Thursday, July 30, 2009

I'm OFF -

I am off duty this weekend. (You know, from that 24 a day job). I am taking a little road trip to go and visit my friend Christy. And when I say friend, I mean MY friend. Not my kid's friend's mom. Christy is my friend and we could talk for hours. In fact I have a few friends that I no longer live near that I don't talk to very often on the phone because when we do, I have to have about 2 hours carved out of my day in order to say all we need to say (you know who you are).

I am looking forward to our time together. I have been thinking I would go and we could "can" for a few days (she is really good at that). But this visit will include a trip to a homeschooling expo/conference. I am really looking forward to some encouragement in the homeschooling department for school is starting just around the corner.

One of the things I am going to check out is My Father's World for school next year. I have several friends who use it and really like it and I have been looking at it for awhile now. That might be my big purchase for the upcoming school year.

I'll be back online in a few days. Hope you have a great weekend.

Monday, July 27, 2009

crazy full weekend

Every weekend, we have the discussion..."what are we going to do?" What will our weekend be full of? Chores? Fun? Church? Family time? There are some weekends we don't do much more than laze around and relax (which we probably need to more of that). And then there are weekends when we have SOOOOO much that we cram into it. Like this weekend.

To be honest, I can't even remember what we ended up doing Friday night and Saturday morning. Oh right...I broke my toe on Thursday night so I spent most of it hobbling around and trying to stay off of it. Oh, and I brought a family (who just had a baby) a meal on Friday (but that is besides the point).

After running some errands Saturday morning Chuck decided to work on his plan for his work bench. He had not unpacked the garage tools and work items for lack of a better place to unload them onto. We had a great space in our last house with a big work bench and cool peg board (HERE). He has been itching to make another one. He made a pretty good sketch of one and spent about 50 bucks and he and my dad came up with this work bench. Only needs the peg board to finish it off.I am often impressed with how things turn out when Chuck is involved. There isn't much he can't do well. They cranked this whole thing out (including running to the store for supplies) in less than 4 hours. Talk about ACTION !!! While they were working on the work bench, my mom and I organized the school room and got ready for the next school year.

Then we were out visiting a church in a nearby town on Saturday evening and noticed the big K had all their trees and shrubs for sale. 70% OFF. We have been meaning to get some more trees to provide privacy and shade and all it took was some hint of a bargain to get us going on that project. We picked up 5 trees and got them all in the ground on Sunday afternoon. That makes 11 trees we have planted since we got here.

If you look closely, you can see 3 trees along the neighbor's fence. 2 red maple and one flowering pear and the one closest to the deck is a holly (I wanted one that would stay green year round). These were some of the best looking ones from the clearence rack. It isn't really the best season to plant the trees, but they really needed to get out of the pots and into the ground.

These tress will need a little tender loving care and I am hoping with lots of tree hugging, they will make it. We did have to replace one of the trees that we planted in the front yard (and we paid full price for that one). We got so much rain right after we put it in and the ground had too many air pockets. So our fifth tree went out front.

So far, everything we have planted here has grown well. I have NEVER had flowers take off and spread so easily. They are just beautiful. And to be honest, I am not doing anything special to take care of them. Just watering them when I think of it. I try to weed the bed every few weeks and the rest is up to God to make them beautiful.

So our weekend turned out to have more purpose than we thought. We got a LOT done and worked hard. Now Chuck is back to work so he can rest up from all the labor he put in to make our home so special.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Replenishing Moments

I love routine. I am a creature of habit. I find comfort in it. I think most people do. And this is how I start my mornings. I used to start with a cup of coffee, but I gave that up during lent, and I never started it again. Now my day starts and ends the same way. A cup of tea. In the mornings it is green tea and in the evenings, I savor my sleepy time tea. I even have favorite mugs. I like tea in a light colored cup so I can see how strong it is. The only bummer is it begins to stain the cup.

I think it is important to find the little things in life that replenish you. Things that lift your spirits, make your day a little more happy. In short...replenish you. I have come to find out, the cup of tea I have each morning does replenish me. I often have it while I read my bible, check email, glance at the day's agenda. I do enjoy this time.

