Saturday, December 18, 2010

what ever did homeschoolers do before youtube?

so my curriculum tells me to gather an assortment of information on each of our unit studies throughout the year. supposedly, i need to compile newspaper clippings, magazine articles, books, pictures, and what nots on specific topics like water, space, animals, etc...

i have the grandest intentions.

but typically, on monday when we start a new unit, i begin with something like, "lets see what google can tell us about insects!"

and we gather around and watch fascinating videos on youtube.

because yes, there are fascinating videos out there... like, who knew ants were this amazing? or that an octopus can camouflage itself or do this!?!

(and should you be a homeschooler or completely bored at work, you must watch the links above.)

and also, we got an ant farm.

its very educational and homeschool-y of us.

let me just say its quite fascinating watching them work so stinkin hard. and work together so well to make all these tunnels. i mean, i do feel a little guilty. i don't know why they are digging. they are trapped in a plastic container. but nevertheless it provides us with much entertainment.

and when they sleep, all 25 of them cluster up in one big ball. its kinda cute. and also kinda reminds me of what our bed is starting to look like at night. which is not so cute. i could do without mason draping himself across my face all night long.

but then again, it is better than the alternative. actually getting up a million times to go to his room and telling him to stop screaming for daddy.

in other fun news, ella and i went to the nutcracker the other day.
bennett was a little sad he wasn't going but i told him he would probably just be bored. to which he responded, "yeah, and we are going to have so much fun here with daddy. we are going to have pillow fights and play uno."

and then ella proceeded to coach him on how to beat daddy at uno. its becoming serious around here, all the uno playing. ella refuses to lose. she'll draw 50 cards to get a draw 4 if her opponent called uno. we've had games last over an hour. seriously.

i try to hide my annoyance.

i don't think i'm very good at it.

anyhow, the nutcracker ballet was fun. (but really, shouldn't men, like, layer up or wear something besides white? just saying...)
on the way home, ella asked if she could do it next year.

"like, be in the show? can we look up online how i can do it?"
(all this youtubing has actually taught my kids something. basically, the answer to anything can be found online...)

"yeah, we'll have to start with ballet lessons for like a billion years."

ella thinks for awhile. "ok, so can you see online about me doing ballet. and if its too expensive, maybe i can do some work for you to earn some money to pay for it myself?"

that's one determined, responsible child.

and apparently, one super cheap mom.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


"kindergarten is like... the hardest thing i've ever had to do." -ella some days, i feel the same way.

overall, things are going great. but there are those days...

days i'm sure the kindergarten teacher down the street at the "official" school would certainly not have to deal with the drama i do.
the true colors of a 6 year old are reserved just for moms.

teaching ella is teaching a perfectionist.

you need to know that perfectionism drives me crazy. this is why over the years i have
"encouraged" my husband in "subtle" ways out of his perfectionistic tendencies.

he probably just thinks he has evolved into the well adjusted, perfect human he is today.

the truth is, it was all me.

anyhow, i don't have the energy for another perfectionist in my house. especially one i have the responsibility of educating. while ella is practicing her writing, amidst gasps of frustration and exasperated body language, this is what i hear in response to my encouragement.

"ella, you are doing a great job writing your s's."

(emphasis on sarcasm begins here.)

"ya... if you like s's that look like 5's."

"oh, ya, that one's
great... if you like backward s's."

"well, i'd like this one if it didn't look so ugly."

then, of course, is her tendency to question everything.

"why do i have to start the S from the top? if i don't will it collapse or something?"

i believe this trait will get her far in life.
that is, if we can make it through kindergarten.

there are many moments, granted me by a gracious
God who knows i need the encouragement, when the lights are on, the mind is working, and ella is learning and growing.

during the circle time the other day (which involves all children and can be a complete disaster) we were talking about the book of proverbs and knowledge vs. wisdom.
"we" who were talking about it was actually just me, while mason was launching off the couch onto my head and bennett was knocking stacks of pillows onto the bible.

so at the speedy conclusion of the lesson, ella gives me this "knowing" smile and says, "mommy, that was a real good lesson. thanks."

awww... just what i needed to make it one more day.
and then there is the presidents. i have these flashcards and the kids love learning about them and remembering them in order.

its really bad when they ask me questions about particular leaders and i can't find the answer on the back and i want to say, hey, don't look at me! i never even knew we had a president named franklin pierce and the only reason i know so much about john adams is because i saw the extremely well done miniseries on him with stellar actors that brought history home to me in a whole new way.

