Friday, December 24, 2010

Full stop.

Do you ever find yourself fussing about stuff that really does not matter? Complaining, whining, and fighting about stupid stuff? I have…and today I got an unpleasant reminder that life is short, we don’t know if tomorrow is coming for us. We just don’t know.

We got a phone call today, on Christmas Eve, from some old friends. Their daughter was killed last night in a tragic, horrifying auto accident. She was young, somewhere in her early twenties and was driving home with her dog to spend Christmas with her parents when the accident happened.

We used to live right next to these friends, and when their daughter was younger, we were there with them as she went through some pretty tough times. We watched her grow from a gangly little girl, to a young woman with a “take the world by the horns” attitude toward life. She was spunky and unique; she had a zest for life that seems to be missing in so many people today. One thing is for sure. When Charlene was around, things were going to be interesting.

But now I am reeling. I had just had an argument with my husband about some stupid thing that I don’t even remember. I had fussed at my daughter earlier because she keeps lapsing into talking like a baby…I nag her about it all the time, shame on me. I don’t understand why, when there are such evil people in the world that this girl, the only child of my friends, had to die.

But this I do know. God is good, all the time. I know that this accident was no surprise to God. I know that He can make good out of every evil thing. I have seen that to be true in my own life and I believe it.

So right now, I am going to cling to the things I know. This verse has been an anchor for me, in the tough times of life. I am going to cling to it again now: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 4:4-7 NKJV. And I am going to be on my knees for these dear friends of ours. Praying that they will find that peace of God, for it seems to me, that nothing else will do in a time like this.

Saturday, November 27, 2010


According to family lore, I was walking at 6 months, running soon after, and I have not stopped since. No snuggling in Grandpa's lap for me. I had things to do and people to see...and for the last forty something years, that is how I have lived my life. Full throttle, get-out-of-my-way, let's get moving!

If you were one of the unfortunate ones who got run over, please accept my sincere apology.

Now it seems, I have come to a place in my life where God is telling me to be still...literally and in other ways too. I have been in bed, flat on my back for the last eight days - culprit? The disk between my L4& L5 vertebrae. It seems that this particular disk has had enough of the abuse I have piled on it, and has decided to vacate the premises. Problem is, I still need said disk, so the struggle that is going on between us "Get back where you belong!" "No way, I am outta here!", is proving to be a painful one.

So now, until I can have a consult with an orthopedic surgeon, I am stuck here, praying that a stray cough or sneeze is not the trigger that sends me to the hospital for emergency back surgery.

I have also learned that the phrase "In my humble, true opinion" is not a very good way to live life. Yes, I, like many others, have preferred ways for doing things...trouble is, I have tended to think that my way is the only way. Again, my sincere apology...I don't mean to be bossy. I just figured I would save you the trouble of learning the hard way what does not work....arrogance at it's worst. I really am sorry.

Brakes. God is good at applying them at the right time. Even when we don't see it that way. I pray that I will continue to see what I need to see during this forced still time. And I covet your prayers as well.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Moving on!

So, we finished North America last week, despite all the puking, colds and general mayhem that occurred. I am happy to be moving on to South America, as we have spent all of this year and all of last year in North America....glad to be moving on to warmer climes, yummy food and interesting studies!

I got all the maps switched out and the new ones hung up...I particularly love these two. One is a satellite image of South America which shows the topography in brilliant color. The second is part of a great set I found that shows the biomes of the world - which is exactly what we are studying this year! It shows a sat map at the bottom with all the tropical rain forests (for example) in the world highlighted, animals that live in that area and some of the vegetation you would expect to see. They are so perfect for what we are doing this year...especially since we live so far from so many of these biomes! I got both sets at Mardel where it costs not much to laminate them before you even bring them home!

This next map is one that I got for under $20 on Amazon, and we are poking all kinds of holes in it, planning on it being trashed when we finish the year. For $20, it is worthwhile! We have marked all the zones on this map, temperate, atctic, etc. as well as the prime meridian and used this map to do some work locating spots on the map with latitude and longitude. It was really fun!

We are also marking places on the map where people live that we know, as we go through each continent. If you know anyone who lives in South America, Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia, or Antarctica (I can hope, right?)...send us a pic (email is fine) and a town name, and we will post them on our map!

We are also moving on in the English department...some of you know that Sweet Girl has had some real struggles with her attitude about the level of work increase this year, specifically in the area of her new English book. I really prayed about what to do, as sometimes the lessons took her 2-4 hours to complete, but as we have really worked on the heart attitude, lessons are now being completed in 30-45 minutes - MUCH better!! We should finish 'The Courage of Sarah Noble' this week, and then on to 'The Sign of the Beaver'. I am so happy with how this program (Total Language Plus) works. I have seen such an improvement in her spelling, writing and comprehension...I count this as one of my BEST homeschool discoveries - ever!

