Saturday, May 31, 2008

Our newest, little neighbor!

We met our newest, little neighbor today! We have had several baby birds born in/around the house, and lately we've noticed more movement/sounds in a shrub which is right up against the side of our porch where we spend many hours. So I can only assume that there has been a particular bird that has been getting used to our voices and being around us.

And this afternoon while we were outside visiting with a friend, Rena Carolyn, who came by to pick something up, Annie was out playing in the yard and came face to face with this little fella who then flew down and settled onto the chair next to us. After a while, this little fella/o allowed Tressie to pet her, and it took just a few minutes more before we were all holding her...and of course, Macy was naming her...uh, no, we're not keeping it!

Then after quite some time, we can only assume that it was his brothers and sisters that were hollering at him to "quit talking to strangers"... s/he flew off with them!

We just love watching/feeding the birds around us! Nature study up close and personal is so much more memorable; isn't it?!?

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Whew! I think they flew the coop!

For a month or so, we've been battling territory over our back porch/storage area which has had a Carolina wren (or's very difficult to tell the difference in a male/female wren) telling us that it was her territory...uh, I don't think so!

Of course, there are things out there that we need front porch broom, the girls' pencil sharpener, some of Eric's tools, lots of gardening, and lots of other things that we need on a daily basis, but for now this area has been off-limits for us...unless we want to go up against the wrath of this little lady!

Then one day this week she was gone...gone to get some food for her five, little, cute, fuzzy biddies that she had left behind...who were all hopping up and down on the window sills awaiting their momma and daddy to bring them back something to eat! that would total SEVEN birds! And that chirping is really a precious sound, but they are so loud!

We have enjoyed watching them flitting around, sitting atop one another, and even getting the strength to fly up to the next window pane...but now they can't live there forever! So we've tried to figure out what the best thing to do would be. Each day, we'd say, "That's's their last day!" Then the next day, we'd feel badly and say it again! Then yesterday we decided we'd firmly give them "one more day" in the home that they've grown to love...then that's it...they're outta here!

So this morning, we awoke to find that they're gone! Woohoo! I do hope that they've moved on to greener pastures...and not just on a daily field trip!

I can completely understand why they would want to live in our "territory," for we provide our avian friends food, water, but not shelter! And at this time of year there is a tree that we hate that they love...a mulberry tree that is producing and dropping tons of mulberries! We just have to laugh about it to keep from cryin'...the berries are everywhere, and if we're not dodging them to keep from stepping on them, then we're dodging them to keep from being hit when they're falling. The birds love them, of course! And it is music to my ears to hear them singin' away! So for now, our everyday visitors of wrens, sparrows, finches, chickadees, doves, blue jays, cardinals, woodpeckers and flickers are more than satisfied, for our home is evidently their home as well! As long as they stay outside where they belong...the more the merrier!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A quiet but fun Memorial day!

Time is certainly fa-lying! Where does it go? The older I seem to get... the faster time seems to pick up speed! So when Memorial Day sneaked up on us ( was early this year), we were more than content to choose to stay at home and finish up projects that need it! So on the Wednesday prior to the 3-day weekend, we started in on our dear daddy to "Please stay at home on Friday too!" So on Thursday night, when he came home from work, we happily began our four-day weekend! And Friday was spent having a leisurely lunch (at our favorite Mexican restaurant!), running errands around town, and doing a little shopping that we don't normally have the time to do. Then after 'sleeping in' on Saturday, we completed quite a few projects around the house...what a treat to mark those off the checklist(s)! And Sunday was church and a lovely bridal shower for my dear friend Ivey, who's getting married in a couple of Saturdays....can't wait for the big day, Ivey!
Then our most coveted day of all...our official holiday, Memorial Day! Another quiet day at home to continue wrapping up our projects...then our good friends, the Newtons, invited us out for some yummy barbecue and a movie! So we finished up our Cinderella Monday, got dressed up and hit the town!
Thanks so much again, Dr. Phil and Rena Carolyn, for such a lovely evening!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Our Northern Flicker is back!

