Friday, July 13, 2012

Our Anniversary Plantings

Hibiscus - Peppermint Schnapps (partially bloomed)
What better way to remember our 19th wedding anniversary than to plant a tree or a flower...or fifteen trees and flowers...

Thursday evening we began digging holes in the front part of the yard, hoping to get all fifteen plants planted. However, we learned something new about our new yard. Iron Ore runs deep... like deep enough that we couldn't get through it to reach actual soil. Ugh!
Even with the auger, this hole just about got the best of us!

So, tonight with the help of a rented auger - we planted Crepe Myrtles and Hibiscus (my favorite Hibiscus is a rosy pink one named "Sultry Kiss" - perfect for an anniversary - don't you think?) FRitW and MT helped carry potting soil, Dad and Kirk ran the auger and helped Maggie and I plant.
Crepe Myrtle - Dynamite

I managed to encounter a nest of ants and, thankfully, grabbed the web of a black widow, but not the spider herself - no injuries resulted!

These guys are just so cute - working together to unload bags of potting soil:
"Catch that wagon!"

Putting rocks behind the wheels so it can't roll away again
Hard working helpers!
Whew! That was heavy!
Done!


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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Just Fluff and Beaks

She's perched on the edge instead of being cuddled into the nest.

Our new home came with bird nests on the front and back porches. The back porch nest has been abandoned, but we have delighted in watching our little mama bird on the front porch. After much research, we believe she is an Eastern Phoebe. This is a new bird species for us. We only moved about 40 miles from our previous home, but we’ve discovered several new insects, birds, and butterflies in this area.

Maggie noticed some different behavior from our Phoebe yesterday – she was perching on the edge of the nest instead of settling into the nest. She noted at least two tiny heads peeking up as well.
At the right of the nest is a tiny yellow beak.

I snuck out on the porch this evening and snapped a picture while the Mama bird was out hunting more food for these hungry babies. It’s not a great picture, but I was teetering on the top step of the stepladder, trying to brace my camera against the porch ceiling! Oh, and I was in a hurry – hoping not to scare the Mama too much.
Look at that open beak! Isn't the nest snug and soft inside?


We’ve seen two, possibly three heads as we’ve watched her through the window by our dining room table. I can’t wait to see them as they grow to more than just tiny bits of fuzz with huge orange beaks!


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Friday, April 27, 2012

The Purple Beanbag

Maggie’s new room has a dormer window. This was on her wishlist as we shopped for a new home. Before we even toured our first potential home, she had decided that she wanted a large purple beanbag to be a reading space in her new dormer window.

Amazingly enough, she got the dormer window and it is the perfect size for a big beanbag.  But, big beanbags aren’t that easy to come by  (at least when you live in a mostly rural area with limited shopping). But within a week of moving in to our new home, I opened an email from Zulily and found Jaxx Beanbags for sale at a great price! They happened to have a beautiful rich purple one that was 48 inches in diameter – Wow! This was just what she was looking for! As a bonus, these beanbags are made in the USA – which made me smile.

Monday we received a box that couldn’t possibly be big enough to hold a 4 foot beanbag. Hmm… could I have misunderstood the description? Or did I order the wrong beanbag?

This is what we found in the box:

12 inch cube of stuffing and a great big inner liner!

The cube was wrapped in plastic and had six very long strips of tape wrapped around it. The instructions said to remove the numbered strips in order, which Maggie did - with some help from MT:
Pull, MT, Pull!
Maggie then put the bag of fluff into the liner and cut it open. This broke the vacuum seal and the filler immediately began to expand!

Now it was time to wait. The intructions said to let it expand for 24 hours before using the beanbag. After the 24 hours she was to turn the bag and fluff it occasionally for a week to ensure maximum fluffiness.

Here is her beanbag within 20 minutes of opening the vacuum sealed bag:
The cardboard box next to the bag is the box it shipped in.
And again about an hour later:

Another couple of hours:

And finally - 2 days later, in it's cover and with a couple of brothers to demonstrate its size:


What a great product! The cover is thick and sturdy, with a suede-like feel and the size is perfect! Best of all it supports workers here in the United States - what a deal! I'm already watching Zulily for another sale on Jaxx beanbags - All three of the boys want one now!

Zulily is a website that offers great prices on items for babies, children, moms, and the home. If you are interested in seeing what kind of deals Zulily offers, please feel free to use my link:
http://www.zulily.com/invite/lstraley2867
(If you sign up and make a purchase - I will receive a store credit - and so could you, if you refer your friends through your own link!) I've made several purchases through Zulily and have been pleased with this company!

