Monday, December 29, 2008

The Final Christmas of '08

My Guys Todd & Tom Graeson

Graeson & Boopie A Big Game of Uno Clay, McKenzie, & Emma Grace

Our final '08 Christmas celebration was spent yesterday in Marvell. We all met at Aunt Frances' for "snacks" since we were all "holiday dinnered" (is that a word?) out. Sadly, Mom & Dad weren't able to make it because of Dad's surgery & Mom was really sick. We all missed them. I know they would have loved to have been there.

While we were there, games were played, trees were climbed, gifts were opened, laughs were abundant, and even a few tears were shed. As always, when we all get together, we had a wonderful time. We all missed Grandma and Grandpa. Terri Jo gave us all an ornament that had Grandma's picture in it & when you pushed a button, it was Grandma's voice. It was such a thoughtful gift. Definitely one of my favorites for the year.
I am extremely thankful for family. We all have such a good time when we're together. We just never seem to have enough time to visit for long periods. We are just grateful for the small increments of time we do have together. Perhaps that's what makes those visits even more special. Everyone realizes that we all have responsibilities and successful lives and no one puts their expectations on anyone else. As I think about that, I suppose we inherited that contentedness from Grandma. She was always happy just to see us and was even more happy that we were doing things that made us happy. I do miss the time that is spent with family but am grateful for the time we do spend together. Of course I'm thinking it's about time for another family cruise...anyone else game?

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas Again!

The Motley Crew of Cousins!

Today, after a very long night & very early morning with my dad having an emergency appendectomy, which resulted in about 2 hours of sleep for us, we drove to Grammy & Papa's for the annual family Christmas. I was absolutely starving when we got there so I was ready to eat all of the wonderful food everyone fixed. I tried my hand at making dressing. I used Grandma's ole tried & true recipe, but making dressing is really scary if you've never done it before. I had several tell me it tasted good so I suppose it did. Everything was really delicious. After lunch Tom, Greg, & Mike headed to the hardware store to pick up some supplies for one of Grammy's Honey-Do Projects. I think they went to every lumber store in town before finally getting the correct supplies to complete the project. While they were gone, we had a great time visiting & catching up and just chatting. We hardly ever get to just sit and talk so it was nice. The kids were bursting at the seams to open presents; we finally obliged them, & they were contented. We were thoroughly entertained by watching old 1980s videos that Greg has been editing. Wow at the 80s hair-dos & the pounds that have been gained in 20 years! Thanks Greg for the memories. It was really nice to just visit and reminisce. After another round of dessert we headed home for some much deserved rest. We have one more Christmas celebration tomorrow in my hometown, & we're done for the year!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

One way to keep them quite!

Jerri, Graeson, & Spanky
The Sweetest Boy...unless he's having a terrible 2 moment...

We had a great Christmas today. We woke up really early, thanks to Clay, to see all of our gifts. The boys had a great day watching others open the gifts they had personally selected and purchased for them. They have realized the joy in giving, not just receiving. It's fun to see them grow up and experience the blessings of giving.

After our family time, we loaded the car & went to my mom & dad's to have Christmas with them. We were greeted at the door by Graeson saying in his little country, southern voice "Steppie, Steppie, I got a new 4-wheeder!" The smile on his face was so adorable. We opened gifts, had some great laughs & fun. One of the photos above is of sweet Graeson waiting patiently as I removed those really annoying plastic/metal ties from his gift. It did take me a while, & he finally got bored, but the photo is priceless.

Doris & Verlon drove in & joined us for dinner. We had some wonderful food and fellowship. After Mom's famous pies, and more visiting, Doris & Verlon headed back home. We all sat down for a game of Clue while Tom slept on the couch and Dad & Graeson watched a movie. Jerri won the game by discovering that Mustard committed the murder in the kitchen with a dumbell. After the game, we played "castle" with Graeson then came home.

We then went to Tim & Sherry's for dinner, some of Linda's famous pumpkin roll, & the annual exchange of gifts. We had a nice time visiting with them and hearing about their day. After we made it home, the neighborhood boys started ringing the doorbell to show Clay their gifts & then they had a game that involved some sort of gun.

