School Projects

This is the solar system. No really, it is. Or rather a representation of it.And so is this.
The boys and I made the one on the top, and the girls made the one on the bottom.

The balloon model is the first project in the super cool astronomy curriculum we began this semester. The other one is a kit the girls have had for some time, but I never let them do it cuz you know...it's messy.

I'm not a project mom. There, I said it. My name is Michele and I hate crafts. Maybe there is a 12-step program for people like me.

I want to be cool and creative. I want to let my kids do all the neat experiments and build, and paint and create all the stuff they envision. But when it comes right down to it, the mess and the time and the million other things to do usually push projects right on out the window.

So, I have resolved to do all of the astronomy projects as they come up. To that end I purchased the Box of Stuff that is supposed to contain everything I need to complete said projects. Thus ending the excuses of the I haven't gone to the store, didn't know I needed it, can't find it, will look for it later, variety. This is project one, and all of the children were THRILLED that they got to do it. Astronomy is the new favorite thing around here :)

Wish me luck! I think I can, I think I can...

Hi Mom

More Birthday Celebration

Miss Sierra received a new sewing machine for her birthday. Hailey has one too, but she never uses it because it jams constantly. It looked like Sierra's was going to have the same trouble. She and grandma poured over the directions to no avail.

Then my dad says, "Hey, I bet you have it threaded wrong." Huh?? Threading the machine is pretty basic, isn't it? Turns out it's not. Turns out the machines can be pretty persnickity that way. If the thread feeds under instead of over, nothing works. Or over instead of under, if your machine likes it that way. Or to the left, or right... Seems like they all have a different preference. Even Hailey's machine, which purrs along quite happily now.

So, before you toss your machine out the window...Flip the spool around. It might just make all the difference. :)


Happy Birthday Sierra!

As is our tradition, the day began with breakfast out. We tried a new place this time and were pleasantly surprised. It wasn't much to look at on the outside, but we heard the locals like it. And we did too.

After breakfast daddy took her to C.A.L.M. A living museum/animal rescue zoo outside of Bakersfield. They came back with lots of tales, and it sounds like a worthy field trip for the whole family.

Burgers, pie, and ice cream followed (chocolate/banana cream), and best of all, the blessing from daddy.

We can hardly believe that Sierra has entered double digits. It seems like such a short time ago that she was rushing out the back door to climb into the dog water. Again. And again.

But now she has grown into a beautiful young lady who loves the Lord and her family. She adores her baby brother and always has a bright smile and happy greeting for him. She's quick to organize a tea party, or look for ways to entertain her brothers.

Sierra delights in learning to sew and knit, but her true delight is reading. I just can't keep that girl in books :)

We are so grateful for the joy Sierra brings to our home, and praise God for the privilege of raising her. Happy birthday Sierra, we love you!


They're Just Looking Out for Us

This makes me so mad.

U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., is hoping to pass a firearm-licensing bill that will significantly rewrite gun-ownership laws in America.

Among the more controversial provisions of the bill are requirements that all handgun owners submit to the federal government a photo, thumb print and mental heath records. Further, the bill would order the attorney general to establish a database of every handgun sale, transfer and owner's address in America.

The bill claims its purpose is "to protect the public against the unreasonable risk of injury and death associated with the unrecorded sale or transfer of firearms to criminals and youth."

It seems that in May, 2007 a young man was shot and killed on a public bus when he used his body as a shield to protect a young lady after a criminal boarded the bus and opened fire. You can read the whole article at the link above.

That's terrible. I agree that this was a crime that ought not to have happened. This young man is a hero, he died saving another, but I agree that this was highly preventable. Rep. Rush thinks that the answer to preventing more crimes like this in the future is to make it more difficult and onerous for law abiding citizens to own guns. The fact seems to have escaped him that criminals, by their very nature, do not abide by such laws.

It seems to me that the obvious frequently escapes such protectors of our "safety". For instance, if the young man who intended to board the bus and open fire had a reasonable assurance that there would be several armed persons aboard the bus, would he have been as inclined to pursue that particular course of action? And if he had, perhaps he would have been shot before the innocent young man lost his life.

