Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Recent technology lessons learned

I signed up for two one-credit MSDE technology classes so that I would have the credits I needed for my APC (Advanced Professional Certificate = big pay raise!) Last week, I took Publisher and Digital Scrapbooking, and this week I am learning about Senteo clickers.

I was already pretty familiar with Publisher since I use it for my weekly newsletter, but the digital scrapbooking was all new to me. I learned that you can use, which is a free program that you download. While you won't get quite as many choices as you would with a program you buy, IT'S FREE!!!!! I made a bunch of pages and am excited about a new hobby that I don't really have time for! :)

I had a negative view of Senteo clickers, but I quickly learned that you can do a lot with them without much effort. Basically, you put in questions/answers into the program and the students use the clickers to choose the correct answer to the questions. They can get individual feedback on how they did on the quiz, and the teacher can get all kinds of data for the class. They can be used as grades, and you can be sure that each question on the quiz directly matches an indicator. I've already made an MSA math review quiz and a quiz for Esperanza Rising (a book I plan on using for a guided reading group or as a read-aloud). I have one more day of class on Friday with more time to make quizzes, so I'm hoping to be able to get into my classroom to grab a few resources.

As much as I despise taking classes over the summer, these two were fairly painless and rather interesting! :)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Caleb the biter

Caleb has started biting with vengence. It really hurts!! It seems to have come out of nowhere, but he bit me three times today and Matt several times as well. We've been thumping his lip hard, but I think we're going to have to take it to the next level.

He's also having some eating in, he won't eat any vegetables at all! Matt's tactic of forcing the food down his throat doesn't seem to be working as well as he'd hoped (insert sarcasm here...), but my idea of mixing them with tastier foods isn't cutting it either.

If anybody has any new ideas of how we can stop the biting and start getting Caleb to eat some veggies, I would appreciate them! :)

Tales of Our Trip---Woodstock!

Matt wanted to go to the Woodstock museum, so we headed out after going to the Balliwick Ranch. We found it in Carla and set out to: yet again, the middle of nowhere!! We end up at this guy's house and he comes down to see what we need. Turns out, that IS the Woodstock museum!!

This guy was straight out of Woodstock, complete with big hair, nasty beard, and the no-shower stench. He then goes on to tell us all about his Hydrogen Peroxide pool...yes, he was serious! "Chlorine is poison to your body, man!" Of course, when we ask where the festival museum is, the guy goes on a big rant about how Woodstock isn't about the music, but about the lifestyle. It's all about taking care of the world and living a life of love (and smoking a lot of pot....) After wayyyyy too long, we finally managed to get ourselves out of there (and we never even left the car!) and off to the town of Woodstock.

Once again, we felt like we stepped into the '60s! People everywhere were all dressed in flowing skirts, baggy pants, and tie-dye. There were musicians playing on every street corner, tons of "save the earth" types of stores, and a whole lot of drug paraphrenalia! We saw pipes, bongs, and pot leaf pictures EVERYWHERE and Matt even saw a room blocked off that said "ask first." Pretty much everywhere we went smelled like pot, and Julie even thought she saw a little growing in a crack of the sidewalk! It was interesting, to say the least! We did have some excellent pizza at this little pizza place, and enjoyed looking around the town.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Tales of Our Trip--The Balliwick Ranch Discovery Zoo

On Thursday, we went to the Balliwick Ranch and Discovery Zoo. We found this on a flyer in our inn, and decided to check it out. Well, when we drove up there, we saw several peacocks and a bunch of horses right out in the parking area! We paid our money and decided to get a bottle of milk for Caleb to feed to the baby lambs.

When we got out to the ranch, you could literally walk up to any of the fenced in areas and pet the animals! They had the traditional farm animals (goats, horses, pigs, chickens, etc.) and then also had more exotic animals like camels, llamas, a zebra, ostriches, etc. Can I just tell you that Caleb LOVED every minute of it!!!! His favorites were the parrots, who talked and fought with each other constantly. The only thing he was a little scared of was actually my favorite of all--the baby camel! He was so cute and soft--I really wanted to take him home, but Matt said that since we can't have goats per our HOA, he doubted that we could have a camel!

We made our way around to the lambs and went in to the pen to feed them. Caleb got a little nervous when they all started crowding around him (wouldn't you if they were your height!?) so we decided to stay outside of the pen to let him feed them. Once he felt a little safer, he was really excited!

I have always loved animals and was almost excited as Caleb was the entire time at the ranch! It was just great to watch Caleb get so excited about all of the animals.

Until next time when I share about the Woodstock historical society, hydrogen peroxide pools, and pot rooms! :) (am I keeping you in suspsense??)

