Friday, May 29, 2009

It's Beginning To Feel a Lot Like Summer!

(singing in my head to the tune of "It's Beginning To Look a Lot Like Christmas!")

Our Lilies of the Valley are in full bloom . . .

School is finished as of today . . .

More planting in the garden . . .

(yikes! I can't believe I'm posting a picture of me in a sleeveless shirt!)

and I am enjoying my favorite place to wind down on a beautiful summer evening . . .


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Finishing Up

The boys are in a homeschooling fury today! We had originally planned to be done with our school year next week, which is when most of the schools around here are done also.

Last week I mentioned that if they did some extra work each day, we might be able to finish early. They didn't appear too interested in the idea last week. But yesterday, they suddenly decided that they want to be DONE! SOON! (I think the holiday weekend motivated them to move into summer mode!)

They did a little extra work yesterday, but have kicked in to high gear today. They've figured out how much they have to do each day to get everything done by Friday. I'm a little amazed at how focused and motivated they've been! And how little goofing around there's been.

We may have to finish some of our history next week, because we still had 8 lessons to finish as of this morning. But otherwise, I think we'll be done by Friday! Now I'm getting excited too!

In case anyone reading this is interested, here's a list of curriculum we used this year. After years of trying different things, we've discovered what works for us. Every year changes a little, but these are some of our favorites.

Mystery of History - for chronological, bible-inclusive history (I love history now after using this curriculum; especially learning what was going on in bible history at the same time as world history)

Math-U-See - math (we love that it's simple, effective, and comes with teaching DVDs)

Wordly Wise - vocabulary (which we also use for spelling)

Easy Grammar
and Daily Grams - grammar

- writing

Rod & Staff - for preschool and kindergarten

The boys have taken classes with a local group for Science the past 2 years. But before that, we did lots of nature studies, and general science. A couple of our favorites from those years are:

Considering God's Creation
(a complete science overview from a biblical, creation perspective)

Christian Liberty Nature Readers (interesting readers about God's creation)

We've also done a variety of bible and character lessons; some favorites are:

Searching for Treasure
(wisdom and character development guide)

Character Sketches (study of character qualities that blends admirable animal traits and bible story references)

Okay, I'm off to rest a little after our double-busy school day. Summer, here we come!

Monday, May 25, 2009

What Happens When Friends Come Over and the Guys Get Bored . . .

We enjoyed an awesome afternoon and evening Saturday getting together at our house with 2 other couples that we've known since college. We don't get to see each other very often, so there was much to catch up on.

The kids took off to bounce on the tramp, play video games, and play with Legos. The adults spent some time together, but eventually, the other 2 ladies and I wandered to the other room to look at scrapbooks and talk, and talk, and then talk some more.

The guys, left on their own, started to get the itch to do something other than sitting around talking. The TV went on. There was a little channel surfing. And then Rashed happened to mention something about how we'd gotten an estimate for having the tree in our backyard trimmed, but didn't have it done because it was too expensive. Next thing you know . . .

("Brian started it!" which, if you know Brian, is no surprise at all)

And now the boys have had something new and interesting to play with the rest of the weekend!

The weather's been absolutely beautiful here all weekend; what a way to start the summer. Hope you enjoyed your weekend too!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

American Idol - the Finals

Well, its finally here - the last Idol performance night. Adam vs. Kris.

I'm kind of going to miss AI on Tuesday nights. But when I think back to when it started with the audition rounds back in January when we had piles and piles on snow on the ground, it seems like it's been on forever. Now that it's not dark, cold, and snowy every evening, I should be able to find something more constructive to do with my Tuesday nights!

Just a short commentary tonight . . .

I agree with BooMama (where you can find links to other AI blog commentaries if you so desire) that most everybody had already decided before the show whether they would vote for Kris or for Adam. So in some ways, tonight was a bit anti-climactic; no big surprises or new revelations. But still, some great performances.

If I were to declare a "winner" for each of the 3 rounds, as Simon did (for the first 2 rounds anyway), I would give Kris the 1st round and the 2nd round. And then, although I don't think either sounded that terribly fantastic with the "No Boundaries" finale song, I would give Kris the 3rd round too because he sang the kind-of-corny song better than Adam. If I could be more objective, I might say that Adam won the 2nd round (because he really did manage to sing almost that whole song well, without scaring me). But I'm obviously a Kris fan, and I think he was just awesome, and I give him all 3 rounds!

