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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Indiana Christmas

I promised you some pictures of the kids over Christmas, so at long last, here they are.  We drove up to Northwest Indiana to spend some time with Rainman's side of the family.  First, the kids started with a rousing game of dress up.

V-Girl isn't quite sure what is happening....

I just noticed that S-Girl kind of got squeezed out of that group here is another where you can see her in all her flower power sunglasses glory!

What you can't see in this picture is just how small A-man's Woody costume is....very, very tight and very, very short....but he still kept it on for at least 30 minutes of rootin' tootin' family fun!

D-Man and A-Girl spent a lot of time playing with the little choice and not because we told them to... even though both of them are getting to the age where they would like to lurk around adult conversations to see what interesting information than can gleen! They are very good with kids and kids love them.  It makes this mommy's heart glad.

Uncle Frank plays Santa every year and here are this years crop of helpful elves.

Here we are at the end of the night.  D-Man is wearing his favorite gift.  The other favorites include:  A-Girl got a fake American Girl doll; L-Girl got a penguin pillow pet; S-Girl got a Baby Alive; V-Girl got her own baby so there won't be any fighting over previously mentioned Baby Alive; and A-Man got something he put on his Christmas wish list.  Something every 5 year old boy covets.....

A hand crafted (by his Auntie Debby), genuine pilgrim hat!  We don't know why he wanted one or where he came up with the idea.....but here it is and here is his smiling face!!!

He also wanted a Boba Fett head from Star Wars which he got and I have recorded on my Christmas gift from Rainman - a new digital video camera....but I have missed placed the computer disk so I can't upload my film...(I guess it isn't really "film" is it?)... onto the computer.  The video is pretty funny, so hopefully I can post that soon!

We headed back to Georgia having missed out on the ice storm that came through while we were gone. Rainman had to work on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, but we still managed to squeeze in some family time.

To keep this from getting to be too long a post....I will post about Georgia Christmas later.

Friday, December 24, 2010

He is the Reason....and a Cute Santa Picture!

As my sister's post says...He is The Reason....

I thought you might still enjoy seeing the kids Santa picture this year. 

It was taken at our church.  I love how the tree was decorated with crosses and Chrismons symbols.  He really is the Reason.  Thank you God.  Now that I am a mother, I cannot imagine the sacrifice that HE made for each and every one of us!

We have had the stomach flu here this week, so I will post more Christmas adventures after Christmas when we are all feeling better!  Until then, please have a Blessed Christmas with your families!  If you get to be with your extended family this year, appreciate it - don't just have it be something you have to get through or fit into your schedule!  I miss the luxury of being with my brother, sisters, nieces and nephews!!!  Love you guys!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

New Christmas Lyrics

We just returned from a road trip to visit my husband's side of the family in Northwest Indiana, so I will have more pictures to share later, but I thought I would share the new Christmas lyrics that A-man has been singing!

Deck the Halls with.....wait for it.....Balls of Jolly!

I love those words waaaaay better than the original.....who knows what a Bough of Holly is anyway?!?

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Southern Lady or a Southern Belle?

We have lived in Georgia for a little more than a year now.  I was the last to get on the Georgia is great bandwagon....but I am finally aboard.  And while I am finally comfortable that this is our home and excited for what the future will hold, I still don't feel totally comfortable here in social situations.  Most people have told me that I will still be considered an outsider for many years.  And, I am pretty sure it will be true.  I am different.  Where I come from there are different ways of talking.  For example, where I come from "Uffda" is a multi-purpose word.  Here, I am pretty sure they think I am talking gibberish when I say it. 

There are different social norms.  Recently, a friend of mine at church teased a few of the little kids about something, including A-man...(it had something to do with K-I-S-S....something, something, G)  This particular tease was one that I have been teaching the kids that it is not nice to do.  So, I went and talked to her about...not in a confrontational way...but in what I think was a "Minnesota Nice" way.  I just basically, jokingly, asked her if she could restrain herself from this particular tease in the future. I didn't think it was a big all. 

