Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Packing Progress

Just a quick check-in to inform you that yes, I'm still here.
I've been doing a lot of this--
(This is the living room stack . . . not to be confused with the "garage stack" or the "master bedroom stack" or the "upstairs stack")
I always forget how tedious packing a home is.  This is our 6th move in eleven years of marriage.  And I will go on record saying it is the "worst" one.  I'm not quite sure why.  I called off school for the week, which helped a lot.  I have accomplished more this week than all the previous weeks (probably because I HAVE to).  I'm finally seeing progress.  THE BASEMENT (said with scary music) still looms ahead of us, but Josh was able to get a sub for Friday and hopefully the two of us together can get that done lickity-split.  Knowing I am moving to a place that I could have to move from within a year does not make it any easier.  Such is the life of a vagrant. ;o)  Should such a situation arise I may inform Josh of my adult-onset allergies to cardboard boxes, tape guns, and sharpie markers.  ;o)

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Winner is . . .

In my unscientific (but still completely fair and random) way, we chose a winner this morning.
Well, maybe it wasn't entirely fair, I did throw out this comment:
"Josh (Husband) said...
Pick me ... I can so see myself taking that bag with me to school every day! It's a little girly, but it will do just fine ;) "

I told him he was not invited to my give-away (little good that did). ;o)
But back to my winner, we tossed the names in a bowl and with the help of my lovely assistant

drew out this name
Stephanie Dowding, you're my winner!!

I'll try to hook up with you at church this Sunday. ;o)
I wish I had something to give everyone . . . that was kind of fun!  I might have to do this more often. ;o)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Late Summer Nature Walk

The trail at Pioneers Park--it's one I've wandered for years.
First with my sister, brothers, parents,
and now with my own brood.
It always makes me immensely happy.
And it is one of those places I will immensely miss once we move.


Happy trails those are.
I read somewhere that you should find a natural place your family enjoys and strive to visit it monthly so you can note the ebb and flow, the changing of the seasons, the rhythm of a year.  I can't say we made it out there monthly, but at least once or twice a season.  There is always something new to see and enjoy, always something to "wow" over and point back to our amazing Creator.
I will definitely be on the look-out for such a place near our new home.

And I'm counting down until the next time we can meander down that familiar path--it really is a dear old friend--once more.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Happy Birthday Mr. Jackson!!!

You have learned so much in this last year!
I'm finding you are an "all or nothing" kind of guy.
You either love it and devour it.
Or hate it and must be forced to do it.
You've grown collections . . .
And developed obsessions . . .
Like carrot growing (and eating).
 Like 100 charts, numbers,  and calendars.
Like tornadoes and weather watching.
You are still my artist boy, turning out pictures in astonishing numbers.
Worm pictures.
Bird pictures.
Knight pictures.
Battle scenes.
Carrot Pictures.
Lots of tornado pictures . . .
And I love your imagination.  Every single picture delights me.
You are strong-willed.
You always have been.
You are quite tricky to parent.
You make me pray more.
And I can't imagine you any other way.
In so many ways you are nothing like we expected.
And yet, you are absolutely everything we needed.
I can't wait to see all the things you will do!
I love you buddy.
I hope "SIX" is everything you hope it to be!
But most of all, I hope Jesus gets ahold of that heart, and does things with it only He can do.
Happy, happy birthday!

Monday, August 22, 2011

An Autumn-Inspired Give Away!!

In my lifetime I have won two things--both in the last year or so, both from blogs.
 I decided this winning thing is quite fun. ;o)
The last give-away I won was this one.  I have loved that bag all summer!  I have received so many compliments on it!  It's been the perfect size to be my "purse." I can throw so many things in it . . . books, a diaper, sheet music . . . you know, stuff. ;o)
I decided I would need one that looked more "autumnal."
I measured and fiddled and came up with this--
And maybe you would like one too??
For your library books or your diapers or a market bag or . . . ?
So, in honor of my blog approaching three years in age and the fact that my most favorite season of all will soon be upon us, I have decided to do a little give-away.
What you'll get if you win:
An "autumn tote" that measure roughly 17x14 inches in a variegated brown linen and lined with the same brown polka-dot you see on the ruffle.
And some "creamy pumpkin" antibacterial hand soap--to keep you clean and healthy ;o)
To enter:
Leave me a comment, even if you have never left a comment before (you don't have to have a blog!!) and tell me what you are looking forward to doing once the cooler weather hits.  Include your email address in this fashion "name (at) provider (dot) com."  That way I can contact you and get your mailing address privately (unless I know you and know how to contact you, then don't worry about it!). I will draw a name next Monday!!

