Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires...courage.
-
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, December 31, 2009

I can't believe it's the last day of the year...

We just got home on Tuesday and it's been a whirlwind! Karl's birthday was yesterday, so we slept late(well, he did), had a big breakfast, played Wii for hours on end, made and ate birthday cake, and took Karl out for dinner. Overall a great day....and I think he enjoyed it too.

Today, we spent the morning in but ended up going out for lunch, then to get groceries. I do not recommend shopping on New Year's Eve afternoon, at least not in our location. Traffic was crazy and the store was packed. It was a bit difficult getting down the aisles with six people....Karl eventually took all the kids outside to the car while I finished. But, we had to get our New Year's Eve goodies.....cocktail sausages, a cheese ball, some eggnog...you know, all the regular stuff. ;)

Now, Logan and Hailey(Corbin is already in bed) are watching Karl play Ratchet & Clank on his new Playstation 3. That was my gift to him for Christmas. He was very excited....for the games he can play, but also because we can watch Netflix movies on it and blue ray discs, which he's been talking about getting for a while. We will play some board or card games, play the Wii, possibly watch a movie, eat some more snacks, and watch the ball drop to celebrate the coming of 2010....I'm not sure how long these two will hang in there, but we're gonna let them try.

Upon reflection, 2009 really has been a wonderful year. I feel so blessed that Karl not only has a job, but one that he truly enjoys; we've had the opportunity this year (as in past years) to live in different places and meet wonderful people; we've expanded our family and I cannot express my gratitude for our beautiful, sweet baby girl...it's overwhelming, the love I feel from my Father. He's bestowed such sweet joy upon me and my family, and many times we don't even appreciate it.....but I do today and I'm counting the many blessings of this year as I sit cozy with my family, in this beautiful home He has provided for us. I love my husband and my kids, and I can't wait to see what God's plan is for us in 2010!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Our Christmas Travels

Today Karl, Emma, and I leave for our Christmas vacation. We will stop in at his parents' home for the night, then tomorrow morning we will leave and drive the rest of the way to Alabama. We're really looking forward to seeing all of our family members, but our kids especially! It will be a long day of driving, but with only one child to get in and out of the car our stops should go more quickly. We will be so ready to get there.....

I won't be around to blog until we've returned....somewhere near December 30th. I'll be too busy filling up on all my holiday favorites, drinking coffee and hot cocoa, and loving on my kids. I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas....we plan to!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Christmas Devotion

Here is a devotional that a Facebook friend of mine posted on her wall and I just had to place it here for all of you. I hope it gives you as much hope today as it has given me!

WORDS OF LIFE Devotional....

Crisis Pregnancy by Kevin H. Grenier

"The angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child...'" (Luke 1:30-31a) Imagine what it would be like to be a teenage girl who suddenly finds out she is pregnant. Although the people in her small town love her, people are people. Soon the young lady’s reputation is ruined as everyone gossips and speculates about who the father is. To make matters worse, her boyfriend decides that since he is not the father, he is going to break up with her. So there she is, scorned, ridiculed and abandoned. All of this because Mary, the mother of Jesus, said, “I am the Lord’s servant,” when the angel appeared to her. At first, Mary was able to visit her cousin, Elizabeth and avoid the negative attention in Nazareth. But when she was just over three months along, Mary had to return home. Of course, as the weeks went by it became more and more obvious that she was pregnant. Mary tried to explain what happened, but it comes as no surprise that no one believed her. The fact that she claimed God made her pregnant added to the scorn and ridicule she experienced. Everyone in town, even her family members, must have been wondering what it was that sent her off the deep end. They also began to wonder about Joseph, too, when he decided to stay engaged to Mary. Was he as crazy as she was? Or was he really the father of the child? After a few months, Joseph told Mary that they had to travel to Bethlehem. The Roman emperor required all men to go to their family’s home for the census. At first, getting out of town may have been a welcome relief. In place of the emotional struggles, though, came physical ones. Mary had to travel over sixty miles on rough paths and hills on the back of a donkey, lurching back and forth with each step – all this when she was at least eight months pregnant. Finally in Bethlehem, Mary suffered the indignity of giving birth in an animal stall. She was inexperienced and far from home. None of her female friends and family members were there to help. Instead, Mary may have been assisted by Joseph or perhaps some of his distant relatives. There, in a barn, the ordeal of the past nine months came to an end with the birth of a baby boy! As Mary looked into the face of this little baby, all the pain she had experienced may have melted away as a wave of deep, maternal love spread over her. A baby! What a joy to hold and cuddle this precious new life! Perhaps, too, as she held her child, Mary also contemplated what it meant to give birth to the Son of God. But could she even begin to grasp the future that was stretching out before her? It would be an odd mixture of the typical and the heavenly. She would cook meals and care for her husband and child. She would also be visited by foreign dignitaries, hear stories from shepherds and avoid King Herod’s soldiers by fleeing to Egypt. As the years progressed, there would be times of extraordinary joy, deep confusion and intense anguish. It would all be capped off with a resurrection – an event that probably filled Mary’s heart with great joy and wonder, but may have left her with even more questions about what in the world God was doing. The courage Mary showed before the Nativity would be needed time and time again throughout her life. Sadly, we often lose sight of the courage of this young girl amidst the familiarity of the Christmas story. We forget all the struggles she faced and we fool ourselves into thinking that straw is a nice bed, not scratchy and uncomfortable. Mary was ridiculed, rejected, scorned and mistreated - and all of this came upon her after the angel proclaimed to her that she had found favor with God! Mary’s experience reminds us that God’s favor does not equal our comfort. Rather, His favor results in glory. Her story also teaches us that we may be going through the most difficult time in our life and still be exactly in the center of God’s plan. The struggles we face do not mean that we have been abandoned by God or that He does not love us. God more often chooses to enable us to rise above our circumstances, not avoid them. Certainly, His love does not go away even in the midst of great difficulties. A young peasant girl in Galilee endured shame and ridicule, was misunderstood by everyone around her, and experienced great physical discomfort. You and I experience the blessings that resulted from her faithfulness. No wonder Scripture presents Mary as a role model for us to follow.

This Week The secret to Mary’s success, and the secret to our success, is a deep trust in what God has said to us – even when circumstances scream in our ears the opposite message. So this Christmas, let’s draw hope and strength from the Nativity. Let’s marvel together at the great courage and faith of a young lady whom God favored with a difficult life on earth and eternal honor in heaven.

Prayer “Father, thank you that Mary chose servanthood over comfort and rebuke over reputation. Thank you for her example of self-sacrifice and obedience. Lord, I pray the you would grant me the grace to walk before you as nobly and faithfully as she did. May I, too, be found faithful to you regardless of the path you call me to walk. Amen.”

Kevin Grenier is the author of several books, including Undone: The Why and How of Being in the Presence of God. Learn more at GatheringHisPeople.org.

Excerpt from http://www.lifetoday.org/.

Friday, December 18, 2009

When it rains, it pours

We've all heard the saying that I used as my post title. "When it rains it pours"....people usually say this when they are talking about the problems in their lives, whether it's medical issues, rebellious teenagers, financial issues, etc. Things don't just come one at a time in life. During those tough times, we need a place to go. Sometimes physically, often mentally, and always spiritually.

It's been raining here, this is the third day I think. Strangely, as much as I always hated the thunderstorms when we lived in Florida before, it's been kind of nice to experience the rain....it's still warm outside so the rain is actually refreshing versus freezing and uncomfortable like it is in NY when it rains in the winter. Plus, there really has been no thunder or lightening in our area, so that helps immensely. ;)

I recently wrote a note on Facebook about the word shelter. Many people think it is wrong to 'shelter' our children. I disagree. Here is a copy of what I wrote there:

A recent conversation has me thinking about this word. I see the word shelter as a good thing...it means protection, something or Someone to keep you safe, out of the storm. God is described as our strong shelter in the Bible.

Psalm 31:20 In the shelter of your presence you hide them from the intrigues of men; in your dwelling you keep them safe from accusing tongues.

Psalm 31:20 In the shelter of your presence you hide them from the intrigues of men; in your dwelling you keep them safe from accusing tongues.

Psalm 91:1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

Isaiah 4:6 It will be a shelter and shade from the heat of the day, and a refuge and hiding place from the storm and rain.

