Saturday, April 30, 2011


We visited with out-of-town family last night, to celebrate my niece's graduation from college. (It seems like just yesterday she came to town to go to school. And, it seems like just yesterday that I graduated from the same school.) Anyway, my sister-in-law asked a little bit about homeschooling and was wondering how it was going. She wanted to know if I was on track or something along those lines.

I told her we are about a year behind in our curriculum but that I really wasn't concerned because the curriculum we have used, since first grade, has fourth graders reading Plutarch's Lives and full Shakespeare plays. I am excited about the Shakespeare plays because I just got Henry V in the mail and the book has the play written by Shakespeare on one page and on the opposite page it has a modern translation "that anyone can understand." I can't wait to read it! (I hated Brit Lit in high school.)

Anyway, this past Wednesday we went to the Audubon exhibit in the morning and then spent the afternoon watching a local tree service take down our neighbor's tree, that had been damaged by a down burst, in the last big storm we had.

The kids loved all the trucks and the cranes and watching each guy do his own assigned part to successfully and safely take the tree down. The cut off limbs looked like big pieces of broccoli flying through the air on the end of the crane.

One man got his foot stuck under a big branch. When we talked with his co-worker, to see if he needed a cold drink or some aspirin, his co-worker said he thought he was OK but wasn't exactly sure, because he didn't speak English. (Oh, what an education the kids were getting.)

We watched a backhoe looking things move huge branches around. We watched a big dump truck-like-thing pick up the big branches and put them in the back of the truck. We watched another man run around the dump truck-like-thing with a chainsaw and cut all the over hanging branches. The kids questioned everything. And watched everything.

As I was saying to my neighbor what type of unique school day we had, she mentioned that it probably wouldn't do them much good on any type of standardized test that the schools have to take. Maybe. Maybe not. Thankfully that isn't a consideration while I teach and they learn.

The one thing I love about homeschooling is, my kids are not evaluated by a test or a teacher that has to meet certain criteria to determine whether or not they are learning. I believe the kids are learning skills and information that will help them succeed in life, no matter what they are lead to do.

I don't think I have honestly, ever been, truly concerned about their education, or whether or not they are getting enough. Or the right thing. I just know, that I know, that I know, they are getting the best education for them. And that's enough for me . . .

Thursday, April 28, 2011

John James Audubon

Yesterday we had a great opportunity to go to one of our local history museums and look at an exhibit of John James Audubon paintings and writings. I thought the girls would enjoy it given there fondness for birds.

Majority of the exhibit was engraved prints of original drawings. The kids loved running around and identify certain birds. And trying to find their favorites.

The museum also has a lot of Florida history exhibits and the kids favorite "Grandma's Attic." In Grandma's attic there is an old record player and a rotary dial phone. Also, there was a big poster from the original Star Wars movie.

We spent about an hour walking around looking and reading. Then, as a surprise, we went to Pizza Hut and picked up some personal pan pizzas and had a picnic in the park.

Just wanted to take the day and appreciate some of the historical/educational stuff we have right at our finger tips. . .

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Should Have Known

During dinner, while I was answering the 100th question from 3 of my 4 children, a conversation I had with a previous co-worker popped into my head. My former co-worked mentioned about all of the questions that toddlers ask.

My reply, to the comment, was "my toddler never asks me questions." I have to admit, I was kind of proud. I felt, maybe, she just knew what everything was. What did I know, I was a first time mother of a toddler and had a newborn. Pride, pride, pride.

Anyway, to this day, I can probably count on my hands the number of times my first born has asked me a question about something she didn't already know (obviously an exaggeration but hopefully you get the point.)

It has since dawned on me, after being peppered with questions from her three younger siblings, that my oldest doesn't ask me many questions because she knows it all. (Insert sarcasm.) I love her very much and she is very smart in a lot of things and honestly she does know a lot, but, as I tried to politely, and lovingly, explain to her that her body isn't made out of sand and that she needs to eat fruits and vegetables to stay healthy, that maybe, just maybe, she doesn't know everything. Just yet. . .

