Thursday, January 23, 2014


We just finished learning about weather in science, and my friend scored an opportunity to go on a field trip to meet a weatherman.  We had no idea what to expect when we arrived downtown.  We thought we would see some kind of a weather room with lots of satellite maps and Doppler Radars, with meteorologists running around making predictions.  :-)

Instead, we were ushered into the newsroom and offered a seat on the cozy little couches where they conduct on air interviews.  Seconds later, "On Air" lights were flashing and we were watching the 5:00 news being done live!  It was completely unexpected and totally fascinating!  One of the more curious parts was watching the weatherman point to the green screen.  We wondered how in the world he knew where to point, but he showed us the hidden monitors where he could see the maps.  The kids got to try it too.

They stood in front of the green screen, but of course, on the monitors they had the weather behind them.  Except Hayden was wearing a green shirt.  Hahaha.  So he was "wearing" the weather and looked like a floating head!  That was pretty funny.  (A new fashion trend, perhaps?)

So we made him zip up his jacket.  :-)

I was intrigued by how many things happen simultaneously in a newsroom, and I was completely stunned by how welcoming and informative everyone was toward us.  It appears they don't have visitors too often, and never homeschoolers before!  

The producers showed the kids how they schedule sections and explained the crucial timing behind each segment of news.  There is constant communication with the production staff upstairs, so as the anchors are speaking they are also constantly listening to directions in their ear pieces.  There were seven cameras in action, and the weatherman and anchors move around a lot to "set" different takes.

They have to know where to look when, and the camera guy has to be dead on track to give them the correct prompter at the correct angle.  There was a short gap between the 5:00 and 6:00 news, and the anchorman showed a particular interest in the kids.  Turns out, he works with teens running a state wide civics competition, and he is a real advocate for homeschooling.  He initiated lots of conversation with us and was exceedingly encouraging to the kids.  We got to ask him all kinds of questions about what he does and he was funny and passionate in his responses.  A total blessing!

The weatherman that we originally went to see was also out-stand-ing.  

(Such a small world....he grew up and played baseball in the same TINY town in Tennessee where Hannah goes to school.  That was a crazy connection.  Then he played professional ball in the town where I lived as a child.)  

He is BUSY during the news, but he constantly circled around to us, giving updates and information about what was happening and how it was being done.  We learned SO MUCH.  The only complaint I had was his forecast....the weather here is supposed to be absolutely miserable today!  Ha!!!!  (Had to razz him about that.)  He has a fourteen year old and a sixteen year old, so he was the perfect fit for our crowd.

He would just be talking away to us and all the sudden need to look right to shoot a little live "blip".  

"Cold front moving in!  I'll tell you all about it at 6:00!!"

We were so pumped when we left there.  It was a TOTAL blast, and the kids were made to feel incredibly special.  Confession..............they were NOT all that excited about driving downtown to see a weather room full of doppler radar.  ;-)  And they were even less enthused when my friend and I forced them to come up with a bunch of weather questions to ask.

"Why do cold fronts move faster than warm fronts?"
"Since cold air masses produce severe weather, how to you track those?"

My personal favorite....

"How much of weather prediction is scientific data and how much is educated guessing?"

(My diplomatic way of wondering why the weatherman is always wrong!)

NO WORRIES.  Instead they got to ask REAL questions with GENUINE interest, like "How do you read a teleprompter?  How much ad lib do you do?  What happens if you goof up on air?"

Oh it was fun.  Super fun.  I may need to give up my day job and go work in a newsroom.  Or not.  The first thing Julia did when we left the studio was grab my arm and say, "THANK GOODNESS YOUR MOM IS WATCHING EMMA!!!  Can you imagine trying to keep her quiet and BEHIND the cameras???"

We all had a great laugh over that one.  Yes, the local news is very adept at reporting breaking stories, but they may not be quite ready for Emma just yet!  :-)

My friend has set a pretty high bar.  I'm not sure how we'll plan another science related field trip to beat this one!  Thank you to our new friends at WFAA!!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Brought To You By The Letter P

I can hardly believe that one week ago we put Hannah on a plane back to college.  This past week has been a blur of activity and playing catch up.  I intentionally let many things sit (and slide!) during her time at home so we could enjoy our time together as a family.  But seeing her go meant facing a vertical climb to get back on top of real life!  Her visit home was fabulous every which way.  Here are a few highlights....

