Sunday, February 17, 2019

Lots of Field Trips

Or at least those are the pictures I took..... field trips. 

February blah's are a real thing. I've read about other homeschoolers having them. I'm sure school teachers do as well. I didn't think it pertained to me. But alas, I find this year that it does! You just don't want to do anymore school! But you must press forward if you're going to finish before summer. 

And my kids have become sticklers for their summer. They want to have ALL Of It. And they always do, no matter if we finish the end of June or the beginning. We do 36 weeks of school ~ no more. Their breaks were had throughout the school year if the summer happens to be a shorter one. I guess it's the living in a neighborhood full of kids knocking on your door that makes them aware of any loss of summer.

Anyway, we're pressing through the blah's.

We joined a couple of families to celebrate the birthday of one of their boys. He wanted to celebrate at this park called Mud Creek. 

We've had our own doin's with Mud Creek and they weren't pretty. They were hot and creek-less. I decided that place was a bust and never went back. 

But there is so much more to Mud Creek! You just have to take the path less traveled. The path that I didn't realize was a path. It leads to caves! And woods and trails and this cool hole in the ground that probably would be an excellent place to explore and get into trouble if it wasn't capped by an iron cage. 

Our kids total a dozen. I met the moms through a facebook homeschool something-or-other. We meet together every couple of weeks now to discuss educational related items and chapters from a book called The Great Tradition, edited by Richard Gamble. I read Plato and Clement of Alexandria and it's awesome.

And then we joined one of the families atop the parking garage near Scobee Planetarium and we watched the Lunar Eclipse. The Super Blood Wolf Moon to be exact. There were hundreds of people there and IT WAS COLD! So cold. We had blankets and our box of hats and gloves, but we're pansies with cold weather since we've been in the South these past 10 or so years.

There were quite a few telescopes there and we looked through several high-powered ones to see the moon. 

I take a picture of our water tower every so often. Why do I love it so much? It makes me happy for some reason. Liz said it reminds her of a benevolent robot watching over us. Like from the When the Tripods Came series. 

On the way to Mid-Winter Camp we stop at Bon Ton Meat Market and get snacks. And they have these yummy little pies. I took a pic to ask Phillip which one he wanted. He chose cherry. He wished he had chosen peach. I wished I had chosen one of my own. 

On the way to Mid-Winter Camp we also always pass by Bastrop State Park. This year we left a few hours early and spent some time hiking the trails. There was a fire there in 2011 and then a flood in 2015. The Park is recovering from the fire ~ it's really neat to see the new growth and watch how a habitat recovers from a large forest fire. The first year we went to camp we could see that there had been a recent fire, so every year we get to watch the progress of growth as we drive through the Loblolly Pines. 


A dew-laden dandelion puff from a walk in the neighborhood. 

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Mummifying a Chicken

That's right. We did it. We mummified a stinkin' chicken. 
The kids were horrified. Embarrassed. They thought it was too much of a homeschool thing to do and didn't want the neighbors to know. Even now Phoebe is shrieking, "No one wants to hear about a mummified chicken!!" 

Well, I'm a homeschool mommy blogger and I'm gonna tell the story. When you kids read this in 10 or 20 years, you'll be glad I documented the process so that you too can embarrass my precious grandchildren with a mummified chicken.

So we are studying Ancient Egypt and Her Neighbors for school. And a mummified chicken deal came across my screen at some point and I thought, "Hey, that fits right in with our ancient studies, and it will be a good hands on project for the kids." And I put it somewhere on a schedule to make sure it would get done. 

We mostly used the directions from this blogger. I enjoyed her descriptions and pictures. She did say it was by far the stinkiest thing she'd ever done, so I was expecting foul odors. But we never had any. At all. Maybe we're really good at this. I was very impressed with us.

This was after the first changing of the "dressing."

I'll lay out a step-by-step process below, so we'll breeze through the pictures first. (Jon just walked by with a big groan, "Are you blogging all the chicken stuff? Uuuuggghhh.")

These are the ingredients used in the mixture we stuffed the chicken in every week.

Just about there. See how the skin is yellowing? It's doing what it's supposed to. With no odor about it.

Mixed the stuff up in this big bowl.

Put that chicken in a Ziplock and pack it with the mixture. Set it in the garage for another week....

She's finally done!

I got more gag reflex from the kids than from anything else in their young lives that they've had to gag reflex about. My momma taught me how to cut up a chicken when I was young. It was something you learned. There's no gag reflex in chickens! You just do it! 

We oiled it, sprinkled generously with cinnamon and wrapped her in cloths.

I told Liz to get me a pan or piece of cardboard or something to display the chicken on. 
She got me a box. 
I must say we could have done a better job wrapping the thing. I'm sure the professionals of Egypt who spent 40 or 70 days (Google gave me conflicting info) mummifying a pharaoh did a much better job. But they were getting paid. And weren't dealing with gag-reflex children. 

