Friday, May 30, 2008

Busy As A Bee!

I love blogging, but it's time to face reality! The nicer weather and my improved health have made for a buzzzzzz-ier me! We have lots of outside work and many inside projects. With the warmer weather, I have decided to do an outdoor family outing each weekend. We don't get nearly enough sun or exercise, and this is one way to improve that.

Spring cleaning comes to mind . . . We are also at a crossroads with some of our homeschooling materials, which requires my attention. When I am super busy blogging begins to feel like a chore. I don't want that to happen, so I have decided to take a two week break. I'll probably still visit and comment on other blogs occasionally. Enjoy the summer, and I'll see ya all in two weeks (hopefully!)!!


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Greg's Weekend B-Day Bash

Hubby requested one of our infamous game nights for his birthday this year. We had my siblings' families over on Friday, and some stayed over night. We played games most of our waking hours . . . and ate of course!

I handed out those neat animal balloons. They’re so funny! When inflated, it looks like a very fat critter with teeny tiny arms and legs sticking out! Here is a lion and elephant.

Ryan, my unmarried brother in his 20s, spent his first few hours sitting on Kylen's bedroom floor surrounded by LEGOs. He's just a big kid! And he was fiddling around with his creations throughout his stay.

The adults (all seven of us!) enjoyed playing the war game Age of Mythology, which Ryan won. I was sitting next to him, so it was my job to keep that from happening. Clearly I failed. Here you get an idea of the madness. There are tons of cards and pieces to keep track of. Each player gets his own board, so I was thankful for our large table.

There was lots of baby blockage, but we managed! Greg usually spends a little time walking the baby around. I know, I know. We should have another one. ;-)

One thing I thought was interesting and pretty funny, is Elijah is fascinated with shoe laces! Or strings for that matter. He spent a large part of his waking hours sitting in his walker fiddling with his shoes. It kept him very entertained!

Kylen and his other two cousins enjoyed putting stickers on everyone. Ahhh . . . to be a kid again!
Gotta love this pic! I was late with the shot, and Greg had already blown the candles out. He was tired of waiting for me to take it. We made pineapple upside down cake, his favorite. Notice the mismatched 3's. Poor planning on my part. I didn't buy any and was thrilled to discover them in our drawer hidden among the pizza coupons, recipes, and other candles from birthdays past. Praise the Lord!

We had tons of fun! Great idea, Honey! Happy Birthday!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Yard Curiosities

About a month ago I snapped some shots of spring around our yard . . . And never got around to posting them! My favorite was of a leaf left over from last fall. We found several of these during our clean up. Portions between the veins had decomposed leaving behind these intricate and delicate details . . . natures lace. Isn't it spectacular? In the midst of death and decay, there is beauty and wonder in God's creation. Isn't He thoughtful, making this leaf to fall in just the right place and have just the right conditions so that I could enjoy it? How I love and praise Him!

Here are our tulips back then:

Here they are now:

Greg got some really nice shots:

For several years I have wanted to hang a couple of baskets from our porch but never saw any I really loved. This year I found some gorgeous ones for sale in the doctor's office (on behalf of boy scouts) of all places! Most of them were sold. I was grateful to get two out of the last three.

Our new watering can:

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

My Last Co-op Class

Everyone had a wonderful time at my final "Just for Fun" class until the end when we ran out of time and a few students needed to leave early. The prep work was very intensive. I spent a good part of the weekend creating cards with original art, wrapping gifts, washing tiny dishes, and preparing a miniature spread for the meal. I really wanted this last class to be the best of the bunch!

Thankfully, my class was right after lunch. I always pick that time slot for teaching in case I need to prepare the room, which oftentimes happens. It took me about a half hour to tape small water balloons on the back of each chair and around the room. I also placed a plastic yellow tablecloth on the table, wrote a festive message on the dry erase board and organized my things.

After the students arrived, I began with a Teeny Tiny show and tell. I brought out several little things from home – a miniature Snow White play set, wooden puzzle made from a stamp, ring with a picture inside and a nestle doll. A few items were passed around for the children to inspect more closely.

Next, we had a Teeny Tiny meal! I handed out bags with miniature plates, silverware, glasses, and placemates cut from napkins.

Here is the tray of food:

It included turkey, cheese, fruit, candy mints, miniature jaw breakers, tiny cookies, and sprinkles. For the drink we used a syringe to transfer applejuice from a bottle to a tiny glass pitcher. Then walked around the table and poured from the pitcher into each tiny glass. The thirsty children asked for several refills! (Each glass held maybe 2 to 4 drops of liquid...hee-hee!) The children cleaned up every last morsel of food except for the cream. Most of the mess was made from the cream, so if I do this again I would leave that part out.

