Friday, December 23, 2011

Very Cool!

   Did this today... dyed silk play scarves for the girls for half the price for Christmas.  It turned out just as they said... very cool!  Can't wait for them to open a box of beautiful colors to play dress up, dance with or a million other things! I made 6 of them for about $33.00, new from a place like Magic Cabin I would've spent $60 before shipping.  I will definitely do this again.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


   I LOVE the fall, especially the warmer days you can get outside in a sweatshirt and be perfectly comfortable.  This was one of those days.  We only had about 45 minutes before dinner and darkness set in so very unlike us we decided to go hiking last minute.  Usually we need hours to go and explore and talk, but this day we just did it.  We told the kids only one time off trail exploring was allowed since darkness was coming and... it was great!  Beautiful. So glad we decided to enjoy the few moments we had and so thankful we live just a short drive to a trail!  Thank you Lord for the beautiful world you created!

 I love this picture!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


    Our boys are always out of socks.  It seems no matter how much laundry I do we are always out.  And though we know some of them are floating around their room, others I swear just disappear!  The other mystery is how they get so dirty so fast.  I'm sure they are NOT running out in their socks without shoes like their mother does...often!  Anyways, Paul decided the other day to be good Daddy and stock up all men with new socks (partly for their own good and partly so the older two would stop stealing his!).  So joyfully we came home with many socks and all the boys threw on a pair and headed out with Dad for a guys night out with friends.  Honest... this picture was sent to me within the hour...

Those are his brand new socks!  How is that even possible??  He got his shoes wet and muddy and ta-da!  Destroyed socks!  Seriously??   Note to self, next time buy all black socks for the boys!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veteran's Day

   We're finishing up our study on Veteran's Day and have learned so many interesting things.  We've read great books and visited some pretty cool websites.  We found a wonderful resource at a nearby library, a room full of DVD's that contain interviews of veterans' in our area.  It's a project to preserve history and the one we watched was fantastic!  It was about a young man who became a paratrooper who dropped at Normandy.  He was a prisoner of war two or three times (twice from accidentally going over a hedge and landing IN an enemies machine gun seat!).  His escapes and travels were amazing, scary, funny at times and an eye opener for our kids to realize this is not just a great story, it's real.  It's something that changed this person's life forever, changed our world forever.  We finished our week by calling family members to see how many vets were in our immediate family (not cousins and second cousins but grandparents and aunts and uncles).  They had to ask who served, in which branch and what war if any they were in.  They did it on speaker phone so all of them could hear and completely on their own.  Then they came out of the room gushing with stories to tell.  We made silver stars to represent the 5 they learned about (silver because thankfully none of them died in service, that would mean a gold star) and hung them on a banner in the front room window.

    We'll be calling those who served in our family today and thanking them for all they did.  We'll leave the banner up through Saturday because 3 of the 5 will be here for Hannah's birthday and we want them to see it.  Learning about those in our family who served and what they did made the study much more interesting.  To think,"Hey my uncle was there!", is a pretty cool thought.

  While Memorial Day is about remembering those we lost, Veteran's Day is more about thanking those who served. Take a minute today and thank the vets in your family and say a prayer for those serving right now.  Who knows, one day it might be our sons or daughters being prayed for by others.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Life of a Mom

   I just had to quick write this real quick while it's happening.  Today is Wednesday, Miss Hannah's birthday!  At 8:00 this morning I made a cup of lovely warm "coffee" (actually Roma since I'm trying to stay away from caffeine) all creamy and hot.  I sat down to read my Bible and do my Good Morning Girl's study in the semi-quiet time.  I had visits from many handsome boys, a sweet messy headed birthday girl pop in, a toddler yelling... sweetly, "MOOOOOOMMMMM.  I WAKE UPPPPPP!".  Breakfast followed and then birthday phone calls and bath time for the girls.  It is now 9:30 and I've warmed up this same cup of coffee... well, I lost count!  At the very least 4-5 times!  Now there's a few sips left and I'm trying to decide if it's even worth warming up...again!  (I like my coffee hot, not luke warm.)  It just made me laugh and think of how crazy these days are.  I'm sure I'll be amazed how quickly the time comes that I can sit and enjoy one long steaming cup of coffee, but to be truthful, I'll take today!  I love the bustle of family and rainy mornings with school to be taught, a loose tooth to be wiggled and a birthday trip to the mall to ride the horsies coming this evening.

It's a wonderful life!
(Even more wonderful because the holidays are coming and I can pull out my favorite movie... It's a Wonderful Life!)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Great Book!

   With the help of Five in a Row Holiday book we have taken the time this week and last to talk about Veteran's Day (which is Friday Nov. 11).  We talked about the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the fear and courage soldiers have and we are going to talk to family members to see how many of their relatives served in the armed forces. As we've talked about all these things I've picked out books that are about soldiers or families during war.  One of the recommended books in FIAR was Pink and Say by Patricia Polacco.

