Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Birthday to J!

Today, my sweet J turns 7!!! 7!!!! I can hardly believe it! My first little baby, he's growing up too quick. And he's not even here with me... he's having a birthday sleepover with his Grandma tonight... sniff. I am too sappy and sentimental for words tonight... 7 just seems like such a big milestone.

Here is my newborn sweetie... the baby who made me into a Momma

Look at those cheeks

I LOVE this photo

Here is his first birthday

And here he is celebrating at his party... just look at how grown up and handsome he seems
Happy Birthday J! I love you so much!!!

More Fun Adventures in Blogging

I am still trying to keep the focus of this blog just on homeschooling and the kids. So if you happen to be interested in the other things I'm up to (deep thoughts on parenting, foodie stuff, natural living, and other fun randomness) you can come visit me at Little House in the Big World... make sure to leave comments and let me know you've stopped by!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Happy Birthday to W!

The Little Little Owl turned TWO today! It hardly seems like two years ago that he came into our lives... my third baby, my first homebirth, the little guy who was always meant to be a part of our family long before we even knew we needed him.

Here he is just a few hours old

And the first moments with his new siblings!

And now he's such a big guy!
(this is his Tia with him, not me... I am incredibly camera shy, lol)
Happy Happy Birthday W! I love you!

Monday, October 5, 2009

A Crazy Couple of Days

Wow! I feel like we have been super busy lately. Here are the (more or less) highlights of what has been going on around the Owl Nest. Warning... it's long.

Owl Poppa has been a bit under the weather, and his work schedule has been a bit weird (he works three days a week, 12 hour days, which is weird all by itself, but the schedule has been weirder lately). His work schedule always throws a monkey wrench into our homeschool schedule. It's been hard getting lessons completed in a reasonable amount of time on days when he is home, especially when he is home and sick. But, his schedule is also one of the reasons we homeschool, so it is what it is.

(Completely and totally as an aside, I just LOVE that expression... it is what it is. It seems appropos to everything lately. It truly sums up the new level of acceptance I am feeling about things in my life. Okay, random thought over... carry on)

The kids have all taken turns feeling run down as well. I tried complaining to Owl Poppa about the lack of "routine" around here with all these sick days. His response... the same thing is happening in the public schools, too. He's always so rational! :)

We've been doing lots more hands on projects and celebrating lots of interesting things lately as well. I posted about Katie's birthday, the first day of fall, and Johnny Appleseed Day. We also celebrated Michaelmas (albeit a few days late). I don't know too much about Michaelmas, really, but remember reading that it is sometime celebrated as a harvest festival and with the story of St. George and the dragon, and that you shouldn't eat blackberries after Michaelmas (because when Michael threw the Devil out of Heaven, he landed in a blackberry bush... the kids think this part of the story is hysterical). So, we mostly did what we did last year. We read the Reluctant Dragon (we all love this one), as well as the story of St. George and the Dragon. We also read Custard the Dragon and Custard the Dragon and the Wicked Knight. The kids put on a mini performance of a dragon slaying. J and W took turns being the dragon and slaying each other. K was the damsel in distress. I wanted to make a blackberry crumble again, but the kids voted on blackberry kefir smoothies :)

We braved a rainstorm Thursday to meet friends at the park. It actually only rained for a few minutes, and then cleared up, though the sky stayed really grey. But the great company made up for the crummy weather.

We spent Friday night sitting for a friend's little girl. This was really fun. We had an indoor picnic in the living room. We set up the picnic mat on the floor, and then all four kids pretended to chase away birds and ants that were after the picnic. I had to be the bird swooping in to steal the pizza. We played tag, and board games, and Barbies, and then watched cartoons. It was awesome.

Owl Poppa celebrated his birthday over the weekend. J made him a card (spelling all the words himself... I was really proud). The kids worked hard the day before to clean up their playroom and library and bedrooms before he got home from work as a birthday surprise for him. And they picked out new tools and a new tool box as his present. They wrapped the present in playsilks and gave it to him in the morning. We took him out for Tex Mex in the afternoon, and then had cake and ice cream. W is now officially obsessed with birthday cake.

This morning, we went to a science lesson on desert adaptations at one of the local parks. The lesson included a walk along the trails with a guide who pointed out lots of the local flora and fauna (man, I have always wanted to be able to use that expression, lol). Because of all the (much needed) rain we've been getting, there were lots and lots of wildflowers out on the trails. The kids got to touch a coyote pelt and skull, a jack rabbit pelt and skull, look at roadrunner and owl feet and skulls, and see rattlesnake skins. We learned about cactus (and the bugs that live on them), about different types of leaves and how plants adapt to the dry weather, about native people cooked the roots of certain plants, and which ones along the trail were used for making sandals. We even got to take a cactus (our "spiky friend") home with us. The kids are so pleased, and it has a place of honor in our library room (up high, because that sucker is really poky). I wish I has pictures but I forgot my camera.

But we barely made it at all because we all over slept and made it out of the house in under 30 minutes (hence the forgetting of the camera). The kids ate the snacks we packed for breakfast, and then we ended up going out to lunch. Everyone loved the field trip, but we've all seemed a bit out of sorts all day.

So, it's back to our schedule as usual tomorrow. And back to meals at home. And finishing up some of the projects we're working on (expect cool pictures in the next few days). We're also preparing for the Owl Family Birthday Bash this weekend... one big party for all of us. So there is lots more craziness ahead. But I guess we wouldn't really have it any other way.


PS It's late. I will come back and add appropriate links in the morning. Maybe.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Our Apple Celebration

September 26 is Johnny Appleseed's birthday! And for the past week the Owl Nest has been in Apple Celebration mode!

On the 26th, we celebrated with books and apple pie... super yummy. I think apple pie is my favorite pie ever. We have been listening to the story of Johnny Appleseed (read by Garrison Keillor) in the car, reading books about apples, and eating lots of fresh apples for snacks. And of course we've been singing the Johnny Appleseed song.

One of our favorite apple books is Apples, Apples, Apples... the little owls can't wait until they can go apple picking... I have had to break it to them that in Central Texas, apple picking is over in July :( We will go to the pumpkin patch at the apple orchard though so that might be close enough for them. Last year at the pumpking patch, they got a tour of the apple sorting facility. Hopefully we'll get to do that again.

Another great book is Apple Cider Making Days... we may try making some (with buying cider at Costco as our backup plan, lol).

We're also reading The Apple-Pip Princess, Cider Apples, Johnny Appleseed, Golden Delicious: A Cinderella Apple Story, and we watched the Disney story of Johnny Appleseed in the American Legends movie.

This year, we also read The Apple Doll. This sweet story includes instructions for making an apple doll of our own, so of course, we are trying it.

Here are a few pics of the process...

W might have had the most fun, peeling and eating apples
K is planning and J is munching

W was determined to peel his apple

The apples had to soak in lemon juice. We found the bag to be the only way to keep the apples covered without needing many bottles of lemon juice!

And here are the apples before drying out... and one other little cutie face!

The apple doll heads are in the process of drying out now, and it could take several more days for them to finish. I will post pics of the finished product when we get there!

Yay for apples,

Thursday, September 24, 2009

First Day of Fall

Yesterday was the first official day of Autumn... so we at Little Owl School decided to celebrate (read: K loves any reason for a "tea party" and J loves candy corn).

After getting morning lessons done, we had our Fall Festival...

We discussed the four seasons and made a list of things we think of when we hear the word Autumn. We talked about ways in which animals prepare for winter, and how people do some of the same kinds of things. We played a matching game with leaves cut out of cardboard. We read a few books. We pretended to be leaves blowing in the wind, and being raked up by momma. We had our Autumn tea party, with apples and candy corn. And everyone was happy!

Happy fall, y'all!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Happy Birthday K!

Today is K's 5th birthday! I can hardly believe it!

