Sunday, August 31, 2008

Me-thinks I'm on the computer too much.

So. We were doing school last week... reading a book with our sound of the week - 'SH'.

Turns out
the book we were reading was full of lots of 's' blends, so we wrote them all down on our marker board, in black ink.

The "sh"s in red and the "s" everything elses in blue.

After we read the book we went back through our list and I asked Dale to think of his own words for each blend.

When I said, "name something that starts with "SMMMMM", Dale said:
For those of you that can't read my fabulous handwriting, or don't read as many (fabulous) blogs as I do, that's "Smmmmockity".

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to turn off my computer. ;)

Saturday, August 30, 2008


My blogger friend Mom to Five Kids gave me TWO blog awards! Wow! Thanks so much!

The rules of this award are:
1. The winner can put the logo on her blog.
2. Link the person you received your award from.
3. Nominate at least 7 other blogs.
4. Put links of those blogs on yours.
5. Leave a message on the blogs of those you’ve nominated.

Ok, so... here's the deal. There are lots of blogs I *heart*, but to nominate 7?
I'm not sure I can even nominte 1. I'll think it over and get back to you. Watch this space for updates. ;) And in the meantime, check out the "Places I Roam" on my sidebar.

And then....
Here are the rules:
1. The recipient must link back to the awards creator (it's right on the award)
2. You must post these rules if you receive the award.
3. You must choose 5 people to receive the award after receiving it yourself.
4. You must fit the characteristics of the recipient of the award (see below.)
5. You must post the characteristics of a recipient.
6. You must create a post sharing your win with others.
7. You must thank your giver.

Characteristics for the Smile Award:
1. Must display a cheerful attitude. (not necessarily at all times--we are all human).
2. Must love one another.
3. Must make mistakes.
4. Must learn from others.
5. Must be a positive contributor to blog world.
6. Must love life.
7. Must love kids.

Wow! That's a lotta rules! Again, not sure I have that many blog friends to pass along to... but they're all in my sidebar. And I've already plagued them with several memes. So again, I encourage you to follow some of those links! :)

So... I hope that by not following the rules I don't forfeit the awards. 'Cuz I really like them. :)
Thanks so much Momto5 for passing them along to me and your kind words that accompanied them! :)

Friday, August 29, 2008

Tumbling for all seasons

Last night Dale asked me to show him how to do a somersault.

So I, in all my long-legged non-gymnastic gracefulness, demonstrated. And then I helped Dale through one.

He sat up, pleased with his results.

He only paused a moment, and then, "Now. Show me how to do a winter-sault."

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Praise Him, Praise Him! ... and please pass the gravy

I have been extremely blessed to always have a piano in my home, both as a little girl, and all of my married life. (That's not it in the above pic, by the way) ;)

I have a feeling there are many who would love a piano and don't have one, and I don't want to take it for granted. Of course, those poor men in our family who had to move that piano 5 times in 3 years probably didn't consider it a blessing, but I still thank them for lending their muscles. :) And being so careful! Not much stresses me more than seeing a piano being moved. I can never watch.

I'm in no way a "Pianist" or anything. I play enough to get by, and more for my own enjoyment than anything else.

I like to sit down and the piano and flip through my old hymnal, playing what appeals to me at the time.

Sometimes I like to play fast and loud, just letting the mistakes fly. Songs like When We All Get to Heaven, and Count Your Blessings. Or if the boys are around, Deep & Wide.

Other times I'll pick a key and actually try to improve my playing. Crazy idea, I know. At least my musician husband tells me so. ;)

Sometimes I can talk to God by playing piano better than in any other way. Many godly people have so eloquently put into words what I can only feel in my heart. I love to sing those songs to God, and to hear what He might say to me through them. My own private little worship time.

Sometimes I play piano as a time filler. Waiting on time to go somewhere, or when I should be doing something else. It's a great way to spend a little energy before moving on to the next thing.

And sometimes, I kid you not, I'll be right in the middle of a hymn and think of creamed corn.
Apparently when I was a kid I thought as much about the upcoming Sunday lunch at my grandparents as I did about singing. Some hymns have also brought up thoughts of mashed potatoes.

What can I say? I'm a spiritual chick. ;)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

" be content."

Still in the hospital, but I have a few moments with access to a server that doesn't block blogger, and I wanted to do a quick post to tell you about Dale.

On Monday of last week, the beginning of Kindergarten Week Three, Dale and I began his character trait of the week: Being Content.

But this isn't a homeschool post. See - on Tuesday of last week Alan was admitted to the hospital.

It didn't take long to realize this admission would include .... Dale's birthday.