OK, off to the library to pick up all the South America books and movies for our book basket - enjoy this beautiful day!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


My son...there are two, and it's not the usual one...just came upstairs from quiet time with red teeth, red lips and a red tongue. When I asked him what he had been eating, he actually had the nerve to say "nothing". I guess he did not stop to look in a mirror on his way upstairs! I marched his fanny downstairs to discover that he has been ingesting the red and green sugar cookie sprinkles and the white nonpareils (the little white bean bag filler looking decorations) that I store in a basement pantry under the stairs. Oh my land of mercy!! Seriously, I am just glad it wasn't the OTHER son, the one who turns into a monster when he eats food coloring!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Success? do you measure success in schooling? 100's on papers, complete mastery of a subject, a college scholarship or maybe the praise of someone whose opinion you value?

For me, success in our homeschool journey looks a little different. When I see the things we are studying coming out of my kids in all different kinds of ways, then I count that as success. When E comes in with eyes shining and all excited about a couple of old bike wheels, because he sees that he is one step closer to creating a "real" glider, or when AJ uses his God given gift with numbers to help his brother or sister answer a math question, or when L arranges an elaborate adventure for the other kids outside, with elements of the great books she reads, then I count our homeschooling journey thus far as a success.

When I hear the kids talk to their Daddy about what we are reading about, and he asks them questions and they answer them...even when it might not be exactly what we talked about, but they were able to pull from the knowledge that we are pouring into them...then that is success.

I even count it as success when they are eating lunch and they are taking bites out of their nachos to make them into the shapes of the states we have been studying, and they get the name AND the shape right - that is success - and quite a lot of fun besides!

I am so thankful that I am able to educate our children at home. There is really nothing that I would rather be doing right now...even when we go through tough times like the last few weeks, when it seems that every step forward also involves 10 steps back. I think it is being able to savor each step, good or bad, knowing that we are doing our best to equip our children to live the lives that God created them to live. They had a rough start, my three sweet babies....but by God's grace, they will finish this race and hear: "Well done, my good and faithful servant" when they get to the end of their road...that my friends is true success!

Monday, October 18, 2010

This is RICH!

All summer long, I have been cutting this gorgeous, fresh parsley for my garden...even bragging, when I take it somewhere..."I grew this in my garden!"

So imagine my surprise when I went out to cut said parsley (we have a freeze warning for tonight and I didn't want to lose it) and discovered that it is not parsley at all, but CARROT TOPS!! Ha!

There does appear to be some curly parsley in amidst the carrots, but what I have been cutting is definitely carrot tops! Oh, well...guess we can chalk that up to being a new gardener. Besides, the kids are going to love these fresh, sweet carrots with dinner.

And, never fear...oh, Heavens there is SMOKE pouring out of the right back!!!

All is well. The apple pie was overrunning it's confines and dripping juice and butter into the bottom of the hot oven - what a MESS!! We are having an "American" style meal tonight to celebrate finishing the US in school....on to Mexico next!

Anyway, you should know that although many of the members of the carrot and celery family have poisonous leaves, the carrot tops are quite safe to eat: I think I will toss these beauties into a green smoothie in the am.

Gotta run - the hordes must be fed...even though E seems to be having a blast learning to speak the Queen's English while watching a Brit cook on CreateTV and the other two are having a rollicking good time playing on the mini-tramp in the play room.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Next year...

It has been a gorgeous, albeit dry fall here this year...last year we had an early snow in October, with a blizzard at the end of the month...praying for the snow to hold off a bit longer this year!

The garden is still producing a little bit...a trickle of beans, a cuke every few days and a few more beets to be pulled...oh, and the soybeans are almost ready!! Next year, I want to plant more of those, earlier! But the silly garden still wants to make more food...the beans and cukes are flowering and some parsley, which was covered over by bean plants that I pulled out, look like they want to give it a try.

We ended up with 20 or so of the "Crown of Thorn" gourds and six of the "Dipper Gourds". Next year I want to plant these two big climbers around a teepee frame for the kiddos...should make a nice, cool place to play on hot summer days!

The acorn squash did okay...we got four or five of those, and the butternut squash...well they suffered from uneven watering, so we only got two of those. I think next year I will relocate the box and try and be more regular in my watering ;-)

Are you planting a fall garden? I want to, but it seems from what I have read, that most people in zone 5 who do a fall garden start seeds in July and plant late August...with my back and school and canning and, well Life, that did not happen, so we will try some lettuce, spinach and kale and see what happens, and plan better for next year. I need to get a cover made for one end of the garden to keep the snow off the plants...hmmmm, where IS that honey-do list?

Today, I put up 8 pints of plum jam - YUM! I had been hoping someone would say they had extra plums, and don't you know, today I got a bag full!! Thanks Ang!!