Here she is just a few hours old

And here's my little Daddy's Girl, hanging out with Owl Poppa

And now she seems so grown up! Five years old already!

Here she is celebrating with Grandma over the weekend

And here she is today... officially FIVE YEARS OLD!

Happy Happy Birthday, Sweetie!



Saturday, September 5, 2009

Laughing At Myself -- otherwise entitled This Year's Schedule

I was all set to type out this school year's schedule for y'all, and realized it is exactly like our summer schedule. We did pretty much nothing all summer due to illness and moving. C'est la vie, non?

Here are the only additions/changes:
Language Arts: we're starting First Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind, G.U.M Drops, and Spelling Workout for J.

Math Decisions: we are bumping J to Saxon 2, and letting K work through several lessons at a time in Saxon K.

Character Building: we have a new character building program that is due to arrive on Tuesday. I'll post later about whether or not we like it :)
I guess I'll save my energy for a post on what our school days look like... maybe that will be more interesting!

Laughing at Myself,

Back to School and Other Milestones

First off, this is my 100th post! Amazing. Didn't think I'd ever have that much to blog about :) And it seems like a fitting milestone for blowing the dust off this old blog and starting anew!

That's the thing I love about back to school time. Even more so than New Year's, there is a feeling of fresh beginnings. I love the new pencils, the stacks of notebooks waiting to be filled, the promise of the upcoming school year. And it isn't just the school year that is changing. The world is slowly changing too, preparing for winter. I love the sense of anticipation the fall brings... looking forward to being another year older, the the birthdays of my children, to the magic of the holidays... I love it!

It's also time to reign in the focus of this blog. I have decided to keep it (fairly) strictly to just homeschooling and kid related stuff. I have another blog in the works to give me a place to keep track of my deep thoughts :) I'll keep the Little Owls as the stars of Little Owl Learning!

After a flurry of end of summer events, including a fairly last-minute trip to the coast (the first time my children have been to a beach), we started back to our school routine this past Monday. We're slowly getting back into the swing of things. After completing this first week, I feel pretty good!

Our lesson plans look pretty much like out previous ones. We'll be adding in spelling and grammar for J, and we now officially have a third student... W refuses to be left out of all the fun. He has been running around the house calling me "teacher"... too cute!

We had a big back to school kick off... Each of the kids got a pencil box full of little back to school treats... markers, mini notebooks, new school socks :) We had a little party including owl cupcakes... they were a huge hit (though I used homemade chocolate cake and buttercream frosting, YUM). Then after all the lessons were complete, we took the kids to the library, and the big kids got their first official library cards... they were SO excited! And then the fun continued Tuesday with a "Not Back to School" party with our homeschool group.
Looking forward to the new year!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

random complaint

I have some new plans for the direction I'd like to take this blog... will probably have more updates in the near future. But in the meantime...

We've only had our new phone service and phone number for 24 hours, and have already received a telemarketing call. In Spanish no less.

Now, honestly! 24 hours people!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

More on Thankfulness

A friend of mine gave me a beautiful owl themed journal. No occasion, just because she was thinking of me. (Friend, you know who you are! :) Thank you again) But I haven't been able to bring my self to write in it yet... not wanting to use such a thoughtful gift and such a beautiful book for writing grocery lists or something mundane like that.

This upcoming move, in addition to making me stressed out and somewhat crazy, has left me feeling contemplative. One of the things that has come out of my late night deep thoughts is that I have decided to record, at the end of each day, just a little blurb about what we did that day. So that we (the kids and I) can look back over it and see what we've done and who we've seen. It's so easy to lose track of the little things we do. I don't want to forget the little things that count so much, like spontaneous trips to the park, cool things we find along the way, or other random fun times we share. The kinds of moments I am thankful to be able to share with my kids, and that can be easily forgotten in the "dailyness" of life. This is something that has been on my heart for awhile, and I haven't acted on it yet, not having the perfect place to record these things.

Do you see where this is going?

Tonight, I'll be making my first entry about our daily happenings in my new Owl journal. I am excited and thankful and happy at the way it has all come about.

Feeling Thankful

I am feeling very thankful right now.

I have been trying hard not to give up my compacting in the face of this upcoming move. It's hard for me to feel patient or resourceful when I am feeling under so much stress.

But things have a way of working out, when you just stick to it. For example:

~We ran out of boxes yesterday. Owl Poppa wanted to run to the store and pick up some boxes. But a quick craigslist search and request on one of my parenting boards has turned up all the boxes and packing materials I could need.

~Our can opener has kicked the bucket. A friend has one to give us. And she is conveniently on the same side of town as the friend who is giving us the boxes.

~I was talking about hairstyles at a party and mentioned wanting to get some hot rollers for my hair, and a friend offered me hers. This was the one purchase I haven't even pursued because I didn't want to buy new and didn't want to buy hair products from someone I don't know. Problem solved.

~Another friend who knew I was looking for clothes gifted me with three adorable new skirts. YAY!

~We're going to need a refrigerator for the new place. I have been patiently looking for one on craigslist, and the perfect fridge (perfect style, color, and price) turned up. I need a fridge, they need to sell, and everyone is happy! I love that personal aspect of buying second hand.

I have been very very stressed and cranky lately (moving does NOT bring out the best in me), and I want to really celebrate this moment of feeling thankful and happy!

A House... Maybe

We submitted our application Friday for a new place... as of Friday afternoon everything sounded fine. But we don't get the definitive answer til Monday. Say a few prayers, keep fingers crossed, do whatever it is that you do to send some positive vibes our way! I am so tired of not knowing what our address will be at the end of the month!

Monday, July 13, 2009

temporarily on hold

We're moving at the end of the month, and as of now, we don't have a place to move in to! :( So I will be otherwise occupied for the next few weeks... finding a house, packing, moving, etc. all on top of our normal stuff. I'll try to post something (I have some great pics from my new camera that I keep meaning to post) but I can't promise anything.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Christmas in July!

My mother-in-law (who is super awesome) gave us an early Christmas present... a new camera (to replace the one that W destroyed, lol). So look forward to many more pictures on this blog! As soon as I read the instruction manual, that is :)

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Compacting -- Month One Update

I started my Compact at the beginning of June. Now that we are officially in July, here's a look at how June turned out.

As a recap, here are my rules:

1. Avoid Buying
2. Avoid Buying New
Exceptions: personal care items (includes shoes and underwear), food, supplies for projects or schooling (only after I have gone through step one to decide if we need it or can make due with something else), gifts for birthdays (unless I have time to make something)
If I have honestly exhausted all of the above means, and I am unable to wait it out, purchases should support local or
independently owned businesses.

3. Food Rules (since this is something we have to buy)
Minimal convenience foods
Buy local and organic where possible
Shop the farmer's markets first
Minimize packaging, buy bulk, bring my shopping bags
If we do eat out (let's be reasonable folks... this is sure to happen... I can only make so many changes at once) we'll keep it to local establishments

1. I am getting much better about sorting out wants vs. needs. This is such a valuable skill to cultivate. I like that I am slowly becoming less of a mindless consumer at the mercy of impulse buys. It's amazing to realize how much junk and clutter would have made it into my house if I hadn't been paying attention. So many little thing that caught my eye and that I otherwise might have bought that were not really practical or well-made or even necessary. It was nice to recognize that I really didn't need a pack of Tinkerbell gel pens, or a resin garden gnome... even if they were on sale :) That's not to say there weren't a few struggles.

I had a moment of weakness over some dish towels... I know, I know... they're just dish towels. But man, I really really really wanted them. I knew it was just a want. Yet, every time I was in Target for groceries I would detour past that section and look at them LOL. I actually bought them, thought better of it, and returned them to Target. :) Whew! I made it past that hurdle, just barely. And the thing was, once I brought them home, I was able to realize that 1. I didn't really need them and 2. they weren't even very well made. I can't believe how much the WANTING could cloud my judgement.

