Sunday, April 27, 2008

Birthday Highlights

Miss A had a good birthday and enjoyed her birthday cake and ice cream very much. Here are a few highlights from our family celebration that evening...please excuse any spaghetti stained clothes and/or faces - we just couldn't wait to get to the good stuff, ie, chocolate!

Here's the cake....a chocolate torte that we found in the Betty Crocker "New Cookbook" - mine wasn't as "perfect" looking as the one in the cookbook, but hey, I didn't have a team of chefs to help make it look "just so"....

Blowing out the candles....

We had chocolate milkshakes (do you see a theme here? CHOCOLATE!). Miss A said we were having "Frosties" (like the ones at Wendy's) and when I asked her how the cake and ice cream/milkshakes were, she replied.....

Present time! Hooray!

Here she is holding a package from her big sister who not only made the wrapping paper, but the gift as well:

The gift was a box she found at Hobby Lobby and then painted in Miss A's favorite colors - the box is intended for Miss A to put her rock collection into.

And, the grand finale, a surprise present that we brought out at the end so she wouldn't see the size of the box and guess its contents....a horse just like her big sister got for Christmas. Miss A had seen this one at Target and said it was the one she wanted. We had already gotten a black horse since she'd talked about a black one for awhile, but on a trip to the store a few days before her birthday she saw this palomino and said she liked it better than the black guessed it, another "secret" trip to Target to swap horses...good thing I hadn't already wrapped the black one!

The horses are now both stabled happily in the girls' room. Pretty soon the girls will have to move out if any more horses join the family - or we'll have to build an actual stable!

That's all folks!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Happy Birthday Miss A!

Today is Miss A's 6th birthday! Sigh. Another of my little girls growing up so fast!

Miss A hopes to have a horseback riding lesson like big sister Miss E did - we're hoping to be able to do that in a few weeks while my parents are in town.

We'll celebrate later with chocolate cake and chocolate ice cream, by request. We started off the morning with a special birthday breakfast of donut holes and yogurt - yum :)

Here's a look back through the years at our sweet little girl...I wish I had some of her baby pics uploaded, but we hadn't gone digital yet and I haven't scanned any in...she had a full head of dark curly hair when she was born...

Here she is at 1 year:

2 years....

And at 3 years...

4 years.....

5 years...

6 years...coming soon :)

Happy Birthday to our sweet girl!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Art Appreciation, Skip Counting, Family Notebook - free downloads at!

I received notice of a free download and wanted to pass along the information in case someone out there is interested. I have NOT reviewed this product myself yet - no time! I hope to soon. Let me know if you do and what you thought!

Here's the link and it's a FREE download! Just click the image below - you can see the cover of the art appreciation in the image.

A few other goodies I saw and looked at BRIEFLY after downloading them - they're printing out now - look like good extra practice/fun for math and a great project for the children w/the family notebook - might have to get Grandpa on board since he's the expert genealogist of the family! ;)

Skip Counting Drill Sheets - FREE download

All About My Family Notebook - FREE download

Look around while you're at the site - they have a ton of neat stuff and a lot of it is very affordable! Enjoy!

Jury Duty and King Tut

What do those two things have in common? I got a notice about both of them in the mail today :)

I got my first ever jury summons and a notice of an exhibit starting in October at the Dallas Museum of Art for King Tut.

The Juror Questionnaire was interesting. I found the exemption that I qualified for to be a bit odd - "I have legal custody of a child/children 9 years old or younger, and this child would be left alone."

Do they think a child 10 years old is old enough to be left alone while the parent goes to be a juror? I don't think so. I don't think I'm alone in that - at least I hope not. Scarey!

On one hand I'm sure it would be interesting to be a juror. On the other hand, I do not have any desire to judge someone else's fate. Who knows what the case might be... I'm thankful for the wonderful reasons I have for not being able to go to be a juror.

Regarding King Tut - I can remember when the exhibit was in TN when I was a child. Ironically we just learned a little about King Tut in our Botany course and will be studying him in history as well - just might have to mark the calendar for a trip the Art Museum later this year! Good timing! Anybody up for a field trip?

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Light Hut Update

Well, the first to sprout were.......the zinnias! We didn't predict what we thought would sprout first - we should have! Now, we're just waiting to see what's next!

