Thursday, January 31, 2008

Cytoplasm, Mitochondrion, Chloroplast...

Today my girls had there first "Home away from home school" science class. Mark and I both loved science in school (his degree is in Biology and mine in Nursing). We want to do everything we can to insure the girls have a good science background and most importantly, that they enjoy it.
For over 2 hours today they were immersed in "The Cell". They collected samples of pond water to look at under the microscope and surprisingly found their first look at Rotifers! They studied dead reptiles, algae,etc-all under the microscope. They were able to see a whole new world today thanks to the instruments and a teacher who is passionate about the study of life all around us.
They've always liked doing science, but today they didn't want to leave. The wonderful thing is that the teacher kept teaching (over our scheduled end time) as long as they asked questions and she saw the excitement on their faces. Not only was their interest in science fueled today, I can happily say they are now "on fire" for science. I'm sure I'll have more to post in the coming weeks as we continue on this new journey.

Good Night, Sleep Tight

It seems like since we got our little kitten our mama dog (Flirt) has been a bit left out. She recently chewed up her bed and is now sleeping on a towel. I started feeling really sorry for her and decided to make her a new bed/quilt. I had some old pieces of cotton fabric that we had previously used for tablecloths at the barn. I call this being thrifty and recycling fabric (some people would call it being cheap!). I doubled these and put batting in the middle, stitched the edges; machine quilted the middle; added her name monogrammed on a piece of red fabric and...VOILA! A new place for our favorite yellow lab to sleep. By the look of things, I think she likes it too.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

C'est Bon!

This is so good that I knew I must share it. My husband brought home the Yogi Tea to begin with. He started with the peach detox. Over the last month we've added several flavors. I love to start my day with a hot cup of Detox-with burdock, dandelion, sarsaparilla and juniper berry. It's the strong ginger and cinnamon flavor that I love.
One of my new favorites is Mayan Cocoa Spice-Yumm! In my opinion, anything with the flavor of chocolate is good-add cardamom, cinnamon and clove and this is a perfect cup of tea. The aroma is just at delectable as the flavor!

Never Alone

"And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever...I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you."~John 14:16,18
(This was the key verse in my devotional for today-how fitting)

Do you ever have a day when you just feel like you'll explode because you're so happy? I felt that way today. I have a smile permanently fixed on my face and a warm glow overflowing from my heart. This year, more than ever, I've really felt God's presence-His arms around me, holding me tightly. I've also seen His love shining through the friends He's sent to surround me. I'm so very lucky to have such strong, Christian women around me. My day was brightened today by lunch and visiting with 3 of these women. I couldn't have had a nicer time-catching up with them as our children played nearby. I laughed with another on the phone discussing all the crazy happenings of day to day life-homeschooling our babies. And yet another was on my mind as I purchased a special peach detox tea that I know she's been searching for. I'm so blessed just with my beautiful family, but God in His mercy chose to bless me further with these special women. I don't say it often enough, but thank you to my friends and thank you to my Heavenly Father for always looking out for me.
"A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." ~Proverbs 18:24

Monday, January 28, 2008

Petite Chaton!

No narration here...the pictures say it all!

Sew Moma Sew

Have you seen her blog???? Sew Moma Sew is fabulous! Before Christmas she posted so many ideas for handmade gifts. I made tons of the rice bags (actually only about 15) and the bagsket was from her blog too.
Here's my latest creation:

I made this knitting needle case for a dear friend. I need to make one for myself too, but that'll have to wait. I still have one more friend who needs one. This idea was on Sew Moma Sew, but was a tutorial on Angie's blog. It was so easy to make and turned out really cute. I'm so glad I finally tried it. Thank you Angie! .
Now, what am I going to make tomorrow....

Sunday, January 27, 2008

A Tisket, a tasket....

A pretty little BAGsket!

Isn't this just the cutest thing? I found the pattern a couple of months ago at Suzanne's blog. She gave a fabulous bagsket tutorial. Last week, Grace picked out her fabric and I cut the pieces out. For some reason, at that time, I just wasn't motivated to sew it together.

