Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Highlights and Lowlights, or, 2011 in Review

You know we're getting closer to the end of the year when all the review shows come out. The Biggest, Brightest, or Not So Much of whatever year is about to close. I usually find them sort of annoying, but this is my list, so how annoying can it be? I'm not seperating them by category. This is just the list, good, bad, or otherwise.

  • We started the year with great expectations and an impending move to Texas. So much excitement! You have never seen someone pack a box quicker than me. I had boxes stacked on boxes stacked on boxes. We cleaned out and purged and gave away and threw out. We had to clean out the shed to have room for the boxes. We said good bye to friends and family. We cried and laughed and touted the benefits of technology and the various ways of keeping in touch. The day before hubby and I were going to leave to find a home in our new state, hubby got a  phone call. The job was on hold. Good thing we didn't leave. That was the week of the horrible ice and snow and we would have been stuck for at least that week, if not longer. The job remained on hold for another four months. Hubby finally called and asked for his name to be removed from the job. The hold had taken it's toll on our family and we were miserable. Two months later the boss called and said the job was finally released. Would hubby be interested? No, but thank you. The unpacking was just as miserable. All the hopes and dreams gone like dust and memories.
  • We stayed in Florida! Our friends are our family here. There were many tears shed when we announced our move. There were gatherings where goodbyes were said and then we stayed. At one point, I heard there were rumblings we had made it up, that we were never really moving. Then you don't know us, do you? It was comforting to be welcomed back into the fold of loving friends. Thank you for that!
  • The kids and I went to Texas and were able to spend many weeks with family and friends. I wanted the kids to be able to go to Mermie's and spend some time. I wanted them to spend time with their Auntie and their cousins. We don't get to see them often and I NEEDED them to have that connection. I needed to have that connection. It was glorious!!! I got to see family and friends. I got to help, and in some cases hinder. We absolutely loved it. The only downside: hubby had to stay home and work. We missed him something fierce! It was so good to see him at the airport. And he brought me a Cinnabon. Because he rocks that way. And he loves me. Crazy man.
  • We bought a hydroponic tower. Hubby has been into hydroponics for years, but never really did anything about it. This was like a starter kit for him. It has been trial and error, but we love it! He even has a few design modifications he wants to try when he builds another one. We see it as a step to self-sufficiency. We're already planning spring crops. Strawberries will be part of that. And bok choy. And spinach. And zucchini, and, and, and...
  • Hubby got a solar kit for Christmas. It is quite the little project. Our dream is to one day be off the grid. If we could afford the house to be solar, it would have been done years ago. I like that we can start small and work out the kinks. I like that we can make this a reality one day. I like the learning curve.
  • There has been a rift in the family. Hubby and I have distanced ourselves from his brother and his brother's wife. I have excused myself from all family gatherings, including holidays. I have tried three times to mend the rift, with no help from the other side and even some meddling from a parental unit. Instead, I get called all kinds of names (joy sucker being my favorite) and have become the one that caused the rift. Bite me. I have always thought that if you are big enough to say the words, you need to be big enough to say them straight to someone's face. Just trying to take some responsibility, but that didn't happen either. I hate this phrase now: it is what it is. No, it is what you make it. I can make this whatever I want. I choose to make it gloriously freeing!
  • For the first time in years, I can actually say that I enjoyed the holidays. It was stressful and touch and go there for a little bit, but once it was settled, it was settled. We had great holidays with our pod and lots of offers from friends to share in their joy. We declined, needing to make our own joy. And we did! It was one of the best holiday seasons we have ever had.  
  • Music has filled our home!! We bought a piano from an auction house/thrift store in a neighboring town. When I say we bought it super cheap, I mean we bought it SUPER CHEAP. Her name is Mabel and she is beautiful. She was horribly out of tune and had sticking keys, but no longer. The sound of my girls playing just brightens my day. The baby was given a guitar early in the year, or at the end of last year. When the choice came to play piano or guitar, she chose piano. The boy, on the other hand, chose guitar. We were lucky and blessed enough to find a wonderful teacher for the boy. The boy is loving it. Since my dad plays, it had always been my hope that one or all of my kids would play. And that goes in the plus column.
  • School has been fun for us. There are the required books, but we started an art study towards the holidays. We needed to unwind and do something fun. We are going to continue that. The kids have really enjoyed it and so have I. I've enjoyed it so much, I may go get myself a sketch book. The kids all have one, and I'm a little jealous. I may sit down and lesson plan today. After the laundry and dishes. Hmmmmm...
  • We found two new libraries in our county system that have become favorites. One is very small and is about 10 minutes from the house. It is very comfy and homey and the people there are nice. They even removed a nasty note that one of the librarians at our other library had attached to each of our accounts. The second library is quite big and is on a junior college campus. The kids section is bigger than most and the kids beg to go there. The big girl likes the "youth" section. I still need to watch what she picks up. Some of those books should be in the adult section. I randomly picked one off the shelf and flipped through it. Yeah, not what I want any teenager reading, specially mine. The kids like the library so much and the selection of books, I have to limit how many books they can check out. It has reignited the love of reading in my kids. Yea!!
  • We are dancing again this year! We had stopped for awhile, one of the reasons being the move. Amazing what doing what you love can do for your spirit. The baby girl has turned out to be quite the tapper. I am just overjoyed that she chose to tap. Makes me miss my tap shoes. She taps everywhere we go: standing in line, shopping, waiting for an appointment, wherever. The boy is back to jazz. I think that is where his dance heart lies. He is such a great dancer. He is again the only boy in his class, and he is alright with that. But you should see his grand jete. Great height and extension.He may take some ballet over the summer. We'll see. The big girl has moved from the hip hop class she has been in for the last 3 or 4 years. She likes her new class, and in my humble opinion, is the best one in the class. Who would have thought that my sweet, quiet girl could be so funky? Um, me, for one. And even Mama is taking hip hop. It's something I've wanted to do for many years, but the scheduling never quite worked for me. This year, it works. I miss tap, but I fill that with hip hop. I just love dancing and am very happy about the chance to get to shake my groove thing. 
  • And finally, I have become the mother of a teenager. Holy smokes, how did that happen? You should see her. She is beautiful. And very well protected from stinky boys. And hubby has guns. And he knows how to use them. And if you come near her, he'll use them. All of them. But that isn't where this is going. She is amazing and I love her and I am blessed to be her mama.
That's our year in review. Not much, but tons all at the same time. The new year will bring new challenges, but also new blessings and new beginnings. May yours be bright and joy filled and fruitful and prosperous and blessed. Ours will be!

