Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Even babies enjoy books when learning is fun & natural

Texas homeschoolers have it so easy-no reporting, no testing...nuthin'. Our school district doesn't officially know we exist (although they couldn't have missed us, we live just yards away from the ISD administrative building).
So, it chaps me when I hear a homeschool mom say, "My kids played tag for an hour at church, so I'm counting that as PE."
Counting it where? No one looks at our records (if we even keep records, since we don't have to).
This type of thinking reflects an attitude that school & life are two separate entities. I beg to differ. I think the combination of learning & living in whole fashion is beautiful. Scripture tells us it works, too.
Deuteronomy tells us to teach our children as we walk, talk, eat, get up & lie down. Wendy's Paraphrased Version: As you do life together, teach your kids.
Don't look for things to count on some imaginary list of things you must teach for school verses what you must teach for life. It's all one big ball of wax, my friend, so don't stress over it!
As you walk, talk about the different types of bird nests and see if you can spy one or two. Plant some sunflower seeds together, measuring out the 15" between each seed. Apply biblical solutions to problems your children face with their friends. As you lie down, read good books, not twaddle-then discuss them! As you get up, listen to hymns, math facts, or classical music together. When they can't sleep, encourage them to recite their memorized verses or read their Bible...I could go on, but you get the picture.

I hope you can see the above examples would result in a much more vibrant learning/living than only "learning" when the kitchen table is laden with text books (which is sometimes appropriate, but not as a lifestyle).

Don't count segments of your life for school, count the moments you have with your charges as precious, then jump into life and learn together!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Calling Cindy & Tales from the Garden

Would the Cindy who responded to the photo contest email me at Denise graciously declined the prize, and since I've recently been blessed with items from Laura's shop, I'd like to pass the gift certificate on to Cindy, who had my favorite caption. So Cindy, shoot me an email, girl!

Y'all, we've had a great weekend! Our house is piled up with laundry since we've spent most of the weekend outside tilling a garden spot. Since we're living in my Grandma's former home, we have a garden she left behind. Most things have stopped growing, but the layout is there. I'm honored to plant tomatoes in the same place she did...using her old cages. It was fabulous watching the girls pull their shoes off and beg to run in the freshly turned soil.

We moved the swing set next to the garden so that all of us can enjoy being outside together & I can keep an eye on the little ones. The Ergo baby carrier was pulled out of storage so Audrey could participate-she's a trooper in there!

It's a hoot gardening with Shane. Hillbilly meets Miss Granola. This summer gardening thing is going to produce lots of good blogging material no doubt!

Shane: Whatcha reading?
Me: Garrett's Organic Gardening Guide. Did you know we need to add compost tea and native cedar chips? Hey, I think we should also send out soil to this lab they talk about so we know what additive to put in it.
Shane (with eyes glazing over): Uh huh...
Me: Oh, so you just want to throw some tomato plants in the dirt and hope for the best, huh?
Shane: Well, YEAH.

Boy oh boy...what fun we have when we embark on adventures we know nothing about! Off to go fold some laundry!

PS-I'll add some pics later, the camera is MIA...probably under Mt. Laundry!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

And we have a winner!

Thanks for all four of you who participated in my little photo contest. My personal favorite caption was the "You want me to do what???" one, but to be unbiased, I asked my dad to judge in a double blind, hands behind his back, totally fair way. He chose the tooth fairy caption by Denise!

So, Denise, I'll get you Laura's info-have fun shopping!

Have a great weekend everyone! Happy Spring!

