Saturday, December 30, 2006

We were so young. . .



Twelve years ago, tomorrow, Tim and I brought in the New Year and our new life as husband and wife. We joke around here about me robbing the cradle and what a kid he was. There is some truth in that, but at 23 and 18, we both had a lot to learn about life. Together we have learned about faith, love, dreams and reality. We've learned about being a husband, a wife, a couple and parents. We learned plans are good, they don't always work and that it is ok when they don't. Most of all we've learned that we still have a lot to learn.

Marriage isn't always easy. It isn't always fun, but it is always an adventure. The last twelve years have been a grand adventure. One that I am glad we have been on together. I can't wait to see what the next twelve hold and the twelve after that and the rest of our lives. I love you, Tim! Happy Anniversary!

Friday, December 29, 2006

I guess that gift was a hit

Back in October, we made a trip to Coalwood, WV, home of the rocket boys. I have always liked the movie, October Sky and used in school when I was teaching. Kellen first saw it a few years ago. He liked it, but it was really my niece and nephew who loved the movie. Mamaw and Papaw learned that there is a festival each year and that Homer and some of the other "boys" return to Coalwood for it.

We all made the trip. You can see the pictures and the story here. Since then, Homer Hickam has become Kellen's hero. He has decided he wants to be an engineer like Homer and the college of choice is, of course, Virginia Tech. This is Homer's Alma Mater and they were at the festival with activities for the kids. (Pretty smart marketing if you ask me.) I realize Kellen is only 8 and will probably change his mind a 100 times, but I think he'd be a great engineer.

While there, Tim & I purchased a copy of Rocket Boys, and had it signed by Homer Hickam. It took a little sneakiness, but we were able to get it signed without Kellen knowing. We wanted to save it for a Christmas gift.

We gave it to Kellen Christmas morning. He finished it this morning. This is not a juvenile fiction book. This is a full sized adult memoir. 368 pages! Kellen is an avid reader, but even this is quick for him. I guess he liked his Christmas present. Now maybe I can finish it! :)


Please note this is not a children's novel. There is some language and some violence. The movie was rated PG and from what I have read in the book it would have a similar rating. We decided it was ok for Kellen, but you may want to preview for your children!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

A cool fundraiser for a good cause

Have you stopped by Pass the Torch today? She is raising money for St Jude Medical Research Hospital. It is simple. Stop by leave a comment and her sponsor gives a dollar to St Jude's. Go by and leave her a comment and tell her I sent you. That puts me in the drawing for a cool prize!

Lydia keeps us laughing

Lydia: Mommy, why is Christmas Day so short?

Me: It really isn't short honey. It is the same as every other day.

Lydia: No, it is short! We just played a little and it got nighter and nighter and nighter and nighter, and then it was bed time!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Why I like Christmas at home. . . .

Imagine the scene, Christmas day around noon on the 100 Acre Woods. . . .

Apple pancakes have been eaten. The Christmas story has been read. The presents are opened. New gifts are being enjoyed. It is time for the next meal. We are enjoying our appetizers; shrimp cocktail and brie with french bread. Tim and I are sipping Merlot in front the fireplace while the children drink their sparkling grape juice.

Before you think you must be reading the wrong blog, surely the 100 Acre Wood is not so refined, let me clarify. While that is part of the picture, you surely can not appreciate our day fully unless I tell you that we are all still in our pajamas and are watching Bob the Builder.

The rest of the meal came around 3:30. We had venison Fillet Mignon, baked potatoes and tossed salad with blackberry vinaigrette. Remember all the blackberries we picked last summer? The vinaigrette was the first use of the vinegar made from those berries. This meal was also eaten in our pajamas.

Dessert came around 5:30; pumpkin pie and ice cream. Again, eaten while still in our pajamas. We did finally get dressed then and went over to Mamaws because Jake and Delilah stopped for a surprise visit on their way to Tennessee.

An entire day with the family spent in pajamas, playing with new toys and eating our favorite foods. That is my kind of Christmas. Hope you had a good day too!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Thursday Thirteen - My First

Thirteen (of the 100) things to do before we go to Grandma and Grandpa's Thursday evening.

  1. Final touches on two gifts.
  2. Re wrap and decorate Grandma and Grandpa's gift. I wrapped the gift with the white side of the paper out. The idea was the kids could decorate it. I had in mind some hand traces, names written, maybe a few small nice pictures. The kids idea was to scribble over the whole thing, in blue; even where I already had the baby hands. I want it to be the kids work, but we need to do it again with more specific guidelines!
  3. Finish folding and putting away the laundry I've been working on all week. Perhaps do 2 more loads: one of diapers, the other of jeans.
  4. Fix the flat tire. Applehead's job! Yes, I discovered a flat tire this Wednesday afternoon. Luckily, I was already home and didn't need to go anywhere else.
  5. Locate suitcases for six.
  6. Pack clothing for six.
  7. Another batch of peanut butter blossoms? Maybe.
  8. Water tree.
  9. Remind Mamaw to water tree while we are gone.
  10. Be sure the rabbits', chicken (not a typo, we have one chicken) and dog's food and water are full.
  11. Remind Ashley and Miles to feed animals while we are gone.
  12. Take Christmas dinner food out of the freezer to defrost. We are coming home Christmas Eve. On the menu for Christmas day: bacon wrapped fillet Mignon, shrimp cocktail, french bread and brie, green beans, baked sweet potatoes, ice cream. I know, not your traditional, but all things we like that don't take much fuss.
  13. Tell all my blogging friends Merry Christmas.

Merry Christmas!
May you see His Glory and be Overjoyed this Christmas!



P.S. Grandma doesn't have Internet, so I won't be around for a few days!

For more Thursday Thirteen click here.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

My smiling husband


For why I posted this picture click here.
For more Wordless Wednesday click here.

The Story Behind the Picture

Our family Christmas photo has been the subject of lots of conversation around here. The comments about "Why isn't Tim smiling?" were quite entertaining: ranging from funny to slightly bizarre. Thanks everyone who commented! So, as promised, here is the real story.

We have been saying for months, "We need to get our family picture taken for Christmas." The original plan was to go to a studio. I usually prefer done at home type pictures, but our digital camera isn't all that great, so I was opting for a studio. It didn't get done and it didn't get done. Then Mamaw got a new digital camera, the day after Thanksgiving. Yes! Now we could just do it ourselves when it was "convenient." Well, trying to get all six of us clean and ready to take a picture didn't just "conveniently" happen. (What was I thinking?)

I am sporadic about doing my Christmas cards, but this year I bought cards that required a picture to be put on them. I was bound and determined to get them out! It was December 9th and I was beginning to get a bit desperate. I decided, on the way to church, that this was the day! We would take our picture after church today!

Wouldn't you know church ran late and people wanted to chat. We also live a considerable distance from the church we attend, so by the time we got home it was around two. The little ones had only napped in the car and more relevant to this discussion; we had not eaten lunch. If there is anything that turns my normally happy husband into a grumpy, it is hunger. Why didn't we just wait until after lunch you might ask? We were having spaghetti. Imagine, Nolan, spaghetti and a family photo?!

