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The Davidson Den

Updated: 2018-02-12T01:04:23.720-06:00


Our Home School Year 2016-2017 Is Still Not Over


Since I never got around to posting our school pictures when we were actually starting school, I figured I'd go ahead and post along with everybody else's 2017 first days.We kicked off our homeschool LAST YEAR on September 12, 2016.Here are my adorable students and their ages as of that date:Noah Paul14 years old8th grade------------------------------------------------------------Saylor Kathryn11 years old6th grade-------------------------------------------------------------Gabriel Isaiah9 years old3rd grade--------------------------------------------------------------Atticus Joseph7 years old2nd grade---------------------------------We have been working through Ambleside Online Year 3. This is our official "curriculum." My bigs do some additional work at their varying levels. Noah, especially, carries a huge workload. Translation: he is reading a LOT of books at once. But our family as a whole works together in most subjects, including Bible, church history, British history, early American history, Greek hero stories, American tall tales, natural history, fine arts, foreign language, literature, geography, science, and Shakespeare.We try to get our individual math and grammar lessons out of the way first thing in the morning and then move on to family subjects. Copywork and/or dictation exercises help us to transition into a time of independent work, during which my bigs have other assigned readings. Independent work time is when we finish up math lessons, try to do our vision therapy homework, enjoy a bit of free reading, etc.We decided to take time off from our fine arts co-op this year. And it was just as well. If you could've seen our weekly schedule, you'd completely understand! We had one in soccer twice weekly, one in ice skating twice weekly, one in ballet twice weekly, one in vision therapy twice weekly, and for a time, one in hand therapy twice weekly. It was a killer schedule. We couldn't do any more than what we were already doing. So fine arts had to take its place into our OWN daily schedule. Right where it belongs, really. We have enjoyed doing our own picture studies and composer studies here at home. Although, I will admit. It is hard to fit it all in.One area that I have really struggled with is making sure we all get enough time out of doors each day. There just isn't a lot of time. Besides, we are not the most focused family in the world, especially in the morning. Getting in gear is rare around here. :( We are working on it.Some time between 3:00 and 4:00 in the afternoon a couple of times a week, we try to have tea time with poetry readings. The kids look forward to this so much! Sadly, though, there are days when we canNOT have tea, simply because we are not all home (see above schedule). We also live in a neighborhood full of public-schooled kids who come home and then knock on our door to play right at about the time we'd be sitting down to tea. It just doesn't always work out the way we plan. So we go with the flow. And that's okay.We also like to go somewhere fun-ish about once per week. Sometimes it's just to a park to do our school; sometimes it's a hike and some nature drawing; sometimes it's a museum or a dollar movie or roller-skating. Fun activities help break up the busy week and give us something to which we can look forward.We are FINALLY coming into our last couple of weeks of this school year. The home stretch!! ...Just in time to start the next school year. Waaaah!! (I promise, we take plenty of time off. Just not when everyone else in the world does it.)Stay tuned. Maybe I'll actually manage to post OUR first day of school soon (2017-2018, that is). You know, if it ever rolls around. [...]

Gabe's First Birthday 2008--Nautical Theme


Gabriel's first birthday fell right on Memorial Day, so we went with a bit of a nautical theme. I ordered these easy-to-do, blank invitations, printed them myself, tied the ribbons on, and voila!There were cousins.And Daddy's famous fish 'n chips wrapped in newspaper cones (lined with freezer paper).There was cake. (My favorite cake of all my parties to date.)And there were cupcakes.Family.Food.And fun.Party guests received a sailor hat and a plastic sailboat.Baby boy enjoyed his smash cake. It was such a sweet time. All our little babies! (And one 'little bun' in the oven...yes, I was pregnant with #4 WHILE giving my #3 his first birthday party.)But nothing could be any sweeter than this little guy in his sailor suit.Happy 1st Birthday, Gabriel Isaiah!The BITTERsweet part? This scrumptious baby boy JUST turned 9 on me!Oh. oh. oh. [...]

What Our Homeschool Has Been Like This School Year 2015-2016


Most people do these posts at the beginning of the school year. Ahem...I'm not most people.For this school year we transitioned more fully to Ambleside Online curriculum. Admittedly, I still have much learning to do with regard to Charlotte Mason and her methods, and I still have unhealthy attachments to various and sundry curricula. (It's a sickness.) But I do have a good working foundation, thanks to all the meetings I had with a little CM group in North Little Rock between 2011 and 2014. If it weren't for those ladies and Charlotte Mason's writings through which we were reading, I might never have found my way as far as I did. I am also thankful that my friend Holly invited me to a Teach Them Diligently conference in 2014, where I was blessed to hear Sonya Shafer speak. Her talk solidified my decision to school in this way. That didn't mean I had it all figured out, mind you, but it was a start and helped me give up some of the aforementioned attachments. Since then, just by knowing my new Dallas friend, Joel, and then attending a CM Gathering with immersion in northwest Arkansas last spring, I made leaps and bounds of improvement in my understanding of Miss Mason's pedagogy and resulting practice of her methodology, and I love it all the more.However, having four kids and attempting at 100% the rigorous workload of Ambleside Online, as written, is not something I am willing or capable of doing, as each kiddo would ideally be in a separate year of study. There simply aren't enough hours in the day for that. So I spent a lot of time over the summer making modifications, choosing literature with a realist's outlook, gathering supplies, etc. And many of the things you will see here are not new to us exactly; implementing them on a regular basis is what's new. This school year, as a family, we have followed the Year 2 plan of study at Ambleside Online. A few of our texts for history, geography, biography, and science have been This Country of Ours, A Child's History of the World, The Burgess Book of Wild Animals, and The Little Duke, among others. Continuing from our Year 1, we also have readings from An Island Story, Trial and Triumph (church history), and Parables from Nature. Of course, we have spent time in Shakespeare and poetry and have enjoyed some more Holling C. Holling books and plenty of other wonderful literature. Plus, there has been the occasional music and drawing lesson. It is so hard to get it all in!One thing we've been doing differently this year is separating the bigs from the littles some as well, to provide a bit more challenge to the former. I intended to have the bigs explore geography with Halliburton's Book of Marvels while the littles continued in their phonics studies. But the littles ended up being around for the geography, which is just as well. And, I had hoped to try Delightful Reading for phonics this year, but I have struggled to make time for it all, honestly. Charlotte, I sincerely hope that your copywork and dictation will come through for us. I am trusting the process, as they say. But while things didn't exactly go as I had planned, Noah and Saylor have both become increasingly independent. I write individual assignments in their own personal plan books. These items are generally taken care of once our family time is over.During their independent time, Noah and Saylor complete extra readings in the areas of science, literature, Bible, and character development. I am also hoping to incorporate some typing lessons for them both in the next month or so. And as I mentioned before, we all spend time each week doing dictation exercises and working in our copybooks. And we have added map work to the mix as well.One of the best parts of a Charlotte Mason education is the keeping of notebooks. We are still a work in progress when it comes to doing that well, but eventually we hope to spend regular time in our family Book of Firsts, Book of Centuries (for the bigs), Nature Notebooks for all, Book of Words (for the bigs), Copybook[...]

