Helpful Documents

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Making a quiet book

One of the wonderful things about having children is introducing them to the worship service at church.  It's fun to see them watch and absorb what is happening around them.  It's not so much fun when they get tired of being quiet (one of the big problems with my little chatterboxes) and sitting still.

So this Christmas, I decided I would make Jayma a little quiet book for church.  What's best is that the whole thing is made from remnants.  I didn't buy a thing!

So I Googled...and I checked Pinterest, and came up with a small book to start.

Let me begin by pointing out that when you undertake any sewing project, you really need to find a neat and tidy area to work.

It's important to have an organized sewing box.

I can't emphasize enough how much faster a project will progress if you are able to easily find everything you need.

Now that we have that out of the way...

On to the book.
I was going to sew the whole thing together, but after breaking 3 needles, I decided to just put in grommets and that would allow me to add other pages later.

The cover just has her name.  I tied the pages together with ribbon...I think that turned out cute.

The First pages have a pie to weave, a napkin to fold, and shoes to lace, button and velcro.

Then I have a page of shapes to match and a little barn with doors that open.  There is a pocket to add little animal finger puppets, but she doesn't get those until she stops putting everything in her mouth.  

One of my favorite pages is the button flowers.  She can take the flowers off and move them around.  I also have a clock with hands that move independently.  You know so she can keep track of the time she is spending listening to the sermon.  

Finally, on the back is the pocket, of course. It is complete with felt coins on ribbon to take in and out.  

I can't wait for her to open it Sunday.  If she likes it half as much as her sisters have, it will be a hit!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Rat Toes...or Bacon-Wraped-Shrimp-Stuffed-Jalapenos for those who prefer.

Last week we had the great pleasure of getting 6 really nice sized jalepenos as part of our weekly produce bag.  That left us with only one option of how to serve them.  Rat Toes!

You see, a good friend of mine, Hope C. in Atlanta recommended a restaurant by the name of Six Feet Under on a trip to see her a few years ago.  It was a great recommendation.  As was the recommendation to try Rat Toes.  Sounds appealing, doesn't it?  Well, don't knock 'em till you've tried 'em.  Because they were superb.

And since imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, we came home and attempted to make our own.  I mean, a gal can't be expected to go a year or more without a mix of shrimp, bacon and peppers, can she?

So here is my little tutorial on how to make them for yourself.

First, you need a good line up:

You are going to need peppers.  We used 6 good sized jalepenos and 8 smaller jalepenos from a friend's garden, along with a trial run of 3 banana peppers from our own garden.  You will also need one raw, peeled shrimp for each pepper, a strip of raw bacon for each pepper, and some toothpicks or skewers.

Step 1 is to cut all the stem ends off and carefully clean out the seeds and ribs.  The more seeds and ribs you remove the milder the pepper will be.  

Then you take one shrimp per pepper and stuff the shrimp in tail first.
Since we had smaller peppers as well, I cut some of our shrimp in half to make them fit.

Once you have the shrimp stuffed, it's time to wrap them in bacon.  Ohhh...bacon.  I'm pretty sure we cut the bacon in half, but really, can you use too much bacon?  No, you cannot.
Make sure to skewer them with a toothpick to hold the bacon in place.
For the 8 smaller peppers, we just lined them all up on a long kebob skewer with bacon serpentined between.  Doesn't that just make your mouth water?

I lined a broiler pan with foil - this is very important - without the foil, you will be scrubbing that pan forever.

I put them under the broiler for about 10 minutes on one side and then flipped them over for another 10-15 minutes on the second side.

Wow, I am so hungry

And another view of that bacon-y goodness, just in case the first photo didn't make you hungry.

Here is the platter of Rat Toes, ready for eating.  We have some ranch dip in that bowl, but it doesn't really show up, being white dip in a white bowl.

And the Rat Toes as part of the whole meal.  All of the above veggies (spinach, carrots and broccoli) came from our organic produce co-op.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Our dogs speak what?

