Friday, March 6, 2015

Random 5

1. Life is nuts for us right now with preparing for Dawson's high school graduation and Kyndal's upcoming wedding. Both events are within one week of each other in May. It's crazy!

Where did my babies go??

2. Dawson and I were looking at photos from about 5 years ago, preparing for his senior events. He mentioned (oh so sweetly and with pure love and devotion) that I looked so "young, skinny, and pretty". He is right. I did. It occurred to me that the stress of the last few years has really taken its toll on me physically! I realize that I look as old as I feel. And I feel old. Well, enough of that! I've got two months before we go on a tropical vacation. When I look at those photos I am going to see a "young, skinny, and pretty" me again!! It's time to feel young again.

Okay, honey, I admit ... longer blonder hair makes me look younger.

3. The weather the next week is going to be beautiful!!! I cannot wait to get outside and feel some sunshine!!

4. Brynne plays her last basketball games of the season this Saturday. We'll get a couple week break and then will launch right into softball season. She is also attending an after-school class on Tuesdays and Thursdays to prepare for a 5K she will run in May. I am so proud of her activity level and commitment to sports that she loves. I hope she always keeps that desire to be physically fit.

5. I am so thankful for my husband. Although he's been Kyndal's dad for the better part of her life, she is not his biological daughter. They have had their struggles. Oh my goodness, have they! But he has never wavered in his commitment to take care of her. He has supported all of her decisions in moving into adulthood ... helping her and Collin buy their first house, emotionally supporting their decision to get married, and now making sure she has the wedding of her dreams. When she made the decision to change her plans and have a family ceremony and then a destination commitment ceremony in Mexico two months before her already-scheduled wedding, he worked tirelessly to make sure we had the funds to make that happen. I am not sure if she will ever get what sacrifices he has made for her all of her life. But I hope that she will always know that he is here for her. I couldn't have taken care of her or given her this start on her adult life without him. I am forever grateful for his love for us.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Wednesday Hodgepodge

In like a lion, out like a lamb .... does the first part of this saying describing March weather ring true where you live?

It certainly could and I certainly hope it does. We had a beautiful first day of March, but it was very snowy and cold. I hope that we have the opposite of that on March 31st ... sunny and warm.

March 4th is National Grammar Day. What common grammatical error bothers you the most? 

Your versus you're, and 99% of what teenagers think is proper grammar these days. I had an amazing English/grammar teacher in high school and she is rolling over in her grave with the improper use of grammar by current high school students.

William Arthur Ward says, "The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails." Which one are you?

I have always thought of myself as a realist. I might complain for a moment but then pull myself together and start making the adjustments. But when it comes to literal wind,  I am a pessimist. When the wind is whipping I just say, "Ughhhh!!!" and try to get away from it. With all the hurls from the arrows of the Devil lately, I find myself complaining instead of adjusting or having an expectation of God to change it.

What's something you need to 'march forth and conquer' this month?

Staying on a strict budget. With moving Kyndal's wedding up almost two months and paying for a destination wedding, we have had to come up with funds more quickly and in a bigger chunk than we were planning. To do that is requiring some belt tightening for the next few months. No extras!

An ongoing debate around here ... do you dust first then vacuum or vacuum first then dust? Of the two routine household chores which do you dislike the least? How's that for wording?

In my perfect world I don't vacuum or dust on the same day. Instead I do one major housecleaning chore each day of the week. However, I absolutely HATE to dust. That's why all of my surfaces are dusty right now. Vacuuming is not a whole lot of fun, either, but I have to do it several times a week because of all of the dog hair. I usually vacuum on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and then 'as needed'. I am supposed to dust every Wednesday, but I always tend to talk myself out of it until 'next week'.

According to the ten most photographed sites in the U.S.A. are: Cinderella's Castle in Orlando, Southernmost House in Key West, The Space Needle in Seattle, The Site of the Boston Massacre in Boston, The Bellagio lake/fountains in Las Vegas, The Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C., Coit Tower in San Francisco, The Art Institute of Chicago, Niagara Falls, and snagging the number one spot ... The Guggenheim Museum in New York City. How many on this list have you photographed? Which on the list would you most like to visit and photograph?

I have photographed the Southernmost Point in Key West, but not the house (didn't know there was a designated house). And I have photographed at The Bellagio. Otherwise, that's it. I think I would like to get an iconic pic of my family at Niagara Falls with the water and mist pouring down over our ponchos.

Fifty years ago Monday (March 2, 1965) The Sound of Music premiered at the Rivoli Theatre in NYC. Have you seen the film? Do you own a copy? One a scale of 1-10 how much do you love it (or not)? If you're a fan, what's your favorite scene or song from the movie?

