Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Tadpole Update...after one week in their foster home

Here are two of our six frisky tadpoles! They've changed noticeably in the past week.When we caught them, they looked like little black bulbs with a wiggly tail. They weren't very lively, and they were so small that it was difficult to see them hiding on the bottom among all the rocks. Now, since they've grown, it's not difficult to find them. Their activity level has picked up, and it almost seems as though they're playing together at times. Their color has gone from blackish to very frog-like spotty greenish brown with pinkish-red coloring for some organs inside, and you can almost just imagine a little frog all bunched up in their little bulky tadpole body! Look at their cute faces! This has been a fun process for the kids to watch!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Here's what's blooming...

Our first round of mums for the year!
Some young magnolias. Looks like we'll have lots of showy white flowers on our tree soon!
See the bee mid-flight in this one?

A pretty yet neglected volunteer.

Ahhhh...our prolific jasmine. We love the smell coming through the house on our open-window days! The kids love it so much I made some lemon/jasmine linen spray. They like me to spray it on their sheets at night!
The kids noticed that our tadpoles we are fostering have also grown and turned from looking black to now mostly brownish.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Mom Turns Five!

Our kids thought of a creative reason to put a "5" on my birthday cake this year. Can you figure it out? I'm not telling today!The kids were very excited this year to prepare my birthday treat themselves. On their way back into town yesterday from bringing our friends home, Joe and Mikey stopped and got an angel food cake, some whipped cream, and then picked up my favorite dinner! After kicking me out of the kitchen, the other kids were thrilled to do their very important part with the strawberries--washing, cutting, and macerating (with a little sugar). The best part? A birthday cake buffet! Everyone assembled their own--just the way they like it--by cutting the cake into bite-sized pieces, adding strawberries, then seeing how high they could pile on the whipped cream. Now that's a fun treat!

Saturday, April 26, 2008


We have four little friends visiting for the weekend. See you next week!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Our Swimming Season Has Begun!

The neighborhood pool is clean and ready, Mary Kate has been cleared to swim, and rain is on the way for the weekend. We must swim--NOW! No, the water is not warm enough for the average, fair-weather swimmer like myself. I didn't join them but happily took on camera duty!

Kathleen was the first brave soul.

Jimmer was quick to follow.

Mary Kate searched the depths...

The boys...
These are the same kids who also swam in Lake Tahoe last May when the water temperature was only in the mid-50s!

Thursday, April 24, 2008


We're about at the end of our wildflower season. It's not a stellar year for them, but it still is nice to ride through the Hill Country or just along any state roadway and see all the lovely color. The kids were at a nearby park and found a little patch of bluebonnets, our state flower.

They even brought a few flowers home for me.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Happy 444th Birthday, Shakespeare!

To celebrate Shakespeare's birthday today, I read "Hamlet" out of our book, Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare. After Dad got home and we all had dinner, the kids put on their performance of Hamlet for him. Here are Mikey and Jimmer in the scene where Hamlet and Laertes have a dual.
Here's the cast! Mikey-Hamlet; Jimmer-Polonius, Laertes, Courtier 1; Mary Kate-Queen, Ophelia, Courtier 2; Kathleen-King, King's spirit, Claudius.
Afterward we watched our friends, Greg and Julie Alexander, who were on EWTN Live at 7pm. They just finished up a new 12-part series on marriage called Marriage Works in Christ--Broken & Blessed that will most likely air on EWTN in the fall. They've done some amazing work with broken marriages! Check them out.

Are They Tadpoles?

Yesterday, on Earth Day, we all went to a nearby creek on a quest for tadpoles. The new title picture at the top of the page shows Dad searching with the kids. See the bucket and net? You may ask, "Why would you kidnap innocent tadpoles from their natural habitat on Earth Day?" Well, we didn't purposely plan it that way. We've been talking about finding and taking care of tadpoles so we can watch them grow into frogs, and they happen to be pretty easy to find now in the spring. Also, they will have a better chance of survival in their new home with us--away from their preditors. Right? Well, we certainly hope so!
We caught lots of little wiggly stuff--six of the items we believed to be tadpoles. We even enjoyed a bonus find, a tiny turtle! He seemed to really like his home, so we let him stay!

The kids were so excited to catch and be able to keep these little critters. We brought them home, put them in our tank, and served them frozen organic baby spinach for dinner!