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Weekend

Our holiday weekend started on Thursday when Grandma got here. We spent Friday cleaning. Just because the house needed it and Grandma was a great help! My mother-in-law and brother-in-law stopped by in the afternoon and we had a great visit with them.

On Friday night we attended our church's presentation of The Risen Christ and it was phenomenal, as always. It was a musical/drama of the crucifixion of Christ and his resurrection three days later. It was very intense but offered great hope to those who believe. Christ died for our sins, it was a horrific death because the One and Only Son of God took the punishment for every single one of our past, present and future sins. I, for one, am so undeserving. But, so very thankful for the love God has for me.

Saturday the whole family went to Boop's 9AM baseball game. He has improved so much and seems to really enjoy it. After the game, Grandma and Sissy took Nature Girl (and Little Mama) out to celebrate NG's birthday. The ate lunch at Cracker Barrel, had cupcakes at some fancy bakery and then did a little shopping. Home in time for a little rest and daddy's famous hamburgers on the grill. A couple of weeks ago we started watching the original Star Wars trilogy so we started to watch the fifth (or second) movie, The Empire Strikes Back.

Sunday we all were at church by 9:30 for the Lord's Supper and then a little church wide brunch. After which, was a really great sermon by Pastor Don on the need for the cross and Christ's crucifixion and resurrection.

Lunch after church. The rest of the movie. An Easter egg hunt and another fabulous dinner prepared by daddy. Ham, asparagus, hashbrown casserole, Sister Shubert rolls, fresh fruit and collards from the garden.

Grandma leaves today. And tomorrow it is back to reality. But, what a great way to celebrate the holiday weekend . . .

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Book Club at the Lake

This past Thursday the girls had their last book club meeting for the year. We had read Baby Island so I thought it would be fun if we had our club meeting at a local state park with a lake. At first, I wasn't going to let the kids swim, but, everyone else was, so I bit the bullet. (I will be honest and just say I was kind of worried about watching all four kids in the water.)

The kids did great giving their reports. Each one of them has improved so much from the very first time they gave their oral reports. I was proud of all of them!

We are going to be continue the book club through the summer but with a little bit more laid back schedule. One book every six weeks or so. The two books the kids will be reading are Summer of the Monkeys and Half Magic. I have never heard of either one, but they both sound great.

I think we will also continue on in the fall. At least I hope so. We have a great bunch of kids and a great bunch of moms! So, I hope it works out. For the up coming year we are going to focus on historical living biography books which basically means biographies that are wrapped around a story. I am accepting recommendations from everyone in hopes of getting a diverse bunch of books.

Anyway, we had a great time with our meeting, picnic and swimming. A fabulous school day and a great end to our first attempt at a book club . . .

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Super Sunday

This past Sunday we went to an art exhibit at our downtown chain of parks. The day was gorgeous and the art was wonderful. The kids did great and enjoyed seeing all the different types of art.

Our next door neighbor was one of the vendors. So that was kind of cool. We have known her since before she was an "artist." It has been fun to watch her create. She always invites the kids over to show them her latest creation.

Anyway, a huge draw for the girls was to have "art" put on their face, aka face painting. Now, Nature Girl wants to learn to face paint. We have a face painting kit on hold on Amazon. And she has expressed an interest in art classes with Little Mama.

We then went to the mall to find coordinating Easter outfits. The five of us. We were able to find dresses and a shirt in the first place we looked. I was very thankful for that.

Home in time to make our Sunday family dinner for the whole family. A great sunny Sunday afternoon to be sure . . .

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

I Love Boop This Much

So cute tonight up on the stage at church. I over heard the choir teacher say "O.K. you are the leader."

He woke up on Monday, daddy's day off and said "O.K. daddy what are we going to build today?"

