Georgia Road Trip

Bill is on leave this week, so we’re not going to get much school done.  We started off his vacation by taking a road trip to Georgia, for 24 hours.

First stop was visiting friends who just had their ninth baby.  Another local friend called while I was there and said that it sounded chaotic.  “I’m in a house with sixteen children,” I said.  Sixteen children who were very happy to see each other…and very sad to leave.  We took a group photo of the kids, minus the newborn and the uncooperative 1 year old.  And then I realized Mary was missing, apparently not getting the memo that we were taking a group photo, so we had to do it again.

Then we went to our favorite place in Richmond Hill, Georgia: The Ice Cream Stop.  The ice cream is great; the owners are the best.

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I’m not happy that this photo of Mr. Bill and Ms. Gayle is blurry, so I will have to go back and get another one.  This other one is typical Ice Cream Stop: Mr. Bill sitting behind his counter, checking out the weather, talking about how the temperatures affect his business, while Ms. Gayle is busy doing something.

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Although George has had ice cream, he got to have his first ever ice cream cone.

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After he was finished, he had a few minor meltdowns as he kept pointing to the ice cream demanding more.  Fortunately, Mr. Bill has toys and other distractions.  We were there for two hours, meeting up with several other friends.

Then, after checking into our motel, we went to our second favorite place in Richmond Hill: Molly MacPherson’s.  You can not believe our disappointment to find they were closed for a private party.  How dare they?  I mean, we drove 5 hours just to eat dinner there!

We went somewhere else, not worthy of mention.  Not Molly’s.  We met two other families, one of which had just had their first baby.  It was nice.  Not as nice as Molly’s.

Not sure if we’ll get over this.

The next morning, we went to Mass at St. Anne’s, where George was baptized, and saw the pastor.  I put George in the nursery, where he cried “most of the time.”  Poor baby.

And that was it, for Georgia.  I think we were in state for about 24 hours, maybe 26.

But we took a side trip to St. Augustine, since it is along the way.  I do recommend St. Augustine as a nice place to visit.  I do recommend a day it isn’t raining.

First we went to the beautiful Mission Nombre de Dios near where the Spanish first landed on North America and had Mass.

The statue is of Father Lopez, who said the first Mass, and the cross in the background commemorates the 400th anniversary of the landing in that approximate spot.

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Bill took this fabulous shot of Jenny.

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St. Joseph the Worker

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St. Francis

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This is the only picture of me.  Nice, huh?

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Great blue heron – love these birds

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And then there was this snake sticking up from the bushes.  We walked away, and he stayed there.  Curious.

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The Mission includes a shrine to Our Lady of La Leche (and a happy delivery).  Several women I know had been sharing stories of conceiving after visiting this shrine.  I realized later that I, too, conceived George right after my sister and I visited this shrine.  I had intended to avoid this shrine, but there I was anyway.

After this, we walked down the road and past the Ripley Museum.  Outside the museum is a full-scale replica of the statue of David.  When it was first displayed, the nudity scandalized prudish Americans, so they covered him up until hedges could be built around him.  There is an opening in the hedges for the daring.  I can laugh about how silly Americans are, but my girls went in two steps ahead of me to see him.  The first thing I saw was them, with their hands up as one might look at something in the sky with one’s hand raised to block the sun, only they were blocking out body parts.

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Instead, they decided to look at how big his feet were.

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We did not go into the Ripley Museum.  Instead, we continued down the road to the fort.  I’ve been to St. Augustine three times, and each time, the fort has been free admission for the day.  I think it’s always free, they just pretend that it’s a special to make you feel good.

I’ve seen plenty of forts, and I don’t find them particularly interesting, but this one is in great condition and does have some great displays talking about the history of the area.  I guess it’s my favorite fort, so far.

Pirate ship

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Cannon shooting

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Notice the storm coming in

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From the fort, we went across the street to the living history museum.  We got soaked on the way over, and had to seek shelter multiple times while at the outdoor museum.  We didn’t take any pictures.  We did have a good time.

I had wanted to go to the beach today, but we are exhausted!  Maybe later this week.

