Sunday, January 30, 2011

Reading Fun...

I've said repeatedly that the hubs and I are avid readers. I've also said repeatedly how much we wish the boys were more like us. :)

Well we are quickly getting there with the boys. Bailey finished his 5th Percy Jackson book in less than 3 weeks!

These are not huge books, but it used to take him a month to read ONE Magic Tree House book, lol. So this a fantastic improvement. To describe us as thrilled would be an understatement! He is already making a list of what he wants to read next. The Hobbit, The Chronicles of Narnia, and the Harry Potter books are just a few he's told me about. He's also really interested in reading books by Christopher Paolini and Victoria Kasten, who are both young adult, homeschooled authors.

What brought about this almost instantaneous change?

A Nook eReader.

Really...does that surprise anyone? Just another gadget junkie in the making...

I got a Nook last year and immediately fell in love with it. Well this year for Christmas, the hubs upgraded me to a Nook Color. So we talked to Bailey and asked if he would like my old Nook, to see what he thought. His initial reaction was more "why would I be excited about that?" than I would have liked, but once I loaded a few books on there, he slowly started getting more and more interested.

Then all of sudden he's carrying the thing everywhere we go and staying up until all hours of the night to read.


I know it sounds funny. And it's hard to explain why having an ereader would make such a big difference. There are so many benefits though. The size is the biggest. You can hold it one handed, it's not heavy and if you are reading a 700 page book, you aren't even remotely intimidated by the size. :)

Braeden is also improving each day.  He's been playing some online spelling games, which of course he's fine with cause it's not "school-y," lol. But you want to know his real motivation for learning to read?

He wants to be able to text message.

Yeah. That made me guffaw too. But then again... everyone knows how much gadgets please us. :D

This week should be the last super-crazy-stupid-busy week at work. I don't think it will be my last week at work, but as long as I have shorter weeks and shorter days, the family handles it better.

I'm looking forward to being at home more.

I'm also looking forward to having a scrap-day with the girls.

And I'm looking forward to our annual trip to Florida with the B's.

Hey look at that... me being positive and looking forward to things, rather than me being whiny. Who woulda thunk it?  ;)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Who Says You Can't Get Something For Free...

I am hosting my first blog giveaway and I'm so excited about it!

I actually took this course a while back and enjoyed it. There was a lot of information about blogging safety (yes... I know some of it is common sense, but there was information that I never would have thought about), but also about building a blog that people actually wanted to read. Not just a blog that people read cause I force them to. :D

Blogging 101 is a fully automated 8-week online course that covers everything you need to know to plan, start, write, and build an audience for a brand new blog. The eight units of Blogging 101 (which can be completed in less than eight weeks, if you choose) include:
1.     Introduction to Blogging (all the basics for the beginning blogger)
2.     Laying Your Cards On The Table (blog titles, platforms, and start-up instructions)
3.     It’s All About Me (blogging safety, “About Me” pages, and blog design)
4.     Build That Content and Make It Snazzy (writing quality posts, commenting, and adding media)
5.     It’s The Little Things That Count (sidebars, widgets, categories, and static pages)
6.     Mi Blog es Su Blog – - Building Community (growing a readership, blog promotion, and blogrolls)
7.     Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained (more blog promotion strategies and monetizing your blog)
8.     Looking Back and Looking Forward (tips and strategies for continuing to grow your blog after the course)
For only $25, you receive access to the Blogging 101 course for eight full weeks as well as downloadable links and resources for you to keep as long as you want. This is an incredible bargain, and you won't find any other comparable course on the web at such an affordable price.

Now I think that $25 is a really good price, but errbody likes the free stuff. So thanks to, I am able to offer one of my readers an opportunity to take this course for free!

Simply leave a comment on this post and tell me why you want to take this course. One comment will be randomly chosen as the winner. If you want to have some extra entries, post a link to this post on your Facebook or Twitter account, or on your blog. If you post on FB,Twitter or your blog, come back here and post another comment with the link for me to check that out. So that's four chances to win... 

The winner will be chosen on Sunday, February 6.  

YAY!  :)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

I need a TARDIS...