LOVE this movie! I would give it a strong 9. It is actually one of my all-time favorites. I don't own the movie, but I have seen it multiple times and even seen it in a musical a couple of times. My favorite scene is when the nuns are walking Maria through the abbey to the cathedral for the wedding, leaving her at the gate with her future daughters and then the chorus of the nuns singing "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?" It gives me chills.

Insert your own random thought here.

I have now ordered my daughter's wedding invitations and my son's graduation announcements. Both events will happen within one week of each other in May. Whoa.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Tuesday Coffee Chat

Random Confession. It's good for the soul.

I am kind of an open book on this blog, and always have been. I am not sure I have anything to confess that you don't already know. So I guess the only thing I can say is that I am a t.v.aholic.

I was raised in a home where nightly television shows were our entertainment. We watched a lot of t.v. as a family, everything from Little House on the Prairie to Beverly Hills 90210 to Knots Landing. We would eat dinner, clean the kitchen, and then settle into the family room for t.v. time.

Not much has changed, except I DVR everything so I don't have to watch commercials anymore.

I like to get dinner done and cleaned up and be on the couch to watch t.v. by about 6:30 p.m. at night. I have loads of shows that I watch! There are a few things we watch all as a family, but for the most part we all watch different things. I happen to watch most of everything with everybody. It's just what I like to do.

Here is a list of shows that I watch (possibly a complete list, although I might be missing some shows):

Project Runway
Amazing Race
Downton Abbey
Call the Midwife
The Following
Worst Cooks in America
Game of Thrones
How to Get Away with Murder
Criminal Minds
Law and Order: SVU
Secrets and Lies (new)
Dig (new)
Parenthood (just finished the series finale)
Once Upon a Time (on Netflix)
Orange is the New Black (on Netflix)
American Crime (new)
The Big Bang Theory
The Night Shift

That's about 22 hours of television a week, minus commercials (yikes!), and not counting any movies we watch on the weekends. Oh well. It's my thing. I don't ever watch any daytime television, however. In fact, unless the kids and I are watching a video for school or they are watching a cartoon they have DVR'd on their lunch break, we don't even turn on the t.v. (except early in the morning when Macie is watching cartoons before we start schoolwork). Eli cannot stand for the t.v. to be on unless someone is sitting down actively watching it.

So there you have it. I love to watch television. I confess.

Monday, March 2, 2015

First Day - March

The First Day of March was a fun one! We got a good dumping of snow, the fun kind. Church was cancelled so we slept in, ate good food, and did lots of playing. Well, some of us did. I am linking up with Nicole at Journey to Josie.

This is how late I slept yesterday morning!! (Snow day!)

It was a snowy wonderland!

Started my morning off right.

Daddy snuggles with Quincy.

I parked in front of the furnace for a while.

And Rick and I had some breakfast and chat time.

Eli started his morning off "right" with a waffle and Wii U.

The furnace was a popular place today.

Right at 4 inches of good snow!

That had to be cleared off the vehicles.

I stayed snug inside doing laundry with more coffee.

Buck prefers the warmth of indoors.

Although he, Quincy, and Crusoe did go out for a bit.

Yadi stayed out with Kyndal the whole time she was out there. He was a maniac.

He didn't want to come in.

Neither did Chloe.

Kyndal adores her babies.

The family working on a snowwoman.

While I, again, stayed inside and had some warm stew for lunch.

Meet Lydia.

Everyone finally got cold enough to come in for cocoa.

And Jalapeno Chicken Enchiladas for dinner.

Rick and I watched The Mummy, a favorite.

My house with no people in it. Rick headed back to Oklahoma,
Kyndal, Collin and their dogs went home,
Eli and Brynne retreated to their bedroom,
and Dawson and Taylar were hanging out upstairs.

So I did some lesson planning and watched the finale
of "How to Get Away with Murder".

Until I went to bed for some blog time.

And ended my day exactly 12 hours after it started.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Weekly Wrap-up ~ Failure is an Option

First of all, Dawson received his acceptance letter for college this week! He wants to attend a nearby community college to utilize the A+ scholarship he has earned. This is so exciting for me because when we took him out of public school at the end of 7th grade to homeschool him, my main goal was to help him come to a place where he enjoyed learning and would desire to seek further education beyond high school (if his chosen field required it). Not only does Dawson enjoy learning, but his future plans include being a high school history teacher! What a scary thing it was for us to start the homeschooling journey. But what a life-changing decision that was for our family.