So, what replenishes you? Maybe a replenishing moment each day, or maybe something less frequent. I do love that word "replenish" - it just fills me up to think about it.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Feeling slightly disconnected

It seems like it has been awhile since I have had regular postings on the blog here. Not sure what I can blame it on. Has it been me? Has it been because we have been busy? Is our life kind of boring now that we aren't in the midst of moving and selling a house and living in a different state than Chuck? I used to post about every other day and I am wondering if I have run out of things to say.

I originally started to blog so I could connect with family and friends and keep them posted on all our new happenings. Then I realized it was a great way to be a testimony and a blessing to others and encourage them. It has proven to be a great way to find a connection with others and find something we have in common and relate on that aspect. Maybe all of our lives have gotten too busy to either post or comment or even check blogs any more. I have been wondering about lurkers out there. Ones that swing by but never comment, watching from afar. For what ever reason, I am feeling slightly disconnected and can't put my finger on it.

So, as I anticipate the new school year and the changes that may take place this year, I am wondering if blogging is still in my future. I think I need some lurkers to come out and at least say howdy to give me a sense of who is connecting.

Have you ever heard of the tennis ball theory? You stand on your side of the court and toss all your tennis balls over to the other person. Eventually if they never toss them back you have run out of balls and the game is over. I have had conversations with someone when this happens. You are trying to make conversation and...nothing. It just doesn't go anywhere.

So...toss me a ball once in awhile. I have even made it easy...I am still accepting anonymous comments. It is pretty easy. I don't want to run out of tennis balls. =)

Friday, July 17, 2009

Introducing my "tween" girls

It's official. We have entered the tween stage. This was a big week here in the peapod. My little sweet peas are growing up. No longer little girls. They now understand what it means to suffer for beauty (well not just for beauty for the betterment of their mouth's health).

Tally got braces and Tissy got a retainer. We knew this was coming. It wasn't a surprise, but yet I am not sure I was ready for this. Not just financially, but emotionally. My girls look so mature and grown up. I am not ready for them to grow up. I have enjoyed every stage and I am determined to enjoy this tween stage too. I think if I embrace it with positivity, it will help them adjust to all the changes that are going on.
Here is Tally's sweet little mouth. Not only are we dealing with an "over jet" but lots of crazy positioning of teeth. Most of that is from a mouth injury from when she fell as a 3 year old. Talk about consequences.
One of the things for me that has been hard to accept, is her smile will never bee the same. I have loved that front tooth that has it's own special way of presenting itself. I love her just how she is. She has been so excited about getting braces. She understands it is a big deal and costs a lot of money and that she must be very responsible. She will get the head gear to go with it in a few weeks. I bet that will be another adjustment for her. =(Here she is afterward. She got a free ice cream from Baskin Robins as a special treat from the orthodontist. Only soft foods for a few days. That and lots of pain meds. Click on the picture to see it larger to see those beautiful teeth. Her bands are orange and pink.
Here is Tissy with her new retainer. She recently had a baby tooth removed (the filling fell out and it wasn't worth replacing) and in order to maintain the open space for the adult tooth we decided to go with the retainer. It will not only hold that space open (her mouth is tiny and has significant crowding) it will also prevent her from digging her teeth up into the roof of her mouth. She too has the over jet that Tally has. She sounds just adorable with her retainer. All lispy and cute. Not to mention she looks as cute as can be.

So there you have it. My two tween girls. And I guess that means I am not the young mom anymore with little kids. We are all learning to cope with this in our own ways. And I am learning to let them grow up.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Comfrey Salve

One of the reasons I joined the crop share (HERE) this year was to force me into trying new things. I knew it would get me out of my comfort zone and help me to take more chances in cooking. Little did I know I would also learn to make my own homemade medicine too.

One week with my produce, I got comfrey. I had no idea what it was or what to do with it. Often with the produce we get a little list of ideas or recipes that might be worth trying. That week included a recipe for COMFREY SALVE. So, what the heck. I thought I would give it a try.

The recipe I had calls for:

Comfrey Salve:

1/2 cup Vaseline

1/2 cup beeswax
1/2 cup chopped comfrey leaf

Wash and cut the comfrey leaves into small pieces (use scissors to dice them up rather small).

In a double broiler melt the beeswax
and the Vaseline.

