Thursday, January 26, 2012

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real: Destination: The Academy (+ a bonus photo)

round button chicken
~Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life~ Every Thursday at Like Mother Like Daughter

Much as it happened when we journeyed through my loo and boudoir, I was standing in our classroom this morning, looking around, when all of a sudden, contentment crept in and wrapped itself around my legs like a purring cat. Ew, what a horrible simile; I'd have fur all over my pant legs! I hate cats! But you get the picture...

It has occurred to me that it would lovely if, at some point, I were to chronicle every destination in my home for a PHFR post. So let's visit our humble academy, shall we?

Now, I admit, this room is in transition right now so I am not brave enough to go too real on you. The room used to be "the library", now it's "the classroom" and we have plans to morph it yet again into a classroom/music room. Ish. Now that he's filling in as part-part-time worship leader at church, The Viking needs a place to put a keyboard and some recording equipment. He kind of took over the classroom already so I wised up and said, "Why don't we work together and make space for all of us?"

That's the plan for this weekend. But enough of that! On with the contentment!

Pretty and rather Happy as well

This is Calvin's desk.  I did stage it a bit as I can't exactly squeeze behind it where he sits and manage a photo.  So I turned the stuff around for better viewing.  I know, we really should put our books away when we're finished.  But I think they're just so beautiful.  And that is the actual quill and ink he likes to use for writing assignments.  Note the paper towel blotter and the ink stains on the desk.  All part of the beauty, in my opinion.

Nothing makes me feel more like a rock star than completing Latin and Shakespeare before lunch!  Yesterday, during our lesson on Henry V (just saying that makes me feel snooty), we were discussing Henry's use of the word, "we," when referring to himself.  I was about to say that I didn't know why he did it when Calvin piped up with, "Maybe he's referring to himself and his lucky pinkie toe, Alfred." O__O

I have since been informed (by Daria, knower of all things regal and historic) that Henry is making use of the royal pronoun or Majestic Plural because of his belief in his Divine Right as King.  So what he's saying is "God and I."  So Calvin wasn't far off!  I often get the feeling Daria should be teaching my boy instead of me...


This very dark and somewhat hard to see photo is of Calvin's "desk chair".  Yes, it's a yoga ball.  A purple yoga ball.  While he does not have ADD and isn't hyper, he does have a hard time remaining still while in school.  I let him doodle and play with Legos while I'm reading (both of which help him to concentrate) and I had read somewhere that a homeschooling mom had let her active and wriggly son use a yoga ball as a chair and so I decided to try it.

IT WORKS!  He bounces to his heart's content (or until it gives me a motion headache) while I read to him.  Sometimes he has to stop to see what I'm writing on the board or to read something himself, but most of the time, he's bouncing.  And when we're not in school, he brings the ball downstairs to bounce on it in front of the TV.  That's why the ball is on the dark living room carpet in the above photo.  He loves that thing and it was one of the best things we ever did for our school!

All Too Real

Do you have these horrid little beasts all over YOUR house?  I!  HATE!  THESE!  THINGS!  They're scary-looking, though harmless (at least if you have the species that don't bite), and they have the audacity to crawl absolutely wherever they darn well please!  Across your dining room table during dinner, up your shoulder at the computer desk, across your hand while you're sleeping, ACROSS YOUR FOREHEAD AND IN YOUR HAIR ALSO WHILE YOU ARE SLEEPING, and if you jump up to fling the invader out of your hair (GAG), it may very well fall DOWN YOUR PAJAMA TOP!  That was a fun morning...

I am desperate to find some funny in these stinkbug stories because if I can't I will just sink into despair.  The above lampshade photo was taken this morning, but that weary bug had been there since yesterday.  He walked around and around and around that lampshade all through school.  By the time our last class rolled around, we could hardly concentrate.  We kept getting distracted by trying to count how many laps he made.

Sometimes I wonder if I'm like that stinkbug: walking, walking, walking, plodding on bravely, not knowing I'm walking in circles on top of a lampshade while a higher being laughs at my foolishness.  Oooh isn't that broody and glum!