Overall, I have been pretty happy with my Square Foot Garden. It was a good trial run. Now I know NOT to plant pole beans around corn if you want to actually get corn off the plants. I also discovered that nine bush bean plants will completely take over three squares instead of the one square that they were supposed to inhabit! And speaking of pole beans, no one told me I needed light poles for them to climb! The crazy things climbed up anything they could find, and when there was nothing there, they bent over and then climbed back up AGAIN!

Next year, I plan to start my cukes inside to give them a jump start on the short growing season we have here. I also plan to get beets, kale, lettuces, spinach, chard and sweet peas into an early I just need to figure out who will be willing to come and water the seedlings while we are in GA, relaxing on the beach, watching the waves crash on the shore at Cumberland Island....I will be willing to pay in veggies later - any takers?

Thursday, September 16, 2010


What do old fence boards, a jump rope with no handles, five 8' sticks of PVC pipe, a yellow plastic chair, three bike helmets, and several pieces of landscape fabric have in common?

Apparently, they are the makings of a glider!! My inventor (Jalapeno) has been listening to the story of The Wright Brothers and he and his little brother decided to build their own glider.

I was not too worried until J started talking about "launching Pineapple through the air"...but after I asked a few questions, I determined that aside from a few splinters, it looked like everyone was going to survive the latest round of inventing.

These children of mine are always impressing me with their creativity. When the first launch ended up with broken fence boards, they decided to use a piece of PVC pipe (much stronger) and put a bigger lever underneath (the yellow chair). They even tried different weight kids to see if one of the lighter kids would be able to "fly".

Now, they have gone back to the drawing board, literally, and are outside now with paper, pencils and a purple clipboard...making refinements to their design.

I do believe they are flying already!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A friend of mine is having a baby early in the am, so her two eldest are sleeping over tonight. I just heard the six-year-old boys upstairs talking...

E: I want to be a missionary when I grow up.

M: What's that?

E: It's kind of like a pastor, but you get to fly in an airplane.

M: Oh, cool!

E: You have to do two years military service.

M: What's that?

E: You have to fight. With a sword. {ching, ching}

M: COOL! I wanna do that too!

BOYS! Anything to do with a sword, airplanes and fighting MUST be cool, eh?

Meanwhile, down in the kitchen, my mom and I are canning up a storm: 10 pints honey-peach jam & 9 quarts of peach halves...mmmm - best of all, I picked the peaches from our tree!! On tap for tomorrow, picking elderberries and making elderberry jam - mmmm! Pictures to follow...

Monday, August 30, 2010

At the Breakfast Table...

Jalapeno talking about Daddy, who just came home sick from an eleven day trip to Indonesia:

"Daddy is sleeping during the day and awake at night - he is a BAT!!" "And, if we put him on the 'upsbydown table {we have an inversion table} then he will REALLY be a BAT!"

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Quote of the day...

"It is wholly impossible to live according to Divine order , and to make a proper application of heavenly principles, as long as the necessary duties which each day brings seem only like a burden grievous to be borne. Not till we are ready to throw our very life's love into the troublesome little things can we be really faithful in that which is least and faithful also in much. Every day that dawns brings something to do, which can never be done as well again. We should, therefore, try to do it ungrudgingly and cheerfully. It is the Lord's own work, which He has given us as surely as He gives us daily bread. We should thank Him for it with all our hearts, as much as for any other gift. It was designed to be our life, our happiness. Instead of shirking it our hurrying over it, we should put our whole heart and soul into it. -James Reed

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Friday, August 20, 2010

Garden Pics

The peach tree is loaded down with beautiful peaches this year - they survived the crazy end-of-winter/spring...they just need to plump up now...they are small and hard, though gorgeous!

This is the garden, as of August 1 when my darling helped me to put up the frames and mesh for the cukes and gourds to climb...

And here is the garden a mere 20 days later!

This is the Crown of Thorns plant that is at the south end of the garden. It's leaves are silky soft or prickly and scratchy! It has beautiful, fragile white flowers that last a day and yellow flowers from which the Crown of Thorns gourd grow... a very interesting plant!

And this is my first ever acorn squash!! Can't wait to bake this up and serve it with some home-grown-rabbit stew!

Math - Garden Style

Oh, how I love learning with my kids at home!!

This morning the air is super clear and cool, thanks to a fantastic storm that rolled through town last evening. I think my pine trees grew a foot overnight! They seem so much taller, as I weave through them to water the squash plants. There are two acorn squash on the twining vines, and two or three butternut...though it looks like "someone" (a bunny invader, perhaps) knocked off two flowers that had baby squash at the bottom :-( Rabbit stew is good with squash, right?

Anyway, this morning I was out watering the garden, and was soon joined by my darling daughter. The beans are starting to come in good, and as Sweet Girl helped me pick them, she started counting them to see how many we harvested. It seems funny to me to count beans (I remember the days harvesting my Dad's garden, and there were way too many to count - I think we counted bug bites incurred in the garden instead!), but when they first started coming in, there were only a handful, and so that's when the counting began.

