Sunday, November 22, 2009

free spirit

Yesterday we went to a craft class at the local Michael's. They have these demonstrations on how
to do certain things and I decided to take The Girl to see them do painted glass ornaments. They did then allow the five little girls to paint an ornament to take home. My Girl did hers slightly differently. Shocking, I know. The rest of the little girls followed the exact directions to make a sweet little Christmas ornament. They decoupaged on sweet little snowflakes and glitter and such. My girl? Well, she decided that she wanted to make an Autumn ornament. So, she painted it red and she then painted green leaves on the ornament. The green leaves happen to also look like chicken feet, but she was quite happy with her creation. Though, I will admit that the other little girl's ornaments looked quite a bit more polished and "finished," I will also admit that My Girl's ornament was all HER.

She is a free spirit. She doesn't typically care if you are not supposed to read books on the bench during soccer. She reads them cause she wants to.

She creates games that get little girls running and all using their imaginations. During her brother's soccer games she would rally the troops and lead treasure hunts using maps drawn on her little sparkly purple etch a sketch. Then all the little girls were asking their moms for etch a sketches for Christmas.

She is often in another world. Sparkling and dancing and moving and doing her own thing.

Her own world is different. The only problem is when it collides with someone else's world. Or someone else's desire to actually play baseball and get people out... rather then pick clover.

Free spirits may not actually make good second base players. Frankly free spirits don't bother much with baseball. Free spirits enjoy other pursuits like finding those sneaky little fairies that hide in the clover.

I hope she does not lose her free spirit. Ever.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

new letter from brayan-- my compassion international child

I wanted to share this letter with you...

Dear Anna *******,

Beloved, it is a great pleasure wishing that our God fill you with blessings. The tutor Mary ****** writes you because Brayan still doesn't do it. He finds very well and he sends you thanks for everything and for being a blessing for him. He tells you that his dad is restoring the house and it is looking like very pretty. His granny was operated of a hernia, but now thanks to God he is fine. At school he is doing well and he will learn to read and to write the letter soon by himself. Brayan wants to hear: how is your home? Do you have garden? I ask you that you pray for him. He says goodbye with kisses. May God bless you.

Brayan ************

He drew me another sweet picture on the back of the letter. It is translated from Columbian Spanish to English and so there are obviously some translation issues, but really they are minor. I am always SO excited to hear from my little Brayan and since some of you had expressed interest in the sponsorship program I wanted to share this letter with you. I look forward to getting new pictures of Brayan soon. He reminds me quite a bit of my own little boy and I really have such fun sending him letter and pictures and things like that.

I am going to try to resurrect this blog and start writing again. We had an insane fall with so much going on, but I think now things may hopefully slow down slightly and I am hoping that I will have more time to post.

If you would like to sponsor a child, please go to this link and look at the needy children. If you have any questions please let me know and I will do my best to answer them.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


I have been a naughty blogger. I am going to try to catch up with life here just a little bit. BUT there are likely to be large gaps. First of all, this blog is really more of a random picture and writing blog and here I am sharing kid pictures. Sneaky though.

We attended our first cub scout camp this year and it was all they said it would be and SO much more.

Shooting Archery!

Shooting BB guns!

Fun campfires!
We took our Boy and one of his fellow cub scouts with us and had such a fun time. Every day there we would rotate through six different stations, which we hiked to around the camp. So, everyday we did BB guns, Archery, Fishing, Crafts (like making a worm home), Science (like making a bug catcher, with wood burning included!), and Games (like Tug of War). On the last day the boys in our group did a fun song together with our other scouts and we had such a fun time. Our boys were filthy and completely worn out everyday. I have tons of pictures and you should probably keep an eye out for them on our family blog page.

This was how we spent just a portion of our summer...

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Monday, August 3, 2009

reminder... sometimes i need these

****Updated to add that I just found that this is not quite correct. This is actually
by Dr. Kent M. Keith (often falsely attributed to Mother Teresa)
The last line is not one from Dr. Keith's original Paradoxical Commandments
it seems to have been added by.... anonymous. HOWEVER... I still like it. A lot. Enough to swipe it from a favorite blog of mine Quiet Life... and when she fixed who she attributed it to, then I had to do the same.

"People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.

If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway.

If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.

The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.

For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway."

Sunday, July 19, 2009

such a bright light shining

There are some people in this world that my spirit rushes when I see them. It is as if my spirit yearns for what they have. Their stories and their light shine so bright that I want to bask in it one moment and then another moment I am convicted to go and preach at every street corner.

I am trying to make sense here but I have a feeling that I need to start with something more concrete.

This is Cott and Shus. Those aren't their real names really but that is what everyone knows them by. This is a couple that have poured out their lives for God.

I first met Cott and Shus around 8 years ago when my son was just a baby. I can't believe it has been that long.