Add the comfrey leaves and allow them to steep for several hours on very low heat (another option is to place the pan of leaves and wax in the sun on a very hot day and allow it to steep this way.

Strain the salve thru a piece of cheese cloth and store it back in the Vaseline jar.

This is the best salve you will ever stops itching immediately even on chigger bites and heals cuts very quickly.
As for a testimonial of the comfrey salve and how well it works. It does really help with the itchy bites. I just used it on ant bite (not fire ant) and it worked great. We have been using it on mosquito bites and it is working well. It is a little waxy, I might use more Vaseline next time.

And when I was making it, I thought it smelled a little medicinal, so I added some mint, chocolate mint and lavender that I had. Now it smells better. Last little note, it is really waxy when you are making it and it is hard to get your pot clean. I should have used a pan just for crafty things like this (and it splattered up on my shirt and is hard to get it out). But all in all, it was a good experiment. Again, I LOVE learning new things. Who knew I would learn to make homemade medicine.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Precious Moments

I love these tender moments. Chuck and Tissy enjoying an early morning together.
I know that I don't tell him enough...he is such a good daddy. These kids adore him. I caught them looking at a catalog together at breakfast one day. I hope the kids always have fond memories like this that they hold dear.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

My little helpers

There are times that I don't even realize what helpers my kids are. They are almost always with me and they so quickly jump in and help in ways that seem so natural to me, but are unusual in so many ways. Tonight we had some friends over for dinner and I was preparing all the taco fixings while the girls entertained our friend's kids. I noticed that they are often right by my side getting things out or serving drinks or finding ways to serve. There are times, like tonight, they serve me by helping out with the younger ones. These little boys were entertained by Tally and Tissy in the bonus room with coloring, playing with cars, games and videos. The girls act like little baby sitters and keep these busy little guys happy and safe so the parents can visit and enjoy the adult conversation.

What I noticed is how their absence was noticed in the kitchen. They are like my right hand girls. They know how to load and unload the dishwasher. They are learning to be observant of what needs to be done when we are hosting friends. They tidy the table when they are finished eating and clean up the plates. They are such a blessing to me in so many ways and it just struck me tonight what a treat it is to have them around. Often doing these things without being asked.

I often hear Tally ask if there is anything she can do to help. Or if there is a job that Tissy can do. They are such helpers around the house and a blessing in so many ways. They have really embraced the idea of being part of a "stick together family" and work as a team. They often ask if I need help with something before they go and play. The other day they voluntarily turned off the TV to help unload and put away the groceries while I visited with my mom. Again...blessing me and others with their actions.

I am so grateful that God has blessed me with such thoughtful girls. Ones that bless me and others with their actions and attitudes. In no means am I trying to act prideful but noting their actions, but just acknowledging their help and the blessing that it is. I understand that it is God's grace that they are who they are. I just missed them tonight in the kitchen and realized that they were helping with the little ones instead.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Favorite Summer Activity - STACATION style

With summer full in swing (I feel like it almost over, but for some of you it has just started) what has been your favorite summer activity? With the economy in the tank and most families tightening their belts, a lot of families aren't going on vacations. And the new thing is the STACATION - things to do in your own area to enjoy without the cost of traveling and hotels.
This of course, appeals to me, as I am thrifty (that is a nice way to put it).

Each year seems different and has different high lights. Last year we really enjoyed VBS at a few different churches. That was a huge treat for me because I was living the single parent life as Chuck had already relocated for the new job. Just to have the morning to myself. WOW. What a treat for the homeschooling mom who always has her kids with her.

Of course the girls enjoyed camp, but I am trying to come up with FREE activities that are fun. Ones that don't cost anything. me, o creative moms, to come up with some other great activities that require little or no budget. (My friend over on this blog HERE posted about this earlier and I thought it was a good post).

  • For us we have enjoyed being part of a book club. A fellow homeschooling mom has organized a small book club where the girls read a designated book and then she has activities to coordinate. She has done a fantastic job and the girls have really enjoyed it. The most recent book was "A Little Princess" and then the kids watched the old Shirley Temple movie. The idea was to compare how the book is usually better than the movie.

