Wednesday, December 23, 2009


I was gently reminded by a friend today that I do not have to be great at everything or even pursue all the activities that seem fun or interesting. I was initially offended because of course I am good at everything! Hello? Does she not know me?

Then I started to think that it is pretty presumptuous of me to think I can master everything. Or that if I just "give it a go" my results will be as good as someone who has a God-given gift in that area. I will still be pursuing it, but with a more humble attitude.

I also needed my pride to be taken down a bit. I have been guilty of being very prideful about a couple of things in the last few days, and I made some mean comments to someone else.

The strengths I have came from God. The weaknesses are areas where God's light can shine through. It's okay if I am not good at, say, housework. There are other areas where I am awesome. Right? :)

That being said, I will still endeavor to clean my house. I just will never master it like others that I know.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Merry christmas!

My brain is too fried to post anything original today, but I wanted to share some writings I think are great.

First we have Amy, who wrote about marriage. It IS hard, and I applaud her for being honest.

Here's her post.

Then I wanted to share something funny- it's from "Stuff White People Like," a satire site.

This one is about camping, and enough of it is true to make it pretty funny.

The next one is a post by my friend Emily. I have recently realized that the "thinking" or "processing" I do about things is actually worrying sometimes. Mulling something over and rehashing events in my head that I cannot change is worry, and I would prefer to stop doing it.

Lastly I wanted to share a link to making an awesome snowflake. I like to make 2-D snowflakes but had never thought about 3-D. We will be doing this next week.

I am so glad Christmas break will be here in 2.5 hours. This fall has been a bear of a school semester for my daughter and we desperately need the break. Have a happy Christmas!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Esther and 2 Timothy

This week I am teaching the book of Esther to ladies class here in Austin. I am using the same lesson I used at the women's retreat I went to earlier this year. It seemed to go over really well. Esther has two main points- one is that God WILL save his people. He might use a really small and insignificant person, but he will save.

The second point is that God may be trying to use you in your life. Be ready for such a time as this.

If you have a chance this week read through Esther. It's just 9 chapters and it is a very quick read. Be looking for the ways that God works amazingly.

In the Spring I will be teaching 2 Timothy in a couple of venues. I plan to have it memorized by April. It's just four chapters so you would think that I could get it done by then. 2 Timothy has an amazing tribute from Paul to his adopted son Timothy. They were not biologically related but Paul loved Timothy. Paul encourages Timothy in many ways and reminds all of us to be careful to read the Word and to not be distracted by things that our earthly bodies really like.

Have a lovely day!

Friday, November 06, 2009

Denali wears a toga

My four year old son has a really bad rash on his nether regions. Since he can't wear dresses I thought of a way to help him air his rash comfortably and modestly. I took a soft crib blanket, put the middle of the long side at the middle of his back, wrapped both ends under his arms, crossed the ends in the front and took a hair band to keep the ends closed at the back of his neck. To make it a "boy" idea I called it a Veggietales (the blanket was Veggietales) toga. He happily wore it for an hour, until it was time to change into real clothes.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

What do I give my child to read?

I've posted more reviews on my blog. I've also posted a list of my favorite authors of chapter books that you may not have already found for your children. Feel free to share with others.

Here's the list of authors.

Here is a kids' book about adventuresome mice

I do read adult books occasionally- here's a murder mystery.

Here's another fairy story
which just happens to be the theme of my daughter's costume she's wearing today for her school's storybook costume contest.

And lastly we have another giveaway for parents of boys. Check it out!

In other news, my kids picked up some random mite infestation while we were last hiking and I've had to do about 2000 loads of laundry. Ask me how fun THAT is. :)

You all take care!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Briana wins, and Emmy reads

Briana won the book "Generation Warriors" off of the giveaway on my book review blog. Congrats, Briana!

Emmy read a long, long book called "Ginger Pye" over the last two weeks. She finally finished it last night and took an AR test on it today (a comprehension testing program). She got 100%! We are super proud of her. She earned a lot of points on a book that is at a 6th grade reading level.

Today I spent hours in the office catching up on paperwork. I've made significant progress but there is still lots to go.

Will be reviewing more books soon and another giveaway will be coming up.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Reviews and Giveaways on book blog

I reviewed Generation Warriors today and it's up for grabs. Head on over and enter the contest. Also Bethany, another reviewer on the book blog, is hosting a giveaway. Go see.

Is there a particular book you'd like to see reviewed on our book blog site? Let us know!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Book of Ruth

My friend Amy presented the book of Ruth from the Bible on our women's retreat. A must see.
Part 1

Part 2

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Menu Plan Tuesday

These are the recipes I will be cooking this week, in no particular order:

chicken strips and squash
herb roasted chicken with summer tomatoes
salmon po' boy sandwiches
rosemary turkey meatloaf, cornbread, green beans

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Invention of Lying

Joel and I went out on a date tonight to see "The Invention of Lying." It's a very clever movie about a world in which everyone tells exactly what they are thinking with no prevarication or dishonesty. Then one man discovers that he can say something that isn't true, and he takes advantage of the ability. Everyone believes what he says because they can't fathom that anyone could lie.

He uses his abilities to get money first, then to get his job back, and then the story goes all wrong.

The man uses his ability to lie to tell his mother that though she's dying, she's not going off into nothingness. She will go to a happy place where all of her friends are and she will have a mansion with no pain or suffering, and eternal happiness.

Sound familiar? He makes up religion. The rest of the movie centers around his "lies" about what happens after you die and his invention of this religion that is eerily like Christianity.

I was very offended that they poke such fun at Christianity, and that they show how gullible and stupid everyone is for believing such ridiculous stuff. He makes the doctrine up on the fly. And the worst part of all is that the characters call "the man in the sky" a prick and other curses.

Can you tell I didn't like it? Yes, it was funny. Yes, it was clever. Yes, the actors were talented.

But I cannot get past the direct blasphemy.

Friday, October 09, 2009

This Crummy World

I don't have a lot of time to write this morning.

I am going to drop Emmy off at school, take Denali to a friend's house, and then drive to Waco for a funeral.

For a four year old boy named Orion.

Orion lost his battle with a brain tumor, and is now among the angels in heaven.

I don't have any fancy philosophical words today. Two of my friends have posted wonderful writings though they don't know Orion.

Go hug your kids. Life is short.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A Short Note from Orion's Daddy

I got this email recently from Orion's Daddy, Ben. They have received some good news from the doctor. See below.

here is the latest for orion
he has had his 25th radiation treatment the radiation dr and his oncologist have decided to continue for 5 more treatments
the R dr believes the tumor to be benign and has no significant changes but feels the radiation may be working for a few months after treatment
he has also said he saw on cctv in china a surgion remove successfully a brain stem tumor and he suggests looking into it further
he also said to look at a hospital for sick kids in toronto which is one of the top ten in the world again he is a radiation dr not a surgion but its worth looking into still.
so once the treatments are done and we can ease him off of the steroid we possably can come home
thank you all for the prayers
please pass this far and wide


Thursday, September 24, 2009

New book giveaway

The rain here has been so refreshing, and my kids are loving school. When fall finally arrives in Central Texas everyone takes a deep breath and starts to enjoy life a little more. We get more perky.

I've got a new book giveaway going on at my review blog. The last one, "Love Has a Face," was won by Kim.

