Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Merry Christmas

I can't believe it is the last day of 2013.
I am still stuck on Christmas. I feel like there are so many things that didn't happen. Not that we were busy. Mostly because of finances. We missed out on baking for friends and neighbors. We missed out on making everyone who is somebody an ornament. We missed spreading holiday cheer wherever we went. Well, we might have done that one. You would have thought that those things would have made for a lonely, tragic Christmas but it didn't. Yeah, job situations have made living day to day very, very difficult but there is no tragedy in that.
Our faith in our Savior has carried us through day to day. I feel that these past 5 years, we have been stripped of everything. Jobs, house, bank accounts, retirement......but not our Faith in God.
Our Heavenly Father has blessed us beyond anything that we could ever think of. We were headed for a simple Christmas this year. We knew it back in September and had prepared the kids for that. It took pressure off of Kirk and I. It is a real bummer to fail in your teenagers eyes. We were doing pretty good at looking like we really did know something and that we were all going to have a wonderful year in spite of what it might look like on the outside. We have always talked about how quality is more important that quantity, no matter what it is that you are talking about. Especially family relationships.
Our family was adopted by a Secret Santa....well, more like 40 people. And they blessed us way beyond the simple expectations that we had. It has been a very humbling experience. How do you accept such gracious generosity? How do you say "thank you" to something like this? How DO you say thank you to something like this. In our situation there aren't any words that describe how we feel. It is easy to feel like a loser when you don't have any words to say to someone who has blessed your family beyond anything that we could ever do.
But, that is how God works.
He does things that you just can't put words to.
God blesses us every day.
He has proven to us that the sun comes up every day and we will be taken care of.
I want to give our Secret Santas all the credit but I know that if God hadn't worked through their hearts, we would have had a much different Christmas. One that we were planning on. I think I like our Father in Heaven's plan better.
His was WAY more fun!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Sunday Outing!

We are the happiest family.
We love to spend time together.....even though sometimes it doesn't sound like it.
Maybe it is me that loves that we spend time together.
Either way, we had a blast after Church.
We drove just 10 min away to one of our favorite sledding hills.
It was lightly snowing making for a perfect day.
 I love that my big kids are still such a huge part of our lives.
As a mother, I get huge amounts of satisfaction seeing my family smile. Plus I get to see all those years running to the orthodontist with two kids in braces pay off. They have beautiful smiles.
In the upper lefthand corner of this collage shows Daphne catching air. She landed face down in the snow. We all held our breath.....she came up laughing. Whew! She was okay.
The hill doesn't really look that steep but it really is. And slick too. Especially if you go down where one of the kids had already gone. 
 Victoria is a go-getter. She is always willing to try anything and rarely shys away from things like sledding down a hill at top speed.
Kaleb is my deep thinker. He doesn't really talk much. Not like how everything Victoria is thinking comes out her mouth. I am always asking Kaleb what he is thinking about.
 I am married to Father Christmas.....St. Nicholas......Santa Claus!
Well, almost. Give him another year or so and that beard of his will be as white as snow.
 Kirk.....having a Holly, Jolly time!
 The girls....blasting down the hill. Victoria had her eyes closed the entire time.
 We have truely enjoyed living in the snow. I have many pictures of Kaleb in this very position, cross legged on a saucer at a bottom of a hill. And I love every single one of them.
 Kaleb looks like a little alien here with his hood full of air.
 We have many pictures of Victoria laying in the snow. I guess there is just something about rolling around in freezing cold snow and still feeling warm because of all the layers of clothing you have underneathe.
Happy children make for a very satisfying day.
I love it here.
 Brotherly love.
Well, that is until Jared threw his brother to the ground.
Sisters, I love the Sisters song in the movie....White Christmas.
Lord help the mister, who comes between me and my sister....
Lord help the sister, who comes between me and my man.
Victoria made the mistake of throwing a snowball at Jared's neck. I think she knew she was doomed. He wrestled her to the ground, very easily due to the enormous size difference and got even with her above and beyond anything that she could EVER do to him. She is a pretty tough little girl due to her big brother.
I turned around to Kaleb breathing heavily, all by himself. You never know what he is going to be doing. I especially love when he comes up from the basement in the morning acting like a T-rex. 