Our second experiment is well underway - We just discussed germination at the end of the week.

Our experiment:

We have 3 bean seeds. Each is in its own ziplock w/a wet paper towel.

Bean 1 resides in a sunny window
Bean 2 in the cold refrigerator
Bean 3 in a dark closet

Our crack team of botanists predicted the following:

- Bean 1 would be the first to sprout
- Bean 2 would never sprout (Miss E)
- Bean 2 would be the last to sprout (Miss A and Mr. E)
- Bean 3 would sprout second

Today is Day 3 and so far there haven't been any sprouts. Bean 2 doesn't look to have changed at all. Bean 3's seed coat has swelled slightly. Bean 1's seed coat has swelled ever so slightly more.

Thought you'd want to know.....stay tuned for more exciting news from the world of botany!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Head Wound Anyone?

Now before you start fretting about which of the children has a head wound, I will tell you - none of them. What, you say? What is this blog post about? Well, it's about me, and about not hurrying so much. Seems every time the children get hurt it's because someone is running and not paying attention and collides with someone else or something else. Well, last night it was my turn. I was in a hurry to get something out of the back of the van. Yes, you guessed it - my head and the rear van door had an unfortunate meeting. Now, if you have a Dodge Caravan you're not likely to have this happen to you - we have one and the rear door is light as a feather compared to the Saturn van - which is the one we drive the most. So, yes, we were in the Saturn. I pretty much have to throw my whole body weight into it to pull down the rear door and I did, except this time I was carrying something in my left hand and I guess I didn't lean back far enough - BOOM! Boy, did that hurt! I started to go back up to the front and get in and realized the door still wasn't shut - it was a bit surreal that I'd just smashed my head w/the rear door - I went back and shut the door w/o incident this time and then touched my forehead and looked at my hand - blood - eek - got in and interrupted CKB who was ordering (we were at Sonic getting dinner after running errands). He heard "blood" and "hit my head", looked at my bloody hand and told the order-taker that we needed a cup of ice right away and to forget the order for now. Thankfully we had some ziploc bags in the car - dumped the ice in and put it on my quickly swelling "goose egg" - yes, I think it was about that size - I didn't look until much later when a lot of the swelling had gone down. As it turned out the "cut" wasn't that big, just seemed that way at first with the notorious head wound gushing routine - by bedtime a great deal of the swelling had gone down and it didn't feel too terrible.

This morning wasn't too bad either - just a bit tender. I'm so thankful that this didn't happen when I was alone w/the children and that CKB was there to keep me calm and would've been able to take me to the hospital if it had been worse.

Lesson Re-learned (the hard way) - SLOW DOWN AND DON'T HURRY SO MUCH!!!!!!

On the upside (before all this), I got the pattern size I need and some more fabric and if my head isn't bothering me too much later I might start on the skirt...

And no, no pictures on this post! (so glad for bangs to cover my quickly bruising forehead/hairline!)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

A girl and her horse

Well, I'm reading The Horse and His Boy right now - trying to get through to the next book (Prince Caspian) before May when the movie comes out....but that's not what I want to write about today.

Yesterday, Miss E finally got to have her riding lesson. This was planned as part of her birthday present...yes, her bday was back in February - kind of chilly then and I've been trying to get something scheduled ever since. I found a stable and really liked the name of it - it was about a 45 mn. drive, but the lady seemed nice when I spoke to her so we decided to go for it; not to mention it would be a private lesson for a good price/hour. I scheduled a day, then the lady had to cancel b/c she had to do something w/a vet, then she had something else planned the rest of the week, etc. We planned for a day the following week. Somehow she got the day wrong and I called to let her know that that was the one day we could not make it. I've never heard from her since. I tried a few more times over the course of the next few weeks to get in touch w/the lady - left messages on her voicemail and sent emails - nothing. I decided it was time to look for another stable.

I asked for recommendations this time from a group of homeschoolers and had about 4-5 emails all recommending the same lady in a nearby town - 15 mn. away - hooray! I gave her a call, told her we wanted to do an "introductory lesson" - this was on Monday, we went yesterday, Wednesday. The only negative is that CKB couldn't come too - sadly, our sitter got sick and wasn't able to come stay w/the other children so Miss E's Daddy could be there too, but I was able to find a blank tape for our camcorder and took it as a surprise for CKB so he *could* see Miss E's lesson after all - he was very glad! We all watched it last night after we got back.

