Sunday, January 29, 2012

Family Surfing Night #3

I'm not sure if there is anything we do as a family that EVERYONE enjoys as much as ...

While I can get on a soapbox about the downside of technology, and how the internet just may be on the way to reducing the whole world into one giant junior high ... the kids ask  when are we going to have Family Surfing Night.  They tell their friends about it.  Family Surfing Night makes us laugh.  It pulls us all together, and for a little while ... we're all focused on the same thing.  It gives everyone an opportunity to showcase something they find humorous or moving.  It's probably the best idea for a family activity I've come up with in a long time.  

And can you really  argue against an event that brought us:

I mean, seriously.  
Can the internet get any better???

 Our rules:
we gather in the family room with our laptops.  
we surf the web for 30 minutes.

at the end of 30 minutes, everyone shows the best/funniest/favorite thing they found while surfing the webbernets and we vote for the best one.

Videos are limited to (approximately) 3 minutes in length.

The WINNER shall be the proud and much envied recipient of the Family Surfing Night Traveling Trophy, to be affixed to the refrigerator with their name for all to see:

Let's take a moment to revisit Aaron's triumphant entry from last week, as evidence of our commitment to quality viewing:    

Like I said, we are NOT contributors to the Internet = One Giant Junior High problem.

This week's entries are:

from Melissa ... Toy Story 3 meets Inception (no, I am not obsessed with Inception, why do you ask?):

From Lt.Dan:  the cutest Huggies commercial EVER:

From Abbie - The whimsical Theme from the Harry Potter Movies played on ... crystal glasses.  Amazing!  

From Ben ... Seven Lies About Homeschoolers.  We homeschool, so  everyone identified with this one ... although we  live only a scant 30 minutes from Walmart.

From Aaron ... who loves the game Minecraft with great passion:

From Nathan ... a video mixing a re-lyric-ed song from Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas with the game Portal.  I've never actually played Portal, but even I thought this one was quite funny:

And the winner is:

From Ben, Seven Lies About Homeschooling ... prom in your living room ... physics in the amusement park.  SO FUNNY.  And the video is dedicated to the parents?  LOVE IT!

It occurs to me that Homeschooling and Blogging have some distinct similarities ... therefore, in keeping with this week's winning entry, this post may or may not have been written in my pajamas :o)

What Horseback Riding Lessons Taught Me About HomeSchooling

Recently I met another woman who was in her 13th year of homeschooling. 


Thirteen years!  She must know everything there is to know.  She must have it all down.  I was so intimidated.  Then I thought, “gee, how long have we  homeschooled?” 

Thirteen years. 

I laughed.  I certainly do not have it all down.  Nor do I even come close to knowing everything there is to know about homeschooling.  I bet she doesn’t either.

My sweet girl is taking horseback riding lessons.  Her teacher, Mrs. Melanie, is an excellent horse woman.  She’s teaching Abbie natural horsemanship, and it’s amazing.  When Melanie first introduced us to some of the concepts, she said, “Horses teach you so much about people, and about yourself.”  And I was a little bit … huh?

But this week it clicked.

As Melanie and Abbie prepare Bear (the horse) to ride, Melanie always tells Abbie, “Take your time.  Don’t rush.  If you have to rush things, you don’t have time to be riding.  Go do something else until you really have the time for it.” 

They pet Bear.  They tend his feet.  They talk to him.  They observe him.  They brush him.  They lead him gently into the yard.  And they curry him.  And they rub him.  

And then … it’s time to get in the saddle. 

Later, I was sitting at the table with Aaron doing a math lesson with him.  And I was rushing.  Because, you see, today I need to get this lesson done in 25 minutes.  And he’s not understanding the concepts.  And he’s frustrated. 
And I hear Melanie saying, “if you’re rushing, you don’t have the time … ”. 

So I slowed down.  Not a lot.  More than anything else, what I slowed down was my own attitude.  Mentally, I took a breath, stepped back ever so slightly, and stopped push push pushing … I relaxed a little bit. 

And then Aaron relaxed. 

And we connected.  

And … lo and behold … he got it.

He was reacting to my pushing.  My pushing was in the way of learning.  And when I loosened up, relaxed, and considered him … the lesson started to flow.  And it was A LOT easier for us both. 

