Tuesday, December 30, 2008

wii are grateful

Get it? Yeah, we got a Wii for Christmas. It's pretty fun. Jason is slowly becoming an expert and will soon defeat us at every game. It's hard recovering from giving birth and watching everyone compete without you. The few times I got up to bowl my body screamed at me to sit back down. Maybe this week will be different. I took a 15 minute walk on the dreadmill this morning. I kept trying to push the incline button down as it seemed as though the walk was ridiculously tough. I soon realized that 3+ weeks of laying around will atrophy your legs so even a simple walk will feel like an uphill hike.

Hayden continues to be practically perfect in every way. She has figured out that day time is when you stay awake and night time is when you sleep. I think she's brilliant! Her jaundice is clearing up nicely and she is gaining weight. She wakes up every 3 hours to eat which means that she gets up at 2 am and 5 am. So technically you could say that she only wakes up once at night to eat but I consider the 5am feeding night also. By the time I get up for the 8am I feel like I've been hit by a truck. I need to remember to set the coffeemaker timer at night...

Yesterday was my first day on my own with the kids. The morning went well, I actually showered before 10am. I foolishly attempted to shop with them and even more foolishly tried 3 stores. There are not enough snacks in the world to make it through 3 stores! I miss Darren a lot, not only because he can cook but also because it was nice to have another adult to talk to. I had forgotten how long a day can be without company.

I have been spending the last few evenings working on the piles in every room. In our house the presents get integrated in stages. First, they make it to the designated room. Then, the tags get taken off and finally everything finds a home. As I spend time doing this I have been overwhelmed with gratitude for all the gifts we received this year. We are loved by friends and family and even if these gifts were not given it would be obvious by all the support we received during this month. Thanks to everyone who surrounded us with love and prayers for Hayden. We are grateful!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

hayden emily

I suppose it's time to update the blogosphere on the birth of Hayden Emily Rusco. She is finally here! Last Wednesday I had an appointment at which I nearly blew the blood pressure cuff right off. My doctor came in and scolded me for being so darn predictable and once again being ready to go at 37 weeks. She sent me over to the hospital for monitoring, I had to lay in bed with a monitor on the baby's heartbeat, one for my contractions and a blood pressure cuff that would take a reading every 10-15 minutes. During the time at the hospital my contractions strengthened and my blood pressure kept up enough to set off several alarms. After seeing all of her patients for the day Dr. Yin came in and had me change into a gown, then broke my water. This was it, no turning back!

I got an epidural. I know, it's a controversial choice but let me tell you, it's a necessary one for me and Darren. In order for the two of us to make it through the birthing process, one of us needs drugs to stay coherent... the logical choice would be me. However, Darren also needs me to be calm and at ease so he doesn't get sick... he also needs to keep his eyes averted from all the action. This works for us, we're 3 for 3 with no fainting during delivery.

Hayden stalled a little so I got a pitossin drip. She finally started to make her move around 3am so the doctor was called in. After a few good pushes she was born. We had a really great nurse with us, her name is Natalie. You can see her arms in these pictures as she's working on Hayden. Not only was she very nice and calm she also wore cute scrubs. Way to be stylish, Natalie! (Scrubs can be very ugly!)

So after the clean up, Nanny and Pops came in for their first look at Hayden. What troopers! They endured the discomforts of the hospital waiting room for hours just to be there for the birth. Thanks guys. With all the stuff going on, Darren and I never slept that night. We were up the next morning when Grammy and Papa brought Jason and Cameron to see their new sister.

The rest of that day I spent in and out of consciousness. Darren went home to get some rest. He came back at dinner time for our "Celebration Meal". The hospital likes to fancy up the usual fare for the new parents. We were told that we ate filet mignon, but that's up for debate. I have to say the cheesecake was great, and I even finished Darren's after he left. Throughout the day the nurses monitored my recovery and both my doctor and Hayden's pediatrician were optimistic that we'd go home in the morning. It was not to be! Late that evening I watched my feet and hands swell up and I knew something was wrong.

