Friday, December 18, 2015

Friday 5

Five Thoughts

1. The Random 5 link up no longer exists, apparently, so I am joining up with EmmyMom for her Friday 5 instead.

Emmy Mom   

2. I don't have a Weekly Wrap-up this week because WE ARE ON CHRISTMAS BREAK! That's not entirely true, because we did finish up some reading this week and hosted our enrichment class where we did a Get in the Scrap activity using primary resources (a program through the National World War II Museum) and signed Christmas cards to sent to Sa'fyre.

3. Brynne has a basketball tournament this weekend, starting tonight, and she found out that with one player injured and another not able to make it to tonight's game, she has to play point guard. She is not at all happy about this because it is so out of her comfort zone! We just keep telling her we believe in her and are hoping for the best.

4. My evenings right now consist of reading a really good book, The Good Sister by Drusilla Campbell, and binge watching Season 2 of When Calls the Heart. I broke down and purchased the season on Amazon Video because Season 3 starts on December 26th and Netflix hasn't added it yet. Do you want some good, wholesome television to watch, then watch this series!

5. Cold weather has finally hit Missouri. My furnace actually ran most of the day yesterday. Brrrr .... it's cold. But, it's not going to last. It's going to get back up in the 50's and 60's and be rainy again. Looks like we are going to have a wet, mild Christmas.

Five Photos

Some days this just happens for breakfast.

Our doggies turned 7 years old this week!

My son ...

Speaks for itself.

Weren't they adorable back in 2008? We put this photo out every year.
It's a favorite!!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Wednesday Hodgepodge

What's your biggest 'first world' problem?

It's probably that I can't hardly get into my bedroom closet right now with all of the Christmas gifts that are piled in there needing to be wrapped.

Each year Time Magazine names a 'Person of the Year', someone who has 'for better or worse ... done the most to influence the events of the year.' It was recently announced they've named Angela Merkel as Person of the Year for 2015. Your thoughts? If you were in charge, who would you declare Person of the Year?

She is certainly an interesting woman, and it's nice to have a selection of 'Person of the Year' bring to light the life of someone I don't know anything about who is doing so much. I am also glad that the recipient is someone who has done good. I do not agree with giving the recognition to someone who has done bad to influence the world. That, to me, seems to be what the bad person would be working to accomplish.

Do you have a nativity set in your home? If so share it's history and how you display the pieces.

I own about 30 nativity sets that I started receiving back in the early 90's. Our house is small, so I now only put out one small lighted one and another ivory one on a wood stand. I am not certain where I got them, but I would imagine from my mom. She was instrumental in feeding my nativity obsession.

Do you make an extra effort to give back in some way during the holiday season? How do you encourage those who need encouragement this time of year?

I've discussed this in other posts this season, but we do try to do a few things for others during the holiday season: adopt a child and buy Christmas gifts, give a little extra, and this year making a blanket for a veteran. I would not go so far as to say that I am much of an encourager. I am too much of a hermit for that. I just try to inject positive energy to those who are around me.

Who is your favorite person to shop for? Why?

Dawson is a lot of fun because he is a collector. I can pick him up little things all day long. He loves Spiderman, Game of Thrones, Vikings, video games. His room is full of collectibles, and I just keep adding to it.

What's the last delicious thing you ate?

I've eaten a lot of pretty good things lately, but I can't think of anything I would classify as 'delicious'. I do all the cooking around here, and I'm not the best cook, so I really can't think of anything.

The best way to spread Christmas cheer is ...

to wear cute Christmas shirts and smile a lot. Really, just be a smiling face in the midst of the stresses of the masses.

Insert your own random thought here.

I have been feeling awful the past few months, with womanly issues, you know? I feel like I feel bad more than I feel good these days, but there is nothing medically wrong that can be fixed. It's just that time ... that perimenopausal time that could last a long time before there is any relief. I'm usually one who can push through not feeling well and move on. But, lately, I feel like all I want to do is just curl up in a ball. I feel awful. Any advice?

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Tuesday Coffee Chat

It's the last Tuesday Coffee Chat of the year, and I'm afraid it's not going to be a pretty one. Gird your loins, folks, I have an opinion about something.

Naughty or Nice? No Rules: Just have Fun with This!

Let's get me out of the way. Have I been Naughty or Nice this year? I've had my ups and downs, like always. I have tried to be the best daughter of the King, wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, aunt, woman I can be, and have failed miserably at times. I really do try to do all things with the best intentions, but even the best laid plans go awry. I am not unhappy with my behavior this year, but I certainly have room for improvement. We all do.

Now onto the We all do ...

The world is Naughty. 

It's hard to find hope and joy in these uncertain times. We have to look hard! Each and every day I literally ask myself multiple times: What in the world is going on? Where do you start? What do you try to fix first? We are in a downhill spiral as a country, as a world, and if we think otherwise we are blind. It's not just in Syria. It's in the United States, in Missouri, in the town where I live, and in my neighborhood.