There are many more verses, those are just a few. But they all speak of it as protection, not as if it will do harm to us to be sheltered. As parents, we provide shelter for ourselves (homes) and for our kids (keeping them from harm, housing, providing good influences vs. bad), and for others who may visit with us. We offer a safe place to stay, someplace comfortable....so, my difficulty is the 'bad rap' that this word has. The world today tells us not to 'shelter' our kids. Call me naive, and some do, but I WANT to shelter my kids because I just don't see it as a bad thing. I want someone to provide shelter for me when and if I need it....I don't want to be 'left out in the rain' so to speak, be it literally or otherwise. Here are the definitions that are found at www.dictionary.com.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/shelter

I agree that as our kids get older we need to let them experience more things, and that they need to be prepared to enter the world and know how to deal with people, temptations, etc. when they do. However, I do not agree that letting them experience some of those 'things' and 'people', etc. at a young age will have a good influence on them. Quite the contrary. I know from experience that if we are not diligent in providing shelter for our children, even ourselves, it is that much easier to make the wrong choice.....and those choices can and do have a life-long impact. I want my kids to have a strong foundation, and I see shelter as just one of many things that are necessary to meet that goal. What do you all think? I am sure we all have widely varying opinions, and I see no harm in voicing those here. However, let's be nice. No attacks on others, please.

As we've been experiencing these days of rain, and as my parents, kids, cousins, and uncles have been dealing with pouring rain in Alabama, I've been pondering this word shelter. I am so thankful that my family has always had a safe place to live, that God has always provided appropriate shelter for us. He's provided my husband a great job that takes care of us financially and we have been blessed beyond measure. Where do we go in the midst of a storm? Inside a shelter....whether it be our home, under a tent, into our cars....we seek protection from the rain, the lightening, the wind. Why? We don't want to get wet....it makes us cold and uncomfortable. We don't want to get struck by lightening, as we all know the dangers in that. The wind blows us around, keeps us off course and from reaching our destination. A shelter keeps us comfortable, safe, and on course. Physically, we all see the value in that.

Why is it that when we begin to speak of 'sheltering our children' people get offended? It means protection! How is it wrong to offer protection for our children? I find it is necessary physically, spiritually, and mentally. I am glad that I shelter my children. They are naive and I have no problem with that. Why do they need to be so mature and grow up too fast? As a mother I teach them what I think they can handle, that which will help them and not harm them. Whether it be academically, physically, or spiritually. We are fast approaching a time, at least in my older two kids' lives, where they will no longer be innocent. I am not going to rush it. I am doing what I feel God has called me to do as a parent, and I cannot ignore His direction. He wants us also to run to Him for shelter, protection, so He can wrap us in His arms and keep us safe from all that life throws at us. Would anyone refuse protection if they needed it? Unfortunately, some would, but I'm not going to. And I'm not going to refuse to offer the same protection, shelter, to my children as it's needed.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Shopping, Cleaning, Organizing, & Relaxing

We arrived home on Saturday. Overall, Emma did well on the flights out to Virginia and back. She's not used to being held when she sleeps, rather being placed in her bed at nap time, so she fussed a little because she was tired. Otherwise, she was great.

Since we've arrived home, we've almost completed our Christmas shopping. I love to go out into the stores and find gifts for people, and sometimes even make gifts. However, since we were moving and unpacking, then went to VA for a week, I haven't had a lot of time for that. So, I've done almost ALL of my shopping this year online. I've never done that for Christmas before, and it's really been convenient. I don't think I could have accomplished all the things I have without it. I may look to the Internet more in the future. It's just not practical for me to go out all the time to get gifts for birthdays, Christmas, etc. with all 4 kids, especially since they aren't really into shopping. Plus, it's hard to concentrate, even when they're behaving...and I can't get gifts for them if they're with me. So, all around a good deal.

I decided, since the kids aren't here this week, to try to get some cleaning and organizing done, as well as chore and school schedule planning. I was able to sit down this morning and get a lot done on the chore and school schedules. I still have some things to figure out....like which chores we'll do and whether it will be individual or together. I think we'll have a wash day, a bathrooms day, a floors day....you understand, I'm sure. My main goal in all of this is to get something workable that we can actually stick to and accomplish all that we need to each day. I also have to decide who will do which chores....Corbin needs to take on some more since he's older now and there are more that he's capable of doing. That will free me up to accomplish things, like laundry, on which I'm always behind!

Karl has been working hard on his school work. A new quarter (his last) just started this week. It seems like it's kind of a heavy load this quarter, but I know he can balance it. Then, in March he graduates and he'll have his Masters.

Even with all of that, we've had plenty of time to relax. I've missed the kids, and actually am really missing them now that it's been over a week since I've seen them! But, it has also been interesting to cook only for 2, to listen to how quiet it is with just us here. It's strange....I have truly come to appreciate all of the many chores they do each day to help out. Karl and I are taking up the slack while they're gone and it's definitely more work, though at least there are fewer clothes and dishes to be washed. I'm going to make sure I let them know they were missed, for their contributions chore wise to the family and just having them around.

I don't have much else to say right now, except this. If you're reading this family members, and you see my kids, give them a hug for me and tell them their Mama loves them!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Our VA stay

We arrived in Virginia on Sunday afternoon. It's a bit chilly here, but it's been pretty most of the time. We drove around a bit on Monday morning, going downtown to check out the Historic District. It was interesting to see the buildings, but we didn't go to any museums or anything....Karl needed to get back to go to work in the afternoon. Emma and I have just been enjoying being together during the day and going to dinner with Karl at night. We're close enough to a few restaurants to be able to walk out for breakfast or lunch. Yesterday Karl left me the car, so we ventured out to do a little shopping. I've spent a lot of time reading while Emma has napped, we've toured the hotel, and today we did laundry so we can go home with clean clothes. It doesn't sound very exciting I know, but it's been nice to just have time to focus on each other. Knowing the other kids are with my parents, spending some special time, has been good. I'm glad we all got to do this.

We leave on Saturday to go back to Florida, and we'll spend the next week there just the three of us. Then sometime the next weekend we will head to Alabama for Christmas with my family. We're looking forward to seeing all of them, as well as the members of Karl's family.

Most of our Christmas shopping is done, though we do need to finish up shopping for the kids and a couple of other family members. I love Christmas....it's so much fun to go out (or shop online as I've done this year) and find something I think will be a good 'fit' for each person. I don't want anyone to ever feel they have to reciprocate....receiving a gift from me does not mean I expect one from you!

Unfortunately we still haven't gotten a family picture done, so maybe family and friends can expect a photo in the new year.

Until later....

Friday, December 4, 2009

Yet another update on our 'settling in''

We've gotten most of the boxes unpacked...still a few things to organize in the garage. Our bedroom needs a little work too. Otherwise, we are officially 'moved in' and I'm so glad! We started school, kind of....but now we'll be taking some more time off due to a trip Karl and I are taking to Virginia (a business trip for him...Emma and I are going along for the ride). My parents came to stay with the kids while we go. They were supposed to arrive tomorrow, but I received an early call Wednesday morning with my mom telling me they were here now. A great surprise! We've just been hanging out together since they got here.

We leave Sunday for VA. Originally, the kids and my parents were all going to stay here. However, I think my parents want to take the kids back to Alabama with them when they leave. My mom even mentioned this morning, that if they decide to do it, they may leave on Sunday too and keep them at their house instead of here. The final decision still has to be made but I'm pretty sure it's gonna happen. Which means Karl, Emma, and I will be on our own from Dec. 6 until we get to Alabama near Christmas, probably around Dec. 23. It's been quite a LONG time since I've been away from my kids for that long! I am confident that we will all be fine....well, not sure about Nana and PawPaw's sanity! ;) I'm not so sure we'll know what to do with ourselves for 2 weeks with only one child to play with, teach, etc. I might even get organized, oh my! I definitely plan to work on our new chore chart and schedule so we can get right to work when we return after Christmas. We already have some catching up to do and this will mean more. Hailey and Logan are going to take their math and English with them, and Corbin his words from his reading book, so they can at least do the basics a few days a week. It will be a fun time for them, I'm sure.

We're all looking forward to seeing our cousins, aunts, and uncles in Alabama during our visit. I know everyone is anxious to see Emma and how she's changed, too. Only a few short weeks from now....

Well, gotta go. I need to find out if Mom is ready to go shopping (our 'Wal-mart run' of course!). I'll be back soon.

Monday, November 23, 2009

An update on our move

Well, we arrived in Florida a week ago. We stayed with Karl's parents the first two nights because the movers weren't arriving until Tuesday. Since then, we've been working hard to get boxes unpacked and get everyone settled. For the most part we have things done. There are a couple of boxes in the master bedroom...mostly clothing. There is also one box of school things still left to unpack, and we have the garage to get situated. However, it is not overwhelming and I am beginning to feel good about things. It's fairly easy when you don't move everything!

The kids all did great on the drive down, nothing more than a few "He's touching me!" and "I have to go to the bathroom!" comments, really. Even Emma did awesome, and she didn't nap nearly as much as she did when we made the trip to Alabama and Florida for vacation over the summer. Most of the hotels were really nice...we had one that was questionable, but we survived! ;) Karl did a great job planning ahead for where we would stay and how far we would travel each day....and I think it was a wonderful trip. None of the days were too long, and we got to do a couple of 'fun' things on the way down. We went to the glass museum in Corning, NY and we visited Amish country in PA, eating at a wonderful Amish restaurant for breakfast. The kids had fun with their "own room" in the hotels at night and enjoyed watching movies, etc. on the nights we got there early.

