut tops." I appreciate that. They reserve the right to serve you if you aren't dressed properly.

Of course, I had to buy something. So, some Yukon Golds and a purple pepper. Did I need the pepper? Nope, but it was cool and I wanted it! I love going there. The old cash register, the old scale, the way that they make their breads and sticky rolls (that I turned down).

Ok, I really need to head home. PJ is hungry and Eric seemed a little tired. We go, but we run into a little old man outside and we get to talking and he showed the boys the horse and buggy. Oh it was so cute. They got up in the buggy and I had to take a picture, they looked so photogenic! They also petted the horse, which surprised me. They never pet anything!

Finally, finally, we head home. And once again, I looked all around me and I saw some things that I would have never thought about taking pictures of. I had Eric watching behind me to make sure no cars were coming. I was taking chances, but I had to get these shots.

This old train bridge is still a working bridge. Now if the leaves were changing, it would be gorgeous. But they aren't, and we are missing out on so many beautiful colors. Since we are in historic drought situation here, the leaves just fall off, we have missed out on so much this year. It took until now to get a nice Saturday to do something that we don't do much.

I found myself driving down the road with the camera in hand. I am so glad that I brought it with me. The next time that I come this way, all of this may be gone. And I just don't want the memories to escape me without getting the camera out and taking the picture and putting it in my memory bank.

I am so glad that the boys and I headed out today. 100 miles, 4 hours, sunroof open, 2 double cheeseburgers later, we made memories, had fun, laughed, took chances, and would do it again anytime.

I am so thankful for the first beautiful, comfortable day. It made our day so much nicer. Hopefully, the weather will cooperate and we can do some more things like this together before it gets too cold.

A carving we will go, A carving we will go...... Sing with me!

Last year I started something with the boys. I thought that carving their own pumpkins would be good for them. For Eric it would help his gross and fine motor skills. For PJ, it would just keep him busy enough to keep him out of my hair for a few minutes. No, for him, just to be a kid.

We did the kind last year that you tape and then poke holes in it and then carve. Eric did a really good job on his, and PJ had some help, but still they were both very good. And they had fun.

This year they decided that since we were going to the pumpkin patch that we could carve again this year. That was fine with me. I enjoyed it, it was a mess, but who cares, it was fun for all of us.

We went to the pumpkin patch and got 2 very nice pumpkins. I thought that they were a little pricey, but when I went to the grocery store on Sunday, I found out that the ones there weren't as nice and they were more money.

I get the newspapers laid out and start stabbing PJ's pumpkin to get the top off. Oh how I hate this part! But I got it cut and top off and hand in to clean it out. EWW! Dig in to get all the seeds out, all the stringy stuff, and start scraping the stuff out. I decided that this would be a good job for PJ. Just don't look at my messy countertop. I was trying to make breakfast at the time!

I get that one done, and start on Eric's. He wanted to do most of the work. That was fine with me, because I didn't want to do another one. He had a good time with it, he is more like me, he doesn't like stuff on his hands.

But he dug right in and got out all the seeds, got all the gooey stuff out. Ick! I let him do all that stuff, only because I did the other one.

I send them outside with the pumpkins, tape and patterns. Started having some problems. This year I got a different kind of pattern, not the same as last year. I thought that this was a better, I was wrong. We had all kinds of problems, the marker smeared, the patterned buckled and tore.

I helped PJ get his on there. It wasn't easy, but I wanted him to start carving. I traced and got him started. He had some problems, but he had fun with it.

Eric tried to tape his and do his on his own. He did pretty good with it. He pretty much free handed his, because it didn't want to tape on to the pumpkin. I did help him some, but for the most part, he did it on his own.

They carved and carved. It was fun watching them. They did a good job. They cut, cut fingers off, missed some of the letters, but who cares. They are kids, and they aren't supposed to be perfect, they are supposed to have fun. And they did.

In the long run, they tried. They had fun. They laughed at what they did. Looked at the way they got on to the pumpkin. Everything, they are kids and they are supposed to have fun.

I have been criticized by many for letting my kids do such a horrible thing. But, well, I didn't have the chance to do anything like that. No one took the time with me, and I want them to be kids. It isn't fair that if some don't care for it, that I shouldn't care for it.

I got candles tonight and lit those babies up!

Eric's alien was more towards the bottoms, but he tried, and that is all that matters.

PJ's boo didn't come out very well, but, he is 8 and he made the attempt.

So, we will make plans for next year and have fun again. I have fun with them. And I am so glad that I made the time to have fun with them.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Projects for school

About 2 1/2 weeks ago, PJ came home with a paper saying that he had a project due on Oct 3. I knew it was coming, Eric had the same one due back when he was in the 3rd grade, so I expected this one.

He comes home with the paper with the grading system on it. Name on paper, turned in on time and of course, work done mostly myself. This really meant a lot to me, because I make the boys do most of the projects themselves.

So this project wasn't any different. PJ and I bounced ideas off each other and he finally came up with Pizza Hut. That was fine and it wouldn't be all that hard on him to do.

I helped him open the lids on the copier paper boxes. And I told him that he needed to glue the paper on the boxes. The harder things I helped him with, but in the long run, he did the work and the paragraph on his own.

