Friday, April 27, 2012

Moving On…

Blogging has gotten more difficult lately.  First, Google’s Picasa software stopped working for me.  I click “Blog This!” and it freezes up.  So I switched to Windows Live Writer, which is nicer in some ways but simply not as efficient in terms of being able to blog lots of photos very quickly and easily.  You just can’t beat Picasa for that. 

The other big problem I’m having is that my computer is no longer handling my photos well.  First of all, I have a LOT of photos and that takes a lot of memory.  This was a top-of-the-line computer when it was new, but that was six years ago.  Second, a couple of years ago I got a much nicer camera which takes really big pictures.  They’re great pictures, but each one takes up five times the space as my old camera.  So lately I get these things where I go to make a simple edit of a photo and I’m waiting forever for the edit to process and even longer for the file to save afterwards.  I try to go through and compress all my photos (I almost never really need them that big!) but that’s just one more step that this busy mama doesn’t have time for.

And I’m not sure how I feel about Blogger’s new look…. I guess I’ll just have to get used to it. 

I set aside a whole bunch of pictures from my sisters’ visit and our trip (I “starred” them in Picasa, which is where I still edit and manage my photos) but I am realizing that I’m just not going to be able to get them all on here like I would have been able to in the good old days.  So we’re going to move forward now with just a few photos from our trip. 

On to Branson!

Wait… Kansas City first.  We went to the open house of the new Kansas City Temple... that’s what got this whole trip started.   Oh, it was wonderful!  I have been trying to get my kids to a Temple open house for years because I know what a huge positive impact it can have on kids.  Finally, we got to one!  The drive was totally worth it. 



Speaking of the Kansas City Temple open house, I really liked this article from the Huffington Post which appeared on my Facebook feed several times a few days ago.   It is the perfect example of the bridges of understanding which our church is trying to build when we have these open houses. 

Our Owl Neighbor

We had noticed that an owl was living in the creek bottom right after you turn out of our neighborhood, but we hadn’t got a real good look at him.  Then, while my sister was visiting, we had this totally awesome sighting:

IMG_0666 We are pretty sure he is a Barred Owl. 

I just think owls are such jolly things to have around. 

Isn’t this an amusing picture of us looking at the owl?  It is so fun having my sister around taking pictures of everything. 


Farmyard Chores

First we collect the eggs…

…then we feed the chickens and goats…

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 …then we play with the goats!


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Pictures of Me

One of the things that happens when my sister Crocodile comes to visit is that a lot of pictures get taken of me.  This is a little disconcerting, since I am almost always the one behind the camera and I’m not used to seeing pictures of myself.  I look at them and think “Ack!  Do I really look like that?” but I have to cut myself some slack because I have not been feeling at all well lately and I’ve been scrounging around in my sloppy clothes with unstyled hair.  And I’m already putting on weight fast, which I always do when I’m pregnant (sigh).  And I know that fifty years from now I will be grateful for these pictures and I will say, “Oh, I look so young!” 

Here I am checking the radar on my phone, which I did a lot that first couple of days they were here (luckily no storm damage was sustained at Toad Hall.)  Look at my cute girls!


Here we are enjoying the awesome puppets Auntie Croc brought for us. 


Me and my Badger cooking breakfast…. okay, he’s cooking breakfast.  He does almost all the cooking lately.  He’s a real hero, I’m telling you.


Oh dear, I am on my phone a lot….  Ha ha!  I will look back at this picture and say “wow, there’s my old dinosaur of a Palm.”  Thank you, Crocodile, for once again giving us so much wonderful family history fodder.  Generations yet to be shall praise your name. 


A Toad for Toad

IMG_0179 My fourteen-year-old nephew Toad recently came to visit Toad hall along with my sister Crocodile.  It was Toad’s first time on an airplane and his first time visiting Oklahoma (sorry again about the tornado sirens, Toad dear.)  I understand he was quite excited to visit Toad Hall.  He knew there were toads here and he was hoping he’d see some. 

