Sunday, June 3, 2018

Harrison Celebrates His 8th

Happy 8th Birthday, Harrison! 

We celebrated early because Elizabeth will be at camp on his birthday and she wanted to be here (and who will make the cake if she isn't here?). 

Stromboli was requested for his lunch; then we opened his gifts. 

A really cool Star Wars drone that is most definitely too old for him, but not too old for big brother and him. 

Phoebe's gift to him was a Star Wars ship of some kind. 

And a new bike! 
We finally took the training wheels off his old one a few months ago, and he was more than ready for a bigger bike. And we got it for a good price at the Toys R Us going-out-of-business sale.

He wanted Minecraft grass blocks made out of brownies as his 'cake.' 

And he wanted to go to some gardens with mom for his birthday, so he and I went to the Japanese Tea Gardens on this very hot Sunday afternoon. (so hot)

It was super fun to be with just him exploring the gardens. He's enjoyed the nature book we did for school called Plantlife in Field and Garden by Arabella Buckley. I think that made him interested in plants and flowers. 

Phoebe dressed him up the other day as a hunchback. 

Liz is baking Harrison's brownies and showing the kids old Vines. I think I figured out that Vines are to my kids what commercials were to me. They quote Vines all the time and I remember we would quote these short clips from commercials, or maybe from movies (Monty Python and the Holy Grail, anyone?). It was fun to see them enjoying something together. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

San Antonio Botanical Garden

It was beautiful!! 

The kids said it was just like a zoo but for flowers instead of animals. 

The Botanical Garden was a treat that I may not have decided to go to on my own. Alisa wanted to take the kids; it's a school field trip and a good excuse to get together; winners all around.

Now that I'm looking at the pictures I took, I didn't get many of the flowers and plants. 

We were there 3 hours and didn't make it to everything before they closed. We missed the rose garden. They were working on the Japanese garden, so there will be even more to see when that's finished. We did get to do the new Family Adventure area. It has a water feature and a growing hedge maze (too short to get lost in right now) and sand pits and lots of fun activities. 

Jonathan, Phoebe, Harrison, Wyatt, and William hula-hooping.

Jonathan and Wyatt playing chess while William watches. 
I believe Wyatt won.

They built a hill specifically for rolling down!  

These were cute little play cottages. 

Some of the crew were probably a little too short to enter. Others of the crew (ahem: Liz) were perfectly suited for entering. 
(She loves it when we make short jokes about her.)

There were beautiful greenhouses or conservatories, each with a different climate and plant-life family. 

The Piney Woods area was probably mine and my kids' favorite. It reminded them of Florida. 

There were also these tiny example houses, each with a different front yard landscaping. It would be a great way to figure out what style you would like and what plants would work here in Texas. 

A fun time ~ highly recommended! 

Monday, May 7, 2018

Our Cajun Friends Visit Us in Texas

Teressa and I grew up together in Louisiana the 6 years I lived there. She was my best friend. We didn't get to spend as much time together once my family moved to Washington, but we wrote many letters and talked on the phone when we'd save enough money for a long-distance call and saw each other about once a year when my family would go back to Louisiana for a visit. 

We grew up. She had a girl and a year or so later, I had a baby girl, therefore our girls are friends by best-friend-moms fiat -- a.k.a. they spend time together because Teressa and I spend time together. It's fun to watch their relationship develop over these years we've lived in the south and have been able to go to Louisiana so often.

Well this time they came to see us! 

We'd been trying to work out a way for the girls to go to a concert. Teressa found a group that the girls knew and would be close by (in Austin). Teressa and Jayda both have beautiful voices and love music and singing. Elizabeth is much more into music than I've ever been; I mostly listen to whatever other people put on or suggest to me and do not have a hankering for going to concerts. However, for the girls' sake (they couldn't go by themselves) and to spend time with my friend, I would attend a concert.

Since they've never been to San Antonio, we took them to the River Walk and to see the Alamo. We went to Oak Hills Church Sunday morning (Max Lucado preached ~ yay! I was hoping they'd get to hear him). 

After church and lunch, we went to the Pearl. Teressa was in love! She loves the antique industrial look, and Hotel Emma, which was renovated from the Pearl Brewery, is full of that love. 

We went to the Cow Lick ice cream parlor to try out new ice cream flavors. Teressa's pick was the favorite: Goat Cheese, Thyme and Honey. 

The top-off of the weekend was Echosmith in concert. 

So I've been to several free-will offering Christian concerts (Carmen, anyone?). I saw a band (cannot remember which!) play after the San Antonio Rodeo one year. But I can't say I've been to a concert such as the one we attended last night. Teressa and Jayda have never been to any kind of concert and Elizabeth has seen one band in concert after the SA Rodeo. This was new for all of us.