   Wow!  What a fantastic book.  It's about two young boys during the Civil War.  I won't give too much away here, I'll just say it's a great read.  It's a "children's" book but deals with some pretty heavy stuff so it's not for the little ones.  I read it to my 6, 8, 11 and 13 yo but the 6yo was not very interested and kind of did her own thing.  AND being that I read it last week, said 6yo was 5... sniff sniff.  Anyways, it's a true story told down through a family generation after generation to the author who is writing the book.  It's fantastic.
Check it out!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Daily Routine Tips

   This past week I was just surfing the net and fell upon this awesome post that is exactly me!  Check it out if you have a quick minute.  I'll give you a basic summary... she talks about how often she tried to plan the "Monday is Laundry Day" and "every weekday at 11am I will spend 30 minutes with x child" and how often life happened and it just didn't happen.  She (I) was tempted to not "do" a routine but knew that a routine was helping her at times too.  She sounds like me because I tend to be all or nothing especially in this area.  I am a "school starts at 9" or "school will get done today...probably" person.  I knew there had to be a balance.  I've shared here the idea of choosing school hours based on the day.  For example we need to do 4 or 5 hours a day, today we're going out at 11 so we'll do two hours before and 2-3 when we get home etc.  Well this blogger takes the idea and runs!  She made a daily docket she explains in the above link.  She fills one out for each day since life is always changing.  She makes a weekly check off list of things she wants to get done and then works them in each day depending on how each day looks with the goal of having all accomplished at the end of the week.  I LOVE this idea!  It may sound confusing... read her post.  But the weekly check list doesn't change.  It's those standing things we all need to get done like cleaning, laundry, groceries etc.  I'm going to give this idea a try.  I think the only catch will be getting into a habit of taking the time everyday to write it down.  I'll have to make it part of my evening routine... I say that like I have one!  I don't.  I'd like to start one that allows me some time to look at the day ahead and prepare for it without answering questions and being used as an indoor jungle gym.  I know I'm so picky.

   So there you have it, my blog post today is telling you to read someone else's blog post ;0) 
 You'll be glad you did.

Monday, November 7, 2011


   I just found this great calendar I had to share.  I found the link through FlyLady which I use in our home in different seasons.  Sometimes it works... sometimes not so much, but great ideas.  Anyways, while visiting their site I followed this link to Cozi which is an online calendar.  I'm LOVING it!!  You can color code your family members, put it as a sidebar on your desktop so you can always see what's up for today and tomorrow, you can access it if you have a smart phone (which I don't) and it will send you reminders on your cell phone if you text (which I do).  It's so nice to see it all laid out.  You can print it by the day, week or month if you're so inclined and you can even set it up to send reminders to others in your family on their cell phone.  You can set up school routines that will show time and days on or off... I'm loving it!  You can make a To-Do list and even a grocery list.  What I love most is having it on my desktop.  I am one of those people who may take time to check my emails but sometimes skips the two minutes to check my calendar!  As you know if you write it down but don't read it... it doesn't help!  If you want it also will let you link up to Flylady and it will tell you what Zone you're working in that week and that days "mission" in your zone.  I've been trying to get into the habit of checking their "missions" each day because they are easy and right on for our house but now I don't have to!  It's right there.  Ahhhh, I love technology sometimes!

Friday, November 4, 2011

3rd Shift

   You may not know this about us but in 18 years of marriage we've only been a "normal" 1st shift family for 2 years.  Paul has always worked jobs that don't account for holidays and "normal" working hours.  Lately he's been under a ton of stress at work.  They are WAY understaffed and over worked.  They are being asked to do things that use to be the job of 3 people... literally.  Then they are putting huge rules upon him as to how to do it. They have now fired 3 people in the last 3 months for not doing their job right.  Paul is a #1 worker.  He enjoys doing a job well even if no one is looking and the crazy demands are stressing him out like I've never seen.  He's in a dangerous field of law enforcement and being understaffed and constantly distracted is not a good combo.  As shift bids came up this year and his blood pressure is normal at home but over 200 ON blood pressure meds at work we decided it might be time to go back to the old days of 3rd shift.  It's not the best for families but we figure a dead dad would be worse right?

  I spent sooooo many years trying to figure out how to live a "normal" life in the crazy 3rd shift world and really struggled.  Ironically as we are looking ahead and make plans there's almost a comfort in going back.  What I didn't realize is we really did adjust quite well to that schedule/shift, it just didn't feel like it because no one else lived like that!  As I'm looking at wake up times, meal times and how we're going to go about things I'm thinking...."why didn't I like this??"  I know one reason, if he only had 1-2 days off it's too hard for him to adjust his sleep so he stays on his normal schedule.  This means for me I only had a "full time" husband with me 2-3 days a month. And we only had one long weekend a month to do anything with.  That was hard.  And what made it harder was since he didn't adjust his sleep and there's not much to do in the middle of the night he would game or watch movies or read and it looked like a fantastically wonderful break that I NEVER got!!  We're talking about how we will handle that when it comes.  If you have any wonderful suggestions pass them on.  He's going to take the time to workout and help out with laundry.  He could do some late night store runs to a 24 hour "super store".  I know now that the boys are older he'll pull them out for some all nighters which doesn't sound so great to me but the boys think it's awesome and I know it will build memories for them all.