This is for a book called "The Book Thief." It's a Holocaust fiction book, very hard to read but good anyway.

Click on over to enter!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

A Letter from Sondra, Orion's Mama

You may have seen some of the blog posts I wrote a few weeks ago about Orion. They are here and here.

Here is a letter from his mama. I love her so much.

A letter from Sondra.

Dear friends,

My family and I can never say enough to express how grateful we are to all of you. Thank you for being there for us and helping us in so many ways.

Orion’s tumor appeared so suddenly and grew so quickly it has often felt unreal. Talking to other parents whose children have had DIPG, he had the symptoms in one weeks time that they had over months time. In the one month since he was diagnosed, he’s gone from a healthy 4 year old--to where he can only move the leg and arm on the left side of his body, and occasionally nod his head yes or no. He is currently undergoing radiation, and that at least has slowed things down so that he is not getting any worse. And we are hoping that he will regain some of his motor skills. Still, God has blessed us that he isn’t in any pain. He often gets frustrated because of his inability to move or talk or eat like he used to, but by asking him and getting yes or no head nods, he has several times confirmed that nothing hurts. It is an extremely aggressive tumor, so everything is happening very quickly.

I pray two main things over and over. One, that God, who is able to do all things, will see fit to grant us a miracle. There is no question that if he were to recover it would be one. It would be awesome to have that witness to God’s power for Orion to share with everyone the rest of his life. But God does not always answer prayers the way we expect. He gives us all that we need, if not always what we want. Also, if God finds Orion so precious that he wants to take him home sooner, then at least I know Orion will be well, and happy there with Jesus. We will miss him if that is the case, but I hope it will be a motivator for us to live for Christ that much more, so that we can meet him again with out any regrets.
One night Orion asked me something to the effect of ‘why daddy was mad at the doctors saying he was going to die‘. I explained that we all die eventually. I said that it wouldn’t happen right “now” but that when it did, he would get to go home to Jesus. That everything was wonderful there. He would have fun and not be sick, and happy all the time. Orion said, “But I like this home.” And I agree. I know that it will be wonderful when we make it to Jesus’ side, but I am enjoying the time with Orion now. I told him I was glad, and we are going to keep him here as long as possible because we love being with him, but when we do get to heaven, we’ll like it, and have lots of fun there as well. A few days before he had told me he wanted to get back to “normal.” And if God does take him home, then at least Orion will be freed to laugh and run and play again. Yet, I’m selfish. I want to see who he’s going to grow in to. I want to see him laugh and play and grow here. I want more time. Orion was the child I fought for. I wanted 3 children, not only 2. I wanted to have a unique name for him--and talked my family into “Orion“ So that they could call him the ordinary “Ryan,” But I would know that he was to be my dreamer. Reaching for the stars and hunting for his dreams. I wished for him to do great things, and have his determination carry him far…. I wanted to have a natural birth and so switched hospitals, and found a midwife in order to avoid surgery. I wanted to stay at home with him and his brother and sister as long as possible. He was so bright, I was always amazed at the things he came up with. I wanted to teach him about God, and help him become a wonderful young man. I want to keep him. But I realize how selfish all these “I wants” are. What SHOULD be more important is what God wants.

So I pray, He is yours God. Give me the spirit of Abraham, to be able to give back to you what was yours in the first place. Help me overcome my selfishness and to acknowledge that he is yours, not mine. I hope for a miracle like you granted Abraham, but he did not have any guarantees, and went to give Issac back without any guarantees, fully believing that God knew what was best. He is yours Lord. And just as I hope for the miracle, I pray that you give me the spirit to accept whatever your answer may be. That I be strong enough to guide my children and support my husband through whatever comes our way.
That is my second main prayer, that whatever the future may hold, that our faith grow stronger and we grow closer to the Lord. I’m terrified of this turning family members bitter. I want us to continue to see the blessings that surround us, and not let our grief and loneliness overwhelm us.

In the midst of all of this, we have been continually amazed at the outreach of the Lord’s family. The church truly is his hands and feet, and you have reached out to us is so may ways. We’ve received gifts of toys which Orion enjoyed when we were in the Dallas hospital. Blankets, which have been awesome. He doesn’t like the hospital blankets, so I trade out and wash one of the comfy blankets we’ve received every day. Money, which has helped in many ways. It has helped us get our vehicles running so that we could go back and forth to the hospital and let his brother and sister visit often. It also gave us the opportunity to let Ben and I be there for Orion as much as possible with out losing our home or having the utilities cut off. It has helped us get the gas to go to temple and back so that Kaitlyn and Kevin can keep in touch with us and have as much time with him as possible. And as we continue to look for treatments to extend the quality of his life, it has given us peace of mind that if we want to try a particular supplement to boost his immune system, or other wise, we can actually afford to by it. So many people have sent cards and letters letting us know how much they care and are praying for Orion, and for us. Meals have been brought to the hospital so that we can get a break from “hospital” food, and enjoy real cooking. My brother brought a beautiful prayer book put together by his class where we could read what each person was specifically praying for us. Friends and family have stopped by to visit and lift our spirits. And by family, I am including our Church family, because that is what we are in Christ, a family. Relatives that I didn’t know before this, both by blood and by spirit, have come by with food, gifts, and most importantly, prayers. We’ve received calls, letters, and emails from people we haven’t seen in years--and from people that we didn’t even know before. We never expected such an outpouring of love. And so we say, Thank you. I can truly feel Jesus’ spirit in all your actions. I can see him in you, hear him in your voices. You’ve brought comfort just by caring. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Whatever the Lord has planned, whatever may be the outcome, we are blessed.

A few more things that I’ve reflected on, and then I will wrap this up. I always thought about Jesus’ sacrifice, but I never really understood what the Father was giving up. When this first started, I remember praying, “Don’t let him be in pain, don’t let him be alone.” And then I realized, God the father, had to willingly leave his son in pain and alone. And for what? For those of us that forget, and take for granted. Jesus suffered greatly, but now I realize just how much the Father must have hurt too. How many other parents have also thought, “if only it could be me instead. If I could take this upon myself I would. And yet we don’t have the power to do that, to stop it. Yet God the father had the power to stop his son’s suffering. And chose to let him go through it because of his great love for ALL. Words can never give justice.

“This world is not our home.” How easy that is to forget. Whatever we face here, good or bad, IT IS TEMPORARY. We get so caught up in our day to day, it is had to see the bigger picture, that in the end, none of this will last, only how we treat people, and how we worship God will matter. We are like campers, hiding in tents in the woods, who have a beautiful home waiting for us. But we get so focused on day to day survival, that we completely forget that the home is there, just outside the woods. We spend so much energy making our tents nice, when it’s just a tent. We have a much better home waiting for us than anything we can put together here. I pray that God help me to always remember that, and live looking towards that time, instead of hiding from it.

Again, thank you for all of your gifts, your love, and most importantly your prayers.
With love,

Sondra Smith

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Teaching Children about their bodies; from a Christian perspective

As a Christian mom, it is very important to me that my kids learn about the birds and the bees in an age appropriate way and in God's terms and God's planning, rather than the world's planning. I have found two series of books on Christian sex education. One of them I highly recommend and the other not so much.