For an extra perk: Sign up for ebates -
http://www.ebates.com/rf.do?referrerid=01LJdlWsC6Sh9yRRyuJOqA%3D%3D
(yep, I get some kind of benefit for you using this link!) and get 3.5% cash back (in the form of an actual check - this is really cash back!) on every purchase you make through Zulily! How's that for a deal? If you are going to buy it anyway, you might as well save a little money and get some cash back too! I've been using ebates for more than a year and have enjoyed receiving my quarterly check! You will be surprised at all of the stores that offer cashback through ebates - check before you shop anywhere!

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Friday, April 20, 2012

New Places to Play


FRitW and MT spent a lot of days in March playing in their beloved ‘place for boats’ because they knew that April meant an end to their special dirt pit. We moved to our new home April 2nd and although the promised new dirt pit has not been dug yet, they have found many new things to do!

The paved driveway has opened all sorts of new possibilities. There is lots of bike and scooter riding, sidewalk chalk roadways, welcome mats, and bowling scores



We have a bird nesting on the front porch

A chrysalis near the porch light: (we watched the caterpillar work its way up the doorframe and build the cocoon!)

And a lovely wooded backyard.

We’ve seen hundreds of butterflies, thanks in part to these lovely flowers on the bush next to the front porch.

My favorite part of our new house though? The people to bathroom ratio is no longer 6:1 woohoo!!!!

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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Keva + Firecracker = BOOM!

Just a simple building
We really like Keva Planks in this house. Kevas are American made, hardwood planks that can be stacked a number of ways. They are excellent for teaching small motor control, balance, and patience (both in building and toward your little brother when he knocks down your patiently built structure).
Oh no - is that smoke pouring from the building???

This week we added another element to our Keva play � small explosives! We have a few fireworks left from July of last year just for occasions such as today. I�m pretty sure Kirk came up with the idea today, but I don�t think there was any argument when he suggested they blow up a Keva building.
Complete destruction...

 The result was so incredible that I had to attempt to get it on camera. The force blew Keva�s 12 feet from the building site! I never could catch the moment of explosion, but you can see in these photos the complete destruction of the tiny building.
It's blurry, but ths is in the midst of the explostion - Keva pieces flew everywhere!

Larger buildings did not explode with the same impact � which was a little disappointing, but as you can see - the open structure allowed the force to dissipate without complete destruction. Amazingly enough, no Keva�s (or kids) were harmed in the process, but fun was had by all!
The bigger building

It fell piece by piece but nothing flew up into the air.
Is there any purpose at all to this? Probably not - but it was a lot of fun!
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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap Day Sale!

28 Days of Hope for your home is on sale through today! It's a Sale-within-a Sale! Today, use code HOPE to get this e-book for only $2.00!!!
Here's a short video with a little information about the book:

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Monday, January 30, 2012

Hope For Your Home

I have a friend that  always has her door open to visitors. “Drop by anytime” is her motto. And she means it.

I can’t bring myself to do that. I call first, give her a heads up that we are on our way, schedule our visit a day or two in advance…

Why? Because it terrifies me to think someone might just ‘drop by’ sometime. My friend has a gift of hospitality, but she also knows that I don’t and she knows that I’m not comfortable with anyone just dropping by. I’m so thankful for family and friends that love me regardless of my shortcomings, but that doesn’t mean I want them to see my house in its full glory.

I’ve had lots of excuses – some of them truly legitimate – my biggest problem with having people over is our unfinished house. I don’t have upper cabinets (or sufficient lower ones), so storage is at a minimum and the kitchen counter becomes a repository for stuff. The floors are not finished, so sweeping has to suffice because mopping is not the best idea for bare wood. But the biggest problem in this house is really ‘ME’. And I have no idea how to fix me.

Can you identify? I’m not asking for a show of hands – I know that the best thing about the internet is your ability to be who you want the world to see. But I know I’m not the only one with dishes on the counter from last night (and possibly the night before…).  

If you are still reading – this may be the hope you need. Dana White, aka Nony the Slob from A Slob Comes Clean has written:






28 Days to Hope for Your Home





{not for the mildly disorganized}


Develop four habits over four weeks.


Discover hope for real change in your home.


This is where I am beginning. I’ve read tons of books about how to clean, organize, vacuum while wearing heels and pearls … but none of them explained how to get started. I can do the big glorious jobs of completely reorganizing my craft room or the office, but after a day of organizing I am still faced with the dishes and laundry. It is the everyday stuff that gets me every time!