Another one of my friends was mother to one of the other "teasees" and asked me if I had heard what friend number one had said/done.  I told her I had and I had talked to her about it.  She looked at me with kind of a shocked look on her face...her mouth even dropped open a little bit.  We had all the kids around so nothing was discussed, but later, in a follow up conversation, I asked her about her reaction to the fact that I had spoken to this friend and asked her not to tease the kids. 

She told me that, here in the South, you can be upset with people or not like something they have said or done(we weren't happy about the way this embarrassed the kids), but she said you never know how a Southern Lady will feel because she will just say "Oh, bless your heart!" and move on...even if she is furious.  What I had done was very out of character. 

Then I got to thinking. 

I know that "my heart" has been "blessed" many, many times since we moved here.  Oh no!!!  Was I offending everyone with my Yankee ways?  Was I considered too brash?  Were they all blessing my heart and then talking about me behind my back? 

In my Yankee forwardness, I asked my friend.  She reassured me that people can really say, "Bless your heart", and actually mean, "Bless your heart", but that phrase is apparently kind of the multi-purpose phrase of the South - similar to Uffda in the North.

My friend assured me that I shouldn't try to change my ways to fit in and that maybe I could be an example of a different way of communicating for the ladies here.  I don't know.  We will see.  It just feels strange to feel so like these Southern Ladies and yet so very, very different.  I am not sure I will ever be able to say that I am a true Southern Lady, even though I have become a sweet tea convert.

On another note, S-Girl, my 3 year old, seems to be adapting and turning into a Little Southern Belle. 

She has recently started saying fer.  What is that, you say?  It is fer...not fur.  She will ask things like, "What's that fer mom?"  "What are we having fer dinner, mom?"  I have tried to get her to say for...but it seems to be a losing battle.  She is becoming a little Southern Belle. 

On the other hand, the rest of us still giggle and nudge each other when someone says, "Can all y'all pay attention, please?" Or any other variation on all y'all!

So, in closing, I say, "Bless all y'all hearts"! 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Jesus In Your Heart

We believe in Jesus at our house.  We believe that he died for each and every one of us.  We believe that this time of year celebrates his birth.

I have one of these....

I am honestly not sure where or when I got it....I am even not sure what it is supposed to be used for.  I have tried to make heart shaped pancakes and the batter just kind of oozed underneath and the end result is a vaguely heart shaped pancake.  I have successfully used it to make heart shaped sandwiches.  Nevertheless, when we moved, I deemed it important enough to pack it into a box and bring it to Georgia with us where it has taken up residence in a drawer that houses all my baking stuff....measuring cups, spoons, scoops, and heart shaped thingies that I don't really know what they are used for.  This drawer is right at V-Girls level, so she unpacks the contents of the drawer at least once daily. 

Recently, when this happened, I asked A-Man to help me pick up.  I went to do something else and left him to do the job on his own.  Then he came over and showed me a new use for the heart... 

Here is what he said....

This is people who don't have Jesus in their heart.

This is people who are thinking about having Jesus in their heart.

This is people who have Jesus in their heart.

I think I like this use for this item best of all.  A visual aid in a lesson from a 5 year old on how Jesus should be IN our heart....not outside and not even just close to their heart!!!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Church Christmas Program

We had a Chrismons/Advent celebration at our church last night.  I thought I would share a few pictures from the night.

Okay, you will have to ignore the creepy red eyes...

I took these during practice.  That is why V-Girl is up there with them.  Although, she apparently thought this was a rehearsal for her too as she tried to join them the entire program.  She would get furious when Rainman tried to stop her, so, as a result, she and Rainman ended up standing in the back for at least half of the show.

A-Man plays in the kids bell choir.  He loves it.  But you would never know it by his serious face in this shot.  He concentrates really hard.  He is adorable.  Interesting tidbit...he has an itty-bitty crush on the girl to his right.

The tree was really big.  Of course, I didn't get a picture of it, but this is Rainman with A-Man on his shoulders on a step to hang one of the ornaments and they weren't anywhere near the top.

Here is S-Girl trying to hang her ornament, but she had trouble letting go of Rainman long enough to get anything on the tree.  This is the only shot I got where she wasn't openly panicking.

Here are the big girls putting their ornaments up....

Isn't her hair pretty?  She did it herself.

L-Girl did her hair too.  Although I put in the sponge curlers for her the night before.  Remember sponge curlers?