Today was beautiful outside-sunny and cool. Unfortunately, I had a sick angel and chose to stay in with her. What a perfect opportunity to sew! Thankfully, today, I was in the mood to create. The bag, which is fully lined and even has pockets, went together rather quickly. Mine's not perfect, but Grace said she LOVES it! Mary did too. I'm ready to make her one as soon as she decides on the fabric.

The last thing my girls need are more bags, but who can resist this one? Now, what can we put in it????

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Simple Treasures

Sometimes it's the simplest things in life that warm my heart the most- a sweet email from a friend, a wild flower (weed) from my 4 year old or an unexpected kiss on the check from my sweetheart. All of us need those little things to boost our spirits.
Lately my girls and I have been trying to learn how to knit. This has been difficult at times, especially for one of my girls. A couple of days ago I sat down with her to try to help her out. I felt so bad when I realized the simple mistake she was making that had caused her to have to rip out stitch after stitch. Once that was corrected, she was off. We recently purchased a children's knitting book that has quick projects for kids to make on their own. Grace and Mary both chose to knit owls.

We decided to listen to one of our school books on Librivox that day. We all gathered around the table with the laptop in the center, Emma playing a game at one end and the rest of us with knitting in our hands. The chapters flew by as our needles clicked out the stitches. Grace even commented on how much she enjoyed listening to Oliver Twist. I've decided to make this part of our daily schedule.

The results-better than normal narration and...
Mary's is green and Grace's white. The pleasure the girls received from completing a knitting project after so many failed attempts with other patterns, was immeasurable. We may never be accomplished enough to knit fancy sweaters and blankets, but we've definitely found peace and contentment in the simple treasures we've made with our new-found hobby.

When life hands you lemons...

Make lemon zinger tea!!!! I felt like in the last couple of days I was handed a hole basket of lemons. It got me down for a bit, but then I remembered how much I really like lemons and made the most of them!
When I'm down, upset, nervous, etc I clean. I know that sounds crazy, but it makes me feel better. I get so much quiet time to myself to think and talk to God and actually be able to hear Him answer (b/c no one comes near for fear I'll recruit them to help clean too! LOL!). Needless to say my house is so clean and so is my mind and my heart. After all that cleaning I decided to do some stuff just for me. One of those things was making myself a teacup candle. I made these for friends as part of their Christmas baskets and just never got around to making my own. I know this seems simple, but I love candles and seeing one glowing in a teacup makes it even more special.

I also painted a mirror I had purchased a while back at a thrift store. It looks so pretty finally hanging on the wall. I got a good laugh while doing this project. Mary had put Emma in the tub for me to clean all the paint off of her. They both hollered for me to come upstairs quickly. Guess what I saw when I got to the bathroom?
The laughter from seeing Emma giving the kitten a bath with her made me want to laugh more. I knew just what I needed-to call Cheryl. This girl can make anything sound funny. We talked forever and I laughed until I had tears in my eyes. What a bright spot she is in my life. Suddenly the sun was shining on this rainy, dreary winter day.
The next time someone hands me lemons, I'll smile and just think of all the wonderful things that can come from something that initially seems so sour.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

SEW Sweet!

Lot's of people worry that homeschoolers don't get enough socialization. Well, we're here to prove them wrong! In fact, if you follow my posts, you probably wonder if we ever do school because we're out socializing so much! We manage to fit book work in too!

Friday afternoon was another day to socialize. My friend Sandy and her daughter Morgan invited us to lunch party. These two know how to throw a party and definitely know how to cook! We always jump at the opportunity to visit them because they go all out! Morgan makes menus and place cards; the table is set with fine china and candles; and Sandy always makes all of our favorites (anything she cooks is a favorite!). It's just lovely!
(the menu)

Yesterday was no exception. Sandy made Tortilla Soup and Squash Casserole (Mary's 2 favorites), black bean dip and quiche. Cookie dough ice cream was for dessert along with a wonderful homemade bread with cream cheese filling. Sandy said it didn't turn out-I gladly wrapped it up and brought it home with me!

We exchanged Christmas and birthday gifts. Then the girls built forts and houses out of pine straw. Sandy and I spent most of our time talking (my favorite thing!) and even sewing. I forced her into that. I brought some sewing with me and convinced her to sew too. We both made bags/purses.
( a purse for Emma)

I had such a nice time-I hated to have to leave. But, there's always next time-let's just hope it's really soon!

