Thursday, April 30, 2009

Is there a gene for that?

I know this will come as a shock to all our family and friends, but today I have come to the stunning realization that there is no way Dale can be my kid.

It's extremely puzzling to me, since I am absolutely positive that I carried him in my womb and gave birth to him myself.

And he looks just like me.

But today's evidence leaves no doubt...

We've been reading The Boxcar Children aloud together.  (I read straight through to the end one night after Dale was in bed, to know what to expect).

Today I was doing something else when Dale wanted to read and I told him he could go ahead without me.

He read a chapter or two right then, and much later told me, "Just now I read a lot of The Boxcar Children."

Me: "Oh yeah?  Tell me what you read.  Did they pick cherries?"

Dale: "Yes.  And then I held my place there and turned to the end and found out that their grandfather is a very rich man!  And that he has a surprise for him in his backyard... and it's the

I didn't let my emotions show.  I played it cool, but on the inside... oh on the inside.... 
Skipped ahead to the end?!?!?  
Wow.  Nope.  No way this child could be mine!

Ah well... 5 1/2 years invested in him (+9 months and 14 hours of labor)... I've gotten pretty fond of him.  

I think I'll keep him.

Even if he DOES skip to the end.

What's In Your Book Basket?

We have had revival services at church and other things going on this week, so it has been a very light week school-wise.

But that does NOT mean there hasn't been reading going on!

Here are some of our favorites from this week:
This was a new one for us.  In Dale's words (he's 5), "It's 'ilarious."

I have read and heard that boys prefer true stories, and I can definitely see that, even if he doesn't always pick them over fiction, Dale is definitely drawn to true stories.  We've had Balto before and he picked it himself this time.  It is for his own reading time.

Sweet story about a little girl loving the quilt her mother made for her and all the comfort it brings.  Dale and I had a hard time deciding if the second little girl was the narrator's daughter, granddaughter or great-granddaughter.  It made for good clue-hunting and discussion.  Have you read it?  What do you think?

A spider story like you have never read before.  Very imaginative!  We might re-visit this one just for fun next fall when we spend a couple of weeks learning about spiders.

(Sam?? Are you reading this post??  We read a SPIDER story!  And enjoyed it!!  You
must find this book for you and your girls.  They will love it!)  :)

To see what others are reading be sure and stop by The Happy Housewife!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Giving thanks... feeling peace

As the mother of an immuno-suppressed child, I have to admit this whole swine flu thing has been making me a bit nervous.  We've been watching it unfold, and can't help wondering how far it will spread, and how severe it will be.

This morning I woke up to the news of the first U.S. death due to the flu.  It was a 23 month old in Texas. 

Friends.... that hits close to home, in more ways that one.  

I cried.  I cried for that family, and I cried for mine.

It is tempting to let fear take over, and I admitted to God that I was scared.

And then I remembered all He has brought Alan through:

God has safely carried Alan (and our family) through surgery as a newborn, liver disease, transplant, pneumonia, and multiple sepsis episodes.  Those were are real and definite threats to Alan, and look at him today!

This flu is out there.  It is a risk.  And although there are many good precautions we can take, there are no guarantees.  But I 
know my God can handle it.  Whatever happens, His grace is sufficient.  Praise His name, I don't have to fear!

"Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done. . . Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always." Psalm 105:1 & 4

Monday, April 27, 2009

Oh be careful...

... little mouth what you say...

I don't usually admit this, because ... well face it: sometimes just the admission brings plenty of stereotypes. But the truth is, we enjoy watching Nascar races.

There.  I said it.

But that's not my point.

My point is, this Sunday's race was reeeally exciting.  

You may have even heard about the ending in the news today.

Even if you aren't a fan, go ahead and watch a couple of minutes of the video below.  

It is helpful to know that we like Carl Edwards, the driver whose name is mentioned ....oh.... 47 or 99 times in the course of the video.

He is one of our favorites.  And he had used an interesting strategy all day, and right there at the end had made up to the very front.  He was gonna

Did you see that?  Pretty amazing, huh?

So you can probably imagine the excitement at our house as all this was unfolding live.

We were all four about 2 feet from the tv screen.