It was a great program.  I was very proud of my kids and to top it off there were lots and lots of home baked cookies to be eaten afterwards!!!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Homeschooling....Our Way....

Most of my friends and family do not homeschool....nor do they ever want to.  I think many of them wonder what we do all day.  So, I thought I would give you a little glimpse into a "regular" day at our house during school time.

My kids all get up at different times, so we use that to also determine our individual school start times.  That way, everyone gets the right amount of sleep and I have time to work individually with everyone when necessary.  L-Girl is the first to rise and almost always, the first done with school.  D-Man is next, but since his courses are more difficult and take more time, he finishes school last.  A-Man and A-Girl are both pretty slow to make it downstairs in the morning.  A-Girl does not like to be spoken to for a while after she gets up - so she usually makes her breakfast and just sits quietly at the kitchen table for about a half hour or so before she is ready for any human interaction.  I gotta say, this sounds like me and my older sister growing up.  My dad was super cheerful and annoying back I think he is enjoying his retirement and sleeping in!  Anyway, my two A-children are the latest starters, but since A-Man is in Kindergarten his "real school" doesn't take too long, so he is usually done second.  I spend my time kind of floating between the bigger kids and assisting, when necessary.  When Rainman is off or working evenings, we usually just split the kids down the middle - he takes 2 and I take 2.  Our goal is to get them to be pretty independent in their school work to teach them good skills for college where they won't have someone looking over their shoulder all the time to make sure they meet their deadlines and complete their work.   Rainman writes out lesson plans for all the kids, so they know everyday what they need to accomplish....they are welcome to do more than assigned - but not less.

That is my dining room table under the piles of books. 

This is my art work.

In case you were wondering, no, we don't actually eat in here anymore....

It is where A-Girl and L-Girl normally do their school work.  Their brothers keep their school books in here, but rarely do their work here.

A-Man does his school at the kitchen table....

He is learning to read and his school sometimes helps him along by showing pictures.  In the picture below, he was learning that adding "ing" to words to create an, he went along reading the words that go with the pictures and did really well sounding them out, but, when he got to the middle one in the bottom row...

He "read"  kangarooing.  Cracks me up.  That is one of the fun parts of homeschooling - getting to see the light bulb go on when they "get" something - whether it is reading or algebra....there is not mistaking when they finally get it....oh, and getting to laugh when they try to take a short cut in reading and just look at the picture....thus, kangarooing!

Our oldest is using a new literature based curriculum this year which means lots and lots of reading.  Including history books, historical fiction, biographies, poetry, etc.  I would have loved to have been taught this way.  Would have saved my mom from all the not so real sick days I had growing up!  Yes, mom, I am finally admitting to faking it a time or two....or three or four....heh....heh!  Anyway, this is him on a typical morning....

This is our swing on our screened porch.  The mornings in Georgia are a little chilly, so he takes his blankie....I mean, blanket with him.  (Recognize this Karen?)  Notice the little pudgy hand on the far left....

His little sidekick, V-Girl, usually joins him.  Sometimes, I try to keep her inside with me so he can concentrate better - but neither one of them goes for it.  If she is sleepy, she will let him just cuddle her while he reads.  Again, wish I could have done school with a cute little baby in my lap.  His Science curriculum is done on the computer and we all participate in his experiments....even S-Girl and A-man.  I am curious to see how much of this big kid stuff they will retain for when they are older.

Where is S-Girl in all this?  Well, when all the other kids were little and we were doing school with older siblings, I would encourage them to go watch Sesame Street, Barney or some other kid friendly show while I taught.  You know, just to keep them out of my hair?!?  S-Girl will not do it.  She is under foot the whole school day.  She usually just plays house or some other quiet game while we learn....but she is always listening.  Sometimes she will ask to "do school" too....

This is her working on "her" letter.....S!

I do read-alouds sometimes for all the kids (i.e., Little House on the Prairie or  Anne of Green Gables) and lately have been doing a lot of aloud reading for D-Man (The Adventures of Tom Sawyer). The thing I have found the most interesting is she and A-Man are around when I am reading aloud to D-Man, they are usually doing something else, playing, doing school work, etc., but when it comes to discussion time where I ask D-Man about certain things or people in the book....they both pipe in with the correct answers.  What is that saying....Little Jugs have Big Ears....or something like that!

