December 31, 2006

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas...


Sorry that this post is a day late. We spent all of yesterday packing, loading, driving, and unloading. We are all back safely today and have been unpacking suitcases and Christmas loot since we got home from church.
We also started our 'diet' today (and promptly fell off the band-wagon after lunch to snack on chips, chocolate and Cherry Coke just a minute ago). We brought home a brand new scale that measures body fat, hydration, and a lot of other things that are really depressing. It has a memory, too... and keeps track of up to four people's progress towards their goals. I'm not sure I know what to feel about a 'smart' scale. Seems a little 'in-your-business' to me. If I keep from falling off the band-wagon every day, though... I probably won't mind a little 'policing' in the bathroom. It might be nice to see 'progress'.... as long as there's no screaming siren and blinding, red, flashing lights to let your neighbors know when you mess up.

I am thinking we'll have to cut back some on the sugar in our coffee and tea. I am trying to cut back on sweets in general, eliminate caffeine from my diet per doctor's orders, and eat healthier. While I might be able to cut my coffee intake down to one or two cups a week (of decaf), I doubt I will make many changes to the creamer or hazelnut syrups I use. Kev drank a Starbucks coffee last night on our trip without ANY sugar. That would be about the equivalent of swallowing a mouthful of dirt in my eyes. Coffee was invented FOR the cream and sugar if you ask me (and the hazelnut).

The mugs you see here are part of our recent Christmas editions that were given to us on our trip (or purchased on discount because we loved them). The only two that are missing from the photo are the HUGE Santa mugs that the kids got from Grandma Betty (filled with Christmas candies). They are planning to use those for cereal and soup. Kevin also got a really great Italian espresso coffee maker (Bialetti Moka Express ~ the silver pot in the photo) for Christmas for himself and learned how to properly brew the 'real deal' (Thanks RG!). We loaded up on Mexican and Italian blends of espresso (Illy, LavAzza, LavAzza Decaf, El Pico, & Cafe Bustelo) and are impressed with how much more flavor it has than drip coffee. So while we may cheat a little on our diet to have coffee and milk or cream, at least we will be doing good to save money by staying away from Starbucks (and we won't have to buy coffee again for a looong time).

Well, I'm sure I can find twelve more things that I should be doing OTHER than blogging right now... so I will go. I wrote down my resolutions today and will post those tomorrow. We're starting school back up Tuesday and looking forward to getting back on a regular routine. I never would have imagined when we left for Texas and our long Christmas vacation that I would be so happy to return and get back to school.

I hope you have a super evening and spend it with the ones you love. I think I'm going to stay home with my family and pray in the New Year tonight before bed. No big parties for me. We'll probably snuggle up and watch a movie while drinking Italian coffee.

God bless you in 2007! Happy New Year from Sprittibee!

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December 29, 2006

On the Eleventh Day of Christmas...

Chipotle Burrito Bol Bliss ~ Merry Christmas to me!

Burrito Eaters

Rice Monster

Chipotle's second biggest fan

The rest of the eleven Chipotle eaters are not pictured here (including myself). We love Chipotle (their website ain't too shabby either). So far on our trip, we've eaten there three times. I'm sure we'll probably eat there tomorrow, too. Our vacation is coming to an end soon (profuse weeping erupts), and parting is such sweet sorrow. The only problem with Christmas vacation is that it is too short. The only problem with Chipotle is that there isn't one in the ENTIRE state of Arkansas. Believe me, I've already begged them. They have no mercy.

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December 28, 2006

On the Tenth Day of Christmas...



'Chestnuts roasting over an open fire'? I don't think so. Honestly, I've never actually tried roasted chestnuts before. I am a hazelnut freak (coffee is my excuse to use hazelnut syrup or flavored creamer). These photos are certainly of something roasting over a fire... but the fire was enclosed (inside a chimenea) and the item we were roasting is quite obviously a pinecone. Pinecones are lovely fun on the fire. They are extremely flammable. You will be amazed at how beautiful of a spectacle they make as they burn. They make quite a bit of smoke before they flare up and send a spiral of intense flames up the chimnea. Then, as the pinecone is consumed, it retains its shape and glimmers a gorgeous dayglow orange for a long while before melting away into ash. The whole process takes about seven to ten minutes.

