Monthly Archives: April 2008

Universities changing admittance process for homeschooled students

Tammy at Just Enough had a post today about a young woman from the Chicago area, Chelsea Link, who was accepted to all seven of the universities to which she applied, including Harvard.  For every year excepting her kindergarten year, Chelsea was homeschooled.

The article to which Tammy links, from the Chicago Tribune, was an interesting article, well-worth reading. 

Chelsea, though, is rather an anomoly.  She’s an aspiring neuroscientist, an only child from an apparently very wealthy family — they tutored French in France, studied Taoism in China, ancient Grecian history in Greece, and have a music room in their home with a grand piano and more than one harp.  She’s academically precocious, had perfect scores on both the ACT and SAT, as well as many other accomplishments.  So, really, it’s no surprise that she is being courted by the nation’s top universities.

(“Anomoly” because students like Chelsea don’t come around all that often, no matter where they’re educated.  And, most homeschooling families I know are solidly middle class, and wouldn’t be able to afford to have regular “field trips” to across the Atlantic.)

The thing that caught my attention, though, in both Tammy’s post and in the Tribune article, is that homeschoolers are getting increasing attention from universities.  I have been seeing more and more articles on the topic over the last year or so.  Many are changing their policies, making it easier for those with nontraditional educations to gain admittance.  Some are actively pursuing homeschoolers, setting up booths at homeschooling conventions.  Some are even creating scholarships specifically for home-educated kids. 

Tammy links to an article about a university in California that is doing just that, and the Tribune article mentioned that now, 80% of American colleges and universities have policies for reviewing homeschooled kids’ applications, up from 52% in 2000.

Although I didn’t initially set out on our homeschooling adventure with a mind to school my kids through high school graduation, here towards the end of our sixth year, with my oldest in 5th grade, I’m sincerely hoping we can continue their home education to the end.  It used to be, that if a homeschooled kid wanted to go to a “normal” university (as opposed to, say, a Christian Bible college), they would be best off in a public school for the last year or two of high school, if not all of high school, to assure a “normal” transcript, thereby increasing the likelihood of a university even viewing their application, let alone admitting them.  Not that homeschooled kids’ education is better in a public school, necessarily, but the education is more standard, making it easier to compare apples to apples among applicants.  Universities are now recognizing that “standard” education in the U.S. isn’t necessarily producing the best students.

I don’t know where my kids will go after their 12th year of school.  I’m not even of the mindset that a university education is always the best way to go, but it’s among the top options, and I’m glad to know that their homeschooling will likely not be a drawback on their admission applications.         

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Saving money on a gluten-free diet

I get e-mail updates from Nancy Lapid’s informative celiac disease site at about.com.  The site is partly blog, with comments enabled, and partly permanent articles. 

One recent article caught my eye, because it was about the link between alopecia areata and celiac disease.  My husband has alopecia, and has struggled with it for about seven years.  (With alopecia, the patient’s hair falls out in chunks, sometimes with entire-body hair loss.  My hubby’s is more of the spot/chunk variety, all on his scalp and face.)  Hmmm… 

Reading more, I saw that Nancy had an article on saving money while on a gluten-free diet.  I must say that all of her suggestions are great;  I personally do most of them.  

I have a few more to add to Nancy’s list:

