Friday, October 31, 2008

All Hallow's Eve

Mary Kate has been anxiously awaiting the opportunity to wear her brand new, especially-for-Halloween, glow-in-the-dark, witch nails.
Oh yes, I was ahead of the game tonight as I had the kids get dressed up before dinner.

Hmmm...I hadn't really considered that Mary Kate has never eaten with long, glow-in-the-dark nails before.

Her victim, a mummy dog.

Getting some practice using her fork. (Guess who had to escort her to the bathroom before we went trick-or-treating.)

Let the trick-or-treating begin...

Con tres caballeros,

and more good friends.
It's great to be in a neighborhood full of little children...

...and real super heroes, like our National Guard helicopter pilot neighbor (above).

Ah, the kids are safely home...getting hyped up on their plentiful, sugary loot.


Halloween...a work in progress

In our front yard this morning...

Can anyone guess what this 4th grader is dressed as (for school time only)?

You can click to get a little closer.

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Julie Alexander Update

We just got a call from Greg late last night saying that they are seeing good signs of improvement for Julie after her heart attack but are remaining cautiously optimistic. Further tests showed that new capillary growth is trying to repair the area of artery that was dissected.

If you'd like to stay updated on Julie's status, you can go to the CaringBridge site, and in the "Enter website name" box, enter 'juliealexander' (no spaces).

We may be having their little children stay with us sometime after Julie is discharged from the hospital. Her doctor said that she'll have to be in bed resting much of the time. As you can imagine, having the four little ones--all 7 and under--running around the home is not the restful environment she'll need!

Already, both Greg and Julie have witnessed silver linings to this traumatic event. I'm certain there will be more!

Please keep praying for Julie, Greg and their family.

"Because the marriage bond is a sacrament, it is a source of grace and strength."
--a quote from today's Covenant of Love message from Greg and Julie's ministry, the Alexander House.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Kathleen's creations

Kathleen has gotten creative again. She figured she should dress her doll in a Halloween costume this year. (Knowng how much she LOVES treats, I'm wondering if she thought she'd rake in more candy by taking her doll trick-or-treating with her.)Presenting...
A handmade luau hula outfit.Skirt made from brown yarn; lei made with hand-cut felt flowers and thread. Oh yes, and the tube top made from (a skimpy piece of) wide ribbon.

Kathleen also likes to dress in period fashions--especially of people who she thinks did cool things. Today, as she read this book......I'm sure her gears were turning.

Because after she finished the book, she scurried around and came up looking like this.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Silhouette ideas

Between some school work with the kids today, I've been fiddling around...and not with the violin. Since I have a bit of "digital SLR envy" (I don't have one, nor do I know how to use one), I figured I'd try to make the most of my point and shoot and come up with something fun.

I took this picture of the kids last weekend.
Since I'm fairly technically inept, I printed the picture, manually traced around it on a sheet of paper taped to a window, filled it in with black, took a picture of it with my point and shoot (our scanner isn't hooked up), and cleaned it up digitally with Paint.NET (I don't have Photoshop). I couldn't tell you exactly what I did or how I did it, but I ended up with this.I think I used: effects>stylize>outline, filled it in with black, and made it cleaner and brighter with adjustments>brightness/contrast.

Then I hopped onto and uploaded the design so I could envision some finished projects...that only a parent (or maybe even a grandparent) could love.

Truthfully, I'm not sure what I'm going to do with this silhouette image. Anyone have any ideas?

Maybe I should look into getting an SLR afterall!

Okay, back to our school work.
Kids? Kids? Anyone?

Please keep this family in your prayers

Julie Alexander, a good friend of ours and the mother of six children, just suffered a heart attack and is in the hospital. She is only in her early 40s.

From what Greg (her husband) has been told, she is suffering from spontaneous coronary artery dissection, which can occur during postpartum. Their youngest child, Javan (our godchild), is 2-1/2 months old. They are a faith-filled couple, have a beautiful family, and run their own marriage ministry--the Alexander House.

