Thursday, September 29, 2005

Go read: 30 Days to Becoming an Opera 8 Lover

Opera has been my primary Web browser for several years now. I was a loyal Netscape user "forever." Now I like Firefox okay, and I will reluctantly fire up Internet Explorer for must-visit sites that break in Opera (their design staff's fault!), but Opera is wonderful. My dear husband prefers some Mac thing on his Apple laptop, but I sing the praises of Opera. Easy, helpful, great useful features... learn about all about it at:

30 Days to Becoming an Opera 8 Lover

The earlier version, 30 Days to Becoming an Opera Lover (version 6, I think?), convinced me to try Opera and I LOVED it. I applied for and received free registration as a member of the Web design community, so that made me even happier, but now Opera 8 is FREE for everyone.

Go check it out, especially if you use Internet Explorer, shudder...

No ads. Better browsing

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Time flies! Fall blows in. Art Fridays...

Too long between blog posts again, sorry! All is well, and tonight a wild wind is blowing in cool autumn air and at least a day of long-sleeves weather. We've been homeschooling for nearly a month (woohoo!) and I've gotten a bit organized and a bit buzzing with ideas, so I spent some time and energy on that stuff. I blogged about it over at A Bit of Bubbly so as not to bore you all!

Life is not as hectic, even though it's nearly as busy as a few weeks ago. I'm not perceiving my days as frantic or chaotic right now, yay. I have a lot to do over the next few days so my weekend is front-loaded with some planning for what I need to do (various activities, review my Godly Play story memorization, prep for a meeting to run, prep for a home party to host, read my book group book before the busy weekend -- yay for what I've heard is a fun and quick read: Goddess for Hire).

On Friday I'm going to introduce my now-homeschooled youngest to Mommy's recipe for a good end to the week and start to the weekend: Art Fridays! I'm getting really interested in paper art/paper crafts, and I want to do some fun art experiences with my sons, so I'm going to combine the two into a basis for Art Fridays. My youngest and I will do stuff on Friday mornings, and I hope to pull things out again most Saturdays so my oldest can join us.

This week we're either going to do some stamping on paper with household objects and foods, the current lesson over at Paperarts' Family Book Arts 101, or I'll learn to use a borrowed crafters' adhesive machine to cover playing cards with paper, like starting to make an ATC -- artists trading card. The ultimate goal with the cards is to make Days of Creation card sets for my Godly Play Sunday school kids to embellish; I have a couple of weeks to get there from here.

A week or two after the stamping, I want to do the next lesson with the kids: making an accordion-fold book using our favorites of the stamped paper. Cool!

I'm laying the paper-art/crafts groundwork for me AND for the kids by watching DVR'd episodes of DIY Network's show Scrapbooking. My youngest is already trying paper layering and putting special pages in a three-ring binder he asked for. Let's see what happens when I get out papers and we try making a little book!

I like being able to tell myself "Friday!" when I want to start digging through all of my stashed Stuff and Do Something Artsy with the kids or by myself. I'm giving myself permission to pursue these interests, whether for an hour or several Fridays/Saturdays/Sundays? with the family. And so much could fit on Art Fridays. Playdough, Fimo, Sculpey. Further knitting lessons with the kids. Making cards to give and send to others. Playing with flour on the counter, which the kids love. Watercolors and oil pastels that we own but have never tried 'cause I didn't have the nerve. Oh boy!

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Chocolate and Sudoku

That's a recipe for a sweet night's sleep. At least tonight. I've been staying up wayyyy too late (no, not eagerly exploring satellite TV and the DVR!), and by today I was Just. So. Tired. I watched the recorded (yay!) national evening news, the DVR is recording ER, dear husband is kicking back for the evening, I have no hugely pressing projects other than to catch up on sleep, I've had a delicious mouthful of semisweet chocolate chips, nothing else is calling my name... so I'm off to bed. I'll use my PDA to play several games of the math crossword-like puzzle Sudoku, check my to-do list and plans for tomorrow, and set a morning alarm. Then it'll be time for sweet dreams. Ahhhhh.

