Tuesday, September 18, 2012

beware a kid with a camera

One of Calvin's recent projects was to make a collage of pictures of things that started with each letter of the alphabet.  I told him he could either look through magazines or borrow my camera and take pictures himself.  He chose door number 2.  (Hands down) He had a lot of fun walking around the house with the camera, snapping pictures.  Here are just some of my favorite pictures that he took:  

 B is for Baby

 G is for glasses

 D is for Dev

 (B) is for (Bogey!)

 M is for Mommy!

 C is for Carrots (and crackers! a deuce!)

 G is for Giraffe

 G is for Green (not sure what this green thing is honestly)

 P is for plant

 M is for map

 F is for fire (yes, there was adult supervision.  Thanks for your concern.)

U is for Umbrella


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Junior Paleontologists

 The kids have been very interested in dinosaurs lately.  We've studied lots of books on them and watched lots of Dinosaur Train on pbskids.org (awesome site, if you don't know about it already).
We decided to do a little Paleontology work.   (by the way, if my kids look younger to you in these pictures, it's because they are--younger.  We did this project quite awhile ago, and I'm just now getting around to blogging about it.  Better late than never, right?)

First, I got three plastic tubs (these are old salad tubs.  I save them for when we plant the seedlings in the spring).  I went out in the garden while the kids were still getting ready for the day and filled them with dirt.  Then I buried the "bones" randomly in them.

When we got started for the day, I told the kids that we were going to be Paleontologists to see if we could find some dinosaur bones.  We had to have the necessary tools.
We talked for a bit about how real dinosaur explorers use certain tools that help them dig up the bones in ways that will preserve them.  The bones are delicate.  Scientists don't want them to break or be disturbed, so they dig them up very carefully with special brushes and shovels.  We talked about what forming a hypothesis--or making a guess about how the dinosaur must have looked based on what we know about the bones and the way they were found in the dirt.

You'd think they had just been given a box of gold, instead of a box of dirt  based on their reactions.  They LOVED this project!!!  

Even little Bogey spent lots of time carefully digging and brushing the dirt away from his "bones."

As they dug and brushed and discovered the bones hiding in the dirt, they placed them on the table.  Once they were sure that they had recovered all the bones, they set to work forming hypothesis about how the bones fit together.  It was really interesting to me to see all the possibilities they came up with.  Kids are so creative.  When I put the bones in the dirt, I was pretty sure that there would be one obvious way for all the bones to fit together, but they came up with several that I hadn't considered.  I love that about kids.  Genius, I tell ya.

Dev is trying to fit together the back legs

Calvin thinks he's got it

 This is Calvin's finished dinosaur.  He was pretty proud of it.

 Bogey was so proud of his that he carried it around with him for a few days.  He told me while I was taking this picture that his dinosaur was reptilian and cold blooded and needed to sit in the sun for a long time to warm himself.  (Above picture is sideways--I don't know why it wouldn't load turned the right way.  Cock your head to the side, please)  And as a result, I found this:

on the floor many, many times throughout the remaining week.

If your kids are even the slightest bit interested in dinosaurs, or science, or dirt, or pipe cleaners, or exploring, I would highly recommend this activity.  It was lots of fun!

Monday, September 10, 2012

I was talking to a very dear friend (who know who she is--Hi! I miss you!)  recently, telling her some of the things I was working on, when she suddenly said, "You know that story in the scriptures about the guys who are given the talents, and the two guys with 5 and 2 go and trade their talents and make more, and the guy with 1 buries his?"  uh, yeah.  "I think you may be a little guilty of being the one talent guy.  You kind of are a talent burier."    I hope you can tell from her candidness that she is a very, very good friend who cares a lot about me.  Only she, and maybe some in my family could get away with a statement like that.  I've been thinking about that a lot. 

A LOT.  Do I?  Am I? 

I reviewed the story in the scriptures for myself one day (See Mathew 25)  while I was thinking about our conversation, and came away with the conclusion, that I am absolutely that guy.  I am a talent burier.  In the scriptures, he says that he buried his talent because he is afraid of losing it.  It's ironic that the thing that he does to keep it safe is the thing that makes him lose it. 

