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Saturday, April 30, 2016

Little Moments

It's been a hard week.  I may post about it later.  Right now I don't feel like talking about it.  But then there are always those moments that make everything better.  Just like when my husband sent me this picture.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Friendship Week - Margie

It seems that all my friends are God-sent.  Margie in particular came to me during a very difficult time in my life.  My dad had passed away, and I was generally lost, not sure where to go or what to do.  God swooped me up and put me in this little nest of strong spiritual people: Jerry, Dany, Debbie, Karen and of course, Margie.  While I wasn't quite sure what made these people so special, I was soon learning that they were all mature Christians.  They were all very kind, patient, wise in a wisdom that was different.  It made sense.  
Anyways, I started working for Dr. T. in his basement as he was building up a new company and I worked there every day next to lovely Margie.  And she is truly a lovely woman.  She is a great example of a Christian wife and mother.  Someone you want to imitate.  Margie patiently sat with me every lunch and ate with me and listened to me.  She did this every day.  Just listened and sat and spoke softly to me.  Gave me hope in a time when I didn't have much.  Showing me beauty in all the little things, such as a sunny day after a long winter.  Swinging on a back yard swing and just enjoying each other's company.
Margie listened to countless hours of how I met this young gentleman who was so different from the rest.  How much I liked him.  As a matter of fact, the whole office indulged me.  Jerry even took it upon himself to interview poor Dave.  :-)  
Margie helped us on our wedding day, was there for each baby born, visited my mom when she was here.  She's invited us over for dinners and lunches.  My kids play with her great-grandchildren and her granddaughters (who are my age) invite me to sit with them and talk.  
Margie is very special to us.  We haven't seen much of each other lately since I started homeschooling and I'm realizing I need to invite my friend.    That is what I will do now.  :-)

Friendship Week - Earline, My Mentor

Earline, a former missionary to Brazil, is more than a friend, she is actually my official mentor.  I met her through Apples of Gold and after she told the story of her marriage during a chapter on marriage, I knew she would be good for our family.   God was leading and did we ever benefit from following His lead.  We love this charming lady who is always praying for us and encouraging us.  Over the years, she's patiently rearranged her schedule to fit our busy lives and to be there for us.  After visiting with her, you always feel like you can take on the world and you feel strongly that you have a mission and that you are well equipped to fulfill it to its fullest.  If you ask questions that she doesn't know the answer to, she will gladly do the research for you.  She delights in listening to your spiritual growth.  And after a while of coming to my house, I found out that she also mentors to one of my other favorite people: Kim!  Earline must be pretty awesome to do that.
Funny little side story:  Her husband and her were avid rock collectors.  Her husband won quite a few awards for the beautiful rocks he cut and polished and they owned a collection that included exotic rocks from all over the world.  Their basement used to be a museum where they invited schools and homeschool groups to.  This comes in very handy when you have kids that are becoming more and more interested in rocks.  While David and I used to love combing beaches for agates, our knowledge of rocks doesn't go very far beyond that (maybe throw in some basalt, obsidian and other lava rocks).  Earline on the other hand, opened a whole new avenue for them and gifted them with incredible rocks from other places around the world.  She used them to witness to them.  This was also the perfect ending to our rock study unit this year.
Our visits have changed over the years.  She used to come to my house to have tea here but now I get to go to her place as she can't drive anymore.  She has the nicest apartment and the best coffee and always waits with a treat.  Those Thursday evenings once a month are precious to me. We talk bible and life and how to apply one to the other.  She gives me spiritual wisdom and encouragement.  And slowly I'm seeing how Jesus wants me to love those around me.
If you ask me, everyone should have a mentor.  Men, women and children.  It is amazing and truly a gift.  When I first asked Earline to become my mentor, it took everything to ask her.  I'd much rather not have asked.  But I'm glad I did.  This lady is leaving a forever imprint on our family.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Friendship Week - Melissa

