December 31, 2007

Our Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!!!

Here are a few pics of our New Year's Eve / Day celebrations (such as they were).

Robert's brother and his wife are in Alaska on a mission trip, so we invited their three kids over to enjoy fireworks with us.

Caleb was the only one brave enough to do the sparklers.

Here's what Mattie thought of the big fireworks. (Strangely enough, she asked for them more than 10 times today!)

This was a stark improvement over our July festivities! (In July, he spent the entire evening inside... this time he was happy as long as he was on the porch and kept his ears covered.)

Gotta love those big brown eyes...

And here's Jacob keeping his ears covered. He did enjoy them a lot more than this face looks like.

Emily liked watching them from on top of the car!

All the happy kiddos on the porch (as far from the fireworks as possible!).

That was it for our New Year's Eve party. We put the kids in bed by nine. And I got to experience the ultimate event: going to Wal Mart by myself... with almost no one there!

Then I came home and we vegged on the couch long enough to see the ball drop. Don't you wish you were so cool??

Then today was my day to help with the kids, so we made pizza for lunch and then did some New Year's Day learnin' and fun. We talked about the calendar starting over and looked at our 2007 calendar. We closed it after December and opened a new one. (I bought Jacob his own calendar to keep on the wall this year.) This seemed to help the kids understand it was a new something. We also did a printable book from and colored a bit.

Once I got the little ones in bed, we made fireworks with glue and glitter! The older three loved this!

Happy New Year!!

P.S. I know I have some issues with my night pictures. It's not the camera's fault... It's quite difficult to take a picture with a heavy camera at night while holding a toddler clinging with a death grip!

December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

From us and our cousins!

We've had a great day today! We started out sleeping later than I expected... that alone is cause for celebration! Then we opened stockings, had breakfast, opened kids presents, had some snacks, then opened adult presents.

Jacob has a couple of presents left (that may get held until his birthday at this point), and Mattie still has a ton left! She was so content to open slowly I didn't push her at all. Jacob's favorite was the ascending track risers that he got. He also got a Thomas and Friends video game that he hasn't played yet... I'm pretty sure it will move into the favorite spot as soon as he does!

And Mattie has been so overwhelmed with the twenty people in the house, she's hardly noticed her gifts! Plus she only opened about 5, so she has a lot to go. One major hit was a set of animal finger puppets from IKEA that Kjirstin got her. They are SOOOOO cute! She is also enjoying a teddy bear that lights up and changes colors. (Thanks, Danny!) And I'll let you know more when she's finished! Now that I think of it, she also loved the Thomas tee shirt my mom and dad bought her. She's had it on all day!

My most exciting gift was... a new camera! (A picture of one anyway.) Mine has been dying for a month or so. And I've been wanting one that focuses almost instantly and has a great zoom, so I'm getting to move up a bit! I'm going to get the Canon Digital Rebel XTi. :) Thank you, Honey!!!

And Robert got seasons 1 & 2 of The Office and a great back massager that fits in a comfy chair, so we're set for comfortable entertainment for awhile!

After all of that, we went caroling. We have a family that is gifted musically, and with all of us together we have a pretty solid choir! So we went to carol for one of Mom's friends who lives alone and is in bed with a back injury. Then we went to a nursing home right down the street. We walked in and there were 8 or so people right there, so we jsut stodd right there and caroled for them! A few of them sang along with us and smiled, and a few of the others just sat quietly, but they all enjoyed it. We gave them hugs as we left and they hugged us like they'd known us for years. That's worth getting out of my comfort zone. That is what it's all about...

Tomorrow we have more family coming, so we're having our traditional meal and Happy Birthday, Jesus! party then.

I hope all had a great Christmas day celebration as well!

December 18, 2007

Sweet sleep breathing

I was finding a bit of joy on my journey last night about midnight. Jacob has been having a really hard time sleeping the past two weeks as a side effect of some medicine. He's been awake for several hours each night anywhere between midnight and 6AM; it's different each night. He is getting better about not coming into our room repeatedly as he's realizing there is nothing I can do for him, but I do think he gets lonely upstairs all by himself for that long. So, last night I let him start in my bed and told him I'd move him into Mattie's room on the floor after she was asleep. Well, I went to bed soon after they did and was afraid she wasn't asleep yet, so I just let him stay in my bed (which is a major treat for him!). When Robert is home I don't sleep a bit with a kiddo in the bed, because it's just too crowded, but without him, it's not bad at all, though not a habit we want to get into.

Anyway, as I was lying there awake last night I was just watching his sweet little face with his thumb in his mouth and "Joe" right next to his face, his sweet, steady breathing sounded so restful. (I wanted to get up and take a picture, but I couldn't make myself get out of bed.) I had just some time to realize what good boy he is. He's sensitive, thoughtful, helpful, bright, giving and tries so hard to do the right thing so many times! And then I remember he's only 5! Only 5. As a mommy I spend so much time correcting behavior, sometimes it's hard to remember what good kids I have. I do have two really good kids.

