Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Homeschool Math Curriculum

Let's talk about Living Math at all ages, but specifically at older/middle school ages when kids get bored, attitude, etc about math, and before they "wake up" to want to do math in later high school.

We all know how to do this in preschool: point out something and ask, "How many birds are on that fence? How many toes do you have? What shape is that? There are 4 sides and 4 corners. It's a square." This is natural and easy for most of us, and our preschoolers and kindergartners learn rapidly this way.

It's usually still easy for most of us with obvious math activities for elementary ages like baking and using simple fractions, number fridge magnets, jotting down simple equations like 2+3=?, kids paying for simple things or making change with their cash, or opening up a bank account.

But somewhere around 3rd grade we lose our ability to find life situations that need the kids to learn, and therefore invite us to teach simple concepts like multiplication tables, long division, more complex fractions, decimals, and percents. As time goes on, we rely more and more on dry, boring math textbooks and less and less on letting real life decide what math problems get done.

Oral and living math, in my experience, is sufficient for daily usage math up through algebra, and as I gain more experience, even beyond. Most of us as adults remember none of our algebra and calculus unless we are in a math-related career field. Most of us as adults cannot confidently perform daily use math ourselves, such as learning simple tricks for estimating a running total of our grocery bill to stay on budget, add up long columns of numbers, do mental calculations of more than 2 digit addition, confidently divide a restaurant bill or sales profits at a Girl Scout Cookie booth. I've found homeschool parents to be generally more able in these skills than the general population because they tend to pay more attention as the sole educators of their children, but I still hear most homeschool moms lament they're not good at math and therefore not qualified to teach their children. They turn to a formal math curriculum.

Then begins the hunting and the spending to find that perfect fit of curriculum to kid to make them "love" math, when at best it makes math tolerable on most days, and truly interesting on a few of them. When I took my oldest out of public school, she left a dynamic, passionate math teacher, tested into GT math for middle school, and came home to Saxon. Few will argue that Saxon isn't solid. Most agree it's boring with excessive review, but that's what spiraling to mastery looks like. It turned my daughter who loved math, intrigued by the fun puzzle, to a dawdling, spinning in her chair, playing with her eraser math hater.

But I carried on! She went through an entire year of Saxon, and the next year when she switched to Teaching Textbooks for pre-algebra, my 3rd-grade son dawdled his miserable way through a year of Saxon. Because I was a good homeschool mom. I knew they would get used to it if we just persevered. I  knew they would thank me later for forcing them through this. I wasn't a passionate, dynamic math teacher, and homeschooling more little ones while working a part time job meant that I didn't have the time nor inclination to put on a daily dog and pony circus show to help my kids get excited about math.

We switched to computer-based methods like Khan Academy online, Timez Attack facts, digital flash cards, or innovative alternative textbooks like MEP, and literature based Life of Fred. Each kid was doing something different, as long as their daily quota of math was checked off. After 2 1/2 years of slogging through each curriculum, becoming more bored, more disconnected, I heard about Living Math, like Charlotte Mason's "living books" eschewing dry textbooks, and thought I finally found something! However, reading over how to tease math out of classic children's books and daily life taught me I didn't need a curriculum. I didn't need anyone telling me how to present the scope and sequence of what average kids should learn on average time tables, which was always changing depending on what expert was in charge that year (Common Core, anyone?)

So instead, I made a mental list of math skills I wanted my kids to have when they left my home, or began college courses. Then with that list in the conscious brain, I began to find those situations in daily life and point them out. The list wasn't exhaustive, and I add things to it as I realize math in my own life, or add details. Oral math became our main method of instruction. And talking about math like it was a normal part of life brought it alive for my kids. Sometimes they asked questions like "how do I double this recipe?" or "how many days until my birthday?" that I could use as opportunities to help them do meaningful math at age-appropriate times.

"What day of the month is your birthday on? Look at a calendar and tell me what day it is today. Now, take that number of days away from your birth date." Often met with, "Mom! I just want you to TELL me," were met right back with doing out loud as I explained. And anyways an inviting, "Let me know when you care more about it to learn how to figure it out."

Having a list of priorities helped me respect MY ability to teach valuable math skills to my children rather than choking down an entire curriculum, thinking they knew better than me what was important in adult life. In textbook math, story problems are the worst, yet we as parents know those are the most important. Now all of life is a series of story problems!