My son (being the pyro like his mother before him) enjoyed throwing about ten of these fat 'firecones' into Grandma Betty's chimenea while we visited her house on Christmas night. We all smelled like smoke afterwards, but it was worth it. Maybe we need to change the song for the holidays. I can imagine us in the future singing "Pinecones roasting in a chimenea"... "Jack frost nipping at your nose"...

As a side note... I am so scared of my kid. As I finished up the above post, my son walked in to the room and wanted me to surrender the laptop computer so he could play a PC game. I told him I needed to check my spelling and finish posting first. He listened to me mumble to myself: "flammable" (as I typed the word into "F. l. a. m. m. a. b. l. e." he told me confidently - before the screen could refresh and show me the results. confirmed that he was correct. He's nine, so I asked him how he knew how to spell flammable. Being his 'teacher', I knew it hadn't ever been a vocabulary or spelling word we've reviewed.

He said, "I like to read so much... that I read lots of labels on things all of the time. I read Grandma Betty's gas water heater label about three times while we were at her house for Christmas. It said flammable about seven times on the label."

I stared at him in sheer disbelief. You could have fit a whole bagel in my gaping mouth. There was an awkward silence.

"What?" he said, smiling "I was bored!"

This is my life...

... homeschooling 'Rain Man'.

Who would have figured.

I guess if you have to be a homeschool mom, it's nice to have a kid that makes you look like a super teacher (because they are smarter than you are), eh? That's my boy!

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December 27, 2006

On the Ninth Day of Christmas...


I know this is kind of late today... 10:15pm to be exact. We've been having a lot of Christmas fun with family and have not been anywhere near a computer for most of today. My son played golf for the first time ever with grandpa Keith, and we went shopping with grandma Betty. What a busy day. My feet are killing me. I was not impressed with a lot of the sales prices... not sure it was worth all that walking! I figured the two days after Christmas would bring UNBEATABLE deals. Not so.

The photo above is actually a signature that Pixel Perfect made me. I was referred to them by Lil Duck Duck. They have professional photoshop pros that can whip up a sparkly signature ("siggy") for free if you join up. The photos on this signature are from last January or February when it snowed in Arkansas. Being from Texas, this was a first for my children (hence the crazy look in Morgan's eyes). They had seen snowflakes before, but never snow that actually stayed longer than a few minutes.

The kids had about nine minutes of snow fun outside before they were wet through with sludge and dripping ice... and too cold to stay out any more. Maybe one day we can travel farther north where they can really play out in the snow... long enough to build a snowman and have a snowball fight. We Texans can dream! Of course, we would love to visit somewhere snowy like that... but living there is quite another matter!

Only a few more days in the Lone Star State before we head north. Oh, and as a bonus to those of you who actually read my posts all the way through to the end... I had the kids and Nana pick three favorite photos from the Charlotte's Web entries. The only reason I haven't posted the finalists is because I don't have the email address for my contact at Walden's marketing team with me on vacation. So... you'll have to wait until the 31st! Sorry!

Enjoy the rest of your holidays, everyone!

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December 26, 2006

On the Eighth Day of Christmas...


One of the benefits of being from divorced families (both my husband's and my family) is that our kids have four sets of grandparents (which makes Eight Grandparents!). If it weren't for all of them, our holidays would be a lot less fun. We love all of them very much!

The grandparent in this photo is Chickie (my mom). We took this photo yesterday!

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December 24, 2006

On the Seventh Day of Christmas...


Technically, the end of the 12 days of Christmas is supposed to END on Christmas Day, right? Well... we don't always play by the 'rules' here, so my 12 days are up on the last day of our Christmas Vacation instead. Sad that vacations have to end... especially those that include family, friends, fun, food and Feliz-Navidad! We will return to our regular blog schedule when we get back to our regular routine. Until then, I hope you are having as much fun as we are for the holidays. What a magical time of year.

From our family to yours, I would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and a blessed 2007!

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December 23, 2006

On the Sixth Day of Christmas...


Ok... so it isn't 'geese a laying'. What about a hen laying? And just what is that hen laying anyway? That is one freaky looking egg. (Ammie's Tree 2006)

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On the Fifth Day of Christmas...


FIVE NEARLY INVISIBLE SNOWFLAKES! (Houston snow... 2004 Christmas)

December 22, 2006

On the Fourth Day of Christmas...