These are a few of my favorite things...

I just love that song-actually I love the whole movie! (The Sound of Music). I've been thinking lately-about finding the positive side of things. It's sad that I spend time harping on the negative things in my house, the negative side of friends, etc. A lot of those things I can't change, so why bring myself down thinking about them? Years ago I read a book called "The Power of a Praying Wife". It talked about always complaining about the faults your husband has and trying to change him. Instead you need to pray that God will change you and make you better able to handle whatever faults you might see in your husband. In other words, start with yourself first. So, on that note, I'm going to try to be a more positive person and really see the good and beauty in everything. I went around my house today and took pictures of those things that I really like, that make me happy, make me smile. Some are little and insignificant, but warm my heart all the same.

This was my father-in-law's highchair as a baby. Behind it are cork screw willow branches from Mark's grandmother's tree.

This is my little spot, tucked away under the staircase. I have lots of my favorite books, a picture of my beautiful family and of course, my laptop.

I love Grace and Emma's bed. It's an old iron bed, full of character. Their room is on the south side of our house, so it's always bright and cheery. It's pink and girly and just a beautiful room.Can you tell I love "old" stuff? This armoire was my grandfather's. My father let me "borrow" it the year I was pregnant with Mary. He said I could keep it as long as I promised never to give it away. Give it away!!! I wouldn't think of parting with it. It sits at the top of the stairs. I just enjoy looking up at it as I walk by.

This is a new lovely that I just received as a gift from a friend. She knows me so well. It's plain and simple but with an elegance all the same. I honestly feel "peaceful" looking at it.

There were lots of other favorites that made me happy but, I don't have room to include them all. It's nice looking for the positive, happy things. Funny how I never realized just how many were around me.

Friday, January 18, 2008

No Rush Job

Yesterday we had some friends over for tea. They hadn't been here in a long time so I wanted things to look nice (actually I wanted them perfect, but...). As I straightened up, one thing led to another. Before I realized it, I was head over heels into big projects that I didn't have time to complete properly and also that really didn't need to be started on a day when we had guests coming.

Finally I sat back and took a deep breath. It really didn't matter if I made all the snacks or it they were "store bought" The kids would eat anything. Does my friend care if my house is perfect? Not if she's truly my friend. That helped me to relax a lot.

We ended up having a fabulous time. My favorite part wasn't the tea or the food, but just the fellowship. This is what I said on my New Year's list I want to be able to do-invite people into my home, share a cup of tea and share our lives.

I was so excited when I read my Beth Moore devotional this morning. The title was "No rush jobs with God". The verse for today is:

"O Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done marvelous things, things planned long ago." ~Isaiah 25:1

She goes on to say, "I envision great things, but often life gets in the way. What a contrast I am to my heavenly Father. He doesn't get sidetracked by our everyday emergencies, though He is always there to tend to our needs with tenderness and love. "

"I know that my creativity, harried though I may be at times, is a gift from my creator. But He's not finished with me. It's good to know that 'he who began a good work in me will carry it on to completion' (Phil 1:6). And it won't be a rush job."

Monday, January 14, 2008

Knitting Frenzy!

Thanks Clara, Cheryl and Lori for inspiring me to pick up my knitting needles again. I am really enjoying knitting! It's like eating chips, I can't stop with just one row! Granted, I haven't started anything big, but I'm enjoying my small projects (I like instant gratification).
The cell phone holder I gave to my mom b/c my phone doesn't fit! LOL! I made the hat...just to make a hat! LOL! It was something to do on the plane rides to and from Canada. I'm just proud that I made a hat! The dish cloth is only for looks. After all that hard work do you think I'd actually wash dishes with it???? Presently I'm working on another dish cloth (for looks too!) in a feather-fan pattern (thanks Cheryl). It's such fun to knit and I just know it will be beautiful too.

P.S. Mary has also completed her own dishcloth! Way to go girl!

