Friday, August 31, 2007

Labor Day Weekend

I was trying to drive in this town yesterday with way too much traffic. We got to Costco to discover it was packed. On the way home more traffic, more than usual. I had the radio on when I heard it was Labor Day weekend. I said how much I hate this weekend out loud. Three children immediately wanted to know why. I had to explain because this is the last one for the summer, we get large amounts of people in that want to do nothing more than block traffic. My dad would later agree with me and remind me Memorial weekend is bad too. I don't think it is.

By this time of year we have had it with the heat, so tempers are just too short to have packed roads and more drunks than usual on the road. The heat seems to have lasted too long by this time, we want it gone. We check in with the weather daily to see if we have any chance of lower temperatures. I am talking 98 instead of 107. Even the dogs are short tempered. We all seem to know fall is close and want it here quicker. School has started so fall should be here too, cooler temperatures = cooler tempers.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

School has started

School has started here in Nevada. School has started here at the Shepcarpclan household. We are using thematic units this year. Kate, the 5 year old, is in first grade this year. She took her placement for math and will be doing second grade math. Emma is right on target. Caleb has taken off in reading and is now reading everything, what a huge change for him. Evan is as usual Evan. Doing great in history, reading and science and holding his own in math. Andrew has found his brain this year and will be joining us. Andrew is soon to be 15 and I think will make it into college courses by January. OMG I can't believe that. He is ready, I may not be but he is. This week is space for our thematic unit, I decided on this due to the lunar eclipse Tuesday and meteors Saturday morning.

I sat the kids down last week and we came up with unit topics for the year. Among my favorites where, great plagues and adventures. They were thinking when we study flying we could actually try flying. October will see things like Poe and Nevada history. We are adding religion this year, we will learn a little about each religion and belief. We come from a very mixed family so we want our children to be open minded. We attend a unit studies group weekly, been doing that this summer. This gives them a chance to get together with other kids and learn things. Caleb tried to give a lesson in homemade bombs, I put a quick stop to that. I am pretty sure anarchist is his secret life goal.

People ask me why I home school. We started out this way when Andrew was 5. He had fallen into a camp fire when he was 4, at 5 his skin was still too new to be on a playground. Now I home school because I love it. I love teaching my children and sometimes learning things with them. I love being there when they learn something new or finally get something we have worked had on. Homeschooling is easier on Evan and Caleb. Sudden change and crowded situations are hard on both of them. We have groups we get together with, and girls scouts. School has started and my life is now very very busy but I love it.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


Caleb is my third child. He was born with red hair and has managed to keep it. Caleb was a quiet baby. His father, his pediatrician and our families did not believe me that he smiled or spoke. He only smiled late at night when it was just the two of us up for his feedings. I would take him into the living room and sit in a rocker and nurse him. He would smile then and for months only then. He spoke very little and never to anyone until he was 3 years old. He walked when he was over a year, potty trained at 3. He would not just do things, he seemed to have to work it out then just get to it.

My favorite memory of Caleb was when he was about 4 years old. We had a doctors appointment and I stayed outside with him. We found a little patch of grass full of dandelions. I picked one and blew the cottony seeds everywhere. He watched me but said nothing. Then he picked one and tried it. Then he looked at me, I mean looked AT me, in the eye. We had connected, and we blew dandelions for about an hour while my husband took our oldest in to the doctors.

Caleb was 5 when he started school like most children. I was homeschooling through a charter school back then. He was to start testing to see where he needed to be started. The teacher took him back and was only gone 5 minutes. He returned with Caleb in tow. I thought, OMG the child refused to speak to him. The teacher was laughing. When I asked if it went well he told me Caleb had invoked his constitutional rights not to be tested. I informed him my home was a dictatorship and demanded he tell me where my son had learned this. He just laughed at me, this teacher was really getting on my nerves now. He said they could not force the child to test. Caleb tested two weeks later when he was good and ready. I was then informed he was a very bright child and educating him could be a problem.

Caleb then spent that entire year with a teacher that he disliked. Now if Caleb dislikes someone he flat out dislikes them. Should it get to be too much Caleb then puts a wall up and this person is no longer on the planet. I have a friend he is like this with, she has never done a thing to offend him as far as we can tell but he really dislikes her. My husbands mother is not a favorite of his either. She is a good person and very kind to him. Still he has no attachment to her, he will usually act like she isn't in the same room. I can insist he acknowledge her and he will and he will be civil but there is nothing more to it.

