Do You Drink Coffee?

If you make your own, then save your coffee grounds!  Here are a few earth-friendly ways to dispose of them:

  • Sprinkle around garden beds and plants before watering for a slow-release source of nitrogen
  • Mix into new soil for gardens or plants
  • Add to your compost pile (if, of course, you have one) along with the filter and/or tea bags (they break down quickly when composting)
  • Mix with water for liquid fertilizer
  • And worms love coffee grounds too, so be sure to share with them

Despite the heat and severe drought we are experiencing in Texas right now, my herbs are growing beautifully, and have become bigger and a deeper green with the addition of my daily coffee grounds.  A necessary start to my day just become even less of a guilty pleasure now that I can responsibly “recycle” what’s left behind!

“C”hallenging “C” Week

Our “C” week was one of those weeks where you find yourself glad you homeschool because nothing works out quite like you plan, no matter how hard you try to keep to a schedule, it just doesn’t happen, and yet, despite it all, your child learns everything you hope for simply because you can make it work however it fits best.
We read about the Columbine Fairy this week and Alex took a particular interest in the lovely illustration in the flower fairies book (first time he’s really looked at the book).  He loved it when we got to the part about this week’s saint, St. Cecelia.  He pronounces it “Ceeeee-sila”!  Funny because I know he can say Cecelia if you ask him.
He now starts his week with a request for his Do-A-Dot art page, even though we don’t actually color it until Thursday.  In fact, he is so insistent that I started printing him out other Do-A-Dot art sheets and he proudly hangs them on the wall with his letters.  Here is this week’s C Do-A-Dot art:
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I found a super-cute Ten Commandment’s Train Set at Christian Preschool Printables that I printed on milk filters for the felt board.  Of course if it goes on the feltboard, Alex loves it:
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We did a Montessori exercise of carrying a chair, which at first I thought would be a little silly since he’s been carrying around his little blue chairs for months.  It was very interesting to see how closely he attempted to lift and move his chair, just like I did, once I actually demonstrated the proper way to carry a chair.  It’s hard sometimes to remember that many of the activities I do around the house without much preparation or thought, are learning tools for little minds.
We did the Catholic Icing craft “C” is for Crucifix.  I found the cross for $1.00 at Michael’s Craft Store and Alex really enjoyed coloring and gluing the picture of Jesus onto the cross:
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We had a great time exploring a few of our new Usborne Books including the Picture Atlas where we learned about the Universe, and the Look Inside Science where we learned a little about what science is.  He did the lessons all over again with Daddy this weekend and without missing a beat he can tell you all the planets, in the correct order.  Maybe he’ll grow up to be an astronomer.
We had some great reads this week which included:
  • Curious George
  • The Cat Club
  • Castles
  • Inside the Castle
  • Clever Aisha (from Stories Around the World)
  • Camping Out (from Farmyard Tales)
  • Caps for Sale
  • Crictor
  • Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (we’ll never get far away from this book)
  • … and the list goes on
We baked chocolate chip cookies, which Alex proudly proclaimed were for “when daddy comes home”.  He waited all afternoon to hear the garage door open so he could share a cookie!
And of course we couldn’t have finished “C” week without a few dinosaurs starting with C…we played the dinosaur fishing game and we haven’t quit since.  My version of the dinosaur fishing game was ridiculously easy – we have a sea creatures puzzle that comes with a wooden fishing pole that has a magnet attached to the end.  We have a dinosaur memory game that has a bunch of small cards with different dinosaurs on them.  Put a paper clip on the cards, take the wooden fishing pole, and Go Fish!
So ends our C week along the alphabet path…it was with great excitement that we opened our box of Scholastic books today, just in time for D week!

Baked Alaska!

I owe you a post all about “C” week, I know.  But I have so many things to blog about and so little time!  Or, really, I just can’t wait to post about my beautiful birthday cake and cake almost always takes precedence over everything else in the world, so here are some yummy shots of my first-ever taste of Baked Alaska. 
Note: I’ve waited thirty-something years for this, but it was worth every bite. I’ll be forever grateful that Dad possesses those cooking skills you need for an endeavor such as this or I’d be waiting another thirty-something years to try it.