It's a Wonderful Life

 Jared came up stairs  dressed for Church today in a black and white movie. I felt like I was watching "It's a Wonderful Life". I love that he likes to dress nice for church. We have raised them to care about their appearance on Sundays and what they wear. He was wearing a dark grey shirt under a button down grey shirt, a grey and black zipper jacket, his dark grey wool coat and his new scarf that I knitted him in charcoal grey. I told him he looks like a charcoal drawing.
Very Monochromatic.
I think Victoria dressed like the snow today.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Baby it's COLD outside...

We are trying to get into the Christmas Spirit now that life has simmered down a little.
Sweet Toby is resting in peace. Thank you Lord.
Alexander seems to be happy even though he is heavily laden with rocks. Uugh.
We are almost done with homeschooling for the year. Whew!
We are almost done with Scouts for the year. Yay!
We have been done with our co-op classes for two weeks now. Yes!

Now we are on to doing some fun things. Like baking COOKIES! And adding to our decorations.
Victoria made this adorable snowmen picture. I absolutely LOVE pinterest! There are so many brillant people out there from all over.
I got the idea Here.
She did hers on burlap and used a little frame from the thrift store that I painted red and aged with white.
I am doing anything to capture those last few years that we have with her small.
She is growing up so fast.
Oh, by the way, it has warmed up to 32 degrees today.
Yay, sweatshirt weather. Much better than the 10 degrees that we have been having.

Our Little Zoo has Reindeer

Meet Nanook....

And Zima..... (means winter)

 We met Santa (Troy) a couple months ago when we came to the zoo asking questions about how they hibernate their tortoises. This guy is really nice and brought us in the back to where they keep their reptiles for the winter. Once I saw how they had them set up I felt much better about bringing Alexander into the basement. Troy recognized us at once. I love living in this town.
Okay....back to the reindeers. We found out that they were born and raised in Oregon and spent some time at Disneyland in Southern California. So now they are residing here in Logan.
We found out that both reindeer still have velvet on their antlers and are not symmetrical because they have been......how do you say castrated in a nice way. I don't know....so....there you go. They lack testosterone. The zoo adopted them in Sept. which is about when they would have gotton a shot of testosterone like they do every year making the velvet fall off earlier in the fall and giving them symmetrical antlers. We had a lesson in reindeer with a single visit to the zoo.
 I love the quiet, stillness of winter here. I love the brisk, crisp air.
Believe it or not, all the coyotes were out where you could see them.
We had turkeys gobbling at us.
The albino porcupine was curled up in his favorite spot in his tree....Kirk is almost sure that it is stuffed. He claims that it NEVER moves. We have seen it on the ground, so I know it is alive.
The emu was walking along with us along the fence. I think it was happy to have visitors.
The peacocks were keeping warm on the fences. We walked right by them and they didn't budge.
The Great Horned Owl was wide awake.
It made for a pleasant visit.
 The first time we ever visited this park we were so impressed with the size of these trees.
I hadn't realized how important trees were to me until we stood under these trees.
They are beautiful and I love them.


 This little hamster is the cutest little thing. When Victoria first got him he had only a little tuft of long hair near his tail. He was supposed to be a Syrian longhaired hamster. So where was his long hair? We thought that might be it. But over the course of the past month, we have discovered that he was just a tiny baby. He has lots of long hair now.
We have all had great fun with this little guy. Victoria was cleaning his house and Kaleb was babysitting. It was obvious that Georgie really didn't want to be woken up so he lunged into the basket that holds all our school supplies. He made a perfect little bed between the glue stick and the pencil sharpener. He stayed there with his little head tucked underneath. Of course Kaleb forgot about him and left him on the table, unattended....with the dogs near by! Yikes! He was safely sleeping.
The girls constructed a lego maze for him to maneuver. He looked like pac man squeezing through the little tunnels collecting yougart drops into his cheeks for later.

It Came One Night......

It was 10 p.m. one night.....
and all the lights were on.....
Kirk had just repaired a huge water gusher from under the sink....
We heard Henry barking outside....
A Knock....
The door bell rang......
Who could that be at this hour.
We opened the door and found our door step full of presents.
The boys ran out the door to catch our deliverers....
but found nothing.
Boy, they were fast!
We spent the next half hour unwrapping the boxes because there were obviously meant to be opened when we saw one with a tag on the outside that was just needing to be investigated.
Someone went to a lot of work to come up with this nifty idea.
I can't wait to share it with you.
 Here it is all together. We have asked a couple of friends who we suspect. So far, no confessions. Though we do have a couple clues but we aren't tellin'!
 Could this be a clue? "Lemon" muffin mix? Could this be from our dear friends the "Lemon" Family whom we adore so much?
 My favorite is the dish towel and dish cloth that had a label of a new washer and a new dryer.
Very clever!
 Victoria has been fascinated with the fact that we have microwave popcorn in the house!
 Hmmm...."Lemon" lime soda? Is that another clue?
 I sure am glad it is Christmas time....Orange you?
How can you "not" be joyful with "Lemon" scented dishwashing liquid!
Could there be a "Lemon" theme here?
We had a blast with this as I am sure the secret family who surprised us with all these goodies had.
Either way, we have known since the moment that we moved up here that we love it here and all of our friends that we have made these past two years.