Four girlie cousins and a bunch of winter barbies (2004 Christmas at Nana & Pop's).

December 21, 2006

On the Third Day of Christmas...


Three wrapped up presents... and Nana's sparkling Christmas tree (Morgan 2004).

December 20, 2006

On the Second Day of Christmas...


TWO Texans and a lit up tree. (2005)

On the First Day of Christmas....

My true love (crazee daddy) and ONE member of the homeschool choir (my daughter) during Christmas season 2004... at the concert they gave.

December 18, 2006

Happy Trails, Y'all! Enjoy Your Holidays!

I spent the day finishing laundry, cleaning, packing bags, doing the checkbook, and preparing for our trip to Texas. We're head'n out to go be with family and friends for the holidays. I'm so excited that my sweetie got a full two weeks off! I wanted to let you all know that I'm going to be popping in now and then on the trip to do a "12 days of Christmas" photo theme. I love seeing the merry faces and wintry places of Christmas. I look forward to seeing your entries into the Charlotte's Web contest! Keep'em comin'!

I hope your holidays are merry and your 2007 is blessed. May the Gift of Christmas be your light and hope forever.

Be sure to check out the recipes I left in my Gathering Manna blog recently (there's a nice holiday meal plan there - you can adapt it from Thanksgiving... we always make the same type foods for Christmas as we do for Thanksgiving... one can never have too much turkey, dressing, and sweet potato casserole!). Maybe I can share Grandma Betty's wonderful 'Worm Pie' (chocolate desert) with you before the holidays...


Also... don't forget to go see Charlotte's Web and enter the contest to get a free copy of the book and sound track! I loooooooove the music on the soundtrack!!! By the way... the link there above for Charlotte's Web is way cool as well (games and fun stuff)!

Yeeeehaw! I'll be home for Christmas.

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December 17, 2006

Charlotte's Web Goody Give-Away

*POST UPDATED Monday 12/18!!!

I have a brand new paperback teacher's edition Charlotte's Web book *AND MOVIE SOUNDTRACK* waiting to be shipped to its new owner.

In addition to the book, I also have:

a CDRom “Faith Leaders Resource Guide” (with lessons on Giving, Friendship, Miracles) that includes a few trailers for the movie

a high-gloss printed Family Faith Guide booklet

a Harvest Barn Raising Guide Project page

a set of cute glossy card-stock Movie Character cut-outs

a few Coloring sheets

and a small Small Movie Poster that looks like the graphic above

All you have to do to get this sweet little package is post a pretty winter or Christmas photo on your blog and link back here to my comments section in this post. My kids will pick a winner this Friday (after you have all had time to run out and see the movie!). I will mail you the book and goodies when I get back home from vacation (first week of January).

I have also emailed the sweet lady at Walden's PR team and asked her if she wanted to include a sound-track to the movie as part of the booty. We'll see what she says! She mailed me one and it is AWESOME! ***SHE SAID YES!!!***

A few of the participating musical artists are:

Mark Shultz
Billy Ray Cyrus
Amy Grant
Bob Carlisle
Ginny Owens
Natalie Grant
Point of Grace

One of my favorites on the CD is by Selah. It is a hymn that we sing in our church called "There is a Fountain". I cried when I heard it (yes, I'm a sniveling and pathetic cry-baby). I was online looking at everyone's "Christmas bloggy tour of homes" (which I didn't participate in since we're so non-Christmassy this year with a tiny apartment and no decorations) and it made me cry missing my 2500 SF house in Texas to hear the beautiful lyrics to this song while watching everyone's wintry slideshows with nativities and angels. What a wonderful savior we have - and what a friend He is to us... just as in the case of Charlotte and Wilbur. Serving others is always the best thing you can do with your life.

So, I'm willing to eat the shipping cost to share a touch of this movie with someone else. I have been more than impressed with the great work Walden Entertainment put in to this flick, their PR/marketing team, the trailer, the product goodies they shipped, the musical artists and songs... and I am sure the movie is just as good as they all tell me it is!

Merry Christmas y'all! Can't wait to see your pictures! I'll be picking a winner while I'm in TEXAS!

