Monday, January 28, 2008

A job!!!

While it is not a full-time job, today I signed a contract with one of my Stetson professors. He owns an educational consulting company that has been tasked with writing curriculum units on African American History. He was looking for someone to write elementary units and asked me!!! I'll be getting paid a good hourly wage and be able to work from home while Jonathan is at preschool. I may even look into extending his time at school, depending on how many units he wants me to write. It will take about 20 hours per unit, which will probably take me 2 weeks with Jonathan's current schedule. If he goes to the full time program, I should be able to write one per week. I am so excited to have meaningful employment (even if it is only through May 31st) and enough money to pay our bills. This week I'll be working all week at the elementary school doing testing, and then I'll get started at my new "job" on Monday! It will be an adjustment for all of us (I can't do laundry and cook while working) but I'm looking forward to the change of pace!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Field trip pictures

I had the pleasure of going to the Marine Science Center yesterday with both Benjamin and Alexander's classes. Here are some of the pictures Benjamin took with his new camera. He is having a blast with the camera!!!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Look who's in the paper again!

This time Chris was nominated by two of his students for a weekly feature in the Orlando Sentinel on outstanding teachers. Pictures were taken before the beard was shaved off, of course.,0,83002.story

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Benjamin's new camera, continued...

His camera also takes videos, although they have no sound,... here's one of the worm they found in the backyard...

Here's another of his creations: Cars time!!!!!!

Benjamin's new camera

For his birthday, Benjamin got a little (and I mean little!!!) digital camera. It holds only 20 pictures, has no flash, and cost very little. He is having a blast with it. Here are some examples.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Happy Birthday Benjamin!!!!

Today is Benjamin's birthday! He's hit double digits! It's also been a decade since I've worked full-time! Wow does time fly.

We celebrated this weekend with our first big sleepover. Benjamin invited his two best friends, Christian and Allanah. It just so happens that they have brothers in Alexander's class, so we invited them, too, for a total of 6 kids (Jonathan slept over with one of his friends.) We are so lucky that our boys have found such nice friends. They are all well-behaved, and boy, are they funny! We played games that night and I had a blast. Then they watched Treasure Planet, an animated movie that none of them had seen before! To top it off, they were all asleep by 10:30. Pretty amazing.
Today Benjamin's Social Studies project was due. He finished it up last night. It's a relief map of the Spanish Armada. He did an excellent job on it and most importantly, it was his work. Some of the projects I have seen in the past were obviously done by the parents. He even learned not to procrastinate - he's been working on this since Christmas vacation. I'm glad he had a good experience. Next year he has to do a science project!

Grapefruit Galore!

We have had a fabulous crop of grapefruit this year. They are unbelievably huge. You can hardly even see Jonathan's face. In the picture of the three kids (this was the day we picked all of them), they are each holding a grapefruit and an orange (also from one of our trees) so you can see the difference in size. It's a mystery to me why they do so well some years, since we don't do anything to the tree. They are incredibly sweet pink grapefruit.
Benjamin had the great idea of selling them at our garage sale, which is why they are all loaded in the van. Unfortunately for him, it rained most of the morning, so he only made $9.50. Many of the people didn't buy any because of the medicine they are on. He also learned about pricing - he started the morning asking .50 each or 3/$1.00 but quickly dropped his price to 4/$1.00. I wish shipping wasn't so expensive, or I would send them to all of our out-of-state friends. They are simply delicious!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Spelling Bee

Today I had the pleasure of watching the school's spelling bee. Each fourth and fifth grade class had a preliminary spelling bee in their class, and then sent the top two spellers to the school level. Benjamin and his friend Alannah represented their class.
I was very proud of Benjamin. He lasted through the 6th round (necessary is the word that tripped him up) and finished in fifth place! The winner (another Ben) placed second in the region last year and is an awesome speller! The principal told me that Benjamin was the first to congratulate Ben at the end. That comment was more important than winning the spelling bee itself. Way to go, Benjamin!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me!

I read once that the chances of meeting someone with your same birthday are very good. Today I celebrated my birthday by tutoring Liam, who turned 7 today. I made chocolate-chocolate chip cookies for the two of us (no resolutions today). This evening I have a meeting at church with Jennifer, who also has a birthday today. I made a chocolate cake with ganache sauce to celebrate. Notice how I find ways to have chocolate WITHOUT Chris.

The boys were cute this morning as I opened presents. Alexander grew a flower for me at school and brought it home. He watered it in secret for the past two days. They gave me a new set of drinking glasses, which were sorely needed. Jonathan, however, sees my birthday as just one stepping stone to get to his (April 28th). He came running out this morning, yelling "Happy Birthday!" Then he said, "Next is Benjamin's birthday!" I'm sure he was thinking that it's one more out of the way until his birthday, which is, according to him, coming up SOON. Little does he realize how long he has to wait.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Resolution update, week 2

Pounds lost: 1/2. Something is better than nothing, right? Miles run: 25 Days sore: 3

One of the things missing from my exercise is weight training. It's missing because I hate it. With a passion. But the more I read about physical fitness, the more I see the necessity of weight training. So I emailed my friend Teri and we decided to meet every Friday morning at the Y. This Friday, we spent a little over an hour doing walking lunges, upper body exercises, and abs. Hence the soreness. I'm hoping as we do this regularly it won't hurt so much. The more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism, and the more calories you can eat. My extra calories will definitely all be dark chocolate!