Have a great day. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Parading Through the Streets

We did it again this year. We were in the local Christmas parade. The kids loved it. I had a great time. Even hubby enjoyed himself. The rehearsal schedule threw me for a loop, but that's ok. This year the boy got to dance as well as the big girl. The baby is champing at the bit for next year. She'll be old enough to dance, too. Here's some pics for you. I don't like the shiny eyes, but I can't help that. I took these with my phone. You get what you get. I did manage to crop them without losing them, so I'll take it.

 I sure wish everyone would have smiled. It could have been our Christmas card picture. If I did Christmas cards. But I don't. I still wish...

 The boy and the baby with two of their dancing buds. They have danced together for about three years now.
 That really isn't a smirk on the big girl's face. You would know it. She has "the look". It can knock you down from 10 paces. This is her "I'm going to humor my picture crazy mom" smile.

 The big girl with her friend, K. K didn't dance, but she marched and held the sign. She said she's dancing next year.
 LOVE this pic. We kind of look like we're plotting something. Yes, you should be scared...

 This is the group of dancers. See how nicely they lined up and smiled. The baby's group, well, not so much. That was like herding cats. That was the 7 and under crowd. It was the under that was the issue.

 The baby on the float with her dance buddy, I. Love the earmuffs. Felt and cotton balls decorated with glitter. My friend N made them. She said there was glitter in her house for weeks. I can believe it!

 Ms. Val. She owns the dance studio and teaches tap and the under crowd, as mentioned above. There is no one better with the kids. If it wasn't for her, we probably wouldn't be dancing. Amazing woman and loves what she does. Cannot ask for more.
 Love the blue lights. It made the float look icy. Yeah, like that happens around here. But it looked good.

 The theme this year was "Winter Wonderland". I thought they did a great job. It made me want hot cocoa.

 See this boy? I absolutely love him. I have very few pics of him just smiling. This is one of my favs.

 The kids were practicing before the parade. I tried to get video, but it didn't turn out very well. You can see the big girl just at the right edge of the pic.

 Liked it so much, I added it twice. Oops, my bad.

That is me with hubby. Or hubby with me. Or the two of us together. He walked with us. Aren't we cute?

A good time was had by all. So good in fact, I was thinking about asking Ms. Val if I could dance next year. We'll see. The kids always have a great time. It's time they shared the joy.

Have a great day.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

What the Kale?

One of the things I like about veggie co-op is that it has forced me to try new things. Who would have thought that we would like beets? I can get stuck in a rut quicker than you can think about it. I make myself buy something new and look up recipes for it. One of the things that I have found we all like, well except the baby, is kale. It is dark green and frilly looking and I had no idea what to do with it. I have several friends that like to make kale chips. I tried. That is not for me. I'll try again because I can never leave a recipe alone. I'll change a couple of things and hopefully that will do the trick and get us off those bags of yuck on the store shelves. If not, I'll figure something out. I hope.

The first time I bought kale, I used it like I would a cabbage. I cooked my beautiful, organic kale with smoked sausage and beer. Then we piled it on white rice. Yeah, there's a learning curve. Thank goodness it's a big curve. It was really good, too. But really, I was defeating the purpose, wasn't I? Fine. I'll try something else.

My friend K had a raw foods cookbook at the park one day. I know, it's an oxymoron, but what else am I going to call it? As she was leafing through it, I was sneaking peaks at some of the recipes. I saw a couple that had potential and asked her later if she would send me a copy of a kale recipe I had seen. Thankfully, there were only two kale recipes. Good thing because that book was huge and I couldn't remember what the recipe was called. I changed it, of course. I didn't have everything the recipe called for, I don't like some of the stuff in it, and really, that's just how I am. Here's my version:

Kale Salad

1 bunch kale
1 avocado, sliced and cut into chunks
1 zucchini or yellow squash or both, shredded
basil to taste, fresh or dried


1-2 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup honey or to taste
lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbls Italian seasonings or to taste

Mix ingredients for dressing until combined. Take kale off stems. Cut in to small pieces wth kitchen shears if desired. Add kale to dressing. Massage kale for at least 5 minutes. Add avocado, zucchini and/or yellow squash, and basil. Mix and serve.

You have to massage the kale if you are eating it raw. It is very fibrous and tough if you don't. Wear gloves or the honey is a huge mess to try to lick wash off your hands. Always taste your dressing before adding the kale or anything else. If you don't like it, you won't like it on the kale. Adjust to your liking, then add kale. Kale is very salty, so easy on the salt when you make the dressing. The kale will more than make up for it. The original recipe calls for agave. Use it if you have it, but start with a measure smaller than 1/4 cup. I don't have any so I use honey. You could also add raisins or cranberries or almonds or walnuts or any combination of those.

Hubby liked it, but was a little skittish about the avocado. He isn't a big fan, but he ate it. He's good that way. My friend S had given me a similar recipe, so I just kind of combined them and it turned out great. The kids ate it which made me happy. Well, except the baby. But it has veggies in it, so really, she was done before we got started. But she did take her no thank you bite and survived. Crazy girl.

Have a great day.


Traditions- Old and New

This will be a different Christmas for us. Hubby and I have stayed pretty close to tradition in years past, but this year we are making our own way and our own traditions. I'm actually looking forward to it. That is a new tradition, in and of itself.