It's overwhelming!

Here is one thing for sure: There isn't a whole lot any of us can do as individuals to change what is happening worldwide. For us common folk, about all we can do is pray and vote. From there it is  all about self-preservation. I hate to say that, but I think it has come to that.

And self-preservation isn't just a physical thing. It's mental; it's emotional. Circumstances take their toll on us. And we have to find ways to protect ourselves.

The biggest problem I see overall? Negativity.

Every. where. you. turn. you. hear. something. negative.

Ask yourself ... when is the last time you were around someone with something positive to say? I'm hard-pressed to come up with something. That's sad, folks.

We look for the negative in everything! ... We first point out the negatives in our spouses, in our children, in our neighbors, in our kids' teachers, in the church, in our government leaders, even in our favorite sports teams right down to our kids' sports teams. We just can't seem to find anything positive to say about anyone or anything. Why? Because we don't look for the positive. We have more fun poking at the negative.

I am tired of it! I don't want to hear it! If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all!

I don't want to hear it anymore!

What you are likely to find out of me in this upcoming year is that if you are a negative person, you won't see much of me. I can't take it. I ned some peace in my life. I need to experience joy. I don't watch the news; I don't browse the internet; I stay off social media unless it's just cute pictures of your kids and your coffee cups. I don't want to hear anybody bitch about this or that.

I am telling you right now that if we stopped bitching, things would get better. It would start at home, flow into our neighborhoods and into our schools and churches, head on out to our government leaders, and then into the world.

It would.

I can't control anyone else. But I can control myself in this area.

Naughty = Negativity
Nice = Choosing to be Positive

This next year, I am going to be on the Nice List. How about you?

Monday, December 14, 2015

Weekly Wrap-up ~ It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas Break!

We aren't quite on Christmas Break yet, but we probably will be after tomorrow. We only have two more chapters in two separate read alouds (My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George and The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis), and Eli has about 40 pages left in his book. Brynne finished the 6th book in the original Warriors series by Erin Hunter and was so eager to start the next 6-part saga in this series that we purchased the next book for her to read on the iPad. She just couldn't wait to get started, and in three days she has read 3/4 of it. Eli plans to get his book finished today, and we'll probably finish up our other reading tomorrow. And then I am calling it CHRISTMAS BREAK! We will then be on break until January 18th. Yay!

We had a difficult time staying motivated last week, with our break so close, but managed to get in a good number of hours.

Our focus was on grammar, spelling, multiplying fractions, watching CNN Student News, and reading. We did do some WWII studies and a little bit of science. And we hosted our enrichment class on Wednesday, and had speech therapy, basketball, and bowling league.

The School Week

Pearl Harbor Anniversary. Monday marked the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. We watched an archived webinar from the National World War II Museum on the top three questions about Pearl Harbor, and which included an interview with Graham Salisbury who wrote the book Under the Blood Red Sun. The Museum also had Instagram posts all day long about various artifacts in the museum. And then we read a new story about the current attempts to identify the remaining missing soldiers from the USS Oklahoma.

Siege of Stalingrad. We read about the Soviet victory against Germany under the leadership of Stalin and explored the reasons behind its victory. This included reading the text out of World War II for Kids, watching a video and discussing the questions provided by

The Red Ball Express. This group was an integral part of the success of the American troops in World War II. We watched a Youtube video and reviewed photographs we took in October at the USS Alabama exhibit of the Red Ball Express.

Clouds. In our Narnia study, we learned about the different types of clouds and then did a cloud  identification activity with cotton balls.

Victory Garden Enrichment Class. This week our class finished a no-sew blanket that will be donated to Soldiers Angels and given to a hospitalized veteran. The kids put a lot of heart into this blanket, and are very excited to donate it.

Breaking the Code. Since tying little knots over and over is more of a girl thing, this week the boys worked on cracking codes while the girls worked on the blanket. We talked about how we would like to go see the movie The Imitation Game. The kids are ages 10-12, and it's rated PG-13, so I don't know if it would be appropriate. Anyone seen it?

One of my favorite moments of the week was when we were reading The Horse and His Boy. The main character ends up realizing that Aslan the lion has been guiding him through his entire journey, that nothing has been by chance. In fact, he tells him that he was there when he was born and has been the one to move him through each circumstance, even hardships. He has been allowing the hardships to occur to strengthen him for his true calling. The kids and I got into a discussion about how God does this in our lives. Some tears were shed when we discussed this in relation to Eli's stuttering. We left our time together knowing and believing that God is good.

2015-2016 Hours Logged - 395 3/4 hours out of 1,000 required hours (98.5 hours outside home)
Plus 167 Summer Hours

Other Happenings

This weekend Eli had his birthday party. Instead of having a big ol' expensive and overblown party, he opted for just having his two best friends over for several hours to play video games, play outside, and eat pizza.

All he asked was that I make him a cake to look like the WiiU gamepad.