It makes far more sense to me to require that all adults carry a firearm and be trained in how to use it. It seems to me a more likely deterrent of violent crime. Those who desire weapons to do harm will always find a way to obtain them. The only thing bills like the one proposed by Rep. Rush accomplish is seeing to it that no one can do anything to protect themselves. I believe the biggest deterrent to crimes like these is the gunman knowing that any time he pulls his weapon, he is likely to be staring down the barrel of another.

I also believe we have a responsibility to protect ourselves and our loved ones. I think this school district in Texas got it right.

PS: I don't think gun ownership should actually be required. I just think that if you are going to make laws concerning the owning of guns, that's a more sensible one. I do think gun ownership should be encouraged though.


Building Skills

For Christmas we gave the boys a pile of wood and some basic woodworking tools in a toolbox. They have been happily creating ever since. Eli is pretty proud of his first project and wanted to show everyone the cool box he made to hold his "stuff".
Not bad, eh!


I'm Geographically Challenged

The oldest child's knack for getting lost is a long standing family joke. I like to think I'm a bit more aware of my surroundings. But maybe not. Last night I was coming home from shopping in Bakersfield with all of the children. I think that children part is important. In my defense I had a couple that were having an especially trying day. I was tired. Yea, that's it. Really, really tired :)

So anyway, I missed the spot where I was supposed to move from one freeway to another. Not inconceivable. Could happen to anyone. The thing that is really disturbing is that I didn't notice. I'm just cruising along, talking to the girls, and feeling like Bakersfield is really a lot further from us now than San Antonio was from our previous home. In fact, that's what we started talking about, how long it seemed to take to get home. Then I look at the clock and realize it's almost 7:45. Hmmm, what time did I leave Bakersfield?? Then come the fast food restaurants that I don't recognize and I take a good look around and realize I'm really in trouble.

I should have been home by 7:10 at the latest and now it is almost 8 and I am in Santa Clarita. NICE. I didn't get home until around 9:30, out of gas and out of patience. Titus spent a good part of the trip screaming, Eli sniffing, and Ezra doing various and sundry misdeads.

My husband can get anywhere he has ever been before. I can't get home from a trip I make at least twice a month :0


Some final pictures of the great snow in. The white stuff is all gone now, and we can get up and down the hill with very little trouble. Looking at the pictures it even looks fun :)

Next time it snows we hope to be a little better prepared. We traded the BMW for a 4 WD so we think that Mike will be able to get to work, and perhaps the rest of us can shuttle down the hill to the van. It seems you never have so many places to go as when it is impossible to leave :)

But I'm not complaining. Really. The snow in and the Christmas power outage pointed out some serious holes in our "preparedness." And that's a good thing. Perhaps we can plug the holes before preparedness is more serious.

Take a good look at Ethan sledding down the hill. Terror, pure terror :)

Ticker Time

Does my new ticker look a little girlie?? That's because the sonogram says...IT'S A GIRL! The tech says she's quite certain, so we are going to go with it. We may have a little boy in pink a few months from now, but for now, WE HAVE A GIRL!


Hit Those Resale Shops Now

You might have heard me mention the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) that goes into effect on Feb 10, 2009. I (and many others) was hopeful that there might be some amendment when Congress met to hear it on Dec. 10, but the hearing was cancelled and it doesn't appear that there will be any sort of change before the law takes effect.

The CPSIA requires testing of all products intended for children under 12 for the presence of lead and/or phthalates. ALL PRODUCTS. This includes books, toys, clothes, car seats, strollers, slings... Anything designed to be used by children. And there is no exclusion for used items, or for existing inventory. Childrens resale shops? Gone. 1/2 of Goodwill, gone. 1/2 of eBay, gone. You get the picture.

This is just another example of government run amok. Lead is bad. I want it out of things that I buy for my children. But the way that this law is written will decimate resale and specialty markets. Every lot in every color of everything will have to be tested. Even if every component has been certified, the end product must still be tested. So, for one-of-a-kind items, that means every one of them. And the testing is very expensive. It's estimated to be $4,000 for toys, $150-$500 for clothes. The little guy, with little lots, or the resaler, just wont be able to comply. Just what we need in an economy barely breathing.

This passed in the House 424 to 1. Guess who the one was??? Ron Paul for president!!

LA Times wrote about it here, and Molly Orr has a couple of good posts on her blog if you scroll down a bit. Valerie talks about the changes coming to her book business. There are lots more if you google a bit.