Real with a touch of Pretty

This is another stupid bug on one of the beautiful stained-glass windows The Viking installed in the classroom. We bought two windows on eBay when we finished our addition.  They're supposedly from a house in England.  Who knows if that's true, but we love them.  And I doubt that dumb bug appreciates it at all!

Intended as Real, but if you look there's some Funny lurking
I am having difficulty finding contentment in this, unless it's that stinkbugs don't bite, make you itch, eat your house or mean you're dirty?  At least we're not infested with scorpions, as a friend of mine, upon moving to Texas, discovered her house is--YIKES!

...and another stinkbug, this one dead.  GOOD!  But EW, right?  If it isn't live ones claiming my bangs for their motherland, it's dead ones that I'm constantly vacuuming up!  This one gave up the ghost on top of one of Calvin's writing assignments.  I call this photo Dead Bug On Assignment.  I intended this photo as another example of the stinkbug invasion we're dealing with, but then I read what Calvin had written.  And it's funny!

In case you don't feel like straining your eyes or taking the time, I'll mention that he notes that buffalo wings are one of his favorite foods, in part, because his family can't often afford them.  And that rock candy is a "dellacasye".  That is Calvin in a nutshell: he knows how to use big, impressive words, but can't necessarily spell them.  He'll get there, I'm not worried!

And, finally, the bonus photo.  I wanted to include it because I think it's pretty and adorable, but it has nothing to do with The Academy.  I give you:  Redheaded Snippet after a run in the rain...

She has a certain university in mind as her first choice of schools to attend.  And she is determined to do what it takes to impress both its field hockey coach and its admission board.  To that end she is studying for the SAT, knuckling down on her grades (although her GPA is already 3.9), signing up for more challenging classes, plunging into off-season hockey training and running to stay in shape.  She doesn't let a little thing like rain keep her from her goals.  She is so much like her father (not me)!  She is so pretty, happy, funny and real!

Where has your contentment been found today?  In stinkbugs not being scorpions?  In ink-stained desks and bouncy balls?  Look around, get out your camera and join in!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real: Stranded Edition

I'm posting via my phone so this will be a bare-bones edition.

To wit, I took photos, but my phone (which I hate, especially after this trip) will not allow me to post them. By the way, if you have the option of choosing a Droid 3, DON'T DO IT! TRUST ME!  *Edited to add: I've managed to get some time on the hotel's computer and got the photos up!  Stupid phone*

Redheaded Snippet and I are in Massachusetts trying to visit colleges. But, as you may know, there is a lovely snowstorm that has blown in. So, though we had a wonderful visit at Providence College yesterday, the events at UMass today have been cancelled and we are now stranded at our hotel until tomorrow.


It's a good thing I love snow or I'd be really miserable right now.  This is a really pretty, fluffy, fake-feeling snow.  Very easy to brush off of the top of a car, as I found when we ventured out to the amazing diner down the street.  Banana walnut pancakes and coffee for dinner!  Love diner food!

Happy and Real

Thankfully, Redheaded Snippet had the foresight to bring her homework with her.  She spent several of our long and quiet hours doing it and studying for the SAT.

Real and, perhaps, in a way, Funny?

This is how I've spent my day: watching the weather and Food Network.  I loves me some Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and Chopped!  And we don't get those shows on Netflix so this has been somewhat of a treat.


Being surrounded by 5 colleges means there are plenty of places that deliver we were able to have Bento boxes delivered for lunch today!  Or, what would have been Bento boxes if we had ordered them in a restaurant.  Apparently, when sent out for delivery, that translates to three bags of food that made us look like we were feeding an army in our room!  It was really yummy, though!  One thing we can say for this trip is we've certainly eaten well!

So, today, my contentment has been found in a warm hotel room where we are safe and not on the road. I'm happy my pretty daughter brought her homework with her so she can be productive. We've had some great Japanese food and three meals in diners worth writing home about.  We've had too many funny moments to post via phone. And being stranded for an extra, unplanned night is very real.

But we are safe and warm. And I am very content with that.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real: Unrelated Edition

round button chicken
~Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life~ Every Thursday at Like Mother Like Daughter
Today's PHFR is brought you by Scotland, cardboard and the letter K.