  • The kids have been working on Christmas songs with their music teachers. I have said it before and I will say it again: I love music being played in our home. Some of the music has the lyrics printed, some don't. The ones that don't I'll look up on the internet and print for us. Then the kids will play and we'll do a sing along. The kids have been practicing and we even do a little singing with them as they practice. This is going to be fun!
  • The boy requested ham for Christmas dinner. Well, ok, then. The girls and hubby are fine with that. We normally have beef, but things are different this year. Hubby has requested crab legs. We'll have some, just not a ton of them. Those little buggers have gotten expensive. We are having pumpkin pie. I have two more pumpkins to process. I'm hoping to have enough left over to do pumpkin french toast Christmas morning. It was a big hit at Thanksgiving. Goodness, with some left over ham that would be super good. I think I'm drooling. 
  • Hubby is off Christmas Eve! He normally has to work. It's hectic and crazy and we do not like it. He rushes home, takes a five minute shower, gets prettier than he normally is, then we fly out the door to church. We huff and puff our way to church since we practically run in the door just as they get started. Then it's flying after to the IL's to open presents. It's not relaxing and it isn't fun. No running this year!! And hubby might actually have six minutes for a shower. He's so happy.
  • We will still read the story of Christmas before we open gifts. We've all heard it a million times, but to us, it's important that the real reason for Christmas is emphasized. It's all great to have gifts, but we were given the greatest gift. EVER. BAR. NONE.
  • We are Christmas Eve openers. It's what we have always done in our family and I am not about to change that. I can't wait and neither can anyone else, so why bother? I'm glad Santa comes to visit or we would have an empty tree come Christmas morning. 
  • One of our new traditions is to pop some corn and watch The Nativity Story. Good movie! And then, because it's been specially requested, A Charlie Brown Christmas. Gotta love that one, too. 
That's about it for now. We are done with school until the new year. We will take some time to do some drawing. We didn't get to draw enough before the end of school. That does not hurt my feelings, let me tell you what. If I don't get back before Christmas, may yours be joyful. Merry Christmas, y'all!

Have a great day.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


With all the brouhaha surrounding the holidays, alot of times we overlook the blessings and gifts that happen all around us. I am certainly no exception. I keep a piece of paper and a pen handy to jot down blog topics. I was looking it over and realized that I have been the recipient of some pretty special gifts. Ready? Here we go.

  • One of my dance friends sent me a message a few weeks ago. She had 5 boxes of curriculum. Did I want it? Um, heck yeah. You should have seen all the goodies. It is no secret that I'm a curriculum junkie. The best part? I am basically set for curriculum all the way through high school! I may need a couple of things here and there, but not much. The better than best part? I took the leftovers to the park for my park mamas. I had three very full, very heavy boxes. They were overstuffed, but I had limited room in the back of my minivan. When the feeding franzy was over, I had very little left over, and what I did was stuff I had been eyeing, but didn't want to be greedy or a glutton. Then she sent me another email. She had found one more box. Did I want it? Absolutely. And I love it when good books find great homes. There was much shuffling and sharing, borrowing and lending. What a gift! And it was enjoyed and appreciated by friends. Thank you so much, KK! My park mamas think you're awesome. And so do I. 
  • I have a deal with a friend. I pick up honey for her, she picks up quinoa for me. She has never liked honey, but they have cut all sugar from their diet and needed a sweetener. So I gave her a jar that I had to see if she could at least tolerate it and if her family would like it. They loved it. I was so happy. Last co-op she asked if I would pick her up some more honey. Yup. She had found a great deal on some quinoa and wanted to know if I wanted her to pick me up some. Yup. We communicate well, don't we? At the park, I delivered her quart size jar. And she gave me a bag of quinoa wrapped with a pretty bow. Love it! That bad boy got opened the next night and we had quinoa pilaf. She's picking me up two more bags next time she goes. Like having an alternative to rice. I like my white rice, don't get me wrong. I just picked up a bag yesterday. But we don't eat as much as we used to. Thank you, KS!
  • Mabel. Goodness we love Mabel. She's our piano and she's beautiful. My friend N saw her online and called me. I went and looked at her and fell in love. She was horribly out of tune and had sticky keys, but you could tell she was a beauty. We happen to go to church with a very nice man who is a retired piano tuner. He took very good care of her. She sounds so pretty when the girls play. The big girl almost had me in tears with "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel". But I'm a sucker for my kids and an even bigger sucker when they play. 
  • We have the gift of music in our home. The kids are able to take music lessons and we have some really great teachers. My friend N, as mentioned above, teaches the girls piano. So blessed to know her, but doubly blessed because she has a joy and passion for piano and shares that with my kids. Whoo hoo!! The boy's guitar teacher, Mr. R, comes recommended from friends. The boy is always happy on guitar day. Mr. R is so good with him. The boy is doing very well. You should see him with his gig bag. Oh my gosh! Mr. R loves playing music and wants as many people to learn to play as possible. We were gifted with music teachers that love what they do. You cannot ask for more than that.
So many gifts. And sometimes we don't take the time to appreciate the little things. Those little things can be larger than life if we let them.

Have a great day. 

Friday, December 2, 2011

An Open Letter to My Park Mamas

When we started homeschooling, I was as scared as I could be. How on Earth was I ever going to be able to teach my kids? How was I going to be able to give them everything they needed for their education? I barely got the baby potty trained and now I was responsible for filling my kids' heads with knowledge and information. There are professionals that do that!!

My friend MS said "Come to the park." Um, ok, how is that going to help me? I'm freaking out here!! With nothing better to do, I went. My life has never been the same.

Those women are a crazy, diverse group of incredible people that have all decided that their families are the most imortant thing in the world to them. It was like having the blinders taken off and seeing the big, wide world for the first time. The encouragement, the friendship, but, I think more like kinship, have become so valuable. I realized that they all started the same way. Even those that homeschooled from the beginning shared the same anxiety and apprehension that I did. But they also helped me realize that not only have I been teaching my kids since they were buns in the oven, I will continue to teach them by my actions, words and deeds, whether they are are homeschooled or not.  

