Thursday, July 31, 2008

A Trip Down Memory Lane, pt 1

A week from today Kelly and I will celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary. This boggles my mind just a little bit. I don't feel 15 years older than I was when Kelly and I got married.

A week or two ago I cleaned out the dreaded armoire. (I can't believe no one got that reference from this post. Does no one else read Jan Karon?) This is where I keep most of our family pictures. As I was organizing them, I got to looking at pictures of Kelly and I before we were married. And I have to admit, while I may not feel any different, we certainly look it!

So I thought for a week leading up to the big day, which we plan to celebrate by going to Ruth's Chris Steakhouse and The Dark Knight, I would post some of these pictures. I sure got a kick out of it, and I thought you would too.

Just one condition. No laughing at my hair. Remember this was the early 90's. OK, you can laugh, just don't go overboard, okay?

These were my senior pictures, taken just a couple of months after Kelly and I started seeing each other, in 1991.

My mother called this next one my mischievous picture. I have NO idea what she is talking about.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Stating the Obvious

Tonight at family devotions, we were talking about the story in Matthew about the two sons, the one who said he would obey but didn't, and the son who said no but regretted it and obeyed.

Kelly asked the girls who Jesus said would get into heaven in this passage.

girls: Sinners and tax collectors.

Kelly: And how do they get into heaven?

Hailey (5 yo): They die.

Your frugal cleaning tip for the day

Don't buy expensive stainless steel cleaner. If you have stainless steel appliances (don't I wish) or stainless steel trash cans or accessories, clean them with a wet rag or with an all purpose cleaner first.

Then to get it looking brand new, take a rag and pour a little good old fashioned white vinegar on it. Then wipe down the stainless, and it will be streak free and spotless.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Just Around the Corner

So like most homeschooling moms, I am in the midst of planning, sorting, copying, purchasing, etc. for the upcoming school year. This is much later than I usually do this, since we usually start a new year right after Fourth of July. But this year we aren't starting back until August 18th, so I am not quite done yet.

My oldest girl is going into mostly 7th grade work this year, so her year looks different in many ways than last year. Her work load is increasing a little, as is the structure of some of her courses. I am also changing a few things with the younger kids, so I thought I'd highlight a few of the things I'm using this year.

Introductory Logic- Kora will be taking her first formal logic course this year. This will also be her first DVD taught course. The DVD features James Nance, one of the authors, giving the lectures on each lesson. Then Kora will have exercises and tests which I will administer and check. The DVD just explains the concepts. I am very interested to see how this works for us.

Henle Latin - Kora finished the Latin that she was doing, so now we are moving into Henle. What I love is that the study guide is designed for homechoolers rather than a classroom setting.

Latina Christiana - Aubrey did not do as well in Matin Latin as Kora did, so instead of moving into Latin Grammar, we are going to use Latina Christiana. This also means we are switching from classical pronunciation to ecclesiastical, but I like the latter better anyway. Latina Christiana is also designed for homeschoolers, and has lots of extras, like music in Latin that you can get to go along with it. A friend even lent me the DVDs that go with it, so Aubrey will get some DVD instruction as well!

Tapestry of Grace - You knew I had to throw this in as well, right? We are finishing up year 2 and will do at leat the first half of year 3, which means we are in the middle of early American colonization and will move through the Mexican War this year. Hailey will be joining us for this history/geography/literature study as well.

Apologia General Science - Kora will also be doing the first in the Apologia Middle and High school level sciences. This will also be the first year we've done two different sciences. Kora will be doing this one by herself, the younger girls will be doing something else. It is also more demanding, as a junior high level course should be.

Living Learning Books 3: Chemistry - This course is an elementary level chemistry course ala Well-Trained Mind. Lots of hands on experiments, like mixing vinegar and soda. Biographies of great chemists. Very cool!

Easy Grammar - This is also a new curriculum for me this year. I've read so many good things about it. I've always used Abeka grammar in the past, but it has way too much busy work in it, and not enough review. (The blatant theological errors didn't help either). So Kora and Aubrey will be doing Easy Grammar and Daily Grams this year. I am a believer in diagramming sentences, however, and I don't think these address that. So I will be adding in that as well.

First Language Lessons - This is the best early grammar text out there, hands down. It's for first and second grades, which means Brynna and Hailey will both be in it this year. Most of the work is done orally, but it really grounds them in the basics of the English language.

Elementary Greek - This is Kora's third year in this series which teaches Koine, or New Testament, Greek. I'm still debating on whether to start Aubrey on the first book of this series this year or wait until next year. Kora loves this course.

