Wednesday, August 29, 2007

This and That, and a Little Bit of The Other...

I know there is someone out there who noticed I was gone...and missed me. I don't know who you are, because I was not only missing from the blogosphere, I was also cut off from my email. So all those emails I know you sent asking if I was okay, and when oh when would I be back to blogging about well, nothing....are still floating out there in cyberspace somewhere. Yes, you guessed it, Mr. Computer crashed again...sigh. I lost everything. All the pictures I had taken since the last crash are gone. I knew I should have backed them all up on flashdrives, but I wanted to organize them first...stupid, stupid, me.

Anyway, I'm back up and running...for now...but I'm totally okay with some computer company sending me their latest and greatest laptop for review on this here blog! If any of you major computer companies are reading this, feel free to compete for my affections. Cause they are for sale, my friends. Oh yes they are.

Now, back to business. I do have a little bloggy business to take care of. Wendy Darling bestowed the "Nice Matters" award to me some time ago and I have been way too slow in not only thanking her, but in passing said award along!

"This award is for those bloggers who are nice people; good blog friends and those who inspire good feelings and inspiration. Also for those who are a positive influence on our blogging world. Once you've been awarded please pass it on to 7 others who you feel are deserving of this award."

So, now I must pass this award along to 7 of my fellow bloggers...this is always the hard part. I have about 30 feeds in my bloglines right now and quite frankly, I don't read anyone who isn't nice. I mean really, why waste my day with angry people? And I know that many of those I read have probably already received this award, although I couldn't tell you who for sure. So, I'm just going to name those 7 bloggers that I read that I know actually work at never saying anything mean or nasty, and who truly believe that being nice matters...'cause it does. It sooo does!

So, this award goes to Barb, Kelli, Real Estate Girl, Cheri, Dee Dee, Shalee, and of course, The Preacher's Wife, my first-ever bloggy friend and one of the nicest people on the planet! So, there you have it. If you don't regularly read these blogs, you should. And if you do...well, you already know! Thanks again to Wendy Darling for giving this award to me and thanks to all of you who are out there writing nice things for nice people to read!

Now, our second order of business is a little bloggy giveaway! I will be hosting a giveaway here for a really neat book of family devotions titled "Catching Fireflies" by my friend, Marcy Lytle. I am going to put all the details in a separate post for you to link back to if you choose to enter the giveaway. I'll put the post up this afternoon with all the details and I'll make it a sticky post and keep it at the top of the blog until the contest is over. Make sure and check it out because it looks like a really neat book!

And now, because I promised you more news from the Homeschool Convention, and because I just listened to Big Mama and BooMama discuss the latest fashions on their podcast...which you really must listen to, I thought I'd share with you both my expectations and the reality of the current fashion trends among the homeschooling crowd. You're on the edge of your seats, aren't you? Well, you should be because following the current homeschool fashion trends could be the difference between someone letting their homeschooled child play with your homeschooled child, or having them shun your children completely! I'm kidding of course...well, mostly.

ANYWAY, when I last attended a Homeschool Convention, the wardrobe of choice was the denim jumper and the very comfortable, if not so much attractive Birkenstock sandals. (I was wearing jeans, boots, and either a sweater twinset or a top and blazer.) I wasn't really sure what to expect since it has been 3 years or more since my last convention. I noticed immediately that denim jumpers were scarce this year. In fact I believe I counted only 12 jumpers the entire 3 days of the convention...and only 5 of those were denim! Amazing! So what was the choice in homeschooled fashion this year? The Ankle Length Denim Skirt with...FLIP FLOPS! I couldn't even count them, there were so many. And even those who dared to wear something other than an Ankle Length Denim Skirt were wearing the FLIP FLOPS! (I was wearing jeans, boots, and a top and jacket. My fashion loyalties are not easily swayed, oh no they are not.)

Okay, now to make the whole fashion story a bit more interesting for those of you who couldn't care less what homeschoolers are wearing these days...let me paint a little picture for you. Homeschoolers, as a general rule, have 3 or more kids per family....mostly more. And a majority of those have still nursing babies that obviously need to be fed. So, picture if you will, a hotel lobby filled with women in skirts that concealed every inch of their calves and ankles, but who had their, um, *parts* exposed for all hotel guests and convention attendees to see as they brought nourishment to the little darlings!