There was a lot to be excited about.  And at one point, my excitement over the crash was bleeding over into my disappointment for Carl not winning and I just hated it for him.

TV coverage ended just a few minutes after the race did, and we all went on to do other things.

Not too much longer Greg sat down where he had watched the race, and Alan came up to him.

Alan began rather adamantly pounding on Greg's knee and saying something we couldn't quite make out.

At least at first.

Upon closer listening, it turns out it was an animated, "Dad Gummit!!"

Apparently, my words of choice when Carl didn't win.  Complete with the pounding on Daddy's knee.


Friday, April 24, 2009

Garden Club Update

Time for a quick garden update!  

I don't have any pictures, because... well... I forgot, and now it's dark!

The corn is looking good, about 6 inches high or so, and I went back in a couple of weeks ago and replanted in the spots where it hadn't come up.  The new ones are looking good too, so hopefully we'll have a couple of different sets of corn.

Got the tomatoes transplanted at the beginning of the week.  I am so happy to have those things in the ground!  And I am even happier to have actually gotten them from seed to ground so successfully! 

Transplanted bell peppers & eggplant today, and hope to get squash & cucumbers in the ground tomorrow.  :)

My biggest joy in the garden is seeing how helpful Dale is.  When I said I was headed to the garden this afternoon, Dale's response was "Yay"!  Isn't that great?

He tired out before we were done, but he had worked hard for a good long while.  And I was glad to have his help!

I promised pictures next time!

For more Garden Club posts, go visit
The Peterson Clan!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

What's in your book basket?

Welcome to week 2 of peeking into our book basket!

This week our feature book is
Beatrix Potter's The Tale of Peter Rabbit.

To go along with that, we have:
Marshmallow, Clare Turlay Newberry - Excellent classic with "meaty" language, and some poetry sprinkled in for good measure.  A sweet story that can be listened to (or read) again & again.

Uncle Wiggly's Story Book, Howard R. Garis - Haven't gotten to this one yet.

Runny Babbit, Shel Silverstein - A hilarious book of silly poems full of spoonerisms.  Good luck reading this one aloud!  Great work-out for growing readers - or anyone for that matter!

Nature's Children: Rabbits - We check out books from this series a lot.  If nothing else the pictures and captions can help fill out whatever animal topic we are on.

In My Garden, Ermanno Cristini - No text.  Inviting nature pictures, with a key in the back to help identify the  various critters seen in the book.

In addition to rabbits, we are also reading up on gardening and nature.
Some highlights from this basketful...

Allan A. Swenson's Big Fun to Grow Book - Dale and I both loved this book.  Even though it is considered a junior book, it was very helpful to me as a beginning gardener.  The text is divided into short segments and includes enough simple illustrations that Dale popped in with interest several times as I read for myself.  

The Victory Garden Kids' Book, Marjorie Waters - Lots of color photos and step-by-step instructions for many types of gardening.

Fun with Nature - Simple text, lots of bright illustrations, filled with kid-friendly nature activities.

And our miscellaneous for the week...
The Elves and the Shoemaker, Paul Galdone- Great telling of this fairy tale, full-page illustrations.  I have to say I like a fairy tale where no one is eaten, threatened to be eaten, or other misfortune endings.

I decided to try Dale on The Boxcar Children, by Gertrude Chandler Warner.  I have never read this series myself, and didn't know what I was missing!  We are just a couple of chapters in and Dale seems hooked.  (I skimmed through and finished.)  I think the Boxcar Children idea came from someones Book basket post last week, but I can't remember.  I've had it in the back of my mind for a while, and
something recently pushed me over the edge. :)  If it was you... thanks!

I got a small variety of longer readers for Dale, just to see how he'd do.  
Also from last week's book basket posts, I decided to try Nate the Great,by  Sharmat & Weinman.  Dale zipped through it this morning, and it's hard to get a good review from him.  Based on the fact he sat and read it from start to finish, I'd say he liked it enough.  We'll see if he goes for another one next week.