The first time I met them I did my best to pay them great respect because my parents taught me well and I was trained to honor and respect and love those older then me. The aged in my world are some of the most amazing people ever. Their experiences and what makes people who they are today fascinate me. I would love to sit at the feet of the older generation and soak up all the stories and tales and remembrances that they could find to tell me.

Cott did most of the talking on that first day and I remember exactly what he talked about. He talked about sharing the Gospel. He talked about how he shared the Gospel and how he talked to people. He showed me the tracts that he would sometimes use. He showed me the scriptures and he asked me about my salvation. He asked me who I had shared the Gospel with recently.

His light was so very bright.

He was a country preacher. I can identify with that in a powerful way cause I grew up tagging along after my country preacher Daddy. I grew up listening to country preachers preach the Gospel over old oak pulpits with lightening bugs flittering in and out of the open country church windows.

Cott didn't stop at the old oak pulpits. I had the sense that he never stopped. He told me about the people he would see at diners and the people he would talk to at gas stations and those that he would share with everywhere he went everyday. He was so earnest in his zeal for God.

He didn't grow up in the church. He was not a Christian until he was married and busy working his farm but once God came into his life it was never the same.

Now Cott and Shus are retired. It was a long time in coming. I do think that they were technically retired before this but that they never really stopped. They kept right on doing God's work. They consistently filled in at small country churches all over the state. They consistently shared the story of Jesus.

Finally though, it was time. Shus was diagnosed with Alzheimer's and he quickly realized that he needed to be there with her constantly and that it was time to pass on the torch of the hospital visits and all the other work to others.

They are living in an apartment in a community for retired ministers. Recently, we talked and he sat there telling me in amazement what an incredible wife Shus had been for him all these years. How she took care of all the finances and took care of all the things in the home as well as taught elementary school until her own retirement. He impressed upon me that he never understood all that she did, all that she was to him fully. That only recently had he completely realized what all she had done. Cott told me that now he would gladly care for Shus. It was his turn to do this work. To care for his beloved in so many ways.

His work for the Lord continues on in ways he never imagined.

His inspiration will go on in ways he may never imagine in this known world.
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Saturday, June 20, 2009

triple school points!

I have been meaning to get this posted FOREVER.... actually I have many posts like that. This post just happened to be the lucky one today.

I try to do the kids spelling words all different ways and cheap ways and fun ways and this is one of those ways.

We have this neat little portable desk thing that Discovery Toys once carried. I used to sorta sell Discovery Toys once. The key word is sorta. Mainly I bought Discovery Toys. It was an issue. Anyways, this came with neat story magnets which we still use. I was tempted to get rid of this little desk thing since we really weren't using it much, but then I found this use for it. One of the sides of the top which slides in and out is magnetic. The other side of the desk is all flat with a spot for a cup, but... goodness... I digress. Yet again. So, I found someone just giving away these scrabble tiles.

I put magnets on the back, and store them in the desk and use them with this for spelling. The kids love it. They look more like the real letters as opposed to those plastic colored letters and it just works well. They all store in the desk and we can even do spelling easy in the car.
The other fun thing... well sorta fun. Relative fun, is using the 100 pocket chart. One of the lessons in the Alpha book in Math U See is to write from one to one hundred each day for the lesson. Both of kids totally fell apart when they got to this. They feel that this is torture... SO much writing!!! Well, I know the point of the lesson and so I just did it a slightly different way. I was able to do this since I knew that both of them could actually write all the numbers that it was much more about making sure they KNOW all the numbers and how they go together to 100. So, I snag the pocket chart and pretend that a "number pirate" was caught at our house.

I do the voice when I tell them the story and the whole nine yards. The number pirate was caught but not before he had removed EVERY number from the number chart in an attempt to steal them. The kids them have to put all the numbers back in the chart. In order.

The love it. They have always been able to prove to me that they do know the order of the numbers and how they go together. It works great!!!

So those are things that work for us in school!

Can I have my triple word score now? :)
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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

this and that

So, it is VBS week at my church which equals craziness for me and mine. My problem is that I can't leave the curriculum well enough alone. I decide to take it to a whole new level. I complicate things for myself. It works well on the drive to crazyville.

The kids are finally playing some baseball games, but we still have quite a few to make up with sporadic rain constantly coming as well.

Can I let you in on a little secret? I LOVE watching my kids play ANY sport. I am learning tons of things watching them and I find such joy in watching them have so much fun.

I have been busy with life during the summer which means that I run with kids here and there and there and here.

I have lots to do and not enough time to do it all in but it will all happen at some point.

I have temporarily set up shop outside fixing the neighborhood kids bikes. It is hard being a single mom in the military. I am so glad I am not one, but at least I can fix a few bikes and help them out.

I have been reading... big shock there.

