Monday, November 30, 2009

Bird study, Part Three

Still studying birds here in the Buffalo herd.  Herd birds.  Ha. 

Anyway... moving on.... while reading and notebooking about one or two various song birds a week, we are also doing some real-life bird watching and record-keeping.  

We are part of Project Feeder Watch!

Dark eyed junco

Project Feeder Watch is a program of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.  Participants spend a couple of days each week or two carefully counting and identifying the bird species seen in a particular observation area (most likely, your own backyard), and then report the results on the Cornell website.  There is a small fee to participate that helps fund the program's research.  After registering and paying the fee, participants receive a welcome packet, which includes a wall poster to help identify the birds you are most likely to see at your feeders.

Northern Cardinal Pair

We are only two weeks in, and are already having fun and learning more about the birds we see.  The project began the second week in November and runs through early April, so it's not too late to join in if you are interested!  You can visit the About Feeder Watch page for more information, or watch the video at the "Project Feeder Watch" link above.

As a side note, we learned about Project Feeder Watch while visiting Cornell's All About Birds page.  We love, love, love this site for quick information on just about any bird you can think of.  One of our favorite things to do is play the sound recordings to hear the songs and calls of different birds.

House Sparrows

Even if you don't plan to become a part of Project Feeder Watch, I strongly encourage you to set up a feeder or two that you can easily see from inside, if you don't already.  Ours are at the window near our dining table.  The birds eventually become used to feeding so close to the house.  All winter long last year we really enjoyed watching them come and go and interact with each other.  So much so that we put up a hummingbird feeder in the same place for the summer, and already are looking forward to another winter with the birds!

Carolina Chickadee

Do you hang feeders?  What birds do you see at your house?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

5 Things

I mentioned a few days ago this holiday week would be a good time for me to catch up on the blog tags I've gotten recently.  This third and final one comes from Kara @ Eskimo Kisses.

Five things that have shaped me as a mom:

1. My own parents and childhood.
I think it almost goes without saying that the things we experienced as a child and the way our own parents went about their parenting has a huge influence on the parents we become.  The traditions and methods that made us feel most loved and helped us experience the most joy out of life are easy to carry over and implement with our own kids.  Reading together, being tucked in at night, a candle in your birthday breakfast. All those little things that make up a happy childhood.  

And then, of course, there are those not-so-good things that tend to carry over whether we like it or not.  They sneak up on you.  Things like little pet peeves that you couldn't believe bothered your parents when you were little, but when your own kids do it, you understand in a whole new way.  But let's dwell on the happy memories, shall we?

My point is, I had an incredibly happy and secure childhood, and have a great respect for how my mom and dad brought us up.  There is a lot from them I choose to emulate as a mom!

2. My faith.
I could do a whole series of blog posts on this, but today I will leave it short and sweet: Our goal as parents is that everything we do, every correction, every act of discipline, would lead our children to know Jesus as their personal Savior.  To love the Lord with all their heart and with all their soul, with all their mind, and with all their strength.  To serve Him.

Now, that is our goal.  That is our ideal.  Does that always happen?  No.  Some days it may not even happen at all.  But as our kids are growing, so are we.  Thankfully, God is as patient with us as he is with them!

3. Homeschooling.
I have learned so much from the year and a half we have 'officially' been homeschooling.  My patience has been tested and stretched.  So has my creativity.  And endurance!  Between living it ourselves and the homeschoolers I have met, both in real life and online I have learned many lessons about homeschooling as a lifestyle.  

4. Reading and Research.
No matter how much you hear it before becoming a parent (or having a second child), it is still surprising to see the personality differences in your children.  I have seen so much over the last year or so the importance of truly knowing each child as an individual.  While consistency at home is important, it is also true that no two kids can be raised exactly alike.  In getting to know my oldest as he leaves his preschool years behind and grows up into an honest-to-goodness kid, I have done a lot of looking, asking and reading.  About boys.  About his personality types.  Some things I love and implement.  Others I throw out the window!  

Maybe it is just my personality, but researching to learn all about something I love comes naturally to me.  So it makes perfect sense that in the biggest venture of my adult life, I should do no less!