2. Shopping second hand is fun! I bought my wardrobe updates at the thrift store and scored some great deals. I made gifts for a few of the birthday parties we went to, and they turned out super cute... little Waldorf-style dolls. Not only did they turn out well, but K got to help me with picking the patterns and the fabric. I bought a few books on, bought W a much needed pair of new shoes (I did buy these brand new), and I think that's it. Oh, there were the beeswax tapers I bought at the farm market. Definitely an impulse buy, but they were useful and hand-made so I didn't feel too bad about it.

The only NEW thing besides food that I bought were holiday socks for the kids, and some fireworks for the fourth.

3. Ahhh... food! This is where I have to keep it real. I knew going into it that this area would be tough. But I'm emarassed by how poorly I managed. Our food bill for the month was ridiculous... really, it bordered on obscene. We ate way too much fast food, bought snacks and other convenience foods, and just didn't plan well at all. We did have that whole two weeks of illness to contend with... most of the fast food and poor purchases took place during that time. And so much of the healthy fresh food in the fridge went bad during that time. SIGH I realize now the need to keep a more in the way of healthy pantry stuff for tough times. Canned beans or broth aren't things we normally buy but would have been much appreciated when I was too sick to set beans to cook or make homemade stock. I'm going to address this further once we get settled from our move.

So that about sums up June on the Compacting frontier. I have some other thoughts about it that will have to wait til later. Also, I'll post my plans for July later.

Fourth of July

Hope everyone had a great day! We sure did! It's been a super-long fun-filled weekend for us.

Friday night Grandma went with us to take the kids to the circus! This has become an annual tradition now for the kids... going to the circus with Grandma. It's something they love and really look forward to. They've been asking about the circus since we finished with Easter :) And this year, W was able to really be in on the action. The look on his face while watching the show was priceless. Everyone came home tired and happy, covered in cotton candy and clutching new circus souvenirs.

After such a late night, we all slept in a little, and got up to a Happy Birthday America breakfast. I wish my camera wasn't broken, but it is (stamping foot). The table was set with our red outdoor plates on blue construction paper placemats. For a center piece there were two flags in a clear glass vase filled with layers of white and blue crepe paper. There were blue and white crepe paper twirls hung along the top of the red curtains. And a few red, white, and blue balloons... the balloons were the best part! After reading a few patriotic poems, including The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, we sang the Star Spangled Banner and talked about the birth of our nation. Then we all sat down to enjoy blueberry pancakes, bacon, and Red White and Blueberry Muffins... a Fourth of July tradition now! (recipe below)

The rest of the day was spent hanging out, running errands, playing. The kids put on a Fourth of July show in the morning (K did a dance and sang the Johnny Appleseed song "because it's about America" and J made up a song about America and marched around with his new sword), and then spent much of the day racing their scooters in the garage. We read some more Fourth of July stuff, made pinwheels out of starry paper, and just had a fairly lazy and relaxing day!

For supper, we re-set the table with the fun stuff from breakfast and served lots of yumminess... fresh strawberries, cucumber slices, muffins, fresh corn on the cob that the kids peeled themselves, hotdogs, and chips. And for dessert? Watermelon, of course! The kids thought this was the best dinner ever. At their place setting, each of them received a pair of Fourth of July socks, which were a huge hit!

After supper, it was baths and pjs (and new socks), and then we headed out to see fireworks. This was the first year in awhile we've done more than just see whatever the neighbors were doing... the city fireworks ban put a crimp in that plan. So we parked in the mall parking lot and watched the fireworks display from Six Flags! I couldn't believe how many people were doing the same thing. But the people around were all really nice. And the display was spectacular!

And what made it all worthwhile? Besides the look on their faces when they woke up to the decorations, the big sticky watermelon smiles after supper, the cute chubby feet in holiday socks, the big kids oohing and aahing at the first fireworks display they really remember? While we were sitting in the traffic, heading home, K told me, "Momma, I had a really great holiday!"

Hope you did too!

Red White and Blueberry Muffins
1/2 C butter, softened
3/4 C sugar
2 eggs
1 t vanilla
2 C flour
1/2 t salt
2 t baking powder
1/2 C milk
3/4 C dried cranberries
3/4 C blueberries (we use frozen, but you could use dried)
You could add half a cup of white chocolate chips... we've not tried it yet, but it sounds yummy.

Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Stir in eggs one at a time, beating well. Stir in vanilla. Sift together dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Stir in dry ingredients alternating with the milk. Fold in berries. Fill lined muffin tin cups 2/3 full. Bake in a 350 degree preheated oven for 25-30 minutes.

We used patriotic muffin cups for ours... it was a nice effect.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

How awesome is this?!?!?!

Check out the new layout! Isn't this the most awesome thing you've ever seen?!? Dawn, at Dawn's Design Shop, is amazing! Go check her out! I'm off now to tinker with the sidebars... way more fun than writing content right now :)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Boring Posts for Saturday Vol 3

All this boring goodness is hosted by Mary at Hope Echoes.
So, it is Saturday again. I'm up early today... everyone else is still sleeping. So I get to enjoy the beginning of my day in silence, with a hot cup of tea and homemade brownies! It's so nice and cold in the house I can almost pretend it isn't going to be 102 today. Everything aroud the house is still and peaceful. Even the dogs are calm... they are both cuddled up side by side on the playroom couch... it's adorable, and no easy feat for two large animals.

I've been doing too much thinking lately. I keep meaning to write a blog post in defense of deep thinking. I DO think it is valuable, and will someday share those thoughts with the wide world. But lately, the deep thoughts are wearing me down. Some portion of it is that I can't ACT on any of those deep thoughts... at least not until we move. Our lives can't handle anymore change just at the moment. The other is that some of those thoughts are things I can't do anything about even if I wanted to. And then I spend time thinking deep thoughts about deep thinking. Over-analysis, anyone?

And all this thinking in circles just leads to high anxiety levels for me, which really isn't any good. Most of the people who read this know me IRL and know my anxiety issues... one day I'll write about my nervous breakdown... maybe it'll be cathartic. But in the meantime, I'm starting to feel that twitchy, edgy feeling that crops up when things get hard... and things feel harder when my sleep is so disrupted. I feel like a broken record about the sleep issues. Blech. This is what I get for doing sleep deprivation research for all that time... it really is like some sort of karmic retribution. But for right now, I'm left with high anxiety levels and the question of what to do about it. I am going to start with watching the caffeine intake and trying to squeeze in a little exercise. It's that, or go on meds :) so we'll start there.

Our plans for today include taking J to another backflip class. Then rounding up all the kids for a birthday party. I was able to make a really cute gift for the birthday girl. K and I worked on it together. We hope she likes it!

We're hosting a Capoeira get-together at our house tomorrow evening. This will be a chance for some of the newer students to get together and practice the instruments and the songs. I'm kind of looking forward to learning the songs... the kids do a lot of singing in Portuguese and I 1. don't know what they are singing about and 2. don't know if they are even singing the right words :) The kids will have their batizado, or ranking ceremony, the second weekend in July. J will be working for his third cord! And this will be K's first cord test. Since this is a new studio, we weren't sure how big the ceremony was going to be, but it looks like we'll have people in from other groups, and two different mestres there. Things are really coming along for the group, and we're so glad to be part of that. I am really and truly glad they have found a sport that they enjoy, and that they have some aptitude for! It's been such a fun, family centered experience for us.

On the homeschool front, we've been pluggin away at the reading lessons (Teaching Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Lessons) and letting pretty much everything else slide. J was complaining that the lessons are starting to get too long and that the older lessons were easier. So he decided, on his own, to go back and read all the older stories to K. I guess that seemed like less work? :)

I'm sorry I haven't been able to be as boring as usual today! The laundry and dishes are all caught up, and that is usually what I do on Saturdays! And no trips to the farm market today. We will be headed out to pick up our CSA share though.