Now, I was a nursing mama myself, 4 times over, and there were times that I was forced to feed the little guys in public places. I did, however, have a nifty little cover up thingy that kept all my *parts* well covered should anyone pass by. And whenever possible I would go to the restroom to feed my babies. I have stood leaning up against many a public restroom wall and nursed a baby while making awkward conversation with total strangers. I totally understand the need to occasionally feed the offspring in public...I really do.

Oh, but did I mention that there was a designated nursing room set up for the convention attendees? 'Cause there was. There was even one speaker who hinted, to no avail, that if people needed to nurse their babies, it was only polite to go to the nursing room as there were many dad's as well as highschool boys attending the convention, and I'm afraid they all had whiplash from trying to turn their heads away!

So, the trend for this year's fashionable homeschooler is apparently, Ankle Length Denim Skirts and blouses that are pulled up to one shoulder or the other at any given time. I sooooo wish I could have heard the conversation that Big Mama and BooMama would have had if they had been there...oh yes I do!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

On the Side...

I know, you were expecting part 2 of the Homeschooling Convention posts, but life is happening today, and I must attend to it! In the meantime...I found this very odd quiz at Real Estate Girl's place this morning. The questions are odd and how they come up with the results is beyond me, however...I think they nailed me. I can't tell you how many times people have said to me "I used to think you were just a flighty little girl, but...." I just tell them I prefer the word "sidetracked" to "flighty", "scatterbrained", "shallow", etc...and yes, I have heard all of those at one time or another! :)

You are most like:

You are Blue

You are cool and soothing, with a hidden spontanious side. You are deeper than most people percieve, and you care a lot for those whom you surround yourself with.


Take this quiz: Which Crayola Box of 8 Color Are You?

And when you are finished with that, head on over to The Preacher's Wife and read about the "Cow Plop for Charity" cause really, you just have to. And that's all I'm gonna say about that...just head on on, get outta here!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Texas State Homeschool Coalition Annual Conference -- Part One

Well, as I mentioned in my last post, I returned this weekend from a trip to the THSC Homeschool Convention and Family Conference. I went :) I didn't particularly care if I learned anything or was a cheap vacation and I got to have a much needed "mommy-break".

I have not attended one of these conferences in many years. The last one I did attend was a local conference put on by the local support group, not a state conference. The keynote speaker at that last conference was Susan Wise Bauer who is best known for the book she wrote with her mother, Jessie Wise, entitled "The Well-Trained Mind". Susan spoke to my very heart. She spoke of how sad it was that she was teaching college freshman in an Ivy League University who didn't know grammar and punctuation rules. She spoke of reading the classics and using them as a basis for all education. She spoke of learning history in chronological order starting from Adam and Eve and moving on from there. She introduced new curriculum written by both she and her mother for teaching language and history. Both subjects were taught by sitting together with your child and reading and then discussing together and working on projects and then allowing your child to do some copywork and dictation. It all sounded so wonderful. It sounded exactly like the way I would love to learn. I completely abandoned my former history and language curriculum and invested time and energy into preparing to teach my boys in the classical method. I was going to teach the trivium and my children were going to go to college knowing their grammar and punctuation rules, knowing their history, (in chronological order), they were going to LOVE reading and especially the classics, they would complete their 12 year education with me with notebooks full of all the writing they had done in each of the core subjects, ready to show to the colleges of their choice how much they had learned in homeschool. Oh, and we would do it all snuggled together on the couch reading and having meaningful discussions....

The reality was that my boys couldn't or wouldn't sit still for more than 5-10 minutes at a time. Their minds drifted off to far-away galaxies while I was reading classical stories to them and they could not answer one single discussion question when I was finished reading. We had to go back and re-read often to the point of my only reading the exact sentence the answer was in before they would get the answer. If I read a preceding sentence for context, or a following sentence for clarification, I would lose them entirely. My dreams of giving a classical education to my children went up in smoke. Big, black, choking all in it's path, smoke. I won't even mention my one-week attempt at teaching Latin to a 4th grader...I'm still twitching.