Dawson also took his first final and will be finishing up today.

In the Kitchen

On Friday night I made a new recipe of Chicken Cordon Bleu Rollups. These were easy to make and very tasty. We paired them with a salad.

A Good Word for Christmas

I read the best blog post this weekend called Do you See What I See? that really set my mood for the holiday season. Peace. My goodness, we need some peace. And it's so easy to obtain. We make it so hard.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Wednesday Hodgepodge

Many families have a story they love to tell every year around a holiday. Does your family have one? Are you the star of that story, or does another family member take center stage? Share your story if you want.

One involved our Christmas tree being chucked into the yard with some spicy words being said and another involved a run-in with scalding apple cider. Both involved our family trip to the Christmas tree farm trying to capture that perfect family moment. Let's just say we now go to the tree lot at the hardware store and grab a tree.

Are you afraid to speak your own opinion?

Um, no. But, I do find that I speak my opinion less and less these days. If it's not my direct business, I don't want to be involved. Nobody seems to listen to advice they ask you to give anyway, so I rarely choose to give any. I find that most people offering their opinion are giving a negative one, and we just don't need anymore negativity in the world than we already have. Conversations have just gotten to be so exhausting.

Pantone has announced the color of the year for 2016, and for the first time have chosen two shades ... rose quartz and serenity. Hmmm .... did you know that serenity was a color? You can read the thought behind their selection by visiting he Pantone website, but essentially it's blending the warmth of rose quartz with the tranquility of a very soft shade of blue. So what do you think? Are these colors I'd find in your home or wardrobe? Will you add something in these shades to either place in the new year?

It is lovely, for sure. And the reasoning behind it is so extremely peaceful. However, I do not think I have anything these colors in my wardrobe, and I do not in my household decor, either. These aren't really my "signature colors" so I don't see myself adding them anywhere anytime soon.

If you could be in a Christmas carol, which one would you choose? Why?

"Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire", cause it's for kids from one to ninety-two. It brings back the wonderment of Christmas from when I was a child. And it reminds me that even though I live in a state of Bah Humbug during the holidays as an adult, I have children who are still filled with wonder during this season.

December 9th is National Pastry Day. Will you celebrate? When did you last purchase something from a bakery? What's your favorite treat that falls under the heading of pastry? Do you make it yourself or buy from professionals?

We won't celebrate this day, although a cheese danish sounds nice. I don't buy much from the bakery. Probably the last thing was the cake and cupcakes for Collin and Kyndal's wedding. I have never made my favorite cheese danish. I always purchase them.

When it comes to holiday decorating .....

Oh my, are you sure you want to get me started on this? I HATE DECORATING FOR CHRISTMAS! If I did not have kids I seriously would not even put up a Christmas tree. To me it is just another round of busy work. This year we limited our decorating to a tree, our fireplace mantle, one light up nativity, and a little grouping of our Charlie Brown Christmas tree, a Peace sign, and a nativity. I have TUBS full of decorations in the garage I chose not to put out this year. While battling with the greenery on the fireplace mantle I even said to Brynne that I would rather clean toilets than decorate for Christmas. I told her she would probably have to share that with her therapist some day.  I am a bad mom. Perhaps I should listen to "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire" the whole time I am decorating, or just hire it done.

When did you last laugh so hard it hurt? Explain.

I can't really think of a specific time, but I do know that I do a lot of laughing at the stories Kyndal tells of things Collin does. That kid, oh my goodness. He's a trip.

Insert your own random thought here. 

I have had absolutely no motivation this week! And I mean NONE! We are only about 45 hours away from finishing our first semester school hours and it is taking everything I have to push us through. I can almost touch our Christmas break that starts next week, and I just want to be there already. Must. Keep. Moving.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Tuesday Coffee Chat

Random Acts of Kindness. We are doing them again this year! How do you spread Christmas cheer?

I almost skipped this one today because, well, I don't really have an answer. But then I realized that I do have an answer.

This time of year we do the basics in giving Christmas gifts to a child in need, donating food, keeping the Pay It Forward going at a restaurant, giving generous tips, etc.

But I don't have the list of things we are going to do as a family to bless others.

Honestly? this year I just feel a need to take extra good care of my own people.

It has been a big and exhausting year for us. There have been a lot of great things that have happened, like Kyndal and Collin getting married, Dawson graduating from high school and starting college, Rick making arrangements with his job to be here with us half of the month instead of just on the weekends. The little kids have had a great year with school and activities and friends. We have all been healthy. It's been good, but very busy.

But there have been some real lows, too, with Kyndal experiencing a miscarriage, Dawson going through a major breakup, and Rick dealing with the jabs and pokes of a certain someone in his life.  We have dealt with people have been harsh and mean and cruel. These last couple of months we have just kind of been hanging on for dear life. And that's exhausting!