P is for Pajamas

Pajama day at school was a MUCH bigger success than crazy sock day.  Thank goodness.  I learned some important lessons on the eve of crazy sock day, when WITH MY DAUGHTER'S BLESSING AND FULL PERMISSION, I stayed up very late sewing fancy bows and jingle bells all over her favorite striped knee socks.  I proudly draped them over the couch and was caught COMPLETELY off guard when she arrived down stairs the next morning in a hysterical fit of tears because I had ruined! her! favorite! socks! FOREVER!!!!  It was a confusing morning that ended in me tearing jingle bells from knee highs in a highly dramatic fashion while my wailing six year old watched from a time out stool.  A low, really.  A parenting low.  I then proceeded to RIP the entire sock drawer out of her dresser and set it at her feet, demanding that she choose a suitable pair of crazy socks to wear to kindergarten.

She chose white bobby socks.  Plain white.  I'm not even kidding.  With a total smirk on her face.

I was STEAMED.  The child went to school on crazy sock day wearing white socks, and I slammed a fistful of perfectly good jingle bells into the trash.

So, you can understand why I got a total case of the vapors when the teacher sent a note home saying we had to wear pajamas to school.  I resolved right then and there to let her pick out every single thing and to NOT embellish, change, or alter any night wear in any way.  She chose to wear cat pajama pants, a horse pajama night gown, and an owl robe.  All at once.  (With white bobby socks, don't you just know.) I was fine with it.  Completely fine.  And I only mentioned sixty seven times once or twice that Nana and Papa had just gifted her a fetching pair of MATCHING pajamas with little pink hearts on them for her birthday.  It was all good.  We made it through pajama day, smiling and everything.  Victory.

P is for Perot

We visited the new Perot Science Museum, and despite missing the parking lot entrance (twice!) and getting completely lost downtown, it was highly entertaining.

The musical staircase was a big hit.

So is this cool thing in the sports exhibit where you can race different animals on a huge screen.  Max is faster than a T-Rex, in case you were wondering.

P is for Pampered, and Pomegranate Martinis

Hannah's roommate came to spend two weeks with us.  She is fabulous and we absolutely adore her.  One night, the girls agreed to hold down the fort so that Handsome Buzzard could take me out on the town for a belated anniversary celebration.  We went out for a steak dinner (thank you, Dad!) and spent the night in a hip hotel.  P is for a PERFECT evening away.

P is for Playing Games

There's never a shortage of people in my house when Hannah is home for a visit.  That's part of what makes having her here so fun!  There were plenty of game nights with friends during this break.

P is for Parties with Tea

It is tradition for Emma and Sissy to share a tea party together the day before Sissy goes back to college.  Except technically, it's a cinnamon roll and chocolate milk party.  But they always use the purple tea set that Hannah made in ceramics class in the second grade.  This party was extra special since Lindsey was in town to join in the fun.  P is for Precious.

P is for Pumpkin Muffins

Life jolted into full speed when the girls left town, and switching gears can be hard when you are six.  (Or forty four!)  I purposed some special time with Emma this past week to help ease that transition.  We spent one whole morning making pumpkin muffins, and since I blocked out the whole morning for us, I didn't worry at all about the mess.  I let her do everything....measure the flour (and dump it on the counter), crack the eggs (and add shells to our batter) get the idea.  In other words, one batch of muffins really did take up an entire morning, but we had a lot of fun.  Turns out her favorite part was washing the dishes.  I filled the sink with warm soapy water, and she stood on a stool forever playing in it.  She was drenched by the end, which was just fine by me.  Took me four kids, but I finally got one who likes to do dishes!  Wonder how long that will last???

P is for Painted Ponies

I picked up a package of paper horses for a dollar at the Hobby Lobby.  We did an open ended art project the other day.  Emma kept calling out the next supply that we had to use in our masterpieces.  Here is my watercolor, crayon, marker, glitter glue, sequence, cut paper, google eyed creation! Who knew you could use so many supplies on one piece of paper!

P is for Penny

Penny, the Perfect Pet.  I have no idea how we got so lucky.  We just plain did.  She got her hair done this week, and is now particularly beautiful.  :-)  She played outside with the neighbor's four pound puppy the other day, and was so incredibly gentle.  Don't they look like a mega and mini version of the same dog??  Super cute.