  1. Instead of trying to find a gluten-free substitute for all of your “normal” gluten-containing foods (like bagels, hamburger buns, dinner rolls, pasta), simply eliminate them, or find a totally different, naturally gluten-free substitute.  In other words, if pasta salad is a regular staple in your diet, instead of buying expensive gluten-free pasta, substitute a fruit salad, bean salad, cucumber salad, or something similar.  Instead of bagels, use Tater Tots at breakfast.  Instead of sandwiches, try making bread-free pinwheels with lunchmeat, cream cheese and green onion, or something similar.  In my experience, the most expensive gluten-free items are the ones that are pre-packaged, copying a usually gluten-containing baked good.  So, if you can adjust your diet to simply not include them (or minimize their use), you’ll save a lot of money.
  2. If at all possible, find a local Asian grocery.  Depending on the selection of your local store, you will be able to find a wide variety of gluten-free flours and rice noodles of all varieties, for MUCH less than you’d find in a natural foods store, specialty store, or regular grocery.  I buy white rice flour and sweet rice flour (both at 69 cents a pound), tapioca starch and potato starch (both 39 cents to 59 cents per 12 oz package), sorghum flour (in the Indian section, usually sold as jawar or juwar flour, $2-3 for a 2 lb package), ALL sorts of rice noodles and rice spring roll wrappers (almost all of which are less than $1 for a pound), and whole grain rices in a wide variety at an inexpensive price (like brown sweet rice for $3 for a 3 lb package).  In addition, I buy a lot of produce at the Asian grocery.  I also recently got a tip from Michelle that bajri flour is actually millet flour, which is great for g.f. baking, so I’ll be looking for that on my next trip to the Asian grocery.  We have found that pasta sauce tastes just as good on 89 cent rice “vermicelli” from the Asian grocery as it does on $3.59 Tinkyada pasta from the normal grocery.  In fact, my husband likes it better.  Many American purchasers are hesitant, because these flours and pastas are not “certified” gluten-free, and usually made out-of-country.  However, I have never had a problem with any of the ingredients I’ve purchased from my Asian market.
  3. Speaking of Asian groceries, another way to save is to expand your cooking and baking skills by learning to make dishes from cultures that typically eat gluten-free.  Thai food is almost ALL gluten-free, so pick yourself up a cookbook, visit that Asian grocery store, and start experimenting.  Much of Indian cooking is also gluten-free;  many parts of India use sorghum and/or millet flour as a staple — it’s not all gluten-containing naan bread!  😀  Also, Indian cooking uses a lot of beans, like lentils, that you may not currently use regularly.  Buying inexpensive ingredients from an Asian grocer makes this a tasty, cheap way to eat.
  4. Instead of buying a lot of food online, search for what is available locally.  I am usually not really thrilled to live in a huge city, but it does have its advantages.  One of them is that there are so many local options available to me, that in 5.5 years of being gluten-free, I have NEVER purchased any g.f. ingredient online.  This saves shipping expenses, and keeps me from over-buying.
  5. Nancy, of course, suggests baking from scratch as much as possible.  I HIGHLY second this.  It saves SO much, and tastes much better.  Along this vein, I also suggest making your own baking mixes.  Gluten-free baking mixes are insanely expensive, typically $5-8 for a 2 lb bag or less.  Simply mixing up your own ahead of time will save time and money, and help you resist temptation when you see them on the store shelves.  I’m fond of many of Bette Hagman’s mixes, from any of her Gluten Free Gourmet cookbooks.  I’ve also made a number of my own mixes, after experimenting.
  6. Also, when you bake, bake extra!  Use the extra the next day, or stick it in the freezer.  For instance, last night I made g.f. hamburger buns from scratch, but made extra, so now we have buns for our lunch today.  Yum!  This is more of a time-saver than a money-saver.  But, I do find that the more proactive I am about baking and freezing, the less I am tempted to purchase those $5.99/4 Kinnikinnick hamburger buns, or the $4.99/6 mini-muffins in my grocer’s freezer, or that $3.29 package of Pamela’s cookies.
  7. Just like with normal grocery ingredients, shop the sales!  In my local natural foods store, where I get many of my gluten-free ingredients, there are probably 15 different gluten-free cold cereals.  I have my preferences, but they’re not always on sale.  I just wait until they go on sale, and content myself in the meantime with my not-favorites that are on sale.  I also do similarly with “regular” gluten-free cereals, like Post Cocoa Pebbles, General Mills new gluten-free Rice Chex, and Dora the Explorer cereal.  Additionally, I can very often use coupons from the Sunday paper on those cereals, saving even more.
  8. If there are gluten-free products you really like, but can’t regularly afford, call the 1-800 phone number of the manufacturer, and ask if they have any coupons they can mail out.  I have done this many times, and usually get $5-10 worth of coupons.
  9. Shop around!  I spread my grocery shopping through about six stores, though I typically go to only one or two per shopping trip.  Depending on what I need, I have found that different stores offer completely different products, and have different kinds of deals.
  10. Read labels, comparing similar products!  If you’ve been gluten-free for even two days, you probably realize that you have to be an expert label-reader.  I have noticed that even my local Kroger-affiliate, Fry’s Grocery Store, has store brand products that are now labelled as being gluten-free.  It’s a lot cheaper to buy Fry’s “tater nuggets” at usually $1.99 per package, than it is to buy Ore Ida Tater Tots at $3.49/package.  More and more “regular” grocery products, from salsa (duh!) to potato chips to frozen turkeys, are now being voluntarily labelled as gluten-free.  For instance, Lay’s Stax are gluten-free (and even labelled as such), while Pringles — a very similar product — are not, as they contain wheat starch.
  11. If at all possible, find a local gluten-free friend.  You can pool your information, and help each other.   Many cities have support groups where you can find people (and other resources) to help you live gluten-free without going broke.  In the Phoenix area, check out www.phoenixceliac.com