Dale realized it too. One day at home he asked Greg, "Daddy will it be just you and me for my party?" Greg assured him, no, we had a plan for that.

And we did have a plan.

We moved the party to Alan's room.

And we all had a blast. And Dale never once complained. His attitude was a beautiful example of contentment. Even when we had to skip the candles to avoid setting off fire alarms. Good trade off, don'tcha think?

So even though we missed "lesssons" 2, 3, & 4 on contentment, I believe Dale's shown enough to get an "A+" on this one! :)

"...for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content." Phillipians 4:11

Friday, August 22, 2008

Heart of the Matter Friday Meme

The Heart of the Matter's Friday meme this week is what we'll be using this fall.Since I've already posted in detail, I'm just posting a list here and providing links to my earlier posts.

Bible/Character Study - Hubbard's Cupboard Character, Child's Book of Character Building
Math - Various workbooks, manipulatives, computer games, & life!
Science/Social Studies - Five in a Row
Handwriting - Copywork, tracer pages

To see more detail about how we are using these things or the links I've provided with them, please visit these posts:

I can't wait to see what all is posted in this week's meme. I'm hoping to get a few ideas for the years ahead. To take a look yourself, click HERE.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Hi everyone. Wanted to pop in and let everyone know the blog may be quiet for a few days. Alan is in the hospital - again.

We went for the longest break ever without going in, and then he woke up at 2:15am Tuesday with a fever. Which, for us, means get to the nearest ER asap.

He is doing great now, but we will still be in the hospital a few days. And as I've mentioned before, the hospital server blocks blogger. Yeesh! What am I going to do all day? I'm so kidding. Sort of. ;)

Oh, and thanks to those of you that asked for my meatloaf recipe. You make me feel like a real cook. ;) Anyway, I think I know it from memory, but I wanted to wait and actually make it this week before I posted it. Just to make sure it was good, lol. So much for that.

I'll be sure and post it 'for real' when I get back, but for now here it is, roughly:

ground beef (1 poundish)
1 egg
grated carrot

chopped onion
chopped bell pepper, if you can afford it (do you remember when these were 3 for $1!?)
salt & pepper

Mush it all together, plop in the crock pot and cook it for a few hours.

Sorry. That's the best I can do from the GI floor. I left my crockpot at home. ;)

Monday, August 18, 2008

Kindergarten, part 2

Over two weeks ago I laid out the first half of Dale's kindergarten curriculum in this post about our character study. 'Character' as in 'how to be a godly, upstanding citizen' type thing, not as in 'a unique individual'.

Dale already has the 'unique individual' definition covered quite well, thankyouverymuch.

So, as promised, here is part two of what we are doing this year.


Dale is already reading quite well, so we are checking for gaps and laying some support beams with a fun phonics curriculum I found online. For free. I love free.

Brightly Beaming Resources offers the 36-week Sound-of-the-Week course. Each week is a new letter combination and suggested activities for the sound. (So far we've done "ck", "ee", and "sh"). This is a continuation of their Letter of the Week for preschoolers.

We spend time every day practicing writing (usually on a markerboard) the letters in our sound for the week.

Each week also includes a focus word with that sound, which we may or may not incorporate into another subject area. The first week, ck, was 'clock' so we worked on telling time for math that week. The second wee, ee, was 'tree', so for science/nature study we learned to identify certain trees.

We also read books (mostly from the library, of course) with our sound combo and the focus word. During 'tree' week we included
Trees" by Joyce Kilmer. Dale fell. in. love. with that poem! I grew rather fond of it, myself. :)


We are do-it-yourselfing for math this year. I'm sure in the next year or so I'll go with
Singapore Math or some other purchased curriculum. (I'm always open to suggestions if you have one you love.) :)

For this year I gathered kindergarten math standards from sites like
this one to make sure we are hitting pretty much what we should. I am a sucker for workbooks from dollar stores and Dale loves them, so it's a win-win.
Between our workbooks, our jar of 100 colored clothespins, and the Internet (printables and online math games) we are good to go! We officially cover one topic each week (telling time, shapes, addition, etc), but it's amazing how much math just comes up in daily life. Plus, a math website is a great compromise for when Dale is asking for some computer time. Who knows what he's picking up when I'm not looking? ;)


For science and social studies we take some cues from our character study of the week, and some from our sound of the week. Trees, for example.

In addition to that, we are also doing some
Five In a Row. Five in a Row (FIAR) takes a classic children's book (a living book) and takes something different from it each day for 5 days - Every week you spend one day each of social studies, science, Language, art, math, all related to the same book.