I also found the most interesting video for crazy bibliophiles.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

forgiveness and baseball

Today I have felt the need to beg for forgiveness like I haven't felt in a long time. I had really let someone down in my life and I felt horrible.

This little person that I really let down was my son.

The boy of mine is an amazing kid... well he is to me and really that is what matters.

He loves sports and one of his favorite sports is baseball and we are well into that season, but because of the amazing amount of rain that we have had here five of his games have been canceled. He has only been able to play one game. ONE.

Everyday that he has had a game scheduled it has rained that day, or it has rained hard the night before and the field is flooded. He sits disappointed day after day knowing that with each pitter-patter of rain drops the season for one of his all time favorite sports is quickly flying away.

Yesterday and today were glorious, gorgeous days. The sun was bright, the sky was clear. We even checked the weather radar and we were in the safe zone. The games would happen today! The weather had finally smiled down on the little boy and he would get to swing that bat and throw that ball around with his friends.

The Girl had her game first at 10am and we went to that and had such fun, then the boy's game was at 1pm.

John wasn't sure that his game was at 1pm. During the girl's game he had overheard someone from the Boy's team commenting that they had to be back in just a half hour... at 11:30. So I double checked the schedule and checked it against the large white board that I use for all of our activities on the fridge. It said One O'clock in that nifty little square that I studied once more.

I made some lunch... fixed water bottles... did some gardening.

Finally I made sure the Boy was ready and we headed out. He ran across the field ahead of me with his batting helmet and bat and glove. He was SO excited that he was finally going to be able to play a game again. He had honestly waited weeks to be able to play a game.

On my way over, as I lugged the water and the camera and the snacks, I noticed that his team members were on their way to the parking lot.

All of them.

I stopped one family and confirmed that yes, his game WAS OVER. I am sure my eyes about fell out of my head... and my heart dropped.

What really did me in though was seeing my little boy, just moments ago so excited, now running towards me with his face crumpled with tears.

He ran towards me and I hugged him tight. I was a bit indignant. How could this have happened?! I was SO careful. Was my schedule paper a misprint?! I started looking for his coach, a good friend of mine, to figure out what had happened.

I found her and she smiled and waved to me. I met up with her and told her that I had double checked the schedule and all of that... she was puzzled and sorry and she pulled out the schedule and I pointed to the neat square where it said 1pm on Saturday the 13th. The problem that she quickly pointed out was that today was the 6th.


That was when I just looked at my son and he looked at me and I apologized about 100 times. I am not exaggerating. He had been waiting for weeks. I was looking at the wrong square everywhere. All day.

I brought him home and I apologized again and again and again. He seemed fine with it and really bounced back, but I felt horrible.

I offered to camp out and read as many books as he wanted. I offered to bake him cookies to take to his Sunday School class. I offered to paint him a picture of a Tiger for his room. I needed to do something for him to "earn" his forgiveness... which is silly, but I just felt so BLASTED GUILTY!

Finally I tossed them in swim suits and they played in water at the house, then I took them to the pool over on base where the water was freezing and they complained. It was not the best day here people... but we muddled through.

The good thing is that even when I mess things up that he has been yearning for, and I do mean yearning for, for this long... he was so quick and willing to forgive me.

There are many things that I would like to "fix" in my child's behavior, but frankly, I was proud of him today. I really missed the mark big time, but he got over it quickly and moved on quickly. Frankly, he moved on faster then I was able to move on.

He has four games this coming week. I told him that I would make sure that nothing else interfered with his games. I will hold back the clouds blast it!

Monday, May 18, 2009

i want to learn... please?

My Mother's Day gifts this year spoke volumes to me. I was floored and delighted and almost in tears.

John took the kids out to shop and after he convinced the Girl that her present did not have to be the very best and most amazing gift in the entire world they were able to move on. They purchased their gifts and wrapped them for me and presented them to me during the afternoon.

I opened my Mother's Day gifts with absolutely no idea of what I would get. They each bought me one item and then they bought me one thing together.

My boy bought me a sweet hummingbird feeder. He has shared my love of attracting birds to our yard and this is something that he has wanted for sometime. He also knew that I would LOVE it. I do love it! It is currently hanging in our tree in the back yard and we are awaiting our little humming friends.My daughter gave me a very nice gardening book and this is ALWAYS a welcome sight in my home especially since I am a bit of a gardening addict. I have already read through much of the book and have learned quite a bit. I am excited about what else I will learn from my book.

The gift from both of them was large and rectangular and heavy. It felt obviously like a book and since I lurve books I opened it eagerly!

When I pulled back the paper I saw this massive history book.

This book is very large and is filled with maps and articles of what has happened in our world in the past.

I opened it up and my husband said, "Now you need to hear why they wanted to get this particular book for you." He had this funny grin on his face.

