Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Year's Resolution - Pictures

It's not too early for resolutions, right?  Here's a biggie for me.  My goal is to print all desired digital pictures to date.  We are talking over 8 years worth!!!  GASP!!!  I know, I know!  I did print a few here and there, but mostly for giving to others.  This will be a big job and one in which I will be looking for bargains on 4x6 prints.  I can't even calculate the cost of this project!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Dog Vs. Helicopter

Hubs got his own toy for Christmas - a remote control helicopter. Our dog just isn't quite sure what to think about it!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The past couple of months have been a roller coaster ride.  This is why I haven't blogged much.  It's hard to blog when so much is going on and life is already passing by so quickly.  Sometimes, I feel like my head is spinning.

My brother's mother-in-law passed away a couple months ago.  She had Parkinson's and it finally took its toll.  My 99 year old grandma, who lives 350 miles away from me, and whom I dearly love, is not doing well.  She has a closing heart valve and melanoma on her face.  The heart valve has been closing for years and I don't think doctors expected her to live as long as she has.  She's a tough lady though.  Having birthed and raised 12 children (no twins) would make a person stronger, I would imagine.  Either that, or it would kill ya!  My grandma still lives in her home, but this has been an issue since she needs round the clock care.  She doesn't think she does, but, she does!

Just after we returned from our second trip to my Grandma's (within 2 weeks), we were told that my aunt passed away.  She lives near my grandma, so the decision to not attend the funeral was a hard one, but necessary.  Hubs was out of town on business and it would have been too hard for me to make that trip again, only two days after we just returned.

Then, just a few days later, a mom from our former co-op had a massive heart attack.  She was revived after going six minutes without oxygen.  After several days, the ventilator was removed and she passed.  Her daughter saw the whole thing happen.  She was homeschooled until she graduated in 2010.  I can't imagine the heartbreak this family is going through.

In that same week, a farmer, well-known in the community, passed away.  He was only in his late 40's and left a wife and five children behind.  My grief over all these losses could be unbearable if I allowed them to be.  I cling to God and ask Him to never let me take any moment for granted. 

So, as you can imagine, school has been tough for me.  It's been hard to focus.  But, we're meandering through.  And when I look back, I realize that even though we aren't as far along as I wanted to be by Christmas, we learned so much!  And it was all God's perfect timing.  We completed Augustus Caesar's World last week, which ended at the birth of Christ.  Well, it briefly covered portions of Jesus' life and ministry, but the timing of His birth was perfect.

I'm so glad we stuck with reading that book.  We skimmed over parts of it, due to violence, or when I got that deer-caught-in-headlights look.  Trust me, parts of it was no picnic to read, or to hear!  But other parts made up for it.  It's strange how that book flows... or doesn't flow.  Some chapters were so easy to read, and others weren't.  I wonder what the next book will be like.

We haven't stuck with reading the read-alouds.  The Bronze Bow was so interesting, too.  I can't remember how many chapters we read, but with all the chaos, we stopped reading it.  The girls have been reading their own books.  Emily has even been reading much of our Bible lessons.  Katie is doing much better as well.  I think it's finally starting to really click with her.  Don't get too excited, she still has work to do.  But, I'm amazed at her progress!

If I don't catch up before Christmas, I hope it's a great celebration for everyone!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Bare with me.  I'm just a little behind on posting. :)

Our Thanksgiving was an unusual one.  We always leave town for this holiday to spend it with my extended family, including my 99 year old grandma.  This year was no exception.
We started off in Nashville, a tradition we started a few years ago.  We enjoyed spending some time at Yogi Bear's Jellystone Campground even though it rained almost the whole time we were there!  We made the best of it and had a great time.

The campground had a beautiful display of Christmas lights set to music, and a huge tent set up with a small ferris wheel, bounce house, spider jump, and slide.  Kettle corn, hot chocolate, funnel cakes, and other yummy treats completed the festivities.

We also went to Opryland Hotel to see all the beauty it holds inside and out...

This tree is HUGE and beautiful!!!

Look how pretty...

This year, Opryland had colorful sets displayed for movie characters...


Kung Fu Panda:


Puss in Boots:

Wednesday morning, we pulled out and headed to my grandma's in Southern Illinois.  We set up at the campground there and waited for my parents and brother to arrive.
Since my grandma wasn't feeling well and turned in early, we went on to dinner to our favorite pizza place in the area.  After a stop at Walmart, we headed back to the campground.  That's when we hit the deer.  It was really late and the deer seemed to come out of nowhere.  The truck wasn't operable so we had to have it towed.  Thankfully, my aunt graciously lent us her vehicle while we visited. 