Family Quilt

 I have finally finished our family quilt.  I started it the summe before we moved north. Every piece of fabric used (except the back) was cut from fabric that I had sewn into clothing for one of us. Kirk, myself or the kids. I can look at every single square and know what I had sewn from it.
I included old jeans that were to be thrown away. It was the only way I could get Jared to relinquish his favorite pair of jeans that had a tear across the knee from seam to seam.
 I even included a swatch of my old uniform skirt that I wore in High School at Alemany Catholic School, the fabric from my first curtains in my first apartment, a pocket from Victorias favorite jeans when she was a toddler, a skirt I wore in Nursing School, numerous shorts, shirts, toys, blankets from many years of sewing.

It was much too heavy to make it through my sewing machine, let alone maneuver it once it was in place, so I hand stitched it leaving my poor finger tips sore.
I spent many nights watching a movie with this quilt in my lap reminescing of time long gone but preserved. The kids love to ask me what each square is from. Or they reflect on which ones they remember.
I hadn't planned on using it on our bed but I was so tired of our present quilt being there that I decided to replace it with this new one. Not only is it heavy to sleep under but it represents our family so dearly. Here I am, always trying to eek out some quiet time alone...I may never be alone again with this quilt so close by. This quilt means Family.
My Family.

Tortoise Rehab Center

Sometimes I feel like we are running a rehab center for tortoises. Our days involved making sure that Alex stays warm, gets plenty of sunlight beyond his UV bulbs, eats and yes....poop rocks! Which he still needs to do.
Everyday, we corral him in this box and make him atleast sit in the sun for 15 minutes because 15 minutes of natural sunlight is worth 12 hours from a special UVB lightbulb that cost us almost $40. We usually catch him asleep.
Like all reptiles, they love basking in the sun.
We caught him one day looking out the window after it had snowed. We were wondering what he was thinking....either he was longing to cruise outside or he was trying to figure out what all that white stuff was.
One of the other things we do is try to get him exercising.
I told you we were running a rehab for tortoises.
Long ago when we upgraded from one of those little hedstrom metal swing sets to a home built gigantic swing set with a huge platform and a really cool slide, Kirk sawed off the bottom of the old slide because Alex loved to walk on it like a treadmill.
His little treadmill came with him to Nana's house and then up here last summer.
Kirk divised a way to keep it up right.
The first time we set it up he cruised on that thing for over an hour in the kitchen.
Just a glimpse into the wierd stuff happening in the Headley House.


