Monday, April 27, 2009

The Chaotic Kestrels

Isn't this a handsome bunch?  It's the Chaotic Kestrels in the front row (DS11 is in the middle with friends CJ and Daven) clutching their new field guides.  Behind them are Gif Beaton, Georgia author of wildlife books, and Tim Keyes, Wildlife Specialist and originator of the Youth Birding Competition in Georgia.

They placed third in the Elementary School division for the state!  Way to Go!!!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Some thoughts on dating and marriage

There are a few blogs that a read with regularity.  One that I particularly enjoy had a discussion about marriage and the family.  It really caught my interest.

First off, this blog is very much about Christian marriage, family, and life with homeschooling and stay at home motherhood issues.  I know many people that this would aggravate, but it doesn't bother me, even though I am called to be a private Christian school teacher.  This is the calling on my life for right now--not necessarily what God will call me to do during a different phase of my life.  Those of you who know me, know that hubby and I put the kids' needs first and DS12 (my Aspie) NEEDS this school.

The point was made that marriage is too easily disposed of and that it is taken lightly for that very reason.  I agree wholeheartedly.  There is no cultural stigma to divorce anymore.  Even single parents talk with glee about their "weekends off" twice a month.  It's too glib.

Are we glib about any other type of failure in our lives?  Why don't we view the dissolution of permanent vows made before God to be a failure, and a big one at that?

The answer comes back to the basis of evil in our lives and our culture.  Everything is overly sexualized.  I know a 12 year old girl who is built like what we would have called, back in the day, a bean pole.  Very tall.  Very slender.  No waist.  No "blossoming."

She is on a very strict diet because she has started wearing a Ladies size 4 dress.  It's downright ridiculous that our culture starts subliminal (and overt) campaigns against our youth at such a delicate age.  After all, nothing matters in middle school unless you are "sexy."

Additionally, how many married couples do you know that have been married for any length of time?  When my students ask me how long I have been married and I answer them (21 years this year) they always reply, " to the same guy?"

Clearly, this is not normal.    It is far more normal to serialize marriage and family like one would go shopping frequently and repeatedly.  How can a family even begin to seem normal when the players are constantly changing?

Is it any wonder that so many children are molested by step-parents?  They don't have the same biological desire to protect these particular kids that their parent should have.  Don't get me wrong, I am very aware that biological parents can molest and hurt kids, too.  But, doesn't it seem odd that in the rushed desire to have a bed-mate, we will let people into our homes and give them authority over our families who haven't even been properly checked out?  What about the mothers who take the step-parent's word over that of the injured child?  For what good purpose?  To prevent loss of salary?  So that they won't have to sleep alone?  It makes no sense.  Parents were committed to each other and then to the children they created.  Clearly, it's so simple to toss both of those commitments aside.

But, could it be that the current craze of dating and "hooking up" for meaningless sex in order to prevent "having to get married" to take part in marital privileges has created any of these problems?  If I can't have my way, I will just kick you to the curb and find another.  What an attitude.  How can you practice doing the "commitment" thing wrong for years and then expect to fall into a 1950s Ozzie and Harriet marriage in a fallen world?  You will simply relive the mistakes that you repeatedly made unless great effort is put into changing yourself.  Not the kind of effort that produces pity parties and feeling sorry for oneself for not being able to "express yourself" or that you "deserve to be happy" garbage.  We deserve to work hard for the important things in life and to feel great satisfaction when we weather the storms that life throws our way.  

We need to step back, submit ourselves to God through obedience to Him, and then take a good hard look at ourselves.  It just could be that the problem in our marriage is ourselves.

Besides, isn't working through our problems much more frugal than getting a divorce and stretching resources to cover two households inadequately and then trying to pay for additional spouses and children?  Come on, that's just crazy!

Chaotic Kestrels Rule!!!

It's official!  Our team won 3rd place in the state of Georgia for their age division!!!

Not bad for a team of 3 kids with only 1 experienced member.  I can't wait to see what they do next year!