(although, i think the movie could be more aptly titled, "the man married to abigail adams")

(some men are just better because of the women they choose to marry.)

anyhow, then we got to abraham lincoln.

"wow. he is a really stylish man, mom."

ummm... you got that from a .99 flashcard?

upon further study she then said, "and he is really good looking."

to which i wanted to say, "oh just wait until you see who is portraying him in the upcoming movie."

(yes, mom, that is daniel day lewis)

and ella, i realize he may not be all that dazzling upon first glance but wait until you see the intensity of his desperate, courageous dash through a brutal battle to passionately save the life of his one true love. be still my heart.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Monday, December 6, 2010

congratulations to...

... aubrey!

happy shopping with your $40 at csnstores.

thanks to all of you who participated and thanks to csn for sponsoring this giveaway.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

time for a giveaway!


sling backpacks, kitchen goodies, toys, games, or shoes on your christmas list this year?

enter to win the csnstores $40 giveaway!


spend it on yourself. spend it on your christmas gifts. spend it on me.

the options are endless.

leave a comment for an entry. leave another comment for an additional entry if you post on your own blog.

(you do not need to have a blogger account to enter. just leave me your name and email address as an anonymous comment.)

winner will be randomly chosen monday, december 6.

good luck and may the best person whowouldliketobuymesomething win!

Monday, November 29, 2010


thanksgiving was wonderful. grammy and poppa made the long journey out from arizona to celebrate thankfulness with us, provide free childcare and take themselves one step closer to falling in love with paradise and deciding to move on out here.
bennett helped daddy with "terry the turkey."grammy helped the kids make thankful turkeys and mason snuck food in whenever he could.on the kids thankful list...

ella:"Jesus, mommy, daddy, a brother (she didn't specify which one), a bible, a house, a neighbor, food, toys, trees..."

bennett:"daddy-that he has a gun to shoot bad guys, poppa getting me a remote control helicopter, a house to live in to keep me warm, a tv that i can watch stuff on"

(apparently i need to buy him something that flies or is destructive and maybe i'll make the list.)

masons was "daddy" "ella" "bennett" "cars" "truck" "mommy" "poppa" "grammy" pretty much the extent of his vocabulary. but at least i was included, even if i came in after cars and trucks.

and after thanksgiving, it was of course time to cover every bare space in the house with the cozy christmas decor.
it warms a mother's heart when this is the one most captivating to my 2 year old.(but um, dontyoudaretouchit. we've already had 2 wise men decapitated, so lets just worship baby jesus with our eyes and not our hands, k?)

Monday, November 22, 2010

do i have a problem with shameless blog promotions?

of course not! especially when i get free stuff.

i know i have lots of catching up to do... like a certain 6 year old losing her FIRST tooth! and the awesome way this event corresponded with completely fantastic, excited friends visiting who took her out for a special treat! (guaranteed the garates are WAY more generous than that cheap-o tooth fairy).and there have been other happenings, such as a dinner out with grown-ups! which included things like candles and appetizers. (who knew the dining experience could be better than the food court at costco?)

and, the discovery of an awesome babysitter who lives like 4 houses from me! (and the realization that i'm super, super old because back when i was babysitting, the shillingtons were the coolest ever (even if one of the boys totally hated me because i was mean) and they paid me 3 dollars an hour. THREE!!! this was the best gig in town back then. and in light of current babysitting rates... wow. at this price, i'm starting to think my kids should be fluent in another language by the time i get home from dinner.)

but aside from all that, there's quite a big event coming up...

my favorite time of year to check the mail.

christmas card season!

and guess where i'm getting my christmas cards this year?


and not just because they allow me the opportunity for a shameless plug in exchange for 50 free cards (you can too, go here.)
but because their stuff is awesome. christmas cards, calendars, and all kinds of good stuff.
and yes, of course, i'm wondering if my card will look as cute when the kids on the front aren't smiling or even looking at the camera, or throwing sand in each others face, or... well, lets just say our christmas picture taking might have been a tad stressful this year...

anyhow, go check them out.
and get some free cards of your own.

oh, and be sure to send me one. i love, love, love christmas cards!