If I don't develop my talents, they will be taken away, not because God is mean like that, but because without exercise, the talent fades away.  Plants die when they aren't nutured.  Muscles weaken when they aren't exercised.  Skills are forgotten when they are not practiced.  Testimonies don't keep; they need constant refreshing.  On the other hand, those skills and talents we do take the time to nurture grow stronger, and we are given more. 

My friend is right (as per her usual).  I do have talents that I am burying.  I have established this blog as a way to share what I'm learning with friends and family.  But I am afraid.  What if they don't like me?  What if they think I'm bragging?  What if some weirdy finds my blog and uses the information for weirdy things?  What if someone leaves a negative comment?  I struggle, struggle against those thoughts all the time.  I'm really not quite sure where to go from here, but I think understanding it a little better and expressing it openly is helping. 

I will attempt now to unbury my talent, and take it to where I can make it into more talents.  This is not going to be easy for me, and I may realize more than once along the way that I've buried it in a new spot.  I'll try to notice and unbury it again.  I was given this talent for a reason, and I don't think the reason is to bury it. 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Fall-ish garden talk

I LOVE fall.  And I popped onto my quiet little blog tonight just to tell you that.  The weather has not quite turned from summer...today it was in the 90's.  But, when I got up this morning, the Hubby had propped open the windows (something he only does when the air out there is cooler than in here) and I smelled IT.  If you love fall as much as I do, you'll know what I am talking about.  IT--the smell of fall.  That crisp, nose-tickly, leaves crackling, cooler breeze smell.  That smell that means that summer is wrapping up, and fall is on the next page.  Summer is ok.  Winter is fun...but Fall and Spring...you have my heart.  I love the colors of fall.  The smells.  The recipes.  The Harvest.  The feeling of accomplishment while harvesting the garden I've nurtured all summer.  Don't even get me started on the pumpkin bread, the zucchini casserole, the home canned applesauce....aahhh.

My meager little garden didn't do so well.  Let me back up. We're still waiting on a few things.  The tomatoes look like they are gearing up to give us one last round of vegetables, and if they are successful, that will be the most we've gotten out of our garden.  It's a pretty depressing story actually.  All the plants were doing really well, growing like crazy, putting out lots of flowers.  Even the rabbits seemed to have resigned themselves to the fact that they could not gnaw a hole in the fence.  I was gearing up for large amounts of produce.  (I do this by looking on pinterest at lots of different recipes.  It's really exhausting work.)  I was poised in anticipation.  Then....nothing happened.  The flowers withered and died without producing anything.  I watched repeatedly as little baby pumpkins and zucchini would start to grow and then wither into nothing.  All unsuccessful.  I found out later it was those stinky little melon beetles. 

Final count:  1 (small)watermelon, 1 (small)pumpkin, and 1 (extremely large) zucchini (which we deftly made into batter fried zucchini-as per our tradition).  Now we're waiting to see what our tomatoes are going to do.  C'mon, little tomatoes!  Grow!

At the beginning of the summer, I was in my garden thinning out the plants.  I have to admit, I HATE this job.  It seems so unfair to strike down a perfectly good little plant, whose always done everything I asked it to do, who is growing so sweet and so well, and I have to pluck it out and kill it just because it's too close to another.  It seems so unjust.  And apparently, I've passed that opinion on to my kids.  I was thinning the watermelon seedlings in the garden at the beginning of the summer, and Dev walked by and saw all the doomed seedlings on the ground, and decided that she was going to try to rid the world of injustice.  She took two, and planted them in the front garden (where the tomato plants are).  Fast forward three months, Dev's little adopted watermelon have taken over my front porch. And Dev keeps reminding me, "remember how you wanted to kill them?  We would never have had this watermelon to eat." 

I wish I had something to harvest this year.  And I wish that I was near family that would be willing to help me can and then eat said harvest, but instead I am here, harvest-less.  But it's ok.  I still love fall. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

More fun with crayons

We had so much fun with the last crayon craft that we decided to try another one.  It involved melting the crayons again, but this time we used crayon shavings and an iron.  