In my next post, I'll record that list of priorities, then in a series share examples of how I teach those concepts in meaningful ways without rigor and tears in a way that prepares them with the skills and confidence to take on advanced math in college at young ages.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Cry it Out

This is the best advice for raising happy kids. From sobbing toddlers to moody preteens. I've said it many times to my family, but couldn't have said it any better than Bones! Cry out the stress hormones.

"Have you wept yet?... Wept. Cried. For your loss.
There is a very well-established neuronal connection between the lacrimal gland and the brain's limbic system associated with emotion.
Stifling the body's need to cry in emotionally difficult situations is unhealthy." Bones 9.19

One caveat, you need to offer to stay and hold them while they cry, and only let a baby cry alone unless you fear hurting it.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Screen Rules

I read this today, posted by a traditional home schooler, and it got me thinking.

I was prepared to scoff and be mentally argumentative, expecting the traditional dogma of severe limits on brain-rotting screen time, but was surprised. My kids and I have discussed these same issues at length and have come up with some pretty similar guidelines like chores first, respecting others' property since their parents own the home we share and the hardware we use, reasonable wake and bedtimes, prioritizing, wasting time, academic pursuits, online personas, self worth, morality, etc. I was surprised that I agreed with her so often even though her stance is so much in line with current and popular anti-screen attitude with which I so heartily disagree.

Personally, I find screens to be eminently more educational than any previous media I have used. Especially nursing this one baby with a smartphone and Netflix compared to my previous 5 children without, reading books was too unwieldy with balancing and grabby little hands, nursing felt like I was stuck, incredibly boring and seemed to take forever. Now I can read articles, watch documentaries, and have nursed longer, more often, more easily, and more responsively. I also spend a lot more time with my kids watching shows we both enjoy and discuss rather than the old model of banal kid stuff during the day and mom stuff prime time after they went to sleep. Even still, there is a flip side to that we have all seen where things go awry. Pros and cons to all things.

Truth told, the lessons and trials of a world full of screens are nothing new to humankind, merely just presented in a deceptively new context.

When I was little, moms wasted their time reading a lot of chick-lit or talking on the phone (tied to a wall). Wasting time is nothing new for tired mothers. I personally feel much more engaged even during my down time because through my screens I have so many rich resources to choose from. Perhaps that comes from a maturity that my kids don't yet have. But condemning screens limits not only the wonderful educational outlets available through them, but also prevents learning the hard failure-filled lessons of prioritizing activities while still at home with a parental safety net.

In the end, the rules themselves are not as important as the discussions in crafting them. Involvement, rather than imposing, are still the eternal keys to good parenting.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Following Directions

Levi asked if he could make Jell-O today. "Sure," I replied. When he asked how long it would take to set up, I told him about an hour. An hour later, he said, "Sure, an hour! It's not even close to being ready!"

About 4 or 5 hours later, his sisters asked if they could share some Jell-O. He yelled that it wasn't ready, and if they touched it they would spill it. I told him that if it wasn't ready by then, he did something wrong. After insisting he followed the directions on the box, he added, "Except for the boiling water part."


I asked him if he put 2 cups of cold water in, or just one, to decide if he needed another box when (finally) adding some boiling water. "I don't know, I didn't measure."

Followed the directions on the box? He followed all them except all of them.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Cooking Kids

Children are like frying bacon: you begin by carefully arranging everything, and as they cook you try to push them around while they insist on taking on their own shape regardless, occasionally spitting at you. If you step away for even a moment they are either ruined or have caught something on fire.

Monday, March 04, 2013

Fit with a Purpose

Why when I tell people we are starting a little farm do they always look at me confusedly and say, "That sounds like a lot of work"?

So is running 5 miles pushing a stroller, signing up for triathlons, and bench pressing, but I got so much more respect for that. Yes, we did this on purpose BECAUSE it is a lot of work that accomplishes much more than all those things I used to do to stay fit.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Walk to Mama, er, Candy

She took her first step on Jan 2, two days before 9 months old, and then not again after a fall for a month! She finally got brave about the beginning of February at 10 months, and at Valentine's Day is walking around after realizing her true source of motivation is not getting over to mommy, which was only somewhat effective. I wish we had thought of this tactic 5 kids ago!


I ruined my blog. Well, more technically ruined as content-wise it was in ruin already. I deleted my old Gmail account: you know, that one with the stupid username we all have? I thought I had added my new account to all my Google products, and I had, but linking them to have permissions is not the same as copying all the info to your new account. So all the images in my Picasa Web Albums where my blog images are stored was deleted!