That’s all I can think of for now!

Read Nancy’s list, too, and if you have any to add to her list and mine, please comment!!!!          

Woo-hoo! A hiking trip!

Willow ValleyI’m very happy that my friend Erin and I have settled on a weekend in May for an overnight hike.  The location isn’t quite decided, but we have some good ideas. 

I am SO excited about the trip.  I love to hike, but my hubby doesn’t.  My kids simply tolerate hiking, except Grant, who adores hiking, too.  And, hiking by one’s self isn’t really safe.  So, going with a friend is a fantastic plan, IMO.  Plus, I really don’t get many opportunities to spend time one-on-one with a girlfriend, so I’m really looking forward to conversation and hanging out with Erin. 

I’ve actually never been on an overnight hike;  just day hikes.  I have a TON of camping equipment, but it’s all for “car camping,” not hike-in camping, which means it’s all heavy.  This means I’m either going to spend a ton of money, or borrow a bunch of Erin’s stuff (she’s a frequent overnight hiker).  Actually, my plan is to borrow quite a bit, and keep my equipment expenses under $200.  Rather like when we started camping as a family, we borrowed a bunch of stuff from my parents, then every trip we made, we purchased more of our own, and borrowed less.  And, now that we have everything a family of six needs to camp, we haven’t been camping in two years.  But, that’s another story. 

We want our hike to incorporate water, and the place I have in mind has several big stream crossings, so I’ll need to get some different shoes.  I usually just hike in my tennies.  I’m looking forward to getting some new shoes, like this or this or this.  I’ll need to get some pants, too.  Nylon ones, so they’ll dry quickly.  But, I’ll also be 4+ months pregnant, and will need some elastic in the waist.  I really don’t like the idea of spending $40+ on hiking pants, but I might get something like this.  Well, here’s some on sale for $18, but I don’t like the look of them.  We’ll see. 

To make things easier on my hubby, I have one son shipped out for the weekend, and will likely get my oldest son “placed”, too.  I have to get a babysitter for the Friday we’ll be gone, too, but we do have some wonderfully responsible and reliable babysitters, so that shouldn’t be a problem.

I’ll pack my camera (in a waterproof bag) and some extra batteries, and hopefully, do a nice blog writeup of it when we finally go.  🙂

 

Bad words in youth fiction

“Mom, one of the books you got for me has bad words in it.  I mean, real bad words, not just inappropriate words,” my 10yo son confessed to me.

I was rather surprised.  We go to the library every two weeks or so, and our modus operandi is that, while the boys play on the computers, I pick out books for them.  I have, many times, offered to let them pick out books for themselves, but other than a few suggestions they might have, they say, “We like the books you pick out.”  I select a mix of fiction and non-, classics and more recent stories, easy “fluff” and more meaty works, and usually throw in a book or two of Christian fiction, of which our library has a surprisingly large selection.

