Friday, December 31, 2010

Christmas Morning....

....started at 5:30 a.m.  Not because of the excitement of exchanging gifts or finding out what Santa brought the children, or even because of what Christmas really represents.  Our morning began early because that's when Katie started vomiting.  By noon, she was done, but was very tired.  She still wanted everyone to open gifts but the pictures clearly portray how sick the poor little girl was...
She tried to be excited.  She tried to be happy.  She apologized over and over.  I felt so bad for her.  She would open a couple things, then sit or lay down; or was off to the bathroom for another session with Mr. Comode.  She eventually became so exhausted that she fell asleep on the bathroom floor and I gently placed a pillow under her head...
Thankfully, it wasn't a long, drawn-out virus.  But I know from experience that those first six hours seemed like an eternity to Katie.  She did perk up toward evening and we spent the evening with my family and managed to get a few good pictures (in front of my parents' nice fat tree!)...
(picture of our kids and their cousins)

Katie, of course, sacked out early.  Over the next two days, her appetite gradually returned and she was able to enjoy her new things.

This is our skinny tree.
At first, liked it.  It's pre-lit, after all!  Who doesn't like a pre-lit tree?  But it's too thin for me.  I like a big fat tree!  The trouble is that our room is small.  But next year, we'll try a new plan because I like my fat tree! :)

Emily said that this was the best Christmas ever!  Words every parent likes to hear.

Everyone got homemade quilts from my mother-in-law.  She did a beautiful job!  We had Christmas with them on Christmas Eve, so everyone was healthy and happy! :)

Even Maggie got a quilt!

My sister-in-law, who lives 400 miles or so away, stayed with us through Christmas. She and I managed to find a little time to sew together and made a couple shopping bags from scrap fabric I had in a box (pictures later).  I've already put them to good use!

Our Christmas Eve service at church was like no other.  I love the way they incorporated the children into the service by giving them all small bells that went with a meaningful story.

This is a picture of Emily at my extended family Christmas party.  I know it's a little out of place in this post, but it was too cute to not include!

All in all, it was a strange, but wonderful Christmas.  We are blessed by God through others, and I hope that in some small way, we blessed Him, too.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

More on Free or Cheap Decorations

My previous post has a picture of the table signs I made for our Bible study group, which was a free project for me since I already had everything I needed for it.  All it took was paper, a printer, and a brown ink pad!

I also mentioned a centerpiece but didn't have a picture at the time.  Now I do, so here it is...

In this next picture, we cut wrapping paper to fit inside a picture frame and used it as a backdrop for the twigs, berries & pine cones, another almost free decoration!

Not pictured is a candle that I wrapped in Christmas paper to dress it up and tied it off with a bit of raffia.

Although this next picture has nothing to do with Christmas decorations, it has everything to do with how two godly women have decorated my life!  These ladies are among the best of my friends and mentors.  I've learned so much from and through them and am so thankful God has graced me with their presence!  I love these ladies to pieces!!!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Believe God Decoration

I made these for our Bible study Christmas celebration...

They are NOT wood.  I printed the words on light brown cardstock and then rubbed my dark brown ink pad over each one to similate wood grain and give it a bit of a distressed look.  When we are finished with them, I may frame one for my house.

For the centerpieces, we cut small branches from pine trees and layed them flat and then placed a chunky candle in the center with red berries & pine cones stuck in here and there.  I wish I had taken a picture of them.  I'll get pictures during the celebration in the morning (Lord willing - we're supposed to get dumped on with a bunch of snow tonight).

Monday, December 13, 2010

Last Week Before Break!

With this being our last week of school before we break for Christmas, I thought I'd write myself a motivational post!  In the process, maybe I'll motivate others too.

I commit myself to:
  • start each day with a personal devotion.
  • stay focused.  Maybe we'll finish the week early! :)
  • not fret over a coat that was not hung up, or shoes that were left out.
  • give all forms of electronics time off while working through school.  (Really!)
  • not stay up too late. (Not counting tonight, of course. :))
  • not watch Lost unless there really is time for it without staying up too late.
  • sit down while I eat. (This is hard for me during breakfast & lunch.)
  • eat healthy every day.
  • go to the gym at least 3 days this week.
  • give God all the glory for any motivation found in this week!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


We went to see "A Christmas Carol" today at the Playhouse.  It was an outstanding performance and I met a very nice couple who sat next to us.  This may be my all-time favorite play!  So, I'm not really saying "Ba-hum-bug!"

