Wednesday, December 26

Making Christmas cookies with Daddy

Sometimes my husband truly amazes me. Just when I am about to collapse for the day, he steps in and give me a much needed break.
I have to step back and tell myself what a good husband and father he is. Not that I don't think he is at other times, but you know what I mean. Exceptionally good. This particular night after dinner, I notices him puttering around in the kitchen. I asked him what he was doing, and he said that he wanted to make cookies with the kids. I said okay, just make sure you guys clean up your mess. So, with the help of my 4 wonderful men, I had nice warm cookies at 8 p.m. I love watching my boys with their dad. It's so fun to watch them bond.

How Old?

Although my birthday this year was a bit hard to swallow, it was wonderful to have my family around me for support and encouragement. The night before was really hard, as I really didn't feel like I wanted to turn the age that I am, but my mom (my rock), was there for encouragement. I don't know what I would do without her. Even though we don't see eye to eye on a lot of things, she is the most special woman in the world to me. I treasure her, as someday I hope my children treasure me.


"Sisters, Sisters... there were never such devoted sisters" -- White Christmas.

This is definitely a true statement, when it comes to my sisters. Even though there are times, when we are not at our best, our best thoughts are always with each other. There is a bond between sisters, and mothers, and grandmothers, that is important to remember. We are all mothers. All the same, all wanting the same things for our children. All wanting the best that money can't buy. This is something that never changes throughout a mother's life. You are always a mother, no matter how old, and you always cherish your children most.

This year I bought each of us a Mom bracelet. My Grandma, My Mom, My Sisters, and I. I didn't get to explain why I did this, and hopefully they are reading this, so they can know why. It's a reminder of our womanly bond. Motherhood. It's important, it's special, it's everlasting. It's a reminder of the the love we share for each other, all the same. Even with our different personalities, and our different outlooks on life, we love each other. We are Moms!


Skaterboy's girl cousins wanted him to dance at my aunt's wedding, so they carried him to the dance floor. He protested, but secretly I am sure he enjoyed the attention. I mean, what 14 year old boy wouldn't enjoy being carried by two cute girls anywhere, even if they are your cousin?

I am a God Grandma!!!

I am proud to announce, that I am a God Grandma. My Godson is a father. Can you believe that I once held this handsome man, in my arms, and kissed his sweet little blond head? I can still remember at my wedding, when he was just a little boy, walking down the isle, as our ring bearer, ever so slowly. He walked so slow, and was so cute, all eyes were on him. It was the cutest thing I had ever seen. That memory is imprinted on my heart forever. And now, he has a son, who looks just like him, when he was a baby. What could be better than that? I am definitely a proud Godgrandma!!!

How old do you think we are?

This year, one of my oldest and dearest friends, who I might add, is two days OLDER than I, celebrated a milestone birthday. As you can easily figure out, so did I. I am not telling how old we are. Can you guess? Luckily, for us both, we don't look our age, and one of us is a grandmother. Can you guess who?

Aunt Carda

We had such a wonderful time at my aunt's wedding. Skaterboy and her have such a special relationship. She babysat him when he was a baby for quite some time. She means the world to me, and would not have missed her wedding for the world. Something very ironic. She was married on my birthday, and I was married on hers. Isn't that funny?

The Perfect Tree

It is a Bailey family tradition to have the children pick out the tree of their choice at the local tree farm and cut it down. This is generally an enjoyable tradition, and therefore we have continued doing it. However, this year, after the experience we had with this particular tree, we may plan differently next year. You see, this beautiful 7 footer in the above photo is the "perfect tree" that the children so enthusiastically chose this year. Looks beautiful, doesn't it? But, as most things are, beautiful on the outside, and not so beautiful on the inside, as was this tree.

You see, we let Skaterboy cut the tree down this year, and he did the most wonderful job, cutting the tree down, you would have thought he had done this before.
We put it on the truck, had it shaken out, paid for, and drove the mile or so, home. Once home, Scott and Skaterboy carefully carried the tree inside. It was picture perfect. We placed it in the stand, screwed all the bolts real tight, and low and behold, the tree nearly fell over. Scott caught it before it hit the ground.
We never thought to look at the trunk of the tree before we cut it. It was "crooked like a question mark" as Forrest Gump would say. Twisted all the way up.
So, after cutting 2 feet off the base of the tree, it stood, like it should. Scott said it was the biggest PITA. But it's there as a reminder of our perfections, as human beings, that something that looks sweet, isn't always sweet, but quite often bitter.

The Polar Express

After decorating our tree, we all sat down to watch The Polar Express. This is a yearly tradition at our house. The boys get their pillows and blankets, and we have hot chocolate (of course), and fall in love all over again, with this film.
Before this movie was ever made, I acquired the book, while working at the grade school. I love the book, and truly feel that the movie does the book justice. My favorite line in this book/movie is: "The most real things in life, are those that you can't see..." Isn't that true?
I also have "the bell", that we add to our tree every year, before watching this movie.

Green Christmas

Yes, it is sad but true. We did indeed have a green Christmas this year. The weather in central Illinois has never been consistent, therefore I am not surprised, but just disappointed. It just didn't seem like Christmas, with 50 degree temperatures, and a green front lawn. I was hopeful that it would be white, as only a week ago, we did have a compilation of 5+ inches.

So we had Christmas, and it was nice. The kids proclaimed that they got everything they wished for. And so we succeeded in bring joy into the faces of our children. Since they only receive 3 presents each, from Scott and I, they are asked to list only 3 items they wish for, hence the satisfaction.

Everything was just lovely, that I received as well. Scott did great this year. I have such an insightful husband, he listens very well over the year, and knows what my tastes are quite well. This year I received the Mother and Son, Willow Tree collectible, that I have been wanting. It is of a mother and a teenage son. I already have the mother and baby, and the mother holding two small children. Although there are other Willow Trees I would personally love to have, I feel that at least, my children's collection is complete. I also received from him, a craft light, for my scrap booking desk. It projects the light in just the right way, to portray colors perfectly. I have wanted one for quite some time. The light in the family room, is quite dim anyway, and so this was a much needed gift as well. And lastly (my 3rd gift), he bought me the cutest snowman cookie jar, from the Cracker Barrel store. I just love snowmen, and would love to find a way to incorporate them into my home decor all year. I haven't figured out how to do this yet, so any suggestions would be appreciated.