BOTH of my children were sitting on the floor at my feet and at this moment they both chimed in together, "We bought it for you so that you can use it to teach us more history!" They looked up at me with beaming faces, full of anticipation. My eyes grew wide and I realized that I was just given one of the biggest compliments of my entire life.

I have a great love of learning and I love learning more about history. I homeschool our children and I love bringing history alive for them. We use Sonlight history and they think that the history portion of our day is one of the best parts of each day. They often talk me into doing more then one day of history at a time.

I have succeeded in one of my goals in homeschooling. I have instilled in my children a love of learning. I know that I do not do everything right. There are many times when I question myself and what we are doing here in our little corner of the great homeschooling world, but on Mother's Day I got one of the best gifts. I got a great progress report as a homeschool teacher. Now... let's see if we can work on my progress report for organizing a house...

Friday, May 15, 2009


Recently the whole family went on a field trip with the homeschool group to downtown. We visited the Old Courthouse where some very famous cases were heard and where new things in architecture were discovered. We went to the arch to hang out for a bit and I took MANY pictures.

These are two of them. Normally my camera is trained on kids and on nature, but on this day it was the architecture that really caught my eye.

I did mess with the shadow and steeliness on the Arch and I think it turned out quite nice. I was tempted to drag the contrast further, but decided that this was a happy medium. I did like the darker look as it was very dramatic but I like the dark swirls that I was able to still see in the clouds in this picture.

This picture was taken from across the rotunda into a well lit stairwell. I was impressed with how well this turned out for a couple of reasons. I only have the one basic lens on my Rebel and it often just doesn't do the job I want it to do when taking pictures from a distance like this. When I got the picture into edit I had found out that it surprised me on this one. I cropped it in a little but did almost nothing else to it. I really like the curving stairs here... grace.

I have more pictures to share with you, but many of them have my children or other children in them. I can't share them. Bummer.

Click the pictures to make them larger.

I linked this post to a wonderful blog that I admire greatly for her spirit and for her photography. She was having people link their pictures of beauty in unexpected places and I thought these fit. Check out her blog your eyes will thank you!
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Sunday, May 10, 2009

mark of a mom

This morning I wore gray pin-stripe dress pants and a black t-shirt to church. I looked so springy. Ahem. I did see other mom's completely dressed up in their cute dresses looking the beautiful sweet part of Mother's Day. Honestly, I have very few dresses and since I am away from home right now, I do not have any of the dresses with me that I own.

One of the moms that I saw was just so sweet and gorgeous looking. She had her blonde highlighted hair pulled up in the back and her make-up looked flawless. She had on a layered gauzy pink butterfly dress on with a matching light pink spring mid-thigh coat. She wore lovely jewelry and had on matching open-toe sling back heels that looked like they were of some faux alligator skin. In pink.

She looked like she walked out of a very nice magazine.


There was one slight... flaw.

(time for me to get critical on you all)

She had on a rather tacky bracelet.

It was plastic beads.


The beads didn't even cover all the yarn... they covered maybe half of the yarn. Maybe.

What was she thinking?

She didn't have kids with her... yet she wore the mark of a homemade mother's day gift rather proudly. She carefully took notes on what the preacher was teaching with the same hand on which this gift was on.

No shame.

The mark of a mother is no shame.

No shame in looking a peditrician in the eye and telling him that you will not be giving your child the said treatment because it hasn't been tested enough and your daughter is not a guinea pig.

No shame in running half-naked out of the house looking for a toddler who just pushed the door open and was heading for a busy street.

No shame in eating some strange food item that the little one is trying to feed you which was probably licked by the dog before being put in your mouth.

No shame in showing up in the ER with a baby with a high fever, while wearing smeared make-up and sweats.

No shame in walking out of a store with a young one in high-tantrum mode after you told him NO to another toy.

No shame in telling others that you chose to homeschoool.

No shame in telling people that you chose traditional school.

No shame in cancelling out on a party because your eight year old burnt his hand and now nothing is more important then just loving on him and his pain.

No shame in walking through a crowded place with a teenage child who is very into expressing themselves through their pink hair.

No shame in cheering on the only child on the team who cannot hit a baseball no matter how hard they try.

No shame in running through a crowded hospital, after a doctor, in a foreign country, while wearing nothing more then a napkin that covers your top third while otherwise wearing only panic on your face... over the life of your unborn child.

There is no shame allowed in mother's love.

No shame in wearing plastic beads on yarn.

No shame in the mark of a mom.

Happy Mother's Day to all with No Shame.

Monday, May 4, 2009

so the movie and some rambling

I enjoyed the Hunt for Gollum movie last night.

They did a release at 4 GMT, but are releasing it across the board on May 10th. I didn't get on to watch it until my kids were in bed and it didn't want to let me watch the movie. I clicked on "have problems watching it in HD, watch it in HQ" and I was able to watch it last night. I don't know if that option is working today or if you missed it if you have to wait until the 10th.