Our family recently spotted a Northern Flicker enjoying a feast of ants ('s an 'all you can eat' buffet!) in our side yard! We have seen her several times, but we're still not sure where she's living...but we do find her fascinating! And I'm personally thankful when she comes around when we're working on our nature study! I'm so thankful that God's creation is so full of creatures of varying sizes, colors, habits, sounds, etc.!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Some new books!

Today the girls and I went to a used curriculum/book first ever...and it was a lot of fun! Earlier this month I reserved a table for my girlfriend Betsy and me, and this morning I called Bets to chick'n out since I wasn't feeling very well, but she convinced me to go...and I'm so glad that she did! Thanks, Bets!

We set up our table (she had five crates of books to sell, and I had one itty-bitty basket!), and she ran off to shop around a little while I stayed and got our kids set-up watching a DVD on the laptop...then we switched; I walked around a little and did some shopping while she stayed with the kiddos!

All in all, it was a great experience...I purchased some REALLY great new books, and she and I sold a few things as well! Bets sold much more than I did...I sold all of a quarter's worth. Yes, that's right...$.25! But I'm very satisfied with my earnings, for this was the first time I had ever been to a used curriculum/book sale, so I had no idea of what to expect! It was wonderful!

First of all, it was great running into friends that I haven't seen in a while, and it was great shopping around in a comfortable atmosphere...a lot of the homeschooling kids had little sales tables set was so cute! And I have to say how proud of Macy I am...she found several books and things that she wanted...and she became quite the bargainer! She paid 'full-price' ($.50) for a hard-back book of Gone Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright (one of her favorite books that her Aunt Jan gave her for Christmas in paperback...she evidently needs two copies!), and then she paid $5 for two hard-back Nancy Drew's priced at $3/piece; and she was thrilled when my friend Jackie sold her a set of red-rhinestoned stapler and computer mouse...these were the first things that she spotted and "had to have" when she first stepped into the doors earlier that afternoon! And Jackie sweetly sold them to her for $2 when they had been priced at $3 or $4! Thanks again, Jackie! Macy thought she would use the stapler herself and save the computer mouse to give to Mimi for her birthday present (hope Mimi doesn't read this...or if she does, I hope she forgets!)

So the books that I purchased were:
  • Meet the Great Composers: Short Sessions on the Lives, Times and Music of the Great Composers by June Montgomery and Maurice Hinson (with CD!)

  • How to Use Child-Size Masterpieces for Art Appreciation by Aline D. Wolf (along with post card sized reproductions!)

  • The World of Plants by Debbie and Richard Lawrence (This book will be great for learning more about plants and also very helpful with our nature journals, for the book is filled with wonderful diagrams and sketches of the different parts of a plant!)

  • and last but not least...the lesson manual for Hillyer's A Child's History of the World. (We have the textbook, and before this afternoon, I didn't even know that a lesson manual or a workbook existed...woohoo!)

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Fossils, milkin' goats, and plastic surgery!

Yesterday proved to be a long, long day! It was a wonderful one...filled with wonder in God's creation as well as amazement in God's protection and healing.
Our homeschool group went on a fieldtrip to our good friends' home, the Colemans, who live on the side of the mountain. (When one is given directions to their home for the first time, one is warned about the first steep hill in their driveway...then, they are warned about the second hill, which is steeper! 'How they ever built their beautiful home' and 'how they paved the drive going up to it' is beyond me!)
We spent a wonderful afternoon hunting for fossils, which their oldest son described to us in his presentation.
After we hunted fossils, many of us ended up in the barn checking out the Coleman's animals...we were all in awe! The baby goats were just too cute...and we all were able to take a turn milking one of the momma of my life dreams! (I can check that one off of my list! It was so much fun! When I was a little girl, one of my all-time-favorite books was about a young girl and her kid-goat! She loved him so and took him every where, so ever since then I've been in love with them as well!) And of course, Annie enjoyed milking them just as much as I did!