So, we moved on. I went back to a unit-study type of curriculum that we had enjoyed when B. was in the 1st grade and the only child I was schooling. It didn't work as well for multiple children. I didn't have the time to put into it that I had when there was only the one child to teach and the one baby to watch. With 3 children to teach and another baby to watch, it was just too much. So we reverted even further to a workbook based curriculum that we had used way back in the beginning for B.'s kindergarten. However, the curriculum has changed over the years. It wasn't as comprehensive and not as instructional. It assumed that I knew what it was asking for and could effectively pass that on to the student with no help whatsoever. It was sadly mistaken...

Enter "Switched On Schoolhouse". I took the online tutorial class to introduce the curriculum and I had both of the older boys take it with me as I wanted their input as to whether or not this was something they wanted to do. They both liked the program. They liked the built-in games, and the "tiny tutor" videos. They liked the fact that it was on the computer and they didn't have to write everything down. I liked the fact that I could tell it what days we were going to have school and it would automatically generate the lesson plans for the entire school year. I liked the fact that it automatically created report cards. And I really liked the fact that I could decide the grading scale and what percentage of their grades were based on daily work, quizzes, and tests. I could decide how many times they could try a problem before it was counted incorrect. I could decide how many points they would lose for each attempt if any. I could go on and on...but I'm getting old and the natives are getting restless in the background.

So, we jumped in with SOS for the 3rd and 5th grader. SOS starts at 3rd grade, so we stuck with the old standbys of Math-U-See and Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons for the kindergartener. It has not always gone smoothly. Along the way, I found a few things I wanted to do differently with some of the assignments, and I was able to change them with this curriculum. However, in the back of my head I was a little nervous about whether or not what I was doing was "correct" or not. I had feelings at times that perhaps my children were just retarded, and they really couldn't learn like other people's children. And I was beginning to doubt whether I really should still be homeschooling the older children or not.

Now join me for the 2007 THSC Homeschool Convention. The keynote speakers were Debra Bell, author of "The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling" and Andrew Pudewa from "Excellence in Writing". Both of which were very entertaining. Both of which also spoke to different things that I had been doing in our homeschool and both were supporting what I was doing!!! It felt so good to hear that my instincts about what was best for my children were correct!! There are days when you feel that someone else might be better at teaching your children. It was nice to hear that I actually knew what was best for my children! It was like confirmation from God that yes, I should be teaching my children at home and no, I'm not failing them.

I will be doing some future posts on specific things I got out of the conference, but this post has only one purpose. I wrote this post to encourage those of you who are following a plan that you were sure at one time that God had called you to, but are now struggling with whether or not you are failing in that plan, or whether or not you were the right choice for the job in the first place! All you have to do, is be obedient to the call. God will take care of the rest. God was apparently speaking to me and guiding me in what was the best way to teach my kids when I didn't even know it! I thought I was fumbling around in the dark and grasping for answers. As it turns out, I was doing what the experts are now recommending. That HAD to be just had to! Cause it sure couldn't have been me!

So, don't give up on whatever God has called you to do. Keep walking until HE turns you in a new direction--not when that annoying voice in your head tries to turn you. 'Cause chances are that little annoying voice in your head is not your friend, and does not have your best interests at heart...or those of your family. :)

Sunday, August 19, 2007

I'm Back...almost

I'm back from my trip sans children :) to the THSC Homeschool Convention, however I have cakes to make, laundry to do, unpacking to finish, and bloglines to read...

So, while I'm back from my trip, I am not back to blogging just yet! But my friend, Heather, sent this to me while I was gone and I thought it was so funny that I had to share it with you, my bloggy friends. Be sure and listen to the whole thing, the end is the best!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

On a Lighter Note...

Okay, it's time to lighten things up around here. Now this is mainly for my friends and family who don't get to see the kids very often...and wish they could. This particular video focuses on little D. For his birthday, we got him a Little Tikes Up and Down Roller Coaster. I don't think the grandparents have gotten to see him on it yet, and I know they haven't seen him on the trampoline since he learned to jump around rather than just staying in one place, I made this video for them mainly, but thought I'd share it with the blogosphere as well, because well, I had nothing else to blog about today! :)

Now, I did try to narrate the clips, but apparently while the computer has a recorder, it needs an external microphone...which I don't have. So, I'll just give you a little background.