While encouraging my girls to clean their room (with a timer and a garbage bag) I heard the dogs going crazy barking in the living room.

This is the conversation that followed:

Me: "Oh, my. What are they barking at?!"

Jorja: "Don't ask me, I don't speak dog Spanish."

Jonah: "Dog Spanish?"

Jorja: "Or dog English...or whatever. I don't know what they are saying."

I had no idea our dogs were bilingual.

Saturday, August 13, 2011


I have finished this year's format of our Weekly Homeschool Record. I've broken from the "time/day" format to the subject format. Pray for me...this is a huge break away from my usual way of doing things. I'm trying to be more flexible. Let's just hope I don't bend too far and snap!

So here it is.

I have also uploaded our daily schedule for those of you who had asked to see it.

Let's hope it's worth more than the paper I printed it on!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Back at it!

We made a brief attempt at getting back into the swing of things this morning. It ended with me confiding in a friend that if things go this well all year, the girls will be in public school with a quickness. Of course, that feeling passed eventually, but I can see that morning chores and sitting quietly at the school table will take some time to get used to.

I did get some time to get our weekly schedule going. It still needs tweaking, as we do not have a dance schedule or a firm day of the week for history or some of the other activities we hope to enjoy.

But for your viewing pleasure...

There is still much tweaking to be done...such as toning down colors and adding more chores. And probably more chores. And there is a serious lack of time allotted for laundry washing, folding and putting away.

But, I must say, all in all, I am cautiously excited about this year and what it will hold for us. Maintaining my sanity will be goal #1, of course.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The only fighting we allow is... pillowfighting!

And we are training them well. Jason had a blast beating his children with pillows, chasing them around, and occasionally being hit himself!

Monday, June 27, 2011

We did it!

I just sat Jorja down with a Bob book to see what she could sound out and I was so surprised with what she was able to read to me. And she picked up the sight words "the", "a", and "has" quite quickly.
So I guess I have no choice now but to start kindy with her early so the poor child can learn to read. AND I have to get all of our early readers out of storage. Yikes. That means that our dining room remodel has to be fast tracked. Which also means a trip to Orlando to buy the new table, and getting someone in here to quickly (and economically) put in the wall unit.
Hmmm...that is a lot of work all put into motion by one little 5 year old eager to learn.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Things I've learned while doing yard work...

1. My girls are not nearly as good at yard work as watching TV. They need serious encouragement in the weed-pulling, leaf-raking and mulch-spreading departments.

2. 80-anything degrees and higher are too hot for re-mulching. Or sitting in a chair eating a Popsicle. Or being outside.

3. I NEVER buy enough mulch. I will henceforth go to Lowe's, tell them how much mulch I need and then add the words "times 2". That should get me close.

3.5. And speaking of Lowe's...they never take me seriously. Anytime I ask for something they always hesitate and seem as though they are waiting for my husband to walk up and take care of things. This only fuels my stubborn nature and makes me ask A LOT of questions about things I don't really care about as punishment. "Soooo...this chigger stufff...does it really work? Do you have organic ant granules? Can you ask your manager just to make sure? Where are the posies? Can you take me there? Do I need to pay for the mulch first, or can we just see how many fit in my van? Do I need to back my van up over here to get the mulch, or can you just carry it there for me?" See...I am a much nicer person when you don't judge me for the lack of testosterone.

4. After 30 minutes of work I will inevitably stand up and black out. I must always remember to have a chair or pillow near me...concrete hurts.

5. Drink water. And then drink water. And a little more...

6. If I find a millipede, frog, lizard, worm or any other "cool bug" I have lost 3 workers indefinitely. Their new task is to make it a house and feed it lunch.

7. I should never, never, never try to spruce up the back yard the day before a party when I already have 3 days worth of to-do list looming overhead.


Monday, May 2, 2011

The end is near...

And we can't seem to get a darn thing done.