Sometimes we coordinate this with our character trait or our sound, but not always. For example, the first week of school, we read Make Way for Ducklings. The 'ck' sound was all through it, and the social studies section included a lesson on how attentive mother duck was in providing for and raising her ducklings. We got lucky on that one!

Anyway, for science we learned a few things about ducks. Social studies: Boston (I love
Google maps, by the way). Art: speed lines (to show an object is moving).

I love how FIAR exposes us to a variety of books and covers such a broad range of topics in each subject area. I am a big believer in simple exposure through the early years... no need for a little one to study something in depth unless it really strikes his fancy. :)


Whew. Does that cover everything? I guess there is handwriting. For now I am printing our memory verse for every week from this site and Dale traces a little bit each day. This week our verse is short so we are experimenting with him copying it instead of tracing. My idea here is practice, practice, practice. A little each day with me watching over him ought to eventually get us there. I want him to enjoy seeing what he can do with a pencil, and I remind myself often that he IS very young, so I am purposefully not putting a lot of pressure on handwriting right now. There will be time for that. Good habits and lots of practice.

Alrighty then. That's pretty much how we're filling our official sit-down school time every day. There is always learning done throughout the day (and *gasp!* on the weekends!) as the opportunity arises. Very often a question or subject comes up and we "jump on it" with a quick discussion or definition, usually followed up with a game, an internet search, a worksheet or craft. And if a new interest really takes off, we might even make a lapbook!

I just have to make sure I'm taking notes of the extra 'learning' so I can look back and see all we've covered!

So there you have it. The 3 R's plus some. ;)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

Here we are, headed into week 3 of 3 of my new rotation system. So far I love it! Hopefully we'll be sticking with it for a while. It certainly is a load off my mind! And I love that I only had to shop once for the meal ingredients, with just extra trips for milk, bread, etc.

I still don't know what I'm going to do about lunches and weekends. I like having the flexibility of moving the meals around to different days and having open days for impromptu plans. But that can backfire and we end up eating cold cereal for supper. Or in tonight's case, ice cream! The boys don't seem to mind, but I don't want to make a habit of it. ;)

At any rate, here is this week's plan:

Monday: Meat loaf (crock pot, of course), mashed potatoes, veggie

: Cheesy chicken & noodles (crock pot), broccoli

: Beef & Bean burritos (found a recipe for this and have no idea where it is. Saved on my computer, hopefully!)

: Spaghetti, green beans

: Breakfast for supper (usually scrambled eggs with either pancakes or waffles)

Do you make any special plans for lunches at home or weekend meals? Please leave a comment and let me know!

To see other menu plans, stop by
Organizing Junkie.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

My biggest fan

Dale: Mama, I wish you could swim. I wish you could swim in the Olympics.

Mama: Yeah, that'd be neat wouldn't it?

Dale: Yeah, too bad they're in China!

Of course. 'Cause that's all that's holding me back, you know.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Six Random Things Tag

I was tagged by Heart of a Mommy!

Rules Once Tagged:

1) Link to the person who tagged you.
2) Post the rules on your blog (copy and paste 1-6).
3) Write 6 random things about yourself (see below).
4) Tag 6 people at the end of your post and link to them.
5) Let each person know they have been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
6) Let the tagger (who tagged you) know when your post is up.

6 random things about me:

1. I still have all my wisdom teeth. The ones on top are half-way grown in.

2. I was in 2 one-act plays in high school. One was a science-fiction (Ray Bradbury, I think?) and not one character survived. Egh.

3. I worked at Wal-Mrt for about 2 months one summer. That particular store no longer exists. Unrelated to my employment there.

4. I once attended (and 'graduated' from) a storm-spotter class. I was roughly 13 and don't remember much of it. In other words, don't let this information comfort you if it's ever just you & me against a tornado. But I still love storms and just about any change in weather.

5. I absolutely can NOT step on a bug to kill it. That sound? Ew! And to feel it crunch under my feet? EWW!! I can't even bear to watch or especially (shudder) listen to someone step on one. Ick.

6. I was once absolutely, no way, ever in the world, not gonna do it, homeschool my kids. Never say never, hm? :)

And now, I tag:

Smockity Frocks

Eskimo Kisses

5 Little Wolfs

Candid Diversions

Clearly - I need more blog friends. Feel free to join in - just let me know in the comments and I'll add you to the list above. :)

HOTM Friday Meme - Favorite Books

This week's Heart of the Matter meme is favorite books and curriculum. I can't wait to see what all is posted... I'm hoping for some new favorites to add to my wish list. :)

With my oldest just starting kindergarten I haven't used any curriculum yet. We are simply doing a little of this and that for this year.