And, our pick of the week...
Our awesome librarian found this and knew we'd love it:
Cardinals in the Pine, Lorenz Boyd - A true living book.  Copyright 1969, chock full of information about cardinals (which are high on our interest list right now), all revealed in the form of the story of the research, observations, and discoveries of a little boy named David.  Beautifully drawn illustrations with color photos at the end.  What a find!

And finally, what was actually in my book basket after taking all these pictures:
A big ol' basket is just irresistible, I guess!

Go see what others are reading -  Visit
The Happy Housewife!  

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

School for all ages

I have often read on blogs and other places that it is common for preschoolers to ask to 'do school' with their older siblings.  As I have seen for myself that Alan likes to stick close by, busy with an activity of his own (or just like  Dale's) while Dale does school work, I didn't doubt that the day would come that Alan would ask to 'do school' too.

I just didn't think that day would come so soon!

I had a hard time holding Dale to the table today, since we got a late start and his friends were already outside.  And since at this age I would rather him be outside playing than at the table doing school work anyway(shhh... don't tell Dale that!), I let him go.

But Alan lingered inside, and the next thing I knew he was leading me to the table, asking to 'do school'.  

And since here I was, a teacher without a student, it didn't take much to convince me.

Steering him away from gluing Dale's handwriting book shut, we found something better to glue instead.

The first thing I was able to put my hand on was green construction paper.  

And since we are working on learning shapes and colors, why not glue green circles?
Not sure what the pencil had to do with it, but one can't properly 'do school' without a pencil, now can he?
Before long, he wasn't satisfied with just Mama doing the cutting.  'Doing school' requires scissor work as well.  Of course.
Those don't quite qualify for safety scissors (which Alan does have a pair of, btw).  Time to put the camera down and get four hands on the action!

I loved that Alan got some time cutting, gluing, writing, and making, and it was just as satisfying to him as if I had sought out, planned for, and prepared a 'real' project or craft for him to make.

Sure, we'll print patterns and follow directions and make 'real' stuff plenty of times, but spontaneity and simplicity have a lot going for them too.

One happy customer.  :)

Charlotte Mason Giveaway

If Charlotte Mason is your thing, be sure and stop by

Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers 

Monday, April 20, 2009

Slow and steady...

As I read and learn about different methods and philosophies in an effort to educate myself so I can better educate my children, I often find myself agreeing with those who are fans of Charlotte Mason.

Rich literature and 'living books' play a large role in the schooling of those who lean toward (or follow whole-heartedly) a Charlotte-Mason type education. 

Short lessons, a gentle introduction to formal schooling, and the intentional formation of good habits are also key points Charlotte Mason's teachings.

Another major element in a Charlotte Mason education is nature study, which is just what it sounds like - the study of nature.  Nature study often includes keeping a notebook with your own sketches and descriptions of what you have observed.

As I have read different approaches and suggestions for all these methods in general and nature study in particular, I have felt a certain amount of skepticism.  Even though I have agreed with the ideals, I have to admit I have doubted them actually "working" in our day-to-day life.  There are many things I have pictured myself introducing, but I often imagine them to turning out to be a flop.

But, our journey is still young, and so am I, so I have remained optimistic, even if cautiously so, that we could implement some of these ideas in our own home.

And today my optimism received a giant boost.

For several months now we have had a bird-feeder just outside our window, placed where we can watch the birds eat while we do.  It has been something the whole family has enjoyed.

It has been natural for us to want to identify the birds we see, and little by little that has led to us learning more and more about them.

Yesterday, after fresh seed was out, Dale and I watched a cardinal hopping on the window-sill, and wondered if the birdie sounds we could hear were coming from him.

So we looked it up, and found an online treasure-trove of information, including sound clips!  That was so much fun we had to look up the other birds we've seen at our feeder and in our yard.

Northern Cardinal calling to an invading squirrel.

And then this morning, Dale picked up a spiral notebook and some colored pencils and started drawing birds.
On his own.

It was all his idea.

Now my job, as I see it, is to encourage him without taking over and making it mine, or turning it into a chore.  I figure as long as we both pursue it as an interest, a hobby, something fun we all share as a family it has a very low risk of turning into "school-work".  And yet, we can all learn so much!