Last thought for today... can some of you more tech savvy bloggers help me with the following things? 1. How do I do strikethrough text? Like to cross something off a list, ya know? and 2. is there a quick way to put a hyperlink in the comments section? I can do the html code thing, but it requires me to go back and look up the code each time. Surely there is a faster way?

Happy Saturday, folks!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Daily Quotes

I have something of a quote fetish... I collect them. Other people collect other things... I collect quotes. So, I added this cool little widget-y thing to my sidebar with daily quotes related to learning. Not too bad, hunh? But here's today's quote (and I quote):

I was bold in the pursuit of knowledge, never fearing to follow truth and reason to whatever results they led, bearding* every authority which stood in their way.
-Thomas Jefferson
*bearding=boldly confronting

These are supposed to be quotes related to lifelong learning... as a lifelong learner, do I really need the word "bearding" defined for me? Really? If, perhaps, I didn't know what it meant, and couldn't figure it out contextually, wouldn't it aid my lifelong learning to go look it up?

SIGH... it just really irritated me.

And lest you think I'm just a whiny complainer, here is one of my favorites:
My education was interrupted only by my schooling.
-Winston Churchill

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Not Much To Say

I'm just tired of reading the last post when the blog comes up! So it is time for something else.


It's hard to think this morning... what I'd really like to do is focus on some schooling stuff, but the neighbor dogs are yapping and the birds in the yard are squawking and J and W are listening to a book on CD... loudly!

Anyway, I have realized that we probably aren't going to get much of anything done until we get the move finished. Things in the house are partially packed. We went looking at a few places yesterday. Still haven't found the perfect place yet but at least we're making progress.

This whole being patient thing is really hard for me. I want things done and I want them done now. I have all these ideas in my head of things that I want to try, and realistically they have to wait til we move. I keep reminding myself that NOW is probably not the time to take on more hobbies like making cheese or yogurt. As much as I want to. Accepting this has been hard on me. I am starting to feel like "living" is on hold while we look for a place TO live. KWIM?

My only plan for today is to help the kids get the playroom cleaned up, get through reading lessons for both big kids, and maybe make a loaf of cinnamon raisin bread. And to be relaxed and enjoy the day with these little cuties.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Late Night Ramblings

It's late late late. And while I am up, unable to sleep, Owl Poppa is at the emergency room. His sore throat finally got the better of him. Unable to talk or really swallow, he took himself to urgent care and they sent him to the emergency room with peritonsilar abscess. It is freaking me out a little bit that I am home with the kids and he's in the ER without me; but I'm really more harm than good anyway since being calm isn't exactly my strong suit and the ER gives me weird anxiety issues. My mother-in-law, who is just amazing, is with him and is going to drive him home. Last I heard he was on IV antibiotics and steroids. I'm just hoping there is no cutting involved... *shudder* Since I can't sleep, I'm working on laundry, cleaning up, and now blogging, trying to stay busy and keep my mind from worrying. I don't really even know if there is anything to worry about, but googling "peritonsilar abscess" is not on my list of ways to keep calm. Just in case :)

If you're up reading this, send some love and healing vibes our way!

ETA: Owl Poppa got home a little after 2 am. He was able to talk again, which he hadn't been able to do all day. He has antibiotics and some pain meds to take, but was doing okay. He actually looked more chipper than I've seen him in a couple of days :)

Boring Post for Sunday Morning

I missed yesterday's "Boring Posts for Saturdays" hosted by Mary at Hope Echoes.
So I'll branch out and do it this morning. :)

To increase the "boring" factor, this week I will bulletize my list for you :)
  • W is sick... he spent the whole night wide awake and crying, or sleeping fitfully for ten to fifteen minute intervals. But he woke up bright and sunshiny at 7:30 this morning.
  • I am the only person I know who could be sick for over a week, feel like I'm barely eating, and gain six pounds. What is that about?
  • I am feeling better. My throat is still swollen but my pain is gone. So hooray for that.
  • Owl Poppa is working today. We'll be celebrating Father's Day on Wednesday. I must try to remember to call my dad today.
  • Our NO-TV during the day rule has gone completely out the window with everyone being sick. I don't know if I'm up for the challenge of reinstituting it. At least not today.
  • I have nothing else I feel like typing, so I think I'm done for this morning! :)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Still Whiny

My whiny mood is still hanging around, mostly because this excruciatingly sore throat is still hanging around. I have realized that I don't handle being sick very well or very graciously. Blech

So I am practically drowning myself in herbal tea and chicken broth, and I'm about to go gargle with more grapefruitseed extract. This is no fun at all.

In order to end on a somewhat happier note, I have found a new rental agent so hopefully we'll have a new place soon!

Hope everyone else is feeling okay!!!!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


I love pickles! My favorite are the big Kosher-style dill pickles that you can get in the bulk barrels at the deli... drool! Our CSA share for this week came with 14 pickling cucumbers... so I decided to make pickles. I found the recipe online here. Since I don't own canning jars, I put the pickles in a glasslock container (that I got at Costco... I HEART Costco) and straight into the fridge. By today, they actually look and taste like pickles... YAY! They are bit on the salty side since I misread the recipe and added extra salt instead of sugar... oops! But still good, and pretty close to deli pickles. And I am sure the next batch will be even better.

The original recipe calls for a gallon of water, so I scaled the recipe back and adjusted for the fact that I used kosher salt instead of pickling salt (for Morton's brand, 1 cup plus 2 tbs kosher salt = 1 cup pickling salt). Below is the way I did it (with the exception of the sugar/salt mix-up)... I am really looking forward to making some more.


To a medium saucepan, add:
5 1/3 C Water
1/3 C vinegar
4.5 T
kosher salt
1/3 t sugar (not salt, lol)
Bring it to a boil.

Meanwhile, in a glass jar or container, add the pickling cucumbers (either whole or sliced however you want). Add in several peeled cloves of fresh garlic (I think we used 6 cloves and it was nice and garlicky). Add some dill weed or dill seeds or both. Cover with the boiling brine mixture. Cover and place in the refrigerator.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Pity.... Party of One

I'm having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Like Alexander. I am feeling so whiny right now, so I am going to complain! If you don't want to listen to me whine, you should probably click on something else. Check back later and I am sure I'll have cheered up by then.

I went to bed with a sore throat, and when I woke up at 6:30am to take ibuprofen, it was still sore. I am still sick. Worse than yesterday. Achy, fevery, sore sore throat, blech. But Owl Poppa is also sick... and sickER than me. I hate that. I know it is whiny and ridiculous of me, but I just want all the attention and sympathy for me. Maybe I should move to Australia. I woke up early and couldn't think of anything to cook for breakfast. I did laundry, worked with the kids on their reading lessons, and got K dressed while trying to pretend I didn't feel so terrible. I didn't have time to shave my legs so I didn't get to wear one of my new skirts today. I bet I could have worn my skirt in Australia. I had to take K to the doctor this morning for a rash (worse than the usual eczema) she developed over the weekend. Turns out, the doctor thinks she has chicken pox. So now we have to stay home and away from the rest of the world for the next week or so while we wait to see if W gets it. Do I have to stay away from Australia? So I'm sick, tired, fussy, and facing at least a week of confinement. And the sad part is, K really isn't any itchier than normal. :( J has been more contrary than usual... I think it's the steady diet of take out and snack food he's had since I got sick. And he's mad that he has to miss Capoeira on K's account (the chicken pox). I wonder if they have Capoeira in Australia. We are supposed to be out of our current house in less than six weeks. Our property manager is working as our rental agent. She is... let's just call it "less than helpful" about the whole thing. She told me point blank that she wants me to do the footwork because she doesn't make very much on rental commisions. So now, I need to find a new rental agent. And I can't in good faith go and expose a bunch of people til K gets better. SO I can't realy start looking for a new place til next week. Next week, I said, I'll be in Australia. I know that there are much worse things we could be dealing with, but man, none of this was on my to-do list. I will add "Move to Australia" to my to-do list. It probably won't get done either. I'm having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

So I am openly soliciting sympathy! Please send me a few virtual hugs. The virtual kick in the pants to suck it up and move on can come tomorrow.