I was amazed.

And guess what?  Surprisingly, we got the lesson done in 25 minutes after all.  Because he didn’t have to deal with me trying to rush him, and I didn’t have to deal with him digging his heels in because I was rushing him.   

My new advice as a 13 year homeschooling veteran?  Horseback riding lessons.  Because horses teach you so much about people, and about yourself.  :o)


I'm linking this post to Proverbs 31 Thursdays @ Raising Mighty Arrows


and also to Hearts 4 Home, Thursdays @ Our Simple Country Life

Monday, January 23, 2012

{{ 12 in 12 }} ... The Office: Houston, we have a plan ...

Well, I was all set with my plan for Lt.Dan's office.  It involved new corner bookshelves, and building a desk credenza using file cabinets as the base.

But then ... I sat in there and worked for a bit last week.  And I got to thinking ...

Lt.Dan prefers to sit on the couch when he's working from home.  He has a laptop.  

So is a desk completely  necessary?  Couldn't we do something interesting in the office and make the space more enjoyable to work in?

I was inspired by Thrify Decor Chick's unconventional plan for her dining room...

why not set up a room in a way you'll really use it?

I'm thinking a comfy chair in the corner, with a file cabinet beside it - a set up similar to Susan's office from Between Naps on the Porch.

And a large screen monitor, mounted on the wall with a swing arm, over the filing cabinet.

And bookshelves ...yay!  yay!  yay!  bookshelves! ...

And a small desk in the corner (just in case we need it).

Lt.Dan suggested that we might achieve similar results from just cleaning things up a little.  
I did beg to differ :o)  But as long as I don't block the view out of the windows, he's good with the plan.

So I'm really excited about it.  We'll be doing some furniture shuffling ... and a little shopping ... and a little revamping of the whole {{ 12 in 12 }} Home Goals plan .... but plans are made for revamping ... at least that's what I think :o)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Family Surfing Night #2

Back  -by popular demand!!!-  is another exciting episode of:

Our rules:
we gather in the family room with our laptops.  
we surf the web for 30 minutes.

at the end of 30 minutes, everyone shows the best/funniest/favorite thing they found while surfing the webbernets and we vote for the best one.

Videos are limited to (approximately) 3 minutes in length.

The WINNER shall be the proud and much envied recipient of the Family Surfing Night Traveling Trophy, to be affixed to the refrigerator with their name for all to see:

I must admit I've thoroughly enjoyed having my name on the Family Surfing Night trophy this week.
said ever so humbly :o)

I did overhear the following conversation from the family room:

                                 Aaron:  "I don't know why MOM won.  That picture is stupid."
                                 Abbie:  "Ummm, Aaron, Mom is RIGHT THERE!"

I disagree ... I do not think this picture is stupid:

not one bit.  

I was, however, reminded more than once that my reign had extended just about long enough :o)

So, without further adieu ... this week's entries are:

From Lt.Dan ... thought provoking and contemporary ... Jesus vs. Religion.  Guess who wins?

From Ben ... what seems to be irrefutable evidence that the theme song for Guile (video game character from Street Figher) goes with everything, even Kentucky Fried Chicken:

From Nathan ...
well ... Nathan is laptop challenged these days ... his entry was pulled because we pushed the wrong key and it had to rebuffer, which would take FOREVER.  But it was going to be a very funny video of a fake snowman scaring people on the streets of NYC.  It had potential.  Here's a picture of a snowman in honor of his valiant effort to find something good:

From Abbie ... Batman Never Liked My Little Pony ... I cannot explain this and will not even try:

From Aaron ... the song from this video will stick in your head for hours - you've been warned:

From Melissa ...  I've been working on this blog for a while, figuring things out ... so my entry for Family Surfing Night was the big reveal:

I will take editorial license to say that my entry was so Inception that I actually had to explain it.  Just sayin'. 

and the winner is:

It's possible that Aaron may have used his laughter superpowers to win.  Because once he starts, it's irresistible - you are drawn in no matter what your state of mind.  So I'm saying he may or may not have unduly influenced the vote with his irrepressible giggles.  