So just don't scroll down prior to November 2011, and the blog is fine. All those old posts' photos are on my old computer, somewhere. I'll hunt them down and restore them all here because between working, homeschooling six kids, and watching my husband remodel our entire house while I hold a baby, I have very little to keep me busy during the day otherwise.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Giggly Video

That thing babies do in the evening when they get really social and giggly while strangely on the verge of crying just before begging to go to bed.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Baby Boy Bunny

So it's blue, but it's cold outside, and SHE is still adorable.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Field Trip

Look at these unsocialized homeschoolers on our fire station field trip today. The new station is enormous and very high end with amazing living quarters and huge garage. They got to try on the equipment, play in the ambulance, see the jaws of life (and death), watch the truck corner really fast and blare its sirens, ogle tools and saws, and see a woman who is not only a firefighter, but in charge. Of course as with all photos of kids having a good time, these were prior to the start of either fighting or whining, but in this case both.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Seattle Makes Me Sad

THIS is why I moved away from Seattle. It's been two days in Austin like that, and I'm already depressed. Stop raining!
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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Cosleeping Makes Happy Babies

I woke up to baby laughter, rolled over, and saw this cutie peeking out at me from under the quilt my mom and sister made me years ago, standing in her pac n play next to my bed. I love cosleeping as those good mood smiles are the happiest time of her day. I would hate to miss them, doing it alone in her own room and then cry at me to come get her instead. It is so much easier for this tired mommy too to just pull her in with me to nurse and snuggle more than to have to get out of bed for her. I just love snuggling and tickling her! She is growing fast, and it is really difficult having another baby, so finding these moments are so important. I love her so much!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Sundress in December

Visiting some friends with their irresistibly edible Christmas tree makes us grateful for iPhones if only better than having no camera at all. Have to love the sundress in December: I love Texas!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

"If Government Can Pay for a War, Why Can't it Pay for Healthcare?"

A recent status update of a friend on Facebook that I met with distaste.

The issue isn't whether or not government should help people, that's obviously its only job, but as to how. This is more an issue of federal scope of responsibility versus municipal and county governments. Local control and decision making power with a body (federal in this case) to ensure they don't fight is what this country was created to be.

The power and lure of a socialist national system, which is what the Democratic party in our country is evolving into, is the "helping people" mantra that sounds really good, to everyone liberal and conservative. In a large federal system, in practice it is expensive, inefficient, and bureaucratic. Let the feds do what they do best: and yes, that is protecting the borders through trade law and fighting foreign wars. We should be more involved in our local county health department and let our voice to DC be on what wars, battles, or defense measures we deem worth our time and money.

We simply cannot afford to provide a single-payer system: but even if we could, it's poorly administered, and that money could go farther on an individual and local level. Trusting a body that has already bankrupted social security and medicaid is folly.

An interesting read of the tax and spend clause of the constitution, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taxing_and_Spending_Clause shows that while it is certainly a legal and constitutional use of taxpayer money to pay for federal healthcare under the umbrella of its component "general welfare" clause, the interpretation is often debated. It is best to err on the side of too much liberty.

As we march toward socialism, we have many examples of countries who had originally followed our constitution in designing their own democracies but are now breaking under the weight of its own spending obligations and the tax burden that places upon its people. PIIGS come to mind, with Britain not far behind them. Any American who has lived in or used the social medicine systems in those countries such as Canada, the Netherlands, and many others, is full or stories of the rationing and limitation on care choices.

No question that our current healthcare system is in dire need of improvement through reform as I know firsthand after my recent frustrating attempts to secure health insurance for a self-employed family. However, there are many ways to encourage private health insurance to be better, such as opening up competition across state lines, or regulations that encourage performance and favor good behavior through competition, or empowering county health systems to provide care for the un and under insured in our communities, that should be exhausted before the radical move of universalizing healthcare that example has already shown us is no answer. There is work to be done, so let's focus our efforts on working where it will do the most good and indeed truly help others rather than just pretend that we are.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


I hate coming across blogs and reading apologies about how long it's been since that person has posted, promises to do better, blah blah, as if posting on a blog somehow denotes some sort of cyber fame. Now, for a heavily commented blog, loads of followers, with professional relevant content, and an author who periodically gets emails asking when a new post will arrive, perhaps I can understand. But for the most part, blog readership is typically very low, and an apology to an occasional passerby just seems a bit inflated.