It took me a long time to understand when he would come up hug me and tell me he hated me, he really meant he loves me. Somewhere he had gotten a wire crossed. He has learned to control his temper and his outbursts but they still plague him when stress builds up. He is an amazing child and I love that he is the way he is. He loves with all of himself just like he can dislike with every ounce of himself. He has insisted he can not read but we recently was quoting facts from a book written for state employees on how to handle and transport nuclear waste. Yes he can read he just doesn't want anyone knowing, well he lets me know he can read.

Now he is 9 years old soon to be 10. He still loves to blow dandelions and grow plants. Now he wants a vinegarroon. This is a whip tailed scorpion. NO WAY is this happening. He tells me this is a opportunity for scientific observation. Smart kid, as I have stated. He has a rat terrier that is with him almost all the time. I am pretty sure she would not love this new addition either. I think I will look into some more plants for him, exotic ones. He wants to be a medical botanist when he grows up and I am pretty sure he will make it. I just hope he realizes he needs to test in college and can not refuse to read or write for professors. He may also be just as happy being an anarchist.

Caleb sees things differently and does them his own way. I love that about him. Yes he can blow up and get frustrated, but he will usually keep at something. I can always take him and find a field of dandelions and he will quiet down and blow cottony seeds into the air for as long as we have them there to blow. We don't have to speak to each other, just quietly spread seeds all over the grass. I don't pull dandelions when I spot them on my lawn. I leave them there to let them grow. They represent one special day with my third child. This is a child that may not say a lot to people he has just met or sometimes to people he has known a lifetime. This is a child that will spend three hours with a foal that won't come near anyone else but him. Him speaking quietly and this foal with its neck wrapped around his head grooming his hair. Animals take him him right away. Little girls his age follow him around just wanting to be near him. He on the other hand puts his hands in his pockets and does his own thing. This is Caleb.

Monday, August 20, 2007

This week

We gathered around the table Saturday to plan this week. Finish up dads two houses and yards. Get water on to both houses, have a plumber out to roto rooter both houses. Get air condition up and running to one house. Have fence people out to do estimates on new fence and repair one existing fence. Fencing decided on was chain link. Confirm the dumpster, get permit for dumpster. Get in touch with rental agency find out if smoke alarms must be hard wired in. Find an electrician to repair a light carpet installers tore out of hall ceiling in house two. Rearrange storage unit.

Got up this morning, despite a dose of antihistamine the night before, and headed for storage unit. Got there and moved three boxes. Dad declared enough done for now. I stood there thinking, OMG no way we did this for three boxes. Great news the 40 year mattress and box springs are getting tossed. Not because they are as firm as a giant bag of water but because the bed set holds a standard double, this set is a double extra long. What ever reason is fine by me as long as they go.

Got email from chicken husband (my new name for him as of this morning). He has decided to join DPS, did not go over well with me. When we first started dating my first question was, " Do you have any desire to be a street cop?", his answer was "No". I can see this is going to lead to some heated discussions as the week goes on. DPS does not always mean street but as he emailed me the information I am thinking it might in this case.

I need to call fencing companies for estimates and make sure I catch them there. Should they arrive without me at the houses they may think I expect them to install fencing with a torn down wood shed, a six foot high twenty foot long wall of loose cement cylinders. Those will be gone, thus the dumpster. I must also return an empty color ink cartridge, I did not have the empty one when I purchased the last set of cartridges. The gentleman that does the refills is great at his job but a bit overprotective of his cartridge's. I must also get on the phone with plumbers, call one company my dad likes and request a man named Jack. I do hope this does not take a great deal of explanation. My dad had this gentleman install one of the toilets and prefers to deal with him again. Companies are not always understanding in the dealings with the elderly. They really should get that way.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Hard questions-harder answers

I find my children can ask some very hard questions. I also find the answers to be even harder in some cases. Questions like, "When I grow up will I find someone to love?" "If someone took me and you couldn't find me, would you keep looking?" "When I grow up will I know what to do?". Today my five year old Kate asked me another one of those questions. " Mommy I have a question. What would you do if someone hit our car while you were pumping gas and Emma and me died?" My first response was, "what a terrible question". She insisted on an answer. I told her I would be very very sad. That was not the truth. I couldn't tell her, I would die right then and there. A part of me would no longer exist. I would continue on in life I am sure but a part of me would not. I have known women over the years that have lost children. I saw in all of them that part that no longer lived. There are no easy answers to questions children can ask. Oh I have books to answer questions like"Why is the sky blue?" or "How far is it to the moon?" Children don't always ask those questions. I have been asked questions far tougher than any mid term could ever be. "Why do people kill each other?" "Why do some people hate other people because they look different?" "Why do some parents hurt or kill their children? Didn't they love them anymore?" The answers are sometimes just not there. Some are there but too complicated to explain.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

I need an out

I need an out, this is a code I use to let my husband know I have had enough. We started this when the youngest was two. I wouldn't have to say anything more, just "I need an out". I didn't use this much until recently. I have added two more people to my household since February, making it a total of nine people living here.