After we enjoyed playing with the animals in their beautiful barn (their entire property is beautiful!), we all went inside and washed up for some yummy snacks. While everyone was enjoying visiting and eating with one another, the children continued to play...and one of us had a little mishap...poor Bennett S. fell while running down the driveway...he took a really bad fall. So badly that his momma had to rush him to the ER. The poor guy was terribly frightened (we all were!), but I found it amazing the way God had everything in place...everyone came together so quickly... got Betsy's car ready, her children farmed out to others, her hubby on the phone to meet her at the hospital, and they were gone! It was just so wonderful to see everyone come together so orderly to accomplish so much in such a short amount of time...and I especially found it inspiring to hear the little children praying for him. It shows the fruits of their little spirits...real faith in our great God!
After everything settled down, some stayed to continue visiting and playing, and I began to pack up our things...we had Betsy's youngest with us (such a treat for us!), and while I was packing everything in the car, I misplaced my keys (urgh!), so I continued packing up and also looking everywhere for my keys! 'All the while' the car doors were open, and the lights were evidently also on, so my battery went dead! Aghhh! I didn't need this! But my dad would be soooo proud of me! With all of the commotion going on, I asked Macy to check in the trunk for the jumper cables, and I went and asked my girlfriend if I could jump off her car...and I did it! 'Almost' completely by myself! I'm embarrassed to say that i couldn't get the hood opened, so the Coleman's oldest son helped me with that, and together we got my car back up'n'running!
Thankfully, it was time for Ricci to come home from work, so he arrived at home shortly after we did. And later that evening while Bennett was in surgery with a plastic surgeon (his wonderful dad was with him at the hospital), Betsy came by to get Isaac, and she stayed for a while during their oldest son's baseball game; we gave her something to drink and some dark chocolate, and she had a chance to unwind! It was good to be able to see her relaxed!
Whew...what a day!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Sale at Bath & Body Works!

Woohoo! Bath & Body Works is having a sale on their soaps (5 for $10!), and after this last shopping trip there, I just have to "write home about it!"
Yesterday morning, I was just getting ready to walk out the door to run errands (and getting soap at B&B was on my 'to do' list!) I received an email from B&B letting me know that their soaps were on sale...and they have some really great new scents too! So... it's worth mentioning that in my wallet I've had a little conglomeration of different discount cards and/or coupons for Bath & Body Works, and I was able to use one of my discount cards (save $10 when spending $30) and even had another one to give to the lady that was shopping beside me (although I was a cheerful giver then, I wish now that I hadn't done that! Urgh...for some reason I have a neon sign on my forehead that people see; they speak to me and tell me their life story [they do it to my sister too!], and before I know it I'm giving away my stuff! But I know she was appreciative, and I've already asked God to replace it!)
Soooo I bought 15 soaps for $21.85...that's $1.46 per bottle of soap!
Woohoo...that made my day!

Friday, May 09, 2008

Worms in the foyer!

Tonight as I prepared to go up to bed, I walked past a little table that I have in our foyer, and lo and behold...there were worms on it! Ick! First I have to explain that I spent the better part of the afternoon in our front flower bed weeding. And every time I would unearth a worm, Annie would want me to announce, "Worm alert! Worm alert!" And she would come running to collect it. Yes, my children have inherited my collecting genes (hmmm...wonder where I got that?!?), so they each have their own little collections...Macy collects rocks; Annie collects bottle caps; and Tressie collects wine corks, and no, we do not drink too much! But we do like to celebrate!