We only have two weeks left of curriculum, and for some reason, we just keep finding reasons not to finish it. I know we could just skip it, honestly. Everything we do from here to the end of the year will be reviewed ad nauseam at the beginning of the next school year. But I'm not a quitter. Am I? And I'm a rule follower. When I want to be. And what kind of example would I be to my children if I just quit now.

So we keep chugging along. (barely) And we will complete all the lessons and tests...and then we will swim and play and sleep in and stay up late and totally and completely enjoy summer for about a month until we get bored and are ready to start school again.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Homeschooling is a gateway drug.

It all begins innocently enough.

You think about it, you may even pray about it. Then one day the decision is made. Whether it was a decision made before you had children, because of a special need of one of your children, or a bad experience in a public or private school, it's done, you're going to homeschool. For better or homeschool.

This is my family (obviously, duh!)

It's our life. We joined the club, so to speak, we are literally a card-carrying home school family.

But for so many of us, it doesn't end there. It's not just how we educate our children. It's our lifestyle.

And then it begins...the lifestyle changes. For some, homeschool was a product of long denim dresses. For others, the long denim dresses came out of the decision. And it's different for all of us...what byproducts come out of this lifestyle.

For our family it is slowly but surely getting off the grid, one small (or large) decision at a time. What am I talking about?

  • Starting a garden. Ask Jorja why...she will answer, "so we don't have to go buy our produce anymore." Yes, it's educational, healthy, and saves money, but it just seems like the 'thing to do.' And I blame my fellow home school mommies for setting the example.
  • Cooking from scratch. I know, a lot of you who don't homeschool do this, but bear with me, because before I was the one sitting ALL DAY with my four children, I could give a rat's hind-end if my kids were sugared up and full of chemicals that made them act like untrained monkeys. Now, I am doggone serious about fresh fruits and veggies for snacks and meals instead of junk that will make me want to take up drinking at 10 AM.
  • Cloth diapering. The newest item in my line of going against the grain. I'm tired of Pampers, Huggies, and sometimes Luvs taking all our money. And you know I'm serious about this if I'm willing to take on MORE laundry. And if I'm willing to swish poop out of a diaper.
  • Holistic medicine. Yep, I've jumped off the pharmaceutical freight train. I will, of course turn to a prescription when needed, but no more than necessary. Guess what? Those great herbs and homeopathic remedies people have used for hundreds of years...a lot of them WORK. It's amazing.
  • Farm-fresh eggs and whatever else we can pilfer...err...purchase from our local friends who farm. Yes, I'm even considering raw know "for the animals". (Please FDC, do not come hunt me down, I promise, there is no contraband dairy in my fridge or my children)
  • Tardiness. I will never forget the first lesson I learned in Jamaica. When we were running about 2 hours late getting to our resort I was told about "Jamaica time." Yes, Jamaica time is the explanation given when everything is so laid back that no one really cares if you get there 20 minutes early or (more likely) an hour late. I've always been very high strung and have never wanted to be late for anything. It's tacky. Promptness is courteous and thoughtful. Unless you homeschool. In which case you live your life by "homeschool time." Now, I could blame this phenomenon on the fact that I have 4 small children, but I'm not going to set myself up like that. Because we all know that even when I'm down to schooling one or two high school girls, I'll still be late to everything - late according to 'the man', that is. But for me, it's just "homeschool time, man. No worries."
So what's next, you ask? Well, I'm not sure. But I can guarantee that it's not coming from Wal-Mart or Target. More likely a farm supply store. And it might be cute, yellow, stinky, and eventually lay eggs. Or it might be a product we learn to make ourselves from live cultures or milk. But whatever it is, I blame the influence of those lovely ladies I know who think outside the box.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Generosity, with a hint of orneriness.