Things are looking up as we head into Christmas. And, although, I know that there are so many with needs out there, my family needs me, too. They need all of me and all I have to give. They need my patience and grace and understanding. I want them to feel the totality of my kindness this year. Because, let's be honest, sometimes when we give ourselves to others we forget to be kind to the ones nearest to us. And one lesson we have all learned in this family this year is that this family is the most important thing to us.

So this year I am doing those little things for my family like baking a surprise batch of cookies, letting the kids stay up a little bit late to play video games together and then letting them sleep in a little later to make up for it, watching movies I don't really want to watch but the family wants to, letting college kids stay over extra late and be a little louder than I prefer so that new friendships can be made, purchasing those little extra things here and there to make someone feel special, fixing some extra meals, and just being present.

I applaud those who have their list of things they do for others and then actually do them. Thank you for your kindness! I'll be home, though, hugging on my family and doing all I can to keep them healthy, protected, and loved.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Weekly Wrap-up ~ Last Week

Yes, we had a full week of school last week. I just could never get myself to sit down to write about it. This will be short and sweet, to get things documented.

We took off week before last for Thanksgiving, and had a perfect week of family and good food.

Getting back into school is always difficult after a break, but we managed to do alright. We learned about landforms, and the kids really got into their project. From various videos they learned about mountains, lakes, ponds, canyons, valleys, islands, volcanoes, plateaus, deserts, and plains. Then they got to work with salt dough and paint.

In our WWII enrichment class the kids started on a no-sew blanket to donate to an active-duty soldier. While some worked, others read out loud from our book The Victory Garden.

We did lots of reading: Our Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George and The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis (both read alouds); A goosebumps book (Eli); and, The Darkest Hour by Erin Hunter (Brynne).

Eli learned about kinetic and potential energy and made a roller coaster demonstrating it on Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 while Brynne learned about the inventions of appliances in her Minecraft class.

We started multiplying fractions in math, did spelling and grammar lessons, and watched CNN Student News.

We finished out our week with our first Advent lesson on Hope. We made our Advent candle display, revisited the legend of the candy cane, and then made peppermint bark.

Other activities for the week included getting our Christmas decorations up (which were kept VERY simple this year). Brynne also had her first basketball game of the season. It's going to be a fantastic year in basketball with a great new coach! The kids are also actively bowling each Saturday now in their league.

Dawson and I went to Oklahoma on Saturday and Sunday so I could go to Rick's company Christmas dinner with him and Dawson could spend some time with his best buds.

I drive, he sleeps.

Rick and I really enjoyed ourselves on Saturday evening. We enjoyed a nice dinner and drinks at Polo Grill on Utica Square in Tulsa. In the dirty Santa game, Rick walked away with a Kindle Fire and an Amazon gift card.

Then we came home to catch up with his family. His brother Rob and sister-in-law Becky are off their yacht (Rob is a retired Air Force Chief Master Sergeant, and he and Becky purchased a large sailboat and sailed around Mexico last year). They are taking some time back on land while their son, Robbie, completes Air Force basic training. Then they are getting back onboard and sailing around South America. They are going to actually go through the Panama Canal. How cool is that?? I wish we could go do it with them. What a school lesson!! As always, it was a great time with Rick's family. There are just no better people than Rick's sister Julie and her husband Milton.

We will be plugging away this week and a few days next week to get in our goal of 500 hours before Christmas break. Then we will be taking a good month off to enjoy the holiday season. We are so excited for our break!!

2015-2016 Hours Logged - 366 3/4 hours out of 1,000 required hours (94.5 hours outside home)
Plus 167 Summer Hours

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Wednesday Hodgepodge

Did you watch The Charlie Brown Christmas special Monday night? Who's your favorite Peanuts character and why? "Most psychiatrists agree that sitting in a pumpkin patch is excellent therapy for  a troubled mind." (Linus) Would you agree?

No we didn't watch it on Monday, and I heard they had a 50th anniversary special before it. I am bummed that we didn't see that because we are HUGE Peanuts fans, especially Eli. In fact, I wore my Peanuts shirt yesterday. We did purchase the Holiday Collection dvd that has the Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas specials on it because, surprise surprise, we often miss when it is coming on. We are going to see "A Charlie Brown Christmas" play in December as a family, and are all really looking forward to that. My favorite character is Peppermint Patty. I just think it's sweet how much she is in love with Charlie Brown ("Chuck") but is such a tomboy that she treats him like a guy would treat one of his pals. And I think Linus has it right. Sitting in any natural setting is excellent therapy, whether it be a pumpkin patch, a rose garden, at the lake, or on the porch swing looking at your own flowers.

Describe a sound from your childhood. What does this sound bring to mind?

The attic fan. We didn't have central air conditioning in our house and the only air conditioner was in the family room window at one far end of the house, the opposite direction from the bedrooms. So our bedrooms were never cool. At night in the summer, my sister and I would go to bed and be so warm. We had our twin beds positioned under the windows and welcomed any tiny breeze that was coming in from outside. When my parents went to bed for the night they shut all the doors and windows in the living area side of the house and when that happened the air would come whooshing in through our windows from the pull of the attic fan. I would get instantly cool and sleep to the glorious hum of that attic fan and the sound of cool air rushing.