He brought me the offending book.  I looked at the title:  Snow Dog by Jim Kjelgaard.  Kjelgaard, who wrote his youth fiction more than 50 years ago, invariably books of adventure, usually involving some northern clime, and always involving dogs, rather along the lines of Jack London.

Surpressing a smile at my suspicions, I asked him, “So, what words did the author use?”

“The b-word.  Several times, mom.”

Really working to keep that smile from lurking at the corners of my mouth, I told him, “That word, when used in its original sense, is not a bad word.  It is supposed to refer to a female dog.  But, nowadays, it’s most often used inappropriately, when someone wants to speak badly of a woman.”

With visible relief, Ethan said, “He used it in the proper sense, then, Mom.”

“Did you finish the book?”  I wondered if his sense of propriety had kept him from reading it.

It didn’t:  “Yeah, I did, in my quiet time.  It was a really good book.  I’m glad that he didn’t really use bad words.”

So, more Kjelgaard books are surely in our future, bad words and all.    

Diamondbacks Update

All my baseball blogging this spring has been of the Little League variety.  I have been meaning to blog about my joy over the Diamondbacks’ success this season, but up to now, haven’t.

As of today, the D’backs share the best record in MLB with the Cubs, both of whom are 15-6.  (Over in the AL, the Red Sox also have 15 wins, but they have 8 losses.)

I’m most happy — giddy, almost — over “my boy” Micah Owings, former Tulanian (like me), who is pitching FANTASTIC for the D’backs, again this season.  He’s 4-0 in four starts so far this year, with a 2.42 ERA.  He’s also batting .308, and has even been used as a pinch hitter, which is nearly unheard of, for a guy whose normal job is pitcher.  I just wish Owings could pitch a wee bit deeper in the game.  He’s only at 26 innings, which is just over 6 innings per game.  Still, that’s not bad.  I just love his whole game:  the pitching, of course, and his overall athleticism and enthusiasm: sliding into home plate avoiding the tag, making diving defensive plays at first base, just being ready and able for anything, offensively and defensively.

Actually, all the D’backs starting pitchers are hitting admirably.  During the game last night (which we lost — Dan Haren’s first of the season), our color analyst/former player, Mark Grace, mentioned that the D’backs are taking batting practice for the pitchers much more seriously, and the pitchers are rather spurring each other on.  Even Brandon Webb has 4 RBIs, obtained from two, two-RBI doubles.

I didn’t get the #44 jersey I wanted for Christmas.  But, my birthday is coming up…

“Way with words puts Valley boy in D-backs booth”

Grant, shaking Daron Sutton's hand

I’ve blogged a few times about my son Grant winning a contest which allowed him to go on air during a TV broadcast of Sunday’s Diamondbacks game.

Our many thanks to the charming Arizona Republic reporter, Lisa Nicita, for writing such a great story about Grant’s experience on Sunday, when he treated by the Diamondbacks and FSN Arizona to the best day of his life.  Lisa stayed by Grant’s side pretty much the whole time we were there.  I was worried that he would talk her ear off, but she assured me that in her business, that was a good thing.

(If you’re local, you can find this article in the Arizona Living section of today’s Republic.)

Grant Reill woke up at 5:45 Sunday morning and couldn’t go back to sleep. He had too much energy.

In just a few hours he would experience the “greatest thing that has ever happened to him.”

Grant, 8, would sit in a broadcast booth between Daron Sutton and Mark Grace and watch pitcher Randy Johnson take on the San Diego Padres. And he would be able to put in his two cents’ worth.

Read the rest here…

Earth Day, our family’s style. Or, the Skeptical Stewards.

Grant and Wes and I were studying about Mars today, and Googled to find out more about its polar ice caps.  I thought they were purely carbon dioxide (dry) ice, but it turns out that research is currently suggesting that they may be water ice covered in a layer of dry ice.  There doesn’t seem to be a consensus either way right now.

However, that’s not my point.