The thing is now buried in our back yard. We should be able to dig it up in a few years and it will seem just as fresh and pert as the day we bought her in HEB. Right? 

Mummified Chicken Recipe

Alcohol (not that kind. The Isopropyl kind.)
A small whole chicken
Paper Towels
Gallon size (or larger) freezer bags
4 boxes of salt (we used boxes of canning and pickling salt because it was cheap and seemed to work just fine)
4 boxes of baking soda
4 containers baking powder
Linen strips (we used cheesecloth)
Vegetable oil

1. Rinse off the chicken and take out any innards that might be stuck inside (heart, neck, gizzard, etc.). Some people save these innards to mummify separately and put in canopic jars. You can also make a sarcophagus and amulets, but I was only interested in the chicken part. 

2. Dry off the chicken (inside and under wings and everywhere). Pour rubbing alcohol all over it and inside it and pat that dry.

3. Mix up in a large bowl: rice (half a cup maybe? it helps soak up moisture), a box of salt, a container of baking soda and baking powder, some spices (cinnamon or cloves or nutmeg). Spoon mixture inside your chicken. Place chicken inside large freezer bag and stuff the mixture all around it. Our gallon size wasn't quite big enough to be able to shut it once we filled the bag with chicken and salt mixture. So I fit another bag on top of the other and it all did fine. Like I said, we never had smells. 

4. Do step 3 as often as you see the salt mixture getting wet. A couple of the blogs I read said to change it once a week, but I think we did it about every 5 days. By the way, the Egyptians used Natron instead of salt ~ it's a naturally occurring mixture of soda ash and baking soda.

5. Once the salt mixture is no longer showing signs of moisture, your chicken should be mummified! Ours was a dark yellowish color. I was expecting more of a change in appearance. It was definitely shrunken. I could seal the whole thing with all the salt in one bag toward the end. The legs had the look of a smoked leg of turkey. Anyway, the only way I really knew it was done is because the salt wasn't wet anymore. I believe we took 5 weeks to complete this project. 

6. Rub off as much salt mixture as you can. Pour oil on it (we used vegetable oil; I'm actually not sure if that was a good idea or not, but the thing sat in our garage for several days and all I could smell was cinnamon). Shake spices all over; we just used cinnamon since we had quite a bit of it. 

7. Cut up linen strips of cloth or white cloth or sheets or whatever you have or can find at the grocery store (which was cheesecloth for me). Lovingly wrap your family chicken (it's like a pet by now, right?) in these strips of cloth. Some people dipped the cloths in a watered down glue so that they would harden. This is more like what the Egyptians did. They wrapped amulets inside the different layers of linen and then poured resin over it to harden and protect the body from moisture. This makes me wonder if our buried chicken will indeed be its fresh self in several years. We'll keep you posted.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Christmas in South Texas

Phillip set up our little Winter Wonderland scene.

We went down to Mimi and Papa's cozy cottage in Donna, TX for Christmas this year. 

Christmas Eve: Went to a communion service in the area. Came home and read the Christmas Story from Luke, listened to "O Holy Night," heard a reading of "Gift of the Magi," and shared Christmas memories.  

This was before Christmas. We had several Chik-Fil-A gift cards to use up before the year ended, so we had a family evening out. Ignore H's messy hair. I always have said that Harrison is the most homeless looking of our children. But really, why not have messy hair and holes in your pants if your gonna be scooting in the dirt outside every day? He and the neighbor kids always have big plans going on out there, and he's too busy to be bothered with smooth hair at 8 years old.

All my kids. Shaking their head at Mom trying to take groufies. 
(Did you know that was a word? It's a group selfie that includes three or more people. The more you know....)

Phoebe decorated this cookie for her art teacher at Co-op. He likes the tree in "Starry Night."

Harrison decorating a gingerbread man.

Leila's gingerbread man.

I made date pinwheels for the first time in forever. This is traditional cookie that my mom makes for Christmas. I didn't have enough date filling, so I added in some strawberry rhubarb jam that I had. So really, they're fruit pinwheels. 

Back to Mimi and Papa's place. We did our usual Bible study with Dad on Sunday night. We've been going through the Sermon on the Mount and were on the Anger part. It was really neat to hear Mimi and Papa's stories. They have a lot of wisdom to share. 

They just goofy.

We went to a restaurant called Willie's for Monday lunch. They have the best baked potatoes with chopped brisket and bbq sauce. Phillip and I can share one and have plenty to eat. See the cowboy hat topping the tree? 

It was warm enough for a swim on Monday. Phoebe and Harrison were the only ones who wanted to though. The other two are growing past swimming.

I absolutely love to hear the wind in the palm trees at Victoria Palms. 
Harrison used to call them South Texas trees before he knew to call them palm trees. 

Christmas Day! 
The kids had been teasing to try to get to open a gift earlier than Christmas Day, but we held them off at gunpoint. 

Phoebe and her necklace.

Jon and "Down the Long Hills."

Liz and ...... earphones?

