Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Starting School

Ivy loved these baby goats at the auction in Sherman NY. They weren't so crazy about her
but she wasn't to be put off. She just grabbed them right out from under their mammas!

Well, I have decided to start 'school' a week early, trying to cram in an extra week before we leave for Ukraine. Here in TN, we have a long Christmas vacation so I may cut ours short by a week then, too. By Tennessee law I have to fill 180 days at four hours a day though I have no curriculum requirements. I am free to direct their learning schedule.

I am really very impressed by the Sonlight curriculum. I like how so much of it is relaxed and based on reading a wide array of books, allowing our children to be well-read while still having the knowledge found in textbooks. I am stealing their idea and combining some of how I was homeschooled and making my own way this year. Next year, I may buy one of their complete courses including teacher's notes and everything but for this year I can't afford it! One year is about $1,000 but that would be re-usable for each following child or several at once because of the type of learning it is. For instance, this year I am going to be reading A Child's History of the World to Hannah but Annette will be able to listen to the short stories as well. So she will be learning in kindergarten the same stuff as Hannah in third grade, just filtered through her 5-year-old mind.

Anyway, I am planning to fill this early week full of fun learning activities, no math or writing or such. I am going to teach Hannah to cook at the stove, Annette to tie her shoes, Hannah to ride a two-wheeler (no, she hasn't learned yet! But although we live on a hill, she can practice in the street now that it is a dead end.) That sort of thing. We're making a list and starting...tomorrow! ( Actually, we are unofficially learning this sort of thing all the time but I am going to be able ot count it towards our attendance this way)
A big thanks to those of you who weighed in, on the blog and otherwise. Kelli mentioned a website that I tried to look at and my internet went out but I do intend to follow up on that and some of you that homeschool may want to as well. Just read her comment on my last post.

Addendum: I looked into it and you may want to too! There are loads of cool door prizes and an open house, advice-sharing format. Here is the Link so that you can find out for yourself!
Thanks, Kelli!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Advise for the structurally challenged?

School here starts the second week of August. I am hoping to start this year with some handy tips that will help a naturally unorganized person (me!) maintain order and get things done! I did pretty well last year teaching second grade but I have loads of room for improvement. Are there any homeschooling moms (or Dads) out there who have experience who would be able to give me a few suggestions that have worked well for you? I am not opposed to hearing from the naturally organized people as well. After all, if you want to lose weight, ask a skinny person, right?

Let me shamelessly play on your emotions and remind you that (hopefully!) this school year I will be gone for a month to Ukraine finalizing our adoption (our girls will stay here so we may just take a vacation till I get back) and then we will be adding three non-english speaking children to our home!

If you know of any others out there who may not frequent my blog who might be willing to share some advice, send them a link and ask them to join in the fun! I'm sure we all would love to see a bunch of comments. The more the merrier!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Visiting Family in NY State

Right after the family reunion in Pigeon Forge, we rented a more fuel efficient car and drove up to NY to visit with Steve's family. Steve's mom is in her element when her grandkids are around. She reminds me of my Dad in that respect, always happiest when the family is all together. I hope she doesn't mind this picture! It isn't the best to show you what she looks like but it conveys a happy feeling which is what I wanted.
I took this picture at the Auction in Sherman NY. There are more pictures of the Auction at the end of the posts about this trip.

Niagara Falls

While we were in NY, we took the girls up to see Niagara Falls. They enjoyed that and we also sprung for the cave of the winds tour that goes below the falls. That was pretty amazing since I have never done that before. The falls literally splash onto the deck that you are standing on and you can reach your hand into them!

Grandma's Animals

Top: Steve's mom loves animals and although this horse is Bekah's, it lives in Grandma's barn with some sheep and rabbits and such. Uncle David is helping Ivy to feed Penny some grass.

Middle:Uncle David and Uncle Josh try and move one stubborn horse to give our three girls a ride!

Bottom:The day we got there one of Grandma's chiuauas had just had puppies. A few days later, Bekah's cocker spaniel had puppies too! Heaven for little girls!

The Buffalo, NY Zoo!