In the morning Dr. Yin checked in with me again. My blood pressure was still up, even though delivering the baby is supposed to relieve preeclampsia. She said that the swelling and BP proved that induction was the way to go as my body continued to act out what it was planning on doing if we hadn't gotten the baby out. Make sense? Anyway, she agreed to let me go home only if I would continue bedrest, take BP medicine and monitor my BP. I heartily agreed. However, during the night, Hayden's body started to act up also and she had jaundice! Dr. Tedford agreed to let us go home on the condition that we would put her on the bili blanket like we had with the other kids. No problem, we knew the routine. About an hour later my nurse walked in with the bad news. All the bili blankets in the county were already checked out and Dr. Tedford wanted us to stay in the hospital for one more night to use their lights. Right as I got this news Darren walked in and the tears began to flow (mine, not his... the hormones kicked in and I was a mess!). So here we were, Friday morning, ready to go home only to be denied!

This turned out to be a blessing in disguise. The hospital lights are much more powerful than the bili blankets and Hayden was able to knock her biliruben down a point over 24 hours. This also allowed time for her pooper to start working and my milk to come in, a combination that defeats jaundice naturally. It also allowed time for me to start BP meds and for me to get below 140/90. This was Dr. Yin's requirement for me to go home. Darren spent Friday with me and went out to buy lunch at Mondeo... much more appetizing than hospital food. I did eat the hospital dinner, some sort of mystery meat covered in gravy with veggies and a hard roll. By 11pm I was starving so I ventured out to the nurses station to see if they had any snacks. My night nurse was awesome, she pointed me in the right direction and soon I was snacking on bagels, pudding and juice.

In the morning both doctors were happy with our progress so we were both released. I love how the nurses are pulling for you when they know you've been let down. My day nurse hustled through the discharge paperwork so we could get out of there. It's nice when they know you're on your third baby so they can trust you to know what you're doing. Darren drove us home but took us to In-n-Out first for lunch. We picked up the kids at Nanny and Pops' house and I don't think I've ever seen two happier kids. We spent Saturday afternoon at HOME doing nothing but being together and getting to know Hayden.

So far Hayden is perfect. Jason was our first so we panicked at every noise he made. We read the books and were easily discouraged when he didn't conform to their rules. With Cameron, we thought we knew what we were doing and thought we'd be more relaxed. But she proved us wrong and gave us challenges every day. She was a very disgruntled baby, difficult to please. Hayden seems to be a reward of sorts. She just eats, sleeps and poops, no crying "just because". Every cry has a reason and once that problem's solved she just goes back to sleep. We are very happy with the kid's acceptance of her. Jason is a great big brother, very gentle and loving, always available to help. Cameron has adopted a sweet high-pitched voice for talking to Hayden and she loves to share her toys with her sister. So far, so good.

I try my best to rest. It's hard being home and just sitting around when I feel OK. I know that I still need time for my BP to recover, I still have swollen feet and hands. I feel like I need to make up for lost time with the kids because my hospital stay seemed to last a lifetime. But, as I watch them play I know they have moved on and are just glad to have everyone home together. Tonight we start the first of our many Christmas celebrations with family. I need to nap a little because it can be overwhelming. Hayden is here at last and we are a very thankful, happy family!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

new favorite ornament

I have a new favorite ornament this year.  Last night at Cubbies, Cameron's craft project was to make an ornament for her parents.  Click on the picture to enlarge and see what will be hanging on my tree FOREVER!  I love it because right now, at 3, this is exactly who Cameron is: crazy.  But at 16, 30, 45?  Will she despise it or embrace it?  I will treasure it forever!  Also I thought I'd include a picture of Cam doing some Christmas crafts.  I gave her free reign with the glue bottle and it kept her busy for 30 minutes (that's forever in 3 year old time!).

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

gifts for the bedridden

This is the time of year when everyone puts out a holiday gift giving guide. In the spirit of this I would like to offer a few gift ideas for the bedridden people in your life. These ideas are not seasonal, so next time a friend is out of commission for a while try one of these gifts to cheer them up. (This is not a sneaky plea for gifts to be poured on me. I've been on bedrest for 2 weeks now and I am determined to deliver a baby tomorrow. I have an appointment, the 17th, I know, prime number, sigh. Maybe this will change my thing about numbers...)

* a scented candle* Did you know that you can create quite a stink just by laying around all day? This is very similar to the delightful smell after a night's sleep. A scented candle is not only a gift for the bedridden but also the people who have to put up with them.