I told the kids to make a doodle on their paper, because I was thinking that they could put certain shaved crayon colors in different sections of their doodle.  If you try this, don't waste your time with this step.  The crayons ran everywhere when they melted and didn't stay where we hoped they would.  Also, the colors mixed anyway, so why bother separating them? 

After the first few, we caught on.  We just took the mixed, shaved crayon in small pinches and sprinkled them all over our paper

When we were satisfied with the amount of sprinkled crayon, we put wax paper over the paper and ironed it on low heat to melt the crayon shavings.  It was cool to see how the colors blended.  (by the way, a good project for younger kids would be to spread a thin layer of glue over the paper and let them pinch and sprinkle to their hearts content.  Then let it dry and hang it up [no heat or melting!]  The sprinkles alone on the paper looked pretty cool)
Calvin's pretty colors!

Dev's pretty colors!
If I ever do this project again, I would worry less about making a shape for them to "fill in." I would also use lower heat on my iron.  I turned it down to it's lowest setting after awhile, and it worked much better (didn't melt the shavings so fast, so they didn't run all over.), and I would also just "press and lift" my iron instead of dragging it all over the paper.  Press and lift helped keep the crayon in its place. 
It was a lot of fun.  Try it and let me know how it worked for you!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Fun with crayons

 I have a crayon fetish.  I can't throw crayons away. I admit it, and I'm not sorry. Those little waxy sticks of color are just way too useful to throw away.  After the fireworks on the fourth, I was inspired to try a new crayon craft with the kids.  One that would mimic the look of fireworks in the sky.  
In retrospect, I realize we should have used dark colored paper if we truly wanted to mimic the night sky.  I don't know how that would affect the colors though.  
Sorry I didn't take more pictures.  (I think I've proven that when I get too interested in what I'm doing, the idea of taking pictures leaves my mind.)  But I think you get the jist here.  To make  your own crayon fireworks, you need to have a tupperware full of old naked crayons, a piece of heavy paper, and a hair dryer.
Ignore the iron in this picture.  We didn't use it for this project.  What you need is a hair dryer. Also, ignore the messy craft room.  It's still getting unpacked and organized.  Please and thank you. 

Have the kids pick a few choice colors for their fireworks and lightly (very lightly) glue them onto your paper at various points. (glue too thick will get puffy when subjected to heat)  Keep in mind that once the crayons melt, they go everywhere.  Prepare yourself for this inevitability by laying down a table cloth (I have one that I bought at the dollar store that we use for all our messy crafts.), also, only use a small amount of crayon.  We used about 1/4 of a crayon for each color.  The wax, it is runny and you get a lot out of a little.  You can always add more if you want more.  

Let the glue dry a bit, and then set your hair dryer on high heat and blow the holy heck out of the crayons.  We achieved the fireworks affect by holding the hair dryer directly over the crayon and watching it blow in all directions.  But you can adjust the angle of the hair dryer for different blown effects. 

Dev's masterpiece
 The kids LOVED this craft!   They really liked experimenting with the hair dryer and the angle of the air to get different effects.  It was very easy to set up and do, which is another bonus.

Go try it!  And if you aren't going to use up all your crayons, mail them to me!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Look who's crawling!

Iggy picked up a new skill this week.  Time to buy that baby gate!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

creative lunch ideas

Dev was inspired by a picture she saw in a magazine of a lunch that was made to look like a butterfly.  She decided that she wanted to try it, too.  (and Calvin is always willing to join in on any of his sister's ideas.)  
In case you can't tell, it's a butterfly over a meadow of flowers.  The tiger and the sheep are eating grass under the flowers.  And actually, now that I think about it, those might be trees.  Oh, and the BBQ chip is the sun.

I love their creativity!  I love that they could hunt through the kitchen and find random things to add as part of the whole idea in their minds.  They are geniuses!  


A lunch both pleasing to the eye and the tummy.  Good job, guys!

Friday, July 6, 2012

much fourth of July-edness

I love the fourth of July.  I've stated in other posts that, for some reason, I have the ability to remember fourth of July pasts more vividly than other holidays.