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December 16, 2006

* Russian Matryoshka Doll Ornaments *

We studied Russia in our co-op in 2004 as part of our 'home'-school curriculum. I happened to be the mom that taught that class, so I got to put my craftiness in to play when we did these lovely Matryoshka ornaments. A Matryoshka doll is the obvious choice for a Russian craft. I chose ornaments because it would have been too intricate with fourteen 7-9 year olds to paint an actual set of nesting dolls.

This project is really easier than it looks. You only need to buy pre-made paper bell ornaments at your local craft store (usually around 75 cents each or so). They come with gold hanging loops already, so all you have to do is paint and seal. I had an idea of what I wanted them to look like before we started, and to make the craft go quicker, I painted their bodies red with metallic acrylic paint (aside from a circle for the face). I painted a white (or creamy colored) face on the dolls in a circle also (before the kids began working on them). I drew a large face of a doll on the blackboard in front of the class to show them what I wanted them to paint: pink cheeks, green or blue eyes, a letter on the front (either in Cyrillic or Latin alphabets), and dots along the edge of the bell on the bottom.


After we took the bells up from the kids, they were still not finished. I went in and added the scarves, and all of the black outlining. I added a few dots and head-dressing, and put a white "sparkle" in the eyes. I also added lips and a black line for the mouth that went between the pink cheeks that the kids had painted on. If you work with older children, you can just let them look at a finished doll and demonstrate the steps for them while they do ALL of the painting for themselves. This is a very fun project to paint... and a really wonderful Christmas treasure to keep for years to come. Be sure and remember to paint your child's name and the year on the bottom of the bell. After the paint is completely dry, paint a layer or two of Mod Podge sealant (high-gloss) over the bells and let it dry completely. Store ornaments in cloth (not tissue) and in a humidity-free environment or the sealant will ruin or stick to other papers or ornaments - we learned this the hard way!


Above is a photo of my son with two of his classmates in Russian head-gear. One of the girls is holding a Matryoshka doll that she brought for show-and-tell. These hats were given to our family pastor when he went on a mission trip overseas. He was gracious enough to share them with the class for a few hours. He said that when he went to Russia and visited with some of the people, if he commented about something in their home being pretty (out of politeness), they would take it off the wall and GIVE IT TO HIM. They are so generous and kind (the common folk there). The military hat came from a man who had nothing to give my pastor, yet he would not let my pastor leave his house without something of cherished value - his own uniform that would have been passed down as an heirloom (since he was retired).


As an early Christmas present to you, I will share with you a few ideas from my Russia unit study (when I can afford to buy Adobe Acrobat Professional, I'll upload the actual worksheets...$tips anyone?$):


1. Have you been to Russia? What do you think of when you think of Russia? Show kids pictures of Russia in library books (make sure to show them St. Basil's Cathedral). Discuss Russian Ballet and Ice Skaters, the movie Anastasia... and Nesting Dolls.

2. Where is Russia on a map? Discuss how Russia is the largest country and has more land than any other country (show kids where it is on a globe). Discuss Eastern vs. Western Hemisphere and how it is day here while it is night there. Discuss how Russia is split into two parts (Europe and Asia) and how the capitol city is Moscow. Make a map as you go along and place a star sticker on it and label Moscow. Glue a printed graphic of St. Basil's Cathedral on the map.

3. Discuss Siberia and the climate and living conditions (how criminals were sent there as punishment, the diamond and gold mines, and the average life expectancy).

4. Label the oceans and seas surrounding Russia (color them on the map). Discuss the North Pole and see how close it is to the tip of Russia. Talk briefly about the types of animals that live there. Glue a printed image of an Arctic Fox (or other arctic animal of your choice) on the tip of your maps. Discuss bordering countries (label if you wish).

5. Discuss current events in Russia (at the time we did this study, the Beslan terrorist attack had just happened and we prayed for the children and their families there). I showed them appropriate photos of mourners and children who were praying for those hurt (so they could see what Russian children looked like and associate with them). We talked about the similarities between the Russian terrorism and the NY attacks. We talked about how it is important to pray for others in need - even if they are around the world from us. We read Isaiah 56:7 ("my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations"). We put a sticker for Beslan on the maps in the shape of a heart to remind us to pray for them.

6. We compared the Russian Federation flag to the US flag (both are 'red, white & blue'). We looked at a book which had a Russian family photo and discussed how many of them look just like Americans. We glued a small Russian flag to our map. We talked about how they also have been in rockets and outer-space, and about Yuri - the first person to go into outer space. We talked about some of the crops they grow.

