Thursday, December 30, 2010


A post of this-n-that and a little something weighing heavy on my mind sums up my silly title.
So let's get down to business as I know there are facebook pages to be viewed, Craig's List to be summarized, and for you PW fans...checking to see if you've won a mixer, knives, or a Nikon camera!
Of course I'm drawing from my own behavior there so don't be offended.

First, for Christmas my dear husband gave me a new lens. A macro lens that I hope to finally get those tiniest of details that have eluded me for too long. Yes, I'm thankful and hoping to pay off our mortgage with the winnings from that particular picture that will thrust me into photography stardom...attention National Geographic.

Fall Color

Foggy AM

OK Sunset Edit

But for now this amateur plays at Picnik, a picture editing site that is free. Being the frugal and freaky person that I am, money will not be spent on any photo editing in this household...not in the near future anyway.

Also, I have a question for some of you that have raised boys. When in public places and your little guy must go to the bathroom, do you take him into the Womens bathroom or let him go into the Mens bathroom? And at what age did you stop taking him into the Womens bathroom? My seven-year-old is still escorted by me or his sisters into the Womens bathroom, but he is getting a bit big. Any advice here?

The rest of this particular post has been deleted as the situation has been resolved, thankfully.
I appreciated all of the comments and advice, but felt that I probably shouldn't have aired the situation publicly.
Blessings to you and yours as we embark upon a new year!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and redeemed his people.
~Luke 1:68~

Blessings and Love!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Trio of Tree Pics

I took several pictures of the tree yesterday and enjoyed playing with these three:

Christmas 2010

Paper Angel

Pasta Angel

I hope everything is peace-filled your way!
Blessings, Julie

Monday, December 20, 2010

What A Homeschool History Fair Looks Like

The following entry was from last Spring and I originally posted it at my blog at Homeschoolblogger. But I thought it important to get it out to many of my friends in the area where we live as we've just scheduled the history fair for this upcoming year. I hope it's helpful in giving some ideas!

I have had the privilege of heading up our local homeschooling history fair for the past two years. Last year was my first time to do this and we had a huge response. Sixty-two participants worked on projects that were creative, informative, and many downright amusing (see the Charles Shulz board further down).

My purpose for this particular post is to direct first-time participants over here so that they can see what the finished product looks like.

These two boards are neatly done and I like they way the pictures are matted with contrasting colors, makes them much more noticeable.

Also, notice how the subjects of these boards are front and center as well as in larger font than the other writing on the boards.

You gotta love this! This young man nearly papered his whole board with "Peanuts" comic strips by Charles Shulz, his subject.

It's always a good idea to also include some props in front of your board, not necessary of course, but it does add a little more depth and interest to the project.

But you do want to be careful there aren't too many as they can distract from the subject and cause your display to look cluttered.

This is fun, makes you smile.

This project was done by a mother and her four-year-old daughter. This particular woman is a wonderful seamstress and a fan of Victorian era clothing. Both the daughter and mother wore civil war era clothing while presenting this project. What's not to love here?!

Love it, love it, love it!

These two board were done by a young man (he did the Weapons of the World Wars) and his twin sisters. Please notice all the media in front of the boards. They had a documentary of World War II going while presenting their projects.

This board is neat and to the point. I like that the child has obviously done an activity that had to do with his subject matter. You can see the hand-made shield in front of the board. Did you also notice the hand-written report that has been fixed on the board? Kudos to this parent because I know personally the hours that it takes for a child to write something like that out by hand. In a later picture, I'll point that out with one of Aubrey's boards. I felt it was important at the time because we were working very hard on penmanship. Now, I'm fine with her using the printer for a lot of her writing that needs to go on her board.

This particular board is Aubrey's last year project. She obviously did it on the Mount St. Helen's eruption. She included a cut-away diagram of what a volcano looks like as well as a time-line of the months prior to the eruption.

She included a story of one of the victims of the blast which gave the project some added interest and emotional depth.

Aubrey enjoys drawing and painting so I had her make a before and after picture of the mountain.

The notecards have "fast facts" or "bullet points" about the geography of the mountain, statistics concerning injuries and fatalities, as well as damaged caused by the blast.