5.  Alan.
It is impossible to have a child born with a life-threatening condition and not be changed by it.  For better and for worse.  It changes your relationship with God, it changes your marriage, and it changes your parenting - in every-day tangible, practical ways, and in deeper, philosophical, emotional ways.  And while it isn't something I would have chosen for any of us to go through, I am thankful for the ways God has used it to shape each of us, and bring us closer to Him.

I'm passing this tag along, and can't wait to read how these bloggers have been shaped as moms:
1. Margie @ Dustbunnies and Divas
2. Michelle @ Five Little Wolfs
3. Karen @ Candid Diversions
4. Suzanne @ The Joyful Chaos
5. Kathi @ Bringing up Arrows

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

...and Tag 2!

Today's second blog tag comes to you courtesy of my long-time real-life friend Margie,  The Queen Diva over at Dustbunnies and Divas

A - Age: This is the year I hit 30!  It wasn't nearly as eventful as I might have thought it would be a few years ago. In fact, I often have to stop and think just to remember how old I actually am!

B - Bed Size: Queen.  But on those Saturday mornings everybody piles in, 4 1/2 wide is getting kind of crowded.  By the time we try to line up 5 in a row, somebody really will be falling out when we sing, "and the little one said 'roll over, roll over'!"

C - Chore you hate: taking out the trash

D - Dog's name: What dog?

E - Essential start your day item: Time. Alone is best, but if not, just time to wake up slow before being cheerful for the day!

F - Favorite Color: I don't really have one.  I like to wear a lot of pink, being the only feminine presence around here.  But sage green is very soothing to me.  And it was one of our wedding colors.

G - Gold or silver: Gold rings, both in everything else.

H - Height: 5' 8"  Is that tall or average?  How tall are you?

I - I am... happy.

J - Job: Wife.  Mama.  Keeper at home.  Teacher.

K - Kids: Three boys!  BOYS!  And THREE of them!  6 years, 3 years, and Mr. In-Utero.  And yes, we are sure he is a boy, too.

L - Living arrangements: Wow, this one is complicated.  Been going back and forth between home-home and home-away-from home for a year and a half now.  Home-away-from-home is closer to Daddy Buffalo's job. Home-home is ... well... home. It is a very interesting situation.

M - Mom's Name: Lisa

N - Nicknames: None.  No nicknames.  How sad.  Not really.

O - Overnight hospital stay other than birth: You mean other than the 90 or so nights I've spent in with Alan?  There was only one (other than birth) when I was the patient.  It was a little over a month after transplant, and Alan was back in the hospital already.  Although I had held up exceptionally well mentally and emotionally throughout the previous year, including those weeks surrounding transplant, my body decided something had to give.  And I experienced pain worse than labor.  And they never found a cause.  And I think I would have wondered if I was just a crazy hypochondriac except for a fabulous doctor tending to me.  She related that the exact same thing had happened to her during medical school.  Even so, it took me several months to admit that the whole thing might have had anything to do with the stress of transplant.

P - Pet Peeve: People driving without headlights at dawn, dusk, and in rain and fog.

Q - Quote from a move: "I'm thirsty!" or "I gotta GO...." or "Got any threeeees?" or "Why couldn't you have dumped her in Pittsburg?" or "Sure, how 'bout a washing machine, too?"  or about a couple of dozen others from That Thing You Do.  Apparently that is a very quotable  movie around our house!

R - Right or Left handed: Right

S - Siblings: One sister, 7 years younger.

T - Time you wake up: 12:00, 2:00, 3:30, 5:00, 6:00.....  It's the third trimester, my friends.

U - Underwear:  What's that supposed to mean?  Yeah, I'm wearing it, if that's what you want to know!

V - Vegetable you dislike: I like them all!!

W - Ways you run late: Can't find shoes, had to iron something, sat around the breakfast table too long, somebody had to go to the bathroom right as we were headed out the door, and, most commonly: For some reason time speeds up from the time we lock the door to the the time we leave the driveway.  Does getting in and buckling up really take that long???