I will post a picture if hubby emails me with it.

Oh, the suspense!

Today is the day when all of the little Georgia birders compete in a 24 hour competition to see which team can see the most birds in Georgia.  It's the Georgia Youth Birding Competition and it is a wonderful use of our tax dollars in action.

Right now, the contestants and coaches are at Charlie Elliot Wildlife Center having a banquet and finding out who their winners are.  There is no cell service there.  Hubby can't even call me and tell me how it went.  He can receive a text, but can't send one out.

I do know that DS11 along with two of his friends (the Chaotic Kestrels) saw 63 distinct species at last check in today.  Last year, they only found 56, so that is good.

But, how did the other teams fare?  Was there a huge turn out?  Is the t-shirt design cute???  Inquiring Moms want to know!!! 

This patience thing is for the birds :-)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Lecture with Richard Louv

Those of you who know me and hubby are aware that we are hopeless nerds.  Last night, we had an adults only evening of dinner and a lecture by author Richard Louv, who wrote the book, Last Child in the Woods.

Of course, when I excitedly told a friend that this was "date night," she asked if I couldn't do any better than a lecture series!  I got a big kick out of that one!  I love learning things.

Dinner was good and at a restaurant that I had never tried before, which is nice.  Please note that the restaurant did not have a drive through window    :-)

Hubby had been reading Last Child in the Woods and I am waiting for him to finish so that I can get started with it.  I am familiar with the learning style of "naturalist" and how children often need to feel connected with something larger than themselves and a video screen.  I think it fosters closeness with the Creator of our universe, but I realize that since not everyone is happy calling on our God the Father, that he doesn't mention it much.

But, I don't see how anyone can be in nature and not be drawn to God (even if one doesn't know that it is God in the beginning).

Regardless of this personal epiphany :-), the lecture was wonderful and Mr. Louv is a passionate and dynamic speaker.  He reminds us adults that we can often remember a transcendent moment in nature that we keep in our hearts forever.  That memory can provide such a sense of peace and centering that we come back to it for years to come.

This generation of children (and many of my own generation, I fear) don't have those memories to use as self-comfort.  For some of us it involves animals, for others, wide open places, for others a park or other green space in a city.  But, fear of human predators and crime have hindered parents from letting kids have access.  Single parents often work so much that kids are home alone, locked at home with a tv or video console.

I want my kids to have those memories.  It's easy with DS11, he loves to be outside watching bugs, dragonflies, butterflies, birds, lizards, and other critters.  He competes annually in the Georgia Youth Birding Competition and goes to help researchers do bird banding in middle Georgia.  He's easy to engage in outdoor activities.  Lately, he has become interesting in geocaching and Volkswalking.  We'll see where those lead.

DS12 is another story.  Because he is an Aspie and has notoriously weak muscle tone and poor balance, he is afraid to get out of a predictable environment.  He will sit on a porch or deck, but won't venture out onto uneven ground, etc.  He will play with animals for ages, and that is his best contact with nature right now, but it's an unbalanced one as it doesn't really look at natural things in natural settings.  It's sad really because he used to be the kid who wouldn't wear shoes and you'd have to catch him to carry him inside on a summer night for a bath and bedtime :-)  Now, he can't remember the feeling of mud or grass between his toes.

That definitely has to change.  He has been interested in cooking lately and I have told him that the best cooks use the freshest ingredients.  He hates veggies, but that is another story.  So, we are going to start a limited garden that he will have to "help me with."  Hey, it's a start.  The garden can't be inside :-)  With my foot issues, I can milk it long enough to make him really take a role in this.  Hopefully that will help him to loosen up outside a bit.

Anyway, I highly recommend hearing Richard Louv speak if you ever have the opportunity.  Check out his book at the local library if you have a chance.  He even talks a little bit about how families need to be out of doors in parks, etc. when the economy is bad.  A game of catch is fun and much more frugal than movie tickets.  You won't be disappointed, I promise.  It is very thought provoking!