With all this Christmas hub bub, add moving my dh's mom, brother, and son, into an apartment across town. Yes, we have had house guests for 15 days now. Surprisingly, I have kept my cool, and have not run away from home yet. Close.... but not. Someone once told me, that house guests are like a dead rat, after about 3 days, they both start to smell. This I know to be true, in more ways than one. You see, I can put up with my MIL's cackling laugh, and her annoying habit of continually doing my laundry, on the wrong wash cycles. Or her brothers annoying habit of nosing into conversations, and incessant chatter. But, worst of all, is their disgusting hygiene. My MIL doesn't make my dh's brother, or her brother shower on a regular basis. She also doesn't enforce them to wear deodorant. I don't know if she thinks that because they mentally are about 7 years old a piece, that she should treat them as such, but they stink. Really bad, and they make my house stink. We have deodorant here for them, but it is a fight to get them to wear it. They are like 7 year olds with attitude. It's such a dilemma, because we have 3 children of our own, and making sure they keep up their hygiene is our main concern, add 2 more, and running a household with 8 people in it, can drive you nuts. I am grinning and bearing it, and hopefully Scott will have their beds together tonight, so they can stay at their apartment by Friday. That is my goal. Then it's fumigation time.

I am trying not to over consume myself with all of this, as my MIL means well, and has an extremely giving heart. While moving, she has given us her refrigerator, so now we have 2. Her stove, which is much nicer than our stove, her outdoor table and chairs, her outdoor glider swing, her water softener, as we don't have one, and a brand new huge generator. Plus, numerous other items, I haven't listed. I am very grateful to her for these things, and it will be nice to have them just across town.

In our Christmas letter I sent out this year, I stated that we had a rough 2007. This is true. We not only lost my FIL in May, but his aunt in November, and 2 dogs. I am requesting that 2008 be better. It can't get much worse, that's for sure.

One thing I am pleased about, is that I finally figured out how to put pictures into my blog, so that they are no longer at the bottom.

That's all for now, and if I don't get back to this before next Tuesday. Happy New Year!

Friday, December 14

The Week's Not Over Yet...

I must admit that this week through me for a loop. Next week is no better I'm afraid. A whirlwind of activities, and events are creeping up, and all that with last minute shopping still to be done.

Yesterday, I hosted the homeschool co-op here, at our home. We had 13 children show up, and 5 adults. The theme was Advent. The children watched a short video on Advent, and then proceeded to make their own advent wreath out of card stock. They turned out very cute, and it appeared that everyone had a great time.

After the kids were done creating their advent wreath, they slowly trickled outside to our back yard to light saber. Yes, girls are in the minority in our homeschool group. Hence, the lightsabering. Luckily, the boys found enough lightsabers for each boy to have one. This is our 2nd generation of Star Wars toys, as my husband was first, then Skaterboy, Truthseeker, and Thumbody. They do get quite rambunctious, so I prefer they do their lightsabering outside.

Tonight I am hosting our homeschool co-op's Mom's Night Out. Mom's come and meet in our family room, and we scrapbook, craft, crochet, whatever... and do plenty of talking. This group has come to mean so much to me, as we all share something very important to us, and that is homeschooling our most precious gifts from God. When you are home all day, it is so nice to get away for awhile, even if it is only to my own family room. I am blessed with a wonderful DH who watches our 3 so I can have this time for myself.

My MIL, her brother, and my DH's brother are coming tonight, and staying until tomorrow. My DH is taking her to see her new apartment, that they will be moving into next month. With Scott's dad gone, it was so much easier for her to get rid of her house, and all the responsibility that came with it, and move down by us. It will be nice to have them so close.

Tomorrow night, Skaterboy is having his birthday slumber party. I can't believe he will be 15 on Sunday. Am I really that old? He invited 3 friends to spend the night, and hopefully I won't regret the outcome.

Sunday is Skaterboy's official birthday, and we will be celebrating as a family on that day.

Tuesday we have friends coming over for our Annual Christmas Party.

Wednesday is Scott's Work Christmas Party, and that will be eventful I am sure.

Thursday is our annual 4-H Christmas Party.

Does it ever end.....

I actually am looking forward to the upcoming events scheduled. When it's all said and done, I will sit back quietly and say to myself, Whew..... 12 more months 'til we do it all again.

Tuesday, December 11


Two weeks ago we were blessed to participate in our 4-H clubs tree decorating project that they do each year at the nursing home here in town. The kids decorated 4 trees for the residents, and then were provided a nice snack of hot chocolate and cookies, by them, as thanks.
This was not a fun experience for me. This was a very bad day indeed. Thumbody had not had a nap, and therefore was running around wildly, and I was truly embarrassed. I took him out to the van 3 times for a talk. I was so thankful when it was all over, and I could go home and relax. By the time we got home Thumbody was asleep. Go figure...


Michelle is definitely my soul sister, and I think everyone should have a person like her in their life. We can talk about anything, whether it's kids, husbands, gardening, finances, redecorating, etc... we probably have discussed it, at some time or another. For nearly 9 years I have been blessed by our friendship. I am so lucky to have someone like her in my life. MERRY CHRISTMAS MICHELLE!


The kids had so much fun playing outside last Friday, after our first snowfall of the year. A neighbor boy who is also homeschooled came over to play outside with our boys. As you can see, there isn't very much snow. It was so nice for me though, I could set up for our next lesson, and relax with a nice cup of tea before they came in.


Nothing is better than a nice cup of hot chocolate after an hour of playing in the snow. Our first snow fall came with little warning last Friday morning. The kids awoke to the ground blanketed in a thin layer of snow.