This year, like all the others, is sure to be a fourth of July that I will remember, too.  We  started the day at a pancake breakfast at our church.  They had a flag raising ceremony first (and can I get a woot! woot! that ALL my kids, even Bogey the 4-year-old could say the Pledge of Allegiance?!)

After we raised the flag, they had a bike parade.  Actually, I should back up and say that the night before we were up late decorating our bikes and scooters for the parade.  So, please note the decorations on the bike and scooter.  I went to help the parade participants to their places, and later found several of these little gems on my camera:

They are both so handsome!

Bogey got shy (so rare for him) at the last minute and refused to ride in the parade.  He watched right here from the side lines. 

All the kids are lined up at the starting, waiting for the signal.  Dev and Calvin are on the left.  See them?

Dev was excited that someone threw her a piece of candy

Calvin's just happy to be there!

Bogey's mad at himself for not joining the fun
 The parade was a lot of fun, and it was over very quickly.  Still, my kids rode around the church several more times.

We had a BBQ later, just our family.  That's the way I wanted it.  We made hamburgers and kabobs, but the kabobs were so stinkin' good that we didn't get to the hamburgers until last night. Sorry, I was too busy eating to take pictures of our BBQ.

Just imagine a scene similar to this right here.

In Idaho, where I grew up, it's illegal to buy certain kinds of fireworks.  Particularly the ones that explode in the air.  Here, there is no such law.  I have never been so amazed by store bought fireworks.  Wowza! These people go all out!  We walked to the community fireworks show, and all along the road we were surrounded by "bombs bursting in air"  to the point that I began to imagine how I would feel if I really were in a war zone and fighting for my freedom.  It was very incredible to see explosions all around me.  (and a little intimidating)

Again, sorry, I didn't even think to take pictures at the fireworks show (we made it there safely, thank goodness!)  But I have to mention how cute lil' Jelly Bean was at his first fireworks show.  I thought for sure he'd be nervous, as were his brothers at his age.  But after every boom, he clapped his hands and yelled, "yeah!"  and smiled.  He never lost interest, and kept his gaze to the sky almost the entire time.

After traipsing, again, through what felt like a war zone to get home, we lit a few of our own fireworks.  That's when I remembered to take pictures.  In case you aren't aware, fireworks are hard to take pictures of.  This is all I managed to get:
lighting one

It's not much to look at, but that top light exploded about 1/8th of a second after I took the picture. 
I took a bunch of random pictures of blackness that I figured you don't really want to see. And we let the kids run around with a sparkler in each hand. I didn't pull out the camera until right before the last one went out.  (shame on me) so, this fourth of July?  memorable, yes.  Well documented?  no.  I'll work on that.

In the meantime, God bless America!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Why I homeschool

