Sunday, September 30, 2007

3rd Annual Beach Campout

The last weekend of September is a great weekend to go camping at the beach - smaller crowd, water and weather still warm but not too hot during the day, and cool enough at night to be comfortable.

Friday we stuffed the van to the brim with the various gear, clothing, food, and toys absolutely essential for a 2 night trip to the beach. We set up camp, roasted hot dogs over the fire, and finally walked over to the beach after dark. The girls were *not* happy that they had to wait so long before seeing the ocean, but Mom and Dad would have been *not* happy at setting up the tent after dark, so first things first. We got to see the moon rise blood red over the ocean, which was thrilling and both girls still managed to get their clothes sopping wet, so the wait was worth it.

The next morning, we ate a quick breakfast, packed up the toys, drinks, snacks, towels, camera, sunscreen, and headed over to play at the beach. We walked up, set our stuff way back from the water and watched the tide come in...way in. We had to move the gear up almost on the dunes to keep it safe. K was immediately in the water, getting deeper and deeper until the waves knocked her over and washed her up on shore. She'd look half-drowned, but she kept running out to do it again, so it must've been more fun than it looked. L was...very impressed...with the power and roar of the waves and resolved to stay far, far away. She would only get close enough to get her feet wet if someone was holding her hand and she still wasn't very comfortable with it all. She did, however, love to play in the sand, so it was all good.

Lunchtime came and went and we convinced the girls to go back to camp and get cleaned up and fed, then we went to find a mini-golf course. Myrtle Beach is the "Adventure Golf Capital of the World" or at least it should be. It's BIG business when you can't drive a block without seeing a mini golf place and each one is bigger and more elaborate than the last. I wanted to go to the one with the huge smoking pirate skull cave, but we settled for the tall mountain, waterfalls, and jungle animals. The girls had a blast until the last few holes of the second round when L finally had simply had enough fun and excitement for one day, had a meltdown, slowly recovered, then stayed clingy. Of course, K told us later that she had read a sign to L about how the "Lagoon Monster" sometimes "ate" balls (they sometimes went in a pipe and never came out) and L freaked out that there was a monster at the end of a long course and it was that terror that brought on the meltdown---info that would have been nice to know when it was actually happening!

We're back home, plan to get to bed early, and jump into another exciting week of school, activities, and house cleaning since we're expecting a visit this weekend from Grandma - yea!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

A Verse to Memorize

Job 37:5 “God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways; he does great things beyond our understanding.”

In Bible Study today, our leader spoke a very true statement. God is working *all the time* for our good. When we listen and when we don't, when things are running smoothly and when we're filled with anxiety, when we're racing ahead and when we're wringing our hands during a seemingly endless wait, when we get the greatest news and even when we hear the most devastating - God is still working for our ultimate good. He's working in mighty ways that are beyond our comprehension to accomplish amazing things for our benefit and His glory.

What a comfort that is.

Fashion at Our House

A couple of my favorite bloggers BigMama and BooMama have been writing some great posts with all kinds of fashion tips and great buys from places real people actually shop, like Target and Old Navy. It was truly inspiring as I would never have known about this season's trend of "trouser jeans" without their tireless efforts.

As you can see from the picture, I don't think we're in any place to be giving fashion advice. In my defense, we were only taking the trash out, so I didn't feel any need to correct my daughter's fashion choices. I did, however, feel the need to document them for your viewing pleasure.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Happy Birthday, K!

7 years ago today, I received a call from the hospital saying they had an opening for induction *right now* and if I could come in, I could have it. I had been on the waiting list for 5 days due to an increasingly higher blood pressure, but I thought I might get a little more warning. So I called W and my mom, jumped in the car, and headed to the hospital where *I couldn't find a parking spot*. I drove through 2 lots, thinking thoughts not lawful to be uttered, and finally just parked in the emergency spots next to the maternity ward. Because this was obviously an emergency.

After lots of pitocin, an epidural that wouldn't work only to then work too well, an oxygen mask, loud alarms as my blood pressure plummeted, an external monitor crammed into my belly by the nurse after every push while we held our collective breath listening for K's heartbeat to come back since it slowed down dramatically whenever I pushed, and the threat from the doctor that if I didn't deliver *right now*, he would be removing that baby by force (and people wonder why we adopted the second), K made her rather dramatic entrance. She was blue, quiet, and had her cord wrapped twice around her neck, but she got over all that very quickly and started screaming at the nurses. Yep, she was fine.