Flashback Friday: Farewell, House on the Hill 2007-2013


Saylor's RoomBoys' RoomOnce a nursery, turned a playroomBonus Room/ School RoomThank you for the memories. [...]

Throwback Thursday: Spring 2013


Forward: I'm going to be "throwing back" and "flashing back" for a while, I guess. Bear with me. This post is Part Deux to this other Throwback Thursday post. The Davidson Spring back in 2013 was a little crazy-ish because we were not living in our home, though we still owned it. We were in the middle of prepping it to put back on the market. We had new countertops installed, had our floors professionally cleaned, put a special finish on our retaining wall (finally!!), had a drainage system installed in the backyard and then had it re-sodded, had most rooms repainted, and totally rearranged several rooms. I don't know if it was the fact that there were changes, or if those changes were particularly perfect, but I liked the new arrangement a lot.We were blessed to be able to stay at a guest house where our good friends, the Rackleys, had stayed while on furlough from Africa. Some household repairs we did ourselves, so it was nice to be able to go back "home" somewhere else when we were done working for the day. No, not nice. Awesome! This may be the only picture of "us" living in the guest house. But I love it.We certainly did our fair share of relaxing out at the "Rackley House." You know you are relaxing when you make time for jigsaw puzzles! Sadly, my camera didn't come out very often. But, I swear, it did come out. I distinctly remember taking GOBS of pictures of Gabriel becoming a soccer star before our very eyes and also GOBS of Easter pictures among the blooming daffodils on Wye Mountain, but I have no idea what happened to those pictures. No. idea. I'm convinced we somehow lost a memory card in our multiple moves. And it breaks. my. heart. It's awful. SO VERY awful!! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaccccckkkkk!!!!SOME of our spring activities were preserved, however.For instance, we were passionately involved with seeing some new raw milk legislation passed by both the House and the Senate. We actually visited the Capitol a couple of times. So exciting!!We even got invited to sit in the VIP section of the Senate. No lie! A huge thank you to our friend, Senator David Sanders!!!! We owe you for the seats AND the support!And the Arkansas State Senate begins its sessions with prayer. Love that!Gabriel started playing soccer for the first time ever. And he was utterly amazing!! (But this is the only picture I could find. Boo!) Doesn't he just LOOK the part?? Noah played some, too, though I don't know where ANY pictures are!! (Double boo!!)We had a sweet, impromptu visit with cousins at the park near our guest house. It afforded us an opportunity to exchange Christmas gifts because we didn't get to see each other for the holidays.Noah finished his first year of Scouting during which he had to complete almost two years' worth of activities and requirements in order to finish the Webelos Cub Scout book and become a Boy Scout with the rest of the boys his age.Here he is receiving his Arrow of Light.This is the Crossover Ceremony, in which he went from being a Cub Scout to a Boy Scout.We caught a Travs baseball game or two.We had a fun play date at the park with another special homeschool family.And occasionally we'd stop by our own home to check on things, dust, etc. And when we would, it was such a sweet treat to catch our neighbors at home. How we love soccer with these two boys!Noah turned eleven during all of this, too. (Whoa.)We enjoyed the peace and quiet and just being outdoors at the guest house. Noah can always be counted on to find some fascinating critter. allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="480" src="//" width="640">But by May, we had moved back "home home" because our house had sold. (Yay!) The kids were so glad to be back. For one thing, they had missed their toys!You might've thought we'd be busy packing, but we were gun-shy and decided to wait until we closed and had the check in our hand before packing even the first box. So we simply enjoyed our spring. Noah, the creatur[...]

