Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The big project is underway, and Bemidji Menus is now Live! We have most of the menus around town, and are still typing. WHEW! But, it's big and pretty, and very worth looking at.

Now, if I can just the card reader to work so I can post up the new pictures...

Sunday, October 01, 2006

It's been a quiet week of dejunking and getting ready for winter. Niki took a big step into adulthood by getting rid of all of her Polly Pockets sets. The drought is finally over, so I have grass again. I set up the Fire Station tour for the homeschool group, and found two sources of firewood - so that's two quests fulfilled.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

I think this is my favorite picture of the bunch. The beautiful red head is doing her best scrunchy face while her brother is thinking of hiding from the camera again. Niki is giggling at her rescue of Michael from the "Vortex of DOOM" that the kids were doing in the whirlpool. How homeschool to do a science experiment with some 15 people in a hotel pool! I'll have to get permissions from the rest to blog those pictures, but they are so cute... Afterward, most of us trekked out into the blustery 40 degree weather to the heated outdoor pool and hot tub. The hotel had mini golf and roasted marshmellows for us - but it was too cold to get too far away from the heat sources. The Marco Polo game turned into a Roman-water wrestling, so there were some very tired, very happy soggy kids in Duluth that night.

Just back from Duluth, and it was terrific! This is Niki and William on the Lakewalk with a fish sculpture near the Vista cruise boat. The panda is a junk shop buy that went all over Duluth with us.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Wow - I did get busy and couldn't do too much with my shoulder acting up. The "Not Back to School" picnic was fabulous! We had about 20 families come - some as far away as Brainerd.

School is begun, and Eastern History looks like it could be stretched into infinity. We colored flags, and used wiki to find out facts about the Pacific Islands. I think they were more interested in the trench and volcanos than the islands - but ok. Deep Ocean studies ahead...

The homeschool group is set up with field trips, party ideas, and interesting things all around. I set up and even got it hooked into a free email server.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Planner Organizer Crazy!

I'm supposed to be looking for ways to teach kids about running their
own planner and getting them organized and self-sufficient.

Instead, I ran across the improvements in Google Desktop. WOW!
There's crap in there that I didn't know I needed. Did you know that
you can tell your computer when you toss in a load of laundry, and
it'll tell you when the washer should be done!

Google Desktop

Google Gadgets
So far, I like the sketch pad for notes, the to do list, and the photo
thing (not sure what that was called), and I have to restart to get
the laundry one going. (I wonder if it tracks how many loads? Maybe
it'll buy me a drink when I hit 100 )

I did remove lots of things that I won't use - Stocks, weather, email,
network monitor. But, it looks like a very cool idea. I do happen to
know that one of the reasons that make Google a great company is that
employees are encouraged to take a certain percentage of their time to
work on "their" projects and interests, and they encourage independent
people to submit their projects.

First, I forgot to add that there is a "Google Pack" of good stuff to
download like Google Earth, Picasa, and Norton. (Symantec is better,
but free is good too) at (the
pack is at bottom right)

And, is the
address for the templates that I was looking for. There's a new
"Student ID" under the education section, and I use the Fitness Chart
for Women and the weekly meal planner quite often. I took a chart
that looked like what I wanted (Project To Do list?) and made it into
my chore chart that I've offered to share.

If you know how to save your form every so often, and use control Z to
kill the things that aren't working (it means back up one step) - then
it's pretty easy to change things around and make it fit you better.
I like using the templates because I'm not so good at starting things
from scratch, but I can set up nice things pretty well if I have
something to start with.
Rather like icky cotton candy - isn't it?
Took some time to get my house in order, and quite a few things happened. First, I have to update the "wierd hair" page. Leo decided to dye the dreadlocks pink and purple. It looks like he got a swirly in a cotton candy machine. Ok, I've found a zen about his hair - but my shower was purple. Not a little purple - the entire bottom half was purple. It took four tries and a female friend, but he did finally get it back to white.