X - X-Rays you've had: I got checked out to for scoliosis every 6 months or so there for a couple of years as a teenager.  It was minor and never progressed or anything.

Y - Yummy food you make: Sour cream chicken enchiladas, crock pot taco beef, crock pot barbecue, chicken under a brick

Z - Zoo favorite: Taking pictures!

Tag 1....

I have gotten behind on a couple of blog tags the last few weeks and thought this holiday week would be a great time to catch up!  So... first up....

Many thanks to  Mirage @ Every Precious Joy for the following award/tag!  It was hard to stick to the 1-word answers... I almost made it... but not quite!

The Rules are....
1. Answer the survey below using only 1 word answers.
2. Pass this along to 3 of your fav. bloggers
3. Alert them you gave them this award
4. Have fun

1. Where is your cellphone? nearby
2. Your hair?
3. Your mom?
4. Your dad?
5. Your fav. food:
allofit ;)
6. Your dream last night: 
7. Your fav. drink: 
8. Your dream/goal:
9. What room are you in:
living room
10. Your hobby?
11. Your fear?
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years?  
13. Where were you last night?
14. Something you aren't?
15. Muffins?
16 Wish item?
housekeeper ;)
17. Where did you grow up?
18. Last thing you did?
19. What are you wearing?
20. Your TV?
21. Your pets?
22. Your friends?
23. Your life?
24. Your mood?
25. Missing someone?
26. Vehicle?
27. Something your not wearing?
28. Your fav. store?
hobby lobby
29. Your fav. color?
30.Last time you laughed?
31. Last time you cried?
32. Your best friend?
33. Fav. place to eat?
just one?!
34. One person who Emails me regularly?
35. Place I go over and over?

Monday, November 23, 2009


Does anyone but me find it ironic that less than 24 hours after gathering together to supposedly share our thankfulness for our many blessings, thousands of people will crowd together and spend untold amounts of money (and acquire who knows how much debt) just to get more stuff?

Now don't get me wrong: I love a shopping and a bargain as much as the next girl, and we have taken advantage of day-after sales on more than one occasion - usually for a certain item or two that we wanted/needed anyway.  I don't even mind the getting up early if it is for a really good deal, or for something really needed or wanted.

But really?  All that running around and money spending... is it really necessary?  Seems such a shame to rush straight from thankfulness to chasing after the material.  Instead of wearing ourselves (and our wallets) thin at the shopping malls, why not spend another precious day with our loved ones?  When it's all said and done, they'll probably remember and treasure the special time baking cookies, or the hilarious afternoon of board games together in November more than any gift you give them in December.  

Friday, November 20, 2009

Random Blast from the Past

Fall 2001

Greg and I had been married one year.

I was in my senior year of college.  After working at a bank for a year after his graduation, Greg had gone back to school to get his teaching degree.

We lived in a cute little house on the downside of a steep hill.

We lived there with a cat much like this one:

Her name was Ivy.  Ivy was much sleeker and trimmer than this kitty.  Nobody but me liked Ivy much.  She was kind of a wild-child, but I blame a lot of that on kitten-hood.  She was about to grow out of it and into being a sweet mellow cat when we moved and she ran away.  I still miss her sometimes!

We, being the sophisticated grown-ups we were, drank a lot of this:

We pretty much kept a pitcher going all the time, to the best of my memory.

Up until Sept 11, 2001 we didn't have cable.  After being in the dark about such a big national catastrophe, we decided to get tv.

Even with it, we spent a lot of evenings eating cereal and playing several rounds of two-person Uno:

We still like to play two-person Uno sometimes before bed.  Some light-hearted him 'n me time before calling it a day.

Or sometimes, when we felt like a good laugh, we would pull out our grammar for some Mad Libs from here:

I can't vouch for anything on the rest of the site, but the 'crazy libs' tend to be pretty funny.  Especially if Greg picks the words.  He's better at that than I am.  But that's okay.  I love to see him laugh!

Of course, not all our evenings were such fun and leisure.  We were both full-time students, I had a part-time job, and we were involved in our church.