December 15, 2007

Our First Respite Day

I am so tired! Today we had our first respite day... basically free babysitting for children with special needs and their siblings under 12 so the parents can have a break. We did it from 9-2 today...kind of a long time for our first one, but we wanted the parents to be able to go Christmas shopping. We had 11 kids (6 with special needs and 5 typical) and 6 helpers (yes, I know that sounds like a lot, but with three autistic boys and one more who are all prone to running off, and four kids who were not confident with pottying, we needed more help than we had! In spite of our exhaustion, we certainly decided it was a great success!!

The parents came back very mom spent the day alone with her mom (something she hadn't done in more than 2 years)... another couple got their Christmas shopping done for all their kids!... another mom got some painting done... another went home to an empty house to enjoy it. All of these are things we sooooo take for granted!

We had free playtime, then a puppet show (performed by a 33 year old man with autism!) which was the highlight by FAR, then we did some crafts, read a book, had a pizza lunch and had a "Happy Birthday, Jesus!" party.

We're planning another one for Valentine's Day... with more helpers, another puppet show, and dinners in lunch boxes, I think. And because they loved the puppets so much, we're going to make a puppet with each child to take home. (Most of them were begging for more puppets! Mattie is still talking about them!) I think we'll have more kids then also, because we will have more time to advertise and these parents will have spread the word.

It was a blessing to be able to give these parents a break, and a blessing to be able to share the day with other believers as well! We had a great time.

December 10, 2007

The 12 Days of Homeschooling

Someone posted this on a message board I read tonight. I thought it was cute.

The 12 Days of Homeschooling By Anonymous

On the first day of homeschool my neighbor said to me,
“Can you homeschool legally?”

On the second day of homeschool my neighbor said to me,
“Are they socialized, can you homeschool legally?”

On the third day of homeschool my neighbor said to me,
“Do you give them tests, are they socialized, can you homeschool legally?”

On the fourth day of homeschool my neighbor said to me,
“What about P.E., do you give them tests, are they socialized, can you homeschool legally?”

On the fifth day of homeschool my neighbor said to me,
“YOU ARE SO STRANGE! What about P.E., do you give them tests, are they socialized, can you homeschool legally?”

On the sixth day of homeschool my neighbor said to me,
“How long will you homeschool, YOU ARE S0 STRANGE, what about P.E. , do you give them tests, are they socialized, can you homeschool legally?”

On the seventh day of homeschool my neighbor said to me,
“Look at what they’re missing, how long will you homeschool, YOU ARE SO STRANGE!,
what about P.E., do you give them tests, are they socialized, do you homeschool legally?”

On the eighth day of homeschool my neighbor said to me,
“Why do you do this, look at what they’re missing, how long will you homeschool, YOU ARE SO STRANGE, what about P.E. do you give them tests, are they socialized, do you homeschool legally?”

On the ninth day of homeschool my neighbor said to me, “They’ll miss the prom, why do you do this, look at what they’re missing, how long will you homeschool, YOU ARE SO STRANGE!, what about P.E. do you give them tests, are they socialized, do you homeschool legally?”

On the tenth day of homeschool my neighbor said to me,
“What about graduation, they’ll miss the prom, why do you do this, look at what they’re missing, how long will you homeschool, YOU ARE SO STRANGE!, what about P.E., do you give them tests, are they socialized, can you homeschool legally?”

On the eleventh day of homeschool my neighbor said to me,
“I could never do that, what about graduation, they’ll miss the prom, why do you do this, look at what they’re missing, how long will you homeschool, YOU ARE SO STRANGE, what about P.E., do you give them tests, are they socialized, can you homeschool legally?”

On the twelfth day of homeschool my neighbor said to me,
“Can they go to college, I could never do that, what about graduation, they’ll miss the prom, why do you do this, look at what they’re missing, how long will you homeschool, YOU ARE SO STRANGE, What about P.E., do you give them tests, are they socialized, can you homeschool legally?”

On the thirteenth day of homeschool I thoughtfully replied:
“They Can go to college, yes you can do this, they can have graduation, we don’t like the prom, we do it cuz its best, they are missing nothing, we’ll homeschool forever, WE ARE NOT STRANGE!, We give them P.E., and we give them tests, they are socialized, AND WE HOMESCHOOL LEGALLY!

On the fourteenth day of homeschool my neighbor said to me,
“How can I get started, why didn’t you tell me, where do I buy curriculum, when is the next conference, WILL PEOPLE THINK WE’RE STRANGE? I think we can do this, if you will help us, can we join P.E. and we’ll homeschool legally.”

What would you do if an angel visited you?

This was supposed to be an opportunity for contemplation, I believe, as a part of a Christmas activity book Jacob was working on today while I was getting my teeth cleaned. Here's his unabashed response that made me laugh out loud!!! Actually, I'm still laughing out loud!!

St. Nicholas

We read this book the day we learned about St. Nicholas, December 6...aka St. Nicholas Day. I did explain that the concept of Santa came from Nicholas, but other than that we just learned about him. He did some crafts and stuff at Candace's the day before, so he and I just talked about him and tried to think of things we could do like St. Nicholas did... give gifts to others without revealing your identity in order to really do it just because it is "better to give than to receive." At first Jacob wasn't really getting in to this. He was fine with the idea of giving gifts, but couldn't really come up with anything to do for the people I suggested.