But we do have our favorites. Here's one of mine:
For anyone interested in CM methods, I highly recommend A Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola. It is filled with short chapters, beautiful pictures and countless practical and inspiring ideas. You can read cover to cover or pick and choose. It can be as light or studious reading as you want. I started out with the pick & choose method and now am reading to cover to cover. For me, it makes good bedtime reading. :) I feel it is a book I will refer to again and again as we homeschool in the years ahead.

Almost all of our other favorites - storybooks and read-alouds have come from our local library.

Some I borrowed as recommendations from book-lists on sites like Simply Charlotte Mason and Ambleside Online.

Others have been our own finds, or were recommended by our local librarian. When 'shopping' for good children's books, I look:

- for the date it was originally published (often, but not always, the earlier the better)
- to see if this book was an award-winner (Caldecott or Newbery)
- at the story line, both in the first few pages and flipping through for 'samples'

There's no way I could list all the books we have loved, but here are some of our favorites:

The Little House, Virgina Lee Burton

Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, Burton

The Tale of Three Trees

Charlotte's Web

The Mouse and the Motorcycle

In addition to these, we have also enjoyed Ox-Cart Man, by Barbara Cooney, plus several books by Robert McCloskey and many from Eric Carle.

And last but certainly not least, one of Dale's (and my) newest favorites:

Favorite Poems Old and New, selected by Helen Ferris

This book is full of wonderful poems, great for reading aloud. Dale asks just about every day (often more than once a day) for me to read to him from this book. And I even find myself picking it up to see what I can find. This is one we will probably end up purchasing sooner or later!

What are your favorite books?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Trusting my Daddy Deere-est

Last Saturday I left the boys with Greg for an hour or so and headed out with my mom to their land in the country, adjacent to my grandparents.

We went to visit my grandparents and check my dad's progress on some dirt-work he's been doing.

After visiting for a little while, we decided it was time to head on down to where my dad's been working. He was at the house working on the tractor and said he'd meet us down there, so "we" ("we" being mostly me) decided to take a four-wheeler.

It is important to tell you at this point that I haven't ridden a four-wheeler in...oh...lemme see...forever. Much less driven one. But something so trivial shouldn't stop a person, right?

So Mom and I headed out, she very bravely hanging on behind me as I began to putter across the pasture, experimenting with the gears as I went.

I think I managed to bump over pretty much all the biggest hills and dips. Just to keep things interesting.

By the way the cows stared at us as we went past I'm certain it was obvious to them we had little idea what we were doing. I would have taken a picture, if I hadn't been so busy hanging on and avoiding livestock.

I felt just like
Pioneer Woman I tell ya.

It only took us twice as long as someone who knew what they were doing would have taken to get there. I thought that was pretty good.

About the time we parked and kissed the ground began to look around, my grandad showed up on the other four wheeler. I felt pretty sure he was worried about his transmission, especially if he had watched the first leg of my driving. But he said he was just making sure we didn't run out of gas, since after we'd left he had started to wonder just exactly when was the last time he'd filled up.

I thought that was awfully nice of him.

It was about this time my dad showed up on the tractor. We watched him go round and round and back and forth, getting deeper and deeper into a place he's emptying out for a small pond.

This is him working on another pond (known as a 'pool' around these parts) last year. This picture was taken early on, and as the days went by, the incline of the sides got steeper and steeper, so that the tractor leaned more to the side as he made his passes through.

Daddy was well into the steep part of pool #2 as we watched him Saturday.

Which was something I had noticed but not thought much about, until he swung by (can you really 'swing by' on something as mammoth-ish as a tractor?) and invited mom and me up.

We were apparently feeling awfully adventurous Saturday, because we hopped right up didn't hesitate before carefully climbing up the hot, greasy beast.

We perched ourselves on top of the fenders of the huge back tires, one on each side.

And off we went into the now very large, very steep-sided hole.

One particular pass seemed incredibly steep. As I hung on for all I was worth, and looked at what seemed to be way UP towards my mom on her side I suddenly realized I had two choices:
Panic, or trust my Daddy.

While panicking seemed to be a reasonable and possibly satisfying option, I just as quickly realized it wasn't necessary.

Because option number two meant relying on the one who has safely carried me through all sorts of hills and valleys. He's been there for the bumpy rides of skinned knees, bad school days, bad hair days (living with 3 women makes you very understanding of things like this), scary weather and scary dreams.. He loves me more than life itself and would never put me in harm's way.

