Tuesday, July 29, 2008

by Robin
As a mom to boys, I have to be very careful about boredom. Plus, they're approaching that puberty age and girls will someday soon be a distraction. So, what's a mom to do?

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. " Jer 29:11

So, they were enlisted in a summer musical for kids. "Simon Says" gives the complete gospel in a very comedic way. This allows church children to get in touch with their artistic gifts and develop their talents. Our big presentation is Sunday evening, 6pm. We have 2 more run-throughs on Wed & Sat.
If I may just interrupt my own thoughts to publically say that I feel terrible for the Tennessee Valley Unitarian church family who lost 9 members Sunday during their kids' presentation at church yesterday.

I also have found that giving them pets is helpful. They want to nurture something, so this is the time to do that.

We keep them busy in projects like Embryology, which turn into life lessons & responsibilities. Having chickens has been different for all of us. None of us ever had them before, but they do make good pets & will teach the kids about how their food gets to their plates.

You have to earn a chicken's trust to be able to hold it. This has taught the boys creativity, kindness and swiftness while being gentle. Lucky says that she loves those boys.
I do my best to keep their active bodies and minds engaged in a challenge. We have enjoyed 4H for many years but they need a bigger challenge, so we put Simon Peter in FIRST Lego League where he will study climate conditions & build a global game plan with Mindstorm robots. Nothing like a little career for four 12-13 yo boys. I look forward to blogging about our competitions this fall.
Last but not least, both boys are going to start taking music lessons. We'll start with recorder, move to piano and then see where that leads us.
Wait........I have to go........ I don't think Sam is loving the boys as much. They're attempting to drown...er...teach her to swim today. That's Simon Peter's lifejacket on her. Ahhh..... see what I mean about boredom?

Monday, July 28, 2008

by Robin

My friend in Atlanta, Angela, has named me for the Arte y Pico award, originating in Uruguay, on her blog over the weekend. Angela is somewhat a new-comer to blogging, but has made great strides in a short time to have a very advanced blog. She loves to cook, like me, and she has created a loving, cozy home for entertaining family & friends, like Jack & I. I'm proud to call her my sister in Christ.

Anyhow, basically, Arte y Pico translates into a wonderful phrase in Mexico, “lo maximo.” LOL! It will never find its counterpart in English, but if it HAD to, it would be something like, Wow. The Best Art. Over the top. Thank you for recognizing not only my blogging "art" but also my commissioned work.

The rules after receiving this award is to:

1. Choose 5 blogs that you consider deserving of this award for their creativity, design, interesting material, and also contribute to the blogging community.

2. Each award has to have the name of the author and a link to his/her blog.

3. Each award winner has to show the award and put the name of and link to the blog that presented her/him with the award.

4. The award winner and the one who has given the prize has to show the link of Arte Y Pico blog so everyone will know the origin of this award.

5. Show these rules.

Angela already mentioned a couple of my favorite blogs, like Domain Delphal and Steppin Heavenward.

So, as to not repeat Angela's honorings, I'll pick out 5 more.

1. Pastor Andy Rayner from Prince Edward Island. Rayner Rambler. Andy is a commercial fisherman, homeschool father of 3 and a church planter in the PEI and West Africa area. When he has time to write, it is always thought-provoking and a challenge to us pew warmers. He is heading back to Africa later this year to provide fresh water to certain areas while planting new churches.

2. Madison Winn , 16 yo, from Atlanta who is my hero. It isn't actually a blog but rather a Caring Bridge site. She has fought Medullablastoma (brain) cancer, radiation, chemo and a resection surgery since Aug 2007. She has been cancer-free for 7 weeks yet remains in the hospital, trying to recover. She has touched my life immensely.

3. My cousin Courtney, writing the Imbert report. She reminds me about young love & the struggles of just starting out in life. She has a wonderful career in the making & two adorable furry mugs to love, Braddock & Harley.

4. FL Mom, my internet-friend who homeschools & gardens on The Narrow Path . As she puts it, she's "moving her family backward in order to move forward." She's organic, green, loves animals, beaches and God. I'm learning a lot from her gardening tips & frugal ways.

5. Ok, I'm stepping outside the blogging boundaries, but it's because I'm not online too much. (Really Jack, really!!) The people at Backyard Chickens have been a huge asset in helping me successfully raise my 3 hens. It is one of the fastest growing forums across America. If you're interested in having fresh eggs & unique pets, you may want to check them out.