As we were riding to Grandmama's for a visit, he said, "Mom, I know what I could do. Colin [a 3 year old Thomas-loving cousin] really loves his blue track trains, so I could give him three or four of mine for him to have. That would be great to do for St. Nicholas Day." And sure enough, after much explanation that he was not getting these trains back (he even offered Thomas!!! which I turned down because it one part of it isn't working right) he impatiently said, "but Mom, I just want to give them because it would be kind... And I know Colin will be delighted when he opens them up and gets to play with them!"

When we got home, with no prompting from me, he chose the trains to give, wrapped them himself, decorated the gift tag with Thomas stickers and urged me to "hurry up" so we could take them to Colin. So we went over and left them at his front door for him to find. (Valerie walked to the window as we were running back to the car and Jacob ran behind the car to hide so he wouldn't be found out. It was so cute!)

Fast day: "Mom, I know Caleb [a 2 year old Thomas-loving cousin] really loves his wooden track trains, so I'd like to give him some of mine to play with." So, again, he chose them, wrapped them, decorated the tag and urged me to get them over there for him.

I am proud of him for his giving spirit. It was neat that he wasn't really excited about buying a favorite treat for Grandmama (because it had no value for him to understand), but was thoroughly motivated to give his trains to little boys that he knew would love them as much as he does. I guess that's how the Lord uses us when we're willing to remember how we feel in a situation and want to minister to others for that reason. He has always been a sensitive boy, it's just masked by the know-it-all, unreserved personality he has. It's been refreshing to enjoy this part of him this week! And it's always good for a reminder that we're all diamonds in the rough.

And back tot eh St. Nicholas Day tradition of dropping gifts off secretly... Jacob enjoyed this so much this year, I think I may make this our new way of giving gifts to our local cousins instead of at our family get together (which is so chaotic, there's no way the kids could even begin to contemplate the "giving" part of it all). It added an element of excitement to the giving for him, one that I want to keep!

Christmas Tree

The day we studied the roots of Christmas trees we read Eve Bunting's Night Tree. It is a sweet book where a family goes to a forest each Christmas Eve and decorates a tree for the animals. So we did a version of this as a family! We made ornaments with cookie cutters from white bread, peanut butter, and birdseed. And we made popcorn/cranberry strings. We took them all outside and decorated the leafless birch tree in front of our kitchen window. This was a fun activity, mostly because we did it one day when Robert was home to join us.

Mattie loving the cookie cutters

Jacob working hard on his cranberry popcorn string. (He surprised me at how well he did with this, needle and all!)

Mattie's contribution to the popcorn stringing.

Even Robert got in on the stringing and made us an 8 foot garland!!

Here's just a little proof that I exist.

Our various decorations

Who needs a ladder with Daddy around?

Our decorated tree!

And Silas getting in on the goods!! (Well, we said we decorated it for the animals, I guess...we didn't say which animals.) He got everything under 5 feet, I believe.

Our First Week of Advent...

has not gone quite as I planned, but we've still enjoyed it, nonetheless. I've discovered that I had too many things that didn't coordinate, so we're just not getting to them all. They are all things that will be fun traditions, but they'll have to be alternating traditions!

We have been doing the Jesse Tree, though a mini version of it. I think we're going to skip the prophecy focus for this year and do that next year when Jacob will "get" that concept better. We're reading One Wintry Night and correlating the chapters with our Jesse Tree devotions. That is working well. One Wintry Night is a very well written book. (This book, with many others that were special to their family, was a beautiful, treasured gift from Mattie's birth family when she was given to us. And they didn't even know we were book-a-holics!)

And we've been studying the symbols of the Christmas season using the Lisa Welchel book I wrote about a couple of posts ago. This book has been just what I needed. I have struggled in years past wondering what traditions to do because of all the things "they" say... Who are "they" anyway???? Is a Christmas tree really pagan?? Is Santa all that bad?? Does Xmas really a way to get Christ out of Christmas? (No, by the way.) Why in the world do people eat fruitcake?? (Ha! Just kidding on that one... no book could possibly ever explain that one!) Anyway, it has been good to learn where all of these things came from. (Martin Luther was the one who started the tradition of lights on a tree. Never knew that!) It has freed me to relax about much of the stuff I would have lumped into "commercialism," and feeling free is a wonderful thing!

So far we've learned about Christmas trees, lights on the tree, advent wreaths, Saint Nicholas, and Christmas pageants. Each day we read about that symbol from The ADVENTure of Christmas by Lisa Welchel, read some children's books relating to the symbol, and read a poem relating to the symbol if I have one. (Lois Lenski's Christmas Stories happens to have many poems that have correlated well with our symbols and Jacob has really enjoyed the poetry exposure.) Then we've done some activity relating to that symbol. It's really been a fun way to get our Christmas "things" done this year!

The symbols I have planned to talk about in the next two weeks are: nativity scene, ornaments, Christmas colors, candy cane, giving gifts, wrapping gifts, poinsettia, star, candles, angels, 12 days of Christmas, and the wise men. (Obviously, some of these roots are very clear already.)

November 30, 2007

My Christmas list

I've been mulling this over and thought I'd get it all down in one place with links so it's easy for Robert (and any of the rest of you who feel giving this year! Ha!). So here are a few of the things I'd like this year...

