Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas at Home

Christmas morning... loud, chaotic... wonderful!!
Our gifts to them...

God's gifts to us

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas with a Capital C

Are you as tired of "Happy Holidays" as I am?  Well, let me introduce you to this awesome song from Go Fish, my little gift to you this Christmas.  Never heard of Go Fish?  You are missing out!  We are HUGE fans in this house!

The Brad Stine add-ins make the song even better.  What??  Never heard of him either?  He's hilarious!


Monday, December 17, 2012

40-- say what??

The kids made the decorations.
I made pizza and the cake.
And Dwayne turned 40!!

 Holding up pretty good, isn't he? (he!he!) 
Happy birthday, honey!  We love you bunches!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Feast Fit for Caesar!

In our history lessons, we are currently studying Roman times.  Let me tell you, as a parent, it is so much better the second time through!  Textbook history was not really my favorite subject when I was a kid.  Now we all look forward to our daily history lesson... especially when it involves costumes and eating!

First, we made costumes.  Old sheets, a little cutting here, a little sewing there, and the kids added all their own embellishments.  Marian and Ellie were beautiful Roman ladies and Drew was our own Roman centurion!
Next we had to make our authentic Roman feast.  Bear in mind that in 70 AD pasta had not been invented yet, and tomatoes and potatoes were not yet known in the eastern hemisphere.  So spaghetti was out of the question!
So last night, these loyal subjects of Caesar feasted on roasted chicken, bread, salad, green peas, grape juice, and apple cake for dessert.  A good time was had by all!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Giving Thanks

 We had such a wonderful Thanksgiving this year!  As always, we had plenty to eat: turkey, ham, dressing, dumplings, rolls, casseroles, and pies, pies, pies.  Yum!
But our blessings were multiplied this year as our dear friends joined us for the celebration (and brought about half of that food I just listed-- yea!).  We so enjoyed spending the day with Friends Brenda, Melissa, Josh, and Thomas.  
This was a wonderful Thanksgiving indeed.  
At the top of my list of blessings this year is great friends!

Friday, November 30, 2012


Just a quick look at the cast this year, a bit of inspiration from Mother Goose herself.

We had Little Miss Muffet, 
 along with a very sweet spider.
(You can't quite see them, but his costume
actually had all 8 legs.)
 Little Boy Blue
 and his able companion,  Little Bo Peep!
Hope your Halloween was fun; ours surely was!

Catching Up-- Return-from-Maine Trip

The road to Maine is long.  Very long.  Kids get bored; seats get sore; drivers get tired; we all get a bit testy.

Then there's the return trip.  Now, we all know the actual mile count is the same, but take it from me, the road is longer.  It just is.

That being said, we are blessed.  There are an amazing number of fascinating stops between there and here.

We found one such stop on our way back from Maine this year:  Saltville, Virginia.  It's a bit off the beaten path, but well worth our time.
A map showing the town and locations of all the historical landmarks 
Saltville is an old company town located on extensive salt deposits and has been producing salt commercially for 200-some years.  It was very interesting to learn all the ways that salt is used: many chemicals, plastics... all told there are 14,000 uses!!  Also, this area was the salt capitol of the Confederacy (salt, of course, being the only way to preserve meat at that time).

Then, there was the archaeology.  That's what really piqued our interest!  With all the salt in the ground, animals that died many years ago have been preserved.  And I do mean MANY years ago!  Saltville hosts archaeological digs every summer-- for adults AND kids.  Now THAT would be a field trip to remember!

Just take a look...
Giant beaver

Giant Elephant tusk
The Saltville Foundation has turned an old storefront into the Museum of the Middle Appalachians, a showplace for the history of the town, the companies that have built it, and all the bones that have been found.

We are so glad we stopped!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Catching Up-- Maine Trip

More than all the other events of this fall, I want to be sure to write about our trip to Maine back in September.  We normally go every year, but having missed last year, it was especially exciting to visit with everyone this year.

Mom and Dad
The trip started Thursday, the 13th, with an unbelievable blessing for Dwayne:  we--all six of us-- were in the car and heading down the road at 6:30 in the morning!  Shocking!  We had smooth sailing most of the way that first day.  We  were delayed by an accident on the interstate in Pennsylvania for a couple of hours, but we still made it to Harrisburg in time to have supper with our friend, Penny. It had been about four years since we had seen her so it was good to catch up.
The next day, we had some fun sight-seeing.  As many times as we have been through Harrisburg, we had never stopped at Hershey's Chocolate World.  This was by far the kids' favorite stop on the way up to Maine, mostly because you get a free pack of chocolates every time you take the tour!  (We went through twice.)
Can you tell Ellie's excited?

Hershey's cookies are so-o-o good!!
We also went to the National Civil War Museum.  Not the same thrill as Chocolate World, but fascinating nonetheless.
I think the museum had the best view in all of Harrisburg!
Continuing northward on Saturday, our next stop was in Connecticut to see our dear friends Lionel, Sue, Isabelle, and Christopher.  Again, it had been so long since we had seen them!  The kids had changed so much, they hardly knew each other, but they warmed up quickly and enjoyed the afternoon playing.
Lionel's and Sue's hospitality was such a blessing to us!  Sue treated us to her excellent Asian cuisine, as well as a wonderful night's sleep and breakfast the next morning.  Lionel had to go to work early the next morning, but the rest of us attended church together, then parted ways.
We made it to Mom and Dad's house that evening with lots of hugs and kisses to go around, ready to settle in for a couple weeks with family!
Backyard chats
Spinning yarns
With Kaytlyn and Dalton

Our vacation schedule included the following:

attending my nephews' soccer game,

a sleepover for Andrew with the same nephews,

Happy Birthday, Mom!

celebrating Mom's **th birthday (grin) along with sister Carol and boys,
Mom's birthday feast-- Thanks, Carol!