Originally I started these posts according to who we visited with but then I realized that Melissa was in Texas during spring break and I really didn't want to go on without a post for her.  So the titles of previous posts are now changed to "Friendship Week" rather than "Spring Break Friendship Week".  :-)
Melissa and I got wayyyy back.  Nathan and Carter made acquaintances at a very young age.  They were about 6 months old (Nathan is a few months older), so that puts us at 9 years ago.  We were part of a Mom's club that has since dissolved and most of the ladies have moved away.  Melissa and her family toyed with the moving idea a few times as well but thankfully, they've always ended up staying here.
Melissa is a really level-headed, smart woman and I love that we are going through the same phases of parenting together.  It is nice to know your kids aren't crazy or unusual in their temper tantrums or other such things.  :-)  So many times, especially in early parenting, we would meet up all wide-eyed and thinking we've lost it only to find out that the other was going through the exact same behaviors.  Sometimes knowing that some strange and obnoxious behavior is just a phase, is just so relieving (hello tantrums!).  We always leave each other refreshed, encouraged, and happy.  :-)
What I love most about Melissa is her servant's heart.  She loves Christ and serves him wherever she can, whether she is leading her churches' Vacation Bible Camp or taking care of her husband's sick grandma.  It doesn't matter how busy she is with her own life (and life is busy with 3 boys and 2 of them being in sports), she always has time to help.  And on top of that, she never forgets your special days and shows up on your first homeschooling day with dinner!  Yep, pretty awesome.
Melissa always inspires me to be a better servant and a better friend.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Friendship Week - Tanya

Our Wednesday was reserved for another one of my very, very dear friends: Tanya.  And here I took pictures, just not of her.  I'm not doing well with this.
Nathan met Tanya's son well before I met Tanya.  Nathan and William were together in childcare while Tanya and I did the local Precepts bible studies on Tuesday mornings.  Nathan, at the time, was extremely shy and but hardly talk to other kids.  For some reason he connected with William though and the two would play every time.  Nathan, who also never tells me about things, would actually tell me about William, so I knew who he was.  
After we signed Nathan up for Christian school, Nathan and I went to the open house.  Tanya was there as well and approached me, saying that she knew me from bible study.  We quickly figured out that our boys already knew each other.  For shy Nathan it was such a relief that William would be in his class.  And sure enough, the two were inseparable in Kindergarten.  They were separated in two different classes for second grade but always kept their friendship going.  This was the only negative for Nathan debating homeschooling.  I had to promise that he would still get to see William.
Our families have done many things together over the years.  My favorite though is our summer bible studies.  One day a week they will come over to our house.  I will have tea/coffee and snacks and while the kids all play together, Tanya and I will visit and do a Beth Moore bible study together.  Our last one was Esther and it will be hard to follow up.  We both thoroughly enjoyed it after Tanya picked it based on the cover picture.  :-)  It is wonderful to have a mature Christian friend who views the world through a Christ-centered lens and to hear about parenting decisions that I'm still ahead of (such as dating).  Tanya is very focused on serving and does so through all aspects of life.  Whatever she does, it is always in service to God and to others.  Her husband and her help wherever they can and so do their children.  Our first few bible studies together with our friend Kathy, Tanya's and Kathy's kids all watched my little ones.  They entertained them and played with them and watched them so we could focus on precious bible time.  In return, we donned the nice china and provided tea and snacks.  It was and is always lovely.

Abigail M. with Cody and Isabelle.  They are great with kids and even will get dressed up for them.
While William and Nathan have their special bond, there was another very special bond that happened: Abigail and Abigail.  Tanya's oldest daughter is also an Abigail.  I never forget the first time they met.  Abby (my Abigail, for ease of understanding) was looking forward to meeting William's sister Abigail.  As Abigail M. stood in front of Abby, she had a puzzled look and exclaimed: "I thought you were a lot shorter!"  She hadn't expected a teenager.  Their friendship blossomed over the years and it is lovely to have a great female example for my Abby to look up to.  Abigail M. even has given my Abby some piano lessons.  But now perfect Abigail M. has a major flaw: She started dating.  My Abby is not sure how she feels about that.  I keep telling her how important this is and that this may be Abigail M.'s future husband.  She is gaining a friend, not loosing one.  It is a hard concept to grasp for an 8-year old.