My daddy knew exactly what he was doing on that tractor, and had full control over it. All I had to was sit in the place he had for me, hang on, and trust him.

What a beautiful picture of our Heavenly Father. He too loves us more than life itself, and proved it by dying for us on Calvary. Once we have accepted that gift and trusted our present life and our eternity to Him, we are safely His forever. He has an abundant life laid out for us, blessings and adventures, ours for the taking, if we will just trust Him.

And He is trustworthy. What are the bumps he has safely carried you through? I know I can count many. He knows exactly what He is doing with our life, and has full control over it. All we have to do is serve him in the place he has for us, and trust Him. It's our choice. And I can tell you, the ride is a lot more enjoyable when we choose to trust rather than panic.

By the way, the return trip on the four-wheeler was much smoother than the ride out. My driving and shifting was much better, but what really made a difference was following our guide home. Following my grandad, the owner of the pasture, and who is familiar with every bump and trail and knew where he was going was completely different than blazing our own trail had been. But that's a whole other post.... ;)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Aged like fine cheese

One night recently we had spaghetti for supper. Dale, who reads everything, was helping clear the table. We had this conversation:

Dale - "How many months is Alan?"

Me - "21 months"

Dale - "Oh good (holding a can of Parmesan cheese). This says aged over 10 months!"

What a relief. I'd hate to be providing dairy products to the underaged.

Say "Cheese"!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Me & him...

...have been "him & me" for 8 years today!*
It's amazing how each of us and our relationship has grown and changed in that time. If you are at a place today that your marriage doesn't feel like much to celebrate, please don't give up. The things you've worked the hardest for often offer the sweetest rewards. God has given you your husband (I'm guessing we're mostly ladies here) as a gift, and He can make marriage a blessing when we seek Him and are willing to do the work!

Ok. Sermonette over.

*So sorry for the bad grammar. That phrase got stuck in my head and I couldn't get around it!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

Here we go.... entering week two of my three-week plan! Last week I loved being back on a menu plan. I've already learned that I need to plan something for the weekends or we end up doing weird snacking or getting fast food.

Ah well... we'll get there eventually.

Here's what's coming up this week:

Monday: Crock-pot roast chicken, veggies on the side
Tuesday: Pinto beans & cornbread
Wednesday: Chicken & dumplings (crock pot again) with carrots & onions, english peas
Thursday: Crock pot enchiladas, refried beans (from Tuesday's leftovers), salad
Friday: Macaroni & cheese with tuna & peas

Have a great week & happy eating! :)

See other menus at Organizing Junkie.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

God does amazing things, the conclusion

When I last left you, in my previous post, Greg was sitting in a realtor's office. A few days before this same man had shown us a couple of rental possibilities and even invited us to his church when we got to the area.

Greg explained to him how our search had changed in the few days since we'd seen him, and that we were now looking for something very small - maybe a one-bedroom efficiency apartment or something similar. Something that would allow us to spend our weekdays near Greg's school while keeping our "home" as our house now and spending weekends together there.

Not only did this make the most financial sense, it would also simplify things with Alan while we are still getting labs often and making frequent trips to Dallas.

So. Greg and Mr. Realtor visit for a while, talk about their families, discuss what we are looking for and what might work.

It turns out:

Mr. Realtor and his wife have a large family, and homeschool their children.

They also own a guest-house next door to their home in the country.

It has plenty of room for the four of us to be more than comfortable.

And they offered to rent it to us. At an incredibly affordable rate.

It was more than we could have ever imagined. The property is beautiful. The family is wonderful. Dale loves playing with the kiddos. The youngest is a little girl 6 months younger than Dale, and then there is a boy 1 year older than Dale, all the way up to a 13 year old.

Not only are we their renters, they treat us as their guests, inviting Dale (and us and Alan) to make ourselves at home in their backyard, which must seem better than a playground to Dale with all the stuff to play with and on and the new friends to enjoy it with.
The view out our new back door.

We are so thankful, both to our new landlords and to the Lord, our Provider for this wonderful place to stay and the family we are looking forward to getting to know more and more. We waited, we prayed, and not only was He faithful to provide, but He did so with so many blessings.

God is good, and He does amazing things!

Friday, August 8, 2008

God does amazing things

I am a big believer in saving money wherever possible. Frugal, penny pinching, whatever you want to call it, it's part of who I am.

I'm thankful it isn't something I have had to learn or work at. Don't get me wrong, I love shopping as much as the next girl, but there are so many other ways to spend less, or even none at all. These little things almost come naturally to me, and are often done with little or no thought.

Larger decisions, though, for any family, can be difficult.