After all the excitement, I checked online to see if I could find exactly what KIND of frogs we might end up with. When I found some pictures to identify our little troop, I realized that we may have ended up with TOADpoles instead of TADpoles. This will be a fun science project. I hope it all goes well for the little taddies or toadies. Wish us luck!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Mary Kate's New Accessories

Mary Kate's reconstructive/plastic surgeon gave an "okay" to ALL of the activities she rattled off her list that she wanted to do--ride her bike and scooter, run, jump, swim in the pool and lake, hang on monkey bars, do gymnastics. About the only thing that she probably shouldn't do that she enjoys is climb trees.

During her visit, she also received some new accessories she'll have to wear for at least the next six weeks to help make her scar look as pretty as can be. Here they are: Mederma scar cream (with massage twice/day), silicone gel pads, and a wide ACE wrap. She needs these on for 23 hours/day, so I'm sure it'll keep her toasty warm as swimming season is just about here!

Here's a fully healed
"before" picture. We'll use it to compare to the one we'll take 6 weeks from now...when the scar should be flat, soft, and not red.

Monday, April 21, 2008

A Dad's Life--Conducting Business at Chick-fil-A & Gorilla Beards

I certainly couldn't homeschool our kids if it wasn't for their very-involved, loving, gentle, extremely charitable, selfless, wonderful Dad. So I thought I'd dedicate today's post to my husband, my best friend, my most bestest bud, Joe.

I just got a call from Joe who is currently at Chick-fil-A (a fast-food restaurant). Since it's his day off--San Jacinto Day, a state holiday--he took Mary Kate to her surgeon's appointment. Jimmer went along for the ride. So, after the appointment, he calls and says he's stopping at the nearby Christian bookstore to pick up some confirmation gifts for a handful of the teenagers at our parish. Very thoughtful!

He then calls from PetsMart. Apparently, Mary Kate hornswoggled him into stopping there to look at fish and birds or something. Then I followed suit and somehow hornswoggled him into looking for algae disks and water conditioner for our future tadpoles. So now, I get a call from him at Chick-fil-A. (He thought it would be a special outing with just the little kids.)

As it turns out, he conducted some business at Chick-fil-A. An architect called Joe on his cell. Thinking it was me, he picked it up--even though he was in the middle of getting lunch for the kids. Before he was finished "conducting business" with this architect, he had gone out to the car to get his paperwork, taken the kids to the bathroom--twice (complete with flushing and washing hands), fed the kids, and supervised them in the play area...unbeknownst to the caller. Now THAT'S a super dad!

Also, thanks to some friends who are on a 2-month RV vacation with their five kids, I was reminded today of another one of Joe's many talents--beard growing. You see, the dad of the RV-ing family has decided not to shave throughout their whole trip. Yes, two months. It reminded me of Joe's last beard-growing stunt.

I refuse to show you a picture of Joe's last beard he grew about a year ago. Okay, just a small one. His Christmas vacation from work usually lasts a couple of weeks, and he christens it by declaring he will not shave for the entire length of his time off. That's fair by me...usually...until he decides that he'll go back to work and still not shave. Then come February, he STILL hasn't shaved. Sigh... It was all very bad timing because he actually resembled a certain middle-eastern tyrant ruler who was...well, he's not around anymore. So, here's the picture of Joe with about 7 weeks growth. See for yourself.

Joe's beard growing talent has not gone unnoticed. A soccer dad friend of ours who was frustrated at the slow growth of his goatie, mentioned that he once said to his buddy, "I know this guy who can grow a full beard in, like, 5 hours (that would be Joe)--and here I am after 1 week with nothing!"

To top it off, this is the comment he got from Mary Kate...

Mary Kate: "Daddy, your beard grew so much--so FAST! Your whole FACE is covered!"
Joe (jokingly): "Do you think I'm a gorilla?"
Mary Kate (unimpressed): "No, you don't know sign language like Koko does."

So, THANK YOU to my kids' Super Dad and to my very talented husband. I know you would even swim through shark-infested water to bring me a cold glass of lemonade! You are the best there is. I love you, Joe!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

American Heroes Celebration

As I was at home today planning for our next school year, Dad took the kids to Camp Mabry for some fun! A very able and enthusiastic father...and a charitable husband, no? This celebration was formerly called "Muster Day." Okay, a brief history review here...

Under the militia act of 1792, every able-bodied citizen between 18-45 was a member of the militia. Muster Day was the gathering where members enrolled in the militia. This day lost importance after the Civil War.