I've reviewed the first two books in each series on my book review blog. I recommend going over there to take a look.

The first book is for ages 3 to 5. There are two for this age group:
Each One Specially
God Made Your Body

The second book is for ages 6 to 9. There are two:
I Wonder Why
How God Makes Babies

At what age do you plan to, or did you start teaching your children about God's will for their bodies? Was it difficult for you?

Don't forget my book giveaway- it ends Tuesday, Sept 21. Click here to enter to win a missionary memoir.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Book Reviews Posted; Win one of them!

I posted four book reviews tonight on my book review blog, one of which you can win.

The first one is a missionary memoir from Sudan
. Enter before Tuesday September 21 and you could win it.

The second and third ones are reviews of excellent children's chapter books. I loved them. They made my heart happy.

The last one was a fictional Holocaust book. Hard to read, but still compelling.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Serene Spaces

Part of the Plan for my kids going back to school is that I will start to make money. I have decided to start a business. Last week I ordered business cards, yesterday I filled out forms and researched stuff, and today I registered my business name with Travis and Williamson Counties. I am well on my way!

I am starting an organizing/decluttering business. I will take your messy areas and turn them into efficiently working spaces.

I am pretty excited and feel like I should be having a party!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

More book Reviews posted

Today I cleaned living room, dining room, kitchen, and office, went to visit Nicole, and read another book. I've been trying to keep track so I can remember what books to let Emmy read at different ages.

I have posted another four book reviews:

Young adult fiction full of adventure and mayhem

Prophecy interpretation about end times

Young adult historical fiction about French revolution and lace

Young adult science fiction NOT recommended

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

New Book Reviews: Historical Fiction, Mystery, and Great Kids' Series

I just put up three reviews on the book review blog I contribute to. I wish I were a better review writer because I really loved some of the books but don't feel like I did them justice.

I have troubles sharing enough information to make the story interesting but not too much to give the plot away. I can say that I highly recommend these three books.

Anyway without further ado:

An excellent classic children's chapter book series

A thrilling Mormon murder mystery

A bittersweet Christian historical fiction

Friday, August 28, 2009

It's Friday but Sunday is Coming

This is why I am still able to go on every day.

A video here, another here

They both help us remember the promise! The promise that even though this life is really crummy and horrible things are happening all around us, the promise that even despite all of this, God has won the fight. He's in charge. He's coming back to take us home. Are you ready for Sunday? I know I am.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

First Day of Second Grade

Emlyn's first day of second grade is today. She is in the same class with her friend Anaya, whom she has known since they were six months old. We bought this fabric during Spring Break and I had promised matching dresses for her and a friend. She reminded me yesterday that I needed to make them, so we had a sewing marathon. I love the way they turned out. They are specially designed for twirling.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Update on Orion

I was able to make the hour drive to Temple, TX to visit with Orion and his parents today. Sondra, my cousin, is holding up pretty well under the strain of being in the hospital. I will be going again for the weekend with my sister. Ben and Sondra were very thankful for the snacks some friends sent. As people came and went the snacks were enjoyed.

Orion is not doing very well. I was there for about 3 hours and he never said more than one word at a time, he never sat up on his own, and he was hardly moving or eating. The doctors are going to start radiation treatments tomorrow but I don't know what effect they are supposed to have. Ben and Sondra are looking into getting into the Ronald McDonald house which would be nice for grandparents and siblings. Right now both of the parents are up at the hospital full time, and the siblings are with Ben's parents who live in Waco. I want to be hopeful, but this truly requires God's intervention and a miracle.

Sondra, mom, seems to be holding up okay but she is the only acceptable person as far as Orion is concerned, which makes it hard for her to get a break. We were thinking that since he will be sedated for radiation treatments that would be a good time for her to get out of the hospital for a while.

It breaks my heart to see a 4 year old boy who is supposed to be jumping around and yelling and learning and laughing just being in the hospital bed. I can't help but compare him to Denali and it is just WRONG. I wish there were something I could do more than what I am doing. I wish I could take away the pain.

I am so thankful for the health of my children and for the friends and family I have that are making it possible for me to go up to Temple to "help."

My mom and sister Grace are here in town and are considering extending their stays so they can be more supportive of my cousin.

Love you all. Go give your kiddos hugs. Give them ice cream. Let them skip cleaning up tomorrow. Let them break the rules without consequences every once in a while. It's not all about discipline.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Wonderful Summer Day

Today I dropped my sister Grace off at work downtown (she's visiting for work and staying with us) and decided to take the kids to the children's museum. We ended up having a great time there, creating and playing and learning. We love the museum. They have updated a lot of exhibits but there were still some familiar favorites.

At lunchtime we wandered down the street to a sidewalk cafe called Jo's. It was great! Most restaurant kids' meals are not all that, but for $4.50 we got a large sandwich and about a pint of fresh fruit. We were able to split it between the three of us (the kids and I) and it was really delicious! I highly recommend this little cafe. We stopped on the sidewalk to look at the clock tower on Lady Bird Lake and saw a friend running on his lunch break.

We went back to the museum for a couple more hours, and then I talked to Grace. She was not ready to leave work yet so we went to the downtown library branch. I spent a while looking for good books for Emlyn to read and then we all read a book called "The Bears on Hemlock Mountain." It's a Newbery Honor book from the mid-20th century. It was a really cute book. Then we went upstairs and learned about what a librarian does, asked her some questions, and learned about encyclopedias.

After that we went to Whole Foods and bought snacks and played on their rooftop playground. Even though it was super-hot the kids really enjoyed the whole day. It was a great way to end the free days of summer in anticipation of school starting next week. It was also a very nice way to enjoy life and enjoy spending time together.

Monday, August 17, 2009

This dumb world

I am home finally from our trip. We had a lovely time in CA and on the road trip back to TX. Joel cleaned the house before our arrival home and that was lovely.

I will be posting pictures and stories from our trip soon.

But today my heart is breaking because this stupid world has pain and sorrow.

My closest cousin has a four year old boy named Orion who has an inoperable brain tumor infused in his brain stem. He has 6 mos to 2 years to live.

I want Jesus to come back NOW, to take away this pain and sorrow forever. People ask me how I can believe in God. My answer is if there is no God then this world has no point, no hope. My belief in Christ gives me a hope and a future. Christ is returning, and when He returns, He will take me home to heaven where there will never be any pain, sorrow, sickness, or sadness. That is the only reason I can get through days like today.

To see pictures from our visit with Orion yesterday and other pictures from our trip please see this link.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Summer in CA










Thing 23

First of all I am so glad I was able to participate in some professional development this summer. It is so hard to find quality online classes and this one was really great. I wish I had time to do the next one but I guess I will have to wait until next year.

What were your favorite discoveries or exercises on this learning journey?
My two favorite exercises were Thing 19, where I discovered swivel, where you can see lots of kinds of infographics. I really think that would be useful in finding a way to communicate a particular idea to a class. I also really liked Thing 6, where I found retrievr, an artistic site. I can see using that in quilt design or helping kids see how different people have different perspectives.

How has this program assisted or affected your lifelong learning goals?
It surprises me how much the world is changing now. I am nearly 30 and still cannot stop learning the new things out there. If I stop even for just an instant I can get really behind. I consider myself fairly technologically savvy, considering I am a stay-at-home mom right now, but I found lots of new things out there. This will help me remember to keep setting goals, keep putting myself out there to learn new things, and appreciate the professional development for what it's intended to do.