Those of you who said Tim was probably thinking, "Could we just get it over with?" You are very close to the truth. Add in, "I'm starving," and you have the whole story behind the picture.

To answer Aunt Nancy's questions:
Mamaw took the picture.
The lighting just right?! No plan there, that is just how it was when we got home from church.
Nolan is sitting on the old tractor tire Papaw "planted," Kellen and Lydia are standing in front of the tire, Tim and I behind it. The ground is sloping there (and everywhere else on the 100 Acre Wood LOL) so that is probably why they look like they may be on a platform.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Why isn't Tim smiling?

I have gotten so many comments about Tim's expression on our family picture. We used this picture for our Christmas cards also, and I think everyone I've talked to, that has gotten the card, has asked me why Tim (aka Applehead) isn't smiling. As background, you must understand that Tim is the most laid back, happy-go-lucky, optimistic member of the 100 Acre Wood and is generally smiling. This stern look is not normal Some have suggested what they think he might be thinking;

Sister-in-law judeandelise suggested, "He looks like he was annoyed and wanted to get the photo over with"

Cousin Heather thought he was thinking, "I thought that camera would have snapped by now"

So, what do you think Tim might be thinking as this family photo was snapped? Leave your ideas in the comments (you may venture multiple guesses if you like) over the weekend and next week I (or perhaps Applehead himself) will tell you the real story.

Merry Christmas from the 100 Acre Wood

Welcome family, friends and visitors to the Christmas Tour of Homes. This photo was taken in our back yard December 9. As you can see, it has been unseasonably warm here. Not much hope for a white Christmas, but we still have Christmas spirit.

Our Christmas tree, like the rest of our home, is evidence that children live in this house . It isn't exactly matched or well organized, things are constantly moved and some places are down right cluttered, but it is homey and comfortable. Most of the ornaments are either made by or picked out by the kids. (They get a new ornament each year.) I plan to give the ornaments to the kids when they move out and then I will have an empty tree to decorate in matching ornaments. *grin*

The nativity finds a home on the mantle. They are ceramic and I actually painted them when I was in grade school. It was the craft for a local church's VBS. There were more in the set, but they have gotten broken over the years. In fact, these are not in the best of shape. I really should look for a new set after Christmas.

The stocking hangers were last year's after Christmas find. They are picture frames. This year I took a picture of each child in front of the tree for the stocking holder. I plan to take a new picture every year and leave old ones in too. (behind the new does that make sense?)

Every year Tim's grandma makes all the little kids and all the adult women a plush Christmas decoration. I can't even begin to count how many she must make. Heather or Mandy do you know? They are always so cute and lovingly made. We have accumulated quite the collection over the years. There have been snowmen, gingerbread, Santas, reindeer, dogs and even frogs. Here are some of the snow people she has made.


Thank you so much for stopping by for a visit. You are welcome anytime. May you have a blessed holiday full of love and joy. Merry Christmas!

For the next stop on the tour please click here.
To see our home on the last tour click here.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

As heard around our dinner table

Tim: Who would like to pray?

Nolan (2) & Lydia (4): Me!

Tim: Nolan go ahead then Lydia.

Nolan: Jesus. . . . . . . . . Oh man! . . . . . . .

Me: Go ahead Nolan.

Nolan: Jesus . . . . . . . .You do it Lydia.
And Lydia did!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

My little helpers

This time of year, when there is so much to do it is easy to feel like the kids are getting in the way. It is tempting to let them watch TV all day so that I can get things done. My kids really want to help and if they aren't helping they are either under foot or getting into trouble. So, what works for me is to let them help!

Yes, I know sometimes their "help" is really no help at all. Letting them "help" sometimes makes a project take twice as long. In those times, I try to remember that this is how they learn and we are making memories. When there is a lot to do though, I try to find jobs for them that they really can help with, that they can do with minimal instruction or supervision. Here are some Christmas jobs they have been able to help with;

Christmas Cards
We made photo cards. We had to stick the photo to the card and stamp the message inside. We did this in a few steps over a couple of days.

The first step was a family project Tim (DH) actually did most of the stamping. Kellen (8) and Lydia (almost 5) signed their own names and then I signed the rest of the names and put the return address on.

Next, I addressed the envelopes and Lydia put the postage on.

Then, I put the picture on the card, Lydia and Kellen put the cards in the envelopes and sealed them.

Wrapping
Kellen, Lydia, and Nolan (2 1/2) decorated white tissue paper . They stamped and colored it, and we used it for packing in the boxes we mailed. We will do a similar project for gift baskets I am making. For grandparents presents we are going to turn the paper inside out (this idea came from another Works For Me, thanks!) and let the kids decorate. They can also help me wrap by holding tape pieces, putting on name tags and moving gifts around for me.

Decorating
They are constantly "decorating" and "redecorating" the house whether I want them to or not! We let them put all the ornaments on the tree. It needed a little rearranging when it was done. After all, one branch does not need five ornaments! Nolan is still rearranging the tree and any other decorations he can reach.



Baking/Candy
This can be one of those tasks that "helpers" are not really any help, but it is also probably their favorite thing to help with. I try to do kitchen projects when I can get just one "helper" and the others are busy with something else. Besides licking bowls and beaters, they can help get out and put away ingredients, and measure and dump into the bowl. They like to help with chocolate covered pretzels and nuts and anything that involves frosting and sprinkles. Of course, if they help with the baking they also have to help with the clean up!

I try to look for things that they can do to help. They love to help and with the right projects they really are helpful.

For more helpful tips visit Works for Me Wednesday.

Friday, December 08, 2006

The Spotlight is on Me?!


Normally, I hate to be in the spotlight. I am much more a behind the scenes kind of gal, but in this case, I am honored. My post Seeing the Magic has been picked by Kelly at Pass the Torch for this week's spotlight. Thanks Kelly!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Get Ready to Tour


Do you remember Boo Mama's Tour of Homes back in July? Well, as promised she is hosting a Christmas Tour of Homes. So deck the halls, break out the cameras and get ready to tour on December 15th!

Laundry room closet

Tackle It Tuesday Meme


Yesterday, I tackled the closet in the laundry room. This also serves as our mud room, so all the coats and shoes are in there. Here is what it looked like before:




I went through the coats and washed those that needed it. I took all the shoes out and mopped the floor, put summer shoes in bedroom closets, sorted out the shoes that are too small and put back the shoes we need in there for winter. I didn't get any pictures, but I also washed and sorted our tub of hats and gloves. Here is the closet after:



How long will it last? Well, it made it through the night. I am sure it won't stay so neat much longer, but since there are less shoes in there now, hopefully it won't get too out of control.

Add your tackle or see others at 5 Minutes for Mom.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Seeing the Magic

The most beautiful adventures are not those we go to seek.

This was the fortune in my cookie at dinner Saturday night. Fortune cookies are not life changing, but they are entertaining. A friend of ours makes them more entertaining by always adding the phrase, "in bed" to the end of the fortune, but that is a subject for another time (or perhaps not.) This fortune though reminded me of something that happened last Tuesday where Nolan (2 1/2) reminded me to enjoy the journey.