We arrived at Emo's in Austin to stand in line. We made three trips back to the van as they kept finding things in our possession that were not allowed in (finger nail file, water, camera, knife). It was very dark inside. Standing only. There were these sort of side box benches that the not-wanting-to-stand-for-4-hours could sit on. That's where T and I planted ourselves. 

When they say the concert starts at 7, they don't actually mean it starts at 7. They mean the doors open at 7. And someone will finally sing in 45 minutes. And that someone is not the person you came to see. That person is an opener. I did not know this opener. She shall rename nameless because the drummer was the best part of her act and I think a better band should snatch him up. These poor girls who think they need to be something that they aren't in order to "make it." She actually sang well accidentally at one point. She has a good voice. She was altering it to make a certain sound that was..... more entertaining? I'm not sure. I wasn't entertained.

Once the opener is done, you must wait for that band to take down their equipment and the next band to set up their equipment. In this case, it also was not Echosmith. It was another opener. This was a guy band and they were actually really good. Just about all the songs of the night were bubble gum songs. There wasn't a lot of substance to any of them, but they were catchy and fun. Speaking of bubble gum, a lot of the people on stage were chewing gum. Can you sing while chewing gum? Does it help you stay hyped up? Are you nervous? 

So this band was The Score. Very talented. The lead had some trouble with language when he spoke, but his singing was very good. I noticed a pattern in the sets of each band. There's the opening song: fun and upbeat. There's the song with a costume change (a jacket comes off as in each of the two openers, or an actual change of clothing for the lead band). There's the slow song that connects with the crowd ("If any of you have ever felt lonely.... This song is for you....." Actual spoken words from last night). And there's the song that involves the crowd ("We're going to have a little friendly competition! You all on the right are going to shout out the words ___......!"). Finally, there's the real exciting finisher song that gets everyone wound up and involves direction to put your arms in the air, etc. Since it was so loud I couldn't really understand the lyrics of anyone, I had a lot of time to observe and think about these things.

Echosmith was a lot of fun. The girls really enjoyed it. I knew one of their songs ("I wish that I could be like the cool kids...."). I looked up lyrics to several others while they sang. They are a family band from California: a sister and two brothers; their dad manages them. Someone said they were homeschooled. (Those weird homeschoolers.) It was pretty late by the time it was all over, but it was fun. Liz wants to go to more concerts.

Teressa and Jayda left earlier today. It was a joy to have them here. Teressa always keeps us when we go to Louisiana to see my family, so I was so happy to be able to have her over to our place. So thankful for her friendship!

Friday, April 27, 2018

My Birthday

So these might be weird pictures to describe a birthday, but it's what I got. 

Elizabeth bought an ice cream cake (my request), and Harrison picked out flowers for me.

My older brother says turning 39 is easier the second or third time you do it. I really don't mind. I'd rather be mature than a bumbling 20-year-old idiot. Not that you have to be an idiot at 20. Seems to me like the chances are just higher.

But would I rather be a mature, non-bumbling 20 year-old? Now there's a question to ponder. I've been reading a book about philosophy by Josef Pieper. Maybe he can help me in my pondering.

Phillip took me to visit a little antique/book store near Cibolo and then we went out for BBQ at Harmon's: Pulled pork, cream corn and coleslaw. I get a piece of bread, put onion and pickles and pork on it, slather it with bbq sauce and fold it over for a half sandwich.  Harmon's is good food in a neat little downtown area of an old town that's growing. They haven't modernized the downtown area ~ new stores are moving in, but they're keeping the old buildings. We love the ambience. 

And I had to get pictures of my boys reading on my birthday. Jonathan is reading for school. Harrison actually read through his Pathways First Reader that he just finished. He took a year to finish reading it for school (we did short sections at a time and started it last year in 1st grade). But once he was done, he wanted to read through the thing on his own. He did it in an evening and the next day. He was very proud of himself for reading it on my birthday. 

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Phoebe is 12!

Phoebe wanted to go to a spa with her mom for her birthday. I was down with that! We got our nails done and got a facial at Terra Spa. The ladies there did a great job. We had good conversation and great service. 

Liz made her pound cake. Phoebe's really into plain pound cake right now. She likes to toast it. 

Speaking of birthdays ~  Elizabeth has had Cream and Sugar Bakery for two years now! Congratulations, Liz! 

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Easter Egg Hunt in the Neighborhood

Harrison asked me last week, "Mom, am I going to get to do an Easter egg hunt?" 

I admit to having shrunk my "holiday kid celebration" activities since the older kids have gotten older and I've relaxed my own expectations. So I hadn't planned anything for Easter. But since Harrison brought it up, I bought some eggs and prizes when I went grocery shopping. Phoebe filled up the eggs. Jonathan was our egg-hider.

