Friday, April 29, 2011

Poetry Friday: A Fairy in Armor

Here's my contribution to Poetry Friday (hosted here) this week. I found it and read it to the girls on Tuesday after they'd spent the first hour of their day out on the patio, making enormous bubbles and being serenaded by the mourning doves. They informed me that "when bubbles are blown, fairies are born." 

A  Fairy In Armor

He put his acorn helmet on;
It was plumed of the silk of thistle down;
The corslet plate that guarded his breast
Was once the wild bee’s golden vest;
His cloak, of a thousand mingled dyes,
Was formed of the wings of butterflies;
His shield was the shell of a lady-bug green,
Studs of gold on a ground of green;
And the quivering lance which he brandied bright,
Was the sting of a wasp he had slain in fight.
Swift he bestode his fire-fly steed;
He bared his blade of the bent-grass blue;
He drove his spurs of the cockle-seed,
And away like a glance of thought he flew,
To skim the heavens and follow far
The fiery trail of the rocket star.

                                 By Joseph Rodman Drake

Kind of an unusual fairy, no? Think he looks as resplendent as Prince William did in his dress uniform this morning?

This week we ... 

... finished reading Ginger Pye, me with a lump in my throat and a fond gaze at our own dog.
... played Animal Yahtzee  - such a fun way to do elementary math!
... dug for worms and watched a mother bird feed her babies in our back yard.
... watched Popular Mechanics for Kids: Gators and Dragons and Other Wild Beasts
... found more logic puzzles at

And we'll be camping with friends this weekend, continuing to pray for rain once the trip is over. Whether you have big plans or small ones, may your weekend be happy and safe!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Royal Wedding Conversation

(No photos here, since all the Kate-William photos are copyrighted out the wazoo. Click here if you need a visual aid.)

This morning, I showed the girls a photo of Prince William and Kate Middleton. We will, of course, be watching the blessed event via the magic and mystery of DVR. How many times in a little girl's lifetime do fairytales come true? (And as for the happily-ever-after part, we can hope for the best.)

Caroline [rather disappointed tone]: He doesn't look like a real prince.

Me: You think so? Hmm. What about Kate? Does she look like a real princess?

Caroline: No.

Me: Why's that?

Caroline: A real princess would be wearing a poufy gown with sparkly things on it.

Maybe she'll change her mind when she sees the tiara?

(Free William and Kate paper dolls to print out here.)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

What I Wore Wednesday - Redux

Much to my amusement, not only did a few of you send some kind comments my way after last Wednesday's What I Wore post inspired by The Pleated Poppy blog hop ... but also, a couple of you asked for more! From the girl who used to wear itchy knee socks held up on her skinny legs by rubber bands! Wonders never cease.

In case you're wondering, I still feel silly taking pictures of myself and posting them. Working through it, one deep cleansing breath at a time. And yes, our dresser top is often cluttered. Can we still be friends?

Question: Why bother making the effort to dress nicely? Isn't inner beauty enough? And what if no one outside your family sees you anyway?

Answer: In my personal opinion: If you're single ... best foot forward, sweets! Yes, it's what's on the inside that counts, but a little external polish never hurts your case. If you're married ... why let yourself go? Without obsessing about it, I like the Professor to know that he's still worth the effort. :-)

Now, without further ado ...

Skirt: Gap
Eggplant top: Old Navy
Sandals: Clarks
Necklace: The Vintage Pearl (last year's Mother's Day gift, yea!)

Black knit dress:  Banana Republic (from consignment shop)
Red sandals: Born (gift from my mom a couple birthdays ago)
Vintage butterfly necklace: Not So Dotty

Tuesday (bad photo, sorry)
white T-shirt: Gap outlet
Empire waist top: random brand (consignment shop)
denim capris: Old Navy
Glittery flip-flops: Reef
Necklace: Target

Stretch polo: Lady Hathaway (Costco impulse buy:-))
Skirt: Old Navy
Chunky necklace: Sam Moon 
Metallic sandals: Target

And now, a little bonus for you ...

Dress: Lands' End
Flip flops: Old Navy
Scarf: Mama's fabric scraps, baby! I think this was a sofa pillow?

Parting thought: A friend was having a clothing crisis recently, and her gallant husband chivalrously googled "apple body type" (she is not a rectangle like me!) and came up with tons of helpful links, including YouTube videos. If you're at a loss, doing so might help you as well. Here's a link to help you determine your shape. 

Also, lots of inspiration available from the links at The Pleated Poppy

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tuesday Travels: Create a Travel Binder

Do you ever leaf through a travel magazine or newspaper section, spy an alluring destination, commit it to memory for the day when time and money allow, and then, in a matter of minutes/hours/days, find that the name of that charming B&B/scenic drive/educational experience/trip of a lifetime has completely ... transmeltified? Vanishized? Dipsappeared?

