Thursday, September 25, 2008

Not much brain left

That is, I have not much brain left to write anything terribly worth reading.

Mikey went to the doctor this afternoon for a lingering illness (we've all been sick). I almost hugged our wonderful pediatrician when he told me that Michael definitely had an ear infection. No, no. I don't love that my son is sick. It's just so nice to not hear "Yep, it's just a virus." It seems every time we decide to go that's what I get. At least this time there is a fixable reason for his utter crankiness and lovely yellow snotty nose!

And on a funny note... Andrew was out helping Jacob and Brian clean up more tree branches last night. He came in a little earlier than expected, especially since he is this incredibly natural little worker/helper. He literally lights up when there's a job to do, especially if it involves working with his Daddy.

"Mommy I didn't clean up much sticks tonight," said Andrew.

"Oh, really? How come?"

"Well, Mommy, I was having fun and then I heard some beezing noises."

"Oh, I see," I nodded with a smile and a giggle.

Makes sense to me, but then I am his Mommy.



Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Nifty Linkies

Okay, here's a couple of neat things I came across.

First, if you love anything pumpkin flavored and love Starbuck's Pumpkin Spice Latte, then I think you will need to try this recipe. I will be trying it as soon as I can get my hands on another can of pumpkin. I usually have several in the pantry. Oh, and I think I'll go skim milk. Yum!

Second, we have been working on a unit called Discovering Insects. It is really well done and fun so far. Our most recent lesson had to do with classifying bugs. Well, I was looking for a little something extra to tack. Well, I found this classifying game website which is lots of fun. The kids thoroughly enjoyed it today. And if you are looking for a wonderful living book read aloud that has to do with insects, I would highly recommend Children of Summer, a book about Henri Fabre. I found it at the library. Wonderful. The children eat it up!

Lastly, I would like you to join others in praying for Elizabeth Foss, her baby and her family. She is a dear lady and inspires so many of us in so many ways.

Have a blessed Thursday!


Monday, September 22, 2008

Aftermath Photos

Our minimal, MINIMAL damage in photos

The front of our house. The branches there are from a tree in the back.

Lots of branches down, but not too bad.

The gate to the back yard that got blown over the other direction which hit the gas main which popped off a valve which caused a big gas leak which my parents noticed which required the fire department to come and turn off our gas.

The other side of our front fence - down.

The tarp over the play set, but then it was already shredded. It only needed a small breeze to take it out.

The other part of our fence that went down. Actually, we were amazed that's all we lost. Our fence was so old and so sad to begin with.

The tallow tree in the back yard that we lost most of. To chop or to trim - that is the question.

More later,

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Refugee Return

Well, after being gone since 5:30am, Thursday September 11th, the refugees (that would be us) arrived safely back home yesterday afternoon.

Yes, we evacuated Ike. We had an extended vacation with Brian's family in Dallas at his brother's home. We would liked to have returned sooner, but we did not get power back until yesterday sometime around 3pm (while we were driving home). Actually we weren't supposed to have power until this next Thursday. We were returning only to be refugees at Brian's parents' house (they had power and had returned the day before). But God blessed us and gave us power right when we needed it. His timing was perfect.

We couldn't be happier to be home. We have had so much work to do today to put the inside of our house back in order - not from damage, just preparations before we left. There is still a lot to do outside, but thankfully that all boils down to trees and fence. We sustained no damage other than that.

I will share photos and more stories later, but for now I need to go kick back and relax. We have also all been sick. Mikey and Brian are the last to get this nasty cold virus we've had. Blessings to you all.

Home sweet home never felt so good!


Tuesday, September 09, 2008

P.S. to nothing

OK. I did spend $10.42 just now. I bought from Barnes & Noble online another active game for the Wii that comes with a second remote. It would have cost more, but we had $46.65 in gift cards to use up. Smart shopping!

"30 days of nothing" - Day 9

OK. I guess it wasn't quite a "nothing" day since I did receive a Wii for my birthday. But aside from a lovely new set of salad tongs (so much appreciated), a small cake, and a great bottle of wine, that's it.

We have enjoyed our new Wii so much today. We have never owned a video game console. We own a few computer learning games and play some online games, but not much else. So this is a big step for us. I have never been too keen on having a game console, but I really love the Wii. We have been playing and jumping and boxing and laughing and sharing all day. I know the amount of physical action depends some on the game you get, but just the same it is a lot of fun! And besides the price of the games will limit how many and what kinds we get anyway!

So, even with my birthday gift I am proud to see there was still no frivolous, thoughtless spending. Yeah! I love this!

Hope your Wednesday is blessed!


Memories of a Happy Day

Yes, indeed.
Happy Birthday to Me!

Birthday Girl!

Happy Birthday to me!
I now have a Wii.
Happy Birthday dear me!
I love 33!

Monday, September 08, 2008

Our School Year Ahead: Second Grade and Kindergarten

Here is what we have planned for our school year. It is my first year to "officially" teach two children. So far I am pleased, but I will continue to monitor our progress so that it doesn't get to be too much. Less can be better.