Vocabulary From Classical Roots - Kora finished the spelling series last year, so she is moving into a vocabulary series which I have also been told is very good. Plus with her Latin and Greek background, she should have a leg up on it.

Spelling Workout - This is the spelling series I use from Kinder through 6th grade. I would love to use Spelling Power, but the amount of teacher prep scares me off of that. :-)

Italic Handwriting
- This is the series I use to teach handwriting. It has a more natural flow than traditional ball and stick print. The cursive is also more like most of us write, like a joined print.

Well, I think that's most of it. While this isn't everything we are using this year, these are some new items and old faithfuls that will be filling our school room shelves this coming year.

What jewels will you be using this year?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Look Up!

It's an old organizing tip to utilize vertical space, but it is still a good tip. Many people assume that every area of my life and home are not only organized, but cataloged and indexed as well. Not true. If you had seen my entry closet a few days ago, you would have seen a case in point. Unfortunately I rarely think to take "before" pictures, so you can't see what a mess this awkwardly shaped closet was in. It slants under the stairs, so it has always been a challenge. Just try to imagine a small closet crammed with coats, book bags, diaper bags, umbrellas, a camera bag, a tripod, exercise equipment, musical instruments, a card table, folding chairs, baby paraphernalia, and a vacuum cleaner and you'll get the picture.
So I bought a shelf and some hooks that Kelly installed, screwing them into the studs. Now there is actually a floor you can see.
I was even able to get rid of our rather decrepit hall tree next to this closet, which makes our entry hall seem bigger and brighter. So if you haven't checked out the options in stores like Lowes or Home Depot that can allow you to make better use of your spaces, get out there and do it! It's very satisfying.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

A fraud

I have to admit that I have felt like something of a fraud lately. After sleeping through the night for more than three weeks in a row, Ashlynn has decided that she would rather interrupt my sleep after all. So she has been getting up between 2 am and 4:30 am to nurse every night for the last 2 weeks. So all my talk about early mornings... well, it just hasn't happened these last two weeks (unless 7:30 is early to you). I still want to - I really don't like sleeping in until the kids get up. But I am trying to remind myself that this is a short season in my life, that she is only 3 months old, and eventually it will pass. It will, won't it?

So my resolution this week is to get up before the kids do, even if it isn't at 5 am. Oh, and to not drink Dr. Pepper every day. Honestly, I think it'll be easier to get up early.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

HGTV, Here I Come

As part of all that decorating and furniture buying, we got the girls new night stands. Which means they need a lamp to go on it. All I could find that would really work was a plain white one. So to dress it up I took some very inexpensive ribbon, my glue gun, and turned this
into this.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Snowball Syndrome

I have been infected. I have officially been diagnosed with a Snowball Syndrome. There are actually various strains of this.

My particular one is the Decorating Snowball Syndrome.

You see, it starts out when you buy a couple of pieces of furniture. In my case it was new bunk beds for two of the girls, a new entertainment center and tables which we have been planning on for several years, and a new chair and ottoman for the master bedroom, which I have wanted for 5 years.

That's when it starts to snowball.

You see, because of the new beds and Lauryn moving into a twin bed, I had to buy new quilt/comforters for their beds. And new sheets, 'cause we didn't have enough. There were several articles - prints, mirrors, etc. - that hung on the walls in other areas of the house that would go great in Lauryn and Ashlynn's new room. But that leaves bare spots on the walls, requiring new artwork on the old area.

I also had to paint the walls before we could switch the bedrooms. And since they had their bedrooms painted, Kora and Aubrey wanted theirs painted. And their walls did look yucky, so I had to paint their room as well.

But now that their rooms are painted, the attached bathrooms are really crying out for a coat of paint as well. You see how this happens?

And of course the new entertainment center and tables required new accessories and lamps.

The syndrome also spills over to the organizing side of things. I finally decide to organize and clean out the dreaded armoire (anyone know the literary reference here?) and under my bed. That went very well, but it made me realize that I needed to tackle the entry closet. This required the purchase of more shelving and hooks. And a laser level and stud finder.

Needless to say, decorating is dangerous business.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Engineering At Work

Kora's friend Melody came over last weekend. Usually they play horses with Aubrey - all three love Breyer horses. But for some reason, this weekend they decided to build this.
I was told that Melody (who left before I could get a picture of her) drew a picture of it, then she and Kora figured out how to build it with Tinker Toys and string. What is it? you might ask. It is a working catapult! See!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Oh. My. Goodness.