This week I've also discovered a great book. It's called Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink. It's not a diet book, but a psycologist's look at eating and how easy it is to eat too much. At the end of each chapter, he provides suggestions for changing your environment to help prevent this mindless eating. I've already implemented a few of his suggestions. Here's what I've done:
  • Put all of my favorite snacks under the counter. Out of sight, out of mind. Or at least I have to make an effort to eat them.
  • Serve our meals on salad plates, not dinner plates. It still looks like the same amount of food, but it's much less.
  • Use tall, skinny glasses for drinks instead of short, fat glasses. Again, it's all in how it looks.

He suggests making only three small changes at a time. Over the weeks, it will make a difference, and the weight will slowly come off. I'll be waiting to see....

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Save a little money, lose a little weight

As part of my New Year's resolution, I have decided to try to walk or bike whenever possible. I figure it will help me burn calories and conserve gas. Luckily for us, Port Orange has sidewalks just about anywhere, and most of the places we go (school, church, library, soccer fields) are within 3 miles. We also want the kids to start walking as part of their training for our trip to Europe this summer. This past weekend, Jonathan walked home from soccer (1 mile!) and the restaurant (2 miles!!!). Today I drove him to school on his bike and will pick him up on foot. It's almost exactly 2 miles from school to our house.

So, being the money miser I am, I just had to know how much money I'm saving on gas. Gas right now is running about $3.15. Our van gets about 16 mpg in the city - nowhere near what the sticker claimed! According to my math, it costs approximately $.20 per mile! That's a dollar every five miles! Crazy, isn't it.

My savings so far this week is $1.20 on Tuesday, when we biked to school and then ran errands; and $1.80 today with our bike/walk plans. I've saved $3.00 in just two days!!! Looks like we'll be doing a lot more of this kind of transportation as long as gas prices stay where they are. Hopefully my waistline will benefit, too.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Resolution update

End of week one:

Lost 2 pounds. Ran 26 miles. Walked to two restaurants (yes, mom and dad are still here), soccer field, and library. Ate lots of healthy fruits and veggies and only one bowl of ice cream. Ready to start week two!

Intruder, part II

Brace yourselves, here is the second installment of the intruder series.

Saturday, January 5, 2008


By request, here is the "show" the boys put on in the backyard yesterday. We're still in the midst of a "cold" spell, so you'll notice the cold-weather clothes they are wearing . They practiced all afternoon, and here is the result. Enjoy, and remember, I take no credit for the content of the show.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Jonathan's first book

Here is my first attempt to upload video. Thanks to Jodie, who walked me through it last night. This is Jonathan, reading aloud his first book. It has only 5 words in the whole book, with great pictures. He learned to read it thanks to Gram, who checked it out from the library. We're going to buy our own copy with our Christmas gift card.

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!!

Last night we had our first freeze of the season. It wasn't long enough to damage our orange and grapefruit trees, but this morning we had flurries!! You can't even imagine the kids' excitement. It quickly abated, however, when they realized how cold they were standing outside without shoes or a coat. Just wait until we travel to Duluth in the winter.......

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

A New Year's Resolution

Well, it's that time of the year again. I don't usually make resolutions, but this year I am motivated to. See, I have somehow managed to gain about 10 pounds since this summer. I have this uncanny ability to put weight on quickly. This time it was caused by a few factors. I've been lax about what I eat. Despite being married for 15 years, I still think I can eat whenever I want just like Chris. Unfortunately, that's not true. I also can't resist chocolate or cookies sitting around the house. While I try not to have them here, lately they've crept into the house. My lack of a job has been a factor, too, because I eat when I'm depressed. Or bored. Or angry. You get my drift.

So, now the time has come to get that weight off. After Alexander was born, I lost over 60 pounds with Weight Watchers. I just can't bear to start counting points again, so I'm going to try it on my own for a month and see what happens. Here's my plan:
  • Exercise more. I already run 4-5 times a week, but I'll walk or ride my bike whenever possible. I also got a mini-trampoline for Christmas (thanks, Cindi!) that I can use at night.
  • Eat only when hungry. I wish I knew why this is so hard for me. But it is.
  • Choose fruits and veggies first for snacks.
  • Keep the junk that tempts me out of the house
I'm hoping that by posting this for everyone to see, I'll be motivated to contine. My goal is to lose 5 pounds by the end of the month. I'll keep you posted.

A few more Christmas pictures...

Look carefully at the first picture of Jonathan...he looked at this picture and said "I'm chewing gum!" Yes, he's still chewing gum in an effort to thwart his cavity growth. He's also goofy, as you can see in the next picture. The last one is the "silly" picture of the boys with Jeff.