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Keyboard Classroom Giveaway

At the request of Carrie Shaw from Keyboard Classroom, I am re-running a review of their typing program which I did in 2011.  We still use it…and we are all better, even me, even though I haven’t used it that much.  My oldest son now uses more than one finger to type.  If I were more consistent, we would be better, as it is with any skill.

Carrie has offered a free dual user license ($75) to one of my readers, so if you are interested, please leave a comment (here or on Facebook)!  I’ll pick a winner on Thursday, August 29th.

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I am old enough that when I was in high school, there was a class called “Typing.”  There were mostly girls in this class.  And it was, in my teenaged, not-very-humble opinion, a class for those whose highest aspirations involved working for the CEO, not being the CEO.  My guidance counselor suggested this class when I had a free period and did not want a study hall (another completely useless thing, in my thoughts) but I turned my nose up at the idea.

So, I hunted and pecked my way, on a word processor machine, through my upper class research papers and graduated with a diploma that reflected higher learning, not secretarial training.

Even in college, not knowing how to type wasn’t such a big deal.  I didn’t take very many liberal arts classes with writing assignments.  I earned an engineering degree (please note the distinct snobbery in my voice).  Knowledge of spreadsheets and how to format them was much more useful than what was becoming known as “keyboarding skills.”

It’s really only been in the last 5 – 7 years, since I began blogging, that knowing how to peck out more than 30 words per minute seems like a good idea.  When a typical day includes homeschooling, running, cooking, laundry and basic housekeeping, time for blogging is often carved out of time I could spend doing things arguably more important.  If I could type faster and more accurately, blogging would take less time, theoretically.  Or maybe I would just blog more.

I would still be saving self-improvement programs for some future rainy day if this past school year hadn’t convinced me that my children needed to learn to type, too.  One child in particular was having a very difficult time coping with the fine motor skills required and muscle fatigue that occurred with some of the assignments.  My MODG counselor suggested I just let him use the computer instead of facing the daily battles.  He and I were much happier with this idea.  Now, too, both boys have to write papers.  I honestly do not know which is worse: watching the mental strain of my 13 year old son as he constructs a thoughtful and grammatically correct sentence, or watching him stab the sentence out using only his right index finger.  My suggestion that he use two index fingers at least was declared “too difficult.”

Then, too, I am not a happy computer-sharer.  I confess, I am selfish with my toys.  If my children need to use the computer, they need to get on and get off as quickly as possible.  Agonizing over the location of every letter of every word every single time is just not conducive to family harmony when there is a queue of people who are waiting for you to be done already.

Last summer or fall, I scoured the internet and looked at different keyboarding programs.  The free ones online were inadequate, I felt.  After much waffling, I finally decided upon Keyboard Classroom, which is not a cheap program.  I bought a single-user version to try it out.  I had Katie begin, and she liked it very much.  You begin with a rank of Cadet.  The keys are introduced gradually.  In order to earn a “promotion” to the next rank, the keys must be practiced so often that memorization of their placement is the result.  As you work on your promotion, you earn tokens which can be used to play games.

This summer, I decided to buy the triple-user license so that Fritz, Billy and I could also learn to type.  Other people can sign on as Katie, but they would be working at her level.  Unfortunately, I had significant difficulty loading the triple user version on the computer.  It continued to bring up the single user version, even after I uninstalled it and re-installed the triple user.  I emailed Keyboard Classroom, and within a short period of time received help on how to load the triple user version (it wasn’t my incompetence!  There was a special trick to delete the other code, I guess to prevent abuse).  However, I had wanted 4 users (single plus triple) and there was no way to get both to work, it was either or.  Once again, I emailed the company about my dilemma, and they got back to me right away.  They ended up giving me the code for 5 users, which I very much appreciate.  Their technical support/customer service team is top-notch!

Yesterday, Billy, Katie, and I spent some time working with the program.  I thought I was doing well with 85 – 95 keystrokes in the time period, but then Billy got on and was doing over 100, consistently, with fewer and fewer errors (I attribute this to his years of piano lessons).  I’ve told the kids I want each of us to do 15 minutes a day.  Katie wanted to do longer; Billy was fine doing it and stopping after 15 minutes; I, personally, thought that 15 minutes was the maximum tolerable time period.  It hurts to learn new tricks, mentally.  Well, I’m not learning a new trick as much as re-training myself to do something in a better way.  Fritz will start today.