As part of our December curriculum, the boys made yule logs from the left over trunk of our Christmas tree. They decorated them for the most part by themselves. Truthseeker needed a little help with the glue gun. I think they turned out just beautiful. They each have their yule log in their bedrooms, making their rooms smell nice and piney.

Sunday, December 9

Small Blessings

This morning we woke up to a blanket of ice covering everything, including our vehicles. We were debating whether or not to go to church, but we had a delivery to make there this morning, and we needed to find out whether the Christmas parade was still going on or not, so we decided to go. We took the truck, incase we needed 4wd, and the roads weren't nearly as bad as I had anticipated that they would be.

At church, we found out that the parade has been reschedules for Thurs. night at 7 p.m. So we will be braving the cold weather that evening, I believe. The kids really want to see Santa. He was supposed to be at the Oasis right after the parade today, but we will have to find out if he will be making his appearance on Thurs. night.

We came home, had lunch, and put the little one's down for a nap. It was quiet and enjoyable. I went into our family room, and started rearranging my scrapbook area, and did some cleaning for my busy week I have this coming week. If I get everything done this week, it will be a miracle. I just love this time of year. This Christmas especially. I am starting to really enjoy homeschooling, and am learning how much fun I can make our day, and instill in my children's minds the true meaning of this blessed holiday.

Truthseeker woke up just as I was finishing the family room. He was very disappointed because Skaterboy had gone down the hill with a neighbor friend to go sledding. We have great sledding hills here. Scott and I made the decision that Truthseeker is too young to sled without adult supervision, thus the disappointment. So I changed the subject quickly, and offered to play a game with him. Of course, he chose his favorite board game, Pay Day. I put on some Christmas music, and by the light of the fire, we enjoyed about 6 rounds of Pay Day. He was very pleased that he beat me, again. I felt truly blessed that I had an afternoon to spend alone with my 6 year old. Scott was in the LR watching the Patriots game. Truthseeker and I played and talked, and just had a nice time together. So in effect, the ice was a small blessing after all. I just pray Scott makes it to work tomorrow without going in the ditch. In the past two years, he and I have gone in the ditch 3 times, each time doing lots of damage to our vehicles.
This year will be different though, I can feel it.

Last week, the kids and I constructed an advent wreath, for the first time ever. We have one at church of course, but I never really incorporated it into my curricullum before. The wreath turned out beautiful, and we all have enjoyed taking turns lighting and blowing out the candle, for the first week of advent. Tonight, of course we start week 2. This is truly a tradition that we will carry with us every year from now on.

Last Friday the kids made their yule logs for their bedrooms; another new tradition. Our 7 foot tree we cut down at the tree farm last week, soon became a 5 footer, when we realized how crooked the trunk was. All in all, it's a beautiful tree, and we had enough trunk to make 3 beautiful yule logs.

I have been getting up with Scott lately in the mornings. It's nice to chat with him alone, before he goes to work. We can discuss the day ahead, and plan our week. After he leaves in the morning, I pray, and do my devotionals. It's so peaceful, and beautiful with the Christmas tree lights twinkling in the background.

A few weeks ago at our small group meeting at church, I mentioned that I was struggling with my alone time with God. There just didn't seem to be enough time. At least that was what I was trying to express, if someone didn't understand it that way. After we returned home from Missouri, after Thanksgiving, I started waking up when Scott did in the morning. Believe me, 4:30 is early, but I have adjusted somehow. I feel like God has revealed to me that I need to schedule time with him, not just go to him hap-hazardly. So I have been faithful lately. I am really enjoying our date together each morning. He is revealing things to me through his word, that I haven't seen in this light before. I feel truly blessed. A Christmas gift from God this year. What could be better?

We are trying to keep things simple this Christmas, and trying to get by with less stuff, and more giving to others in need. I need to keep this locked in my brain on Tuesday, when we do our Christmas Shopping for the kids.

Skaterboy turns 15 one week from today. I can't believe it. I can still remember the moments after his birth. The time passes so quickly. I pray that I get to experience the feeling of having another baby grow inside me, and to hold that little bundle, and watch him/her grow. In God's time....not mine.