So, will Adam win, as all the hype would have you believe? Or will Kris gather up Danny's votes and pull out ahead of Adam? We shall see . . .

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Backyard Clubhouse

Our boys have an awesome clubhouse in our backyard. Rashed built it a few years ago. Last year, when our neighbor was getting rid of a small privacy fence, Rashed snatched it up and cut it down to make a small fence around the clubhouse area. So now it even has a little yard, and a small, matching dog house (which our dog hates and never goes in).

(the main pumpkin color matches our shed, but the boys picked the colors of the door!)

(the unused dog house in the corner of the "yard")

I would have LOVED to have something like this when I was a girl - although of course, it would have been called a play house and would have been filled with girly, housey things. And it might have been painted pink or light green. And I would have wanted to put a comfy chair in there for reading.

This one is filled with BOY things; like weapons, rocks, sticks, potions (jars filled with colored water), a weird animal skull that Rashed found at a garage sale, and other various strange and interesting items. Come on in and take a look!

Doesn't it look fun? Come on over and play any time! (except you'll have to ask permission from the boys first!)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I Think I Need Purse Therapy

WHAT IS IT with purses these days??

I've been looking for a new purse for a few months; casually at first, when ever I happened to be around them, and more purposefully for at least 3 weeks now.

All I want is a mid-size purse that I can put over my shoulder. And I've discovered that the placement of the straps helps keep it ON your shoulder, not falling off; so the strap is fairly important. Otherwise, I would kind of like something colorful for spring/summer. That's it! Is that too much to ask? Apparently, it is!

I'll find one that's a style or shape I like, but the handles/straps are too short. Another one has the perfect straps, but it's way too big (I'm looking for a purse, not luggage). Another is about 2 feet wide but only 3 inches tall. Or it's too expensive. Or it's so cheaply made it doesn't look like it will last a month. Or it's only available in plain black or plain brown, which I'm tired of. Or the straps are way too long. Or it has about 100 huge buckles on it.

I've actually bought 2 purses, brought them home, but changed my mind by the next day and returned them. Today I even looked at purses WITH all 3 of my boys, because we were in a store I hadn't checked at yet.

It's madness, I tell you!

I just had to get that off my chest! Thanks for listening!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Finished Projects

I finally woke up my sewing machine from it's winter hibernation (I hadn't sewn anything since mid-December). I always have plenty of ideas for things I want to sew, I just haven't had the energy or motivation to start something. Besides which, my sewing machine is in our basement, where I don't really enjoy being during the winter.

For Christmas I made my parents each a fleece keyhole scarf; my Mom's in a Chicago Bears fabric, and my Dad's in a golfing fabric. My Mom requested another in Chicago Cubs fabric (now you know something about my parents!) and that was good motivation for me to sew something again, little as it may be.

I had seen and liked patterns for knit keyhole scarves (sometimes called neck warmers), where you pull one end of the scarf through a small hole on the other end, to keep it around your neck. But I thought fleece would be softer, and easier and quicker to make, so I searched all over trying to find a sewing pattern. Having no luck, I decided to wing it and make up my own. They actually turned out okay! This is the newest result:

this is a short scarf; it's great to even wear around the house during a cold, midwest winter, report my parents

close-up of the keyhole - like a huge buttonhole

modeled by Isaac, because he's a much cuter model than I am!

My newest favorite knitting and crocheting projects have been cotton dish cloths. They're the perfect type of project for me - quick to make, practical, and a good way to learn a few new stitches.

crocheted - and in real life is more red than pink
; didn't get the light right for the photo

These were both made from Lily Sugar 'n Cream cotton yarn. This yarn is inexpensive, easy to find, and comes in tons of colors, but I've decided that I don't really care for it. It's a little rough, not very soft to work with. So I began a mission to find 100% cotton yarn that I like better and isn't horribly expensive. I found a couple options, and am working on two new dish cloths. I'll post those when I finish them.

knitted - this one took much longer to make, but I like it better

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

American Idol - Final Four

Rock Night

Oh, brother, I'm not real big on Rock (except some of the really early stuff), so I was anticipating not liking tonight's show all that much. I was expecting Adam and Allison to shine; and that's pretty much what happened. And Slash as their mentor? Oh, boy. That's some hair he's got! I had never heard of this guy before tonight; that's how much I know about Rock.