Sunday, January 5, 2014


Today I am posting about a special Christmas gift over on my quilting blog.


We are so fortunate to be part of a well connected, close knit homeschool community.  It brings closeness and intimacy, and combats the feelings of isolation that can accompany living in such a huge city.  I'm often mindful of how "small" our world really is, and how comforting it is to have so many good folks in our same boat.

Today a beautiful family in our homeschool group unexpectedly lost their thirteen year old daughter.  She was hospitalized this morning with flu like symptoms, and was in the presence of Jesus this afternoon.  Her eight year old sister has also tested positive for H1N1 and is hospitalized tonight with high fever.  My broken heart aches for the unspeakable loss ringing through this community of precious friends.

I am humbled by the frailty of this life, and consumed with thoughts and prayers for a hurting family. Amidst a crushing grief, they have reached out to lift high the name of the Lord and to update family and friends.  Tonight sleep escapes me.  I feel burdened to pray unceasingly......and am unabashedly grateful for a throne of Grace to run to.  Mostly I pray that God will use me and my family and every member of this body of believers who know and love this family as instruments of peace and comfort and hope.

We can always use more hope.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Like Fleas To a Market

Today we went to the flea market.  It is an annual tradition with our friends to go in January, since that month is by far the least crowded.  There is a reason for that.  It has to do with the temperatures in January.  ;-)  I figure I saved $20 more than once throughout the day simply because I wasn't willing to take my mittens off and get into my wallet.

I bought ear muffs two minutes after we arrived.  I found a gray knitted thing that was pretty cute, but decidedly questionable for a middle aged woman.  Im not sure anyone over the age of eleven is qualified to sport an enormous crocheted flower near their forehead, but I would have wrapped just about anything around my head to rescue my ears. I never would have made it without the muffs!

Emma got a cute panda hat too.

My favorite thing about the flea market in Canton are the fresh squeezed lemonade stands.  I probably should have scouted for steaming coffee or hot cocoa, but instead I had TWO iced lemonades.  They are so delicious!!! At least I wasn't as bad as Emma, who chose ice cream for her treat.

It was a really great day.  I love spending time with these girls, freezing temps or not, and the more we laughed the warmer we stayed!

Oh!  And yesterday I posted over at my quilt blog.  I'm going to get back to that in the coming year.  Blogging makes the short list of resolutions.  :-)

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Kiwi Crate and A Bun In the Oven

One of the activities we continue to LOVE month after month is our Kiwi Crate subscription.  Kiwi Crate is a kid's craft club.  Each month a box comes to our door with two (minimum) projects for us to do together.  I'll admit I was skeptical about this at first.  I mean, I love crafts more than anyone.  Our homeschool room has an entire cabinet dedicated to art supplies and I'm forever scouring Pinterest for fun kindergarten art projects.  Why would I need Kiwi Crate?

Because it's different.

1.  Every single item we need to complete the projects is included in the box, and the supplies are super high quality.
2.  Emma genuinely loves the activities.  Every once in a while I think one is going to be a dud, but almost without fail, she is sincerely interested and has a blast.
3.  The projects are specifically designed for kids to be as independent as possible.  Emma is super proud of doing it herself with very little help from me.
4.  When our box comes, it motivates us to have a "date" and spend some quality time together.
5.  The boxes are educational too, and we always learn something new!

So our December box came weeks ago and I tucked it aside amidst the bustle and hustle.  That is super uncharacteristic.  Usually we dive in the minute it arrives on our doorstep.  Emma and I had a quiet night at home a few nights ago, so we busted a big Kiwi move.  The theme was "winter" and one of the projects was this polar bear game of catch.  It also has a little velcro ball that sticks to the paws.

We've played LOTS of games of catch over the past few days.

She even thought this one up all by herself.  :-)

Talk about the greatest dog E-V-E-R.
You've surely known dogs who could play fetch, but have you known many that play catch??  Haha.

Speaking of the greatest dog ever....
She is such a part of every minute of life around here.  There is always somebody loving on her.  Emma crashed and watched an entire episode of a show curled up like this right after Christmas.  Perfect down time.  Penny is always up for snuggling!

In other news.....