Hannah, Bekah, Annette, Ivy, and Josh at the front gate of the Buffalo Zoo.
Steve and I bought a membership there last year because the cost of their membership was the same as the cost of one visit to our zoo and through the zoo-share plan, Buffalo zoo members can get in free to the Knoxville zoo! Anyway, even though we are members, we had never been there. We dug out our two free guest passes and so Laurie and Bekah were free and Josh was only $5! Cheap fun. My favorite kind!

Bekah, Hannah, Ivy and Annette on a park bench at the Buffalo Zoo. Josh was in this picture too but he jumped up right before I took the picture. I spent a lot of time trying to get a decent shot of him! All boy!
Josh is Bekah's little brother. He finally posed for me with his snake.

Me with my little Iv'.

Steve and the kids watching the river otters.

Ivy hurt her finger and Aunt Laurie picked her up. Poor Ivy.
Aside from that, we all had a good time at the Zoo. It is well laid out for viewing the animals.

Blueberry picking!

We went to a nearby farm and picked blueberries on the way back from the zoo. The temp was 75 and breezy. Perfect for picking. We picked almost 8 pounds of berries and they came to just over $9. I couldn't believe it!

This is my niece Bekah. She and Hannah picked together.

The Sherman NY Auction

On our way out of NY, we went first to the Sherman Auction with Steve's mom. She loves this kind of thing and thouroughly enjoyed showing the girls around. I tucked a sleeping Ivy into a hotel bed that night and when I went to put a diaper on her, I could see a line of dirt, or rather, a small patch of clean where her undies had been. The girls had so much fun soaking up all the fun and dust that they could!
The baby calves would suck your hand if you let them. They were still really little, no teeth yet. That little Amish boy stood there and watched us the whole time.

Annette has quite a bit of Grandma Eimers' blood in her it is apparent! The goat she is holding still had its umbillical cord.

Hannah and Bekah loved this pony. There was another pony there which had a little foal with it too. So adorable!

It was such a beautiful day. So scenic. A lot of Amish there.
This was a very restful vacation. We were able to have fun, sleep in and nap at will. Unusual for us! We didn't come home sleepy at all like we usually do! The girls were exhausted though! They didn't want to waste one minute of playtime on sleeping in, for goodness sakes!

Family Reunion in Pigeon Forge Tennessee.

Our Family reunion for my mother's Father's family and their decendants was about a week ago in Pigeon Forge, TN. This is a picture of all that attended, around 45 in all. We were missing quite a few this year--We are a big bunch! ...and getting bigger every year!

The trail to Clingman's Dome

On Sunday, we went on a bus tour. The first stop was at Clingman's dome. Once to the parking area, you could hike a trail through the thin air to the top of the mountain and then up an obsevation tower to what is the highest point in the Smoky Mountains. The view was very pretty. A low, heavy cloud cover limited the distance we could see but made everything look misty and mystical.
( I am not sure why this is underlining everything--Oh well!)

My Brother Warren, eating his lunch along the way.

Steve and me at the top of the tower.

Ivy and Mommy at a lookout point on the trail.

Me and Heather. Not bad grammar, just in order, Left to right.

Annette and Ethan picnicing along the trail.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Picture time.

Hannah shows us the back of the shirts. Each family wore a different color. Ours was brown this year.
My little sister, Bethany and our newest nephew, Owen Matthew. We were keeping busy while we waited for the picture taking to be done.

Another Nephew. Ethan shows us how he levetates a pebble.
Hannah and Great-Grandpa Anderson.

My childhood friend Heather comes to our reunions now to help with the food preparations for our growing group. My girls love her.

Grandpa's Medals

We took a few moments one evening to honor Grandpa's service to our country. Steve had the idea to do something with his medals and photos and Larry and Jeanne ran with it! Jeanne found a guy who would mount the things under glass. You can see one of the two frames here. She did a fabulous job and read a letter from my Uncle, Col. Larry Burch, commending and thanking Grandpa for his service.
Grandpa, humble to a fault, took it all very nicely and even took a moment to make a little speech, chin waivering just a bit as it always does in moments like that.
Thank You, Grandpa; We love you.

Gathering in the Big Room

Each morning we have a devotional time where we all meet and share a time of worship as well as hear updates from the family members. My cousin Andrew did one and my Grandpa another but I missed Andrew's because I was holding a baby in the other room. I'll have to catch it on video. (Dad gets them all on tape, naturally!)