Enter The Travel Book. This is simple a three-ring binder, replete with page protectors, where I shove all my travel-related hopes and dreams. (Unless I read about them online. Then I bookmark them on Del.ic.ious.)

The Travel Book has four sections.
Section One: Packing Lists!
I've printed lists from and lists for the kids from House on Hill Road.

Keeping them in page protectors means they're easy to mark off, erase with fine-tip dry-erase markers, and reuse.

Section Two: Texas.

Here's where I keep brochures for the state park system (we have an annual membership) and promotional materials for various day/road trip destinations. Most of these trips are easily doable on a weekend.

Section Three: U.S.A.
Right now this section includes articles about St. Augustine, FL, Staunton, VA, Park City, UT, etc.

Hmmmm .... Park City, UT. I'll be gazing at that page with slobber galore come July. Good thing it's in a page protector.

(Of course, if I were truly intelligent like my friend Nicole, I'd have figured out a way to skedaddle to coastal Canada for half of every summer. But true intelligence eludes me.)

Section Four: International.

This is where I stow helpful articles on glamorous destinations found in a galaxy far, far away. Like the Dominican Republic. You just never know when duty will call, and it's good to be prepared.

There's also an Animal Tracking Guide in here, hoping I'll remember to tote it along on the next camping trip.

Do you have some way of keeping track of future (or imaginary) travel plans? And is there anything I should add to my binder?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Multitude Monday XIX: The Great Outdoors

There are times, in the life of a family, when both parties of Congress, the FDA, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Surgeon General all agree: everyone needs to get outside.

Times when you need to bid sayonara to the lure of the screen, the plug, the household maintenance chores, the nitty-gritty errands that will consume your Saturday if allowed.

Times to feel the wind on your face and the spray on your back.

Times to hang with the big girls.

Times to let go of the leash and see if your companion will follow.

Times to feast your eyes on the common wonders of the natural world.

And, of course, times to eat some Rudy's Barbecue with your fingers. 

Feeling thankful today for ...

#196. The sun, the wind, the lake, the rocky beach. 

197. Shell souvenirs still clanking around in the back of the van. 

198. A generous friend with a sailboat. 

199. This: Sometimes I regret the experiences I can't offer my kids right now. They're growing so fast, and they're not going to the theater (unless it's free and outdoors), taking music lessons, spending weeks at overnight camp, or running barefoot out of my grandmother's beach house. But if what they need to be happy, fulfilled people can be found during a day in the sunshine, hunting for shells and jumping in the waves with family and a cast of other adults who love them ... then they have what they need most. 

And, by the way ...

200. A husband who cheerfully watches Masterpiece dramas with me. We just finished both seasons of Cranford. If you love anything Jane Austen, this series,  based on Elizabeth Gaskell's novels (roughly contemporaneous to Ms. Austen's), are a must-see. Judi Dench. Imelda Staunton. What more can I say? 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sunday Inspiration: He is Risen!

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has regenerated us unto a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead ..." 1 Peter 1:3

In our family, we call this day Resurrection Day or Resurrection Sunday. With all due respect for others' family traditions, the kids understand that the resurrection of our Savior really has nothing to do with fertility goddesses, fluffy bunnies or colored eggs (coloring eggs happens on another day for us). 

What it does mean is that Jesus' sacrifice worked -- He paid the price to atone for our sins, and His resurrection was the receipt, saying that both God and the law were satisfied. 

It means that it was "not possible for Him to be held by death." (Ian reminded us at the breakfast table of Aslan breaking loose of his ropes at the Stone Table.)

And now He offers this same indestructible life -- this living hope -- to all who will receive this free gift.

Sounds pretty awesome, if you ask me.  

Friday, April 22, 2011

What We're Up To

As a relaxed, eclectic homeschooler who battles a tendency to anxiety, sometimes it just helps to write it all down. Are we doing enough? (Susie Homeschool Blogger accomplishes so much more [always a sign of wackadoo thinking].) Are they learning? Am I making every moment count?

Relax, girl. They're wired to learn. And so are you! 

So for my own review, and your idle curiosity, here's where our learning adventures took us this week.

Bible: Stories from the Book of Acts (Egermeier's Bible Story Book). AWANA memory work.

History: The World of Columbus and Sons. Just one chapter. Not our most historical week. Till Year's Good End (Middle Ages picture book for the girls.) Discussion of Passover.

Science:  Popular Mechanics for Kids: Lightning and Other Forces of Nature (DVD). This inertia experiment with eggs. Resulting hijinks in the front yard with dissecting hardboiled eggs. This interactive physics simulation of crashing vehicles. Discussion of Marie and Pierre Curie. Ranger Rick magazine.
Green Hour at the creek. (Gosh, and I always feel like a slacker when it comes to science.)