* makeup brushes* It's nice to receive real makeup brushes. They are much better for applying makeup than the silly little foam applicators that come with eyeshadows. It also reminds the bedridden that it's nice to see them looking alive rather than the dead lump of sweatpants and blankies that they have become.

* tabloid magazines* The person on bedrest wants to assure you that the time will be well spent catching up on the classics that they cheated on during high school. Please understand, this is a lie. The bedridden want to peruse issues revealing celebrity cellulite... it cheers us up much more than the great American novel.

* junk food and home cooked meals* This desire alternates. The bedridden are often surrounded by lovely family members who are talented chefs. However, when you're a stinky mess of blankies some days you just want to pound a bag of Cheetos and a diet Coke. (Diet of course, because you're watching your weight. You wouldn't want this little setback to derail your figure.). Other days you watch your loved one stare longingly into the fridge trying to figure out what to make for dinner and you just want to put him out of his misery by magically wishing a home-cooked meal would appear on your doorstep. He does such a good job of caring for you that you want to give him a little gift in return.

I hope you enjoyed this little gift guide. I'm going to roll over now, I can only type one-sided!

Monday, December 15, 2008

numbers quirk

Yes, I have a quirk about numbers.  I love the fact that my birthday is on the 15th.  I am delighted that Jason's b-day is the 25th.  I like it when things happen on multiples of 5.  We were married on the 10th.  It's just so neat and pretty.  So today is the 15th, and baby, if you're paying attention:  it's GO TIME!  I've been having contractions all weekend and Friday at my appointment the doctor gave me that awful teaser:  "oh wow, you're already dialated to 2!"  Do you know how long a girl can stay at 2 cm?  WEEKS!  It's 8 o'clock in the morning, I've got 16 more hours to make this happen... I think I'll go jump on Cam's trampoline!

Here's a few pics of our Christmas decorating.  I love how Cameron proves clothing to be so unnecessary and Darren shows that using a handsaw is a piece of cake!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

bedrest crafting 2

Still on bedrest, still trying to keep sane. My appointment for today got bumped to Friday so I'm defiantly cheating, getting up more often than I should. Anyway, no need to confess any more, I just wanted to show off the present I made for Cameron. I got the template and instructions at The Long Thread . So excited! I think I'll be playing with this more than Cam!

I can't post any pictures of the other handmade things I've been making because some loyal blog readers will be spoiled... you'll just have to wait!

Friday, December 5, 2008

bedrest crafting

When I was a teenager I remember blowing off the whole "it's the thought that counts" concept and dreaded opening presents from distant relatives. I instead appreciated the folks who took the time to write a check or buy a gift card. Messed up, I know... but I was a teenager! It's the age of me-ism... I got over it. So now when we have teens and pre-teens on our Christmas list I don't have any problem with giving gift cards. I know that I have no clue as to their interests and I don't want to pretend to know what they'd like. Maybe I'm giving up too easily or maybe I'm just realistic. Either way, I like to dress up the gift card just a bit. Here are the felt holders I made this year. Two down and two to go... it's ok, I have a lot of time on my hands!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

what about the kids?

So while I'm out of commission the kids have been staying very busy.  Darren has taken them to my mom's house the last 2 days to do school in the morning while he works a little in the office.  This has been a great treat for the kids and for Nanny!  Today Darren had to get back to the office for a few more hours so he put Jason in charge.  Jason gave his sister a snack and then created this indoor hopscotch game for the two of them.  Not only was it creative but it is wearing them out!  They also put on dance performances for me and we've done a few wordsearches together.  I think big brother is doing a great job.

cheaters never prosper

Do you remember chanting this in a sing-song voice on the playground during the elementary years?  I know I did (there's a lot of Angela Martin in me... the party planning committee part, not the beeper part).  So yesterday in my first full day of bedrest I was feeling so well that I cheated a little, or a lot, or you know.....

Consequently, last night and this morning I am enduring another headache.  So my lesson has been learned:

* Doing a load of laundry is cheating.
* Getting up to get a cup of juice for Cameron or a snack is cheating.
* Working on the 1000 piece puzzle at the dining room table is cheating.
* Sitting upright is cheating.