You will notice that David can get on the roller coaster and ride it all by himself, but when he is done, he runs back to the top and waits for someone else to bring the car back for him! You may also notice that the other kids jump to do it, and he never even has to ask! He just stands there and someone brings it back for him...why doesn't that work for me???

Anyway, after he rides a couple of times, you will see that he forces his sister to ride as well. We thought at first he was trying to push her out of the way, but then realized that he was trying to get her on the roller coaster rather than away from it. Then, pushes her down the coaster! If you listen carefully, you can hear him laughing after he pushes her down.

Finally, he gets on the trampoline and jumps to his heart's content and then just climbs off into the waiting arms of his big brother...who is waiting patiently to catch him! If only they all got along this well all of the time! Oh wait, did I just spoil the illusion? Drat! I hate it when I do that!

Anyway, I hope you all enjoy this little peek into David's Playland otherwise known as our backyard. (And yes, that is a football field behind the trampoline that B. made with Daddy's very expensive white tape so he and J. could practice on a "real" field! It has goal posts too, but they didn't make the video.)

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The Circle of Life...

This has been an interesting week. I've had some tough days with the kids. I've had some very productive days around the house. I've had one very full day followed by one very lazy evening. We've had a birth in the family, and this morning we've had a death...

My grandmother died this morning. I didn't know my grandmother all that well since I grew up here in Texas and she lived most of her life in Montana. We visited her a few times in Montana when I was growing up, and I have wonderful memories of trips to Glacier National Park and seeing the Grand Tetons. And the fried chicken. did grandma make some good fried chicken! I also have some not so wonderful memories of eating trout for breakfast...eeww! I remember that as a kid I liked my grandmother quite a bit. We seemed to have a lot in common (affinity for trout aside). She liked to watch t.v. :) She liked to read. And later in life, after I started Tole Painting as a hobby, I discovered that my grandmother painted as well. She did Rosemaling mostly. I did one simple rosemaling project in my painting club and I believe I sent her a picture of it. When her eyes got too bad to be able to see well enough to paint, she sent me a lot of her supplies and unfinished projects. Some of them I painted, and some I passed on to fellow painters. Her art kit I refurbished and gave as a gift to my niece (who is an amazing artist herself) as a gift. Oddly enough, it was this same niece who gave us a new life just three days before our grandmother's life was taken...

My parents brought my grandmother down here to live in Texas several months ago. It was so much fun to be able to introduce her to my children. My children never got to meet any of their other great-grandparents. It was wonderful to get to share Mother's Day, Family Birthdays, and the Fourth of July celebrations with my grandmother. She was doing so well when she first moved down here that we got to spend a lot of time with her doing family stuff. I'm grateful for those memories.

But my grandmother suffered from post-polio syndrome which brought with it many, many problems. In the end, her lungs gave out and the doctors just couldn't get them to work again. I have been praying for the past week that if God had accomplished all He had for her to do in this world, that He would go ahead and take her home and end her pain. I guess she had finished the race, because He took her home this morning. She is finally healed. I'm sure that she is not only walking those streets of gold, but dancing on them as well free from the pain and disabilities that accompanied a body that survived polio as a child, but was never completely healed. And I bet that very soon, she'll probably start painting again. She'll paint a masterpiece with two brand new eyes and vision that we can't even imagine! I hope she paints one or two for me to hang in my mansion when I get there!

So, I'm sad for those of us who are still here, missing her. But I'm happy for my grandmother who is finally pain free...and I hope she has found my three babies up there and is loving on them and holding them in a way she wasn't able to hold my babies down here.

Goodbye Grandma Lila. We will miss you. We love you. And we can't wait to see you again on the other side!

This picture is of my mom and dad on the right, my dad's sister and her husband with their son on the left, and my grandmother in the middle. This picture was taken probably at least ten years ago, but it's the only one I have of my grandmother on my computer, and I wanted you all to see her.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Guess What....I Baked a Cake!!!