Were there any take-a-ways or unexpected outcomes from this program that surprised you?
I was surprised at how involved learning new things is. There were some days where I was able to learn about 2 or 3 new things, and then other days one of the discovery exercises would overwhelm me completely and it would take a few days to process the new item enough to be able to write about it.

What could we do differently to improve upon this program’s format or concept? It would be nice if you could offer it during the school year as well for people like me. I am not teaching right now but trying to keep up with my professional development so I can keep my certification current. On the other hand I understand that most people organizing and taking advantage of the program are too busy during the school year to do this.

If we offered another discovery program like this in the future, would you choose to participate? Definitely.

How would you describe your learning experience in ONE WORD or in ONE SENTENCE, so we could use your words to promote 23 Things learning activities? Joyous and amazing

Thing 22

A ning is a social network that one can create. It is similiar to Facebook in that one can post pictures, blogs, and discussions, but a ning can be tailored to the interests of the person creating one. You can have a ning related to teaching, recipes, quilting, parenting, etc.

The idea is pretty good I guess but I feel that it is very similar to things already out there. I use Facebook regularly, and I can tailor Facebook to different interests. It is also similar in idea to Livejournal communities.

I am not sure I would be able to use it effectively in a classroom. I can see perhaps for a high school class one could make a ning especially for that class, or for teachers to share information. I would probably not use it though.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Thing 21

Thing 21 was all about making a videocast or podcast. I was supposed to use Photostory but since I am using a macintosh and Photostory is a windows software, I had to be creative. I decided to make a video with my camera and import it to my blog. It's a video of the quilt I made for my brother Daniel.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Thing 20

YouTube and TeacherTube are two resources we can use to find videos on the internet. YouTube is often blocked by school filters, so TeacherTube was created to fill that gap and also to focus the videos more.

I saw an interesting video on YouTube about Educational Technology and what we are to be teaching our students. It was very thought-provoking. I also found Mr. Bean in the Library which was hilarious, and a commercial about a blonde entering a library (which was a blonde joke in video form).

These two websites are very helpful for times when it would be good to have an educational video available, and when one doesn't have time to produce one. I love to see how many people see life and produce art. I can easily see using many of these in the classroom.

Here's the educational reform video:

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Thing 17

Rollyo is a website that lets you make customized search engines based on sites you trust and already know. I made a search engine for kid-friendly animal research websites.

It took me a few minutes to understand what was going on and how to use it, but after making my first "searchroll" I think I get the idea.

I was a little disappointed that there are sponsored results mixed in with the real results, and that they are not very differentiated. This would make it difficult for younger students to understand. I realize that the site has to make money somehow but I would first start by teaching the kids not to click on the light blue boxed links.

Other than that I could see many applications: recipes, lesson plan sites, research sites, etc.

Thing 16

Turns out wikipedia is not the only collaborative website tool out there. I learned all about "wikis" and how teachers can use them in the classroom. I would definitely use it as a tool for my classroom as well as my personal life. One way I can see a good use for it would be for pooling physical resources between a team of teachers or a team of students. Everyone would add to the document the things they are bringing to the table, and over the course of a few days an exhaustive list would be made.

I also like the idea of having students use this resource as a way to do a collaborative project. Rather than writing it all down on paper, the students would do their research and write it all together, and edit it online.

I already made a wiki page for a camping trip we went on this weekend. I shared it with my husband and the family we were going with. We were able to use it as a way to know who was bringing what.

I used as my wiki site.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


This week Linda came home from the hospital. She's in her apartment, recuperating from surgery.

This week the kids finished their summer's swim lessons. They did a great job although for some reason they still swim terribly for me. It's probably my fault.

This week it did NOT rain even though the weather seemed promising. We need the rain desperately.

This week I am planning a camping trip to the beach. I've been in TX since 1997 and never been to the coast. I hear camping on the beach is a blast. Except for all the sand.

This week I got a small tummy bug but I think I'm mostly over it. I managed to eat some food today and clean most of my house.

This week I did not get much professional development completed, but hope to in the next week.

This week I got to go to a baby shower for a good friend who is expecting her first baby. We enjoyed laughing and chatting; the two hours went by very quickly.

This week is my only brother's birthday. Daniel is 23 this year. His quilt is not quite finished. I'm hoping to take it to him when we go to CA in a couple weeks.

This week I am thankful for my wonderful husband and kids who were supremely understanding while I was sick. I am also thankful for my normal good health.

This week I was reminded that God is in control and that His promises endure, even past death.

What things did you learn this week?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Thing 13

Wow! Social bookmarking is a whole new world for me. I had heard of delicious and digg, but didn't ever understand what all was going on there. I love the idea of saving my bookmarks so I can access them any time, but I didn't realize about the social aspect.

I think it's neat that I can go look for a tag such as "organize", and see what other people have tagged with the same tag. This has great potential for teachers looking for good teaching sites, or for teachers in the same school to pool their common resources.

I'd like to look around some more and see if there's a way to share certain tags with certain people, or if it's an all-or-nothing type of deal.

I imported all my bookmarks from my browser and had more than I thought. Turns out I usually bookmark things and then never think about them again because the browser bookmark tool isn't very good. It will take me a while to sort through and properly tag all 100 of my bookmarks.

If you want to see my bookmarks on delicious, visit my page through this link.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Some pictures to make you smile

Summer Chaos

In the midst of all this brain-bending professional development I've been deluging the blog with, I have also had a lot of issues in my personal life.

Swim lessons are this week and next, and I of course planned them right in the same week as Linda's surgery (more details to follow) and right in the middle of the day.

The kids are enjoying the lessons, so I hear. They've been three days. I've only been to one of those days. It's sad because I really enjoy watching them learn and grow.

I'm trying to lose weight again. I've gained back 12-15 pounds and am now trying to track my eating on SparkPeople and drink much more water.

Linda, Joel's mom, had a partial hip replacement this week, the third one in 5 years. The first two were total replacements, and her left side one was never very strong. Sure enough they had to go back and replace the socket and ball, but thank God she didn't have any infection, and they didn't have to replace the rod (which is inserted into the femur by an uncomfortable process).

I wanted to really show her support through this time so over the last two days my kids have been with 4 different families and I have only seen them 5 hours total. The rest of the time I've been up at the hospital. Most of the time I feel useless. I was able to get some professional development done on the computer, but overall there's a lot of sitting. There have been a couple times when I was really glad I was there. Today her IV "infiltrated" her hand, which basically means the vein broke and started leaking fluid into her hand. It got really tight and her fingers started turning purple from lack of circulation. She was so heavily medicated that when she called the nurse on her phone she was unable to fully communicate the urgency of the situation. I was able to run out into the hall and grab someone.

I am so thankful for my friends who have really stepped up here and helped with the kids. I feel like a sorta bad mom right now but Linda needs me, and that makes me a good daughter-in-law, I guess. We are praying that she will be accepted into a rehab hospital for a few days because recovery is so much easier there. We are also praying that this recovery is overall easier because they didn't have to replace the rod.