This, believe it or not, is the first home that The Viking and I lived in as a married couple.  I am not kidding.  But put your eyes back in their sockets; we did not own or even rent it.  We lived there as the housekeepers and had a large studio-type room on the third floor (that skylight up there was ours) and shared a guest bath on the second.

I lived there the second semester of my senior year of college with a friend.  We swept and mopped and dusted and vacuumed and got to live in a Scottish manor house that had been bought by some crazy American (with indisputably good taste) who had it dismantled and shipped home where he had it carefully rebuilt!  It was a way to save on room and board and we had a blast there!  The owners knew that both of us were moving out to get married out as soon as we graduated but when they discovered that The Viking and I were remaining in the area (my roommate was moving out West), they suggested that he and I stay on for a few more months.   What an idyllic place to start our married life!

This is one end of the living room.  My friends threw me a lingerie shower in this room, with tea served in heirloom silver and china in front of the enormous stone fireplace, not pictured.  The fireplace you see above is the small one.  The owners were very generous and allowed us to entertain as long as they wouldn't be using the spaces themselves.

Le sigh...the music room.  As a senior vocal performance major, I spent a lot of time in here.  The acoustics were a dream!  I practiced nearly every day on that piano way in the corner.  The gorgeous one in the right of the photo was, sadly, unplayable.  I think the soundboard was cracked or something else unoperable.  It was stunning to look at, though.

The other end of the music room.  Those chairs are ancient!  I think they're actually from the 16th century (which is ancient to most Americans--not, I know, to you Europeans)!  We never sat in them, just dusted them carefully and hoped they didn't crumble to dust in our presence.

And, finally, the Unicorn Room, as we called it.  When we lived there, the bed had a tester and curtains all around the bed.  Extra special guests were always put up in this room as it was the coziest and the owner's favorite.  We were even allowed to keep guests there as long as the room wasn't already in use.  I remember getting the room ready for The Viking to stay a few times and Dharma, then still in high school, was delighted to be put up in our sparest of bedrooms!

My old roommate wrote to me this week to tell me that our old mistress, the lady of the house, had died and sent me the link for the estate which is now for sale, which is where these photos came from.  For just under a million this could be ours again!  I was sad to know that such a grand old lady is gone, but it was wonderful to look back over the place where I spent both my last girlhood days and my first as a married woman!  Such memories!


Happiness is a machine that enables your ten-year-old child to make you a good, strong cup of coffee in mere minutes with no mess!  Yes, we drank the Kool-Aid and bought a Keurig for The Viking for Christmas.  And we've been drinking the sweet, hot Kool-Aid every day, sometimes several times a day, ever since.  I don't usually get excited about machinery (and I personally would never marry a man who proposed to me over an invention) but this one has been pretty fun.  Calvin has literally used it at least once a day.  The day it arrived he and Redheaded Snippet tore the box open, set it up and brought The Viking and me coffee in bed!  And it's good coffee!  Of course, now we have to find a place to store all the little K-cups (which I call pods, much to the confusion of everyone else), but isn't that why God gave us brains?  To solve these kinds of problems?


You may be thinking, "That, there, is a cardboard box.  There is nothing funny about that whatsoever."  To that I say, open your minds!  Think like a child!  This is not merely a cardboard cube, it's a blank canvass, it's endless possibilities!

Calvin is going on eleven and still knows how to have Fun With a Box.  This is what he did with the box that his great-aunt sent full of Christmas presents.  I would like to claim that it's a labyrinth he made as part of our lesson on Theseus and the Minotaur but I can't.  It's simply a maze he made for Zippy, his pet mouse.  Knowing the kind of kid Calvin is, it wouldn't surprise me if it WAS the Minotaur in the labyrinth that gave him the idea but I can't say for certain.

And there is Miss Zippy herself.  Calvin insisted I include a photo of her.  Proof positive that those are mouse droppings, not Minotaur droppings, in the above photo of the maze (maybe you didn't notice--why do I point these things out?) which, I think, means I get points for realism, too.  And don't worry, we always clean up after any kind of mouse activity with disinfectant.