I believe I mentioned not too long ago that I have cut back on the cakes just a little bit. I had decided that while I certainly needed the money that the cakes bring in, I was not finding enough time to complete other things that really should come first. I believe with all my heart that homeschooling is best for my kids. I also believe that keeping the house in order and making good food for the family is important. Those were the kinds of things that were being neglected in order to get the cakes done. So...I decided that I would not take orders for more than two cakes per week with just a few exceptions. I have had to turn a few people away. But then, it seemed that I was getting fewer and fewer orders. I went a couple of weeks with no orders at all. I've even had orders that were cancelled for various reasons. But finally, this week I got an order! It was short notice, but with no other orders in awhile, I was willing to fit it in! It was for a baby favorite reason for making a cake by the way... for two different ladies who were each having a boy, and she wanted it to go with the plates, napkins etc. but be a little more "boyish" with blues, greens and yellows being the main colors. Here is the picture she sent me.

And this is the cake I delivered to her.

AND for those who have been hanging out here for awhile...I got a card in the mail yesterday from the mother of this bride thanking me for doing such a great job on the cake. I told you I liked this family! I still never heard whether the bride was happy with the final result, but apparently her parents and the other guests and family commented quite favorably on both the look and the taste of the cake, so that made me happy. I rarely hear from people after the fact...obviously, how many times do we call the restaurant the next day to tell them we enjoyed our meal the night before? So it was really nice to hear from this family and to know that they were pleased with the cake! It was really very thoughtful of her, don't you think?

Well, the kids are wanting to eat...of all things...and I have much to do around here, so I'm off for now. I've been spending some time the past couple of days reading and commenting on blogs I've not been able to visit in awhile, so if you have missed me at your place, I'll be by soon! And I have a couple of new people who have left comments here that I want to check out as well! It's so fun meeting new people isn't it?

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Better than a defibrillator...

I called my husband at work this morning...He said, "Hello?" I said, "We have a baby!!!" He said, "WHAT?!?!?" I said, "A. had her baby last night." He said, "Oh, you scared the "beep" out of me." LOL!! I think I've just discovered an alternative to the defibrillator!

Anyway, A. is my niece. My first niece actually. And last night she had her first baby, and my 1st grandnephew. I have 3 grandnieces, but this is the first grandnephew. And because we are all mama's, and we always want to see pictures of babies...

Isn't God's creation amazing?

Well, I'm off to see the little guy and then I have a cake and some cookies to get finished! Pictures to follow!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Amen and Amen

I just got home from picking up B. at youth group. When I went into the church to wait for him, they were having worship and they were singing this song that just made me say, "Yes, that's what I want." And I thought I'd share it with you all...

The more I seek You, The more I find You.
The more I find You, The more I love You.

I wanna sit at Your feet
Drink from the cup in Your hand.
Lay back against You and breathe.
Feel Your heartbeat.

This love is so deep
It's more than I can stand.
I melt in Your peace.
It's overwhelming.

Amen and Amen!

Monday, August 6, 2007

Can I start this day over?????

It's been a tough day...

It's been a day that begged for an entire bag of Hershey's "Special Dark" miniatures...

It's been a day that pleaded for a bucket (not a pitcher) of margaritas WITH SALT...

Unfortunately, the mean, mean, doctor-man took such medications away from me and substituted them with 5 giant horsepills...

Paula Deen made some yummy looking "Pecan Squares" today that were "technically" not allowed either, but I would have taken the risk, if I had been willing to put back on the 8 lbs. I've just spent six weeks sweating off!!! I swear I hear Bob Harper in my head whenever I even think about eating something with more than 10 calories in it!

Anyway, the good news is that today is over. The kids have all been sent to bed. (notice I didn't say that they were all in bed, because that would be presumptuous on my part!) I have some tasty low sodium tuna salad waiting in the fridge for me. And tomorrow will start fresh with no mistakes in it....let's hope I can make it through breakfast before they all start piling up again!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Just One More Reason Why I'm Glad I Started a Blog!

First, a little background...