I have been able to do some housework and laundry but have basically handed food over to the processed kind. My kids are taking lunchables and pre-packaged fruit everywhere. We pick up kolaches for breakfast and tonight we ate Taco Cabana (which is a better choice than some fast foods).

I honestly don't know how in the world people can handle long term illness or especially NICU. It must be just like this only 500 times more emotionally stressful and chaotic. If this is as bad as it gets I am grateful.

Well I'm off to take a bath and try to relax. Have a blessed and grateful evening. God is good all the time.

technorati asks me to do this


Thing 19

I explored the web 2.0 awards from 2008 and found a lot of interesting sites. Probably the one I liked the most was called, and it has lots of infographics. Infographics is a term for imparting information to people through pictures. Think bar graphs, etc. But takes really good ones and posts them. You can quickly learn something new, because a picture is like a thousand words.

This is highly applicable in education settings. Not only can you search for information on a topic you're teaching, but you can show students so many new ways of charting their information and discuss the pros and cons of each method. You can also discuss why charting and accuracy is so important. This website really makes me want to write a lesson plan or share the ideas with my kids.

Thing 14

Side note: this is my 900th post! Pretty exciting!

Technorati is something I've heard about but never used myself. When I searched for School Library Learning 2.0 I got some surprising results. I think I was supposed to use quotation marks because the blog posts results were mostly just about education in general and not this program I'm involved in. Once I searched in tags however I found some that looked familiar. I couldn't figure out how to search the blog directory, only browsing it through the topic headings.

I was surprised that "olympics" was in the top 15 searches, since it's not an olympic year. Most of the other popular ones were not too surprising, mostly celebrity stuff which is not really my gig.

I can totally see using technorati as another tool to find blog posts on topics that interest me. I plan to take a little more time to publish info about my blogs and see who else has tagged their blogs in similar ways.

The more I learn about tagging the more I realize that it is just another way of organizing info. Different people categorize things in different ways, so it's nice to be able to personally choose my categories. I also like the fact that the more people tag something, the more info the computer has to make generalizations about people.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Thing 18

I have used both OpenOffice and Google Docs for quite some time. They are both open platforms for word processing as alternatives to Microsoft Office. For a long time I preferred OpenOffice, because the program emulates Microsoft Office so well. You can basically do anything you used to do in Microsoft Office. They are so similar that you hardly have to do any learning of new processes.

The only problem is that since we use a mac we have to have another program to run OpenOffice, and that program has not been working on our computer for a while. Joel does a great job at keeping our home computers working but we never seem to communicate properly about OpenOffice so we've not gotten that fixed.

So currently I use Google Docs. It's fabulous. It is so much better than mac's version of word processing, and the best part is that if you have the internet, you have your documents. You can keep them private or share them with others.

Since we are on a mac I cannot even tell you how long it's been since I used Microsoft Office.

Thing 15

I know I'm going out of order but my computer won't watch videos today so I'm limited to those that don't require video.

One point made in this article that really hit me was that libraries really need to continue to grow and change. I still use our local library pretty extensively, mostly because they've made some awesome upgrades that I really appreciate. When I hear about a book I want to read I can immediately go to my library's website, search for it, and request it to be sent to the branch closest to my house. They email me when it arrives, they email me when my books are almost due, and they email me when my books are overdue. I think that's great.

I take my kids to the library but sometimes it's more like "what one could do" rather than "what we need to do". I can see in the near future when they will read me out of house and home but we're not quite there yet.

Another post I read talked about the frustration in talking or thinking about education reform, and how in his mind the important piece of the puzzle is assessment. Almost every teacher I talk to right now is tired. They are tired of the endless assessment. They are tired of not being able to use their creativity.

I liken it to a pendulum. I feel that right now we are at the very top of a pendulum swing with assessment. I do not see how it could possibly get any more intense for teachers, and I really hope it starts to swing in the other direction soon.

There were a lot of good discussions about how to take education and change it to follow the times.

Thing 12 Part 2

The previous post was getting too long so I decided to continue it to another post.

Today I used google blog search to try to find some blogs/posts about really high quality children's literature. I'm constantly searching for good books for Emmy to read, and since she's above grade level in abililty that makes the problem harder. I don't want her to read about 10 year old problems even though she probably could comprehend the words. Make sense?

At any rate I found a post by Scott Goodson that listed his favorite books. I don't know who he is, but I will check his other blog to see whether I like it or not.

I also found a blog that reviews Christian Children's Literature, which sounds perfect. I appreciate their reviews so much. I subscribed to that one and will be reading it.

I still don't feel that I fully understand google blog search. Perhaps my search terms are off. I never find what I expect to.

Thing 12

This post is all about commenting. The first thing I read was from Drape's Takes.

This made me think about my commenting "policy." Currently on blogger I don't respond to each comment, mainly because blogger makes it so difficult for people to receive your comments from the blog. You have to actively select each conversation that you want to receive notification on, and then go back to the blog to check it. So if I leave a question on bob's blog, I have to actively return to his blog to see his answer. I just don't have time for that. I used to, back in the day when I only read a few blogs, go back and check everyone's, but that got old fairly quickly. My new policy, such as it is, is to respond personally via email if I know the person's email, or if the comment is something I really feel needs to be responded to publicly, I will do that.

I do read every comment and appreciate them greatly. But since my blog is such a small one, and mostly for my friends, I feel that I interact with people in other ways as well.

What do you think about this? Am I stifling discussion by not responding? Do you want me to respond to your comments?

Another post I read was about aliases vs. real names. I usually post on blogger with the name Sarah, but on wordpress (which remembers my fields) I use Sarah S. Chicken. There really aren't that many Sarah S Chickens in the world, so I use it to be unique. Since blogger links to my blog from my comment I am confident people know who I am. I also have an avatar on blogger.

Since I've been blogging for so long, I am comfortable with the number of comments I get. It's somewhat about community for me but also just a way to remember what I've been thinking. I'm on Facebook now, not to mention all the people I interact with in real life, so overall I just view this as part of a whole big section of my life. I comment on others' blogs once in a while, if something is really important to me, but I don't comment on everything anymore. One thought is that this really is a discussion community. Am I just jaded from doing this so long? Or is it like any other fad, where people are really enthusiastic for a while and then they go on with life?

I don't know. I guess my priorities have changed. I hope that others know that I do read their blogs even though their stat counters may not show it, and even though I don't comment. Maybe I should be commenting more.

One of the techniques I use from 10 Techniques to get more comments is to make it easy to comment. I used to use word verification but as I got tired of using it on others' blogs I took it off mine too. I really don't receive any spam or mean comments. Of course that's probably also because I don't have very many readers at all anymore :)

The last post I read was how to comment like a king or queen. I didn't get much out of this one except the idea that some people do need to be taught how to comment. I think I've been doing this for so long that I forgot that some people don't know how. I would say "being nice" is an important thing. Some commenters use blogs as a way to hide and state things they wouldn't in real life.

What do you think about this? Am I stifling discussion by not responding? Do you want me to respond to your comments?

Thing 11

Library Thing is a way to catalog your home collection of books and discuss them with others. There are lots of features including many ways to search for books and sort them, and tags you can add. I was impressed with how quickly I could add books.

The interesting thing to me is that Joel started a website a long time ago that had a similar idea, but it didn't get off the ground. Just reminds me that there's nothing new under the sun. Maybe some day my husband will be the owner of a great website like this one.

