Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Puzzled

I am going to shamelessly brag on my son today.  He really amazed me when he put together a 60-piece, double-sided jigsaw puzzle map of the United States of America!  He is only three!  :)

IMG_4211

IMG_4214

IMG_4216

All finished!  His grin says it all!  He is almost as proud of his accomplishment as I am!

IMG_4218

Okay—this kid is destined for great things!  Now, If I could only get him potty trained! :)

Friday, May 25, 2012

Nesting

I was walking through the RV park the other morning when I saw this little bird sitting on her nest.  The nest was nestled between a gap in the fencing, just the right size for her little straw incubator.   She watched me walk past with a wary eye, and when I returned with my camera, she flew a short distance away, perching rather anxiously on the top of the fence.  It was no wonder, since she had three or four eggs in the nest.  I was trying to get a picture of them, but since the fence was taller than I was, and there was a great ditch between me and the said fence, I had to satisfy myself by standing on tip-toe, raising my arms above my head and snapping the camera blindly in the direction of the nest, hoping that I could get a decent shot.  In the end, I was pleased with the results.  In fact, I kind of like this little stay-at-home mother bird… she reminds me of someone I know! :)

IMG_4249IMG_4252

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Land of Lincoln

This week finds us in Chatham, IL for a week of meetings.  Chatham is a small town just outside of Springfield, for those of you who have never heard of it.  I hadn’t either until a few weeks ago!  On Wednesday of this week, we were able to visit the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum in downtown Springfield.  It was really an interesting museum.

IMG_4257

There were several show-type exhibits that we watched, and I thought they were very well done.  In addition to having a lot of the Lincoln family’s personal memorabilia, they had a host of Civil War artifacts and information.  We wandered around for a while, but I was only able to take pictures in two areas, so I didn’t have a lot of physical documentation for our trip.

Here are the kids posing with the Lincoln family.  Everyone say, “Cheese and pickles!”

IMG_4259

Probably their favorite part of the whole museum was Mary’s Attic, an interactive area for children.  It had a number of various period costumes for the kids to dress up in, as well as a cottage hearth/kitchen in one corner, an enormous doll house, a huge table of Lincoln Logs and some other fun things. 

IMG_4261IMG_4264IMG_4277

Honey, I’m home… from the war!

IMG_4268

Stoke up the fire, Esther!

IMG_4263

Dinner is almost ready!

IMG_4265

My favorite meal!  Potatoes, apples, bread, and cheese, all made of rubber!  How thoughtful of you, my dear!

IMG_4271

Daniel quickly tired of the dress-up game, and moved on to the other activities.  Here he is being an architect.

IMG_4266

We really enjoyed our time here, and I had to practically drag the kids out of Mary’s Attic, in spite of the fact that it was past lunch time!  They even asked of we could come back.  At first, I was a little disturbed that they didn’t enjoy the exhibits more, but I came to the conclusion that they will learn all about that stuff eventually.  I just need to take a chill pill and let them enjoy being children—dressing up, playing house, building houses—all that good fun that they too soon outgrow.  Life is more than just collecting facts; it is all about really living!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Watch Me, Mama!

All of my children have said this at one time or another, and sometimes I find it hard to stop what I am doing again to see the latest accomplishment.  However, I always enjoy seeing the look on their faces when they have mastered a new pursuit. 

 

Daniel, as the youngest child, seems to learn more quickly than the others (in everything except potty training), probably due to the fact that if he doesn’t learn quickly, he will be left behind!  Last year, I got him a two-wheeler Radio Flyer toddler bike with training wheels.  He  hated it.  He cried every time I tried to set him on the bike.  I was annoyed, and decided that he was too young.  I sold it in the garage sale I had last fall.  It was a mistake to let him see the lady and child walking away dragging the bike behind them.  He instantly began to cry and wail, “My bike!”  It was too late, though.  I had to let her keep the bike.  For not liking the bike, he sure did mope around for a long time.  I got out the tricycle that the rest of the kids used.  That was met with a dark scowl, but I was unmoved.  This was the only bike left, and if he didn’t learn to ride it, then it was his tough luck.  I already regretted selling the toddler bike, but I couldn’t change that.

 

I am now happy to report that he has reconciled himself to the tricycle now, and has learned to ride it very well.  Now he frequently comes to the door and says, “Mama, come watch me ride my bike!”  I am happy to oblige…  Here he is trolling the parking lot, very satisfied with his accomplishment!