So today I will do my best to lay down.  Which in turn will lead to a very good day tomorrow, probably tempting me to cheat a little and then have a lousy day on Saturday.  I guess it's tough to learn this lesson!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


So Hayden and I are on bedrest!  I have a headache that I just can't shake and my doctor confirmed that my blood pressure is up (which is the reason for the headache).  So, to buy us a another week or two we have to lay low for a while.  What will I be doing with all my down time?  Here's a fascinating look:

* Eating:  I am currently typing between bites of chocolate Zinger and sips of hot chocolate (it's bedrest, not a diet!)

* Shopping:  I'll be cruising Amazon and a few other sites to finish (er, begin) my holiday shopping.  I would send Darren out with a list but then he might come home with random items like the aforementioned chocolate Zingers (... although I'm not complaining!).

* Crafting:  My goal for tomorrow is to figure out how to scrapbook while laying on my side... I may end up with a lot of crooked cuts!

* Watching TV:  I am in love with DVR.  I can watch all of this season's Office episodes back to back to back...

* Cleaning:  I have been known to cheat while on bedrest.  If I linger long in the bathroom it's because I started cleaning... the scent of clean doesn't usually follow a lengthy bathroom visit...

*  Appreciating Darren:  He's a great dad, chef and housekeeper, and I'm very happy to hand things over to him for a while.

Monday, December 1, 2008

small town life

When we first moved to San Miguel I was unsure about small-town life. Ultimately, I loved living in Portland and thought of myself as a big-city girl. Moving to Paso Robles was a little disappointing after having access to anything and everything in Portland. And San Miguel... well let's just say it's quite a bit smaller than Paso! But, the last few weeks have really changed my mind.

Three weeks ago the kids and I were in the library for our usual Thursday visit. The library is about the size of our living room but they cram a surprising amount of books in there! The kids picked out their books and I checked out an "express" book. "Express" means that it's a new book, has a lot of demand and can only be checked out for one week, no back to back renewals and a dollar a day late fee. It's a big risk to check out an express book! But I thought, no big deal, I can get it read in time and we'll be back next Thursday anyway. Well, the next Thursday came and the library was closed so I dropped the books in the box outside (not Thanksgiving, the week before). I promptly got my automated library email expressing their dismay at my tardiness and the resulting fees. The next time we went to the library I went to the counter to hand over my fees. The librarian said, "which day was it due? Last Thursday? Oh, I was sick on Thursday (thus the unexpected closure), don't worry about it. Besides, I never collect fees anyway!"

This morning Darren asked me to pay the bills and get them in the mail because he forgot to do it this weekend. No big deal, happy to help. He called later in the morning to ask which ones I had sent out so he could update the spreadsheet (yeah, he's a spreadsheet guy... I can't get away with anything!). When I listed them off he paused and then asked if I had read the statement correctly on one of the bills. Apparently, he had set up automatic deduction and the company sent us a statement to confirm the amount and due date. The company included in very small print (this is not a bill). Thanks a lot! December is not the month to be doubling up on payments! I tried to call the company to stop the automated payment... that's a no go less than 5 days from the due date. I went to the mailbox to stalk the mail carrier (we have a locked drop box)... no good when an impatient 3 year old is along for the ride. I thought about calling the bank to stop payment, but put it off when seeing the fee. So last resort I headed down to the post office to see if they could find the letter for me. Wouldn't you know it, that was the simplest solution! The postal worker there took my name and address and phone number and said she'd call me when the carrier got in. Less than an hour later I had the silly bill in my hand!

I am now officially satisfied with small town life. And since gas prices are falling so steadily, driving into town is not a big deal anymore. Thanks for reading my rambling stories...

Thursday, November 27, 2008

happy turkey day!

Here are a few of our projects this week. Enjoy your turkey today!

Friday, November 21, 2008

the dreadmill

As big fans of the summer series "Wipeout" we were very excited to get Nanny and Da's hand-me-down treadmill. It was immediately renamed "the dreadmill" and the kids have been sending cars and toys flying off the back of it ever since. Of course, Darren and I do use it for the intended purpose, but a few obstacles make workouts much more interesting. Someday Jason will pour a huge bucket of tennis balls on it as we're running, I'm sure! (FYI, Cameron walks at 1 mph. She is very happy with the newfound definition in her glutes...)

ornament swap!