So after seeing her collection growing, before I knew it Annie ran inside to get an empty "container" in which she could put her new 'pets.' She returned with an empty box from her Strawberry Shortcake bandaids...of course, she had that saved somewhere! (Did I also mention that we love to recycle? This container was a no.5, so it wasn't with the no. 1's or 2's! She must have had it hidden somewhere else safe!) And when she brought it outside, she ever-so-proudly announced, "Momma, look! I put the word 'Bate' on there, and aren't you proud of me? I remembered to put an 'e' on the end of the word to make the 'a' have a long sound!"
Of course, I was so proud of her! Who would have the heart to have her spell that word any differently? It was so cute that I just had to take a picture of it!
And after seeing my sweet gals asleep, who could get upset over their having left their little "collection" of worms on the table in the foyer?!?
And the other cute, little thing that I saw on the table next to her 'bate' was her beautiful flowers that she had 'collected' at the flower/garden nursery. (I tell ya...these gals will collect anything, and at this stage it's still pretty cute!) Earlier today we went to 'The Barn.' The girls love to ride in the little, red wagons and occasionally stop to pick up flowering stems that have fallen off of a plant so that they can create beautiful bouquets. (Of course, they always ask the check-out guy/gal if they can keep them!) So Annie came home with quite a little collection of flowers for Mommy, and she had arranged them in her little water cups (which the girls also have to get at the Barn) and displayed them on the table as well!
What fun days these are! I really miss the days when I had to buckle them into their car seats and do more for them, but I'm so much enjoying watching them grow up into beautiful, little ladies! So for now, I gladly encourage their precious, childhood spirit which allows them to find the joy and fascination in so many little things!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Wrapping up this school year but not this year's education!

It is the end of a school year (assuming the 9 month-time-period of an educational "school year"), and I have been experiencing the typical "anxiety" that I generally get at this time of the year. You know...the time when friends and family begin asking you, "So when will you be finished with school?"

I never know how to answer these well-wishers, for my first instinct is to please them and say, "In two more weeks!" Then my second instinct is to use a quote from Charlotte Mason, "Education Is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life." Then my third instinct (which is the one that I'll most likely respond to you, if you ask!) will be to tell you a combination of the first two instinctive answers. Or I could just say, "We've decided to school year-round!" (And the latter doesn't sound like too bad of an idea!)

At this time of year, I always have the moments/days/weeks of anxiety wondering, "Where one earth did the school year go? Have I done enough? Do they know enough? Did we use our time wisely? Am I pushing them too much? Am I not pushing them enough? Are they up to the state's standards (uh, yes!)? Are they up to my standards? Are they up to God's standards?"

Yes, at this time of year, I'm anxious for the school year to end; it's because I'm already excited about the beginning of the next school year! A fresh, new start! And (as soon as we order new books) the girls are as well! So the truthful answer is...we will still continue to read many books throughout the year and continue on with an informal, impromptu way! We'll be spending more time outside just playing; we'll continue our reading selections; we'll eliminate time spent in workbooks (which will have been completed!); and we'll be beginning our planning for the next "school" year! And you know that I'll take many new and improved methods along with me as we plan to begin the upcoming school year!

Speaking of next school year's "new and improved" momma-teacher, I have a new idea that has just hit me...some of the gals in my AO homeschool group have been discussing our "books of centuries." Some do them, and some do not. As for us...we each have a 3-ring notebook which we can keep entries of information on different people, places and things that we have learned from our rich history.

For those that do not know what a Book of Centuries is a personal book that one keeps their collection of important, historical facts from creation to the present. For example, one could have their youngest child draw/color a sheet on Benjamin Franklin while their oldest child writes an essay or narration on the details of Franklin's life. This method would continue all the way up unto the present...I love this, for this allows my girls (and me!) to make a connection with our history, and Lord-willingly the girls' books will last them a long life-time, and they will be able to look back at how their hand-writing and knowledge, etc. has grown throughout the years! As they grow older, they will of course learn new things about the life of Benjamin Franklin (for example), so they will have a constant place to store their gathered information! Of course, mine will not have my early-childhood handwriting in it, but I will be able to also see the timeline of history in relation to my's all very exciting to me...this is one reason why I love that I might learn/re-learn along with our children!