Sweet Girl started grouping the beans in twelves, and then started adding dozens. I love how we did not have to sit down and "learn" how to deal with numbers in this way. I mentioned it casually one afternoon, when we were picking beans early on, and she has taken it and run with it. Today, she was even converting "dozen" into twelve to figure out how many single beans we had...multiplication, here we come!! And how much more sense is it going to make to her, to have held the beans, manipulated them in her hands as she counted them, then to do the math in her head and then eat them for dinner?! I wish we had had "bean math" when I was in school!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


So, I read this great article about homeschooling in the Post, and just had to reply...

Here's the article:

And here is my reply:

Mr. Brigham,

I would like to say thank you for writing such a positive article about homeschooling. I have homeschooled my three children for the last three years, and it is nice to see favorable articles written about a topic that I am so passionate about.

You wrote at the end of your article:

"Ultimately, for us it comes down to not wanting to take on the additional responsibility or sacrifice the income, free time, and sense of accomplishment we get from succeeding at vocations we know and enjoy."

I am sad for you. Sad that you won't take a journey with your child that is more satisfying than any job you could hold. Sad that you won't be the one to teach her to read, and see the joy light up her face when she finally "gets it". Sad that you won't feel that sense of accomplishment that comes from working hard on something with your child, and finishing it well.

Income...schmincome! Homeschooling does not have to be expensive, in fact there any many homeschool families who are able to do it at a very low cost. We chose to "sacrifice" my income, and I would not trade one great, well paid day at my old job for my worst day as a homeschool mom.

What an exciting journey you and your family could take, if only you would look at homeschooling your child as a blessing and a fight worth winning. Nothing worth having comes easy, you know. Besides, think of all the new material it would give you for your writing!

As for me, I choose to give up the extra income, the satisfaction of having been really good at my former profession, and my free time. I accept all the work homeschooling takes. For there is truly no greater joy than leading my children in the journey of learning.


Trina Reynolds
Homeschool mom of three in Littleton

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Mommy vacation...sort of...

Day 8: Last Thursday morning, I leaned over to pick up my robe from a chair and WAMO!! Those delicate little nerves, the ones that start out in your brain, come twining down your spinal column and out under a disc, the little darlings that let you walk and flex your toes - they decided that the pressure was too much and decided to SCREAM their protest! So scream they did, like a fire hot poker being shoved down my left leg. Yikes!

So here I recline on my bed for the eighth day in a row...the break that every mother of little ones dreams of...being told: Rest! "You must lay down 45 minutes, then up to walk for 15. Repeat." Add a little traction, a ride on the inversion table, a visit every few days for an adjustment and 'electrocution' at my new best friend's place - my chiropractor.

And I am reminded of a pertinent scripture: "A man's heart plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps." Pro 16:9

I had many plans for this month. We started school last week...we completed only two days. Fun things to wrap up summer. A state fair, perhaps. Many, many plans that have all gone awry.

But I keep hearing stories all around me...people whose lives were changed forever after a train at a kids park flipped over; people who are undergoing surgery to remove cancer, and others for whom surgery is not even an option. Stories of children living in brothels in India who were offered a future and a hope, but whose families needed the money they would provide by "working the line", so their dreams were cut off.

So I say, Thank you Lord, that this is temporary. That I have a husband who loves me and is willing to do whatever he needs to do, to take care of me. That my awesome Mom was willing to come out early to help with the kids and the house. And for my Dad, who is willing to do without her for six long weeks. That my sweet kids come by regularly to see if I need anything, to get me fresh water or to see if I am a "yittle bit better". That I have friends who are willing to take time out of their busy lives to come here, bringing food and helping hands.

I am well and truly blessed.

Monday, July 19, 2010

See how my garden grows!

The garden is taking off, finally. I realized after talking to my neighbor that I was not watering enough, so now that I am getting more water into the soil, it is really growing well.

Most of the 'plants' we planted died, but all of the seeds did great and we have planted more things this beans, lettuce, spinach, and carrots.

The first crop of beets look ready to pull, as well as the carrots, and...wait for it...I saw a bean this morning!! Yes, it is only 1/2" long, but it portends good things to come!!

This is one of our squash plants that is growing in a separate box...I love the texture of the leaves!

So far, I am happy with my Square Foot Garden..,I've pulled a total of ten weeds so far, much better than the battle my Dad just told me that he fight in his standard garden. Once you get the SFG set up, it is a matter of watering and planting new squares as you harvest the garden project...start a worm box!
I am stealing the words below from my sister (Sister Wives power activate - form of...blogger!) because, well, it's good, and why reinvent the wheel?!? I am adding photos though...enjoy!!

