Monday, January 26, 2009

The Simple Woman's Daybook

For Today...
January 26, 2009

Outside my window...
Gray skies have been the color for today

I am thinking...
about baking some cookies after I type my day book entry

I am thankful for...
a warm house on this very cold day

From the learning rooms...
we modified today's schedule to prepare our home for the impending ice storm; more work this week on the writing intensive

From the kitchen...
today - crock pot barbecue chicken, potato salad, baked beans
for the rest of the week, provided we do not lose electricity:
Creamy Tacos
Country Casserole (a Southern Plate recipe)

I am wearing...
jeans, turtleneck, and fleece

I am creating...
the creative juices are not flowing right now

I am going...
ballet adjudication was scheduled for tonight but the adjudicator is stranded on the tarmac in OK City so it's been canceled. That means I get to stay home in my nice warm house tonight.

I am reading...
still haven't started my new book other than the first couple of pages.

I am hoping...
we do not lose our electricity during the ice storm forecast for tonight

I am hearing...
the t.v. and the hum of the humidifier

Around the house...
We have an ice storm forecast for tonight and have been warned to prepare for loss of utilities so Rachel and I worked on laundry and house cleaning chores today; checked the battery supplies; checked the supply of candles and matches; made tea and lemonade; when the day book is finished I think I will bake a quick batch of chocolate chip cookies

One of my favorite things...
sitting in my favorite chair with a warm blanket, a good book, and a mug of spiced tea on a cold day

A few plans for the rest of the week...
Spring Co-op Registration and a doctor's appointment

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you:

The birds have been swarming Rachel's feeder this past week. These are a few of the gold finches. I think they know when cold weather is coming!

To read more day book entries, visit Peggy at The Simple Woman's Daybook.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

"The Packet"

This is a follow up to my post 665 Miles.

We watched the mail every day last week for mail from North Carolina Dance Theatre. Everyday, Rachel would go to the mailbox and come back in and announce, "no packet today". I assured her that we should hear something soon - they told the girls to expect news within 3 weeks and it had only been one week : )

I spent Friday afternoon running errands and grocery shopping. I called to check in with Rachel and when she didn't mention the mail, I knew that once again, the packet had not been delivered. I thought "we're just at 2 weeks out from the audition, there's still time". I was at my last stop before heading home and Rachel calls to let me know her school work is complete except for the writing intensive (and does she have to do that today???). I tell her I'm almost done and will be home shortly. I'm about 10 minutes from home and my phone rings again and as I answer it I notice it's another call from home so I'm thinking, "WHAT NOW??" I answer the phone and Rachel is excited and crying - she had checked her email and had gotten the notice of acceptance she had been so anxiously watching the mailbox for!! Once I got home and we got all of the groceries put away and dinner cooked and cleaned up, we finally printed out "the packet", all 18 pages of it!!

Now, we just have to fill out her registration papers and get them in the mail (along with some $$$ of course) and she will be set to go. That's the easy part. The hard part - having her gone for 4 weeks this summer. I think once this summer is over, I will NOT want to take any trips for a while. We have plans for my sister and I to drive her to NC and we'll visit our other sister who lives there! Robert and I will go back to pick her up at the end of the intensive so we can see her performance. We'll make a mad dash back home for a week and then head out for a Florida vacation. It's gonna be a crazy summer!


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Bird Watching

Rachel has been interested in birds for quite some time. I enjoy watching them but usually am not very good about keeping a feeder full which drives hubby crazy. He says if we're going to feed the birds, we need to feed the birds and not let their feeder sit empty. That said, I usually forgo feeding the birds and even quit hanging my hummingbird feeders a few years ago. However, several days ago, Rachel started feeding the birds some old bread we had. She enjoyed watching them and finally asked if I would buy her a bag of bird seed. I caved and bought the seed which consequently means I will be buying bird seed for the duration of winter! Yesterday morning we filled the feeder and set it on our patio table on the back deck. It didn't take long and the birds were going crazy over the bird seed. They emptied 1/2 of the feeder yesterday. I have to admit - I have enjoyed watching the birds as much as Rachel has. Early this morning we had fun watching an even greater variety of birds at the feeder. So far, we have seen these birds: house wren, junco, blue jay, tufted titmouse, chickadee, cardinal, goldfinch, house finch, sparrow, woodpecker, blackbird, and eastern bluebirds. The bluebirds weren't at the feeder but were in and out of the bluebird box all morning. It's been fun watching them and I guess if you spot me at Wal-Mart, I'll be the one with the large bag of bird seed!!!