Blessings, Amy

Saturday, October 27

Our Senses

Do you ever smell something, and it sends your mind back to a certain place, or person, or event? I do. Yesterday, as I was contemplating what to blog. I was thinking of a blog a friend of mine had typed, that asked the question: Do you have any simple pleasures? I thought about that for a minute, and of course I do have simple pleasures. One of my favorite simple pleasures is standing in the shower, letting the hot water pour over me, and there are no children to interrupt, no noise at all, just the sound of the shower hitting the tile. I think a lot in the shower. Do you? I think about all sorts of things. I think sometimes it is when my mind is the most focused, and clear. So while in the shower yesterday, I was thinking about the smell of the soap in my shower. Irish Spring. The scent made me think of other soaps that bring back memories. Like Caress, for instance. My Granny always used Caress soap, and her bathroom always smelled of Caress. Even as a very little child I can remember Granny's soap. That made me think of her ice tea. No one's tea ever tasted as good as my Granny's did. She never made sweet tea, it was Nestea. But whatever it was, it tasted wonderful. Maybe it was the water in Ada, Oklahoma that made it taste so good, but even today, when I buy Nestea, it never tastes the same. I also remember the smell of her house. It always smelled of soup. Really good soup. I can smell it even now, in my head, but there again, my soup never smells so good. This made me think of my Aunt Carla, and her bathroom. Why this is distinct to me, I don't know. Her bathroom always smelled of Lifebuoy soup and comet. At least that's what I think it smelled like. Maybe it was something else, but I remember the scent, like I am back there on Gruber St, in Antigo, Wisconsin. I only remember her bathroom on Gruber St, smelling that way. None of her other bathrooms smelled the same. Maybe I remember this particular bathroom so well, because I was a small child when she lived there, and I must have taken a lot of baths at her house. We did live there for awhile after our house burned down on 10th Ave. I remember her ceramic fish and bubbles hanging on the wall, and the flower decals on the tub, I think they were orange. Strange isn't it, the memories you carry with you? I was trying to remember a scent that reminded me of my other grandma, and the only thing I can vividly come up with that always makes me think of her is, salt water running from a fountain, in a shopping mall. This is a unique smell, and since none of the shopping malls around here have fountains, it's maybe a scent that I will never smell again, unless I go back to Las Vegas, to the shopping mall. If they still have the fountains, that is. Do you ever get a whiff of something that reminds you of school? Every once in a while when I was working at the grade school, I would get that whiff of nostalgia, that would bring me back to the 7th or 8th grade at Spring Valley School, near Antigo. To this day, I don't even know what town my little school was in. There were so many little towns out in the country, where I used to live, and we all attended this little country school. There were 4 of them in our little district. There was River Grove, Pleasant View, Crestwood, and Spring Valley. They were spread out all over the countryside, each in their little corner. We all attended the same high school in Antigo, but at that time, they all went to 8th grade. I remember the smell of our school being a combination of books and cafeteria food. Of course back then we had real lunch ladies who spent all morning cooking nutritious meals that were homemade. Now days it's all frozen pizza, chicken nuggets, and other processed foods. Another scent that sends me back to those good old days at Spring Valley is the cool smell of the mimeograph machine. We didn't have copiers back then. They were all done on the mimeograph machine. I can remember the teachers passing out the papers, and almost everyone smelling the page, because it smelt good. Another smell that sends me back there is the smell of valve oil that went in my trumpet. For some reason I love the smell of valve oil. Even today, the scent will sent me back. I guess I am just a very scentsitive person. I know when I purchase something, soap mostly, I am very particular on the scent. Like Noxzema, for instance. I love Noxzema. I have tried many different soaps from Mary Kay to Clinique, and I always go back to Noxzema, because of the smell. Same thing with body oil. I love the coconut scent of Hawaiian Tropic oil. Although I haven't tanned in years, you will always find a bottle or two of Hawaiian Tropic oil in my bathroom cupboard. I feel the same way about shampoo. I am very particular. My favorite scent is the coconut smell of Paul Mitchell's Awapuhi Shampoo. I usually buy it by the gallon, that way I have it for a very long time. My favorite conditioner is Nexus Humectress. Again, it's the distinct scent I crave. My obsession with scent goes all the way to cleaning products. I am obsessed with Pine sol. If my whole house could smell of Pine sol, I would be one happy women indeed. And the combination of Tide and Downy. There is no scent like that combination. I love it. Now, I will confess that I don't buy those brands of detergent unless I have a really good coupon. I usually buy Purex, because it's more economical. But the scent of Tide and Downy are indeed my favorite. I challenge you to think about the many scents in your life, and let your mind wander to another place and time. I'd love to hear about some. I wonder if my family members have some of the same memories that I do about scents.

Friday, October 26

Highly Recommended

I must admit, when thinking about what I was going to blog about this morning, this topic did not come to mind. I will blog about what I was thinking about blogging about tomorrow. Does that make sense? Well, teaching the kids this morning went like most days do, and we got through it. Skaterboy is becoming a wonderful writer. He writes with such expression and is quite funny. I know he loves his writings, because he shows such amusement in his face when he reads his story to all of us. We are usually busting a gut afterward. This is such a wonderful accomplishment because just last spring I had emailed Karen Andreola for her insight regarding Skaterboy's narrations. They were very sketchy, and a few sentences at best. There was nothing creative about it. Skaterboy had explained to me, that they were never asked to do this sort of work in public school. They basically read books, and answered generic questions about the book to get a grade. Overall, no retention of the book or feelings were important to the teacher. A simple basic knowledge was all you needed to get a good grade. Now, I am not school bashing, but, and this is sad but true, Skaterboy's writing was abysmal. His penmanship was terrible. Now, I am all for modern technology, and the computer has become a popular spot in our home, but I think it is pathetic, that all written work at his old school, was to be turned in typed on a computer, notepad or power point. My son had not written hardly anything in the 2+ years he attended there. My son could tell me how many AR books he had read in the previous year, but couldn't even remember the names of most of them, or what was special about them. So when I brought him home, this is something that I hoped and prayed would develop over time. I wasn't positive that it would, but I hoped. Anyway, back to Karen Andreola. My friend Wendy had emailed me that she was currently reading Karen Andreola's, A Charlotte Mason Companion, and highly recommended it. So I bought the book, and read it cover to cover. Which I might add, I highly recommend any homeschool parent to read this book also. Even if you are using another program, this book will change your entire outlook on homeschooling. She gives wonderful advise on almost any topic. I especially love her nature notebook section. I am also using her ideas for beginning reading with my kindergartner, as well. So, at the end of the book, it stated that if anyone had any questions, that they should email her. So I did. I told her all about Skaterboy, and my frustrations. Well, she emailed me back the next day, from her kitchen, no less, and gave me some great advice on how to get him writing again. She said she had had the same problem with her son, and so she decided to write a book called Story Starters, to help him progress in his writing. So, I bought the book, and we have been using it ever since. What the book does is, it puts forth a story, from a living book. If you are familiar with Charlotte Mason's work, you will know what a living book is. However, the story stops in the middle. It is the student's job to figure out what happens next. In the beginning lessons, she will give ideas to the student, and offer the student suggestions on which way the story could turn. Ultimately, it is up to the student to figure out how they want the story to end. As the lessons progress, less of the story is provided for the student, and it is up to the student to write more of the story, with less suggestions given. It is a wonderful book. I highly recommend it. It can be used for any child from 3rd through 12th grade. Of course for the younger child, verbal narration is expected, not written. It can be used over and over again, year after year, as the child progresses. I am a big advocate of Charlotte Mason's teachings. I purchased her set of books last summer, and I must admit, although they are in written in the old style of English writing, they are very good. Since the writing is as such, it does take longer to read. I would advise anyone who is interested in Charlotte Mason to read The Charlotte Mason Companion first, or For the Children's Sake by Susan Schaeffer McCaulley. I have not read For The Children's Sake yet, but I do own For The Family's Sake by her, and she does make quite a bit of reference to Charlotte Mason in there as well. It is also a wonderful companion book. There are others as, I have not mentioned, as well. Ambleside online, does have a website, and if you do a search on Ambleside or Charlotte Mason, it will come up. There is lots of helpful info on her there, and also teaching ideas as well.