Two days ago while out for my morning run, I noticed that in the front yard of one of the houses was a brown recliner. Now, said recliner was turned over on it's side, but it looked like it was in pretty good shape. It is not unusual to find large pieces of furniture out near the curb in our neighborhood especially on trash day. You see there are people who drive around on trash day and look for such things to pick up either for their own use, or to fix up and sell to someone else.

That said, this was not trash day, and this recliner was not at the was just in the yard, close to the fence, next to the house. Then this morning on my run, I was ruing the day that I decided I didn't need to get a camera phone the last time I got a new one. In fact, there was a man walking down the hill that I was running up, and I told him, "You are gonna wish you had a camera phone when you turn that corner!" So, I finished my run....I stepped up my pace just a bit...and picked up my camera and drove myself back (I'm not crazy ya'll) to get this picture to share with all my bloggy friends!

And yes, he is asleep. I couldn't believe he was still there when I got back! Now, I have no idea how or why he ended up sleeping outside in a recliner, but I've come up with a few possibilities:

1) He partied a little too much last night, and actually passed out in the chair.

2) His wife is the one who dragged his favorite chair outside, and he decided to go out with it.

3) He was actually up early this morning having his quiet time with the Lord and was not actually sleeping, but just very deep in prayer!

So come on ya'll, think up your own reasons or even just a caption for this photo and share it with me in the comments. This could just make my whole day!!!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Football Season has Begun!

Well, I just cancelled my Blockbuster movie service. Football season started last week, and I've had one DVD here waiting to be watched for 2 weeks. Not to mention that I have 2 episodes of "Throwdown with Bobby Flay" and 2 episodes of "Iron Chef America", as well as a few "Emeril Lives" and "Paula Deens" waiting for me on the DVR.

Since I started running in the mornings, I lost my tv time. I used to record my shows and then watch them sans commercials in the morning before the kids got up. Since I've been running at 6:15am (aack!!!), there has been no time for tv. I really don't know what I'm going to do when "House", "24", and "American Idol" return with new episodes. There may be some serious twitching going on here!

So, just to catch you all up...Benji and Jon are playing tackle football, Maddie will be cheering for one or the other, or maybe even both teams! Jon had asked me a few months ago if he could play football again (he switched to soccer last year), but I thought it was too late to sign him up and still get the discounted price I paid for the other two by signing them up early, and there was NO WAY we could afford to pay full price. However, he asked again during practice yesterday if there was any way he could play, so I asked, and because they are sooooo nice, they let me sign him up for the discounted "returning player" fee since he did play in the past. So, today will be spent trying to get a last-minute physical done, buying new shoulder pads and various other equipment that he'll need...sigh.

I've also had to seriously cut back on the number of cakes I am making because time is quite short here between school and football. Not really a good time to be forking out all this extra money, if you know what I mean! However, I'm convinced that God will provide all that we need, and when He does, I promise to come back here and let you all know how He did it! Won't that be fun? Maybe I'll start my own meme and have people write posts about ways God provided for their needs in unexpected ways! I like that idea. In fact, I may even have a great giveaway for the occasion!

You see, I've just received my first "blogging perk" in the mail. Zondervan publishing contacted me and asked if I would be interested in reading a new book they have out and writing a review here on the blog. The book has nothing to do with cakes, kids, dishes, OR laundry, but for some reason, they asked me to review it. I received the book this week and have only gotten through the introduction and part of the first chapter so far, but I'm excited about reading it. When I'm all finished, if it turns out to be as good as I think it will be, I'll give away a copy. So everyone be thinking of and watching out for ways that God has or does provide for you in unexpected ways, and I'll get a button designed and get this thing going soon. STAY TUNED!!!

Well, it's time to get started on my day. Yes, I'm still cooking two big meals each day, at the moment it is breakfast and our noon meal. During football season, we have to leave the house by 5:00pm and don't return until around 8:30pm at the earliest. And since I don't want to fill the kids up with a big meal right before practice, and I definitely don't want to come back and have to put on a big meal AFTER practice, I cook "dinner" at noon and they kids have a light meal after practice while rotating their turns in the bathtub! I do have another recipe to share with you all, but as I said, it's time to fix breakfast around here, so I'm off for now!

Thanks for stopping by, and ya'll come back now...ya' hear?!?