As I sit here writing this, the boys (including Tom) are watching a movie & laughing. I'm thinking of the day & how truly blessed we are. We have faced some really stressful situations this year and will probably have more to come, but we have each other and most importantly we have God who loves us & who is faithful and above all...He is the Reason for this Blessed Season. I hope your Christmas was filled with love and joy.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Birthday Clay!

Clay turned 9 yesterday! We celebrated with a special birthday dinner of his choice. It consisted of mashed potatoes, corn, fried chicken, gravy, green beans, butter beans, & yeast rolls. Clay invited the boys in the neighborhood over to eat with us. Dinner was followed by chocolate cake & ice cream. It's hard to believe our little boy is 9. We're very thankful for him. He has such an awesome personality and a gift for making others happy. What a great Christmas gift 9 years ago. We love you, Clayton!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

McIntosh Christmas

Today we celebrated Christmas with my Dad's family in Hot Springs. All of my dad's brothers & sisters were there but only a few grands & great-grands. Oh my goodness at the food. I couldn't even begin to describe it. We all had a great time visiting & reminiscing old times. It was really nice to see everyone. Wish we could have visited longer, but it just wasn't possible. I am very thankful for my family and this time of year when we all get together.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Everlasting Story

After church tonight, we drove to a local church to drive-through their living nativity celebration. It celebrated Christ's birth, life, sacrificial death, resurrection and triumphant ascension and portrayed what all of that means to us today. It blessed me to see how hard the church had worked on the displays & their commitment to the project. It even had live animals in the scenes. I appreciated their willingness to reach out to share Jesus with anyone willing to drive-through.

Happy Birthday Jesus

We had a birthday party for Jesus with the kids. Pizza & cupcakes & drinks were passed around. We made holiday crafts & even played Pin the Candle on the Cake. We had lots of other stuff planned, but the adult Bible study ended quickly, and we were out of time. The kids had an awesome time & know that Jesus is the Real Reason for this Season!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Cold & Sleet & Waffles Oh My!

One of our family traditions is to load up in the jeep (or whatever 4-wheel drive vehicle we have at the time) & go out to Waffle House when the weather is snowy, icy, or bad. So we headed out today for our pilgrimage to eat. We had fun as we always do and took a few pictures to remember the day. Tom was scheduled to leave town today on a business trip, but the weather canceled all of those plans. We're thankful that he's here this week instead of on the road and that we were able to continue our family tradition this year.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Playing in the Rain

Today the boys and some friends played in the rain. They ran, chased, played basketball, jumped on the trampoline & lots of other stuff. As a child I always played in the rain, and I had the best of times. I am so very thankful that my mom & dad allowed it. So let me say "Thanks" to them here. They didn't think it was a big deal for me to get wet or chilled in the rain. I remember once as a child when I was at my Grandma Mac's & my cousin & I put on Grandma's old dresses, took our shoes off, & ran through her yard in the pouring rain. We laughed & had a wonderful time. We were drenched to the bone, but just like after a bath, we dried off just the same.
I do not believe that colds & flu are caused from playing in the rain. All studies show they are caused from the cold & flu I never cringe that getting a little wet from the rain will make one sick. In fact, we love to go out in the rain. I tend to want to shop in the rain because most other people want to stay in. And when we're running through the rain into the stores, I even let the boys stomp in the puddles & I even do it too if I have on the right shoes; after all you can't do that on sunny days. Rainy days make me happy. Perhaps that comes from the good times I had as a child playing in the rain. I hope that I'm passing that on to my children, and they can appreciate rain too. Hopefully they'll let their kids play in the rain too.
May I encourage you with this... Has it been a while since you played in the rain or have you ever played in the rain? May I suggest you try it. Or do something that you used to love to do...there are always mud pies to make, trees to climb, blankets to lay on to look at the clouds & stars & countless other things. Do something this week that makes you happy. It's lots of fun, & I promise you'll dry off. And just let me say, this would be the week to do's supposed to rain all week.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Clay's Birthday Party