Here is my catalog; I plan to add more sometime.

I don't know if I would use this in a classroom but it would certainly be nice, especially if I could use Joel's phone to just scan the barcodes of my books and enter them that way. Very fast and quick.

It would be neat to compare my library with some other users and see if I could find some people with similar interests. I think that would be a good way to find new books to read.

Thing 10

As I type this Joel's mom Linda is in surgery for a hip replacement and I am in the waiting room. Therefore I thought this sign was appropriate.

After a couple busy weeks I was finally able to take a look at some image generator sites. I wasn't overly impressed with most of them, but the most user-friendly one to me was Smiley Face Generator. You take the happy faces and insert the text you want to use.

I can see that many people would like these because it's an easy way to make customized images, but I am not overly fond of comics as a rule and prefer real-life images.

It was interesting to go look at the various options.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Thing 9

Today I looked at various sites that helped me find new blogs to read.

The easiest search tool I used was probably bloglines, although because of the search term I used (ESL teacher) I did not get many results at all on any of the sites.

I didn't like syndic8 at all- it looked like a message board place and i don't do those very often. For me it was too hard to get to the actual data.

A fun site I found was Awful Library Books, which is posted by librarians going through their collections and getting rid of obsolete books. I also found a few good resources for ESL teachers.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Thing 8

I have been using Google reader for a while now, as a way to have all of the blogs I read sent to one place. When I first started using it I was reading lots and lots of blogs, especially those of people I don't know at all. It was really handy to have everything in one place.

Now that I've been using it for a long time, I have noticed some pros and cons. The good things are that I don't forget about a particular blog. If there is a way to have an RSS feed, I use it and send the blog to my reader. That cuts down on my reading time. I also like keeping my list private. It used to be in a blogroll but I prefer now to keep what I'm reading more private.

One negative thing I have noticed is that I comment less on other people's blogs, because in order to comment I would have to click on the post, load the comment page there, and then comment. I also receive fewer comments, and I have to think it's because of the same reason.

Over time I have changed my priorities and instead of 40-50 blogs I am now only subscribed to about 20, and very few people I don't know in real life. I really have tried to focus what I read.

A teacher could definitely use this to keep up with the latest news on a particular topic, and to foster a sense of community. It's a great resource.

Thing 7

Today I explored Google applications. I'm very familiar with Google docs, where you can create a document and access it on any computer that has internet access. I have my address book here, so that anywhere I am I have my contacts.

You can also share it with people, like I did on this one.

I forsee this being helpful to share lesson plans with parents who want to know what is going on in the classroom, or recording data gathered in class for students to access at home.

I had never used Google scholar before, but evidently it's a way to search research papers and scientific evidence. A great way to find only reputable sources. I did a search for sunflowers and it looked pretty handy.

I had also never seen Google labs. Lots of current experiments in science using technology. Good times could be had by a high school science class.

Thing 6

Today I got to look at some fun mashups off of Flickr. One of my favorites is called retrievr, where you make a basic sketch and the application searches flickr photos for pictures that are reminiscent of the sketch. I love the way it makes me think about perspective. To me what I drew was a blue squiggly line. To the "eyes" of the application it was something else entirely. Kids would enjoy seeing their art and perspective being interpreted by a program.

Another stunning one I explored was called mosaic maker. I told the application how big I wanted the mosaic, and then entered the tag terms "blue nature". The results I got were fantastic. One could also use pictures from your classroom to post on the bulletin board.

I have used mashups in the past, like the one that shows what sea level rise would look like interposed on the google maps. They are a great tool for using other people's findings to make your own interpretations.

Have you ever used mashups? What is your favorite?

Thing 5

I found this neat picture by Richard Faulder on flickr. Joel and I are big fans of wild roses because they don't require as much care as some of the fancy ones we find nowadays. They've lived in the wild; they're hardy.

What kind of roses do you like best? Do you have any in your garden?

Thing 3

The professional development program I'm using this week is called Library 2 Play. They have 23 things I can do to learn more about the internet and ways educators can use these things to further the learning of their students. I'm excited to do this because even though I've been blogging since 2005, I'm sure there's lots of programs out there that I've not encountered and that would help me in my quest to be a lifelong learner.

I also made a cute avatar on Yahoo...

I originally started this blog to tell family members and friends about the kids and about goings-on in my life. As I change, the purpose of this blog has also changed. I still occasionally share stories about the kids, but more often I use this as a forum for sharing big things I've learned. My blog is not for little things anymore- it's my journal. It's the way I record my Christian walk and my lifewalk.

Thing 2

This is the first in a series of posts I will be doing as part of my professional development I am undertaking this summer.

As I think about life-long learning I find that one of the easiest things for me to do is taking responsibility for my own learning. I often jump into new projects doing things that I have never done before. I also tend to choose my own learning topics, although sometimes people give me learning assignments too.

One of the hardest things for me when starting new learning or being a lifelong learner is to set goals. I find that sometimes I jump into things without a long term goal in mind, or without asking myself if I really want to start an entirely new line of thinking. For instance I may decide I want to get into scrapbooking without thinking too much about how much money is reasonable to spend on it and if I have the time to scrapbook as much as I want to.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Emlyn's Birth Story

Emlyn Grace May 23

Emlyn's "due date" was May 11. I was going to do natural birth and had taken Bradley classes, so I wasn't too worried when the due date came and went. I went to the doctor and they did ultrasounds and said things were still okay so I waited. I was very irritable when my friend had her baby before me when she wasn't due till after me.

But finally on May 23 at 3:30 in the morning I woke up and could tell things were happening and that's when I had bloody show. I woke up my mom and my husband and we thought we'd wait at the house for a while. After all, the average first labor takes 14 hours. But the contractions were different and stronger, and soon they were 3 minutes apart.

We decided it was time to go to the hospital. It is only 7 minutes away. As we started to go inside I had 3 contractions between the car and the hospital entrance. I realized this was serious.

We got into a room and I changed my clothes. The nurses bombarded us with questions and forms. I had to ask Joel to read them and I blindly signed during contraction after contraction. They put on an external fetal monitor but I sure didn't like it. It hurt and tethered me to the bed. I also got a heplock just in case they needed to give me an IV.

I had read "everything" about labor and the people said it would start easy. But it didn't. From when I woke up the contractions had been strong. I was worried that it was going to get much worse. They were very fast and strong; I couldn't even get up. I wasn't getting a break at all. I kept saying, "If it gets much worse I don't think I can handle it."

But very soon I felt like I needed to push. It was probably about 6:30 am. The nurse checked me, and yes, it was time. The doctor and a whole slew of others came in to get ready.

It hurt. But I was so excited to finally see my sweetie! I knew this was best for us, and I pushed. And some lady yelled at me to push. And there was a shift change but noone had seen an unmedicated birth before so they all stayed, so there was double the people (15?) in the room. And at 7:01 am, after 3 1/2 hours she was born.

They handed her to me and I held her, and laughed, and cried, and showed her off, and fed her. She was so floppy and wiggly!

We stayed in the hospital for 2 days and then went home.

I tore and had stitches. I vomited a couple of times (watermelon is yucky coming back up). I also had the shakes.

Was it worth it? YES!