It has been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. My mom says some days are like that. Even in Australia.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

sickness update

Because I know you are all at home wondering anxiously how I am doing, I think I am feeling better. At least, on the ibuprofen I am feeling better! :) And I am 99% certain it's not epiglottitis ;) But either way, I did get the kitchen cleaned, the laundry folded and put away, the downstairs vacuumed, the diapers washed, and dinner cooked. I also took the kids for a drive and put gas in the car. I even got to wear another one of new skirts. So, not too bad for one (sick) day. K is still under the weather (she's napping now), and now J and Owl Poppa are complaing of sore throats. I am about to burn some lavendar and tea tree oil, open the windows for a few minutes, and put fresh sheets on the beds... I am determined to keep us all as healthy as I can!! Keep sending positive thoughts our way!

well it's official...

I am officially sick. Blech.

After setting the kids up with a movie yesterday, I got progressively worse. Fever, chills, burning eyes, the whole shebang. So, I sat huddled under blankets while they watched not one but three movies waiting for Owl Poppa to get home.

My tonsils are swollen and it hurts to swallow. I have a (completely ir-) rational fear of getting epiglottitis. Or in some other way losing my airway and suffocating. I do actually realize that this isn't likely, but it freaks me out anyway every time I get a sore throat or swollen tonsils. That fear is definitely worse than the illness. I had strep throat twice last year... it was terrible.

I am sitting here sipping hot lemon and honey with cayenne. This is probably the best sore throat drink around. And surprisingly tasty. And with the help of some ibuprofen, I am feeling functional this morning. As soon as I hit "publish post", I am going to go take some echinacea, keep up with my remedies, and conquer what I can in the house before getting worse again. There is all the damage from last night to clean up, and all the end of evening chores that didn't get done. I have to get a load of diapers washed or poor W isn't going to have anything to wear. And I think I'll throw dinner in the crockpot right now so we won't have to eat mac and cheese and poptarts for dinner again. :) My menu from yesterday has gone totally out the window... I think we're going to have chicken soup. But think how good it will feel to sit back and relax this afternoon with all the chores done. I might even get that nap.

Wish me luck!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Boring Posts for Saturday Vol 2

Today we went to the (different from last week) farmers market for eggs and milk. This time we were much more successful. We met my almost brother in law and his family there... the kids were soooo excited and keep asking me when he can be their Tio... I keep telling them to ask their Tia and leave me alone about it :) (Not really, I'm not really THAT rude)

So at the market we bought eggs, milk, grass fed flank steak (super yum), a loaf of organic sourdough bread, some hand-dipped beeswax taper candles, and a delicious and huge cinnamon bun that we split in the car. We might have to get there earlier next time. As soon as it starts to heat up (which is EARLY here in Texas), K's eczema starts bothering her... we had to leave when she got so itchy she couldn't take it anymore. I did spend some time perusing the gorgeous aprons... oh how I want one!!! With a full ruffly skirt and a pocket... someday!

Then we went to pick up our first summer CSA share. Our winter CSA ended a while back, and the summer one just started. We came home with lots of yummy squash, onions, fresh garlic, and tons of pickling cucumbers. We're going to learn to make pickles... Hooray! We got to chat for a bit with our friend who is the CSA drop off point (all the veggie shares are taken to her house, and then we pick up there). It was nice to squeeze a super short visit into our morning.

Next we drove around for awhile to let W take his nap in the car. I kinda wish it was easier to get him to take a nap at home, because I could really use a nap today. My throat is super sore, with pain referring to my ear. Blech. I have some remedies I am going to take as soon as I'm done with this post, but a nap sure sounds delicious and would surely speed the healing up, right? Maybe I'll put on a movie for the kids :)

While we were driving around, I decided to go check out the outside of one of the properties we were considering. We got lost trying to find it and drove miles out of our way down some country roads. At least the view was pretty. This house was at the top of my list because it is all tile inside and on almost an acre. It WAS at the top of my list... driving around it, it was clear pretty quick that the layout of the land just wasn't going to work for this family. SIGH... at least it narrows my search down a bit.

I did get to wear my new skirt today! I have been in the market for some skirts or sundresses... I am tired of always looking so sloppy in jeans and tshirts. So I went to the thrift store yesterday and found two cute denim skirts, two floral skirts, an adorable sleeveless sweater (K told me it was so pretty I just had to get it), three pairs of knit tights for this winter, and a pair of sparkly shoes for K. My budget for clothes for this month was $25. Total cost of the thrift store trip was $23.33... I was pretty proud of myself. :) It is looking like we'll actually be within our budget for this month!

And to round out this totally boring post with even more boring-ness, I will end with our meal plan for the next few days. This is only main dishes since I haven't thought out sides yet, that's how boring I am. Here we go:

  • Tonight: casserole made with chicken, leftover gravy and mashed potatoes, veggies and cheese.
  • Tomorrow: cheesesteaks with fried onions made with the flank steak I bought today, served on the sourdough bread from the farm market.
  • Monday: cook a whole chicken in the crockpot... use the meat to make flautas with fresh guacamole, put the rest of the meat aside for the next few days, make chicken broth from the bones
  • Tuesday: figure out something to do with the chicken from the crockpot
  • Wednesday: tortilla soup... my favorite!
  • Thursday: pork chops
  • Friday: leftover or homemade pizza

Now, to go see about those remedies and set the kids up with a movie!

Boring Posts for Saturday brought to you by Mary, at Hope Echoes

Friday, June 12, 2009

Personal Want Ad

Female, married with three children,
seeking house for long term commitment.
Hoping relationship will lead to a forever home.
Should be interested in happy family dinners,
long hours playing in the back yard,
sweet dreams, and happy memories.

We're moving again. Since J was born, we have lived in 6 places, not including the time we've spent in hotels between houses. FWIW, J is only 6 and a half and we've been in this house 2 years. That's a lot of moves squeezed into his first 4.5 years. I'm tired of moving, but hoping that this next one will settle us down! I am taking a cue from those folks who write down everything they want in a partner, and then suddenly meet the person of their dreams... here is my house wish list:

  • At least 2000 sf... our current 1500 is bursting at the seams with 2 adults, 3 high energy kids, 2 big dogs, and a fish
  • Backyard should be sunny enough to grow veggies with a least a few trees for shade and for climbing, and maybe a hammock.
  • Laundry area must be indoors... our current laundry area is in the garage and I hate it
  • A new-ish AC system and double pane windows... Texas is too hot for anything else...oh and screens in all the windows
  • Playroom in the downstairs
  • Eat In Kitchen
  • Fire place
  • Two inch wood blinds throughout
  • A nice front yard and good curb appeal
  • Tile or Laminate in at least the downstairs, preferably throughout
  • Garden tub, no jets in the bathtubs... no funky mold or damp smell in the house
  • Neutral colors, no plaid wallpaper
  • A place we can be for the next three to five years... with the way we move, that would seem like an eternity
  • And since this is my WISH list, I'd like to be able to have a few chickens!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Technical Difficulties...

Work is being done to fix the cute owl layout... please bear with me! :) I am also working to figure out how to remove the orange square that you see currently!

Stay Tuned

ETA: Orange square is removed and previous background has restored. Not sure when I'll get the owl layout back, but at least this is cute enough!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Wrong Side of the Bed

Now, I actually get up on the wrong side of the bed EVERY morning, since I sleep sideways across the bed. This is one of the benefits of cosleeping with W, and not having Owl Poppa in my room. W and I can sprawl all out over the king-sized bed :)

But this morning, I woke up GRUMPY!!!! W was up at least ten times overnight. I don't know if it is teeth, or the full moon, or the alignment of the stars, or what... but man, I have had enough. I can't function on so little sleep. Blech. Not at all the way I had hoped to start out the week.