Now, we've gotten our LR furniture and our TV in place...though Mommy is apparently inept at working the TV at this point! :-( We just made a big grocery run yesterday, so our pantry is mostly stocked...we do have to go back today to get a few more things, as I ran out of room in the cart! And Thanksgiving is Thursday...we're having Karl's parents here, so this week will be filled with those preparations. We began a bit of school today, really because the kids do much better when they have something to fill their time. We'll start back full force next week.

That's all I have for now. It's time to leave for our last grocery trip of the week.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

I finally got it...twice!

You know those things that you just don't get....the ones that it takes you a really long time to understand, I mean years? Well, over the last week I have come to understand TWO very important things from my childhood, and believe me THEY ARE HUGE. Ready? Here goes....

  1. Those commercials, I think they were for Life cereal or something, now I understand. You remember how the kids always said, "Give it to Mikey, he doesn't eat anything!" I never understood why they said that.....until last week. They gave it to Mikey as a test because if he would eat it....because he didn't like anything...then it MUST be good.
  2. Trees in Halloween stories, etc. NEVER have leaves on them. I always thought as I was growing up, when I would see this in books, in a movie, or on TV it was just meant to make things look more spooky. NOPE! After living here in New York, I now understand it's really just because in the fall.....during the month during which Halloween occurs....THERE ARE NO LEAVES ON THE TREES! How convenient, and how funny what a Southern girl doesn't know until she moves to 'the north'! ;0

Ta-daaaaa......that's my revelation for the day. Just thought I'd share that with you. Maybe you guys had already figured it out, but it took me about 25 years. That's a big deal!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Just some quick words

I just wanted to pop on here to say that I may be missing in action for a few weeks. I'll try to write if I can, but at this point I really don't know how much time I'll have. We are ironing out the final details for our move and we plan to leave by about Nov. 7, if not before then. We have a lot to do as far as figuring out what to take, what to leave, what to get rid of or sell, how we will travel (by plane or by car?), etc. We also have to find a house that will be ready to move into by about the 11th. Plus, the company will need to then get furniture in the house for us(they're providing a furnished place). I think Karl has decided that he will fly down next weekend and spend a few days with a realtor looking at houses. We've found several that we think would work, he just needs to check them out to make sure. Then he'll have to be in VA for a little while. After that he'll fly back here and we'll leave. So, if you don't see any new posts you'll understand why. I'll fill you all in on everything that happens once things settle down a bit. Until then....

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Changes are coming

It seems like there are always changes happening in our house. If it's not a new baby, it's moving to a new location! Which is it this time? ;) Well, we're moving...to Palm Beach County, Florida. Though we weren't expecting it, it's not an unwelcome change. The weather here is COLD and we are more than ready for some sunshine and warmth. I'm hoping we won't be too hot....Karl will still be working with Harris. They've asked him to help get a new office (a company they bought, so new to Harris) back on it's feet. We've known for about a month that it might be happening but we didn't know where we would be going so we kept it quiet. Now that we know, we had to spill the beans! I think it almost killed me to be silent that long....;)

I don't mind the changes. Karl jokes that we have to do something to keep the spice in our lives, but it's not that far from the truth. We have plenty of spice and interesting things going on all the time, but I believe these changes help keep us relying on God and not ourselves. It would be very easy to just sit where we are in our comfortable little world with our nice, christian friends (whom I love, by the way!) and never go anywhere else. There's comfort in that. If it had been up to me I would never have left Baldwin County. I would have stayed right there where I grew up, near my family....which is not necessarily a bad thing. Lots of people do that and that is what God has for them. However, and it took me a very long time to realize this and come to terms with it, that is not what God had for us. My husband was made to do what he is doing now and he is GREAT at it! And my Jesus knew that I needed to stretch and grow. He's used this career of Karl's to achieve a lot of that. I never wanted to live on my own, and didn't. I never wanted to stay overnight by myself, and didn't until I had to....then I complained about it and was afraid. I never thought I was cut out to stay home with my kids, much less HOME SCHOOL THEM? It just goes to show that it really doesn't matter what I think, does it? Once I learned to listen to God's voice (and believe me I still have to sit and listen or I can easily dismiss it) I was able to begin to change. They've been small changes, and have come s-l-o-w-l-y, because I've resisted. But it's so sweet to look back and see the role God has had in my life, even when I've sinned, made poor decisions, disobeyed and dishonored my husband and my God.....He has always been there, gently guiding me back to the straight and narrow path. So, these changes are just things I see as necessary to grow us all. It honors my husband to follow where he leads, and though I am far from doing that all the time, in this I have learned to do so. His job is our livelihood, and he excels at it. How could I be the one to keep him from it? I'm excited about the new things to come. We are sad to be leaving our friends.....but right now it is a temporary move and we could be back by the end of next summer. However, if it becomes permanent, I am confident that we will meet more friends and find another church, etc. to help us get grounded in that community. Would you pray with us that things will go smoothly as we prepare to make this transition? We all so greatly appreciate it.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Dreary and Cold...brrrr

I have to say that I am really getting tired of the 'cold' weather here. It's mid-October, but there's only a high (forecasted) of 39 today. What is up?! My beautiful fall weather just disappeared, apparently not to return. I'm sad about that. While the changes in the leaves are still beautiful, it's just not as enjoyable when it's cold and overcast. :( I thought I saw a teeny flutter of snow yesterday...turns out Karl heard on the radio that one of the radio personalities in Rochester did too.) Crazy! We have the heater running in the house, we're wearing sweatshirts and jeans, and I even turned on the space heater in the basement this morning. We're gonna have to buy coats and snowsuits for the kids before long....

We are able to get our school work done though, because we are not even close to being tempted to go outside....we'll wait 'til we can at least go sledding or build a snowman first. I guess I could venture out to take them to the bowling alley or something but so far I'm not motivated to do that either! Maybe I'll focus on de-cluttering and throwing away junk.

Emma is doing great, though she's kind of funny about her nap times these days. She often wakes up 'early' (according to the schedule) and won't go back to sleep. We just adjust and move on when that happens, but she's so much happier if she actually sleeps the prescribed amount of time, and so are we. ;P She is sitting up very well now on her own, eating finger foods like those Gerber veggie/fruit puffs you can buy and soft fruits or vegetables in tiny pieces. She loves spinach and broccoli, all fruits, bread, and has even had some wee pieces of chicken recently. I have just begun giving her a cup with water or juice (watered down) in it, so she's still figuring that one out. I discovered that I do need to be careful about those fruit puffs though. They have added sugar and I didn't realize it. We don't typically give our kids sugar before they're a year old....for health reasons, but also because we love to have their first birthday be the day they get their first, very special, and sugar-filled cake and ice cream. Our baby is 7 months old now and I can't believe it! She has a cute laugh, but doesn't do it that often....when we tickle her belly with our mouths is the most likely time for her to giggle. She does have a different 'laugh' that she uses often....it's a kind of snort-y, breathing through her nose kind of thing. It's very cute! Her hair has grown in some, but still isn't that long. It seems lighter to me, but is still a darker brown like Karl's and Hailey's. She loves to be with Mama most of all, like all babies, but she gets very excited when her daddy comes home. She grins and kicks her feet, holding her arms out to the side. (she doesn't reach for anyone quite yet) Emma is a big fan of her sister and brothers. I have recently assigned each of them separate times to play with her and it is going well. As long as I stay out of sight she is usually quite content to play with them, and the kids are doing a great job relating to her and playing with her. We are waiting on a special lens Karl has ordered for his camera, then we will be taking family photos, posting some here, and hopefully sending them out to family. I know I keep promising, but we will do it. Things have been extremely busy around here lately....well, really since Emma's birth.....so our to-do list is very long. Please continue to be patient!

I can't think of anything else that I need to write about at the moment. We do have a couple of other things to mention here soon but we're waiting on final details. So, until then.

Monday, October 12, 2009

A link (or 2) for you

I have come across a couple of really great blogs lately that I just have to share. First, check this one out. Melissa's got some wonderful photos up, and her blog's a great read. Next, look here to find out how to save money at the grocery store and save time while cooking. I'm planning to use some of Gayle's tips and continue reading to learn more. Enjoy, and happy saving!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Lazy Sunday

Today was a lazy and productive day. Lazy because we didn't make it to church. We slept in a bit late for the early service and Karl was leaving for an afternoon out with some customers, so I didn't want us to miss the time we could have with him in the morning by leaving for church. Maybe next week we can get there. While he was away, the kids enjoyed playing some video games. Emma was taking her morning nap, so I did a little reading.