Today she celebrated her birthday by taking 2 tests (yep, I'm the mean mom who at least made her do a little school today so we could officially count it) and having a birthday party with 4 friends at the local pottery painting studio. She had a Kim Possible cake, a Hannah Montana balloon, and painted a car. We had a blast at the party and got lots of compliments from the staff on how quiet and well-behaved all the girls were. Then they ate cake and ice cream and started chasing each other around the tables. Between shelves stacked with pottery and signs stating, "You break, you buy". Ah, the joys of sugar. But the staff was still stating their amazement at how smoothly the party went as we were leaving, so I think it was all good and K has officially declared this her Best Birthday Ever. And that's what I was hoping for.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Shaving Cream Spelling

You gotta love the blogosphere. You can find all kinds of neat ideas out there and today I put one into action.

I was reading about how one woman had helped her daughter get interested in studying her spelling words by letting her write them in shaving cream on a cookie sheet. Sounded easy enough and it was something I was sure the girls would love. After all, what's *not* to love?

I told K to skip writing her spelling words this morning and we would do something fun when she finished all of her work. I have *never* seen that child work so quickly! Even she was impressed with herself and resolved that from now on she would be done with school by 10am. Yeah, uh-huh, I can see that happening.

Anyway, here's a couple of pictures of the spelling (and just plain playing) fun.

Homeschooling Flexibility

One of the things people like about homeschooling is how flexible it is. You can adjust schedules and topics to accommodate travel, field trips, interests, and even the unexpected. Like today, we had to adjust our plans and cover some new topics -

Civil servants
Civic responsibility
Fact vs. speculation
Noticing and recalling details
When to call 911
How to make a police report

Wow, what happened, you ask? Well, it all started when K glanced out the window and said, very calmly, "Mom, there's a man tying up another man outside."

Ummm, excuse me?

So I got up off the floor where I had been sorting through last year's work, looked out the window *and she was right*! One guy was sitting very calmly in the back seat of an SUV with his hands handcuffed in his lap and he was very obligingly leaning forward and picking up his feet as another guy seemed to be wrapping rope around him. The second guy very politely put a seatbelt on the tied up guy, shut the door, walked calmly around the SUV, got in, and drove off while we watched in disbelief. I had the presence of mind to write down the license plate number and call the police.

A little later, the police called back and asked if they could come get a statement. Sure, why not? K was very excited to tell her side of the story. It was the most bizarre thing since neither guy was in a hurry or seemed upset. They acted like this happened all the time.


The police officer said it was probably a bondsman, but since they couldn't match the plate number I gave them, then they'll investigate it. I wonder what'll come of it.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Free Dyson Contest

I rarely enter drawings, but I just had to try for this one. It's for a free *pink* Dyson vaccuum, which just says it all right there. If you want to enter for yourself (but please don't get jealous when I win), you can go to

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Field Trip to Biltmore

We went on a field trip yesterday to the Biltmore Estate and it was easily our best field trip ever (well, except that whole trip to China thing when K was in Kindergarten). We got there at 9am and I finally dragged the girls away around 5:30pm. There were a ton of things to do and see and the girls would have happily stayed forever.

The Biltmore is a huge, privately-owned estate in Asheville, NC. There's an enormous house to tour, a working farm to visit with a blacksmith and woodshop, ornamental and kitchen gardens and a large conservatory, and extensive grounds to explore by Land Rover, bike, boat, or even one of those cool looking segways. I had never been there and wondered what was so cool about a big, old house, but it really is a neat place.

We started out at the farm where the girls watched the chickens. K wanted to know where the rooster was, but their flock is only made up of hens. We saw where the eggs were laid and K asked if she could take one home and hatch it, but I explained that since there was no rooster, there would be no baby chicks from those eggs. After awhile, one of the workers came in to check on a group of chicks, and K asked where they had gotten those chicks since there was no rooster. See, she listens, remembers, and applies; I was so proud :-) FYI, the chicks had come by mail from Cameron, TX.

We left the barn and found the blacksmith shop where the smithy was eager to talk about his trade and we watched as he made a keyring and then gave it to us. The guy in the woodshop was kind enough to show K how the old drills work, then he let her use a corn sheller and grinder to make scratch feed *and* he let her keep the corn cob. Her day was made.

We went then and toured the house. It is HUGE! We spent well over an hour in there and I could have happily spent twice that and more, but the girls got rather tired of it. They behaved very well until the very end where even the indoor bowling lanes and antique washing machines couldn't keep L's interest.

After a quick picnic lunch, we headed to the gardens where they had activities on everything from watercolor to stone carving. The girls spent ages at the watercolor station and K decided she wants a violin for her birthday. Don't think our neighbors would be too appreciative.