Hannah M. and my Hannah.  Apparently Hannah's have blue eyes....
Tanya's middle daughter is Hannah.  Hannah is a very lovely girl, very quiet and very talented.  She is a great artist who also loves horses.  Hannah is very sweet and loves to sit with adults and listen to them.  She is also very helpful and will watch kids whenever needed.  She always has a smile on her face.  Hannah also enjoys her mother's excellent works of sewing, such as bags.  She has sported some of the nicest school bags that her mom made her.  She feels genuine joy for others, e.g. when we had baby Hannah.  She already has her parent's helpful spirit and babysits during the summer with her older sister, where they not only babysit and entertain kids, but also help with chores.

William and Nathan have an unspoken bond.  They love to be wild boys and play football, which is William's sport.  They will play outside, no matter how rainy or muddy it is (we have the laundry to proof it!).  When they play, all you hear is laughter.  While they play physically, they are never very too wild or break things, which isn't all that common among boys their age as I'm learning.
William is a hard-working young man who is very polite.  He has become quite strong over the years, which at some point really surprised Nathan (when Williams was able to do more pull-ups than Nathan even though he hadn't practiced).  Although William does have one fault: His favorite football team are the Dallas Cowboys....  :-)

flowers from Tanya.

I didn't get a picture of Tanya!  You will have to imagine her just like Beth.  Both Beth and Tanya are very wise.  They are mature in their faith and in their parenting. Both of them are loyal.  Tanya is also a very gifted crafter.  Her works are amazing.  Her craft of choice is sewing but she dabbles in other crafts as well.  She usually gets a table for the Christmas tea at the school every year and goodness, you should see her tables!  They look fantastic.  I love Tanya's love of God's Word, Precepts bible studies and Beth Moore.  :-)  We both ooh and aah over our bible studies and it is fun to have a friend to do that with.  She is gifted when it comes to gift giving (pun intended).  Her family and her always give the perfect gifts for everyone in our family.  They are usually well thought out and match the person and their personality.  I'm grateful that God has granted me such lovely friends and I cherish them deeply.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Friendship Week - Beth

Unfortunately I have no pictures!  Every time we get together, I forget to take pictures.
This spring break we had play dates with our friends every week.  Our first day we met with my friend Beth and her family.  I love Beth.  She is wise and a treasure trove of resources.  Plus, she has kids that match my kids in ages.  With 4 kids, that is pretty awesome.  And our kids get along well! Beth is really the one who inspired me to homeschool.  We met years ago at an Apples of Gold event from our church (if you ever have a chance to go, GO!).  All the women in this group got along so well and Beth, myself and another lady, Kendra, all had kids the same ages (at this time I only had Nathan and Abby).  For the rest of the summer, we'd meet up at a local playground/park and let the kids play while we talked about parenting, school, marriage, faith, cooking and all sorts of important things in life.  Beth has become very dear to me and we try to meet regularly.  She is one of the busiest ladies I know as well.  She is one of the leaders of our local homeschool co-op.  She is part of a life-group and regularly visits her out-of-town family or hosts them.  She keeps up with all of her friends faithfully, especially a group of girls from college. She is loyal to her friends and makes time for all of them, no matter how busy life gets.  This shows in all her close friendships she's kept over the years.  She is a people-oriented person.  (I'm task-oriented, so I learn a lot from Beth.)  She makes meals from scratch.  She homeschools.  We have the same faith.  Her kids are well-behaved and they help daily with housework.  She's one of those super moms whose life couldn't be any busier but yet her life is organized and she does things the right way, no short-cuts.
As you can guess, she is the one I got most of my information about homeschooling.  Beth is very smart (she co-authors math books) but doesn't overdo things.  Exactly what I needed the first year.  I loved the system she went through (a school district in our state who pays for your choice of curriculum as long as you report to them).  She also familiarized me with the writing system we use, the math we use and part of our science curriculum.  We showed me our spelling program and a reading system.  She gave me her weekly planner and helped me write my first student learning plans.  If my kids are all messed up by the end of homeschooling, I'll blame her.  :-)
Beth has four lovely kids: Katiree, who is the oldest, loves to quilt, knit and play volleyball.  Abigail quite enjoys following her older friend and got her love for the Annie soundtrack from Katiree.  Tate and Zane follow next and they love Legos, Nerf guns, basketball and soccer.  Nathan loves to play Nerf guns with them or just run around or bike ride at the park.  Kezia, is Isabelle's side kick and the two of them get along so well.  Kezia also adores baby Hannah.  Always has, ever since Hannah was born and she got to hold her.  Beth's kids are very polite and I have enjoyed watching them grow up over the years.  My kids always look forward to play dates with the A. family.  For a while, when the kids were in school, it was always hard for Abby and Nathan that they couldn't go visit.  Another things that got better through homeschooling.  :-)
Thanks Beth, you are awesome!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Big Brother Love