What else is going on?  Well, we finally put the tree up!  We have two trees and thought we would use the bigger one this year, until hubs set it up and we remembered that it isn't pre-lit.  Strike 1.  He pulled out the lights, plugged them to test them and half on each strand were out.  Strike 2.  After mulling over it for a little while, the tree really didn't fit well in the place we decided it shoud go.  Strike 3.  It's out!  So, that tree came down and other one came up.  It is pre-lit and went up in a matter of about 3 minutes since it's on hinges.  During the "ups & downs" of the trees, I sat cozily on the couch watching while eating dark chocolate M&M's!

I've done very little shopping and have two grab bag gifts to purchase before Friday!  The few times I was able to look for a gift, nothing grabbed my eye as I quickly made my way through the store.  Why does it seem so difficult to choose a $10 grab bag gift?

I'm seriously considering making this our last week of school until January since I'm feeling very overwhelmed with everything.  But, it's likely that the thought of getting behind in school will overwhelm me too, and I'll end up forcing myself (and the poor children) to continue for one more week!  But, it will all work out, right?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Decorating for Christmas

So I'm starting to think that we should start decorating for Christmas right after Halloween.  Why?  Because we always wait until after Thanksgiving and for the past few years something has prevented us from getting around to it when we want to.  For example, I've been sick all this week.  And for some reason, when I'm sick, the house gets more chaotic than usual, which means that when I feel better, my time will be spent cleaning!  I absolutely cannot get any decorations out until the house to clean!  Can anyone relate???  I have managed to keep up with the laundry and have kept the bathrooms clean, but only because I don't like germs!  I despise them!  So here I sit with a headache, sore throat, sniffling & sneezing, wondering when everything will get done.

What about school, you might wonder?  Well, it's gotten about half done this week.  Katie, being in first grade and having the lighter load, is staying on task.  Poor Emily, on the other hand, is getting the shaft (although I think she's pleased with the extra time off!).  I just don't have the energy.  I'm trying.  We're looping this week, doing what we can each day, trying to stay afloat.  But these things happen right?  Friday doesn't look too promising either because it's highly likely that I'll be going to the doctor in the morning and the kids are going to a Roman Feast at a friends house in the afternoon.  Now I'm feeling behind!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

How We Celebrate Christmas

I copied this from another blog and thought, why not?  So here it goes...

All you ever wanted to know about how we celebrate Christmas

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? Hot chocolate with whipped cream and mini chocolate chips!  I also enjoy a warm cup of spiced cider.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?  Wrapped, unless they are too big (like a bike).

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? White on tree.  We've always had white outside until last year, we decided to explore the world of color!

4. Do you hang mistletoe? Sometimes, when I remember it.

5. When do you put your decorations up? Oh, a little here and a little there.  Lights outside are usually hung before Thanksgiving or right after.  The tree goes up the first week in December. 

6. What is your favorite holiday dish? I love sweetened sweet potatoes with apples & pineapples baked in with them.

7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child? Driving around looking at Christmas lights & displays, a tradition that carried on to our children.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? I don't understand this question! :)

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? Yes. Usually PJ's or fun socks. :)

10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree? Eclectically.  It has a variety of homemade ornaments mixed with store bought ornaments, bows, sometimes ribbon, sometimes cranberry garland, sometimes strung popcorn, a lighted star topper, and a homemade tree skirt.

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it? Love the first few snowfalls, then I'm done with it and ready for Spring!

12. Can you ice skate? Sort of.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift? I remember many favorties.  A doll that looked a lot like me, a bike, synthesizer, my own phone, Barbie pool set, Barbie van.  Gee, there were so many great gifts!

14. What's the most important thing about the Holidays for you? Spending time together with family and friends, reflecting on the ultimate gift in Jesus.

15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert? Baked Alaska Cake.  Sooooo YUMMY!!!!  But I also enjoy a nice scoop of peppermint stick ice cream!

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? Decorating the tree to the sound of Christmas music and then watching Christmas Vacation multiple times throughout the season. (I know, it's not the Christian movie you would like to hear about, but we like to laugh!)

17. What tops your tree? A lighted star.

18. Which do you prefer giving or Receiving? I like both!  But if I had to choose, I'd say giving because I carefully choose gifts and love watching recipients open them!

19. What is your favorite Christmas Song? Carol of the Bells. But there are MANY others I really like too!

20. Candy Canes: Yuck or Yum? Love the soft ones that just melt in your mouth!

21 Favorite Christmas Show? A Christmas Carol at the Playhouse!  Also love the classics like Charlie Brown Christmas & Rudolph.

22. Saddest Christmas Song? I don't listen to sad Christmas songs but that one called Christmas Shoes is a killer.

Copy to your blog to share your holiday spirit!

Thanksgiving Week

We took the entire week off last week and travelled to Nashville to tour the Opryland Hotel...

Absorbed a little history at the Hermitage (home of Andrew Jackson)...
Huge Ash Tree

The 8000+ Square Foot Mansion

The Smokehouse

We listened to an audio tour along the way and Katie was showing us what she learned.