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Y.U.M.  Need I say more?  There’s an entire, beautiful half of cake left in my freezer, calling out to me…You’ll have to stare longingly at my cake and wait until tomorrow to learn about our adventures during “C” week.

Birthdays

I love birthdays.
  1. They are a celebration of life.  I love life.
  2. They include my family.  I love my family.
  3. I usually get at least one book.  I love books.  (This year I got two books)
I love birthdays because I don’t have to cook.  There are two days out of the year that I refuse to cook, and my birthday is one of them.  I love my husband and son and I love to cook for them the other 364 days, but on my birthday I take a holiday from cooking.  
Anyhow, here are a few highlights from my day:
This year Mom took Alex and I out to lunch at one of my favorite places to go for good, wholesome, healthy food – Central Market Café.  The sweet potato fries are delicious – and the poor little bird with only one foot that shared with us thought so too!  Here’s happy moment at lunch today (yes, even on my birthday we had some not-s0-happy moments too).  Alex loves to give kisses.

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Dustin and Alex took me to another of my favorite spots in town to get some good down-home southern comfort food for dinner – Hoover’s.  You simply can’t go wrong with chicken fried steak, creamed spinach, mashed potatoes and fried okra.  Comfort food for sure!
After dinner we stopped in at the Austin Farmer’s Market at The Triangle and came home with a few things we haven’t had before.  And that’s saying a lot since we try just about everything!  The band playing this evening inspired Alex to start a dance, which in turn inspired every little girl under the age of 5 within the park to join him on stage, which everyone else thought was super-adorable.  Ahhh.  I love that little boy!
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Off the subject of birthdays now and on to other things – Alex’s quilt is finally done and now has taken the place of his Dick & Jane quilt on his bed.  I would never have finished…who am I kidding – I would never have gotten started – if it hadn’t been for Mom and all her patience, time and closet full of material.  It may have taken forever (seriously, this may have been the slowest-made quilt in history) but it was worth every triangle we cut out, and every crooked stitch I sewed.  I’m not sure when I’ll make my next quilt, but I do know it should never be bigger than the one I just made, or there’s a chance it will never be completed.  I am a year older after all, and there isn’t all the time in the world to sew…
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And finally, those long-awaited pictures of the pulley system that Dustin made for Alex are here.  I won’t keep you in suspense any longer!

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(Those little dinosaurs show up EVERYWHERE in this house!  It was only a matter of time before they stopped by to check out the freshly painted wood.)