This project was done by two young ladies on the life and works of theologian and author C.S. Lewis.

Isn't this wonderful!

Can you tell I'm so proud of these kids?!

This was done by a five-year-old boy. He knew all about his subject, too!

Absolutely adorable!

This project reminds me of something that I wanted to share on my particular philosophy on preparing a board for our fair.

I'm totally okay with parents helping their children with these projects. I feel that working together on these projects promotes discussion on the child's subject, which also promotes reinforcement of what the child has learned. I also feel that the parent can guide the child to compose their pictures, charts, and written work on their board so that it is more aesthetically pleasing. As the child ages, the parent will give the child more freedom as to how they would like their presentation to look. If the child is a very independent child, as the one that did this particular project is, guide carefully as to not quench their creativity.

These next few pictures are a few projects from our 2008 history fair.

I love the duct tape and masking tape on the shield and what a fun project for a young man, Leif Ericson.

This project was done by a five-year-old boy who wore a wig with braids and dressed in a light brown tunic with moccasins. Costumes really do add a bit more to the whole experience!

But again, not necessary as I'm aware that many children don't want to bring too much attention to themselves.

Oh, the book lover in me absolutely adores these projects!

This young lady has also arranged many of Burnett's works very neatly in front of her board. Lovely.

This board, Interesting Facts of the American Revolutionary War, was done by my middle child, Lillie.

It captured her personality perfectly!

She put a picture of her brother up on it (he was four at the time) with a frock glued to his body and the caption, "Boys wore frocks until they were five-years-old back in the 1700's." There was a bubble glued next to his head that said, "Get me out of this get-up!"

This is Aubrey's board from two years ago. Her subject here is Daniel Boone. She did a time-line and glued a hand-written report onto her board along with lots of pictures.

The internet has many sites for getting coloring pages on a wide variety of subjects. You can see here that Aubrey has colored one with Daniel Boone as the subject.

I really just posted this picture to show Aubrey's dress that she wore while presenting her project. Tim's mother sews beautifully and the girls have thoroughly benefitted from her talent!

It is wise that the child is well-versed on their project as parents, relatives, observers, and friends are encouraged to try and visit as many of the projects as possible and talk to the children about their project.

History fairs are a lot of fun, educational, and a great tool for showing relatives or friends units or projects that the child has been working on at home.

Again, I feel so honored and privileged to get to be a part of it!

I hope you're having a productive and blessed week, Julie

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Up On The Housetop!