My grandma is on an emotional roller coaster and doesn't feel well most of the time.  She has skin cancer on her face and a closing heart valve.  She didn't come to Thanksgiving dinner, which is the first one she has ever missed.  It was sad not having her there.  I counted only 48 people at dinner (I might have missed a few), which is low (by almost half) compared to other years.

We did a little Black Friday shopping.  There is a LifeWay Christian Store nearby that had some great deals.  Jason dropped Emily and I off at the door.  She went one way with part of my list and I went the other.  We were in and out of the store in 13 minutes!  We went for breakfast at Cracker Barrel and went to a couple more stores before heading over to my grandma's.  She was feeling much better and wanted us to come over for a Thanksgiving meal on Friday.  She and my aunt had cooked a turkey on Thursday and we all made the side dishes.  It was a fantastic day!  I felt so blessed.

This is my grandma with our kids and my brother's kids:

Since the truck would not be fixed before we had to go home, we left it and the camper, there.  I'm so thankful to have so many generous family members who offered and was able to help.  My cousin's husband towed our camper to their house, where it stayed for two weeks.  And my parents let us drive their car home (they towed it behind their motor home) and keep it until we got the truck back.

We drove back to Illinois this past weekend and got the truck and camper.  It was nice to visit with family again, even though it was just for a short time.

Interestingly, on the way there, we were directed to detour around the highway due to an undetermined amount of cattle loose on the road!  At least five of them were hit by vehicles, but thankfully, only one person was treated with minor injuries.  While travelling that stretch of the highway on our journey back, we saw blood stains all over the road.  I later found read that it was black Angus and it was dark when some were hit.  You think a deer is hard to see on the road at night, imagine a black cow!  It was crazy.

Sadly, when we returned home, I received a message from my cousin informing me that my aunt had just passed away.  In addition, a mom in our former co-op had a massive heart attack and is in ICU, not expected to recover.

This has been a very trying season for our family but I'm thankful that the Lord continues to comfort and bless us with His word, family, friends, and bits of enjoyment sprinkled in here and there.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Deer Caught in Headlights

Twas the eve of Thanksgiving
and all down the road
Not a creature was stirring
except for the.....

Big, fat deer that put a big fat dent in our car as we drove down the highway!  Busted headlights, damaged hood, leaking radiator... even the passenger side door is damaged!  The cop said we are lucky the deer didn't come through the windshield or the side window.  We are all shaken, but we're ok.  For this, I am thankful.  Truly.  Had we been driving my car, I'm certain that the deer would have gone through our window and we would have had injuries.

The thing that complicates this situation is that we are out of town for Thanksgiving, visiting family.  We towed our travel trailer, which is at the campground.  Thankfully, my parents are also here and they were able to get us back to the campground.  I have no idea how much damage was done, when the claims adjuster can look at the truck, or when the it can get fixed.  And, I am a bit sore.  The kids are upset - it really scared them and they were also upset to think that the deer probably died.  It kept running after we hit it.  There's no way it will live through that.  Chunks of its fur is stuck between damaged parts on the truck.  This is the first accident we've ever been in with the kids and it really shook us all up.

So, if you take time to read this, please say a prayer for our family.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Weekly Wrap-Up: Socrates, Obstacle, & Cooking

We are so behind in history that I don't know if we should skip, summarize, or continue readings as scheduled.  It's been crazy around here.  But we are keeping up with basics which is the most important to me.
This week, we learned about Greek Philosophers.  I honestly think the only piece of information my kids will remember is that Socrates was a short, bald, fat, ugly man!  And here are our drawings to prove it!

This is Emily's first drawing...

And this is Emily's second...

This is Katie's, and we think it kind of looks like Nicholas Cage!...

This one is mine...

And Daddy even made his contribution, which I think kind of looks like Gargamel on The Smurfs!...

Are those not the funniest drawings you've ever seen?!!  We had a lot of fun with Socrates!

One obstacle that has been hindering our progress is the intense pain in my back caused by a pulled muscle near my shoulder blade.  At least I think it's a pulled muscle.  I have been too stubborn to see a doctor.  I pulled it about a month ago.  It got somewhat better and is now bad again.  I did a lot of lifting & moving around last weekend for the gymnastics meet our gym hosted.  I should not have done so much and really hope I didn't severely damage the muscle.  Thankfully, I'm not cooking Thanksgiving dinner.  But, I did manage to whip out some goodies on Thursday...

These are only half the apples I sliced & bagged for the freezer...

This is what's left of the applesauce I made...

I filled these containers with Chicken Tortilla Soup that is SOUPer yummy!!!...

And I put about 5 pounds of chicken in the crockpot with some Montreal Chicken Seasoning and chicken broth and shredded it all when it was done cooking.  Another yummy meal!