Today Clay celebrated his 9th birthday. The actual day isn't until the 23rd, but we had the party a little early so it wouldn't get caught up in all of the Christmas celebrations. He chose a military theme, & all the guests were encouraged to wear camo & bring a toy gun. Tom & I worked hard on his tank cake. It turned out really well and was delicious. When all of the kids arrived they were off to the fort Clay & Tom refurbished. Everyone played & had an awesome time. They had so much fun, we had to make them all come in for cake. This is how a birthday party should be, fun, fun, fun. I think Clay had a party to remember. I'm even considering contacting the parents of the kids who attended to see if they want to meet regularly so the kids can play with their guns & play army or just whatever. Tom and I had a really great time visiting with the parents & adults who came to the party. I'm sure we'll celebrate again on the actual day, but that will be with just us. Clay had a great time & that is what really matters.

Friday, December 5, 2008

How would you introduce Christ?

I received this via email today. I thought it was great. Hope you enjoy it.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Happy Birthday Tom!

Happy Birthday Tom. I am so thankful for you. You are the best husband & dad in the world. We are so blessed to have you in our lives. We hope your day is blessed and you have a wonderful day! We love you!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Days Gone By

I've been looking through photos from days gone by. I found this one of Christmas several years ago; maybe 4-5 years ago. The whole family met at Camp Kahoka for our Christmas. The kids made ornaments for the tree, & we cooked & ate, played games, visited & laughed. It was picture perfect because snow fell during the night & the kids had a blast. We all went on a hike, snow was falling, & I took this picture of my mom & 3 of her sisters. Christmas and Thanksgiving is different now because Grandma & Grandpa have passed on, but the memories of years gone by will always linger in our minds. Memories of Grandma's white flocked tree, that Todd & I thumped the snow from. The silver tinsel tree that had the rotating red, blue, & green light to "create an atmosphere" I suppose. Grandma's home-made carmel corn, her peanut brittle, and all the presents. The good times. The fun times. The times we were together. I pray that your holiday season is filled with happy times and good memories of days gone by.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Happy Birthday Mom!

Today was Mom's Birthday. Mom, Jerri, & I went to lunch then shopped awhile. We had a really fun time. Talking, laughing & just visiting. I'm very thankful to have a great mom. She's extremely thoughtful and generous. While we were out, Dad was at home with the boys. I picked up tacos & pizza for the boys & they had a small picnic. Here's a picture of the boys Graeson! They spent the day together with Dad. They had a great time playing outside. I'm very thankful for my family! Happy Birthday Mom, We love you!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Oh my how they've grown!

I found this picture tonight...oh me how the boys have grown! It's amazing how time flies! This was just 4 years ago! WOW!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Fun with Chandler & Clay

Life at our house is never dull or boring, & we always have lots of laughs. Chandler & Clay are extremely funny kids. They come up with random jokes & have the really neatest personalities. We are so thankful for them and are so blessed to have them as part of our lives. This is just one of the funny things the boys did. Clay was hiding from Chandler in the store so we thought we'd share a funny with you.

They are really full of it!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Way 2 Go Tom!

Tom enrolled in college 5 weeks ago to complete his Business degree. He submitted his final paper today to finish up the first class. His second class starts on Tuesday. These 5 week online courses really work well for people who are busy, have jobs, & need a class schedule that works with their lifestyle! I know that he's worked hard to get this first class completed successfully with an "A"! Way to go Tom. Keep working hard! We're proud of you & love you! ~S,C, & C

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Are you trapped by your expectations?

A friend sent this to me so I thought I'd share. It can apply to so many things in life; not just homeschooling.
Escaping the Homeschool Matrix
The room was brightly lit and cold. She was sitting at a table, across from an empty chair. She knew the questioning would begin any minute. The door opened and a man bearing a remarkable resemblance to Hugo Weaving walked in and sat down in the empty chair.