   The other thing I learned is having your husband home more...isn't always a good thing!  LOL!  Don't get me wrong, I love having him here but it's next to impossible to get anything accomplished!  He gets in the way of our routine and the house is a mess, baths aren't done and there's a lot of movie watching and rough housing going on!  It's very hard to keep a routine (not that I've ever been that fantastic of a routine keeper anyway).  While on 1st shift he was on 12 hours so he had a lot more days off.  It's been fun but I will say it would have been more fun if our kids were in school or all older and gone... or all was just hard to  homeschool with him home more often.

  Oh well, I guess the grass is always greener on the other side.  1st shift 12 hours I thought was going to be the best but it too brought some scheduling conflicts and issues.  And as much as I thought it would turn my night owl husband into a morning lark, therefore transforming ME into the morning lark I always wanted to be, it was not to be.  We would wake early and go to bed early on "work" days but on days off we'd both be up way past midnight and sleep in until 9am!  I hate that about us, and I totally blame him for making me this way!  I don't recall being like that until we married and I adjusted to his nutty ways!  I guess if he can put up with all my crazy I can put up with his as well ;0)  The secret to a happy marriage... put up with each others crazies.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


   Football is done!  Woo hoo!  Carter played his first year of tackle ball and it was a lot of fun and VERY busy!  I've told people if it weren't for the fact that we LOVE football it would have been horrible, but we love it so it was a ton of fun.  We learned some interesting things about Carter.  He is very unsure about tackling.  He doesn't mind getting tackled but said he just has a hard time convincing himself to run full bore into someone else!  He was a great quarterback.  He's smart and sees plays well.  He did really well at QB.  He is NOT aggressive. While enjoying playing quarterback he never told the coach he wanted to play more because someone else really wanted to be QB, so he just went with the flow.  At the end of the season several parents said they wished he would've played QB more often and that seemed to boost his confidence a bit.  And last but not least, he is not afraid to try anything.  We would just crack up laughing during games.  Kicker hurt?  Carter will do it.  Kick team missing a player?  Carter will do it.  Someone's not playing their position well?  Carter will do it.  While other kids were afraid to try the coaches knew if they needed to fill a space Carter would do it.  He wasn't always great but other kids were too nervous to even try.  The one game he ended up kicking because the kicker was hurt he did awesome!  Who knew??

   I realized as I did this post I don't have any pictures of him all suited up!  Oh well.  Here he is with two of his coaches at his banquet and a whole mess of hormones... I mean team mates!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

5 Little Pumpkins

  Well, they're not all so little anymore but they're still my pumpkins ;0)  Being Halloween yesterday this post is a little late but hey, better late than pregnant right?  Hee... I mean better late than never... I'd probably take the pregnant thing!  This year because of our organic farm co-op each child was able to get their own pumpkin!  That doesn't sound like much but getting 5 kids their own pumpkin can easily wipe out $25 we don't have on something that rots on our front porch!  A few days ago it was nice not freezing out so I let them go to it outside!  Here's the pics and the end results.

 The blonde in the picture is our "blonde brother".  He's our next door neighbor and practically lives here so he's always just part of the crew.  He helped Hannah while I helped Addie.

It was dusk and for some reason it looks blue!  The peace sign looking one on the far left is pretty funny and creative.  That's what was left after the rest of the pumpkin rotted!  So they call it their "pumpkin lantern" which is what it looks like in person, but in this pic it looks like a pretty cool peace sign!

We roasted the seeds using this recipe.  I didn't boil them though.  Very tasty!  Hope you had a great Halloween.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Sandbox Fun

   Last year we discovered our little Addie did NOT like sand when we visited Lake Michigan in the late summer.  Thinking that was long ago when she was 1 I had the grand idea to get new sand in our sandbox for her on her 2nd birthday this spring.  Kind of kill two birds with one stone, we need more sand and she could care less at the age of 2 what she gets!  It was great, the relatives had cheap and easy options for presents (sand toys) and it was going to be great!  Or not.  She STILL hated the sand!  She wouldn't touch it!  So all summer it sat untouched.  What a bummer.  Then all of a sudden a couple weeks ago she out of the blue ASKED to play in the sand and... the rest is history!  We've had some pretty muddy water after baths some nights but I'm so glad she's playing in it I don't even care!

Sister fun! 

Hannah was burying her feet. (Confusing angle I can't figure out how to flip it for you!) 

 Here I was trying to show how dirty she was, not sure where all the silly faces and poses came from but it was cute :0)  
 Love this pose!  She was so funny... and filthy!

Dirty ladies headed straight for the tub.  Too bad she didn't figure out this love when it was still warm enough to rinse off in the hose or kiddie pool first!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Zoo Trip

   My girlfriend Holly set up a great field trip at our local zoo for the kids.  We got to meet 4 animals up close and personal and then go hang out in the zoo for the day.  The animals were a duck, snake, turtle and a ferret.  The snake was the biggest hit with my family...ewww.  It was a beautiful day to be out and they had a ball seeing the animals while hanging out with friends.  Thanks Holly!

 Funny the snake kind of camouflages with the zebra in the back ground!

 That cute little one in the pink coat is my baby :0( She thought she was so big sitting with all the kids.