Davidson Homeschool 2014-2015


Forward: OKAY. I wrote this post a long time ago...and never posted it. Obviously, moving gets the best of me. I just can't deal. So read this with the frame of mind that these things have all already happened. It was LAST school year, and now it's summer. :) Which means I'll be posting about the new school year VERY soon!! (sheesh)Little Atticus began Kindergarten this past fall. Can y'all believe that?! He's officially a homeschooler now. Watch out, world!! And Gabriel is in first grade this year. Just these two littles would be enough to keep me very, very busy, but that's not all!!Saylor is a 4th-grader...and my Noah is doing the whole 6th grade thing.Well, I say that, but oftentimes with homeschoolers, there's no such thing as grade levels. We just work on what we work on and prefer not to be labeled. New house still in early, just-moved-in stagesAs far as curriculum choices go, things look and feel significantly simpler than they have in the past for me, as I began transitioning about a year and a half or so ago to a Charlotte Mason approach to homeschooling. What that means for our day is that we do most of our schooling all together. We are currently reading through Book One of The Story of the World series, though it is written for the classically-trained child (NOT the same as Charlotte Mason, by the way). But it has been interesting, so for now we will continue to work our way through that book. But I am considering returning to My Father's World again at some point. Just not sure. There are so many decisions to make--constantly! And that's just history. :)Language arts is a bit of a hodgepodge, I'm afraid. I still believe in the Shurley Method for diagramming sentences and learning to structure writing, but I find that it is completely impractical to have each child in a different level of Shurley. Who has the time?! So I have left off with Shurley with the intention of coming back to it occasionally for review and/or introduction of concepts, especially for the little boys. We will see. In the meantime, I have truly enjoyed Emma Serl's Primary Language Lessons for my big kids to review old concepts. I'm planning to move them on up to the Intermediate version eventually and then begin the Primary one with my little boys who are currently working through Language Lessons for Little Children. I also have Ruth Beechick's Language and Thinking for Young Children as a backup resource. Math, as always, has me all flustered. Even though it was my SPECIALTY as a classroom teacher, with homeschool curriculum, I just haven't found anything that's actually any good. (!!!) Right now we have a little bit of Singapore going on, which I'm not very impressed with AT ALL. And we use Khan Academy as well. We also enjoy Life of Fred for a nice change of pace and a fun way to explore concepts. And I've got the little boys getting started in some Math-U-See. Not real sure how I'm going to like that program either. It doesn't seem like my style. I can't help it--I still think Marilyn Burns is the be-all, end-all when it comes to math instruction. I just have to figure out how to make it all jive with all the levels of mini-mathematicians I've got in this household! Ha!-the story of my life. I'm so excited to try out a new program called CTC Math now that I've got four peeps needing math instruction. I'll keep you posted on how it goes for us. The rest of our day is filled with Ambleside Online, which is our list of literature, including Bible, which is chock-full of history, geography, the arts, science, and everything else you can think of. We thoroughly enjoy Ambleside books. We are currently reading Aesop's Fables, Parables from Nature, Paddle-to-the-Sea, 500 Famous Stories Retold, poetry, and The Island Story, among other things. And then, of course, we strive to have plenty of independent reading time each day.When we read Shakespeare, we have these guys, among others, to help play the [...]

Homemade Laundry Detergent - UPDATE


This is an update to the post from here, which I wrote way back in 2010.I STILL use this detergent, guys. Still love it. HOWEVER, I accidentally discovered one day that there is an easier way to do it. It is much quicker than all that stirring I used to do before. The ingredients are the same, but the order in which you mix them is what has changed.Here are the ingredients you'll need:1. Baking soda2. Liquid castile soap  (I use Dr. Bronner's and purchase it wherever I can find it on sale at the time. Sometimes Drug Emporium, sometimes Whole Foods, sometimes Azure Standard, sometimes Amazon, etc.)3. White vinegar4. Washing Soda (made by Arm & Hammer, or you can just buy soda ash; I can get this at both Wal-Mart and Kroger where I live)Measure 1 cup of baking soda and 1/4 cup of castile soap and mix together using a pastry cutter in a large bowl. Mix well. Then, add 1 cup of vinegar. Pause a moment while it foams up. It is MUCH foamier doing it this way than the way I used to do it! Sort of swish/mix it around with your pastry cutter. It should feel like the baking soda has turned into bubbles.I will have to add a picture here later so you can see all that foam.NOW add 1 cup of washing soda. This will begin to calm that foam right down. Work the soda into the mixture using your pastry cutter. It will begin to take on a pasty consistency. Stir until thoroughly incorporated and then give yourself about a three-minute break. Maybe wipe the counters. Put away all your ingredients, etc. And then chop and mix a little more with the pastry cutter. Eventually (and not long at all!) it will begin to dry out and break up into a powder. Just repeat the wait-a-few, mix-and-chop pattern until you are ready to transfer it into your container. (By the way, this does not need to be kept in an air-tight container.) I don't worry about clumps, but you can if you want to. Y'all, I think it works great! And it is low/no-sudsing, so it is perfect for HE washers. Use anywhere between 1/8 to 1/2 cup per load. Depends on your washer and how large/how dirty your load. I tend to use about 1/4 cup. I have a friend who uses much, much less than this! So far, I've been too chicken to try it. I so hate doing laundry. I sure don't want to RE-do any of it!  Here's the recipe one more time:1 cup Baking Soda1/4 cup Liquid Castile Soap1 cup Vinegar1 cup Washing SodaThat's it!! [...]