I'm probably the loudest, but by no means the only one with an opinion. I am probably the most dramatic, but by no means am I the only one with drama. I have leaned more from these ladies in the last four years than I ever thought possible. I have learned that friends are family, just not family you were born to. I have learned what intelligence is, and it's not just how smart I am. I have learned what true beauty is, and not just what I see in the mirror.

I could not have a better group of friends. You lift me up, you council me, you are there whenever I need you, not just on park days. This journey called Homeschooling, and the bigger journey called Life, could not be accomplished without you. Your love and support and friendship have been an amazing addition to my family. I live for park day when I can be surrounded by your beauty, intelligence, love, and laughter. Is it park day yet?

Have a great day.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Just Being

I don't get into the family drama much on this blog. That's not what this blog is about. All of the heartache and angst goes on the other one. This blog is mainly about keeping family and friends updated about our lives and what we're doing for school and that kind of stuff. Someone commented to me one time that everything is always rosy on this blog. Our lives are by no means perfect, but we do the best we can with what we have. My kids are happy, well fed and well educated. Hubby is tired from working, but generally he's pretty content as well.

The holidays, however, seem to bring out the blech in everyone. I have heard more stories about dysfunctional families than I care to hear. This year, we are no different. While I won't go into detail (again, you should be reading the other blog. That's where all the good stuff happens), we are highly dysfunctional this year. So much so that we will not be having holidays with my in laws for the foreseeable future. It really is just better that way.

And before you weigh in, please make sure you have all the details. Suffice it to say, because some people didn't get the details but made up great stories in their minds, I am the pariah. I wear that badge proudly. Now they know I am not one to just sit back and take it. They should have known a long time ago. Yeah, I haven't been a door mat in many, many years and have no plans of starting now.

This holiday season, we are focusing on our family pod. For us, that's what's the most important. We are just going to be, however that needs to happen. I'm thinking that should happen with pie. And ice cream cake because I forgot to make one for the big girl.

Have a great day. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


It is going to be so, so busy today at my house. I'm getting an early start, hubby has fired up the frig in the shed, and I'm blogging. What a way to spend a busy day!

The pumpkin has been cooked and is cooling. I was going to do a pumpkin pie and a cheesecake, but I think I'm going to do a pumpkin cheesecake instead. I can combine two things and it won't take near the time to make each one seperately. I'm halfway there already.

Next on the agenda is applesauce. I had made some on Monday, but we had a spillage accident. By accident I mean I opened the door of my overstuffed fridge, the bowl the applesauce was in fell onto the floor and went EVERYWHERE. By EVERYWHERE, I mean under the crisper doors of the fridge, under the fridge, and all over and under the dishwasher, which is across from the fridge. Let's just say I had a moment. Hubby was great and cleaned it all up. He even took out the drawers in the fridge and cleaned that mess up. So, I start again. And then it goes in the outside fridge. Where there's room.

Next is the pomegrante compote. I'm mixing pomegranate, orange juice and zest, honey, and water. I'm going to cook it down until it is super thick and sweet. We'll use that to put on top of the cheesecake. I may use it as a side dish as well since we aren't having cranberry sauce.

Then the brine. I am super excited about this part. A brine can make your turkey so, so tender and flavorful and juicy. This will be the first year I cook a brined turkey, so wish me luck. That, too, will go in the outside fridge.

The I prep the broccoli rice casserole. I have a feeling I may have room in the inside fridge for that. After getting rid of tons of stuff putting the rest of the dishes together, I better have room! The casserole will go in the oven tomorrow as the turkey rests.

Thursday all I have to do is make stuffing, stuff and cook the turkey, make sweet potato fries, mashed potatoes, warm the casserole and breads, put together the kale salad, and eat until I cannot eat anymore!!! I should buy bigger stretchy pants.

Have a great day.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Gobble, Gobble

I'm sitting down trying to get my ducks, or turkeys in this case, in a row and figure out what in the world we're having for Thanksgiving. Then I get to figure out what I have and what I need. Then I get to go to the grocery store. The closer it gets to Thursday, the worse the grocery stores get. So far, here's what I've got.

  • Turkey!! Love me some turkey and a turkey coma. This year I am going to brine the turkey. I have had brined turkey before and it is super tender and juicy. This will be my first attempt at it so hopefully, all will go well. A brine is just a salt water bath for the turkey. You can brine any meat, but for a large cut, it helps to tenderize it. I bought a 20 pound turkey. It is so beautiful. And I am stuffing it. I'm pulling out the recipe that my FIL gave me that was his grandmother's. But where my FIL uses regular white bread, I like to use chiabatta. It's crusty and adds a different flavor and texture. Look at me messing with tradition. Like you expected anything less.
  • I am making a healthier version of broccoli rice casserole. I'm using fresh, organic broccoli instead of frozen. I made my own cream of mushroom soup, organic of course. And Amish cheese. It isn't organic, but it'll do. Not sure how it's going to taste, but instead of white rice, I'm using organic brown rice. Won't that be interesting?
  • Homemade apple sauce is going to make it's first appearance on the Turkey Day table. That's what I should be doing now, but as you can see, I found a way to distract myself. I do a combo of apples and pears. My kids don't know I use pears and we need to keep it that way. So mum's the word. They would eat it all in one day if I let them.
  • Thanksgiving isn't Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie. Tomorrow, hubby will cut the pumpkins and I'll get them processed and make a couple of pies. I was actually thinking about making mini pies in a muffin pan, but we'll see what happens. I may not have time for that, but that's my goal. Bite size pumpkin pie could be dangerous. At least when I eat three pieces, I know I've eaten three pieces of pie. But when they're smaller, I may eat the equivalent of ten pieces. I may have to rethink the mini pies. Or not, depending on how tight I want my stretchy pants to be.
  • Green beans. I'm not sure about those yet. I may actually use my brussel sprout recipe for these. I'm going to look at recipes when I check out the brines.
  • I'm making a kale and avocado salad. We like kale and it is so good for you. I have a couple of recipes and I'm pretty sure I know which one I'm going to use.
  • Instead of regular sweet potatoes, I'm making fries. I bake them in the oven and that's about the only way I can get my family to eat sweet potatoes. I think they're nuts, but what are you gonna do? I'm just glad they'll eat them because that gives me an excuse to buy them.
  • My last item, probably not, is mashed potatoes. I love mashed potatoes. I try to make them as healthy as possible. I could bore you with the details, but that just sounds like bragging. I'm pretty good at that, too.
  • And bread. You just cannot have a great big dinner without bread. Carb overload and a great big nap for Thanksgiving. Yea!! Instead of brown and serve rolls, we're doing cheese foccacia and chiabatta rolls. Yummy.
That's most of our menu. I'm going to try to make a cheesecake with a pomegrate compote to drizzle over the top. If I don't eat all the pomegrantes first. And maybe a chocolate pecan pie. I like different and I like delicious. I try not to follow too many trends when I plan a big meal. Must be my high dollar tastes. Hopefully I can make a great meal with our low dollar budget. Thank goodness for coupons and sales.