We have the kids take standardized tests every year so I can reassure myself that we aren't screwing up the kids academically and also test and grade their papers throughout the year.  Some homeschoolers think that grades limit kids, but I need them for my piece of mind.

I love homeschooling, even though there are times that I would like a break from my kids, I really wouldn't change it for the world. 

Just this morning, I got time to snuggle with all of them for a few minutes when they first got up....yes, ALL of them....although if any of D-Man's friends read this....I didn't mean him (wink - wink)  There were no rushed breakfasts and scramble for shoes....or hollering to hurry up so nobody missed the bus.  Just us learning and figuring out stuff I said, I wouldn't miss it for the world!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Life Without Television? Is it possible?

What would life be like without television?  For me?  For my family?  I have been thinking about it lately.  As part of the Dave Ramsey Total Money Makeover plan and Adam Hamilton's Enough series, they both have me analyzing what are "wants" and what are "needs" in my life.  T.v. has always come to mind when we are tightening our budget, but quickly glossed over because we need it...don't we?  I mean, could I get by without Dancing with the Stars, So You Think You Can Dance, Food Challenge....well, for that matter, the Food Network, as a whole...Big Bang Theory, The Middle, Glenn Beck, House Hunters, The Mentalist, Grey's Anatomy, Project Runway, 19 Kids and name just a few of the shows that regularly take up space on my DVR.

Then there is T.V as a way for me to get a break from my kids and give them a break from me too.  Spongebob, Elmo, Dora, iCarly, Sprout....could we do it?

Then there is Rainman and sports. 

Could we do it?  Should we do it?

Would my life really be so horrible if I couldn't watch pseudo-celebrities dance every week?  Or if I didn't watch an innuendo laden sit-com?  Or watch good food being prepared that I will never be able to make on my own?  What if my kids didn't know who Handy Manny was....or Zach and Cody?

My fear is that we will just become a family more obsessed with computer time.  We have one working computer in our house.  And, really, there is almost a constant fight for who gets to go on next and how long they will get to be on-line.  We had an old refurbished laptop with a flash drive enabled internet connection - but now we can't get on-line - not sure which thing is the problem....but it was slow and you couldn't check e-mail or facebook or anything that needed a password to gain access....

I have mentioned my  musings to the kids.  I am sure you will be shocked to know that they are totally against the idea!!!  I sort of see their point.  I loved T.V. even when I was a kid.  I loved Saturday nights with Love Boat and Fantasy Island....I have fond memories of sneaking and watching forbidden shows like Dallas and Falcon Crest too.  But, the shows have changed a bit since those days....language allowed has changed....innuendo can be found in almost every show....kissing and more from all sides of the equation....Do we really need all of that "stuff" getting into their heads?  Don't even get me started on the physical aspects of how women "should" look based on the ones that are on T.V.

But, then I think, we homeschool them.  We don't have video PlayStation, no DS, no Wii, no Nintendo....nothing.  They don't have cell phones.  They don't have their own rooms.  They usually don't even have new clothes.  They don't have much that a lot of kids today have - so what kind of mom would it make me if I took T.V. away too? 

I dream of us all sitting around the fireplace reading....or doing a craft project....or a jigsaw puzzle.  Actually, we love to do puzzles together...but usually the T.V. is on in the background....sometimes it is actually on a music station though.  Did you know with Direct TV you get like 100 music channels?  Could I live without having a latin music station....or a hair band station....or a garage band/grunge station?  Well, yeah, I could live without those specific ones....but I do like my contemporary Christian station and the Sinatra station and when I want to feel old, the 80's station.

What do you think?  Have you ever considered this drastic move? 

Anyway, I would love to hear from you....pros and cons....have you ever gone without T.V.....or cable....things that went well without T.V.....nightmares without get the idea!!!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Ball Season is FINALLY Ovah!!!

At last, the ball season for those that live under my roof, has officially ended.  We made the mistake this year of having 4 people playing ball this fall - all on different teams....different nights....different ball fields.

  This mistake will NOT happen again. 