Vacationing in Colorado: Part 4, The End


So I'm finally wrapping up the posts for this trip we took FOREVER ago to Durango, Colorado! Please enjoy the exciting conclusion.  ;) Previous posts, in order, are here, here, and here.Day 9:We used our last day in Durango as a bit of a rest day. We went into town and stocked up on snacks, bought some yummies for our campfire dinner, replaced our portable DVD player for the car ('cause Momma wasn't about to drive sixteen plus hours without a working one!), and just generally piddled in Walmart. Then we had a delicious lunch at a "real food" pizza restaurant. And, lucky for us, Durango was having some sort of community mini-fest that day, so we were more than willing to participate in a little bounce house fun. Don't mind if we do!Once we got back to the cabin, we spent time just enjoying the great outdoors. Noah did a little hunting for bones while the others did some finger painting. We made a cute, life-size thank you note for our host, the owner of the cabin. Saylor picked a bouquet for dinner. And Mommy and Daddy got dinner going.It was a lovely evening.We are all very happy to be saying goodbye to these guys, though.The next morning we headed out for the verrrrry loooonnnnnggg journey. For fun, we did stop off in New Mexico to see The Blue Hole.A two-day trip in the car with four littles takes creativity. Here's how we manage.1) The aforementioned DVD player.  :)  Currently out of commission yet again.2) Activities of interest. (Coloring books, car games, scavenger hunts, library books, small action figures, LeapPads/V-tech devices, etc.)3) Snacks galore...and always apportioned out in serving-size paper cups or baggies. Must. keep. the. snacks. a'coming.4) Pit stops during which we s-t-r-e-t-c-h and do whatever we feel like doing, even if it makes the car look streaked and horrible, and take our time doing it.5) Audiobooks and/or Adventures in Odyssey. Daddy doesn't appreciate these as much as the rest of us.6) Ear buds for at least one parent (you know who you are), sometimes both (if I'm lucky).7) Kid songs. Daddy definitely doesn't appreciate these! (We like KinderSongs, Veggie Tales collections, anything Disney; we especially like the Backyardigans and the Phineas and Ferb stations on Pandora.)Even with all that, let's face it, it's exhausting to travel, period. Add kids to the mix and the chances are very great that both parents will be near tears by the time they roll into their long-awaited driveway. Which we were. But it was all worth it!  [...]

Vacationing in Colorado: Part 3


I was looking through old posts and JUST realized that I never finished our Colorado trip from 2011!! What in the world?!Alright, I've been a bit behind schedule in every.single.aspect.of my life, I guess. So in case you've forgotten where we left off, here are the first two installments in our vacation series: Parts ONE and TWO. Go review. We'll wait.Day 7:We needed a more restful day today, considering the LENGTH and the physical strain of yesterday's train adventure. Today we decided to DRIVE into Silverton, as we didn't see much of it the first time around. You know, besides the inside of a semi-warm restaurant where we scarfed down some grub during our very limited allotted time. So today on the way into Silverton, we stopped at a little place called "Honeyville," because we knew our little bee lover would love it.Yes, those are bees in that tube.Their hive is in the middle of the little store.Honeyville makes and sells all kinds of honey-related products. And if you time it right, you can watch something being made.  That is, unless the worker is busy being puppeteer.There's no better role player than Atticus, so he just naturally decided to join in on his side of the glass.Poor things. It was a little bright out.Then we headed on to Silverton. The drive is...well...scenic. To say the least.There's the old mining town of Silverton nestled in the valley there.The "Old West"-looking part of the town is kinda cool to see.And y'all, there wasn't much to see here whatsoever. In fact, at one point I looked at Paul and said something to the effect that I just don't understand why the entire nation likes to pick on Arkansas being so po'dunk and backwards...when, man alive!  Paul then said he was JUST thinking the same thing!!Anyhoo...our final destination was yet to be reached, as we were just traveling through Silverton to go on up the mountain to an old gold mine there.Two thumb-suckers and their "silkies." Necessary for going into a deep, dark hole in the side of a mountain.Panning for gold. We left disappointed.On the way down the mountain??? It snowed. Shocked our socks off! I mean, it was September 15th, for goodness' sake! And it was actually not that easy to drive the winding roads. Scary!But. We also saw a rainbow. Beautiful, adventurous day.We finished this day with Mexican food, and the kids had their very first sopaipillas.Day 8:Another must-see in the Durango area is Mesa Verde. Do NOT miss it. Astounding is what it is. It was only a forty-minute drive, and I'm so glad we made it. He didn't want in the group picture.Once the monkey, always the monkey.Precious.Underground.Atticus and I had some work to do on the path, while the others explored underground.Is it just me, or are the clouds prettier in Colorado?Again--only 3/4 of the group.We were in Colorado one more full day and then began traveling back to Arkansas. I'll post the tail end of our trip tomorrow. Promise. [...]

The Blog Post I Never Thought I'd Write


Hope that title didn't freak anybody out. It's just that, well, I never did.MY expectations were that a) we would FINALLY sell our beautiful home in the Villages of Wellington (which we did in May of 2013), b) we would buy some land (we didn't--long story), and c) right about now, we would be in our custom-built, just-the-way-I-wanted-it home on our lovely land, off-the-grid, with a cow and some chickens and ducks milling about and me wearing a vintage apron and canning homegrown vegetables. We were MADE to be homesteaders!  ::sigh::God had other ideas.Instead of life in the country, He has for in the city of Dallas.Yes, DALLAS!!Uh........BIG. Difference.This Arkansas-born-and-bred gal is actually moving to Texas, of all places. Paul got a job there, so here we go. We leave behind our two Arkansas hometowns (small as all get-out), our extended Arkansas families, our beloved college where we met, and all the wonderful friends we made (who have BECOME our family) here in Little Rock where we've lived for the last seventeen years. Not until now did I realize just how deeply I had planted my "roots."Understandably, I am quite apprehensive, and my heart is heavy because I love so many people here. In fact, a giant CHUNK of my heart will be left behind! But I'm also a little excited to see what all the Lord has in store for us. Besides, I'm ready to be reunited with my man. He's been working there during the week for two and a half months now, only coming home on the weekends! And let me just tell you, raising four kids alone isn't at all natural. Or lovely. Or desirous.So despite not having found a home YET in the DFW area, we gave our (flexible) 30-day notice yesterday to the company that manages the rental home we are currently in. Which means the clock is now officially ticking.           !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!If anyone needs me, I'll be elbow-deep in boxes and bubble wrap.The kids on their first trip to visit Dallas, enjoying their first-ever game of mini-golf#watchthedavidsonsmovetodallas [...]