7. We listened to a Russian tape from the library (language). We talked about their alphabet and looked at a chart. We sounded out the letters to show that even if they look like ours, they don't always make the same sounds. We glued the word Russia in Cyrillic on the map. I gave them an assignment to go home and have their moms help them write their name in Cyrillic for extra credit.

8. We discussed the history of Russia in a nut shell (how it used to be the capitol of Christendom, the Czars, the Revolution, the Romanovs, Stalin, the decline of the church and communism... etc, etc.)

9. We defined the word "history" and talked about what we benefit from learning it. We reviewed the quick history we had learned the previous week with a few new details added in to keep it interesting.

10. We read the book
Babushka and the Three Kings and discussed the Christmas story in Russia as compared to the way we celebrate Christmas. (This was an EXCELLENT part of the lesson plan - I highly recommend that book... there is a sermon in there just waiting to be written!)

11. We discussed my pastor's mission work in Russia and some of the stories behind his visits and showed all of his hats and souvenirs. I let the kids try on the hats before they left the class.

11. We discussed a brief history of Matryoshka dolls and how they are made. We looked at show and tell Matryoshka dolls from Russia and a Russian Barbie doll in traditional clothing (hand made). We discussed how they would need to wear lots of fur because the winters were so harsh and I showed them many photos of Matryoshka dolls.

12. We did our Matryoshka craft and the kids sent them home with me for finishing touches and to be sealed.


Russian Links of Interest:

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December 15, 2006

* Ode to The Snowflake Creator *

If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome. ~ Anne Bradstreet (1612 - 1672)
Imagine if you found a grove of trees planted in this shape, a sand drawing on the desert floor in this shape, all the Legos in your son's bedroom in this shape, or pebbles on your sidewalk in this shape....


... you would know beyond a shadow of a doubt... that it had to have a Creator.

Each one of these little icy flakes is like a Monet, a Rembrandt, or a Degas... skillfully and masterfully made. There are countless numbers of them across the globe, filling the sky in winter months... and not a single one is the same - for all of eternity!

Read more about the physics of snowflakes here (this site is AWESOME and extremely educational... so you homeschool moms should all get your bookmarking mouse-clickers ready). Here are a few noteworthy clips from his website's page about the "alikeness" probability:

Since a typical small snow crystal might contain 1018 water molecules, we see that about 1015 of these molecules will be different from the rest. These unusual molecules will be randomly scattered throughout the snow crystal, giving it a unique design. The probability that two snow crystals would have exactly the same layout of these molecules is very, very, very small. Even with 1024 crystals per year, the odds of it happening within the lifetime of the Universe is indistinguishable from zero.

Larger, complex snowflakes are all different. The number of possible ways of making a complex snowflake is staggeringly large. To see just how much so, consider a simpler question -- how many ways can you arrange 15 books on your bookshelf? Well, there are 15 choices for the first book, 14 for the second, 13 for the third, etc. Multiply it out and there are over a trillion ways to arrange just 15 books. With a hundred books, the number of possible arrangements goes up to just under 10158 (that's a 1 followed by 158 zeros). That number is about 1070 times larger than the total number of atoms in the entire universe!
Now when you look at a complex snow crystal, you can often pick out a hundred separate features if you look closely. Since all those features could have grown differently, or ended up in slightly different places, the math is similar to that with the books. Thus the number of ways to make a complex snow crystal is absolutely huge.

And thus it's unlikely that any two complex snow crystals, out of all those made over the entire history of the planet, have ever looked completely alike.
I'm updating my template to welcome in the winter tonight. *And I'm sipping delicious peppermint tea by Celestial Seasonings... and wearing my red plaid fuzzy pajama pants.* The temperature here in Arkansas today was so mild that it almost felt like fall again. I'll have to admit, it was nice since we had to load storage into our moving trailer. I do hope that we can at least have some colder weather for the holidays (even if we are spending them in Texas). Again I will say that winter actually begins next Thursday... but since I will be having fun with friends and family, the winter solstice will most likely go unnoticed by me, and thus not be blogged about. You'll just have to forgive me for jumping the seasonal gun here.