One thing I love about these girls is that they are (almost) always willing to share. Whether it's treat Jorja gets at preschool, a goodie Jonah gets at a sleepover, or a handful of snacks Josie gets from mommy in the kitchen, everyone gets a taste.
Sometimes it comes without hesitation, but other times, we may run into some arguing, or like today...some toying with emotions.
This morning we got an early start and took a few items to a bake sale at Jorja's school to benefit a local child, Luke, who is dealing with some very serious health issues. I also gave each girl a couple dollars that they could spend at the sale.
Josie went straight to the chocolate dipped Oreos. Smart girl. Jonah opted to get a couple lower priced items. However, when it came time to eat, Jonah asked if she could have a bite of Josie's. And Josies response was awesome. She did not answer Jonah, instead, she looked her right in the eye and took a bite of the Oreo pop. She didn't even blink.
Jonah asked again. Josie took another bite, still staring right at Jonah.
Jonah and Josie facing off in a battle of wills over a bite of oreo cookie and chocolate bliss. And this continues until the last tiny bite of the treat was left. At which point, Josie's mouth upturned into an evil grin very reminiscent of something you would see out of the grinch, and she slowly lifted it up to her mouth. Jonah's eyes grew large with anticipation. Josie paused with it on the edge of her lips...then handed it across the table to Jonah, who broke off a large bite of her brownie and gave it to Josie. Crisis averted.
The peanut butter balls I bought, however, are put up. I don't think I have enough to share.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, February 25, 2011

My girls + pretty much anything = potty humor

This week's letter at Jorja's preschool is D. Surprisingly, doo-doo was not mentioned. Neither was dookie or dummy. I am very proud of this accomplishment. I think we are heading toward a civilized household. Maybe.
We discussed several D words before all laughing that diaper would be a funny item to bring. Yeah, it's settled and this is not as inappropriate as dad's idea for the letter U - underwear.
And then Jorja's uncanny ability to make me roll my eyes kicked in...
"Ha, ha, mommy..."
If you have heard her raspy goofy laugh, insert that above...she thought she was quite funny with the following statement.
"How about I bring a DIRTY diaper!?"
And the laughter commenced.
Even Jamison had a big goofy grin. I guess there is no hope for that one, either. I do like that she found a way to use two D's, but I explained that her teacher would probably not appreciate me if I let her bring one of Jamison's dirty diapers in.
So we compromised and I let Jorja bring her favorite stuffed puppy, Roundup, in a diaper.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Life is...mundane...?

I can't believe it. I haven't had anything wild and crazy to blog about in months.

No children locking employees out of stores.

No mummified poultry.

No pulled fire alarms.

No overflowing toilets.

I might have to do something rash like take a cross-country trip alone with the kids to have some inspiration.

Or I'll just make stuff up...

Or do this again...

Monday, February 7, 2011

My new hobby

Oh, don't roll your eyes at me. I KNOW I don't have time for a hobby...I don't have time to shower regularly, either...but I still DO it!

How many of you have wonderful husbands? Then you know how it feels to get a reeeeeeealllly great new toy, courtesy of your hard-workin' man. My new toy is this:

Nice, isn't it?

And with any luck, I'll learn how to use it soon, and can post tons and tons of really great images.

I have always loved Photoshop and just recently learned about actions. How did I not know about this years ago? I love that with one action, you can take a photo from this:

To this:

And that is just my lame beginner attempt...Awesomeness!!

And today you can enter to win some Pure Photoshop Actions from Julie Paisley Photography! You may recognize Julie from my Christmas picture blog. Just click on Julie's blog link for the details!

**My lame beginner attempt was using Old West Action from the Pioneer Woman**

Sunday, February 6, 2011

How big is your bubble?

A conversation overheard at the breakfast table...

Jonah: (while drawing) Jorja, get back...

Jorja: I want to see what you're doing.

Jonah: You are in my personal space.

(Jorja ignores Jonah)

Jonah: You are in my bubble...I have a very large bubble.

Jorja: Well, then, it can fit two people...

Thursday, January 20, 2011

I love...

...when Jamison wakes from her nap like this:

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

My first phone blog!

Since my free time seems to come mostly during nights at the dance studio, and I seem to be snapping a lot of pictures on my handy-dandy iPhone, it seems to make sense that I buy a blogger app and make good use of this technology...
Doesn't it?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Looking back 9 years...the story of Jonah's birth.