Throwback Thursday - Winter 2013


I left off with my rewind posts around the holidays of 2012. (This sad excuse for a blog is depressing, I know.) So I'm picking up with the winter of 2013. Let's breeze through right quick!We started the new year with a plan: to prepare our house to sell...once again!! DEEP BREATH........We spent lots of time clearing stuff out, organizing, and shopping for household items to help us "stage" our home a little better this time around. Certainly, some of our candid photos reflect that. And we had some heavy duty remodeling done, as well.Good riddance, shiny black granite tiles! I have never loved you.Early February, we actually moved OUT of our house, while we got it ready to sell. (We were refinishing the front door, painting most of the interior, refinishing our huge retaining wall, blah, blah, blah. It just wasn't conducive for actual LIVING.) And I highly recommend doing so, if you can swing it financially. We were blessed to be able to stay in the guest house where our good friends, The Rackleys, had just been staying while on furlough. For THREE WHOLE MONTHS we stayed. I'll admit, though, I was swamped with getting us moved and trying to do school remotely with just a little of what we own. Who knows where my camera was? I often had to snag a mere iPhone photo--when I remembered to get IT out! Pitiful, I know. It was just craaaaay-zaaaaay. But while we were definitely busy, we also did regular ol' Davidson stuff.Like play. (still in our own home)And school. (Yep, still in our own home...prepping this room for staging DURING class time, 'cause I'm amazing that way.)Ballet. (Isn't she lovely?)And Scouts.Our last-minute (as in, we made it the night before) Pinewood Derby car creation ended up winning second place overall!! What in the world?!We took a couple of family outings to see the Bisons play basketball--and Cousin Claire play in the band.We had a special Valentine's Day luncheon. At Old Mill. Yum!Uh. And in case you didn't know, when you are remodeling and packing and perfecting your home for numerous onlookers, you eat out a lot. Sad, but true. So...We ALSO had a special Valentine's Day dinner. At Larry's Pizza. And the kiddos opened their luv cards from their grandparents, which is always fun.Stay tuned for our spring activities and final pics of our house at its most spectacular. [...]

Melancholy Moment OR In Which I Linger Over a Bit of Poetry


I don't typically like to post about my kiddos ON their birthdays. Partly because I'm...uh...more than a little busy, usually. But also partly because I feel a plethora of emotions, and they consume me. Birthdays are kinda rough.But it's worse lately. I've been feeling this whole jumble of emotions MOST days, not just on birthdays. Right now, I am really struggling with the hard things. The cancers. The tornadoes. The wrongness and atrocities and things I'd like to shield my children from ever knowing. The aging. The dwindling. The sickness. The sadness. The sin. The bittersweetness of life.I guess I tend to focus a LOT on the "bitter" and not quite so much on the "sweet." Which stinks, because there's a whole lot of sweet!! I know. I used to count. kiddos ARE sweet.It's just that they keep on growing!! And I sort of wish they wouldn't. Sometimes, deep down, I think I actually HATE their birthdays. I don't want to. I want to enjoy the day and honor my children and be grateful for their little lives!! And I DO think and feel those things...But.I also feel deep, deep sorrow. This is hard and a bit humiliating for me to say "out loud," but it is the truth.Today on my little Gabriel's birthday, we were having a yard sale--of all things! And while I was hanging out in my least favorite portion of our home, the garage (yech!), I came upon ANOTHER box we hadn't managed to unpack after we moved. And it was FULL of books. In fact, more than half of my poetry collection was in there, so I did what anybody who would like to avoid the realities of yard sale-ing would do. I got busy reading poems. Ahhhh.......But then there was this one. By David Coy.Wednesday Massacre Our pup has chewed on the facesof the stuffed animals,unravelled those fixed expressionswith sharp teeth,then tore their bodies asunder."No, no, bad dog!" we scold.Bear, Rabbit, Owlare all dismembered.Cotton litters the yard,twisted bits of cloth.We wonder what to tell the boywhose body we remember holdingas he held on his lapthese soft toys.But it was hewho baited the dog,who left these sacrifices one at a timein flagrant disregard of the past.Cute, huh? But also cutting. At least to me--a mama raw with emotions on this particular day.Plus it's true. It doesn't even have to be a Wednesday. And one certainly doesn't have to HAVE a puppy (and we don't) that goes around destroying precious stuff-memories. Kiddos on their life's journey just have a way of sacrificing their past all on their own. Heartlessly. Because they change and they grow, and they change and they grow, and they don't even remember those sweet-smelling, midnight-feeding, awe-inspiring cuddle moments in which your heart enveloped every. single. thing. about them and was utterly and completely filled to the brim.They have never acknowledged the danger in which YOU have been ever since that filling. Danger of losing them. A little a heart-wrenching time.My baby is 7. Agonizingly 7. [...]