If you like the lovely ice crystal photos on that website (linked in the paragraph above and under the title of this post), you can see more of them at your local post office (albeit a tad less detailed than the online versions)! *follow that link to get free winter tips and craft ideas from the USPS* I laughed when I saw the stamps in the mail a week or so ago (since I've had that site bookmarked quite by "accident" for nearly a month now - waiting to blog at just the right 'wintry' moment). I'm sure you know by now if you are a regular here... I don't believe in accidents - not in coincidence with the events of our lives or with snowflake design! "God is in the details."

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December 14, 2006

Holiday Encouragement For Homeschool Moms

Our plans for finishing our unit before vacation are fading fast. When I get behind on plans, I tend to start feeling like a big ZERO. I am my own worst critic. I have opted to do some much needed reorganization in our bedroom (preparing things to go to storage), taxes and paperwork, Christmas cards, and enjoying time with Daddy for his birthday... rather than do our previously planned two-weeks-worth of "Frontiersmen and Indians". Am I disappointed? Yes. Am I kicking myself? Yes. Do I feel like I'm way behind? Yes. I've been homeschooling more than four years now (this is our fifth), and I still have these days when I want to pull all my hair out wonder if we will ever get ahead of the game.

Usually, when I have these "down" moments, the Lord will come along and pick me up. He will dust me off and set me on the level path again. Sometimes it is just the gentle reminder from my kids that we haven't started the day with a prayer (big time no-no for me since that is when things all start to unravel). Sometimes it is a refreshing holiday/vacation day or just a weekend day off that inspires me to return to the next school week with renewed enthusiasm. Sometimes God picks me up through a perfectly timed event that "falls into our lap"... fitting in to our scheduled "unit" as if it was custom-created by God himself. I call these "God-Moments" or "God Smiles". One such "God Smile" was the time we were studying birds and an entire flock of pigeons landed on our picnic table at the park and ate out of our hands. It was one of those brief times that you just awe at how cool it is to be "in the center of the universe" - loved by the Creator.

Yesterday's pick me up came just at the right time. I've been beating myself up over not being able to "get it all done". I guess you would call that the "Super-mom syndrome". I had set the alarm on my phone to remind me to get to church last night. I tend to forget what day it is when Daddy works on weekends and evenings; so a friendly cell-phone alarm is always welcome. The kids and I went to class and came home afterwards to munch on our Christmas chocolate and sweets that were given out by their teachers. I got a phone call from my children's Bible class teacher about an hour after we got home. I was worried that something was wrong since she has never called before.

It so happens that their Wednesday night Bible teacher is also the coordinator of my church's children's program. She was calling to tell me that she wants me to help teach the first and second grade classes on Wednesday nights. She went on and on about how well behaved my kids were. She said they were "just so smart", "such a joy", "always welcome in her class", "so kind to each other", "quick to find their Bible verses", "very helpful", "sweet kids", etc. She told me that she was so amazed that my 7 year old was reading as well as another boy in her fourth grade class who is an accelerated fourth grader (Morgan attended class with her brother last night). She said that she felt like I would be such a great teacher because I had 'obviously done so well' with my own kids... and that she could "tell they were homeschooled".

I was floored. I wonder what she would think if she knew that I yelled at the kids and lost it when they were fighting with each other earlier yesterday. Or what if she knew that I actually spanked them for kicking each other over a toy the day before (and did it while I was angry). What if she knew about us not being able to accomplish more than the bare minimum with school for the last three days.... or the pile of laundry on my bed and dust all over my furniture? Holy cow! What if she finds out that lately I've wanted to crawl into bed and whine about how awful I am doing at homeschool... how badly I wish I had another month before the holidays so I could get back on "schedule". I DID let her know that I certainly don't deserve any credit for my kids turning out good. God makes food for multitudes with my little fish and loaves... it truly is a miracle that my worst efforts and worst moments can be added together to make kids as great as mine are. That, folks, is the real secret to success in homeschooling. A simple three letter word: G.O.D.