The positive side of all the severe thunderstorms we had while he was here was that as I was sitting out on the porch watching the lightning show late one evening I noticed a toad hopping happily across the driveway in the rain.  I nabbed it and took it in to show Toad.  He was about to go to sleep so he was tired, but he was very pleased.  I’m glad we could produce a toad for him on his visit! 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Mowing Bean


The Badger is teaching Bean to drive the riding lawn mower.  Of course, he loves this (right now, anyway….)  Fish took these pictures and I was really impressed with his eye.  I like the way he framed the last one in the sawhorses.  It’s fun watching my boys gain all kinds of new skills. 

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Saturday, April 21, 2012


I haven't blogged for awhile. I know, I know, that's not like me at all. My mom even called and asked me when I was going to update. I promise I will soon: I have a ton to write about and lots of pictures too. My sister was here visiting and then we went on a little vacation. Lots of nifty things to share... but first, some General News:

  • Come next December, we will have Six Children. Yes, I am expecting. Yes, I am very excited. Yes, I am also,very very sick. Some days, like today, I can barely get out of bed. My pregnancies are not easy, to say the least. But they are more than worth it in the end. I have to really try hard at the beginning to remember that though.
  • Roo is very excited to announce that she has her first loose tooth. She is constantly telling me how it feels and asking questions about how teeth come out and about the tooth fairy, etc. She asked me if I was the tooth fairy and I truthfully told her no. (The Badger is the tooth fairy.)
  • I just had an article published on the Latter-day Homeschooling blog. I'm very excited about it. I get to write for them once a month and I'm looking forward to sharing a few things I've learned with a wide audience of LDS homeschoolers. I hope I have some things to say that will help and encourage people.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

A Wonderful Easter

The kids are finally in bed and I have a chance to sit back, breathe, and think what a good Easter it was at our house. 

My goal for Easter might be a little different than some people’s:  my goal is that each person in our family will feel closer to the Savior and better understand His love for us.  I think we reached that goal this year: I know in my case it definitely happened. 

We usually do most of the “fun” Easter stuff on Saturday.  Yesterday that meant going to the Ward Easter egg hunt.  The kids were so excited about that and that’s where they got their fill of plastic eggs and Easter candy.  I always feel like my kids get enough sweets from things like that that I don’t need to buy them any candy.  It’s amazing how much stuff they get from outside sources.  It seems like my kids have been constantly eating candy and sweets for the last 36 hours and I did not buy one single thing!

Myself, I prefer an egg hunt with good old-fashioned hard-boiled eggs.  Dyeing eggs is one of my fondest childhood Easter memories.  I must confess: the eggs here at Toad Hall have not yet been dyed.  They’ve been boiled, but I’m running behind the curve and we’re going to have to stretch the Easter festivities out for a few more days.  Tomorrow we’ll dye, and then later we’ll do a hunt in our yard.  We’ve got a great yard for hunting eggs.

This morning we went to church first thing, and the kids had lots of good Primary lessons about Easter.  Right after church we went to dinner at the home of our adopted grandparents here in Oklahoma.  They cooked a big turkey dinner with the works and we enjoyed talking and laughing and eating together.  It was wonderful. 

After dinner they put on a DVD for the kids: Finding Faith in Christ.  Our church produced it a few years ago and I think we’ve all seen it before—I know I have—but it had been quite awhile.  I had forgotten how powerful it is.  It really is a well-done movie that shows Christ’s love for us through so many little vignettes of His life.  It brought tears to my eyes several times. 

Then, this evening at home, we had a really nice family devotional.  The Holy Spirit was definitely present and we all felt closer to each other and closer to God.   The Badger gave a heartfelt lesson, then Fish gave a little lesson he had come up with all on his own about the true meaning of Easter, and then I had a scavenger hunt for the kids.  The clues were all scriptures about the Easter story and they were hidden in places that had to do with what was in the scripture (for example, a scripture that mentioned the Mount of Olives led to a clue taped to a can of olives in the kitchen cupboard.)  I’ve seen several things like this, but someone posted this one on a local Christian homeschooling Yahoo group a couple of days ago and I thought it would be the perfect lead-in to give the kids their Easter presents, which would come at the end of the scavenger hunt. 