And if all the Nature-study advocates were right about this, maybe there are other methods and ideals that aren't so far-fetched either.  

By the way... that "treasure-trove" of a website can be found here.  I love how you are given a good bit of information without being overwhelmed with it.  The layout is also very easy to use - just enter the bird you are looking for in the search box on the upper-right, and then use the tabs under the bird's picture to read about it, listen to it, or watch video clips.  

Friday, April 17, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday

1. Anyone want to guess what fast food establishment this menu belongs to?Daddy Buffalo treated us to ice cream from there one night this week. I could go there 2 or 3 times a week, but we actually 1-2 times a month. Mmmm....

2. My sweet little tomato seedlings are looking great! It's a good thing we don't have any pets, because I have loved those things like pets... lugging them around the country-side with me, making sure they get plenty of water & sunshine. I've transplanted them out of their little jiffy start-pots into cups and they've really taken off! I hope to get them out into the 'real' garden within a couple of weeks, along with squash seeds. I also hope to have a more detailed Garden Club Friday post soon, hopefully with lots more to show & tell! (To see other Garden Club Friday posts click the button above, or go

3. We've been walking in the woods again.
Alan likes to hold Dale's hand. Dale lets him.
That's not our dog in front of Dale's right shoulder... it's the neighbor's/landlord's. There are 4 of them. (Dogs, that is.) They like to go walking with us.
You don't see
many any wildlife critters while walking in the woods with 4 big dogs.

4. April is
National Donate Life month. More than 100,000 Americans are waiting for a life-changing (and usually life-saving) organ transplant. Over 1,800 of those are children. Please consider becoming a donor, and be sure to let your family know of your wishes to donate. Lives like Alan's are saved.

5. If you homeschool, or if you like doing extra stuff with your kids, or if you love children's literature, or if you like freebies (and who doesn't, right?) then you might be interested in this website:
Homeschool Freebie of the Day
A new freebie available for download every weekday, and a bonus 6th free download each week if you are on the mailing list. You never know what's going to come up from Freebie of the Day!

6. Whew. Coming up with 7 things is really hard. I have a hard enough time coming up with a topic a day for any blog post!!

7. Have you seen this video? Heard about this woman? Most likely so, considering it has been viewed over 22 million times. But just in case you haven't, you must. go. watch. It is absolutely amazing.
Click Here.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

What's in Your Book Basket?

I am so excited to be taking part in this meme over at The Happy Housewife.  It is just my sort of thing!  
The idea is to post a review of what you have checked out from the library this week, to give others ideas about what they might (or might not) want to borrow on their next visit.

Since the library and books in general are such a huge part of our daily life and homeschool, I am more than happy to participate and look forward to going
here and reading the other participants' entries.  

And how appropriate?  We really do use a basket as a central location for our library and school books each week.  :)

Zooming in on a few specifics...
We are doing our version of Five-in-a-Row this week with...

Ferdinand, by Munro Leaf - Captivating story and illustrations.  But how can you go wrong with Munro Leaf & illustrator Robert Lawson?  They are a hit every time around here.  This book is great as a read-aloud or a read-on-your-own for a younger reader.  

To go with Ferdinand, we have...
 - How Castles Were Built, by Peter Hicks.  Filled with color pictures and illustrations.  The text is broken into short bits and captions, which lets it get into a few nitty-gritty details without getting boring.  Even for a 5 year old.  :)

 - The Spanish Armada, C. Walter Hodges.  We will probably be just looking at the pictures in this one.  Lots of text, about 1 full page drawing for every 2-3 pages of text.

 - How Tall, How Short, How Faraway, David A. Adler.  I can't do a kid-tested review on this one yet, because i haven't read it with my kid.  But after previewing it, my guess is the simple explanations and bright illustrations will have my science-loving kindergartner measuring everything he can get his hands on!

 - Bill in a China Shop, Katie McAllaster Weaver.  This is a fun, rhyming story-book.  Who knew a bull could be so endearing?  :)

Other books in this week's basket:
 - We're Going on a Bear Hunt, Michael Rosen.  Both boys have been having fun with the sing-song rhyme (from Alan's new favorite website) (wait a minute... did I just say my 2 year old has a favorite website?  Whoa.)  
Anyway.... we have sometimes heard the boys in bed at night just after bed-time going through the rhyme together, so they have been enjoying it in book form.  

