Friday, November 9, 2018

The Candy Holiday

.... In which we don't get all that much candy.

A sunrise at our home last week. 

Harrison will ask every once in a while, "Can we go outside and see the sunrise?"

These brothers are so silly. 

Jonathan is such a good brother to H. He gets annoyed with him sometimes, especially while he's playing video games, but he spends a lot of time with Harrison and teaches him things and lets H follow him around. 

Harrison the diver and neighbor "Rey."

Phoebe the cowgirl.

Only Phoebe and Harrison went trick-or-treating this year.  The older two had youth group. So we didn't have all that much candy this year. And when the whole family feels like the candy sacks belong to everyone, the candy is gone pretty fast. And that makes mom happy!

This house always does something worth doing for Halloween. 
He was an Army man. So cool.

We have one more week of school to complete our first trimester. Thanksgiving comes after that. Timely. I love finishing that first trimester before the holidays. 

It's cold outside, the roads and stores are busy, Christmas music is playing in certain shopping centers. So it's Christmas, right? I'm going to enjoy the festive feels, even if it does start too early.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Celebrating the Life of Grandma Phoebe

The view from the front porch near Vandalia, MO.

Grandma Phoebe (Phillip's mother's mom) has been in the nursing home for the past three years. She passed away a little over a week ago at the age of 95. She was a special lady. Very sweet and kind. Always good. My roommate Jess used to register her for evening classes at our Bible college, and she would swoon over how sweet and cute Phoebe Law was. This was before Phillip and I dated, so I shared in the sweetness completely free of familial bias. 

We left at 4 am to drive to Mimi and Papa's in Missouri. I believe we've found the perfect time to get through I-35 without traffic or construction. Four am on a Sunday morning. We were through Dallas by 8:30. That's amazing. 

Galen's birthday!

We got to see both John and Galen, Phillip's siblings. John is in Missouri, Galen's in Florida and we're in Texas. It takes some doing to get all the siblings together. Well, they weren't together really. We saw John and Kristy at the beginning of the week and we saw Galen at the end of the week. But at least we saw them both, if not at the same time. 

Our Phoebe reading in the rocking chair.

Grandma Phoebe was a writer of poetry. I used two of her poems in Laying Down the Rails for Children; she was published in the newspaper and other places as well, I believe. Here's one of her fun poems.

What the Folk Don't Know

I used to think that school was dull, 
And so unnecessary.
Now the folk wonder why I love
Each subject that I carry.

They wonder why I dress so neat,
Why I want such pretty curls.
Why I do not care for boy friends
Like most of the other girls.

I used to never care a bit
If I disobeyed the rule.
But now I behave the nicest
Of most any girl in school.

I gaze into the teacher's face,
And cling to his every word.
But somehow when we take a test,
I forget the things I've heard.

But if you'll promise not to tell
Another single creature,
I'll tell you what the folk don't know;
I'm in love with the teacher. 
                                     by Phoebe Ferguson

 The boys and nerf guns at Mimi's house. Nerf bullets everywhere!

Harrison loves going down the stairs head first. 

Grandma Phoebe became Phoebe Ferguson at age 15 (almost 16). Phoebe and Roger Ferguson had 6 children. The three sons are all preachers. The three daughters are faithful Christian wives and mothers. Roger died at age 59, and Phoebe married Harry Law some years later. They were married almost 30 years. Harry passed away only a couple weeks before Phoebe did. 

At the college library with Patty Agee, a good friend and mentor to me when I was in college.

Since we were in Missouri and Elizabeth is a Junior in high school, we thought we'd get in a college visit for her at our alma mater. Grandma Phoebe's three sons all graduated from Central. Several of her grandchildren (including Phillip) also attended/graduated. Phillip's mom, Elayne, attended and taught there. Paul was on the board. It's kind of a family place. So, I don't know for sure if Liz will attend, but she was certainly happy with the visit. 

And we got to see a missionary friend who just happened to be there! 

Jen Ren has been on the field for 20 or so years. It was encouraging to talk with her.

Sitting around after the funeral.