A Bit of Levity

From time to time I like to read Marissa's diary--completely with her permission of course--mainly because it is always wildly entertaining  and a great way for me to really see what is going on in her head.  After such a session, I just had to share, and she was so excited she couldn't wait for me to put in on my blog (and kept asking daily), so for your entertainment--

"July 11th, Monday
Well, Mommy is still ruining my life today.  When me and Jackson want something she always lets Jackson have that thing, then Jackson will act smug about it.  But Mommy doesn't care.  Bella is very annoying right now, she doesn't care about me.  She just cares about herself.  So does Jackson and Emmett.  They're nothing but pests.  But they're not just any pests, for instance, ticks are a pest but some ticks carry disease.  Jackson and Emmett are pests that carry disease.  Bella has been bragging all day about how she has touched the drain of the pool.  It seems like she loves bragging and showing everyone how she can do it.  I am so mad at her! Will she ever stop talking about it?  Bella is trying to make me not write bad things about her, so I will stop.  IF she stops talking about her silly old drain.  That's it!  I wish Bella would get out of my room.  Now she's singing a song about how she touched the drain! Show-off!  Anyways, I did my writing workshop today which is so much fun, you just write stories or poems a whole hour and thirty minutes!  What do you think of that! But this isn't report writing this is creative writing, all creative writing.  Oh yes, just to let you know, you wouldn't like Jackson Cooley if you met him."

After I read this aloud to her in a overly-dramatic voice we were both laughing.  And I said, "Now Marissa, do you think you may have been over-reacting and exaggerating just a bit?"

And she replied, "I know, but I was vexed!"

At which I burst out laughing again. Vexed??  Coming at a future date, "How Marissa Will Raise Her Children."  She has some great ideas. ;o)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Meeting the House

Thursday, I became acquainted with my new home.
For something that was agreed to via pictures that were emailed to me, it's not too bad.
*big sigh of relief*
There are some strange things, like little hooks screwed into the ceilings in nearly every room--two over the bathtub?? A variety of interesting light fixtures and dated draperies.  No garbage disposal. 
But it's all livable and tweakable.
Here's the living room with its new paint job (and bachelor set-up for Josh):
It has a window that faces east that lets in some nice natural light.
And here's the kitchen area with an adjacent dining room:
(yay for a window over the kitchen sink, and a large dining room window that both face west--hello sunsets!)
I painted everything "tobacco leaf," a Martha Stewart color I found at Home Depot (but had them mix it up in Behr).  I wanted something neutral.  At times I have been rather bold with my color choices (deep red . . . a sturdy terra cotta . . . "oregano"), but at I get older and settle more into what I like I realize I am a "seasonal decorator," constantly changing my environment to match what is going on outside.  A nice neutral seemed to be the best option.  I'm sure our landlords will be relieved. ;o)
My ticking drapes I sewed this past spring should work on one window, and I'm going to make a matching set for the other window.  My hutch should fit fine in the dining room (phew!) and overall it should be a nice space for us, for however long we are there.  Our landlords hope to sell the place (our lease terms would be honored), and I will admit it was a bit unsettling to see the "for sale" sign appear in the yard while I was busy painting and readying it for us to move in.  We'll just keep trusting God to work out all of those details.  In the meantime, new paint made everything feel fresh and new and more "mine."  I see more painting in the future, but it was definitely a nice head start on such a project! ;o)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Home Again

The paint-cation is over!  I was able to get all the painting done that I had planned and a hallway too! Thanks Kari for the book-on-CD suggestion--I felt like such an efficient multi-tasker, getting a major home improvement job done while "reading" a book. ;o)  I was a bit nervous how the drive out there by myself would go, mainly because while I have traveled a lot via vehicle I haven't ever really gone anywhere by myself.  But the book (Willa Cather's Song of the Lark) kept me good company and the drive went fast.  Highway 6 is starting to become familiar to me.