I finally convinced the girls to leave the gardens by promising one more trip to the farm before we left, so we made a quick stop in back to the blacksmith shop and the gift shop. We were headed back to the car to rest Mommy's aching feet when an employee stopped us and asked if we'd done the corn maze yet. Of course, the girls insisted on going...out past the barn, across the field, and past the poor feet! So we went and it was the 3-year-old who got us out of the maze in the end.

If you ever find yourself near Asheville, you've got to make time to go to the Biltmore. Until then, you'll just have to enjoy our pictures.

A Cool Thing for W

My husband, W, is a hacker.

An ethical hacker, lest anyone get the wrong idea. Of course, he did spend a few hours at the lock picking section of that big hacking conference he attended a few weeks ago, which is how he knew MacGyver couldn't possibly have picked that lock with one hand and one tool. It did make me sad to think that not *everything* they show in MacGyver can be done. After all, I may have a need to create a welding torch out of a racing bike, rust, and a couple of old pipes and who knows if it would really work?!?

In addition to W's highly successful blog, it looks like he's going to be co-teaching a college course on ethical hacking. Curiously enough, the university that couldn't transfer his credits so he could finish his degree there has asked him to be a professor. It's such a cool opportunity for W and I'm so excited for him.

Monday, September 17, 2007


I've noticed that many bloggers use cute nicknames to refer to their kids on their blog - Little Miss, Mr. Wee, Boo, etc. It got me thinking that maybe I'm falling behind the blogger times using the simple K and L to refer to my own two blessings. Trying to get past the boring, mundane initials, I started trying to come up with new nicknames for the girls. Well, L is easy as I can simply call her Ellie Mae which I sometimes do in the real world, but K is harder. We sometimes shorten her name (which is what we had originally planned to call her) and I call both the girls Honey (mostly because I can't remember which name belongs with which kid half the time), but she has no cute nickname all her own.

It's partly her own fault as she doesn't like people to shorten her name. This shouldn't surprise me as she is at least generation #3 in a family that *does not* use nicknames. We go by full names regardless of number of syllables or how close the relationship, thankyouverymuch. There is only one person in my mom's family who was not called by her full name, but she has a rather interesting story. You see, she was never given a name; she was simply called Sis. When she went to school, she was embarrassed to tell her teacher that her name was Sis, so she made up a name and eventually had that name put on her birth certificate to replace the "Baby Girl" that was her official name. In the family, though, Sis stuck and my mom knew her as "Aunt Sis".

And then there's the other side of my family that *only* used nicknames. I grew up with Peanut, Scooter, and BooBoo, only learning their real names when I saw them again in high school (except Peanut, I still don't know his real name). I sat across from a guy at lunch for months before I found out his last name, figured out he had to be related, and discovered that he was that kid BooBoo from long ago (he swore me to secrecy). You gotta love small towns where you're always running into friends and long forgotten family members.

So I shall have to put my thinking cap on and figure out an appropriate blog nickname for K. Maybe I'll even ask for her input.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

What's this? Water falling from the sky?

It finally, finally rained yesterday. Lest you water-logged Texans be in the dark, the drought has moved east and before yesterday, we were 11" below normal. We were promised that it would rain yesterday and all day long the clouds threatened, then moved on without so much as a drop. We finally got a 1 minute long shower in the late afternoon, but then zippo until it got dark. God turned the faucet on just as I had to make a quick trip out to Wal-Mart, and y'all, I had forgotten how the windshield wipers work in my van. It took a lot of fiddling, but I got them on and timed right and even figured out to turn on the back window wiper. Whew. All the grass is still dead and the trees still look pretty sad, but we're thankful out here for the rain and a break in the heat. Tomorrow the high's supposed to be in the mid-70s - woohoo! I'm celebrating by painting my toe nails in a fall-appropriate dark red nail polish. Because these things are important.

And what I know you're all been anxiously waiting for...a diet update!

Well, I have good news and bad news. The good news is that my jeans are looser and I easily buckled my belt one hole smaller this morning - happy dance! My hives are also getting a little less each morning and being rather less of a bother on the whole. The bad news is that the all turkey diet is a huge pain. After a morning of wandering through a local warehouse store, I discovered that my energy level is around a -5. By the time we left, I was about to fall over; I had to go home and take a nap. I'm thinking my first food to add back in will be green beans, because my body is craving a few vitamins and minerals that turkey just doesn't provide. During my nap today, I dreamed of eating sausage pizza and breadsticks and they tasted heavenly. Then there was that weird bit about Hannah Montana mixed up in there. I've gotta get K something else to watch!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Another quick funny

In our school Bible time, we are studying Moses and we've gotten to how God made the bitter water fresh and provided manna for the Hebrew people. We were reviewing that today and I was asking K questions, which she was answering very well until this one.