Our New Addition

Grace and I happen to be softies when it comes to animals. We just can't resist a cute little face. When we went to pick our dog up from boarding, our vet had several kittens looking for a home. Dr. Beth goes to the local animal shelter on a regular basis and rescues kittens and puppies. Then she tries to find good homes for them. She makes sure they are spayed and neutered before they go out, have their heartworm medicine and a big bag of food. We adopted our other cat, Lizzy, from her about a year ago.
Anyway, there was only one little female cat (Mark's one requirement). We held her and of course she was sweet and adorable. How could we possible leave her? We brought her home and have loved her ever since. Emma named her "Alice" from Alice in Wonderland! It fits her perfectly. Now, no more visits to the vet for me and Grace!

Potatoes + Dumplings = PEROGIES!!

I promised a post on perogies and here it is!

While staying at the Rupa's we ate dozens of perogies (and other tasty treats that I don't even know how to spell! LOL!). They are soooo delicious. I honestly could have eaten them 3 meals a day.

What is a perogy? I got this definition from Wikipedia:

Pierogi (also perogi, perogy, pirohi, piroghi, pirogi, pirogen, piroshke or pyrohy), from the Proto-Slavic "pir" (festivity) is the name most commonly used in English speaking areas to refer to a variety of Slavic semicircular (or, in some cuisines, square) stuffed dumplings of unleavened dough and varying ingredients. Their specific origins are unknown; though they have strong ties to Slavic culture, similar foods occur in many cultures across Europe and Asia.

I have to admit that before we went to Canada this last time, I tried my hand at making perogies on my own. They looked pretty good, but taste was a whole different story! I think I'm too used to making chicken and DUMPLINGS. They turned out way too thick and even rather dry. We ate them anyway since that was all there was for dinner! LOL! It didn't take many to fill us up.

This visit, Cheryl gave me step-by-step instructions using HER recipe. She made it look so easy. Of course it was fun making them with her because she's able to find humor in just about anything! The guys came up with their own little addition to the recipe. We'd had boiled shrimp the night before. They decided we should add the shrimp in with the potato filling for a South Alabama twist on the traditional perogy. We all thought they were fantastic!
Shortly after arriving back home, I decided I had to try to make them again (before I forgot how Cheryl did it!). Voila! They turned out almost as good as hers. At least this time we could eat and ENJOY them! The girls were very excited. I forgot to mention Emma is now known as the Perogy Princess (one day she ate a total of 8 perogies!). For Mark, the idea I can now make decent perogies is bittersweet-he just started a New Year's diet! Potatoes and dough don't happen to be on his menu list!

Okay Cheryl, next time I want to make the crepes with the cottage cheese filling. YUMMMM!!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Happy Birthday Emma!

One more December birthday for the Mattox family! I couldn't think of a better way to celebrate the end of the year than by recognizing our baby girl's birthday. New Year's Eve Emma had her 4th birthday. She had the time of her life! Mrs. Cheryl planned a big dinner party complete with cake and gifts. Emma was so excited. Tons of our new friends showed up to wish her a happy day. Plus she had tons of perogies! What more could she ask for? Well, maybe a little snow-no problem! She slid down the hill then ate her fill of snow. She couldn't have been happier!
I can't believe we've actually had her for 4 years. She's grown up so fast. It seems like just yesterday she was that terribly fussy baby! LOL! Now she's changing before our eyes from a toddler to a beautiful little girl who has such good manners! Those of you who know us know what a hard time we had getting Emma to use her manners. That's no longer a problem. She's beautiful both inside and out. I'm so proud of her and couldn't imagine our lives without her. She blesses us daily with her adorable smile and those expressive eyes. Happy birthday baby girl!