We always have such a good time catching up and having theological and political discussions. I missed out on pretty much all the discussions this time but I still enjoyed it a lot. For a family with such diversity of viewpoints we really love eachother and look forward each year to this reunion.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Fruit flies when you're having fun

Annette was singing over some strawberry hulls that had been left on the table overnight:
"Fruit Fies, don't bother me,
Fruit Flies, don't bother me,
For I belong to Mommy!..."

I bought a bunch of bananas that were just about to turn past their peak because they were on sale and because I love to make banana bread. Thing is, I got busy and didn't make it. I threw the bananas out the day before yesterday because they had started to mold. But even though they are gone, the fruit flies have not gotten the memo. Now they are voraciously hungry, poor little fellas. I made fruit fly trap a while back to get rid of them. I think I will need to make another one.

Here is how I made it:
I put a piece of fruit in the bottom of a jar. ( I used clear glass so I could see if it was working or not)
Then, I made a paper cone that set securely (no gaps, those are tiny little guys) point side down into the top of the jar. The tip of the cone should have a very small opening so that the flies smell the fruit, fly in and get trapped. They can't find their way out of the small hole.
I got the idea off the internet somewhere and it did work well.

Now to get that tune out of my head....

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Mmmm.... I love these sugar cookies! I made them today for our family reunion that is coming up and put most of them in the freezer. The kids and Steve had a few but I resisted. I have about 20 pounds I want to lose and since the main reason I haven't lost it is that my will power is pretty much non-existant in the area of sweets snacks and desserts, I have sworn them off entirely untill I reach the halfway point. Then I will re-evaluate. I am trying to train myself to resist. Trouble is, I don't have much trouble telling myself 'no'; my main problem is listening to myself when I say 'just a little'. Why is that so hard???

Anyway, these are so yummy! They are flavored with almond extract which is the secret ingredient. ...Well, that and a pound of fat. My friend Chris from church gave me the recipe which she alters to add more almond extract and I add even more that she does, upping the original recipe from 1 tsp. to 1.5 Tablespoons. This recipe makes me about 7 dozen cookies. Only 6 dozen are making it to the reunion though!

Almond Flavored Sugar Cookies
1 cup butter
1 cup shortening
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 T almond flavoring
4 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar (Chris leaves this out and they are still good)

Cream butter and shortening together and then add eggs and sugars. Mix in flavorings.
Sift together flour, baking soda and cream of tartar. Add to wet ingredients.
Mix all together, roll into balls and roll balls in more granulated sugar. Place on ungreased cookie sheet and press with cookie press or cup.
Bake at 350 degrees about 6 minutes or till the center is set. Don't wait for them to brown!
These smell heavenly and are sooooo yummy!

I think these might be my favorite cookies except for maybe oatmeal scotchies. My mouth is watering! Only 5 pounds to go!

Friday, July 6, 2007

Fourth of July Party at our house!!

Me, installing my new flagpole. We are getting ready for a Fourth of July party this evening! The girls and I also went to the Lenoir City parade this morning and they really enjoyed it. I look forward to taking our newest members of the family next year!

I made potato salad the night before and chopped the onions for the burgers and hot dogs. I also made sweet tea because I love sweet tea. Hannah helped to decorate the table today. Soon after this, though we realized we would need another table, too!

Okay, We're ready!

19 of us in all...

My Dad

My mom and Angela

Caroline and Lillian

Jane Francis and her mother, Angela, behind her.

The elusive Rachel



This picture is of Dayakar and his son Neil. Neil is almost exactly one year older than Ivy but they love to play together! She calls him "Neew!" (with the exclamation point). Besides Evan, Neil was the only other boy at the party.

playing at the pool

This is Evan with his weapons hiding from the attacks of all the other kids who had ganged up on him for a water balloon fight. That is, until Neil joined the boy team, making it now the boys team.


We set up some posts in the front yard for a temporary horseshoe pit. These pictures show Steve and Joe playing and Grandpa Anderson watching but Grandpa had already played and soundly beat Dayakar--no surprise since Grandpa is practically unbeatable--or lucky, as he calls it.
By the way I asked Steve who won his game with Joe. Apparently, Joe won but even though they were supposed to play to 21, they gave up and Joe beat Steve-one to nothing!