I wanted to strangle my boys after this presentation.  She asked all sorts of questions about birds which we just studied and they sat there mute!  I asked them why they didn't answer any questions... typical boy answer, "I don't know."  I asked them if they knew the answers, "Yeah."  Ergh!  Usually I can't keep them quiet, here's there chance and nothing.  Oh well it was still fun.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Hannah's First "Love"

   We visited our friends a few weeks ago and Hannah was so thrilled because "her" Erik would be there.  Erik is 18 (maybe 19??) and a freshman at University of Michigan, my girlfriends oldest of two boys.  For some reason Hannah has been smitten with him since she was 2!  He listens to her jabber on and on and for some reason she just adores him.  He's a great guy, I'm just not really sure WHY she is so drawn to him but she is.  It's pretty cute.  So here's a few pics from our visit... with bad lighting on my old cell phone but Hannie doesn't care :0)

Notice the piles of cubes all sorted by color, she then showed off her counting skills a million times while Erik sat there patiently encouraging her.  Gotta love that guy!

Friday, October 14, 2011

I Want to Know HIM More

   In all my home/school struggles this fall I have just felt off.  I haven't been able to put my finger on it... just off.  Finally talking to one of my best friends helped me see what was going on.  I was sharing with her my frustration and then this moment of watching the Duggar Family and Michelle saying something along the lines of how kids can learn anything the Lord puts on their hearts to learn.  That it's never too late.  But also their goal is to build wisdom first and add knowledge to that.  I watched and thought, "Hey! That's what we always said!" but that's not what we've been focusing on lately.  I have so many friends with kids in special classes or doing special activities or trips and it's almost like a homeschool peer pressure to keep up. However, I really know that as of now I don't feel the Lord leading us to use any outside classes for our kids.  So I've been rummaging through curriculums and schedules and discipline ideas all to find the answers to the challenges/pressures I feel while never being able to settle that feeling of being "off". As I was going on and on to this friend she stopped my rant and hit the nail on the head. She said, "Tami, maybe that's what God is trying to show you.  He never called you to this for academic reasons (not that that's not important) but for heart reasons.  For character.  Really when you get down to it, it doesn't matter which curriculum you use.  Any of them will do to teach diligence and self-control and obedience if that's where you FOCUS lies." I let out a huge breath and felt like suddenly I figured out my issue!  I think it was like a catch in my Spirit as I was trying to find answers in all the wrong places!  My goal is to know HIM more and for my children to love and know HIM more!  Yes, I want them to "know" math but not more than I want them to know Him!  If they could never add... well, can't say I'd be super comfortable with that BUT that is not my top goal!!  Somehow as we've hit this new season my focus got very caught up on acadmics and accomplishments and records and grades and and and.  I'm sure a lot of that has to do with high school being so close for Carter.  AND it's not bad to reevaluate or look for better fits but when you're looking without The're looking in vain.  I think we all know this but for me I needed a reminder.  So here's YOUR reminder from me!  What solutions are you looking for in life with your work, spouse or children?  Are you looking to programs or advice from other people and forgetting to look to The Creator??  I know sometimes it's hard to hear Him!  Sometimes it's hard to trust.  Sometimes you can hear and trust but lack confidence in YOUR decisions, constantly asking yourself if you're sure you heard right!  But seeking the Lord first is where the promise lies...

Matthew 6:33
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

So I will seek Him and I will trust Him to add unto us all that we need...

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Light Bulb Moment

   I was part of a very good webinar a week ago on positive parenting.  I've never done one of those but it was really cool!  Anyways, it's had my brain spinnin' and thinking since then on all different challenges and successes we've had in our home. While in the midst of analyzing some issues I suddenly had an "ah ha" moment.  It really didn't have a lot to do with what was taught it was just there. I was thinking about our inconsistency and trouble with scheduling.  We seems to always be trying a new one and never sticking to anything for long.  What I suddenly realized was I was giving WAY too much of the decision making to the kids!  I guess I thought if I asked their preference or ideas they'd be more on board with me.  What I've learned is asking their opinion just seems to make them think they have way more say than they do with how life flows! Actually I was giving them a ton of influence on my decisions and now I see their only real desire is to get out of work (human nature right!).  So their opinions weren't actually helping me accomplish my goal, they were hindering me!  Now I just need to figure out how I want things to go.  That's how I know they've had too much input... I'm not really sure how I want things to go!!  So I'll be thinking and praying on that!  All this power I never knew I had! LOL!  Actually I had it, I just didn't realize how much I was handing over!  It'll be interesting their reaction when I say, "This is how it's going to be... period."  I'm sure they'll just look at me strange like whhhaaattt?  Hee hee, that'll be fun ;0)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Five In A Row