 

IMG_4221IMG_4228

IMG_4224IMG_4225IMG_4226

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A Bad Thing

From time to time, my life is not all roses and chocolate.  Sometimes bad things happen to me.  Things that make me angry, things that make me sad, and even things that discourage me.  Last week, a bad thing happened.  For those of you that have a weak stomach, you might want to stop reading now.  I have forewarned you.

 

Last Thursday started off rather well.  Everyone in our household was ecstatic because it was the last day of school—no more teachers, no more books—you know the routine!  The kids finished their last papers and tests of the year, and we put away our pencils with a huge smile and a sigh of relief.  Summer vacation has arrived!

I spent a good part of the day baking and decorating Abigail’s birthday cake, while the kids rode bikes and played out in the oppressive heat.

 

I must mention that living in an RV has its share of challenges.  One of those is the need for dumping our sewage regularly.  Our trailer has two bathroom areas, although only one shower, so there is a sink and toilet in the kids’ bathroom as well as in the main bathroom of the trailer.  This is wonderful because it means that I can finally take a shower without someone pounding on the door as soon as I turn on the water.  However, it also means we have twice as much trouble to dump, since there are two “black water” tanks to empty.  Also, the children have not yet deciphered the meaning of , “Don’t use that toilet—it’s full!”  On more than one occasion now, they have “forgotten” and caused a major problem by  overfilling the black water tank.  I never understood how they did this until last Thursday night.

 

The tank was full, and they had been good about going in the church bathroom, since they were forbidden to use their own.  I walked into their room in the afternoon, and it really smelled terrible.  I opened the toilet lid, and saw, to my great dismay, things that I will not mention here.  Then the inquisition began.  Who had violated the rule?  One guilty party spoke up, but there was more than one person involved, I was sure, just because of the volume of black water visible in the bowl.

 

I informed my husband that he would need to try out his new macerator pump that evening.  This pump was given rave reviews on all the camping websites because of its ability to chop the sewage into tiny pieces and shoot the offending substance through a garden hose into a sewer cleanout.  This was an ideal solution for our current situation, since moving our trailer closer to the sewer cleanout at the church was an impossibility, due to the fact that another RV was parked between us and the cleanout.  No problem, we thought.  My husband hooked up the pump and turned it on, and we blissfully in the kitchen talking, when all of a sudden, he shoved me aside, ran into the back bathroom, and then headed for the door like a shot.  I hurried into the bathroom to see what was wrong, and to my absolute horror, I saw that the black water had not only backed up into the toilet and was overflowing, it had also backed up into the sink, and was now pouring over the edge like a dark version of Niagara Falls!  I screamed and started searching for old towels to sop up the mess and keep it from seeping into the carpet in the kids’ room.  I cried, and gagged at the stench, while my husband frantically worked to disconnect the pump that was filling the tank even more.  It was a bad thing… a terrible thing… probably the worst thing that has ever happened inside the walls of our trailer.  But we survived.

 

Several hours later, we went to bed.  We had the inestimable  blessing of having some friends who were able and willing to help us.  Those are true friends indeed.  The bathroom was clean, the towels were in the trash, the ventilation fans were running, and the kids were asleep in the living room.  We figured out that the kids’ sink drains into the black water tank, not into the gray water tank like ours does.  (For the uninitiated, gray water is water that drains from the shower, sinks, and washing machine.  Black water is sewage.)  That is the reason the tank was so full.  The kids had been washing their hands and brushing their teeth, further filling the tank.  We are not yet sure why the pump filled the tank more instead of emptying it, but when we tried it on the front black water tank, it worked just fine.  We still sat and watched the toilet, just to be sure. 

 

Yes, bad things happen.  Things go wrong, sometimes at an alarming rate, but we can survive.  So, just relax and remember that  you are not alone!

The Joys of Summer

I really enjoy summer time.  School is out, and the kids are busy with all of their outdoor activities, leaving me some time to regroup.  I think it takes about three months for me to recover from one school year and prepare for the next! :)

 

The weather here in Mississippi has been warm, mostly 70’s so far, but I know it will get hotter as the summer progresses.  I am thanking the Lord for air conditioning!  One of the things I do to keep temperatures down in the house is cooking meals on the grill.  I love grilled food!  It has a special flavor that you cannot get any other way.