“B”eautiful “B” Week

I wish I had “b”eautiful pictures to post of our “B” week, but I do not.  I do not even have a good excuse for not having pictures, other than the fact that I am still learning, and I am simply not able to whip out my camera with a half second’s notice and take a “b”eautiful shot of my “b”oisterous little “b”oy.  Enough of “b” already!
While our second week of school truly was fun and filled with many new things to see and learn, it was also disastrously disorganized (thank goodness it’s not “d” week yet!) and hence no pictures, and no inspiring words or amazing moments to share for those of you ready to tackle a “b” week Along the Alphabet Path.
I’m sorry.  
I’m also mind-numbingly tired and frazzled and I can’t keep anything straight this week, so for someone with no good excuse, I am obviously full of really bad ones.
Enough about me.  Here’s just a tiny little snapshot of our “b” week:
We read Berenstain Bears and the Spooky Old Tree.  I loved it.  Of course I grew up with Berenstain Bears, didn’t you?  Apparently my little student needs some time to warm up to the Berenstain Bears.  He kept saying, “Maybe later, Mommy.  Maybe.”  Huh.  (I still made him listen to the Berenstain Bears Visit the Dentist. Cruel and unusual punishment, I know.)
Daddy made him a pulley system, which grew in interest exponentially when he discovered the great joy of placing dinosaurs atop the spools so they could spin (pictures to come soon, I promise).  Thank the Lord dinosaurs once roamed the Earth.  There are days I cannot imagine getting through life without them.
We followed Catholic Icing’s B is for Bible Bookmark Craft with a few modifications in materials since I couldn’t find the beads I wanted in smaller quantities than 200 for each color (and I cannot imagine using 200 beads for anything any time in the next 100 years. I don’t care if they only cost $2.00 a bag).  He loved stringing the beads, but the bookmark quickly lost favor when he couldn’t take the beads back off and do it again. 
We’re back to stringing buttons.
We learned about Benjamin Franklin, baked Banana Bread, and discovered Belgium on the map.  We couldn’t leave “b” week without finding a few dinosaurs that start with “b” – brachiosaurus, brontosaurus….the list goes on and on and on….
One of his favorite activities this week?  Putting together a Veggie Tales’ Bob the Tomato craft.  He spoke of Bob as though he knows him personally, even though he refuses to watch an entire episode of Veggie Tales (which again, I love.  Why doesn’t he?).
I’ll be more organized for “c” week.  I’ll be on top of the whole picture thing, because I know it’s just more interesting if you can see it.  I’ll get my to-do list done.  I’ll be super-woman this next week.  
Or, maybe later.  Maybe.

Building Better Families by Matthew Kelly

I don’t often have the opportunity to write a book review.  Probably because I don’t often have a chance to finish a book these days, or take time to reflect when I do.  But Matthew Kelly’s book Building Better Families was one of the first parenting books I have read that I devoured every word and then put it aside to read again.  I still don’t have time to write a good review, but I can tell you a little bit about why I found the book so inspiring.
I believe there is a big difference between raising a child, and raising a child responsibly, and this book really is “a practical guide to raising amazing children”.   It’s often too easy in day-to-day interactions with our children to live and react within the moment, to think not about what we are teaching our children, but about how to quickly defuse the current crisis.  We become the manager of the situation and quickly move on, often failing to think farther ahead and demonstrate the leadership necessary to guide our children into deeper and more meaningful development.  This book walks through the practical ways you can become the leader your children need you to be in order to help them become “the best-version-of-themselves”.  It’s no secret that I disagree with much of our culture today.  Parenting is hard when you’re going against the current tide.  But in our fight for a family foundation that supports healthy, positive growth of our child and our own culture within our home, the struggle is worth it.  Still, it’s always encouraging to connect with those who believe in the same values, and it’s inspiring to find a book, like Building Better Families, that you can’t put down because every page has one more little strategy that beautifully compliments the way you choose to parent.

Thank you, Matthew Kelly.

Ironing? Who does that?

I do apparently, being the Good Wife and all.  Finally, after 12 years of marriage, I ironed my husband’s clothes.  All of them. 
Now I know why I haven’t ironed in 12 years.
But they look pretty spiffy, if I do so say myself.  I even made an attempt at my own homemade spray starch.  Thank goodness I didn’t ruin any clothes.  It may have been good enough for my grandmother, but it wasn’t any good for me.  Maybe I didn’t get the right mix of water and cornstarch.  Maybe you do have to cook it, although many recipes say you don’t.  Maybe my spray bottle didn’t have the right kind of sprayer.  There are so many variables for such a simple recipe (could just be I’m not cut out to make ironing starch – lacking those skills in the kitchen and all).  Turns out properly starching your husband’s work clothes is more complicated than one would think.
Now I know why I haven’t ironed in 12 years.
Then my mom came to the rescue and introduced me to Mary Ellen’s Best Press Clear Starch Alternative.  A little miracle in a bottle.  Smells nice too.  My husband now has an entire closet of dress shirts and dress pants all neatly pressed and ready to wear.
Maybe I will iron again before another 12 years pass.  We’ll see.

