Butter My Butt and Call Me a Biscuit

Today was a FUN day.  I mean more fun than a lost dog in a meat market! I have no pictures to show for it, but that’s because I was having too much fun to remember to take them.  The temps in our area hovered around 90 degrees – – the first and only time I can ever remember that happening in April.  It was a day right out of a Joe Cocker song…”walking on a sidewalk hotter than a match head.” But did we care? No. We were playing in the “big city” today with friends and leaving our cares behind.

First stop…food.  A place called Barley’s which is famous for its beer and pizza.  Weirdly enough, I don’t care much for either, but the spinach salad was so good it made you want to swallow your tongue afterward just to get the last bit of juice off your taste buds. 

Second stop…Mast General store.  If you don’t live in North Carolina, then you don’t know about Mast General, which is as sad as a mule with a mouth full of bumblebees.  Mast General is just about my favorite place in the world to shop.  Each one is set up like an old general store – – right down to the barrels of old-fashioned candy that you purchase by the pound.  They sell everything from woven baskets to hiking boots and I could basically bookpitch my tent there and take up residence.

Third stop…the bookstore…where I purchased the book that inspired this blog post.  The one that has given rise to the terrific sayings (seen here in italic) that can only be homespun here in the south.  All I can say is that if you were to head over to Amazon and purchase your own copy, you’d be smarter than a tree full of owls.

Final stop…the chocolate lounge!!!   The part of the day I had looked forward to most. AND the place where I learned the most valuable lesson of all…teenage boys can never appreciate the finer things in life.  When three relatively sane boys scrunch their nose up in disgust over a wine glass full of sipping chocolate, you know that bringing them there was about as smart as trying to sling a hammock between two corn stalks.  We moms are already planning our next visit – – sans neanderthals.

It was a glorious summer-like spring outing in the city, and I hated to call it a day, but I guess (((sigh))) sometimes you simply have to pee on the fire and call in the dogs.

Trouble in Gotham

The Bat-Signal as seen in Batman

Image via Wikipedia

So thanks to the recent Snowmageddon that crossed the country and wreaked havoc on the whole eastern seaboard, yours truly was out of power for about a day.

For many of you, that is a laughable number.  I mean some folks are facing six and seven day power outages!  But for the Topsies, I assure you that 24 hours of being disconnected from the matrix is traumatizing in the extreme.

The trauma began even before the power went out.  Poor H-T would jump like a soldier with PSTD every time a branch would snap.  “Oh God!” he would exclaim.  “Do you think THAT one hit the power line??”  Uber and I weren’t so vocal with our concerns…we were too busy looking for every charger in the house and making sure every possible techno-gadget was fully powered up before catastrophe struck.

And strike it did – – right after noon on Friday, as I was making lunch.  Never has there been a more depressed and sorry crew eating lukewarm soup in a dimly shadowed kitchen. 

We definitely tried to make the best of things.  At first, that consisted of basically taking naps near the gas logs to make time go by faster.  But when R-T got home from work, and the power had not returned, we knew it was time to get into survival mode.

Room temperature burritos for supper gave us the fuel we needed to withstand the brutal hours ahead with no tv, internet, or game consoles.  Instead, we lit all the candles we own, and got punchy on lukewarm gatorade.  That, and the obligatory boredom gave us the idea to make some fun crank calls to friends via cell phone.  When that got old, we pulled out the board games, and then tried some word association games to pass the time.  Off and on we also tuned into the local am radio station in hopes of hearing news about the heroic men and women in jumpsuits and hard hats who we like to call “the power company.”  

R-T even got the bright idea to paste a bat-shaped piece of cardboard over the front of his spotlight and shine it up into the clouds in case it would hasten our rescue.

Finally, at 9:00, because unlike Ma and Pa Ingalls, we don’t even own musical instruments that don’t require voltage, we decided to call it a night.  We blew out the candles and prayed for daylight.

Unfortunately, not even the morning sun brought us the electricity we craved, so we forsook our powerless prison, and headed over to the homeless shelter where hubby is the director, and where warmth and light abounded.  As the rest of our friends and neighbors continued to suffer, I’m not too proud to say that we spent the morning playing air hockey and ping-pong and watching the Today show. 