Then we played a game in which the children took turns rolling dice. (Each child got two miniature dice.) When they got doubles, they were allowed to choose a present from the middle. To give everyone a chance at “the coolest” gifts, people are supposed to have the option of “stealing” one from the others. I did this game at a shower several years ago, and it was a great hit. It was fun seeing which gifts they "fought" over. Less desirable presents can be “disguised” in nicer wrapping. Rocks can be added to fool the guests into thinking that some presents are worth more since they are heavier. Well, the problem was that the children almost never got doubles! And we were running out of time! In the end, I had both ends of the table rolling at the same time and did not allow “stealing.” The interesting part is that the gift I had placed a folded up $5 bill in, which I would consider one of the best gifts, was the last to be chosen. So the “unfortunate” boy who got his doubles last actually got the best gift! LOL! That’s part of the beauty of the game. Never judge a book by its cover!

Every box had stickers. Most had items that would be seen in a miniature doll house. When the game was over, I handed a small envelope to each child. Inside was a card decorated with “art” from one of the previous class themes. I read them a poem I had made up in which every two lines was a hint for one of the themes. Whichever child had the matching card got to open his gift. This determined turn order. For example:

The first class very long ago,
I took the lids off and said go!

The second class was rather strange.
Your teacher’s face had oddly changed!

These stanzas refer to the Puzzle Race game from the first class and the mustache I wore at the second class. The first had a corresponding card with puzzle pieces glued to it while the second had fake ants, which I had handed out at the “Things Are Not As They Seem” class.

My favorite card was from the “Silly Putty” theme. Back when I did the class we had noticed that the color changing putty stuck to paper, which was annoying at the time. I traded with those students so they could have a type that wouldn’t do that. Thus I ended up with keeping the color changing putty. When making the cards, I thought, “Hey! It sticks to paper, so maybe I can decorate one with it!” I smeared on a blob of the orange/yellow and added a small amount of the purple/pink for two eyes and a mouth. Greg covered it with plastic wrap. I was very pleased with the end result: a little color changing piece of artwork. Notice in the picture below where I pressed my finger there is a yellow circle. I may have invented a new way of turning silly putty into art!

On the back of each card was a short letter from me thanking the students for being such a great class. I also handed out plastic baseball sized cards with pieces that could be punched out to create an animal. In the end they got to take home a small balloon, two tiny dice, the contents of their present, the card with artwork/letter, and the plastic animal cards.

If I could do the class again I would leave out the cream, use a different kind of cheese (The velveeta pieces melted together on the way over in the car...cheddar might hold up better.) and find a way to shorten the game. Other than that, it was lots of fun!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Saturday's High Tea

On Saturday I met my mom, grandma, sister and sister-in-law at a local tea shop to celebrate a belated Mother's Day. It was lovely!

I sent out less formal invitations than usual, as I was short on time. Each envelope contained a small note card with the date and time, a business card, and a flyer from the shop with information about their teas.

In honor of the holiday, my gift to each mother was a bundle of blank handmade cards with my artwork. They were bound together with ribbon and included a few small gifts tucked between the envelopes: a flower magnet and baseball card of my son. I decorated each a little differently. I included a special card for my mother and grandmother.

A close up:

The table was beautifully decorated and ready to receive guests!

There was a nice roomy feeling even though the table occupied a large portion of our small room. One wall had a cabinet filled with tea related items for sale. In fact, virtually everything we saw was for sale!

We could have picked a hat to wear!

Grandmother, Mother, and me!

Each of us poured from our own small pot and was allowed one refill. The pots held 2 ½ cups, so we could each drink up to five cups. Most of us picked different kinds and shared. My favorite ended up being one I picked called Vanilla Spice, an herbal tea. Here you see my pot and a "menu" of suggested teas with descriptions. Both sides of the menu was full of options! Plus, our hostess offered to make any of the teas not listed but sold in the store. Talk about choices!

Our meal began with lemon sorbet and a mint leaf to clense our palettes. It was wonderful!

The remainder of the meal arrived on three tier stands. We were to start at the bottom and work our way up. Fresh cranberry scones with cream and jam, tea sandwiches (egg salad and red onion, cucumber, and tuna with nuts) and quiche with relish, and assorted desserts. These consisted of fresh fruit, brownie/cheesecake bars, tiny raspberry muffins, fruit-filled tarts, and cookies. It was scrumptious! Plus, I was so stuffed I took most of my dessert home to share with my boys later!