Emily was also very much into the audio tour.  It was nice that they had a version for children that was simplified and easier for them to understand.  It was also a bit more entertaining!

The Jackson Tomb

Slave House
(previously occupied by the Jackson's before the mansion was built)

Inside a Slave House

Taking a break!

Spring House

Trail leading to land where field slaves once lived.

Katie looking into the window of a slave house.

The huge trees provide a canopy over the path back to the mansion.  Jason and the kids were waiting, somewhat patiently, while I trailed behind taking pictures.

We had a beautiful day!

Aside from the historical tour, we enjoyed fun festivities at Jellystone campground, complete with inflatable bounce houses & slides, a spider jump, carriage ride through a musical light show, Santa shop, and campfire.  It was one of the best camping trips we've ever had!

We spent Thanksgiving with my 98 year old grandma and over 70 other family members in Southern Illinois.  And we can't forget the shopping on Black Friday!  It was a fantastic week!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Weekly Wrap-Up: Progress!

Monday was our last day of co-op until February.  In some ways it seems like it just started.  It was a good session.  The girls learned a lot from their Apologia & Magic School Bus science classes.  For that reason, we haven't done much science at home, except for the pyramid projects because they were really cool and go with our history lessons.  But now, we'll get back to doing science at home, so prepare yourself to see more pictures on my blog! 

We had a short day on Tuesday, partly because I wasn't feeling motivated, and partly because I had a dentist appointment and errands to run.  Yes, I finally went to the dentist to have the bonding replaced on my tooth!  He numbed me this time so that he could dig a little deeper to grab the bonding better.  I really hope this is the last time I'm there for this tooth!

After the dentist appointment, we went to the store for new Christmas lights.  Now for the daunting task of putting them up!

We're in week 10 of MFW Creation to the Greeks.  Our fascination with Ancient history continues to grow.  MFW blends the history books so well with the Bible lessons.  This is more than the Sunday school version of Bible stories!  We are learning history through the Bible and loving it!  This curriculum is making a huge difference in the progress we're making in school this year.  It's such a nice change!  I'm sure that my maturing children helps too!  Emily finished her math book and I have all lessons planned until we break for Christmas. Ahhh, accomplishment!

Wednesday was busy, as usual.  We got through school, the kids had some play time, Emily had gymnastics, and Katie had musical practice.  I did a little shopping while the kids were at their activities.  Don't get too excited though, I only had an hour! 

I felt rushed on Thursday because my in-laws planned a visit with us in the afternoon.  The house was a wreck!  Dishes everywhere, toys all over, dirty laundry.....  So, the first thing we did was home economics!  While the kids picked up their stuff, I thoroughly cleaned the main bathroom.  (I have to put a plug in for Green Works, my new favorite cleaner!  It's environmentally friendly and leaves my bathroom & kitchen smelling clean & fresh like nothing else I've ever tried!)  The biggest job was the kitchen though.  But it was all conquered and it felt good to get it all done!

We had just enough time to complete a full day of lessons.  I can't believe we finished without "cramming."  I'm refusing to do that this year!  This has been our best year so far and I don't want to rush through it just to "get it done."  One day at a time!

I'm more and more amazed at how quickly Katie is picking up on reading.  She almost always makes a good effort and often figures it out on her own.  The MFW 1st Grade Bible Reader is perfect for her.  She loves that she can color the illustrations herself, which gives her a sense of ownership and aids in her desire to read it.  She also likes the Bible notebook and is still loving math.

Emily is now working on lessons in her new math book, she's not griping as much about writing, and is doing much better with spelling since we switched to Sequential Spelling.  The Spectrum book has been set aside for the time being (maybe forever).  She learns the words better when they are grouped in word families.  It's a remarkable difference!

The second I jumped in the shower, my inlaws arrived.  But they understood, so I carried on and even took a little extra time since the kids were occupied with them and not bugging me in the bathroom!  It was a rare and cherished moment!

I'm not sure where my energy came from on Thursday night, but I sure was thankful for it!  I made a pot of chili and a big pot of veggie soup.  The house smelled delightful. :)

Today, Friday, is a bit low-key.  We don't have much school left on our agenda, which is a good thing because we have lots to do today.  Christmas lights and running errands are at the top of the list.  Although, I'm not sure how much we will actually accomplish because I have a bit of a belly ache and Katie has an ugly cough.  I'm praying!

I didn't get a chance to write a wrap-up for last week, but I don't recall anything outstanding happening, so we'll just let that one go!  All I can say is that it, like the others, was a great week! :)

More Weekly Wrap-Up

Thursday, November 18, 2010

It's Here!!!

