Monday, August 30, 2010

Strike's First Day of (Public!) School

Yep! Strike (8th grade) is GOING to school! -- as opposed to staying home to school as she's done ever since Kindergarten. In all honesty it was a rather last minute & quick decision. By that I mean that up until the last minute (about a week ago!) I was still planning to homeschool her for one more year. --- It was more or less on a whim that we decided to finally check out the local charter school we drive by almost daily. It's just around the corner in a renovated old mill building & goes from grade 7 - 12. Class sizes average about 15 students. Wednesdays are half days. After talking with students who attend there & touring the campus, Strike just knew she really wanted to give this place a try. It's something new - & different. Something she feels really ready for (which is actually reassuring to me bc it means I must have done something right :). It's project oriented and I really like that the school emphasizes mastery ... meaning that students are given chances to revise work for more learning & a higher grade. Strike is such a social butterfly. Interaction energizes her & the freedom to be creative challenges her so this should be really good for her.
Today was her first day. She looked so grown up when I went to pick her up & saw her from a distance in the midst of the other kids pouring out at the end of the school day. I enjoyed hearing the stories from her day and about the new friend she made - and I was pleasantly surprised to learn that she thinks English is going to be her favorite class(!)... because when I was her teacher, that was her least favorite subject.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Crockpot Yogurt

A friend recently told me that yogurt could be made in a slowcooker! That's all I needed to hear to motivate me to do a little investigating to find out how - & it looks/sounds simple! I found lots of recipe variations & decided to give this one a try first....tho' I can already tell ya I'm going to be sweetening it up a bit w/ honey & vanilla :) Can't wait to give it a try. It sounds like fun to me. I'm hoping to make make my first batch tomorrow after a quick stop at the grocery store to pick up the three (yep - only three!) ingredients.

Who is He?

Glad I went to church this morning. Otherwise I would have missed this song. For me, it served as a powerful & timely reminder. The music is not exactly my style but the lyrics are what really struck me.

In Genesis, He's the breath of life

In Exodus, the Passover Lamb

In Leviticus, He's our High Priest

Numbers, The fire by night

Deuteronomy, He's Moses' voice

In Joshua, He is salvation's choice

Judges, law giver

In Ruth, the kinsmen-redeemer

First and second Samuel, our trusted prophet

In Kings and Chronicles, He's sovereign

Ezra, true and faithful scribe

Nehemiah, He's the rebuilder of broken walls and lives

In Esther, He's Mordecai's courage

In Job, the timeless redeemer

In Psalms, He is our morning song

In Proverbs, wisdom's cry

Ecclesiastes, the time and season

In the Song of Solomon, He is the lover's dream

He is, He is, HE IS!

In Isaiah, He's Prince of Peace

Jeremiah, the weeping prophet

In Lamentations, the cry for Israel

Ezekiel, He's the call from sin

In Daniel, the stranger in the fire

In Hosea, He is forever faithful

In Joel, He's the Spirits power

In Amos, the arms that carry us

In Obadiah, He's the Lord our Savior

In Jonah, He's the great missionary

In Micah, the promise of peace

In Nahum, He is our strength and our shield

In Habakkuk and Zephaniah, He's pleading for revival

In Haggai, He restores a lost heritage

In Zechariah, our fountain

In Malachi, He is the son of righteousness rising with healing in His wings

He is, He is, HE IS!

In Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, He is God, Man, Messiah

In the book of Acts, He is fire from heaven

In Romans, He's the grace of God

In Corinthians, the power of love

In Galatians, He is freedom from the curse of sin

Ephesians, our glorious treasure

Philippians, the servants heart

In Colossians, He's the Godhead Trinity

Thessalonians, our coming King

In Timothy, Titus, Philemon He's our mediator and our faithful Pastor

In Hebrews, the everlasting covenant

In James, the one who heals the sick.

In First and Second Peter, he is our Shepherd

In John and in Jude, He is the lover coming for His bride

In the Revelation, He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords

He is, He is, HE IS!

The prince of peace

The Son of man

The Lamb of God

The great I AM

He's the alpha and omega

Our God and our Savior

He is Jesus Christ the Lord

and when time is no more

He is, HE IS!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Back to (Two) School(s)

Seems like yesterday she was just beginning kindergarten, but somehow this morning it was already time to register our daughter for her first year of college! Where did the time go?! She's actually a Junior in high school now but over the summer she was accepted into our local state university for dual enrollment so in all likelihood, she'll not attend anymore classes at the high school & instead take all of the rest of her classes at the university to receive dual credit for both high school and college.