   I said last week I'd do a quick post about this so here ya go.  We LOVE FIAR.  You can check it out here.  It basically takes great children's stories and you read them... five days in a row.  Hence the name.  Then each day you take a different subject and learn about it in context with the story.  So for example you'll read The Story About Ping and on the day you learn about geography it will give you all sorts of ideas of how to explore the Yangtze River in Asia.  It covers Geography, Social Studies, some math, Science, Art... on and on it goes but the great part is it's up to you to decide which subject you want to do which day and even within each subject there are several ideas.  My kids LOVED these and still have great memories of them.  They have Before Five In A Row for 2-4 year olds which we've done at times as well.  All the volumes are full of great books I may have never heard of without FIAR. Let's face it we all know young kids love the same story over and over again!  This is just adding purpose to it!  You add your own math and phonics/language to it and you're done.  They do have Beyond Five In A Row for ages 8-12 and I've looked into but for some reason never did it, I'm not sure why since we loved FIAR so much.  For me it feels like home.  Whenever schooling is going bad or I feel overwhelmed we pull out FIAR and breathe again.  You can use it as your whole curriculum or just bring it in when you feel like it as a unit study.  Looking through it this week I always marked the initials of the child I did it with and the date by each activity, I forget how little they were just a few years ago!  They have one volume for even older kids but that must not have been very popular because that's all they've had since way back when I started with Caleb.

  Like I said earlier, if you are thinking of homeschooling and are just starting, you're working with little ones before they start school or you want to continue learning while they're off for summer break, Five In A Row is a great tool.  It was the first thing recommended to me when I started homeschooling and I'm so glad it was.  They also have a holiday addition with books and ideas for holidays, a cookbook for recipes to go with various books and a Bible supplement to go with some (all?) volumes.  They have message boards online to help you and they'll ask you which volume you're "rowing" ;0)  Cute.

  There you have it... my glowing review of FIAR.  Check it out if you're looking for something that allows you to snuggle up with your kids and learn together.  We loved it and I think you will too.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


   Nugget is doing so great with our family.  We really really love her to pieces!  I think she's going to be my new exercise partner!  I've always wanted to walk in the winter but I never can get too motivated when it's so cold.  I'm thinking Nugget will be motivated regardless of the temp!  Maybe I'll have to get her doggie booties to keep her paws from freezing!  Oh no!  I'm turning into that person!!

Here's some pics from our recent trip to see friends in Lansing...

Happy Family :0)

Monday, October 10, 2011


  Twenty two years ago today Paul and I sat with our entire sophomore class in our high school gym taking state standardized tests all day.  It was so fun I still remember it to this day!  NOT!  I remember it because on 10/10/89 at 10:00 while we were suppose to be concentrating hard on testing I had Paul's class ring quietly passed to me by many classmates while they all smirked. We sat alphabetically and since we were H and R we were quite a ways apart. They all knew we'd been "seeing" each other for awhile and leave it to my man of few words and much confidence to just pass his ring and assume I'd take it...I did!  Afterwards we laughed and talked and realized it was 10/10!  Cool!  Little did we know we'd still be remembering that 22 years and 5 kids later!  I was 14 and he was 15!  Yikes!  How crazy is that!!  We actually had a bet going we wouldn't last for longer than 2 weeks!  At the time we both liked "the chase" but never really enjoyed settling down with one person as an official "couple".

  Obviously we lost the bet and 10 became our lucky number and we were married on July 10th many years later.  Now we seem to be just living life each year and all of a sudden we'll notice that date sneaking up on us and we will immediately just smile.  It's such a fun memory for us.  I never believed the "old" people in my life when they'd say, "It feels like it was only yesterday" but truly I can be back in that gym in a flash and remember it all... like it was yesterday!  In fact sometimes I remember it better than the REAL yesterday! LOL!!

 This year we decided we should go down and see our favorite NFL team play the Monday night game in Detroit!!  Then we saw tickets were $200 a seat and we decided to go see a movie and be home in time to watch the game at home!!  We're going to head out to see Courageous and I'm so excited!  I've heard it's great and we own and love all of the movies by Sherwood especially Facing the Giants. I'll give you my review later in the week.

  Maybe I'll go grab his class ring from the drawer before we go and wrap it in angora yarn!  Do you remember that??  Ahh, the strange things we did!  I wore that gigantic fuzzy ring on my finger while the cuffs of my jeans were wrapped nice and tight around my ankles and my bangs hair-sprayed high!  Paul had the classic 80's mullet with the top of his head spiked and the back a little long and Guess or Girbaud jeans (a must at our school).  Imagine we loved each other even like that!  Now that's true love!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Konos Update

   So we started Konos a few weeks back and I thought it was going to be great... strange issue has come up.  They are having so much fun I'm not sure how much they are retaining!  They get so squirrely and dork around so much I'm not sure what we're getting out of it.  They can answer the questions at the time but later, not so much.  I thought it was just us until I had a girlfriend say they had the same issue when they did Konos.  So here's the question, can you have too much fun while learning that you...don't learn??  Hmmmm, I'm not sure! I would have said, "No way!" when we started but now I'm not sure!  I have kids who remember drinking soda with a straw out of the bottle but forget it was learning about how humming birds can lap up nectar. They remember the hard work they've done but aren't remembering why!  Maybe it's my bad teaching or maybe it's just them....or both! We're going to finish where we are this week and I'm not sure what then!  Again I say, this is why we did Sonlight last year!  It just fit. I can't say I always loved it but it was always there waiting for me all planned out and ready. If it weren't so darn expensive, although I've now heard several people getting great deals on Ebay.  Considering what you get it's really not bad but that doesn't change things when you only have so much $ to spend!