Friday, March 20, 2009

5 against 1

I've been hesitant to post about Shane's part in Ashlyn's birthday weekend. I'm afraid I can't do it justice. I don't want to convey that Shane is some stereotypical dumb dad with a bunch of girls dragging him around the mall, that's not him at all. No, he has special things he does with the girls...we each have our niche, you could say. He teaches them little things (he just taught Bethany how to snap, and Ashlyn & Hope are being tutored in fishing 101). He snuggles, talks, and pours into them as often as he can. He enjoys getting to know their friends and especially giving them a hard time.
I have a niche too-breastfeeding. Thus the reason I stayed home from the movies to keep the baby & toddler occupied. We could have switched roles if he could have nursed.
He wanted the day to be great. He rejected the (closer, cheaper) run down theater I found in favor of the newer, bigger, stadium seatier theater (I think I just made up a new word). They saw Race to Witch Mountain then clocked three hours in the mall. He indulged them with the typical girl stuff, like shopping in Claires but then they spent a large amount of time in Barnes & Noble (heaven on Earth for Shane & Ashlyn).
While escorting them from store to store, he was snagged by an Asian woman beseeching him to sit down and enjoy a massage. "Sir, sir, you must sit looked stressed! Look! Look at all these girls! You are stressed, see, see, come sit!"
He did not partake, lol.
However, he jumped at the chance to chum it up with an ex-inmate.
First, I must back track and tell you Shane has an excellent record with his former charges. He's been approached many times in public by someone who calls him only by his last name or by "Boss" which is a dead give-away that they know him from their time in jail. He's proud that they've never called him "Mother...." (sorry, but it's true). One guy still in jail at the time even wrote a nice note to Shane thanking him for listening when he was having a hard time (suicidal).
Ashlyn's birthday was the day his perfect record ended. A guy near Shane started making pig noises. He got more of a reaction from Shane than he bargained for. Shane took off his glasses, looked the guy square in the face and started walking assertively towards him. Backpedaling ensued but Shane only added fuel to the fire by calling out, "Hey, how are you doing now, man? When did you get out of jail?" Embarrassed by the revelation of his time behind bars, the guy promptly moved on to another store.
I think Shane felt a bit of Daddy pride being the one to take Ashlyn & her friends out. We kept trying to one-up each other all weekend. I bragged that I was with it enough to blue tooth, flat iron hair and paint toe nails. Yep, we're made for each other; we spend Saturday nights hanging with 12 year olds and feeling important because of it :)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Okay, someone told me I haven't blogged much lately but I'm wondering if I she meant I haven't blogged much about our family lately since I think I've blogged about as much as usual-whatever usual is. I have a lot of random things in my head to update you on, so I'll fire away.

Ashlyn's sleepover was such a blast. The two friends she had over are jewels-an answer to prayer. There are stories to tell-especially of Shane taking all of them to the mall, but I'll save those for another day :)

The same morning as the party, Shane saw his cardiologist for tests ordered to figure out why he's had some chest pain. The results-all is fine. His irregular heartbeat (which is neither good or bad we're told) is probably causing the pain. In the mean time, he's lost about 15 lbs since December and his uniforms now require his regular belt and duty belt to hold them up :)

Oh, and someone else informed me I didn't tell you all that the land sale fell through. We're really bummed and feel sorry for the couple who were going to buy only to find out they had an issue 20 years old pop up and surprise them.

I'm starting to realize Spring & Summer are hard months to be Single Momming it. With Shane's schedule, he's either playing security guard or asleep most evenings, so social events (like cookouts, baseball practice--that's social for us, lol--are entirely handled by me. Ugghh. Last year I promised over and over that we wouldn't do baseball again if Shane were on nights. Well, he's on nights still yet somehow Ashlyn & Hope are signed up for least Bethany isn't interested in baseball one bit.

Not sure I can make this clear-but I'm missing people in my "home" life group (the group of folks who are from all different churches who've been meeting weekly for several years). TM-this means you, and the Wards. Call me so we can have you over for dinner (and please invite your new gal, I can't wait to meet her!) However, our church also has life groups and we've been restructured recently. I wasn't so sure I'd like the new & improved group, but I am really loving getting to know all our new friends. Amber, I hope you & Roger can make it and Stephanie, our quick phone conversation really blessed me last week. I can't wait to have you over to observe our crazy school!

So, consider yourself informed :) I really plan to share about Shane's girly trip to the mall as well as the work God's doing even though I'm in a spiritual pout right now. And don't forget to enter the photo contest below if you haven't already. I'll send the submissions to some non-readers (my parents, if you can believe it!) and have them pick one.

Peace Out!

Monday, March 16, 2009


When Shane saw this picture, he said it had it needed to be in a caption contest. I heartily agreed! What better people to give this picture of Audrey (taken while I was in the shower-I never knew about it until I saw it on the camera!) a great caption than you?

I even have a prize for the winner! My friend Laura is providing a $20 gift certificate to her awesome shop Lil' Giggle Girl. What? You don't have a little girl in your life? Well, don't let that stop you from entering. Any item from Laura's shop would make a great gift. So go browse around while you're thinking of the perfect caption!

Contest ends Wednesday March 18th at noon CST. One entry per person please :)

Laura, thanks for being so generous! Love ya, girl!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Happy Day!

I've been a momma for twelve years today. Actually, when I became a mother, I told Shane I would not be called momma. Ever. It was just too Southern (read: hick). I guess now the word is more in vogue, but somehow it's grown on me anyway.