Yes, we are getting ready for the holidays! Our number one stop for holiday crafting is The Crafty Crow (check out the link in the sidebar). We are super excited to participate in their kid's ornament exchange. Jason made 8 of these lovely penguins on ice scenes and we'll be sending them out to 7 different families across the country. In return, we'll get 7 ornaments made by other kids. Fun! We love getting mail, and we especially love packages!

Monday, November 17, 2008

sometimes you get a dud

Two weeks ago I read a little blurb in the paper about a replica of Christopher Columbus' ship The Nina, and how it would be docked in Morro Bay for two weeks for tours. Well, what kind of self-respecting homeschooler would I be if I didn't take advantage of this opportunity? So we packed up the kids and took off on Veteran's Day (1 of 2) to see this marvel. I blame the Walt Disney Company. The whole Pirates of the Caribbean franchise had me psyched to see a real live ship! It was an actual, small let-down. The ship was smaller than anticipated, they had the cool parts of it blocked off (you couldn't go down below or up on the higher deck), and the "tours" were led by scary looking girls with purple hair. So we paid our $13 admission only to walk maybe 30 feet from one end of the ship to the other. We read the plaques and looked at the pictures of the replica-making process. After 10 minutes we decided to make the most of Morro Bay and go to Foster's Freeze. We also went to the beach down by the rock because the kids like to chase the seagulls and then we headed over to a playground for a while. Oh well. There will be other field trips to wipe this one out of our memories! I think we'll try the monarch butterfly grove this Friday...

Friday, November 7, 2008

"... our pets' heads are falling off!"

Anybody know where this quote comes from? That's the way things are going around the Rusco house. After the move we experienced the collapse of three appliances. First to go was the vacuum. I did my best to revive the old girl with a new belt and bag but she just groans, shrieks and stinks whenever we dare to turn her on. Next was the VCR. We could see this one coming for a while. We trained the kids in the tricky routine of coaxing a tape out of the machine after they watched it (it was a complicated matter of timing and precise button pushing). However, the final straw came when the old fella would no longer respond to the command "play". You can't get very far without that one! And finally, our TV is saying farewell by impulsively going to black with a horizontal blue line across the middle. The kids know that if you give it just the right whack a la the Fonz it can be revived, but the frequency of these incidents are increasing. So far everything else is holding up (although Big Mac just lost his G key-- that thing flew off in a typing rage but was quickly found). Don't worry about us, we're a resourceful bunch: the vacuum will be replaced, we found a loner VCR at church that needed a home, and we have another TV in our bedroom (we ARE Americans, after all!). We just won't be able to drift off to sleep listening to the soothing sounds of Suzanne Whang and House Hunters International...

chocolate chip pumpkin bread

As per Melinda's request I'm posting my recipe for chocolate chip pumpkin bread. I'd like to thank the lovely Kristen Farlow for introducing this yummy bread to our Bible study group at Multnomah. Also, big thanks to Kristy Parker for introducing us all to Cafe de Vita mochas (find the big can at Costco). Thanks to you ladies my workouts double whenever I enjoy this choctacular duo!

3 c. all purpose flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
4 eggs
2 c. sugar
2 c. canned pumpkin
1 1/4 c. vegetable oil
bag of chocolate chips

Combine the wet ingredients, then add in the dry. Fold in chocolate chips. Pour into two greased loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 60-70 minutes. You may want to put foil over the top during the last 1/2 hour. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans.

Monday, November 3, 2008


It's finally baking weather here in California! Last week the clouds rolled in, we had rain for a few nights and our days have been cloudy and overcast! I can turn on my oven and not be overwhelmed by the extreme heat, but be encouraged by the cozy warmth of baking. Here are afew pictures of the kids helping me make cookies last week. Jason is an expert recipe reader and Cameron can dump ingredients into the bowl. And yeah, they're both taste-testers!

Saturday, November 1, 2008


Or, in our case, Harvest Festival... Here are a few pictures of the kids in their costumes and our fabulous jack-o-lantern. Jason was Indiana Jones and Cameron was a "Baker Girl", NOT a chef! Just as I was attempting to get her dressed up she got upset because she wanted to be a pig. I know, random, out of the blue, "I want to be a pig!" That's our girl! The kids had a fun time at church. Jason's favorite was the fishing booth, followed closely by using a slingshot to hit Goliath, the cardboard giant. Cameron warmed up to the cookie walk and the fishing booth as well. And the bounce house... let me say no more!