This has been a very sad week. We had to put our sweet Toby down last week. He was 17 1/2 years old and has been dwindling due to old age. Who would have thought that this huge cat that weighed 19 pounds would become a frail old man with stiff hips. His last couple days we spent almost every minute with him. We thought he would just give up over the weekend but he didn't. He just kept hanging in there. He continued to sleep with us with my hand on his side so he knew we were still there for him. If he thought he was alone he would meow out until I touched him. So sad. And with every little touch I made, he purred a faint purr.
He has been such a huge part of our lives. I went to Target one night in Phoenix(1996) and came home with a kitten. I did double check with Kirk. and called from a pay phone....Actually, it was more like a warning. We had recently put down a cat due to old age (she was 16) and our 18 yo Siamese was extremely depressed. She perked up as soon as she saw Toby. Someone for her to take care of. And she did exactly that and lived another two years until she was 20 years old!  He was the sweetest cat but extremely possessive of me. That was kind of wierd. As he aged he improved his behavior. I was always worried that he would smother the kids when they were babies. He was so big. He equaled their size and outweighed them at times. But he was always gentle and well loved.
We miss Toby.
We miss him laying all over the kids school books so they can't write on their papers.
We miss him lying across our laps while sewing.
I miss him pulling out all the straight pins from my pin cushion only to return to it and what appears to have been a pin explosion.
I miss him removing the pins in a pattern as fast as I am putting them in.
I miss him sitting on my lap while I am cross stitching and grabbing the embroidery floss as it is being pulled through the cloth.
I miss him playing with the yarn, the curly ribbon, the elastic, the string.....
We miss the time he took an entire skein of yarn and twined it under the kitchen table between all the legs during an afternoon of partying while we were away.
We don't miss the time he found Jared's rubber snake that he had just gotton from the zoo and chewed it up into pieces, leaving it on the floor. It looked disturbing because it looked real.
We don't miss the numerous barbie feet that he chewed off leaving the bendable filament sticking out from the ankles.....that looked gross too. We finally learned to not leave rubbery things out.
We miss him sitting in the high chair,
licking baby food off the tray, the baby's face, bib, hands.....he loved baby food. Loved, loved it.
He loved chewing on the girls little christmas tree that they had in their room for their dolls. They don't miss that. It was annoying.
We don't miss him finding ways to be close to the streamers. He had a thing for crepe paper too.
He had spent years drinking out of the goldfish bowl and even recently. Victoria was so afraid that he was going to eat her goldfish, Silly. He never did. I think the fish misses him too.
One time Jared saw me kiss Toby on the head when he was a baby. So he walked right over to him and licked his side. He came to me with his wet slobbery mouth, wide open with tons of fur stuck inside and outside his mouth. He never did that again.
Another time, Jared only knew how to crawl and was heckling Toby. He chased Toby out of the room as fast as his little hands and legs would go. All of a sudden he came crawling back into the room at the same speed with Toby attached to his back, nails included. I will never forget that. Jared didn't even cry. To him, Toby was a playmate.
We will all miss Toby.
And I know he loved us to the very last second.
I feel relieved that he is comfortable and at peace.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Reminiscing the Past

I was lying in bed this morning at 4:30am thinking about babies. Last night I exposed to many wonderful babies that are in families from Star Academy. I miss working in the NICU so much, hogging all those beautiful little newborns with their super soft skin.
I just love them.
I love my own kids too.
 I looked at my, taller than me, son from a distance. His head was significantly higher than the crowd of friends that he was talking and laughing with. I could feel Daphne standing right behind me like she always has, while I was talking to some of the other moms while my eyes were fixated on a friend's very handsome baby boy.
My thoughts wandered to this very picture!
 I have no idea why I thought of this picture but I am so happy to have it. It reminds me of a time of being a young mother and trying to capture those special annual Christmas pictures next to the Christmas tree with their little handsewn outfits. What a disaster! I remember being so frustrated because I couldn't understand why they just wouldn't sit next to eachother and smile. It started with Jared. He started to cry and then Daphne started to cry......I thought it was over. And this was before there were digital cameras. So you took a roll of 24 pictures and you get what you get. I must have taken the whole roll trying to get them to be happy and smile for me. And then I had to wait a week for them to be developed. They just weren't cooperating. I knew that one day I would look back at this very moment and appreciate my little ones idiosyncrocies. It happened this morning. I would give anything to squeeze them, hold them close and kiss their soft little sticky faces. I think they would cringe if I tried to do that now especially now that Jared actually shaves. Yikes!
 It all worked out. We never did capture them together in the same picture. And Daphne wouldn't take a picture unless it had the cat in it. (Toby is so young here, he probably won't make it through this winter. He's an old man now.)
And by golly, Jared got his way. All he wanted in his 10 month old little mind was to sit on the horsie by himself. Quite the cutie patootie with his little dimples. It ended up being a Merry Christmas after all in 1996.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Middle School and High School Art Class