My kids had a wonderful time.  Thursday morning, when I went to wake them up to head to the farm, every single one of them just popped right out of bed in uncontained excitement (it was a quarter to six!).

How I know they had a good time??
140 Swedish pancakes awaiting their arrival
Muddy shoes and dirt smudged clothes
Everyone talking all at once
A little fish swimming in a bucket with a large worm (souvenir from the fishing trip where 15 such fish were caught and subsequently released)
Demonstrations of 4-wheeler driving ability
Cows checked-on
Doggies loved on
Heads nodding on the drive home
Baths taken, jammies on, telling me they're thankful for their sleepover with Papa Roy and Granny

Thanks so much to my mom and dad for giving my blondies two full days of fun memories!! Hope you get some good rest. ;o)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Where I ramble, seeing as there are no other adults to converse with . . .

It is the end of day two, of week two, of Josh-less-ness.  This week has proved a bit bumpier.  In fact it feels I've kind of lived five days during the last two.  That's not a good way to feel at the end of a Tuesday. But the very cool thing is, tomorrow is my Friday!!  Bright and early Thursday morning I will be dropping all five kiddos with my dear parents (who will hopefully still love me come Friday evening when I return to get aforementioned kiddos . . .) and then I will be traveling out to Arapahoe all by my lonesome for two full days of uninterrupted painting fun.  To be honest, I can't quite grasp the idea of a three hour drive with no tattling from the back seat, no threats from the front . . .  Will I be bored?  Perhaps I will just sit in silence the whole way and soak it in. ;o)

I'm hoping to tackle the living room, dining room, and kitchen during those two days.  I'm not sure if that is possible or not, but I'll find out.  Josh will still be teaching Thursday and Friday, so for the most part I'll be on my own.  Friday afternoon he'll come home with me, we'll leave his van at the Holdrege train station, and then during the middle of the night between Saturday and Sunday he'll take a train out.  Did you know a train runs from Lincoln to Holdrege every night?  It's true.  It'll give us one less day together over the weekend, but at least we can save a bit in gas money.

Today I got a few more boxes packed up.  The girls' room is nearly devoid of everything except clothing.  I'm slowly ridding the house of toys.  I think in the end all I will keep out will be 1) play-dough 2) Trio blocks and 3) Lego blocks.  As long as my boys have access to those things I believe we will be okay.  And art supplies!  We'll keep those out to the very end. 

School for the most part is going well.  The girls and I are really enjoying the Mystery of History and tomorrow we do our first science project, an edible cell (yummy). ;o)  Jackson astounded me by telling me he was thankful for school tonight.  I asked him what in particular, and of course, math would be his favorite thing.  This from the boy who found immense joy in filling out 100 charts last spring.  He's a bit resistant in the phonics arena.  I'm not quite sure yet how much to push and how much just to let be.  He's got the sounds down, and kind of gets that we string them together to make words, but the actual blending gets kind of bumpy.  We'll just keep taking it slow.

Overall the days definitely have a busy-ness to them that leaves me feeling behind most of the time.  I'm not sure if that is from adding another student to our school or because I've lost my 2nd string, or because I'm moving--or probably a combination, huh? ;o)  I'm definitely in need of this little painting "vacation" getting us to the half-way mark of our family living in two different places.  And then, hopefully  it will be all downhill after that!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Curriculum for 2011-2012