Ashlyn was a textbook pregnancy and delivery (translation-LONG labor as a first timer). We drove home out of the hospital transformed into the most cautious drivers ever.

At home Shane and I cried for days. We were simply in awe of the amazing blessing a newborn brings, and possibly a little sleep deprived.
We are still in awe of how God works using children in our lives. Most of the growth in me is a result of dying to self while mothering. Twelve years is not enough time to have "arrived" for sure, but Ashlyn has also made my mothering tasks much easier. She's been a typical first born leader and helper. There are challenges with being born 40 but still being a child. The word "challenge" becomes more euphemistic as we get into the tween years, but all in all, the last dozen years with Ashlyn has been joyful and rewarding. I'm proud of my girl who walks to the beat of her own pink tomboy drum.

Happy Birthday Hollywood!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Another Passion of Mine

A mom in a brand new Mustang pulled up opposite in the store parking lot the other day. I couldn't be sure, but it appeared her little girl (age 5 or so) wasn't even wearing a seat belt before she hopped out of the front seat. I was nursing Audrey while Shane was in the store so I was able to watch the little girl get back in the car whent they returned. Sure enough, neither of them buckled up before they drove off.

A few years ago I was behind a pick up truck going down one of the most dangerous highways in our area. There was a toddler standing in the seat between his parents. I was crazy enough to follow them into town and when they pulled into Tractor Supply, I nervously approached them. I asked them if they had a car seat, explaining I could get them one if they need me to. They explained that although they own one, their child cries the whole time so they don't make him sit in it. I left saying, "Well, I'd rather have a crying child than a dead child."

Okay, maybe it was over the top. But that's me I guess.

And here I go again.

Some of my biggest pet peeves involve car seats & kids.

Kids don't need to be in front seats. Ashlyn isn't even in the front seat if I can help it and she's almost 12. Air bags in our older cars can kill our children. Infants don't need to be faced forward before age 1 AND 20 lbs (if even then). And oh my. Don't carry your infant in your arms while you pick up your big kids from school.

SortaCrunchy has posted twice about this issue lately and her links and info are highly recommended. There is new information about our bigger kids (think booster seat age/size) needing a 5 point harness to keep them from flying out of their seat, through the window and onto the pavement at 70 miles an hour.

Okay, over the top again? Sorry. Well, not really. God gave us these kids-gave us a womb to shelter them for 9 months and we are the ones responsible for their safety while we're on the road. Guys, this is serious. I've seen our car after Shane rolled it (our safe Expedition). It was sobering to see our child safety seats covered in debris. We were so thankful that our kids weren't with him.

We have kids. We have to drive. We have the responsibility to make our kids as safe as we can.

Buckle them well, guys. They can't do it for themselves.

Monday, March 9, 2009

(Last) Week Review

Ahhh, yesterday I had the day off...after church we ate beans from the Crock Pot and then headed out to our local flea market. We bought some local honey, a Barbie doll, and some mini horse shoes as party favors for Ashlyn's birthday this weekend. Afterwards I napped, Shane cooked a great dinner and I read the rest of the evening! So nice!

Last week was pretty busy with school, Hope's allergy test (she's mildly allergic to a whole slew of things-soy, peanuts, oats, yeast as well as several trees, grasses, dust mites & molds). Shane saw a cardiologist for chest pain (we follow up later this week with more testing) and of course we had some party planning going on for the about-to-be 12 year old.

I have taken a friend's kick in the pants recommendation and cut back some computer time in favor of reading. I have so much I want to learn right now that I want to just stop the world and catch up on my book list. I'm plowing through Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and seriously loving it. May become one of my favorite books of all time. Pretty good ranking since it's written by an evolutionist who is so talented in her writing but doesn't even know Who gave her the gift.

Shane just read The Lord of the Flies to see if it was appropriate for Ashlyn to read. Boy is it dark. He was disturbed by the mental darkness in this book and the quick recap he gave me was enough to keep it off my book list. Ash won't be reading it yet...but isn't it wonderful to read? To get into the imaginary world of another person via the written word. To experience a world far away or a lifestyle unattainable just by cracking the spine of a book? Even if we don't enjoy the book, I believe we are better for reading good literature.

Here's what we're currently reading in our house:

Audrey-she gets into the pose of reading often-on my lap as I read books to the girls. One day she was wearing a onsie with the ABCs on it while facing outward on my lap during read aloud time. The younger girls thought it was great that she was "doing school".