I started a tradition three or four years ago of buying each family member one gift for Easter.  This gift is something that will help them on their journey to come unto Christ.  It is usually a book or a CD.  It is so fun to shop the Deseret Book catalog each spring and choose something for each child.  The availability of quality books and music in the LDS market just keeps growing and it’s so fun to discover new treasures and have an excuse to buy a whole bunch of them.  There weren’t very many board books and picture books on Gospel themes when I was a kid, but the ones I did have, I dearly loved.  Now there are so many and I love building up a library of them for my kids. 

I know the Spirit was in our home today.  I know we came closer together as a family.  I know the kids were touched by Jesus’ love for them.  I know I felt the reality of the Atonement on a personal level in a way I haven’t for awhile.  I know I felt a renewed commitment to model “the Way, the Truth, and the Life” in my own life, especially to my children.  I would say it was a wonderful Easter. 

Friday, April 6, 2012

Ancient History

We are nearing the end of the first volume of the Story of the World series by Susan Wise Bauer and I wanted to take a minute to share how much I have enjoyed reading it with my children. 

The volume covers the earliest nomads in Mesopotamia up through the fall of Rome.  There is a heavy emphasis on Western civilization, but she also addresses the ancient history of China, India, Africa, Australia/Oceana, and the Americas.  There was so much in there that I didn’t even know.

It finally occurred to me recently that I learned absolutely NOTHING about ancient history in school prior to my senior year of High School, when I took an AP Art History class, and then the focus was on the art.  In fact, ancient history kind of terrified me: I guess it was the idea of trying to learn all those BC/AD dates and remember them for tests.  Ugh.  As a matter of fact, I never liked history in school anyway, because of the way it was taught, and it hasn’t been until I’ve started homeschooling my own children that I’ve become interested in studying history myself.  Interested is too mild a word—history is fascinating!  I love it!

There was, however, one source where, as a child, I learned far more about ancient Rome than I realized until now—and painlessly too!  That was the Asterix comic books.  My family had gotten into Asterix when my dad was on sabbatical to Germany in the mid-1970’s.  By the time I came along a few years later they were a firmly-entrenched part of our family culture and I grew up laughing at the escapades of Asterix and his friend Obelix, completely oblivious to the fact that I was getting a better education there than I was getting in public school, when it came to history. 

I am really glad I was able to lay the foundation of ancient history with my young children first thing.  It will help them be able to put so many other things in perspective.  For example, when we talked about Caesar Augustus, we talked about the crossover between his reign and the story of Jesus’ birth in the Bible.  They’ve heard me read that story so many times, but now they better understand what it means that Judea was occupied by Rome and what that implied. 

My children enjoyed the book.  Bean got tired of the coloring pages and maps about halfway through, but Roo got really interested about that point and so I decided to have her and Bean put together a binder together—he would do the maps and she would do the coloring pages.  That worked out pretty well. 

Towards the end, I haven’t done so good in doing the supplemental activities with the children.  I feel kind of bad about that, but my children need to get a good handle on covering the basics in school before we have time to do the fun extras, and they’re still resisting that a little bit. 

I can’t wait to start Volume Two: the Middle Ages.  I’ve already started reading it myself and it’s even more interesting than Volume One.  We get to study so many fun things in the weeks ahead.  The kids are excited too, especially Bean.  He talks a lot about how he loves history.  I am pretty sure he wouldn’t feel that way if he had been taught history the way I was when I was in school: “read this chapter from the textbook and answer all the review questions in complete sentences and make sure you memorize all the dates for the test.” 

This is a perfect example of the quote which I have adopted as our family homeschool motto:  “Education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire.” 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Little Peanut

I was very excited to discover recently that Walmart is running the same prints for their organic cotton PJs this summer that they ran last summer.  I had been wishing I had bought the “Little Peanut” pajamas in every single size.  Now I can!

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