   Anyways! Now while we figure out what we're going to do with Konos, I really  want to spend some time teaching to my littles.  I'm going to pull out our favorite Five in a Row!  We LOVE that curriculum!!  I did it with Carter and Caleb so now it's E and Hannah's turn!  I'll have to do a post on why we love Five in a Row!  I think somewhere I even have a Beyond Five in a Row for older kids but we never did it...actually forgot about it till I started writing! Hmm, I'll have to check that out too. Next week I'll share some about FIAR.  You'll be especially interested if you have kids 2-8 and are just starting to homeschool, thinking about homeschooling or just want to do something special at home with your littles before they are school age or even over the summer.

  Well, this is an odd post and is basically me thinking out loud!  Sorry!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Funny Lines of the Day

   I love recording some of the funny things the kids say on here. When I look back it cracks  me up.  Here's a few out of the mouths of my babes lately...

Addison-  She LOVES our new dog but pronounces dog with a long o, so it's dOggie. She goes up to her and smooshes her with love saying, "I love you dOggie!  You a good dOggie."

If she wants something and isn't getting it she says she's a baby, if we call her a baby she'll say, "NO! I Addie!"

Caleb will chase her and say, "I'm gonna get you!"  If she picks on him and he doesn't decide to chase her she'll ask, "You wanna get me??"

For days I thought she was asking for a Pull-up to wear but she wanted "pretty lips" which is her princess chapstick ;0)

Hannah-  Today while Paul and I were snuggling on a chair with me in his lap she runs up and jumps on top of us and says, "OH!  Love pile!"  She's such a girl!

Caleb- While out in the yard the other day with Nugget Caleb looks at me and says, "Mom, this is the most secure I've ever felt with a dog."  Almost made me cry!

Carter- He came up today claiming he made a new Bill of Rights for our home that said, "We the children of the Rodriguez home declare we shall have Mc Donald's for lunch and a free video game day!"  It was all signed by each of them.  We told him that sounded more like a page of demands than a Bill of Rights!

Elijah- "I like having school!  I was kind of bored all summer just playing all the time."  Now that's one to record to show him later!!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

I Quit!!!

   The last few days I have been defeated.  I can't keep up.  I'm not good enough and there is not enough of me to go around.  I know in a few days it will be better, a few more I may feel on top of the world but today... I quit!!  Wish I knew who to give my resignation to... but it appears no one cares and the only thing they say is, "What's for dinner?"  It's just one of those days (well, actually a string of about 3!) but it will pass...that's what I keep telling myself...this will pass.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Learning to Read

   Well, I'm on child number 4 here with learning to read and she's doing well.  She's super excited and probably my most motivated reader (I'm assuming that's part girl as much as anything else).  I'm using the book Reading Made Easy.  It's a lot like Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons but... more fun I think.  I used it with all my kids for a short while and then we tried other things as they got bored with it.  For Hannah I purchased the cd-rom of workbooks so I can print them out as we go and she loves it.  I love it because I only print what I want and they are exactly what she's learning and they don't require a ton of handwriting yet which is good because she's just beginning.  She ends every session feeling smart and proud.  That's how I want to end.  She's also caught on quickly that every lesson ends saying something along the lines of, "Great job!  Now it's my turn to read YOU a book.  Go pick one out."  If I try to skip that part...well she would never let that happen!  I just started reading her little chapter books on horses so she gets 1-2 chapters after we read.  The other thing I've used with her and Elijah were the Leap Frog Learning DVD's.  Those have really helped reinforce letter sounds and blending words.  Well worth the $10.  I can't believe I only have one more after this!  I have always kind of dreaded the time and energy it takes to teach reading and now I'm feeling a little sad that stage is almost over....well Addie won't start for a few years but you know what I mean!

Thursday, September 29, 2011


   I love Saturdays.  On Saturdays when Paul is home it's sleep in lazy day... my favorite!  On his work days we have a full long day of school but it's also the boys "gaming" day for video games so they're usually pretty quick! I just started some new meals for the fall and Saturdays lunch is popcorn, string cheese and apples with some cinnamon and (minimal) sugar on top.  Yummy!  It's simple, it's munchy and it feels like Saturday ;0)

We haven't done microwave popcorn in a looong time because we'd need two or more bags every time we eat it!  I make it the old fashioned way on the stove top and always serve it in this big bowl.  The bowl was my Grandma's and she always used it for popcorn.  It reminds me of her every time.  This Saturday just felt like it needed something sweet so on a very sudden impulse I threw together cupcakes while the kids played with Nugget outside for awhile.
These are the worlds simplest cupcakes/cake.  It's a "one bowl" recipe and then simple homemade Hershey's cocoa frosting.  They were fabulous!