Monday, November 8, 2010

dear a.y.s.o.

its been fun,but i'm not gonna miss ya.

not the perfect soccer mom

i love my calendar for november.

its wide open.

no more soccer practice...


snack mom duty...

and no more crazy soccer parents, living vicariously through their 5 year old...

chill out, people.

(this reprimand does not include parents excitedly cheering for their 6 year old who scores her first EVER goal, followed closely by the SECOND ever goal... especially if said 6 year old has been wanting one so badly, and practicing and praying for one for two seasons.)

(no, those weren't tears in my eyes... it was the sun... or the wind... or something...)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

obligatory halloween post

every year i debate whether or not my kids are going to participate in halloween.

("participate" is a much friendlier word than "celebrate.")

i mean, we really don't have to debate whether or not the nights a little evil right? there are skeletons hanging from my neighbor's trees. and tortured creatures laying about the yard. and children dressed up as though they might kill me coming to my front door.

so yeah, should i really be telling my kids this is all ok?

maybe this is the year i finally put my foot down and keep the porch light off and lock us in the house and read Bible stories or something.

but then... i think of all the chocolate i can confiscate from my kids.

and i cave.

and besides, i'm a sucker for them dressed up all cute.

(knight armor made by daddy.)

and of course my little bear wouldn't keep his head on for longer than a couple pictures.

in the door, stripped down, and sugared up.

and as soon as you go to bed, little buddy, that twix in your pumpkin pail is mine.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


doing some shopping today at csnstores. looking at kitchen bar stools, some fun cookware, new shoes, and a variety of educational goodies for homeschooling.

and who knows, maybe even a few christmas presents for some of you out there...

but in way more exciting news, guess where anthony is?

jury duty.

he's been sitting in one room since 8:30 this morning doing nothing.

do you know how jealous i am of him? do you know how much reading i could get done?

but on the bright side, guess who else is sitting in jury duty with him.

hercules.also known as kevin sorbo.

kinda doubt he's dressed like this.

you never know though.

i asked anthony to take a picture of him.

he didn't.

i think he thought i was joking.

i wasn't.

because seeing celebrities at jury duty tells me one thing. don't ignore the jury summons when you live in southern california. you never know who you might see.

(what? like i don't know how shallow i am for thinking its a little exciting to see famous people, even if they played weird characters on random tv shows opposite a freakishly strong woman named "xena"?)

Monday, October 25, 2010

daddy parties

so this past weekend, i went on a women's retreat with my church.

i knew not a soul there.

unless you count the awesome wife of a guy anthony prays with at his men's bible study who invited me via text and called the church to get me in her room and made me feel all warm and welcome all weekend.

never underestimate the power of going out of your way to be someone's friend.

take it from that someone.

because, seriously, who wants to go get trapped in the mountains all weekend with a bunch of women they don't know?

she was great. she was my friend before she even knew whether or not i was some wackadoo she'd be stuck with for 3 days.

so, it was going out of my comfort zone to go. but i'm totally glad i went. met great ladies. learned more about my great God. hiked in God's great creation. ate great food i didn't have to cook on dishes i didn't have to wash.

and then there is my fantastic husband, who encouraged me to be gone for TWO WEEKENDS IN A ROW.

that's right, he's a good man.

i know its a lot for him to do single parent duty on his own and i appreciate it.

and so do the kids.

the fun doesn't stop.

there's the beach...
park trips. times a million.
sleeping arrangements...

and other special things like shopping trips where ella got new shoes and a cute little purse and other old navy clearance bargains.

seriously, daddy parties are like their favorite thing in the whole world. i'm pretty sure before picking me up he had to tell the kids, "now make sure you tell mommy how much you really missed her."

and then they probably got all confused and glanced around the minivan and finally noticed, oh, mom's not here? no wonder we've been having so much fun.

anthony puts parents everywhere to shame.