Monday, October 27, 2008

car wash

I can't believe it's October 27th and we are still doing summer activities like playing car wash.  Where are you fall?  This is when living in California can be a little disappointing... no seasons!

school updates

I think I'll just run through this update in the order we do school each day.  That way, I won't forget anything (yeah, right...)
1.  Bible:  We start off each morning with Jason and Cameron reviewing their Sparks and Cubbies books.  Currently, Jason is learning the books of the New Testament and Cameron is cracking up at the hilarious escapades of Cubbie Bear, Luv E. Lamb, Ern E. Elephant and Gigi Giraffe.  She just earned a patch last week after three weeks of refusing to tell her handbook leader the verse she has known for about a month.  We are also reading through Genesis (not in a kid's Bible) this has lead to many uncomfortable conversations ("mom, what's circumcision?"  "Why did they lay together?").  And finally, Jason is reading through The Beginner's Bible.  He can't believe they just skipped from Jonah all the way to the birth of Jesus ("mom, they left out so much!").
2.  History:  Our study of Ancient Egypt was a hit.  Abraham the mummy was quickly wrapped up in linen clothes the day his fruit fly friends made an appearance.  We are now moving on to a quick survey of other ancient cultures such as Greece and India.  Soon we'll be comparing flood myths from various cultures to the story of Noah and the flood in the Bible.
3.  Language Arts:  We finished reading Mountain Born (kind of a downer) and have moved on to Henry Huggins ( a Beverly Cleary classic, much more fun).  Jason continues to rock his weekly spelling words list and his handwriting is improving.  Most importantly his attitude about handwriting is improving as I make a conscious effort to praise him for doing things well, even the things that he doesn't like doing.  I can see his chest puff up a bit and he smiles when I tell him that doing well on handwriting is more impressive to me than doing well in math, because for him, handwriting is more difficult than math.  We continue to survey the way language comes together to make stories as we work on punctuation, parts of a story and descriptive writing.
4.  Math:  Like I mentioned earlier, Jason likes math because it comes easy to him.  He has finished his first workbook and is moving on to the second.  We review addition and subtraction flashcards (alternating weekly) because I want his math facts to be solid before we move on.  I looked ahead in the workbook and discovered that they introduce multiplication this year.  I think we'll slow down a bit (this program has a fast pace) and really drill the facts for a while.  The book also has him thinking about weights and measures, comparisons and money.
5.  Science:  We have finally finished our last science experiment with water and we're moving on to magnets!  I thought I be cleaning up water spills forever!  We're also learning about different animal classifications and their unique features (translated into little boy language:  cool stuff about bugs and reptiles!).
6.  PE and art:  We take a break every morning around 10 to go for a walk around the neighborhood.  Jason usually rides his scooter and Cameron has decided that she is no longer interested in riding in the stroller, but must run.  This was pretty surprising to me the first time she did it, but then I reminded myself that this is the girl who jumps on her trampoline for 20-30 minutes a day, she can handle a half-mile run!  We also use the backyard for baseball practice and the kids are slowly learning that it's much quicker if they shag balls for mom rather than waiting the 20 minutes it takes me to bend down, pick up a ball and stand up again.  My belly makes it difficult to do simple things like tie shoelaces or pick up toys off the floor!  Our artwork includes a lot of painting and drawing.  Jason is getting more detailed and fills out entire notebooks with his street scenes.  (Christmas gift hint: real artist sketchpads, colored pencils and pastels).

So, as you can see school is moving along nicely.  Our mornings are very full and afternoons are set aside for play.  I like the efficiency of homeschooling for a boy of this age because in a traditional classroom setting he would be limited by the business of being orderly and quiet.   I really think he needs time in his day just to be a boy and discover things on his own (even if that means getting into mischief!). 