I do recommend Keyboard Classroom.  Until we get away from using a keyboard, which I don’t see happening anytime soon, it is a skill that our children will need to have, sooner or later.  Once a user has mastered the program, you can clear that user and another user can start from the Cadet rank, so you only need enough users as people who will be actively participating at one time.  I could have managed with just 3, and either made Katie wait until I had mastered it, or waited myself until one of the children grew proficient.  I’m hoping that in a month or two, we’ll all be typing away at a steady pace.

Then, perhaps, it wouldn’t take me two days to write a blog post!

Bad Hair Day

Or maybe it’s the baby keeping me up from 3 to 6 am this morning that was showing on my face when I went to the store.

The clerk asked if George was my grandson.

Since I was purchasing certain necessary supplies which I would not require if I were incapable of having children, this comment put me in a foul mood.

Last month, but at a different time of the month when I wasn’t quite so grumpy, a different clerk at a different store saw I was accompanied by George and by my brother Glenn, who has Downs Syndrome.

“Are you running some kind of daycare?” she asked.

I really didn’t know where she was going with that, but I cheerily responded that George was my son.  But then she wondered about Glenn.

“He’s my brother,” I explained.

It’s weird enough to go out with a brood of kids and have people ask if they’re all yours, as if normal people invite all the neighborhood children to go shopping for fun.  But then to assume that the middle-aged woman with a baby and a handicapped adult runs a mixed-needs daycare…and takes her clients out shopping…for fun…

Last month, when I told my sister about that incident, I admitted that I really was old enough to be George’s grandmother.

“In Georgia, maybe!” she said.  “Maybe Florida!”

But I am, even if she doesn’t want to admit it.  And most of the time I’m okay with that.

But do the store clerks have to point it out?

The clerk last month was old enough to be my mother.  The clerk today was young enough to be my daughter…if I had children when I was 17.

I must end this rant with a penance.  The last time I went to confession, I said that I had a bad habit of being very annoyed with other people, especially people who behaved badly.  I might even sometimes think I’m better than they are, at least in a particular regard.  He suggested that if I felt that way, it was because they were doing things that somebody else had taught me were wrong, and that I should turn it into gratitude to whomever it was that taught me better.

Mom, Dad, I’ve been thinking lots of good thoughts about you in the last few weeks!

At some point, my parents must have explained that the older a woman gets, the less she wants that age acknowledged.  I remember working at a fast food restaurant as a teen.  They had a “Golden Arches Club” for people over a certain age to get discounted coffee or drinks.  One time, a woman who was obviously old enough, requested the discount, and I coyly carded her, much to her delight.  That reinforced for me just how easy it is to make someone feel good.

Maybe today, a young woman learned the opposite lesson, and maybe she will apply that lesson to making people a tiny bit happier.

Sink Me!

The front page of the paper is all about a giant sinkhole that opened in Orlando, which my kids find fascinating.

Several weeks ago we watched The Scarlet Pimpernelthe 1982 version.  We loved it.  Sir Percy reminds me of Snagglepuss.

I did not realize how much Peter enjoyed the movie until that sinkhole in Orlando.  He’s been fluffing an imaginary cravat and saying “Sink me!” just like Sir Percy.

And then he screams and falls down into his imaginary sinkhole.

#sixwordwar – The Domestic Front

Did you see this article about #sixwordwar – soldiers summarizing their war-time experiences in only six words?  So many of the submissions are fabulous:

“Four trucks out, three trucks back.”

“I’ll never be this cool again.”

“Never deployed, uncomfortable with thank yous.”

 

I spent this weekend writing my own six word summarizes of war from the domestic front.

“Quality family time: daddy’s on skype.”

“Mustn’t forget: child psychologist appointment today.”

“WTH? They won’t accept the POA?”

“Family Separation Pay doesn’t cover lawncare.”

“Valium? No thanks. I prefer vodka.”

“Every morning, check for strange cars.”

 

And I thought of some related to redeployment:

“A weight lifted from my heart.”

“Remember when? No, you weren’t there…”

 

Let’s not leave the war stories to just the soldiers.  I’d love to hear your own #sixwordwar experiences.