The main thing I accomplished (and here's the productive part) was to create a new chore chart/school schedule that I plan to implement immediately tomorrow morning. Up 'til now we've had no schedule and the chore charts were not working well for us. So, I had this idea today to create chore cards. I got out the index cards that I use for Corbin's reading lessons and proceeded to write a chore (or two or three) on each card, also labeling at the top whether it's a weekly or daily chore, what day on which it is to be completed, and in which room. Here's an example:

Kitchen-Weekly-Tuesday

Sweep/Mop
Clean fridge, microwave, stove, dishwasher, sink
Wipe down counters

Now, my thinking is that we will keep these in a recipe box that I have and am not currently using for anything else. I have our chore time scheduled at specific times (slots) in our schedule, and we will look in the box, choose a card(or cards) for that day, and complete the chores listed on the card. If we all work at the same time it should not take very long to complete those chores. I also created a chore card for each child and myself that lists all the chores that each child should do each day, such as brush teeth, shower, make bed, etc. I know there will be some chores that were forgotten (such as wash dishes which is one I just remembered!) and we will just have to add these as they come to mind. I'll be back to tell how it went once we've gotten a couple of days under our belts. I also went ahead and created my schedule....some times are listed for certain things but it's really more of a routine. I don't plan to let times dictate what I do as much as one thing follows another, if you know what I mean. I am so glad I have finally done this. It's really been overwhelming me just thinking about getting it down on paper! Now, we'll find out if it works. I'm thinking it will make things easier, we should accomplish more, and we will all be happier because of it!

I really do enjoy these supposedly lazy days. I watched Hailey walking around most of the afternoon with a book practically glued to her face, up the stairs, into the kitchen, etc. because she was so into what she was reading. What a difference from our first year of homeschooling when she did not believe she could ever learn to read! We didn't make it to church, and I did miss the worship and message time, but it really was a successful day in other areas. I'm so thankful I can be home with my family to see it all happen.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Busy and busier

Well, it's been a very busy week or so since I last blogged. I had a dentist appointment, the kids had flu vaccines, and then Hailey and Corbin ended up sick two days in a row. We thought maybe they had the flu, but I'm not sure now. Both of them had high fevers but only for one day. All the kids, except Emma, have the sniffles now so I'm wondering if they have just been fighting colds. In any case, they are all feeling okay today and no one has a fever. Yay! We did have to miss our co-op classes yesterday because we just couldn't take the chance of infecting the other kids and parents. We missed going but it was also nice to just stay home and 'veg out' together.

Today we had pancakes and eggs for breakfast, then we did some cleaning in the living room which was really necessary. After that, Karl watched Star Wars:The Clone Wars with the kids (it's a Saturday morning tradition) and now he's watching College Game Day and getting ready to watch Auburn play Arkansas. He is a major college football fan as most of you know, so in the fall our Saturdays normally include at least one game...and more if he can get away with it!

I don't have time now to write anything else...there's not much of interest left anyway. I need to go get Emma so I can feed her and then get lunch ready for the rest of us.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Missing Tooth Fairy

Well, Corbin lost his second tooth yesterday. He was just playing with his Lincoln Logs in the living room when I heard him say, "Mom, another tooth fell out. See, it's bleeding." He's so matter of fact about it. ;) Unfortunately, the tooth fairy failed to show last night and his tooth was still sitting under his pillow this morning, along with a very detailed letter he and Hailey wrote together asking her all sorts of questions (where do you live, where do you get the money? ,etc.). I told him to just leave it there, maybe she wasn't expecting him to lose another one so soon, and to try again tonight. Now to make sure she shows up this time! I'll try to get Karl to get a good picture of his toothless smile and post it soon, but he's been really busy lately with work and school so no promises.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sunday Shopping/Date Night

Sunday was the last day of our local consignment event by WeePeats. I would have liked to attend on Friday or Saturday so I could choose from a much larger selection of clothing, toys, baby items, etc. However, most things were 50% off on the last day, so I did spend less money....which is always good. Most of what I purchased was for Emma. There's always A LOT to choose from for the babies. I didn't find anything for Hailey except a couple of books, only a dress shirt for Logan, and a NY Yankees pants/jacket for Corbin. Oh, and a HUGE sword for Corbin because he didn't have one of his own. I think my grand total was $76.60 for about 30 items. Not too shabby.....We may have to do some more shopping for the older 3 but I can go to the Goodwill stores...there are usually some nice name brand pants and shirts to be found there for just a few dollars. I cannot stand to pay full price for Gap, Old Navy, or Levi jeans that the kids will grow out of or tear the knees out of but I do love those brands, so that's my plan! There's actually a new Goodwill store in our neighborhood which will be convenient.

Sunday evening Karl and I went out to dinner and to a movie. We ate at Biaggi's, a really good Italian restaurant in a local mall. It's actually the same one that Emma caused us to have to leave when she was just 2-3 months old because she wouldn't stop crying....yes, we dared to show our faces there again! We both had delicious salads and pasta dishes, and shared a piece of banana chocolate chip cake with vanilla ice cream and chocolate shavings on top. After dinner, we were going to walk around the mall. Alas, it was closed because it was Sunday, so we went back into the restaurant to have a drink while we waited until our show time. It was nice to just sit and talk over drinks. The movie we ended up seeing was Surrogates, with Bruce Willis. It's so funny to think about his Moonlighting days...and now he's in all the action movies. He's not a bad actor. The movie was pretty good, if a bit strange to think about. It was a nice way to end the weekend, spending some alone time with my sweetie.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Naples Grape Festival

Today was the day. We've been planning for weeks(actually months) to attend the Naples Grape Festival this fall, and the day finally arrived. We left here somewhere around 10:30 this morning to make the hour drive to Naples, NY. We enjoyed the scenery on the way there-lots of fall foliage, a beautiful meadow, and Lake Canandaigua. Once we got there, we decided to just park kind of far away and walk most of the way into town because we did not want to sit in the traffic. I don't know if it took less time but it was definitely more fun! And it was way more beneficial for Hailey and Corbin. Along the way, before arriving in town, there are homes and churches and many of them have yard sales or sell grapes and pies, etc. to those passing by. Many also set up parking in their yards and charge $5 per car, so make a good chunk of change. We stopped at a church bazaar...they were selling many different things, from snow boards, to tableware, to stuffed animals, to baby toys. You name it, they had it. Hailey spotted something right away that she wanted. She's been saving her money for roller blades for quite some time now, but she hasn't scraped together enough to buy the ones she saw for $40 at Wal-mart. Lo and behold, this church sale had a pair. She asked me to come over and confirm the price for her...yep, $2! She tried them on and they fit perfectly. There was also a pair for Corbin for $5, so we have 2 pair of roller blades and hours of physical activity for both of them for just $7. I am thrilled with the savings. And even better, Daddy paid for them, so Hailey and Corbin can keep their money for something else! There was a pair there that might have fit Logan but he wasn't interested. I have a feeling he's going to miss out on lots of fun.

It took us a while to get all the way into town to where the craft and food booths were. We decided to grab a bloomin' onion (it really was not very good...a waste of our precious money at $7!). The kids had a hamburger and 2 corn dogs, Karl had a sausage dog, I had a Philly cheese steak sandwich, and Karl bought the kids a caramel apple each for dessert. We were sitting at the table while they ate them....when Corbin says, "My tooth fell out." (We just discovered that he has 4 loose teeth this week, the bottom 2 more loose than the top 2.) All it took was a bite of caramel apple to do the trick. Karl said he can't think of a better way to lose one. ;) I guess we know who will be getting a visit from the tooth fairy tonight...and probably at least one more night very soon from the looks of his other tooth! I'm sure Karl will post a picture as soon as he can, so check back for that.

After lunch we looked around at the craft tables a bit, but didn't find anything we had to have. We noticed pretty shortly that it was beginning to get cloudy and colder, so we headed back to the truck. The kids did great most of the time, especially considering how crowded it was and how long the walk was. The rain held off long enough for Hailey and Corbin to get in a good practice session with Karl and their 'new' roller blades. Then we ate pizza and popcorn, and watched college football.