Holiday Memories 2007

Monday, January 7, 2008

Our Second Home

Two days after Christmas we left for our other home-Canada. For some reason we feel such a connection with this country. We both believe that God is calling us there but for what reason we do not know. We're patiently waiting for Him to reveal that.
This trip we were fortunate to stay with a family we had met on the last trip. I have to admit that I was apprehensive about coming in on them with 3 children and spending over a week in their home. I have to say that I've never felt more comfortable with another family. They treated us like kings and queens!
The girls were excited about camping out downstairs with their girls in the basement. They had everything they needed-bathroom, heater and a WII!!! As for me, my favorite place was at the table! LOL! Cheryl has to be the best cook in Canada. Taras in running a really close second! I probably gained 20lbs while I was there. That's okay because now I'm fat and happy! I even learned to make perogys the right way. I'll save that for another post.
I have to say that my favorite day was probably the simplest. Cheryl took us all across the street to meet her neighbor, Mrs. Phyllis. She's such a dear, sweet lady. One of her daughters is in from Scotland. She happens to make the Ukrainian Easter eggs. She showed us exactly how she does this. It's such an intricate art-I wish I'd paid more for the egg I bought! LOL! This daughter also does felting. She brought all her supplies out and gave us a quick tutorial on that too! What a talented lady. Mrs. Phyllis herself happens to have 2 cutter bees that she hatched in a jar. She and her husband have taken pictures of the cutter bees taking sections of flowers and leaves to line a tube where they lay their eggs. I never knew that a visit to a neighbors would end up being such an educational field trip!
The best was saved for last. Mrs. Phyllis made us hot tea and pulled out homemade fruitcake, perogys, quiches and pickles. It wasn't just the food, but the fellowship that was so special. She took time out of her day to welcome us and bless us. This is how I want to live.
From then on, we stayed happy and busy. All of us girls went over to a hill near the lake sledding. I had the time of my life. Granted I wasn't very pretty sledding, but gosh was it fun! Emma on the other hand, didn't sled at all. She had more important things to do-eat snow! She said from the beginning she was going to Canada to eat snow and that's just what she did! She kept a handful at all times.
The next day we went ice fishing. I was a little skeptical at first, but then I saw the huts with HEATERS! Our friend set up a fire on the lake and roasted hot dogs for lunch while sausage warmed on the heaters in the huts. I was dry and warm, hanging out with my family and my new dear Canadian friends. It was another fabulous day!
Just when I thought our trip couldn't get any better, New Year's day Cheryl and I headed off to Elkhorn and the SPA. I have never felt so relaxed in all my life! What a great way to start our new year off and I can't think of a better person to be with! After all the pampering we had a warm, filling lunch then headed back to reality! LOL!
The rest of our time was spent ice skating (Emma even got private lessons-thanks Julie!), snow skiing and hanging out with our buddies. The fellowship was no doubt the best part of the trip. I could have spent hours talking with Cheryl and Taras. These 2 are the most hospitable people we've been around. They opened their home and hearts to us and treated us like they've known us all their lives. They know the true meaning of southern hospitality and they've never set foot in the south! I left Canada with tears streaming down my face...looking ahead to our next trip in this wonderful place.

Christmas 2007!

This year Christmas at our house couldn't have been much better. I started to get stressed a few times, then thankfully I was able to put all of that behind me and concentrate on what was important-my family and the real meaning of Christmas.
We started the Sunday before Christmas with a visit to my father-in-law's. Unfortunately my mother-in-law has been battling cancer since June. We normally have a big family get together, but this year was different. I have to say I liked it even more. We had the 2 of them all to ourselves. My girls loved it and so did I! We exchanged gifts, then Grace read "The Night Before Christmas". It was such a sweet time together. We all shared chicken soup and a delicious dessert. It was just perfect!
Christmas Eve was another fabulous night! We decided not to have our usual big barn party. Instead we had our family and a few really close friends. That still ended up being over 30 people. We all ate at one big long table. Then Mark read the Christmas story from the Bible. Afterwards we all had communion. This was so special. Then we had the opportunity to speak of blessings, struggles, etc of 2007. We all had them but one stood out-Baby Ivee.(read their blog-Foley family). She has fought cancer for the last year (she was diagnosed just before Christmas 2006). Thankfully she's now in remission! God has blessed her family immensly. Through it all their faith has been strong. It was such a blessing to see this baby smiling and jabbering on the eve of our Lord's birth! Nothing could have been better! The icing on the cake was all of us caravaning over to my in-laws and caroling outside their house. Because of my mother-in-law's illness they weren't able to come, so we brought everything to them. I think my smile was permanently plastered on my face! God is so good! He allowed us to be with those dear to us to celebrate the birth of His son! It was a night I won't forget!