I love the Christmas season, but even though I try to keep it simple and focused on what is important, the joy and magic of the season often seem lost in my to do list. This week Nolan brought me back to it.

We were going to Christmas in the Park at a nearby town. The town was lighting the big tree, providing snacks and musical entertainment, and Santa was there. There were lots of people and long lines. It was ok, and the kids enjoyed themselves, but the real highlight of the evening was found in the journey; the ride there and back home again.

Not far from us, there is a house with a large Christmas light display. On the way to the park, we drove slowly past the house to let the kids get a good look. There were plenty of ooohs and aaahs, as expected. What was not expected was Nolan's reaction to the lights.

He loved the lights at that house and at every other house too. Every time he saw lights he would point and excitedly say, "other one." I think he is trying to say another one, but it comes out other one. It didn't matter if the whole yard was lit up or if there was one small strand displayed, he loved them and was so excited. Soon, the other kids were joining in and all searching for the next house with lights. It was contagious and Tim and I couldn't help but smile and join right in.

We went home a different way and the reaction was the same. In fact, since then, every time Nolan sees Christmas lights he has the same reaction. Such simple and complete joy, it is enough to take this task oriented mom pull away from the to do list and enjoy the journey and the season. May we all take the time to look at Christmas through a child's eyes and remember the magic.


This is my Pass the Torch for the week. For more stories about kids doing something good check Pass the Torch.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Kellen's Christmas Teeth

The Tuesday before Thanksgiving (21st), Kellen got his teeth "decorated." In addition to the new "tinsel" he also had green and red bands put on them. Someone at Thanksgiving (was it Grandma?) joked that we didn't need a Christmas tree just put Kellen in the middle of the room with a few Christmas lights.

The first night they were hurting quite a bit, but since then he has done well with them. There are only brackets on the top, front teeth. He still has to wear the spreader for a few months yet and will get braces on the rest of his teeth later.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Hunting According to Lydia

Last night, while savoring our dinner of fresh bacon wrapped Fillet Mignon (deer), Lydia pipes up to say, "I know why hunters wear orange." Mamaw asks, "Why?" Lydia responds, "Because it is the deers' favorite color!"

Friday, November 24, 2006

I'm still here. . . and computer less

UGH!!! Our computer is STILL in the shop! How frustrating. It has been a very busy week. I can't believe it has been a week since I posted. There is so many stories to tell, but we have family here and I am shirking all my hostess duties right now to check my email and make a quick post! I just had to let you know that Tim

GOT A DEER!
It was his first ever, although he has helped butcher two others this season. (a story for another time!) He was so excited, as was I! (free meat in the freezer!)
I hope you had a great Thanksgiving, more later!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Quick Update

Still no computer. I posted a very quick update here. And this has to be the record for my shortest post ever!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Family Gatherings


This week is Works for Me Christmas Edition. Well, it seems I jumped the gun and posted my favorite Christmas tip, Four for Christmas, a few weeks ago. If you didn't see it, it is about what we buy our kids for Christmas.

This tip, though, is about how we handle family gatherings. When my husband and I first got married we tried to attend all the family Christmas gatherings. This included, one with my parents and siblings, one with my husbands parents and siblings and one his dad's family and one with his mom's family. A typical holiday went like this. Christmas Eve afternoon with my family including Christmas Eve service. After the service we went to his parents to have Christmas. Christmas morning, brunch at Grandma's with Tim's dad's family, Christmas afternoon dinner with Tim's mom's family.

I know some people thrive on the busyness and the people. I am not one of those people. By Christmas night, I was tired, grumpy and very annoyed. We said we would do it until we had kids.

Then Kellen was born. Somewhere along the line we started doing Christmas with his parents between brunch and dinner on Christmas day. My parents moved out of state so that also changed when we got together with them. We didn't cut anything out. We were still trying to do it all and trying to squeeze in Christmas morning with the kids before brunch. I don't think it changed until Nolan (our third) was born.

It is hard when you are newly married or new parents to figure out how you become your own family. When should you make new traditions and when should you stick with the old ones? We enjoy spending time with all the family, but felt like Christmas was getting out of control. It was becoming a blur. We would rush from house to house ripping off paper, giving hugs and loading the car. Something had to change.

It has been a gradual change. And we still don't have it all figured out yet. First, we decided that Christmas morning was all ours. We wanted to spend time with the kids. We want them to enjoy their gifts, to actually be able to play with them before we are jumping in the car. Sometime around Christmas or New Years we get together with our parents and siblings.

It is more complicated too because now we are four hours from Tim's family. We don't get to see everyone for Christmas anymore, but we do try to make sure we see them at other times. For example, we don't make it to brunch, we do stop into see Tim's grandma when we are in Ohio and we go to the family July 4th picnic too. We also get to spend more time with people when we do see them.

Planning Christmas is a little more complicated now. Every year about this time we break out calendars to start planning when we can all get together. This year my side will get together the first weekend in January. We will talk with Tim's family over Thanksgiving (they are coming down.) I am looking at the weekend before Christmas, since Christmas is on a Monday this year.
But we always know Christmas morning is for us and our kids.

I like spreading out the celebrations for a number of reasons. We get to spend more time with each part of the family. We get to enjoy and not feel rushed around. Celebrating some after the first of the year gives me more time to get it together, especially the homemade gifts! Also, we have gotten some great deals on Christmas presents by shopping after Christmas.

Family is important, but sanity is too! This is what works for us !

Tackling the socks


I am tackling today for the first time in awhile. I apologize for the lack of photos. My camera is not cooperating. Picture this - a basket of socks. No, not a little basket, like an Easter basket, I am talking about a full clothes basket. It is full of socks. None of them are matched. That is what I tackled today.

When I do laundry, I have a bad habit of throwing all the unmatched socks into a basket to match later. Later doesn't come often, especially in the summer months when we don't use as many socks. Or, maybe, we just have too many socks!

Last week I found myself constantly looking for socks in the basket so I figured it was about (way over due!) time to tackle the basket. I matched and matched and I don't know how many pairs I actually found, but a lot. There was a pile for everyone and I doubt that any had less than ten. There are six of us, ten pairs per pile equals sixty pairs of socks. There were probably a lot more. I threw out a bunch of socks and saved a few that I think might actually be found under a bed or behind a dresser. Now, we have an almost empty sock basket and nice full socks drawers. I am so glad I tackled that!

Want to share your tackle or see what other have tackled? Check 5 Minutes for Mom.

Monday, November 13, 2006

I'll be back. . .

Our computer is going in tomorrow for a little clean up and memory boost. We have been having computer issues. We are trying to get our old hand-me-down computer to last us for awhile yet. One of Tim's co-workers also owns a computer shop. He thought his guys could do a little tweaking to upgrade our system and install a second hard drive, that Tim got for free, for about $35. It is worth a try.

Anyhow, what that means is I will be computer-less for a few days. I have a few posts drafted that I am hoping to post from my mom's. Other than that I will probably not be around in the bloggy world much this week.