 - Skippyjon Jones in the Dog House, Judy Schacner.  Dale started the Skippyjon Jones series because his blog friend Christian liked them so much.  They are extremely silly, but there is just something about that little Siamese cat you want to love.  :)

 - Oh Say Can You Say?, Dr. Seuss.  This book is great to read out loud together with a young reader who leans more on context clues than the actual words on a page.  Or maybe that's just my young reader?  It is also good to work on oral reading skills, articulation, etc.  Plus it's just plain fun.  :)

 - A Dollar for Penny (A Math Reader), Dr. Julie Glass.  Another review I can't give kid approval on, but again my guess is Dale will love this easy reader all about pennies, nickels, dimes & quarters and what they add up to for the little girl with her lemonade stand.  Just right for K-1st grade.

 - The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Brian Selznick.  You must go get this book.  It is the 2008 Caldecott Medal (the one for illustrations).  500+ pages long, and 284 of those are drawings!  Would make a great read-aloud for the whole family, or imagine the accomplishment your middle-grades reader would get from finishing a 500 page book!  Full of mystery and suspense, but in a good way.  ;)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A walk in the ... woods

We have found ourselves wandering off for little walks in the woods lately now that spring has arrived.  

And no wonder, when

.... is so inviting!

The fresh air, exercise and sunshine are wonderful, and enjoying God's creation with my boys is even better!

Today we...

 - talked about not eating anything from outside unless you are absolutely
positively sure it is safe, and an adult has told you it is ok.  (Dale found some flowers he thought were honeysuckle.)

 - saw a baby oak tree, less than 6 inches tall, with tell-tale acorns scattered around it.  The ones that
didn't make it into trees.

 - listened to birds

 - found tadpoles in a puddle

 - spotted several butterflies

I don't know... this could turn into a habit I really like!  :)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Little things amuse me

Some bloggers offer great spiritual wisdom, homeschooling advice, yummy recipes, or tutorials on creative things to do with your kids.

Others display quality photos of their kids in beautiful settings, or relate clever antidotes of the cute things their kids said.



When I'm not showing pictures of the bottom of my feet, you might stop by and see:

Dale's Easter bunny stuck to the ceiling...

Daddy Buffalo carrying out a broken window pane...

or (and I saved the best for last)....

... the Easter dinner roll dough that attempted to take over my kitchen.

Quality blogging, I tell you.  

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter Sunday

Eggs "colored" with crayons while still warm. The wax melts, creating a marbled effect. Easy, fun, and pretty!

Dale was so proud of his news clothes, especially the tie and mostly the belt. He saw himself in the mirror after getting dressed and decided "I look more like a man than a boy!"

Getting into the van he asked if we could take his booster seat out so he could sit in the seat "just like a man." Bless his heart!

He wore that tie (and belt) all day long. :)

I just want to pick this boy up and squeeze him. And kiss those soft round cheeks.

I hate to point this out, but I can't take the chance that you won't notice my glaring-white legs. No... I'm not wearing white hose. My legs are apparently just. that. white. Almost unnatural, isn't it?
In spite of the cold, dark rain clouds, it was a beautiful day celebrating our Savior's victory over death and sin!

Happy Easter!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Filed under: It could always be worse

On my list of things to do today:
- Color eggs with the boys
- Make copies for VBS meeting

Not on my list of things to do today:
- Get a tetanus shot

It happened like this...
Today was not a warm day. But in brave defiance of the chilly spring weather, I decided to wear my flip-flops anyway.

Greg was in the van, about to leave. I made an unnecessary quick trip outside before he left.

This is how I came back in:
It may not look like much, but it was caused by a rusty roofing nail, and later in the afternoon it was classified as a "puncture wound". Ouch.

All parties involved confirmed that I would need to get a tetanus shot. I asked if waiting 'till lock-jaw set in would be too late to get one.

Apparently, it would, because I was outvoted 3-1.