Please keep Julie and her family in your prayers. They are running more tests today to find out the extent of damage to her heart so they can assess the need for surgery.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A scary performance

The kids had another violin performance today, and they were especially thrilled since they got to wear their Halloween costumes to play for residents of a retirement home.

Mary Kate dressed as a witch--of the cutest possible kind; Jimmer is a [slightly] undercover spy--he probably didn't realize that his gun and holster were so obvious (too hot for his spy jacket); Mikey is an adventure guy; and Kathleen is a navy sailor.
We already had Mary Kate's witch costume, and the other kids created their own costumes from things they already had in their dress-up hamper. They're going easy on me this year. Thanks, kids!

Here's a clip of them playing a Halloween song one of the students created. All of the students like this song because they get to make their violins "shiver," "moan," and "screech." (Disclaimer: They only practiced this song once as a group, so it wasn't their best song--but it is timely and festive, so I'll post it.)

Mary Hattersley, who started the Blazing Bows group 20 years ago, has been nominated for Texas State Musician for 2009-2010. She teaches children both Suzuki violin and fiddle, and she's been a fixture in a number of active bands that play some popular local well as performed with Willie Nelson, the Grateful Dead, Frank Zappa, and Mothers of Invention. Mary is on the far right in this photo.

The kids visited with a few of the residents.

The residents kept thanking them for playing.
Our kids enjoyed themselves.
We all had a fun (and spooky) morning!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Kids: creating lunch and homeschooling their mother

Mary Kate made a butterfly lunch for herself today. Then she asked me to take a picture of it. Hmmm, blogumenting our lives is starting to rub off on her.The other kids wanted sailboat sandwiches. I got the sailboat idea from Kristin in this post.They didn't feel like embellishing them today.

Kathleen decided to make her own fruit and veggie sailboat scene instead.
I've found when we make lunch critters and creations with our food, our kids usually eat better, talk a lot more during lunch (maybe not always a good thing), and start all kinds of interesting conversations.

As I listen to them, I keep wondering, "Where do they get this stuff?"

I just received a box in the mail as we were sitting down for lunch. Kathleen carried it in the house, looked at it and said, "Oh, it weighs 11 pounds. That's the same as the heaviest lemon."

Me: "What? There is an 11-pound lemon?"

Kathleen: "Yeah, some Asian farmer grew it."

Me: "Really? Where did you learn that?"

Kathleen: "We read about it in one of our magazines."

Then, after I was reading something about St. Patrick, Kathleen asked, "Mom, when was St. Patrick born?"

Me (after looking it up): "He was born around 385 A.D."

Kathleen: "Wow, that was almost 1,000 years before spectacles were even invented!"

Me: "Uh, I guess so. When were spectacles invented?"

Kathleen: "Around 1300."

Me: "Hmmm...where did you learn that?"

Kathleen: "That's what it said at one of the museums in Canada. It showed a big slice of tree with its rings, and it pointed to the years that things happened in history."

Mikey (chiming in): "Did you know that Theodore Roosevelt used to carry 12 pairs of glasses with him when he went to war? He put them in every pocket of his uniform so if he lost a pair, he'd have another--so he'd always be able to see."

Me: "Oh, yeah."

Thank you, kids, for homeschooling your mom...and making me feel better just when I was wondering if you were learning enough!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Our Anniversary

Twelve years ago I...

married this man.
Almost 21 years ago, we met in a car ride home from college for Thanksgiving. I never could have imagined on that day what a wonderful life I would have with the guy sitting in the front seat of Rusty’s car. Underneath his big burly exterior, he was intriguingly funny, kind, polite, smart, talkative…and handsome.