First Week of School

For those of you who just want to gaze adoringly upon some photos of my beautiful child from time to time, you are still in the right place.  Look to your heart’s content.  However, if you would like to read more about the sometimes random, sometimes interesting, sometimes who-really-knows-what events in our life, please join us over on The Ramblings of the Good Wife for details, more pictures, lots of ramblings, and maybe even a good story or two from time to time!
Here’s Alex’s first week of school:
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“A” Walk “A”long the “A”lphabet Path

Week one of homeschool at the homestead is just ending and I am listening to the gentle sounds of happiness and busy activity as we prepare to fix lunch and spend some quiet time this afternoon reflecting on what we’ve learned this week.  After much cajoling and convincing from my sister, we decided to follow Elizabeth Foss’s Along the Alphabet Path for our homeschool curriculum this year.  I am homeschooling a boy, so I did spend many nights considering the fact that fairies would be a part of our core curriculum, but in the end, the beauty of imagination won out, and because our home lives and breathes fantasy, it became very easy to add some dragons and knights and before we knew it, a beautiful year lay ahead of us.
We’ve made a few changes to the materials to tailor it to Alex’s learning style and what works best for him, and we’ve supplemented books from our own library in place of many of the recommended reading lists, but for everything else we are following along with Serendipity’s plans and already we have found the excitement and wonder of imagination taking hold.  Here are just a few highlights from our first week of school.
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Each of us got to choose one figurine for the first day of school.  If we’re going to read about fairies, of course I’m going to choose a fairy (with pointy ears and all).

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My hard-working husband took some time away from work to play…and chose a knight to join the ranks.

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My little student chose a dragon because well, dragons are a little like dinosaurs.  And they’re just awesome.  Like him.

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Just a few of the books we are using this year…there are more.  Many, many more.  (and many, many, many more on the way)

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A is for Angel – A beautiful craft idea from Lacy over at Catholic Icing.  In this house, fairies are often mistaken for angels, and angels for fairies (they do share wings in common after all), but this little angel has been lovingly gazed upon and proudly declared the “A” angel many times this week already (no chance of mistaken identity here).

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We’re exploring the highly addictive fun of Do-A-Dot art this year and Alex absolutely loves it.  DLTK’s Crafts for Kids has some great templates for Do-A-Dot or Bingo Dauber Art.  There’s nothing better than a marker that is made to be stamped without risk to destroying the lovely pointy tip on the end of the marker (we’ve been through many, many markers that sadly have no point left at all).

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Alex’s favorite subject in the whole entire world is Dinosaurs.  We eat, sleep and breathe dinosaurs in this house.  And what could possibly be more fun than making fossils as we learn everything known to man about the dinosaurs?  And as we quickly decided, why stop at dinosaur fossils when you can have airplanes and snakes and turtle shells and even some kangaroo feet too?

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We’re enjoying a nice weekend after a busy first week of school, but I find myself smiling each time I hear my little student ask, “are we going to do school now?”  I only hope I can continue to foster such a love of learning as he grows older and we find more exciting things to study.  For now, he seems quite content to search for dinosaurs that start with the letter “A”.

I can hand wash…really, I can (not)

While the sight of laundry hanging on the clothes line brings a particular joy to my heart, the sight of a dish tub does not.  Nor do purple gloves and a bottle of dish wash.  And certainly the constant reminder of why I have to hand wash, sitting broken in my kitchen, does not elicit the slightest joy for me.  So it is with a deliriously heartfelt thank you that I can now say I have a brand new dishwasher, humming quietly this evening, washing the dishes for me.  Thank you hardworking husband for acquiring such a beautiful modern appliance for me, and thank you for installing it with the assistance of one father and one son.  Three guys working in my kitchen tonight was enough to keep me out of sight and busy with other housework.  It turned out to be a very productive evening on The Homestead.
Are you sure it was me that said only a short (who am I kidding – long) month ago, “it’s not that big of a deal.  I can hand wash a few dishes.  No, really, I can.”
I’m sure that was just another attempt on my part to prove I am the Good Wife. 
Ha. Ha. Ha.  This joke’s on me.