We've made it through our first week.  It truly wasn't as bad as I expected!  In fact last night when we were doing our bedtime "thankful fors" both girls told me how much they love their new history and science books (and that was after an evening of swimming with friends, so don't think the new books didn't have some stiff competition!). ;o)  That was--of course--music to my ears.  Jackson is a tricky little guy.  Sometimes he is excited and giddy to be working, other times he crosses his arms and the angry eyebrows come out.  I keep his lessons short and broken up with free time.  That free time in between allows me to help the girls out with their stuff.  It's all a grand juggling act, but we'll find our rhythm eventually.  The following is what we're doing this year--and if you don't homeschool it will probably be a long and tedious read--but I know I always enjoy seeing what other homeschoolers are doing and gleaning some new ideas.  So, without further adieu:

Truly a decision I agonized over this year! I was all set to purchase MOH (pictured below) but was talked out of it by a vendor at the homeschool convention due to the fact it is not as well organized as Story of the World.  So, then I was going to do SOTW.  But I really liked the fact that MOH is written with God's story being the central theme and how everything ties back to that.  I wavered back and forth.  Finally, I happened upon several blogs who made the switch from SOTH to MOH and loved it.  I decided to take the plunge.  It looks great! And I purchased these timeline figures--I love the suggestions the teacher's manual has for setting up your own (portable) timeline.  I am really excited to be learning about the early church up through the middle ages/reformation.  And I also ended up with the CD for all the printables, which has proved much easier than trying to maneuver my big book into my printer.  We changed up a few things to fit us better.  Instead of making a "memory card" for each lesson we do a notebook page (similar to what we did in My Father's World) and are setting up our notebooks in a similar fashion.  The girls really enjoy getting to draw an illustration for each lesson, so we'll just keep doing that.

I also have this for a history read--I'm planning on doing it as a read-aloud.  Marissa however found it and has been reading it all day.  She claims it is fascinating (obviously!). ;o)  And there will most likely be other books, but I haven't quite planned that far ahead yet.
I can say after a week of using it, we emphatically love it.  Science has always limped along for us, and I think that finally we have found something we will really enjoy.

I got each girl the notebooking journal full of really cool projects and applications for what they are learning.
And while Jackson will kind of tag-along with experiments and all, I determined the notebooking journals were going to be too advanced for him.  Instead he will be working on creating a replica of himself (and his innards!) with the pages from this book:

I know he is going to LOVE coloring in body organs and placing them where they go on a body outline!
Language Arts:
Marissa is doing Easy Grammar 4 and Isabella, Easy Grammar 2.  I was able to purchase Marissa's at the homeschool convention, but Isabella's I had to order from Christian Book Distributors.
We used this last year for Marissa and really liked it, so we are sticking with it.
In place of spelling I got Marissa this--
Spelling really isn't an area she struggles in, and spelling felt like a time killer last year.  So, instead she will be working on learning more vocabulary, the roots, using them in sentences, etc. And because she writes a lot I figure I can peruse her writing for words that are being misspelled and make our own spelling lists from that.
Both girls are going to be working on cursive (even though some schools are getting rid of it I still think it is important to know!!). ;o)  After a week of using this book I can't say it is laid out in the best fashion, but it will work for now.  I'll probably go to something else once we are through with this one though.
I'm trying out a different spelling curriculum for Isabella--just a simple workbook method.  We ordered this from CBD also (and Amazon is showing the old version, our cover doesn't look like this!).

We're sticking with the Singapore Math program.  I'm trying Jackson with the 1st grade book--I think it is probably going to move a bit too fast for him but so far he has loved it.  I also found a few little fun math workbooks at the $1 section at Target that he really enjoys--especially the one with the dot-to-dots. ;o)
We're using Andrew Pudewa's "Institute for Excellence in Writing" stuff.  It isn't exactly what Marissa hoped it would be (it's more report writing, not creative writing) but I think it will be a wonderful program for them.
Other kindergarten stuff--
Jackson is working through "Phonics Pathways" (linked up to the version I have, but a new edition came out this year). I used this to teach my girls to read. He is also working on "Explode the Code."  I'm seeing a definite need for physical movement as we attempt to sound things out and I'm kind of wondering if he may be more of a kinesthetic type of learner?? (Or maybe that is just all boys!??!) ;o)
How I keep track of it all?