*Renewed subscription to WORLD magazine (I have 8 free weeks and I'm really enjoying it. $10 cheaper at this site.)
*Cubic Zirconia nickel free earrings (The ones I have make my ears itch. I'll ask for diamonds another year.)
*An apron (maybe even a cute blue one??)
*Decorative cross to hang on my wall (I love these and I think I'll start collecting them. I like the filigree ones, the ones with verses, the metal ones. Really, I like all of them, and I don't think you can have too many crosses in a house!)
*A cozy pullover sweatshirt (Can you have too many of these??)
-that isn't blue (won't wear blue with blue jeans) or white (I'll stain it immediately!)
-and doesn't have a winter scene on it (I can't bring myself to wear that in April, KWIM??)
-plain, brand name, sportswear name, I don't really care... just not Hanes Her Way from WalMart! :)
*Fontanini 5 inch Nativity pieces (I only have Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus/Manger)
Amazon list:
*Classics of the Christian Faith CD set (I really want these!)
*Preparing Him for the Other Woman
*The Sacred Romance on CD (Thanks, Little Acorns, for that idea!)

I suppose that's good. Normally I have so few requests I always know exactly what I'm getting. This year with enough ideas I guess some of it will actually be a surprise!)

I am Sooooo Excited!!

I have been procrastinating my planning for December. (Yes, I know it starts tomorrow.) I've known that I wanted to focus some learning on Advent and traditional Christmas symbols. I've also known that I wanted to read some great meaty Christmas books. But, I've been completely overwhelmed at the prospect of putting it all together. I have no idea why, but there are so many good ideas out there online, I just couldn't narrow them down or face the thought of organizing them, so I've just ignored it altogether (while being quite stressed about it)! Today I had a few minutes alone (read: to casually browse items available for purchase) in the advent section at the Christian bookstore and found this book. It's by Lisa Welchel and it's wonderful!

Here is the Amazon description (click on the book to see more):
The ADVENTure of Christmas is a guide for moms concerned that their children are losing sight of Jesus in the midst of the distractions the holiday season brings. Lisa Whelchel was such a mom, but instead of abandoning the traditions of Christmas she rediscovered their original meanings, which were intended to remind people of God’s unfathomable gift. Hanging lights on the house, wrapping gifts, and decorating the tree have become opportunities to teach her children about how they relate to Jesus’ birth. With The ADVENTure of Christmas, mothers can redeem what’s been lost from the very symbols that are gentle reminders of the true meaning of Christmas.

Have you discovered that Jesus sometimes gets lost in the middle of the hustle and bustle of His birthday party? Would you like to be able to keep your children's focus on Jesus and also join them in the wonder of the celebration?

For each of the twenty-four days preceding Christmas, The ADVENTure of Christmas serves as a fun and handy guide that describes the significance behind your favorite traditions. Hanging lights on the house, wrapping gifts, and decorating the tree will become opportunities to share how these customs relate to Jesus' birth. The ADVENTure of Christmas recaptures the true meaning of this beloved season, giving reasons to celebrate for years to come.

So, now I'm organized all of a sudden! Just what I wanted for my symbols of Christmas study, all written up for me! (And when I got to the register, I asked if they had any coupons and the cashier pulled out a 25% off one for me! Yippee!!!) I'll put our books in wherever they fit best.

For our Advent Devotionals, we're going to do the book above. We've not done a Jesse Tree before. Actually, I didn't know what it was until just this week. This book takes you through the season of advent using devotionals based on themes of the story of Christ... the big picture. Each day the devotion is based on a symbol of a significant part of Christ's story. After reading the devotional, you take an ornament of that symbol and hang it on the Jesse Tree as a reminder of that part of the story. Through the Advent season, you go through the entire story of Christ. (I think I butchered that description, but it's really neat!)

The last thing I've been wanting is some sort of Advent calendar, but haven't fallen in love with any but's magnetic, wooden, and $65. So, it's still at the store! (I did come home and google it with some good fortune...only $40 in several places.) To get us through this year, I didn't really want one that just opened up a little paper door, and chocolate ones are out for us (food allergies), but I found a cute one with stickers tonight. So, each day we'll put one sticker on the background and by day 25, we will have a complete Nativity Scene! Nothing spectacular, but for five bucks, it fits the bill for this year. Then in January, hopefully that magnetic one will get cheaper...

Some other things we're going to do:
*Wrap up a book (some are library books), activity, nativity playset for the kids to open one each day of December (uhhh, not necessarily starting tomorrow!)
*Our own advent wreath and candles to light on Sundays as a family
*Two unit studies: The Miracle of Jonathan Toomey, Annika's Secret Wish
*Read lots of Christmas books and do activities/learning that go with them
*Go visit a nursing home and take some things we'll make as we learn about our symbols

Advent season here we come!!!

November 28, 2007

I am a cappuccino!

You Are a Cappuccino

You're fun, outgoing, and you love to try anything new.
However, you tend to have strong opinions on what you like.
You are a total girly girly at heart - and prefer your coffee with good conversation.
You're the type that seems complex to outsiders, but in reality, you are easy to please

November 26, 2007

Our Thanksgiving Fun

We enjoyed learning about the first Thanksgiving this year. Right before we started, Jacob said, "What really is Thanksgiving anyway, Mom?" So it was a perfect time to do it!