Friday, July 25, 2008

Tales of Our Trip--The Butterfly Conservatory

Up until now, our trip has been a bit of a disappointment. Don't worry, it is about to get a lot better!

After a very disappointing trip to the Petrified (they meant falling apart) Creatures museum, we went to the butterfly conservatory. When Carla got us to the conservatory, there was a tiny sign in the front of a huge field with a path that led to who knows where. We were pretty much figuring on being led to a serial killer's house to be his next victims, but we decided to take the chance and have a bit of an adventure. We finally come to the front of the conservatory, pay our money (everything is grossly overpriced in NY) and go in.

We were cautious about this, considering the misfortunes we'd had until now. Well, it exceeded our expectations by a mile! I felt like I stepped into the rainforest. There were butterflies and birds flying around everywhere! At the front of the room was a pretty multicolored bird that made a ton of noise. Caleb really liked him! Soon, the birds and butterflies got comfortable and starting swooping down for a closer look. Several butterflies even landed on us!

In addition to flying creatures, they had a lot of lizards, turtles, and fish as well. They also had a small display case with some insects and spiders, but we stayed away from them! It was amazing to see these animals so close to you! We even saw the largest species of moth in the world. Caleb was just enthralled with the entire experience. It's funny how much your focus changes when you become a parent. My concern was now totally whether or not Caleb was enjoying himself, and I loved watching him be in awe over what he was seeing. Although we couldn't understand a lot of what he was telling us, I'm sure he was excited!

It was the beginning of a much better second half of the trip!

Tales of Our Trip---The Petrified Creatures Museum

So, as we were planning our trip, I found a site for the Petrified Creatures Museum. They showed lots of dinosaurs and kids climbing on them and such. There was a cost (no specifics given), but it was tax deductible. We figured that Caleb would love it and that it would be a fun place to go.

Well, Caleb DID love it, but we felt like it was a rip-off! Because you have to pay before you go out the back door and into the outdoor museum, we couldn't peek to decide if it was worth it or not. $18 later ($9 a person--thankfully, Caleb was free!) we realized that we had just wasted a chunk of money. The dinosaurs were nothing but some plaster sculptures that were falling apart. Half of them even had tape around them to keep the kids off because they were dangerous! They had a few run-down displays that weren't even real fossils, and the information didn't look to have been updated in 20 years! There was a place were you could dig for fossils--this was nothing but a small rock pit. Nonetheless, Caleb loved climbing on the dinosaurs and collecting rocks. Believe me, we took $18 worth of rocks and pictures! :)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Tales of Our Trip---Going to the inn

When we finally got something to eat, we headed out to go to our inn. Carla told us that it was about 45 minutes from where we were, so we figured that it shouldn't be too long. Yes, well, Carla was measuring the miles and assuming we would be going 60 miles an hour. You can't go 60 miles an hour on one lane winding roads in the middle of the mountains! We saw a lot of farmland, wildlife ("BIRD! BIRD! BIRD!" says Caleb), and rundown trailers. Several times, Matt contemplated throwing Carla out the window. It was seriously the kind of area where you half expect a mad man to jump out in front of your car and kill you all, but no one would find you for several weeks until the next trucker comes through with his load of lumber!

When we FINALLY got to the Bavarian Manor 3 1/2 hours later, the owner told us that there was a much simpler and more direct route that truly took only 45 minutes. Thanks a lot, Carla! She did redeem herself later on in the trip, so Matt decided to keep her. Otherwise, he might have given her to the stoner we met in Woodstock. (More on that later!!)

Tales of Our Trip---Finding a place to eat

So after a *restful* night's sleep (I think we got all of 4 hours, since Caleb didn't fall asleep until 5 and woke up again at 6!) we got up, ate breakfast at the hotel, and packed up the car. Thankfully, Caleb was really good in the car and slept most of the way. It was another 2 1/2 hours to Cooperstown, and the trip was rather uneventful (thank goodness!) We went to the Baseball Hall of Fame, which Matt thoroughly enjoyed. It actually wasn't nearly as painful as I thought it would be. The room with the plaques got a little old though, since Matt has to read EVERY word on EVERY plaque. Then, of course, he has to share a story (or two, or ten) for each of the ball players! We didn't stay as long as I figured we would though, and I found myself asking if he wanted to stay longer! (stupid girl!)

We were going in the little shops in the town when it started to POUR, which is oh-so-fun with a stroller. I hurried back to the car while Matt did a little more shopping. Then, we decided to find a place to eat, so we pulled out Carla and had her take us to this cafe I'd seen advertised. It was closed. We drove a little father toward our inn, and told Carla to take us to another resta.urant. It was closed too. The same happened with the third place we tried! Who knew that half of the restaurants in this town aren't open for dinner!?!