Have a great day.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Artistically Speaking

I know nothing about art. I'm about to find out, though. The kids have been champing at the bit to do more unschooling. Hang on to your hats, kiddos, because here we go. I've been preparing for an art unit study. I have a list of artists, I have copy work and notebooking pages, I have excursions planned, and I have art lessons that I downloaded. The big girl really likes to draw. She has so much artistic ability, and I am so jealous. She dances, sings, and she draws. There are certain things she has trouble with in regards to her drawing. I downloaded lessons that discuss those areas. She has a hard time with eyes and sometimes mouths. Not for much longer, I hope. The boy is in to Pokemon. I downloaded lessons that teach you how to draw Pokemons. And for the baby, I downloaded cartoon characters.

We are going to incorporate our origami. I would love to find an exhibit that displays origami. That would be way cool. My next step for library books is the history of origami. I think it's important that we know where the idea and the art behind origami came from. And I have a feeling we could always go eat Japanese food when we're done. Don't judge. I always want Chinese food after we watch Kung Fu Panda. I want to see how intricate our origami will get. Will we stick to dogs or go for life size elephants? Maybe not life size. I cannot even begin to think about the cost of the paper.

The boy and the baby have started practicing their guitar and piano together. And the piano tuner is coming Friday!! Whoohoo!! Piano on a piano instead of a keyboard that sounds nothing like a piano. After they do their practice exercises, they get together and play songs. They both know how to play Old MacDonald. Sometimes they take the guitar and keyboard outside and practice. I absolutely love it. The girls think piano is the coolest thing and the boy has a list of instruments he wants to learn. He and the baby are trading lessons. I've wanted the kids to take music lessons for so long. I'm glad that we were able to do this for them. What a great thing to be able to take through their lives.

The two big kids are going to be dancing in the Christmas parade of a neighboring town. They've had practice once a week and we have two more left. Then the parade. So proud of those two, let me tell you what. They've worked really hard and they will do an amazing job in the parade. The girl has this great funky side to her that most people don't know she has. That's too bad. The boy is an excellent leaper. You should see his grand jetes. He likes his new class and likes the challenge. He comes home determined to master whatever new step or dance they learned in class. The big girl has found a quiet comrade in her dance class. Well, maybe not so quiet. At least she doesn't have to say much. She is ok with that.  

There's really not much else going on right now. We are finishing some things up this week so we can start our art study. You never know where this could lead. Hubby and I may have our own variety show troop on our hands, goodness gracious.

Have a great day.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Things have been busy around our house. We're coming into the holiday season and that means we get busier. Better get on with it, I guess.

  • We are taking a break from our normal lessons to have an easy week. We still have extras, but schoolwise, we are just having fun this week. I have a couple of fun Halloween ebooks we're working out of. So far, so good. Our extras, however, seem to be cranking up. We added book club back to the kids' schedule. Really just the two big kids. I had thought about starting a book club for kids around the baby's age, but I am not that crazy. I would actually like to be home every now and then. We weren't able to make book club so far this year because of the day it met. We are gone all day that day on the other side of the county and there was no way we were ever going to be in two places at one time. I'm good, but I'm not that good. The youth librarian changed the day so that we and another family could attend. Yea! It's only once a month, thankfully, and the kids enjoy it. And, because I just cannot leave well enough alone, I signed the kids up for the Christmas parade with our dance studio again this year. I asked first and all the kids said yes. We have four days of rehearsal that I have to fit around 8 million other things, but ok. Lots of B12 happening around here. And napping. Every chance I get, thank you so much.
  • We are also taking a break from our regularly scheduled currriculum to do an artists unit study. I am getting out of the books, except math, to learn about some people that we would probably not study unless they came up in our history or something. I have even downloaded a couple of full art lessons to teach the kids different styles and concepts. I have a list of artists and their accomplishments. We are even going to incorporate our origami. That is going to keep us until we take our Christmas break. I have a couple of outdoor lessons planned at different parks and secret locations. Ok, not really a secret, but it sounded cool. We are going to visit some art museums in our area. One of our local libraries is having an art show that is free to the public. I need to check the dates and see if we need to get there sooner than later. Who knows, it may spark something in my kids and one of them could become a famous artist.     
  • And speaking of field trips (see art museums above), we are slacking on that end this year. I wanted to go to a bible translating place that is about an hour from here, but right now, there just is no time to go that far. That's two hours round trip, plus tour time. But I am gathering some info on some places that are closer. I just need to make some phone calls. If the leg work could do it's own work, that would help me out so much.
  • And since our extras are at wonky times for us, we have had to become afternoon schoolers. We are really not good at that. I plan light on those days. There is no sense wasting my time, getting mad, and trying to accomplish a hundred things when I know what the end result will be. One of our days, we just do our science experiments and a little math. Nothing complicated, nothing involved. Who needs that?
  • And off the school topic, we have replanted our tower. Being gone this summer and hubby working extra long hours while we were gone, the tower got the short end of the stick. It was also at the end of it's growing life when hubby cleaned it out. We planted our fall/winter crops several weeks ago and we are expectantly waiting for homegrown veggies. We planted lettuces, squash, peas, cow peas, okra, broccoli, and brussel sprouts. We tried bell peppers, but they never sprouted. I would love to have my own special supply of brussel sprouts. Oh, yummy. So far, everything looks fantastic. Our okra took a beating during some heavy wind, but we'll see how it does. Hopefully, it'll do just fine. We may plant strawberries for the spring. That might be dangerous. But, man, doesn't that sound good. 
Ok, that'll do for now. I still have a couple of other things, but that'll be a great start for another blog. Besides, I need to pay bills, and update my calendar, and, and, and...