So, we got on the phone to get me in at the doctor's office. I had to go through all that 'new-patient' registration and stuff. The only doctor I have seen with any regularity in my adult life has been the one to deliver my babies. You know the one.

I don't think he gives tetanus shots for "puncture wounds" from rusty nails.

The interesting thing is, there was a time in my life that going to the doctor for any reason made me incredibly nervous. If I wasn't sick before I got there, I sure was after my time in the waiting room.

I remember when Dale was a newborn, I even had the jitters for his first several well-baby visits.

Today? Not-so-much. Today's visit was just an interruption to my previous plans, and didn't involve any of those nerves.

Partly because there was no embarrassing condition to wonder about or dread explaining. No uncomfortable exam to endure. (I had even shaved my legs this morning! How lucky for me! Smooth ankles to show the doctor!)

But mostly this change is because I have seen more doctors in the past 2 years than the previous 22+ put together. As a group, they aren't intimidating or nerve-wracking or anything else.

And if Alan can get a needle in his arm ever week or two for months on end without complaining, I can get one tiny shot without complaining, right?
What's a nail in the foot compared to a new liver, huh? Yeah!

But that doesn't mean I'm not going to blog about it for sympathy.

And call my friends and family and tell them all about it.

And for those of you who have the same priorities as my sister, #1- I am fine, thank you, and #2 - my flip-flop recovered just fine from its puncture, and will live to be worn again another day. :)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

I need your help!

I was given a gift.  
Problem is, neither the giver nor the givee (that'd be me) knows what it is.

Giver says they look like something I might use.

I agree.

But what do I do with them?

are these things?

(The spatula is just there for a size reference.  Please excuse the fact that it is dirty.  I was using it for something else at the time I took the pictures, and it was handy, ok?)

There are 5 or 6 of these circle, non-stick type things ... all with different pictures.

We have our theories, but still aren't sure.  What do you think?  Have you ever seen anything like them?

Monday, April 6, 2009

Our Monday, in pictures

There was good, bad, and ugly, but mostly good.

Yesterday was a "lab day", which meant we had to get out early to get Alan to the hospital out-patient lab before his morning medicine time to have blood drawn.

Here is Dale, freshly showered, "eating breakfast" (cinnamon raisin bread) and watching the birds outside eating their breakfast, too.

Alan found his toothbrush in my makeup bag and gave himself a little scrub. Can you tell he is still sleepy-eyed?

It seems like the boys spend a lot of time strapped into these car-seats. But I don't think they mind. They like to go!

Dale's mouth moves a lot. I wish I had the following pictures in a little flip book. I could probably read his lips

I was there too. I was not driving when I took this picture. Mimi (my mom) went with us, but I didn't get any pictures of her. :( Oops... sorry Mimi.
Not sure why I look so scary here.

Moving on to sweeter faces...
We took advantage of our morning out to do some shopping. We got groceries, among other things, and got home in time for lunch.

Just before naptime I rubbed Alan down with his lotion. His arms are really dry these days... we suspect excema.

He like to lotion himself, too. He always makes sure his belly button gets some.

Meanwhile, Dale was reading one of our school books for the week. This one was about ships.

It included directions for making your own raft out of clothespins, so we did.
Complete with pennies for people.
Dale said they were divers.

Don't you just love a sleeping baby?

And then I did something I don't usually do, and am still not sure why I did it.
I turned on the tv.
To Spongebob of all things.
I'm not sure what came over me.
At least Dale was working on his laundry job. Sort of.

Somewhere along the way Alan found a glove.

This was great fun! Later he found the other one and wore it, too.

Alan tried "helping" Dale with his laundry, which was already taking much longer than needed, so I placed him in front of more media to give Dale a chance to finish up uninterrupted.

Singing and playing along with his new favorite song did the trick. :) I tried more than once to upload a video of him, but it just won't go. :(

Meanwhile.... the laundry goes on.

After supper we all settled in for yet more tv, to watch The Pirates Who Don't do Anything. Alan was excited. He'd been waiting to watch "Bob" all day!

Alan did a lot of dancing today. In the following video the first few seconds are the best.

Whew. Me and my camera are tired after all that! :)