Me: What kind of food did God provide?
K: Stuff that they picked up from the ground.
Me: Yes, but what was it called?
K: Ummm...
Me: Starts with an m...
K: Manwich?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Day Too Many of the "Elemental Diet"

I truly never want to see turkey or rice again.

Yesterday, Day 4ish of 14, I decided that I wasn't going to eat again until the need to eat was greater than the desire to *not* eat turkey or rice. As a result, I had about 5 bites of rice yesterday afternoon. I also ate a couple of dried apricots, but I figured I've already gotten far enough into this diet that I'd hate to blow it and have to start over, so I closed the pack and put it away with a great feeling of self-sacrifice :-) It's not that I dislike turkey or rice, but it's pretty boring without any seasoning and my system is *not* liking it at all. I have a wierd taste in my mouth that I can't get rid of and my stomach has been rebelling at even the thought of any more rice and turkey.

Last night I headed over to the grocery store and had a talk with the deli people asking if there was *any* deli turkey that was just plain turkey - no added ingredients, preservatives, etc. I had to explain the diet I'm on and we finally decided that the all natural Boar's Head stuff fit the bill. One guy behind the counter remembered from a training session (who knew selling Boar's Head required training?) that it does contain raw sugar and sea salt, but I came to a decision. If I'm allergic to salt or sugar, I'm just going to have to live with it since you can't exactly live without those. And let me tell you, that turkey was pretty good.

So between the girls and I, we polished off a pound of that stuff between dinner last night and lunch today. I may survive a few more days yet.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Overheard this morning

L: "Uh! You make me crazy, K!"

I wonder where she learned such a phrase.

Friday, September 7, 2007

I am a desperate, desperate woman

Most of you have heard my whining and complaining about my allergies - the hives, the itching, the way it messes with my sleep schedule so that I fall asleep in the middle of the afternoon only to wake and discover my daughter has cut off all her hair...or painted her nails and half the table...or cut up a perfectly good pillowcase...or spilled orange paint on the kitchen floor...or snuck off to her room with half the snack get the picture.

After yet another episode today of "Mystify the Allergist", we have a new plan of attack. It's called Stop Eating.

Ok, it's not quite that drastic, but it's close. For 2 weeks, I am allowed to have rice, turkey, and lamb. That's it. I'm not even allowed any seasoning, and he specifically pointed out that salt is a seasoning. After 2 weeks, if the hives have cleared up, then it's a food allergy and I can gradually start adding things back in to find the culprit. This means that in two weeks, I can add, say, corn back to my diet. If there's no reaction over the following 4-5 days, I can pick a different thing to add and so on until we find something.

Yep, this is sounding far too exciting for words. Of course, if the hives *don't* clear up on the Stop Eating diet, then we'll have to keep looking and he was not too encouraging about all that since we've looked at everything else already. His opinion was that then there wasn't too much we could do except just accept the fact that I just have hives and someday they might go away all by themselves or they might never go away. Nice.

The allergist did mention that they used to put people in the hospital to administer the Stop Eating diet to remove them from every environmental/life factor that could possibly be affecting them. Unfortunately, health insurance companies won't cover that these days. Gosh, I was thinking it'd be kinda nice to lie around all day with nothing to do, except that I'd be bored out of my noggin after a few hours.

I do need to find something to keep my hands busy, though. I'm finding it really frustrating to not be able to snack *at all*, since there's not much about lamb, turkey, and rice that makes a good snack. I do have to admit that it's very filling; we had ground turkey patties and rice for dinner and I'm still stuffed several hours later (I wonder if Tums count as a "food"). The doc mentioned that most people lose weight on this diet and they complain that it gets really, really old (geez, whuda thunk it?), but by the time he proposes it, patients are willing to do *anything* that might help.

Heck, you gotta be desperate to agree to eat lamb, turkey, or rice for breakfast. And lunch. And dinner. For 2 weeks. All I can say is that I'd better come out of this skinny! Oh, and I hope it gets rid of the hives, too.

Thursday, September 6, 2007


Where's The Complete Idiot's Guide to Ballet Vocabulary when you need it?

Yesterday afternoon after dance class #3, L came waltzing into the living room repeating something that sounded like "pon-say". She stood before me and seemed to bending at her knees while saying this strange-sounding word with a huge smile pasted across her face.

"What?" I asked her. So she repeated the word even louder, because obviously it makes more sense if you say it with more volume.