Have a great day.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


I had really high hopes for this school year. I think what I absolutely love the most about homeschooling is that we determine what we are going to study and how. What we do is what we do and there isn't anything wrong with that. My high hopes were set on getting out of our books more and into some really great unit studies about the things we wanted to study. Well, so far, it's been books, books, books. But I'm changing that.

Part of what has thrown me off was the big girl's algebra. The curriculum we had been using just didn't seem to be enough for her. I have to say that after looking at some of the lessons, she was right. And it goes back to that saying, you get what you pay for. I wasn't even going to buy her math. She was going to do all of her math online. Then our desktop died. That leaves us with one computer. Mine. Although I was willing to share, I hated the thought of her online on my computer. It's really more of a territorial thing with me. Because it's mine. The curriculum we have now is working just fine for her, thankfully. It was a jolt to my confidence. I know every homeschool parent is going to have that at least once on their homeschooling career. That doesn't make me feel any better about it, though. I have tons of confidence in many areas, but I don't like when that's challenged, if you know what I mean. Specially where my kids are concerned.   I started thinking that if I screwed that up, am I messing up in other areas of our school?

Then the boy, who is my little math genius, started having problems with his math. It's the same math we've been using for him. Well, there goes another chink in the confidence. Between solving for N and division, he was all turned around. I have to say, though, that wasn't the curriculum. We took a break for a couple of days to work on solving for N. That seems to have worked well and we haven't had but a couple of minor stumbles since. Now we work on division for a couple of days. This should be interesting.

I will say it seems to have made me cling a little tighter to our books. It also makes me glad that I lesson plan in pencil and have a very big eraser. My lesson plan book has never been this busy. Is it me? A little, but it's also that the skills they are learning aren't getting any easier. It starts to get really hard now. I have one who is in her last year of middle school and one in his last year of elementary school. It's prep time. Does that mean we have to stay in the books? No, it doesn't, not for everything. It means we focus on what we need to focus on and get out of the book as much as we can.

Next week is a fun week. I have a couple of fun Halloween studies we are going to do. I even have one called "Halloween in Spanish". That's going to be fun. We are also going to make some fun Halloween recipes for lunch a couple of days. While searching for those, I found some great Autumn and Thanksgiving studies I have. I found an ebook of scary Halloween stories on my school flash drive, and one about Halloween and the history. And, of course, there is the obligatory ebook with mazes and word searches and what have you.

And although we haven't found our groove this year, we are starting to settle, I think. Our days away from the house are starting to get easier. I have to give some of the feet dragging credit to me. Ok, most of it. The kids are ok with it, it's my failure to launch that's getting in my way. I'm working on me. I'm also working on loosening my grip on the books. At least my knuckles aren't white from gripping so tight anymore.

Have a great day.   

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Scheduling Conflicts

Well, I did it. Why? Because I am a sucker. Because I want my kids to have access to things that I can't teach them. Because I love them and I want to give them everything they want. I don't just so we're clear. That would make them spoiled. That isn't my job. But what are we talking about? Filling up our schedule. Again. Like I said I wouldn't do. If this were my other blog, I would say a dirty word. I sure wish this was my other blog right now.

We are back to dance this year! So happy about that! Between the money and the potential move, we sure missed dancing. This year is a little different though. The baby is taking tap. She is so good. I'm so proud of her. She absolutely loves it. This year I'm taking hip hop. I just could not do another afternoon, but I'll get to that later. I am really liking it. I knew I would. The big girl is back to hip hop this year. And the boy is taking jazz. At first we were three days in town. Not happy about that. And the boy's class is early evening. If he works hard, she'll move him back to his regular class. The big girl got moved out of her class into a different one. That worked because now we have three classes in one day. Great. Just in time to fill it up with something else.

The girls are taking piano. Hubby likes it when the girls are practicing when he gets home. Love to hear the house full of music. I asked the boy if he wanted to play piano. He said no, he wanted to play guitar. OK. That doesn't hurt my feelings either. He starts this week. He is champing at the bit, ready to go. A friend told me that at one time, the boy's guitar instructor also gave banjo lessons. Really?!? I am so checking that out. That may be something you hear me blog about in the future. Can you imagine? The only problem with the piano and guitar lessons is that they're in the morning. Just trying to adjust a little to that. I think I almost have it figured out. You should see my poor lesson plan book. So glad for pencils and really big erasers.

The big girl has a performance with the praise band coming up. They are playing at our youth director's club house in his subdivion. I invited my BIL and his family, but his wife is singing that night as well. Gonna miss a great time, let me tell you what. Let me know if you want to come and I'll give you details. I am so proud of the kids in the band and what great progress they have made. For some reason, I'm having issues getting the video off my iPod, but when I do, I'll post it for you.

Uh oh. I just realized that the big girl sings, dances, and now plays piano. If she plays her cards right, her brother may teach her how to play guitar. Then there's the banjo. Maybe. That's going to take awhile to process. Where are those dirty words when I need them? Oh yeah, next door at the adult blog.

And speaking of my beautiful, talented oldest offspring, she is now the proud owner of a cell phone. It was supposed to be free, but hubby wanted the warranty, just in case. I concur. She does need a case for it. We were a little pressed for time when we got the phone. We'll get one soon. She is a happy, happy girl. I don't know about her mama yet. Don't ask about her papa. He's dealing with it in his own way.