This was in the adjoining room where there were several small tables for groups of two or three.

Several of the walls had paintings for sale by my watercolor instructor! There was also a rack with handmade cards featuring her artwork and other artists. If I paint some tea scenes, I might someday have cards for sale there, too!

One of the neatest things in the shop is the “hall of teas!” As you can see, there are several shelves with lots of different kinds for sale. Next to each flavor is a container with a lid. This way customers can smell before buying. It is said that if you like the smell of a tea, chances are good you will like the taste. This is logical since most of what we taste is with our noses!

At the end of the hall is a large selection of vintage tea cups and pots for sale.

Here is a close up:

And another:

A marvelous assortment of scarves and purses.

More hats to wear or buy!

At a time when many tea shops are struggling to survive, this one is doing a bustling business. Each of the three times I've visited there have been a steady stream of customers in and out. I believe their main profit comes from their fine selection of top quality teas. I'm sure I will be visiting again soon!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Monday's Co-op

My class went well this week! The theme was "Fun with the Five Senses," and fun it was!

Taste: I began by having the kids taste and guess some of the Bertie Bott’s flavors. I started right off with vomit. KIDDING! What kind of teacher do you think I am?? Actually, I disposed of the really nasty ones ahead of time and sorted the rest. I had them guess grass, pickle, and sausage. I let them volunteer to try soap, dirt, sardine and pepper. Then I handed out several yummy flavors to give relief to their taste buds. Don’t kids make great guinea pigs? ;-)

Smell: I had them all take a sniff of vanilla extract and talked about how things that smell good don’t always taste good! I discussed how we taste most things with our nose, etc. and handed out scratch and sniff stickers. I described microencapsulation in VERY simplistic language.

Feel: For this one I was extremely uncreative and had them feel inside brown lunch bags, guessing what was inside. Classic shower game. The funniest moment was one girl's reaction to a feather. She was disgusted thinking it was hair. LOL!

Hear: Played the beginning of Star Wars, Beethoven’s Fifth, and a kid’s song by Greg and Steve called "Listen and Move." I had them move in a circle while doing what the song asked: walk, tip-toe, run, skate, etc. They loved it, but they were very noisy!

See: I passed around a couple of optical illusions printed from the net, had them hold up one finger to see two, and handed out a Magic Eye picture. They barely had time to try it before class was over!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Woo-hoo! This is my 100th post! I’ve seen several bloggers type up 100 random things about themselves for their 100th post, and I just received an e-mail from my cousin with 60 questions to answer. So I decided to combine the two, answer her questions and add more to make 100. Here goes . . .