However, never to be left out, because I love feeling peer pressure like a middle schooler caught in a cafeteria, here is my apology and pledge to post more frequently. Because I know that you, my fans, are in need of me. All those little things I post on Facebook, one-line status updates, photos with a quick caption, or just rambling thoughts about bull can go on here just as easily, and then I can find or print these posts for posterity someday. To be loved is a beautiful thing.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


We sold our house! We had an offer on it less than 2 weeks after putting it on the market, and after a little negotiating we closed yesterday. Sadly we feel lucky we were able to get most of what we had into it back out. In view of the recent real estate upheaval, we were able to pay the fees and commissions and walk away with a check for the amount of our down payment 8 years ago.

Now Troy has turned down 2 offers to relocate as his company here attempts to downsize without laying off any of their specialized workforce: one to NYC last week, and the other for Portland yesterday. They are trying to make Boise work as he indicated it's the only place he'd be willing to move, so we are preparing for him to get laid off after 12 years. The timing is unfortunate in that we just bought this remodel and are not very far along in that process and have the looming arrival of another baby, but he can start putting full time in at a little side job he's been doing on and off, a generous severance package, and we have a big emergency fund in the bank. The hard part is deciding how much to dip into cash to get this house progressing while he's looking for a career position in either Austin or Boise. We'll take it day by day, because long term planning right now is just too stressful and unpredictable.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

House for Sale!

We FINALLY have our home on the market! Carpets cleaned, touch up painted, furniture staged, lawn mowed and flowers planted, and I wonder why we are moving! We love this house, but are excited to be moving onto some acreage for more room to spread outdoors. I thought having given birth to two children in this house would make me sad and nostalgic to leave it, but I find we are ready to say good-bye. Fortunately, we are close enough that we can still spend a lot of time with old friends while far enough to be making many new ones.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Children are Not Flowers

I love the Mother Teresa quote, "How can there be too many children? That is like saying there are too many flowers." It well conveys the beauty and miracle of little children and birth in the same miraculous way a flower sprouts and blooms.

But children are not flowers.

You can have too many children, and you can have too many flowers. Certainly everyone loves flowers, and how can you not love children? They are the most wondrous gift bestowed on us by a loving God. Gardening is in a small way an insight into the miracle of God's creation second only to raising children or giving birth.

But in my yard there aren't many flowers. It's not because I don't adore flowers, but because keeping up with them is a lot of work! Sometimes I get lucky and hit on a variety that mostly takes care of itself, blooming in the most neglected circumstance and propagating on their own. But who can raise children that way? If flowers require frequent time and attendance to their position, nutrition, and care, how much more work are children with their near constant demand for time and care? It's not that I don't adore children, I obviously do given that I have 5 of my very own schooled at home. If children were easy we'd all have more! The decision is at what point does the enjoyment and fulfillment of children become outweighed by the tremendous effort? So yes, I can scarce keep up with those I have already blooming! Here we are in the flowers nearly 18 months ago, and while it does keep getting better and better and life seems easier as time passes while kids grow up, adding to the fun is a daunting thought!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Central Texas Veggie Garden Guide

Our local agricultural extension provides some great materials for successful landscaping and gardening in our unique Central Texas area. I had several documents detailing what time of year to plant what type of vegetable, but the formatting made them difficult to use. They were either lists of veggie types with bar graphs for what month to plant, or lists of veggies with a date range to plant each. But like most gardeners, I want to know when I go into the garden, what can I plant TODAY? So I organized the information into a list categorized by month with the appropriate veggies listed alphabetically. It's easy enough to scan to see, "When can I plant peas," if you wonder about that sort of thing, but far easier to just take a glance, grab the right seeds, head out, and put some in the dirt. I keep mine taped inside my kitchen cupboard next to the fridge, where I keep my seed packets.