“Mrs. Anderson,” he began, “we’ve been monitoring your homeschool. Apparently, you have been living two lives. In one life, you’re Katherine A. Anderson, homeschooling mother and wife in a respectable community. You have a homeschool curriculum. You have a schoolroom. You volunteer . . . to help out with your homeschool support group. The other life, Mrs. Anderson, is lived in your pajamas. Your kids are unable to complete their assignments, and if you can get them bathed and dressed before your husband returns from work, you consider it a good day. One of these lives has a future, Mrs. Anderson. The other does not.”

She just stared across the table at this man. “Who was he?” she wondered. Why was he accusing her of these things?

The man opened up a folder and began leafing through it. “As you can see, we’ve had our eyes on you for some time, Mrs. Anderson. I think that you should look long and hard at how you are failing in your role.” He pulled out a single sheet of paper. “Your son is 6 years old and yet he cannot read. Your 11-year-old daughter spends half her time daydreaming and staring off into space. She hasn’t scored better than a D on her spelling quizzes all year. Your teen, this . . . Melissa, I believe her name is . . . she hasn’t prepared for the SAT test. If you really loved your children, Mrs. Anderson, you would have your children at their desks and hard at work by 7:30 each morning.”

Tears started to well up in Katherine’s eyes. Was she really that bad at homeschooling?

“As far as your curriculum goes, you’ve switched back and forth from A Beka to Saxon to Bob Jones and back to Saxon again in just two semesters. I have to wonder, Mrs. Anderson, if you are teaching them correctly. How can you jump from curriculum to curriculum without causing your children to become hopeless, blathering idiots?”

Mrs. Anderson made no effort to wipe away the tears that were now flowing down her cheeks. She knew all these accusations were true. There was nothing she could say to refute them.

“Tell me, Mrs. Anderson. What’s it like, living in your pajamas? Do you enjoy being a slob?” His words began to cut deep, and somewhere deep inside her soul, a wave began to form.

“How many times did you yell at your kids yesterday, Mrs. Anderson? Can you really say you love them if you treat them this way?”

The wave began to build, quickly becoming a surge. Mrs. Anderson’s anger was rising above and beyond the shame and fears this man was exploiting.

“Your best friend, Laurie, doesn't have any trouble getting her six children ready to go to eight different activities each week, yet you always manage to run late . . .”

“That’s enough!” Her waves of anger burst over the dam and began to pour from her lips. “I don't have to listen to these accusations. I am a loving wife and mother, and I care deeply about my children. We may not get to every activity on time or complete every assignment, but we are trying. My children are well fed and clothed, and they are learning so much more than they would learn anywhere else. My son is a gifted engineer. He dismantled three phones last week to understand how the buttons work . . .”

“You consider that school?”

“Absolutely! He is learning mechanics and science. If I can get him to put things back together so that I can answer the phone, I’ll be all set. By the way, Melissa doesn’t need to study for her SAT test right now. She’s 14! We will prepare for it when the time is right.

“Another thing. My daughter may not always study with perfect concentration, but she draws the most beautiful pictures. She understands forms and shapes so much better than her brothers or sisters do. She is a very bright girl, no matter what your files say.”

These bold statements took the man aback. Mrs. Anderson’s outburst, though somewhat controlled, was clearly not what he had expected to hear in response to his accusations.

“You say I yell at my kids, and that’s true. I do lose my temper when I clean a room and come back in thirty minutes to find it in worse shape than it was before I cleaned it. But your files don’t show the breakfast we had yesterday when we sat around and talked about three things we like about each other. I enjoy my children so much more than you could imagine. And we truly love each other.

“I stay in my pajamas some days, that’s true. But we are at home and like to be comfortable while we do our work. Learning is more important than appearances.”

“But are your children really learning, Mrs. Anderson? I show that you have lost ground every time you’ve tried to set a schedule. How effective are you if you can't even maintain a schedule?”

“We may struggle sometimes. I admit, we don’t hit the mark with schedules, but we do a good job setting goals. We know what direction we’re going, and we do a good job, even if we don’t end up completing our workbooks. If anything is out of line, it’s my own expectations.” An idea began to form in her mind.