  1. What time did you get up this morning? 11 am
  2. Diamonds or pearls? Diamonds
  3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema? The Spiderwick Chronicles
  4. What did you think of it? Up side: Fun to watch, great special effects. Down side: Some bad words and a boy who was very rude/disrespectful.
  5. What is your favorite TV show? I don’t watch TV. The last show I watched regularly was Star Trek: The Next Generation.
  6. What do you usually have for breakfast? Click here to see a post I did on it.
  7. What is your middle name? Farrah
  8. What is your favorite CD at the moment? At the moment I am ready for something new, which will probably be the new Newsboys CD.
  9. What kind of car do you drive? 2005 Honda Accord
  10. What's your favorite sandwich? Make mine turkey with Dijon mustard, mayo, and lettuce.
  11. What characteristic do you despise? I absolutely cannot stand a lying tongue.
  12. Favorite item of clothing? Long, beautiful skirts
  13. If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would you go? Since I’ve never been to one, probably the most expensive and exotic beach resort available.
  14. Favorite brand of clothing? Chadwicks. They have lots of long, beautiful skirts.
  15. Where would you retire to? I really don’t know. It all depends on what the future holds. I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it!
  16. What was your most recent memorable birthday? The year I turned 30, which was just about two years ago. My aunt, who I rarely see, took me out for breakfast!
  17. Favorite sport to watch? Live? Ice hockey.
  18. To play? Floor hockey.
  19. When is your birthday? July 26th
  20. What are you having for dinner tonight? It will be every man for himself! Options include left-overs (a homemade noodle/chicken/veggie dish), a frozen meal, and canned soup.
  21. Are you a morning person or a night person? Night
  22. What is your shoe size? Depends: 8 – 9 ½
  23. Pets? Nope!
  24. Why not? I was allergic to cat/dog/rabbit/horse hair as a child, so I had little opportunity to get attached. Bonding with animals is a part of life I have missed out on, and I am not really disappointed. I get all the love and companionship I need from people.
  25. Any new and exciting news you'd like to share with us? We finally got our son’s new furniture! It’s all arranged.
  26. What now? Now we will focus on getting up blinds and pictures.
  27. What did you want to be when you were little? A wife and mother
  28. What are you today? A wife and mother
  29. What is your favorite candy? Original Cadbury Eggs, which thankfully are only sold around Easter time
  30. What will you settle for other times of the year? Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups or chocolate covered raisins
  31. What is your favorite flower? Peonies
  32. What is a day on the calendar you are looking forward to? The 17th of this month when 6 of us women are meeting at a local tea house for high tea.
  33. What is your full name? That shall remain undisclosed at this time. However, you might be surprised to learn that my first name is actually Falena.
  34. What are you listening to right now? Hubby and son are discussing the details for a new version of the Risk game.
  35. What was the last thing you ate? An Indian frozen meal
  36. Do you wish on stars? No. Does anyone really believe in that kind of thing?
  37. If you were a crayon, what color would you be? I was asked this in my letter writing group! Here was my answer: When I look into a fresh box of crayons, my eye is always drawn to blue green, so I'll pick that one. I love razzmatazz! That might be my second choice. Here is the link to Crayola's current colors if any are curious! And they even have a list of all 120 or so color names they have had through history:
  38. Last person you spoke to on the phone? My brother-in-law asking if he could use our names as a reference.
  39. Favorite soft drink? None. I’ve never liked carbonated drinks.
  40. Favorite restaurant? Outback Steakhouse
  41. Are you weird? Yes. Go ahead and ask anyone who knows me well.
  42. Name one way you are weird. For one thing, I am left-handed!
  43. Real hair color? Brown
  44. What was your favorite toy as a child? Barbies
  45. Summer or winter? Summer
  46. Hugs or kisses? Hugs
  47. Chocolate or Vanilla? Chocolate
  48. Coffee or tea? Hot tea with lots of sugar and cream
  49. Do you frequent Starbucks or similar places? Grande chai tea latte with light ice about once a week.
  50. When was the last time you cried? Earlier today when Kylen had a very bad attitude about doing English
  51. What is under your bed? Dust
  52. What did you do last night? Ate dinner at a Greek restaurant with Greg's parents
  53. All-time fav video game? Mario Smash Bro. games -- all three
  54. What are you afraid of? Driving. Terrified actually. I was in a pretty tramatic accident when I was around 6. That might account for my fear. After agonizing and praying about it lots I gave it to the Lord and rarely think about it. Thankfully, I can't drive now.
  55. Salt or sweet? Sweet
  56. How many keys on your key ring? Four, and they are rarely used since Hubby does all the driving and gets the mail.
  57. How many years at your current job? As a homemaker? I’ve been married 9 years.
  58. Do you like your job? Love it!
  59. Favorite day of the week? Saturday. Click here for a post about why I love weekends.
  60. How many towns have you lived in? Hmmm…I’m thinking at least eight from birth up
  61. Do you make friends easily? I’d say I’m average that way. Friendly but too busy for many friends.
  62. Who are you voting for? Conservative Republican
  63. If you ran for office, what position would it be? I'd like to be a congresswoman.
  64. Do you read in the bathroom? Yes.
  65. What is your favorite kind of novel? Fantasy. I really enjoyed the two Eragon books and am eagerly anticipating the third in the series.
  66. Paper or plastic? Plastic.
  67. Do you buy into the global warming hype? No.
  68. Do you recycle? Yes. Did you know that the energy needed to produce recycled aluminum is less than 5 percent of that needed to make the original metal?