"My sister and I long ago decided that the ancient practice of extended family living close together was something we really wished had never died out. When Leah was about 18 months old the two of us came out for a visit. My sister was still working her design job and Steve was away all day at work/school so Leah and I would hang out, taking walks to the park and just enjoying the change of scenery. I also did some light housekeeping which earned me the title "Tri's Housewife." We later coined the term "Sister Wives" when we both had multiple children and collectively tackled house keeping and childcare during our visits. We frequently declared, "Sister Wives' Power... Activate!" Do you remember the Wonder Twins? I still think we should get matching silver rings.

The last several days have been great. We tag team on the childcare and the housework. She does the cooking...I am her sous chef. She had 3 extra kids over for a sleepover...I helped her keep them fed and busy with crafts. It is a great thing to be able to share this with her!

So, today started out pretty uneventful. Church...lunch...nothing out of the ordinary. We had a drive to the mountains planned so we started the prep for that after lunch. Kids piled into the van, fleece jackets were stacked in the cargo area, and all sorts of snack foods rode up front for easy retrieval. We headed out for Mt. Evans so we could say we drove to the top of a 14er but didn't make it far before the transmission on the van started acting up. For whatever reason it wouldn't shift into the upper gears when we hit the interstate. Mt. Evans quickly got tabled and a trip to a museum in nearby Evergreen was our back up. What a cool place! We toured the houses of the Hiwan Homestead for a couple hours. This fall we will start out studying the 1900's so the museum was the perfect location to go. We got to tour the main house as well as several other buildings on the homestead. I couldn't have picked a more timely trip.

As we were winding down at the museum Eric started to look puny. We headed over to Beau Jo's for for some amazing pizza and things seemed to be going pretty well. The kids and Tri took on a 5 pound pizza and amazed our server by finishing every last bite. I had a yummy GF pizza all to myself and even enjoyed cheese for the first time in a year. They had a dairy free variety and it actually melted and everything!

After pigging out on a dessert pizza the kids were sufficiently stuffed and we headed home. Feeling spontaneous, we stopped off on the side of the road to wade in a river for a bit.

The kids had a great time throwing rocks, splashing around, and getting soaked. We piled the sodden crew back into the vehicle and headed for home, praying for an uneventful drive. Amazingly the transmission shifted perfectly and we thought we were in for a smooth ride. That is until Austin started to complain of an upset tummy. By the time we made it home Tri had quite a mess to clean up in the backseat, Leah was complaining of a severe sore throat, and Tri's other two were also complaining of upset tummies.

At present we have 2 vomiting, 2 feverish, and one totally unaffected (Theo) at least for now. We also found that Steve had been running a fever all day as well so the next few days should be interesting to say the least. Oy!

I needed to run out for some Chloraseptic so Tri decided to join me. We figured we might as well medicate ourselves so we came home armed with chocolate and ice cream Dibs. Now, common sense would say, "Go to bed...the kids will be up on and off all night." But, no...common sense was pitched out the window. Once we made sure everyone was comfy we settled in for a movie and junk food. Now we wait. Will they wake us up in the middle of the night? Only time will tell!

Sister Wives' Power, Activate! Form of a nursing team!"

Monday morning update: All children seem to be well...the one who did not get sick at all still seems to be healthy and now that morning chores are done, they have all evaporated to go off and play...I love my family!!!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Hi, my name is Trina...

...and I am an addict - a Facebook addict that is!

You know you are a Facebook Addict when:

10) Your kid says something funny, and your first thought is how to word it for a status update.

9) You walk in the door from, well just about anywhere, and the first thing you do after you say hi, is go check FB

8) You spend hours scrolling through other people's pages to see if you missed anything.

7) You keep checking back to see if anyone has posted a new update, even at 2 am.

6) You justify all the time you spend on FB.

5) It rains, or you see a cloud shaped like a dragon, or the grass grows 1/16th of an inch, and you have to write a status update.

4) You would rather be on FB than playing with your kids. (ouch that one hurts)

3) You post a status update in the morning, and spend the rest of the day looking to see if anyone has commented.

2) Your house is a mess and your to-do list keeps growing, and growing, and growing...

1) You know you are a FB addict when you spend more time with your face to the computer screen than in living real life with real people.

So, yes, I am an addict, but a recovering one. I stopped FB'ing three weeks ago aside from a post to clear up the "Birthday Dilemma" and a post to let our CWAC ladies know about the next sewing bee.

At first it was hard, and it really bothers me that it was hard. I thought about FB all the time and wondered what I was missing. Guess what? Anything you miss, your friends will tell you when you call them or meet them at the park or for MNO!! A radical idea, I know, but true nonetheless!!

And this from a girl who was a teen and young adult before computers and cell phones even existed!! I should know better!!