Upon Googling, I saw several articles that I thought were interesting.  This knowledge is, apparently, more than a year old, but it was new to me.  It’s that Mars is currently experiencing global (Martian?) warming, and its polar ice caps are shrinking.  The level which Mars’ temperatures have raised since the 1970s are commensurate with the amount of global warming experienced on Earth in the same time period.  This has led to some scientists to propose that Earth’s current trend towards global warming and Mars’ global warming might have the same source:  the Sun.  Not millions of cars spewing exhaust, and the smokestacks from factories, and other human sources.

After the younger boys and I did science, I called my almost 11yo Ethan in, too, and we had a little discussion about environmentalism.  Today’s Earth Day, which the boys heard about from some place.  And I’ve been hearing them start talking about some current popular environmental theories as if they were fact lately, which is of some concern to me.  Now, I’m not anti-environmental;  I consider my stance to be one of “stewardship.”

When God created the Earth and plants and animals and people, in Genesis 1:26-28, He gave Adam instructions to both care for the inhabitants of the Earth and to be “fruitful and multiply.”  In other words, the environment is important, and people are, too.

We talked about our hiking trips, and about how disappointing it is to see trash along the way, or “our” lovely riparian area with a teensy spring in the middle of the desert west of Lake Pleasant that has been destroyed by illegal gold mining done by chemical leaching, which has killed all the plant and animal life in the stream and its surroundings, turning the area an unnatural orange.  Litter = bad.  Permanent destruction of unrenewable and rare resources = bad.  We want to care for the gifts God has entrusted to us, not trash them.

However, it’s not like everyone should recycle their cars, become vegetarians, move into a cave and never have kids. 

I also mentioned something that Ethan and I, as he studies geology, have discussed extensively:  Scientists are swayed by their own biases and beliefs.  If a scientist does not believe in God, and believes that there should be zero (or negative) population growth, that’s going to be reflected in his research, and the conclusions which she draws.  Same with creationist scientists.  Not that all, or even most, scientists are “bad;” we just need to be careful what/whom we listen to, what we believe, what we accept as truth.

I thought that the example of Mars was a fantastic one.  All three of my boys, even 6yo Wesley, had heard of “global warming.”  All of them were of the firm conviction that global warming is because of people and pollution.  Now, I’m not suggesting that we should return to London of the Industrial Revolution and fill our cities’ air with unhealthy chemicals to the extent that street lights are needed during the day.  However, I’m skeptical that all of the current global warming trends are simply from pollution.  And Mars’ melting polar caps seem to be a suggestion that my skepticism is shared by at least a few scientists.  I’ve often thought that perhaps there is some other source, like in the sun itself, causing it to, say, burn slightly hotter for the last few decades, leading to current climate change upon the Earth.  Or something like that.

I’m not a scientist, and I may be opening another unwelcome can of worms here.  I certainly don’t want to be blasted as an Earth-hater, because I’m not.  I love the world that God has given to us, and we actively work to be wise, careful, responsible stewards with His gifts.  But, neither do I want to swallow the Gospel According to Al Gore, et al, hook, line and sinker.

If you care to read the articles about Mars’ melting polar ice caps, here you go:

In the National Geographic News, Feb 28, 2007.
In the (London) Times Online, April 29, 2007.
From Heartland Institute, November 1, 2005.

    

Grant’s Big Day as a TV Baseball Commentator

This is actually a temporary post, because I’m going to wait until I can link to his article in the AZ Republic (which won’t be out until Wednesday).  I also wish I could watch his broadcast first, but we won’t get the DVD until Thursday or Friday.

But, for now, suffice it to say that the day exceeded everyone’s expectations;  it was absolutely fabulous.

More to come!

Summer Trip Plans!!!

I always get very excited about summer vacation plans.  I simply love the planning, the anticipating, the deciding…  My husband, not so much.  He’s a more fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of guy, or at a minimum, make plans a few weeks ahead of time.  However, this absolutely doesn’t work for a family of six, especially one that has only one income and needs to be frugal.  And, when, honestly, I’m the one that does most of the prep-work for the trip, I need more than three weeks’ notice.