It was a good movie... very Jacksonish... and quite well done. There was, of course, ways I could tell that they had cut corners to work things into budget. BUT overall, I was very impressed with what people can do with a passion. Or obsession. It just depends on how you spin that word.

I have lots to show you from what I have been doing here. I just haven't taken all the pictures yet.

I have put up a greenhouse and started lots of little plants in it. Some are flowers which will go around my house. Some are veggies which will go in the organic garden at the farm. Regardless, my starters have worked this year. Every year I have tried to do starters and every year they don't make it. These made it!!! It was so exciting! They even made it for about 5 days when we were away and I was so pleased!

I have put in a rain barrel at the farm for watering the organic garden. This is great because we don't have to run the hose from the well house as often to water the garden and it is great because we can make Chicken Manure Tea for mid-summer fertilizing. What we can do is take a nice pile of chicken manure and put it in a nice cheese cloth bag and plop it right in a full rain barrel and then water with this great tea! My plants will love it and being a (regular Lipton) tea drinker myself I think this is great. I will post pictures of my rain barrel at the farm later.

I have been spending more time with the kids at the farm and it has refreshed my spirit. This farm has got to be one of the best things ever thought up and I have been so blessed by it. We can go out and do all sorts of farm type stuff. Organnic gardening, fishing, hunting all sorts of little critters, rain barrels, collecting eggs, playing in the hay loft, feeding horses and playing with baby goats and hiking all over looking for tracks and talking about all we see. Really, the farm is a working farm, it is quite redneck and very rustic and farm dogs and farm filth abounds but I am becoming so attached to this farm that I don't know what I am going to do when we leave here for another base.

When we leave here we will have been here for four years and we will have once again dug in our roots very deep.

I have problems imagining that I will ever find anything as great as this farm anywhere else.

I have to believe that wherever we go God will have even more awesome opportunities for growth for our family.

In the meantime I am here. I am here loving where I am and loving the absolutely incredible friends that I have here.

I do believe that the next place we live will have more amazing oppotunities for us that we will be ready for when we move there. I will not get lost in my ponderings of the present. I will keep my focus up. (that last part is me admonishing myself... you were just along for the read)

Do you want to know what the real problem is? I am borrowing trouble. I do not move for a year and a half.

Friday, May 1, 2009

confessions of an obsessive leach

So, I have mentioned here I believe how I can get obsessed about things.

Basically once I get interested in something I cling to it like a leach until I am well fed on information and I let go.

So, a couple of years ago I got hooked on Tolkien.

I know many people have undergone this obsession and many have felt the draw of Middle Earth (now I am sounding like an idiot).

I read everything I could get my hands on to read of his and I borrowed books with maps of Middle Earth and I rewatched the movies and scoffed at what they had changed and I dreamt a few dreams in Middle Earth (that last one was slightly hard to type) and I generally became an obsessed mad woman about it.

Now, I do slowly get over an obsession and I do move on after sucking the information stream dry and that is what slowly happened with this obsession as well. Once I have had something in my obsession sights though, I will still have a good interest in it even after the period of true obsession slows down.

You will soon see what I mean.

This morning, I did my morning routine of checking my email, checking facebook, checking a blog or two and checking a news source to scan for anything of major importance.

I saw this story and I instantly thought to myself, "OH! I need to post that to my increbibly large audience at my blog!" (sarcasm intended) And so I instantly came here to show you. Really. I kid not.

I could not figure out how to imbed this trailer for this piece of Fan Fiction work, that looks pretty amazing, but I think that most of you can figure out how to click on the link and then click on the trailer that is on the left column.

They have this website as well and really, it looks pretty good! I do think that some of the casting maybe a slight issue because we have gotten so used to seeing certain people in certain roles on the movies, but that should be but a small distraction for the movie I think.

This is by far the best piece of "fan work" I have ever seen. Now, I am judging this by the trailer, but considering they actually filmed and costumed and casted and directed and edited etc... I am highly impressed... so far.

The movie will be released this weekend over the internet and save a lawsuit to stop it from going through I will be watching it.

Me and my slightly OCD self.

Monday, April 27, 2009

compassion in kolkata

I have discussed Compassion International here in the past. They are an amazing international organization that does work with impoverished children. They spread the Gospel of Jesus and they assist the child and the family in ways that are desperately needed, like school fees and clothing and food and medical help. The assistance that they offer varies from project to project and from need to need. What is amazing is what they do for these people. What YOU can do for them as well. Compassion works largely on sponsorships and what that means is that people like you and me will sponsor a child and the money that you pay each month helps that child with their needs. Knowing that someone out there cares enough to do this is huge!