On to the lesson - we arrived a little early and met the lady who would be giving Miss E her lesson, Mrs. Powers - Miss E seemed comfortable with her. Mrs. Powers talked with Miss E about the horse she would be riding, Pokey, then brought Pokey from her stall. Pokey was a paint, but didn't "color up" so is "breeding stock." All interesting to learn. Miss E surprised Mrs. Powers with her knowledge and questions about the halter and bridle.

Mrs. Powers and Miss E proceeded to use the curry comb first to clean up Pokey and then a brush afterward.

Then Mrs. Powers showed Miss E the tack room and where the saddle she would be using was kept. Mrs. Powers saddled Pokey because she hadn't cross-tied her and was concerned she might turn around quickly (which she did) and Miss E is little and might not get out of the way quickly enough. We then walked over to the "round pen" (I think that's what she called it) and Mrs. Powers and Miss E led Pokey in and to the middle of the ring/pen. Mrs. Powers put the bridle on, then released the long lead rope and Pokey took off - I wish I'd had the video camera going at that point - she ran around and around the pen - Mrs. Powers explained that she would do this, then at some point she would turn and go the other way for a bit, then she would come to them in the middle. Pokey had other ideas I guess b/c she didn't seem to want to turn and go back the other way until Mrs. Powers took one step out from the middle toward her on one of her runs by and that was all Pokey needed to get her to turn and start trotting/loping the other direction. It was amazing to watch as Pokey did slowly "close in" to the middle and get closer and closer to Mrs. Powers and Miss E. I have to admit, Miss E looked so small out there in the middle - it was hard to watch from the sidelines and not be right there by her, but Mrs. Powers stayed right w/her the whole time so I wasn't too worried.

Once Pokey came to the middle, Mrs. Powers put a stepstool beside her and helped Miss E climb up and mount - again, she looked so little! Miss E looked so happy to be back on a horse again. She's ridden once before, on a led around ride - 2 years ago - she looked extremely small then!

Miss E learned how to use the reins to turn Pokey and later how to get her to back up and stop.

Here she is working on turning...

Here is where Mrs. Powers moved some landscape timbers apart just wide enough for Pokey to fit and then Miss E had to turn Pokey at the right time to guide her into the area between them. She did well, and got Pokey to turn in on the second try and on the third try to turn in and then was able to get her to stop. Afterward, Miss E told Pokey to back up and out of the area between the landscape timbers and then start to walk around the pen again.

Here Miss E is rewarding Pokey for a job well done with a nice pat on the side of her neck :)

Part of the time Miss E was the only one holding the reins and Mrs. Powers was walking along just ahead of them or close to them in the middle.

Miss E had a great time and talked the whole way home about going back soon. Now to just find a money tree.....know of any?

Here's Miss E on her own!

At the end of her lesson, Miss E took her feet out of the stirrups and Mrs. Powers chatted with her for a few moments before the walk back to the barn - Mrs. Powers led Pokey with Miss E riding.

After Mrs. Powers walked Miss E and Pokey back to the barn, she helped Miss E dismount and then Miss E helped to take the saddle off and carry it (I think Mrs. Powers had most of the weight!) back to the tack room. Miss E carried the saddle blanket and put it away and then helped lead Pokey back to her stall and remove the bridle and halter.

Mrs. Powers said she did great and I hope we can go back sometime soon.

One of these days I might find the right cable and transfer some of the video to the pc and post it - maybe when CKB has a moment or two.....

My Own Skirt - Slow Start

I decided to finally give skirt-making for myself a try and with much excitement visited Jo-Ann Fabrics last week - Butterick patterns were on sale so I found some patterns that looked promising online, wrote down all the numbers and headed off to the store. Well, one thing I neglected to do was all the fun measurements (waist, hip, etc.) first. So, you guessed it, I bought the wrong sizes on some of them - oops. Silly me thinking the sizes would even be close to what I buy "ready made" in the stores!