Here are some pictures we took.

lots of gold finches this morning

female cardinal, house finch, gold finch

house finch, junco, male cardinal
tufted titmousewoodpecker - he came around a few times but I think he prefers the nearby river birch tree!!

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Simple Woman's Daybook

For Today...
January 19, 2009

Outside my window... blue, sunny skies, warm sunshine coming through the window

I am thinking... about how I could have handled things better with my kids this morning. I woke up late and tired after not sleeping well at all last night, despite the fact that I was in bed at 10:00. Then, I walked into the kitchen to make coffee and discovered dirty dishes in the sink from last nights snacks. This is something we have discussed more times than I care to count. They are beyond old enough to have to be reminded to clean up after themselves. So, I raised my voice with #2 because she's the one who has to be constantly reminded and always has an excuse. #1 merely got a stern warning that I have had enough. They both were reminded that we all have to do our part in this house and that things need to change NOW. I later apologized to #2 for raising my voice and she was very forgiving. I wish I could have gone back to bed and gotten up on the "right" side and started all over again : )

From the learning rooms... We are going back to a literature textbook for the remainder of the year beginning today. We have been doing real books and study guides but it just isn't working right now. Last week I decided that if it wasn't working, it was time to change.

I am thankful for... Jodie who is loaning us the literature text. I am also thankful that I got to sit and visit with her when she delivered the books on Friday. I have known her since both our kids were in public school before we both began homeschooling, but I don't see her often. Our oldest kids are both freshman at UAFS.

A free ticket given to Rachel to see the ballet "Sleeping Beauty" tonight! Money is tight after the holidays and paying our portion of Allan's spring semester tuition and books so this was a great blessing. I had almost bought her ticket online Friday but was waiting to see if a friend was going as well. Friday afternoon we got a call offering her a free ticket - yay!!

From the kitchen... On the menu this week: Roast, Pork Chops, Chicken Fried Steak, Beef Stew, Spicy Chicken Spaghetti

I am wearing... jeans, turtleneck, and fleece sweater

I am reading... want to start a new book I ordered before Christmas. "When God Winks at You" by Squire Rushnell

I am hoping... I get to go to a Pampered Chef party on Saturday!! I sold PC for several years when my kids were small. I LOVE their kitchen tools and I have some that are wearing out after 12 years of use.

I am creating... I am trying t0 create a home that is not in a constant state of CHAOS (can't have anyone over syndrome - for those unfamiliar with Flylady.)

I am hearing... bombing at Ft. Chaffee; my washing machine on the spin cycle

Around the house...Slowly but surely, I'm completing some projects that I have wanted done for a long time but I kept putting off.

One of my favorite things... sunshine and warm days that remind me that Spring will return eventually

A few plans for the rest of the week... Nothing besides ballet on the calendar this week.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...
#1 on his 19th birthday

For more Daybook entries, visit Peggy at The Simple Woman's Daybook.

Monday, January 12, 2009

665 Miles

Rachel and I made a quick road trip to Kansas City on Saturday. She was auditioning for a summer ballet intensive at North Carolina Dance Theatre. That was one long day! We were on the road just after 7:00 a.m. and arrived in Overland Park, KS about 12:30. We had a nice lunch at Mimi's Cafe and spent about half an hour at the Oak Park Mall. Rachel thinks we need to visit Kansas City again and spend lots of time at the mall! It's a really nice mall with lots of shopping choices. We left the mall and headed across the border to Kansas City, MO for Kansas City Ballet studio. Rachel had her audition class and then we were back on the road, headed for home. We stopped and picked up dinner on the road and made a quick stopped at Pinnacle Hills Promenade before they closed to look for a game she wanted. We made it home about 10:00 p.m., 665 miles later. I have never driven that far without another adult with me to help drive or at least keep me awake, so it was quite an accomplishment! I didn't even get sleepy which was the really amazing part, but not really, when you consider we started our day by praying and asking the Lord to be with us and to help me stay awake and alert!!! We had a very nice day together and saw lots of neat things. I'd like to visit Kansas City again, staying over to explore the area.

Happy Birthday Allan

A picture from Allan's first birthday!
A picture from Allan's 19th Birthday

Our first born entered the world on January 11, 1990. We celebrated his 19th birthday yesterday!! I can't believe it has been that many years. A few things about him:

First, he doesn't much like having his picture taken, therefore, at the moment, I don't have a good picture for this post. Hopefully tonight I will get one and add it later. He's quiet, content, thoughtful, a great helper, a hard worker, and fun to be around. He loves the Lord.