Hannah has a really simple bedtime routine and she's a great baby to put to bed.  She gets a fresh diaper, PJs and a little story.  Then she gets tucked into her bed and we make a fuss because she's using Dada's pillow.  She's snuggled into her blanket, gets some books and on occasion a stuffed animal.  That's it.  She'll read for a while, sometimes up to an hour, but quietly.
On one particular night Nathan just thought Hannah was so cute, that he couldn't tear himself away from her.  So he opted to read her a story.  Or two.  Possibly three.  It's hard to tear yourself away when you are being adored.  Hannah adores her siblings and having Nathan snuggle with her in her bed, was just the best.

Just look at the adoring looks she gives her brother.  And Nathan has happiness written all over his face.

Goodnight Moon to start the night with.

On to Alice in Bibleland.  Hannah has such great expressions on her face.

Nathan becoming aware of her adoring looks and loving every minute of it.

Nee-nee (as well call him since Isabelle could not pronounce his name when she was little) and Hanny giggling.

Having a big brother is just the best!  Love is the greatest.


I love me some chalkboards.  The fake kind with markers.  :-)  However, my handwriting is lacking quite a bit (apparently German's don't put much emphasis on that, or at least at the school by my old home didn't).  Nevertheless, we decorate with them.

Abby wrote this for me.  The kids should be reminded of this daily, that they are a workmanship for good work.

Not a chalkboard but looks similar.  It is from French Press Mornings.  I love them.  You used to be able to just print them (that is not the case anymore).  Bible verses and pretty backgrounds are my very favorite decoration.

This is from Doorposts, one of their coloring books.  

This was from Kim Sorgius's blog, Not Consumed.  I loved those 3 questions and reference them often.

This is a great reminder of what our speech should represent.  THINK before you speak.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Some of my Favorite Things

One of my two favorite mugs.  That blue is my favorite color.  I love watching cream diffuse into coffee.  When you first splash the cream into the dark brew and the colors tango with one another.  It is just fascinating to me.  Here is the funny part.  Coffee isn't really all that great and I wish I didn't drink it.  Yet I can't get myself to stop.  It's not good for me since I drink more than I should.  But I've lost the love once held by tea, so there is no alternative and that is scary.  What hot beverage can soothe the harshness of a cold morning?  One of my friends has disciplined herself to drinking hot water.  That would be great.  I'd loose a few pounds from not having a ton of creamer.  :-)

Our front window and the lace curtains.  Love lace curtains.  They break the harshness of the sun light and make it look lovely.  Give you enough privacy without taking away your view.

Little things all over my house.  Love those.  And their tiny toes and cute hands and how they sit backwards on the couch.  How they wear their bath robes over their clothes.  How they love turbans on their heads like their mama did before them.  How they are just so squishy and adorable and cute.

Windows!  Love the large windows in our home that make our house so bright.  Plus the window clings that Abby made.  The picture came out bad but the three on the left are frogs, then two dogs, a hot air balloon and an airplane.  They make me happy.  So do bird houses outside that home little birds.  And yes, my windows are dirty.  

Little toes.  The best. 

Love-hate.  Love Nerf guns because no matter how many boys are at your house, they all love to play with these.  Hate them because there are Nerf guns and bullets all over the place.

