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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Volunteering at the humane society

The homeschool volunteer opportunity for December was to work at the humane society in Wichita Falls. The email that was sent out said responsibilities would be walking and playing with the dogs and brushing the cats. Now that is volunteer work we can get excited about! All the kids signed up, even Donna and Ashley. It was alot of fun. We started out with the cats but all ended up together walking the dogs. Or having them walk us. Why do little kids always want the biggest dogs? Anyway we even made it home without any extra pets. Success!

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Monday, December 20, 2010

Happy Birthday Lily!

Happy Birthday Lily!



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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Slaughtering A Cow

Well, you all know I am all about experiencing new things, but this was a stretch even for me. A sister in our church was slaughtering a cow yesterday. She happens to live next door to the church so I thought why not let the kids watch? It might be educational. Maybe teach them to appreciate food and the effort it takes to get on their plate? Besides how many kids get the opportunity to see the inside of a cow? So, the pics are pretty self explanatory.
Cow in the back of the truck.

Throat cut already gutted. 

Skinning it.

Cutting the cow up- note the head on the ground. 

Lacey and Kyle fascinated.

Cow heart.

Cow liver.

Skinned head- EEEEWWWW!

The meat.

Believe it or not all the kids, even Donna and Ash, were absolutely fascinated watching this. We watched for just a little while and I was seriously getting cold! So we left. Lily and Lacey started crying! They wanted to keep watching, and all the other kids wanted to watch so we grabbed our jackets and went back. We watched to the bitter end. And even brought some beef home with us.

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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Happy St. Nicholas Day!

Today is St. Nicholas day! Yeah! Our foreign exchange student Tess, from Holland, introduced us to St. Nicholas Day the year she lived with us and we have been celebrating it ever since. I wanted to share a little about the Dutch tradition.

For most children in Holland, the most important day during the Christmas Celebrations is 5th December, when Sinterklass (St. Nicholas) brings them their presents!
St. Nicholas' day is on the 6th December, but in Holland, the major celebrations are held on the 5th December. The name Santa Claus comes from the name Sinterklass.
On the morning of St. Nicholas' Day, Sinterklaas travels to a city or town in The Netherlands, wearing his red bishop's robes. He travels with his servant called Zwarte Piet (Black Peter). When Sinterklaas and Black Peter come ashore from the boat, all of the local church bells ring in celebration. Sinterklaas then leads a procession through the town, riding a white horse. If he has gone to Amsterdam that year he will to meet the Queen in the Palace.
On December 5th children leave clogs or shoes out to be filled with presents. They also believe that if they leave some hay and carrots in their shoes for Sinterklaas's horse, they will be left some sweets. Children are told that Zwarte Piet keeps a record of all the things they have done in the past year in a book and that good children will get presents from Sinterklaas, but bad children will get chased by Zwarte Piet with a stick!! Dutch tradition says that he lives in Madrid,Spain and every year he chooses a different harbour to arrive in Holland, so as many children as possible get a chance to see him. Every town in Holland has a few Sinterklaas helpers, dressed the same as Sinter Klaas who help give the presents out.
If children are really lucky they might receive all their presents during the evening. This is called 'Sinterklaasavond' or 'Pakjesavond' (present evening). There might be a knock at the door and you might find a sack full of presents! 
To read more about St. Nicholas Day in Holland  go to http://www.whychristmas.com/cultures/holland.shtml
So the way we celebrate it is I have the kids put their shoe on the fireplace (this year they put it on the table since we don't have a fireplace.) The little ones put a carrot in their shoe. They do this more because it is part of the Dutch tradition, not for the horse. In the morning they find candy and a present in their shoe. I buy the kids a new Christmas ornament each year. I try to find something that really represents them for the last year. Something that they were really into or really liked that year. This year I bought Donna a MP3 ornament, it says Music Moves Me. Ashley got a cell phone ornament that says TEXT ADDICT (she sent over 10,000 texts in 1 month!!), Kyle got a Ben 10 ornament, I bought Lacey a nutcracker ornament to commemorate her first ballet, and Lily got a little girl opening presents. So that is what I put in their shoe. Next year I would like to add a traditional Dutch dinner to our celebration.


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Saturday, December 4, 2010

Baking Christmas Cookies With The Kids

Every year me and the kids bake Christmas cookies together. It is alot of fun and the cookies are so yummy! Usually we have a houseful with my sisters 3 kids, Colton, my brothers kids, and usually Ashley invites Kelsea over. This year it was just us, but we still had fun. And this year Lily was old enough to really enjoy it!

Making the dough.

Rolling out the cookies.

Decorating the cookies.

We made 3 cookie jars full of cookies AND two small gift baskets to give away. 