All of the cooking and cleaning I did Thursday afternoon and evening was really NOT good for my back.  I was in bad shape by the time I went to bed.  As hard as it was to sit on bleachers for several hours during Emily's gymnastics meet on Saturday, it was probably good for me to just be still.  That is very hard for me. :)

I can't go without sharing my cell phone incident.  At the gymnastics meet, we sat on the top row of the bleachers so that we would have a wall to lean against.  My phone slipped through my lap and tumbled (literally) onto the floor under the bleachers!  I just knew it was toast after that fall.  Katie and her friend climbed under the bleachers to pick it up and found it, face down, in three pieces.  Miraculously, it's working fine and doesn't have a scratch on it!  For some reason, Hubs insists that I get a case for it.  I can't imagine why!??

I'm looking forward to spending Thanskgiving with my family and taking the week off school!

Linked up with Weekly Wrap-Up

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Weekly Wrap-up: A New Normal?

I'm really starting to wonder if we will ever have a normal week.  Or, is this our new normal?  Everything seems to happen so haphazardly.  Some days, we do a ton of math but very little history.  Other days are full of history, but contain very little math.  It all balances in the end, but there's no consistency.  I'm longing for some consistency!

Hubs was on a business trip this week and I spent four days at the gym preparing for our big gymnastics meet that our team is hosting.  I was in charge of decorations.  It all turned out ok and came together well.  I'm so thankful for all the help I had!  There's no way I could have pulled all that off on my own!

Since hubs returned late Thursday, he spent Friday working from home.  I'm surprised we got as much done as we did with him home.  He helped by reading with Katie while I showered.  It wasn't a full day, but it was close enough.

I'm getting very excited about putting up our Christmas tree next week!  I used to always want to get through one holiday before moving on to the next.  Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday because I have a large family that I don't see much.  This is the only holiday I spend with them, so it excites me.  But, because we go out of town for Thanksgiving, we are always so rushed to put the tree up when we return.  So this year, I'm choosing to be thankful for Christmas before Thanksgiving even arrives!  The tree will be up before we go anywhere!

If I wasn't so tired, I would download some pictures to post.  But, that will have to wait.  Soon, I promise!

Linked with Weekly Wrap-up

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thankful for the Lost That Has Been Found!

For weeks, maybe even months, a sock monkey craft kit was missing.  We searched everywhere we could think to look.  We just about gave up.  I thought it must be inside another box, hiding.  Well, guess what?  I found it in the craft room in the basement, on the shelf where I put it!  In my defense, it was hiding behind a sewing box.

Now, if I could just find my missing ring.  Not a wedding ring, but still very special to me.  (sigh....)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Confessions of a Night Owl

All things considered, last week was good.  It started out a little rough for me due to some personal issues, some of which I wrote about in my previous post.

We have co-op on Mondays and for some crazy reason, I'm always tired on Tuesdays.  That seams so lame, doesn't it?  I have a terrible habit of staying up way too late.  I've always said that I'm a night owl striving to become a morning dove.  But honestly, I haven't done much striving lately!  In fact, I've completely rebelled against striving.  Maybe the time change will help.

Despite my sleeping habits, we do learn each week.  And yes, I say we.  I had no idea that an ancient historical structure sits in Central Park New York.  No idea!  I feel like I've been deprived of important information.  I've never been to Central Park and I don't recall ever hearing or reading anything about this.  Ever!  One of the two ancient obelisks that once dressed the entrance to the tomb Cleopatra had built has been on display in Central Park since 1881.  I think I'm ready for a road trip!  Besides seeing this amazing piece of history, I would love to see the park itself, along with New York City and the World Trade Center Memorial.

So that was part of our history lesson this week.  I skimmed over parts of Augustus Caesar's World due to some of its content about gods and myths.  Other parts served as a brief recount of last year's studies.  For the most part, it was pretty easy, fun, and informative reading this week.
We still have some hoops to jump with Katie's reading.  When she reads, she attempts to sound out almost every word, letter by letter.  Any ideas on what I can do to help her with this?  We do the I read, we read, she reads thing and it works sometimes.  Other times, Katie gets frustrated and says "I just want to read it myself."  But I really do think that method helps her.

One very exciting thing is that we started a 30 Days of Thanks writing project.  We got the idea from Tina at Being Made New.  Not only are the girls thinking about things to be truly thankful for, but they are writing them down!!!  And they are not complaining about it!  In fact, they are excited about it!  When I get a chance, I will post pictures of their pages.

This week will be a busy one, but I'm determined to make it a good one.  My goal is to be asleep by midnight, if not earlier.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


Oh, the things we come up with around here... An apple bride and a happy groom! ??