Math: Singapore Math (Ian.) Logic puzzles from Braingle.comLearning Resources Dino Math Tracks Place Value Game. iPad Games: "Monster Squeeze," "Math Ninja," and everyone's favorite: Rocket Math.
Note: Rocket Math, played by all three kids, is made by the same folks who bring us two other favorites: Stack the States and Stack the Countries.

Poetry: "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening." And, on its anniversary Monday, "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere."

GeographyFamilies of Russia (Families of the World) (DVD). Geography club meeting on Russia. Trip to local Russian market. Russia mapwork, followed by ...

It's a salt dough map of Russia, made entirely by himself. Can you see the pride oozing from his pores?

Read-AloudsPied Piper of AustinIsland of the Blue Dolphins (to Ian; after our success with Hatchet, we're following up with a survival-book theme of sorts). Ginger Pye (to the girls). We felt like Ginger Pye was an appropriate follow-up to the tale of that other Cranbury family, The Moffats. Those Pyes and Moffats from the days of yore, they sure are free-range kids! Plus, this one features, centrally, a dog. And the relationship between its siblings protagonists, Jerry and Rachel, reminds me so much of these guys:

Also, their mother, Mrs. Pye, "never scolds." So in that way, she's just like me!

And if you believe that, I have a pig in a poke to sell you.

Personal Reading: 
Ian: Ginger PyeThe Red Pyramid (The Kane Chronicles, Book 1). Clubhouse magazine.
Eliza: I ain't exactly sure. But she made an excellent batch of cornbread last night!
Caroline: Go, Dog. Go! 
Me: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food LifeThe Fellowship of the RingLife Study of Matthew.

WritingThe Complete Writer: Writing with Ease. Letter to one of our Compassion kids.

Music: Classical Kids: Tchaikovsky Discovers America. Russian folksongs on YouTube.

Art: Happens all the time. In particular, Ian spent hours carefully drawing Star Wars clone troopers.

Audiobooks: Novacom Saga (Adventures in Odyssey)Henry and the Paper RoutePeter Pan.

It may look like a lot (and I'm probably forgetting a few things), but be not deceived: Our days are hardly a tightly scheduled machine. We all do chores. We do things that look like wasting time. We lie on the floor and stare off into space sometimes. We have interruptions. And yet ... learning happens, all the time. Life is good.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What I Wore Wednesday

Okay, y'all, I admit to feeling a little silly posting all these pictures of myself taking pictures of myself.


A sweet reader asked in the comments of my "How to Pack a Suitcase" post, "Could you also please write a post for a thirty-something who finds herself wearing the exact same thing that a few fifty somethings are wearing, but won't look good in twenty something clothing anymore and has a super hard time putting any clothes together, hates shopping and has a goodwill sized budget?"

At first, I thought: Girl, you're barking up the wrong tree. I'm not exactly an authority on all things fashion. But I hear you on the Goodwill sized budget!

Then I discovered The Pleated Poppy's "What I Wore Wednesday" series. Lindsey of TPP started this to motivate herself to get out of her holey yoga pants in the morning and pull herself together. Now, she can probably help you far more than I can. But, just to enter into the collegial spirit of things, I thought I'd try it out this week. 

Three things you should know about how I dress: 

1. I don't have to look like a "country glam fashionista," to quote my friend Aubrey (who is one), but I do my best to feel at least presentable, if only out of respect for the career I have chosen: mothering and facilitating the education of three human beings. 

2. I'd like my two daughters to grow up with some idea that dressing modestly need not entail denim jumpers. They live in a culture that encourages girls to bare as much as possible as young as possible. Can they find the place where modesty and attractiveness meet? Gosh, I hope so. (Says David, fighting Goliath with her sling full of five smooth cardigans.)

3. I almost never spend more than $20 for a piece of clothing. Often, far less. Swimsuits and shoes are the exception. 

So, here we go. 

Sunday: Church meeting and picnic.
3/4 sleeve cardi: Target
flowered top: Old Navy
ruffled scarf: Gap outlet
black capris: Ann Taylor (bought at Savers)
metallic ballet flats: Born (my favorite!)

Monday: Hangin' with the kiddos
3/4 sleeve cardi: Target (yes, the same one)
flowered tank top: Old Navy
denim capris: Eddie Bauer
flip-flops: Chaco (faded but oh so comfy)
flower pin: made it myself

Tuesday: Kids, taekwondo, book club
3/4 sleeve cardi: Old Navy
white embroidered tank: Old Navy (no, this post is not sponsored by Old Navy!)
khaki capris: Gap (from thrift store)
glitter flip-flops: Reef
butterfly necklace: Not So Dotty (Etsy, handmade)

Wednesday: Geography club, Farmer's market
short sleeve cardi: J. Crew (from consignment shop)
white tank: Gap
capris: Old Navy
glittery flip-flops: Reef
necklace: Target, a few years ago. 

Whew. Does that help? Can I go hide behind the camera now and talk about books now? :-)