For his birthday, we took him out for lunch at Logan's Roadhouse after church yesterday. He loves steak!! Friday at work, they gave him a cookie cake (one of his favorites!!) so he asked me to wait until today to bake his birthday cake. It will be a chocolate cake with white buttercream icing, FROM SCRATCH. You see, my kids usually pick what kind of cake they want: cookie cake, bakery cake, home baked cake, etc. Well, I have made lot's of birthday cakes over the years but usually I started with a box mix ; ) For my birthday in 2007, I had been gone for the afternoon and came home to find that Allan had baked a cake for me - FROM SCRATCH. There wasn't a cake mix around so he used the recipe from the box of cake flour! Homemade chocolate cake with chocolate icing. It was THE BEST birthday cake. So, he raised the bar, and now I have to keep up! I'll be in the kitchen later this morning baking his favorite.

Allan is such a good kid and a joy to us. I am so thankful for the blessing he is to our family. I can't wait to see what the Lord has in store for him in the coming years!

Happy Birthday Son!

The Simple Woman's Daybook

For Today...
January 12, 2009

Outside my window...
Blue skies and sunshine. Just what I need to get motivated on a Monday morning!

I am thinking...

about what to tackle first this morning... laundry or bathrooms? Actually, the laundry is started already but there is LOTS still there.

I am thankful for...
Allan, our oldest child. We celebrated his 19th birthday yesterday. I'm hoping to do a blog post in honor of his birthday later today.

From the learning rooms...
Hitting the books HARD today. We have a busy, busy few months coming up and need to work diligently to stay on track. We're starting the Student Writing Intensive today.

From the kitchen...
Baking Allan's birthday cake. We didn't have cake yesterday because he came home from work on Friday with cookie cake leftovers (he works for the nicest people) and asked me to wait until this week to bake his cake. It will be chocolate cake with white buttercream icing.

I am wearing...
jeans and shirt

I am creating...
a home that is happy and welcoming

I am going...
to work on my house this week - completing the household bookkeeping changeover from 2008 to 2009; organize some photos that need to go in albums or scrapbooks.

I am reading...
hoping to start a new book this week.

I am hoping...
school goes well for Allan today. The spring semester begins today and he is "changing directions" this semester. He still doesn't know for sure what he wants to do but it seems that this is more in line with where his "giftings" are. Praying that God will bless his work and give him a definite direction.

I am hearing...
President Bush talking on t.v.

Around the house...
laundry, bathrooms to be cleaned, picking up after the weekend.

One of my favorite things...
long talks with my sisters

A few plans for the rest of the week...
cancer support group; home school group's officer's meeting; taking Rach to ballet every night

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...
A beautiful view from my kitchen window on Christmas morning. This heron frequents the area in front of our house, especially during winter.

To read more Daybook entries, visit Peggy at The Simple Woman's Daybook.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

December in Review

Family Picture after Christmas Eve service

I had hoped to get a last post of 2008 posted yesterday but it never happened so I will start 2009 with a look back at December 0f 2008.

Rachel has danced in The Nutcracker for the past 7 years and that always makes the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas fly by. We spent Thanksgiving this year in Louisiana with our families and returned home on Saturday night to begin Christmas and Nutcracker preparations. Our family has several traditions at Christmas time and I'll share a few of those with you.

We started our Christmas decorating the Sunday after Thanksgiving. The years we have had an artificial Christmas tree we usually put the tree up on Thanksgiving weekend. For the past several years we have gone back to taking a trip to Pine Grove Tree Farm in Charleston to cut a fresh tree. When we have a fresh tree, we wait a little longer to put the tree up so it doesn't get so dry before we are ready to remove it. This year we took a trip to the tree farm December 6. We love our trips to the tree farm, especially the guys - they drive our 1937 Chevrolet truck to the tree farm!! (We girls usually meet them there - we have to come straight from Nutcracker rehearsal : ) They love the look of a fresh cut tree in that antique truck and so do many others. The guy who loaded our tree this year was so scared he would scratch the truck or something and we had to assure him it was okay - we don't want ours to be just a "look but don't dare touch" truck. It has had trees loaded in the back for the past few years and we love it. We made a stop for pizza on the way home and then started decorating the tree. We usually put our tree in our den where we enjoy it every day, all day. We have a couple of rubbermaid tubs full of ornaments that we have collected through the years. Some ornaments are from Robert and my childhoods. Others are ones that we have gotten since marriage and then there are those that are our kids' and will be passed on to them as they leave home. Most of our ornaments have some meaning behind them so it is always a fun time to reminisce as we hang the ornaments. Rachel has received so many ballet or Nutcracker themed ornaments during her years in The Nutcracker that we finally bought her a tree for her bedroom last year. She fills it up with her ballet and Nutcracker ornaments then puts others on our big tree. I have to admit that as I packed away the ornaments this year, I wondered how many more Christmases I will get to pack away Allan's ornaments. I hope quite a few!!!
1937 Chevy at the tree farm

The decorated tree
The angel that has topped our tree since 1986. Robert and I bought her on a trip to Eureka Springs before we lived in AR.