When a call back home was finally greeted with the lovely computerized voice of our answering machine, we knew we were saved and all was right in Gotham again.

Thank you, you wonderful, hard-working, power company employees.

And yes. Thank you Batman.  Wherever you are.

Would you look who the cat dragged in???

That’s right. I’m back. Back from my longest bloggy break ever. 

So let’s catch up for a minute.  Our holidays were lovely. Quiet.  Peaceful.  And even SNOWY…woot!!

Christmas came and went with only a few hitches.  The biggest of which was that Uber’s desktop went “kaput” about a week before Christmas. Which meant that it was necessary to give Uber his Christmas gift – – a new netbook – – a week early.  Which was all fine and good until said netbook fell.  And broke. A few days before Christmas.  This accident, was, of course, not covered by warranty, so we had to order yet ANOTHER netbook. 

And yes, Uber will be working off his Christmas misfortune until Halloween or so.

We volunteered at the Rescue Mission where my hubby is the director on Christmas Eve, as usual.  No surprise to anyone, thanks to the current economy, it was the biggest turnout I think they’ve ever had.  But the meal was delicious and it was lovely to get to be Santa’s helpers for one night handing out presents to those who might go present-less otherwise.

One of my personal holiday highlights was getting to visit the Biltmore House (the largest private residence in the US) with one of my dear friends.  It was decked from hall to hall in lights and trees, and even more beautiful outside.  Scrumptious!!

Like I said, it was an overall wonderful holiday.  Even the dogs thought so!

Now it is onto my New Years resolution….stay tuned….

That’s What She Said

I can’t say I’m a regular viewer of the show “The Office.”  I’ve probably seen maybe four or five full episodes, and maybe snippets of at least five more.  But the characters and the catch phrases have become part of the current culture, so that even if you have never viewed a single episode, you still might have a good clue as to who “Jim and Pam” are, or be able to respond to a general statement with the thinly disguised sexual innuendo: “That’s What She Said.”

I got to experience a little of THE OFFICE life myself this week as I headed down to Ft. Lauderdale to visit the headquarters of Time4Learning – – the company I have been contracting with for theTime4Learning Logo last few years.  Time4Learning CEO, John Edelson, invited me down to see how things work on their end, and because many of their different websites and programs are aimed at homeschoolers, he thought it was a good idea to let the employees get some face time with a long-time homeschooler who could give them the beef about exactly what is up with us strange folk.  😉 

So…I headed down to the Sunshine State prepared for some heat, humidity, and some invaluable experiences.  And I got a lot of each!  I discovered that in FL in the summer you are always on the run.  You RUN from your air conditioned house to your garaged car, then RUN from your air conditioned car to your air conditioned office, then you RUN from your air conditioned car to your blazing hot car, which you desperately try to air condition on your way back to the comforts of home.  You MIGHT spend five minutes or more of time outside IF there is a pool involved.  Otherwise, you simply sit by the air conditioner until October and hope for the best. 

Since I’m normally quite an out-of-doors addict, you would think this would have been a problem for me, but the folks at Time4Learning made me feel so welcomed, and were so thoroughly awesome, that I barely paid attention to the sweat filling up my bra each day (hey, I’ve always wanted to try one of those water bras, anyway!)

I have no idea if anyone’s office is like the one portrayed on television, but if even 10% of America’s offices were like the one at Time4Learning, we would have the world’s happiest work force.  This was an amazing team of people who have an incredibly diverse group of talents, and work together like a professionally oiled machine while still remaining upbeat, cooperative, and friendly. 

I was wined.  I was dined.  I got to work near some of the greatest visionaries in educational technology today.  And I even walked the beach. 

It was a BIG deal.

That’s what she said.

Visual Learners and Beached Whales

I think I’ve blogged about the fact that H-T is a visual learner.  He is actually a visual AND kinesthetic learner, but I think the visual part may take precedence.

So I’m always looking for great learning tools for the visual learner, and I happened upon one this week that I wanted to share.  It’s called WatchKnow.org, and the idea behind it is collecting all the free educational videos for kids and teens online and lumping them into one searchable directory. 