  • Another fun one has been swimming at the neighborhood pool. It is part of our home owner's fees and it is a great way to meet the neighbors. That has been fun.
  • One more idea before you all chime in with fantastic ideas. =) Another mom has organized a play group that meets in the back yard (they rotate) and the kids play with water. Sprinklers, kiddie pools, slip and slides, duck duck goose with water on the head, squirt guns...the ideas go on. Everyone brings their sack lunch and towel and the host mom doesn't need to have anything else ready. I thought this one was a great idea. share some of your favorite summer activities. Things you can do right in your home town. Things that aren't going to break the bank. Ways to keep the kids busy and entertained and having fun until school starts up again. Now we are off to the science center which we have the family pass for and it is air conditioned.

Monday, July 6, 2009

worth the time it takes

This video is worth the time it takes to watch. And I am sure that some of you have already seen it...and since I don't know how to put the video on my blog, you would have to take the time to go to the site and watch it.

This is a historian who shares about our founding fathers, specifically the ones that we don't hear about anymore. If you want a history lesson for yourself or the kids, check out the link. Especially coming off the celebration of our nation's Independence. This is a great free resource worth the time it takes to watch it.

Hope you all had a great weekend and were able to enjoy time as a family and appreciate our nation's heritage.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

praying for wisdom and discernment

My mind is full of swirling thoughts.

Seeking God for His discernment.

Desiring to follow where He leads.

Prayers appreciated.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Ethiopian Lapbook

Almost forgot to post the pictures of the Ethiopian Lapbook that I made with the kids last week. Again, this was for a family that was adopting a little girl from Ethiopia and I wanted to take advantage of the interest in that country and learn a little about it.

First I took the regular folders and stamped them to look like African print. Each book was one folder and one extra page. I decided to mix it up and turn them to the side instead of the traditional up and down look.
I found a picture of the map online and printed it on card stock paper. Just googled it under images and found one I could use. I had to cut the picture in half to make it work but I really like how it turned out.From here you can see the stamped folder a little better. Here are the mini books that we used.

  • Capitol City
  • Main religion
  • bordering countries
  • Where in the World is Ethiopia
  • Where is Gracie (the new sister) from
  • Main language
I use plain white note cards for most of the mini books. Either 3 x 5 or 4 x 6 ones. It makes them a little bit stiffer than printer paper but not as thick as card stock.

Here the 2 side flaps are open and you can see the inside (and still see the top and bottom flap). I took half of a folder and cut it in half again to make the side flaps. Then just used packing tape to attach them. Our mini books include:

  • African animals
  • flag of Ethiopia
  • money
  • popular sport
  • Are we there yet? (show how long it would take to travel there)
  • Sun book share about it being near the equator and what that means
When I am planning a lapbook, I start to jot down things that I think might make good minibooks. Then I gather the info online using google or google images. A few of these books cam from a free website for homeschoolers (HERE).

You can see I write on the outside of most of the mini books and the kids do the writing on the inside. This time I had 5 kids making the lapbooks at once, so I did as much as I could myself. It took 3 sessions of about an hour each time to complete this lapbook. The girls took longer to do the coloring and drawing (they each drew their own African animals) and the boys took a little longer with the writing. But they all did a great job. 3 of these kids had not made a lapbook before, so I wanted this one to be kind of small and easy to accomplish.

I hope these lapbook posts are helpful to those friends who are looking for ideas on lapbooking and serve as inspiration to get creative.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Learning to love one of Daddy's favorite toys

The other week when were out at yard sales and found this race track for matchbox style cars. Chuck snagged it for a buck and it has been a pretty good toy to use all of our cars with.

And when I say...ALL of our cars...I mean ALL of Chuck's cars. We have a huge collection that were Chuck's when he was a little boy.

The idea is you race them against each other and which ever one wins, goes into the win pile and the looser goes into the looser group. Then you keep racing the winners against each other and add to the loser group. Finally you are down to just a few cars to find out which one is the fastest car.Here the winners are lined up against the track and the rest are losers. The point is to find the fastest car. And the race always seems to come down to the same few cars. There is a green one that wins every time and is the champion.
Amazingly enough, we play this on the weekends for hours. You can imagine that Chuck loves it. And the girls love anything when Daddy plays along. Bonding time for sure. And all for a dollar at a yard sale. Well...the dollar and all the cars we already had.