Curious as to what those teachers were actually teaching my daughter, I asked her to show me some other things they did in class. L's favorite is obviously the "beach ball" which is where you hold your arms out in front of you as if you were holding...a beach ball. And no, I didn't need the Ballet Vocabulary book to understand that one.

I did ask her about "fondue" and "ravioli" from the last class and she looked at me like I was crazy. I guess my hearing was affected by my growling stomach after all.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Infinitely gross, but a good lesson

At 3.5, L is still in the process of potty-training. She was extremely resistant to the whole idea until June, when we finally had an "ah-hah!" moment. Since then, it's been hit-or-miss with actually making it to the potty in time. She knows that she gets in trouble when she doesn't make it, especially when she's just said "no" to several queries of, "Do you need to go potty?". As a result, she's taken to quietly changing her panties after accidents and never saying a word.

A few days ago I was in L's room and noticed some papers crumpled up on the floor. With brown stuff smeared on them. Nice. Apparently, she had had an accident of major proportions and had tried to take care of it herself. Lacking any TP or wipes in her room, she had torn pages from her notebook and tried to use that. Lots of pages. With an appropriate amount of groaning, complaining, and snapping at L, I followed the trail to her closet where she had stuffed what looked like a whole notebook worth of brown-smeared paper. I made L bring me the trash can and as I continued to pull out more and more paper and found brown smeared all over the carpet and the tubs of off-season clothing, I got madder and madder. I finally just spanked her and sent her to bed in a fit of grossness-induced anger. If she had just *told me* when it happened instead of trying to hide it, it would have been a whole lot less trouble for me and her!

After a lot of scrubbing and Lysol, I got to thinking. I know why she did it, after all, she *hates* to get in trouble and she gets in trouble a lot because she just can't resist the urge to do what she knows is wrong.

Then the bigger picture emerged. There are many, many things that I do that are just as disgusting to God as that poop-smeared paper. I know they're wrong and so I try to hide them, stuffing them out of sight even though I know God's gonna find out. In fact, He doesn't have to "find out", He was watching the whole time and I *still* did it ('cause I'm just intelligent like that). Even when God comes and cleans up my mess, He doesn't get mad, spank me, and send me to bed. He gives me another chance.

I figure L will probably end up in therapy one day complaining that her mom told such a gross story to the whole wide internet, but it was such a lesson that I felt I needed to share it. Even if it does make me feel like I need to pull the Lysol back out and go over everything again "just to make sure".

Monday, September 3, 2007

Ready...Get Set...and...

It's amazing how many activities run from Labor Day to Memorial Day and we seem to have gotten involved in all of them. Ok, maybe not *all* of them, but enough to make this week seem crazy on paper.

Tuesday afternoon - soccer
Tuesday evening - MOPS

Wednesday morning - dance

Thursday morning - Community Bible Study
Thursday afternoon - Girl Scouts

Our pace is about to pick up and we still have school to fit in around it all. I know it'll flow a whole lot better than I fear, well, maybe all except Thursday. Thursdays we might have to do some evening school to get everything in, but at least it's only twice a month that we have Brownies thrown into the mix and MOPS is only once a month.

In anticipation of the busy season, I put a little extra effort into organization. I found a really cool site that sold a really nice folder with plastic pockets for storing info on all the various activities. Unfortunately, those really nice folders were a little on the expensive side, so I found my own version at Staples. I'll keep you posted on how it's working to keep Mommy organized and sane.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

What a well-dressed woman wears to the fair

We went to the local Labor Day weekend festival today. We went early this morning and rode on the float sponsored by our adoption home study agency. Actually, L and I rode wit me trying to keep her seated, K walked beside/behind handing out candy (because we might have hurt someone by throwing the candy from the float, for goodness sakes), and W waited for us from the sidelines, ended up on the wrong side, and chased down the float so he could get some pictures. It was an active morning for all of us :-)

After the end, we walked back up to the arts and crafts until the whining from both girls threatened to turn the parents into raging infernos, so we took them home, fed them, and put them to bed for naps. K has been sick with a cold and who knows what was wrong with L. They both spent some quiet time in their rooms and came out much happier, so we went back for the crafts, games, and rides this evening.

L came out of her room dressed to the 9s to go back to the festival. She wore a bow, necklace, bracelet, ring, earrings, flower flip-flops, and carried a purse stocked with a compact wither her "pretend" make-up. She then won another necklace and even carried that purse around the whole time. What a girl!

Please also pray for K and her cold. It's really making her miserable and the poor girl is so rarely sick, it gets the best of her pretty easily.