Because we are careful with our money, and because we are a one-income family, we found ourselves in an interesting situation this summer. What could have been extremely stressful, God patiently walked us through, and taught us some valuable lessons.

In late spring/early summer, Greg accepted a new job in a new school, a fair distance from where we live now. Just beyond a comfortable commuting range.

We optimistically began to search for a place to live in our new community. Time and time again we were, at best, undecided and at worst, very disappointed. (How about a "BIG, recently remodeled 3 bedroom, 2 bath" that turned out to be an isolated 30 year old double-wide with old, dirty, mismatched floors and peeling walls, littered with the scraps of the 'remodeling', and smelling of urine - only accessible by driving several hundred feet through a pasture? Talk about disappointing!)

Even with the most promising places something just wasn't right. And there began Lesson Number 1 - wait.

We've seen it before over the last year or so. Wait. Wait for God's timing. Wait to see what He is going to do. Did you know the Bible mentions waiting over 100 times? The story of Jesus being "late" when Lazarus was sick is one of my favorites. God is never too late!
Even with the mindset of waiting, we still did our leg-work. We stayed busy looking and searching and asking, but without the desperation of "we have to find somewhere NOW!"

Our second lesson was to pray. So, so simple. But so easily overlooked.

It was such a relief to hand over the search, the worry, the struggle to Him. To acknowledge that He was in control, and admit to Him that we were willing to do whatever He thought was best. We gave up some ideals. We looked at options we didn't really like. But we did it with a spirit of obedience, and what a relief that was to our hearts! It didn't matter if it wasn't what we would have picked. If God picked it, then we'd be okay. That was the attitude we encouraged each other to have. It wasn't always easy. It never is easy giving up control. Even if it IS a relief. That just doesn't make sense, does it?

So with praying about it, handing it over to God with a willingness to do whatever He gave us, and simply waiting on God's timing, we began to change what we were looking for.

One day, on a trip back to the area by himself, Greg ended up back in the office of a realtor we had seen the week before.

We were amazed at what God did next. Neither of us had expected a sudden resolution that day, and we couldn't have guessed what He had planned all along...

The Heart of the Matter - Conference Review

The Heart of the Matter Online recently held an online homeschool conference.

It was the coolest thing ever.

Five days worth of speakers (most of them in real time!) and live chat with other attendees.

All SO worth the registration fee!

The meme at the Heart of the Matter this Friday is to share the best conference ideas we received. Easy enough since I actually took notes during some of the sessions! (Shh - don't tell!)
From Amy Bayliss:
- It can take a good year or two to find the philosophy and approach that works best for you

- Don't try to get it perfect. Makes mistakes. Learn with your kids as you go

- There are no perfect homeschoolers.

- Make it a lifestyle instead of an obligation. Have fun. homeschooling is about more than academics

- My children are my ministry

- God may not tell you exactly which way to go on something, but He will let you know if you are going the wrong way. Stay in a daily relationship with Him

So sorry.... I didn't write down who the next speaker was, but she had some great points:

- We need to know our children. To try and sense where God is leading them and affirm that.

- Our goal is not to get through the curriculum, but to help our children be what God wants them to be

- Make a list of what we want our kids to leave home with spiritually, academically, and in life skills. Break them down by age and make small goals. Focus on weak areas.

And about boys, from Andrew Pudewa:

- Boys like action (okay, so I knew that, but he made it so relevant to teaching boys!)

- Teach boys adverbs. Admire the action elements of their artwork.

- Boys respond well to physical rewards (activities).

- Karate/marital arts can be very beneficial to boys.

For other conference highlights, be sure and visit
HERE and see what others are saying!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

a Confession, a Question, and a Craft (sort of)

Confession time - I haven't really been posting to my blog these last few days. I've been away from Internet access since first thing Monday morning.

But I prepared for this absence and arranged for a few little blog ditties to self-post while I was away.

Isn't that handy??

I really am here now, though. Blogging in real-time. But I did feel the need to 'fess up that I was only appearing to appear for a few days. ;)

The Question - We are having sleep issues again (still?) with toddler boy. I won't even go into the hassles of getting him to sleep the past week or so. It hasn't been all that bad, but today sure was rough. The hour preceding nap time pretty much wiped me out. You know the verse "
pray without ceasing"? I was doing a lot of that just to keep myself from doing something I'd regret, like, oh .. I don't know... pulling my hair out maybe?

But my question for you all is not advice for getting Mr. You-Know-Who to go sleep. My question involves the other end:

Waking Up.

Whether he goes to sleep like a champ (and we have those days too, believe it or not) or fights it like mad, it doesn't matter: He wakes up crying.