Emma is already in bed. She didn't really nap while we were out but behaved really well. She was extra fussy tonight though, so I put her to bed earlier than usual. Now, I'm heading up to tuck in the middle two kids. It's been a long, but fun day for everyone. I think we'll just stick around home tomorrow.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Fun on the Erie Canal and an Emma Update

Yesterday afternoon we all went out to a local ice cream shop. We knew it would be closing soon...most around here are closed from about November 1 through May 1. This is one we always walked to when we lived in our rental house. We wanted to get one last visit in before it's too late. This particular shop happens to be right on the Erie Canal. There are several gift shops and the like in that area too, so there's often a lot of foot traffic. Yesterday was no exception. We went and each got our cones and took them out to the pavilion so we could sit and watch the ducks, kayaks, boats, and people. When we had finished we took a walk down the path. There's a bike shop there that Karl wanted to visit, so we headed that direction. On the way we passed a shop that sells dry corn that you can feed to the ducks. Hailey wanted to get some, so we payed a dollar for one bag and shared it. Who could have known what a success our feeding would be. Each of our kids got to feed a couple of ducks right out of their hands! They were so excited and amazed. I got some good pictures with my phone, so if you're a Facebook user you can view them on my page. I'm going to try to figure out how to upload them here too, but I'm not sure if I can. We all had a blast. I'm so glad we went and the kids all said what fun it was. We'll have to do that again. It was definitely worth the money just to see the joy on their faces.

Emma is learning to sit up. I've been practicing with her a bit and she could only sit for a few seconds at a time even last Friday. She's really improved since then, sitting for several minutes at a time with only a few wobbles. She does still fall backwards and sideways but she handles it well. She's not good enough at it yet that I can leave her sitting there, but it won't be long. Then I'll have to set up the play yard so she can't crawl away. She isn't crawling yet, but it's only a matter of time until she figures it out! We've begun to give her a few more things to eat, like rice (which she seems to love), tiny chunks of pear (thanks Karen), and homemade sweet potatoes. I decided to start making my own baby food, just a bit at a time. I tried spinach and pears and she loved it, so I'll have to make that one again. I don't think I ever fed my other kids spinach....I should have. ;) The nursing continues to go well, though she is a bit fussy with her last feeding of the evening. I'm not sure what that's about but it hasn't affected her sleep schedule so I guess things are okay. Emma still loves to suck her fingers, though I've noticed they're not in her mouth quite as often as before. It has been great though, because she can help comfort herself and we don't need to keep fumbling with a pacifier. We still don't have any pictures printed up. I'm so sorry! I know many you who would really like to have one. Actually, I would too. Karl has just been so busy, and I depend on him to do those things because he does such a great job with it. Plus, we're out of ink and I haven't been able to find the right kind anywhere. I really appreciate the patience everyone has displayed. It will be just a bit longer, but we do plan to get some out to family very soon.

That's all I can think of for now. Hope everything is going well for everyone.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Preparations

Today is our first day of co-op....a group of homeschooling parents cooperating together to provide classes for one another's children. I spent last night getting ready for my classes, and with a bit of help from Karl. I am teaching a Sea Creatures class for 3-5 year olds. I will read a book about a sea creature each week....crabs, sea turtles, etc...then we will make a craft or prepare/eat a related food item. This week we're making a hermit crab craft and I needed to cut out all the pieces. Karl helped me, though he said he wouldn't want to do it very often. Thank you! I promised I would have things ready earlier from now on! ;)Now I can go in there ready to begin, not worrying about which child will have a hard time cutting.

I am also teaching (facilitating) an organization class for women. I am looking forward to this because I am sure these ladies will have some excellent ideas! I've never been the 'teacher' of a class before, so I'm a bit nervous. I'm sure it will be fine, though.

We've completed our 2nd week of school and things are going okay. We really need to finish our schedule. Right now I'm deciding each day what we'll cover and I don't like that. I need a plan! See our other blog to read about what we've been doing.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Just a bit of news...

I wanted to come on briefly to add a link to our other blog that I've just updated. There's new school info. for those who are interested.

Also, Emma has been teething for several months now and over the weekend two teeth finally popped through her tiny little gums. Hurray! They are just tiny white buds, but so cute. I can't believe she's reached that milestone already. We had some friends over for dinner Monday evening who just had their 3rd child....about a week and a half ago. I found out he weighed the same as Emma did when she was born (7lb. 12 oz.) and it just seems so strange. Even though she's only 6 months old I can't remember her being that small. He looks so tiny! They grow so quickly, and she is no exception. I'm trying to cherish every moment.

We start co-op soon, in just over a week. The kids are excited to get into some new classes, but mostly to get to see their friends every Friday. I will be teaching (facilitating) two classes and taking a class, so that should be fun for me. I'm praying that Emma will do well as it will be kind of a long day for her. She's done okay on our recent excursions so I think one day off her schedule will not hurt us too much.

Today is our 14th wedding anniversary. It' doesn't seem like it's been that long, but it some ways it seems like we've been together so much longer. We dated for 5 years before we got married so we've actually been together for 19 years.....longer than we were apart. I'm so glad to have Karl in my life. God has blessed me so much despite my failings. I am honored to be married to a man that is committed to his family. I love him with all my heart. Happy Anniversary darlin'!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Guess What...

One of the most entertaing aspects of parenthood comes in the form of opportunities we get to see the world through our children's eyes. I had one such opportunity today.

When we went to the NY state fair this weekend, I let Logan bring one of my old cameras to use as he wanted. Interestingly, many of the things that I found picture-worthy seemed to capture his attention as well. As I downloaded pictures from each of our cameras onto the computer for review and filing, I found that we had taken pictures of many of the same things, whether it be livestock, chickens, or rides. But what I found most amusing was how much different things look from his perspective. This was not an intelectual difference in perspective, but rather a physical one. For those of you that have young children, take an hour or so to get down to their level and play with them. while you're there, take some time to look around at things you see every day, just to see how the world looks from your little one's point of view.

At 6 feet tall, I am of average height, but still quite a bit taller than my 11 year old son. While strolling through the poultry cages, we were both caught by the sight of this silly looking long legged chicken. I just had to take this picture. While snapping the shot, I couldn't help but laugh at the thought of this chicken, that appeared to be asking me: "Do these feathers make my butt look big?"

What I didn't notice was that Logan was taking a picture of the same bird at the same time. I'm thinking the caption on his photo might read a little differently....


So now you know what. :)
.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Crisp Rice Treats

Yesterday, while cruising through Facebook, I noticed some one's post mentioned making Rice Krispy Treats. I decided right then that I would have to make some today, they sounded so good! So during my grocery store run this morning, with Corbin in tow, I picked up some Tops Crisp Rice. (I don't pay for name brand items if store brand will do the trick.) This box of cereal was cheaper than Rice Krispies, and I'm all about saving money if possible. After our afternoon walk, Corbin and I headed into the kitchen to make the treats. The back of the box listed some additions you could make to your treats. We just happened to have some chocolate chips, so I decided to throw them in the mix. I was a bit concerned that the chocolate would melt, but I figured it wouldn't matter, they'd taste good anyway. So we mixed it all up and pressed them into the pans. (we had to use two smaller square pans because my 9x13x2 casserole dish perished in a tragic dish washing accident) Of course, the treats did turn out brown because the chocolate melted just as I suspected. However, as we were discussing this fact, something dawned on us....we could have used Cocoa Pebbles (or the store brand equivalent) to make these. Even better (in mom's opinion), next time let's use Fruity Pebbles!! So we have another 'treat' day in our future. Experimenting is fun! But right now we have several treats left to sample at our leisure. I think the general consensus amongst our family members was "Yumm-o!"

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Fair

I wrote all about our day at the fair on my home school blog, since it counts as a field trip for school. Click here to read all about it.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Emma is 6 months old

Tuesday marked 6 months since Emma was born. I just can't believe it! Yesterday we took her in for her 6-month check-up. She was wonderful....weighing in at 15 lbs. 12 oz. She is 26.5 inches long, a tall girl for her age. While we were there the doctor commented several times on her beautiful smile and about how content she seemed. She is a very content baby, almost all the time. I am not just bragging on her because she's my baby and of course I'm gonna brag about her....she really is that content. She had to have more shots and cried of course, but she calmed down quickly. She got her first dose of the flu vaccine. We go back in a month for her 2nd dose and the other kids will get theirs then, too. I just can't believe it's been that long. Boy, does time fly!

I am so very blessed, sometimes I just cannot believe the life I live! God has revealed His great love for me, to me, through my husband and my children. It's been a growing experience and sometimes extremely painful, as He shows me my faults through them, but many times so joy-filled. I am at a loss for how to describe how it feels to know He has blessed me because He loves me and that His hand is in all of it, even when I can't see it. There have been times for us that have seemed very dark, when we've thought "There's no way God could be in this!" but He always was and He still is. I'm so thankful that He has kept His promise and has never forsaken me, even when I've railed against Him, disobeyed Him, and plain ignored Him. He still chooses me and I am amazed by that! Every day I'm learning, and sometimes (ha, many times) I fail, but I will keep trying to serve Him, love Him, and obey Him with all of me. I'm thankful for my family and friends. Thank you Lord for your many blessings.