  69. How many people have you dated? I had two serious boyfriends prior to marrying my husband, although I believe it would have been best if I had never dated at all.
  70. When was your first kiss? Probably first or second grade. Sad but true. This is one of the reasons we homeschool.
  71. Do you wear any jewelry regularly? Just my wedding band, which is very simple – gold with a silver design through the center. My engagement ring was more elaborate. It had one large diamond which constantly caught on everything. I was relieved to put it away after getting married.
  72. What kind of salt and pepper shaker do you have? Cardboard. Read all about how I clean them here. It's a fascinating read. Really.
  73. Do you enjoy blogging? Huh? What makes you ask that? Certainly not! Aliens are forcing me to do it against my will.
  74. Do you have any phobias? Loose hair. Seriously, I am totally grossed out by hair, especially hair on the floor. Yuck!
  75. Plans for today? Homeschool Kylen, do some cleaning, make cards, and go to art class.
  76. Mayo or Miracle Whip? Mayo
  77. Favorite drink? Water or rich, chocolaty Ovaltine
  78. Phrases you use the most? "Don't worry about it. Praise the Lord! Are you serious?? Wow!"
  79. Toothpaste? Mentadent
  80. Favorite feature on yourself? My hands and eyes until they were altered by illness
  81. Least favorite feature? My legs. They were never shapely enough. I spent many hours drawing legs as a kid. Isn't that funny? Hubby always wanted more muscular arms, and he spent hours drawing super heroes with buff upper bodies. LOL!
  82. Like thunderstorms? Yes! The louder, the funner and more exciting!
  83. What are you currently reading? I am working on my latest FamilyFun and Home Companion magazines. I just finished my latest Angels magazine.
  84. Where were you born? Illinois
  85. All-time favorite music artist? David Meece
  86. Favorite band? Probably DC Talk or Newsboys
  87. Typical bedtime? 12 to 2 am
  88. Favorite food? Potatoes
  89. If you could write a letter to any fictional character, who would it be and why? I am borrowing this question from my letter writing group. Here is the answer I gave: Love this question! It was so fun scouring my shelves for favorite characters from movies and books! Willy Wonka from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in the older movie, the one played by Gene Wilder. I would love to exchange letters with someone unusual, interesting, and entertaining…unpredictable and full of surprises…someone who enjoys life and has a sense of humor. Ideally he would sometimes include a tuck-in from his inventing room, but only if the bugs had been worked out! And chocolate! Lots of chocolate on my birthday straight from the factory! I just had to include a second choice. It would probably be Mr. Collins from Pride and Prejudice. That man truly amuses me! Hubby says he would pick Chewbacca from Star Wars. That tells you something about his maturity level. LOL!
  90. What is the most amazing thing you have ever experienced? I would have to say the most amazing experiences have been the times I have felt or seen God's presence in my life, the miracles He performed, and the times I could hear Him talking to me.
  91. What was your happiest moment? When I surrendered my life to Jesus.
  92. What is the most daring thing you've ever done? Hiking down a canyon called Dry Falls back before I got married. The path was slippery and treacherous with few handholds. I was extremely thankful no one got hurt. When I returned with my husband several years later, the path was no longer accessible.
  93. What was your scariest moment? The night a mentally troubled man attempted to drive through our garage door
  94. Who is your best friend? My husband
  95. How do you like to relax? Watch a movie, surf the net, read
  96. Does anyone in your house snore? My hubby does!
  97. Allergic to anything? I am severely allergic to horses and hay. If I even stand near a horse or hay bale, my throat will begin itching. I'm mildly allergic to several mellons, avacodo, and the skin on walnuts.
  98. Do you like to talk about yourself? I talk to myself all the time. Oh, wait. Was that about myself? Everyone does, even if they don't admit it.
  99. What's the worst injury you have ever had? A very bad ankle sprain I got while jumping on a trampoline in high school. Lots of swelling for weeks. I had trouble walking for over a month, and my ankle was never normal again.
  100. Any final words? One thing illness has taught me is the importance of enjoying and appreciating every moment. Let's not waste our time with holding grudges, bickering, and partaking in useless, wasteful or destructive activites. Spend it with your kids and husband, help your neighbor, show love, and most of all nourish a close relationship with Jesus. He really makes life worthwhile and knows how your time should be best spent.

Monday, May 12, 2008

My Niece's 4th Birthday Party

Friday evening we celebrated my niece’s fourth birthday at an amusement center called Triple Play. They have bowling, arcade games, rock climbing and a small indoor water park with slides, wave pool and kid’s play structure.

I really had fun picking out her birthday gift this year. Since there would be swimming, I decided to get her something for the water. I was thrilled to find a waterproof Little Mermaid doll with a miniature inflated inner tube and a larger matching inner tube at Toys R Us! I took everything out of the packaging and arranged them in a summer themed gift box along with a set of assorted plastic water creatures and some suckers.

Then I covered everything with pink shredded paper, put the lid on, and tied with a ribbon.

The card I gave her turned into a cake when opened!

Here she is opening our present…

And here she is wearing it! She loved the larger tube and kept it with her most of the time she was swimming.

What sort of creatures do you think left these tracks at the water park?

Dinosaurs of course!

My new nephew (brother’s son) who is only about 6 weeks old.

My other nephew (sister’s son) who is only about 6 months old.