Now tell me, is that a great idea or what??!!

They also want people to join so they can inform them of videos they may have missed.  So if you have a visual learner around your house, this is a website you definitely want to check out and possibly join yourself. 

In other news, I’m flying out this weekend to Florida for several days on a business trip. 

Yes, I AM going to Florida at the end of July, and no I’m NOT a glutton for punishment.  That is just when they needed me.  So, bring on the heat and humidity…I can take it!!  (maybe) 

Sun & Water 1 Hey, they do have beaches down there, and don’t think I won’t be trying to sneak onto one.  If you happen to live in the Sunshine State, and hear warnings of a beached Albino whale sighting, pay it no mind.  It’ll just be my not-yet-skinny VERY Anglo-Saxon self perched on a beach towel and hoping to blend into the background.

I’ll post some pics from the land of the sweltering sun if I get a chance!


A Homeschooler’s Wardrobe: The Solution

Decided to add a postscript to yesterday’s post when I discovered an ingenious website that might just solve most of my problems with weather-inappropriate wardrobe choices.

This is one of those “Why didn’t I think of that?” kind of websites, because it is so simple, but so brilliant.

It is called: “Sleeves”, and even the most technically challenged youngster (or mom) can figure this one out.  You simply type in your zip code into the home page, and you get your result of what to wear that day…long sleeves, short sleeves, go sleeveless, or Two Layers. 


sleeves 2

Now how can my kids possibly go wrong now?  

Please don’t answer that.


One of THOSE Days


This has been one of THOSE days.  And by that, I mean one of those tremendously lovely, wish you could hold it in time, kind of days.  Homeschool glided along like a swing on a breezy day.  I got more than I ever dreamed of accomplished on the work front.  H-T and I created some delectable candies in the kitchen.  The dogs have been particularly well-behaved.

What more could a girl want???  You think that’s all?  It isn’t.

Today is the honored chance we get every year to celebrate the dreams and accomplishments of one of our nation’s greatest visionaries.  It doesn’t seem to matter how many years we have studied Martin Luther King, Jr. in homeschool, the boys never seem to tire of hearing about him.  And even when we think we know all there is to know, we become aware of some new facet of his life that brings all the awe rushing back again. 

Then to top it all off, while we get to celebrate the vision of one African-American, we are on the eve of celebrating the inception of that vision in our new president.  Wow.  It’s hard to stay dry-eyed on a night like this.  Especially when I look out my window and see something else I’ve been hoping and praying for…SNOW!!!!

I love THOSE days.


Cool Resource For Elementary Science Unit Study

science songs

Learninggamesforkids.com has created a unique way to introduce some specific science concepts to elementary age students.  It has begun to create interdisciplinary units for their science music videos.

If you have visited the site recently, you may have noticed that they have introduced animated musical videos about four science subjects: hurricanes, the sun, stars, and thunder.  These science songs use video, music, and text to capture the attention of kids with all different learning styles.

But Learninggamesforkids.com has gone a step further with two of the videos, the Hurricane Song and the Sun Song.  They have created vocabulary lists, spelling tests, and several interactive games that complement the videos and let kids practice and play with what they have learned.

Every parent and teacher knows that engaging with a subject is the most effective way to learn it and retain it.  I think these science units will do just that for kids.

And watch the site closely over the next few months, because I’m pretty sure that they will be adding supplemental resources for the other two videos, as well as adding more science videos to the list. 

If you have an elementary school child, head on over and make use of this terrific science tool today!

Leaf Peeping

Sunday, October 12, 2008.

It was one of those perfect afternoons.  The kind you wish you could hit the “Pause” button on.  The weather was between 60-65 degrees, and a jacket felt just right. As we headed further and further up in elevation, the sights were getting more and more spectacular.  I was tempted to pull out my camera and just start shooting pics right from the car window, but I’ve tried that before, and my impatience wasted disc space and got me some crappy blurred photos.

So I waited.  And it was worth it. 