So, here I go forward...talking to my hubby, blogging my little blog, playing with my kids and calling my friends on the phone. Ah, it's nice to breath the fresh air!

BTW, I need to borrow a bike for my niece to ride while she's here...anyone have one I can borrow? She's ten. :D

Monday, July 5, 2010

Ta Da!!

It's been a long time coming, but Sweet Girl's room is finally done!!

I looked in there recently, and realized that it looked kind-of-like a yard sale gone all wrong...a too small round table that was great when she was five, not so great at eight...a small "church table" that is just plain ugly...old white shutters that I love and she window coverings...BRIGHT paint on the old chiff-robe from the days when I ate dirt (and brought home cute little round "rocks" that our neighborly rabbits left for was just a mess!!

Knowing that my sister and niece are going to be here in less than two weeks lit a fire under my tail. And thanks to some awesome deals on Craigslist, some cheap pre-made drapery panels and sheets from good ol' Target...her room is finally done!

It really felt like an episode from Design on a Dime: We reused the bunk beds, the white shelves, and the square paper lamp. On Craigslist, I found a six piece bedroom set (two desks, two chairs, a dresser and a bookcase) for $57 - yes $57 for all of it! I found a pair of drapery panels for $17, two sets of sheets for $13 each, and a picture frame for $8.

The drapery panels were too long, so I cut them to the correct length and hemmed them, then used the excess fabric to cover the two chair cushions. The sheets were purchased in two separate patterns, so we split them up - solid turquoise fitted with circle pattern flat and vice-versa - this gives the bunk beds interest and ties all the colors together.

The picture frame is bamboo, and uses two pieces of glass to sandwich an original piece of art done by my friend Kris Gideon. The glass lets the wall paint show through, and oila! A perfect color match for a "mat" for the amazing horse painting that Kris painted for Sweet Girl.

Sweet Girl had also been collecting posters from a horse magazine, and though I was skeptical at first, they make a pretty interesting border along the wall over the new furniture.

So, let's add that up...the grand total spent to finish a room that is big-girl-to-die-for: $95!!

I must say, I told Sweet Girl tonight, as we watched fireworks flash green, gold and red in front the the foothills ..."I wish I had had a room like this when I was growing up!". She couldn't agree more.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

A peek into the day of an (almost) five-year-old

Sleeping in…blueberry pancakes…playing war with Bubba…unloading the dishwasher…swimming in the pool…sunshine…blue skies…diving rings…face underwater…playing in the pea gravel…nachos with cheese…a nap in the playroom…clouds rolling in…rain…thunder…lightening…driving with Mommy…a rainbow in the sky…God’s promise to us…bag pipes and dancing…Amazing Grace…fried chicken and biscuits…millet & limas…five candles…yummy ice cream cake…chocolate ice cream…nuts…a new bike…toys to build with…a baseball bat and glove…an orange camping chair…a new bike…trios…special gifts from Bubba & YaYa…playing with the new toys…driving in the rain…questions…questions… watching fireworks…running in the rain…church parking lot… fireworks…fireworks…everywhere we look more fireworks…red…blue…purple…flowers…poppers…screamers…
God’s fireworks flashing in the sky…at the park…cozy with my family…five years old!

July 4th, 2010
A few days early, but what a day!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Visitors from another planet?

No, not really, but this week we have had some startlingly beautiful and strange visitors in our yard every morning...

No, I did not take this beautiful photo, but isn't it awesome?!?

We have had a family (do dragonflies live in families?) of dragonflies hanging out in our yard, swooping and flying all around. They are the nice big ones, and on Monday when Sweet Girl and I were outside cleaning out the bird cages, the dragonflies where playing in the water we sprayed in the air.

I am not sure why we suddenly have such beautiful creatures sharing our little piece of the world, but as far as I am concerned, they can stay as long as they like!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Overheard in the playroom...

..."I don't want a Mommy who says 'no'. I want a Mommy who says "yes" every day!" Pineapple, talking to himself during quiet time today.

Monday, June 21, 2010


...they say it all, don't you think?

My Aunt came over today with my cousin, and I am always amazed when I see my Aunt, how much her hands remind me of my mom's and my Grandfather's hands. Just seeing them reminds me of two people who I love dearly, and in the case of my Grandfather who died many years ago, miss so much. Living so far from family, I am always keenly aware of the people with whom I have a biological connection, a shared memory of events that happened long, long ago. I love my family and am so blessed to have such a great family to be a part of.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Change, it is acomin'

Three years ago, a green-eyed, blond haired little boy entered our lives, and nothing has been the same since that first day. We have had some hard times, lots of them actually, but I am here to say that this little mischievous kid has made a mark on our home, and we will never be the same - thank the good Lord!

He has grown from a one-year-old, non-verbal, tantruming force to be reckoned with to a delightful almost five year old. He is funny without trying, seems to have a mind for math, and slays me with those green eyes of his, every time I take the time to look deeply into them.