I've been thinking about this post for a long time. I want to tell you why I home school.  If you are serious about reading my blog, that's one important thing you should know up front.  People ask me  this question all the time, and I've learned that most of the time, they don't really care.  They are looking for the short answer and they glaze over after the first sentence.  So usually I just give the shortest answer possible and then shrug it off.  You can't talk to someone who isn't really interested.  There's too much to say.  So maybe now when people ask I can just refer them here.  Those who are really interested may read the whole thing.  Those who don't really care will stop reading right about here: ----->  Let's start at the beginning: 
When Dev was born, I had no intention of homeschooling.  In fact, I was very turned off by the idea  because I KNEW that only weird people homeschool.  I was going to send her to school, starting with kindergarten so that she could lead a normal, healthy life.  That's what everyone else does.  I was going to be like everyone else.  I actually didn't even think about it as an option at all.  When Dev was 4ish and Calvin was 2ish, I started doing preschool type stuff with them. It wasn't a major decision to keep them home for that.  But what happened that I didn't expect was the absolute satisfaction I got from finding unique and fun and interesting ways to teach my kids at home.  I really, really, really truly enjoyed their company (disclaimer: this is not to say that I never get angry or frustrated or demand a break now and then.  I am human, but overall, I enjoy their company.) 
When Dev was 5 (and I had Bogey by then) the option came to send her to kindergarten.  She was old enough.  I was sad.  I had enjoyed so much the time we had together every day.  Now I felt like I was handing her over to someone else to raise.  It didn't sit right with me.  Then I read the law for my state regarding public education.  It said that children ages 6-16 were required to go to school.  Wahoo! I thought, she's only five!  I can keep her home and then next year I can put her right into first grade.  So I "homeschooled" her for kindergarten, although that is a loose definition.  We just kept doing what we were doing: going to parks, visiting friends, going to gymnastics, reading books, playing on the computer, working in the kitchen together...you know, everyday life.    In the back of my mind loomed that distant day that I would have to send her off to first grade.  I began to look for a school to send her to.  I was picky.  I have some qualms about public school (which I will get into later) and I wanted Dev to experience good things.  I also didn't think it was right for a 6 year old (or even a 10 year old) to be away from home for so long during the day. Home is a place of education, too.  That's the first time homeschooling entered my mind.  And I did entertain it for awhile, but I didn't want to be like all those homeschooling "weirdo's" so I ultimately dismissed the idea.  I finally put Dev into a charter school that was just a block from our house.  It was an awesome school.  She went to school from 8:30-2:30 (the shortest school day I found anywhere), and she never had school on Friday (also unheard of elsewhere.)  Her teacher was a-maz-ing! I really, really, liked his teaching style and the connection he had with each of his students.  Class sizes were small: only 12 per grade, and there were two teachers and two grades per classroom (so Dev was in the first grade/kindergarten class.  There were 12 kindergarteners and 12 first graders.  The next year, a kindergartener who might still be struggling could stay in the same classroom for another year as a first grader.  Dev was set to move on to the 1st/2nd grade room)  It seemed to be a pretty good deal.  Except this nagging feeling I had everyday when I dropped her off--feeling like it was not right to give her up for so many hours during the day.  I wished, very hard, and often, that I could find a mixed school--half school, half homeschool (as I understand, some cities have those now) where she could go to school for a few hours, and then also be home.  But I ignored it most of the time until a few things started to happen.  Dev started to tell me little things that didn't sit right:  she had a long art time because there was nothing planned for her to do.  And the teachers made her stay in the craft room and do something even though she was done with her craft and wanted to get a book from the bookshelf in her classroom.  There was no PE today because nothing was planned.  One thing that irked me was that they sent my little 6 year old home laden with lots of homework.  Not just things that she needed to know, but busy work.  Stuff she already knew and just had to get done for the grade.  I started to write notes to her teacher on the homework, "I'm sorry.  Dev has things to do at home.  She already knows this material, so I excused her from doing it."
That was another thing.  As her mother, I felt it was my responsibility to teach her things at home.  Life isn't only academic (although that is definitely important.)  I wanted her to learn to do her chores, make her own lunch, clean up after herself, cook, sew, garden.  By the time she got home, overwhelmed from all the information they were feeding her all day, and tired of just sitting at her table for 6 hours, she just wanted to play.  And I usually let her, for a little while, but I had things I wanted to teach her, too, and her school, plus all her homework, were cutting into that time.  I felt jipped.
 Then there were times that I had to take her out of school.  I had to fill out a form--list the reason why I came to get her.  Doctors and dentists were appropriate--special lunch dates with mom were not.  It was frustrating to need permission from someone to do what I thought was right for my own child. 
Later, her teacher was suddenly fired in the middle of the school year.  No warning.  Just one day Dev announced at dinner that the student teacher, the one who had graduated only weeks before, was her new teacher.  Dev was distraught.  She really loved her teacher and the new teacher, she said, was mean, and got frustrated and yelled a lot.  I went to talk to the principle and she informed me that legally, she couldn't tell me anything about the situation.  She assured me that there was no harm done to the children, but that was all she would say.  I was furious.  I have a right to know the details of something that happened with my kids.  She also assured me that the new teacher was "qualified."   I went in to observe in the class room and I was less than impressed.  I did eventually find out what the issues were.  It was so stupid.  It was a lot of politicking and power struggles.  Trying to climb the career ladder and assert programs that some didn't think were a good idea...blah, blah, blah.  As I walked home that day, thinking about how sad it was to have lost such a good teacher, it occurred to me that even the absolute very best teacher out there is still doing their JOB.  That is, they are climbing the career ladder, trying to advance, get that promotion, submit and develop their ideas, etc.  And I asked myself, "Is that REALLY the BEST form of education?"  and, for my family, I had to admit that the answer was no.  So then I thought, "wouldn't it be nice if I could find a teacher who didn't care at all about a pay raise or a promotion, one who truly loved the students, one whose only interest was in educating them and helping them develop into mature responsible adults?  That would be so great!
....until next year, when they advance and get a new teacher."  (shoot)
Then it dawned on me that such a teacher existed, and could be with the students everyday, indefinitely.  She could teach without worrying about the career ladder.  She could truly love and cherish the students and only keep their best interest in mind. 
She was me. 
I realized that I was the teacher I wanted for my kids.
Since then, I've only added support for my theories.  When I started out in the beginning, I doubted myself at every turn:  "Is this right? Am I ruining them?  Can I make this work?"  blah, blah, blah. . . . we are so good at chopping our feet out from under us.  I don't worry about that as much anymore.  I feel very happy with the direction we've taken.  I don't question my whole system anymore when someone looks at me (wide-eyed and bewildered) and blurts, "you homeschool?!  how weird!" 
  I realize it's not the norm.  Sometimes you have to go against the norm solely because you know it's what's right for you.  That's how this is for me.  I could go into all my opinions and ideas about the public school system and all its many and varied problems, but it doesn't seem productive right now.  Maybe another post.  But I think we can all agree that public school is not only NOT what it used to be, but also is not the best way to learn. 
Before I had kids, I spent time as a private tutor (which I loved)  and I spent a good chunk of the time with the students UNDOING all the turmoil and false premises put on the kids (and some of them were adults by the time they got to me) in school.  I wish I got a bonus for every time one of my students said to me, "I'm just not good at writing."  my response to that was, "who taught you that?"  A parent? a teacher? a friend?  because writing, like all other facets of education, is not a talent you either have or you don't.  It's a skill that you work at to improve.  That's something I didn't know when I was in school.
 I want my kids to be taught that they have powerful minds that can work for them in whatever they decide to learn.  I wasn't taught that at school.  Were you? 
I love to write.  I study words and grammar.  I love to read and write poetry and stories.  I used to slink through school, just to get it done, and then go home and spend the rest of the day in my room writing.  Where was the education taking place?  Not at school.  My life-changing college professor was the one who showed me that the writing I was doing at home was education.  It was a revelation my life had never known.  
I want my kids growing up not differentiating between learning new things and being educated.  I don't want them to think that education is something they endure until the bell frees you.  I want them to live it and love it, and truly make it their own.  That's the only way to learn things anyway.  You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink.  No one likes to be forced.  No, more than that.  You cannot (as in it's impossible) force someone to learn something.  Learning can only happen when the student is willing and ready. I firmly believe that.
 And that environment is rarely present in public school. (probably more in grade school, but I'm gonna say it's darn near non-existent by the time you get to high school.) 
If your feathers feel ruffled, I'm sorry.  I wanted to post this now because I have felt many times the need to vent these opinions somewhere. 
This will not be the last post about homeschooling.  So, if your interest is piqued, pull up a chair and join the conversation!  I could talk about this for a long time.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Creating Sarah's digital scrapbooking giveaway!