The Canterville Ghost - This short story by Oscar Wilde was listed under our free movies On Demand. Today we watched this adaptation, and the children loved it. Skaterboy especially. He said it was probably one of the best movies he has ever seen. That's saying a lot for an 8th grader. So, if you don't have On Demand, your local library surely has this film. It is sure to enrich your soul. I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, October 24

Poetry, Math, and Food

I came across this poem last week, as I was weeding through the many Homeschool Today magazines that I have accumulated over the past 2 years, and it really hit home. This is the reason why we homeschool. I thought I would share it with you.

The Man to be
By Edgar A. Guest

Some day the world will need a man of courage in a time of doubt.
And somewhere, as a little boy, that future hero plays about.
Within some humble home, no doubt, that instrument of greater things
Now climbs upon his father's knee or to his mother's garments clings
And when shall come that call for him to render service that is fine.
He that shall do God's mission here may be your little boy or mine.

Long years of preparation mark the pathway for the splendid souls.
And generations live and die and seem no nearer to their goals.
And yet the purpose of it all, the fleeting pleasure and the woe.
The laughter and the grief of life that all who come to earth must know
May be to pave the way for one - one man to serve the Will Divine
And it is possible that he may be your little boy or mine.

Some day the world will need a man! I stand beside his cot at night
And wonder if I'm teaching him, as best I can, to know the right.
I am the father of a boy - his life is mine to make or mar -
For he no better can become than what my daily teachings are.
There will be need for someone great - I dare not falter from the line -
The man that is to serve the world may be that little boy of mine.

Perhaps your boy or mine may not ascend the lofty heights of fame;
The orders for their births are hid. We know not why to earth they came;
Yet in some little bed tonight the great man of tomorrow sleeps
And only He who sent him here, the secret of His purpose keeps.
As fathers then our care is this-to keep in mind the Great Design-
The man the world shall need some day may be your little boy or mine.

There is a lot of wisdom to be taken from this poem, and as I typed it through just know I felt the energy I needed to complete another day of teaching, just as I felt the first time I read it a week ago. Don't you feel it? Purpose. That is what I am sure it is. It keeps us on track when we feel like quitting, or throwing in the towel. When we feel insecure, or feel we are a failure. We can do it. It is by a Higher Purpose; We are teachers of the most important people in our lives. Not other people's kids, but our kids. I believe there is no other vocation as rewarding as this.


How do we make it work? What do we use? A fellow homeschooling friend asked me this some time ago, and I feel I didn't give her the information I could have at the time because of distractions. We were embellishing parasols.

With Skaterboy, who is easily distracted, we found that Saxon math works the best. First of all, this is the text he was using at the public school he attended. Secondly, because we got it on loan from another homeschooling family. We have a great community of friends in our homeschool group, and we swap books as much as we can to save money. This is a great asset.

Saxon breaks math down into simple terms. Last year Skaterboy used Saxon 87. This year he is using Saxon Algebra 1/2. Skaterboy has much difficulty taking a long math assignment to his room and completing it on his own. So this is what I do. When both little boys are down for a nap, Skaterboy does his math. He needs my complete attention during this time. One thing that confuses him, and it used to bother me as a child, is not having enough room to do the work on the paper. To solve this problem, we purchased a large dry erase board. (Wal-mart, $15.) and various colors of dry erase markers. I sit in a chair with the textbook, and read him the lesson, as he figures on the dry erase board the problems. After each lesson, there are review questions. The questions not only cover what you have just learned, but the last few lessons as well. Even numbered lessons, he does the even numbers; odd numbered lessons, he does the odds. I verbally give him each problem, and he figures the problem himself, on the dry erase board. I tell him if his work is correct or not, and he refigures it until it is correct. I have him do math every day. At his old school, they only did math on Tues. and Thurs. With math, I feel that repetition is the key, and he doesn't seem to mind since he gets to use the dry erase board.

I also use the dry erase board for Truthseeker. We are using the A beka kindergarten course Skaterboy used when he was in kindergarten at Calvary Baptist Academy. I saved every paper and book he had. Then I purchased the teacher's manual and curriculum guide online. The only difference between the books Skaterboy used and the new teacher's manual is that A beka is currently teaching cursive writing in kindergarten. Skaterboy's books reflect standard printing. All the other books are exactly the same. I prefer that Truthseeker print before he learns cursive anyway, so this is fine. Some of the teacher's materials I am missing, so I use the dry erase board to draw the pictures and sentences that I don't have available to me.

To make the papers Skaterboy already completed, look like new, I scanned them into my computer program, and erased the lines. Then I print out a brand new sheet. I don't think I am supposed to do this, but since it's for personal use only, I figure I am within my rights. I purchased the complete package already when Skaterboy was in kindergarten.


Most nights when I cook dinner, I don't use a recipe. I do get ideas however, from cooking shows like Rachael Ray, Ina, and Robin Miller. They are my favorite cooking celebrities. Occasionally I will watch Paula Dean, but I don't usually make her recipes. She did have a great one I tried a few weeks ago, that was really good though.

A few nights ago, I think it was Saturday, I was watching "Ina" (The Barefoot Contessa), and she was making pork tenderloins in apple cider. This looked really good to me, and we had about 1 cup of apple cider left in the bottom of the jug, last night. So I breaded the pork tenderloin in seasoned breadcrumbs, put them in my Pyrex casserole, and poured the rest of the apple cider over the top. Baked at 350 for 1 hour. They were fabulous. They coating was so unique and good.