 

One of my favorite things to make is grilled chicken breast.  Just sprinkle a little salt and fresh-ground pepper on them, and grill for 10-12 minutes on each side.  I have found that a common mistake in food preparation is overcooking.  Whether it is meat, vegetables, or even baked goods, you can easily make your meal dry and tough by cooking it too long.  Chicken should be tender and the juices should run clear. This is easier to see when you are grilling, because the juice rises to the top of the meat.  I grill my chicken on medium heat for more even cooking.

 

IMG_4234

 

So—what are you having for dinner?  Do you enjoy grilling, or is your husband the Grillmaster?  Do you have something unique that you enjoy making in the summertime?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Decadent Treats

Mother’s Day has just passed, and I had the opportunity to make some especially yummy treats.  I was  commissioned,  you might say (doesn’t that sound impressive?) by a friend’s husband to make her a special Mother’s Day gift.  Chocolate-dipped strawberries.  I had such a fun time making this gift, picking out the perfect berries, gift box, and decorative ribbon!  Here is what I ended up with… or rather what she ended up with!

 

IMG_4237

 

it was my first time to successfully drizzle my berries.  I had to use my cake decorating equipment to get the right look.  next time, they will look even better, once I have had a little more practice!

 

IMG_4242

I had a hard time finding food-safe tins, so I ended up going with just a zebra-print gift box.  It kind of matched the drizzled berries, which I really had not thought about when I bought the box.  The bow was a glittery pink ribbon that I tied and glued to the box.  I love the contrast of the pink and zebra print.  Anyway, I was pleased with the result, and my friend’s husband was thrilled with his exclusive gift.  I’m thinking he will get some extra brownie points for this Mother’s Day gift!  Maybe I will take orders next year… :)

 

What did you receive for Mother’s Day?

Friday, May 11, 2012

Happy Mother’s Day!

This weekend is Mother’s Day—the day we are honored for the other 364 days of selfless, sacrificial service to our children.  I just want to take a moment and say how thankful I am to have the opportunity to be a mother.  it is one of the greatest joys in the world.  I have not always been the best mother I can be, but my children love me anyway!  My children show their love by giving me hugs, kisses, flowers, weeds, pictures, and rocks.  I love each of my children, and I am so thankful to be their mother!

268271

 

I also want to thank God for my mom.  She has been such a blessing to me, a strong woman who loves the Lord, and whose greatest desire is that her children love and serve the Lord.  I couldn’t ask for a better mom.  We enjoy so many of the same things (I got her hooked on scrapbooking) and have the same weird sense of humor.  Thanks, Mom, for being there, and for loving me!  I love you!

513

I also know this is a hard day for some women who so desperately want to have children, but for one reason or another cannot.  My heart goes out to you, and I pray that God will give you the desires of your heart in His perfect timing.  Some of my friends have already lost their mothers, and there is a painful void in their life.  Remember your mother, reflect on the good times you had with her, and share those memories with others.  To all of you, I am wishing a very happy Mother’s Day!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Sewing Again

Since cleaning out all my girls’ clothing from winter, I have noticed how many of their clothes are either too short, too tight, or too worn to be seen in public.  I try to pick up cute skirts for them that they can wear, but one of my girls is a real tomboy and loves to ride bikes, climb trees, and run around outdoors.  Many times I cringe and the old ditty, “I see London, I see France…” comes to mind when my girls are playing.  Sigh. 

 

491

They had some old culottes that someone had made them, but they were splitting at the seams. I decided to make a few pair for them, since summer is already here. The problem was, I didn’t like many of the patterns I found. I had the best pattern when I was a teenager, and I decided I would try to obtain a copy of it. Long story short—it is now vintage. That made me feel rather old. I couldn’t find it anywhere. I even contacted the company to see if they had any in an old abandoned warehouse somewhere, but had no luck. When all else fails, try E-bay, right? Right! I found it in the perfect size for my girls! Yay!

 

 

493

I set to work on making several pair as soon as possible. This was difficult, since my machine is still in storage. I borrowed a few machines here and there, and managed to make four pair of culottes. I also altered the pattern and made a skirt for Esther, who doesn’t really like culottes for some reason. It was fairly simple to change. I just cut the front and back seams with no crotch—just a straight line. It turned out beautifully! Now she has a cute front-pleated denim skirt with pockets. I will be doing that again!   Here they are sporting their new summer look!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Shoes Coming out of My Ears!

