Home Depot Kid’s Clinic

We’ve done a bunch of these over the past couple of years.  This month Alex made a mini-whiteboard.  It’s been pretty useful for writing about how awesome he is.  And for keeping score.  (And maybe for keeping track of cups of sugar when making homemade jam…)





Outside my window: Texas spring weather…unpredictable but welcome after the cold, rainy winter.  Yesterday it was stormy, windy and a high of 56.  Today it looks like a high of 74 with sunshine!

I am remembering: Alex’s birthday with his grandparents at the Texas Snake Farm.  He still talks about all the exciting things he got to see and do.  This was our second year spending his birthday there.  I think we might have started a tradition, so if you come to visit for his birthday, be prepared to spend time with snakes!


















I am thankful: for air conditioning.  It get hot in Texas.  Real hot.  My air conditioner finally gave out in my car and on the days Alex and I have to go places in the afternoon, Dustin is thoughtful enough to leave the truck for us so we don’t end up sweating it out in the Texas heat.  I can only imagine what July will feel like!

In the kitchen: so many things!  Homemade elderberry syrup to keep us healthy during the winter months.  Fennel pesto to use up some fennel fronds that I didn’t want to go to waste.  Hyssop Oxymel to have on hand – just in case someone comes down with a cough. Fermented carrots to tide us over until pickling season arrives.  More homemade bone broth. And homemade ice-cream for Sunday to carry on the tradition Aunt Stacie started of Sundae Sunday!



From the garden: new seedlings in amidst the losing battle with weeds.  While the rain has been nice for the extremely dry ground where we live, it has given weeds a new lease on life in our yard.  Looks like we have our work cut out for us!

From the Schoolroom: The finish line is in sight, but there are so many exciting things to come that it’s hard to imagine an “end” to our school year.  This year we have followed a six-week on, one-week off schedule and it has been an absolutely perfect fit into our routine.

One of my favorite things: Listening the Alex talk to his cousins on the phone.  It’s like no distance at all separates them.  Joey and Alex have games they play, Lego sets they create and build, and stories they tell from one day to the next.  Sometimes Billy joins in the conversation too and I hear little voices sharing all the secrets and joys of boyhood without a though to being a few hours away from each other.

Please visit The Simple Woman’s Daybook for more daybook entries.

7 Years

Dear Alex,

It is hard to believe you are seven years old.  It seems like just yesterday you were climbing into my lap for another round of Brown Bear, Brown Bear or Look to the North.  Now, you read chapter books like Magic Tree House, Beast Quest and Geronimo Stilton all by yourself.  It doesn’t seem all that long ago you were still snuggling up for an afternoon nap.  Now you’re too busy to stop long enough to sit still for more than a moment!

Our days are filled with school books and reading books, lessons in the fort and long hikes in the woods.  More often than not, when it comes to the animal world, you are now the teacher and it’s amazing how much you know about animals I’ve never even heard of!  You still want to be a zoologist when you grow up.  While many things change…that never does.

You love reading and legos.  Some days it’s hard to tell which one you love more, but you almost always have one or the other in hand, no matter what else you are doing.  You can work on lego sets for hours and you usually hum the theme song to Star Wars while you are building.  I love the afternoons when I can hear you and Joey playing a game on the phone and both of you are shouting out Star Wars songs at the top of your lungs, happy and carefree.

I love watching you grow and I treasure every moment I have with you.  I’m so thankful to be your mom.  I love you always.



DAR Luncheon Honoring Veterans

I was honored to be able to take my dad as my guest to the November Daughters of the American Revolution Luncheon honoring Vietnam-Era Veterans.  Growing up we made many sacrifices as a family because of dad’s belief in service to something greater than himself – God and country – and because of that service, freedom for his family and all Americans.  He lived out that belief for 37 years, never asking or expecting compensation or gratitude, quietly taking on the enormous weight and responsibility of the lives of the men who served under him and the task of raising them up to be the next generation of soldiers.  I have seen the amount of respect he has earned over the years from so many who served under him, and I couldn’t be more proud to call him dad.