Deuteronomy 30:19 (NLT)
19 “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Hailey's eye appointment

Today Hailey had another eye appointment. We take her about every 3-4 months to have a check up, and every other visit (or there abouts) they dilate her eyes to check her prescription. We have been patching Hailey's right eye 2-3 hours a day in order to try and increase the strength of her left eye, which is the one with the problem. She does not like to wear the patch, and I really can't blame her. It means she can only see with her left eye for that period of time and it significantly limits her sight. She does try to read sometimes, and does okay with it, but it's not a fun time for her. I keep encouraging her that even though it limits her sight in the short-term, in the long run it is supposed to be helping her sight. Today we got some confirmation of that. Her sight is slowly improving. I think the doctor is waiting for her to plateau at some point and then we can stop using the patch (maybe). He has also mentioned more than once that when she's older and can handle it she may get a little more improvement with contacts instead of glasses. So we'll look into that when the time comes.

Despite the handicap her weaker vision can be to her, Hailey does amazingly well at detail-type things. She often spots items or details that no one else sees. She has come a very long way in her reading and writing. Both were difficult for her at first. Hailey is also a self-taught artist...she is excellent at drawing animals. We have many, many works she's done. We've tried to make sure she writes her name and the date on each of them so future generations will know who drew them and when. She has also had to re-learn some things along the way, but I feel very blessed that she is still able to see so well. God made her just as she is, and though we may not understand why, I know He has a plan for her.

I'm enjoying watching her blossom into a beautiful young lady and I am very excited to watch His plan play out in her life!


Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)
For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

Weekend Adventures

Please refer to this link to read about our weekend adventures.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Another dentist appointment, among other things

Today I had to return to the dentist for my 'permanent' insert for the work I had done in June, plus the 'temporary' for the second insert. I'll go back to get that one completed in October. I am happy to say things went equally as well today as they did last time. I was a bit nervous but not nearly as much as that first day. I am so happy with the effort my dentist puts into making me feel comfortable and assuring me that I can stop him if at any time I feel pain. He is there to serve me. I realize that he gets paid very well for this, VERY WELL, but it is nice all the same. Now I just have some tender gums from the pressure, but that's easily handled by a couple of Tylenol and careful chewing.

This morning when I got dressed I put on your typical summertime wardrobe...shorts, t-shirt, and flip-flops. When I walked out the door I was reminded of exactly how far north I am. The temperature reading in my car said it was 53 degrees outside at 6:45 this morning, not quite what I'm used to even if I have been living here for 2 years! It did warm up to the low 70's by 10 a.m. I really do enjoy the cool and moderate temperatures here. It's so nice not to walk out and immediately be engulfed by smothering heat. On the other hand, it just doesn't quite seem like summer. Either way, it was and is a beautiful day. Karl and I got to see a glorious sunrise (my appt. was at 7 a.m. so we were both up very early) and some interesting fog/mist sitting just above the crops in the field behind our house. It was fun to see. I just wish I could spot a deer back there. We've been told by neighbors that they are often around but I've yet to see one. I guess I'm gonna have to start getting up earlier (uuggghh!) and sit on the deck to 'deer watch'. We do see plenty of birds, rabbits, and squirrels so that goes a long way towards making us feel like we're right in the middle of nature.

The rest of the day (it's only 1:30 but I feel like I've been awake forever) we've just been hanging out. The kids have been reading their library books and playing/drawing. They watched some cartoons. I've been doing some co-op business, Facebook, email, and writing this entry. I need to get a few chores done and figure out what's for dinner. Emma will need to be fed again before long too. So, I should stop here. Hope all is well with you. Be back soon.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Baby Dedication

Something very important that we had done while in Alabama was a baby dedication for Emma. We have dedicated all of our kids to the Lord, asking that He and those close to us help in raising them to know Him. We have a church here and we could have done the dedication there, but we really wanted to do it with family members. Another bonus was that the pastor who married us, and who dedicated Logan, was living in Alabama at the time and was available to perform the ceremony. (He left that week to live in China for a year or more. He and his wife were missionaries in Africa years ago and are now working in missions again in China.) It was great timing for us. We had a short ceremony at my mom's home and then shared some refreshments with the pastor and the family members that were there. Hopefully we can get a picture up soon. Emma was perfect. She didn't cry or spit up on him....she saved that for just after he gave her back to me! ;)

We had a superb time at the condo in Gulf Shores. The kids and we had been looking forward to getting to the beach for several weeks. There was also a pool at the condo so it was very easy to go out onto the shore for a while then mosey back to the pool for some easier swimming. We enjoyed being there with family. Our nephew Charlie is growing so fast, and he's such a cutie! I think all the kids had fun playing together and the adults had their own fun in the evenings. We played a card game called Hand and Foot a couple of nights. This is the same game Karl and I played with his parents while we were at their house. It's pretty fun. We also played a game that Jason and Kristen brought called Settlers of Catan. This was also very fun but I am not very good at it. Karl is very much a 'strategy' guy so it was right up his alley. In any case, it was nice to be surrounded by family and enjoy being together with a little friendly competition!

It took Karl and Hailey about 2 hours in the sun to revive their tans.....the boys a day or two longer. Me, well, sadly I'm still pretty white! Apparently I'm allergic to the sun....I break out in what I would call hives if I try to sunbathe. My legs, arms, and face are slightly darker so I'll settle for that bit of color. Too much sun's not good for your skin anyway, right?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Home Again

We're finally back home!

It's been quite a while since my last post. Karl has been trying to fill in when I've slacked off, but he's very busy too these days. I had hoped to find a way to blog while on vacation but was unable to do so from my iPhone. I'm not sure if it's not possible or if I just don't know what I'm doing. :=Either way, it didn't happen.

Emma (and the other kids) did great on the drive down to Alabama. We coordinated her feedings with our own meals so we could avoid too many stops. Leaving at 4 a.m. that first morning helped a lot too. The kids were able to sleep a few more hours, then we stopped for breakfast. We made it to Alabama in just two days of traveling.....a hoped for but unexpected turn of events. While there we were able to spend some time with quite a few of our extended family members. My brother, his wife, and children came out from California too so it was a great 'reunion' for all.

One of the things we got to do while there was take the kids canoeing on Blackwater River. Any of you who have known us for very long at all know that Karl and I met and started dating at the age of 15. The youth group from Karl's church ( I attended there with him from about age 16 on) went there occasionally during the summers. So we had many memories to discuss about our times there as kids, and landmarks to look for.....the rope swing was still there. You know the one where a certain 2 people told me they would go pick up Karl for me and actually STOLE our canoe?! (you know who you are :{ ) We were stuck on that island for a couple of hours, thinking they would bring it back....then decided to swim back. Guess where our canoe was? Right around the corner. Man did we get in trouble that day! Believe me you don't want to be lectured by the pastor in front of the entire youth group and the youth pastor. I'm still little bitter about it, so watch out boys! The kids actually wanted me to take them back but I never did. I was a bit concerned about trying to row alone with 3 children.....I never did like to get near the bank and those low hanging branches. I am a scaredy-cat ya know! Maybe we'll find a place to canoe here, that might be fun.

We also did lots of eating while there. I had plenty of my mamma's fried okra and fried corn. My aunts brought over collard greens fresh from the garden, those 'lumpy' mashed potatoes, 'cracklin' bread....oh, so good! And of course just seeing everyone was wonderful.

During the second week of our vacation we made a trip to Florida. That 10 hour drive seemed like nothing after driving down from New York to Alabama! We spent our first night there with good friends and went to the beach the next day. I can't say that Emma enjoyed it all that much,it was during her nap time, but everyone else had a great time. Just the smell of the ocean and hearing the crash of the waves again made my heart sing! I miss it so much, the water and the sand. There's nothing like it. We also went by our house while there, and the renters seem to be taking care of the place. And we went to spend a couple of days with Karl's parents. It was nice to just relax with them and enjoy one another. We learned a new card game and had lots of fun playing that with them. We spent a couple more days with our friends before heading back to my mom's. We had to get back in order to get to the condo we rented with Karl's brother and family, his parents, and his aunt and uncle. A whole weekend on the Gulf of Mexico!

I'll have to tell about that later because I'm out of time. Karl is on his way home from work and I need to put the finishing touches on dinner. Be back soon.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Shhhhh. Can you keep a secret?

I went to a “mall” today called Greenhills. There may be a mall there somewhere, but what I visited was more of a flea market, or what might be called a “swap-meet” out west. These were all new wares, though. Many were knock-offs of course, but plenty of authentic stuff as well. Many of the major labels that are sold in the US are manufactured in the Philippines, Malaysia or China for the obvious reasons of labor cost. If some of these items happen to get “lost” in transit I suppose they must end up somewhere. Factory seconds probably also make their way here, as well as production overrun. Although I did no see such an example, I hear that Gap clothing is sold here, with the word Gap actually cut out of the tag for apparent legal reasons. I’ll probably check for that next time.
Walking by each stall was reminiscent of the straw market in Nassau, Bahamas. Passing each booth came with greetings that double as an add for whatever the young lady happened to be selling.
“Hi sir, T-shirts for you.”
“Hi sir, rubba shoes” “you buy.”
“Hi sir, (insert product here), you buy. I give first customer discount.”
Some are more persistent than others, and everything is negotiable.