I was under the gun for a quick and simple dinner last night and had almost nothing on hand to work with.  We were still trying to get Christmas put away and Hannah was headed out the door with friends.  I had a pound of sausage in the fridge, so I decided to make sausage gravy, but I didn't have any refrigerator biscuits, so I looked up a recipe to make some.

I've never done baking powder biscuits before because I'm too lazy to roll and cut.
Sad, but true.
This recipe excited me because you just DROP the don't even have to grease the baking sheets!  Easy peasy!  And so much cheaper than Grand's!

These are quick, simple, and REALLY tasty.  I'll definitely be making them again!
I doubled the recipe for our crowd, and it made 24 nice sized biscuits.  Perfect with a slathering of sausage gravy and a side of scrambled eggs.  ;-)

Baking Powder Drop Biscuits

2 cups flour
2 T sugar
4 t baking powder
1/2 t cream of tartar
1/2 t salt
1/2 cup shortening (I had some on hand, but many people in the reviews said they used butter and it turned out just fine.)
1 egg
2/3 cup milk

Preheat oven to 450.
Sift dry ingredients into a bowl.
Use a pastry cutter to cut in shortening until it resembles course crumbs.
Whisk egg and milk together and add gradually to flour mixture, stirring as you pour.
Stir until dough is moistened and well mixed.
Drop by spoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets and bake for 10-12 minutes until golden.

Good for hungry kids.
Or hungry polar bears.  :-)

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

And Just Like That It's 2014


I haven't bothered giving much thought to resolutions today.  I always seem to spend much more time making them than I do keeping them, but I can't help but wonder if this could be (finally) the year of keeping the blog updated???  With two teenagers who homeschool and ONE computer in the family, my screen time is zilch most days.  But we shall see.  It is something I miss (and friends and family seem to as well) and it is so much fun to keep a record of what happens here.

I love every single crazy, rushed, frantic moment of December.  Always.  The pace is frantic, the schedule is crowded, the house is full (of both stuff and people), and it rushes past me far too fast for me to catch hold of it and savor it.  So instead, I just give in to it every year.  It's like picking up your feet in a wave pool and giving your whole self to the water....swirling and spinning and enjoying the ride as it carries you.  This year was no different.  I willingly jumped right into the vortex of the Christmas storm and took it for all it was worth.  Having a kindergartner in the house at Christmas time means that fun is are messes and crafts and baking sessions and way too many decorations.

Today we started taking Christmas down.  I always envied the "grown ups" in my life who talk about needing to get back to schedule and routine.  I always hate to see Christmas end.  I'm about 80% done getting it all packed away, but everyone knows it's that last 20% that will kill you dead.  I needed to step away for a few minutes.  :-)

I'm happy to welcome a new year, and I count happy holidays spent with the family we love as a great ending to 2013.  The year started with the loss of Jeff's Grandmother and a health scare with Papa.  My Mom sold her house and moved.  There were big changes over the course of the year and a few struggles too, but that just made celebrating together all the sweeter.

Before we launch headlong into a new year of fresh memory making, I want to capture and reminisce about a few happenings from the past weeks.

Emma took her turn as star student at school, which kicked my competitive mother gene into overdrive, as I invested far too many hours designing the "ultimate" star student poster.

Luckily, Jackie was in town that night and helped take the edge off as she talked me down from my Mother of the Start Student ledge.  She even sacrificed some of her valuable fantasy football time to come to the table and help with the poster.  In the end, Emma was delighted, and I felt satisfied that I had managed to work seven pink patterned papers, glitter foam, and a giant daisy onto a single sheet of poster board.

We made the annual trek to Nana's house for the Sugar Cookie Extravaganza.  She doesn't freak out about sprinkles on her floor the way I do, so she is a good sport about hosting every year.  Of course, Kaylyn missed the baking AND the cleaning up (heckle, heckle) but got there in plenty of time for sampling.

My baby turned SIX YEARS OLD.  Her request was a tall cake (not a flat one) and a Barbie horse.
It was a very good day!

We ventured to the quilt shop for our annual visit with Santa.  He told us his favorite cookie is chocolate chip, which seemed like a reasonable thing to add to the "to do" list, but despite her asking me every single day, they never got made.  We did manage to put reindeer food and a few carrots on the lawn though.  Santa, next year I'll plan ahead and make a double batch!