Emmy, Six

P1020569.JPG, originally uploaded by spiffy_guy.

With my sister Grace and Denali, being silly.

Five Year Old Emmy

P1010873.JPG, originally uploaded by spiffy_guy.

Four Years Old

DCP_4460.JPG, originally uploaded by spiffy_guy.

Three, and a Big Sister

DCP_2643.JPG, originally uploaded by spiffy_guy.

Emmy- Two Years

DCP_1688.JPG, originally uploaded by spiffy_guy.

Posing with her grandpa.

Emmy at One Year

DCP_0938, originally uploaded by spiffy_guy.

Taking the Sweet One Home

DCP_0278, originally uploaded by spiffy_guy.

I can't believe she was ever so small. Happy birthday, Emmy!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Taken on her due date

DCP_0219, originally uploaded by spiffy_guy.

Some people have very beautiful tummies when they are pregnant. They are in magazines with blurred edges and lovely hands holding a perfectly round belly with no stretch marks.

Not me. I go for lots of stretch marks, lots of hippy tattoos, and lots of precious kicks in my side, right where the happy face is on the left side of the picture. I can still point to the exact spot on my tummy where her little heel would push out and show itself to the world. I wouldn't trade that for the most perfect belly shots possible. This memory is much more special.

Belly pics

DCP_0220, originally uploaded by spiffy_guy.

Temporary tattoos and stretch marks. The hallmark of motherhood, right here.

7 years later, I have another temporary tattoo; this one from field day. Today I spent all day at her school, helping with field day, serving cupcakes to celebrate her birthday, making robots and cars with her class, and reading stories to her classmates.

Barefoot and Pregnant, 7 Years Ago.

DCP_0108, originally uploaded by spiffy_guy.

It has been 7 years since my body finally decided to go into labor for the first time. Emmy was "officially" 12 days late, and the only reason she came then was because I fell the night before on a walk. Here's a picture of me looking very uncomfortable and large. Look how long those braids are!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Denali's Day

As narrated to Grandma Linda

Sometimes I open my eyes and I see my room and there are VeggieTales my mommy has removed but she has left the measuring picture nailed to my door. I think I do love it. Do you know what she uses for my blanket? I will go get it! It is the VeggieTales quilt. It was on the wall. Look at the whole thing spread out on the floor. Watch this (he played hopscotch on the squares). I do love it. I saw an adult in Target with brown and purple hair. An adult! Yeah! I helped my mommy in the garden this morning. After that I made two pictures on the computer. SuperWhy is where I made them.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Putting Our Faith in Action

Yesterday our church had it's annual Faith in Action day, where we cancel church service and members are involved in various activities that give to our community and share our faith. This year some of the events were: planting a victory community garden, free garage sale, baby shower for unwed moms, blood drive, financial seminar, park cleanup, and much more.

Joel and I decided to help with donating items to the free garage sale and then we spent the rest of the day over at the victory garden. We were building beds and planting plants, digging and hauling, weeding and spreading leaves between the beds. We are sharing a garden bed with a nice lady- our plot is about 4 by 12 feet. We planted about 15 tomato plants, 12 pepper plants, 10 watermelon plants, and a rosemary. Then we put in 5 blackberry bushes and 3 more rosemary bushes along the edge of the walkway. It's going to be so fun to see all the plants grow.

It was really amazing how the phrase "many hands make light work" is so true. There were about 40 of us out there working on the garden, and it was so fun to visit and get to know people and share our tools, knowledge, and plants. I look forward to spending time in our church garden with others. Now I just have to figure out how to water a garden twice a week that is 20 miles from my house. :)

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Irish Step Dancing

I just returned from my first Irish Step Dance class (think Riverdance) and it was fabulous! I loved it so much. It will quickly become the highlight of my week.

Thursday, April 30, 2009


Today I did seven errands in 2.5 hours. I think that's a record of some sort. Now we are home and very weary.

I'm afraid Facebook has ruined my ability to write more than a sentence at a time. What to do?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Gardening is Tiring

Today I put 15 baby tomato plants in the garden. The are in with about 8 squash plants, 10 cucumber plants, two cacti, and some bulbs.

I am excited to see what will be happening and how many tomatoes I will get. It's very difficult to leave them up to God now though (that and a soaker hose).

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Denali the Photographer

Like me, Denali has a certain fascination with taking pictures of his feet. There have been a lot of them uploaded to the computer. Today he took a few pictures and wanted me to "online" them.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Oil in your lamp part 2

What are you doing to get ready for Jesus Christ returning? Are you strengthening your relationship with God?

What about physical things? What physical things are you either letting go of, or remembering that they aren't as important as you might think?

Long term plans- do you make them?

Do you live your life as a light on a hill, or do you show the normal side?

This weekend (Thurs-Sun) I have so much to do that seems very important. And in this physical world it is very important. But when I start to stress out about it I start to remember that all of this stuff won't be remembered in a couple months (okay maybe one thing). Only just a couple things are kingdom-related. And suddenly it doesn't seem so overwhelming any more. Jesus Christ resurrected. Jesus Christ coming back to take us away from this crummy stuff. From the paperwork and the endless cleaning.

So what are you doing to keep oil in your lamp?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

I got my hair cut

I know that's a really boring title to a post, but the fact is that I really only get my hair professionally cut about once a year. So today was the day. I think it turned out rather well.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Oil in Your Lamp

Today I was chatting with a friend and she gently reminded me again that we don't know the day or hour in which Jesus will return. Jesus compared his return to a group of women waiting for their suitors. Half of them were prepared; they had oil in their lamps at all times and had everything in order. The other half had neglected to keep their lamps full. When the bridegroom came, the ones who were unprepared asked the others "please share your oil with us!" But the prepared ones were not able to share. They had done what they could and gotten themselves ready. The fact of the matter is that we are all in control of our own lives. If there are some things you have not done to prepare for the return of Jesus Christ, you need to do them now. Don't wait until Jesus comes back.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Gardening, Spring, Working

We seem to finally be all better around here- we had a month of sickness but it's over thankfully.

This last week I started tutoring at Emlyn's school again- I'm doing two hours a week of kindergarten math and two hours of kinder reading. The kids are cute and fairly well-behaved for kinder. I don't think I could do kinder as my full-time job- the hugs are nice but the wiggles constantly would drive me nuts. I much prefer 3-4 grade. Denali enjoys coming to school with me to learn, although in my humble opinion he is ahead of these kids, at least academically.

This year our garden is weighted towards edibles. Our roses are huge, our trees are well-established, and the xeriscaped beds are doing well. We added a raised bed for more thornless blackberries. We now have about 15-20 plants in all. The ones from last year are not very big but they sent out runners and seem to be fairly healthy. I don't know if we will get any berries this year. We put in soaker hoses for watering this time and that should help for the middle of the summer.

Joel bought a fig tree so we now have a fig and a peach tree. I have given up on my wildflower bed and am hoping to get some hardy seedlings from the seeds of veggies I planted. I bought cantaloupe, watermelon, cucumber, yellow squash, and two types of tomatoes. I made 12 baby pots of each type of veggie, so I may have extra seedlings in a few weeks. I'm excited about them, and trying to do this the right way this year. I also have a soaker hose in the old wildflower bed, which is where the veggies will go.