EDITED: to add a blog I shouldn't have forgotten.
6. Sharie's By Amazing grace is filled with gorgeous pictures of her family & their travels. We met online when we first began our homeschooling journey several years ago. Her sister Kimberly is an amazing artist and it carries over into Sharie's artistic photog style which rivals the work of The Pioneer Woman. I'm envious of her Photoshop program. Sharie really should have been my 5th pick instead of the chicken forum.

Have I fulfilled all my contractual obligations??? I'm ready for my Oscar next.

Friday, July 25, 2008

by Robin

This afternoon, as I did several chores in the yard, I kept going past these beautiful yellow roses that demanded I take their picture. Ahh, they're gorgeous against the red lantana backdrop.

So I go in to take a zoom of the smaller rose and Sheesh!! "Waiter, there's a fly in my soup!" Ok, not in my soup, but on my rose. GO AWAY!

Ahhhhh......... this is the photo I wanted.
Thanks to my newly acquired ADD (having kids makes you this way), I hear a buzzing nearby- like an echo & buzz. I'm whisked away from my yellow roses to find a bee carrying purple petals into our PVC towel rack by the pool. One by one, he'd bring another one in. I guess he was frightened by my need to photograph & blog every single thing, so when I came back to the tube an hour later, all but 2 petals were removed. What a shame. I had a nice little story going on in my head about how he was collecting these for his favorite gal. Maybe he was going to lure her there and hope that one day they could raise a family of bees together in a tube. Or maybe I could capitalized on the title, "Extreme Tube Makeover." I don' t know.

It was neat for a little while anyhow. By the way, I do not have these purple petals in my yard. He must have traveled a great bee distance to create this little vacation get-away with a pool-side view. (Yes, that is Sam in the background. She was totally bored with my bee fascination & wanted back in the house.)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

WE interrupt CHICKENS to bring you PUPPIES!!!
by Robin
Sam had her well visit today in the same area as where our future puppy lives. So, we dropped by to say hello. They were tired but somebody managed to give me a few kisses on the cheek. Their personalities are coming out slowly, but surely. The male with light spots is the rowdy one. The little girl is in charge and definitely not going to miss a meal. You can't tell from the photo above, but she's fatter than the boys. We had our pick down to the carmel & dark spotted boy, whom we've nicknamed "Mole face". The teenage daughter told me a young cousin dropped Carmel boy on his head and he's had seizures. That was 3 days ago. That pretty much took him out of the running for us. Not definitely but it pretty much ruined it for Jack and I. He's also much more frail looking-acting which concerns me. So, if it were me picking a puppy today, I'd go with "Mole face". I love the dark mask on him. He's a good weight. His face is much more delicate than it looked 2 wks ago. I don't think this photo does him justice. It is so dark in their house and I have to use a flash for everything. Photo ops are slim, at best.

Sam was so good around all the cats & puppies. The adult chihuahuas were in a bedroom.
HENS - 3 mo, 1 wk, 2 days old

Below is my big girl. She's not a White Leghorn, but rather a Light Brahma. She's a dual-purpose gal (i.e. multi-tasker). She can either be used for her meat or large brown eggs. I can't even think of eating my baby!!

We've got another 2 months until we see eggs. I can't wait!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

requested by Simon Peter and Andrew

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

by Robin

It's been one of those days where I wanted to crawl back into the covers and go back to sleep. Some of it was physical, but some of it was emotional, too.

My heart grieves for the Eban Ophanage House 'family'. philippians-320.html Like Renee, I longed for heaven.

My head throbbed in pain & I had much joint pain from my fibromyalgia. I longed for heaven where there is no pain.

I put gas in our car and then I longed for a heaven where we had no budgets, no needs for money, just lots of flying around in our heavenly bodies.

My sons went to the dentist this morning and one has a cavity. The same one that had a cavity 6 months ago. Oh no..., but worse than that, the hygienist made a flippant comment to Simon Peter about wanting nice teeth to impress a girlfriend. The boy is not even 12!!!!! Why must the world insist that our children date before they even hit puberty? I almost turned the car around when I found out to give the woman a piece of my mind.

My 8yo was pressured in VBS by another kid about not having a girlfriend and that he was "fat" at a whopping 53 lbs. Sometimes I find the world to be so cruel, even within the church walls. I longed for heaven where it is normal to keep your focus on Jesus and not on your physical looks or who you're dating. I'm so thankful for a boy named DJ who is mentoring a good teenage lifestyle to my sons and doesn't even know it.