You've won a trip to a winter wonderland ... would that excite you? Which one of the following would you most want to experience (or which one would you dislike the least) -- see the Aurora Borealis in Norway, stay in Sweden's Ice Hotel, go dogsledding in Lapland Finland, take a winter wildlife safari in Yellowstone or celebrate Winter Carnival in Quebec?

I love winter and the beauty of it. I don't even mind being cold if I am dressed appropriately for it. A trip even to a cabin in the woods in winter would be so cool. I have been to Crested Butte, Colorado, while Rick skied before and thoroughly enjoyed myself walking around the quaint shops, sipping coffee in a coffee shop, and snuggling by the fire in the condo. Out of the ones listed, I think I would most enjoy a trip to se the Aurora Borealis, and just to go to Norway anyway. That would be awesome!

Who or what keeps you humble?

The Word of God keeps me humble when I am consistently in it. You don't have to read very far in the Bible to understand your place and purpose in this world. It's not all about me. In fact, it's very rarely about me.

What part of preparing for Christmas do you like the most? Explain.

My favorite part of Christmas is buying gifts. I love putting thought into what I am going to get my family members. I listen to them all year long, watch what interests them, and then try to surprise them with gifts they forgot they even wanted! Watching their faces when they open their gifts are cherished moments.

Gingerbread -- yay or nay? Is making a gingerbread house part of your family holiday tradition?

I do enjoy gingerbread. We are not very successful at making gingerbread men, but we often try during the holidays. Decorating a gingerbread house is not a family tradition. But this year Kyndal wants to start a new tradition where our immediate family goes over to her and Collin's house, after we celebrate Christmas Eve with my parents and sister, and open their gifts to us. She has plans to make gingerbread reindeer cookies which are really just gingerbread men turned upside down and decorated to look like reindeer. It will be a fun tradition.

What's one thing you want to start, do, or complete before the calendar rolls into a new year?

I want to take more time to read before the end of the year. I have been in a lull with the busyness of school and the holidays, but I would like to read a couple of Christmas novellas and round out my year with a bestseller.

Insert your own random thought here.

Sometimes life kicks you in the teeth. I have had to sit back and watch it do it to both of my older kids the last couple of months, in some pretty big ways, and it has been so difficult. But I am so immensely proud of each of them! They are both now stronger individuals because of their trials. Walking through the storms of life is no fun. But it does make us stop and appreciate the things and people in our life that are important. I have confidence that they can handle just about anything because they have been through the worst of it. Hoping for happy holidays for each of them!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Tuesday Coffee Chat

It's Giving Tuesday. Will you Participate?

Honestly, I didn't know there was such a thing as Giving Tuesday. But, it's a great concept!

We don't have any plans to give specifically today. But we do try to be mindful of those in need, especially during the Christmas season, and here are a couple of things we are doing this year.

Turkey Trot 5K. I registered for and ran in a 5K on Thanksgiving morning to benefit a nearby children's therapy center. That is a good way to give, if you are a runner. I am certain there will be lots of Christmas-themed races this month. You can locate races in your area at Running in the USA.

Salvation Army Angel Tree. We always try to donate gifts to some sort of gift giving organization every year. This year we purchased gifts for an 8 year old little girl off of the tree at Walmart. Just look in the entrance of many stores for an Angel Tree, grab your angel, and purchase the gifts. My kids are spoiled for Christmas, so it feels great to be able to be a part of brightening the holidays of another child.

Soldiers' Angels No Sew Blanket Drive. The kids in our WWII enrichment class are working on a No Sew blanket as part of this drive to send to a deployed soldier. You can go HERE to find out how to participate. The kids are also interested in adopting a soldier whereby we will write him or her a letter once each week and send a care package once a month. This way we can give all year.

And this is what we are up to. Giving is such an important time of the holiday season. What ways are you giving?

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Wednesday Hodgepodge

What's something you wish you knew how to do, but feel like it's too late to learn?

It's never too late to learn to do something you want to know how to do. I've always wanted to know how to sew.

Your least favorite thing to shop for? Why?

Good deals on clothes. I love clothes and I love good deals even more. Oops. Read that question wrong the first time. I love to shop. I can't think of anything I don't like to shop for. Maybe bathing suits? Just because ick .... someone had that same one on without underwear before me. Thankfully, other than top size, I can pretty much just buy the same size bottoms these days without having to try them on first.

How has the celebration of Thanksgiving today changed from when you were growing up?

Thanksgiving is still pretty much the same. We spend time with family and eat a lot. Now that I have my own family, though, we DVR the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade so that we don't have to get up early to watch it. Then we watch it later in the day. We also watch a Charlie Brown movie that evening, and sometimes a Christmas movie, too. We don't have to travel like we did when I was a kid because my parents just live a few blocks away, and their house is the only other place we will go. I will admit that in years past I have gone to Walmart for Black Friday deals in the evening, but this year I am not.