Are you afraid to fail? I think human nature causes us to be extremely fearful of making mistakes, or devastated when we do. Lately I have been really in-tuned to the fact that making mistakes and wrong decisions is just part of life and that we should not be fearful of it. I, personally, learn the most when I make mistakes. It seems to be a big topic of conversation with the kids, too, from Kyndal making changes to her wedding and the little kids trying something with their schoolwork and messing up. It's okay!!

Brynne has decided that she wants to write, direct and produce a movie based on the first book in the Warriors series: Into the Wild. She is currently writing the screenplay. At first she was so nervous and worried about how hard it was going to be and concentrating on all of the difficulties. But we discussed how she would have some successes and failures in this endeavor, but that is OKAY!

Which leads up to the fact that our schooling the past couple of weeks has resembled unschooling. We are so NOT an unschooling family, but delight-directed learning has led us there. How do you tell your student "no" when they say they want to make a movie? She has taken a love for reading to a new level. She is writing, without having to follow prompts. She is creating a story. She is planning her characters and setting. She has even thought about how she will get the credits onto her movie and where she will show it (she is thinking the public library). A planned science experiment or a math page seems like nonsense when this kind of self-directed learning is going on.

The only problem is that I have to keep Eli motivated and learning during Brynne's creative process. He has been honing up on his skills on Stack the States and Stack the Countries and continuing to work on his Lord of the Rings and Hobbit maps. He is a very creative young man who can spend hours in his room playing. He is being creative all day every day. That counts for something. He is writing stories, too, but just in his mind.

This shift in paradigm has come at a good time as we have been dealing with some daily life junk that has required attention and drained me of much-needed energy for active teaching. Plus it's just really darned cool to see your kids be so excited to do something!

There will be plenty of days for grammar and math. But this boost of creativity might only last a couple of days ... or it could be the start of a budding career. These are the things we must support in our students.

In addition to all of this creative fun, we did manage to do a few other things this week. (Brynne ended up running a fever with a sore throat yesterday, so school these past two days has been from the couch.) The kids stayed caught up on current events with CNN Student News. We read aloud a few chapters of The Long Winter. We watched the clips for the last five states we are learning the capitols for: Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, Alaska and Hawaii. We practiced all of our capitols with flashcards, did a crossword puzzle, and then took our state capitols tests (they wrote the capitol next to each provided state, they wrote the capitol on the appropriate state on a map, and then they wrote the state next to each provided capitol.) They did lots more reading, with Brynne now on the second book in the Warriors series: Fire and Ice and Eli reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever. The kids also watched a couple more episodes of Brain Games with daddy. What a great show! Math and grammar ... nah. We didn't get to those.

Brynne will start her new after school program called Girls on the Run next Thursday. She missed the first class because of being sick. She will meet with 3rd-5th grade girls at the elementary school on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons for positive self-image and health classes and to train for a 5K. I'm going to have Eli go to the library on those afternoons and work on the library educational computers, read, and attend the Lewis and Clark class (they attended last year, but it's good for him to get out.) He is also working on a new style of bowling for their upcoming state bowling tournament.

What a great week of learning.

No failure there.

Linking up:

Random Five

This has been one of those trying weeks with lots of stuff going on ... emotional stuff. These kinds of weeks make me really stop to consider what is important and what is not.

1. I would say we kind of do things differently in our family, and always have. (Dawson's favorite phrase is, "We are an odd family.") That has resulted in some disapproval and ridicule over the years, and sometimes even some anger directed toward us. But I feel like we have to be strong in our convictions about what we want for our family.

2. After 20+ years of this parenting gig, I think we must have managed to do okay because we still have a strong relationship with all of our kids. They come to us for advice, actually choose to hang out with us, even seem to enjoy it when they do, and tell us way more than we want to hear at times. The big kids prefer to spend time at home with family than to go out. They actually like to spend time with their younger siblings, and sometimes even choose to do so over something else. The little kids adore their older siblings and count time spent with them as one of their favorite things to do. We actually like to be together!

3. Our family would much rather have the memories of family vacations than to have a big fancy house, nice cars, and nice things. Stuff doesn't matter. Memories do. And we have memories that will last a lifetime from the trips we have taken as a family, whether small or big ones. We have a big trip coming up and the memories from it will stay with us forever. To go on that big trip we are having to make other sacrifices. And we are gladly doing so.

4. We have gone against the grain to teach our children that they should look deep into their hearts to decide what they really want out of their lives and should push toward those goals, even if it doesn't mean doing things the traditional way. Being passionate about what you are doing means so much more than money. And making a life decision based on the opinions of others will almost always lead you down the wrong path and into one of misery.