Anyway, here is my new idea that has just opened up a whole new world to me....we have our beautiful notebooks (four, if you include mine!) and have even ashamedly called them our Book(s) of Centuries...knowing that we haven't been doing much with them! (This is due to my perfectionist side taking over...if it can't be done perfectly, then lets not do/look at them at all!)

Well, my "new and improved" plan is to begin keeping a string hung to use as a hanging timeline where we can write down all of the important, historical facts that we learn onto 3x5 index cards which we can paper clip to the string...and then when time permits, we can go back and take them off of the string and insert the information (plus more for fluff!) into our Books of Centuries! Plus, when we revisit the information that we've put on our index cards, it will serve us as a memory refresher course! I'm so excited to implement this new idea!

So until we "wrap up" this school year and "begin" the next one, I'll just continue praying my way through the anxieties of "Have I done enough?" As for now, I think we have! Or at least, I'll rest assured as a Scarlett O'Hara Hamilton Kennedy Butler thinking, "Well, fiddle-dee-dee! Tomorrow is another day" to continue seeking sanctification!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

A Quote worth re-saying!

"What is worth beginning is worth finishing,
and what is worth doing is worth doing well."
Charlotte Mason (1842-1923)

Monday, May 05, 2008

Happy cinco de mayo!

Today is the day that marks the anniversary of our life here on earth without our dear Alal. It's still so hard to believe! It was two years ago today that I had everything prepared for a 'cinco de mayo' party (using her recipes!) and then received the phone call that she had passed away. That day Mom and Aunt Jan convinced me to go on with our party arrangements, so we did; thus, we've begun a tradition...and this weekend has been the third cinco de mayo that we've prepared only some of her amazing recipes...her spinach enchiladas (always a HUGE hit!) and her yummy 7-layer dip!

So Saturday night, Kendall and I (along with our wonderful husbands, Eric and Shelley!) had a "tres de mayo" at their was a lot of fun! We sent out our invitations and began cooking. She and I both love to entertain, so the evening really came together quite easily! After lots of yummy appetizers, we enjoyed Alal's spinach enchiladas, black beans with green onions and lots of lime, and spanish rice. We followed that with a simple dish of vanilla ice cream and toasted coconut and/or spanish peanuts for toppings. It was all so good! After dinner, my girlfriend Maria and her son taught us some latin dances (they're cuban... with lots of moves!), and the two of them along with Rena Carolyn put us all to shame...whew...they're all good dancers! Kendall, Macy, and I danced a little and then did a special judging of a "Dancing with the Bizarres" competition. As soon as Annie heard we were about to judge, she ran and grabbed something for a microphone, stood up on a step and announced, "Will the judges please reveal their scores?!?" It was absolutely hysterical!

And this morning our good friends the Caballeros invited us to go to a new restaurant with them to celebrate cinco de mayo. They're from Columbia and have told us of this great, new place here in town. We're really looking forward to experiencing far they've only described it as "really authentic" and "a hole in the wall"! Can't wait to try it...some of the best unknown restaurants are "holes in the walls"!

Now if I can only get a video of Tressie doing the macarena for you!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Emergency Chocolate!

This is a photo of the most wonderful bar of chocolate I've ever been given...well, I'll forgive Laura for its being milk chocolate...the sentiment is what makes it so special that I can't even eat it!

Laura gave it to me the morning we took Annie to the hospital for her medical tests, and it really made me smile! Thanks, Laura! It reads...

For immediate relief of: Chocolate Cravings, Love Sickness, Exam Pressure, Mild Anxiety and Extreme Hunger.
Directions for use: Tear open wrapper, break off desired dosage, and consume. Alternatively massage into the affected area. Repeat dosage as required until finished. If symptoms persist, consult your local confectioner.