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, 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.