Night night.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

TV freedom, and no, I didn't throw it out

...we got a DVR ("TiVo"), or digital video recorder, when we switched our TV service from cable to satellite yesterday. We've wanted to do this for years, but just couldn't squeeze the budget to do it. The current DirecTV + DVR offer is so good that we'll be out of pocket just $19.99 in up-front costs, and about $11 more per month for the DVR and a regular DirecTV receiver for my husband's little den ("room of his own").

Dear husband and I played around with the satellite TV and DVR last night, and then this morning I spent some time setting it up for one of my major DVR goals: cutting the kids off from junk kid TV. Now it'll record the kid shows *I* choose -- lots from PBS, a few NickJr shows, a very few Playhouse Disney, and a select few just-fun shows -- Kim Possible and Jimmy Neutron. No more temptation by SpongeBob, woohoo!

I added some other kid shows that look interesting -- especially on the Science channel, Discovery Channel, and so on. And NOVA! After that I took some time to set it up to record the shows dear husband and I watch semi-faithfully; most are starting their new seasons this week and I think I've got all of them set up. I may record a bit of morning news and the evening local news; I always miss them and being able to watch them with my finger poised on the fast-forward button would actually be nice.

I really wanted to get a bunch of recordings set up so we could switch ASAP to watching recorded shows we chose rather than whatever's on live TV. Son2 was quite content to choose his show from the 7-8 great choices I had for him by post-lunchtime. Yay!

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Tinkering complete?

After rather a lot of struggle all evening long with Blogger, I finally successfully uploaded a working new version of my blog template. What an effort!

The lovely-to-my-eyes new background images are courtesy of Bloggrounds. Too fun!

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Goodbyes / for those who have died

I find that I resonate with the prayers for the dying and for the dead that are found in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. I'm sure it has something to do with my tender spot about grief and goodbyes. I've noticed that my husband, sons, and I always, always, always pay attention to departures, whether it's lots of crazy waving when we drop Daddy off for work every morning, plenty of hugs and kisses at airports, or the bedtime ritual of "doing night-nights" with each person in a particular way.

I've put a few BCP prayers on my Faith at Home page about children and death, but here's a new one to me. Someone posted this in a blog's comments (the blogger's grandfather had died). I found it quite wonderful.

From the 1789 U.S. Book of Common Prayer:
Most merciful Father, who hast been pleased to take unto thyself the soul of this thy servant; Grant to us who are still in our pilgrimage, and who walk as yet by faith, that having served thee with constancy on earth, we may be joined hereafter with thy blessed saints in glory everlasting; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
You can explore this and many other editions of the BCP on this Book of Common Prayer page.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Gas prices, arrgh

Lowest-price gas (regular unleaded) in our Oklahoma town was $2.29/gallon when I went to Washington state July 25, where the prices crept up from 2.49 to 2.56 while we were there. To my surprise when we arrived home August 16, here in Oklahoma the low price has skipped upward about 20cents, to $2.49. It continued to surge upward, and was about $2.69 the day before Hurricane Katrina made landfall. Then gas prices spiked, reaching 3.09 a few days afterward.

Gas held stead at that price for about two weeks. A few days ago it started falling by 6 to 10 cents a day! But wait, there's more: the price drops in the last 36 hours have been remarkable. Today I personally saw gas at 2.57 a bunch of places, and friends saw it at 2.49. A SIXTY CENT drop in a week?!?!?!? Tell me there wasn't some gouging going on here. Grrr. And my dear husband pointed out how interesting it is that now we feel $2.49 a gallon is a bargain. Arrgh.

Not much more to say tonight. Our windows are open and I get to enjoy, not only cool breezes, but the night sounds! We heard a freight train go by (half a mile away). Now it's all crickets and other chirping things. The first true break in summer weather!

The great Katrina migration

Two weeks after it blew through the US Gulf Coast, it's clear that hurricane Katrina has resulted in the largest displacement of Americans in 150 years -- if not the largest ever. The scale is monumental. It's as if the entire Dust Bowl migration occurred in 14 days, or the dislocations caused by the Civil War took place on fast-forward.

(The emphasis is mine.) Read the article: The Great Katrina Migration.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

What's really filling my time

I got a wonderful, marvelous, delicious nine and a half hours of sleep last night, and I feel SO MUCH BETTER! (Made possible by kids who are now somewhat self-sufficient for a bit on Saturday morning!) The last couple of weeks have been filled chock-a-block with things to do -- on deadlines. Yikes. At these times I look at my normal days and think, "I had no idea what busy really was!"