I’ve been asked many times over the years if I regret growing up with the military, or if I wish my childhood had been different and I have always said without hesitation – no.  It doesn’t mean it wasn’t hard.  It doesn’t mean I didn’t miss my dad being around.  But we had a solid foundation in our family and mom took up the slack and keep us moving forward wherever we were and whatever we were doing.  During the difficult times, mom taught me about strength and perseverance and dad taught me about honor and sacrifice. That’s what it means to grow up in a military family.  My dad, my husband, and so many others in my family made the choice to sign over their life for the freedom and lives of others.  To me, there is no greater sacrifice and it was an honor to be able to celebrate and recognize the men and women who are the very definition of American heroes.




Stephen F. Austin State Park Camping Trip

We finally took Alex on his first camping trip.  We’ve been planning to go for ages, but it took my sister planning a trip to Newman’s Castle to get us committed to finally doing it.

We packed enough stuff to hide out in the woods for a week (at least) and took enough conveniences to not feel too far from home, but Alex had a blast and it was fun to camp with family (we lump Jessica and her family right into our family) who are so much fun to hang out with!  Alex had five other boys and one little girl to keep him busy and the time flew by.  Had it not been for the 99% humidity and the tiny tent we took, I could stayed a few more days and not missed a thing!

For full disclosure, I must add that I have been giving Dustin a hard time for YEARS about how he thinks he can’t sleep on the ground anymore because he is too old.  We took our little tent and pads to sleep on.  I was WRONG.  Way wrong.  So wrong, that I didn’t sleep more than a few minutes the entire night, because the ground is HARD.  Even with a pad.  My hip fell asleep.  I didn’t even know that was possible.  The one benefit of being up all night – I got to hear the wonder in Alex’s voice when he woke up at 2 a.m. to listen to the owls hooting nearby. That’s not something we hear in the city!


Alex took quite naturally to helping build and maintain a fire.  Just like his dad.  He had a fire-poking stick, and he quickly learned how to use it.






Alex took his own tent and had a great time sharing with the boys (and occasionally Katie too). No, he did not sleep in it overnight!
















Six Years

Dear Alex,

It’s hard to believe you are six years old today.  Six years.  You’ve grown so fast and the time has gone by so quickly! You’ve grown from a happy, curious little baby into an intelligent, inquisitive boy.  You love to run, read, and talk…and you can talk about reptiles All. Day. Long.  You never grow tired of learning and sharing what you find interesting.  You love nature, you love good stories, and you love everything real around you.  You love hikes and the great outdoors and you love snuggling up at night before bedtime.  Your laughter brings joy to this home and daddy and I can’t imagine life any other way.  We love you. Happy Birthday, little boy!

Love Mom

Here is an interview with you on your sixth birthday:

What is your favorite color?  Red

What is your favorite school subject?  Geography

What is your favorite book?  Any reptile book

What is your favorite movie? How to Train Your Dragon 2

What is your favorite thing to do with Daddy?  Play chess

What is your favorite cartoon?  Wild Kratts!

How many pets do you have?  3 dogs, 1 cat and 1 lizard

What are you best at right now?  Chess

What is your favorite season? Summer

If you could be any animal, what would you choose? Snake

When you grow up, what do you want to be?  A zoologist











Plans for Kindergarten and the First Day of School

Of all the ways I had imagined the first day of kindergarten for my child, never once did I imagine it would NOT involve dropping him off at a school that no matter how close to my home would feel a million miles away with people who no matter how nice, would still be strangers in charge of my child’s welfare for the better part of his awake hours for most of the week.  I certainly NEVER imagined it would be anything like today.
But what a beautiful,
                      fun-filled day it turned out to be.
I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect first day of kindergarten for my kid.  Thank you, God, for speaking to my heart and giving me an overwhelming sense of what you wanted from me (and for not letting me be too stubborn to listen), and thank you for my husband and my family who have made the decision to homeschool so easy and have been so supportive.  I’d do it even if no one else thought it was best because I believe it is the right decision for Alex, but it sure helps to have that support when things get tough.  
Like when you suddenly realize (five minutes before school starts) that you forgot to buy the phonics program.  
Or when you suddenly realize that after going on and on about how important the Fine Arts are, you forgot to schedule them anywhere into the week.
Yeah.  ‘Cause I do stuff like that.
So before I forget anything else, like say, my mind, I’m going to jot down what we are doing this year. If you feel so inspired, take a little peek and see what’s in store for my kiddo in the wonderful land of homeschooling.