So, if you are really dying to read something, try checking out some of my favorite places as listed in the sidebar or read through the posts under your favorite label or you could browse through the archives. Plenty to do. I think I will use my new free time to clean since we are having Thanksgiving here. I will catch up with you later this week or early next week.

Oh, Vivian please slow down!

I remember when Kellen was a baby anticipating every milestone, even encouraging them. I actually got down on the floor with him to try to "show" him how to crawl. I don't think it made him crawl any sooner. I never felt that way with the rest of the kids. In fact, if anything I wanted them to stay babies as long as possible. I never tried to teach them the milestone events, and they happened in a natural progression. In fact #3 was the earliest to walk (so far) at 10 1/2 months. Believe me I would have been perfectly happy if he would have waited to walk for many months beyond that, but it was something I didn't get to decide.

Now with Vivian (8 months), it seems I don't even have time to think about what milestone she should be on. I turn around and she is doing something new. Viv, please slow down let me catch up, you are growing too quickly. On Friday, I went to get her from a nap and she was kneeling and holding onto the railing. "What? That must be a fluke. Certainly, she isn't ready to pull herself up yet," I thought. After her next nap, she was up on her feet!

How did this happen? She isn't even really crawling yet! Well, she gets around very well, but she does an army type crawl instead of being up on her hands and knees. Maybe, that is all she will do before she walks.

She isn't the only one growing up too quickly though. None of them are waiting for my ok to move on. They are growing up and it is ok . . . , really . . . . , I think . . . . , well, I don't have a choice I guess! It is a good reminder that they really are in the Lord's hands. I can't control them or change them. I can suggest. I can guide and prepare them for life the best I know how, but ultimately it is out of my hands. It is humbling and reassuring all at the same time.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Weddings

Time goes so fast. Tim and I have been married almost 12 years. Remember giving your friends addresses for bridal shower invitations? That was easy compared to compiling the wedding invitation list. Then addressing all those invitations. It was a good thing we knew someone who did calligraphy. She did all our invitations for us. Picking out food, dresses, tuxes, finding a church a reception hall, choosing music, and oh the list goes on and on. So much time invested, not to mention money.

This far past that big day, I wonder is it all worth it? Should all that time and money be invested for one day. It seems like materialism has snuck in and weddings are more a big business and show and less about beginning a new life with someone. Maybe we should focus more on the bride and groom's relationship for the year before the wedding instead of what flavor filling we want for the cake. Maybe the money should be used to wipe out any existing debt, or used toward a house, instead of flowers for a building. Life, newly married, is hard enough without financial burdens hanging over your head.

Don't get me wrong. I do love weddings, and this is not directed at anyone I know who is currently planning a wedding. You probably couldn't tell me any of this twelve years ago when I was planning my wedding. I am not suggesting we do away with weddings, I am just wondering if it all has gotten too big. Or maybe I have just become way to practical!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Fresh attitudes

This morning was very frustrating. Nothing big, just lots of little annoying things. You know how they can add up and you find yourself irritated and constantly yelling at the kids. After lunch we decided to put up the books and head to the woods. It was a needed change of pace.

We all benefited from the fresh air and sunshine. It was a beautiful day and we walked in place I hadn't before. There actually are many places on the property I have yet to walk. Access is difficult to some areas and the entire time we have lived here I have been pregnant or had a young baby.

Where we walked is near the house, but it is hard to get to in the summer because the path is very overgrown. (Our paths are old logging roads or deer trails) In the fall, much of the over growth dies away. We did encounter some brambles at the beginning. The leaves die off, but the prickers are still there. Have you ever tried negotiating a walking 2 year old and a baby in backpack through brambles? Lydia was a big help. (Kellen ditched us to go holler climbing again!) Once past that initial obstacle, there was a very nice trail (that appears to be well used by the deer) that I never knew was there.

When you are back here in the summer, it seems as if there are no people for miles and miles. In fact, if you are travelling by roads, you are miles and miles from other people. It is totally different in the fall. Leaves come down and suddenly there is a world there you couldn't see before. It is just across the hollow. The roads don't go that way.

You see the next ridge, and there are so many houses there. I found myself thinking today, "Were all those houses really there before?" You see the hay field the runs along the creek. We walk there in the summer, but you can't see it until you are there. In the fall you realize how close it really is.

I love to watch the seasons change here. There is always a new surprise. Just when you are tired of the heat and green of summer, autumn comes with a burst of color and a crisp breeze. It is kind of magical to be walking through a new part of the woods on a sunny fall day. Soon winter will come with it's own surprises, and just when I can no longer stand winter, we will start to notice the dogwoods and the red buds blooming. There is always something new to see here.

After our walk we picked up where we left off, and it wasn't quite so frustrating. Somehow fresh air and sunshine work miracles on attitudes. It is refreshing to the body and the soul.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

A big brother sacrifice

Lately, Kellen and Lydia have been getting along well. It is refreshing. Now Lydia and Nolan, that is another story, but today for Pass the Torch, we are focusing on the good. This story is about a big brother taking care of his little sister.

Yesterday, Kellen and Lydia went for a big walk. Holler climbing for you that have been following our adventures. It is the first time they have gone in a long while. They walked a big circle down to the creek and back. Our creek is not exactly just in the back yard, it is about 1/2 a mile away. I happened to be outside when they returned. I saw them standing at the edge of the stone driveway and Kellen was trying to pick up Lydia. Lydia was barefoot. I went over to ask what was going on and this is the story.

While they were at the creek Lydia stepped in water too deep and got one boot full of water. Her boots are lined, so it was soaked. Kellen picked her up and carried her out of the water. He then helped her take off the boots and wet sock. He took off his own boots and let Lydia wear them. He went barefoot. . . all the way home, through the woods. When I saw them he had put his boots back on and was trying to carry Lydia across the stone driveway.

There are times he can be so mean to her. Times when he will have her hysterical in tears. Maybe those days are behind us, but probably not entirely. Yesterday, though he was kind to and protective of his little sister. I am so proud of him!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Would money change you?

Have you ever wondered if and how your life would change if suddenly you inherited a large sum of money, won the lottery or your family's income doubled? Experience tells me that when we have more money, we spend more money.

Yet, I'd like to think we have learned our lesson in that area. I'd like to think that if we had a sudden increase of cash, that we would spend it wisely; we would pay off debt, we would save, we not live paycheck to paycheck. Would we continue to be frugal?

If I were rolling in money, there is one thing that I would consider spending money on that might surprise you: a cleaning service. Yes, I hate cleaning that much. I could excuse the lack of cleanliness in my house by saying I don't have enough time or I have four kids, and while that may be partially true, the real reason is I really don't want to.

It would be a dream, if I could just keep up with the daily stuff, like I do now, and someone else would come in and do the things that I never (or rarely) get done, like walls, dusting, ceiling fans, and . . . ok I'll stop there now before I reveal how much I truly do not clean! *grin*

Oh and while I am dreaming, how about someone to do my laundry? That is a household chore that I dread. Not that doing laundry itself is all that bad, if I only had to do a few loads a week, but around here it is a two or three day project.