Rainman finished his season first....

Then D-Man finished about a  week ago...

And finally.... My two oldest girls finished their seasons this week....

A-Girl in action.

L-Girl in action.

What did the little people do during all those practices and games you may wonder....

V-Girl, when I let her out of the stroller, (which was as little as possible) - walked around and picked up various items from the ground to suck on....I think this is a pencil...or maybe a straw....usually it was a rock or a boiled peanut shell....happily these are no smoking parks or it would have been butts I was digging out of her mouth!  By the way, I took whatever this was away from her right after the picture was taken!

A-Man ran around....a lot....there was always a game of tag, football or catch going on that he wouldn't be too shy to insert himself into - even if it was big kids playing.  For one of the games that his cousins were able to attend, he borrowed a few things from them and this was the result....

Can you believe the size of his mouth?

My precious, sweet, S-Girl does this....
Every time.  I mean it....every time.  We come home after she
plays in the Georgia clay until she is about as orange was one of the Gene Wilder Oompa Loompa's!

When D-man's season was finished, he had to attend the softball practices and games...

That is him under the pile of children.  It is really too bad that he isn't any good with kids!  LOL 

We only had one injury this season.

She was only out for about a week though.

Anyway, the trophies have been handed out, the pizza parties have been had and I am ready for a nice long break from driving to ball field after ball field with all the kids in tow.  Rainman says the winter season is mine....all mine...and I get to do whatever I want.

I just don't know what to do without my sisters for entertainment!!!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Not so Spooky Halloween.....

I wish I could say this is the artwork we did for our driveway....but it isn't.  Just one of the stops on our trick or treating rounds.

Here we are ready to head out.

We had an owl...

She actually wore this same costume last year...

I was her "tree".

We also had a loaf of Wonder Bread...

A business man...

A cheerleader...

A Raggedy Ann doll...

And Darth Vader and Princess Leia...

That is me and D-man....I can only convince Rainman to dress up as something every 3 or 4 years!

We made this....

We got the idea from my sister...The Idea Girl....

And, of course, we topped off the evening with this....

The great candy exchange!  And, yes, that is Rainman "sporcling" in the background.  If you don't know what that is - check out my last post.

And where is our little owl?

I thought they were nocturnal?!?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

No, I Haven't Fallen Off the Face of the Earth

Nope...I am still here.  Rainman has been off work which really curtails my computer time.  It is hard to get any of my own really important computer time in when he is having his really important computer time in....following baseball games, hockey games, playing spider solitaire and his latest obsession......Sporcle quizzes.

I do mean obsession.  Some new phrases that we have coined around here is "Dad is sporcling again"....or "Don't ask Daddy a question now, he is sporcling"...."Daddy can't hear you, he is sporcling!"  If you haven't "Sporcled", it is a quiz site where you can find any kind of quiz under the sun.....really.....ANY kind, and they are timed anywhere from 2 minutes up to 25 minutes (could be others - but those are the shortest and longest ones I have seen).  They are fun.  I enjoy them too.  But, I am not obsessed like he is.  This last week, he was trying one that had you list the capitals of all the countries in the world....yes, ALL.  I think there were 195 total.  His first try he got something like 178.  So, being Rainman, he was not going to give up until he could get all of them in the 20 minutes allotted for this quiz.  So, every day, he would try once or twice and get a few more each time....all from his mind or course, not from looking at a map or globe or anything.  Of course, he did this one in addition to the 3 or 4 new quizzes that were published every day.  He finally got all 195 of them the day before he had to head back to work. 

Well spent vacation, in his mind!  I wouldn't have objected to him getting a few more projects done around here - but, I did nickname him Rainman well before we were married....for a reason!

Anyway, now that he is back to work, hopefully I can get my hands on the computer a few times and update you on our lives...outside of Sporcling!

In case you want to try your hand at a quiz, like naming all the Smurfs you can, Oscar nominated actors from the 1950's, the names of the seven dwarfs, or all the capitals in the world, here is the link, so you too can Sporcle

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

My Urban Retreat

Okay, apparently I need lessons in what the word "tomorrow" means.  Sorry.  Life intervened and I never got time to upload my pictures.

But, here they are.