Hubby gave him an old drill that works but the battery life is like 5 minutes. Boop has been drilling everything in sight. Charges the battery and drills some more. Hubby thought for sure he was going to sleep with it. He woke up at 6:45 A.M. one morning and told me he was going to check on his drill.

He asked daddy if they were going to Lowe's? They go to Lowe's on almost everyday off. I am pretty sure they are known by their names.

While putting him to sleep tonight, he just had to see my tonsils, like four times.

What's not to love . . .

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


So, as I think about our choice to homeschool this morning, I am just so thankful that God, hubby and I get to be the biggest influences in our children's lives. We make mistakes. Daily. Some days hourly. So, also very thankful for God's grace, mercy and sending His Son to die on a cross for my sins . . .

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Rainy Days

Spring time. And rain. Big rain. Rain that comes in the middle of the night with loud claps of thunder and bright flashes of lightening. Every child's fear. Well, at least in my house.

In the wee hours of this morning, we had our second middle of the night thunder storm. The last storm we had, Boop ended up in bed with daddy and EG and Little Mama ended up on the couch with me. And our neighbors tree came crashing down and missed the girls' window by about two feet. But, did manage to destroy birdhouse watching area.

Last night the big kids were sleeping in the living room already. (It was movie night.) But, about 5:45 AM, EG started calling "Mommy, come get me. Mmmooommmyy, cccoommmee get mmmeee!" Because Paul had already left for work, I put her in bed with me. She rolls around and burrows into the pillows. She has to have her head shoved in a corner or against something. After she got sort of settled, she reached out and rubbed my arm. Very gently, like she was soothing me. A time or two before, she has reached out and stroked my hair. So gentle. And if you know EG, there isn't much gentle about her. So it is kind of a nice feeling.

Anyway, I listened to the big kids whispering in the living room, then there was quiet. EG never did go back to sleep. Can anyone say "early nap time?" . . .

Friday, April 15, 2011

Plan T

That means we have moved WAY past Plan B. That is the one thing I love about my life, the ability to change directions, plans, midstream. I can read something, hear something, see something I want to implement in our home. I can mold it to our needs, try it out, see if it works and it if doesn't, I can try something else.

Life is ever changing. Nothing stays the same for very long. One of the hardest lessons I ever learned as a mom! Just because I would get three nights of sleep, by no means does that mean I am going to get a fourth.

I have learned to be "flexible." I put that in quotes because I am sure I am not anywhere near the real definition "flexible" but I am for me. Also, I have learned to cut myself some slack. Just because some great program, schedule, book or idea works for one great family I admire, doesn't mean it is going to work for us. Just because some parenting guru has an idea of how life is suppose to be for them doesn't mean it is going to work for us.

So, all that to say is, I have changed my morning routine. For the last few weeks I have been struggling big time to get up at 6 and get showered and have enough time for my quiet time before little guys wake up (although I am not sure Boop would be considered a little guy anymore!). The alarm would go off and I would roll back over, rest for another 15/20 minutes and then get up in enough time to have some type of quiet time and then I would have to wake the big kids. Which meant, if I wanted to get a shower I would have to do it while they were eating and getting ready for school.

It was an OK plan but then the bed wasn't getting made and the clothes weren't getting in the washer until snack time. And then I didn't really have time in the morning to do some little stuff like organize school things or write for my blog or put clothes away. I just seemed to not really get ahead or even stay caught up. Nothing major just a general sense of not enough time in the day.

Then I would stay up a little later at night because I enjoy the peace and quiet, but, I can't do anything at night. I am just not a night person. So, I would waste about an hour, every night.

So, yesterday it hit me. I don't mind getting up to do my quiet time, read my Bible and pray. But, I do mind getting up to take a shower. But, if I did my quiet time at 6 and my shower after, there is usually some little person up by then. Harder to take a shower. EG wants to take a shower with me or play in the sink or get in the cabinets or unfold all the folded clothes, etc., etc., etc.