I am always making Rachel Ray dishes, it seems. There has been an occasion or two, that I had no clue what I was making for dinner, and then 30 Min. Meals comes on at 5 p.m. and I have dinner on the table at 6. If she is cooking something, and I have the ingredients on hand, that is usually what we are having for dinner. I have Food Network, listed as a favorite, so I pull up the episode, print out the recipe, and it's done. Sometimes when I don't have a certain ingredient, I improvise. Everything has always turned out yummy.

I am printing Robin Miller's dish I made a few weeks back for you here. It is awesome.
My husband loves hot wings. I on the other hand find them greasy, and usually end up with stomach pains after I have eaten them.

Here is Robin Miller's Healthy Hot Wings. You will love them. They are so easy to prepare. And the fries, OMGosh, this is the only way I make fries now.

Cooking Spray
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. black pepper
6 boneless chicken breasts ( I use chicken tenderloins, I buy at Aldi. 3/4 bag feeds a family of 5, so if you have a larger family, the whole bag should do it. At $5.99 a bag, who can beat that?)
2 tbsp hot chili oil ( I use hot chili olive oil, Kroger sells it under is Special Selections label.)

2 large sweet potatoes
3 large baking potatoes
(I mix the sweet potatoes and the white potatoes, for the color effect, and my dh doesn't like sweet potatoes, so it satisfies us all.)

Dip: Optional
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
4 stalks celery

Preheat oven to 400F. Coat 2 large baking sheets with cooking spray.
In a small bowl, combine salt, chili powder and black pepper.

Pat chicken dry with paper towel. Brush chicken all over with chili oil. Sprinkle salt mixture all over chicken and transfer chicken to prepared baking sheet. Roast 25 minutes, until cooked through.

Peal sweet potatoes (I leave skin on the white potatoes) and cut all into steak fries. Arrange on separate baking sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Spray fries with cooking spray, and season with salt and pepper. Roast 25 to 30 minutes, until tender.

I just put both in the oven at the same time, and about 30 minutes later, everything was done.

For the dip:
Combine blue cheese and sour cream. Cut celery into strips to dip.
May use as dip for chicken as well. We feel it didn't need the dip.

Have a Great Day!

Wednesday, October 17

Update and Other Stuff

I wanted to update everyone on what's been going on this week. Sorry I haven't been on much lately. Here is an email I sent to my friend Darlene. It pretty much explains what's been going on here.

Hi Darlene,

Thank you so much for the helpful advice. I e-mailed Skaterboy's principal Monday night that he would no longer be attending WLB. I received a reply back Tuesday morning that said that he would mark Skaterboy's last day as of Monday, and that he wished us great success in Matt's education. That was it. So I think we are okay. HSLDA is a great help, and I am so glad they are there for us.

I just don't know what got into me in the first place. I think I got scared, because we had only been in school a week, and with Truthseeker now in kindergarten, I freaked. The problem was, that I wasn't ready to start yet, and I forced myself to start because the public schools were already in session, and I thought we should be also. I am learning more about homeschooling, and am realizing how much different, and better, I feel it is for our children. I don't need to run it like a public school. We can run it our own way, and like you said, not feel guilty about not accomplishing everything. I am also realizing that the more fun I make school, the longer the children will remember it. The kids loved our apple study. I still haven't updated my blog with the rest of our apple study yet, but the kids loved tossing apple seeds and counting their points (math), tasting and graphing their apples (math), learning all about Johnny Appleseed (history and literature). Truthseeker understands completely what a tall tale is now. Seeing how long it took for oxygen to turn the apple brown (science), making applesauce (science and math), and making apple prints (art). I understood what real homeschooling was about after we did the apple study. The best part is, that they remember everything we did. They had fun, and they actually learned something.

Scott was actually pretty upset with me when I said I wanted to put Skaterboy back in school. He let me do it though, however he said he knew this was going to happen. At least now I know. I am not questioning myself any longer about my abilities as a teacher, and what is best for my children.

The doctor called Monday night at about 5:30 p.m. and told us that Thumbody's cat scratch fever test came back positive. So that is what he had. I can't believe how long it took for them to figure it all out though. She said she would fax the info over to the surgeon since we have an appt. with him tomorrow. The lymph node is smaller, but the skin is still inflamed, and there is still evidence of the infection. We will be at 4-H, and I will bring back the clothing we borrowed for Railsplitters. I washed everything a few weeks ago, and we just haven't seen anyone with Thumbody being so ill. I also need to remember to bring Elizabeth's graduation gift. I hope she's not too upset about it being so late. It took me longer than I had originally anticipated.

Monday, October 8


Life's adventures are not always what we want or what we ask for. This is an update on our little Thumbody. We are very worried. The lymph node just below his left ear is now ab out 1 1/2 inches long under the skin, and is red and very hard and rubbery. It does move back and forth under the skin. It is extremely tender to touch. He will probably have surgery sometime this week. His appt. is tomorrow.

I have been searching the internet like crazy trying to figure out what he has. It is a very real possibility that it is cat scratch fever. I actually would feel relief if that is all that it is. Our cat does have fleas, and it was infesting our home, so we bombed the house some time ago and put the cat outside. She is fine outside, and prefers to be outside, than inside. Ethan does play outside quite a bit. There are always stray cats in our yard, as well. Probably when our cat is in heat. Ethan is always picking up the cats, but I don't recall a scratch. Although I have read, that it can be spread by a lick as well. Ethan did have that granduloma that developed under his eye. I thought the doctor said hematoma, but she actually said granduloma. It is pretty much gone now, but under where the scab was is a 1/2 inch scratch. We don't know how he got the eye lesion, it just appeared one day.