Jacob - Second Grade

Read and narrate/discuss from Saints for Young Readers daily
Faith and Life 2 and Workbook (we may cut the workbook)
Continue memorizing questions from the First Communion Catechism (Nicole knows all these too)
Weekly readings from the Old Testament in the Catholic Children's Bible and The Life of Our Lord for Children

Horizons 2

D'Nealian 2 for handwriting practice and learning cursive later in the year
Copywork and creative writing assignments from Sonlight.

Language Arts
CHC Spelling B
CHC Language of God A
MCP Phonics C (per Sonlight LA)
Read Alouds (per Sonlight LA)

Nicole - Kindergarten

Read and narrate twice a week from Lovasik saint books - all girl saints and women of the Bible, of course!

Horizons K

Handwriting Without Tears K
Copywork and creative writing assignments from Sonlight.

Language Arts
Sonlight Beginning to Read - this includes learning to spell the words she is reading, Explode the Code 1 and 2, Sonlight Readers and phonics activities in the plans from Sonlight. Wonderful! And she is doing beautifully! She loves it!

Jacob and Nicole - at differing levels

Sonlight Core 1

Read Alouds per Sonlight
Bedtime reading from different classics (right now it's Little House in the Big Woods)
Greek myth weekly
Fairy Tale weekly
Poetry study weekly

Nature study/drawing once a week
Discovering Insects (current study)
Discovering Birds (spring)
Science Through Children's Literature Units (fall/winter)

Music study weekly

Artistic Pursuits Book 2 (we did Book 1 last year and adored it!)
Picture Study weekly with our tea time

It seems like a lot, but really it is a lot of reading aloud and so many things are only done once a week or in short snippets. We are big readers! So far it seems to fit us, but I am always willing to wiggle it around if need be. One of the new found inner freedoms I am allowing myself to follow goes way against my obsessive compulsive/perfectionist tendencies. Did you know that I DO NOT have to make him finish every math problem on the page or do every line of handwriting practice? WOW! Did you know that if I think he has done a huge amount of writing already that we could actually do a phonics page aloud or I could help him by writing it while he tells me the answers? WOW! You see, I knew/know these things but sometimes in my homeschooling I follow the "clean your plate" kind of mentality! No longer! What freedom. They are great kids. They are bright. They are working hard. And to belabor something just for the sake of doing it saps every bit of enjoyment out of the learning! I AM slow, but I do get it - eventually!

Happy homeschooling and may your year be blessed abundantly!

Real Learning

Today we did our first installment of the Music Study from the lovely ladies over at Serendipity. I loved it and apparently so did the children. As they were going to sleep tonight, they were singing each other to sleep with their own anthems they thought up. That's real learning!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

"30 days of nothing" - days 6 and 7 AND 8

Well, day 6 (Saturday) was good as far as nothingness. Brian was gone all day and we met him for Saturday evening vigil Mass. Neither of us spent anything during that time and I finished my birthday gift for my sister. After Mass, Brian stayed home and fed the kids, while I went to the grocery store for our week's supply. I spent $30 under my budgeted weekly grocery amount and some necessary money on diapers. That's it!

Yesterday, we stayed home. I did a little yard work which consisted of ripping two very large plants out of the ground! No cost involved - right? Well........ I got rid of my Jasmine, which I loved. But it was horribly infested with white fly which then produces sooty mold. I could have sprayed, but it was bad and I am not fond of insecticides on plants where my children do so much playing. Then I had to get rid of my monster pink Hibiscus. I was almost positive it was infested with mealy bug. I battled mealy bug when we were in our apartment the first year. I remember reading that they are hard to get rid of and most of the time the best way to get rid of the bugs is to get rid of the plant(s). Since we were moving, I knew I could bring the little pests along where they would spread, so I chucked them. Over the past two weeks I have watched these white masses develop on my hibiscus and I was suspicious. Somehow a search surprisingly led me to a disease that has made it's way to Texas called "Pink Hibiscus Mealy Bug." Hey, wait! I have a pink Hibiscus! So up it came and out with the trash today. Actually, I like how it looks now. They were big growers and hard to tame. Now my bed near the house looks a little more manicured and a little less wild. And, of course, now you can see I have a big hole! That's where the money may come in! But I can always wait till October when the weather cools off.

My hard work. Thankfully it was a delightfully cool morning (for Houston, at least).

The giant root ball of the Pink Hibiscus - bye bye.

And the notorious little pests - Mealy and Family

But, really, I only spent $6 on Sunday for 4 snow cones for me and the kids. It was a much promised reward for all the hard work they've done on their daily list of jobs. Great work kids.

Day 8 (today) and again we have spent nothing. We have been home all day schooling, celebrating Mary, playing and baking peanut butter cookies for Mary's special day (and some for the freezer for tea times). Now there may be a little money spent since my husband is doing some "errands" this evening before someone's birthday. Hmmmm.

We have had a lovely day. Some much was accomplished - spiritual, mental, behavioral and all around.