I guess after thinking it over, I wasn't realizing that even though I have my "down" days (and sometimes days turn into weeks!)... that my children are learning anyway. The great thing is that they are not only learning about: Kentucky used to be called "Caintuck" by the frontiersmen. Daniel Boon used to call his riffle "Old Tick-Licker". Santa Anna was defeated in San Jacinto by Houston's Army. Sam Houston's nickname was 'The Raven' (and he almost ran against Lincoln for president). the British governor of Detroit (Henry Hamilton) sent Indians in to frontier villages to scalp Americans. some of the goldminers would hunt the Chinese people and cut their braided hair off. the Trail of Tears was over 800 miles long and most Cherokee walked the entire length of it. Sam Houston, Noah Webster, John Adams and Dave Crockett tried to defend Indian rights against greedy settlers. the 49ers were the eighty-thousand people to reach California during the gold rush in 1849.
Those things are important. Academics are certainly important. But really, when all is said and done, I don't want just smart kids. I want godly kids... kids who's character sets them apart. Kids that grow up to be gentlemen and ladies... the kind of people who will shine for Christ in this dark world.

God reminded me last night that it is really not me that is doing the work in this 'home-school'. It is all Him. My kids are smart and good - despite my flaws and my holiday failures. I was reminded that if I just put it all in His hands and quit trying to do it all on my own strength... everything is going to come out OK. I know it will. If my kids are this great after five years at home with their IMPERFECT mama teaching them, I know I can trust Him to keep us going in the right direction in the future.

So here I am, after a well-timed pat on the back... feeling just as "behind", but somehow much better anyway. I know my kids are going to be OK - even if we have ditched our lesson plans and have taken an extra week of vacation over the holidays. After all, there are plenty of great lessons you can learn during the Christmas season that are from a much more important history book.

I am not sure why I decided to type this message out today. I have a million things to get done before we leave town next Tuesday. I am planning to do a '12 Days of Christmas' theme over the holidays and simplify my posts down to a photo with a caption while I'm away. I don't want to miss all that precious time with friends and family. I hope you'll understand!

I hope your Christmas as merry and bright... and that God shines His favor on you and yours this holiday season and for all of 2007.

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December 12, 2006

Charlotte's Web - The Movie!

I'm so excited to go see this. I have heard good things about it. We read the book this past year and enjoyed it much! Of course, with a classic like this one, how can you go wrong? The book we were reading had my chicken-scratch handwriting on it from my early elementary days and the kids got such a kick out of the fact that it was "Mommy's kid book". It is nice to see Hollywood turning out movies that have family values.

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Happy Birthday Honey!

For my man. I love him so. The kids think he hung the moon. They enjoyed helping me pick out and create this little photo widget.

Thank you Jesus for Kevin.

Happy birthday, sweetheart!!!!!!!

Enjoy the photos! If you have been plugged in here long, you'll know that all of these have been up on the blog at one time or another. Now I have them all in one post. I just love the Rock You photo widgets. Thanks to Crystal for the idea! Morgan is waving 'hello' to Emily!

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December 11, 2006

Autumn Tree Craft


With only four days of school left before Christmas break in our house (yipee!), I know that this particular post is a bit "late". However, in an effort to finish up my last formal week of "fall" here on Sprittibee, I'm trying to get all of the season neatly filed away. I am planning to change the template to winter next week when we leave for vacation (we will be gone for two weeks!!! Wooohooo!)... just before the first day of winter officially begins.

We have already tossed the little tree you see above. We made this tree to use with our "Seasons Unit Study" last school year and dressed it for autumn this past October. We hung construction paper "drawn" leaves as well as laminated fall leaves from different trees outside. We used raffia to hang them all because it reminds me of scarecrows - another fall icon. I plan to repeat this project in future years. Hopefully mine will look a lot more like my friend Patricia's next time!

Although we enjoyed our tree, Daddy was sick of it sitting on the kitchen bar after six months! Maybe the next time we build one, we will make it a bit smaller and more permanent - not just twigs in a glass vase. After a while, you just need a change... so last week, we took those twigs back to the park where we got them... and put the vase away back under the sink.

You could adapt this little tree to Christmas or winter just as easily. You can really do just about any season or holiday on an adaptable twig tree! You could even spray-paint it with glitter or colored paint... and if you get twigs large enough, you could even add Christmas lights. They sell those little tiny lights at places like Garden Ridge Pottery also. If you are gifted with things of that nature, you could wrap the tree yourself. I think it would be pretty with white lights so that it would fit any season. Just add or remove the ornaments of your choice... it's that easy. Use your imagination!

Enjoy your holiday, fall, spring, winter, or summer tree!