On the reverse are simple instructions I prepared while teaching a local gardening class for square foot lasagna gardening, my combined version of the two easiest garden methods I've ever come across. That is useful no matter where you live. You can also copy/paste the chart into your own word processor to adjust the veggie types to you specific area if you don't live around Austin.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Blue Hole

We joined our local homeschooling group for another day at the Blue Hole on Cypress Creek in Wimberley. Two words: GOR-GEOUS! Old growth bald cypress trees line the banks of the newly improved park with paved stroller/wheelchair access down to the hole, full and lush flat shaded lawn area with picnic tables, and controlled access points to control the erosion and mud problem of past years. An attendant even overheard me telling the little kids they had to walk down because we had so much stuff to carry, and took all my gear and little kids down on his UTV; what service! Since public school had started a few days prior, the place was virtually empty as opposed to the riotous week before. That is, until school let out, which let the kids enjoy watching the older boys trick out on the rope swings. They got brave and did some tricks of their own, while Julia, finally having learned to swim, and Zoey, equipped with her awesome Coast Guard PFD approved water wings tooled around. I sat in a camp chair in the cool water or hung out on the docks taking photos and chatting.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


 Taya got her braces off the end of July (after 12 months, thank you Fast Braces! so I don't feel quite so old as to have a child with braces OFF), so to celebrate I took her to the beauty school for a hair cut with bangs added, a manicure, and a much-needed eyebrow wax. Her friend's mom had put a henna on her hand the night before, so the manicurist student had fun playing with nail paint to match the design. Zoey couldn't be left out of any photo as insanely jealous as she was of her sister's fancy new nails. Olivia also came with us and got a mini mani with blue sparkly polish that had mostly chipped off by the time we got home! Troy took her for her birthday a few days later and got her a real acrylic hot pink with flowers nail set that lasted for weeks!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Julia turns 5

Do kids actually get younger the more you have? When Taya turned 5, she seemed so old, so mature and ready to take on not only kindergarten, but the world. Today, Julia's 5 years seem like a malfunction of the calendar rather than the actual passage of time. Yet it also seems as if we are old best friends and have known each other for ages. Perhaps we have. Happy birthday, little one! We are glad you enjoyed your cake and ice cream dinner, your special night out with Dad, and you Barbie dolls!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Joplin, MO

Taya and her girl scout troop made a weekend field trip to St. Louis, a 14-hour drive, and I tagged along as a warm body to chaperone. We passed through Joplin on the way, and stopped to gawk like tacky tourists at the utter and horrendous devastation that went on for miles and miles. The girls were satisfyingly somber at the shock of the scene. We drove to the top of a hill and saw this sadness and madness for miles around. The area most hard hit was residential, although an enormous number of businesses were also destroyed, and I shudder to wonder how many survivors' homes were under or not insured at all. The roads had been cleared enough to drive on, but there was no escaping the impact that street after street with not a home intact had on us, especially as the tornado warning siren was the only thing left standing. There was FEMA grafitti on every house marking it cleared of bodies and cleared for final tear down. A haunting sight, one we will never forget. Any effort to send aid is truly needed if you feel moved to do so.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Wild Birds


No, I'm not talking about my 5 wild little ducklings, but the wild bird Troy caught in the parking lot after work this afternoon and brought home to be nursed back to health by aforementioned ducklings aka our children. Thanks a lot, Troy. Personally, I'm kind of disgusted by wild birds, but because I am the main caregiver for our chickens somehow now I'm the bird vet around here. I love animals from the farming perspective, not because I enjoy pets. I suspected it was some sort of mockingbird, which as the Texas state bird would have either earned me a commendation or gotten me sued, but it is in fact a juvenile mourning dove of the type that poops on our car everyday, so I am conflicted about saving it!
This bird is also in pretty rough shape, rescued from attacking grackle birds who did a lot of bloody damage visible when it pathetically flaps its wings, and after recently losing an entire nest of wren hatchlings my kids were watching in a birdhouse they built at Home Depot, I'm not particularly looking forward to a dead bird in the house. Oh, well, we've dealt with larger dead birds when Julia killed one of our chickens. That's a story for some other day, and no, I don't have any photos to go along with it.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Death Wish Fish

Troy decided a year or so ago that fish as pets would be a good idea, but has recently decided that fish as pets are no longer a good idea. So when our friend Betty brought over her big cichlid to move into the tank with our significantly smaller cichlid, this was inevitably the result. Our little scrapper took him on, wish we had video of that bout, biting onto the larger fish's mouth until he won (thanks to our intervention with a large fish net). Large evil fish now resides in our neighbor's empty (now temporarily occupied) tank awaiting sale at our local cichlid store or a ceremonious dumping into our community pond. Don't tell Betty! Hope the little guy lives through that disastrous blind date.