What was surprising to me though was how much just having a real life person sponser them means to them. They know that someone cares. Someone believes in them. Someone LOVES them. When the children are reading the letters that are sent to them and seeing the pictures it is enough to boost their self esteem to the point where they can see the outside of the poverty stricken area they are living in. It lets them dream and dream big!

It really is amazing what $32 a month can do.

I spend that same amount every month for just one of my children to take gymnastics lessons once a week for an hour.

Just an hour a week.

When Compassion takes that same amount do you see what they can do?! It amazes me everyday.

The amazement doesn't cease... I have read accounts and read accounts of the poverty and the desperation in these places. I have seen the pictures and have f0llowed bloggers as they went on the last two Compassion trips. They are doing a trip right now in which they take bloggers and they take them to Compassion sites in a country that Compassion works in and they show them what they do and the Compassion Bloggers will show the pictures and they will tell the story. This is a very effective way to spread the news of what Compassion does. It reaches so many people to let them know of this opportunity to reach out and be blessed... blessing your socks off kind of blessed!

If you would like to follow the Compassion Bloggers on this trip as they visit India, please check out the following links.

Angie @ Bring the Rain

Melissa @ The LPM Blog

Robin @ Pensieve

Anne @ Flowerdust

Pete @

Please consider sponsoring a child. It is a decision that I do not believe you will ever regret.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

my lovely template here on my blog...

I know that my template is rather "wintry." It is a problem for me. I haven't had issues switching out templates really, the problem is that right now my computer isn't letting me download new templates. It just isn't. I have no clue why, so please just join me in putting up with winter here on my blog.

I also know that I could just switch things around without a template, but frankly people I do not have time. At all. I am lucky when I can get on here and post a little post about birds and other nonsense.

Hopefully I will fix this before we are blown away by summer... and I am still freezing my heiney off here at just to name a few... icicles.

Friday, April 24, 2009

oddness and an eastern meadowlark

If I had told my friends in high school that one day I would be into bird watching I think they would have simply stared at me with shocked expressions... mouths agape. That would have been an appropriate response really.

Today however I am a very inexperienced bird watcher and the whole thing just snuck up on me.

Growing up I knew what a few of the basic birds were. I knew a robin and a sparrow and a blue jay and a cardinal and a Bald Eagle and umm... that may have been it. I knew OF many other birds but I am not sure if I could positively ID them if they landed in my yard and stared at me.

In the last few years the kids and I have started IDing more and more things. We had started IDing spiders often when we lived in OK cause we had some bad spider issues. I didn't want all spiders to die just the bad ones so I researched and researched until I knew many basic spiders and what many of their webs looked like and where they generally lived. I was driven to this out of desparation. I was scared to death of them and they were everywhere there. They really freaked me out and since the Air Force wasn't going to move us anytime soon I had to learn to live with the evil buggers.

After time we started IDing different insects and finding out more about them as well. I think much of this was initiated by gardening and my need for things to be Organic. I would figure out what type of insect was bothering my garden and then I would try to figure out the appropriate way to deal with it. This didn't always work and still doesn't but I figure that I can try.

In the more recent years we have started feeding birds in our backyard. I was able to tell the kids what many of the birds were like the ones that I mentioned above but when other birds started showing up that I didn't know and the kids asked me what they were I had a hard time telling them what they were. In the true homeschooling spirit I would simply stop what we were doing and look up the bird online and then we would know one more bird. We continued this until we knew a good list of birds that would visit our back yard. We would also see birds from afar and we would start looking them up when we got home. It made it easier when both of the kids and I would see the bird and then when we got home we would look it up online until we found it.

Today I will admit that I was quite excited when I was out at the farm and I spotted an Eastern Meadowlark. I have looked at this bird online and I knew it was fairly common, but we didn't have any in this field behind my house. I find this strange about myself and I find the whole thing rather odd. I mean... um... bird watching? I actually was excited to see an Eastern Meadowlark?! Really? My how times change.

Of course I also now get Star Wars jokes. I find that odd about myself as well. That however is a husband thing. You see, I took him for what he was a Sci-Fi geek and God Bless him, he has introduced me to all sorts of strange Sci-Fi. Someday I may recover.

Monday, April 6, 2009

pack?! who is next? quack?

Oh, I am sure many of you have gathered that I love books and I especially love children's books. I would have made a very happy children's librarian if God had not seen fit to give me the lovely job I currently have.

A favorite book of nearly every child I have known is Make Way for Ducklings and I just found that very story in the news. Unfortunately, one of the ducklings is missing.
Poor Pack got duckling-napped!

What can we do to help?! Well, I really have no idea what you can do to bring Pack back to the park, but I think that a good way to show support would be to run (yes run... you can do it) out to the nearest bookstore and buy a copy of Make Way for Ducklings. It has an amazing innate charm that kids love. Eveyone must know of some child who would love to own a copy of this fantastic book. We have one on our shelf and I think it is time to bring it out for reading tomorrow.