"Where have these been all my life?" This is what Kelly said after one bite of these zucchini cakes I made last night. I had planned on making zucchini last night anyway, and yesterday I saw this recipe on a blog I read. My mouth started watering. I don't fry stuff very often, but I just might start.

My kids immediately started adding these to the list of what they want made on their birthdays. Did I mention just how scrumptious they were? And a great way to stretch zucchini if you think you might not have enough for the whole family.

But beware, my kids were wanting to know why I hadn't made more. And so was my husband. For that matter, so was I! Run, don't walk to see this recipe, and then run over to the fridge and grab the zucchini.

You can thank me later.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Pictures of Callan

I was surprised - I thought she'd be blond like my sister.
But she is a cutie!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Callan Leigh

My sister gave birth to their first child, a girl named Callan Leigh, about 6:30 pm this evening. After a 14 hour labor, Jaime had an 8 lb. 4 oz, 20.5 inch long bundle of joy - with no drug, no pitocin, nothin'! Jaime and her husband had to wait a long time to even get pregnant due to fertility issues, but at long last Callan is here!

I'll post a picture as soon as the proud new daddy sends them out.

That makes only our second neice!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

3 Months Old!

Is it just me, or has the past three months just flown by?
Isn't she cute?
Her daddy thinks so too.

Friday, July 18, 2008

It's Brynna!

We picked up Brynna's glasses about an hour ago. So now she's walking around commenting on all the things she can see clearly now. None of us realized how blurry her vision was getting, even Brynna. And we think she looks adorable in her new glasses!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Conversations with a Three Year Old

This is Lauryn, in our family dubbed "the class clown."

Conversations with her are always interesting. Her little mind must be moving very fast because she darts into left field quicker than anyone I've ever met. Here are some snippets of conversations with her in the last two or three days.
(When I came out of my room yesterday to start breakfast, Lauryn was "reading" a book at the school table. She looked up and asked me,)
Mama, do frogs have ears?
(Later, while she was coloring a picture)
The mean witch said my dress was not pretty. So I'm going to tell her that her dress is ugly and that my dress is pretty. (Then she holds up two crayons) This one is for make-up and this one is for designing dresses. I'm pretending that we are in a movie. You, me, and the witch. This is me and the mean witch will be over here (points to the opposite side of the page). I'm designing my pretty dress. The witch is really mean, and here is my sword and my dagger. I'm going to cut her neck off (make a swiping motion across her own neck with one hand) and then I'm going to kill her (make a stabbing motion into her heart with the other hand).

Now I'm going to pretend a different movie with lots of boys and girls. And one baby.
(Last night during family devotions, we were talking about being a living sacrifice. Kelly asked the girls about what we could give to Jesus. Lauryn's idea?)
My big horse. [Note: this is a large plastic horse big enough for an 18 inch doll to ride.]

(This morning she informed me that)
Mama, frogs don't have belly buttons. But they do have tummies.
(At least once a day, she comes up to me and taps me on the arm and says,)
Mama, I mean Mudder [mother]? I'm gonna call you Mudder. Kora and Aubrey and Brynna and Hailey can call you Mama, but I'm gonna call you Mudder. And Daddy is Fodder. (father) Where is my Fodder? Is he at work? Why does he have to go to work every day?
Why do we have a baby? Why do we only have all girls and no boys?
Where is Ashlynn's other belly button? [Note: This is in reference to her umbilical cord stub that fell off when Ashlynn was 4 days old. She can't get it through her head that it was attached to her belly button, not a separate one.]
I'm gonna lose this tooth tomorrow. Daddy's going to pull it out tomorrow. [She says that while trying to wiggle a tooth that is not loose at all. She desperately wants to lose a tooth and get an ice cream cone like her big sisters do.]
Is God in the sun, or is He everywhere?
Good thing our family loves to laugh!

picture thanks to my MIL

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Three in One

Tonight after supper, we were doing our family devotional from John 14. This is the passage where Jesus tells the disciple of the Holy Spirit. So we started discussing the Holy Spirit and the Trinity. Since the Trinity is a difficult concept even for theologians, it's always difficult to try to explain to children.

After Kelly was explaining that the three persons of the Godhead were the same but different, this is the conversation that followed:

Kora: It's kind of like God has three heads.

Kelly: Not really, because that would imply that there were three minds and three different thought processes. But that's not the case. There is one God, but they have different roles.

Aubrey: It's more like the one head has three bodies!

Firsts: Rolling Over

A few minutes ago I went into the bedroom where I had put Ashlynn, and found that she was looking up at me, lying on her back. I had laid her down on her tummy. She looked a little puzzled, as if thinking, "How did that happen?"