Adam - Whole Lot of Love (Led Zeppelin) - He was in his element tonight. He was obviously excited about tonight, and I think he performed well. But truthfully, I hated it. Screechy, loud, and painful to watch.

Allison - Cry Baby (Janis Joplin) - She's in her element tonight too, although I don't think she did as well as Adam and I didn't care for the song. I still can't believe she just turned 17; she sounds so rough and seasoned.

Kris - Come Together (Beatles) - He did a pretty good job trying to put his own personal twist on a classic Beatles song. I loved the middle section when some of the instruments dropped out. (And I have to mention, that he cracked me up when he said in the taped part that he almost peed his pants getting to play guitar with Slash!)

Danny - Dream On (Aerosmith) - He actually held his own for much of the song, there were some really good moments, but the screaming at the end? Oh, Danny. I think he should have picked another song, but he was obviously trying to stretch himself.

The Duets - I really liked this new idea; I love duets! They were fun to watch. My opinion is that Danny & Kris had better harmonizing (I especially loved the awesome acapella part), but Adam and Allison had a better overall performance; if only because they were so comfortable in tonight's theme.

By the way, it seemed a little unfair that they put all of Danny and Kris's performances in the middle together. Adam (and Allison) got to be in the coveted first and last spots.

All in all, it was my least favorite night of the season; too loud for this 40-something, conservative mom! I think possibly Allison and Kris will be in the bottom two; but I really don't have a prediction of who's going home.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Lessons From My Kids

Naturally, over the years, I've taught my boys hundreds of things, like any parent would. Basics like how to brush your teeth, how to get dressed, how to speak nicely to people, how to put the toilet seat and lid back down when you're done, etc. And then those other random things like:

You can't put a band-aid on your tongue if you've bitten it

The dog doesn't like it when you squeeze him

We color on paper, not on the wall, or the floor, or your brother

But they've taught me plenty, too. Things that adults tend to overlook, or take for granted - things that we really should take at least a second (or longer) to notice and enjoy. I love how they get excited over the simplest of things. Just as much as God assigns us to raise and train our children, I think He intends for us to learn also from the innocent heart and mind of that child.

One example that often comes to my mind happened about 12 years ago, when our oldest was around 2 or 2 1/2 years old. We were driving across town to a good friend's house, where I was going to drop off Noah while I went to an appointment. We were running late - as people so often are - and with one eye on the clock, I was mentally grumbling about hitting practically every stop light possible along our route.

Then, less than a mile from my friend's house, we got stopped at a train crossing (of course!) I was pretty annoyed; but Noah was SO EXCITED because this really cool, and very long train was going past, right in front of us!

After finally being able to continue, we soon came to another back-up; a small construction site. Again, I was groaning about the time and being delayed even more; but in the back seat, Noah was laughing and exclaiming, "TRACTOR!! TRACTOR!!"

We arrived at my friend's house, with me feeling very stressed out and hurried, and Noah all animated and excited, chattering on and on about the most exciting drive we'd had, that included seeing a TRAIN! and a big TRACTOR!

I remember thinking later about how differently Noah and I viewed that trip across town. Of course, Noah had no concept of the time, or my responsibilities that day. But I've never forgotten how excited he was. It was a reminder to me not to always be in such a hurry that I miss the good things in life around me.

Recently, Noah and Isaac started making a big deal whenever they notice that the time on the digital clock reads 1:11, or 2:22, or 3:33 . . . They've even made up a few little songs, and a synchronized little dance that goes along with it! It cracks me up every time!

And it's a common occurrence around our house to stop everything and go running to the front window to watch some squirrels chase each other around the yard, or look at a cardinal or blue jay on our bird feeder. Even a line of busy ants gets noticed and paid attention to around here.

Try to look at the world with fresh, childish eyes today!

(one of our squirrel friends in the front yard tree)