Baby steps

I have borrowed hubby's computer tonight to try and catch up a bit on my email, blogging, grading for school, etc.  I really don't like it when I get so very behind on everything.  So, this is the beginning of a weekend of playing catch up!

Today, DS12 and I went and purchased two blueberry bushes that we will plant in our side yard tomorrow morning.  It is the beginning of our "orchard" (yes, we use that term VERY loosely).   Soon, we'd like to add some grapes or muscadines and blackberries.  You know, good stuff for jelly and syrup making.  The kids are excited about it and, honestly, so am I.  

Since I have scheduled surgery on my foot for June 3rd, I will be feeling much better soon after that.  I could use a good excuse to get out into the yard and the fresh air.

Besides, in this economy, any frugal fun we can have is a very good thing~!

We may even squeeze in a few herbs to go with our huge rosemary plant that we use so often.  It's baby steps.  But, we'll get some cheap food out of it and let it grow a bit every year.  Simplicity and a slow march toward being a bit more self sufficient is worth it--even with a bum foot!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Computer Problems

Hello all:
Just wanted to make note of the fact that I am having really bad computer issues at present. This is the first time in 3 days that I have been able to access any of my information. The problems have been intermittent at first and I doubt they are fully resolved now, so I am unsure when I will be able to access this blog again.

Keeping my fingers crossed!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

A completed quilt top!

Woo hoo! I am one happy camper. I have gotten my quilting juju back! Of course, this was a kit that I put together, but I finished it in just a couple of days without having to rush or worry about it sitting around undone for very long while I go back to work tomorrow morning.

This is the center of the quilt without any borders added. The pale blue blends in with my bedroom curtains.

This is what the quilt top looks like with the borders added. Sorry I couldn't show it laid out flat, but you can get the idea at the bottom edge.

It really changes the look of the piece when the borders frame it out. It is almost large enough to be a generous bed sized quilt, but I want to add another border to make it a bit larger. I can't wait to be able to be able to get it completed and quilted!

This is a close up of the border and you can see the fabrics and colors a bit better in this one. In case you are wondering, the dowel pins you see to the right are from the indoor drying rack that I hung the quilt on so we could take the pictures.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Happy Anniversary

to the Millers for 22 years of wedding bliss (or at least a good sense of humor and a remarkable lack of bloodshed)! Hope you had a lovely day together.

A quiet day and a few thoughts

All was quiet here today as DS11 and hubby were out practicing for the annual Georgia Youth Birding Competition. They took DS11's friend with them to begin his training for the big day. This will be his first year. He is really excited about it.

The friend can only hear via a cochlear implant. Often he depends on lip reading to augment the sounds he hears. DS is able to speak to him and be lip read and he is a trooper in making absolutely certain that his friend gets the information presented. I am proud of him.

Nothing happening on the quilting stuff. My itchy, watery, allergy plagued eyes were really blurry and sore today and I didn't want to accidentally cut a border wrong, or worse, wonky so that it doesn't lay in a nice, straight line. I figure that it's best to wait a day or two and make absolutely sure that it is correct.

Patience may be a virtue, but it is not one that I have developed. I am the queen of finding a pattern that I can put together quickly and then finishing the whole thing out, pronto.

I think it is a combination of knowing how little time I have to work on a project compared to my drive to complete it. Ugh! I am very disorganized at home and easily overwhelmed, so if I start something like this, I want to finish it so that I know it won't get lost in the shuffle somewhere.

I truly would love to do the Suzy Homemaker thing and stay home and make lovely things and have an immaculate home (well, maybe not immaculate....). But, that is not in the cards for us right now. I do enjoy teaching and I love to watch the kids really dig deeply into the material we are covering. I love knowing that I set the bar high and that they really are learning.