Here is the pear that I painted as an example of what I was helping the kids achieve.
It always helps to have something to look at so the kids know what I mean. The downfall of that is that I usually don't have time to sit down and be creative. I end up squeezing in painting or drawing while I am making dinner.
Kaleb took his time and finished his pear at home. A benefit to having his mom as his art teacher.
I am so pleased at how this project turned out. There are almost 20 kids in this class so I missed quite a few pictures. A few of the kids made me promise I wouldn't let their mom see their painting. They intend to wrap theirs up as a Christmas present, so I didn't include any smiling, pleased faces with the pictures. Just to be sure.
This was a very fun project. I loved taking thick, creamy paint and just slapping it on the canvas. It taught the kids to just go for it and see what happens. Half way through there was quite a bit of moaning and groaning going on. They hated their pears and didn't think it was turning out at all. I had to reassure them that they couldn't make any decision until their paintings were complete.
 On the day of completion ( it took 3 weeks to finish), I think they were all very happy and satisfied with their paintings. I figure that if an art class can build confidence, it is successful.
Remembering that I have had no training as an art teacher, my goal in these classes is to show these kids that they can create something that is visually appealing to the eye. And in the process of that is where the real lesson is. Getting an opportunity to mush colors together with a paintbrush, or dripping watercolor paint into dabs of water on paper, or smearing charcoal with their fingers, or making something of a bunch of lines is where they find their confidence and emotional healing. They have to find their acceptance of themselves and what they did on paper in art. Their personalities come through. I love to point that out. Let them see that they have a style and it is individual. It is theirs. They like to see how they are different from the others. I try to help them see that.
Sometimes they just absolutely hate it.
BUT.....Like I always say....
There are no mistakes in art!
 The ultimate lesson is Patience.
Some projects take more than an hour to complete. Trying to pace a bunch of kids from rushing through an art project takes my own patience and encouragement to them to really look at what they are trying to do and take their time.

Monday, December 2, 2013


We are co-habitating with our 27 yr old tortoise, Alexander.
My parents brought him up from Arizona with them this past summer. He hadn't been doing very well. He wasn't eating and was pretty skinny for this time of year. In October, we found an exotic veterinarian in Richmond to see him. Wait, he was a veterinarian who saw exotics. He was a pretty average guy but he does see horses, cows, sheep and pets....plus reptiles. At first I wasn't sure if we should trust him but I could see very quickly that he knew what he was talking about. We discovered that not only was he a moving target for the x-ray machine, but he had also swallowed ROCKS!
I recognize the size of the gravel from my parents yard where Alex was for one and a half years. Why would he eat rocks!? I have no idea. But it is making him sick.
So now we need to get him to .....
Yep, poop rocks!
 Well, he hasn't finished pooping rocks, but at least we have gotten him to eat. The key is to provide him with enough sunlight to keep him awake. He wants to hibernate but I think we are convincing him to stay awake. The boys and I have been feeding him critical care food with a syringe. Believe me, it is tricky prying open a tortoise jaw and squirting food in his mouth. It takes all three of us to do it. We also put him in a warm tub of water. I didn't realize that reptiles absorbed water through their skin. I do now. So he gets a daily bath. Everyday, he comes upstairs to bask in the sunshine shining in the window in our kitchen. He really enjoys being with us. It is usually during the time that the kids are trying to make their lunch so he is always being pushed out of the way to get into the refrigerator. He is like a rock with legs.
No pun intended.
He could die from this. I know that God can move mountains, so I pray that he moves rocks daily.
We must be the only family saying our prayers asking our Heavenly Father to make Alex poop rocks.
I love this picture of him. He is so relaxed and content with his legs all sprawled out. He has been handled the most he has in years and welcomes neck rubs. When we first brought him inside he was making quite a bit of hissing noises when we touched his legs. He was easily startled. Now he is used to being placed in a tub of water half asleep. I think he might be on the mend soon. It is a very slow process and requires lots of patience.
He's worth it.

Apologia Flying Creatures Class

I taught two classes this fall to the elementary age kids. Art, which I already posted, and a Birds/Insect class using the Apologia Flying Creatures book.
I had a great time. We started with insects and moved into birds.
I think the kids really got into it as well. They would catch insects or find an abandoned nest that fell out of a tree and bring it into class.
One of things that we worked on was a notebook where they could draw, write, describe and label. I love that science and art go together.
With that being said, we worked on paper mache birds that were small enough to fit in their hands.
I test everything out and whip up an example. I love paper mache and are always determined to perfect my skills.
Here is my little mountain chickadee.
We used paper towels this time so when we painted them it looked like we painted on canvas.
 Almost all these kids ended up being in my art class. So they would help me pack up everything and move whatever we needed to the next class. The boys especially, were very helpful and would tell me thank you every day for teaching the class. I think they really enjoyed it.
We had one mishap with these birds. I took them home each week.
Samson got to one of them and ATE the paper mache off the masking tape body.
He was so BUSTED!
He got sent to his crate for a whole hour. He knew exactly what he did wrong. And then I had to tell the poor kid whose bird got eaten. He was okay with it and later it became something that they all kind of laughed about. I brought the glue mix back and he re-paper mached it.
It all worked out. And the birds are adorable.
We had fun in this class.