I need an out soon, very soon. I have been in a grouchy mood for two weeks. Running between my dads two houses and mine. No air conditioning in one of his houses and no water running in either house adds to the stress. I am happy to say one house is now packed and empty. The yard on the other hand is a different story. The other house is going to be a challenge. It is packed but must be unpacked and then repacked. Junk and any mice must gone from the boxes before being moved to a storage unit.

My dad is a collector. A common thing I am told among those that came from the depression era. This means I have found balls of string, rubber bands in balls, paper clips, rocks, plastic bags in huge numbers. I have yet to understand this. Canned food that I know should not and will not be eaten. My mom passed away 15 years ago, I am still sorting her clothes. I have boxed her old shoes and given them away. I found clothes that belonged to my dad when he was in his 30's, he is now 78.

My dads one house, the one I grew up in, has been broken into many times and many things stolen or broken. One bedroom I finally made it to the closet to find a broken urn. I didn't want to upset my dad so I called one of my nieces and asked her if her mom had ever mentioned what kind of urn our mother or my grandfather had been put in. She didn't know and neither did my sister. I finally asked my dad, he told me he knew it was there but could not remember who's it was. He was sure however that my mom and my grandfather were in leather pouches and in boxes but he was worried they had been stolen. "Oh God, don't tell me we have other relatives here". I asked, more like pleaded, could this be one of our former pets remains, he didn't think so. There was no broom in this house or dust pan and none in the other house. I couldn't just leave those on the floor, I took two old envelopes and scooped up as much as I could into a plastic container. Some of it got onto my hands, I didn't think I would ever get that off my hands, or at least I imagined I could still feel it on my hands. I brought the mystery ashes home and stuck them in a cabinet. My kids were a bit worried at first. Now they love nothing more than to tell company we have a dead relative in our cabinet. I still haven't found my mothers ashes or my grandfathers, I still have the other house to go through. No one in the family is sure who this is here.

I need an out.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

What is wrong with boys?

Today is laundry day, well almost everyday is, but today is big laundry day. I started out early asking the boys to strip their beds. It is now 3:00 P.M. and they are finally stripped. Are boys allergic to clean? While I was picking sheets up off of their floor I noticed an old fish bowl full of bird seed. I dared to ask why the fish bowl and not the convenient zip lock bag it came in. I was informed by my nine year old son that was just a silly question. I also noticed something moving in the room. I know better than to investigate. I know its not one one of the birds they are in their cage. Maybe the toad I never can see it with all the rocks and plants in the tank. I asked the boys. The answer is, "oh the bug got loose, we can't find it". What bug? "The bug we caught at Grandpa's". Oh no, this can't be good. WHAT BUG? The answer? "A palo verde beetle". This is a rather large beetle(3 to 5 inches) with a pincher on its head and wings. I have pulled the birds and the toad out of that room and am going up with bug spray. What is wrong with boys? A lizard, a snake even the toad would be fine, but oh no we have a beetle on the loose. At least it wasn't a scorpion.

Boys, Girls and Dogs

This entire week is not going well. Today is only Tuesday and I see no hope for the rest of the week. The morning shot by too fast. I turned on my stove to cook lunch and the igniter failed to click, a huge ball of flame quickly came from the burners. Time to find the pipe cleaners and clean out impossibly small holes in the burners. This is a job that the husband is supposed to do weekly. The last time I saw the pipe cleaners they had all been turned into stick figure dolls. I hope the boys made these. The boys don't care if I take the legs or arms off the dolls, the girls on the other hand will take this personally.

The boys are fighting. One argument leads to another today. The girls on the other hand have disappeared upstairs to try and sneak into my room to watch the tv. The rat terriers and the corgi are getting along today. The roommate blew yet another job today, this just sets the entire household on edge. A year of living here, this was supposed to be six months at most. Her goal, stay here while getting divorce, get a job get an apartment. Three jobs later she is now unemployed. Nice enough person just terrible at interviews.