“What? We are not to blame, Mrs. Anderson!”

“Of course,” she thought, “it all makes sense now.”

Katherine looked straight into her accuser’s eyes as she spoke calmly and deliberately. “I know who you are! You’re my own expectations. You’ve been trying to trap me.”

“Nonsense. We don’t need to trap what we already own.”

“You don’t? Then you would have no problem if I made pajamas the standard school uniform?”
“Uh . . .” Suddenly, the man became quite anxious.

“And you wouldn’t mind my going to thrift stores to buy more phones and other things for my son to dismantle?”

“Wait . . . this isn't what we wanted. Stop!”

“Why? Don’t you want to hear about how we’re going to stop going to so many activities and start spending more time together as a family? I've got some great ideas, including a bug collecting expedition and a board game night.”

“Board games don’t constitute an education! They . . .”

“Oh, yes they do. Colors, numbers, counting, reading, and strategy all work together to educate my children. And the best part is that they don’t even realize it’s school.”

The man was becoming transparent, and he was quickly fading from view. “But what about your curriculum? You can’t change in the middle of the year! It’s . . . ”

“I can change our curriculum whenever I think we need to. If something isn’t working, we can try something else. That’s one benefit of running your own school. I would rather find something that works than have my children suffer through an entire year of work that doesn ’t meet their needs.”

She could see that the man was livid and shouting angrily, but now, along with his appearance, his voice had faded. He was almost gone from view when she said, “Oh, by the way, school starts at 10 a.m. from now on.”

With that, he disappeared.

Mrs. Anderson was about to scoot away from the table when she awoke with a start. Rolling across the screen on the television in front of her were credits for a fantasy film about people fighting the forces of artificial intelligence. She quickly pushed the “off” button and headed upstairs to bed. After all, she had a bug hunt to plan tomorrow.
by Steve Walden The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Enrichment Academy Art

Today at academy our art teacher gave each of the Jr & Sr. high student a 2"x 2" square of an unidentified picture. Each student was to sketch and shade the part of the picture they received. After everyone completed their square, the teacher then had the students put the squares in order to see what they had drawn. The students came to find me to see if I could figure out what they had drawn. I said "well yes, that's Obama on the left and McCain on the right" (no pun intended). They were amazed that I could tell what they had drawn. I think they did an excellent job. The students enjoyed telling me what part of each candidate they had drawn. Chandler drew Obama's nostrils & upper lip. I thought this was an amazing art project especially on election day. We are very thankful for our art teacher. She does an excellent job with our students!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Cabin Weekend

Friday afternoon, we loaded up the tractor & our clothes & headed out for the cabin. We arrived in town after a beautiful, scenic drive through the mountains. The leaves on the trees are gorgeous. We decided to eat at the Leslie Cafe. Friday night is Mexican night so we were excited about that. After dinner, we drove to Mountain View to the church camp to help my parents load some furniture they were taking back home. We visited with them, loaded up the 4-wheeler my dad brought up for the boys & with a quick stop at Sonic, we were on our way back to the cabin. It was Halloween night & some goofballs egged our vehicle from a wooded area in the middle of nowhere. Tom & Clay wanted to stop & go back & get them, but I told them we didn't have a gun & that I would really rather shoot them if we were to go we trudged on. Once we made it back to the cabin, we were able to rest for a while & get ready for a full day of work on Saturday.
Saturday morning, Tom & I drove into town to the hardware store to pick up some galvanized sheet metal that we are going to put on the ceiling downstairs in the cabin & a few other things. We then came back & started clearing out an area to the left of the driveway. It seemed to be visiting day at the cabins because all of our neighbors came to visit as well as the guy who sold us the land. So Tom visited...while I worked. Hmm what's wrong with that? I told him that's why my muscles are so sore, b/c he talked while I worked. :) We did have a tractor mishap....that was scary. The engine was revving & the kill switch would not work. Green liquid & black smoke were shooting out everywhere. After a call to Barry, the tractor guru, we were able to get it to stop. And one of the talking visitors was a mechanic so he looked at the I guess that was good. It seems the hydraulics pump went out! was scary...I was thinking...It's gonna blow up! It's gonna burn up the engine! Tom was quite alarmed say the least!
We have a problem with wasps. They have entered the cabin by the hundreds. We've resorted to sucking them up alive with the shop vac. That's fun. Or I step on them just a little to maim them & let them die a slow painful death. Yes, I am mean.
We were able to get a lot done. I told mom that I feel like I'm trying to rake the forest. I wonder if there is an end to that? For some reason...I think not. I wish all of you could see the cabin from when we first started and the progress we've made. It's like...we could have our own reality TV show..."trick my cabin" or something like that! Until next time...