I thought almost-two-year-olds were supposed to wake up happy.

Like most little girls, when I was little I would 'play house'. Of course, there was always a baby. And whether the part of the baby was played by a doll or by a willing playmate, the scenario always went like this:

- Feed the baby

- Put the baby to bed

- Go look busy doing wifely, house-ly things

- Baby wakes up "wah-wah-wah" -ing

Which was all fine and good. It was fun then. Now it's not so fun.

It was even ok when said real-life baby/kid was an infant. But a toddler waking up crying?

Doesn't exactly make you excited to hear from him at the end of nap time.

And not really a fun way to be greeted first thing in the morning.

Aren't toddlers supposed to wake up happy? Talking to themselves and playing in their crib? I would even be glad for "Maaaaaaa-maaaaaa" if it replaced all the crying. Suggestions?

And finally, the "Craft" (snicker, snicker)
As we were cleaning up supper tonight, Dale wanted to "make something out of yarn."

I felt spontaneous and indulging, so I agreed and asked him what he wanted to make. Without much thinking he said a dog.

And Google failed me.

I can almost always find anything I want on Google!

But in my quick search for first 'yarn dog' and then 'yarn dog craft' I found:

1 - did you know people make yarn from dog hair?

2 - a fancy-schmancy for-real craft that starts with a wire coat hanger and a ball of yarn and ends up as a cute dog

3 - a mop of a dog with foamy ears and feet.

Seeing as how #1 was irrelevant (no matter how interesting), we didn't have the time or inclination for #2, and I wasn't impressed with and didn't have the foamies needed for #3, I was left with no choice but to wing it.

Ohhhh boy. In short:
We wrapped a toilet paper tube with yarn, then slid the rolled-up yarn off the end and tied it around it's middle, length-ways. I grouped the bottom loops into four 'legs' and tied them off at the 'feet'.

Dale cut the loops on the top to make a mop of hair. I then made a pom-pom (Dale wanted it red) for the head and tied it on what I assumed to be the front. Googly eyes would help but I didn't have any of those.

Dale seemed to enjoy the final product enough:

I don't think you'll see me making any big debuts guest-posting on craft blogs any time soon or anything.

Alan enjoyed making a mess while we worked:
Don't be fooled by this mess into thinking he kept himself entertained for any length of time or anything. Noooo, that'd be too easy. ;)

He did help himself to his paper supply though (that made me happy) and spent some time coloring on that....and the floor. Oh well. The floor is resilient. ;) The rest of the time he alternated between whining to be in my lap and having a big ol' time grabbing for yarn and scissors.

If only I could get him to wake up having as much fun.....

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Weird things happen.

Every once in a while, some odd little occurance pops up in our life. Not spooky enough for Unsolved Mysteries or sensational enough for the news. Just weird, random, seemingly unexplainable things.

We've had several of those "Huh. That's weird." moments lately.

For one thing, Greg had a shirt come out of the laundry all messed up. And I don't mean because it sat too long in the washer, soaking up the blue ink of the wet shirt next to it. No, I've done that enough for it to be explainable when I see it, unfortunately.

No, this shirt appeared to be mildewed. And had looked like it had faint bleached patches all over.

But it hadn't been sitting with anything wet or damp.

And it hadn't been near any bleach.

But it's still ruined.


And then, I unconsciously took note of a dark spot on Dale's pj's when he got out of bed. Didn't think much of it, until I noticed the dark crusties under his nose.

Whaaaat? I checked his sheets and, sure enough, he'd had a nose bleed while he was asleep! Dale has never had a nose bleed once in his life, and all of a sudden he has quite a nice one in his sleep.


While we're talking random occurences, let's not forget last week's visit from a wild turkey.

And finally, strangest of all, this grew in our yard:

Why yes, yes that is a column of mud!

It was less than half an inch tall when we left for church. I didn't think much about it - I just figured Dale had dumped out some mud out of the bottom of some cup or something. It was right near the water faucet. Impromptu mud pie. Not weird.

But coming along a few hours later to find it about 4 inches tall?


After I took pictures for the blog evidence, Greg started digging. Did you know we have some sort of pipe thing right out front here? No? We didn't either!

It looks like Greg's hand is there presenting our newly found pipe in a 'ta-da' sort of way.

But if you know Greg you know he's not that much of a 'ta-da' sort of guy. He just had his muddy hand sitting there and kindly left it for me to take a picture of it next to our new hole for a size comparison. :)

We never saw the bottom of our new pipe-thingy - we couldn't get all the water out. And we're still not completely sure what it is or what it's for, although we have some theories. (And are open to more, if you have one). But we are fairly certain that we have a slow water leak of some sort. (and that's what pushed up the dirt into that fine column, as seen above).