Atlantians in Austin for 30 Minutes

Taya's best friend Shivani from elementary school moved to Atlanta 2 years ago, and today stopped by for a quick visit on a trip to Dallas that landed them in Austin for the afternoon. Taya and her friend Brianna were so excited to see her, especially since I hadn't told them that she was going to be in town until right before she showed up! We also held onto her adorable twin sisters so Julia could visit with her long-lost buddies again too!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Pool Acrobatics

Is our dad cooler than your dad? This activity always earns us comments about how our monkeys need to be in a gymnastics class. We also fortunately had a near miss with the metal pool stair railing. Fortunately in that her face didn't actually hit it, and Troy learned a little bit caution. And check out our buddy Chris photo bombing in the last one making it look like he was the one who got all the exercise throwing those kids around. Probably more exercise than I got sitting on the side trying not to get my camera wet.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


I merely saw some cool cloud formation in the sky last night and took some photos of it. Along with about half a million other Austinites. The next day clients were asking if I saw it, talking about HAARP, or aliens, or whatever. Well, I'm pretty sure HAARP is in Alaska if you can believe anything on their homemade looking web site, and Texas is literally as far the other way as one can get in the US if that pesky Florida were out of the picture. But who knows, maybe they'll get their hands on a photo like this to study and be cool like me. Or maybe Cumulo-Fracto-Nimbus escaped from Xanth for a visit, even though, as previously stated, we're no where near Florida.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Sunday

Our old Idaho college buddy Sammie, (with whom I was friends with first while dating Troy, he then became Troy's best buddy after we became engaged), just happens to have grown up in Houston and moved to Austin with his wife Melissa several years ago (Sammie's real name is Ben, not to be confused with my brother Ben and his wife Melissa who were married around the same time). A few days ago Sammie emailed to invite us to Easter dinner at their house. We only see them once a year or so because they live so very very far away (35 minute drive ;), so Troy replied, "You do remember that we have 5 kids, right?" I told him to ask if they had tornado-proofed their house.
Apparently they had, so we all trotted up there (after skipping church) for prime rib roast. We ate the entire thing if you include their baby surreptitiously feeding his portions to the dog. I brought up our hard-boiled and plastic eggs (because with all the skipping church we certainly had no time to color them before dinner), and the kids had a hunt in their back yard. I wish I could claim the immaculate lawn as our own, but sadly we have no grass this year, only an awesome garden. I bought an extra chocolate bunny for Troy and I to share, and I said, "I will eat the..." and while pondering which body part I would choose, Troy added, "the chocolate part. I'll end up with the box." He has obviously realized he's married to a woman!
This is the day we reflect upon how grateful we are that Christ gave his life to save us from our sins, and since I stubbornly harbor so many sins, doubts, and lack of will to much change that, I am especially grateful to have a Savior who loves me in spite of it all. Happy Easter to you, and may God have mercy on our souls!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Idyllic Garden


Don't these photos just make you want to punch me in the face? My idyllic little life with the spring garden and toddlers joyously learning about the miracle of life with scratching chickens hinted at in the background; it's enough to make you think my life really is just this perfect. That's what blogs are supposed to do. Take photos of the best times and make all the readers feel inadequate. Just remember, that while life is certainly almost this awesome, that this entire episode only took about 5 minutes after trying to get the kids out during perfect sunset light for at least 5 days, and that the chickens took twice as long to lure to that spot with poultry treats. All of it fits nicely between whining and too much TV, but since most of you just look at the photos and don't read those of you who made it this far know me the best now.

Easter Egg Hunt

Easter just wouldn't be the same without picking up tiny plastic colored eggs off a lawn...er, I mean wouldn't be the same without Jesus. Franklin Family Ranch off Middlecreek Rd in Johnson City held its annual Easter Festival sponsored by a local church. I very much appreciated that all my kids said Jesus is what Easter is all about even before we got there to experience a religious bent on a secular celebration. They had a praise band, a sermon, and a scavenger hunt with Bible clues in addition to free food, candy, and giant blow up jumpy things as far as the eye could see! You can see how sad they were when they were deflated at the end of the craziness.
I can't believe we've lived here so many years and never heard of this party, but we'll be making it an annual event! Next year I'm going to do my best to not get sunburned again, nor add stress by rushing out for having too many photo shoots scheduled afterward. I'll just bring a lounge chair, sunscreen, and chill out all afternoon while my kids wear themselves out.