Students receive a lot of encouragement to go to college but, aside from scholarships, the Dual Enrollment Program is one of the most practical ways of encouraging them to do so that I've ever seen and I'm grateful for the more affordable option the program makes available to us ( only $100 per credit + books & supplies / aprx $1500 per semester). If all goes according to plan, when she graduates from high school Playmaker will have already completed two years of college as well. She can still play high school sports, much less time will be wasted as she'll actually be in school less and two less years will be required of her schooling should she choose to continue her education - & and we stand to save aprx $10,000 in tuition/fees (as compared to regular instate tuition at the university) over two years.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


My husband was blessed with a sharp mind & amazing ability to think outside the box. I call him "Boyscout Extraordinaire" bc he's resourceful & handy ---- can fix most anything that's broken. Somewhere along the line quite early on he figured out that hard work, dependability, determination & common sense were the keys to his success - and by the grace of God, he's used those keys along with his God given abilities to open doors to exciting opportunities & experiences that we've shared over the years. The most recent being this trip to Texas where we were invited to Austin for a dinner honoring him as one of three Employees of the Year - chosen among nominees from all over the United States. This is actually the second time my husband has received this award & I am just so proud of him.

The twentieth floor room where we dined afforded splendid views of a Texas style sunset ... a pink ball of fire fading into the night while ushering in countless city lights that sparkled ever brighter as darkness settled in.

We seized the opportunity to be Texas tourists together for a few days by extending our stay a bit.

I thought the hanging tables at this funky taco shop were unique & fun.

Colorful guitars - each one different - are hidden in plain sight throughout Austin

- an eclectic mix of modern & old western architecture, folk art & live entertainment.

The Lady Bird River runs right through town. Wide open spaces, parks & walking trails lined with wildflowers meet up with its banks to provide a sanctuary for city dwellers to escape to & hardly even realize they are still - indeed - in the city.

In the evenings visitors converge here to see the mass exodus of the largest urban colony of bats in the world. The bats make the inside of the Congress Street Bridge their home from about April/May thru' late August/September before migrating back to Mexico. Reportedly there are 750,000 - 1.5 million bats in this colony and they eat aprx 1,000 mosquitos each every day! No wonder there's hardly any bugs in Austin! They poured out after dark when we were there. They're fascinating!

I guess you could say we visited Austin inside & out given our tour of Inner Space Cavern .... a cave discovered in the 1960's. While the interstate was under construction several air pockets were found while taking core samples so it was decided to send a man down on a two foot drill bit to check it out. Low & behold he found himself in one magnificent room of this very large & beautiful cave. What an awesome discovery & experience that would have been!

It was a bit unnerving to realize that we were viewing a fault line here! Yikes!

Soon enough we found ourselves in an historic district of San Antonio. I snapped this pic of an old kiln w/ my friend over at Glassmelts in mind :)

I liked grass steppe seating in this outdoor theater.

San Antonio boasts it's own version of a river walk - this one lined w/ shops & restaurants. Hard to imagine Native Americans camping along here now, isn't it?!

I took this pic from outside a window which created an interesting effect.

Do you remember the Alamo? If you do then you'll recognize this.

And we'd have been remiss if we hadn't seized the opportunity to feast here:

The Salt Lick
Reknowned for its fabulous open pit smoked bbq

Their slogan .... "You can smell our pits from miles away"!

Monday, August 16, 2010


Who knew the white cardboard box we received totally by surprise & out of the blue  recently was actually a treasure chest incognito?!! Usually one has to search for treasure - but this came right to our door -- via priority mail, no less!

The treasure within? ... Memories!! It was packed FuLL to OvErFloWinG with memories!  :) 

My husband's brother & his wife sent us a fantastic photo album full of family pics from years gone by and all the way up until the recent event that brought his whole immediate family all together in one place for the first time in over 20 years(!)....their son's wedding.

My husband's family history is .... well.....complicated. I've heard his story a number of times but I don't think I could ever retell it accurately.  I won't go into detail - but just to give you an idea - he attended something like thirteen different schools as a kid because his family moved around so much.

I'm hoping that now, with all these great pics together in one place, I can convince my husband to write out his story using his words to bind the pictures in the book together with other parts of his story  to give our children a much better understanding of the who, what, when & where that has led up to here & now  - ie "the big picture" - that now includes them. :) 

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Riding off into the sunset

My husband & I have been watching these nesting birds from a spot on the bike trail we've been riding recently. We can see the nest clearly but from quite a distance. At first I tho't the birds were Bald Eagles but now I'm not so sure ... maybe they are a different type of an eagle? - or some sort of a hawk? Not sure - but I sure do enjoy watching them. They are nested in a dead tree out in the middle of a big swamp.... I love the sounds & sights to be seen there when one lingers long enough to look closely - & that this happy couple is perched in plain sight yet out of harm's way. The other night we lingered there longer than usual which also afforded us front row seats from which to view this spectacular sunset.