I don't want to tread on feelings here - but this is important to me. Kids at my house do quite a number of different things. One of the big ones is bike riding. There's a golf course where they can play or just get a soda, and the bike trail system right close. One of the friend's was supposed to be picked up at 9am - so he was ready at 9 am. Finally at about 10:30, I call his mother and he was supposed to be at practice at 9am. She said she'll get him in an hour or 2. Never showed. About 3ish, we had to grab something for dinner, so I had her son try to call her. I heard yelling, and I think she hung up on him. So, I told the father what we were up to, and gave him my cell number. Took the dog, went to a park, grabbed chips and home for dinner. Mommy dearest rolls up at about 9:30 having a temper tantrum. Apparently, they'd missed me at both numbers and just never tried back. Uh, I don't have an answering machine - my voice mails get bounced to email.

(Put coffee down) This is a para (helper) who is supposed to be kind and patient with special ed kids in the school district. Ick, icky ick.

So - what to do? I'd like to perserve the boy's friendship, but I really do not want to deal with this again. Plus, if she rants and raves like this at an adult - then how does she speak to her kids? I already know what her son's self esteem is like - is it only a matter of time before he starts acting out?? This stuff is leaving me sleepless. I pretty much expected an apology the next day, and nothing.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

(Jeans not dry)

Excellent Article at Salon. You do have to watch an ad to read all of the articles, but it's still better than registering for spam...

Quarterlife Crisis

Dear MTV,

This week, you turned 25. We've spent a lot of time with you over the years -- we're 25, too -- and we wanted to wish you a happy birthday. But we also want to say something else. It's a request, really, or a plea:

Please. Stop. For the good of the country, stop what you're doing.

Look, MTV, we don't mean to be a downer on your birthday. We know you faced the pressure to change. It happens to us all.

What we're suggesting -- and we realize it's very un-"MTV generation" of us -- is that, just maybe, now that you're 25, you ought to take some responsibility for what you're doing. Because if you merely made bad TV, none of this would matter. But you don't make bad TV. You make TV so good it's created a generation. You have the chance to show that generation there's more to life than spring break in CancĂșn, more than getting wasted, picking up girls and swimming nude in the hot tub (fun as that always looks, no matter how many times we see it!), more than beauty pageants, decadent parties and manipulating friends. Something beyond all that.

Why is it so difficult to keep jumping? One obstactle - ok, two - ok -- but when the stepping stones get higher and higher then even the little ones can feel like you need a cheering section and a vaulter's pole.

I'm getting rather tired of the blog-sphere. I'm trying to think of how we can do a rating system and an RSS feed like Daily KOS - only set up about the things that I want to read. Some days I might want to dig into politics and understand why the estate tax had to be tied into higher minimum wage in an "Up or Down" style vote. Some days, I really just want to read about someone's cat or a toddler being sweet. Even sillier - I wanted to skim someone's blog to see if I was mentioned. (Yay - I was! But no link :P)

Today, I did the "blog jump" where you just keep hitting next blog, next blog until you find something that you do want to read. I found a beautiful one where some woman was be-moaning about her step-son's drug problems. I would have loved to echo that with links to the proposals that I read about on BBC to make all prisoners do some type of re-hab and/or address learning/emotional problems. Maybe that woman would have liked some words of support - or just to know that someone heard her anonymous journalling. I would have liked to have lined up a nice little essay somehow about programs that work and programs that just warehouse people.

Or - maybe I'm just avoiding sitting in a noisy crowd again. I did it last night, and took pretty pictures (over to the right under the flicker thingy) - but all day... So far, I've run a dishwasher, picked up my house, started cleaning the kitchen, tossed back the clothes I planned to wear, and put in a load of laundry... When I found myself thinking seriously about baking something to take with me - I knew that I'd better do my nails and read for a bit to get ready to *GO*. *L*

Nails are done, comfy jeans are in the dryer (maybe I should shop for another couple of pairs of those?) . They'd go well with the platform heels, but then I'd have to do my toes too. I wore nice shoes last night and ended up walking a few laps of the park in 4 inch heels. Comfy shoes? Ick. Hiking. Ick... So much nicer to sit out on the patio with a cup of coffee and my knitting. I did get quite a bit of knitting done yesterday. 58 stitches in a section times 8 sections...464 total stitches around. How big should this thing be anyway? Maybe I should measure gauge and measure where it's going to live and see....