We were also involved in something else that took up quite a bit of our time in the fall:

It was a big decision to go back for one more year, but it turned out to be incredibly worth it!  There is no way I can point us out to you, but we're both in there!  Greg is playing melophone, and I am in the colorguard.  Enjoy!

What were you doing in 2001?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thinking about Food

This time next week we will have finished our Thanksgiving meal and settled in for an afternoon of... what?  Bicycle rides in the sunshine?  Game playing?  Naps?  Only time will tell.  

Seeing as how I love food, next week's menu -not the afternoon entertainment - is what's on my mind.

Of course we are planning on the traditional turkey, dressing, gravy & cranberry sauce.

After that?

A sweet potato dish of some kind.  Back in the days when I watched a lot of Food Network, quite a few regulars on there talked about what a travesty it was to put marshmallows on top of anything supposed to be fit for dinner.  Personally?  I don't see a problem with them.  But then there is that crispy, nutty, brown sugar topping that can also top a sweet potato casserole.  Mmm... that one is good too!  How do you top your sweet potatoes?

And since sweet potatoes are a must-have at our thanksgiving, we usually don't add in any other potato.  Even though there was that one year I made the mashed potato/spinach casserole.  And some of my extended family always has potato salad.  Still, to me, having both potatoes seems redundant.  What about you?  Do you serve both?

After the potato decisions have been made, we will also be having a green veggie or two.  We have a broccoli salad that has become a family favorite and is sure to be seen.  It consists of broccoli, raisins, and sunflower seeds, among other things.

Green beans are also usually a given.  While the famous green bean casserole is good, we often opt instead for a garlic/soy sauce green bean dish.  

There have been years we have also had a steaming serving of greens with our thanksgiving meal.  It seems so untraditional, and so very southern, but I always like it!

Add to that plate a jello salad or two and a hot roll, and there you have our basic thanksgiving dinner!

Served alongside a glass of sweetened iced tea, and followed up with pecan and pumpkin pies!  

Of course, there are always surprises, as at least one of us inevitably gets carried away at the last minute and throws in a corn casserole, or macaroni & cheese, or brussels sprouts or an extra dessert or two.  But you won't see me complaining. :)

So what makes your thanksgiving dinner?  I could always use new ideas.  You know... in case I get carried away at the last minute. :)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Thankfulness Tree

It seems important to me to remember in this time of turkeys and pilgrims, pumpkins and indian corn, to remind ourselves and our little ones that the whole idea behind THANKSgiving is thankfulness.

For us, a daily add-on crafty-type activity helps accomplish that best.

For the last three years, Dale and I have made a turkey, adding a tail feather a day with something he is thankful for written on it.  On really creative years the tail feathers have come from a paper chain counting down the days until Thanksgiving.  

(Complete instructions and pictures for one of our Thankful Turkeys can be found here.)  

Since Alan is old enough to understand thankfulness this year I decided to go with one activity they could share.  Ok, so they could have shared a turkey, but I was itching for something different.

So we are making a thankful tree!

First, I cut two identical tree shapes from a tall cardboard cereal box.  Free-handed the first one and traced it for the second.  Now that I have made one, I know that as long as the bottoms halves are identical, there can be some variation in the tops.  Oh well - identical works too.

Next, I cut straight down from the middle fork of the top to about halfway down one tree, and straight up the bottom about halfway up the other tree.

Then I painted both sides of each piece with brown acrylic.  I had help for this step.  :)

I gave the shiny side two coats and what had been the inside of the box only one coat.  Some of the lettering still shows through a little, but it gives it character.  :)  And I didn't want to soak my cardboard!

Once both pieces were completely dry, I slid them together using the slits I cut earlier.  We now had a 3-d tree!

For the thankful part, each boy names one thing each day he is thankful for.  We stop where we are and pray, thanking God for that blessing, then write it on a leaf and glue it to the tree.  

I also write who said what, since it is fun to go back and look at previous years' blessings from your kids' perspectives.  Our first two leaves were green, but the rest will be red, orange, and yellow.  By the time Thanksgiving day rolls around, we will have a pretty fall tree for a centerpiece, and a host of blessings we have taken a moment to be thankful for!