My wassail spice blend arrived today!  Yay!!!  I've already had a cup of cider with the spice mixed in and it was so yummy!  Oh how I've missed it.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Wassail...and more!

Last week's weekly wrap-up came and went before I even had a chance to add mine!  So this week will just have to cover both.

We had a huge 2-day gymnastics meet over the weekend so there was little time for anything else.  It was great though.  We had so much fun watching these girls compete.  They continue to improve each time.

I've been longing for my Bible study group.  I haven't attended the last session or the current one because of school.  Last year was a difficult year because we had so much in our school schedule.  This year, our load is lighter and I now realize that I could have done the Bible study.  They'll be starting another one in January, so I may rejoin then, I hope!

I'm very excited to share that I just placed my order for my all-time favorite Wassail Spice Blend from the Biltmore Estate on-line shop.  It's the best ever!!!  I ordered five of them so that I'm sure to have some for guests and some for gift-giving.  YUM!!!

Today was our last day of co-op until next year.  I think everyone is glad for the break.  The next session starts in February, which I'm not sure if we'll attend or not.  I'm always so wishy-washy over co-op.  The kids love it, but it's another expense and a day out during winter months when illnesses linger.  I try to avoid taking my kids out as much as possilbe during the winter, especially with the asthma and the fact that Emily ended up in the hospital last year with pneumonia (again).  But the classes they started this session are continuing next session.  They are good classes.  But is it worth the extra risk of illness and the added expense?

How many of you attend a co-op, or some other classes outside the home?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Who are these kids?

Before I even stepped out of bed this morning, my kids had completed half their school work!  This has never happened before and I have to say, I liked it!  We finished by lunch time and since we're in the Pizza Hut Book It program, and the kids earned their first pizza, we went there for lunch.  It was a wonderful day!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Ancient Egypt on Planet Green

One of the channels we get on Direct TV is called Planet Green.  Tonight, it aired a couple of shows about Ancient Egypt.  One was about King Tut's tomb, originally aired in 2006, and the other was about discoveries in Egypt.  It was so cool and Emily was so fascinated to see an expedition about what she's been learning in school!  I recorded the second show so we can continue watching it this week.  The best part was that we actually knew what the expeditionists were talking about!  I just love learning with my kids!!!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Weekly Review: Blessed

This week, I felt almost overwhelmed with gratefullness.  Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and since it's soon approaching, I'm reminded of all that I have to be thakful for.  This day alone (Friday) presented itself with many blessings of which I am deeply grateful.  The kids and I spent extra time in prayer today and we got to experience immediate answers, of which we praised God for!

The entire week went really well, overall.  Monday was co-op, as usual.  We only have two more weeks of co-op and then we break until February.  I like our co-op schedule.  Not too long, not too short.  But, it's still a day out of the house, which presents some challenges on busy weeks.

This is one project that Emily made at co-op on Monday.  It is a "replica" of an old stone carving.  They used floral foam and plasic knives for carving tools.  It was a messy project, but the kids had a lot of fun with it!  We decided that the boy who carved the one on the left took on a more impressionist approach!

Tuesday was a motivational challenge for me.  But once I got started, I had a hard time stopping!  The kids hate it when that happens!  Ha-ha.

Wednesday was productive
but I felt all out of sorts on Thursday.  I felt like everything was a challenge!  Not for the kids, but for me!  What is with that?  I just felt discombobulated all day long.  Then, I realized what part (if not most) of the problem was.  Our school room was too messy and cluttered for me to think clearly.  Once I got it straightened up, the day went a bit better.

Friday was wonderful.  My new "mobile" method of schooling is working out great.  Oh, did I not mention that?  Well, I have a rolling crate that wasn't getting much use.

We sometimes take it to co-op to cart our lunch and books in.  Otherwise, it stayed folded up in the closet.  Not anymore!  I filled it with a Bible, and other reading texts, along with our schedule, so that I can easily roll it from the "classroom" to the living room or bedroom where we can all comfortably sit and relax during this portion of our schooling.  Sometimes the girls color while I read to them, or they work on another simple project, just to keep their hands busy.  A latch-hook rug was the project of choice for Emily this week.  She's done with it now though and is already wanting another one!

Katie had fun playing math games...

Friday evening was equally as wonderful.  I spent a few hours with my Barbies (my girlfriends - yes, we all have our very own Barbie names!) and it was just wonderful.  I'm incredibly blessed to have a circle of friends who love the Lord.  We stamped some cards, ate some soup, and had great conversation.  After leaving there, I went to a family birthday party, continuing to feel blessed.  What a glorious night!

Saturday will bring some busyness.  I am making a birthday cake for my niece and the party starts early in the evening.  I'm sure it will be a great day as well!

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