Friday, December 14, 2007

I flew into & out of Minnesota

Create your own personalized map of the USA

That was kind of fun :)

Waiting for the rain to turn over to snow. Maybe before sunrise? I'll be in bed, then.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Good company lifts the spirits

Our very homey Internet cafe

Some friends came over with their kids to get out of their no-power houses. My kitchen table turned into our own little Internet cafe! and the kids enjoyed the change of pace, power, heat, and electric light, too. You can't see the cell phones charging, but they were practically the first thing plugged in -- a cell phone is a lifeline this week.

Most trees are free of ice. It's rained hard several times during the day, so there's a lot of flooded low spots. My current hope is that the water is gone and most of our town has power back before...


Monday, December 10, 2007

Ice Storm: yep, it's a big one

The trees around our house glisten and glitter, bow low and creak under the weight of half an inch (I think) of ice coating every twig, branch, limb, old leaf, and future leaf bud. Our river birches are bowed very low, and the lower branches of our stiff, young oak have been pulled down so they actually touch the driveway and sidewalk. Branches are down and trees are broken or completely fallen throughout our block... neighborhood... town... state. It is a beautiful, awful sight.

And I feel very lucky to have power. Half a million people in Oklahoma are without power. And more than half of our town. And most of the friends I've heard from and heard news of today. This is the biggest-ever outage in our state, according to the electric company.

We're also very lucky as a town that our roads are bare and wet, not covered with more ice and not likely to be. That means we can get places if need be. It means the boys and I can leave home and do something else for a while tomorrow afternoon if we want to, yay.

I'm guessing that pretty much everyone is wondering what will happen to the remaining trees overnight and as the ice begins to melt tomorrow. Dear husband and I are thankful that no trees are threatening our house, and that our car is safely in our garage. We personally know several people whose luck has already run out in that regard, and we have a third of a neighbor's tree (in the form of large limbs), fallen, in our backyard.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

A brief history of the previous four months

August - preparation for the new homeschooling year, deeper and more intense this year. Number One destination for my energy and creativity -- until we started lessons/schooling! Then the homeschooling and the last of the prep work took over my life and squeezed blogging out of the picture, sorry. See the weekly routines and yearly reading plans on my homeschooling blog, A Bit of Bubbly, for a glimpse of that stuff.

September - time of seeking and settling into the routine that works best for our homeschooling this year. Scouts got rolling, and so did Sunday school (I teach pre-K and kindergarteners in a Godly Play program, my kids attend their own classes), homeschoolers chess club, the MOMS Club interest groups I try to attend, and so on.

At his first troop meeting since early summer, Son1 received his four merit badges earned at Boy Scout camp in June, and moved up two ranks -- oh wow! From this point on we don't expect him to move up in rank faster than once every year to year and a half, because he's only 11-nearly-12 and we see no need to rush to Eagle before age 17 or so. Now is the time to be choosing merit badges to work on.

Son1 had several Boy Scout camping trips at the end of the month. Son1 went with his patrol, others from his pack, and 4,980 other Boy Scouts (!!) and adult leaders from our state and elsewhere to the Oklahoma Centennial Camporee. An entirely different experience from the small campouts he and we had previously done -- wow.

October - routine and activities continued. On the third weekend we all went on a family campout, which was great, and it was really good to get to know some of dear husband and Son2's den families. We barely saw Son1; he stayed busy and/or hung out with his patrol, including a challenge called Tree-Top Tea Time (light a fire high in a tree, on a metal garbage can lid held with heatproof gloves by a Scout, and boil water for a cup of Earl Grey tea for the Senior Patrol Leader!). I was up before dawn both mornings, and the stars were amazing. I loved looking at them with one of the dads, who is from New Zealand, while we waited for the coffee to perk (yum!).

Suddenly Halloween appeared on the horizon. Due to the boys' previous negotiations, I purchased cool spiky stretchy colored fingerless gloves that they used for their costumes. Also due to their pleadings we actually, for the first time ever, carved Jack o' Lanterns!