What's something that when other people see it, reminds them of you? Explain.

Coffee mugs, items with birds on them, or pjs. These are a few of my favorite things.

If you could guest star in a TV show, what would it be and why?

I would gladly be a victim to an unsub on Criminal Minds if it meant that Shamar Moore would save me (preferably with his shirt off).

Have you ever farmed or spent any time on a farm? Are there farm stands in your little corner of the world and do you make it a point to shop there? If so, what item do you particularly like to buy from a roadside stand or farm shop?

I grew up in the same small town where I currently live and we are surrounded by farms. I have never lived on one, but visited friends who did. We also have a large Amish community here and there are a couple of Amish stores that I frequent. I particularly like their eggs, jellies, spices, applesauce, and pickles. We also purchase all of our flowers from them in the Spring.

What's something you've experienced recently that made you feel a sense of awe or wonder?

I'm not going to say that I have experienced much awe and wonder in a good way here recently. In fact, with some of what I have seen going on I wonder what the heck is wrong with people! I mean, really, is Jesus coming back here pretty soon? He must be. The world has gone just bonkers. I am without words as to the cruelty, stupidity, and selfishness of people. It's just downright ridiculous!

Insert your own random thought here.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Tuesday Coffee Chat - This or That

I am thankful for a mindless Tuesday Coffee Chat this week. We have some heavy things going on in our family, so my brain cells are a little limited. Here we go ...

Heels or Sneakers ... Honestly, heels, but not dressy pumps, stilettos, etc. I have a high arch in my foot so a heeled boot feels so much better to me than a pair of tennis shoes. If I am wearing yoga pants or a hoodie and jeans and want to wear sneakers, I will wear them for a while. But once I get home I put on a pair of slippers instead. Sneakers are not comfortable to me long-term. But I can wear a pair of heeled boots all day, even shopping, without any problems.

Coke or Pepsi ... Makes no difference to me. I do like Diet Coke, but can drink a Diet Pepsi just as easily.

Instagram or Flickr ... Definitely IG, all day every day (@nikki_taulman).

Tomboy or Girlie Girl ... Neither. I am definitely somewhere right in the middle.

Nap or Read ... Now that one is not fair! If it is nap time, I might start out reading but the nap wins.

Karaoke or Bowling ... Bowling. I cannot stand to be up in front of somebody doing something I am not good at. Nobody is good at bowling so it's all good.

Pizza or Sushi ... I prefer my food cooked, so pizza.

Rain or shine ... Ahhh, a perfect rainy day. I love rainy days!!!

Single or Taken ... I am taken. It will be 15 years of marriage next summer.

Dress or Jeans ... Jeans.

Winter or Summer ... Winter. If it's not going to be a rainy day, I want it to be snowing.

Exercise or Couch ... I want it to be couch, but I make myself exercise.

Library or Cafe ... Ugh, another hard one. I love the library! I could spend hours in there! But I also love a Barnes and Noble with a Starbucks so I can look at books, grab one to take to read for a bit in the cafe.

Jock or Nerd ... Nerd.

Piano or Guitar ... Piano. I could listen to The Piano Guys all day long.

Marvel or DC ... My son will kill me, but I don't know the difference and I could care less. He loves Spiderman and I think he is Marvel, so I will say Marvel.

And that's it for this week.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Weekly Wrap-up ~ Nothing Basic About It

You know how the last few weeks we have been home all the time and have really worked on the basics, those core subjects? Well, last week we were home pretty much all week, but nary a basic core subject was touched.

We took off for Thanksgiving Break starting last Friday. Since we were at a stopping point in several subjects and didn't want to start any new lessons with the upcoming break, we did more reading, lots more science, and delight-directed learning.

Plus, I have had some raging fall seasonal allergies going on and felt pretty cruddy all week. A constant sinus headache is so draining, so the kids doing lots of extra reading and primarily independent work was especially helpful last week.


One biggie was finishing Under the Blood Red Sun by Graham Salisbury and then watching the movie. This was an excellent book that fit in perfectly with our studies of WWII. The movie was just as outstanding, and I will have a review of it on the blog next week. Also be looking for a giveaway!

Eli and Brynne are each taking a self-paced online course through UniversalClass. We are blessed that by having a library card through the Tulsa City-County Library System, we are able to enroll for courses for free. Eli chose Astronomy 101 and Brynne chose Dog Psychology 101. They each worked on their lessons for their courses this week. So far Brynne has only missed two questions on one quiz so has a very high score in her course. Eli has a 100% so far, and is waiting for the results of his first quiz.

I love these courses for the kids. It is the first time they have taken a content based online course, and it's not easy. They are having to read and learn materials, take notes, answer questions, and then take comprehension quizzes. In our homeschooling, we don't do a lot of that. It has been a stretch for them, but they are taking it right in stride. They are real life science courses, designed for children and adults ages 13 and older. Very proud mom here.