    • Twenty-eight days of specific instructions to help you develop four basic (but essential) home management habits.
    • Insights into why these concepts seem foreign to you.
    • Practical tips to keep you from giving up.
    • Bonus sections with realistic strategies for laundry management, meal prep, and decluttering.
    • More than 45 pages of all new, exclusive content!
    I’ve been reading Nony’s blog: A Slob Comes Clean for a few months now. I don’t have all the same issues that she has, but that’s ok. This book will walk you through a day by day routine for 28 days. It is the simple starting place you have been looking for. This book isn’t designed to give you a fully organized, spotless home in 28 days, it will help you develop good habits for doing the everyday stuff – like dishes, and sweeping. You know, that stuff that has to be done again and again and again, day after day.

    Nony is funny and honest about her own continuing journey to ‘deslobification’, and the eBook is easy to read and follow. You can read it straight from your computer or your Nook or Kindle.

    Download this e-book for 7.99 4.00!


    That’s right! Through the end of February . . . 28 Days to Hope for Your Home is on sale for Half Price!

    After you purchase the e-book through e-junkie (payment is made through Paypal), you will immediately receive a link to download the e-book and save it to your computer.


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    This is an affliate link. I will receive compensation for any purchase you make through my blog.

    Friday, January 20, 2012

    School in "The Place for Boats"


    It’s a beautiful, balmy 70 degree winter day here in East Texas. I’m sitting on the front porch, working on a few projects while awaiting the all important call. Yep, any minute now I’ll hear it – “Mom! There’s a leak! Turn the water off!” I’ll jump up, turn off the hose and wait for the go ahead to turn the water back on.

    No, we aren’t working on the plumbing – it’s just another ‘Water in the Place for Boats’ kinda day. Oh, I know, you’ve probably read a dozen posts like this if you’ve read my blog for long. We are a mud loving, outside playing, dig in the dirt, kind of family. But today as I watch the little boys and work on the projects I need to get done, I’m thinking about school.
    It's a breach in the dam! Call in the heavy equipment!

    Sometimes I have a hard time differentiating between school and life, because we’ve chosen to live a life of learning. I’m not completely sure how we started on this way of life, but I’m so thankful we did. I’ve read a number of blog posts in recent months that have me thinking about the value of a lifestyle of learning.

    One blog post by a homeschooling mom of two young boys (both under 6 years) mentioned that although they like to play outside, they rarely get time, due to homeschool. What a sad thought! In the state of Texas, children are not required to attend school until the school year after their 6th birthday. For MT, that will be September 2013. So, I do not do any school with MT. FRitW is of legal school age, so I do meet the state’s requirements for him. But, I feel that outside, unstructured, creative play has much more value than a worksheet!
    A new idea: create an overflow pond in the area most likely to leak.

    What value could mud play possibly have? Permit me a moment to share. Our ‘Place for Boats’ as the dirt hole is affectionately called, is a grassless space on a slight incline. This means water does not want to stay in the hole. So each time they decide to have a water day, they have to build some sort of dam to hold the water. This requires some serious planning, teamwork, and hard physical labor. They have learned to come up with new ideas to contain the water and reroute the water. Essentially, they are learning basic engineering skills and putting them into practice. They are seeing, touching, and thinking through problems, and finding a solution. And when it fails? Well they try again. The mud hole is something they want to succeed and they receive a direct benefit when their plans work. The incentive to keep trying, thinking, and creating is tangible and they never give up.
    It works! It works!

    In addition to these skills, they have encountered several toads hibernating in this hole. When they uncover a toad, the discussions flow. They have learned much about habitat, seasons, and respect for creatures and the environment from this mud hole. I keep a variety of insect and reptile guides available and those guides are in frequent use. They are learning that the ability to read is a valued and desirable goal.

     Finally, FRitW and MT are comfortable in the outdoors and they are strong and healthy.

    I write this post, not because I think everyone should choose this life, but because sometimes I need a reminder that it’s best for our family. Out in public, I get asked if my children are on grade level, or what textbooks we use for homeschooling. I don’t have ‘acceptable’ answers to either of these. I can’t speak to the grade level, because that depends on the school I compare them with, and we don’t use textbooks. In fact we don’t have any curriculum with a grade number on it. Aaack! Then are my children behind in their learning???!!! Umm, well that depends. Since we are a homeschooling family, I feel they are right on track. They have mastered skills at different ages, and have different strengths than each other. None of them learned to read extremely early and one has simply atrocious handwriting. But, they are all intelligent, creative, hard working, loving, trustworthy people -  and that makes me smile.
    I'm so glad they're washable!

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