The weather is still cool, and I love it. Today I got to thinking about where I grew up and how it's a microclimate. I looked up temperature patterns for Hayward and found that the average lowest temp is 44 degrees and the average highest temp is 74! That's why I've been so surprised here in TX! Texas weather can vary 30 degrees in one day, whereas I was used to 30 degree variance in one year. Crazy. No wonder 7.2 million people live in 7000 square miles. That's 1000 people per square mile! So I grew up there. Compare that to Joel, who grew up in Alaska, with 1 person per square mile. Can you say different?

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Interview with Denali, age 4

Here's what you are supposed to do:

Ask your child(ren) the questions and type in their answers as they say

them. Tag other folks with older kids who might have fun with this. :)

1. What is something Mommy always says to you?
Do your chores

2. What makes Mommy happy?
hugging her

3. What makes Mommy sad?
not obeying her

4. How does your Mommy make you laugh?
she says silly things and she acts silly

5. What was your Mommy like as a child?
I don't know

6. How old is your Mommy?

7. How tall is your Mommy?
100 inches

8. What is her favorite thing to do?
do pillow fights

9. What does your Mommy do when you're not around?
watch "hot lava proof" at somebody else's house

10. If your Mommy becomes famous, what will it be for?
famous seamstress, painter, builder, cowgirl, or whatever

11. What is your Mommy really good at?

12. What is your Mommy not very good at?

13. What does your Mommy do for her job?
doing chores

14. What is your Mommy's favorite food?

15. What makes you proud of your Mommy?
letting me snuggle with her when I'm tired

16. If your Mommy were a cartoon character, who would she be?
Super Girl

17. What do you and your Mommy do together?
go to movie theaters

18. How are you and your Mommy the same?
both big, both wear glasses

19. How are you and your Mommy different?
I'm little and you're big and I don't wear glasses and you do

20. How do you know your Mommy loves you?
I love her

21. Where is your Mommy's favorite place to go?
chick fil a, austin park n' pizza, disneyworld

Interview with Emlyn, Age 6

Here's what you are supposed to do:

Ask your child(ren) the questions and type in their answers as they say

them. Tag other folks with older kids who might have fun with this. :)

1. What is something Mommy always says to you?
Take out the trash

2. What makes Mommy happy?
hugging me

3. What makes Mommy sad?
not obeying her

4. How does your Mommy make you laugh?
saying silly things

5. What was your Mommy like as a child?
I have no idea

6. How old is your Mommy?

7. How tall is your Mommy?
12 feet tall

8. What is her favorite thing to do?

9. What does your Mommy do when you're not around?
I don't know

10. If your Mommy becomes famous, what will it be for?
her sewing

11. What is your Mommy really good at?
reading and sewing

12. What is your Mommy not very good at?

13. What does your Mommy do for her job?

14. What is your Mommy's favorite food?

15. What makes you proud of your Mommy?
reading to me

16. If your Mommy were a cartoon character, who would she be?
Super Sewing Mommy

17. What do you and your Mommy do together?
read and walk to school

18. How are you and your Mommy the same?
Our hair

19. How are you and your Mommy different?
I don't wear glasses

20. How do you know your Mommy loves you?
because she's my mommy

21. Where is your Mommy's favorite place to go?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Strep and Plants

The kids and I all have Strep. It's crummy.

We are on drugs. So that's good.

Today I planted 12 seeds of each of the following:
Ultra Cool Watermelon
Yellow Straightneck Squash
Bonnie Best Tomato
Yellow Pear Tomato
Spacemaster Cucumber

It's all very exciting!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Roll to the Middle part 2

Extending the topic of yesterday, I think it's interesting to take that a step further and explore our relationship with God; when it's good it's so good that we don't even realize it. But when we're apart from God our souls long for Him. Our souls cry out, and nothing can meet that need except God. The last few days I've been very immersed in the world but there's been a hole. There's been something missing, and it doesn't seem to matter what I do. If I'm not connecting with God I feel completely empty.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Roll to the Middle

I returned home today to a wonderful husband and a new dress. I want to share something I wrote on this trip when I was missing Joel.

Sara Groves sings a song “Roll to the Middle” where she talks about fighting with her husband and making up again. I love the power of the song. I think there is strength and honor in admitting weakness, and yet I don't talk about fighting with Joel very often. Mostly because it doesn't happen very often, but also because it's a taboo topic. People usually don't publicly admit they fight.

One of the lines says “[when fighting is] when I see the power of our love because it's not there.” That is so true. I take Joel's love for granted. I take the wonder of our blessed relationship as just status quo, and until it's not present, either because we're fighting or because I'm away from him, I don't realize how good it is.

Here are the lyrics to the song:
We just had a World War III here in our kitchen
We both thought the meanest things
And then we both said them
We shot at each other till we lost ammunition

This is how I know our love
This is when I feel it’s power
Here in the absence of it
This is my darkest hour
When both of us are hunkered down
And waiting for the truce

All the complicated wars
They end pretty simple
Here when the lights go down
We roll to the middle

No matter how my pride resists
No matter how this wall feels true
No matter how I can’t be sure
That you’re gonna roll in too
No matter what, no matter what
I’m going to reach for you

Monday, March 16, 2009


Imagine my surprise when after an excruciating day of packing and cleaning, errands and tire pressure checking, driving and Denali wheezing, traffic jam finding and iPod malfunctioning, I was able to pull in to a lovely inn in McAlester OK. I had asked Joel to research and find me a place once I knew I would not make it all the way to Fayetteville, and I have to say he did a perfect job. I initially balked at the $116 pricetag but it was worth every penny. EVERY penny I tell you. Thank you Joel and thank you AmericInn. You are the AlamoDrafthouse of hotel chains.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

How Much is a Book Worth?

Tomorrow we're leaving for a trip to Arkansas to see a new baby and an old friend and aunts and uncles and cousins.

Tonight as a little break from the frantic packing and cleaning I will be a little philosophical.

How much is a book worth?

I am cleaning our bookshelf dedicated to chapter books. Books for children ages 8-16. Which I don't have any of yet.

The bookcase is overflowing and part of my personal organizing philosophy states that you dedicate a certain amount of real estate to something, and then you stick to that space. So too many books.

I glance through the books. Some of them I have read over and over and over. Some of them were gifts from special people. Some of them I bought at bookfair prices (read: overpriced). Some of them I purchased for a quick read and thought they were worth keeping.

But how much is a book worth? Is it the price of the real estate it takes up on my bookshelf? Do I need to listen to my hoarder heart telling me "this is a classic. what if the apocalypse comes and there are no more libraries and you want some good material to read?"

Did I enjoy reading it? Is the story so vivid I can tell it to you?

Did I keep it because it was by a favorite author but maybe not as good as others by that author?

Did I keep it because it's a multicultural book and if I ever teach 7th grade I will need multicultural books on hand?

Does it have good morals?

Do I regret spending so much on a book that was so stupid and that's why I keep it?

Is this a treasure?

Is it a book my children will love?

How much is a book worth?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Finished Quilt + Cute Denali

Last night I finished the batik quilt; all it needs is the dedication square on the back. We slept under it last night and it was perfect. The blanket we have been using is pretty small and last night the new quilt closed all of the gaps. It was lovely.

When Denali woke up I realized it was time for haircuts for the kids...