So last night I asked hubby to wake me when he left for work this morning at 5:30. He chuckled and said "sure." So this morning he woke me at 5:25 as he was headed out the door. The coffee was already made and so I laid there for a few minutes and got up. I immediate spent time in prayer, read my Bible and THEN took a shower.

By 7 I was done with all of that and have had about a half hour to spare, before everyone gets up. I have had time to write a blog post, get a list of books ready for a friend, answer email, organize our school day, make the bed, get laundry ready, blah, blah, blah.

Now, I have NO IDEA how long this will last. I don't know what I am going to feel like tonight. I have no idea what I am going to do on hubby's days off. All I know is it worked this morning! Maybe on Monday I will post Plan T, part two . . .

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Full Circle

About 5 years ago, when we were contemplating homeschooling, I made "appointments" and met with 3 other families, from my church, who I respected. My purpose for my appointments was, they had older kids, and I wanted to know why they chose the educational paths they did. I met with 2 homeschooling families and one family whose children were in public school.

When making our kids educational choices, we wanted to have as much information as possible. From all aspects.Check Spelling

And today I laugh, because I just met with a lady, from my church, who is interested in homeschooling and had asked me about a week and a half ago if I would meet and talk with her about her options. And she is the second or third person who has wanted to talk with me about homeschooling!

I opened up our conversation by telling her that five years ago, I had been doing the very same thing. Meeting with all kinds of families that I respected, admired, to get their opinions, their thoughts.

It really does seem just like yesterday. It is hard to believe I have been educating my children for the last 5 years. And, I have to be honest, one of the greatest pleasures that I have, is teaching the girls to read. It opens up a whole new world and I am so thankful to be an integral part of that. Boop will "start" this fall. And, I am excited to show him a "whole new world" . . .

Monday, April 11, 2011

Happy Birthday, Nature Girl!!

As I write this, my first born is officially 10 years and 4 hours old. Yes, double digits! Crazy! I am positive it was just yesterday that hubby's and my life changed dramatically! For the better! She truly was a miricle baby.

She rocked our world, to be sure. She was 3 1/2 weeks early and I am absolutely positive that it was a sign of things to come. Ever since that early morning hour on April 11, she has been making her own way ever since.

She is extraordinary. She is beautiful and graceful. She is determined and willful. She wants what she wants what she wants. And she can be very resourceful and thoughtful to get what she wants. There are many times she gives me a different way to do something, her way is better. Makes more sense. She is all about common sense.

She is always smiling. And always singing. And loves to dance, her way. She is a deep thinker. But, not very expressive with her emotions or feelings on the outside. She doesn't cry much. But things do trouble her. She loves to dream. Big! There isn't anything she feels she can't do.

She is a social butterfly. She loves her friends. And being out and about. She loves to go, go, go. But, she can also sit in her room and read, read, read. She is smart. She absorbs everything. She loves animals. From birds to dogs. She has many, many interests. But, informed me the other day, as we were walking up to the 22 floor Capitol Building, that she would not want to be an architech or engineer. I wish I would have had time to explore that more.

She challenges me constantly. In good ways and bad. I have to stay at least two steps ahead of her, to parent her. By the end of the day, she wears me out. But, she has been that way since birth.

I can't imagine what our lives would be like without her. I pray, pray, pray everyday, that she grows into a beautiful woman of God. Inside and out. Happy, happy birthday to my first born baby girl . . .

Saturday, April 9, 2011


Nature Girl and I had the most phenomenal experience yesterday learning about our state government. As a friend of mine said "We learned more in 6 hours then we did in three years of civic/government classes!!" And no truer words have been spoken.

Yesterday, Nature Girl and I attended the one day TeenPact event at our state's capitol. It was geared towards boys and girls ages 8-12. It's main purpose, I believe, was to give the kids some really good information of what goes on at the capitol, from a godly perspective. How we as Christians should not shy away from politics but become involved by writing letters or speaking publicly and even running for office.