Greg is thrilled.

He starts work this week. And it is a well-known fact that the only time better to have a water leak is when it is 33 degrees outside, almost dark, and starting to sleet.

Unless it's a sewer leak. Then anything over 100 is preferable.

Oh well. He'll have to settle for 107 and starting back to work after the summer off. Life's just weird like that. ;)

I am going to go out on a limb and guess that strange stuff happens at your house too. Yes?

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

It's a...

If you go somewhere like this...

...look at the sky and wait long enough, you might see one of these....

...way up-close and personal-like!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Yay me! I have a plan!

After weeks and weeks of sort-of-but-not-really menu planning, I finally quit trying to be so fancy and creative and just DID IT.

On a whim one afternoon last week I sat down at the computer and made a list off the top of my head of all the meals that I most often make. I think in the past I've gotten way too bogged down in searching out new recipes. Half of which I would end up actually... you know... cooking.

So with my list of our old favorites and stand-bys made, I have over 15 main dishes! I went back an added in sides to go with them.

I spread them out over 3 weeks, arranging by beef, chicken, or other meat and separating any dishes or sides that were similar.

And since I had time on my hands and was really on a roll (and knew all these dishes by heart) I made a master grocery list for anything I would need to cook for three weeks.

It feels so good to be heading into this 3 week rotation. I feel like a major part of my life has been simplified! I'm planning on penciling in (on my printed sheet) what we have each day for breakfast and lunch and maybe purposefully planning for those in the future.

So, without further explanation, this week's menu:

Monday: Crockpot Lasagna, green beans, salad
Tuesday: Pressed chicken, veggies on the side
Wednesday: Salmon patties, macaroni & cheese, english peas (or pea salad)
Thursday: Smoked sausage, black beans, & rice
Friday: Fried chicken, mashed potatoes, veggie

Yes, I'm actually going to FRY chicken... in SHORTENING.

I know - I can't believe it either. I hardly ever ever ever fry anything. But it's so good. Once every 3 weeks can't hurt, right?

Here's the how-to for our other chicken dish this week, one of our very favorites (and good with fried okra! But what isn't good with fried okra? Huh. Well.... ok. Apparently I fry more than I realized.)

Pressed Chicken
bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed
olive oil


Sprinkle chicken on both sides with seasonings of your choice. Be generous. A little salt (or seasoned salt), and then plenty of black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, red pepper... whatever you like and whatever you've got on hand.

Heat enough olive oil and butter to generously coat the bottom of a large skillet. Place chicken in hot oil; cover with a piece of foil. Place a heavy skillet (I like to use my little iron skillet inside the big one, for extra weight) on top of the chicken.
Rachael Ray uses a brick.

Turn the chicken only ONCE, halfway through cooking. About 10 minutes, I think? Depends on the thickness of your thighs. :) Either way, when they look about halfway done, turn, replace your weights on top and cook the rest of the way.

So good!

Interested in seeing what everyone else is eating this week? Head over to
Organizing Junkie!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Sunday thoughts

My Nana sent me link a day or two ago. I just now got around to looking at it, but I had to turn right around and share it with you.

It's very peaceful! Beautiful pictures and one of my favorite songs. :


Have you spent some quiet moments with your Creator today?

Friday, August 1, 2008

Frugal Friday - Lowering your electric bill

I don't know about where you live, but where I live we have hit the second half of summer. We were blessed with a mild first half. You know, the kind where you sit outside and can say, "oh yes, isn't this nice? It's summer!" without just melting.

And now we have crossed over into the melting part. 100+ degree days.

If you have central air conditioning days like that can keep it running almost constantly and that is, of course, very, very.. 'spensive.

What I have discovered is that as it gets hotter outside, you can move your thermostat up on those hotter days and afternoons and stay just as cool as on the 'average' hot days.

So as the day progress and the sun gets higher and hotter and the ac is running more and more, I'll walk by and bump up the thermostat a degree or two.

I think it is the difference between the temperature outside and the temp inside that keeps you comfortable, not what the actual temp inside is.

So we try to go by how we feel and not what "the number" on the thermostat says. As the day winds down and I've been cooking or it's cooling down outside, if we are feeling warm, we lower it some. We stay plenty cool and hopefully save some $$ in the process.

To see how other bloggers are being frugal, go see Crystal at
Biblical Womanhood! :)

How do you stay cool this time of year? Any tips?