Monday, September 27, 2010

Fall Mantel Link-up

The Nesting Place is hosting a Fall Mantel Party link-up that people will be joining all day showing off their mantels all decked out for fall.

If you follow The Nester, you'll recognize several of the ideas I...ahem!...borrowed for my own mantel.

I spray painted a few extra frames I had lying around and used them to replace the big picture that normally hangs up there.

I used this link to create my own Martha Stewart corn husk wreath. It does a pretty good job of hiding the TV inputs the oh so helpful builders put over my fireplace. It does not hide the hook that normally holds one side of the heavy picture over the mantel, but considering how much effort it took to get that measured just right, I decided I could just ignore it for now.

These little birds are so lovely and I had to have a picture of my girls on the mantel. Because it's my house and that's just how I roll.

The pictures the Nester put up of painted pumpkins were so awesome I had to try it.

I loved these plaster leaves and I picked up a box of plaster at the craft store with every intention of trying it myself, but I just didn't feel like messing with it and the box went back on the shelf. I did have some leaves and some appropriately fall colored spray paint at home, so I spray-painted a few leaves and tied them together with thread for a cheap easy version that doesn't get lost against my white mantel. My intention is to actually paint that wall before next fall, but I'm not doing anything in the living room until the dog goes back to school. Our lab puppy is still a bit destructive if she gets bored.

The end result is a simple, pretty, fall-inspired mantel that I love.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

DIfference of dress

Today was one of those days where we had to dress respectably and get out the door early. It was Community Bible Study morning and while you don't have to dress up, most everyone is dressed nicely, so we do as well. The girls were both turned out so well, and so characteristically, that I had them pose for pictures this afternoon to show you.

First on the porch is K.

A stop at the consignment store to look for dance shoes (didn't have what we needed) netted her this Justice shirt and jeans. Normally the shirt would have been waaaay overpriced (easily $40) at the Justice store, but we got it for $4. If the designers at Justice had set out to custom make a shirt to fit K's personality, this is what they would have created just for her - preppy, clean lines, colorful without being flashy. I really did custom make the hat for her and it's been constantly on her head since it was finished. (For $15, I can make you one, too, with your own style of patch.)

Next, I captured L and herded her to the porch for a few photos.

Her skirt was also a $4 consignment store find, but when we bought it, it was just a plain brown corduroy skirt. I have a friend who decorates skirts and jeans like this and sells them in boutiques. I think they're awfully cute and it looked easy enough, so I pulled some coordinating fabrics from my stash and within an hour had produced this. She loves that a)it's a skirt, b)it's pink, c)it has a ruffle, and d)it's a skirt. And I made the hairband, too, one morning in the car on the way to China Camp.

They are so different in their styles, but they're both pretty cute.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Watch the Pitcher! Watch, Watch the Pitcher!

That's the chant you hear from the girls in the dugout whenever there's a pitching change. They use it to alert everyone that there's someone new on the mound and they need to check her out.

Ok, maybe they just do it because they like to chant/sing/dance/jump up on the fence. These girls may be hardcore tough softball girls, but they're still just 9- and 10-year-old little girls.

Last night was the very first game of the fall softball season. We're back with the great coach we had last fall and a lot of the same girls. We've got some new girls on the team and they're fitting in nicely. I was worried about last night's game. Most of our team just moved up into the 10U age bracket (including the coach). We were down to 8 players due to dropouts and a broken wrist. Thankfully, last Friday, we had 2 new girls join the team, so we came back up to 10. One has never played before, but she's really good and one came in to help from the travel team, so she's good and experienced. We're up to 4 good pitchers and a couple of back-ups, so things are shaping up to be a good season.

Yesterday was one of those days where the schedule is absolutely nutso. Dentist appointment, lunch plans, band practice, dance, and a softball game. L's dance runs until 5:30 on Tuesday and the game started at 6 waaaaaaay across town. Daddy took K over there, but it was just killing me to miss her first game. So after dance got out, L and I decided to risk it. As long as traffic wasn't too bad, we could still make most of the game.

Naturally, we hit every red light and the back-up on the interstate was at it's longest point, but we somehow managed to get through it all and we were only about 15 minutes late. Whew!!

It was a great game. Some good hits, some good defense, some of the mistakes you expect from young players at the beginning of the season. K was playing well with a couple of RBIs, a single, and 2 walks. She made some good stops and some good throws.

At the bottom of the 4th, we were ahead 11-3 and there was no way the other team was going to be able to catch-up with the 4-run limit rule. So the coach looks at K as the girls were headed out to the field and says, "You wanna pitch?"