The Best Asparagus You've Ever Had


Want a "quick 'n easy" yet healthful vegetable dish for your repertoire? Then this is the one.Start with a clean bunch of vitamin-packed asparagus, perhaps my favorite vegetable of all time. I try not to buy the very thick ones, though. The thinner, the better. Trim off approximately one inch from the bottom and then halve them. Actually, the spear-end should be just a little bit longer, because it will cook faster. Basically, you want to even the score.Because that's only fair.Heat your skillet on medium-high heat, melting a heaping tablespoon or two of coconut oil in which your veggies can finally get happy.Toss. And continue to sauté for about five minutes, depending on the thickness of the stalks. You'll notice they are getting a deeper green.Now cover the pan and let the steam soften them up just a bit. If it's too dry in there, add about a tablespoon of water.Next, we add asparagus's best friend. What? You didn't know red peppers and asparagus were the best of buds? Neither did I! Until something magical happened in my kitchen one day. (They were all I had.)While your asparagus is steaming, cut that pepper into strips and then halve the strips.Add them to your steamy asparagus. Toss and sauté until the peppers are softened. No cover needed.And now the moment we've all been waiting for. ::Hello there, preposition at the end of my sentence. No one really cares if you're there right now. Our eyes are focused below.::CREAM.Oh, maybe about a half cup of heavy cream will probably do it. But, by all means, if you think it needs more, go for it!! Just add a LITTLE at a TIME.The cream will do two things.1) Deglaze the pan so all that yummy, cooked-on veggie goodness will get back in the game.2) Add richness and flavor, of course!Remember, add it a little at a time. You're not going for SOUP here. Let each little bit cook into the dish and thicken it before you add more. See how it's bubbling along the edges? Let it do that for a bit and when it begins to take on an orangish tint (from the peppers), it should be getting about thick enough to add a little more cream to another area of the pan.And because I'm NOT afraid of butter, I usually add a little of that, too, at the end. (Grass-fed is the best.) There's nothing like it for depth of flavor. Salt to taste. (Yes, TASTE your food, people!!)One bunch of asparagus and one red pepper is enough for my family of six to have one serving (as seen below), which is why I often double it. Everyone ALWAYS wants more!This is a crowd-pleasing side dish, I promise!!Do me a favor,...if you know me and have tried mine, if you would LIKE to one day attempt this "recipe," if you DO try it and like it, or if you're just remotely, possibly interested, would you Pin It or Like It or whatever you do with things like this?? (Note: I have all the handy little buttons you might need to the left of this post.) I think more people should eat both asparagus and red pepper, and this is one easy way to get them to do it.I'm linked up at Real Food Wednesday with Kelly the Kitchen Kop. (It's been a long time...) [...]

Necessarily Rewinding: The Holidays (Part 4)


December 2012 started out pretty stinkin' snazzy. Check it out.Christmas tree shopping.It's a serious business.This is what the boys do EVERY time!!It was a big 'un.Shaun Groves came to OUR church, put on a Christmas concert and did a talk for Compassion International (love them) at OUR church (did I mention that already??), and then....oh, then...I was SURPRISED (very SURPRISED) with the opportunity to sing WITH him as an encore in the concert!!! Oh, yes!! It actually happened!!!Aren't the sweats just lovely?? If only I'd been wearing black or white sweats, something like that--at least they would have matched my very red, very astonished face a little better.  ::sheesh::Shaun Groves!!!!!Oh, holy jingle bells, Batman, I look terrible. In fact, I look EXACTLY like a momma who'd been wrestling with a massive Christmas tree and all its many decorations all day long. Hmm...I loved getting to meet him and, of course, sing with him. After the concert, I chatted with Shaun about life with four kids, homeschooling, Compassion blogging, and these posts of his on depression, which meant so much to me because. I. get. it. And I need to talk about it more.                 ______________________________________________________________Now.If you've been reading, you may have read between the lines that our kids being in public school didn't, in fact, LAST. I'll get into that whole story a little later, but for now let's just say that we were all very, very ready to bring them back home. The district graciously let us take them out on our own timetable, which was December 3rd. (We couldn't even wait until Christmas break!!!)Heading out for their last day of school.It's done. It's over. We hope we never have to do that again. M'kay?First day at home and Noah is busy building.We now have the freedom to attend things like The Nutcracker on a Friday morning!! It's awesome!Not only did we get to hear Shaun Groves, but Kari Jobe also rolled into town! Wahoo! Kari Jobe!!!::Pretend there's a video here. I have one, but I am in NO mood for Youtube encoding procedures.::Saylor attended a birthday party for her sweet, former classmate.Christmas shopping is so much fun! Right???We got "12" on 12-12-12. (We needed an excuse...)We shipped my favorite Christmas gift "find"off to our sweet nephew. Wish they lived nearer...:(It's looking kind of Christmas-sy around here.This year's (2012) backwards birth order.Wrapping helpers.On Christmas Eve, we had lunch with family. (I just love dressing them all matchy-matchy.) This would have been a great picture had Atticus not been VERY much against having his picture made.Christmas Morning, we started the day with snuggles.Then on to the stockings.I always like to get each child a nice, new book.  He loves Lambie the very best! (Never mind that she wears a pink tutu...)Somehow no one noticed the severe bedhead happening here...until it was too late.Speaking of pink tutus, this one is handmade by yours truly....from his favorite ride at Silver Dollar City.That night, Christmas night, the power went out, and it got very, very cooooooold......thanks to a sudden onslaught of snow and ice.The next day we stuck it out, hoping the electric company would fix our little "problem," while the kids played outside a bit. A very little bit. Let me tell you, the whole playing outdoors thing doesn't last too long when there is no dryer to dry their icy clothes! Finally, we headed to Conway to stay in Poppy's nice, warm house. Days later, when we finally got power back on at our house, we had to dispose of many, many food items. (That's so hard for me.)I guess Saylor loves [...]