Love!  The dog.  Cute little smushy face.  He looks sad.  But he isn't.  That is just his face.  His butt always wiggles.

Some Books We Are Reading

Here are some of the books currently being read at our house:

Betty G. Birney's Humphrey's series is lovely!  Humphrey is a little classroom hamster and has all sorts of adventures as he goes home with students on the weekends.  He gets to know the kids and their families and some of their challenges.  He helps families as he can (for example he unplugs a family's TV set that they are glued to and the family reconnects).  Humphrey is sweet and caring.  Abby and I read The World According to Humphrey together as our read aloud.  It's easy to read, fun and sweet.  Perfect for a second grader who eats books for breakfast.

Nathan started reading this series at school.  He went to a Christian school, so I trusted that the books would be good reads.  He is devouring them, reading sometimes three 300-page books in a week (and then going some weeks without reading).  It is overwhelming for me to keep track of what they are reading, especially since none of these books are what I read in Germany when growing up.  This series would have not been my first choice, had I not trusted the school.  It deals with animals and the author(s) take a nature mysticism point of view.  Since they are animals, they do not act as humans would or should.  In Seekers for example, there is little bear who is always thinking about how nice it would be to live without his sick brother. 
 On the positive side, it does teach him about the struggles animals go through, such as scarce food sources, etc.  And it has him reading.  I've since done my research and picked two series to read with him after this book and seeing if we can't get him reading something else (Mismantle Chronicles by M. I. McAllister as well as the Kingdom Series by Chuck Black).  I also have not read enough of this series to give a full review.  Keep that in mind.

Hannah is learning about colors and body parts.  Her favorite?  Armpits!  They get tickled and she loves it.  She enjoys animal books the most and points them out and squeals in delight.  

Isabelle is reading various books from the library.  Her favorites are still Berenstain Bears.  Her current favorite is the Prized Pumkin.  We are big fans of the Berenstein Bears and there is probably one for just about any issue you encounter with your kids.  Well, most anyways.  Plus, at less than $4 a piece, they make excellent stocking stuffers and presents from siblings.  Amazon currently has 3 free apps that read Berenstain Bears books to your kids.  
Isabelle also told me she only likes animal books, not people, so we try to oblige.  One of her all-time favorites is Little Bear by Elsa Homelund-Minerik and her favorite story is of a goblin who looses his shoes.  These stories are sweet as well and are all about animals and family and friends.
Both Berenstein Bears and Little Bear are part of our home library.

This is one of the books we just got from the library.  It teaches about plants and animals, living in the swamps and teaches how to count at the same time.  The illustrations are fantastic.  This is definitely a book I'd consider to actually keep.

Gardening for Beginners IR

We borrowed this from the library for Abby and myself.  It's a great book!  It goes over gardening basics and then over the complete care of some common garden plants.  I like that it focuses on some plants total care, rather than just general instructions.  The illustrations are pretty and colorful, exactly what would attract a budding gardener with red hair.  :-)

I splurged and got myself this book after starting to read the library's copy.  It quickly became apparent that this is a book you'd want a copy of.  Great encouragement and wonderful ideas on how to make your home a haven along with examples of what the Clarkson family did.  The books is also very encouraging.  There are many that are making you think: "Man, do I stink compared to those people."  This is not one of them. The authors continually remind you that it is hard to parent and encourage you to add little by little.  There is a workbook that goes along with the book but I haven't started it yet.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Fixing Man

Not many things warm my heart more than David and Nathan fixing things around the house.  One this particular day, David taught Nathan how to change a damaged pull-cord on a lawnmower and thereby saving $80 to have it done by someone else.  I am proud of my guys!

Whose got the cutest nephew?

My brother Alexander and his pretty wife Kathrin on their way to a wedding with my want-to-eat-you-up-cause-you're-so-stinking-cute son Noah.  