After attempting to get through a few school lessons with J, while W crawled all over the back of the couch and practiced jumping down onto my head, well, I just gave up. I took a shower, loaded all the kids into the car, made a stop at the taco joint drive thru (nothing fixes a bad day lke carb loading... white flour tortillas and a 44 oz Coke... YUM), and headed off to the park.

Thing did get better. Thankfully. We were able to spend some time with my awesome friend J and her kids... check out J's blog here. All the kids got to run around with light sabers. Nothing makes my kids happier than light sabers. :)

We also had a celebrity sighting! There in the playground, pushing kids on the swings and playing in the sandbox, was one of our hometeam basketball players. This wasn't just any old fella... this was Tim Duncan. I mean the guy has won 4 NBA championships. He's been MVP twice and Finals MVP three times (I think... you had best check with Owl Poppa for totally accurate stats). Anyway, here was this awesome upper-eschelon NBA player, sitting in the sandbox at our local park. It was awesome.

Most awesome of all was that none of the folks at the park, dads included, bothered him... not even one autograph request in the hour or so we overlapped at the park... he got to just be a poppa and hang out. I didn't tell the kids who it was until after we left. And J was totally psyched... you know why? Because now he knows approximately how tall Yao Ming is... Too funny. He's been obsessed with Yao Ming lately.

I was frustrated at how little schooling got done today, but glad to be able to call it a day when needed and head to the park to reset. And now we're going to make pear muffins... YAY! Every day is better with muffins!

Pear Muffins (adapted from the La Leche League Cookbook)
2 unpeeled ripe pears, chopped finely
1/2 C honey
1 egg
1/4 C melted butter (or oil)
1 C milk
1 3/4 C whole wheat flour
1 t cinnamon
1/4 t ground cloves
1/2 t salt
2 t baking powder
1/4 C wheat germ
Mix pear and honey in bowl, tossing to coat. Set to the side. In a large bowl, beat egg, butter, and milk. Add dry ingredients except wheat germ and stir to combine. Fold in pear mixture. Fill greased muffin cups around 2/3 full. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Yiled is around 16 muffins.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Boring Posts for Saturday Vol 1

Yay! I'm nothing if not a follower, and I wanna be cool like Dawn and Mary. Thank you Dawn for introducing me to this, and Mary for hosting.

We haven't done very much today at all. We went to the new farmer's market this morning! That was cool. But there were no vendors selling eggs or raw milk, which is what we went for. There was a reggae band though, so the kids liked that.

Then we ran to Costco to get milk and eggs (see the no milk and eggs at the farmer's market above). We also had to get a gift for a birthday party today. We just found out about it recently so there was no time to make anything. We bought books at Costco. I love books! And books are not plastic, lol, which atones for Costco not being locally owned. :)

Then it was off to the pool party. The kids had fun, and I got to reconnect with a few friends I don't see very often. Which is just a shame really. Maybe this summer will be better for get-togethers. Probably not though.

Then it was home to catch up on laundry and wash dishes. My sister in law stopped by to drop off boxes for our upcoming move. So we got to have a nice and short visit with her and her almost-fiancee. We're all anxiously waiting for the announcement. We all sat and chatted amidst the giant piles of laundry waiting to be away. Gotta love people who love you, mess and all!

Now we're all sitting around, eating a hodge-podge supper consisting of leftover pizza, sausages, last night's salad, and canned oranges. And we're happy and full!

So that's about as boring as I can be... now go check out Mary's blog Hope Echoes. And play along if you want... come on, you know you wanna!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Compacting Challenges Already

Man, this is way harder than I thought it was going to be. Not the buying second hand part... not the being patient about my wants and needs part... although I almost had a moment of weekness at Target. The hardest part is the avoiding fast food places and junk food part!!!!

I have been selling some of our excess things, and feeling very proud of the money I've made. It's not much, but I've used it for new school books for next year, traded some things for a baby carrier (more about that in another post), and, well, used it for milkshakes from the drive through. And cheeseburgers. And... doh!


I have rationalized it that I am not really spending money on these things... that it is like I've bartered for them. But it's really just rationalizing. I know better.

And the thing is, I know it isn't good for me. I know we have food at home. I know... well I know what I OUGHT to do and it just isn't what I WANT to do.


I am not going to let this derail me, though. I will just keep doing better. I need suggestions on some kind of sweet treat I can bring along for myself to keep me out of the drive through window... something yummy that I can buy at the grocery store. Or something homemade and truly decadent (and compatible with eating in the car). Any ideas? And in the mean time, if you see me in the drive through line, yell at me :)

Compacting (Again)

In 2006, way back in the olden days when I only had two children lol, I used to frequent the boards at mothering dot com. It was there that I came across the idea of compacting. Sara at walkslowlylivewildly summed it up nicely here. I was SO onboard. I started in January of 2007, and lasted until we moved in April 2007. Not too shabby! Right around this same time, the San Francisco Compact folks were getting lots of press (it seemed like it to me, but I am sensitive to that sort of thing). S0 it was probably good for me to bow out then, anyway, lest I be accused of (finally) being trendy (don't worry, I'm not).

But the lessons I learned in that time were good for me. It was eye opening to not be able to buy anything brand new. It was work to have to search out something second hand. It was educational to have to decide if that item was worth the work.

I think for me, this is one of those things that seems like it would complicate things, but really makes my life easier. So I'm back on the wagon :)

Here are the rules I'm playing by. I plan to take this one month at a time and just go with it. I am accepting that some months may not be perfect, and that that's okay.

1. Avoid Buying
Is this a want or a need?
Is there something I can DO instead of BUY (I LOVE Cindysporch)?
Can I use something I already have?
Can I wait?

2. Avoid Buying New
Shop Craigslist, thrift stores, etc.
Barter, Borrow, Make something
Be patient
Exceptions: personal care items (includes shoes and underwear), food, supplies for projects or schooling (only after I have gone through step one to decide if we need it or can make due with something else), gifts for birthdays (unless I have time to make something)
If I have honestly exhausted all of the above means, and I am unable to wait it out, purchases should support local or independently owned businesses.

3. Food Rules (since this is something we have to buy)
Minimal convenience foods
Buy local and organic where possible
Shop the farmer's markets first
Minimize packaging, buy bulk, bring my shopping bags
If we do eat out (let's be reasonable folks... this is sure to happen... I can only make so many changes at once) we'll keep it to local establishments

My goals:
Embracing patience
Finding contentment in the present
Combatting my tendency toward instant gratification
Cultivate resourcefulness

... and saving a little money toward that Christmas tree farm in Maine won't hurt.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


My friend Janet at mami de PAZ is a thinker of deep thoughts. I always love what she has to say about what she's been thinking over. She is someone I admire because she works very hard to live out her beliefs.

I am trying to be more like this. I admit to being an idealist. My problem is that the ideal and the reality don't match often enough.

I love making plans at the beginning of each month. Budgets, homeschool plans, travel plans (I use the term travel loosely since I hate to be far from home). It's the follow-through part that I have alot of trouble with.

Actually, that seems to sum up most of my life. Big plans, little follow-through.

So I am attempting to turn over a new leaf!

I sat down and wrote out all of my values. From there I brainstormed ways to bring my life better into alignment with those values. In some areas, I am right where I'd like to be. In other areas, it is going to take some doing.

And now June is stretching out before me.... full of promise and, well, basically, just not all messed up yet :)

I do plan to post more about all the values things I have been working on, but right now I need to start cooking supper, lol... someone's gotta feed these kids.

I will leave y'all with a fabulous recipe (that has nothing at all to do with the topic above... but it's super yummy and worth trying).