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen the colors in the Blue Ridge Mountains quite as brilliant as they were yesterday.  They say on the news that a drought brings out more pigment in the trees.  I believe them, and am thankful there is at least one upside of this stupid rain famine. 

None of us were prepared, though, for what we were going to see as we got up around 5000′ elevation.  I’m not kidding when I say that the colors almost hurt your eyes, they were so vibrant. 

Words can’t possibly do this trip justice, so I’ll share some of our pics.  I wish you guys could’ve been there…

(click any picture to enlarge)

Leaf Peeping 004   On our way up.  Close, but not there yet…

Leaf Peeping 005 ooh la la

Leaf Peeping 010 view from our hike

Leaf Peeping 015   R-T and H-T

Leaf Peeping 018   the peace brothers

Leaf Peeping 020  God’s paintbrush

Leaf Peeping 028  my kinda background

Leaf Peeping 039  picture perfect….

Needless to say we have plenty of material for our computer wallpaper for a while.

Friday’s Hardwired Homeschool Hints: Weather

Check out my new bloggie button!  A big shout-out to Becky Bilby over at Lady in Waiting Blog Designs for creating it for me.  I’m just too excited to have my very own button! 

Yes, it is Friday once again, and you all know what that means….time to scour the web for some terrific resources and tools to make our homeschool moments more techie, and (at least IMHO) lots more fun. 

Don’t know if you have been following this year’s hurricane season, but as always, it has been an interesting one.  And unless you are lucky enough to live way west of the Mississippi, then you may be one of us who has to put up with the unwelcome visits of our enemies from the warm oceans to the east this time of year.  My state, North Carolina, is looking at a possible hit from Hanna in the next few days.

Anyway, these hurricanes have got me thinking about weather, and there are so many cool weather sites and resources out there, that I just had to list some of my favorites for you in this edition of FHHH.  What’s the weather where you are today??


  • First of all…for anyone who has ever wanted to know or refresh their memory on how a hurricane forms, you MUST check out this fun video song at LearningGamesForKids.com….THE HURRICANE SONG
  • Dan’s Wild, Wild Weather Page – This is a wonderful interactive overall weather site.  Dan is a meteorologist in Huntsville, AL, and has put together quite a collection of facts, games, quizzes, teacher resources, and some incredible pictures.  This is a terrific starting place for doing any weather research.
  • Sesame Street: Weather – Wonderful list of Sesame Street weather videos for the littlest learners.  I wish I had more time to peruse this one.  Life can be cruel like that sometimes.
  • The Weather Doctor – Weather almanac, current articles, and endless information on how to connect weather to all curriculum subjects, and how to become an active weather watcher.
  • I can’t overlook the National Weather Service.  When I get weather-obsessed (yes, I consider myself to be a closet meteorologist), this is my first go-to site for current info and news.  They always have really current updates on all the hurricanes, as well.
  • Edheads Weather Activity – I LOVE interactive web activities that teach and entertain at the same time.  This is a really great one that teaches about weather prediction
  • If you use Google Earth (please tell me you use Google Earth people!), then this is a really cool layer add-on called Weather Bonk, that lets you see temperatures and radars overlayed on your display
  • If you are like me, I always get confused about El Niño and La Niña, and how they affect our current weather patterns.  This Climate Prediction Center FAQ helps clear up the confusion in an interactive way.
  • Weather Forecasting Learning Module – if you are doing a middle school/high school unit study on weather, this learning module can provide an easy outline for your unit.  Some topics explored are climate classification, making the forecast, and significance of weather.
  • Weather Charts – am I the only one who thinks weather charts are the coolest?  This site even lets you download software to plot your own weather charts
  • Kid Meteorologist – Great video from PBS Zoom, with explanation on the career and study of meteorology
  • US Drought Monitor – unfortunately, this one hits way too close to home; an interactive map of current drought conditions throughout the US.  My area of the state is in the D4 region – – the highest level of drought.  Sigh.
  • Let’s Learn About Temperature & Weather – this terrific software for kids ages 6-12 is over 60% off at Amazon!!  Use my link, please, to buy, so Amazon can give me the affiliate thanks I so richly deserve!