It is hot outside today, 108 and dry. The cicadas are the only things enjoying the heat. All of my tomato plants have died, the grape plant looks terrible. The peppers and brusselsprout plants are doing ok. I need to get moving with the house and dinner. I have a meeting tonight so no walking club. I have a feeling this bad mood will bleed over into tomorrow without a way of blowing of steam today. I used to clean when I was really mad. The husband would come home see a very spotless house and know to tread lightly. With nine people living here it seems impossible to get the house that clean. No sooner do I get one room done and someone is behind me undoing it. I had better go before this wireless keyboard takes flying lessons. I must keep backspacing to correct what it fail to type. I am thinking time to replace the batteries or have sore finger tips from tapping heavily on each key.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Cleaning out- old memories

My dad became very ill in February resulting in a long hospital stay. When the hospital felt he could be released, not an opinion I shared, he came to live with us. They let him out unable to walk with a draining leg wound and a but unaware of what was going on around him. He has since recovered and other than needing daily help with his compression stockings and making sure he eats well he gets along fine.

Now we face cleaning out his two homes. They sit side by side, one was lived in for 40 years the other the last 10 years. This has taken months of work just to get part of one home empty. Along the way I have come across things I had never known of or forgotten. Things he won't part with, even though I see no use for them. Now my home is piled with boxes, my garage over filled and working on a storage unit. I have found letters from my paternal grandfather to my folks about my grandmother when she was diagnosed with cancer and to the end of her life. I have learned more from the letters than from any family talks. Birthday, anniversary, and birth announcements have brought back many memories. Rocks tucked here and there, we are rock collectors from way back, bring back memories for my dad and myself. Scarves my mom wore, handkerchiefs also stir up memories. I will have to blog on those with photos as they brought back so many memories. Now we must make up our minds once and for all, stay here in the southern end of the state or go north. My dad is from the northern end of the state and longs to return at the same time he drags his feet on this. My husband and myself prefer the northern end but are open either way. We are stuck in Nevada as my husband is employed by the state.

We still have another house to go through. I look forward to seeing more things and yet dread it at the same time.

Thursday, August 2, 2007


I have started walking with a group. So far our group consists of three of us but its a start. The first evening we put in 2.2 miles. Last night we managed 3 miles. This morning when I woke up, OMG my legs are not on friendly terms with the rest of my body. My shoulders are sore from swinging my arms while we walk but not as bad as my legs. I will be out there again tonight. One of the women I walk with sets the pace. Not a slow pace, no a very quick pace. Two laps in last night and I thought I was going to die. Advice to younger people, do no let yourself get out of shape. Even if you are out of shape get in shape before 40. Trust me it is harder as you get older.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Off day and getting in shape

The kids and I overslept today. We had rain, a rare event, and it was so overcast that the house stayed dark. My dh had gotten off to work at 4:00 A.M. and we slept until 9:30. When I did wake up I found I had a pounding headache from sleeping so late. The entire day has been off. The wire keyboard quit working, I had to go buy batteries for the wireless. I really don't care for the wireless as it goes through a lot of batteries. I am extremely grouchy today. My kids seem to be about the same as all they have done is argue. I have my walking club tonight too.

My family and I started to get into shape about six months ago. I was not sure how this would go but it has been a huge success. The entire family didn't need to get into shape. Andrew, Evan, Rachel, (the roommate) and myself were the ones that needed to the most. Six months now and Evan has last 50 pounds, Andrew 30, Rachel about 25, I have lost 100 pounds. I now walk every night. I am now up to 2.2 miles at a very quick pace. I have to say I am so proud of the boys, they look great and feel great. This entire family is now a sugar free, mostly organic no junk food period family. Dh is now running to stay in shape. I have started getting rid of all the large clothes we have downsized from. I noticed that Andrew, the 14 year old, no longer has the mood swings he used to. He did have some sugar last week and was a real jerk. He told me he will never eat sugar like that again, he could see the difference in himself. Evan turns down anything not healthy on his own. Now that this family has read up on what goes into a lot of our foods we are very careful about what we eat or drink. Even the younger ones read labels, lol. Caleb, the 9 year old, will tell anyone in the store what is in the foods they have picked up. This leads me to dragging him away from some very freaked out people. This is just Caleb, he gets going on one track and is hard to detour.