Beer Bread Recipe

  • 3 cups of flour
  • 1/4 C sugar
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1 t salt
  • 12 oz bottle of beer (or a 12 oz can of soda)
  • 3 T melted butter

Mix together dry ingredients. Pour in beer (or soda). Mix til it forms a sticky batter. Pour batter into a greased bread pan. Pour melted butter over the top and bake at 375 for 40-50 minutes. Try not to eat it all at once! :) You'll get different flavors from using different beers or sodas. You can also do this with whole wheat flour... it's a bit denser but still yummy! Or add a handful of shredded cheese and serve it with soup... oooh, now I'm drooling! Let me know watcha think.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Cute? Things Kids Say

J, in response to me telling him for the gazillionth time that NO he could NOT go outside:
"You cut me deep mom, you cut me deep"

K, when I was explaining that I needed to try on the sundress before purchasing it:
"Yeah, so you can make sure it doesn't make you look pregnant"

W, because this is all he really says:
"dis? momomomomomomomomomomomom"

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Lazy Day Recap

Well, my lazy day wasn't as lazy as it could have been. We hung out, cleaned up a bit, finished up all the laundry, put clean sheets on the beds... standard stuff really, but not the laying around in my pj's that I had in mind. We're pretty sure we are moving soon so I have also been purging stuff... I'm one of those crazy people who LOVES downsizing... I find it super freeing to get rid of my stuff. And since I'm selling bunches of it, I'm enjoying putting a bit of cash in my pocket too! With the proceeds from selling my elliptical machine :) I took the kids to the thrift store. We came home with a few books and games (I went in search of sundresses for me, but no luck... if only I were a size 2, then the selection would have been awesome). Someone in the store gave me a coupon, so I saved $3, too. Bonus!

I have a lot of deep thoughts to share, and big plans I am working on, so hopefully I'll get some time tomorrow (Owl Poppa is home the next few days).

Lazy Day

I don't have anywhere to go or anything to do today. I will just be hanging out at the house, playing with the kids! Envy me! (or invite me over, lol)

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Nickname Party

After the backflip class this morning, our Capoeira group had a nickname party.

I wish I could find some good links to Capoeira and its history, but I can't... and I am not willing to spend anymore time on it. So there! Although this is a really nice kid's book about Capoeira.

Anyway, because Capoeira was illegal in Brazil, players were given a Capoeira nickname to help keep them anonymous. This tradition is still around today (not necessarily the anonymity, but the nicknames).

J's nickname is Piao, which means spinning top, because of his head spins!
K's nickname is Princezinha, which means little princess, because, well, that's what she is.

And best of all, I got a Capoeira nickname too! I don't play Capoeira (yet), but I feel like a self-appointed Capoeira group momma (or is that groupie momma?)! So my nickname is Mae, which means Momma! YAY!

Here's a cool Capoeira shot from the website for his Capoeira group... J is the one on the right...

So Much To Say

I have some many things running around in my head, just waiting for me to blog about them. But not this morning. We're off to a 9 am backflip seminar (for J, not me, don't worry).

Maybe later. :)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Today's Lessons and the Redbox

NOTE: I typed this up last night, but was having trouble with the photos.

We had a GREAT day of school today! Like, totally-and-completely-everything-I-could-have-hoped-it-would-be-make-me-thankful-we're-homeschooling-and-sure-we're-on-the-right-track kind of GREAT. Here are some of the highlights.

J is making amazing progress with his reading skills. I am super proud of him.

We did a great math lesson (combining two lessons from the Saxon 1 book; we're gonna hang out with that one for awhile longer... no more debating myself, at least on this issue. I'll need to find another excuse for posting pictures). We sorted peanuts into 10 piles of 10. We counted them by 10's to find out we had a hundred peanuts. We laid out 10 peanuts and counted by 2's to find out how many were inside. We shelled 100 peanuts and made peanut butter, practicing following a recipe and talking about standard measurments. We served the peanut butter on bread that we sliced in half, then in quarters... intro to fractions.

We finished our history narration, map work, and coloring page for Hammurabi. The kids like Hammurabi. They do not like Sargon and Shamshi-Adad.

We went to the park and did a field study for our science curriculum. We discussed living and non-living things, looked at dirt under a magnifying glass, and drew some pictures of what we found. J and K both LOVED drawing pictures of roly poly bugs!

We also read tons of books today... Aesops fables (does Aesops need an apostrophe? I keep staring at this and just can't decide), Angelina Ballerina, The Golden Sandal: A Middle Eastern Cinderella Story, and a few others.

We did some free painting. And then did a painting project to wrap up our Monet lesson. We got the idea here. Here are a few pics from our painting session (note: if you try this at home, masking tape stuck to the construction paper and was really hard to remove. Letting the paint dry all the way and then removing it really slow helped alot)
W had lots of fun with the painting. We had to rename his Rudolph, though!

J worked hard and carefully.

He made sure to include a flower garden (the purple spots at the top)
and a water lily in the bottom corner)

K was really excited (and couldn't stop smiling for the camera)

Here is her finished project

And then we got the whole house clean, mopped the kitchen, got the laundry done, the kids folded socks, J folded W's pajamas (I know... I was shocked... J NEVER voluntarily does work LOL) and everyone had a bath before we had our family night!!

For Family Night, we watched The Tale of Depereaux. It was cute, though a bit intense for my crew. But it's a sign of my new obsession... Redbox. Seriously... I can go to Walgreen's and rent a movie and it only costs me one dollar! This is dangerous folks! Do you hear me, dangerous!!!! Think of all the movies I can rent, for less than my late fees when I inevitably return my DVDs late to the library (the late fee is $2... highway robbery). We watched Bolt from the Redbox the other night, and whole new realms of movie rental possibilities opened up for me. I had visions of all the amazing things we could watch together. I tried to justify renting movies by reminding myself that the kids watch so little TV anyway. But really, it's a slippery slope folks. If I start renting movies more than once or twice a week, someone reel me in. :)

Yummy Pizza Idea

So, it's Wednesday which means it's Family Night here at the Owl Nest. We made our "famous" pizza crust recipe, with a twist! We cut up some string cheese and folded the crust over it. Instant stuffed crust pizza! The kids, who don't normally eat the pizza "bones" (they try to pawn them off on W), munched cheesy bread crust with dipping sauce. Oh so good!

Oooh, and on half of the pizza, I mixed pesto in with the pizza sauce. Delish!

Let me know whatcha think!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Just Because

I don't have anything super interesting to blog about, but I'm trying to blog more often, so this is what you get! :)

I am actually in the throes of a dilemma over moving the kids up to the next level of math in an effort to keep them challenged. The alternative is to keep them in their current levels and work with the theory that "repetition leads to mastery" and use the easier lessons to help them build discipline in their studies.

But man, I am tired of arguing with myself about it! So if anyone has wise words of wisdom I'd love to hear them. Otherwise I will continue looking through old photos in an attempt to disctract myself. And in the meantime, I leave y'all with these:
J and K, Halloween 2005
(J is Max from Where the Wild Things Are
and K is (what else) a Fairy Princess)

J and W, Fall 2008

K, newborn, Sept 2004

J and his first set of wheels, Oct 2005

J, proving he's always been cute, Spring 2003

J being "helpful" with K, Fall 2005

K's "being pretty" obsession started early, Jan 2006

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Summer Homeschooling Plans

We're one of those freakish homeschooling families that does things our own way because, well, we can. No, actually, it just took us a long time to figure out what will work (from a curriculum stand point) and we're still working out the kinks. And because of fall birthdays (have I mentioned that all five of us have birthdays within six weeks of each other?) and other holidays in the fall, we figure we'll start our new schooling each January and wrap up around September... leaving us free to do a light schedule (probably holiday-type unit studies) for the fall and early winter.

So... while everyone else is winding down for summer break, we're just hitting our stride.