After each child (except the last, of course) I sat down to put into words the events that took place during each birth. Here is the *edited* version on Jonah's birth story:

They say that every pregnancy and birth is different. I know in the general scheme of things that both my pregnancy and birth were relatively easy, but let’s just say I’m a planner - and I planned things a lot better than they actually occurred. I would have never planned to be due on the day after Christmas, that’s for sure!

At my 36 week checkup - after a couple week s of Braxton Hicks contractions were already under my belt, I experienced the most horrific new experience of a first time mom’s life - the cervical check. Now, it’s not just that you are butt-naked, legs in the air, it’s the feeling around that’s not so much fun. After what seemed like an eternity, the doctor snapped off her glove and announced knowingly “you are 1 cm dilated and 50% effaced. You may not make it full term!!”

What? All my plans may work out? I had decided that my daughter would be born on December 12th at 38 weeks and I would have a short period of time to adjust to motherhood and get my figure back before I attended all the Christmas parties I wanted, precious new baby in tow. (Insert maniacal laughter here)

For the next 4 weeks I was lied to in much the same manner. “You will have this baby any day now.” I began to loathe those words. And even more - I hated those exams - now they included a new surprise - stripping membranes. Every appointment I became more uncomfortable, and at every appointment I was promised they would schedule my induction. Lies, all horrible, evil, lies!

I’ll never forget my elation on Christmas day. My contractions were about 6 minutes apart and Dh and I decided to walk, walk, walk, until they were a little closer - then we would call my OB and have a wonderful Christmas surprise. And then they stopped. For no reason at all. My body betrayed me. I was heart-broken.

My next appointment was New Year’s Eve. I was now 5 days overdue. I had been promised yet again that if I had not begun labor on my own I would be induced. My bags were packed and in the car, the carseat was installed. I was ready to have my baby. And then the disappointment yet again. No one would induce me on a holiday. NO. My induction was finally set for January 3rd. What? No tax deduction? I carried this baby most of the year and no freakin’ payout?? You have to be kidding me? Fine. Sure, you can strip my membranes again. I have no dignity left. Jason was witness to the act for the first time. He shrunk down in the corner of the office in horror. He was a shell of the man I married.

We proceeded home to let everyone know that finally, we would have a baby. Not in the year we expected, but it would at long last happen. I sat on the couch and the most incredibly strange feeling occurred. I knew I had to get to the bathroom immediately. I went into the bathroom just outside the kitchen where Jason was getting dinner together and whoosh! No less than 3 gallons of fluid poured out of me into the toilet bowl. Jason ran to the bathroom door yelling “what was that?” I knew immediately “My water broke!”

I cleaned myself up and walked into the kitchen where Jason was laughing at me. I felt like I had a grapefruit in my crotch, and that’s just how I was walking. I began to laugh, too, only, to my surprise, water ran down my legs. Which made both of us laugh even harder and water just kept pouring out. I laughed and leaked until my first contraction. My first REAL contraction. And then reality set in. I was in labor - we would have a baby very soon. At least that’s what I thought.

Twelve minutes later, the next contraction came. And then another in 6, then 5, then 5, then 4. This must be it. Jason had already called the doctor and she told us to go straight to the hospital. It was only 5 minutes from our house. My water broke at 4:30 and somehow it took me until 6:30 to get there. Having to change an overnight maxi pad a dozen times and waiting for Jason to “waterproof” the front seat of the car didn’t help.

We walked up to the door of the L&D and buzzed the desk. A nurse came back asking who we were. “My name is Lisa, my water broke and my doctor told me to...” Oh, we have your room ready, come on in.

Excuse me? You have my room ready? No, that’s not how the lady on the tour told us it would happen. First I go to that room and you make sure I’m really in labor and then I get a room. You’re doing it wrong!! I broke down in tears saying “no, I’m not ready for a real room yet!”

I got a hug from the nurse and she showed me to my room. I was shaking. This was not according to plan!