The only other way to help would be if say, you saw someone sneaking a large bronze statue of a duck into their house. That may clue you in to call the police. So everyone look out for wandering bronze ducks. Pack is missing. We need him home!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

things that make me pause and take note

I have honestly been coming up at a loss for what to put on this blog. Sad. The problem is that my life is wrapped up in my kids really and I won't post pictures of them online. So many of the time I just start writing a post and it ends up getting too long and then I don't have time to finish it and when I go back to read it and write more I have lost the main thought and I don't finish it.

This post will be fairly short.

I hope.

I read online probably too much, but I read and I can't help myself. I used to get my news fix in magazines and the TV but most of my news fix now comes from online sources. One of my favorite online sources is NPR. I used to listen to NPR all the time and I loved the mix that the NPR channel in Springfield MO gave me. They would have the classical music on interspersed with the awesome news shows and jazz piano and Car Talk and Prairie Home Companion... etc. Unfortunately here where we are now (sorry about my annoying vagueness) closer to a larger city we have multiple "NPR" stations but they are all specific. One is only talk, all news, all talk type stuff. Another is all classical music, but it has ads? And this station is still on the NPR website, but never advertises itself as NPR. Weird. Another station is all Jazz. I miss my all in one station. SO... I mainly just listen to the classical station because much of the news found, well... anywhere isn't appropriate for children to hear and the local news personalities annoyed me.

So, as I continue on writing my, ahem... short post... what I was trying to say in the above paragraph is that I no longer listen to NPR for news, I read it online at their site. Sometimes I also listen to it online it just depends on the story and what is going on in my world. Tonight what caught my attention was a story on pinhole cameras.

I vaguely remember studying the overall concept of pinhole cameras in school, but I don't think we actually made one. I am really interested in making one of these in the future with my kids.

The image has such a great look to it and honestly the picture is much better to my poor eyeballs then the cheap type kid safe digital cameras that they make. Those pictures make my eyes want to bleed. The fuzziness... the painfulness the annoyingness. I lose patience for those cameras very fast.

Perhaps we will try this during the summer months here. I have a feeling that we need some nice crisp light to get this to work well and summer sounds like the best time for us to experiment and play with light.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

back from paradise

I know that I have been absent from blog world again for a while.

I have been doing some of this.

My son took this picture of me. I was holding one of these guys...

He gave me the flower after getting help getting it out of the Jacaranda Tree. I thought it looked especially pretty against the blue sky.

These flowers are on what is known as a Bombax tree.

The trees were gorgeous and it almost looked like they were raining pollen. They were simply beautiful.

After viewing these you surely can understand where I have been spending my time.

We are home and we are missing the family and the warm weather, but we are getting ready for summer coming up here.

I have more pictures of our trip to post but I will make no guarantees about getting them posted.

I hope you all have also been doing well!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

emerging from winter

(I am going to go ahead and publish this as is and will edit it a bit later. I figure that you can forgive me because at least I am getting this on the blog.)

I know that technically it will still be winter for a long time, but today I got another small taste of spring. I even wore sandals to church tonight. I don't know if you remember this post about my daughter and socks, but I know that she got this allergy from me. My feet were thrilled to be out of socks.

Anyhow, I have tons of things that I need to tell you all, but I am going to go back two weeks for this one when I drug my family out of bed at an ungodly hour to head up the river. We were going on an expedition and we had such fun.

Our area here has a huge number of American Bald Eagles that winter along the river. They come down to avoid starving while their own lakes have frozen over and fish are very hard to find on a frozen lake. The river doesn't freeze over very easy and even when some areas freeze over the traffic on the river especially around the locks keeps water flowing. I have heard that when much of the riven is frozen you can see dozens around the dam and locks catching fish. In order to do that though you need to go out in the absolute freezing cold and sit and wait. Sounds like fun no?

So, I woke up my family and put a bag full of snacks in the car and packed up the winter gear and the camera and the Boy's telescope and the Boy's binoculars and we set out with coffee in hand.

I had picked a day when our entire family could go and when they had some fun things going on near the locks and dam. They were going to have a Master's of the Sky show with birds from the local bird sanctuary and they were supposed to have a hot air balloon ride and they had tours of the locks and dam and trolley tours to see many of the Eagles in the area.

We showed up at the crack of dawn on the river because that is when Eagles and most birds are the most active. I really wanted to see them fishing on the river and I knew that would require us to be up early enough to drive the 45 minutes to see them fish at dawn. We made it just after dawn and drove over to a small island on the river. We parked our car and hopped out to see this.