Big Mak just chillin'

It was pretty hot here yesterday but Big Mak found a way to keep cool that he decided worked quite well. It was too funny to see him just sitting there .... ON the sprinkler :)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Carly's "Voice" (Amazing Autism Video)

My friend, Bunny, shared this over at her blog...

"Carly Fleischmann is a 13 yr old girl with severe autism who is unable to speak. Communication had been all but impossible until one day she sat down at a computer. It was then that a whole new world opened up for both Carly and her family. The video is nearly 10 minutes long, but take the time to view it in its entirety to see her amazing story."

Hop over to Bunny's blog: Henley The Great Dane Says "Boof" to see the amazing pieces of intelligent insight Carly is now able to contribute toward helping the world better understand the puzzling nature of autism.

Homemade Laundry Soap

It's so easy & I found all three ingredients at my local grocery store...

Homemade Liquid Laundry Soap- Front or top load machine- best value

4 Cups - hot tap water

1 Fels-Naptha soap bar

1 Cup - Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda*

½ Cup Borax

- Grate bar of soap and add to saucepan with water. Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted.

-Fill a 5 gallon bucket half full of hot tap water. Add melted soap, washing soda and Borax. Stir well until all powder is dissolved. Fill bucket to top with more hot water. Stir, cover and let sit overnight to thicken.

-Stir and fill a used, clean, laundry soap dispenser half full with soap and then fill rest of way with water. Shake before each use. (will gel)

-Optional: You can add 10-15 drops of essential oil per 2 gallons. Add once soap has cooled. Ideas: lavender, rosemary, tea tree oil.

-Yield: Liquid soap recipe makes 10 gallons.

-Top Load Machine- 5/8 Cup per load (Approx. 180 loads)

-Front Load Machines- ¼ Cup per load (Approx. 640 loads)

*Arm & Hammer "Super Washing Soda" - in some stores or may be purchased online here (at Baking Soda will not work, nor will Arm & Hammer Detergent - It must be sodium carbonate!!


Sunday, August 1, 2010

Green-house Effect

Little by little we've been making some eco friendly changes & I'm surprised
at how a few small changes really add up & save money too.

We've been handwashing our dishes for a while now so we're rarely using the dishwasher anymore.

Been washing clothes in cold water & hanging out almost all of my laundry so I'm rarely using the dryer. I won't be able to do this as much in the winter but still plan to use drying racks indoors & my husband plans to hang some clothesline in our laundry room too.

Yesterday I made my own laundry soap (SO EASY & CHEAP! - Probably $2 - $3 for 180 loads) for the first time ever. I can't believe I didn't do this loooong ago. I also made my own homemade window cleaner (3T ammonia, 1T Vinegar & 32 oz water in a spray bottle) & all purpose cleaner. There are several recipes out there for all purpose cleaners & I had a hard time deciding which one was best for us but I ended up just making mine w/ 1 teaspoon of bleach per 32 ounces of water in a spray bottle. For us it's every bit as much about reusing the containers (spray bottles & detergent dispensers) as it is about not using so many harsh chemicals & phosphates. I'm as concerned - if not more concerned - about them ...alcohol, bleach, etc.) as I am about germs.

We've been really good about using our reusable bags at the grocery store. Took me a bit to get into that habit. Next I'm going to tuck a few of the plastic produce bags into them to reuse too.

Our worm farm is doing great! & the compost its generating looks nice & rich.Our other compost bin is working too. It's a slow process but I just add to it little by little. Of the two, I prefer the worm farm.

I've been making an effort to use less water when I shower by shutting off the water while I soap up/shampoo/shave & encouraging the girls to do the same. We had a French student stay w/ us a while back & that's how she showered when she was here. She hardly used any water & she really put me to shame.

My husband reprogrammed our coffeemaker so the burner doesn't turn on to keep it hot.

We use our own reusable water bottles & coffee cups.

I only use my desktop to work/blog but I don't leave it on all day. For general surfing I just use my netbook.

We did install two window air conditioners this summer but only use them when it gets really hot. Sometimes all it takes is to run one for a bit to suck the humidity out of the air which makes a big difference. Other than that we've been leaving our windows open & using fans now & then. We have awnings on the front & back of our house as well. The one out back is retractable. They help a lot by keeping the direct sunlight from shining directly in our windows.

Winter in New England is a whole other ballgame. There's really no energy efficient way to keep warm & our house could really use more insulation but we keep our home cooler than alot of people do & I wear layers & wool (socks & base layer).

The odd thing about all of this is that I can honestly say that I'm enjoying it (at the very least I don't dislike handwashing dishes any more than I do rinsing dishes & filling & emptying the dishwasher!) & our energy bills are waaaay down (I think not using the dryer & the dishwasher are having the biggest impact here) & I find myself looking for more ways to both save money & be more environmentally friendly.