Ahhh, dishwasher's done, the coffee is about gone, daughter is showered and ready... So much for running out to pick some zucchini and make some bread to take with us. I'd get out the door, but I still have to pick the shoes. Hmmmm...

Friday, August 04, 2006

The Dragon boat dragon meets Paul and Babe.
It was spun when I started. That's ok. I did get a bunch of good pictures. The dragon boat thing is very cute, and many of the local companies did a great job putting together teams.
Well, we're just about ready to head over to the Dragon Boat festival I want to go over before things get too crazy and take lots of pictures and video.

I did start a new project for next year's fair. Super Spiral from "A Gathering of Lace" by Meg Swanson. But, I'm cheap. I'm making it with $5 in yellow baby yarn. It is *SO* soft and pretty.

The story behind this shawl for me is really neat. I started a dark, shiny grey version of this 2 weeks before Katrina. It took me ages, but I did finish. I could barely look at it without thinking about people on the roof. I ended up getting into Project Linus and donating a bunch of the things that weren't completely loved. This year, the heat has been horrible. I'd bought yellow yarn for a 1/2 sweater/shawl thing, but they just didn't work. So, I got to thinking about honoring the sun, and started another spiral. I'm hoping that the warmth of this summer will carry over nicely when I'm wearing the shawl this winter.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Well, I took a break from blogging to work on my things for the fair. It was harder than I thought to have everything "ready to be inspected". I mean, the things that I knit are to keep people warm and be snuggly - most of the time, they get worn/used before the tails are all tucked in! The worst was the world blanket that was being used before all of the strips were sewn together.

But, I did get a bunch "finished" and tagged very quickly, and were put in to be judged on Wednesday. It bothered me more than I thought to have someone really comment harshly. The good part is that I ended up being judged by someone whose opinion I do value. I screwed up my nerve on Friday to go see how I'd done. I got dinged badly for not having enough information on my cards, and dinged that the cheap yarn had allowed the tails to wander out. But, 2 blues and a bunch of reds (1st and 2nd) are pretty good for a first try. Left the camera in the car.

Went back Saturday to take pictures and got "Change the battery pack". ARRGGG The teenagers had used my camera to take band pictures and not swapped out the batteries! I know that I've bought at least 2 more 4-packs of rechargible batteries. Where do they run away to???

I'm supposed to go volunteer again at the fair, but it's melting hot. I'll see if I can get pictures when I do get with it and go...

Saturday, July 22, 2006

I'm loving and hating the new coffee pot. It didn't come with directions, so I felt like a monkey in an intelligence test using those 4 buttons to set up the timer. There isn't any "YOU WON" sound, or "GAME OVER" - unless you count the coffee starting to pee as "Nope, that isn't it." I did figure out that a tiny red light means that the coffee will turn on in the morning. Though, I'm still not clear on which combination made the red light come on.

I should probably start a "What I'm reading" section. I've enjoyed the ones I've looked at so far. Sometimes I'll agree, and sometimes "How is that a post?" Especially on Fark. If you are senstive, don't go look - but If nothing else, you'll feel really good every day that you don't let listed in there. There's the stupid criminals, stupid politicos, stupid businesses... People used to say that it'll be a good day if they don't read their obituary in the morning - in the blog world, it's a good day if I'm not on FARK.

Then again, there's boing boing. Sometimes they have really cool science, really bad art, or wicked knitting. Yet they do have a sense of humor and will skewer. It's always worth reading over.

I have some news services. BBC, Yahoo News, CNN... But the one that I enjoy and think about the most is They'll cover neurology, design, archeology as it happens.

The rest of my RSS is Salon, Slate, Snopes and my Gmail. Exciting stuff...

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Alas and alack - My coffee pot died. There was no leak, no explosion - no drama at all. I did everything as normal for the last pot of the nice vanilla stuff and there was no click. Without my caffeine and that time of the morning, I just couldn't grok that there was no click. Click? Click? There's no clicky button and no orange light.

I checked the plug. I'm embarassed to say that I shook it a little and looked all over for some gremlin. Click? Click?

I tried Pepsi, but it didn't clear the fog. Click? Click?

White Grape Juice - very good for my poor allergic nose. But, still in that fog Click? Click??