Friday, October 17, 2008

big week in homeschooling

We had a big week in homeschooling so I thought I'd give a report on all that went on in our school. On Monday afternoon I had an appointment in San Luis for my last ultrasound so the kids and I packed up the car and made a quick stop at Mission San Miguel before we left town. Jason has been begging to have a look around so I finally made time for a visit. The mission is basically in ruins because of the San Simeon earthquake of 2003. Construction has begun on restoring the chapel so there is very little to see. Jason liked the displays of the kitchen, dining room, bedroom and living room that the friars would have used in the 1700's. He also saw the way they made paint to decorate the mission (exactly how he made paint last week when studying ancient Egypt). He marveled at the way adobe keeps the buildings so cool and the efficiency of tile roofing that lasts for so long and keeps water out by using the over/ under pattern. We studied a book called Houses and Homes earlier in the school year and he learned how people all over the world make homes from variations of mud, dirt, sand and water. On our way to San Luis he drew a picture in the car of an adobe building with a tile roof, and if I may brag it looked great!
The ultrasound revealed that the baby is still a girl, so even though I don't feel like I'm carrying a girl, I have to muster up girl-like feelings. So here's a 4-D picture of Hayden (still don't have a middle name) Rusco. Use your skills from those Magic Eye books that are collecting dust on your shelves.
Since we were in San Luis anyway, Darren took us over to the mission. Now here is a mission that gets some attention. Because they hold services and have a private school this mission is beautifully maintained. On our way home Jason and I talked about all the bells lined up along the freeway and the name El Camino Real (the king's road or the royal highway). Next time you're driving on the 101 with Jason he'll point out every bell to you (sorry...). By the way history buffs, how far apart is each bell and how much did it cost to put them up?
We visited the library here in San Miguel on Thursday. Even though it is tiny, it's nice to have a different variety of books to check out. Our school program schedules light book work on Fridays because it also schedules science experiments on Fridays. So today we studied hydro-power and made our own water wheel. We also wrapped up Abraham in his burial linens because he was starting to attract fruit flies. As soon as all the glue dries we can decorate his sarcophogus and bury him.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

look who's 3!

Yes, today is the big 3 for Cameroo! Although, we aren't really making a big deal out of today because it would be very confusing for her. We had a party Saturday night with both sets of grandparents, so in her mind, that was it. Here are a few pictures of the birthday girl in her birthday crown, with her Rocket cake and opening her presents. Condolences go out to Darren and Dad who will forever be sharing their birthday party with Cameron. Good thing pink cake is strawberry flavored and so yummy!

Monday, October 13, 2008

end of the first quarter!

Last Friday we finished our first quarter of school. We were about a week behind what I had originally planned, but with the move and our retreat at Hume Lake, I think only a week behind schedule is pretty good! We continue to study Ancient Egypt. Today, Jason learned to do math like an Egyptian using symbols instead of numbers. It's very similar to Roman numerals. Abraham continues to decay on my kitchen counter. We can't wait until he's fully dehydrated! Meanwhile, Jason has searched the pantry to find other dehydrated foods because his science experiments have been about hydrating and dehydrating. Today, after I dismissed Jason from school he went in his room to play K'nex. He came out a few minutes later to proudly show off his pyramid. As I typed he is adding a passageway and burial chambers. It's nice to have these moments when you can see your efforts pay off and learning and play become interchangeable. ****Homeschooling tip**** For the parent who has a preschooler underfoot-- learn to love play-dough. I know, it's messy, the colors get mixed up, it gets under your fingernails, it smells funny.... but the thing is, it keeps kids busy. And it's a good kind of busy, especially when they have tools to use to manipulate the dough. And also, it doesn't hurt to give them an activity that is messy because it makes them feel like they are secretly getting away with something they shouldn't be doing. Learn the mantra, "everything is washable". Because it is... set up a sandbox, get out the paints or markers and use the playdough. Happy, busy preschoolers make for a quiet morning for the school aged kid!

Thursday, October 9, 2008


So we finally started the big mummy project. We've been working our way through history and have finally arrived at Ancient Egypt. Last week Jason was creating secret messages for us by using hierogylphics and also making paint the Egyptian way, from rocks. This week we started preserving Abraham, our mummy. Abraham is an unfortunate fellow who is made of two apples. He was cleaned with rubbing alcohol, sprinkled with cinnamon and finally covered in natron (baking soda and salt). He will be sitting out on our counter for a few weeks, or until he has completely dried out (or as long as I can stand to have him around). He will then be wrapped in linens and buried in a sarcophogus. Here are a few pictures of the process.