I brought her out to tell the older girls what she had done. The response from seven year old Brynna: "Oh, she is growing up too fast!"

Don't I know it.

"The days are long, but the years are short."

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Friday, July 11, 2008

Those Lazy Days of Summer

Just in case you are wondering what they were huddled around, Kora had this
frog in her hand. Evidently they were playing toss the frog.

Am I the only adult who wonders where those "lazy days of summer" went?

Thursday, July 10, 2008


I have spent the last two days taking kids to the eye doctor (unfortunately many places like this and my dentist have a two-per-family-per-day rule. A real drag for larger than average families). And someone in our family will be getting new glasses! This person is really cute in them, and is excited to get them. I'll post pictures when they come in!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Early Morning Quiet

Ashlynn is sleeping through the night about 5-6 nights out of the week now, so I have resumed a more normal schedule. Kelly and I get up at the ungodly hour of 5 a.m. so that we can work out together and eat breakfast before he goes to work. This allows me to work out, eat, shower, make my bed, and be dressed before the short people of the house start wondering downstairs.

I have to say that I am not a natural morning person. When I was a teenager, I prided myself in the fact that I could sleep until close to noon on Saturdays or in the summer. I had no problem getting up early to go to school; but given the opportunity, I would sleep the morning away. The fact that I have always been something of an insomniac didn't help this.

I had Kora pretty quickly after graduating from college and quitting my job, so I would sleep when she slept. But I found very quickly that I wasn't getting much done. And my type A personality began to long for a little more routine in my life. Plus I finally felt grown up: I was a wife and a stay-at-home mom with a baby. It was time to start keeping the house like a grown up instead of a college kid. So that's when I started getting up early enough to cook breakfast and be dressed before my kids were up. I was going to a gym three mornings a week, so I didn't have to worry about getting in a workout until later in the day.

As we had more kids and moved to San Antonio, things changed. I didn't go to a gym anymore, but got up early to meet a very good friend for a two mile speed walk every week day morning. The time of exercise and fellowship was wonderful. It also got these important things out of the way, so I could concentrate on my main job: raising my girls and running the house.

Ever since then I have gotten up early to work out and be dressed before I have to deal with kids. If I don't, I feel like I am running behind all day. I still don't really like getting up at 5 am, but I like the results. I love to shed baby weight and be in good shape. I hate having to take a shower and get dressed after the kids are up. And I really hate feeling behind.

But the last week or two I have realized something else. I like the early morning. I love the way the early light filters in through the blinds. There's something about the quality of the light that is different. I love the stillness of the house, the quiet expectancy of the day. There is a peace felt at that time that I don't feel at any other time of the day. And I'd missed that the last few months.

It's good to be back.

Monday, July 7, 2008

A Weekend Well Spent

We celebrated the long Fourth of July weekend in a slightly unorthodox manner. We had bought some furniture a few weeks ago and it was delivered last Thursday, so we spent that evening and a good part of Friday and Saturday cleaning out and reorganizing to accommodate the new stuff. We also had several smaller projects on the to-do list for the weekend, so we were hopping all weekend long.

And of course, I had to go shopping for new accessories to go with the new furniture.

Friday evening we did grill, but we had something special. I'm sure most people know that Wal-mart price matches other stores. One of the other grocery stores here in town had t-bone and Blue Bell Ice Cream on sale. We don't have one of their stores near us, so I took the flyer to Wal-mart Friday morning, along with two $1 off coupons from Blue Bell's website. I bought t-bone steak - which we hadn't had in ages - for $3.97 a pound (versus over $11 a pound regular Wal-mart price) and two half-gallons of Blue Bell for $1.88 each. So for $15.95, plus some red potatoes and fresh corn I already had at home, we had a really good steak dinner with our favorite ice cream for supper for 7 people. Not too bad, and a wonderful treat. So if you get flyers for grocers you don't normally frequent, scan them for deal you can get at Wal-mart!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Do you know what this is?

Yes, this is our house.

But what is that in front?

Yes, it is a yellow car. A VERY yellow car. (Or, as Lauryn used to say, "Daddee's yewwow cah.")

But do you know what else it is?

It is a paid off very yellow car! Yep, we paid the car off this week. Now we are going to roll a good part of the money that used to go into the car payment into the suburban payment. So hopefully we'll pay that off soon as well.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

A New Toy

Look how big Ashlynn's getting! Not to mention how cute she is.
Now that she's holding her head up pretty well, and loves to stand up, we pulled out the exersaucer and she loves it!

She also loves to smile at the people she loves.
The little spinning thing with all the little balls startles her everytime she spins it.
Did I mention just how cute she is???