Oh well, I probably don't need to worry about rolling in money anytime soon. I will just dream about being able to pay someone to clean my house and do my laundry. . . .

Wait the dream is within my reach, and it gets even better, it is free. I have kids! They do help some now, but within a few years I will have four people to do some serious cleaning and laundry. YIPEE! I can get someone else to clean and still continue in my frugal ways.


P.S. If you need Carpet Cleaning in Camarillo check out the link!

Another blog in the family

Take a look at Kellen's blog, Eleven in the Woods. He actually has been blogging for a couple months, but we just made his blog public. We decided to let his blog be public so that he could interact with other homeschool students. He does some school work there and tells stories about the 100 acre wood from a 8 year old perspective. Go over and tell him, "hi."

Chocolate Cinnamon Snaps

Today I am participating in the GREAT COOKIE EXCHANGE 2006. Everything Under the Moon is hosting a blogging cookie exchange. It isn't quite as tasty as a real world cookie exchange, but I think it will still be fun!~ Check out the site for details. Here is my recipe.

Chocolate Cinnamon Snaps
2 C all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
dash salt
1/3 C unsweetened cocoa
2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp cloves
1/2 C softened butter
1/2 C sugar
1/4 C molasses
1 egg
Cinnamon-sugar

  1. In a bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cocoa powder, cinnamon and cloves.
  2. In another bowl, cream the butter until soft. Gradually add sugar, beating until fluffy.
  3. Beat in the molasses and egg. Add flour mixture. Blend until a stiff dough forms.
  4. Roll dough (half or a quarter of the dough is easier to work with) on a lightly floured board to 1/8 to 1/4 inch thickness.
  5. Cut into favorite shapes. Place on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar.
  6. Bake at 350 F for 10-12 minutes depending on thickness. Cool a minute on the sheet before removing to a rack to complete cool.
  7. Repeat with remaining batches. Store in a tin when completely cooled.
These are a great holiday cookie. I hope you enjoy them and I look forward to trying your recipes!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Did you know?

A friend of mine sent me this tag via email a couple of weeks ago. I blog more than I email, so I thought I'd use it here. Hope you don't mind, Amy! So, here are a few things about me.

FOUR JOBS I'VE HAD IN MY LIFE:

1. Eighth Grade History Teacher
2. House Parent
3. Insurance Agent
4. Waitress

FOUR MOVIES I WATCH OVER AND OVER

1. Jay Jay the Jet Plane
2. Magic School Bus
3. Chronicles of Narnia
4. whatever the kids have gotten at the library

Hey, it asked what I do watch over and over, not what I want too!

FOUR PLACES I HAVE LIVED

1. 100 Acre Wood, West Virginia
2. Akron, Ohio
3. Fredericksburg, Ohio
4. Tiffin, Ohio

FOUR TV SHOWS I LOVE TO WATCH

1. Law and Order
2. The Amazing Race
3. CSI
4. Deal or no Deal (in moderation!)

FOUR PLACES I HAVE BEEN ON VACATION

1. Outer Banks, North Carolina
2. Alaska (sort of a vacation/mission trip)
3. Caribbean Cruise
4. Russia (again, mission trip)

FOUR WEBSITES I VISIT DAILY

See my side bar

FOUR OF MY FAVORITE FOODS

1. Cheesecake
2. Lasagna
3. Ice Cream
4. Homemade Bread

FOUR PLACES I'D RATHER BE RIGHT NOW

1. In our new underground house
2. On a cruise ship
3. Somewhere warm
4. in bed sleeping!

I won't officially tag anyone, but if you'd like to play just copy and paste this post then delete my answers and add your own. If you play, please let us all know in the comments and we can learn a few things about you!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

A new bloggin' family member. . .

Another family member joins us in the blogosphere. Welcome Heather! She is Tim (my husbands) cousin. Her blog is called It's all for the best. Stop by and say "Hi!"

Getting a Good Parking Space


First off let me say to me a good parking space is not always the closest space. When you have little kids in tow, there are other things to consider, like not letting the kids run in front of traffic. For a long time I would always look for a parking spot beside or very near the cart corral. I would take my cart from the corral. This way I could transport the two youngest through the parking lot in the cart. Then when we were finished I could take them back to the car and then put the cart away. Now I've found a new trick. (No old dog jokes please!)

Now I skip the out front parking lot and look for parking along the side of the building. Most mega-retailers (Wal-Mart, Target ect) and grocery stores have a row of parking along the side of the building. I can almost always find an empty spot there.The spot I find is not necessarily closer than the ones out front. Sometimes it is closer, but remember closer is not always better when you have kids with you.

The biggest advantage to parking here is that there is only a sidewalk between you and the building, not a traffic lane. As I am getting kids unloaded, they can wait next to the building, away from any traffic. I do not have to worry about Nolan wandering off into the next row of cars. (I am embarrassed to say it has happened, and if you know Nolan I am sure you can understand how.) I can load them into the cart in front of my van and not have to worry about cars backing out, or someone zooming through. It is so much easier. Simple, yes, but it works for me!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

More Pumpkins than I've ever seen

Our camera doesn't take the best pictures, especially at night. The words you see there say, "Welcome to Kenova, West Virginia. Tchaikovsky 1812 Overture." It is carved into pumpkins. Below that is an orchestra of pumpkins.
There is a conductor and a pumpkin audience. The pumpkin instruments light up when their section is playing. And this is only a small section of the over 3000 pumpkins displayed.

Last Thursday we went with some families from our homeschool co-op, to the Pumpkin House. They were just beginning the carving. What a production. The pumpkins are all drawn on, then scraped and carved. This isn't a commercial operation. The owner of the house supplies everything and volunteers help with the carving. There are pumpkins carved with all kinds of designs. Habitat for Humanity comes and helps drill the bottom holes and uses them to make pumpkin butter to sell. After the display, a farmer comes to take the pumpkins for feed for his cows and pigs.

Sunday night we went back to see the display. What a difference. There were still many pumpkins to go, but just with what was there, it was incredible. Besides the orchestra there was Noah's Ark, a section of birds, a patriotic section, a chorus of cats and much more. Here are some more pictures.



Monday, October 30, 2006

Carnival of Family Life

Family life offers us many life experiences. This carnival is a great place to share them. As it is written in Ecclasiastes Chapter 3:
There's an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth:
A right time for birth and another for death,
What to do with dead wildlife? Panic? See Black Belt Mama's reaction in Just My Luck or RIP Little Chipmunk.

Peter Kua shares a question and answer about the passing of a yoga guru in Is yoga a myth? posted at RadicalHop.com.

The American family seems to be growing. Lisa Mitchell asks about The Growing Family posted at Let's Talk Babies.
A right time to plant and another to reap
Kim gives us something to think about concerning our work ethic in Are You A Hard Worker? posted at Blogfabulous.

Nina Smith asks Dana Rudolph about money in Ten Money Questions for Dana Rudolph posted at Queercents.

Kerri Aldrich is enjoying the harvest in The Pumpkin Patch at Fulton Farms posted at Play Library.