Today, we had a mattress topper delivered.  When Calvin heard this news, he bounced into the room, pointing eagerly and asked, "Can I have it?"  And as handicrafts are an important part of the homeschooled child's day, and I am nothing if not accommodating, I agreed.  He set to work immediately.

It's a robot.  Obvs.  Here Calvin is testing for design flaws.  As in, are these holes big enough for me to thrust my arms through without risking the dreaded cardboard cut, widely known to be hundreds of times worse than its better-known cousin, the paper cut?

Clearly, the answer was, "No".  A few more alterations were needed.  But that is just one of the beauties of having your very own custom-made robot suit; it's tailored to suit your particular specifications!  Quality workmanship like this is hard to come by now-a-days.

We suspected that if the hole was large enough to reveal the majority of his eager little face, it was probably large enough for his arm.  We were, thankfully, correct.

Demonstrating its fearful capabilities!  Beware of boxes with knives!

And then...he got stuck in it!  The arm holes were indeed big enough, but the width of the box was not.  At least not big enough for him to pull an arm out!  And, being the sensitive and caring parent that I am, I snapped photos and laughed while my youngest child flailed helplessly inside a cardboard box!  He sure looks like he's shaking his fist at me or making what would be an obscene gesture to those of Turkish extraction, doesn't he?

Of course, I got him out of the box! At which point, he cut eye holes and added a few other upgrades and then put it back on again.  I believe the string is the power cord.  At one point I was instructed to insert a quarter into a slot, but I think the upgrades made that feature obsolete.

Obviously, he was very happy with it because he sauntered off in it to play some Twilight Princess.  I have a feeling it's going to be hard to get him out of that thing.  I just wish I had a User Manual.  Funny, funny boy.


This is my reality lately.  My favorite mug with a cup of caffeine to combat one of the worst cases of insomnia I have ever had (and don't lecture me about the caffeine--the insomnia started first) sitting on the desk next to a genealogical chart and, though you can't see them, maps and info on colleges and hotels.

When I'm not trying to keep the house in order or trying to pound something useful into Calvin's rock-hard precious head, I am at the computer researching our genealogy or planning our college visits.  Planning the visits is what I am supposed to be doing but this overwhelms me so that I find it necessary to take frequent breaks and look for ancestral information.  One of The Viking's relatives recently sent us a packet of information so that set me to digging out our files once again.  And now that I have insomnia, it's proving to be very useful!

As for colleges...unnnngggggghhhhh!  I am so thankful I only have to do this once more and not for another seven years!  It's a nerve-wracking process and the roller-coaster can be very wearing.  But, we're trying to take it one step at a time and that means visiting time has arrived!  We visited a few back in the summer, but this time she's being invited to visit.  By coaches.  So the ante has been upped and we feel we can't really say no.  At least not to the schools she would like to keep in consideration.

So, we're headed to New England!  There are three schools there that have come calling and, thankfully, they're all within a doable distance from each other so we're going to do a weekend blitz!  Let's hope we don't get caught in a blizzard!  As much as I like snow, I wouldn't want to be driving in it far from home.

Where has your contentment been found this week?  Join us and let us know!

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real: Under The Wire Edition

When I first realized it was Thursday and time for another PHFR, I took a quick look around me and said, "Eh, bag it!" School didn't go well, housekeeping didn't go well, dinner (after two nights of hitting it out of the park) didn't go well (stupid unthawing chicken), and the project I'm working on did not go well.

And, at the risk of TMI, can you say PMS?


So, truly, I was going to spare the Internets from having to deal with Monster Me today but then this happened and maybe it's only interesting to me but that's just tough:

Happy, Funny and Real (Pretty is hiding today)

Redheaded Snippet was minding her own business in the, I can't, who am I kidding...Redheaded Snippet and Calvin were taunting each other behind me in the kitchen when Calvin suddenly attacked her with sarcasm yelling, "YOU'RE THE BEST SISTER IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD!  YOU'RE THE BEST!  I LOVE YOU!  I LOVE YOU SO MUCH!" and so on.  It really threw her off, I can tell you that!  He disarmed her by making her weak with laughter.  It's quite a strategy.

Anyway, that's all I've got today.  Hopefully, tomorrow will go better and I won't feel like such a shapeless, hopeless mess at the end of it.