Monday, October 18, 2010

all aboard

bennett and i had a special getaway.(ella got to go last time. it was his turn for the airplane ride.)

(and NO this does not mean it's mason's turn next time... not unless "next time" is in about 5 years and involves sedatives.)

bennett's first ever train ride and plane ride were just about as thrilling and spectacular as possible and met all his fantastic little 4 year old expectations.especially soda on the airplane.

soda. does it get any better than this?

what? peanuts too?!?

life is good when you are was fun to be back in arizona to see my wonderful family and dear friends. (did i remember to take pictures of these special people? of course not.)

except for the complete absence of any moisture whatsoever. i'm barely off the plane and i begin frantically searching for chap stick. and lotion.

how did i ever survive in such dryness?

so we journeyed up for a beautiful hike in oak creek canyon.which involved all sorts of water and rocks and dams and sticks.oh, and God's completely amazing creation.seriously breathtaking.i have to say it is one of the most beautiful places in all the world.

and i've seen a lot some of the world.

like say for instance, india.

i spent a big chunk of time there back in the days between college and marriage.

it was the most eye-opening, challenging, enriching, amazing, educational experience in my life. i learned more about Christ's love and the desperation and need of us as his children than ever before.

i spent my time with the poorest of the poor, street children in calcutta. they lied to me, yelled at me, stole from me, manipulated me...

and i absolutely love them to pieces.

its a long story, like another couple hundred blog entries, but now, there is a home in calcutta, meeting the needs of orphans and desperate children. hope home. the testimonies of the children who have experienced God there and been transformed are simply amazing.

so dev, the man in the trenches in india came to visit this fine country of ours. it was a great chance to catch up on the goings on at hope home. and also an opportunity to let you know that if you have considered sponsoring a child, this is a great way to do it. because basically, i can vouch for them first hand.

and also, there is always a need for short (or long) term missions trips to the home. oh, and they are, among other things, in need of a nurse. (are you reading this cara?)

seriously, pray about it.

(whoa... is that like 3 pictures of me in a single blog post? that has for sure got to be some kind of record...)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


mason was born.

760 days later, we left him in the nursery and he STAYED THERE!!! and there was rejoicing in heaven.

no hysterics.

no violent protests.

no non-calming and eventual vomiting on poor, unsuspecting servants of the Lord.

no number appearing on the screen saying, "please get your kid before the nursery workers completely lose it..."

after moving, church hunting, numerous manipulative tactics that never worked...

after the "just leave him, he'll be fine" followed by the pager going off, the number on the screen, the vomit...
after volunteering ourselves and staying with him the entire service...

after fervent pleading with the almighty God...

finally, we left him there and came back after church and he was smiling!


i thought this day would never come.

great is your reward in heaven, robert and kelly, the best nursery workers on the face of this beautiful earth.

Friday, October 8, 2010

check it out

is this not the cutest thing ever?
i imagine if i had one, it would make my kitchen feel cleaner instantly.

and guess what? my friend beth, the creative one who perfected those amazing aprons for ella's party, is giving one away.

so go on over and enter her giveaway.

and while you are there, check out some of the other great stuff she makes.

i so want one of these necklaces.
except not with lucas and patrick on it, of course. that would be weird. i didn't give birth to them.

why am i telling you this?

i'm not, really. i'm telling my husband. because he reads my blog too and he might be wondering what he should be getting me for Christmas.

also, beth makes these awesome hope ribbons. created in honor of her mom.

they are pretty fantastic. and, they are on sale for the month of october.

so go on over to beth's website and pick something out. because guess what? she's offering a 20% discount to you.

20% off

for. you.

so go start your Christmas shopping.

or just buy something for me.

but at the very least, enter her giveaway.

go check her out. and tell her i sent you.

(20% off coupon code is steph2)