No, no, no, this isn't a post regarding hooved and antlered creatures that naturally inhabit some of the northern most regions of our world and where in Sweden, according to Globe Trekker, they're rounded up annually, some culled, and made into such dishes as Reindeer Blood Dumplings.
Actually, to be quite honest, the whole reindeer flying and Santa thing has never been a part of our celebrating Christmas. For me, Santa and all his magic just doesn't compete with the son of God being born of a virgin in a barn with a mission to save those that would believe in Him for salvation (please don't theologically pick that last phrase apart). And Tim and I didn't want to put the jolly, red-suited man in competition with our King for our kiddos attention during the formative years. Now, we in no way have kept them from watching such classics as, "Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer" or "Frosty the Snowman," but have explained from the get-go it's all fiction.
Nor, have we openly criticized those that lead their children to believe in Santa Claus.
Anyway, we celebrate Jesus year around. Christmas (Dec. 25th) just gives us a good excuse to spend money on a few frivolities we wouldn't normally feel comfortable spending our hard-earned money on as well as singing such cool songs as Silent Night and Hark the Herald Angels Sing.
Our family has also become very involved in the ministry, Operation Christmas Child and the children truly get excited about giving!
But, hey, if Santa is your thing, far be it for me to judge you, I'm not.
It really is NONE of my business.
Just givin' you a tiny peek of what we believe and how we attempt to live it out.
Now...back to the housetop!
One morning, a couple of weeks ago, on a weekday, the children and I made a trip to town.
It was a Stuffmart run...we were low on groceries and stuff.
And I, like many of you, am not a fan of Stuffmart.
It is a necessary evil.
But arriving back home to our little house in the woods, loaded to the gills with stuff, and hungry (we hadn't eaten lunch yet) the children and I began to unload the van.
All of us had made one trip and were working on the the second load when I, ahead of everyone else, made it back on the porch, arms full, fumbling to turn the door handle was locked.
Setting the bags down, I turned my full attention to the door handle and tried to turn it again. Sure enough...locked! ((Gulp))
"Who did this?!" I screeched. (like it made any difference)
Turns out, my seven-year-old little guy had done it.
Well, my purse was inside with the keys and cellphone.
The neighbors house was too far of a walk and besides they weren't home. They both work.
So we were stuck at the house trying to find a solution to getting into the house as well as getting all the newly bought perishables in the refrigerator and freezer.
Me being the paranoid being that I am, knew right away that any windows on the first floor would be locked.
We checked anyway and just as I had thought, all locked.
Now normally all windows on the second floor are locked, also.
But, this past summer had been sooo hot that we put an A/C window unit in one of the windows upstairs to cool the second floor more efficiently.
That window would not be locked.
Attention Thieves: We have guns and know how to use them in case you may be discerning this as an open invitation to break into our home.
So taking a deep breath and praying fervently that this whole incident would not be the main topic of our annual Christmas letter, I began to search for the extension ladder.
Also, I need to let you in on one of my eccentricities, there are many. Probably one of the more amusing being that I CANNOT open a biscuit tin. The sudden "POP!" scares me and the suspense of not knowing when its going to explode is just too much.
But that has nothing to do with anything here.
Actually, I'm terrified of heights.
The extension ladder was found but in seperate pieces. Argh!
I drug the two pieces over to the side of the house and put it together hoping it was correct.
The girls held the ladder at the bottom for me while the boy ran around to the other side of the house where he couldn't see.
I began the ascent slowly, praying more fervently at every rung. When, I came to the "extension" part I stopped, closed my eyes, and prayed harder than I can remember praying in a long time. I asked for a miracle in case I had the ladder all wrong.
I then slowly propelled myself upward, cringing.
It was okay, it held. I then went up another rung and was now within arms distance of the eaves of the house. Two more rungs up and I was heaving myself up and over the guttering and onto the roof. I lay in a prone position for awhile trying not to cry hysterically and thanking God at the same time.
Not looking over the edge, I yelled down to the girls that I was alright and about to try and get the A/C unit out of the window.
Standing up and negotiating the incline up to the window, I started contemplating how I was going to get the unit out of the window. Upon reaching it, I used my left arm and shoulder to steady the air conditioner while reaching up with my right arm and pushing the window up. I didn't anticipate the unit coming forward as quickly as it did, nor the weight of was heavy. But I braced myself against it and eased it out and onto the side of the house. It was still plugged in so it was somewhat tethered to the wall. I yelled down to the girls to move away from the house in case the unit didn't stay put (came unplugged) and went tumbling off the roof and down to the ground. I then jumped up into the now open window and crawled inside.
It was over...although I buggered (a word borrowed from my grandpa) my right wrist up pretty badly.
I can't say I'm laughing about the whole incident yet.
But it made for a quite an eventful afternoon, one I hope to never repeat.
I know that they say the best way to overcome your fears is to face them head on. I faced my fear of heights that day and you know what, they still scare me silly!
P.S. Tim later informed me that the extension ladder was not put together correctly.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

My Montage


Officially it's not winter, but it sure feels a lot like it here.
Owning a farm, albeit small, has its disadvantages when the temps dip below the freezing mark. Animals must have water and don't have the ability to break ice on their own. I'm sure it has to do with the whole opposable thumb thing. So as responsible pet and livestock owners the job of breaking ice falls to the capable humans...Us (better defined as husband and I). He breaks ice for the larger animals and my job is to break ice or provide water for the chickens. Which I may add...again....don't appreciate it. We've already gotten rid of one youngster that thought it his duty to peck me (showed him) and now I have another that is thoroughly misguided. Yesterday, while reaching into the coop to get their feed dish, young Mr. Cockerell gave me a sharp peck on the arm. I was cold, it was early, and I haven't got the Christmas tree up, which adds up to harried middle-age woman jerking young cockerell off of his feet before-he-knew-what-happened and giving him a good hard shaking.
Honestly, it made me feel lots better.
Chick-fil-A's motto is, "Eat more chicken."
Mine is, "Shake a chicken."