Batya shares how shopping has changed in Israel in Oh, my things have changed here.

A right time to kill and another to heal,
Dr Kavokin offers us a health quiz at Hypertension-silent killer posted at RDoctor Medical Portal.
A right time to destroy and another to construct,
Kelly at Pass the Torch completes her first week as a homeschooler. She shares insights gained by her chaotic week in her post, Starting with a Frazzle.

Janice is remembering fondly her childhood and constructing memories with her son in her post I’ll give you a hint – it starts with a ‘D’ posted at 5 Minutes For Mom.
A right time to cry and another to laugh,
Erica Douglas gives us some ideas of how to pass the time in Baby Games posted at Littlemummy.Com.

Liz shares a story of homework, fear and exhaustion in Shh! I?m hiding. Be quiet everyone. That includes me. Shh! Who?s making that noise? Oh, it?s me again? posted at This Full House.

A search for the perfect pair of underwear is related by Madeleine Begun Kane in Secret Shopper posted at Mad Kane's Humor Blog.

Mary shares the comic relief provided by her daughters. Almost Somewhat Positive: My kids is posted at Almost Somewhat Positive.
A right time to lament and another to cheer,
Brad Montgomery is proud of his little girl. Need a Colorado Magician? Book my Kid! posted at Motivational Keynote Speaker & Humorist Brad Montgomery.

Three cheers for grandparents, especially when they live next door. David presents The benefit of Grandparents. posted at Bruggie Tales.

Carnival founder, Kailani presents the good and the bad about where she lives in, Lucky You Live Hawaii? posted at pinkdiary808.com.
A right time to make love and another to abstain,
A right time to embrace and another to part,
Romance and a hot water heater?! Matt shares Romantic Tips for Married Couples: I'm in hot water today posted at Romantic Tips for Married Couples.

Do you and your spouse speak in a secret code? Maybe you should. Linda Freedman presents Speaking in Code: Marital Secret Language posted at Everyone needs therapy? Lessons from a family therapist.
A right time to search and another to count your losses,
Jack Yoest may have to count his lap top as a loss. The Bloggin' Boy. . . is posted at Reasoned Audacity.

DeputyHeadmistress presents The Common Room: I KNEW That Was the Reason posted at The Common Room.

A right time to hold on and another to let go,
If you are holding onto some of these attitudes, it is time to move on. Patricia presents 15 Signs An Adult Is Stuck Thinking Or Acting Like A 3-Year-Old posted at A Better You Blog.

Chris Dolley shows us some "holding on" shots in chrisdolley: Too Fast to be Perfect. posted at Author Chris Dolley's Page.

Mike gives us some ideas of how to establish Work schedule regularity posted at Career and Kids.

Hueina Su encourages us to let go of the ghosts of our past. Is Your Life Haunted? is posted at Intensive Care for the Nurturer's Soul.

Jennifer Miner is trying to hold onto being cool while being a mom in Minivan Accessories: A tricked-out family car makes travel with children easier, and possibly fun. posted at Minivan Accessories.

Want a seatbelt for your child on the bus? Lisa shares about Portable Seatbelts For Children posted at Ask Patty - Automotive Advice for Women.

Michelle lets her son go on an grand adventure in Watch Out for Worms posted at scribbit.
A right time to rip out and another to mend,
A right time to shut up and another to speak up,
Do you have any Secrets? Jenny Ryan's husband does. Posted at Using My Powers for Good by Jenny Ryan.

Holly shows us some simple truths that need to be said in Teaching Truths at Holly's Corner.

If you hear this question, "where do babies come from?" it might be best to let a sibling answer, like Sam did.

You might just want to shut up if your wife is Miss Morning Grumpiness presented by ZenKitty at Echoes of Cold Moon.

Who is to blame for your cold feet at night? It's a WE thing: More on BLAME or You Stole the Covers posted at Everyone needs therapy? Lessons from a family therapist.


A right time to love and another to hate,
A right time to wage war and another to make peace.
There often may be war between brothers, but here Heather tells us a story of brotherly love. My Pass The Torch Tuesday is posted at Everything Under the Moon.

Ecclasiastes 3:1-8, The Message

Thank you to all the contributers this week for sharing with us part of your life. I did not put one of my own posts in, but if you haven't visited before, please look around. Enjoy this week's entries. We all love to interact with visitors, so please leave your comments!

This week's winner of chocolate or coffee is Mike at Career and Kids. Please email Kailani for details. Next week the carnival goes back home to The Pink Diary.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Carnival Reminder

Don't forget to get your Carnival Entries in. Deadline is midnight Saturday (Hawaii time.) Submit entries at Blog Carnival. For more details at The Pink Diary.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Quick Updates on the Family

There are a few things I've posted on that I thought could use some updating. I figured while I was at it I might as well give updates on the whole family. So here goes.

Kellen (8) has his spreader in and will go back to the orthadontist the week of Thanksgiving to get the top braces on. Great timimg huh? Poor guy I might have to puree his turkey! ;)

Lydia (4 1/2) is just growing up too fast. Tim is getting worried. I think he remembers too well about tennage boys! The other day, she painted her own toenails. She did a better job than I do! She loves jewelery and dresses, though we are still learning about sitting like a lady in a dress!

After talking about potty training here and here, I am happy to announce that Nolan (2 1/2) has finally got it! He still has issues with going away from home, but it is minor. No more tears and screaming, and rarely any accidents! WHEW just one more to go through that with.

Vivian (7 mos) is sitting up, has two teeth and is starting to eat table food. She really doesn't crawl, but she does do a military type crawl and gets about wherever she wants to go, Still not much hair, at least compared to our other babies.

Last week, I posted about a "limbo" we were in and my reaction to it. What was in limbo was Tim's job. He posted a little about it here. Basically, his boss is a mover. Movers often shoot then aim. He closed the store Tim was based at, but didn't really have a plan for servicing the customers that are here, and wasn't really sure if Tim would have a job. I am a Shaper and I need a plan. See the dilemma?

I did feel more at peace about the whole situation last week after I posted. Today, Tim met with him, and Tim still has a job. Keeping Tim though, is partially based on an opportuntity for some Internet sales. If that opportunity doesn't develop, I would be surprised if he kept Tim. So, we are still keeping our options open. We are going to check into a few other things and see if anything else is worth making a job change for.

There is your quick update of the family. I will keep you posted.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Only a mom. . . .

Only a mom can

bake bread,
wash dishes,
fold laundry,
and feed the baby . . .


All at the same time!


We are masters of multi-tasking. You go moms!

Admittedly, I had help from the bread machine and the dishwasher! ;)

Monday, October 23, 2006

Carnival of Family Life

This week's Carnival is hosted at Everything Under the Moon. With over thirty entries, there is a lot of reading material to choose from . There are funny stories, reviews, advice and information, all relating to the family.