No co-op this year for us, except of the veggie kind. The baby does have a girls' club that she belongs to. My friend M is facilitating. It's almost like Girl Scouts, but not really. They aren't a member and pay dues or anything like that. They don't camp, either. Thank goodness for that! The baby girl loves it. I like that it's right before her dance class. We knock out four activities in one day. Then we just have three more weird days to get through. Technically, I guess every day is weird in our home.

We are back to being busy. A lady at the park said she didn't know how I got through our schedule with as much as we have packed into it. Some days, I don't either. But I do.

Have a great day.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Creating a Monster

While we were in Texas, we got to visit a store that I have always wanted to go into, but was way too scared to venture in. What could that store possibly be? A shoe store, perhaps? No, it's Build A Bear. So much cute stuff in there that we soooo don't need. But, Big Sis had coupons and my nieces' bears needed new clothes. So what did we do? We tagged along and got bears. I knew we shouldn't have tagged along, but we did, and once we were in that store, give it up. Here's the deal. I took pics with Big Sis's iPhone, forgetting I had my iPod with me, so I only have pics of the big girl making her bear.

 The big girl with her foot on the pedal that controls the stuffing. I wish we had a stuffing machine. Feeling heavy, let a little stuffing out. This part was kind of cool. Made me want a bear.

 There's a little routine you have to go through when you get your bear. Hug it, kiss it, rub the heart on your knee, your heart, your hair. The bear will know it's loved, needed, and will always have a great hair day. It was fun to watch all 3 of my kids go through the routine. Made me want a bear.

 LOVE the smile on her face!!! The bear got her heart and was sewed up. Third bear complete and ready for clothes. Can't have naked bears running around. Made me want a bear.

This is the boy picking out a shirt. I told the kids someone had to get the Texas tshirt or all the bears were going back. That's a good boy, right there. So much cute stuff. I should have shopped there for baby clothes. Made me want a bear.

The baby picking out a shirt for her bear. It's a hoody. I don't know why, but that baby really likes hoodies. Whatever floats your boat, baby. Made me want a bear.

The big girl dressing her bear. She went for shiny. Duh. It looks really good on her bear, too. Made me want a bear.

Big Sis helping the baby register her bear and get the birth certificate. The kids loved that part. Kinda cool. Made me want a bear.

 The big girl and the boy registering their bears. We had to carry around their box houses and birth certificates around the mall. When I was packing to come home, the kids made sure we had all of their stuff. And, of course, the girls got free bows to match the shirts before we left the store.

Ladies and gentlemen, may I present Piper, Sir Stuffsalot, and Victoria, the three cutest bears ever. That's why I didn't go in the store before that day. How stinking cute are they? I could have bought one of every kind given half a chance. I did tell the kids we would make time to get a Build A Bear so we can get pants. Who wants to see a furry, bear butt? It's just not proper. And the boy, because he loves his Papa Bear and was missing him something fierce, said we should get hubby one. That's a good boy right there. Makes me want a bear. I'm naming mine Lady Fluffington.

Have a great day. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Happy Birthday!!

When we planned our trip to Texas, my sister had planned a birthday party for my youngest niece. It was for the weekend after we left. We would miss another one. She asked if I wanted her to move it up a weekend. Yes, please and thank you!!!


 This is the invite. My niece wanted a dolphin themed party. Ok. Big Sis mailed it to my kids at Mermie's house. We were at her house while she was filling them out. I told her we would just take it. She said no. The kids like getting mail. And they did.
 This is her front entry way. She hung these curtain streamer things in colors of the ocean. The kids loved playing in it. And pulling it down.
 I had planned to crop these pictures, but my photo software is all wonky. After I crop a picture, it disappears. I cannot find it anywhere. The point of that was to not pay attention to the mess on the table. She hung the streamer thingies in front of her laundry room to block the view. I never knew such a thing existed. I am enamored with the streamer thingies.
 The woman that normally makes the birthday cakes wasn't able to this time. Big Sis had to drop back and punt.

This is what she came up with. It turned out pretty good. We made a pretty blue frosting that's on the outside of the top layer. Upsets me a little the color is washed out in the picture. On a bright note, there are Mrs. Baird's buns in the background. I am not one for white bread anymore, but that is one fine bread. That's what we ate growing up. We would drive by the plant when they were baking. Flying by the bakery at 65 mph on the interstate, windows up, and the smell would just over take you. That wonderful scent of baking dough would just surround you. Sorry, I got carried away.
The water slide from the infamous frog incident. The kids had a blast. They would go back and forth from the slide to the pool, from the slide to the pool. The kids slept very well that night. So did I.

 The princess. That's really all I have to say. Except, gosh, I miss her! And her sisters, too!! And their mama!!! And their Mermie!!!!
 Give the kids the camera and you never know what you're going to find. The dolphin is from a "toss the ring on the dolphin's nose" game. It came with three or four rings. Apparently, the dolphin was thirsty. You would think it would have gotten a Dr. Pepper.
 You have got to love the self portraits. Really? This one is crazy so look out for her.

 Yeah, he got into the game, too. I am so glad he cut his hair. He's crazier than the girl in the last pic.

 Group pic of the kids that came to the party. Nice turn out. The pool wasn't nearly as crowded as I thought it was going to be. Of course, having the water slide helped.

I got the "Best Present at the Party" award. Big Sis (that's her on the right. Isn't she pretty?) said N wanted a dolphin pillow pet. So that's what she got. She loved it. My kids didn't want to let it go while we walked through the store. I like the dolphin, too. It's soft and cuddly. I might have to get myself one.

We had a great time. We were so excited to be there. I am so thankful Big Sis changed the date. All my pics didn't load or I would show you the tiers of cupcakes. They were so good. I think I had four. I went into a cupcake coma and the rest of the day is a little fuzzy. But I know it was awesome!

Have a great day.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Pacing Myself

Goodness knows I wouldn't want to push myself to actually get anything done. I sat down and did lesson plans for the next three weeks. All of our extras will have started and there are a couple of, um, extra extras that I added to the schedule. Those aren't things that we participate in on a regular basis. Those are extra things in case we sit too long and get bored. Wouldn't that be interesting? Our extras fall at weird times this year. With some of them it seems like they cut our day in half. I gotta figure something out with that.