I have to admit, I HATE scrapbooking! For years, I have tortured myself at scrapping parties, watching all the other ladies put pages together in a binder, and I have sat there thinking, "I wish I could scrapbook digitally." I mean, after all, I have a digital camera, but paper scrapbooking would require me to take my jump drive down to the store to print out my pictures.  I am an avid journal keeper  (I keep it on my computer) and have thought so many times how in a perfect world, I would add pictures to go along with the stories I am telling.  Enter Creating Sarah.  Sarah is a crafting genius.  She also happens to be my sister, which I'm sure has nothing to do with the genius that she is.  (But, because I know her so well, I can testify that she is legit [too legit to quit]). 
Sarah is having a digital scrapbooking giveaway on her blog!  Some lucky ducky will walk away with free digital scrapbooking software just for leaving a comment!  I have been pretty promotional lately (this is in no way related to EMotional =), but if there was only one blog or giveaway that I could promote this year, this would be it!
 I would LOVE to have the digital scrapbooking kits or the photo book. It would be awesome to finally be able to incorporate some life into my journals! So, I'm in! I hope I win!
If you want a chance to win, too, go here to Sarah's blog, leave a comment (and read about all the other ways you can get an extra entry.)  And, check out Sarah's blog from time to time.  I think I have already mentioned that she is a genius, she will make your life infinitely more crafty.  Good luck!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Blackburn Music