We finally see a little grill that we decided to just go to, since it was past dinner time and we were starving. we walk in with our high chair cover and diaper bag with our nicely groomed son dressed in polo shirts and clean pressed khakis....the entire BAR turns to stare at us. I guess all of the motorcycles outside really should have been a clue, but we were delirious with hunger! As the smoke clouds my vision and fills Caleb's fragile lungs, we realize that they don't even serve food here (except for the bar peanuts, of course!)
Matt, ever the smooth talker, asks a patron if he knew where would be a good place to eat, because the music was too loud for our son! The man was too drunk to be coherent, but the bar tender gave us directions to a nice little Italian restaurant that actually had seats and food! Finally, at around 7:30 p.m., we were able to sit down for dinner.

Until next time: Our "45 minute" journey to the inn!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Tales of Our Trip---No sleeping allowed!

We went to Coopertown, NY for Matt's 30th birthday. For baseball fans, this is like their Mecca. I'm not a baseball fan, so this was the most extreme sacrifice! The ride up was pretty uneventful, as Caleb is a pretty good car rider and we had lots of toys and books on hand if needed. We drove to Scranton, PA the first day and found a fun (but a bit run-down) park nearby. There was a really cool treehouse there and a pretty nice playground. Then, we put Carla (our GPS) to the test rying to find a Pizza Hut....she took us to a car wash! When we finally found the desired Pizza Hut (which made me ill, by the way!), it was very late for Caleb to eat dinner. We went back to the hotel and played in the pool to tire him out; then it was BEDTIME!

Now the fun begins....we had been training Caleb to sleep in a little blow-up bed for weeks now in preparation for this trip. He had been really good about it...until we tried to put him in the bed in the hotel! He screamed, wandered, and talked for several hours before Matt decided to "drive him to sleep." It worked, and we were able to finally all go to bed.

3 a.m. Matt and I wake up to Caleb crying and trying to climb up on our bed. Of course, he is wide awake. After many attempts to get him to go back asleep, Matt finally decides to drive him to sleep again. It worked....until I opened the door for Matt and Caleb to come back in! At this point, Matt asked if we could just get our money back and go home.

Don't worry--the rest of the trip gets even better! :)

What I've done while Matt has been away

In an effort to keep myself busy while Matt is gone, I have been crazy productive! Here's a list of what I've done so far:
* Washed both cars
* Geo fans installed
* Began working on the will
* Cleaned laundry room
* Did 5 loads of laundry
* Trimmed bushes and limbs off trees
* Watered flowers every night
* Stood in line for an hour to get a Wii fit
* Painted counter chairs
* Attempted to kill the hated elephant ears
* Cleaned 3 out of 4 bathrooms
* Washed marks off the walls
* Took a Publisher class
* Organized the play room
* Paid bills
* Cleaned out kitchen cabinets

I'm sure there will more to come.... :)

As of Friday 7/24:
* Made dinner for my parents on Tuesday
* Had mother-daughter bonding on Wednesday
* Had my adopted daughters over for girl time on Thursday
* Went swimming
* Had Amy and the kids over for leftover night on Friday
* Painted the storage cabinet in Caleb's bathroom--I'm on the 4th coat!
* Learned how to do digital scrapbooking
* Made 9 scrapbook pages!! :)
* Ordered more memory for my laptop
* Attempted to clean up some disk space on Matt's laptop so that I can even order more memory!

I've started blogging again!

I've been inspired to start blogging again after reading the blogs of several of my friends (KN, LD, KG, MG, and GR, namely!) :) I have started up a new blog because this one is more just about life in general than Caleb's page. Of course, "life in general" does majorl include Caleb! Hopefully, I will be better with this one than I was with Caleb's page. Actually, I did pretty well until I got Facebook!

So, what has been happening recently? Matt is away again, so Caleb and I are on our own. I am becoming quite self-sufficient though. I have been working in the yard, doing a lot of cleaning around the house, and am even 'getting fans installed in our bedrooms! (I'm not doing it, but scheduling it counts, right?)

This is the first time that Caleb has really seemed to miss his daddy. He carries Matt's shoes around with him and repeats "Daddy" over and over again in a really pitiful voice. He constantly asks me "Where's Daddy?" I know that this is hard for him, but he has thankfully been pretty good this time. When Matt was in Colorado, Caleb was terribly cranky....and so was I!

I probably won't put too many pictures on here, since I put them all on FB. If you don't have FB, then get it! :)