They also worked more on their inventions courses. Brynne learned about Steve Jobs in her Minecraft course and had to build an Apple Store in game. Eli watched a video from Mr. Wizard (remember him?) about magnetized motors and then one by Bill Nye, The Science Guy about inventions.

Eli finished How to Cheat a Dragon's Curse from the How to Train Your Dragon series, and Brynne is only a few pages away from finishing the next-to-the-last book in the original Warrior Cats series by Erin Hunter. They did extra reading last week.

We did watch CNN Student News each day, especially in regard to the Paris terrorist attacks. We have been able to relate the attacks and the organization of ISIS to our studies of WWII. There are so many similarities, and I just have to wonder if the Obama Administration has ever studied any world history. Some eyes need to be opened, and in a hurry. That's all I'll say about that.

Another great science tool we use is the television show Brain Games. The kids watched a couple of episodes each day. The concepts are totally entertaining and teach a lot of interesting aspects of how our brains function. Crazy stuff, really.

The Victory Garden - Enrichment Class

In our enrichment class, we discussed the correlation between WWII and the current ISIS crisis just a tad bit in that American families and children were such a vital part of the war effort in WWII and we, as American families and children, still have the same responsibilities and power to help our country during unstable times. We discussed how helpless we can feel when things are going on outside our control, but there are things we can do, and that we should do them.

We watched the first half of the "We're All in this Together! How Students Like YOU Helped Win WWII", a virtual field trip sponsored by the WYES television station in conjunction with the National World War II Museum in New Orleans.

As a class we registered for the Museum's "Get in the Scrap" campaign, a service learning project. We will complete several different types of tasks and activities relating to recycling, energy, and the like, to earn points and prizes. As of now we are the only Missouri school, class, or other organization participating. We feel honored to represent Missouri in this campaign. My kids and their friends are really excited about it!

We also decided that we would participate in the Soldiers' Angels No-Sew Blanket Drive and make one blanket, as a group, to send to a serviceman/woman overseas. When I mentioned that they have an adopt-a-soldier program, where you commit to writing one letter per week to an active soldier and sending one care package per month, they jumped at the opportunity. They want us to adopt a soldier as a group and work together to make that soldier feel loved and remembered while on duty.

What a great group of kids! This little enrichment class started out as a chance for some of the kids' friends to come over once a week to read a couple of chapters out of "The Victory Garden" by Lee Kochenderfer and do some sort of activity, but has turned into so much more.

That's about all we accomplished this week, but it was all so good. The kids are really expanding their abilities to learn independently and about subjects of which they are interested. My goal for them was always that they have a desire to learn, and I can see that goal being reached. It's exciting!

Other Happenings

Kyndal turned 21 years old on Wednesday. All she wanted to do for her birthday was just go out to dinner as a family, so we went to Texas Roadhouse along with her in-laws, my parents, and her best friend and her boyfriend who is Collin's best friend. Of course she ordered a drink, just cause she could, but she's not a drinker so that was that. The restaurant made her climb on the saddle and do a little "Yee Haw!" She said the night was perfect. I agree. It was a lot of fun!

A Time of Giving

This week Cait at My Little Poppies posted about the recent cancer diagnosis of Carter, the little boy of one of her close friends. Cait is an Usborne Books and More representative and has graciously set up a party with all proceeds to go to Carter and his family. If you have plans to purchase books for anyone for Christmas gifts, or for any other reason, please consider going to THIS LINK and purchasing your books. Choose the party for "Victoria Parisi". I purchased books for my niece for Christmas and just had them shipped directly to her, letting my brother and sister-in-law know that the proceeds from my purchase were to help a child in need. Please consider helping their family. I know they would also appreciate your prayers.

The Weekend

We travelled to Oklahoma this past weekend for our annual Christmas trip. We usually stay at a hotel right next to Bass Pro Shops so that we have easy access to visiting the real Santa. We have given this Santa our Christmas lists for as long as I can remember. When we arrived, however, we learned that the hotel had all five of us booked in a single king-sized bed room. And they were out of others. So we had no hotel. We called around and around and around and ended up finding another hotel on the other side of town (that ended up costing us $100 more). It wasn't the greatest start to our weekend.

We did go immediately to see Santa. The lists have been delivered so we are now ready for Christmas!

The kids got to do some swimming in the hotel pool while Kyndal and I went to An Affair of the Heart where my niece was doing her first showing of her hand-made pottery. We did a little Christmas shopping there, went out to dinner with Rick and the little kids, and then Kyndal took off to spend some time with one of her friends from Oklahoma while Rick and I and the little kids went to see the Peanuts movie.

Here is where things went further downhill. We had a family member undergo a health crisis, and one of my kids was dealt the blow of cruelty and betrayal. We are still reeling from both of these things and undergoing sadness, fear, and exhaustion.