Sailboats and a Raft

My sister-in-law Megan had recommended an great chopping tool (potato crinkle cutter) that lets her daughters safely chop veggies.  I ordered one for our girls and do they ever love it!  That tool in combination with Abby recently taking her second Chopped Jr. cooking class at Friday School, inspired her to make her own recipe.  She spends a long time making tiny chops of carrots and cheese.  She cuts big pieces of celery and fills them with these tiny chops.  Then she added a bit of parsley we had in the fridge and garnished them with a mayonnaise/sour cream dressing I had on hand from a macaroni salad.  It was yummy and healthy and pretty looking!  She has made it for me twice now and I love it!  She even named them.  Sailboats and a raft.

Abby and her note asking if she can make her "speical" recipe.

My cook.  When she is not cooking, she is always reading.  And has messy hair.  :-)  I love that girl!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016


Nathan is at the age where sleepovers are requested more and more.  Many of our friends don't participate in sleepovers but our neighbor, Treuce, is a big fan.  Since we've known his parents for a long time, we agreed to have Nathan spend the night there.  In the past few years, they've had occasional sleepovers.  They probably ask us just about every weekend but it is a rare treat.  On this particular weekend Dave's baseball team had two events at the field and we ended up taking four additional boys to our house in between.  They had a blast (pun intended) with Nerf guns (best investment for boys ever) and played for hours without fighting.  As we returned to the field, the regularly asked question came up and Dave and I agreed, much to the surprise of Nathan.  :-)  Another boy who had spent the day earlier ask to come along and we agreed.  Thanks to Oma we now have a big couch that can actually sleep up to five!  So three boys was no problem.  
Once we had the boys at our house, they immediately went back to Nerf gun fighting, only interrupted by a short Minecraft adventure where the boys shared their built "things" with each other.  Then back to Nerf gun fighting it was.  After a small snack in between, the kids pulled out the couch and settled down with a baseball movie (the Sandlot).  They had a lot of fun and Nathan definitely cherished this boy time. 

Nathan and Logan building a "fort" of sorts at the top of the stairs.  Since there were three boys, they did a great job of splitting up and rotating as to who fought who.

Treuce with the granade launcher.  I'm sure it has a different name.  That's what I call it.

Nathan helping Logan to hide under various blankets and pillows.

As you can see, our house has turned in a Nerf testing ground facility.  Yep, don't buy the Retaliator.   It keeps jamming bullets after a short while.  The Modulus on the other hand is a total hit.  Just ask me if you need to know!

Homeschooling Snippits

Clipboards.  We use those for on the couch writing.  Nathan in particular loves doing school on the couch.  I prefer them writing on the table but when there is just little writing and for bible study, we write on the couch.

Nathan doing his math.  Nathan is such a creature of habit and has still not gotten used to our change from Abeka to Singapore Math (Primary Mathematics).  
Our map in the background.  We do map work through The Story of the World's Activity Guide.  We work with the map to show what area of the world we are talking about.  The map is also regularly used with stories, other books or when people tell us of places they went to.

Our history timeline chart.  This is a section of the chart we are currently working on in history.  We are just finishing up the ancient world.  We have been intensely working with the Roman Empire and Nathan found that his favorite ancient figure is Julius Caesar.  

The little ones play really well together now.  They usually are pretty quiet when we do school except for the occasional days.  It helps that Isabelle has someone to play with now.  It was very hard for her at the beginning of the year when she didn't know how to play with Hannah.

Hanny and Bob.  Yep, the minion whose name she spoke before she ever said "Mama."  Hanny loves Bob.  She sleeps with him frequently, alongside kitties and dogs, whom she equally loves.

Isabelle making a bed for herself.  While we all slave, she is able to take a nap.  Hopefully she knows how lucky she is.  'Cause I want to sleep.  As the Etsy shirt said: "Dear Naps, I'm sorry I was a jerk when I was young."

We use various online sites for math, such as Khan Academy, MobyMax, and others.  Next year I'd like to get the kids a subscription to IXL again.  Here Abby is drilling multiplication.  While she is ahead in her math, she is slow at multiplication and addition.  We are trying to remedy that by drilling every day.

The rest of the history chart.

Some other places where we stopped at recently: The Gupta Empire, China's first emperor.  I love that our program (Story of the World) encompasses all of the world.