Allan and Rachel each have their own nativity set that they set out each year. Allan has a Fontanini/Roman "My First Creche" set that we were given at his baby shower. Each year we have given him a new piece to add to the set until this year. He has so many pieces now that they fill a coffee table so we decided that we might not add more pieces unless I find a special piece. Otherwise, he can add to it when he has his own home. Rachel has a Precious Moments mini nativity set. We started hers when she was a toddler mostly because Granny thought Rachel needed to have her own because Allan did!! So began the tradition of trying to find a new piece for hers each year. The only problem was that Precious Moments doesn't have an extensive collection of pieces to add so Rachel's is pretty much complete. Both kids love their nativity sets and enjoy setting them out each year. I suppose that when the kids are grown and gone, it will be time to get my own nativity set.
Allan's nativity set

Rachel's nativity set

Robert and Allan worked on Allan's car for a bit on Christmas Eve and Rachel and I spent some time in the kitchen. We made a variety of finger/party foods for our meal before Christmas Eve Candlelight Communion service at church. Candlelight Communion is one of the highlights of Christmas for me. It's always such a blessing to be still for that hour in the midst of all of our preparations and reflect on Christ's birth, sing carols, and then see the church aglow in candlelight. After church it's been our tradition to drive around looking at lights. We almost skipped it this year because we had driven to Van Buren to look at lights when Robert's parents were visiting. Rachel nearly had a fit that we would NOT go look at lights after church. Soooo, we ended up driving through a different neighborhood than usual and saw some pretty lights. The kids always get to open one gift on Christmas Eve and it's always pj's, slippers, or a robe. This is a tradition carried on from my childhood. I almost skipped it this year in my effort to simplify and I knew Rachel did NOT need any pj's. Then, I realized that Allan did need some pj's so I decided to stick with the tradition. I found a really cute pair of pj's for Rachel at Old Navy that are just cotton (not flannel or fleece) and would be great through spring. Even found matching fuzzy socks, so she was fully taken care of. I finally found something Allan would like at Target. Somehow, it just isn't as fun to shop for boys sleep pants and tee shirts.

Christmas morning, Robert and I realized that we are officially parents of older teens. WE were the ones who were up at 7:30 and the kids slept in till around 9:00. We had a nice Christmas morning enjoying our homemade cinnamon rolls for breakfast and opening our gifts. I cooked a chicken and dressing casserole, green beans, fruit salad, and homemade rolls for dinner. It was such a relaxing day!!

As I type this post on New Year's Day, all traces of Christmas (except the nativity sets which will be packed today) have been neatly packed away for another year. We'll look forward to taking them out next year and repeating this all again. I love decorating for Christmas but I also love having my house back to "normal". It always feels good.

I'll back-track a bit and tell you a little bit about Nutcracker. Rachel danced in what was her 7th Nutcracker. She danced the parts of The Spirit of Christmas, a Flower, and a Snowflake. The girls put so much work into this performance - rehearsals begin in September for our ballet company and then the rest of the cast begins in October. Full cast rehearsal begin the first week of November and continue until the performance the second week of December. It is so much work but it is always such a beautiful part of our Christmas season. I tend to gripe and complain about all the volunteer hours it takes but I really do try to enjoy it and know that I only have a few more years that this will be a part of our Christmas. I will miss the busyness one day. It gives us great joy to watch Rachel dance and enjoy something she has worked so hard at. Robert's parents have come each year to watch Rachel dance and some years some of my family has been here as well. This year it was just Robert's parents. We enjoyed having them here for a few days with us. My family was all rejoicing over the birth of a new baby boy in our family that week! My brother and his wife welcomed their second child, Ryan Thomas into the world on December 10. He's such a pretty baby - Rob said I could call him a "pretty boy" until he's about 6 months old and then I can't call him that anymore - lol!!!

We had a wonderful December to remember as we celebrated the birth of our Savior. It is my prayer that you will enjoy at blessed 2009.

I'll leave you with some pictures from our December.
Rachel as a flower with Rachel W. (Clara)

What's Christmas without cookies??

All ready for Christmas dinner
Proud Papa (my brother Rob) with baby Ryan