Here is my bed. 

This is Gus.  My host, Dave, told me that he was there to keep me company because I would probably be missing my little ones.  I am not sure if Dave says this for every visitor and he just adapted his speech for me - but even if he says this to everyone, I gotta admit that I thought it was really sweet and I did miss my kids!

Here is the super cool, super big, dual headed shower that I did NOT use....but it sure is pretty, isn't it?

Here is why I didn't use the super cool, super big, dual headed shower.....

Because there was a super cool, super big, tub!  It even has, on the far side, a hand held shower gizmo thing, so I could wash my hair from the comfort of the tub. 

This is what I used in the tub.  I brought this from home.  When we moved to Georgia, my best friend who lives in Iowa and is far too generous - sent me a whole box full of these bath bombs.  They are huge.  They smell wonderful.  They are awesome!  They can be found at The one I used was Orange Creamsicle.....nummy.

But, even though I spent a LOT of time relaxing in this tub and adding more hot water, as necessary, this is where I spent most of my time.....

The leather wing backed chair to the left, near the window.  I read and read and read some more.  Notice the flat screen T.V. mounted to the wall? 

Didn't touch all.  The kids are still in shock!

It was peaceful and quiet and I could  really lose myself in a book the way I used to be able to before all the little pitter-pattering of feet entered my world.  I wish I could tell you that I read some deep, smarty-pants type of books, but I didn't.  I read a light, kind of snarky, romance-y type by Jennifer Cruisie and then a feel good, small town full of nice folk, Christmas-time one by Debbie MacComber.  Heavenly.

I brought this along for my bedtime snack...

MMMMMMMmmmmmmmm... stayed up way later than I had intended to....because I could, enjoyed a good night's sleep.  I did wake up a few times, I assume since I am used to getting up a few times each night with baby, but was able to just roll over and go back to sleep!   Aaahhhhh, wonderful.

My host had me just write on a little chalkboard what time I would like coffee and breakfast.  I was awakened to him calling me from outside my door at the time I had requested coffee telling me he was putting it on the chair outside my door for me to enjoy in my room.  Again, I am not sure, but I don't think delivering coffee to people's rooms is the norm at this B&B.  It was great.  I thanked him for it when I went down to breakfast and Dave said, "I was just thinking about you last night and thought that it had probably been a very long time since somebody brought you coffee in bed." 

He was right.  Try never.  Yes, Karen, never. 

Rainman despises coffee and can't believe I drink the stuff.  He doesn't even like to kiss me if I have just had a cup!  I have to admit when I first started drinking it, it wasn't for the taste, but for the warmth at a very cold office - and then from the caffeine-related necessity of it for rearing small children - but, now, I drink it for the taste.... in addition to caffeine!!! So, anyway, Rainman has not ever brought me coffee in bed.  Appreciate what you have sis!

Anyway, I enjoyed my coffee and went down to breakfast.  I dined with another guest from Great Britain who was on a "grand holiday tour".  She was alone and had quit her job, planned to travel for 3 months throughout North America and finish up in Australia for Christmas before going back home to find a new job.  She was going to meet friends in different spots in her trip, but most of it was to be done alone.  Part of me admires her for the courage to do that, part of me is a little scared for her and part of me feels a little sad that she has no one to share all the memories with.  We had a wonderful chat about England, the States, British T.V. shows versus American Shows, pros and cons of our respective healthcare systems, vacation spots we had both been, homeschooling, the economy, a brief explanation of how the House of Commons and the House of Lords work, a brief and sketchy explanation of the Tea Party, the Republic Party and the Democratic name just a few of our topics.  While we talked I had fresh pineapple and strawberries, coffee cake, eggs benedict and fresh squeezed orange juice and more coffee.  It was a wonderful breakfast.

All in all, I had a great time and came home shaved, moisturized, tweezed and relaxed.

If you are ever in the Atlanta Area and would like an "urban retreat" I highly recommend this place.  

Oh, and I think I am supposed to end by saying that neither the Coastal Body Shop people or the Laurel Hill Bed and Breakfast people know me or are paying me anything to talk about their products.  Well, I guess technically, Dave at Laurel Hill sort of "knows" me....but you know what I mean.