Since there are almost always a few neighborhood kids out on Saturday, they participated in the egg hunt too. And since we had to do something while we waited for the eggs to be hidden, I told the kids the Easter story.

We looked at the pictures in the illustrated Bibles that we own, and I told the story from the pictures.  I don't know that these kids have had much exposure to Bible stories. But their reaction was stunning. Not because they had an emotional reaction to the story that Jesus loves them and would suffer for them. More because their reaction was very human. Very I Corinthians 1:23 "We preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles." 

We went through the story and I answered lots of questions as we went. It wasn't familiar to them. When we got toward the end, one five year old quipped as he looked at pictures, "Why is this book so violent?" A seven year old said, "I don't think I believe this."

A stumbling block to Jews 

And foolishness to Gentiles.

They are young, so I'm not thinking that these questions and statements mean they reject Christ. It's just so human to have those first reactions, especially if you haven't grown up used to Bible stories. It was eye-opening to me to hear new, innocent reactions to the Easter story.  

The Bible is violent! Christ's death was violent. We should think of our sins every time we encounter that violence. Our sins are that ugly and dehumanizing and gory. 

"I don't think I believe this." That came after telling about the Resurrection. How true! How unbelievable! That someone would come back to life after being dead for three days?! That's what makes it so powerful. God can do that. God raised Him from the dead. And we have to take a step of faith to believe it. 

I told her that I hope she will believe it one day and trust in Jesus to save her from her sins. It was maybe a little deep for a 12 minute moment while we're waiting to search for eggs, but I do pray for these little neighbor friends that they will put faith in Jesus. 

I recommend all of these illustrated children's Bibles. 

I love the soft illustrations of the red one. The Bible stories are short and perfect for a younger child. 

Egermeier's Bible Story Book (1969 edition) was a great step up from the red one. It was each kid's Bible reading for school in 1st grade and up (seems like it took a year or two to get through it). 

And The Action Bible is Jonathan's. Harrison has been using it lately while we read the Bible during school morning time. That is the Bible that the five year old was looking at when he said, "Why is this book so violent?" So maybe it was a bit graphic for an introduction to the crucifixion. I didn't think of that because everyone in this family has grown up hearing graphic descriptions of the crucifixion. It's interesting that the Bible story itself isn't graphic. 
"They beat him. They put a crown of thorns on his brow. They crucified him." 
But it doesn't linger on the violence. It's more matter of fact. Perhaps I should take that into account next time.

The Bibles are on the table in our garage for now. I just stepped out to check an edition date and had a good lengthy conversation with the seven year old. She's very smart. She wanted to go back and look at the pictures, and she gave a few declarative statements, telling back the story, "That's where he rose from the tomb!" 

There's always hope in the Easter story.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Flexible School Schedule Goes to Texas Convention... and Other Family Stuff

The Bluebonnets are here! 
They show up after the Texas Mountain Laurel. I feel like it all came a little late this year, but I might be wrong. It was a cold year. 

Phillip has been developing Flexible School Schedule (a homeschool scheduling app), so we headed to a homeschool convention in Ft. Worth to promote it. Phillip's parents were able to stay with the kids while we were gone, so we had a little "vacation" with just the two of us. 

 Five or six hours on the road to drive to Ft. Worth. We found a new podcast called "Presidential" and learned about the first three or four presidents while we pick-upped down I-35 (not a fun drive if you've ever tried it). 

Setting up our booth. 
One or both of us was behind this table for 25 hours over the weekend. We talked to quite a few people and collected email addresses and generally had a good time. This is only the second homeschool convention I've been to; it was fun to be there.

Tapestry of Grace was the booth across the way. They're talking to Andrew Pudewa who is the main man for The Institute for Excellence in Writing. And I met quite a few of the people whose podcasts I listen to: Close Reads from Circe Institute  and BiblioFiles from Center for Lit. And then there were quite a few Charlotte Mason-ers; we had Modern Charlotte Mason behind us. I really enjoy meeting these people who I've seen all over the internet, Facebook and such. 

Phillip attended a few of the workshops and enjoyed them. I visited every booth in the convention hall and bought a couple of items I needed and scoped out several others. And met lots of people! Some of them even recognized my name from the curriculum Simply Charlotte Mason sells. That was pretty fun. 

Anyway, I got sick toward the end and was only too glad that Phillip drove the whole way. We're figuring out advertising for FSS right now. I'm not sure we'll do a ton of convention advertising, but we may visit one per year or something. I feel like that physical connection and presence could be good for an online product. Or maybe I just want a way to go to a homeschool convention each year. :-) 

The Grady's came to visit! 
They were wonderful support people in Florida who would take our kids for the day and babysit them anytime we asked. It was very good to see them. The kids are much bigger than they were when we lived in Florida. 

Phoebe and I at Walmart.

And Phoebe and I in curlers. 
Sunday morning in front of the mirror!