I got to school early today, before the field trip, and I looked at all the wonderful projects. They were all very nice. Some nicer than others, some very creatively done, some not so good.
This one was cute:

Can't you tell they didn't have any help?
And then there were these too:

And who really did these projects?

I heard the mothers talking in the hallway today. One said, "Well, I told my husband that I got an A on the seed project, so now what kind of grade are you gonna get on this one?" And the other said, "I did most of the work on this one, she should, or I should get the A." I didn't say anything, I just went on my way and took pictures.
It doesn't help the child if we do the work for them. I don't help them all that much, and it doesn't mean that I don't want to help them. But how are they learning if I do it.

I don't think the grades that these children are getting is earned either. Eric did a project on his own the other day. He told me that he got a 100 on it. He turned it in on time, he had his name on it, it was neatly done, it was done correctly. I gave him a few ideas, he had me print things for him, I got out my scrapbooking stuff, and he did it on his own. He told me that it looked cheesy, but he did a great job, and it showed that he can do it on his own and get a good grade on it.

Oh well, PJ will get a grade on it. He earned it honestly and that is all there is to it. His little Pizza Hut, I helped cut, but he did what he needed to do. I am proud of both of the boys, they WANT to do their projects on their own.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Beware of the Corn (MAZE)

I love going on field trips with the boys. I don't know why, maybe because some of them are really fun and I have fun with them when I get to go.
Three years ago I got to go with Eric to the Mason Corn Maze in Niota TN. When we went, Hurricane Ivan just moved through 2 days before that, and it basically tore up the field, and it made it very easy to go through the maze. So, that stuck in my head.

I got to school, got behind all the snooty moms in there huge SUVs, here I am in my Jetta, and we go. I know the way, so I wasn't really worried about getting lost. But 4 of us missed the light to get on I-75, so we were really behind. Finally we get on the interstate and I am just wanting to get caught up to the bus, I look down, and low and behold, I am doing 100mph. OOPS! We all eventually caught up and then it is speed up, slow down with some of these women. Gee whiz, just go!

We drove through the little town of Niota, and while we were driving, I noticed all of these photo opps that I never noticed before. You see, my friend Johanna has really inspired me to take pictures of the surrounding areas. Well, considering I have a boat load of mothers behind me, I figure I will get the shots on the way back.

We get there and I have got to go to the bathroom. The coffee and diet coke ran through me, so of course I ask where the bathrooms are, she points to this outhouse type building behind the little house. Great, I gotta go in there!
It wasn't quite an outhouse, they had working toilets and sink. But just make sure you use the chain on the nail to hold the door shut.

They gathered us all up and had the kids watch a video to help answer the questions in the maze. They needed to pay attention to this in order to get through the maze. Do you think my 2 boys paid any attention? Um no!

So, we paired up with another chaperone and 2 children and between the 6 of us surely to goodness we can get through this. Yeah right! We actually got lost going to the first question, didn't answer that right and got turned around, that didn't not take long. We ended up with a crowd of about 15. We hit the questions in order and then we hit a snafu, 5 to 8, that didn't work. We went back to look for 6 and 7, yep that took forever. It is hot, humid, we have no water, and we thought we were gonna die out there. It was miserable. But we did make it out, about 90 minutes later.

In the corn, we ran upon several of morning glories growing. Most of them were opened and in full bloom, so of course, I spotted a chance to take some pictures of them. I know, they are flowers, but if I see something that I like, well, I am gonna start taking pictures.

After we got out, we waited for the hayride. Sure, why not. So, PJ and I walk around and look at the different things out there. Like a sandbox full of corn, and a corn cob made of all yellow milk jugs.

Get some water and wait for the next trip around.

The hayride was packed full, we were all hot and sweaty sitting on hay. Yep, that is nice!

The view from the ride was just as pretty as could be, if we had cooler weather, the leaves would be changing, but the weather has been miserable and fall still hasn't arrived.

After the hayride, we got to see where they milk the cows, and stopped off to see the cows eating. Oh the silage that they are fed, it stinks worse than the manure! I loved seeing the bully cows bumping the smaller ones out of the way. Goes to show that there are bullies everywhere, but it was funny to see her just head butt her and make her move.

We had lunch, and ice cream. Didn't pick our pumpkins, but then again, we don't want a tiny little pumpkin, we want a good one to carve! PUMPKIN HEAD!

PJ and I finally head home. And I finally have a chance to take some pictures of the things that I spotted on the way in.

This is outside of the Niota Depot. Funny, a town that still has an operating depot. And then across the street, the old buildings of the town that once housed the business district. This is the business district? Yep, that is the way they live out there.

I spotted this all on the way in, and I was so excited to know that I had my handy dandy camera, and the inspiration from my dear friend. I don't think that I would have spotted this as a picture waiting to be taken. But now, I go everywhere with my camera, and I am so glad that I do.

We took a pitstop on the way home. Something that I usually don't do, but since we got done early, and we were going to be home very early, I thought that something for me and PJ to do would be nice.

Oh yeah! I love this store!

All in all, we had fun. It was a nice trip to the corn, don't look forward to another trip like that though.