Many cousins, aunts and uncles were in town for Grandma's funeral. Phillip and Uncle Earl did the service. Phillip preached a good Gospel sermon. Earl shared memories of his mother. Jonathan was a pallbearer for the first time. Wayne from church played the guitar and sang. He also did the music for our Vandalia wedding reception. It's amazing to me that someone who lived in Vandalia 18 years ago is still around to continue their gifting in connection with our family. But Grandma Phoebe grew up in Vandalia, and Mimi and Papa grew up in Vandalia, and so did Phillip. Some people still do that ~ live in the same place they grew up. Amazing.

Chatting. And checking the market.

Grandma Phoebe was usually there for a meal or a birthday celebration just about anytime we would visit Mimi and Papa when we lived closer. One time early in our marriage (or maybe when we were dating) we were all sitting around talking when suddenly Grandma blurted out, "Why! Lanaya has good teeth!" That just cracked us all up. I was glad I could bring 'good teeth' to the family. :-) 


Mateo is a little boy adopted into Uncle Earl's family. Mateo loves his Grandpa.

As dressed up as they've ever been. 

Proud of my kids. Our Phoebe Ruth is named after Grandma Phoebe, but she really is a mixture more of my mom and Paul's side of the family. But we were proud to name her after her Grandmother.

Mimi shares a story about Grandma Phoebe's birth: 

 Phoebe’s Grandma Wagner did not think she would live because her kidneys were not functioning; therefore, she would not let anyone hold the new baby. However, Phoebe’s eleven year old sister Vivian wanted to hold her. Phoebe’s mother, Katie, said, “What’s the harm? Let her hold the baby even if she is going to die!” Vivian carried her to the other room, sat in the rocking chair and sang and rocked her for quite some time. When she brought the baby back she told them that she “knew that her baby sister was going to live because she had been praying to God about it.” Not long after that, word was brought to her mother that Phoebe’s kidney’s were “working.” 


We had been watching tractors and combines run afar off while we were visiting last week. I was looking out the window one evening and said, "Well, I was hoping to watch them harvest that field across the road, but I guess we'll be leaving before they get to it." And what do you know, but Mimi pointed out a combine just coming down a swath of the field. So we got to watch some harvesting that evening.

The two Phoebes 10 years ago. 

Grandma Phoebe was good. Like Phillip said in his sermon, all that goodness doesn't count for anything at the end of life on earth. What counts is what we do with Jesus. Grandma submitted her life to Jesus; she trusted him to save her from her sins. Her goodness inspires us; it made life nice for us. But her faith in Christ gives us hope. A hope for a much better life after this one. Hope for more than I even know to name.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Skating and Shakespeare

Phoebe has wanted to attend a Shakespeare play for years, but we could never make it happen. We finally found a play going on in town that seemed appropriate for kids and was real Shakespeare ~ not "The Complete Works of Shakespeare in One Hour" that I'd been finding. The Classic Theatre of San Antonio was featuring A Midsummer Night's Dream. Phillip was a theatre guy in high school, so Phoebe and I invited him to go along. :-) 

They had a little pre-show entertainment with the actors sort of mime-dancing in masks and cloaks, reminiscent of the Water Ballet in Revenge of the Sith. They would come up behind you and stare over your shoulder..... Or at your face. That part was a little unnerving, but watching them was oddly enjoyable. I got a couple of pictures before I read in the program that cameras were not allowed. Ooops. 

We all enjoyed it immensely! The Classic Theatre was a cute little theatre connected to a larger one. The tickets were reasonably priced. The acting was lively and well-done. We were close to the action. We will definitely be looking at more of what they have to offer. 

A Midsummer Night's Dream would not be my first Shakespeare choice, but I so enjoyed it! They included the "play inside the play" with Bottom and his crew. Phillip thought that part wasn't relevant to the main story and should have been left out. It did prolong the play, but I was glad they included it. I only found out recently that the "play within the play" was even a part of Midsummer Night by reading Bruce Coville's children's version to Harrison. By the way, Bruce Coville's versions are so excellent for introducing kids to Shakespeare.

Little, impish Puck was played by a lady who teaches high school. He was Phoebe's and my favorite. Phillip loved Helena (the love-jilted friend of Hermia); she included much body language and gestures with her speaking which made it easier to understand the meaning of her words. Shakespeare is fun- I'm enjoying him more and more each year- but he's still hard to understand. 

It was a long night - 2.5 hours of play with intermission and pre-show. The heel broke on my shoe on the way into the theatre and I had to limp along. But I definitely want to do more of this. 