...or maybe a DeLorean?

I just need something that can help me do the tax time thing now so I can pay off my credit card, then travel back in time to make up for the time I've lost with my boys.

Or a better idea I suppose, would be to travel back in time to before I accrued said credit card debt and snatch the darn thing outta my hands, lol.

Regardless, I'm in full-blown tax hell.  I really shouldn't make it sound bad, but right this very second it's awful.  It's a Saturday night and I've only been home a little while.  I'm grateful for my time off tomorrow, but still...whine, whine, whine. :)

And this year has started off so different.  New tax changes (there is no longer a Rapid Refund program anywhere because Obama said it was predatory lending) and companies that appear to be holding onto their W2s until the LAST possible second, make for some crabby clients.

This was the first really busy week.  I'm always extra whiny during the first busy week.  I will stop whining eventually.

I normally try to chat about something school related.  But honestly, I don't have anything this week.  I don't even know what the boys have done this week...I sat down here before I even had a chance to ask them. Skimming through the RSS feeds from blogs I follow only makes me feel more guilty.  You know it's January and already folks are talking about standardized testing?? Sheesh...I'm just hoping my boys will be able to answer the question of "what grade are you in?" when asked.  Can't even imagine worrying about testing right now!

I mentioned last week that Bailey is about to start an online writing course. That's still on the table.  He's not so much excited about the essay writing, but he's looking forward to learning how to improve upon his creative writing.  Other than that...I really don't think we have anything school-y planned out.   We are letting them take a break from "normal" school stuff to have some cooking and sewing time with Nanny.  

She is a wonderful cook, as most Grandmas are, and is looking forward to showing the boys some stuff. They are also excited about it.  They don't know what to make of the sewing thing.  It's "girly" is what I got.  But it's important to at least know what to do with a needle and thread.  Being able to stitch up the gash in your brother's head so mommy and daddy don't know you were swinging that big stick we told you not to swing, could come in handy.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Hitting a Wall...

Well, tax time officially started yesterday.  It was the IRS's first day to file.

Every year, I go through all of these emotions about tax time...

 - Grateful that we are in a position where I don't have to work outside the home full time.

 - Sad because I miss my home and my boys so much during my 27 hour days.  (What?  You didn't know there were 27 hours in a day??)

 - Really disappointed in myself because if I had just left that damn credit card alone at Christmastime, I really wouldn't have to worry about working during tax time, lol.

 - Frustrated because the school thing doesn't go well at all.

This isn't my first year doing this.  I've done it for several years now.  You'd think that, even though no one here likes me doing it, everyone would be used to it.  And everyone would adjust.

But nope.

Walter tells me every night when we go to sleep that he hates it. Then he tells me every morning as I walk out the door that he hates it. Then he tells me every evening when I finally get home that he hates it. Every year, he says this is the last year that you are doing this.

Then every year in the fall (Hellooooo Dragon*Con) and at Christmastime, neither of us curbs that extra spending that we do. :)

The boys basically just shut down when I'm gone.  With Walter holed up in his office every day, they are left to fend for themselves.  They do alright.  It's a good thing eating and bathing are SO overrated.

Even though I miss all of my boys, I get to work with friends...and that's never a bad thing.  It's also funny.  Every day, I will have another funny story to tell when I get home.

I never breach confidentiality rules.  I will never reveal a name to anyone outside the office.  I don't tell my hubby who that McDonald's lady was...the one that flagged me down in the drive thru to ask me if her check was ready.

But I do share some great stories. :D

As far as school goes while I'm away...well that's tough.  Even the online educational games that I can normally get Braeden to do are met with a scrunchy face.

Last year, I always had Starfall as a backup.  He loved playing around on Starfall.  But he has pretty much exhausted everything on that site, so the interest isn't there as much.  I think this weekend I am going to see if I can find some of those Jump Start games we can load on his computer.  It would be something new...

Bailey on the other hand, is really taking us by surprise.  He got a nook e-reader for Christmas (ok I got a new nookColor e-reader for Christmas and handed down my older one...but that still counts, lol) and that has turned out to be the BEST thing to get him to read more.  He's been interested in reading for a while now, but was often very intimidated by the size of the books he wanted to read.  700 plus pages can be hard to hold and maneuver.