I also love knowing that my boys are right there in the same building with me and if there is a problem, I am the one handling it. That is especially important for DS12 (my aspie). DS11 would thrive no matter where he was at. He loves to learn and is so naturally curious and friendly. Life is not so simple for his older brother. Without the consistent, enforced interaction with kids, he would not have come as far as he has over the last three years.

I had always wanted to homeschool my children, but DS12 has so many other issues going on and needs to be forced to socialize. I just couldn't provide that at home, even though I am a Certified Teacher and had all of the academics under control. DS11 was a dream to work with. I only had to make sure that I stayed ahead of his curiosity.

I spent some time embarrassed that I didn't have what it took to deal with DS12's issues and learning disabilities (and just the little quirky stuff and excessive emotional outbursts) that I couldn't do what I felt was best for him. Looking back, maybe God just moved me out of my dream of fullfillment and toward making DS12 the fullfilled one.

I still miss some of my Little House on the Prairie (didn't you just love those books when you were a kid?) fantasies and can't sew and can and garden and decorate and cook fabulously (which I can't even do with unlimited time) full time, but I can be okay with that.

Family time is less stressful as I am not imposing impossible restrictions on both him and myself. He loves school, DS11 loves school, and most days, I really do, too!

Honestly, if I didn't work, I would have very little money to spend on all of my projects and crafts, so it balances out a bit, I think.

This isn't the road that I would have necessarily picked for myself, but it seems to be the road which allows BOTH of my children to thrive. And, that's what's most important after all.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The quilt center is completed

I can't post any pictures until I recharge the battery on my camera. So, since that will entail finding out where it was last used, it may take a while.

I am very impressed, though, with the "Take 5" quilt pattern. It is exceptionally easy to put together. Despite user error with the sewing machine, I was able to get the vast majority of the quilt together and ironed.

Due to itchy, allergy eyes and just plain ol' tiredness, I decided not to try and cut out the borders until tomorrow so that they will have a better chance of being cut correctly. I do think, after laying the center portion out on the center of the bed, that I will need to add an additional border around the outside edge to ensure that it will fit generously. As much as I am chomping at the bit to be finished, I really want to do it up right so that I can really enjoy it when it is finished and not look at it and say, "I sure wish I had...."

Right now, I am waiting for some funds to continue with expanding the quilt top, purchasing batting and backing--and, oh yes, the lovely coordinating pillow case kits! My bed is going to be so fabulous!!!

Houston, we have BOBBINS!

Whew! Crisis averted. That was a close one.

Finally, after much gnashing of teeth, I was showing hubby how my sewing machine was suddenly bobbin impaired and he told me to walk through the process of stopping sewing and winding a bobbin. I thought this was totally ridiculous, but I went along so that he would start working on fixing the dat blasted thing.

The first thing I did was raise the presser foot. Then I did all of the rest of the other stuff and it miraculously worked.

I had never raised the presser foot. Sigh. Picture me with a big "L" on my forehead crafted from my own right hand.

But, I have bobbins and a hubby who got a good chuckle out of my non-mechanical ways. And it didn't cost a thing!!!

One step forward, one step back...

Of course, not long after I returned home after picking up my sewing machine (which I had loaned to my Mom until her new one arrived) I started laying out fabric and sewing squares.

I got about half of them sewed when my bobbin ran out of thread. No big deal, right? Just wind some more bobbins. Well, that's exactly what I attempted, but my machine won't turn in the bobbin winder position.

Oh, kerfluffle!!! No more sewing until I have bobbins. I have checked the sewing machine manual to no avail. I guess when hubby gets home from work, I will run over to Mom and Dad's house and wind lots of bobbins on their new sewing machine.

It's so frustrating when things like this happen. Who would have thought that the bobbin winder would just not wind?

The Scarlet Thread ROCKS!!!

Okay, I am one happy quilter today. I was able to go and check out The Scarlet Thread quilt store in McDonough, GA. I really have missed the former Quilting Bee in Fayetteville. It was one of those places that got the creative juices flowing and the staff always greeted you by name. People were always bringing in their finished and partially finished pieces to show. It was wonderful. But, alas, it is closed.