Two days ago, we had a first. Our first ever day with no tantrums, no arguing, no time-outs - a truly amazing day...and I don't want to forget where we came from in the process of where we are going. I know that God has some big plans for this little boy. I also know that life with him will never be easy...but I know from deep down in my heart that he is supposed to be my son. That God is using my struggles with Pineapple to shape and mold ME, to make me a better mom and a better child of God. I just pray that in the process, I will be the Mom that God created me to be for Pineapple. For we are surely knit together in a way that only God can knit two people together.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Garden

Did you grow up with a garden in your life? I did. It was a huge rectangle, full of the food that fed us all summer, fall and winter. It was also full of itchy plants which I had to wade through ~ carefully, oh so carefully ~ so as to get them to surrender their bounty to my unwilling hands. Our whole family helped with harvesting, though planting and tending the garden was my Dad's domain. In fact, we were never allowed in the garden, unless we were there to harvest. Which is why this picture means so much to me.

A few years ago, before my Dad got the tiller out to go over the garden for the first time before spring planting, my sister and her kids were there at my parent's house. I don't know how it happened, but suddenly, my sister was racing with wild abandon through our Dad's garden - and guess what? She didn't get in trouble!

And then there was the canning. No way my mom could can all of that food for the six of us without help, and since I was the oldest, it fell to me to help. Not only did we can what my Dad grew in the garden, but whatever else my mom could get her hands on that could withstand heat and pressure. I remember stopping on the side of the road, more than once, because my mom saw berries, plums, peaches or something that she could use to feed her growing family.

I remember the hot, steamy kitchen, the ceiling fan spinning lazily overhead and the old yellow pressure cooker with the paint peeling off the outside. Never did trust that thing, but it never did blow mom was a master at making it sing...and then out of the dark depths would come glistening glass jars, full of wonderful goodness, and I had helped it happen - it was an amazing feeling!

After cooling under towels on the kitchen table, we carried the jars to the basement and stacked them on the pantry shelves by the back door. There is something so satisfying and comforting to go out a door on a regular basis and as you pass by to see row upon row of glass jars, full of yellow peaches, green beans, purple jams and strawberry jelly...just to name a few!

Fast forward 25 or 30 years and now I live in the great wild west, with a yard half the size of my parent's, with three kids under eight, and find myself home for the summer for the first time since I quit my full time job! So, do you know what that means?!?! It's Garden Time!

See, when I was a kid, it was not so fun to harvest beans, tomatoes, and the like. I did it because I had to, but somehow, the beauty of the early morning rendezvous, the dew on the leaves, the bees buzzing lazily about their work...somehow, it got under my skin. I am hoping to share that with my children.

I read years ago about Square Foot Gardening, and was intrigued with the idea. Finally, finally, we are going to have our own garden! Seeds have been purchased, dirt has been dug, and tomorrow we have a trip to the lumber store planned so that we can pick up the boards for our raised beds. We are in the planning and building stages right now, so stay tuned for updates on our garden and canning experiences - it should be a blast!

I am a visual person, so I have made a grid of our garden, so I can decide where to plant what. This is not the final arrangement...just a cool tool to help me figure out what plant should go where, and whom it should live next to. This is either going to be really fun, or a total disaster! Either way, we get to play in the dirt, so it is a win-win situation!

Some of the seeds we started:

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Pocket Car?

We were out for a walk a few weeks ago, and Jalapeno who tends to tire-out the most quickly, grabbed my hand and said "Mommy, I wish we had a Pocket Car!" "A Pocket Car? What's that?" he began to tell me all about a little car that you can carry around in your pocket, so that when you are out walking, and get tired, you can pop it out of your pocket, push a button and voila! A quick ride home. Not a bad idea, if you ask me...

So over the last few weeks, we have talked about it more, and today, as we came around the west side of hill (the highest point in Highlands Ranch), with the clouds rolling in and the windchill at 34 degrees) we began talking earnestly about this little car and how to make it a "reality".

It was quickly decided that it needed to be a mini-van (so our friends can fit too), it needs to have hot chocolate, hot apple cider, marshmallow, chocolate bars and graham crackers (do you see where this is headed?), warm blankets, and a heater at every seat. They also want a fireplace and I thought, "What the hey - let's put in a hot tub too!!"

Once we got to the car and got blood flowing back through our extremities, we talked about the design process, how first we needed lists of functions that we would like, then drawings from every angle, then models of many sizes, and a prototype - did I mention that they REALLY believe that it is possible to create this car?!?! Well, they do!! As I write this, Sweet Potato is upstairs working on drawings for the first model!

How fun to spend my days with little people who believe that ANYTHING is possible - well maybe not ice cream for dinner - so almost anything is possible!!