Before we get too much further with our history, we are going to do a 17th century lapbook. That bad boy is huge. It's a big 3 folder lapbook. I have a different one, but it's also a unit study that's over 200 pages. Not sure I could keep the kids attention for that thing. As it is, it'll take us three weeks to finish it. All of our books have been requested from the library and are on their way. Can you hear the boy cheering? Yeah, I can't either. That's one of the reasons I requested a book about the gross and disgusting side of colonial America. I figured it would keep his interest. I'm kind of looking forward to it myself. Then we start expanding westward. The kids have become fascinated by the Donner party. Great.

We still haven't done any of our experiments. I'm actually ok with that. We have watched alot of How It's Made and Discovery channel and Animal Planet. That's just going to have to do it for now. I'll get it worked in. Sometime. See why I plan in pencil? I'm actually looking forward to science. We haven't done many experiments in the past and it's something the kids want to do. I'll get to it, I'll get to it.

Just like I'll get to cleaning my house. Have you seen my bathroom. Ugh! That is on my agenda for today. Yesterday before we started school, we had to clean the house. Not all of it, just the parts that we use everyday, like the living room. Laundry piled as high as it could go. It all got folded and most of it put away. I was going to wipe down the kitchen, but that's today. If I didn't know me, I wouldn't eat anything that came out of my kitchen. Ok, it's not that bad, but it's bad enough. Then we had to run errands. We schooled when we got home. As much as the kids drag their feet in the afternoon, we actually got done in record time. We'll see how today goes.

And because we have so much free time, I'm working on field trips. There are a couple of interesting local museums. Don't go to the antique car museum, though. Kids aren't allowed. They might touch the cars. Really? I marked that one off the list. I think that's just crazy. Apparently, they don't want anyone coming in that is under 60. You have to love field trips, though. Get me out of the house and away from the books.

I am re-evaluating the big girl's math. I'm not sure it's everything she needs. I'm not sure that there's enough practice involved. That is something you won't hear from me often. I am the "show me you mastered it in 10 problems, we'll skip the rest" kind of gal. But after her quiz yesterday, I'm having doubts. Not about her. I'll give it a couple more weeks, then make a decision. She's done well with this curriculum in the past, but this is kind of a crucial year. I don't want her to start geometry next year and have no clue. I looked at an algebra book at the book store the other day that I may use instead. This is the part I don't like, the second guessing. Currently, her math is on computer, but it would be easier to take it with us if it were a book and not on my laptop. It looks like I've already made my decision. I'll take her to the bookstore so we can peruse. If I'm buying new math, I want to make sure this one fits her style and she can learn from it.

I have bored you enough with the glories of homeschooling and messy houses. Guess I better get started on both of those things. Oh wait, I'm pacing myself.

Have a great day.


Monday, August 29, 2011

If I Had a Hammer...

One complaint from my kids about being homeschooled is that they would like to have a locker. Ok, really it's the boy and the baby complaining. Of all the things they could have picked, this was an easy one. I'd like to get all the kids a locker they can keep in their room. IKEA is calling my name, but it's just going to have to wait for awhile. I had signed the kids up for a workshop at Lowe's for Saturday. Guess what they built? Lockers!! It's not what they wanted, but they had a great time.

 The big girl is so tolerant. I don't know how she puts up with me. It could be she doesn't have a choice, but still. Here are the kids with their kits.

 You gotta love these kits. They even have some for sale. You can make all kinds of things. Just not sure I'd want to pay for them. I'm cheap that way.

This is the all the pieces and parts spread out with the instructions. Doesn't seem like much, but I almost screwed it up from the get go. This is why I leave building to the professionals. And the kids.

 At one point, the boy realized he had a piece on backwards. I asked him what he planned to do. Start over was his answer. He took it apart, flipped the piece around, and went right back to it.

 The baby loved it. To her it was like a jigsaw puzzle, which she loves. But this was better because she got to use a hammer. I'd like that better, too.

                                                          The kids working hard!!

 The baby was the first one done. I think that was her favorite part. Normally her siblings are faster than she is. Today, she won the prize.

 The boy was pretty excited about his locker. He already had grand plans for sprucing it up and he hadn't even cleaned up his mess yet.

I know she loves her mama because she does stuff like this for me. And smiles. Whether she wants to or not.

The kids had a great time. The next one we have a little conflict with the date. I'm not sure if we'll make that one or not. They're making a police car. The one after that, though, is pretty cool. It's a stand to use for test tubes for science experiments. That may come in handy in a couple of years. As a treat, we went and had frozen yogurt after. Always a bonus!! I got a real smile for that one.

Have a great day.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Amphibians on the Warpath

Sounds exciting, doesn't it? It wasn't all that. My niece, N, had a birthday party while we were in Texas. That was the first birthday party for one of my nieces that we've been to. It was so much fun. The best part, besides the cupcakes, was that my BIL had cleaned the pool and we got to swim. I don't just mean clean the pool, I mean ripped out the old liner, releveled the ground underneath, and put in a new liner. There had been a floater in the pool and Big Sis was not about to swim with the old liner. We still don't know if it was a cat, squirrel, or whatever, but I was totally with Big Sis on that one. They also have a small blow up water slide that they bring out for the smallish kids.

The boy and my niece P were champing at the bit to get in the pool or go down the water slide or both. BIL finally gave in and asked them to clean the pool while he set up the slide. I don't think they could have moved faster. Then the slide needed a good scrubbing. They loved it. And at the top, they had help. Somehow, a frog had decided to be the first one down the slide. Absolutely not, according to those two. Once they caught the frog, they had to show it off. Thanks, appreciate that.

At one point, the frog decided he'd had enough of the photo op and took off. Of course the kids weren't happy about it and they retrieved him. Just let the poor creature run while he has the chance. They did let him go by the fence on the hopes that he would go to his home. We didn't see him again. That's probably a good thing. But he missed out on some killer cupcakes.

Have a great day.