I was really surprised when I went into The Scarlet Thread. They were so very friendly and helpful. It really reminded me of the feel of the old Fayetteville store. I do think that this one is a larger store overall and has a separate classroom space. Speaking of classes, I think I need to take a class to get my inspiration back. There is nothing like swapping creative ideas with some like minded souls to get the wheels in my little brain clicking into high gear!

I picked up a lovely bed sized quilt kit filled with gorgeous Moda Fabrics. It was a really good price for Moda! Plus, it was already pre-cut which saves me loads of time and aggravation. I can confidently sew, knowing that I won't have to fudge any little inconsistencies that I created with minor cutting errors. Love that! It saves me so much time.

I have to go back now to find the perfect backing (maybe something from the clearance room?) and some batting. Plus, they have gorgeous coordinating kits to make pillow cases to match my quilt. Isn't that cool?

Decorating and hours of entertainment together! Can't beat it with a stick!!! Plus, it's just another blanket that I won't have to buy for my bed this winter.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Stretching a turkey breast

Okay, turkey breasts were on mega sale lately, so we picked one up and am stretching meals from it as best we can. Here are the meals we have come up with so far (they have been spaced out a bit so we aren't eating turkey every night)

Day One: Turkey breast with green beans and homemade rolls (from the recipe "5 minutes a day to artisan breads" off of the Mother Earth News website.

Day Two: Boiled snot out of carcass with onions and garlic. Made turkey noodle soup.

Day Three: Turkey and cheddar quesadillas with salsa.

Day Four: I don't know yet, but I have enough for a lunch or small meal. Maybe a small turkey pot pie?

Hey four meals are not too bad for a family of four (one of which is a 12 year old that is approaching 6 feet tall!).

Note to Self...

A paste of baking soda and water will NOT clean out the smoky stains out of your microwave! Hubby brought home a cream type cleanser (that firefighters use to clean their helmets) and it ALMOST got it all cleaned out. Sigh.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Spring is here...

After our unseasonably cold snap over the last couple of days, it was reasonably warm today. We had lots of sunshine and breezes. It was nice.

But, as happens every year, spring time comes and this chick's thoughts turn to quilting!!! Yes, I know, it's not what you expected.

Hubby wants a blue bedroom. Personally, I love and adore the deep reds and light sages that I have in there currently. But, I will do it for him. I have already changed out the curtains and they have a decidedly farm house feel which I really like. But, now we need some fantastic bed covering.

Enter the quilt. I have selected the free pattern, "Wickedly Easy Quilts" from the website. Love that it's free. Love the name! Love the quilt. I will do a pale blue, yellow, and white version. You've just gotta love it.

So now I have to dig out from my horrid affectation for clutter around here! I can't even begin to quilt until I have cleared out the place a bit--especially to create a place that I can quilt in.

I just love working with textiles and putting them together in different ways. My very favorite quilts are scrappy looking numbers that use up lots of leftover materials. I have made a few of those myself and I so enjoy the "accidental" beauty that comes from all sorts of randomness.

I did dig though my stash, but could find very few pieces of fabric that would work with the color scheme I chose. So, I will have to find a great sale on fat quarters to fill in the gaps. I have an old sheet that may make a wonderful (and pretty) backing for it. I am so excited just thinking about it. I am going to make this as frugal as possible, of course, but I am sure that I will have to spend some money.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Another Day, Another Drama

Good grief. Just when I thought I was free from drama because I was out on spring break, I discovered just how much drama I could (inadvertently) create in a day.

To begin, I overslept. Big time. Everything I touched became infinitely more difficult just because I touched it. You know, just a crazy day.

Then, I really did it. I put a potato in the microwave for DS12's lunch. I don't know if I hit the wrong button or what, but when the potato burst into flames, I figured it was not going well.

Then the plate exploded and the room filled with smoke. Correction, the entire house filled with smoke. The alarm went off, of course.