I will post drawings as they become available!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

In a nutshell

I so love when I can see the things that we are teaching the kids, come back out. This week, we have really been dealing with lying. Today, Sweet Potato wrote this story:

Once upon a time there was a little girl named Aby. Her mother asked Aby to go get some firewood for the furnace. So Aby went to get the firewood for the furnace. She took it to her mother then she said, "Mother, I forgot to do something." Her Mother was surprised. She never knew that her daughter had something to do outside, because they normally stayed inside. So her daughter went outside. While her Mother did dishes, she went on the path to the woods. She saw flowers and wild strawberries and blackberries. When Aby looked back, she could not see her house (which she normally could see)! So she tried but the more she walked the more she got lost. So she just stood right where she was and prayed to God. Thankfully her Father was in the woods. He came right where she was and said, "What's the matter darling?" She said, "I lied to Mother. I told her that I had something to do out here." "Oh" her Father said. "So you lied to Mother so you could come here?" "Yep" his daughter said. "Well, let's go home and let Mother know." They got home and Aby told the whole story to her. Mother felt happy and sad at the same time. "Thank you Aby, for telling me. I was worried that I wouldn't see you for two whole days." The End

Sunday, January 10, 2010

We have slowly been working on the kid's rooms, and tonight my Sweet Potato got to move into her freshly painted room. The smile on her face would brighten the room, if it was not already painted day-glow turquoise!! Put on your sunglasses and take a look at what she calls "the best room I have ever had!!!!"

We still have to hang things on the walls, make and hang curtains and I probably need to paint the dresser...but she could care less! It is so fulfilling to do something so relatively simple that means so much to my girl.

She wrote in her journal the other day: "I wish my whole room was horses. But Mommy said no." Well, that broke my heart, and I honestly don't remember saying no, so I am going to do my best to get that girl a horse room!! Looking for old horse shoes, or tack or any cool thing we can hang up, and I hope to paint something...either on the wall or as a piece of art...we will see!

A very interesting book!

I have been reading an interesting book, lately, "100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum : Choosing the Right Curriculum and Approach For Your Child'" by Cathy Duffy. Of course I had heard of this book, but never picked it up to read it because I had already figured out what curriculum I was going to use. What a shame!! The first five chapters of this book are a gold mine for any homeschooling mom...and even for those moms who only have a passing interest in homeschooling - wow! What a lot of good information!!

She goes through, step by step and helps you understand why it is important to have a "philosophy of education" (she defines philosophy as 'common sense dressed up in fancy clothes'), how you think learning should happen in your home, and how you want to teach or 'run your school'. She also spends a good amount of time helping you understand which educational approach is right for your children, and how to mix approaches.

For example if you come from a background where formal education is very important to you, and all the "feel good fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants stuff that you see gives you the heebie-jeebies, then you might choose the Classical approach. If you have lots of wiggly boys who learn best when their hands and their brains are involved, then you might like the Unit Study approach. In all, she covers nine different approaches.

Mrs. Duffy then goes into helping you figure out what is going to work for your family, by talking about your confidence level, the time you have to give to schooling, how much money you have to spend and how you want your religious beliefs to impact your schooling. One of the things I loved was that she gives examples of all of these things in Chapter 3, so that you can see exactly how to use the technique she is presenting.

But, I have to say that chapter 4 is my favorite chapter! I can't tell you how many times I have had people say to me "I can't homeschool kid needs kid needs the social kid argues about kid won't be still". Guess what? We all have kids like that! I have three of those in my house...the wiggly one, the arguing one and the structured one. Mrs. Duffy wrote that she thinks God gives us kids that are different from us to stretch and grow us. Can I hear an AMEN!!

So, Chapter 4 is all about learning styles and teaching styles and how to take your strengths and weaknesses and your kid's strengths and weaknesses and put it all together into something that will work for your family. It was like a light bulb going off for me. Personally, it helped me to understand my littlest one better, for example why he gets so upset when I ask him to do something that he 'already knows'. It's part of his personality, the way God made him...and it is my job to help him understand that sometimes we do have to do things over and over, and sometimes it is okay to move on.

Then, in Chapter 5, Mrs. Duffy goes on to help the reader understand "who should learn what and when?" - a great chapter to teach you how to determine what needs to happen when and how to tailor it for each specific child in your home - because really, one of the things that is so amazing about homeschooling is that you can tailor your child's education to your child.

And then the rest of the book gives Mrs. Duffy's Top 100 Picks for curriculum, which becomes very easy to sort through once you have done the work in the first four chapters.

Anyway, whether you are a seasoned homeschooler, or a mom who is wanting to know what all this 'homeschool talk' is about, I highly recommend this book - especially the first five chapters. And if you are a mom who just wants to understand her kids better, and would like to have a glimpse into working with your child's personality instead of against it - then just read Chapter 4. If you read it, let me know what you think!

Happy January!