Jaika-Our bird ID book is her favorite. She crawled into bed with Shane today and "read" every page to him. She loves birding!

Bethany-anything all over town or in the house that starts with the letter B. Kinda like Sesame Streets letter of the day...except the letter never changes!

Hope-I'm reading The Year of Miss Agnes to her (about a school teacher in Alaska who really reaches out to the kids with her sweet teaching style) as well as Little Pear (another read aloud about a little Chinese boy). She grabbed her Bible (which is a story Bible she reads to me as practice each day) this weekend, stole away under the covers and read until 11pm (before the time change!) just to finish it.

Ashlyn-In addition to her books she's reading for school, we're reading 2 read alouds to catch up (one during school time & one in the evenings) but every other moment she has a chance, she's reading her horse books. Her obsession with horses is only growing.

Grown ups-I'm not sure what Shane will pick up next now that he's done with The Lord of the Flies, but I have several gardening books on my side of the bed. I'm about a week behind in my Chronological One Year Bible and I'm pre-reading Ashlyn's next reader. We are a bookworm family!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Copyright Revisited

Just a few posts ago, I talked about copyright law and clearly lined out why especially as Christians, we should observe that law (well, and most laws-but that's a different post). Since that posting, there's been a little discusssion among some friends. One disagrees with me-which is great, an iron sharpening iron kind of thing.

So I called on a much wiser friend (thanks Luke!) who quickly sent me some great links for you to puruse. The goal here is to give accurate, but easy to read references on this issue.

Go check out Luke's media blog where he explained the copyright law better than I did :)

Sunday, March 1, 2009

How I Got Green

How's that for a grammatically incorrect title?

In the rural south, Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle doesn't fit the Redneck philosophy unless you consider reusing a toilet or old tire as lawn art.

We all know green is in. My friends know I don't usually like fads until they're almost out. So it takes me a while to like things...I'm just now able to stomach those humongous sunglasses.

Yet I find myself a little ahead of the game in the green department (well, for a Republican small town Southerner anyway!). This left even me scratching my head, so I've been thinking about how I arrived here. Just for clarification-here is defined as the state of desiring simplicity, natural foods, cleaners and meds if possible, wastelessness, and good stewardship.

When I married, I didn't like the idea of artificial hormones as birth control so we used NFP. This might be the first step in a more natural lifestyle. Childbirth methods followed (still in a hospital, but no epidural-but bring on the opiates!). I breastfed all our girls, and not just for a few months. After a few years, we discovered whole foods eating but were otherwise average Americans in everything else. As a matter of fact, I was so staunchly pro-immunization at that point I am sure any parents behind on their child's immunizations could see the smoke coming from my ears as I fumed about their negligence.

As we added more children, I grew more comfortable with midwife assisted births, although I never had one. I learned that our "natural" parenting philosophy had a name (attachment parenting) and I was exposed to many VERY green lifestyle choices. Some of these are quite wild-like not only cloth diapers, but cloth feminine products (in addition to the Diva Cup and similar items), and family cloth. After our second child was a toddler, I really started to dig in and study immunizations. We've since selected a delayed/selective immunization plan.

Most recently, I've been introduced to the crazy idea of living without paper towels! I already try to keep paper plates and cups to a minimum, but no paper towels? Well, I've tried to use less but I don't know how I could go without. I'm also more aware of the issues with plastic water bottles, plastic bags, and dishes (I now own two Klean Kanteens thanks to my bank's Reward Points). I'd like to use reusable shopping bags but honestly am a little self conscious about it. I want to buy some of the groovy bags from Central Market-maybe their cuteness will motivate me to fight the pride.

For me, the bottom line is more about saving money for our family and giving my family the best food we can afford (not organic at this moment, but not prepackaged junk either). I hate spending so much money on paper goods that only end up in the trash (toilet paper, paper towels, diapers, wipes, feminine products, paper plates...). And before you start thinking it's not that much, after all, remember our family size and consider how much toilet paper a house full of girls uses!

It stings a little that my desired lifestyle collides with the most liberal folks on the planet. Hey, it even stings that I now have one tiny area I'm sorta trendy in. Why is it the conservatives, Christians, and Republicans tend to lean so far away from good stewardship of the environment and our personal resources? I confess for me it was that I didn't want to identify myself with tree huggers and Al Gore. Or PETA. So I felt no remorse in running the other way. Yet somehow, I've run into myself heading the other way.

What do you think of all the green fads? Where are you on the green scale? Or do you just want instructions on how to build a flower potty?