With my online Bible study ladies, almost all of them had very rough weeks, ranging from job losses to asthma attacks. I have prayer requests of toddlers having heart surgery and teenagers with brain tumors. Sometimes it is so hard to face certain days on this earth, but we have the promise of heaven, which is a sinless place. As the Bible says and Renee rephrases, this world is not our home. We're only passing through it. I can't imagine what it will feel like to live in a world without this heavy, burdened heart. It's days like these that I cling to the Word of God for my hope and joy.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

by Robin

This morning, we were out the door quickly to church to tear down all the VBS decorations and return the church back to its boring..... er..... normal look. It seemed like minutes and the sanctuary was done. So, we moved onto the Family Life Center (AKA Gym).

Many of us adults worked on the wall decorations while the kids peeled tape from the floor that was set out for recreational games. In the end, the kids made several large tape balls. Oh, I should mention that all the kids are BOYS! Boys from ages 8 to 16.

This turned into a very painful game of dodge "tape" ball. At one point, I hear the woes of Andrew only to look and find him on the floor holding his privates. LOL (I know I shouldn't be laughing.) One of the 15 yo's nailed him. He felt awful, picking him up and then screamed as if he were in a Vietname war scene, "Man down! Man down!" Boys........ everything is funny to them. Everybody giggled.

Soon, another young man went down, cuddled in a ball. I'm tellin' ya. That was a viscious game of tape ball. Fortunately for us, we were able to leave before another one went down.

(I have another Garden Report in the making.)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

by Robin

Lots of Red & Yellow Sweet Bell Peppers. My chocolates went red eventually. I've not seen an orange yet. Hots are doing fantastic and I finally started giving some of those away.

Here is my main garden. It is looking downright pitiful in some ways. Many things were eaten or pulled or cut back this month. The herbs still fare well on the left side. I've had carrots & yellow onions growing all summer on the leftside as well. I pulled a lot of weight off the cherry tomato bushes and then tied them to the back cages where the old full-size tom bushes had died out. This will give them more room to grow once the Fall weather shows up again. I think the fall is our best growing season. I probably shouldn't have, but I put in another row of carrots while we had all this rain. The front right side of the garden is empty and awaiting cool weather for something fast-growing. I'm thinking spinach & lettuce again. That area will lose a lot of direct light once the sun changes its place in the sky.

I'm having a great time finding these catepillars on my carrot tops & flat-leaf parsley. The butterfly is primarily black w/ some blue. They come & lay eggs all the time and now I have several of these guys of all sizes on the bushes. Speaking of the parsley, I'm finally able to collect the dried seeds for new plantings. It seems like it's been 2 mo of blooming & waiting. Cilantro is finally beginning to sprout again with all of last week's rain.

This beautiful spider is living in my cherry tomato leaves. Since I'm not picking anything, I've decided she can stay for now. Once production starts up again in the fall, I'm hoping she will have moved on.

Here is another hot pepper plant that hasn't ever produced fruit yet. It is slow-maturing whatever it is.

Here is a sweet bell pepper plant that originally had 4 fruit at one time. I was amazed at how well it did carrying that load.

Here are the yellow onions, approx 2" on the big one. They sure do take a long time to grow. I probably won't do this again until I decide to cut an acre of ground to sow. I do enjoy having bunching onions compared to growing the large onions.
I planted pole & lima beans under the trellis on Wednesday. I don't know if they'll survive as tenderlings between the heat or hurricane rain but I thought I'd give it a try since I had so many leftover beans. Beans are pretty hardy, right? I can always reseed in Sept if need be.
We received a bag full of summer squash from a friend at Jack's work. His dad has multiple acres of veggies. I sure would love to know how in the world he got his squash to survive. In return, we are giving them hot peppers. This week, I'm going to pull down my dried cayenne peppers and grind the seeds. Any advice would be welcomed.
by Robin & Andrew

My youngest told me that Disney channel had a food contest going called Pass the Plate. I loved that title so I'm grabbing it for my food blogs. Hope Disney doesn't mind if we share.

We're up to our ears in peppers so we've been cooking them up left and right. We've been very careful to get a lot of pictures along the way.
Stir-fry onions & peppers. I cut up approx 1/2 yellow onion, 1 green bell pepper, 1 red bell peppers, 1 jalapeno, 3 garlic cloves. Cook down, add the honey for carmelizing, put over rice and add hummus to the side. It was so good, I had it 2 days in a row. I cut both days up together, then separated & bagged one for the next day. (Thanks Angela for the inspiration.)
Peppers stuffed with seasoned ground beef, wild rice and topped w/ cheese. Bake 350 in oven for an hour.
Sometimes we need a break from the peppers and have a banana/mango/passion fruit smoothie. Very cool & refreshing. Andrew's recipe.