Can you tell what time period we're studying in history? Here's some of the fun they had...

Mary Kate isn't supposed to ride a bike for a couple more weeks, but we let her ride a horse? Well, the horse was pretty docile, she just sat on it, and it was being walked by a Buffalo soldier so it looked pretty safe! The kids also got to climb around inside a medical helicopter.

Jimmer on the sheriff's motorcycle, and Kathleen and Mikey petting a rescue dog.

Kids in a Black Hawk, the one our neighbor flies.

A WWII reenactment, and Dad in a fox hole with the kids.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

What are the kids UP to?

Well, they're certainly UP!

Jimmer is UP in our tree. (This is our formerly decorated "crate" myrtle that was bare just weeks ago.)

Kathleen is standing UP without hands riding her bike.Mikey had to go ahead and give the "UP" thing a try also.
Mary Kate hasn't exactly been UP anywhere, but she's getting around really well. She still has a few weeks before she can ride her bike or climb. So, she's been doing a little of this--watching the other kids run around.

She goes to see her plastic surgeon on Monday. I'm sure one of the first questions she'll ask will be, "When can I ride my bike?"

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Happy Birthday, Pope Benedict!

Since the Holy Father is here in the U.S.A. this week, the kids have been following his travels and learning more information about him. We just got this children's book, Joseph and Chico that was written from the perspective of his cat. We've also done some of the activities on this site. In fact, the kids are just getting set up for the prayer service suggested on the site.

Well, I think they've expanded the prayer service a bit. I'm overhearing them making suggestions of using Wheat Thins as hosts, grape juice for the wine...and Mikey just said, "Should I be the priest this time?" One of the kids just raided our cup of change--albeit for tithing. Hmmm...must be a full Mass going on in our living room! I must go join them now!

Happy 81st Birthday, Papa...B16, our German Shepherd!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Anyone for Cumin Toast?

This morning Mikey brought me a recipe for salsa that he wanted me to try. It listed cumin as an ingredient. I told him the recipe looks like one I make but that I don't like to add cumin. He went to the spice cupboard, got our ground cumin, opened it up and smelled it. Then he laughed and asked Mary Kate if she remembers when he made cumin toast!

Me: "What? You made cumin toast?"
Mikey: (laughing as he looked at Mary Kate) "Yes!"
Me: "Why would you want to do that?"
Mikey: "Well, I think I was about six years old, and I thought it said 'cinnamon' instead of 'cumin.' It even looked like cinnamon!"
Me: "Yuck, what did you do?"
Mikey: "Well, I ate it, but I didn't like it."
Me: "You ATE it? Where was I?"
Mikey: "In the shower or something, I guess."
Me: "Why did you EAT it?"
Mikey: "I don't know. I didn't want to waste food and throw it away. It sure didn't taste very good."

Our Green Anole Friend

Our kids found this lizard hanging out of our neighbor cat's mouth yesterday afternoon. No, the cat wasn't trying to eat it. He was just trying to have a little fun with this very natural cat toy. He stalks and catches lizards, lets them go, then repeats the chase sequence--a game. Our kids felt sorry for him, so they rescued him from the cat. Mikey is holding him here.So why is it called a green anole (the most common type of lizard around here) when it is obviously brown? Well, just give him a couple of minutes. He doesn't even need a telephone booth!
See, with a little warmth from the sun, he's now feeling more like himself--green!Our neighbor friends thought he was pretty neat too! The kids put him in their bug catcher for a little while for observation then let him go in our back yard so he could eat some dinner...and get rid of some of the bugs around here.

Monday, April 14, 2008

In our dining room?

Yep, this is in our dining area.

Joe got it out again over the weekend.

It can be folded up and rolled away. It can even be stored and used outside, but so far it has only been set up and used here.

Nine feet of this in the middle of our first floor--by our kitchen and dining area!

Without basements where we live and since we actually use our garage for both of our vehicles, I guess this is where our ping pong table will see the most action! Now kids, let's get started on our school work! Kids? Hey, kids!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Our Kids are Nuts...about Nuts!

The kids collected a wheelbarrow of pecans from our tree last fall. Since then they've cracked open and eaten MANY! This is just what's still hanging around our place. Today, when I had them go outside to run off a little energy, I found them doing this instead.
Here they go...
Uh...nuts have calories, and calories = energy, right? I have kids with MORE energy.