We studied a bit about several aspects of Thanksgiving... history and tradition. We learned about pumpkins, turkeys, pilgrims, the Mayflower, and real Pilgrim life and how it differs from ours. We talked a lot about being thankful for many things and the many people around us who have so much less than we do.

We went to a food pantry and helped there. It was a perfect day for the kids! They sorted through a large box (50 cubic feet or so!) of canned goods and found all the pumpkin and cranberry sauce so the food pantry could hand it out before Thanksgiving.

Then we reorganized/relocated/stacked the peanut butter and jelly for them.

The neat thing is that the director chose jobs that were perfect for our kids, and actually met a need. Most of the food pantry workers are older people who can't bend over easily, so the kids provided about 6 man hours of bending over!! This is definitely something I want to do again. Hopefully regularly.

We also went with some other families to a nursing home and handed out goody bags. I was so proud of the kids! Even with all the tubes, wheelchairs, bruises, smells, and other things they don't normally encounter, the kids were willing to get up close and give a, "Happy Thanksgiving!" as they handed out their bags, even if they were a bit reserved. Many of the kids doled out hugs happily as well!

Back to our studies, Jacob and a friend made a house like the pilgrims. We wanted to do a "boy" craft because we were talking about what the Pilgrim boys did for their chores. So we collected sticks and grass from the yard and "built" a house!

I'm thankful our house is a bit more sturdy than this...

With our cranberry study, we made cranberry sauce from scratch after tasting naked cranberries! Jacob said, "that is the most tart thing I've ever had!!!" while making a very puckered up face. :) I tasted one as well and he was right! We also made cranberry muffins which were very tasty. They were supposed to be for Thanksgiving day, but we ate 2/3 of the batch the day we made them!

We also learned that a sign of a good cranberry is that it bounces. The kids had fun testing to see if some cranberries were good or bad. We learned all about cranberry bogs as well...and all of this was new to me too! (One reason I love homeschooling!!!)

And we made our Thankful tree again.

This was the first time we learned specific songs for the season. We learned the Doxology (which I love, strangely enough!) and Give Thanks which the kids sang for Grandmama and Grandpa on Thanksgiving Day! We attempted to memorize Psalm 100, but realized we'd bitten off more then we could chew for our first attempt at memorization (2 songs and 5 verses) while potty training the little girl.

We had a great Thanksgiving several weeks! I'm thrilled that we're moving on to Christmas, just because I love it so much. Robert and Jacob put up the tree while I was "Proverbs 31-ing it" on Friday (as my aunt calls it!). This was a great surprise as Robert is, um, not always thrilled about doing it. A thoughtful gift for me from my men! Then we decorated it the next day as a family.

And now on to our Christmas units!!!

November 25, 2007

Signs of the times

Jacob: Mom, let's put some more red balls on the tree.
Me: We can't, Jacob. We only have the glass ones that have already broken and Mattie will just break more of them. We have to get some that won't break.
Jacob: But I think they're so pretty.
Me: We don't have the right kind, but we can get some at Wal Mart if they have them.
Jacob: Why don't you just look on Firefox or Google? I'm sure you can find them there.

Is this really my 5 year old???

November 22, 2007

November 21, 2007

Not a Martha Stewart Thanksgiving

Martha Stewart will not be dining with us this Thanksgiving. I'm telling you in advance, so don't act surprised. Since Ms. Stewart won't be coming, I've made a few small changes:

1. My sidewalk will not be lined with homemade, paper bag luminaries. After a trial run, I decided that no matter how cleverly done, rows of flaming lunch sacks do not have the desired welcoming effect.

2. Once inside, please note that the entry hall is not decorated with the swags of Indian corn and fall foliage I had planned to make. Instead, I've gotten the neighbor kids involved in the decorating by having them track in colorful autumn leaves from the front yard. The mud was their idea.

3. The dining table will not be covered with expensive linens, fancy china, or crystal goblets. If possible, we will use dishes that match and I will try to make sure everyone will get a fork. Since this IS Thanksgiving, we will refrain from using the plastic Peter Rabbit plate and the Santa napkins from last Christmas.

4. My centerpiece will not be the tower of fresh fruit and flowers that I promised. Instead we will be displaying a hedgehog-like decoration hand-crafted from the finest construction paper. The artist has assured me that it is a turkey.

5. We will be dining fashionably late. The children can entertain you while you wait. I'm sure they will be happy to share every choice comment I made this morning regarding Thanskgiving, the pilgrims and the turkey hotline. Please remember that most of these comments were made at 5:00 a.m. upon discovering that the turkey was still hard enough to cut diamonds. As accompaniment to the children's recital, I will play a recording of tribal drumming. If the children should mention that I don't own a recording of that tribal drumming, or that tribal drumming sounds suspiciously like a frozen turkey in a clothes dryer, ignore them. They are lying.

6. I toyed with the idea of ringing a dainty silver bell to announce the start of our feast but I chose to keep our traditional method. We've also decided against a formal seating arrangement. When the smoke alarm sounds, please gather around the table and sit where you like. In the spirit of harmony, we will ask the children to sit at a separate table in a room next door.