Necessarily Rewinding: Part 3


(October - November 2012)Playing soccer at the neighborhood park with our friends from across the street...Having an after-church play date...Gabriel wanted to make a pumpkin like he'd seen others make. It was his first time ever to dig into a pumpkin.Atticus had a terrible fever and missed costume day at his Mother's Day Out.The next day he was crossing one eye!!! Talk about freaking out. We sure did a little of that. We had him at the pediatrician's office by lunch. We didn't get to see our actual pediatrician, but as it turned out we got to see Doc McStuffins, which just happened to be Atticus's very favorite show!! That helped so much, since my little fella hadn't been to see the doctor since he was a tiny baby. We even sang the "Check Up" song on the way so he would know what to expect. Imagine our surprise when Hallie Hippo, the nurse, walked in, followed by Doc McStuffins herself! What a blessing and a happy memory! (By the way, this is not common practice at our clinic. It was Halloween.)Atticus's favorite character on the show:We then got sent to a pediatric opthamologist just down the road. And lo and behold, my baby needed glasses!! After a week's wait, we rechecked his eyes just to be sure and then tried on a few frames.He's so handsome, no matter what!Here he is with his way-cool "sunglasses" to protect his dilated eyes.A decorated brother... ;)Trampoline fun...Washing the windows...Atticus's teacher brought her son to school, and HE brought a very special droid. Atticus was ecstatic!Ballerina...Family camping trip...Gabriel's kindergarten Thanksgiving program...Atticus joining big brother on the school playground...Pizza and a Movie...Saylor's Second Grade Veteran's Day Program...Saylor's "Da" stood to be recognized as one who had served his country.Saylor's great-grandfather also served. (This photo is featured toward the end of the video below, round about 3:57.)My Saylor Girl auditioned and won a solo part in the finale. She sings the first verse (so beautifully) in this tear-jerker (you'll even get a VERY brief (and hazy) glimpse of her at the 37-second mark): allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="480" src="//" width="640">Her daddy bought her flowers. **awwww**Atticus pulling off his new look quite well...Enjoying a frigid football game...Noah receiving several Cub Scout awards...Whew!I'm GOING to catch up, I'm GOING to catch up... [...]

Necessarily Rewinding: Part 2


Most of these events occurred JUST during the month of October 2012. (We have crazy busy Octobers.)There were a handful of sweet moments our kids experienced during their brief stint in public school. Cute crafts, for instance.And being recognized for good character in the area of "responsibility":Saylor's bestie was recognized, too!Plus the fun dress-up days:Those things are certainly fun, but let's face it. Couldn't we do those things ourselves in our homeschool and/or for our play dates? It's a matter of choosing to be creative. One sad thing we noticed after the kids started public school is how much they seemed to miss one another. The afternoons after school were pretty crazy with three kiddos needing help with homework and dinner to cook. There often wasn't much time left for just playing together or being creative. Fridays, however, were noticeably more relaxed. All our fun selves came out on Friday."Pretzels" (game created by Noah)The world's longest straw? (also created by Noah) An architectural masterpiece (created by Gabriel)And on Saturdays, of course, we needed to decompress with our fully functioning, onsite restaurant,("spigety, pizza, sadwich, lemen, water"...for a "totle" of 14 cents.)some refreshing lemonade,and spontaneous naps, which are perhaps the cutest kind.Being an always-homeschooled family, we were accustomed to the flexibility of our schedule, which was just not very flexible anymore once in the public school system. We did squeeze in a quick weekend trip to see family, though.Saylor played dress-up and tea party with her cousin. (Notice there's a brother hiding behind that pillow. He was watching the festivities.)Noah spent time with his uncle.And Atticus sneaked a game on his brother's DS. (Oh, dear.)While all the fun was going on, Da worked to get us unstuck. (Always fun.)Noah's class had a field trip to see a play. Well, to be fair it was really a field trip to see the last third of a play. I chaperoned and was appalled when the buses finally rolled up over 30 minutes late! There was some sort of mix-up with the buses. Mind you, no one got a refund for the trip nor was there a "make-up" activity for the kids. I know the teachers were so embarrassed, even though it wasn't their fault.There was a Q and A session afterward.Then Gabriel's class tooks a field trip to the Pumpkin Patch that Atticus and I got to help chaperone. More pics here. Gabe was so excited to have me in his classroom.First time EVER to ride a bus!!BIG moment!He hated the bus ride. It freaked him out. Even his teacher told me he was holding his heart and breathing fast. **grin** He's such a little worry wart. (Awww...) But at least he had a good time once we got there!Gabriel got to go home early with me (he avoided that return bus trip!!), so I put him down at nap time when Atticus went down. He was OUT in record time! My poor, little exhausted baby. Kindergarten is way too much.October also meant that Saylor Girl turned EIGHT years old!! We took her out to her favorite restaurant.As if that wasn't enough fun, the Rackleys came home on furlough! Wahoo!! We were reunited over dinner and dessert. Such a special family.The next day was our churchwide picnic. We just love God's people in this particular congregation.Next (just a few days later) it was Atticus's birthday. He turned FOUR! He chose sushi and hibachi for dinner.Speaking of Atticus, he met a dear, little friend in his Mother's Day Out program and was blessed to attend his birthday party. (He shares a birthday with Saylor!) His mother and I just melted when this happened:Just a few days later, we were blessed with a visit from our other cousins. We had dinner tog[...]

Two Boys at the Pumpkin Patch


October 2012 [...]