But other than farm stuff, there is all the other hullabaloo regarding raising kids. As of late, I feel more like a taxi driver/schedule organizer. Yes, yes, I know that it's my duty as a mother. But we've fallen into the trap of too many activities.
Spreading oneself too thin is one thing but when a whole family spreads itself too thin it makes for a miserable ride! Yet the kids seem to keep excelling, much to my amazement. Shame on me for not having more confidence in their abilities to overcome. And really maybe it's just my tirades they're having to "overcome."


Anyway, all that to say that middle child did wonderfully at the county 4-H speech contest. She won Reserve Grand Champion on her speech, "The Basic Anatomy of a Chicken and What to Feed it."


Both girls did fantastically at our local spelling bee. The oldest placed second in her division and middle child won first in her age division. Both girls will be competing at regionals. This is the third year in a row for the oldest to compete at regionals and we're hoping this is the year she'll win it and progress to the state bee.


Lately, we've made frequent trips out to Southwest Oklahoma to see my mom and arrange surgery for her knee. My sister and I took guardianship of her this past fall and have been busy with seeing that she is being provided with her medicine and the care that she needs. It is an answer to prayer that my husbands parents live just a short distance (35 miles) from my mom so that the children are able to stay with them while I tend to my mom personally.
Nick, the gimpy-leg dog, is still in the tack room mending from his multi-fractured leg. We will probably stay home this Christmas so that our wonderful friends/neighbors (6 miles away) don't have to come let him out three to four times-a-day to do his business. There are limits.


This past weekend the whole family took a road trip to see Tim Hawkins the Christian comedian. The added bonus was getting to see some dear friends that we don't see often enough. I cry everytime I see them, I know...odd, but he baptized me and married Tim and I. She, his wife, is one of the most gentle spirited and wisest of women that I've ever met. And their daughter, joyful, ever-youthful and someone to whom I owe so much. But she would be surprised to even think that.
I'll wrap it up there...except to say I have a post rattlin' around in my head that will detail an afternoon a couple of weeks ago where I had to climb to the top of the house to save the day.
Stay warm and cozy!
Blessings, Julie


Monday, December 6, 2010

That's No Bull!

                                   Otis at eighteen months
I was just outside to let the chickens out to freerange, when I noticed our large (appr. 1000 lbs) 18 month old brangus steer, Otis, hurrying around the barn towards the trough. He didn't act at all interested in what may be in there but stood, head up and alert, looking around with an air of agitation. He then bellered loudly several times with an expectant expression on his bovine face, turned quickly and exited as quickly as he had entered.
I couldn't help but stop and observe all this with a bit of amusement and curiousity as number one, Otis never moves this fast and number two, Otis never seems to get excited about anything except food.
While standing there I realized his little sidekick, Peanut, wasn't with him.
Peanut is our "mistake" calf.
Last May, I asked Tim to buy me a beef calf to bottle feed and raise hoping one of the kids would someday show it.

                                                                     Peanut at two weeks
Peanut let us know real fast that he had other plans.
Peanut, short for Peanut Brain, is our juvenile delinquent calf. Barbed wire means absolutely nothing to the little lame brain, he goes through it.

                                                        Peanut currently
We've caught him time and time again in the barn trashing the place. He goes through dog food and chicken feed like he's poppin' a peppermint in his snout!


Any tool left on the barn floor is a target and Peanut doesn't miss.
So as I stood there watching Otis's odd behavior, I realized he was looking fervently for Peanut.

                                                         Peanut and his surrogate mother, Otis.
We had laughed that it seemed Peanut was attracted to Otis early on and stayed at his side like a calf does with his mother.
But to see that Otis needed Peanut, too, was rather comical.
So turning back towards the house and shaking my head, I thought, "Wow, I've seen it all."
I was met by one of the dogs carrying what looked like the hind leg of a deer.
Hmmm, farm livin', it's definitely never boring.