It feels good to accomplish lots of things. And yet, I couldn't keep this pace up. I'm barely keeping up with laundry and groceries, we've had take-out for dinner more than I'd like, and the (homeschooling) sit-down time with Son2 early each morning is particularly precious; it's both one-on-one time and Mommy-slow-down time.

Hurrah, the final deadlines are nearly met. Here's what I've been working on.

  • Freelance Web design subcontract work, multiple projects for a local Web design company. A chunk of time midday and much of my evenings in my home office. Has slowed down significantly this week.

  • Registration packets for the annual diocesan (statewide) convention hosted this year by my church; multiple problems with getting the mailing together. Much time spent at the church.

  • My Daughters of the King (DoK) chapter, as president this year, preparation for the upcoming year: planning, yearbook, collecting dues, figuring out membership issues, preparing for first monthly meetings (day and evening). All but the planning is new to me this year. Lots of little bits of time here and there; still working on membership and dues.

  • Godly Play Sunday school class, 4- and 5-year-olds co-teacher, preparation for the upcoming year: planning lessons, spiffing up and setting up the room for back-to-Sunday-school Sunday (tomorrow), etc. Some little bits of time, plus a chunk in the room today. I rest on the TON of organizational work, including a two-year plan, that I did previous years.

  • Both DoK and Godly Play are part of tomorrow's Rally Day and Ministries Fair at church. DoK will have a table at the Min. Fair; the Godly Play teachers will be in our classrooms to meet kids and parents. In a few minutes I'm relocating with my coffee over to the church to do that classroom spiffing up I mentioned!

    On the back burner ready to move up are a newsletter and some church-event publicity. The freelance Web work may become less intense, not sure. After tomorrow Godly Play will move into a weekly routine of memorizing/refreshing the story when it's my week to be storyteller. After this coming week the DoK stuff will move to a monthly cycle around the meetings. It's just this whole Launch The Year thing has really gotten hold of me this year!

    I'll post more on the homeschooling gig over at A Bit of Bubbly at some point today or tonight. All is well.

    Tuesday, September 06, 2005

    Quick update, big things

    First big thing: Today is my first day homeschooling Son2; I withdrew him from kindergarten at the big "neighborhood" school this morning right after we dropped off Son1 at our former neighborhood's little elementary school to continue in fourth grade there. Last night I set up a homeschool blog called A Bit of Bubbly over at, so I can talk about that stuff ad nauseum and not bore you all! We did some reading and, er, number literacy (counting and such) this morning, and he fairly zipped through the second of our phonics readers, yay! Then he got to go play with his friend next door who is in afternoon kindergarten -- Very Big Plus, let me tell you, to homeschooling, at least today!

    The other big thing: Over the last week or 10 days a lot of my "free" time has been filled with freelance Web design work for a local Web design company. Whew, I'd forgotten lots of my little things to speed up my design work, but I'm back on track now. We're taking it project by project, seeing how we work together. By the end of the week, with Hurricane Katrina saddening and shocking me daily, it was a draining week -- but I accomplished much. I like the work and that it pushes me to do much more Web design than I had been. Who knows what will come of mixing this and the homeschooling and seeking balance and simple living. Hmm.

    Thursday, September 01, 2005

    Let us lament

    In the devastating wake of Hurricane Katrina, my life is unaffected (except for the price of gas, $2.97 today), but there is a deep undercurrent of grief.

    What can I do? I can send money. I can pray. I can attempt to answer my kids' questions, both asked and unasked. Today I made a new Violence, Disaster, and War page on my site Faith at Home, and changed the front page to point to faith-oriented disaster/trauma resources. I'll send out an email newsletter about it to my readers. I'll put some good links out there on my church's Web site and email list. I'll see what I can do through my church and my MOMS Club chapter. And yet... grief.

    Today I read a sermon that a friend mentioned fits really well this week even though she wrote it at another time. If your heart, like mine, is breaking every time you hear or see news coverage of the results of Katrina, please read Raewynne's sermon.

    Erd_donatenew_wht Since today is a Blogging for Katrina day, here's a really good avenue for donating money. And there are a ton more possibilities at Instapundit's roundup.

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