Click here for more Works-For-Me Wednesday tips.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Celebrating Alan

My littlest (soon to be middlest) turned three this weekend!

And while it is certainly worth the mention what a little miracle he is, and the incredible joy and laughter he brings to our home daily, I thought I'd just share a few pics from Alan's special day.

First up: helping Mama put the finishing touches on the birthday cake.  Yes, my hair is a mess and the kitchen a wreck, but I couldn't not share this one:

Don't get the idea it's easy doing detail work in icing with a small person leaning on your head.  

And.... the finished product:

My most difficult birthday cake to date.  

But that's ok, because Alan liked it:

Birthday boys also like balloons:

And presents!

And does anybody remember the post from a couple of weeks ago when we told Dale to close his eyes and hold out his hands and nobody noticed till later the sweetness and sadness of Alan standing beside him doing the exact same thing?


Well here's the resolution to that:

Can you tell he liked it?  

We all headed right outside and both boys hopped on their new bikes!  I had to show this picture... I think Dale looks so handsome:

Thanks to everyone who came and celebrated Alan with us.
Happy birthday, dear Alan!  We all love you very, very much!

Saturday, November 14, 2009


When I posted my Owl study post earlier this week I forgot to include the link for a live webcam inside a barn owl's nest!

We check in on the owl every few days.  Sometimes she is out and gone, sometimes she is sleeping.  But every so often you can catch her stretching and scratching and getting all comfy again between naps.

If you would like to visit 'our' owl, too, you can do so HERE.  While you are there you might enjoy looking around the rest of Cornell's site - it is one of our favorites!  But more on that in next week's bird study post.  ;)

Edited to add:
This video has worked for me for over 2 weeks, I promise.  I can't believe the day I put the link here it isn't working!  Sorry 'bout that!  I'm going to leave it up in hopes the video feed will be up again soon.

Friday, November 13, 2009

A Random, Rambly Post About Being 7 Months Pregnant

Have you noticed the counter on my sidebar lately?  

Sixty days.

Sixty days, y'all.  That's not a lot.

In a way, it seems like I've been pregnant forever, but for the most part time is flying by.  And the closer we get to January, the faster time is going.

I am so not in a hurry for this baby to get here.  Sure I want to see his face and kiss his feet and get to know a new little person.  But honestly?  A baby in the womb sure is easier to care for than a brand-new one in the hand.  Or the crib.  Or whatever.  

Sure I have my share of pregnancy inconveniences and aches and pains that I'll be glad to see go.  I'm not going to detail them here because #1 - do you really want to know?  and #2 - I have relatives that read this blog.  People I will have look in the eye at Christmas dinner or the next family reunion.  

I'd rather not be wondering if speaking to me is bringing to mind all those private pregnancy details.  And yes, I would be more comfortable sharing such details anonymously on the world wide web than I would with people I actually know.  I'm just weird like that, I guess.

I've been keeping up with a few homeschooling blog families that have added a new baby recently.  Enjoying admiring their newborn pictures - they both happen to have boys!  
And curious to see how they are adjusting.  Our little one is due to arrive around January 14, after we will have had:
A one-week break from school for Thanksgiving, quickly followed by a 3-week break for Christmas.  Then an in-between week in January in which we might or might not do school.  

And then how long will it be before we start back?

We could easily be 'out' of school for 2 months in the middle of the winter.  But you know.... so what?  We'll get back to it eventually.  Maybe sooner than I think.  But even if it's later, the worst that could happen is we finish up our school year in July.  And who will care?  We'll just call ourselves year-round schoolers!

Our incredible church family gave us a shower last week.  Are you supposed to have showers for a third baby?  That fact didn't seem to bother them a bit.  They rolled out the punch and the cookies and the sweetest presents.  They really are the greatest.

And then there has been the issue of naming this child.  The first two weren't so hard to name... what happened??  But I think we might finally actually maybe have one picked out.  But I'm not telling yet.  Because I might change my mind.  Like I have 57 times already.