Our other concerns, which are more serious of course, are TB, some sort of cancer, or toxoplasmosis. He had a TB test on Saturday, and it will be read tomorrow. All I see at the sight, is a little scratch where she poked his skin, and a little bruise. That's it, no bump or anything else. My concern about TB was because there is something called paracytic TB, which is caused by an insect bite. In our backyard, anything is possible. Lymphoma is not really common in small children, more common in adolescent children, and one of it's symptoms is loss of appetite. Ethan still seems to have a huge appetite. He doesn't act sick, or even tired or run down.Toxoplasmosis is common in children who play in sand boxes that are not covered, and cats can use as a litter box. Our sand box is rarely covered, even though we have a cover, we have not really worried too much about it before. It is a great possibility that our cat or neighborhood cats could have used it as a litter box, and I know Ethan has played in the sand box quite a few times this month. And so we wait. I think that is the hardest part. Not knowing what it is. He is so tiny to have to deal with all this. Sometimes I feel like God must really hate me, or is punishing me for something, by all the stresses that are put into my life. Some are self-inflicted, some are not. Scott is so calm about these things, and I am a nervous wreck. I don't think I have slept through the night in over a week. I keep imagining the worst possible scenario. I can't even go there.

Thanks for your caring, and loving prayers,

Wednesday, October 3

I took today off!

I woke up this morning, not feeling my best, and decided for myself that today was a day of rest. Rest, meaning housework only, no school. Skaterboy got himself off to school this morning which was a blessing in itself. Thumbody, who was asleep on our bed, was out for the count, and I desperately wanted to go back to sleep myself, so I did, until around 9 a.m. This is sleeping late at our house, but I must have needed the additional sleep, because I woke up feeling a bit better. Thumbody is still fever-free, to which I am very pleased. His pediatrician called yesterday to change his appt. to this Friday, instead of the 9th, as was scheduled.

So today, I am cleaning my much neglected house, which has been screaming to be cleaned for a week or two. Monday, I did manage to clean some areas in the kitchen that needed a deep clean. With a ceiling fan in the dining room, the walls get quite dusty, so I wiped the walls with Pledge wipes, and dusted our wall decorations as well. I took bleach wipes to the microwave, and outside of the refrigerator, and stove. I used Windex wipes on the black glossy panels of the oven and dishwasher. I used to feel that wipes were a waste of money. I could just as easily get a bucket of soapy water and a rag and do the same thing for less money. But, you see, I neglected these jobs because of the mess of it all. The dirty soapy water bucket, the dirty rags, the drippy mess. With wipes it takes seconds to clean what used to take a half hour. The dust clings to the Pledge wipes, and I'm not left with smeared dust everywhere. The Windex wipes clean without streaks, and the bleach wipes are an all around favorite of mine. I budget $10 per month for these cleaning supplies. Other than bleach, which is also a staple in my home, and pine sol, that is all I use. I mop once a week, whether it needs it or not, and vacuum every other day. Vacuuming includes the kitchen, which usually needs it this often. Surprisingly, my dh and I do not own an expensive vacuum, and you will probably laugh when you hear what we use, but I have to admit that this item is a favorite of mine, and a must for any homeowner. The trusty shop vac. I have owned my share of expensive vacuums, but the shop vac out-vacuums any we have ever owned. I can go from the living room, to the kitchen, to the bathrooms, and the laundry room, very quickly. It picks up most everything. I dump it out, and switch to the wet setting, and if there are any spills to clean up, I suck those up as well. I also use it after I cut the boys hair. I suck all the hair off the floor, and off their bodies, which makes them giggle for more. My husband uses it to clean out our pool, by sucking all the remaining water out of the bottom before and after scrubbing, and I use it to clean all the ceiling fans in our home, by sucking all the dust off of them. I also use it to clean out the box fans, the air conditioner in our family room, and our air purifier. All these things create dust, and I just suck it away. I know I couldn't live without mine.

Bleach is another thing, I use on a weekly basis. We have ceramic sinks in our kitchen, which get dingy, like they usually do. A few drops of bleach, whitens them right up. Forced to be frugal, I have used cloth training pants from the start. We have enough of them to do a load of training pants, every 3 days. I keep a diaper pail in the bathroom, and once the underwear are rinsed out, I throw them in the pail. On wash day, I dump 1/4 cup of bleach, and half a lid of detergent in the washer, on the hot cycle. This is a small load. I bring the diaper pail in the laundry room, and dump the whole thing in the washer. I don't even have to touch it. Once done, I dry them in the dryer, and they are back to their original white color. Word of warning, however, is to keep the bleach at 1/4 cup or less, because if you add too much, they will eat holes in the undies. Trial and error... But, still less than pull ups. Thumbody has mastered going number 1 in the toilet, even at night he has no accidents. But number 2 is more tricky. We started a sticker chart for Truthseeker, some time ago, because he would never eat his dinner. We told him he could put a sticker on his chart every day he ate his dinner. After 7 days, or 1 week of stickers, he could pick a treat out at the Dollar Tree Store. This worked very well, from the start. Thumbody, became a little jealous of Truthseeker's treats, and so we decided to start a chart for him, and when he went number 2 on the toilet, he could put a sticker on his chart. We are on week 2, and he is ready for his 2nd treat today. I am thinking of starting another chart for both boys as incentive to stay in their own beds all night. Since the boys are too little for allowance, I feel the treats are a good compromise.

Tuesday, October 2

Looks like it was mono...

After a weekend stay in the pediatric ward of our local hospital, our 3 year old is home resting, and feeling much better.

I haven't been able to update my blog in a week, and this is why. A week ago Saturday, I noticed that Thumbody was feeling a bit warm. Quite warm actually. I took his temp, which read that he was at 104 degrees. Not too worried, I grabbed the children's Tylenol and gave him the instructed dose. After the Tylenol kicked in, he seemed fine. Fast forward to 3 a.m. Sunday morning. He had crawled in bed with us again, which is not uncommon, and I automatically felt his head. It's a mom thing. Well, he felt hot again. I took his temp, it read 103 or around there, so I gave him another dose, and so on every 4 hours, as his temp would spike again. Monday night, I took him temp and he was at 106. I freaked... We went to the ER. I had given him some Tylenol before we left, and by the time the doctor came in, it was down to 101.9. He still had a fever none-the-less. She felt his lymph glands, and noticed that the left side was very large. She told us to alternate Tylenol and Motrin, and gave us an antibiotic. We went home, gave him the instructed antibiotic, over the next two days, combating the fever every 4 hours. Thursday morning, his temp was way up there again, so I decided to call his pediatrician, who instructed me to bring him right in. I did, and she gave us a different but stronger antibiotic to try. Friday, late afternoon, he still felt hot. I took his temp and it was 103.7. I called the pediatrician again, and she said to come back up. After that she decided to admit him to the hospital. We were there 2 1/2 days. His fever broke on Saturday night, but his doctor wanted him to be fever free for 24 hours. We went home Sunday. What was it? His doctor had done some blood tests which revealed that he had mono, which is why the antibiotics didn't work very well. Mono is resistant to those. She also said that his mono cells were elevated, as well, in his blood.