I had gotten a little carving kit on post-holiday clearance one year, so we actually had more than the usual paring and kitchen knives for carving. The patterns that came with were neat. We covered the table with a cloth and lots of newspapers and went for it. I remembered that I really don't like pumpkin innards, and yet we had fun roasting the pumpkin seeds and figuring out how to follow the design instructions for transferring the designs to the pumpkins. Son1 did his entirely on his own; Son2 did about half of the work on his. I was impressed! and called it art, of course....

And then there was costuming, and trick-or-treating, and much consumption of candy.

November - kind of a blur, really. I had a birthday early in the month, turning 45 (why does everyone print books and newspapers so tiny nowadays?!?) Several cool field trips with the homeschoolers association. We went to a youth concert of the Big City philharmonic, a wonderful experience that led me to promise myself to get more live music into our lives.

The next week, two days before Oklahoma's centennial Statehood Day on November 16, we spent the morning (in a group from our homeschoolers association) at a historic homestead very near the state capitol building, participating in living history programs.

The kids played with old-fashioned toys from tic-tac-toe to stilts, from jump rope to a ring-and-sticks game, and then had a very interesting lesson in the schoolhouse from a reenactor teacher. The dads participated as well (the moms mostly took photos!), and were very funny! Then we moved on to the barn to stuff scarecrows with straw, use machines to strip dry kernels from corn, sort them, and grind corn meal, and then split logs and use a cross-cut saw (lots of adult supervision!). Afterward we headed over to the capitol and took a very complete tour from a great tour guide. A long day, but completely worthwhile.

Two days later, that Friday, I was off to the other Big City in our state with the rest of my church's delegation for our annual statewide convention/meeting for two days. This was my sixth year, I think, and although I always really enjoy it, this year was very good because the new bishop told us about his priorities, vision, and plans, and I was impressed!

That Saturday was a busy one for our family: I was away, dear husband went to an all-day Scout leader training event, Son1 spent the night with a Scout patrol friend so he could participate in several Scout events on Saturday, and Son2 also got to spend the night with friends and do fun stuff with them on Saturday. We all got back together early Saturday evening... and went to a cookout party! We were back home by 9 pm, kind of glad that there was a football game everyone left to go watch on TV. Fun party as always, but what a weekend!

That Sunday I realized it was the start of Thanksgiving week! We have a tradition now of gathering with three other families to celebrate Thanksgiving with feasting, games, and conversation, so we prepared for and thoroughly enjoyed that. I think this year our family especially savored the long holiday weekend with no particular plans. Next, a flurry of preparation for our departure the following Wednesday, for a week away.

December - we took a week for a car trip to Ohio to visit family. On the weekend in the middle, dear husband and I drove to Detroit for the wedding of friends while the boys stayed with their cousin, aunt, and uncle (and had a great time). We drove home from Ohio last Tuesday. After a few days of commitments for me that the boys helped with as well (assist with the church's bazaar on Wednesday morning, and then a funeral reception the next day), now I think I'm feeling a little caught up and back on track.

Today, as I write this, the boys and dear husband are marching in our town's holiday parade with our Scout pack & troop. They went to the parade site directly from the monthly men's breakfast (sons welcome) at our church, and afterward might drop Son2 off at the church for the final rehearsal of the Christmas pageant to be done in the morning service tomorrow. Or they might swing by here so I can take Son2 and the other two can head for the cosy chair/sofa a bit sooner. This evening Son1 has a Scout patrol board game night at the home of a Scout family, and I have my nonfiction book group mere blocks away (in a minute I'm going to go read more of the book!), so he and I will go to and from together.

I am very thankful that our impending ice storm/cold rain event has been slower and slower getting here; rather than tonight, it looks as though Monday is the day for that. The fridge, pantry, and laundry will be pretty much ready for bad weather, though I should get some breakfast foods.

I knit a lot on the trip, finishing my cozy alpaca-wool socks and getting most of the pair of lighter weight pastel wool-cotton socks done as well as a pair of wrist warmers per Son2's request. I LOVE for seeing what other people are doing with patterns that catch my eye, and keeping track of patterns I really want to knit.

What I meant to say was that the household will be ready for bad weather, and I'll be ready as well!

So, hello!