I did finally wake enough to realize that I do own a French Press. Oh the creshendo of classical romantic music that should have swelled if my life had a good music track. The sound of the water running hot, and that spoon of coffee smell. Yet, I still had hope. Click? Click?

The coffee did kick in before the *IMPORTANT PHONE CALL*. You know that I was too busy to answer. Actually, I was helping a teen who and then I'd offered to take him to NA, AA, find him a mentor or counsellor or even find him someplace else to be until he could get a grip and then he So, this person isn't allowed anywhere near us anymore. You can try and try, but there comes a point when the drama is just too deep and the consequences too severe to clean up the mess. Sometimes that child with a rough life just has to stay in the rough until he's ready for a real hand up.

I did call back the *IMPORTANT PHONE CALL*. I'm glad that I did because Ms. "Too good to talk to me" did turn out to be a Med Student in two months and learned quite a bit from me. She didn't blink when I told her that the study was redundant (ohh, my kingdom for a spell checker on this!), and actually was glad that I shared her obsession with neurology. I'm glad that "just a parent" was able to find someone to listen and give good information so maybe some future children will have better care. I don't want to name drop and bash on a perfectly good hospital, but I will mention that parents aren't stupid people in general. You can't assume that "halo of education" around someone who has spent longer learning about this specific disability than you spent in your entire education and medical career. Ms "Doctor L" may make ten times my income, but I have far more time to read and research. My education is no less valuable for all it was spent on the other side of the fence, milling in the corral of "just parents of autistic children."

I did finally get a coffee maker. I've learned that Mr. Coffee sucks. More accurately, Mr. Coffee pees on my counter after a month or so of Minnesota hard water. So, Black and Decker for me. The old thermal carafe lasted quite a long time (Click? Click?) but isn't available in town. The new one is DE755B - the black, programmable jobbie without the thermal carafe. It's washy, washy and poury, poury so hopefully someone will hear *CLICK* and hopefully I'll wake up to the glorious smell of *COFFEE - EEE - EEEE*.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Still haven't found the beads. But, at least the heat is over and we can get back out to the yard. It's been so dry that even the rhubarb has died! I've never seen a patch of rhubarb die off. I did get some zucchini, peas and peppers. This is the first year that it's been hot enough to get a good crop of peppers.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Ok, this was a digital camera test - but this is the most recent picture of me that I like. My hair is short now. To explain the bathroom - I was making sure the camera was working before the teenagers at the Winter Formal saw that I had a camera. So, the test worked but I'm usually the one behind the camera!

I'm playing with Picasa - putting up the pictures that frustrated me so much before. This is what homeschooling (unschooling) really looks like. No schedule for when he has to read those books on the far right of the picture. Just the checklist in that blue binder to check them off when he's done talking to the dog. I don't remember know what that conversation was about, but it was important to him. My favorite emo about this picture is that picture of a dog waiting for the schoolbus - well, Brock never has to wait for the schoolbus. He just waits until someone gets bored and plays with him. Mildred, the cat, has a better plan. She'll just sit on the book until she gets the warm spot and your attention. Ahhh, the homeschooler's pet's life!

This is Will's Lopi sweater that I mentioned in a far earlier post. It was actually finished in 3/04. This is a heavy enough wool that he's worn it as a warm coat in winter and to go out and snowboard.
It did take awhile - but I found the origional blog. In case you missed the drama, I started on a web page, moved to blogger, set up a blog on my own domain and lost the help file, so now I'm going back to blogger. If I can find an easy way to condense posts, then I'll put it all back together in one place.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Leo's band is working on refurbishing their "studio". At the moment, it still looks like a dairy barn that was converted into a clubhouse with a wood stove, restaurant booth, a phone and electric. He's lobbying to graffti the outside, but I like the traditional red and white barn as a background to flowers!

Niki is filling sketch book after sketch book. She has some very interesting characters and is working hard on improving her writing skills. She's been on Gaia quite a bit and has quite a network going. She was posting on deviantart, but I haven't seen her on there in quite awhile.

William is playing a new game - Chrome Hounds. So far, he's taken over the world twice. He's getting to be a scary little monkey! *L* He and his friend Chris W are just back from a trip to the cities that included Body Worlds and Valley Fair.