Our frugality is different from each other’s, too.  Martin would pretty much rather spend absolutely no money year-round, and then splurge on special occasions, which makes them shorter and more infrequent.  (Like, don’t buy any clothes, live in the same stuff you’ve been wearing for 10+ years, then buy me a $80 shirt.)  I would rather spend virtually no money year-round, and still be frugal on special occasions, which make them able to be more frequent, and longer.  (Like, buy clothes infrequently, and when I do, get them from the clearance racks, spending $4 or $5 for a shirt.)  But, we’ve pulled out a compromise with which we’re both happy for this year’s trip.  

I started crafting some tentative ideas TWO summers ago, actually, when I was planning our trip to Colorado to visit Martin’s parents (who have since moved back to Arizona), and I stumbled upon National Forest Service cabins.  I was in awe.  “A cabin for $25???  I don’t care that it has no amenities.  I’m in.”  Actually, I’m partial to tent camping, both because it’s cheap, the kids adore it, and we’re out in the midst of nature.  But Martin, who bears the brunt of the work whilst on the trip, has had enough of setting up, tearing down, packing and re-packing the back of the Suburban.  He wants to actually relax.  And, we’ve tried camping with friends a couple of times, and that does lighten the load, but then you have the mixed blessing of sharing your time with another family or two, and trying to coordinate everyone’s plans, meals, expectations, needs, kids, etc., which really doesn’t make for much of a relaxing, “getting away from it all” kind of time.  So, I’ll have to put off my dream of camping Limekiln State Park in California for yet another year.  Or two.  Or whenever he feels like camping again.

So, tent-camping-preferences aside, the various National Forest Service cabins are really a great idea.  Many of them are former Ranger cabins, built in the early 1900s, when transportation and communication were much less reliable, and the far-flung ranger stations weren’t enough to effectively administrate all that needed to happen within a National Forest.  Most of them are in the absolute middle of nowhere, which suits our whole family just fine.  Most are not slick accomodations;  they’re camping cabins.  What I mean by “camping cabins” is that they’re rustic, usually without electricity and running water.  For posh folk, that might sound a bit scary, but when you’ve tent-camped for years and years, any kind of stable shelter is a luxury.  And, the vast majority of them are under $50/night.  Given that many tent sites are now $20+, spending $30 for an actual cabin doesn’t seem like that much of a leap.

When I started planning this summer’s trip in earnest, back in January, I was hoping to get up to Yellowstone National Park.  ~sigh~  That’s a no-go.  Dear Hubby doesn’t want to drive that far.  So, a great compromise is that we’re going to stay close to Bryce Canyon National Park in southern Utah.  I went there twice as a kid, and have great memories of its otherworldly landscape.  It’s also above 8,000′ in elevation, making for a nice, cool trip.  It also has a great selection of easy and moderate hikes, which are good for the kids.  AND, I found a NFS cabin, at only $30/night, only about 15 miles away from the park.  The cabin itself isn’t a thing of beauty, but its location is ideal.  The East Fork of the Sevier River (which, to my understanding, is a glorified stream, but that’s OK) flows right through the property, and out-of-state fishing licenses in Utah are really reasonable ($32 for 7 days, only needed if you’re age 14+).  And, it’s a very easy drive to Bryce Canyon NP.  Excellent!