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Final Cross-Country Meet

Thursday night, we had our final cross-country meet out at Camp Robinson. It was an all-conference meet between Pulaski & Faulkner Counties. Chandler & Clay both ran the elementary race (ages 12-under). Chandler took the 1st place medal in that race which was 1 mile. Clay ran well & never gave up. I was extremely proud of him for giving it all he had. Chandler decided that he wanted to run the Jr. High race too. He took the 2nd place medal in that race. This race was 1.5 miles. A young guy from Faulkner won that could run and he was fast! After that race, Chandler decided that he wanted to run in the Sr. High race too (that's the glory of homeschooling, there aren't many restrictions regarding that sort of thing...if you feel you can do it...then by all means try!) Of course I would have been dying at this point, but he was ready to go. The Sr. High race was a 5K or 3.2 miles. Chandler came in 6th place in that race. Wow, I'm tired just thinking about it, but he did really well. I'm convinced Clay will get faster the more he runs, but you guys know Clay, he was there for his friends. He and his friend were running together, & he wouldn't leave his friend. I suppose that's a good character quality to have huh?
I've included the team photo so you wouldn't think that there were only 6 kids running (LOL). The team is a good size & not all students were present for this meet. The boys are ready for track & field in the spring!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

During this political season let's be reminded of these wise words....

"You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
You cannot lift the wage earner up by pulling the wage payer down.
You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
You cannot build character & courage by taking away men's initiative and independence.
You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could & should do for themselves."

Abraham Lincoln

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Fun @ the Cabin

A quick trip to the cabin gave the boys time to finish off the fire works Dan gave them. Thanks Dan, we loved it! We worked all Friday afternoon on clearing some thorn-infested areas (which I'm sure Tom will share about later) & built a huge bon fire. We roasted marshmallows & tried to quote Hamilton "Ham" Porter from The Sandlot on the proper way to make a 'smore. We saw several falling stars & watched a buck travel alongside the property into the woods. It was a fun & relaxing. However I am really tired after 2 long days of hard work. I have a blister on my hand...I told Tom I didn't think Princesses got blisters. He said, well maybe you're not a princess. I said...I am pretty sure I am & you're wrong.! (LOL)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Pumpkin Patch

Today we went to Collins Orchards in Conway to the Pumpkin Patch with Enrichment Academy. It was a beautiful fall day. Extremely cold to start off then as the sun broke through the clouds, it warmed up & it was terrific. We got a brief introduction to pumpkins, then we were off on the hay ride. The kids were able to pick 2 pumpkins, & they enjoyed looking through the field. Afterward, we had a picnic lunch & the kids jumped over the bales of hay. I think that was probably the highlight of the day! We even took home a few "Big" pumpkins & some muscadines for Tom!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Force Baseball

On the way home from the birthday celebration, we stopped off in Cordova to join Chandler's baseball team. We kept in contact with them throughout the weekend to see how they were playing, & we made it to the tournament just in time for lunch with everyone and the championship game. We beat the Memphis Travelers 8-1. Chandler had a great hit his first time up to bat & for the first time in his life played the outfield. He loved it. He said this was the most relaxing game he's played. There are a wide variety of boys on this team with lots of awesome talent. We're looking forward to getting to know the new teammates & their parents.