Next week the carnival is hosted by yours truly. If you aren't familiar with carnivals, it is easy to play. Just pick a entry from your blog that fits the carnival. In this case, anything having to do with the family works. It can be a new entry or an oldie, but goody, like I picked this week. Submit your post at Blog Carnival or at the carnival's home The Pink Diary. You can also visit The Pink Diary for more information. Entries are due by Midnight (Hawaii time) Saturday, October 28th. Then on Monday the 30th I will post the carnival.

Head over to Everything Under the Moon to check today's carnival and submit those posts to play next week!

Friday, October 20, 2006

I am a Homesteader?

Recently, Phelan listed me as a fellow homesteader. I was flattered to be listed in her Saturday BlogRoll call, but I wondered am I really a homesteader?

Until we moved here, if you would have asked me what a homesteader was I probably would have given an answer having something to do with a covered wagon, the Oregon Trail or the land races of the 1800's. I guess my definition is a bit outdated.

After moving here I joined a Yahoo group called Homeschool_Homestead. I was really looking more for homeschool support. I didn't really understand what the Homesteading was all about. What I found were a group of people who were living simply, gardening, preserving, and raising animals while homeschooling. There was much more information about things I remembered from my grandparents farm, than about homeschooling. These were all things we were doing or interested in, but I still didn't label myself a homesteader. I just considered it part of being frugal.

Then I entered the world of blogs. I mostly hung out in the frugal and mommy blogs. Then Get Rich Slowly had Phelan as a guest, posting about homesteading. I checked out her blog and found that they were also planning to build an underground home. Of course, I was thrilled by this and have been reading since.

Before I know it she has me listed as a "fellow homesteader." I wasn't offended, but I had to think does this really apply to me? I looked up some definitions in Dictionary.com. Homesteading - establishing a homestead. Homestead - a house especially, a farmhouse with adjoining buildings, or settling land under the Homestead Act (See like I thought the 1800's!) Modern Homesteading - no entry. Urban Homesteading - refers you back to homesteading.
Ok, that was really no help!

Daycreek.com (BTW this is a site where you can learn about cordwood building. A technique we are considering using) offers three definitions. I think I like this one the best:

"Homesteading has more than one meaning. It used to mean qualifying for free government land because you lived on it, built a house on it, and so on. Now it means living on the land and trying for at least some degree of home production of your needs, especially food. When people who were raised in cities try to accomplish that, I believe it can be every bit as much of a challenge for them as crossing the plains was for our pioneer ancestors. People go to all kinds of places to do their homesteading: the suburbs of their city, the mountains of Appalachia or the western United States, the northeastern United States, the Midwest, northern California, Alaska, Canada, Mexico. No matter where you are or go -- if you can grow a garden and raise some animals, you're a homesteader. And a fortunate human being!" --- Carla Emery, The Encyclopedia of Country Living

By that definition, we are definitely homesteaders! I've also been reading some other blogs by people who are homesteaders. There is a huge variety of people out there who are trying to be more self sufficient for a lot of different reasons. There is a lot that I could find to disagree with. We don't all see the world through the same lenses, but we all can learn from each other on this journey to become more self sufficient. So, with all that said, I am a homesteader.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

A Fall View of Our Road

My Foundations Exposed

We toss around a lot of phrases so easily. Such as "Christ is my strength, joy, and peace. He is my foundation. He is everything." Those things are true. In our heads we know they are. We read it in the Bible and we repeat it, but is it our reality? Do we really believe, to the core of our being? Do we "see it" with our hearts?

Sometimes I don't think we know until we are rocked out of our comfort zone. It could be a death, a betrayal, an accident, a sickness, or a lost job. Something that throws us for a loop and exposes where we really place our trust.

I've been in such a place recently. Don't worry, nothing major has happened, but something we thought we could count on has been placed in a state of limbo. How foolish I was to think that anything, outside of Christ, could be counted on. The only thing we have here is Christ and him crucified and our new life in Him.

I've been angry, depressed, scared and just generally distracted by the whole situation. This "limbo" has exposed my foundation. It is not entirely in Christ. I still stand on, take comfort in and depend on the things of this world.

We do have all things in Christ, but "seeing" them is a process. It does not happen all at once. Five years ago in a similar situation I would have been in a panic. I'd be looking for how I could fix things and get back to my comfort zone. I am not doing that now. I am waiting, somewhat patiently. I am praying, "Lord, open my eyes, that I might see you." Ephesians 1:17-19.

That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the full knowledge of Him, the eyes of our mind having been enlightened, for you to know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us, the ones believing according to the working of the might of His strength.


For more on finding our foundations in Christ, I highly recommend The Right Foundations Series, from the Akron Vineyard. This is excellent teaching whether you are a new Christian or have been a Christian for decades. I will be revisiting it soon!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Tea anyone?

On Friday we did not have a tea party.

For school this year Kellen is doing a series of unit studies centered on the Chronicles of Narnia. The study is called Further Up and Further In if you are curious. One of the suggested activities for Friday was to have tea.

Kellen did a little research about tea in England. He made a menu and helped prepare it. The menu was ham sandwiches cut in small circles, crackers with cream cheese and salmon, grapes and coffee cake. We got out some fancy little glass plates and cups my Great Aunt Hazel gave me. We invited Ashley and Miles (they were off school.) But please do not call it a tea party!


According to my son, a tea party is a girly thing requiring pink dishes and flowers. He could participate in no such event and was quick to correct anyone who would dare to call it a tea party. It was Afternoon Tea.

We also had a "teachable moment" about milk and lemon when the girls put cream into their lemon tea. They were all quite amazed and it was quick on the spot cooking/science lesson.

Call it what you may, we all enjoyed our tea, and it was a fun lesson for a Friday afternoon.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Remember Drivers Ed. . .

Talk about boring! I took it outside of school so I could get my license sooner. Many of my friends took it in school. I remember taking drivers ed in this over stuffed, hot room with an instructor who spoke in monotone. We were all bored out of our minds.

I don't think there were any options besides school or in a private classroom. Times have changed. A sponsor has asked me to look at this site. Now you can do the class portion of drivers ed via correspondence or online courses at your own pace. I wish I would have had that option!

Got a driver coming up? This may be an option to look at!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Coalwood, WV

On Saturday, we travelled to coal country. I had never been in this part of WV. It is beautiful. It is sad. We were headed to Coalwood, home of the rocket boys.

Do remember the movie, October Sky? In case you haven't seen it, it is the true story of Homer Hickam, a boy from coal country. He and some friends overcome many obstacles to build a rocket, and win the national science fair. Homer went on to work for NASA and has authored several books, one of which is Rocket Boys, on which October Sky was based.
Coalwood has a festival every year. Homer comes as do many of the rocket boys. Miles, Ashley (my nephew and niece), and Kellen were interested, so we decided to make the trip.

And a trip it was. Coalwood is, according to Mapquest, about 3 1/2 hours from us. We got up at 5:00 AM, because we wanted to make it for the parade. The six of us were going as were Mamaw, Papaw, Eric and his kids. We were in two vans.

Have a mentioned that there are almost no straight or flat roads where we live? It is worse in coal country. Have I also mentioned that Miles (my nephew) has a very weak stomach? Glad he was not in my vechicle! Mamaw gave him motion sickness medicine and they still had to stop three times on the way there for Miles to . . . well lose his breakfast.