Plans for Kindergarten 2014-2015

For our literature, field trips, activities, art and poetry, we are using Wee Folk Art as our primary source of plans.  We’re adding a few extras here and there and our book list is always growing, especially now that Alex reads so well and so frequently on his own.  From time to time we love to throw in a craft from Catholic Icing too.
I’ve mentioned before that I absolutely adore Charlotte Mason’s approach to education, and I am just in love with her habit-training program, Laying Down the Rails.  It is much more structured and thorough than many others out there, and I think the time and effort will pay off as we see his character taking shape.
For math we will still play our math games from Right Start Math, but we are trying out Miquon Math for a change.  Aunt Stacie introduced us to the Stuart J. Murphy MathStart series of books so we’ve added those in too!
For part of our geography and part of our science we are using Expedition Earth and Expedition Earth Animals Unit Study and we are in love with how hands-on it is!  (If I had more than one or two kids I think this would be pretty time-intensive, but one of the benefits of homeschooling just one is that I have only one to focus on so we are doing this in its entirety.)
We’ve moved on from Get Set for School to Handwriting Without Tears and while he still struggles a bit with holding his pencil and writing letters, he LOVES the activity book and I think we’ll make some good progress this year.
Remember that little bit about forgetting to order the phonics program?  Seriously – who does that?  Poor planning aside, it just so happens that I had Saxon Phonics sitting on my shelf (because I’m kind of a homeschool materials collector) and we’re going to give it another go, mostly because, well, we have IT and not something else I’d rather use.
For the other part of our science we are doing a year of nature with Charlotte Mason’s Outdoor Secrets Nature Study.  It’s so beautifully written and so charming – the early years go by so fast, and I want him to enjoy the beauty of what’s around him in nature.  And…he loves nature, so it’s a win-win.
For our Catholic education this year we are using Allelu! and again, if I had multiples to educate this would be a bit harder in a homeschool classroom because it is a bit time-intensive to fully use the program, but it is fun, interactive, and presented in a way that I think will interest him.
On our shelf for this year we also have:
And a number of things I’ve probably already forgotten or haven’t thought of yet.  I like to add stuff in at random.  (Apparently I leave stuff out randomly to, but I really think we have so much, we won’t miss what we don’t know we don’t have this year.)  And the great thing is, there is always next year!

First Day of School

Homemade vanilla bean ice cream in the making- to celebrate the first day of school

A little glimpse into the schoolroom

First Day of Kindergarten for Alex!

A few pictures of Alex’s first day of school

The best part of the day?  Daddy’s vanilla bean ice cream (recipe courtesy of Pioneer Woman)

It was to die for and I’m not even an ice cream fan!

Last of Summer

I think it finally hit this week.  Summer is almost over.  Wait, what?
Hold on.  I need a time-out.  Or a drink.  Preferably the fruity kind with a little umbrella that I can drink poolside because that’s where it’s all at these days.  These nice, hot, long SUMMER days.
It’s been a whirlwind week of getting ready for school next Monday, running errands, and trying to fit in everything we left out, thinking we had plenty of summer left.  I felt pretty sad about the whole idea of another summer disappearing into the past, until this morning when I reminded Alex that school starts Monday.  His sleepy little eyes lost their good -morning look and he bounded out of bed, yelling at the top of his lungs with such excitement that I suddenly realized that I’m pretty darn excited about it too.  
Good-bye summer!  See ya next year.  But before we go…
…if you’d like to see a little peek into what our last few weeks have been all about, take a look.