I, of course, thought the first customer discount was a bit of a scam, but apparently it is for real. There are hundreds of these stalls, and remembering Wendy’s flea market days, some times an entire day can go by without one sale. In buying a T-shirt for Corbin I was one such first customer. The lady took the money, and kind of bounced it over the remaining neatly stacked shirts, sort of like the pope does with that little incense thing or holy water or whatever. They believe the first customer money is good luck, and this was an effort to spread that luck over the rest of her stock.

Rubba shoes?” You may have asked previously. They were referring to Crocs. They have both the real deal and fakes. One can tell the difference by looking at the embossed writing on the bottom. The real ones list the crocks.com website and the company headquarters in boulder Colorado. The fakes direct you to croos.com and “bolder coloroad”, wherever that is. Not sure it really matters, I mean, come on, they are only rubba shoes. How can you screw that up? I got Wendy some of the authentic ones anyway. No sense taking chances, right? I’m usually against buying anything abroad that can be purchased at home, but I will make an exception if it can be had for 10%- 20% of the normal price.

By far the most unique gift is for little Hailey. She likes weird stuff, but she is also the animal lover in the family, so I’m not sure if she is going to absolutely love this or be freaked out by it, but I just couldn’t pass this up. It’s the little monster you see at the top of the post that is poised to destroy the Makati skyline. It’s a whole frog skin, tanned like leather and turned into a coin purse. Yes that is a zipper across its chest. A small rope has also been inserted as a shoulder strap. I still find it kind of creepy, but this definitely fits in the “stuff I’ve never seen for sale in the US” category. A picture with a little better perspective is below. So if any of you reading this see my little bit before I do, this one’s a secret, so keep your trap shut… or I’m sending the frog after you.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Sago Gulaman

I went to lunch with our host here in Manila and he insisted on buying me a local drink. Usually this means I should prepare myself for something stronger than I would normally drink at noon, but hey, mom always said try new things, right? Well it was every bit as strong as expected, but not in the way I expected at all.
Many northerners I’ve met seem to enjoy making fun of how terribly sweet southerners make their tea. These people have obviously never tried Sago Gulaman. This stuff would make a glass of sweet tea at a Georgia Cracker Barrel seem like Earl Gray by comparison.
Sago Gulaman is a non-alcoholic drink that I think must be made by pouring just enough water over a pile of brown sugar so that the crystals will dissolve completely, then pour that over (get this) jelly, before adding ice and little balls of jello. Since the camera-phone picture above that I took is of such poor quality, below is a web image that most closely resembles what I had. A reasonably clear picture was harder to come by than I had expected. The only explanation that I could think of while doing my web search is that most pictures of this drink are taken just as the photographer is beginning to enter diabetic shock.
The drink is not as thick as pancake syrup, but it is every bit as sweet, if not more so. The first thing that struck me was how fat the straw was. It was almost large enough in diameter to drop a dime through. I quickly discovered the reason for this. See those little white balls in the picture above? It was nearly impossible to take a sip that was not accompanied by the “thhhwunk” of one of these things hitting the roof of my mouth as it got sucked up into the straw.

“How do you like your Gulaman?”

“Mmm, (thhhwunk). Wow, I’ve never had anything like this before. (thhhwunk thwunk). Hey you wouldn’t happen to have any spare insulin on you, would ya?”



Now for the educational portion of our post for all you home-schoolers looking to add a bit of cultural exploration to your day.

Turns out that the specifics of my ingredient list are inaccurate. Sago is not a jello ball at all. It is an extract made from the pith of a Sago Palm, and is apparently similar to tapioca.

Gulaman is not a typical gelatin but is made from processed seaweed.

Feel free to follow the links for a little more info. Take note of the reference to the Chinese Konjac Jelly in the Gulaman link. I am absolutely hooked on that stuff. I'll be bringing more of that home from Singapore this time. I'm not sure if it can be bought in the US anymore. Perhaps I'll leave some with Walter and Donna to share with the family. If you're lucky enough to get one from them, be careful. They are apparently quite deadly.

Oh, and since this post is all over the place anyway... Lunch also included fish.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Mangosteen

Every time I go to a new country, without fail, someone will warn me about the dangers of drinking the water or eating the food. I'm usually pretty careful about the water, but it's sometimes difficult to avoid the food. Turns out I kinda like food, even the odd stuff. of course there is the occasional item that I would rather not have again, such as whole bably octopus, or (who could forget) the sea cucumber. But by and large, I like trying new things and have grown quite accustomed to the Asian food. There are times in the States when I actually get a craving for some fried noodles at breakfast. I just can't turn down food. I suppose I’ve been lucky to this point. The biggest health risk I’ve faced so far is getting fat on all the great stuff that each country has to offer. One option to combat the fat risk, while still satisfying my urge to explore, is to look for the local fruits that cannot be bought easily in the US. I found one tonight. It’s called the Mangosteen. It's not at all related to the Mango, nor does it look like one in any way. After spotting a stack of them I asked the girl behind the table what is was and how to eat it. She just dug into the leathery outer shell with her fingernails and pulled the thing in half, revealing small pearl colored seed pods that are the edible part of the fruit. The whole thing is a little larger than a golf ball and feels almost as hard, but inside are these little fleshy seeds that have a citrus type flavor to them. Not bad at all. I took one back to the room to get a couple photos of what it looks like, but I think I’ll just eat it and grab some pics off the web. So far, both that I've eaten have had one pod that is significantly larger than the others and it contains something solid that i did not try to eat. I'm assuming it was the actual seed.

Ok, funny story. Not in a funny "ha-ha" type of way. More of a funny, "get this thing off of me!" type of way. I grabbed my web picture that you see above, then picked up my last mangosteen and dug in. as soon as my fingernails broke the outer skin, a little black ant shot out, ran up my hand and bit me. You gotta be kidding! I'll tell ya right now, that is one smashed ant. Of course, once the death and mayhem was over I got back to the work of opening the fruit. Tasty.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Back on the Road Again...

...or should I say in the air. I know I completely missed posting anything on the Mongolia trip. I really enjoyed it. Perhaps more on that later. I'm currently en route to Manila, Philippines and am typing this from an airport lounge in Nagoya, Japan while waiting for the plane to refuel. I'll try to do a better job this time, perhaps shorter posts are better than no posts at all.

Monday, July 13, 2009

A new blog

I have created another blog. I decided to do this as a way to keep closer track of all of our schooling since we are required to submit quarterly reports to the school district. My hope is that it will make my life easier as I add Corbin to our school day next year as well as having Emma to nurture. You make click here to see it or follow the link called Woerner Family Academy in my sidebar.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Logan's Latest....

Logan has been interested in all things video games, movies, and Lego for as long as I can remember. Karl helped him with a little project last night and today that combines his favorite things. He's so proud! Here's the link:
http://logansfirstblog.blogspot.com/2009/07/agents-battle-truck.html

I'm sure there will be more of these in the future, so keep checking his blog. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Another run-down of recent events

  • Emma squeals, brings her hands together, smiles A LOT, rolled over 3 times in a row (only one night, though), has outgrown all of her 0-3 month clothes, has fat legs now, is only taking 3 naps a day, is sleeping through the night from 8/9-ish at night to 7/8-ish in the morning, and she loves to be held, talked to, and played with.
  • We have finished school for the 2008/2009 year, except for a few books(novel types) we're still reading. We'll start back up pretty quickly as we'll be taking a long vacation this summer, and we'll continue with Math and English throughout the summer.
  • I took the kids strawberry picking last night. Since Karl is gone right now I left Emma with the babysitter. We met some friends at a local farm and had a great time. We came home with a flat and a half....$30 worth of the best berries I have ever eaten! I froze most of them today, but we did keep some just to eat. We had them with every meal today. ;) I think we may have to go at least one more time before the season is over. We also stayed afterwards to enjoy some of their yummy strawberry shortcake and pet their goats.
  • I've begun working with Corbin on reading 2 and 3 letter words. He is somewhat familiar with the letter sounds but is not very confident yet. It will take some time but he is on his way. I feel sure he will gain confidence as we work more together.
  • Logan has been writing on his blog fairly regularly, a series of stories....about Bionicles of course. Please check it out. I am pretty proud of our boy. :)
  • Hailey had her first piano recital a couple of weeks ago. She was the first student to play, and did her first piece perfectly. She did make a couple of mistakes on her second one but got back on track quickly. Everyone there did a great job, and I believe Hailey was proud of herself. I know we are very proud of her for being so brave and for doing so well.
  • The kids will complete their baseball season on Friday. They have all had a great time and have learned a little bit about the game. It's been fun to be there each week, watching them play and talking to other parents about various things. I'm glad we decided to do it again this year. Once Emma is old enough to play (5) we will have a child in each 'league' and will spend our time traipsing back and forth across the entire park, which is made up of about 15 fields I think! LOL