Some of the activities were praise and worship, a bible drill looking up scripture that pertain to the organization of government and our responsibility to obey and pray, a great skit helping develop tools for public speaking, walking around the capitol building praying for the legislature and the governor, a scavenger hunt that covered the whole 22 story building. But, by far, the best part of the whole day was the opportunity the kids had to learn how a bill made its way through the legislature and then become law. And they got to actively participate.

As homework each child was to create a bill, whether serious or funny. Some of the bills were art therapy for children, driver's license by the age of 10, the right to life for a gummy bear, and free pencils to all children of school age and the indecent pants law. The topics ran the gamut and one was as just as thoroughly thought through as the next.

In our break out session, each kid was given the opportunity to stand up, in our small group, and say why he/she chose to write a bill on the subject they picked. Then the other kids were taught the policies and procedures as to how to ask questions and move for votes etc. I am sad to say, at first, it was way above my head.

But, then all the kids got back together again in the Senate chambers and about a half dozen or more kids got to actually to have their bills read, just like in the Senate. Then, they were allowed to stand in the well and tell everyone why they chose their topic. Other kids would then raise their hand, be recognized by the Speaker and then say the correct phrase "Would the lady/gentleman in the well yield to a question?" All their statements and questions had to be exactly how the actual Senate does it. (I am going to explore where the policies and procedures and the actual wording come from.)

The "Senator" on the floor would then have permission to ask the "Senator" in the well specific questions about his or her bill. The questions were really, really good, thoughtful questions. And the "Senator" purposing the bill took the questions seriously and had really, really good thoughtful answers.

Not every kid got their bill on the floor. There just wasn't enough time. But, as the hour was winding up, the last bill to be read was Nature Girl's. I knew she was going to flip. She and her friend had been nervous all day about having to speak in public.

When her bill was read by the secretary, NG stood up and the speaker called her to the well. Her bill was on the abolishing of homework for public and private school kids. Once her bill was read she started telling the Senate floor why she felt homework needed to be abolished. Her reasoning was, when she wants to play with her friends after their day at school, they sometimes can't because they have to do homework.

She thought of it all by herself. The actual idea and the purpose behind it. She felt that after 6-7 hours in school, that kids should be able to go out and play! Then it was question time and she very professionally answered all the questions the best she could. Never once was she flustered! Some of the questions were "What about kids who didn't finished assigned classroom work?" Her answer was that they would have finish it at home. "Did it apply to private/Christan schools?" Her answer was "yes." There was only one question she didn't have an answer for. She politely asked the girls to repeat it and then NG answer "I don't know."

I was so proud of her standing up there and answering questions. She said she was very nervous at first but then felt a little more comfortable. She didn't like not being able to answer the one question, but I told her that was OK and she answered truthfully.

It was amazing to watch these kids participate in the process of law making! I learned so much! And I know she did too. She can't wait to go back and neither can I . .

Thursday, April 7, 2011


I love all my kids. But, organized sports is a huge reason I wanted a boy. I couldn't wait to sit on the sidelines and cheer on my boy. In fact, when we were naming Boop, we would chant his name just to hear what it would sound like to cheer him on during a game! OK, I admit a little strange. And, yes, I know girls can play organized sports as well. And, yes I know, that Boop might not have wanted to play organized sports. ;)

Last night Boop had his first T-ball game and it was exciting! I just love watching the little guys play. Hubby and I, before kids, would stop at ball parks to watch the little guys play. Anyway, Boop was adorable, in his too big shirt and his too big pants and his too big hat.

He walked up to the field and warmed up. His team was in the outfield first. He had the stance right and seemed like he was paying attention. He would go after the ball. But only so far. If he missed it, he wasn't one to run with the other six boys to get it.