Oh, and I never realized that this line is original to Shakespeare: 
"Though she be but little, she is fierce." 
Who knew!?

And then yesterday afternoon, we went skating. Phoebe has also been begging to do this for a while. Harrison still sticks to the wall and my hand, but he's much better than before. Phoebe hurt her bum, so didn't enjoy it as much as she could have. Liz gave a good go, but was mostly the Watcher of the Purse and Holder of the Bench. And I, who haven't been roller skating in years, got a pretty good workout on the floor. Fun stuff. I love skating too. Shakespeare and skating. You can't get much better than that. 

Thursday, September 20, 2018

School Started.....

..... Therefore, no blogging. 

We're finishing up our 6th week (yay! I feel so ahead of the game this year!). I got to attend a local day conference (Schole Sisters Retreat) for homeschooling moms last Saturday. It was a big encouragement. 

I have days where I feel on top of it ~ like the kids are learning so much, and we're getting to everything we need to get to. And I have many days where I feel like this is all going to crash. The retreat and discussion and podcasts and books are all helpful in teaching me that we'll never "arrive." Educating, learning ~ these need to continually happen and in fresh ways. If I ever "arrived" it would be stale, not life-giving. 

But I do feel like this is starting out as a good year. Elizabeth is a junior. One more year at home with us! Jonathan will start high school next year. 

And the app is out! We released several weeks ago. We've gotten lots of feedback from users; I've given lots of feedback. :-) I'm loving it. The kids can check off their own work as they do it. It all turns green when the week's work is done. Progress bars show the week's progress as you go. Lots of opportunities to show progress! It makes one feel good. 

On to some random pictures that I'm going to post for posterity and family photo album purposes:

All of them together. 
Hiding because it's early morning and they don't feel ready for pictures. But they were all together on the couch and so I had to take a pic regardless. 

Elizabeth (I did her hair!) dressed up 50's style for a homeschool dance she went to with Adelynn and family. 

Alec is a kid that grew up next to my parents in Washington. He's in San Antonio at Lackland Air Force Base. His parents came down to visit him, so we all got together for lunch and some swimming at their hotel pool. He meets up with us at church and lunch and such. It's been fun to get to know them.

This sweet little girl loves to water my plants, clean the van (with wet wipes or whatever she can find), straighten up the art area in the garage..... 


Alec is taking a picture of the kids at Whataburger.

Visiting the "nice" mall. 
It has a Lego store and Disney store and Apple store. So I guess it is pretty nice.

Harrison is such a goof! 
Liz wouldn't let me post her goofy mall pics. Just picture her walking around knitting. The girl does have a knack for knitting. She's been doing paid projects for a knitting store in Maine. She's super good at it. 

The kids did this on their own! Photo booth pictures. So sweet!

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Go Karts for Jon's 14th

He wanted plain vanilla cake with white fondant so everyone could sign his cake. You'll notice the signed ball cap he's wearing. He likes to get stuff signed, I guess. 

He's getting pretty tall, but he was still the short one of the group of friends he had over. Each one of them was taller than the last. 

And we found a Go Kart track in Boerne where the boys could race. For the first race, they tried to beat each other. Liam was the winner in that instance. But when we got inside and saw the results, we realized that quickest lap time was how they determined the winner. So the second time they raced, they just tried to beat each other's lap time. You don't have to do as much passing in that instance. 

They all want to be first.

Harrison's (friend-Harrison, not brother-Harrison) results were not recorded the second race (faulty transponder or whatever), so we don't actually know if he would have beat Jonathan or not. But Jonathan was last in the first race and first in the last race. 

And being a Friday, and Boerne being far from home, we had lots of time in the van. Boys are so funny. 

Things googled on this trip: "How to Burp," "Clever Ways to Cover Farts in the Classroom." Much burp practice ensued. 

Discussions on this trip: What kind of vehicle they want to own when they grow up, Can they share a vehicle since they both want the same one, What kind of degree to get at college (or should they go to college). 

It's enlightening to have a group of youth in your van while you quietly drive. You learn a lot about them when they think you aren't listening. I feel like when I have a group of girls, they text each other more than talk, so I don't get as inside a look into their thought-lives. Maybe they realize I'm listening.....