5. Unconditional love is the most important thing. I can give my advice, sometimes solicited and sometimes not. But I want my children to know that even if they go completely against my advice and make a mistake, I will love them through it. That doesn't mean I will bail them out. It means I will accept them and will love them through their consequences. I can only hope they will never doubt my love for them.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Wednesday Hodgepodge

Did you watch The Oscars? How many of the Best Picture nominees have you seen (American Sniper, Birman, Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, The Theory of Everything, and Whiplash)? Do you think actors should use their acceptance speeches as an opportunity to promote their political and/or social agenda? Does that sort of speech make you more or less inclined to change the channel?

Funny, but instead of watching the Oscars we were watching a movie! Usually the majority of the Oscar-contenders aren't even shown in the Midwest. (Insert hillbilly drawl of Sandy the Squirrel from Spongebob here.) I guess the movie people don't think us here in Mizzura are smart enough to get the understandin' needed to watch them there movies. We did see American Sniper. I guess they thought we could handle some shoot-em-up. Chris Kyle was a true American Hero! Actors can use whatever platform they want to promote themselves. But we have the right to say no to watching it. I could care less what political or social agendas Hollywood has because, quite honestly, it's the complete opposite of my beliefs. I have a choice whether to watch and listen, so I don't. Instead we watched the movie The Good Lie with Reece Witherspoon about The Lost Boys of Sudan. That was an excellent movie that was full of political and social agendas worth following. As a country we should be disgusted with ourselves that we even listen to, let alone follow, the political and social views of Hollywood when that kind of genocide is occurring in other countries.

Speaking of the movies ... are you comfortable going to a movie alone? How about dinner in a restaurant (not fast food, but an actual restaurant)? The second half of this question was posed by Carrie who blogs over at It's Not Easy Being Queen ( Thanks, Carrie!

I answered a similar question to this in a recent Tuesday Coffee Chat. The short answer is no. You can go HERE to read the long answer.

What's the last home repair or home improvement project you had to pay someone to complete? In hindsight was this a project you could have done yourself?

We purchased and had installed a direct vent furnace at the beginning of winter. We hired the job done because we had to have a vent hole cut through our 9" plaster walls. That was a job we did not want to do and are still glad we did not have to do. It was worth every penny that we paid to have it done.

Have you ever had Indian food? Like it or no? If you're a fan, what's your favorite dish? Have you ever prepared this yourself at home? Is there an Indian restaurant in your current hometown?

My mom and I shared Indian food with my sister-in-law Shawna on a visit to Portland, Oregon. I was skeptical, but it was really very good! I couldn't tell you anything we had, other than there were chickpeas involved. I have never prepared it at home because my family would not like it. And we live in a town of 2,000 people so, no, there is no Indian restaurant here. We have a Sonic, Subway, Dairy Queen, a couple of local dives, and a Chinese restaurant.

A song that reminds you of your parents?

I can't think of anything that reminds me of my parents as a couple. But "The Rose" by Bette Midler reminds me of my mom and anything by the Oak Ridge Boys reminds me of my dad.

The 26th of February is National Tell a Fairy Tale Day. What's your favorite, or one of your favorite, fairy tales? Do you have any childhood memories associated with a particular fairy tale?

The Pied Piper. I had a book with a record of that story. Do you remember those ... how they would 'ding' when it was time to turn the page? I loved those!

What's a problem you solved yesterday?

(This was actually done on Monday because I did my Hodgepodge on Tuesday night.) I am not sure if it was a particular problem solved, but I did stop at the end of my daily Bible study yesterday and drive over to my daughter's to talk to her. I just wanted her to know that regardless of any advice I ever give her, that I will love her and support her no matter what her decisions are. I wanted her to know that it's okay to make mistakes in her life, to recognize them as mistakes, and then to change her mind. I told her that I never want her to feel like she has to keep doing something she doesn't think is right, just because she thinks she is too far into it or that her family or others will not approve of her decision to change her mind. We had a great talk and I hope she really heard that my love for her is absolutely unconditional, that I am proud of her, and that I support her decisions for her future.

Insert your own random thought here.

Another surgery for Rick's daughter. This time her back. Sigh. Will it ever end? Insanity. Love my man for not completely losing his mind.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Tuesday Coffee Chat

Love. Amore. What is it? Does it happen at first sight? Do you only get one great love per lifetime? How do YOU know love?

To me love is a deep, abiding faith in and commitment to someone. I also believe that love is an action, being in love is a feeling. I can be in love with something or someone, but if that fades then I clearly did not love it or him/her because I have not remained committed.

Love as an emotion is fleeting ... I can love peanut butter today but detest it tomorrow (and possibly forevermore) because I had a stomach virus around the same time I ate it.

Committed love is an action.