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Careless, Thoughtless Words

I'm reading a book right now called Words That Hurt, Words That Heal and one chapter is devoted to careless and thoughless speech.  This week, I was the recipient of such careless, thoughtless speech.  And the worst part is that it came from a close friend.

We went for a walk on a beautiful day and talked about various things, including our children.  My friend (we'll call her Melanie) talked about the horrors of high school - specifically the social aspect of it.  She talked about how hard it is for good teens to date because there is so much casual sex going on among peers.  I patiently listened for over 30 minutes and tried to empathize with her.

Finally, it was my turn to share.  So, I told Melanie about Emily's resistance to attend class at church.  Emily is somewhat of an introvert, until she is comfortably aquainted with the environment and the people in it.  That's when Melanie asked me if I thought that was because Emily is not in school and isn't around as many people.  Socialization.  Why are so many people so concerned about that for homschoolers?  Especially after Melanie had just shared the issues her teenager is dealing with at school.  In the words of Dr. James Dobson, "not all socialization is good socialization."

Anyway, God gave me the ability to remain calm and collected through our conversation.  I was able to immediately say to her that no, I do not believe that has anything to do with it.  I have two children, raised in the same environment, both homeschooled.  One is an introvert, the other an extravert.  Katie is very social.  She loves crowds of people.  After telling her that, she agreed that yes, it must just be a personality thing.  Emily is much like her dad - happier around fewer people than many.  Besides that, Emily gets plenty of interaction with kids her age during gymnastics practices six hours a week, not to mention co-op, church, family, and neighborhood friends that she's with almost daily.  So that conversation ended.

The next conversation has been a thorn in my side.  Everyone is always skeptical over socialization with homeschool families.  However, this next conversation is really hard for me to sweep under the rug.  I'm praying for God's guidance here - either to let it go, or speak up. 

Melanie and I have a mutual friend who homeschooled for many years.  She enrolled them in school this fall and recently brought them back home.  Melanie said that maybe the kids weren't "smart enough" for public school.  To save her life, she could not imagine any other reason why their parents would bring them back home.  How sad to think that a mind could be so finite, so small.  That she couldn't imagine the joy a teaching parent receives when her children learn to read, write, and solve math problems - all because she taught them how to.  Or the many other joys in homeschooling, like reading together, making & eating meals together, going on field trips.  Or just knowing her children are safe and not being picked on for having big hair or off-brand clothes.  I could go on.  Then again, this same friend always looked forward to seeing the big yellow bus.  So the idea of being together all day every day, is probably overwheling to her.

Melanie carelessly and thoughtlessly spoke the words that many others think.  She undermined my family's choice to homeschool.  And she neglected to acknowledge the countless hours I put into planning lessons and teaching them.  All in saying just three words: "not smart enough."  Homeschooling is time-consuming.  We don't just hang out all day - we actually work!  And we work hard.  Does she think that my kids are stupid?  Even on our worst days we learn plenty.  Does she think that all homeschooled kids are not "smart enough?"  And based on other comments, I know she thinks I'm not qualified to teach, especially high school.

When Melanie suggested that our mutual friend's kids weren't smart enough, I responded by saying that it's quite possible that her kids weren't being challenged.  Many homeschooled kids are used to doing more work during school hours (thus no homework), so they may have been bored at school.  Of course, that was not a reasonable explanation Melanie's eyes.  After all, she said, if the kids were not challenged enough, then they could have been bumped up a grade or enrolled in "gifted" classes.

At that point, it wasn't worth my effort to continue the conversation.  No matter what I had to say, Melanie's closed mind wasn't going to open up.  And that makes me sad.  I'm sad because I now know that a close Christian friend not only doesn't support our choice to homeschool, but she also believes I'm homeschooling stupid kids. 

This one is really hard for me to let go and I'm praying that God helps me because my stomach literally turns just thinking about it.  I'm not usually one to care much about what others think.  But for some reason, this got under my skin and I can't shake it so easily.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Health Experiment & Art

Health Experiment

To demonstrate how our bodies compensate for environmental temperatures, we did a simple experiment.

One bowl was filled with ice water, another with warm water and the red one in the middle was room temperature.  Simultaneously, Emily put one hand in the ice water and the other in the warm water for 20 seconds.

Then she put them both in the bowl that held room temperature water.  The room temperature water felt really warm to the hand that was previously in the ice water and cold to the hand that was previously in the warm water.  She thought that was "so weird!"


There was a mosaic projected assigned a couple weeks ago that we didn't do.  While shopping one day, I just happened to find a mosaic kit on clearance for $5, originally $15!  So Emily started and completed the entire project on Tuesday. 

First, she glued the design onto the board...

Then she glued the mirror in place and began gluing each tile... 

Lastly, she grouted taking care to wipe off any excess... 

And voila!  It turned out so nice!