One of Harrison's favorite gifts: a little Ufufy Piglet. He really likes Winnie the Pooh books and movies and likes Piglet the best. 

Dad's helping him put together his jeep.

Look in the mirror at that sibling love. A chokehold for Christmas.

We're back home now. We have another week off until we start school again. I'm so glad!!!! We needed a school break. 
I'm so happy to be able to be with family for the Holidays. My parents and Cory got together at my sister's house this year and I loved seeing all the posts they put on Facebook. I missed seeing them; one year we'll have to all get together for Christmas. But I was very glad to be with Phillip's parents despite missing my own. 

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Elizabeth Turns 17

That's crazy. Seventeen years old. 

She was born a tiny little thing with a head covered in black hair. She slept through the night about 2 1/2 weeks old ~ very independent from the very beginning. When Mimi tried to snuggle and rock her, she would swing her arm and face out to look at the world. She figured out how to get around as quickly as she could, which was army crawling. Since that worked so well, she didn't bother to learn how to crawl. She went straight to walking from there, although a little late by "average" standards. I think she was 16 months before she walked. 

She would get into ANYTHING she could reach. Flour strewn around the kitchen. Art drawers emptied onto my bedroom floor. Cotton balls made into "snow." Every. Day. I figured if I told her no and punished her, she would quit. But she didn't. So I finally figured out how to tape the art drawers shut and moved the flour up to the upper cabinets and put the cotton balls into the taped art drawers. One time during "nap time" (she quit naps at 18 months or so), she had everything out: drawers pulled out and emptied, closets emptied as far as she could reach, books pulled off the shelf. And she had found Vaseline and had it over E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. Including herself. It was in her eyes, and I think she had finally starting crying which is what brought me in to check on her. I think that's when I quit "nap time." That little bit of "quiet time" that I had to myself just wasn't worth the mess to be cleaned up at the end. 

Anyway, all of that to say that she's still a go-getter! Still loves to explore new places, will go at a new interest with everything she's got. Thankfully she cleans up after herself now. She's an awesome older sister. She had so many ideas for the kids, and they would play right along. She drives them around now (Yes!), gets them in on ordering a pizza from Pizza Hut for themselves.... It sure is fun to watch these kids grow up together.

She made her birthday cake, per usual. 

She drew little pictures of her favorite things on this edible paper and attached it to her cake. 

Yarn and knitting needles, camera, the floor plans of The Mill, which she loves to visit in New Braunfels. 

A stand mixer, hot coffee drink.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Thanksgiving at Our Home

Now that Thanksgiving is over, Jonathan is all about Christmas music and Christmas lights and decorations. He would have none of it before November 22nd. Tonight he's got Classic Holiday Radio playing on my computer and is showing Harrison how to make paper snowflakes. Anyway, the Christmas music is making it hard for me to think, but I don't want to turn off the music so as to encourage a holiday spirit in our home and children.


Mimi & Papa and John & Kristy came to our home for Thanksgiving, and we had a thoroughly enjoyable time.

I really thought Harrison had his hair combed that morning.

Oh. Sister wrestled him around. I'll blame messy hair on that.

We decided last minute to have some of the kids share a little something with the family. Mimi remembers memorizing Shakespeare and shares some "Life is but a shadow, a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more." And Papa gives us a good chunk of "Twas the Night Before Christmas." 

And so Harrison gave us the Old Testament Books of the Bible which has been his memorization lately.

And Phoebe gave us some of Hamlet's Soliloquy "To Be or Not To Be."

And Jonathan has been practicing Minuet 3 from Bach, so he could share it with everyone. 

Liz pointed out that she'd been knitting all day, and so that was her talent contribution.

Then Mimi wanted us all to go around and talk about what we were grateful for. There were some really neat moments shared by everyone, but especially Papa and Uncle John (two that I would not necessarily expect touching moments from). It's a good tradition that I want to continue. I need to work on being more open with my gratitude. I tend to stick to surface; the larger the crowd, the more surface. I appreciate it when others open the way for peeling away veneer. 

John's wife Kristy. 
She's a lot of fun to hang out with. Very easy to talk to. Fun to shop with. We went to Cibolo Friday evening, and we ate Harmon's BBQ, had chocolate cake and conversation at Emily's Coffee Shoppe, and did some shopping at The Mill Boutique. 

We had a delicious traditional Thanksgiving meal, but I got no pictures of it. Picture a Norman Rockwell painting of a holiday family meal. Then move all the food to the countertop and fit 10 people on 9 chairs around an 8-person table. It's beautiful!

Here are a few extra pictures from the camera roll:
Liz ready for a homeschool dance with her friend Adelyn and her family. She looks like a Disney princess!

Harrison bundled up in the garage for the few days of cold weather we had the past weeks. The garage is an extra room for us ~ our schoolroom, storage, hang-out place for kids, art room.... 
Lively times. 

Harrison again snuggled up on a cold day. 

Happy Thanksgiving 2018!