SO, blogger fans!  My awesome cousin Ryan West owns a music studio called Blackburn Music in Houston, Texas.  The studio offers lessons in piano, violin, and voice. They are very professional, and better yet, offer lessons to homeschoolers!  Anyone who caters to the homeschooling community gets a thumbs up from me.  

SO, my awesome cousin, Ryan West, owner of Blackburn Studios in Houston, Texas has generously offered a FREE LESSON to anyone who mentions my name or blog when registering for lessons!  How cool is that?  

SO, if you live in Houston, and you have a hankering to learn piano, violin, or voice head on down there and tell them I sent you!  

Click here for Blackburn Studios website. 

Check out Blackburn Studios facebook page here.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

My boys

 I never imagined myself with a houseful of boys.  When I was little enough to play "mommy" I always imagined myself with three little girls.   Maybe that's because most dolls are girls.  Maybe it's because I've always found boys and everything they're into slightly mysterious.  It doesn't matter.  God wants me to delve into the mysterious realm of all things boy, because he sent me three.   Dev and I are outnumbered.  Big time.  I'm not going to lie: sometimes we lock ourselves in the bathroom just so that we can get the curling iron out and experiment with our hair without someone coming to use it as some sort of weapon.    And last week when all the boys went on the father/son outing, Dev and I dove into a blissful girls night, complete with a romantic movie, popcorn, manicures, and experimental hair do's.

But most of the time, I am very ok with the chaos ALL these boys bring into my life.  They are energetic.  They are happy.  They are bright.   They are fun.  And they love their mommy.  They are still young enough to call me mommy. 

especially enamored with this little roly poly lately

Calvin and the Jelly Bean

 They bring sticks into the house.  They dig in the dirt for bugs.  They use my nice towels to clean up their mud pie mess, and my good sheets to build forts. They eat more than I made (and they are expert toast makers).  They hate bath time (until they get in--then it's diving practice).  They use random things for guns.  They build starships with legos and try to use the force on me ("you will let me have another cookie").  They named our mulberry bush "Bob" (and the berries on it "George")

on the hunt

 They make me happy.  They make me laugh, and I can't imagine how empty my life would be without them.

this picture makes me laugh every time I see it

  I love my boys!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The big tree felling of 2012

 Check out my new garden space.  What do you notice?  Yes, smaller than the last garden space, but still a fairly nice space.  (tangent:  see the fence we put up?  I am very proud of that fence.  It's purpose is to keep out the bunnies in our yard.  At first, there were two [bunnies, not fences] ...now there are two big ones, and four little baby ones. They're multiplying like. . . . .nevermind)  Yes, the fence is nice, but I want you to notice that little tree growing in the middle of my garden.  The nerve of that tree!  To grow where it's not wanted!  *tsk! tsk!*  this won't do.

The Hubby and I have been trying to clear out a time to fell this tree together.  (aka.  I'll hold the tools he's not using while he works.) But weeks are passing.  The garden needs to be planted.  So today I decided to man up and take care of it myself while he was at work.  

 The first few chops. 

All we have is a super dull ax.  But, it workedbetter than my teeth, so I gave it a go.  I found it useful (here's a tip for all you future lumber jacks) to swing and hit the tree at an angle, instead of straight on.  And 20 minutes work with a dull ax brought about this result:

 Don't look at the adorable kid in the foreground.  Look at me, the super buff mamma who is standing on the tree she just felled all by herself.
 Bogey wanted to show his buffness, too.  "Look, mamma! I'm supo' stwong!"

And Dev is not to be outdone by any stinkin' little brother.  She's strong, too.

There! *wiping dust off of hands* Now I can plant my garden!