7. Now, I know you have all seen pictures of one person carving a turkey in front of a crowd of appreciative onlookers. This will not be happening at our dinner. For safety reasons, the turkey will be carved in a private ceremony. I stress "private" meaning: Do not, under any circumstances, enter the kitchen to laugh at me. Do not send small, unsuspecting children to check on my progress. I have an electric knife. The turkey is unarmed. It stands to reason that I will eventually win. When I do, we will eat.

8. I would like to remind my young diners that "passing the rolls" is not a football play. Nor is it a request to bean your sister in the head with warm tasty bread.

9. Oh, and one reminder for the adults: For the duration of the meal, and especially while in the presence of young diners, we will refer to the giblet gravy by its lesser-known name: Cheese Sauce. If a young diner questions you regarding the origins or type of Cheese Sauce, plead ignorance. Cheese Sauce stains.

10. Before I forget, there is one last change. Instead of offering a choice among 12 different scrumptious desserts, we will be serving the traditional apple pie, garnished with iced cream and small fingerprints. You will still have a choice, take it or leave it.


P.S. I looked for the author and couldn't find it. It's not me!

November 20, 2007

She succeeded!

I think we can say the little girl is successfully potty trained! We started our "potty boot camp" last Tuesday afternoon and by Thursday I was about ready to give up. Then she showed some progress that afternoon. I told Robert I'd hang in there one more day and I'm so glad I did! She's only had two accidents since Saturday, and has been to church, a birthday party, Grandmama's house and numerous errands! And then we made it through two more big steps today... she pooed in the potty this morning and came to me (for the first time) and said, "Potty!" this afternoon!! So, I think she's got it!

She is very cute when she's doing her business... she sits there very quietly, then when she goes she gets all excited and yells, "Yay!! and claps for herself. Then as soon as I get back in there she faithfully asks for a "mint."

My baby girl is growing up...

November 17, 2007

A Great Christmas Gift Suggestion

I'm trying to find a couple of gifts for both of my kids together this year. One of them is a marble track. I thought I'd pass on the suggestion!

We have had a borrowed marble track at our house for 6 months or so. My mom brought it from her house (It was my 22 year old sister's more than 15 years ago!) for my kids to play with while I did lots of hours of painting and stuff last winter. And my kids have played with it every day! This is one toy that has been played with by boys, girls, toddlers to 12 year olds. Virtually every child who comes into my house plays with this toy. It requires creativity, teaches cause and effect, and doesn't have a large footprint!!! :) Mattie loves to roll the marbles over and over, and Jacob is spending hours each day building and rebuilding various tracks, tunnels, bridges, and shelters.

The one we have is on borrowed time (it's life, I mean) and the plastic is getting brittle. I want to return it to my mom's house because the grandkids enjoy it so much, and my sister might want to save it for her kids. So I'm buying my kids one of their own this year.

Here is the discovery toys one. This is an updated version of the one that has lasted so long at our house.
I'm buying this one from Mindware. It seems a bit sturdier than the one we have, is cheaper, and has some fun pieces to it.

I know my kids will be so excited when they open this gift, so I thought I'd share the idea!

November 14, 2007

Ah, what blessed silence!

Well, minus the dishwasher, washing machine, and dryer.

I decided to take a stab at potty training Mattie since she's exhibiting many of the characteristics on the list that says she might be ready. And I had 4 uninterrupted days, with the exception of church tonight. Anyway, we survived yesterday afternoon, but quickly realized this morning that I cannot focus on her like I need to with Jacob around! (I do a potty training boot camp, if you will, which is nothing but pottying for a couple of days. It is a bit inconvenient, but it worked really well with Jacob, so we're doing it that way again.) He wants to talk, sing, giggle, climb on me (because I'm so close to the ground so much) and tons of other distracting things that 5 year old boys do! So, what else to do but call Grandmama? :) She rescued me (and probably Jacob) and decided to keep him a bit longer after Mattie went to sleep. So now it's been 2+ hours of quiet at my house! Ahhhhhh... not something that happens often around here since Jacob stopped napping over a year ago.

I should have taken a nap or buried my nose in a book, but I decided to clean my rather desperate looking house instead. Tis quite a pity to wash floors in my quiet time!!! Oh well, I have gotten two loads of laundry through, put laundry away (don't be too's been clean since last week!), vacuumed and washed my floors, cleaned my kitchen and loaded my dishwasher. (Good thing it's not our county with water restrictions!)

I suppose I should get off here and go clean a few more horizontal surfaces before the princess wakes up and I'm required to say, "When you have to go pee-pee you RUN to the potty!!" every two minutes until I'm rescued by church time.

PS And for anyone who's curious, yes, she looks incredibly cute in the big girl panties!! Especially when she pulls them up herself and walks around with the top half of her hiney hanging out completely oblivious to her indiscretion!

November 12, 2007

Even better cookies!

I had to make more cookies today, because we ate so many we didn't have enough for the kids luncheon tomorrow. This time I altered the recipe a bit with better results. These were softer and not as greasy (I cut the fat in half).