 But I'm happy for Aaron.  Really.  I am.  Because after all is said and done, I still have:


Sunday, January 15, 2012

Aunt Mary's Spiced Tea

My Aunt Mary and Uncle Jimmy were the most gracious hosts.  They lived in an English Tudor home that was warm, elegant and lovely ... going to their house was like spending the weekend in a story book.

One of my favorite places in Aunt Mary's house was the kitchen, which had a homey fireplace and sitting area.  Drinking her spiced tea reminds me of sitting on a stool by her kitchen fireplace with the roaring winds of the Texas panhandle blasting outside.

I love the long and cold winter evenings of January, when the celebrations of Christmas and New Years have quieted and the season of rest sets in.  Invariably, I get a craving for spiced tea and have to mix up a batch to last me thru until spring.

This is Aunt Mary's basic recipe (from 1973, in my Mom's handwriting ... love that :o)

I didn't have the exact ingredients on hand, so I improvised a little:

1 small canister of Tang (about 3 cups)
3 cups instant Tea
2 cups instant Lemonade
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons ground cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon

I didn't have ground cloves, so I ground the whole ones I had in my Black and Decker Handy Chopper.  

I love this little thing - I'm not a big fan of appliances, but this one is perfect.  Doesn't take up a lot of space, and is just the right size for most chopping I need to do.

  I used about four teaspoons of whole cloves to get 2 teaspoons of ground cloves.

  Put everything in a big mixing bowl and mix and stir.  

This recipe makes about 9 cups of mix.  Store it in an airtight container to keep it powdery.

Put two heaping tablespoons in a cup of hot water, stir ... and snug yourself in for a cozy winter evening!

I'm hooking up with TheHouseofHepworth's linky party!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

{{ 12 in 12 }} ... Home Goals for 2012

We’ve lived in our house almost two years now.  Plenty of time to get our things settled in.  Plenty of time to fluff, fill and refine. Or ... in some cases, get our things settled in and then make a real big mess.  

I’m afraid I’ve been making more real big messes than refining. 

But there's contentment, too ... 

 In honor of the brand new year

... and confidently motivated by the fact that I've never done anything quite like this before ...

I’m aspiring to 12 projects in 2012 

January … the office.  

This is Lt.Dan’s office, but it's MY mess ... I tend to stick things in there when there seems like no where else to go.  Which is completely unfair, but Lt.Dan is longsuffering and compassionate in this regard.  The office is also a temporary stopping place for tools that should go in the barn, had the barn not blown down last March.  A new barn is in our future.  But in the meantime, the office needs storage, filing cabinets and a way to hide all those blasted cords.  And it needs things on the wall (this scares me).  And maybe curtains?  Oh dear …

February … filing and bills.  

Organization.  Cleaning out.  A better system.  This one goes hand in hand with the January goals for the office.  And is just in time for income tax season :o)

March … spring décor.  

I love changing the décor according to the seasons, but spring is my least favorite color palate.  It’s so … pastel.  Not that there's anything wrong with pastels ... they're just not me.  But I make my peace with spring by using lots of outdoor colors.

April … the shed.  

There’s a lot of junk stuff in there.  It’s where I keep the off-season décor.  I’ve always dreamed of nicely labeled matching boxes lined up neatly on categorized shelves.  But in any case, a big clean out and organization is in order.  And the door needs to be repaired.

May … the master bedroom closet.  

I know ... I KNOW!  It's a mess --- I really must  get in there and get things organized!  Wait - what?  You saw this on Pinterest too?  All right, I was going to post a real picture of our closet, but it was just too demeaning.  Again, I admit - I’m the messy one.  If it were Lt.Dan’s closet by himself, it would be neat.  I’m sorry.  I’ll fix it. In May.

June … Summer décor. 

I really put up with summer décor because I have to get through summer to make it to fall :o)  Not really.  I'm kidding!  Mostly.

July … the Game Room.  

All the gaming equipment.  And the old VHS tapes.  And empty CD cases.  And a really cool end table that desperately needs to be refinished or painted or something.  Eventually, there'll also be a pool table in there, but until then, the GameRoom is also the SchoolRoom.  (Of course that's not a conflict of interests - why do you ask?)  We've homeschooled for 13 years now.  My youngest is in sixth grade.  And I still can’t let go of the first grade material.  So there’s lots to clean out and reorg in there.  