Please be praying for all of us in the area as Ike gets closer and the need to get out becomes more of a possibility.

I leave you a few photos of our contributions to Mary's birthday.

And, yes. Those ARE blue pancakes - in Mary's honor of course!

Hail Holy Queen!
Prayers and blessings,

Block Master

I was amazed to turn around and see this as Nicole called me, "Mommy! Look what Mikey just did!" And, I kid you not, it had not been but a minute or two since I had set the blocks before him. Amazing!

And a bonus photo of the block master in disguise!

Iffy Ike

Well, Hurricane Ike is looking a bit, well, ambiguous at this point.

See what I mean? It is still pretty far out there and a lot can change once it crosses over Cuba and out in to the Gulf. It can change for better or for worse for anyone along the Gulf Coast, including us here in the Houston/Galveston area. But right now things aren't looking too wonderful (see below).

Hmm. So I made our reservations for the same hotel where we had evacuation reservations ready and waiting over the Labor Day holiday weekend. I really don't want to do this. I do not want to evacuate. I do not want a hurricane here.

So, I know all of you have put in lots of prayers for everybody that was in the path of Gustav and suffered its damage. But now it's time for some hurricane Ike prayers. Prayers for everyone inside that yellow cone, including us!

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Come on. Admit it too.

You know you are getting older when you and your husband enjoy watching Roy Orbison in concert on PBS.

It could be worse.

Actually, it was fun.

Friday, September 05, 2008

"30 days of nothing" - Day 5

Well, today was a busy, but cheap day. We had our home school co-op this morning and then we spent the rest of the day at home. We spent $2. Brian's coworker had some candy that his daughter was selling and supposedly he is the kind of dad that never brings his kids' fundraiser stuff to work. Brian wanted to give a little something. But that's it! Well, I guess there might have been some other money spent that I don't know about for a certain person's upcoming birthday. But since I know nothing about it, then it will count as nothing spent! Right? Right.

I hope all of you have a wonderful weekend! If I can manage, I have wanted to post about the beginning of our school here. Maybe I will have the time.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

"30 days of nothing" - day 4

WOW! I am loving the thought of doing this whole little campaign and it is fun to have Brian on board. I hope I feel this way come the end of September :) !!

We are doing well so far and keeping to that list of "rules" we came up with. I was even thinking as I sorted the mail this evening, "Well, all these catalogs can go straight to the recycle without a glance because I'm not buying anything from them anyway!" Yippee - talk about freeing!

Today we stayed home most of the day. We did some school in the front yard this morning because it was low humidity and coolish and soooo nice for here in September. We had cereal for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch and a freezer breakfast casserole for dinner (it is so yummy). The only money spent was $10 to reload our long distance calling card. We rarely make long distance calls and this is by far the cheapest method for us.

Nothing never felt so good!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

"30 days of nothing" - Day 3

Yahoo! Nothing extra spent today!

We did school. We had a free outing at the park with friends. We ate PBJ for lunch and did more school. We played outside with friends. We ate a meatloaf dinner with a second meatloaf put away in the freezer for future use.

It feels great to do nothing!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

"30 Days of Nothing" - Day1 and Day 2

I am signing in a day late and hopefully, by the end of the month, many dollars saved, not short. We are going to attempt this little "30 days of nothing" challenge that I heard about from my blogging friend Laura. For the month of September, we are making more of a conscious effort to be more frugal and do with less. The rules are simple and here is how we will play along, a.k.a. "our rules".

1. No eating out. It is so easy for this to get out of hand, but I know we can do without it! This also means I have to make an extra effort to make sure Brian has his lunch in his bag ready to go in the morning, even if it's PBJ.

2. Keep my grocery budget down, down, down. For me that means staying within my budget for the weekly trip and cutting out the extras. The money I allot for groceries is so reasonable, but it is so easy to pick up those extra, unneeded convenience foods.

3. Eat ice cream only on Friday, Saturday and/or Sunday nights - no weeknights. This will help with number two. If you don't eat the ice cream it is amazing how much longer it lasts. Also, we must stick with the cheaper ice cream for the most part. We like it fine.

4. No book buying, except for any necessary school items. We have a lovely library and so much on our shelves to read. And I probably don't need anything for school.

5. No extra silly, frivolous, or completely unnecessary purchases. The $5 DVD at Wal-Mart, beautiful quilting fabric (I already have so much), unnecessary clothing for me or children, stuff for the house, etc.

I hope to post daily as to our progress. We'll see. At least I don't have to think to hard to do these posts. Ouch!

Yesterday, Day 1, was great. We stayed home for most of Labor Day and Brian worked around the house. And then we went to Brian's parents for a nice free grilled burger dinner. I only spent $29 for some fabric for a birthday present project and the leftovers for Nicole.

Today, Day2, we went with my sister for a free outing, ate at home all day and took Nicole to ballet this afternoon. We had toast for breakfast, mac-n-cheese for lunch and one of my freezer meals for dinner. After the kids were in bed I went to a friends house to pick up a school book she ordered for me and I paid her $12. It was necessary.

Wish us luck.