The big Rearranging of Furniture is coming up soon.  Daddy Buffalo will be home the entire week of Thanksgiving, so the transformation from play-room to baby's room will take place then.  Thanks to a giant fabric mural thing that I bought for Dale and Alan's room, they are actually excited about the switch-up.  In their mind, they aren't losing a play-room... they are gaining a huge colorful city-scape wall-hanging!  Whew.  I'm certainly glad for that! 

So.  There you have it.  All the random rambly-ness I can manage to spill in one post.

Back to our regularly scheduled daily lives for the next post.

What's new with you?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

For the Birds - Week 2: Owls, Hawks & Eagles

For Week 2 of our bird study we took a quick look at birds of prey, learning mostly about owls, and touching on hawks and eagles as well.

As usual, we started with a stack of books from the library.

A Toad for Tuesday was a great fiction read-aloud, and About Owls was an excellent non-fiction...well ... about owls!

I decided to try something different from our usual narration this week, and it was a hit!  Instead of having Dale recite owl facts to me, I asked him to tell me a story about an owl, including accurate facts.  He did a great job, including an illustration, and had fun with it, too!  He colored a realistic picture of an owl from here, which we glued to the back of his story.  That page went into his notebook to sum up our study of owls.

For fun, he and Alan each made one of these (found here):

This would be a good place to note that Alan had his own stack of owl story-books from the library.  I like including him when we read about a topic.  I think I've mentioned that before.  :)

After owls we read a book about eagles which gave a short description of their habits, etc, along with highlighting their significance throughout history.

We also had a nature book about hawks, and one titled Hawk in the Sky, by Franklin Russell.  I cannot say enough good things about Hawk in the Sky.  Originally published in 1965, it is a four-chapter, 60 page narrative-nonfiction detailing the life cycle of a hawk.  With illustrations on each page and an engaging story-line, it both held Dale's attention and gave us lots of facts about hawks!

Apparently this was the week for trying new things, because instead of our usual drawing or coloring for science, I decided to have Dale try his hand at tracing.  Once again - he loved it!

(flowers in the foreground courtesy of a 'Just Because' bouquet from my sweet husband!)

He traced, then colored, an eagle onto the top of a notebooking page we titled Hawks and Eagles.  After narrating a few details about each bird, that one went into his notebook and successfully wrapped up our week on birds of prey!

Next week: Cardinals
For week one, click here.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

WFMW - My 6 yr old does my laundry! Well.... almost.

Most of Dale's household chores don't come on regular days or regular times, but as we see the need and hand out the assignment. Someday I'd like to move on to a more predictable system, but for now this is working for us.

One of the 'assignments' we hand out is laundry. I would never have thought of having a child so young run the washing machine (he was 5 when we started) but got the inspiration from one of my first blog friends,
Keri Mae. If her little boy was doing laundry, then mine could too!

And I'm so glad we did, because it is one of his favorite jobs, almost always met with a 'yay!' instead of a whine. (Must be a guy/machinery thing.)

Here's how we do it:

I have the laundry presorted and ask Dale to wash a specific load. He can take it from there with the numbered instructions I have posted over the washing machine:

1. Get soap.
2. Push in knob.
3. Turn to 'Light'.
4. Pull knob out.
5. Pour in soap.
6. Put in clothes.
7. Close lid.

Of course, your instructions might be different based on your machine and how you like to do your laundry. Me? I'm not picky. I just want clean clothes!

We did the first several loads together, with me walking him through the process, and showing him how much soap to get and how to load the clothes. And I still check in periodically to make sure things are going as they should, although I'm usually not very far away anyway.

If asked, Dale can also empty the clothes from the washer (with the help of a stool) and into the dryer, though I usually do this step with him or by myself.

There are a few things (towels, socks, etc) that he is sometimes asked to sort, fold, and put away. But that isn't nearly as much fun as running that machine that is bigger than he is. Yeah... definitely must be a guy thing!

It has been beyond helpful to have another person in the house that can be so much help to us with such a big job, and that Works for Me!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

You know...

... you don't get enough quiet time home alone when the sound of the printer starting up makes you jump. out. of. your. skin....

...and you were the one that told it to 'print' .67 seconds before.

I'm just sayin'.