I guess if I made a skirt in the same size as what I bought at the stores I'd never hope to fit into it! Maybe it'd fit Miss E.

Anyway, so after I realized my error, I called the store and asked if I could exchange the ones I bought that don't include my gargantuan new "sew for myself size" and they said it was no problem.

My friend over at The Zoo blogged about this very thing recently and boy, it sure sounds like she was right on the money! I can't speak for buying the same sizes as what I wore in high school, I've definitely not been doing that, but I think we are definitely shopping with rose colored glasses on sometimes :)

So, I have a trip back to JoAnn planned for this afternoon to swap sizes. Then, maybe, just maybe, I can start on the skirt. Don't get me started on the fact that I didn't buy enough material for said skirt because I was looking at the "smaller sizes" on the envelope...ahem. Guess I'll need to look for material too....not such a bad thing...except for the wasting money part of things. Ack! Maybe I'll use the material I bought previously to make matching skirts for the girls...maybe.

So, that is the saga of my skirt - one day I hope to update with good news that the skirt is done and was a successful day.

My learning on this project so far - MEASURE YOURSELF BEFORE YOU BUY YOURSELF A PATTERN!!!!

Ah well.....

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Super Fantastic Brownie Recipe! Peanut Swirl Brownies - Ina Garten

Alright, I believe I've mentioned a show I watch now and then called Barefoot Contessa with host, Ina Garten.

Well, she has outdone herself with a recently aired recipe for Peanut Swirl Brownies - I HIGHLY recommend you whip up a batch and soon! They are WONDERFUL - yummy - super fantastically good to the last crumb!

I made a batch last week and the only reason I still had some left to take to church Sunday was pure willpower and fear of gaining 10 lbs. (or more!). These are FANTASTIC!

The recipe can be found,,FOOD_9936_37343,00.html

I made a few minor changes -

The recipe calls for 1 pound plus 12 oz. semisweet choc. chips (you melt part into the batter and save some for putting into the batter unmelted after coating them in flour to help them not stick to one another). The part you set aside, I halved that amount and did half semisweet choc. and half peanut butter chips - since you're going to be swirling peanut butter on top of the brownies once you pour the batter into the pan, I thought it might be nice to carry the pb taste throughout the brownie and it definitely was!

Oh, and I didn't have "kosher salt" - does anyone? Anyway, I just used regular ol' table salt and everything turned out just fine.

That's it!

One tip - set out your unsalted butter to let it come to room temp. before you even think about starting the recipe - I took mine straight out of the fridge and it took FOREVER to melt whilst the room temp. chocolate and choc. chips melted pretty quickly.

Ok, I want to hear how it goes! And don't let the "fattening" potential worry you - just cut them small and enjoy! Then, take the rest to church on Sunday or share w/friends/family/neighbors, etc. You *can* eat just one, if you really want to! (With a glass of milk or coffee, they are fabulous also!)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Need Senior Portraits? In the Dallas area?

My niece, Angela, is a wonderful photographer and I'd like to share her website with y'all. She is looking to expand her senior portrait portfolio at present and has a special offer for you!

Here's the deal:

Angela is offering a free, no-obligation senior session (you must call to schedule by April 30th!). The session is free, and if you decide to purchase portraits, you will receive 50% OFF the creation of your portraits!

If you do schedule a session, please tell her I sent you!

Give her a call at 940-239-7366 or email at, by APRIL 30TH!

Here's a link to her site so you can see some of her wonderful work!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

You asked! We answer!

I've had some inquiries regarding the artwork for sale recently by our resident artists, Miss E and Miss A. If you missed that post, check here to catch up!

Since I didn't think about posting the images of their artwork then, here they are for all of those folks who wrote to ask me what their artwork looked like!

Here is Miss E's landscape entitled "The Countryside"

and Miss A's "Snowtime to Play"

Both were titled by the artists :)

And, drumroll please................Both pictures sold on ebay for $1.00 :) What do you know!

We sure hope their new owner is enjoying them!

I even started them their own blog titled by Miss E - Confetti Catastrophe
for future offerings (so please sign up for updates and link to their site on your own blog!) - you never know, they may earn enough to pay for a nursing home for CKB and I down the road ;)