Here's the recipe for "Egg /Dairy / Corn Free Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies:"
1/2 c + 1T margarine, softened (or 1 c shortening)
3/4 c white sugar (I used turbinado)
3/4 c brown sugar
1/2 c unsweetened applesauce
2 t vanilla

2 1/2 c all purpose flour (I used fresh ground soft white flour)
1/2 c oats
1 t baking soda
1/2 t baking powder
1 t salt

2 c chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (325 degrees for convection). Grease cookie sheets.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the margarine, brown sugar and white sugar until light and fluffy. Add applesauce and vanilla .Combine the flour, oats, baking soda, powder and salt; gradually mix into the creamed mixture. Finally, fold in the chocolate chips. Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto the prepared cookie sheets.
  3. Bake for 12-15 minutes in the preheated oven, until light brown. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
I will say, if you can tolerate dairy, use butter instead. Nothing is as good as real butter in chocolate chip cookies.

November 10, 2007

Christmas Lists

I decided to put our Christmas lists up here so all my friends know exactly what to buy us!!! Ha! Just kidding. But I decided this would be a good place to put the things I'm watching for and thinking about for the kids. And just in case you're wondering, they're not getting all of this!
(**means I already have it.)

For Jacob, I'm looking for some fun track pieces for his wooden Thomas and Friends set. He has gotten really good at building some fantastic tracks lately, and some of these special pieces would make it more fun for him.
Ascending track risers (I'm hoping I can hit Uncle Peter up to make us some of these.)
Wacky track
Adapt a track
**Some blue track Thomas and Friends trains I got awhile ago on a good sale
**Christmas Eve Jammies
**Wooden track Mavis
Wooden track freight cars
**Wooden track emergency vehicles from Target

Jacob & Mattie
**Mindware Marble Run & Add on Set
**Mr. Potato Head jumbo pack
**Dress up box with some costumes in it

Mattie (This list is kind of for birthday and Christmas since they're so close together. I'll give her some of this for Christmas and some at her birthday in February.)
Edible chapstick! :)
Disney Princess purse (A cheapo one)
Fisher Price Tea Set (got this on sale recently!)
**Little People Sweet Sounds Home (Woohoo for Ebay!!)
OR kitchen/dishes/food (Fisher Price Grow with me Kitchen)
Crocs Jibbitz (decorations for her beloved Crocs)
**A princess book
A wooden peg puzzle farm animal mother/baby shapes

**Christmas Eve Jammies
Homemade "Bag of Buckles" (Because she LOVES to buckle and unbuckle things!)
Small Stuffed kitty cat (She LOVES cats and dogs and plays with her little stuffed doggie all the time.)

So, if anyone sees a great deal on any of this stuff, let me know (ESPECIALLY the Thomas stuff)!!

I made good cookies!!!

I realize that is nothing to celebrate in the average kitchen, but in my life, it's a very big deal! If you don't remember my last attempt at chocolate chip cookies, see here. But look what I made today!!

These are egg free, dairy free, corn free oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, and they are yummy and not flat as a pancake! Woohoo!! Last time I tried for wheat free too, but that was too much for one cookie! So this time, I found a recipe that is originally made with shortening, used applesauce and baking powder for the eggs, added a bit more flour and some oats to bulk them up and they are great! They are greasy, but I think that's just the shortening. (I think next time I'll cut it down some.) I'm just happy to make cookies that look like something non-allergy free!

Here's the recipe for "Egg free Dairy Free Corn Free Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies:"
3/4 c shortening (originally 1c)
3/4 c white sugar (I used turbinado)
3/4 c brown sugar
1/2 c unsweetened applesauce
2 t vanilla

2 1/2 c all purpose flour (I used fresh ground soft white flour)
1/2 c oats
1 t baking soda
1/2 t baking powder
1 t salt

2 c chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the shortening, brown sugar and white sugar until light and fluffy. Add applesauce and vanilla .Combine the flour, oats, baking soda, powder and salt; gradually mix into the creamed mixture. Finally, fold in the chocolate chips. Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto the prepared cookie sheets.
  3. Bake for 10-12 minutes in the preheated oven, until light brown. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
I will say, if you can tolerate dairy, use butter instead. Nothing is as good as real butter in chocolate chip cookies.

November 06, 2007

Our Turkey Shirts!

We made these turkey shirts today! I saw this idea for a project here, and decided to use it on t-shirts for the kids instead. They love them and really enjoyed making them! They took less than 10 minutes each too!

Here is a close up of the turkey in case you decide to do them with your kids. I used acrylic fabric paints and plain white t-shirts (girls at Kohl's and boys at WalMart). And one this in steps! Palm/thumb, then one finger at a time. Then I free-handed the feet, beak, waddle and eye.

November 05, 2007

It's raining!!

And it is such a beautiful sound! I love a rainy day to snuggle up on the couch and didn't realize how much I missed the rain! It is actually pouring right now and beating against my big sliding glass doors behind me. And earlier we even had thunder!! Aaaaaah, what a blessing to our drought covered land! And to my soul, to hear one of my favorite sounds! If only it weren't time for bed...

It's Thanksgiving Time!!!

I'm so ready for this holiday season! I'm about to pull out my Christmas tree already too! (I'm refraining because Robert will think I'm crazy, and he's probably right!)