Friday, July 27, 2018

Kids Summer Cooking

The three older kids each got to cook two meals for us this summer. 

Melty Monterey Jack Burgers by Jonathan

Elizabeth enlisted her friend to help her make Orange Cauliflower and Fried Rice. It's similar to Orange Chicken, but with cauliflower. Adelynn likes to make vegetarian dishes.  I've had several - her food is restaurant quality! She made a Zucchini Basil soup one time..... mhm, mhm. This was a winner for me. I tried later to make some more with leftover cauliflower, and it just didn't cut it. She's got a gift.

Liz' next meal was trying out her Cafe's Toasted Avocado Chicken and Cheese sandwich. Phillip likes to order this when we visit for lunch. Elizabeth hit it just right! Shredded chicken, Monterey Jack cheese, avocado, & mayo on Wheatberry bread and grilled like a grilled cheese sandwich. Liz did find out from this meal that she can't eat Avocado (ironic, since she loves her cafe and wouldn't have dreamed of trying an Avocado until she worked there). They hurt her stomach pretty badly. 

Jonathan wanted to try out Hello Fresh. He hears it advertised on a podcast he listens to. This was our first time trying out a meal delivery service. We got a good amount of savings using the podcast coupon code; otherwise we wouldn't have tried it. 

I have to say it was kind of pampering to get this box in the mail with everything you need for a meal and clear instructions on how to fix it. It was all very fresh and packaged so cutely (tiny little jars, ya'll!). Jonathan is not an experienced chef, so it took him longer to cook the meals (it was supposed to take half an hour and it took him about 50 minutes). But it was cooked well: he didn't over-cook or under-cook the meat. The flavors were well-mixed and developed, especially if you ate it as they recommended (I think I was the only one who ate the balsamic onions on the hamburger). 

You get to choose your meals from Hello Fresh and Jon chose Melty Monterey Jack Burgers with Red Onion Jam and Crispy Zucchini (top picture), and Parmesan-Crusted Chicken with Creamy Lemon Tomato Linguine. We kept the recipe cards so we could make these again because we enjoyed all of it. I think the linguine was my favorite. 

I'm not getting paid to talk about Hello Fresh or anything, but we did get a good coupon with our meals. It's for a friend, so if anyone wants it, message me and I'll give you the code. It's $69.95 value (which covers the two meals per week option, I believe). They didn't offer meals for a family of 6, but the Family of 4 meals was plenty for us. We even had leftovers. Of course, my kids don't eat a ton.... Also, it's a weekly subscription, so if you don't want to pay for the next set of meals, you'll need to cancel your subscription, like, the day after you order your coupon-ed meals. You'll get the meals you just ordered at the reduced price, but won't get charged again until you un-pause your account. Just heads-up.... 
It's a lot of fun to try it out. It wouldn't at all be worth it for us to join this type of meal service ~ I can make meals a lot cheaper for our family. But it's super fun to try.

And Phoebe found her meals through a Taste of Home cookbook that my mom gave us a while back. She was hungry when she looked through it, so she had all kinds of pages dog-eared. It's a really simple book to cook from. The recipes aren't hard and the pictures are good; there's only one recipe per page. Perfect for beginners. Today she made Bacon and Egg Croissants (the recipe called for Bagels, but we all like croissants better) with peaches on the side.

Last week she made Colorful Pasta Salad and Barbecue Jack Chicken. 

Huhh. I just noticed that all the kids chose one meal that included Monterey Jack Cheese. 
Anyway, on the day of this meal, she was supposed to make lunch. I was stuck for 4 hours getting a vehicle taken care of and she was legitimately freaking out about how to cook these recipes. After some stilted communication (phones dying in the midst of texts and tears of frustration and Dad calling me so she would talk to me....), we finally settled that she could save that meal for supper and I could help her with whatever she needed help with. She had already made the pasta salad on her own though, so that was very good work.

Charlize came over to test Phoebe's cooking skills.

I don't often recommend cookbooks because there are usually only 2 recipes I ever want to use in any one cookbook..... But this one is really great for kids or beginner cooks. (Again, no affiliate links or anything.) I looked on Amazon and noticed there are several in this "series": crockpot meals and such. I often find new recipes through facebook or online, but I think handing a kid a book is helpful in this case. They have a limited, perceptible scope to choose from. 

The summer cook-off was a success!