In fact, I could have never dreamed of being loved so deeply by anyone. Period. I am blessed to be married to the most excellent man I could ever imagine.
What a fantastic ride it's been!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Foreign money

The children found a bag filled with foreign money. It was my brother Mike's bag of money from the countries he visited. What fun our kids had examining it, discovering what countries the coins and bills were from, sorting it all out, trying to figure its worth, weighing the coins, and imagining all of his travels.
There's money from England, Germany, Switzerland, Greece, Netherlands, France, Italy, Mexico, and Canada. There's even a U.S.A. penny from 1916. Cool! (It's also the time period we're currently studying!)
Their comments as they went through the money:

"He has a very interesting collection of money. The only other coins that I've seen with printing on the edges, like his coins from Greece, France and Germany, are my U.S.A. Presidential $1 coins that I've gotten from the tooth fairy!"

"I wonder if he ever knew how much all this money was worth."

"I've never seen anything like this!"
--Mary Kate

"How did he even get all of this money going to all the different places?"
Thanks, Big Brother! I hope you can see how much your nieces and nephews you never met are enjoying your collection!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Straight from Jimmer's mouth

Jimmer's explanation:

"I was walking around the kitchen with my icy in my mouth. Suddenly I bent over and hit my icy on Mikey's bottom, and then my tooth shot out like a rocket."

Jimmer's first tooth came out after Mary Kate's foot somehow knocked it out (I still don't know how that all happened). Mikey helped his 2nd one come out. When I brought this to Jimmer's attention, he said:

"Yeah, Kathleen might knock out the next one with her head!"

Here's his new look...although his face is a bit distorted in this picture.See Mikey in the background with his green icy?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Plans for the future

Mikey woke up pretty excited this morning. I could tell right then that he had been awake for some time with his gears turning, as usual. Mikey (a.k.a. Filibuster Boy) started off the conversation:

Mikey: "I know what I want to have when I grow up, and I've also figured out how much it will cost."

Mom: "What do you want?"

Mikey: "I want two vehicles: a Jeep Wrangler and a pick up. I'd also like a kayak, a bicycle, and a pick-up camper. The way I figure it, it should cost me about $28,000 if I get some things used."

Mom: "Are you planning on having a family?"

Mikey: "Yes, I'll have two children so we can all ride in the Jeep."

Mom: "Do you think your wife will want all those things?"

Mikey: (pause) "I guess I'll have to find a wife who likes to go camping."

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Two fuzzy Franks

The girls dove into our bag of felt and fleece, got their needles and thread, and came up with these kind-of-scary, kind-of-silly Frankensteins.They thought they'd add to their other homemade decorations around the house.

Friday, October 10, 2008

A cure for your nature deficit disorder

The National Wildlife Federation is hosting the first 'Make Tracks' A Family Trail Weekend this weekend--October 11-13. The purpose is to get you and your kids outside to rediscover nature.

Are you planning to get outside this weekend? Get out and enjoy the fall weather and the beautiful changes it brings! Look at some trees, some birds. Check out the flowers, the insects. Pitch a tent in your back yard!

Fall--nature in our yard

Oooh, it feels good to get outside when the temperature is nice and cooooooool. Inhale....fresh....air! We have a few fun things growing around our house right now. These little mums are such loyal volunteers. To think, I snatched them out of our neighbor's garbage because I felt sorry for them. I planted them near our front door, and they now show their appreciation by blooming twice a year.Our pecan tree has limbs that get heavy this time of year with the weight of all the pecans.

That is, until Mr. Nut Nut takes them and buries them around our yard.
Our kids like to get them when the husks get dark brown and start to open so the pecan falls out easily. Here's last year's stash.
We also have this delicate...
...behemoth bougainvillea.
We cut this thing down to the ground every spring, and would you just look at the huge limb (it's not even the main stalk) that just poked out of the lattice?This baby is bigger around than my chubby fingers. And check out those not-to-be-ignored thorns my husband has to tackle every year when he cuts it all back!When they're fully grown and dried out from the winter, they'll tear right through the toughest construction jackets. (Joe can tell you all about it!)

While we were outside enjoying the nice weather, our kids did a nature study on...whatever they could find that tickled their fancy. Mikey caught this grasshopper.The other kids watched and drew Nut Nut, the squirrel, getting busy on our pecan tree.