Well, I finally got it together and organized my Thanksgiving plans for school. Not a minute early, am I? Here they are in case you're interested. To save myself a lot of time, I did not hyperlink all the words...just gave you the ugly ol' URLs as links. :) And I just copied the notes I made for myself, so they're not all fun to read or anything like that!

General Thanksgiving stuff

Memorize Psalm 100 – write it, put words in order, copy and send to Grandmas

Learn the Doxology

Learn "Give Thanks"

Learn "Count Your Blessings" chorus

Thankful tree

Put dates on timeline (first arrival of Mayflower, then first Thanksgiving)

Paint thumbprint fall leaves trees

Plan Thanksgiving Day menu for Jacob (turkey, sweet potatoes, rolls, pie), make some of it ahead of time with him

Major measurement/ comparison/ fractions lesson with baking

Language arts worksheets already printed (analogies/relationships, matching syllables)

Turkey color by number

Turkey t-shirt with both kids

First Thanksgiving - 2 days

Copy summary paragraph

The first Thanksgiving in the USA was held in 1621. The feast was shared by the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians. They ate corn, squash, and wild turkeys. The Indians brought most of the food.

Read The First Thanksgiving

Excellent site!!

Mayflower Study – 2 days

Life on the Mayflower – read book

Mayflower craft – still need to find one

Mayflower hat - looks very fun!

Printable map-paint it?

Summary worksheet

Printable Mayflower picture to color

Pilgrims – 2 days

Pilgrims printable book

Samuel Eaton’s Day

Lots of pictures at this site

Printable picture of pilgrim house to color

Build stick/straw house model like Pilgrims

Turkey Study – 1 day

Turkey printable book (

Hand and foot turkey craft

Read Wild Turkey book

Cranberry Thanksgiving – 2 days

Cranberry crafts (wreath around candle, garland) – make to share with Grandmas

Taste cranberries, make cranberry sauce – freeze for Thanksgiving

Cranberry bog book

Pumpkin Day – 1 day

Bake pumpkin muffins, pie??

Learn about pumpkins

Read books about pumpkins

Pumpkin printable book (

Why do we do pumpkins at Thanksgiving??

Get small pumpkin and open up, use for muffins?

Give Thanks to the Lord – 2/3 days

A unit written by Yours Truly

Five senses overview

Thanksgiving Acrostic poem

Do as much of the unit as possible, maybe Thanksgiving week

Take food to food pantry, Volunteer for an hour (take sling for Mattie!!!)

November 04, 2007

Little Hands

We went Friday for our first time to a little art group. It's called "Little Hands" and it's several homeschooling families we know around here. It's once a month, will cover some art topics, and provide some hands on fun!

Here's Mattie enjoying painting a picture of herself. She went crazy when she realized I was going to let her paint!

Each month they choose a theme of some sort to talk about. This month they were doing self-portraits. (Not a great place to start with Jacob who will know full well "That doesn't look like me!!") So I modified an idea I got from Michelle and printed a very light black and white picture of Jacob on watercolor paper so he had something to work with.

We did still have one major mouth incident involving tears (that he recovered from quickly, thankfully!), but got to learn a beauty of watercolor is that you can kind of wash it off!

So, here's mouth #2 (and the finished product). We could have put another layer of paint over this, but I didn't want to encourage the perfectionism.

So, here I present Jacob's first self-portrait! He was quite proud of it!

Jacob's compliment

I was busy working around the house the other day and Jacob comes up to me and says, "Wow, Mom! You really are a hard workin' woman!" :)


We've spent two weeks recently on dinosaurs, and here are some of the things we did!

Jacob painted a wooden dino 3D puzzle Candace found for us somewhere. Thankfully it was the T-Rex, the one he likes the best!

Here it is.

And one of the ideas in the unit we did was to bury puzzle pieces in some sand, search for them like real paleontologists do, and try to put them together without directions. This proved to be a lot of fun, but a little more work for me than I intended!

The puzzle had 48 large pieces and I buried them all! (What was I thinking??) They all started in the top two inches of sand, but apparently quickly migrated to deeper sand! After finding about 35, we pulled out the big guns and I used a grown up shovel to turn over the whole sandbox! We did find them all, thankfully, and the sandbox is nice and freshly turned over!

Some counting by 2s practice as we checked and re-checked how many pieces we'd found. (Jacob has had a hard time memorizing these and getting the pattern. After this day, he came in and they were on his Math sheet for that day. He actually got it!! The concept sunk in and has lasted!)

Jacob putting together his puzzle with no picture to look at.

And our finished product!

We made our own fossil and let it dry out.

We got a set of play dinosaurs and have had lots of scavenger hunts too. This has been good for me. Jacob has wanted to take turns hiding them, and I've struggled to find them! It's always a good thing to end up in the position of your student! (And it's been a great opportunity for the "playing" I posted about last week.)

And finally, Jacob wrote his first report! He chose the Tyrannosaurus Rex to do his report on. We had a form to complete and he found the information in his different books we had. He did really well and seemed to enjoy this! As we went through the week, he'd notice something and say, "Mom, I need to put that in my report!" We didn't get all those things added in, but still might. And I'd like for him to color it too, but who knows if that will happen either! (You can see Mattie did a small bit for him...)