I remember going off to college years ago and taking about six pair of shoes with me—blue, black, brown, white, navy, and tennis shoes.  I thought I was set for life back then.  I recall listening with amazement and awe as one of my roommates declared that she only brought sixty pair of her 100+ pair collection to college with her.  How in the world did she ever decide which ones to wear, I thought?  Another college acquaintance brought eighty pair with her.  I was glad I didn’t have to share her closet space!  It was unbelievable to me that anyone would have that many shoes.  I thought perhaps that having too many shoes might be a bad thing—I mean, look at Imelda Marcos!

 

However, over the years, I have acquired a reasonable sized collection of footwear myself.  Boots, heels, sandals, flip-flops, dressy, strappy, casual, black, brown, white, cream, oatmeal, navy, summer, winter, high heels, low heels, open toe, round toe, pointy toe, and square toe.  I think you get the picture.  I have a lot more shoes than any woman living in an RV should.  My husband tolerates my obsession rather well, which means as long as he is not tripping over them, he doesn’t complain.  I told you he was wonderful! :)

 

Two weeks ago, when I took the girls to have their ears pierced, I found these adorable earrings.  To make them even cuter, they were pink!  I love pink!   I had to get them, and since they were on sale, I added them to another of my collections—dangly earrings (more about those another time).

 

IMG_4132

 

So, now I can truthfully say that I have shoes coming out my ears!  Gotta love that!

 

IMG_4130

 

To be honest, I really don’t know how many pair of shoes I own, but I almost bought the cutest green shoes the other day—to match my new outfit, of course! :)  I showed great restraint and left them in the store, although I have thought about them several times.  Maybe they will go on sale soon…

Friday, May 4, 2012

Happy Birthday, Abigail!

Today, my daughter turned eight years old.  Her birthday comes in the middle of a flurry of activities and functions each year, and many times, there is not the opportunity to sit and linger over birthday cake and presents.  This year was an exception, however, and we had a lovely party with just our family. (Keep it simple, right?)

 

This little girl is such a blessing from the Lord.  She is sweet, funny, mischievous, and totally lovable.  I am so glad that she is a part of my life and family. 

 

IMG_4171

 

I tried something new for her cake this year—fondant icing!  It was exciting, yet scary.  I was afraid it wouldn’t turn out properly, but amazingly enough, it was beautiful!  I think the cake was her favorite part of the whole shebang!  It was not a breathtaking masterpiece, being my first attempt, but I thought it turned out very well.  By the next birthday, I will be a little more confident and maybe even amaze myself! :)

 

IMG_4151

 

This is the cake.  I think the only thing I would do differently if I had to do it over is to leave off the embossed flowers.  They stretched a bit when I put the fondant over the cake, and didn’t show as well as I thought they would.  I think the next time, I will have a smooth surface that looks more uniform.

 

IMG_4175IMG_4176

 

All in all, it was a very enjoyable time for our family.  Happy Birthday, Abigail!  We love you!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

My Friends

So much of my life is affected and influenced by relationships.  From the time we are born, people make impressions upon us, shaping us into the people that we will one day become.  I have been privileged to have many wonderful friends over the years, and I am going to take the time to honor several of them.  Some of these friends I have known for a long time, others I have only known for a few years, but all have impacted my life, and I want to thank each one of them for the pleasure of their friendship.

Disclaimer: just because you do not see  your name mentioned here does not mean that I do not consider you a good friend—it just means that I do not have a photo of you with me to put on my blog.  Give me a little time. :)  This is a work in progress!

The first friend I wish to feature is Lisa.  We met years ago when she was in college and I was teaching in a Christian school.  We were not even what I would call friends,  she was just the friend of a friend.  Over the last four years or so we have become friends.  We do not see each other often, nor do we keep in regular contact.  We see each other about once a year, and it is one of the highlights of my year to spend time with her and her family. 

IMG_3964
Lisa is a sweet girl who loves the Lord and loves her family.  She is extremely talented and excels in many different areas—sports, music, crafting, quilting, and scrapbooking to mention a few.  In addition to all of these things, she is a wonderful mother to her children.  She is one of the most unselfish and giving people that I know.  I am glad to have her in my circle of friends, and I hope that as the years go by, we will become closer to each other and to the Lord.  Thank you, Lisa, for your impact upon my life.  You have been a tremendous challenge and blessing to me!