They asked if I wanted the epidural yet. No, no epidural, thanks. I’m going natural. Laughter. Screaming from next door. The nurse explained that the woman in the next room was going natural, too. There’s that panicky feeling again...

So they got in an IV and that blasted cervical check. But I had to be a good 4 or 5 cm by now. Nothing could hurt this bad and be ineffective, right? “You’re 70% effaced and 2 cm.” Son of a gun!!

So we tried walking again. Soon to find out the entire population of northeast Florida had been alerted of my impending delivery and was in the waiting room. I was expected to make an appearance. Leaking fluid down my leg, in a backless gown and hospital issued grippy socks. Sure, let’s go for it! So I walk out and there are my friends, family, and my pastor. I stood next to the pastor’s chair and just then the mother of all contractions hits. I squat right next to him and am holding on for dear life to the arm of the chair grunting. I will never look at him the same again. I think to myself "I’m going back to walk the floors of the L&D again." At least there, I am with my own kind. Not you people with your coffee and donuts and well proportioned waistlines.

My back is really starting to bother me now, not that it wasn’t bad before, but I almost can’t breathe. Jason suggested a shower. He put on his swim trunks and joined me in the stall. He rubbed my back and kept the warm water on my back. It worked for a while. But I couldn’t sit there much longer. I had to move.

Once we got dried off and I was back in my huge pad and backless gown, they put me in the bed on monitors and checked me again. It was almost midnight. Almost a new year. I was ready to hear it was time to push...and...2 cm. Impossible. And who is that man pacing outside.

It was the angel of mercy - the anesthesiologist. But, no. I was not giving in. I would have this baby naturally. For no reason other than that I was told I wouldn’t make it. This was a matter of pride. I would regain some of my dignity!!

I walked a little more after they removed the monitors. And then my doctor said the unthinkable. Pitocin. What terror lurks in that tiny bottle I would have never guessed. I caved. And my body soon felt as though it were ripping in half.

Where was that pusher with my drugs - and how much could I have??

A dose of stadol and a needle in the back later, and I was fast asleep. I don’t even remember what happened. I awoke around 6 AM to another cervical check. Ah. I was ready to hear the bad news. But...I was now fully dilated and effaced. It was time to push the baby down.

I turned to see my husband laying on the couch asleep. “GET UP” I yelled. “It’s time!”

Now here’s where things get fuzzy. For some reason Jason decides not to plug in the video camera and just to set it on the tripod and let it tape my mother’s backside for 5 minutes before the battery gave out. She did move just long enough to get one unsightly shot of me on my side pushing. I looked like death. Yet, I cannot bring myself to destroy the tape.

After 2 hours of pushing, I am informed there is a woman in the next room at the same stage of labor I am in, and the first baby of the new year has yet to be born. What? Is that a challenge??
I am suddenly transformed into a pushing machine. I have Jason, 3 nurses and my doctor cheering me on. And finally, at 8:20 AM, January 1st, 2002, I win. My little girl is born with apgar scores of 9 and 10. I was able to pull her out and up to my chest. She was beautiful.

A nurse asks if we want a picture because somehow, my mother and mother in law have managed to leave the room in the 2 hours of pushing and miss the birth. They went for coffee. Amazing. The nurse grabs the camera off the table and clicks some pictures. Not the $350 camera purchased specifically for this occasion, mind you, but the mini polaroid camera someone left in the room. Son of a... Can I not have one decent picture or video of this? And worse yet, she stands at the foot of the bed and manages to capture a picture of the new family - and my crotch. I how have a microscopic picture of my new daughter’s head framed by the unspeakable.

They take my baby, clean her up and put her on the scale - just as my mother walks in and screams “it’s a baby” Apparently she expected a puppy? 7 ½ lbs, 20 1/4 inches long is the report.

They hand her back to me and she immediately latches on to eat. She’s a natural. And hungry.

Two days after her birth, and many visitors later, we left the hospital to begin our new lives as a family.