Thankfully, DS11, the asthmatic wonder was visiting the grandparents and wasn't here for the oxygen-depriving effects. It was just me and DS12 (the Aspie). He couldn't follow directions on how to help me because he was far too busy arguing with me about every aspect of how to handle the situation (like he would even know). Sigh.

Anyway, we aired out the house (and nearly froze in the process). I am in the process of getting the smoke stains cleared out of the microwave.

After all of this excitement, I went and took a nice, long nap because I figured that it just wasn't safe to try and do anything at all. God forbid that something worse could have happened.

Friday, April 3, 2009

First Official Coupon Run

This morning, after checking with Coupon Mom to help me to see what great sales were in my area and the potential for additional coupon sales, I went on my first real coupon outing.

I stopped by my local Ingles store to pick up two items on sale (Ingle's isn't on Coupon Mom, so I checked the online flyer myself) and then went to Rite-Aid, CVS, and Walgreens. I had varying success at each stop. Some stores didn't even have a shelf location for some advertised sale items.

I scored big time at Rite Aid because they had their generic Zyrtec on sale and I was able to get a 4 month supply for my family for the same price as a 2 month supply.

At each store, I found at least one planned sale purchase was more expensive than a generic, even with an additional coupon, so the generic won out. But, overall it was a successful trip.

It was definitely a good thing to spend a little bit of time on the computer so I knew exactly what was a good deal at each stop. I am sure I will do it again next week.

Pretty in Pink

Today I did something a little out of the ordinary for me. I met a friend who is having a rough week at a salon for a pedicure. We got matching pink pedicures for Easter. It was really fun.

Now, I am perfectly capable of painting my toenails at home. But, it was kind of nice to be pampered a bit. The massage chair that you sit in while being pampered didn't hurt a bit, either! Ahhh!

Thursday, April 2, 2009


Okay, I have never been one to get totally giddy and into the couponing thing. But, a friend directed me to a website that taught me a different way to look at it. The website is Coupon-Mom and it is fantastic with loads of articles and helpful information.

I still think I will do best with buying generic items and ingredients rather than convenience items, but if I can combine a coupon with an item that is on sale, then I can really see some potential savings. So that is the plan. This website even shows me what is on sale at my local stores and what coupons are circulating that can be used with them. And using the site is absolutely free, and that is a price that I can afford.

The economy is so tight right now and everybody is feeling the pinch. I am hoping to build up some savings to help get through the summer with no income (on my part). I hate that when I finally have time to spend with my kids, I end up fretting about lack of funds. I want to be frugal, but relaxed this year. I want to enjoy the time with my kids and not be worried.

Well, gotta run and put towels on the towel rack to dry!

Spring Break!

Woo Hoo! I am so excited that it is finally Spring Break. We have had a couple of really rainy, yucky weeks, so maybe a few sunny days and sunshine will help us to enjoy the break from the normal daily duties around here!

DS12 is off to spend the night with the grandparents (his home away from home), hubby is on a business trip (actually, he is stuck in the Atlanta airport waiting for a flight to be able to take him to his business trip to Kansas), so that leaves me and DS11 to watch some movies and chill a bit.

He is watching Kung Fu Panda right now, taking his asthma medicine by nebulizer, and writing the beginning of a new "book." He multi-tasks like a pro already!

As for school, I have been pretty impressed with some of the work that one of my classes did this week. Each year, after we read Thornton Wilder's play, Our Town, we add pages to a scrapbook for our Headmaster called Our School. In it, the kids have to decide what it is that isn't appreciated enough about FCA. Sometimes they really blow me away with their insights and the things that they think are important. Often, I don't realize what really affects these kids. It's a great eye-opener for them and for me. It might even be one for the Headmaster, who knows?

We picked up a couple of new students this week that seem to be genuinely nice kids. It's wonderful that we can still grow a little bit, even in this troubled economy. God is blessing us more and more.