Inspired by the trip I took last May to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon with my mom, aunt, uncle, and four kids, Martin also wants to see the Grand Canyon.  He’s 41, and though he’s a native of Arizona, he’s only been to the Canyon once, and that was when he was a teen.  He’s never been to the North Rim.  So, going there again is fine with me!  You could go every year to the Grand Canyon, and it wouldn’t be too often.  However, I knew that the North Rim cabins up there book very quickly, and are typically booked 6+ months in advance.  (That’s another reason I started planning in January.)  However, I didn’t have the needed release of funds to book in January.  So, when I called about a reservation early this morning, I was told that there were only single-nights spotted here and there throughout the summer, with no 2+ consecutive nights available until the end of August!  That was very disappointing.  We wanted to go sooner, and I’d really rather not have our vacation while I’m 7 months pregnant.  So, I talked it over with Martin, and while not ideal, we decided to go ahead and book a single night, hoping for a date in early-mid July.  I called again, and as I was talking to the lady on the phone, two nights, mid-week, towards the end of July popped up available on her screen!  I said, “I’ll take them!”  The reservation is for the nice Western Cabins that are made out of real limestone and full timber, each with their own porch with two bent-wood rocking chairs, all just steps away from the Rim.  I actually was hoping for a Pioneer Cabin, which, while not quite as attractive, nor as close to the Rim, have more beds.  I felt badly, because on the phone (the new management company has no internet reservations), I had to reserve it as 2 adults and 3 kids.  Kids are free, but as there are only 2 queen beds in the cabin, they management company has a policy of a max of five people in each.  However, when we stayed in May, we reserved the TEENSY Frontier Cabin, which has one single and one double bed, and the lady at the reservation desk when we reserved in person, said we could squeeze in as many people as we could!  I hate feeling even a tad dishonest.  If it weren’t for my experiences up there last May, I don’t think I would have reserved our family of six as a family of five.

I posted this backwards;  we’re going to start our trip at the Grand Canyon, then go up to Bryce Canyon (which is only about a 3 hour drive).  On our way back, since Bryce-to-Phoenix would be a reeeeeeealllly long day, we’re going to stop in Flagstaff.  I found…  wait for it… another National Forest Service Cabin about halfway between Flagstaff and Williams.  It’s pricier, at $100/night, and we’re only going to stay one night.  But, it has electricity, and plumbing, including hot water and showers.  It also has space for 8 people, and a horse corral, so we’re hoping that Martin’s dad & stepmom (and their horses) can join us.  After we overnight, we’re hoping to take the Grand Canyon Railway train up to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, mostly for the fun of riding on a train.  Tickets for our whole family would be a whopping $270 for coach, but Martin’s aunt works for the railway, so we’re pretty certain we can get some sort of discount, hopefully even travel for free.  The train is a turnaround day trip, travelling 65 miles up to the Canyon in 2 hrs and 15 minutes, then having about a 2 1/2 hr layover at the Canyon, and travelling back.

In all, it’ll be 7 nights, 8 days.  Woo-hoo!

(If anyone wants help finding your own NFS cabin in your neck of the woods — or close to it — let me know.  I still have the itch to plan, and I’d love to help you plan your own trip!!  Also, they can be rather difficult to find, but I know the way!) 

Bebe #5: the first pic

I had my first ultrasound of the baby yesterday.  I almost decided not to go, because I’m 13 weeks, and I’m going to have a “high level” u/s at 18 weeks.  But, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see him/her, especially when insurance was paying.

Things I learned:

  1. My baby is extremely active.  Those tiny flutters I’ve been feeling, that my OB said was probably not the baby, as it’s too early?  Definitely the baby.  Stretch, kick, jump, swing the arms, toss and turn…
  2. Due dates are very confusing.  I had figured, by the calendar, of an EDD of October 22.  My OB said October 24.  Initially, the u/s tech agreed with my EDD of October 22, but then, after all the measurements were made, said October 11.  My hubby said, “You bake ’em ’til they’re ready.”  He’s right.  (I’ve had everything from 11 days early to 8 days late.)  The tech, a very nice lady named Bonnie, said that in the last trimester, there’s a lot of variance for size, due to genetics and general chubbiness of the baby, but in the first trimester, there’s only a very small window of variance, and virtually all babies develop at exactly the same pace, early on.  It was Bonnie’s firm conviction that I conceived before I think I did, which, in the cycle of things, makes little sense.  However, she was certain that my OB would alter the EDD based on the findings of the u/s.
  3. What my baby looks like:

Thing I did not learn:

  1. Whether the baby is a boy or a girl.  They told me in advance that they wouldn’t even check because I’m not 14 weeks.  However, I thought, after I left, since they had placed me at 14w5d, I probably should have asked.
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