Meet my nifty little grid.
Having one week under our belts I have to admit to some changes, like while in theory, alternating history and science seemed like a great plan it just proved to be way too much history on M-W-F.  So, instead we do a little each day.  Isabella is not going to be able to do cursive at the same pace as Marissa, and so on.  I give these sheets to the girls and they get to kind of track their own progress, crossing things out when completed or work ahead if they feel so inclined.  We always aim for a light Friday, but if they can finish everything in four days' time they get the reward of a three-day weekend.  And that's a win-win for everyone. ;o)   I may work on a smaller grid for Jackson so he can have the same satisfaction of crossing things off (don't we all love that?).

And those are THE PLANS.  Anybody still there?? ;o)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Great Slipcover Massacre of 2011

I have this couch.  It is nearing eight years of use.  It is a nice sturdy Broyhill, the cushions still firm and intact, three out of four legs still attached (the 4th we just prop up, you know), and overall comfortable.  But the fabric, well, it saw it's best day maybe four or five years ago.  The last three years my couch has spent its days in a slipcover.  An awful, bunchy, wrinkly, color of burgundy-I-now-abhor slipcover.  If you've ever had a slipcover I think you will know what I am talking about.  It is possible I hate them.  At some point, when the timing is right we'll invest in a new couch and I will threaten my children with life and limb to never ever sit on it, and then one day somebody will spill hot cocoa on it . . .  As much as I would love a new couch, I'm not sure I'm ready for all that drama.  Plus, I still have an Owen to potty-train (and totally off subject, but he pooped on the potty the other day--yay Owen!!). ;o) 

But back to slipcovers.  I told Josh that if I had to move that ugly awful couch with its ugly awful slipcover it would ruin the vision I have for my new living room--the couch would be an ugly awful eyesore.  He thought the couch was just fine.  And all the slipcovers that looked like they might be better options were running in the $115 range.  I would much rather save than kind of money for a couch fund.  My living room vision was dying.  But then, I thought, "AMAZON!!"  What doesn't Amazon have??

And there she was.  A two-piece slipcover for half the price in a lovely neutral that could be paid for via my Amazon money (acquired through swagbucks).  Josh agreed.

Monday, the slipcover arrived on my porch.  I tore into it in excitement.  I slipped my cushions into the big cushion case and discovered about two feet of extra fabric.  Hmmmm.  The wheels were turning.  Maybe I could make this into two separate cushion slipcovers?  A bit of piping here, a seam here?  And then I tried on the couch portion.  With devastation I realized it didn't fit the corpulent arms of the couch correctly. The fabric was pulling terribly in the area where the arms connected to the back of the couch.  I tugged and readjusted and there was no way to make it work.  But maybe I could cut a hole here and patch in some fabric and . . .

In an act of sheer bravery (or perhaps insanity--I took advantage of the fact Josh was not here to see what I was doing!) I took to my brand-new cover with a pair of scissors and a seam ripper.  Isabella told me I was making her nervous. It wasn't pretty. I spent most of Tuesday afternoon piecing it all back together.
And today--
Excuse the wrinklies, I'm going to pack it back up and I refuse to iron it until we are setting up in the new place. And yeah, I had to sew some fall-inspired pillows for it too. ;o)
Here's the spot where I patched in fabric because the arms weren't fitting right--
I make no claims to perfection, but it fits so much better now.
And that is how I became the owner of a semi-custom slipcover!  I can't count how many times I sat and stared at that couch wondering if I was brave enough to attempt to slipcover it on my own.  This way I had something to start with (why reinvent the wheel!), and then with a few tweaks, have something that fits so much better--all for the cost of the cover (which if we're getting technical was actually FREE), and a yard and half of cotton piping. I hope Josh likes it! ;o)  And if I squint my eyes a bit and darken the room, I can *almost* pretend it is this--
(image courtesy of Pottery Barn, which is my nice way of saying I copied their picture without asking first)

Bye, bye burgundy abomination!! ;o)