I know that it doesn't look that exciting to the naked eye and my pictures do not do this justice because our lighting was poor and I only have the one basic lens for my camera, but if you look over at those trees you can see four Bald Eagles in those trees. They would fly around and swoop down and grab fish and take it back to the trees to eat. They would soar and chatter to each other. I will be honest and let you know that I was excited about this trip and when we saw them right there sitting in the trees I was very excited, but when I heard the Eagles calling to each other and doing the chatter type noises that they make, I was just beaming. You see I am a bit of an Eagle nut... but really that is another post. When I heard them calling to each other as they flew around, I got all bug eyed and looked at John and about squealed, "OH! I never thought I would hear that in real life!!!" There was another young couple that was stopped there watching the Eagles and I knew that at that point they thought I was a total nut case. I really didn't care.

So, we watched them there for quite a while and I took tons of pictures but most of them are worthless because the lighting had much to be desired and my lens just didn't remotely cut it.

I did get to watch this trio in the tree as the lowest one was eating a large fish. All three of these guys are adults. They actually don't get their white head until they are about five years old and we saw many, many juveniles. I was fun for me to guess how old they were by their markings. Do you see how easy it is to entertain me?!

I will spare you the other pictures as they were equally impressive, but we drove down the road a ways and found another young eagle dining on the side of the river. I hopped out of my car, but he took off as soon as he heard us. When I walked down to the side of the river I found a HUGE dead fish. It was about the size of my six year old. I am sure he was munching some nice washed up fish for lunch. I missed seeing him up close, but as we are really their only predator, it is best that he is scared.

We went to the locks and dam for our show after we did breakfast at McDonald's in town and we were not disappointed in that show at all! It was amazing! They flew these birds right over our heads and our show was the only one not sold out that day. I suspect that most people didn't want to get up as early as we did, but I think that they probably missed out on much Eagle action by getting up later.

This was the first bird that they brought out. He is a Harris Hawk and he was gorgeous! You could actually feel his wings as he flew over us. We had to remain seated as they are trained to fly to people who were standing. They would walk the birds around so we could see them really up close.

This was a vulture from Africa. I am sure he had a better name then that but I couldn't remember. Do you know why they don't have feathers on their heads? It is so they don't end up covered in the dead animal they are eating every time they stick their heads in a carcass. Nice eh?

A Great Horned Owl. Doesn't he look noble? And smart? I thought he was so exquisite. Regardless he is not very bright. Two thirds of his head is eyes... so guess what the remaining one third is. Yup. His small brain. We still love him though!

This is a sweet Barn Owl. I think they are so cuddly looking and soft. I am sure that their beaks and talons are not friendly but they are my favorite of the owls easily.

This is an American Kestrel. He is a Falcon actually, but I think he is the cutest falcon. We are supposed to have these around here, but I haven't seen any in the wild yet. Hopefully we will before we move. They can hover in place which is amazing to me. This little boy was only a year old and so he didn't completely listen to his workers and he did perch for a little bit on the one wire in the tent. It was sweet, but thankfully he didn't perch on me! In this picture she was talking about how to tell the boy Kestrels from the girls.

They brought in the Bald Eagle at the end of the show and this is how she entered the tent. She was trying to get her balance and she came in with wings flapping. I heard a very audible gasp from right behind me. My husband had never seen a Bald Eagle in person like this and she was huge! The girls are bigger then the boys and Patriot was a sight to behold.

She scared me only slightly when she looked at me like this. Yikes.

Patriot was brought to the bird sanctuary when she was a young Eaglet twelve years ago. She hadn't fledged yet and the nest that she was in was knocked down by a wind storm. It fell in the water and her two siblings drowned. When she was found she was very sick and had pneumonia. Her lungs were permanently damaged and though she is healthy in every other way she would not be able to survive in the wild.

Their size is amazing. Look at her talons. She is sitting on the hand of a grown woman with large heavy leather gloves on. Amazing.

After this show we went on a tour of the locks and dam.

This would be the youngest Eagle watcher in the family standing on the locks. She really needs her own binoculars. Maybe in her Easter basket? Maybe I will get a pair in my Easter basket too!

This was the view down the river from the Lock and Dam. It was so very overcast.

After that tour we went on our trolley tour and we were able to see an older abandoned Eagle nest and we were able to see this fellow fairly close up.

He took off shortly after this picture and flew back towards the river. If you looked around there you never knew where you were going to see an Eagle.

We watched an Eagle soaring just below the locks with the gulls. Here he is right in dead center. It looks like he may have been fishing but maybe he was just having fun.

We went home after the trolley ride and we took naps before we headed to church that night.

If you are interested in checking out the source of my fascination with Bald Eagles go ahead and look at these Eagle Web Cams. We watch several of the nests but our favorite nest is at Pelican Harbor. We know these Eagles by tag numbers as well as by name. We know the eaglets they have had in the past few years and we do get a huge kick out of watching them on the computer. If you have any questions let me know!

Now... time for bed!

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