Isabelle's reading program.  She started Hooked on Phonics, just like Nathan and Abby before her.  She is doing a great job.  While she is lacking confidence, she can actually read.  I would love to get her reading through the summer.  It would help so much if she could read by the time we are starting homeschooling 3 kids.

This week we are having spring break and I do miss homeschooling.  While I love the fact that I can sleep in, I miss sitting together with my children and learning.  We have found our rhythm and it is working pretty well.  There are things to be adjusted and so we will but for right now, it is pretty awesome.  We were really fortunate to get such good recommendations on curricula and have only exchanged Nathan's spelling program and a small daily reading comprehension program.  Plus, we are adding a small literary genres program.  Everything else, especially the big stuff, has worked out great and both kids and mom love the programs.  And that alone is a feat for Nathan and Abby as they are such opposites.  This is where I think it helped tremendously that they had attended school previously.  They have learned a certain set of expectations and that helps to channel it into the curricula we have picked. 
Looking back at the year so far, it has been exhausting.  But to be honest, they say your first year is your hardest (especially with a little one who likes to leave messes everywhere).  And there were some rough patches as we all got used to homeschooling, mourned the loss of friends from school and were sad that siblings didn't want to play what we wanted to play during recess (at school someone is always available).  Yet we also figured out how to play with our siblings (even younger ones when the older ones didn't want to play), how to entertain ourselves (reading), how to be a helpful part with chores, that homeschoolers almost always get off earlier than regular school children, and quite frankly, that we love homeschooling with each other!

Monday, April 4, 2016


Isabelle doing her hair in a fancy kind of way.
"I'm going to the bar!"
Mama: "You are going where??????"
Isabelle: "To the bar."
Mama: "Let's not go to the bar."
Isabelle: "No, to the bar.  Like Cinderella did."
Mama, relieved: "Oh!  You mean the ball!"

Wow!  We dodged that one!

(Dress like a pirate day at Krispy Kreme 2 years ago - thought it would be fitting for a bar joke...)

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Pho and Friends

Two years ago, at the beginning of baseball season, we realized that one of the kids on Nathan's team lived on our road!  We didn't even know there were kids in that house.  It was very exciting to realize that there may be a possible friendship for Nathan in the neighborhood as we had always mourned the lack of kids in our street.
Two baseball seasons later and now going into our third together, we have become good friends.  Treuce (Nathan's friend) has a little sister, Eunice, who plays really nice with the girls.  Lintha and Jeff, Treuce's parents, have unfortunately decided to build a house in another town.  This is causing great sadness, especially for Nathan.  This summer, the boys have connected even more than before, so it is sad to see them move.  We'll just have to squeeze all the friendship out of it while they are still here.
One of the things I wanted to learn from Lintha was how to make her delicious Pho.  She is Laotian and makes one mean Pho.  The first time she made it, she had me day-dreaming of the Pho for two whole days!  
We've since made it for other friends as well and they all seem to like it.  It is perfect for entertaining because it makes one big huge pot that can feed an army. Everyone can personalize their bowl to their liking and so it is easy to feed to many people with different tastes.  Your base is basically a beef bone broth (and who doesn't like that?) that you add rice noodles to (also anti-inflammatory - so that is good) and then whatever toppings you choose.  Lintha usually offers different spicy peppers (including Thai), different onions (green and white, chopped), Thai basil, cilantro, lime slices, different sauces (such as Hoisin and Sriracha), meatballs and thinly sliced beef, sugar, dehydrated garlic flakes, chili flakes, and whatever else she has at hand.  It is a feast, to be sure.

Lintha, the fabulous cook and her mother-in-law.

Lintha's son, Treuce, who is more interested in our Wii than his mother's fabulous Pho.  Kids!  :-)

Jeff and Dave enjoying some Pho.  Even Dave loves this and he is as meat and potatoes guy as you will ever meet.  He likes his with noodles, thinly sliced beef, lime juice and no Hoisin.

So, get to know your neighbors!  They may have your next favorite meal cooking.