This picture is especially for Daddy who hasn't gotten to see the new eye wear yet--
Is it me, or does she now look a lot older?
And so studious!!
My dad is all set to call her Professor Ghoulihan (he was/is the king of made-up names, and this was what he dubbed me after I got my first pair of glasses).
She loves them and is thrilled with what she is now able to see from afar, like
"Oh look!  I can read the clock on the stove!"
Somebody probably should have gotten her in to an eye doctor a wee bit sooner. ;o)
How did I finally realize she couldn't see very well?
At VBS they do a huge picture video up on the large projector screen at church--
she said she couldn't see herself because it was blurry.
That was my "sign." ;o)

Monday, August 8, 2011

Back to the Books!

We survived our first day!!
I think I shall reward myself by packing a few boxes. ;o)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Oh YEAH!!!

After a sermon this morning--where I was reminded that the things of this world are only temporary--
I blush to share with you the surprise that is bringing me immense joy . . .
But it's true. ;o)
Meet Josh's surprise, a Canon T2i!
I've wanted one of these for at least two years!
And I'm so excited.
And intimidated.
I love taking pictures, I always have.  As I've gotten into blogging, become a tiny bit more tech savvy, and admired the photos of others, I've realized the limitations of a press and shoot. 
I have officially embarked on a new learning journey.  I really want to learn how to use this thing!!
I'd love to take a class, but I'm not sure if that will be possible in a town of 1000.  So, if you have a DSLR and you have favorite websites, books, online videos, etc. please send me your resources!!!
And in case you're wondering, no, he did not use my swagbucks.  Those will now be used for Christmas shopping. ;o) He got it at Best Buy, where we had gone to purchase a stove and stopped to admire some cameras. We discovered his brother had a nearly brand-new stove that was sitting in their basement (which just happened to be the exact stove we had purchased, now returned), and well, the rest is history. ;o)

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Weekend

Yesterday evening we took advantage of some free children's zoo tickets and then proceeded to tour the zoo in a lovely downpour--enabling me to check "play in the rain" off of our summer to-do list. Jackson--to borrow a word from Marissa--was despondent. ;o)  It would seem playing in the rain is an okay thing if the proper kind of rain gear is involved.  However, there were no boots, umbrellas, or raincoats.  It didn't quite live up to his expectations.  He was much happier once his impromptu poncho (a garbage sack with some holes cut in it) was on.
Here we are hiding out by the gibbons--
Not a good day for light colored pants and scandalous underwear (not that I would know. . .). ;o)
Today was spent readying a house for company and cooking and stuff.  I decided to do a late birthday party for Isabella and an early one for Jackson to get family over one more time before we moved.  To be frank, it was an exhausting end to an exhausting week. 
But it did involve cake, lots of cake. ;o)
Isabella's "Neapolitan Cake with Strawberry Frosting"
And Jackson's "Lemon Rainbow Swirl"
Now, onto tomorrow!
Church, and FINALLY getting around to planning out our first week of school (which starts Monday).
And packing Josh.
But in all this busy-ness, Josh did manage to surprise me with something fabulous . . .
Any guesses?? ;o)
(and Mom, if you're reading "Shhhhhhh!") ;o)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Getting my ducks in a row . . .

This week--
1. Acquired a 2nd minivan for Josh (I KNOW, we are so cool!) because we figured with the seats removed it would make a more cost-effective truck.
2.  Got a new "tensioner" for the serpentine belt on my van=no more strange squealy noise
3.  Took Marissa in for her first eye appointment, first pair of glasses currently on order
4.  Boxed up a bunch more stuff (mainly toys) and moved boxes and some storage containers out to garage
5.  Made a trip to Omaha after a conversation with our upcoming landlord went something like this, "Oh, and by the way a refrigerator and stove is not provided." Which may have been better information to have prior to the 2nd minivan purchase . . .
6. Got Josh some "back-to-school" clothes.
7.  Keep reminding myself daily I have two pairs of pants to hem for Josh before he leaves.

And stuff like that.  ;o)