When I met my first husband, I never loved him. I was in love with him when I met him and loved the future I thought he was going to be able to provide me. He never loved me either. Neither one of us was ever committed to each other, that was obvious in the destruction of our marriage.

When I met Rick, I loved him instantly. We started our relationship with some hardships, but I knew I was going to be committed to him despite those and others we might face because I loved him. I started taking action to show him that I loved him. The in love portion of our marriage has come and gone a few times, I will admit. Here is a shocker .. he has flaws and so do I. But it has never changed how much I love him. I have faith in him, despite his flaws, and am committed to be his wife until death do us part, regardless of what happens in our marriage. Thankfully I do not have to love my husband in drudgery or out of duty. He is a wonderful man and I respect him and am so grateful to him for all he does for our family. He loves me so, so much and shows me in little and big ways all the time. He knows my love language and uses it to show me love. (See, an action.)

Which brings me to the love languages. I believe in Gary Chapman's love languages whole-heartedly! My love language is Acts of Service. If you want me to know you love me, pick up your dirty laundry or clean my kitchen. Ahhh ... my heart smiles! Rick's love languages are Words of Affirmation and Physical Touch, which are the total opposite of mine. I would like to say that I show Rick love in his love language consistently, but I do not. It's much easier to show love in your own love language so I am just sure that at the end of the day he knows how much he is loved because I have cooked him a good meal and taken such good care of his home and children. Not so. I am sure Rick feels unloved at times from me because I fail in loving him in his love language. I try to do better, but I fail often.

This brings up my point of love being an action. I can tell him all day long how much I love him, but if I am not filling his tank in the ways that he feels loved, then he doesn't believe my words. (I sure am glad we got this question this week so I can be reminded of all of this.)

But love isn't just about our spouses. It's also about our kids and family members and the world. Our children and family members have love languages, too. It is helpful to know them.

We can say we love children in Africa all we want but if we aren't doing something for them, they do not know it.

You can end a phone conversation with your children every day with the words 'I love you', but if you haven't backed up your words with actions then your words are empty and they don't believe them.

Saying the words are important! I do not discount that. But the words start to become hollow after a while if they are not support with our actions of love.

I don't believe you have one great love of your lifetime, because that has all to do with your attitude and perspective on love. Love is a choice. It is a daily choice, minute-by-minute, in fact. It requires sacrifice (and lots of it), the biting of your tongue (sometimes until it bleeds), a dedication to someone who makes you want to kick something or pull your own hair out at times, and a heart for God and His ways and a desire to love as He has commanded. None of that is easy if we are relying on feelings alone.

So get out there and love your people.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Weekly Wrap-up ~ On Thin Ice (Prairie Primer - Long Winter Week 1)

We started out the week with some snow! We work hard in the mornings to get all of our regular studies done so that the kids could get out into the snow in the afternoon for some P.E. time.

And then, friends, things got stressful on Wednesday night with a sobbing phone call from Kyndal and continued on through Friday. I was extremely tense (angry, to be exact) and very frustrated for her. The situation carried over into her wedding plans which ended with her and Collin making the decision to scrap their traditional wedding they were planning and make plans to get married on the beach somewhere. All of the details have not been made yet, but a destination wedding is a definite. The backyard wedding is cancelled. Rick and I are just happy to see a smile on Kyndal's face for the first time in a while. The stress is gone and the fun is beginning.

But when our family is consumed with a stressful situation, it is extremely difficult to get any traditional schooling done. Thankfully Eli and Brynne can do independent work. I was able to give them a few of the necessities to do on their own on Thursday and Friday and then they just did lots and lots of reading. They both finished their books and started new ones.

Even with the snowy afternoon play and the family stress, we got a lot accomplished getting through another set of lessons in grammar, math, current events, Bible, and U.S. state capitols. We also started our new Little House book, The Long Winter.

In our activity time we learned about Braille. We read the books A Picture Book of Louis Braille by David A. Adler and Secret Code by David Meachen Rau and then did some activities from the PBS website.

I used the braille translator and printed off the Eli and Brynne's names in braille. We used Elmer's glue to make the raised dots. The next day the kids were able to close their eyes and read their names in braille by feeling the raised dots. I had also printed off a translation of "I am very proud of you for learning all of the states and capitols!" and had them decode it with a braille key. They really liked this activity.

Rick had told us about a show he had seen on Netflix called Brain Games. We watched the first episode and it was about tricking the mind with the senses. It went right along with our lessons, and it was a great show! We are definitely going to watch the rest of the episodes.

The kids finished the week with some drawing. I have mentioned that they love the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit so they drew maps of the different areas from the stories.

We are certainly hoping for a more uneventful week this week.