He was at bat three times. He made it to base a couple of times. He does have a good swing. He could use a little work on the running from base to base. I don't think he really understands the need to get to base as quickly as he can. But, those things will come! ;)

He had fun. We had fun. That's all that matter. So proud of my baby boy . . .

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Happy Anniversay

I am sure I have shared our story before. But, 14 years ago today, thanks to my mom and her great friends, we had a fairy tale wedding.

Here are some of the highlights:
I pulled out of a magazine, the picture of the wedding dress I wanted. We had a very tight budget and knew I could never afford it. My mom was able to find the exact dress, gently worn and it was PERFECT! I felt like a princess.
We were able to have the most beautiful wedding on a less than shoe string budget.
The ceremony and reception were outside at a local art gallery.
A train whistled right in the middle of our vows.
The whole place was decorate with lights and tulle. Even the art statues had tulle and flowers.
There were hurricane lamps on all the tables. The wedding was right before sunset.
My dad and stepdad walked me down a cobble stone walk way.
My stepdad graciously stepped aside to let my dad give me away.
My very long train got stuck on a tree branch.
I was busy chatting with a friend when I was suppose to be walking down the aisle.
We had no less than 6 flower girls, one just as adorable as the next.
We got married in a white gazebo with wisteria hanging all over it. (Which hubby hung, with the help of family.)
When we walked up the aisle as husband and wife, everyone was blowing bubbles at us.
A good friend, who was a chef, gave us the gift of a beautiful swan ice sculpture.
Everyone who helped with the wedding, except for the photographer, was a friend.
For the reception, I traded my high heels in for a pair of Keds.
Sissy cried when we left for the honeymoon and wanted to go with us.

Gosh, I could go on and on. So, I guess I will stop.

The fairy tale continues . . .

Monday, April 4, 2011

Expectations vs. Goals

I know I have very high expectations of my children. And it is never more apparent than on a Monday. A wise, homeschooling mother of 11 once said "Have low expectations but lofty goals." I am in the course of changing my expectations and putting in place some attainable goals that the children and I can reach together, eventually.

More on this later . . .

Friday, April 1, 2011

Science Fair

We participated in our Homeschool Science Fair last night. For the first time. I didn't know what to expect but our homeschool group had put on a Geography Fair last year and we really enjoyed that experience.

I let the girls decide what they wanted their Science Exhibit to be about and they chose birds. We decided to make a backyard field guide. A book filled with pictures and information about the birds that we have, right here in our own backyard. Over the course of about 2 months they had spotted about 17 different birds, since getting their bird feeder outside their bedroom window.

The project was to write up information about what they, themselves, observed about each bird. Then they spent about a week and a half trying to take pictures of each bird. We printed off pictures from the Internet of birds they were unable to photograph. I helped make the book using my card making stuff. I thought it was a really creative, original, fabulous idea!

We then got one of those tri-fold boards and taped pictures of the trees that the birds live in in our yard. We also included some fun facts. The girls have been wanting a CD of bird calls and sounds from the birds of Florida. So, I decided to go ahead and get the CD and they could use it for their exhibit. They brought along a CD player and made a list of the birds and tracks of the sounds of the birds in our backyard.

We also brought the bird feeder, seed and all of our bird field guides from Wisconsin, Florida and Georgia. The kids were asked questions as part of the judging. We were not really prepared for that part. But, the kids did fabulous. I was not the least bit concerned about their knowledge of the subject. In fact, hubby and I have been amazed at the information they have gained about birds, just on their own.

They received great marks for enthusiasm and knowledge and over all presentation. For the most part, they did it all on their own with a few detailed suggestions from me (and the typing on the computer.)

One of the best parts was, they were right next to one of their best friends, who did a science exhibit on bees. My friends mom noticed that the two exhibits right next to each other were the birds and the bees. I thought that was so funny!!

Anyway, the kids (and I) had a great experience. And, look forward to doing it again . . .