We welcomed Hannah home for the holidays and did a little impromptu swing dancing on the square.  I absolutely LOVE IT when my kids slip up and act like they genuinely like each other.  ;-)

Emma played an angel in the school play.
I know.
Horrible casting!!!
The best part was when she stepped onto the stage and the shepherd stomped his foot and yelled "WOW"!!  He knows a cute angel when he sees one.

I spent lots of sweet time with my Mom this year.  We worked several jigsaw puzzles and cooked some yummy meals together.  I enjoyed seeing her new tree in her new house and spending some much needed down time together.  I can't believe I didn't get a single good picture to post here of her.  I'm going to have to stalk her with the camera more in the coming year.

Christmas morning was merry and bright.

Every year I trap the kids on the stairs and refuse to let them to the presents before I've had my fill of pictures.  They begrudgingly comply, but the grumbling definitely increases with age.  ;-)

There was only one thing on the wish list this year, and Santa came through.
The American Girl doll horse Picasso now has a VERY proud new owner.

The Buzzard pulled out all the stops and gave me a BIG gift.  One I have been wanting for a very long time, it is true.  Whoever said romance is dead has never seen this man in action on Christmas Eve.

We had PLENTY of good laughs over that one!!  The commode in our master bath overflows constantly.....and always when I'm running late or wearing super cute shoes!  :-)
He even got it installed the day after Christmas.  He's a prince, that one.  A prince with a new throne.

I made a feed sack and horse coat for Picasso.  I actually did quite a bit of Christmas sewing and need to get busy sharing more of that over on my quilt blog.

Picasso isn't the only new addition around here.  Just before Thanksgiving, Hayden got a new bird.  It's been a bit of a rough adjustment, but she has mellowed a lot and finally seems open to the idea of us being friends.  Her name is Bella and she is a cinnamon pied cockatiel.  She got a brand new cage for Christmas!

Around lunch time on Christmas Day we headed up to the farm for family time.

We had a HUGE surprise waiting for Emma up there.
Papa is a magician.  He can wander into his barn and accomplish just about anything.
VERY shortly before Christmas (as in, no advanced warning) I was browsing Pinterest and came upon the plans for an American Girl horse barn.  I instantly knew Picasso could be very happy there.  :-)

Papa toiled and labored and pulled off a Christmas miracle for me!  (I told him I'm completely prepared for him to revoke my Pintestest privileges next year.)  Anyway, I can't imagine an idea that could ever top this one.  The boys went up and helped Papa a few days.  It was a family affair that we were ALL super excited about.  This was definitely one of those gifts where the givers are a million times more excited than the receiver every could be!

She was O-V-E-R the moon happy, and this sweet stable has seen hours of play time already.

On December 30th this handsome gent turned a whopping

I'm so proud of this one.  All my kids inspire me; each in their own unique way.  This one...he's fiercely rewarding.  God has something big in store for him.  He is finding his place in this world and stepping out to leave his mark.  It is a mark of determination, courage, and compassion.  I can hardly wait to see what his future holds.

Last night we hosted our annual New Year's Eve bash.  Every year we overdose on appetizers so that we are in a food coma by midnight. 

We played Perpetual Commotion, Scattergories, Trivial Pursuit, and Logo.
We counted down the new year, and by precisely 12:13 everyone was out the door with their left overs in hand.  I think this is a major sign of getting older!

I asked Nana this morning if they popped any corks last night and she said, "Are you kidding me?  We don't even drink Diet Coke after 4pm!!"  Ha ha ha!!!

Ending one year and starting another with a (messy) house filled with friends and family is what it's all about.  I'm forever learning how to balance more efficiently....fitting more in, being more on time, organizing better, meeting more needs, taking more initiative, tying up more loose ends, staying more consistent, and trying, in general, to have way less to apologize for.

I fall short on all counts, for the most part.  But the people who matter most to me always seem to look past that and show up to help make December crazier, busier, louder, messier, and WAY TOO MUCH FUN.  I'm so thankful for the wild ride, and for all the many blessings of this past month.

And most especially, for that Baby born in Bethlehem.
The one who lives on in our hearts and in our lives and who DOES NOT get packed away with all the other trimmings and trappings of a crazy month.

May 2014 be to His honor, His service, and His glory!!