One Bowl Chocolate Cake
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 cup hot water
1 cup canola oil
1 cup buttermilk (if you don't have any simply add a teaspoon of lemon or vinegar to your milk and let it sit for a few minutes)

Stir it all together and pour into a greased cake pan and bake for 35-38 minutes (18 or so for cupcakes)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Tea Time

   I like tea... love coffee, but like tea.  Sometimes I can drink coffee with no problems and other times not so much.  I'll get really jittery and it gives me heart palpitations :0(  So sad.  Anyways, I was thinking about why I like it so much the other day and part of it is truly the taste and the smell but I do really like to have a warm cup in my hands.  I also like to go get a refill whenever I want and with tea, even if the water's ready you have to wait a few minutes.  Being that I don't have an electric tea pot I have to wait for water too... UNTIL I had this duh brilliant thought... I can use my coffee pot to make tea!!  If you love tea your probably dying at the thought but it works.  I know it's not "proper" but I like it ;0)

This is my regular ol' coffee pot.  I'll fill it up to maybe 10 cups of water and add 4-5 tea bags in the basket where you would normally put your filter and grounds. I set mine on strong brew so it soaks a little longer.

This is our favorite kind of tea.  When I say "our" it's me and the kids.  They LOVE tea (I think mainly because they can add sugar but whatever!).  I like peppermint and chamomile too but if I make a pot full I make raspberry and the kids will grab some when they pass by too.  As a mom I rarely finish a nice warm cup. Suddenly I go back and it's cold.  This is perfect because I can just add in a bit to warm it up.  If we don't drink it all I just throw it in a pitcher in the fridge and wa la, "ice" tea!  I cleaned out the coffee pot so it doesn't make it taste like coffee (although I think a peppermint might be strong enough to make my future coffee minty so I'm not going to try that one).  Anyways, maybe you all know this already but I wish someone had told me long ago!  Consider yourself told!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Toddlers and Dogs

   Interesting combo I have to say.  I am thankful for a trained dog so I'm not as concerned with Addison smooshing the dog but I still don't want her to make the dog miserable.  Nugget was fully trained to work with an Autistic child before developing allergies in Georgia.  The second day here was so cute here because Addison had a couple toddler fits and the dog kept getting between us and bumping into me and acting so concerned.  I finally realized she wanted to "help".  I had Nugget lay down on her side next to Addie as she cried and put Addie beside her and let her pet Nugget as she settled down.  Interesting... it made them both settled and happy!  Nugget gets LOTS of love from all but Addison in particular seems to "need" her sometimes!  I watch closely as she gently "pets" Nugget's eyes and mouth???  and I redirect her to the dogs back!  Nugget is dealing with her very well and knows I'm watching and will sometimes look at me like, "Really??"  I will say having a gentle trained dog is turning me into a dog person slowly but surely.  Maybe it was just too much doing a puppy with babies and toddlers all around (ya think? duh!).  Anyways, here's Nugget and Addie relaxing last week.  Paul was talking with the boys and looked over and there they were.

Just chillin out!  Addie was sucking her fingers and playing with Nugget's fur while Nugget slept on like no big deal!  They stayed like this a good 10 minutes. I'm starting to love this dog!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Clean Windows

   Have you ever noticed little changes that brought you great joy??  A couple of days ago I taught my boys to tag team and clean the windows outside.  Elijah used a broom and brushed all the cobwebs away, Caleb took the screens in the driveway and scrubbed and rinsed while Carter got out the ladder and washed and squeegeed.  I did the insides as they did the outside.  Now with 5 children and homeschooling, I honestly can't remember the last time this has been recollection!  I do know it desperately NEEDED to be done and has been on my list all summer long.  Like all things, I took more time thinking about it, dreading it and putting it off than it took to actually DO the project!!  But what has surprised me is how it catches my eye in each room.  It's just clearer and brighter and my brain must notice the difference and pull me back because I'm not really thinking about it.  I'll walk in a room and do a double take and smile.  Amazing how something so simple can make me smile that many times!!

Fall, fresh air and clean windows ;o)  All things I am thankful for today!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Staff Development

  Yesterday I took a "staff development day".  A day suggested by a book I was reading to get school things back in order (or your house if need be).  It was just what I needed, although I could use several more to be truthful.  I met my cousin for coffee for a half hour before she had to be to work and then did my Bible study. After that I dove into planning and book lists and writing assignments.  I dropped things off at the Home School Building, checked out their store's used books, swung by a shop for a bagel and did some more planning.  After that I hit our library and searched for tons of books, placed some holds and wandered for a bit.  Finally home hours later I still feel like I could do a thousand more things but at least the next week or so is planned and the next couple of months I have an idea of where we're going!  I think I may have to purpose to do this once a month... I feel much better about where we're that I know where that is!!

Thursday, September 22, 2011


   This week we welcomed a new family member :0)   Meet Nugget!

She is a 2yo golden retriever who was fully trained with Paws With A Cause.  She was placed with a little boy in Georgia who had Autism but she then developed allergies.  Back in Michigan she's fine but they cannot guarantee she won't ever have issues so they will not place her again.  We have been on a waiting list for 2 1/2 years for a "change of career dog" and got the happy call last week. 

She's very sweet, excellently trained and ready to be loved.  She is housebroken and knows sit, down, settle, stay, come, drop (not so great when it's her favorite ball) and take (which is picking up anything you drop... which is pretty cool!).  We learned quickly that while super trained on a leash... don't expect the same compliance when free! Ha!  Live and learn. 