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Nutcracker Ballet

Today I took Lacey to her first ballet. She was so excited! It was a wonderful day. I really enjoyed spending time with her. On the ride to Wichita Falls, we talked about Christmas coming up and getting a tree. I had Kyle, Lacey and Lily watch a cartoon version of The Nutcracker yesterday so Lacey would be kind of familiar with what was going on in the ballet. Unfortunately the only version I could find was Tom and Jerry and The Nutcracker, so she kept asking about them. LOL. We sat up in the balcony which was nice because it wasn't as crowded with school kids.The ballet started with the girl (Clara? I believe) and a giant Christmas tree. An army of mice danced out and fought an army of toy soldiers. Well, I say they were mice, Lacey insisted they were dragons. Anyway the mice/ dragons were defeated, the girl and the nutcracker/ prince dance away. Then there were beautiful ballerinas, angels, a king and queen and a whole procession of other dancers. Our favorites were the dance of the flowers with the butterfly ballerina and the Chinese girls with the tea pot. The flower girls wore pastel dresses, each a different color and a beautiful butterfly with long blue wings danced among them. The Chinese girls wore red and black costumes and carried red fans. In the middle of their dance a giant tea pot was rolled out and tipped over and more girls tumbled out of the spout. Lacey thought that was so funny! At the end everyone danced a number together. It was very charming.

Lacey waiting for the performance to begin.

After the ballet I took Lacey to the mall. We shared a giant cookie and a coke and then we went shopping for a Christmas ornament for Donna. We found the perfect ornament! I was so happy to find one I liked, I already had an ornament for all the other kids, but I could not find one that I liked for Donna this year. I plan to give the ornament to the kids on St. Nicholas day which is Sunday, so I really needed to get Donna's. Anyway after we found Donna's ornament I took Lacey to the game room in the mall and let her play a couple of games. I think it was a great day. I hope it made as good a memory for her as it did for me. 

Lacey playing games at The Tilt

Monday, November 29, 2010

My garden

I brought some of my plants from Timpson back with me. I am so excited about planting them! I brought my Cannes, spider lilies, day lilies, another lily that I forgot the name of and some plants I found in Becca's backyard. I still left a bunch back home. It was so funny trying to fit four boxes of plants in the van with 5 kids, 2 adults, and 3 suitcases! Once we got home me and Donna got busy planting them. I had planted some plants that I got for free on craigslist by our front steps so we added the lilies with them. I planted Becca's plants and the spider lilies by our front door and the Cannes in the back yard by the shed. I am surprised how much I enjoy gardening. I cant wait to watch them grow.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Home for Thanksgiving

We had a great time celebrating Thanksgiving with all our family back in home. Me and Shane realized how much we miss our families! And how much we miss our house and our tree. I drove Shane to work Tuesday night so that we could leave early Wednesday and hit the road for home. Well, Shane called me about 4:15 in the morning saying to head to Bowie to pick him up. I already had the van loaded and ready to go so I threw the kids in the car and hit the road! We made pretty good time, only got lost once, and made it home before 10:00 a.m. The first thing I noticed was my chrysanthemums blooming!

Me, my mom and my sister, Becca spent all day baking together. It was sooo nice! We made 6 pumpkin pies, 4 pecan pies, a chocolate pie and a double batch of fudge!My brother LP and his family came over for a visit and then that night me and Shane went out to eat at Rancho grande with some friends of ours. That night Noah and Hannahh (Becca's kids), and Jake (my brother son) spent the night we made the kids pallets on the floor and put in a movie. Lacey, Lily and Kyle had such a great time with their cousins. They all fell asleep watching home alone.
Noah, Hannah and Lacey
Hannah, Lacey, Jake, Kyle, and Colton
Thanksgiving Day we all got together to stuff ourselves on turkey, yams, mashed potatoes, brocoli and rice casserole, rolls,salad and all the desserts we made Wednesday!  After dinner we went out to my Aunt Sherry's house to visit for awhile. 
Donna and Ricky

 Shane, my brother LP, his wife Laura, their little girl Ally, Becca and Ashley

We also had Thanksgiving with Shane's side of the family. Noah and Colton came with us. I'm surprised how much the kids missed each other. 
Noah, Kyle, Colton, Lily and Lacey
sitting on Shane's grandmothers( E.E.) porch

Ashley at E.Es
Kyle and Colton playing
Lacey and Lily with EE
After a long day it was time to go home. We were sad to go and even sadder knowing it would be a long time before we could come back. The drive back was quiet, partly because the kids slept most the way and partly because Shane and I were both lost in our thoughts of home. This year, probably more than any other, I was thankful for my family and my home. I miss both.