And so, now, it's Thanksgiving week. We are back home. I have a dirty house, laundry to do, and a grocery list and Thanksgiving preparations to make.

Sometimes life runs along swimmingly, and sometimes it is just yucky. These tough times put things into perspective for me. Family is all that matters. It is all that matters. I am thankful for my family. Hug yours tight today.

2015-2016 Hours Logged - 331 3/4 hours out of 1,000 required hours (90 hours outside home)
Plus 167 Summer Hours

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Wednesday Hodgepodge

What's surprised you most about your life, or about life in general?

Not much surprises me, unfortunately. But I guess the lack of care that people have of their own environment does baffle me. I just don't understand why you wouldn't want to have a well-kept home and yard, children who are truly loved and disciplined, pets that are cared for, a nurtured personal appearance. It's just a lack of care.

Among others, these ten words were added to the Oxford English Dictionary this year ... awesome sauce, beer o'clock, brain fart, buttdial, cat cafe (apparently this is a real thing), fat berg, fat shame, angry, Mx (gender neutral), and skippable. Your thoughts? In looking over the list, which word do you find the most ridiculous? Which word would you never in a million years say outloud? Which word would you most likely to use in a conversation?

I am not saying I will not ever use one of these words in conversation, or even that I haven't. But just because we say a word doesn't mean it should be one. Good grief.

Do you like gravy? Is there a food you'd rather not eat unless it comes with gravy? Do you make your own or buy the canned or store-made variety? Turkey and gravy, sausage gravy, mashed potatoes and gravy, country ham and red eye gravy, biscuits and chocolate gravy, pot roast and gravy ... which one on the list is your favorite?

Gravy is amazing. I love gravy on biscuits, chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes, even scrambled eggs. When I think of gravy, I think of my Grandma Alice and her friend chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy. It was so good! I always make my gravy from scratch, in the way taught to me by my dad. Gravy making is an art form. It takes patience and care. I have to admit that I make a pretty good gravy.

Do you have a plan? Do you need a plan? Have you ever had a plan fall into a trillion pieces?

I always have a plan. My plans have plans. Of course I have plans fall apart, but my backup plan always steps right in to help.

November 19th is National Play Monopoly Day. Do you own the original or some version of the game? Do you enjoy playing Monopoly? How likely is it you'll play a game of Monopoly on November 19th? Ever been to Atlantic City? Ever taken a ride on a railroad? Is parking in your town free? Last thing you took a chance on?

We do own Monopoly, but I don't like to play it because it takes too much commitment. I like short games. I doubt we'll be playing the game tomorrow. I have never been to Atlantic City, and I have no desire to go there. The kids and I have taken the train in St. Louis, just for fun, but I haven't gone on any long rides. We do have free parking in our town. It's only a population of about 2,900 so no parking enterprising going on here. I am not one for taking a chance. Refer to the "plan" question above.

A song that has the word (or some form of the word) "thanks" in the title, lyrics, or meaning?

Give Thanks (with a grateful heart) by Don Moen.

In keeping with this month's theme of gratitude ... what is something you're taking for granted that when you stop and think about it, you're grateful for?

Peace. If you look next door, across the street, in another town or state or country or continent, you don't see much of it. Heck, most people don't even have peace in their own hearts. I do have an incredible amount of peace in my life, and I definitely take that gift from God for granted.

Insert your own random thought here.

Today my first baby girl turns 21 years old. I look at her now and just feel immense love and pride for the young woman she is. She has such intense hopes and dreams of being a good wife and, someday, a mom. She has grown so much as a woman, especially in the past year, and I beam with adoration. Her faith is strong and her tenacity is stronger. She knows what she wants and isn't afraid to go after it. She's pretty darn amazing. And I love her! Happy birthday, Kyndal Jamison Werths!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Tuesday Coffee Chat

In the wake of the Paris tragedy, today's Tuesday Coffee Chat prompt is timely ...

What do you hope to be remembered for?

As I get older I realize how unimportant so many things are in this world. And one of those things is what other people think of me. I have just come to a place in my life where I don't sit and worry about it. I mean, I want to be a positive influence in the lives of others, bringing light and joy to their lives. I guess I hope that others see me as someone who has a strong faith and tries to live it out to her fullest, who has successes in that endeavor and who pushes through the failures. Chances are others will focus more on the failures. But, that's okay. Because, I think, in the end they will come to the conclusion that I am a fighter who never gives up.

The things I am willing to die on a mountain for have decreased over the years. Maybe I don't have the stamina and energy, maybe I have become calloused, or maybe I really do live by the saying that, "Don't sweat the small stuff, and it's all small stuff."

Really I just try to stay in my little house with my little family and love on all of them. It's not that I don't care about the outside world, it's that I care about them most.

So what do I hope to be remembered for?

That I was a devoted wife ...

That I was a fiercely protective and loving mother ...

That I was an active and involved grandmother, great-grandmother, great-great grandmother to the babies that will be born into this amazing family...