I'm not sure whose dog she is because everyone wants to claim her.  I am not a dog person and I think she knows because she keeps kissing up to me!  Moses our lovely cat of 13 years is NOT so sure what he thinks...well actually he is COMPLETELY sure he does not claim her!  Maybe someday...but I'm not holding my breath!!  Not sure what we're thinking stress level is over the moon with worry about messing up a good dog!  I thought a dog was suppose to calm you, maybe after a few days I'll calm down!  Right now the kids are learning you can't all call her or give her commands at the same time or else she just twirls in circles not knowing what to do!  That's the most stressful right the kids! Oh, and dealing with a poor two year old who I think feels like she just lost her place as baby!! Who knew I'd get a fully trained dog and have to train kids instead! LOL!  

Art Prize

   Anyone around West Michigan knows what Art Prize is!  If you don't, check it out here.  It's an awesome public art competition that has artists pieces displayed all over the city of Grand Rapids Michigan.  It's on the streets, in the buildings, ON the sides of buildings...everywhere!!!  I wasn't so sure what was going to be so great about it last year when we went until we got there!  It really is incredible.  We ended up going back 3 times and still didn't see it all!  The best part really is just taking it all in with no snobby "art experts" telling you what is and what isn't art, YOU decide!  The public votes for the winner, period. The other fun thing is often the artist is there and you can talk to him or her about their piece.  If you're anywhere around Grand Rapids from September 21-October 9 you really need to check it out!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Life Happens

   I swear for the last month my head is just spinning.  I have great plans but we are soooo busy.  We've been having a ton of fun camping and vacationing with friends, learning new things with school and hanging out with friends.  Carter is loving football and that's keeping us busy and then we added a new family member (more on that tomorrow)!  What I'm learning is life never slows down and there's so much to learn outside of books!  We are learning to support each other, love others, be thankful for unexpected opportunities and breathe deeply of the moment.... breathe deeply that's what I keep telling myself.  Sometimes I forget to breathe.  Sometimes I'm so worried about what's next or what I'm not getting done that I miss what's right in front of me.  Sometimes I worry about how to do something better, teaching something more, improving on what we're doing and again I realize I am missing the joy of the moment.  I'm learning... life happens.  Really we are not in control here friends.  I swear the Lord is just reinforcing that daily for me!  So everyday I'm trying to remember why I'm here, who I'm living for and the ultimate purpose of my goals.  My purpose? To please my Lord Jesus Christ, to raise children who know Him as Savior and friend and who have an idea on how to handle the challenges of life with Him and not alone.  Life happens but HE is in control and today I'm gonna breathe in life deeply.  Care to join me?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


   I mentioned back on 9/12 we were heading out to the Healing Field.  I thought I'd share a few pics.

When we arrived, this is what we saw...

They then told us how much thought had gone into this field.  It was two sections with a large row up the middle to represent the Twin Towers.  From the bottom it was victims from the WTC and then the flights and at the top 200+ unnamed victims they are STILL trying to identify (which I didn't know was still happening). Also when at the top it is close to the height of where the planes hit the towers.  Each flag had a card with info of a victim and a red ribbon for NYFD and blue for NYPD.

There were signs as you walked up with staggering facts like these.  Another one I didn't take a picture of said there were victims from 48 countries.  Again, another fact I didn't know.

Most people recognize this name..."Let's Roll"

The youngest victim :0(  Hard to think of with my two year old strapped safely on my back as I read the card.

Taking it all in from the top.

   It was a really neat experience.  I think it helped our kids see why this was a big deal.  I told them to think of each flag as a hole in someones life.  Someone missing for no good reason.  Someone missed everyday.  When you thought of it that way it was a very sobering view.  We saw some old friends there and had a few of those "post 9/11" interactions with people.  One older lady came up to us while we were sitting at the top and said she had come alone and didn't expect to react the way she did... she really needed a hug, even it was from a stranger.  So I gave her a hug :0)  You just connected to everyone there.  Another lady came up to me at the bottom and said she couldn't resist taking a picture of our family from the back as we walked down the hill.  She showed me the pictures and asked if she could email them to me.  When I get them I'll show you all. All in all it was well worth a shorter day of school to take it all in.  Hannah even got a chance to put her hand-print on a banner for "Hands Across America".  As we were leaving there was a place you could purchase a flag (I think they were $75) and all the money was being sent to NYFD.  Pretty cool idea.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Cottage

   We had a chance to go to a cottage with Paul's brother this summer and we had a ball!  The first thing you may ask is, "How do you pack for a large family??"  The answer...


We all fished, swam, hung out on the boat and jet ski, tubed and ate way too much!  Carter's highlight??

The water snake he bravely caught as all of the grown men freaked and ran away!!

The low of the trip was when Nana visited and slipped and fell and broke her ankle!  Poor Nana.  She said she wasn't "going to let a little thing like that ruin her day"!! While she was there she loved seeing her boys and their families all together. How's that for an awesome attitude!!  

The little girls did pretty good too!  Miss Addison and Miss Sophia kept us on our toes but really did a great job!  Hope we get to do it again next year... Lord willing, without any injuries!!
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