Quick Links:
All Seasons Tree' in Sprittibee's archives
Mother's Day Tree' by Family Fun
Fall Tree' by Pollywog Creek Porch
Valentines Tree' by LJCFYI

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December 10, 2006

The Biggest Shocker in Homeschool Blogging History...

Spunky Homeschool is retiring from blogging.

I KNOW, I KNOW... I just don't know what else to say today. My boring meme that I've been putting off now for six months and was going to slap up today seems to ring hollow in the light of this news. I am really shocked and have just been sitting here with my mouth hanging open. I know that I go a few days here and there between reading blogs since I am busy with homeschooling, homemaking, and my own little blog... but this was news I never imagined... and it has really hit hard.

I pray that you will go over and vote for her as a last parting gesture at the 2006 Weblog Awards. She is a finalist in the education category. She deserves this "Oscar" on the way out... as a reminder that she meant so many things to so many people. Her voice will hopefully live on although her cyber shoes will be hard to fill.

Click the icon to go and vote:

You can vote ONCE A DAY until Dec. 15th! Spread the word for Spunky!

God bless you and yours, Spunky. Merry Christmas.

In honor of Spunky, I'm posting her "About Me" section for those of you who haven't read it yet:

Because La Shawn says I need one
Saturday, November 19, 2005
One of La Shawn Barber's pet peeves is a blog without an "about me" link.

Sooooo in an effort to please La Shawn (my inspiration but who probably won't read this actually read it and commented) and all others who care to know, here's a little about me. (And besides it's Saturday and I have a bazillion things to do today because today is Michigan -vs- Ohio State and I have about twenty people coming to watch the game and my son is turning 15 as well and so that means not only do we get to celebrate a Michigan victory but another year with my terrific son and since what is really important in life won't matter until that game is over which may be before this sentence that is going on so long that the only people still reading it are those that really want to know these mundane facts about me because all others have been run off by my run on sentence soooo.....

I will tell the few remaining people (who must be pretty bored today because they're still reading this) and Jackie (who reads all my posts the good, the bad, and the boring) all the things about me that you never really wanted to know but that La Shawn said I should tell you so here goes! )

I'm a...

...Christian. (I hope this was obvious.)
...Daughter to the best parents in the world. (I want to be just like them when I grow up.)
...Wife to one very patient man. (Who lets me be me and loves me in spite of it!)
...Mom to six adorable Braunadoes (They're on my sidebar.)


...Got my nickname Spunky from my dad when I was 17. Somehow it stuck around. My real name is Karen Braun.
...Holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from the University of Michigan. (which is probably more BS than CS these days!)
...Homeschools all her children. (I don't think I needed to say that either.)
...Blogs because I have 42 years worth of stuff swirling in my head that my friends have all heard so many times that I need to find a new audience for it all. (Lucky you!)
...Drinks expensive coffee when others are buying (remember I don't have a real job.)
...Believes I am totally right about just about everything I believe. Otherwise I wouldn't believe it. And if you think about do too.
...Is totally normal in every way. It's the culture that's all messed up.

Lives in...
...A house that was too small the day we bought it. (No, it's not the one on my sidebar.)
...A suburb of Detroit
...The United States
...A suburb of the United Nations.

Anything else worth knowing about me really isn't so I'll end here. But if you really want to know anything else about me just ask. I may not answer but at least I'll know what else you're curious about! And as a bonus to those that read to the end here I am.

Did you read that part about expensive coffee? Maybe we can get together and get her a Starbucks Gift Card for Christmas? Who's in?

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Some posts on this blog contain affiliate links or sponsored links. I receive a small commission whenever a product is purchased through an affiliate link. Sponsored links are paid for by a company who wishes to improve their Google ranking, but I always check to make sure these are reputable sites and never allow any links that are questionable to be placed.

The links in my "Sweet Linkage" section are either sponsored links or personal links that I find interesting (including the links to the blogs that both of my teen children run).

I occasionally run ads on my blog in exchange for money or traded advertising, or receive products in exchange for a review or giveaway posts. I also participate in campaigns by brands that offer to pay me to write about their products after using them. Any post that is sponsored will be noted as such. All opinions expressed on are my own, and any review, give-away, sponsored post, graphic ad, or product that I mention or link to are ones that I believe are reputable and worthy companies.


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