Anyway...since getting his nook, he has gone to bed every night asking to read and all last week, he read for about an hour each morning before he even got out of bed.  Yep...rolled over, grabbed his nook and started reading.  Before breakfast, before cartoons, before anything!  We were beyond giddy.  The most astonishing thing EVAR?  Walter told me yesterday that he even opted to read over playing on his computer. Absolutely awesome!!

He has also written his first fantasy story.  Complete with dragons, knights and epic battles.

You can tell it was written by an 11 year old, but it was really good.  Walter is a writer and even came out of his office with a flabbergasted look of joy and awe on his face.

To help him with this particular interest, we are definitely going to sign him up for an online writing course.  I've mentioned it before, but we always kinda hedged on it.  We knew we would want him to do the course later, more for essay writing and SAT prep if he wanted to take it.  But I think with this new found interest in writing, and the natural talent he could very well expand on, it would be good to start the course now.

This upcoming week will be hard for everyone, but It will go fine, I'm sure of it.  Power of wishful thinking and all... :^)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Learning a Foreign Language...

When I was in school, we didn't start learning a foreign language until we were in high school.  I look back and wonder if that hurt us a lot more than it helped us...

Braeden is still really just getting a grasp on the English language, lol, so I'm going to let him continue with his alphabet games and watching Dora.  Hey, don't knock Dora!  She and Diego have already taught both of the boys more Spanish than I ever knew! (I took German in school)

Bailey is interested in Spanish, and he understands that Spanish will probably be the most beneficial for him as he gets older (thinking job market already), but he doesn't know that he really wants to take a few years of Spanish.  He finds German as interesting as I did and he agrees with his dad and I in that Latin would be a really cool language to learn.

I want to find a good program for teaching a new language.  Most people recommend Rosetta Stone, and in my research, it does seem to be a successful program.  It's pretty costly though.  Since we aren't even remotely above trying to find free stuff and the web is our most favorite place, we are going to let Bailey hang out a little on a fantastic website we found for learning languages.  

He can play around for a little while, and see which language he wants to jump into.  On this site, I see Spanish, Latin, German and French. The main ones you see in public schools.  So he will have a few options to try.

Of course, we won't limit him to these languages.  He can do additional research and decide which one (or which ones) he wants to try and learn.  

I have deep desire to learn Sign Language and Gaelic.   I want my boys to learn Sign Language as well and I know the hubs would be happy to learn Gaelic... so maybe we will have some household language learnin' going on soon. :)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

It's Tax Time...


Really? Already? How is that possible? It can't be...

That's what I am getting from the hubs and the boys. They hate tax time. Walter told me this weekend that he feels like a single parent for 2 months. That made me feel crappy. I told him I don't have to do the tax thing. But it is certainly nice to get that extra money for a couple of months. It comes in handy to pay off that Christmas debt...

Normally I would have a little more time after the New Year to get ready,  but circumstances are different this year and I'm starting tomorrow.

The homeschool thing usually goes alright while I'm gone, but there's not a lot of extra stuff that goes on. They log in and do their Time4Learning, but we don't really get a chance to do many projects, experiments or field trips. I might get Bailey to read some homeschooling books, and they got a cool geode kit for Christmas...I'm sure they will enjoy cracking those open and seeing them. They also got these cool tablets that hook up to their computers. Bailey is really excited to use his tablet to work more on his art. I'm hoping Braeden will use his tablet to help him with his writing/printing, since he can't stand holding a pencil and using paper. :D

I'm hoping we can make up the lack of extra activities to them in the spring. I have been wanting to do this Atlanta City Pass thing for a couple of years now. For one price (a pretty good discounted price too!) you get admission to 6 different attractions in the aquarium, the zoo, Fernbank, World of Coke, CNN Center and others.  Cross your fingers that it happens this year finally... :)

Fortunately for us, we are neither new to homeschooling or to the tax time thing. We know it's going to be hard, but we also know it's for a short period of time and then our world will go back to normal.

Hopefully.  :)