K has been playing ball since she was 5. It's her 7th season. Last year, she mentioned that she'd like to pitch, but I couldn't teach her and the team didn't need another pitcher, so she gave it up. She figured she didn't really want that kind of pressure anyway.

Then came the All-Stars this summer where freak circumstances doomed the team to having *no* reliable pitchers. We had a few who could stumble through an inning, but it always seemed like they were away on vacation. So out of desperation, Daddy watched a few youtube videos and K started learning to pitch. She worked a few days, but she hated the heat and her desire fizzled. Until the tryouts for fall ball came and she decided that she might really actually like to try pitching again.

So we started working on pitching again. And discovered that K has a very good natural ability for fastpitch. She will send the ball straight down the middle almost every time and as long as she remembers to simply throw it hard, she will get a pretty good pitch. Last Friday, she asked the coach if she could pitch in a game and he told her sure as long as she showed him she could throw strikes. So they stayed late and worked on it. I guess she showed him, because he indeed let her pitch in a game.

In that one last inning, K got her first strike-out, a couple of walks, and allowed a few hits. It was awesome. Yes, they got the maximum 4 runs, but K was throwing the ball well. Well enough that the batters could hit it. She didn't panic, didn't get flustered or frustrated. She just pitched.

With 4 other good, experienced pitchers, I don't know how much more K will pitch this season. Last night was a perfect situation and I'm so glad the coach gave her the opportunity to get some game experience.

And I'm even more glad that I took a chance on traffic and got to see it!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

My beautiful daughters

K's friend had a birthday party. N and K have been friends for a very, very long time (since they were not quite 2). They have much in common, but they are also very different in many ways. N had planned a fabulous birthday. Prom dresses from Goodwill, makeovers, tea party complete with chocolate fountain and virgin frozen drinks. Just a total complete awesome package, but not exactly K's style. Still it sounded fun and K was very excited about going.

I offered to help, so L got to go, too. One of the many cool things about the party was a professional photographer doing a mini session with each girl after she had a mani/pedi, had her hair styled by a professional stylist, and had been pinned into the prom dress of her choice.

First I'll show you L. Many of the girls chose elaborate updos, but L went for long glittery curls. There were only 2 dresses short enough for her and she chose floofy over sparkles. I pinned and tucked the bodice as far as it would go to fit her tiny waist and she looked beautiful.

K wanted the least fussy, most understated look possible. She insisted on a simple sleek flip for her hair and she found the plainest, and thus most sophisticated, dress in the pile. It fit her beautifully and she looked way too grown-up for her 9-year-old self.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

How I answer "But what about socialization?" question

Homeschoolers are always grousing about a lack of support for what they do. Family, friends, neighbors, spouses, strangers in the grocery store, etc., always seem to be making nasty comments about how their kids aren't going to be normal because of homeschooling.

I've never had any of that and we're on year #6.

(Sheesh, have I really homeschooled that long?)

Anyway, I've been blessed by lots of supportive people in my life. Sure, I've spent lots of time answering questions about why we homeschool and how it works. People are naturally curious and I don't mind talking about it. Lately I've been noticing how *many* of my friends and acquaintances are homeschooling. People I wouldn't have thought would be interested and they're doing it for all kinds of reasons. It's neat to see how mainstream homeschool is getting and how many more options there are now than in years past. The curriculum choices are mind-boggling, support groups are popping up all over the place, and programs and classes are everywhere. It's much easier to homeschool when there are so many resources available and people to work with.

Our schedule for this year is mostly set. Mornings are spent working on our curriculum assignments and afternoons and evenings are for extras (except Thursday, which is reversed).

Monday - L has dance. K has softball.
Tuesday - K (I hope, still working on it) has band. L has dance.
Wednesday - Church night
Thursday - Community Bible Study. K has softball.
Friday - K has Science Olympiad (in the spring)

In between all those classes, we fit in field trips and group activities. Like today, we had two other families over and we dissected cow eyeballs. There were 9 children of all ages gathered around my table as we took turns with the scalpel and passed around the different parts of the eyes. We laughed and poked and prodded and asked questions. The kids were participating and engaged and afterwards they ran off and played together.

Next week there's a homeschool day at a state park in the mountains a couple of hours away and we've invited some friends to come camp overnight with us there. At the end of the month, we're planning another camping trip with different friends at the beach.

That's what I love about homeschooling. We go, we do, we learn, and we get lots of "socialization" in the process!