August … Vacation.  This is a project, right? 

September … Fall décor!  

What I've been waiting for all year!!!

October … the under the stairs closet.  

Is there any really good use for this space?  How  exactly can it be used efficiently??

November … the Master Bedroom. 

This is an inspiration picture.  We’ve been married twenty-three years, and our bedroom still looks like early marriage.  Our bedroom door opens right into the hall of the kitchen, dining, and family room.  So invariably people see it.  It’s time to make it pretty. 

December … full circle! I'll put up the winter décor and do our Christmas Card.

And I would love to:

  • Make a chalk board
  • figure out what to put on the wall down the hall(s) ... how I would love to explore stencils!
  • put picture ledges in the TV room
  • put lights over the bar in the kitchen
  • camouflage the thermostat in the hall
  • paint the inside of the front and back doors black (no reference to the Rolling Stones intended ;o)

There you have it.  I won't be upping my budget just because there are projects, so there's opportunity a plenty for creativity, Good Will hunting and learning to use CraigsList :o)  Quite honestly, I'm wondering if I should go ahead and write an apology to my 2013 self now, saying my sorries for publicly stating such a lofty list of goals.

             ... I can do this
                                        ...  right?                  

I'm linking up with the Nester 2012 Home Goals party!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Nature Girl Takes a Walk .... and a Tutorial on Seeing Stars

Sometimes, my morning walk gets highjacked by Nature Girl.

Yesterday as I looked out the back door wondering how cold it was, I could see something sitting in my favorite cottonwood tree.  

A big something.  We have both large hawks and owls here … we see the hawks periodically, but only on the rarest occasions do we get a glimpse of an owl before they’re gone on the silent wings they’re so famous for.   They do, however, hoot and screech for us at night.  We like that.

So, knowing it was not best for my exercise program, but unable to resist, I grabbed the camera instead of the handweights.

I tried to walk quietly ... but quickly enough to get close and get a good picture before the owl flew away.  And while I walked I tried to get the camera set to the best setting.  Which is complete guesswork for me.

 Someday ... I am either going to take a photography class or read the manual.  I promise.

Can you see he's turned his head to look at me?

 I think it's a horned owl, like this one

Alas, he's seen me and is preparing to fly.  And that's the last photo I managed of him.  I didn't even try to get a picture as he flew away.  Sometimes it's best to just watch life ... in real life.  But now that I know where he likes to see the sunrise, I'll be looking for him.

When I came to the place of the Bee Tree, I noticed:

a real live honeycomb!  Sans honey, sadly.  Bees took up residence in this tree two years ago.  I'm not sure how that large honeycomb managed to squeeze out of that very narrow hole.  Maybe something stuck its paw in and raided the honeypot.  Or maybe bees do spring cleaning?

Guess what this is?  It's a hog snuffle!  (this is my term.  I'm pretty sure a hunter would laugh at me.)  There are wild hogs in this area of Texas.  Apparently, they like to dig things up from under ground and eat them.  So much so that they're a serious problem to farmers and ranchers.  I have an acquaintance whose car was  totalled when three big ol' hogs ran into her at dusk.  They get really big.  But I've never actually seen one.  My son saw several once last winter, down in the creek.  He had a camera in his hands.  And did not take the picture.  Much the same as I did not take the picture when in California last month and Jeremy Piven walked right in front of our car.  I, too, had a camera in my hands.  Apparently, I have passed my quick-thinking skills along to my children :o)

Did you know robins migrate?  For about two months they are everywhere here, in big flocks.  Once the kids and I counted more than one hundred in the grass, looking for worms.

This was in the middle of the field.  I'm sure the dogs pulled it up from somewhere.  I really hope it wasn't on someone's back porch waiting to be hung up in their living room.

My most favorite tree is the Cottonwood.  They grow to astounding heights, and when the wind blows, the leaves shimmer and whisper.  Total magic.  In the spring, they release little seeds that blow away in whispy cotton.  I used to tell Abbie they were fairies on their way to a party.  It could happen :o)

But here's something else magical about the Cottonwood Tree.  If you snap a brittle Cottonwood twig in two, exactly on the growth ring line ...

You see stars!  How cool is that?  Now this star I can photograph :o)