"Washing" dishes
Baking up confections of mud!

Hugs for Dalton!
  lots of creative play in Nana's outdoor play  kitchen,

a tour through the vet clinic where my sister Tara works,

a tour of nephew Dalton's college campus,

a cookout with lots of extended family,

Come one, come all!  --family cookout
and lots of time helping out and spending time with Mom and Dad.

It was a wonderful vacation! 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Happy Birthday to Drew! ... and Reagan???

 Andrew turned 10 yesterday!
 Even little Reagan was excited for the big day, though he was apparently a bit confused.  All day, anytime someone made mention of it being Andrew's birthday, little brother would add, "And Reagan's".  How to reason with a 2-year-old, hmmm.
Birthday bro's
So Reagan had a birthday, too... or so he thought.  I think if he's present for the cake and gifts, he just thinks it's his birthday.  As for the actual birthday boy, he was thrilled to receive hunter-camo clothes and boots, some candy from his sweet sisters, and of course a little spending cash!
Andrew, "Yes!!"
Happy birthday, sweet boy!  You sure are loved!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Where did September go... and October?

It happens to all of us:  so much to do, so little time to blog about it!  We have attended so many events and activities this fall, all blessings.  I hope to write a post for some of these events individually, but for now, perhaps I'll just recap.

We attended Family Fun Day at a local farm and the Mountaineer Festival at the state park.  Lots of great learning and playing!
Reagan meets the alpacas
Tasting sorghum and seeing how it is made

August through October was filled with soccer for Drew.  Go, Blue!!

We spent the last half of September in Maine visiting Mom, Dad, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins.  So good to spend time at the homeplace!
The fam

Halloween, as always, lots of fun: carving pumpkins, dinner table debates to decide this year's costumes, a friend's Halloween party complete with 'spooky' hayrides and a bonfire, and, of course, trick-or-treating!!
Little Boy Blue, Little Bo Peep, Miss Muffet, and her spider!
 We were so excited to take part in the Chattanooga Buddy Walk to benefit the Down's Syndrome Society!  This has been something I have wanted to do for a couple of years now so we finally squeezed it into the schedule this year.
(I'm the one sticking out like a sore thumb in my non-orange shirt!)
And, of course, a great time with our Friday co-op group, school days at home, experiments, cooking, cooking, cooking, a bit of reading here and there, and precious time with friends.  God has filled my life to overflowing.  May I be ever thankful for these busy days of autumn!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Back to School

This week marked the official end of summer.  School is back in session!  I had three amazingly cheerful students and one incredibly cooperative toddler (for the most part). 

We have adopted a whole new school schedule since the "schooling while Reagan naps" plan doesn't work very well when nap time doesn't come until 2:00!  We are starting class about 8:00, after prayer and devotions, with language arts and math, then a break.  Next comes science and music, then lunch and a longer break.  After that is Reagan's nap, and we wrap up school with history and art.  All told, we should be done by 3:00.  Yes, that's 7 hours after we started, but we've had close to 3 hours of breaks in there, so it's not a full 7 hours of class, heaven forbid! 

The breaks allow the kids time to do chores, memorize Awana verses, read, and of course, PLAY!  And I get a little breather to get stuff ready for the next subject, start supper, do a little cleaning, or sit down (yeah, right).  At least canning is pretty much done for the year, right?

Oh.  I forgot one thing.  P.E. class!  On Mondays through Wednesdays, I wake the three older kids up at 6:00 and we head outside to move our bodies as much as we can for at least 15 minutes.  Jumping jacks, jogging, kicking a soccer ball around the house, even push-ups!  So far, it's not the most popular class, but I have faith that it will catch on!  :)

Reagan has joined in during class time much better than I thought.  I'll have to get a picture of him in "school" next week.  I have set up a TV tray for him where he entertains himself (with help) with whatever manipulatives  I set out for him.  So far, his favorite is paint!  He's not very neat with it of course, but the mess is usually limited to his tray, chair and himself...and his paper!  What more can you ask of a 2-year-old?  I also have markers and stencils (paper gets taped to the tray), play dough, lacing cards, foam cubes, popsicle sticks, a box of rice with some scoops, and a few other tricks up my sleeve.  All of which came from that marvelous store, The Dollar Tree.  

So that's my plan for this school year.  What's yours?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Weekend with the Cousins

Relaxing in "The Man Cave" at Keith & Amy's house
We have recently returned from visiting Alabama cousins Keith, Amy, Wyatt, and Zach, and what a time we had!  We first spent a couple of days at their house, relaxing, playing, fellowshipping.  Then they treated us to a trip to a lake about 45 minutes away.  It was gorgeous!
Marian, Ellie, Andrew, and Zach in the lake
We stayed overnight in a beautiful townhouse that stepped right out onto a dock where Amy's parents have a speed boat and a pontoon boat.  Let me tell ya, it's all in who ya know-- and we are so blessed to know Sally and Michael!

The kids had their first opportunity to try knee-boarding and tubing.  When I say a good time was had by all, that doesn't even begin to cover it!  Andrew took to knee-boarding like a fish to water.  The girls had a harder time of it, but not for lack of trying!  They decided that tubing was their sport, at least for now.

Dwayne dared to take Reagan out tubing, too.  Reagan thought it was great fun-- until the boat started to move!  So Reagan came up in the boat with me and Dwayne took the chance to go solo.

As for me, I seem to have turned into quite a chicken.  Just riding in the boat was adventure enough for me!  (Who's with me?)
 Thank you, Keith and Amy!  We had so much fun and made such great memories!  You guys are the best; thinking of you makes us smile!