Giving Thanks



How I Send Real Food When My Kids Are on the Go


If you've been wondering about our bodacious lunchboxes seen in my previous post, I'm here to tell you all about them. Perhaps you too have had difficulty finding a SAFE way to send lunch for your kiddos, what with all the scary plastic chemicals that leach and off-gas on and around your food. Yuck! Well, after much searching and REsearching last year, I finally ended up with what I think just may be the best lunchbox ever: the PlanetBox.There are three styles. We have the PlanetBox Rover, because my children like a little bit of everything in their lunch meal. This Bento box style is right up their alley. (See how they love Muffin Tin Meals here and here and here.) The Rover has several dividers, like a real lunch tray, which gives me more options for sending a variety of food...withOUT having to send fourteen little plastic baggies per child! I love that they can be personalized with cool magnet sets that go on the outside of the tray. I love the durable carrying bags, which come in several colors. AND I love that the trays can go right in the dishwasher!! No fuss.Now, they are NOT cheap. Especially when you are buying for multiple children.  :ahem:  However, they are durable and will last much, much longer than the boxes you might buy at Wal-Mart. I fully intend to see my grandchildren toting these suckers around one day. Your child won't grow out of them, either. These are easily sophisticated enough to be carried by adults! Which means I guess I'm going to have to stop carrying my metal Strawberry Shortcake box with the ruby red handle and the matching thermos...(dates me, doesn't it?)The only qualm I have with PlanetBox is that sometimes the magnets can get tedious, as they need to be removed before washing in the dishwasher. If it were one giant magnetic sheet, that would be one thing, but there are four magnets...per box. And four times four being sixteen means I'm peeling a lot of magnets off...and then putting them back on again. I did eventually learn to require the children to remove their own magnets and put away their own bags each day, so it's not a deal breaker. Besides, the kids love the magnets. They each chose their favorite set and have taken care of them pretty well. Magnet sets come separately, so not only could you opt out and avoid the hassle altogether, but you can also purchase replacement sets if need be.Other features of the PlanetBox we love:1) They are stainless steel. Read: no chemical-laden food. 2) There are optional mini containers with lids (seen below), which fit inside the trays. These allow you to send wet/gloppy foods, OR they can be packed into the front pocket of the carry bag for an EXTRA dry snack for heavy eaters. The Big Dipper and the Rover Dipper both fit our Rover lunchboxes.By the way, for extra little snacks that need to be more handy (like popcorn or a sandwich), we use LunchSkins reusable velcro baggies, pictured above. Love them.3) There is an elasticized loop to hold a utensil inside the carrybag. We use bamboo sporks purchased at Paperless Kitchen, although they no longer seem to carry the two-packs I purchased. Still, a nice little company. In fact, I was their very first customer! 4) The extra pocket with velcro flap holds an extra snack or a note from Mommy. We often use the pocket to hold a bag of popcorn.5) There is a mesh pouch for a water bottle. We use Klean Kanteen kids' sport bottles. They fit perfectly.6) There's an interior pouch that holds an icepack (see above). You could make your own or use a favorite (if it fits). We use the ones PlanetBox sells. T[...]

Necessarily Rewinding: Part 1


Here's the thing about blogging. It is very much a habit into which one must GET. This is especially true when sitting down to "journal" about life's happenings does not come naturally to you. Well, SOMEhow I managed to get myself into that habit--in 2008. I had a lot going on that inspired me at the time. And...I was enamored with the trend, I'll admit. It turns out it was a lot of fun. Of course, there were times I got behind and struggled to keep up with the various blogging commitments I had made for myself, but I did okay.UNTIL..............we decided to put our kiddos in school. Whoa. School proved to be a schedule that I was not cut out for. So, for that reason and many others, we didn't keep them there long. But right on the heels of their coming home, we then decided to put our house back on the market..:eeeeek:....then we sold it.....then we moved out....then we became (literal) gypsies....then we moved into a rental home. And because of ALL THIS, I just couldn't do it any.more. I want to catch up. I have missed blogging and sharing our lives with others. I have missed having an online photo journal to look back on. So........we must REWIND!!Project 365: Week 34 "first week of school"Monday, August 20, 2012The Big Day:It sure is earrrrrly...First Day of "Real" SchoolLittle Miss PhotogenicBless his heart. It was so bright out there.He looks all grown up, doesn't he?I did great. No tears. No panic attacks. Got everybody to their respective classrooms. Saved the youngest for last so I'd have more time to make HIM feel comfortable. We put all his belongings away and he sat down at his table...and he opened his little school box...and took out an orange crayon...and held it correctly without any help from me................................and THAT would be the moment that left me undone. I had to turn away quickly and get out of there...and blink away the tears that were very much there and coming fast, because I'm gonna miss my babies who are growing up way too fast!!! And by sending them to school, I'm gonna miss SO much of their little lives...!  :(   :(   :(Tuesday, August 21, 2012Our new lunchboxes were a day too late in getting here for the first day of school, but we sure are enjoying them today! Atticus has one, too, so I can just go ahead and make four lunches the night before. It's nice having his ready and waiting. Besides, he's going to be needing it in a couple of weeks...One last moment with Silky before we begin.  ;)On the menu today: squash and carrot sticks with homemade Caesar dressing, sushi, Gouda cheese, hard-boiled egg, rice crackers with homemade guacamole, and a gluten-free cookie for a treat.Wednesday, August 22, 2012It's the third day of school and Noah's already forgotten his lunchbox. Good thing he has a helpful little brother.Thursday, August 23, 2012We met friends at the park after school today.Friday, August 24, 2012Gabriel's first "homework" was due today. Here he is helping with it last night. The stickers and pop dots were the fun part!It's an "About Me" scrapbook page for a classroom book. Now that it's done, though, I sort of hate to send it!Saturday, August 25, 2012Today ended with a game of catch. Gabriel is excellent at both throwing and catching, but he was really impressing us with his receiving abilities--on the run! Good catch!!-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Project 365: Week 35 "work and play"Sunday, August 26, 2012Guess I simply relaxed today.Monday, August 27, 2012We [...]