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Crown "Royale"

A couple of weeks ago I had to go to the dentist to have a crown placed on one of my molars, and I have to do another on the other side in August. I have to tell you, I have been dreading this event since I first learned it needed to be done when we were still in Florida...it was a "you're going to eventually need a crown there" kind of thing. The reason I have been dreading it is because I've had one done (in FL) and it was very unpleasant. I could still feel the grinding and it HURT. They gave me Novocaine but it did not work very well. So, I was extremely nervous about this second one...and the third still to come. SO much so that my hands were shaking and I thought I was going to be sick by the time I sat down in the chair. You would think after having two babies with no pain medication I could take dental work without a second thought. Not so, as it's a different kind of pain and I guess not such a wonderful reward at the end...though I do value having healthy teeth, of course. ;) As the doctor came in he asked me how I was doing. After a less than enthusiastic response (I'm sure he deals with that quite often from his patients) he assured me that he would do everything possible not to cause me pain and told me to let him know if at any time I felt pain. As he and his assistant began to work I could feel that my body was very tense. I kept expecting to feel pain and I couldn't relax. After a bit my elbow began to hurt, I guess just from lying still and putting pressure on it from the way I was positioned. The dentist saw me moving it around and guessed my problem, so he got a pillow for my arm. Later, still pain-free in my mouth, he saw me moving my head. The back of my head was getting sore from pressure as well....it's strange but I guess I don't lie still on firm surfaces; not really something I would think would be a problem. Anyway, they then got me a pillow for my head. Such great service! ;) In the midst of this I was thinking about various things, expecting at any moment to feel like I had before...I kept wondering if they were almost done, etc. Eventually, I began to relax and started thinking about how I would blog about this...the 'royal' treatment, the lack of pain, the kindness of both the dentist and his assistant. After about two hours we were finished....I made it through the entire thing with no pain at all and I am so thankful! What a difference there is when pain medications work and things can get done that need to be done with as little discomfort as possible....

I came home and went about my day as usual. The only thing I really had to deal with was a numb face for a few hours, and a little soreness in my jaw and in the tooth they worked on. About 6 p.m. I was sitting feeding Emma when the phone rang. Who could it be? Usually Karl calls once he's leaving work so I assumed it would be him. However, it was a number I did not recognize. I answered to hear my dentist, him personally not a receptionist, asking me how I was doing! He just wanted to call to make sure everything was fine and that I wasn't feeling any unusual pain. I think I was in shock for a while. I have never had such personal service from any provider once I've left their office and I am very impressed with the care I received. Karl and I joked later that I better receive high quality, personal service because of how expensive they are...but seriously, it was really nice. I am no longer dreading my visit back there in August. And I am willing to refer anyone who may need a dentist locally.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Heading to Mongolia

How many people can say that?
Here's my letter of invitation.
I thought it would show up larger. I just found it interesting that the only letters in our alphabet used in this document are in the words "RF Link" and my name. I have no idea what this thing says. I hope it's closer to "this guy is ok. let him in." and not so much "full cavity search reccomended."

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Emma news...

We've been having Emma spend some time doing what we call 'tummy time', which is just what it sounds like....lying on her tummy some to play. I have to admit she has not really been a fan, but her displeasure has become less vocal over the weeks since we started. We have our routine...feed; play with Mom, Dad, or siblings; play alone; sleep. During her time with one of us or when playing on her own we will often place Emma on an activity mat. Tonight I did this, putting her on her tummy first. Almost immediately she rolled over onto her back! Of course I had to make her do it again....to see if it was just a fluke...nope she did it again...and a third time for Daddy. By this time she was not happy with me for continuing to turn her back over onto her tummy, so we ended the 'fun'. We're so proud, and excited....now maybe her hair will re-grow where that bald spot has developed on the back of her head! ;)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Treasure seekers: a day in the life

Back to complete my report on the visit with the “newcomers” at the Bantar Gebang Landfill. I’ve had a pretty full plate the last several weeks, and I type sloooow, so let’s just make this a photo essay. We’ll start with a day in the life, and move on to my visit with the kids while Jonathan talked water quality with one of the family leaders.

In a previous post I included a picture of a man with a green basket strapped to his back. What he and hundreds like him will do is climb one of the active hills of trash and fill this basket. Once the basket is full he (or she) will walk down the hill to a wheelbarrow of sorts and unload the basket. Lather, rinse and repeat until the cart is full. They then take the whole thing back to their shack and unload, sort and bail the plastic to sell to someone that I never saw. Below is a row of these home made carts being filled at the base of one such hill.
This was pretty interesting. On this hill a dump truck was unloading at the base as a line of track hoes moved the new trash incrementally up the hill.

Now check out this shot taken at maximum zoom from the same location. You probably can’t tell on this shot that was compressed for the web, but there are over 30 people visible in this picture of the middle track hoe (from the shot above) waiting for the new stuff to make its way up the hill. The track hoe operators went about their business as if no one was around. The responsibility to not get injured rests completely with those on the ground sorting through trash as it is passed from one track hoe to the next up the hill.
All day, every day, for $0.02 per kilogram. Anything that these people can do to save money is worth trying. If Jonathan is successful in bringing clean water to these people he will not only immediately improve the health of these families, it will give at least some small hope to Mr Pak that his daughters will be able to get an education and make better lives for themselves than what he is currently able to provide.

Pak Misnan is one of the newcomers who appears to be respected among the people of the encampment where we stopped. Jonathan met him, I guess, a few months ago and they have developed a pretty good rapport. He is just barely getting by, but he is doing all he can to keep his daughters in school. In the shot below Jonathan (blue cap on the left) and Jason (the other white guy) talk with Pak Misnan (red and black shirt on the right) about...well I'm not sure what. I don't speak Indonesian.
When we arrived Mr. Pak invited us to have a seat and Jonathan gave him a bag of dried beans that was immediately given to Mr. Pak’s wife, and each child was given a small container of Milo. This is some sort of vitamin drink for kids. I think it’s chocolate flavored, so that was a big hit. I was a little nervous about breaking out my camera, because although I was sitting in the middle of a landfill I was in someone’s home, but after a few minutes, I guess Jonathan asked permission and then told me that it would be ok. It turned out to be a blast for everyone. While Jonathan talked with Misnan and one of the landowners I began taking pictures of the kids, who immediately began mugging for the camera.
The younger child on the left is a real ham. He made sure that he was in every single picture.

After each shot they all clamored around to take a peek at themselves on the LCD.

The kids were great, and so very happy. I’ve found that wherever I go people are people, and of course, kids are kids. These children have no regard for the living conditions that they are in. This is all most of them have ever known. They run, play and laugh just like any kid in the states would do. Sadly, most are malnourished. Notice in the picture below that the little girl on the left is beginning to loose her hair. A few others were missing teeth.
Although it was a seemingly small gesture, the dried beans and Milo may save a life out here. Clean water definitely will. But you wouldn’t know it from the faces of these children. They were so happy to have a new person to play with, and to have their picture taken. What a joy it was to spend an afternoon playing with these little ones.
I finally realized that I was once again spending all my time behind the camera, so I finally turned it on myself for a parting shot. Of course my little ham had to join in as well.

Before putting this one to bed, I'll throw one more shot in for the cause. If you would like to contribute financially to Jonathan's work in Indonesia, I invite you to visit my May 16th post for instructions on how to do so.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Things of interest (or not)

  • It is 52 degrees this morning, with a predicted high of 68.
  • We have watched baby birds hatch this year (robins, in a nest under our deck)-we just discovered yesterday there is another nest with babies and eggs in a tree behind our house.
  • Karl and the kids cleared some weeds out of the tree line behind the house. Now the kids can get back there and play-there's even a tree with branches low enough for them to use for climbing.
  • Emma has gotten a little more vocal, cooing at any of us who talk to and play with her, and 'talking' to her toys. She is officially sleeping through the night, with an occasional night-time feeding. She has discovered her toes....can't reach them yet, but shows great interest. Emma also sucks on her thumb and fingers whenever she can get them to her mouth. She's still working on keeping them there; hasn't quite mastered control of her arms. She 'blows bubbles' now, too. ;)
  • Corbin mastered riding his bike without training wheels in one day. We are in awe of his agility!
  • Hailey has been spending her time catching toads, selling lemonade, and getting dirty(she says she likes it). Logan has been reading many books, writing a Bionicle story on his blog (check it out), and talking to/playing with friends.
  • We still have 2-3 weeks of school left to complete.