He is feeling much better, and even drew me a nice picture last night on our living room carpet. This red flagged me that he was feeling much better. Thankfully it was with a washable marker.

I did continue with our apple study last week, and we finished it yesterday. I took more photos, but haven't downloaded them yet. I will get to that tomorrow. I am still recuperating myself from our weekend away. Today, we started our "Fall Study". I will be posting on that as well.

Hope everyone else is well. God Bless.

Tuesday, September 25

September Happenings

I am going to backtrack a bit so I can cover a few things we did this month. Labor Day weekend, we drove to St. Louis, along with friends Angela, Zach, and Brayden. We had a full fun filled day at Six Flags St. Louis. The weather couldn't have been better, and although we were very tired after returning home, surprisingly we still made it to church the next day.

I guess I need to backtrack some more. The first weekend in September, which was actually before Labor Day, was the big Balloon Festival here in Lincoln. Every year it is such a beautiful sight to see the sky peppered with hot air balloons. It also happened to be our churches annual ffffish and ffffowl fffry. Yes, they use all those f's. So we spend Sunday afternoon at church with the kids, listening to music, and enjoying time with friends and family. My folks came for the weekend and we relaxed and didn't really do much of anything. It was nice.

The following weekend, we spent a Saturday afternoon parading around in pioneer costumes for the Mt. Pulaski Sesquecentenial. Our purpose at the parade was to publicize the upcoming Lincoln Railsplitter Festival, the following weekend. Our 4-H club, The Pioneers, walked behind the float, handing out American flags and an itinerary of the weekend. It was a long hot walk, and made us thankful that we no longer have to wear the long dresses and suspendered trousers, as was customary back in the day. Oh, and I almost forgot to add that we won first prize for the best float.

Mid-September brought Skaterboy to his first day of public school, and our lessons began for Truthseeker, and Thumbody. Truthseeker has already learned vowels i,u,e, and a. We start the letter o next week, as it is the first letter in October. He is learning short vowel sounds first, and is already able to pick out which one-syllable words contain each specific vowel when I read them to him. They are simple words like: cat, big, jet, cup, etc... I am very pleased with his progress so far. Thumbody already knows most of his colors and shapes, and we continue working on those daily as well. It is so great to have Thumbody join in with Truthseeker for daily lessons, although his attention span is shorter, I don't expect a whole lot from him. He learns so much from his big brother, and can sing the entire ABC song, and our days of the week calendar song. He loves our music lessons, and sings right along with us. It fills me with such joy to see them work side-by-side with such joy on their faces.

Today we started our Apple Study. We sorted, measured, washed, and tasted the apples. We took the seeds out of the apples to use for a game tomorrow. We counted the seeds in each apple. We then graphed all our results on our dry erase board. Then we read a story about a trip to an Apple Orchard. The boys were so excited to show their daddy their graph, when he got home from work. In the end, we all found that we each had our own tastes when it came to apples. Truthseeker's favorite apple is the granny smith. Thumbody's favorite is the golden delicious, and mine was the cripp's pink, which I think must be from the pink lady family of apples.

I am hoping to give updates on our apple study all this week. And future studies as we learn and grow day to day.

Sunday, September 23

Why Destination Exceptional Motherhood?

After I had my first child, I felt that it was extremely important to be the best mom I knew how to be. So I started reading books on motherhood, and taking classes at our local church at the time. Now, I am nowhere near to being the exceptional mother, but it is my goal. I feel that if a mother should have one goal in life, this would be a good one to strive for. So, through all the mistakes, and all the trials and tribulations that co-exist with the title mother, I am here, living out my purpose. I am content, and loving every minute of it. Well, most minutes anyway. Along the way I have weeded out information that I don't agree with, and filed away what I feel is essential to remember. Not that it is always remembered, I am an imperfect creature. Hopefully you will get to know me better, and have a deeper understanding for who I am, and the most important things in my life. God Bless.

Friday, September 21

For my very first blog, ever, I want to catch you up on what is going on here at home. I made the decision 2 weeks ago to put Skaterboy back into public school. It was a difficult choice, and many tears were shed over making this decision, but I am secure in my belief that this is the best place for him at this venture of his life. It all started because I being the insanely organized person that I strive to be, was feeling very overwhelmed and disorganized. Not really with the homeschooling aspect of it all, but I now had an 8th grader and a kindergartner, and added to that a 3 year old. Half my day was spent teaching Truthseeker to read, and the other half of my day was working with Skaterboy and all that he needed to accomplish. My dh would walk in the door in the late afternoon to find me finishing up with our 8th grader, totally exhausted, and the house in disarray. Add to that, dinner not even started. After 3 weeks of this turmoil, I was a wreck. Something had to change. And so being the ultimate mind-changer that I am known to be, I spoke to Skaterboy about registering him in our semi-country school, that goes through 8th grade. He was ecstatic to see his old friends again. So it was done, and he is thoroughly enjoying attending school again. However, one thing is evident, he has a hunger for learning that he didn't possess before. One I saw at home, working one on one with him, but one his former teachers neglected to see, or maybe he no longer possessed when he attended there previously. So all in all, I feel it was a good choice. He will need a high school diploma in order to go to college, and he is 4 years from that. I don't know at this time if we will send him to the public high school, we will have to wait and see. As for Truthseeker, he is doing just fine learning at home. He is learning his vowel sounds right now, and learning to write. DH and I feel he is in the perfect setting for learning, at home.