We were following mapquest directions. There was a road we were supposed to turn on, that didn't exist. We ended up making a big loop to get where we were supposed to be. As you might guess, we missed the parade.

Coalwood was interesting. It was easy to imagine what it would have been like when it was a company town. The are two roads lined with houses. There are only a few styles of modest homes. A few of the homes are very well kept, but most show their age. There are large buildings that are falling apart. They were the Olga "club," company store, offices, maintenance and multifamily buildings. (I have pictures, but I can't find the camera right now. I will post them seperately.)

The festival is small, but we saw license plates there from at least six states. There was a parade (which we missed,) vendor boothes, and music. Homer's alma mater, Virginia Tech, had free activities for the kids. There was a trolley that took you to a rocket launch site. We also missed the rockets because we waited too long. The main attraction was Homer. He stood on the church porch all day long signing books or shirts and meeting people.

He seemed so genuine. He took his time and talked with each person. He had a smile. Mamaw asked if he ever got tired of meeting and signing. His answer, "Never." It seemed sincere. All proceeds from the day went to the local restoration group.

What a story his life is. It is a true American story of rags to riches, an inspiration to us all to reach and work hard for your dreams. It is also a picture of something that seems to be increasingly rare, someone who has succeeded, but remains humble and real. It was worth the drive!

Friday, October 06, 2006

There is no Potty like Home

Nolan is doing really well with the potty training at home. At home he mostly goes by himself. Sometimes he needs a reminder. When I remind him he goes without a fuss. No major accidents.

Perfect right? Wrong! He will not go on any other potty, but those at home. He won't even use Mamaw's potty. He goes outside when he is at her house. This week he had two major accidents. He waits until he can't stand it. He gets very grumpy and impossible. I try to get him to go, but he refuses to. Out and out throwing a fit refusing. Nothing seems to work. Then he goes in his pants. Last Sunday at church, I took him outside to go. Going outside is not a problem. He will pee anywhere if we are outside.

A friend of mine used to carry her sons potty seat with her everywhere. He used one of those that sits on the big toilet. She would wrap it up in a plastic bag and stick it in a big duffel bag and take it everywhere. I used to think she was nuts. I may have even thought those forbidden words, "I will never do that for my child." What I wouldn't give right now to be able to carry Nolan's potty seat with me. I would do it in a heartbeat! Unfortunately, Nolan refuses to sit on a potty seat. He goes on the big potty, at home. I can't carry our toilet with me!

Deep down I know this is a phase he will outgrow. He will learn to go to the bathroom when he isn't home. Right now though it is infuriating. Have any of you had this problem? Any ideas how to solve it? Besides never leaving the house or letting him pee outside everywhere?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Stress Breaker

The last few days I have been feeling very stressed. OK well, maybe the last few weeks. September is a hard month for us. Tim is off most of June and part of July. His schedule picks up about mid August, peaking mid September and coming back to normal anytime soon! :)

It is good. This is where the bulk of his commission is generated for the whole year. It is bad. At peak, he is working three 12+ hour days a week, 2 eight hour days and every other Saturday for 4 hours. He is exhausted and never home.

I also feel like I am working overtime. I am exhausted too. This week it has hit me pretty hard. I think because it is October and the busy time is supposed to be over and it is not. (good and bad again!) Also, the last few weeks have been busier than normal with doctor appointments and the like. It throws us off schedule and makes homeschooling and normal daily stuff like laundry that much harder to accomplish.

I have had little patience with the kids and yelling much more than I'd like. I spent the better part of this afternoon feeling frustrated, overwhelmed and sorry for myself. Then I sat outside for a bit holding the baby and watching the other kids play.

It was a beautiful evening. I was enjoying doing nothing. We came in and had a quick and easy dinner and I sat down and ate with the kids instead of trying to do laundry or dishes. As a family, we almost always sit down for dinner, but I find when Tim is not home I tend to serve the kids while I am completing some task. I enjoyed my time sitting with the kids even with the dishes piled and bags of apples calling my name.

I realized that I had been focusing on all these tasks. I was stressing over apples, black walnuts, dishes, laundry and even blogging. Yes, all those tasks need to be completed. OK, so blogging doesn't need to be done, but that is what I want to be doing. There are always tasks to complete and usually more than I could ever get done, but those tasks are not my primary purpose. Tasks are not what we are here for. We have been created for relationships. Firstly, our relationship to the Lord through Christ and then relationships with people.

Spending time with the kids this evening, instead of spending time doing things, was just what they (and I) needed. No, the rest of the night was not perfect. I still had to remind them to do this and that. I still had to threaten to spank Nolan to get him to do just about anything. (He is the most stubborn two year old!) But underlying, the frustration, the feeling of being overwhelmed and the self pity were gone. There was a peace.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Can you see it?

Can you see what I've been tackling? Really what I've been tackling is laundry, apples, and black walnuts, but those projects are not complete. In fact, laundry around here is never complete.

Well, I guess, to be honest, the project I want to share today is an ongoing process too. I've been tweaking my template. I have added graphics, and lists and played with the colors a bit. I have been doing that here and at Stop the Ride. I am not sure I am entirely happy with the changes I made, but it is a start. I guess my blog template is kind of like laundry around here: never complete.

Want to play Tackle It Tuesday head over to Five Minutes for Mom.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Holiday Recipe Exchange - Manhattan Style Seafood Stew


Time to share all those yummy recipes! The recipe I am sharing originated with a friend of the family. I know it is not your typical holiday recipe. It is a family favorite on my side and a little pricey to make, so it has become the meal we have when the family gets together for Christmas. An added bonus to this is that it can mostly be made the day before, so we don't spend the whole day in the kitchen. We usually serve this with homemade bread, salad and very decadent desserts. Cheesecake and Amish date pudding are usually among the choices.


Manhattan Style Seafood Stew
5 bacon slices, chopped 1 1/2 large onion, chopped
5 green onions, chopped 3- 28oz cans Italian plum tomatoes, drained
3-8oz bottles clam juice 3/4 c dry white wine
3 bay leaves 1/4 tsp red pepper
1 lb. small white potatoes, peeled, quartered and sliced
24 clams well scrubbed (or use canned minced clams)
1/2 pound sea scallops, halved crosswise
1/2 pound uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and de-veined
30 fresh basil leaves
1 TB lemon peel

Cook bacon in heavy large pot for about 5 minutes. Add onions and saute about 8 minutes. Chop tomatoes and add along with clam juice, wine, bay leaves and red pepper. Simmer 20 minutes.

Add potatoes to stew and simmer about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. (This can be made 1 day ahead and refrigerated. Return to simmer before continuing.)

Add clams. Cover & simmer until clams begin to open- about 5 minutes. Add scallops and shrimp. Cover and simmer until clams open and scallops and shrimp are cooked. (about 3 minutes) Discard any clams that do not open. Mix in 1/2 basil. Transfer to large serving bowl and sprinkle with remaining basil and lemon peel.

Category: Soup or Main Dish

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