I know I have waxed poetic over my love of Ambleside Online... I think I'm over it. I do love the lesson plans and the literature selections, but it doesn't seem complete enough to me. So it's back to the beginning. We're taking what we liked from Ambleside, combining it with what we liked from The Well-Trained Mind, sprinkling in a few random things, and calling it a (school) day. So how do I celebrate? I bought a science curriculum! How cool is this?!?! Starting Monday, we'll be doing science, along with our regularly scheduled programming, three days a week. We're using R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey, level one. It looks really cool and pretty thorough. I can't wait. So our newly revised new schedule is below. I feel like I do a "new" schedule every week or two... I think I have a short attention span... wait, what was I saying... oh, schedules, right... here it is, more for my own benefit (seeing it in print makes it official, know what I mean?) than for anything else, though I hope it is at least a bit interesting to others.

Monday, Wednesday, Friday will continue to be school days, and days where we don't use the car. This is regardless of Owl Poppa's wacky work schedule (probably our biggest roadblock in developing any kind of homeschooling routine). Every school day, we'll cover the following:
  • Math for J and K: J is still in Saxon 1 and K is in Saxon K. I am thinking of bumping them to the next levels without finishing our books first... we're all a little bored. Waiting for the routine to kick in before making this decision. I am also thinking of mixing up the format a little, separating the math meeting and the math lesson. (One quirk of Saxon math is that the teaching is separated into two sections, a meeting that covers review, calendar skills, and some other stuff (<---how do you like that technical description) and then a lesson that introduces new topics and ends with a review sheet). Still pondering this, and will probably do a bit of trial and error to see what works.
  • Reading for J and K: Continue on with Teaching Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. Deferring the decision on what will follow until until we're actually done.
  • Copywork: Continue as we've been.
  • Poetry: We're giving up A Child's Garden of Verses. None of us are really enjoying it. We'll probably move on to Mother Goose and then A.A. Milne.
  • Story of the World (SOTW): We're working at an erratic pace. Lately, we've been listening to the CDs in the car. We might listen to 3 or 4 chapters at once, and repeat this every time we go somewhere. The kids are really enjoying history like this, since it seems like a story, and they are retaining what they are hearing. Our summer plan is to continue this way, following what's interesting. During school days, we'll go over review questions for the chapters we've listened to, and coloring pages, mapwork, and narrations for their notebooks. We'll also continue to read the literature tie-ins. I am reserving the right to limit hands-on artsy projects if the kids don't seem interested or it seems like it will be too much mess (c'mon, people... I need to be practical here).
  • Aesops Fables: Continue reading one or two fables per day. Once we finish our book, we'll probably move onto mythology (it should be about the right time in our history studies anyway)
  • Science: We'll start the REAL Science Odyssey book and work through one chapter every two or three days.
  • Composer Study and Artist Study: We'll continue to incorporate our literature-based composer and artist study. We're starting Bach and Degas, and will then cover Joplin (Scott not Janice) and Cassat (who's birthday was yesterday).
  • Nature Study: I am also commiting to doing the Outdoor Hour challenges laid out here. Not sure when we'll fit them in, but fit them in we will!!

Now that you are all bored to tears, assuming you've actually slogged through this far, I will leave you with a great quote (I'm not beyond bribery, lol):

“The society which scorns excellence in plumbing as a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy: neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.”
---John W. Gardner

ETA: I went back and added the link for the Nature Study website. It's worth checking out since it's totally cool!

My 25 Things

I've been meaning to post this here... and well, since we're all a bit under the weather I am lacking in other inspiration and I'm taking taking the easy way out. Sooooo... with that kind of intro, here's my 25 Things About Me

1. I like to think I am funny... I'm probably not, though.
2. I enjoy the gratuitous use of elipses... I really do.
3. I went to an all girls public high school and graduated second in my class.
4. In college, I only took a Latin class because all the sections for Spanish were closed, and Latin has no oral proficiency requirement. I ended up being a Classical Studies major.
5. I also majored in the Biological Basis of Behavior (biopsychology).
6. I proposed to my husband, twice... and was turned down both times.
7. I can't sing, or dance, or play an instrument, therefore I can never be a beauty pageant contestant.
8. I didn't learn to drive til after I was married... I was 22, with a house, and two vehicles that I couldn't drive parked in the garage.
9. After learning to drive, I once drove my car into the wall of that garage.
10. I used to do sleep deprivation research. It was the coolest work I've ever done. I sometimes dream about getting my PhD and doing research again.
11. I chronically lose things, especially my keys. If I ever come to visit you, I will probably leave something behind. Just expect it.
12. Before I ever had kids, I knew I would be a crunchy parent. Some things have worked out the way I expected (cloth diapering, homebirthing, tandem nursing, etc) and some things are so much harder than I thought they would (like being patient).
13. I love to cook. I hope to some day make all of my own food from ingredients I have grown myself.
14. I dream of owning a Christmas tree farm in Maine.
15. I have thrown more than one party that no one showed up to.
16. I always wanted six kids... and six dogs. Current count: 3 kids, 2 dogs, 1 fish.
17. There was a period of time when I was known as Princess Hippo, and it didn't bother me. I used to own pajamas with ice-skating hippos on them!
18. I love the smell of coffee, though I don't tolerate the caffeine well anymore. When I was pregnant, I loathed the smell of coffee.
19. I can jump double dutch.
20. I was the statue of liberty for Halloween in second grade.
21. I think grammar lessons are cool... diagramming sentences, that's where it's at, baby!
22. I get hyper when I am tired. If I seem extra spastic, I probably didn't sleep well the night before.
22 1/2. It has been seven years since I've had a good night's sleep. I am usually spastic.
23. I am not a native Texan, but I REALLY wish I was. As a birthday gift, my husband once awarded me a certificate of honorary texan-ness. Then he rescinded it. He would mock me that even the dogs were native texans. When my daughter was born in PA, it became clear that the girls would just have to stick together.
23 1/2. Ironically, my daughter and I are the only ones in the family who do not like snow and want to stay in Texas. The boys (who are all native Texans) want to move somewhere cold.
24. I love watching stand up comedy.
25. I would love to meet Chris Berman, and hang out with him for an afternoon. I used to dream about working for ESPN.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A Night in the Woods

A few weeks ago I took the kids camping overnight with some friends of ours. Owl Poppa was working, and to be honest, he is not overjoyed at the thoughts of packing up our stuff to go to the woods and pretend we don't have a house. So, it was just me, the three little owls, and another family.

I used to camp alot as a kid, and it is something I always wanted to do with my children. I had great dreams of hiking through the woods, teaching the kids about nature, cooking over a campfire... ahhh, memories. But, like I said, Owl Poppa... well, not so much. My awesome artist friend Brendy was kind enough to share her family camp out with us, and to overlook how neurotically nervous I was about the whole deal :) I just really wanted everything to go well, both for me and for the little owls.

And it did! YAY! With help from Brendy's husband, we got the tent pitched, got gear unpacked, set up camp. We took the kids to play in the river, cooked dinner over the campfire, made s'mores, and spent our first night sleeping in the woods...

which is much harder than I remember it being. First of all, all four of us were sleeping in a 7 x 7 tent. And it was hot. And quiet. I had alot of trouble falling asleep. There was the racoon in the middle of the night who was trying to open our coolers (which had to be moved to the cars). There was the guy a few campsites down who kept coming and going on his motorcycle. Then K's eczema was super bad that day (before we even left, not due to the trip) so she scratched and itched all night long. And W is still nursing over night, so there was that variable to consider.

But we made it!!!! We were up before 7 am, excited at surviving our first camp out! (I think the other campers were not so excited about us being up SO early) After a yummy camp breakfast, we packed up and spent the day relaxing by the river.

I could say more (of course) but I'll just leave you with a few cool pics from our trip:

Isn't this place beautiful?

J doing what J does

My water baby, W

And of course, J and K with their first S'mores!