Bell Peppers, basil, parsley, thyme and bunching onions straight from the garden.

Chopped up.

Added to the pot after rubbing olive oil & lemon pepper over my roasting chicken.

About 2.5 hrs later, it's all done and the house smells good. I didn't eat all the herbs on top but I do think they flavored the meat nicely.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

by Robin

We were having a good ol' mixture of conversations on the drive home from VBS tonight. I have no idea how they arrived at the subject of Michael Jackson & looks.... something about being weird. I interrupted their conversation to say, "Well, he used to be a nice looking young black man...(insert a screech from a record)"

Simon Peter says, "What? Michael Jackson is black?"

Me: "Yes, he was ..... or rather is......was..(sigh)...is .... son." I wasn't really sure if I was talking about skin color or ethnicity anymore.

Simon Peter: "Michael Jackson is black??" still said in disbelief.

"Yep," I said.

I didn't even bother to go into nose jobs & skin bleaching. It seems just a little bit too much for him at the moment as the car stopped and we all got out.

And then he continued into the house still saying, "Michael Jackson is black, hmmm...."

You know, most adults can't hardly explain what has happened to Michael Jackson, so why bother trying to explain MJ's decisions to a child. Nobody really "gets" it.
by Robin


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

by Robin


Monday, July 14, 2008

by Robin

Just to break up the puppy pictures, I thought I'd post on food to keep up w/ Angela & her menus. I'm a little pepper heavy in the veggie drawer so I purposely cut up half a yellow onion, 2 bell peppers (red & yellow), 1.5 anaheim hot pepper (mild) and half a jalapeno. Oh and 3 garlic cloves.
Season w/ EVOO, salt, pepper, garlic powder. Stir, then put into hot fry pan. Let it get crunchy on the edges before turning. After the first turn or two, I add honey for carmelizing. Yum.
Put over rice and if you have it, I put a little hummus on the side. Absolutely delicious. My hots weren't too hot. I may have to do this again for lunch tomorrow.
Maybe I'll be brave enough to put in a serrano chili.

My inspiration came from Andrew Zimmern who was in India yesterday. http://bizarre-blog.travelchannel.com/ Only..... you won't catch me eating brains or any other organs.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

by Robin
We can't pick just one. I want the dark one, Jack wants the carmel one and Andrew wanted the light one, but likes the carmel one too. What would it hurt to just bring the whole litter home with us? I think the girl isn't leaving our friends' home. I'll take all those brothers.
Here is the Light Spotted Male. He's the runt and will have a very delicate face & frame.

Here is the Dark Spotted Male w/ Mask & "mole".
This is my favorite. He's got his Daddy's wider head and a true pudge. Between him and his sister, there's very little milk left for the other 2.

Here is the Carmel-spotted Male. The flash washed him out a little but he's got much more red in his coat than the others. He's got his mama's delicate nose but will probably outsize the runt soon.
I think this is the one we're leaning towards but we get to some back in another couple weeks to see how their personalities develop. As for looks, this is where we stand.
We got a lot of good tips from the breeders (our friends) and played with the Dad & Uncle J.J. Their Mama just couldn't be sweeter to let us handle her pups and love all over her too. She is a true lap chihuahua. No rough-housing like the boys. She only wants love.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

by Robin

Here we go again. They're 2 wks old.

Sam is for Simon Peter and now Andrew will get his pick this weekend. They won't be able to come home for another month or so.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

by Robin

Sam is really into the boys. Andrew thought he should be the next one to get put up on the blog with Sam under the chair. Sorry the quality isn't perfect but I was trying so hard not to disturb the scene that unfolded.
After capturing the 1st pic, then Andrew decides to pull a very limber move and insist on a kiss from Sam. He got it. She also got those extra few pieces of rice that fell on the floor at dinner tonight. Finally, a floor cleaning dog. Our dear sweet Jackson was oblivious to food under the table.

This morning, we went off to church and left her free reign of the LR/DR/kitchen area. She did perfect. Nothing torn up and she warmed up the couches for us.
by Robin

Not much interrupts their physical play (swimming today), except a Lego magazine coming in the mail.

'Tis the season again for tadpoles. Let's see how many we can successfully raise this year. Last year, it was 3.
We definitely need more rainwater to fill this bucket up. These guys are only 1 day old. Eggs yesterday and hatched today. (Sat a.m.)

Saturday, July 5, 2008


He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion." - Unknown

Thursday, July 3, 2008

SAM (short for Samantha)

Look who came through the door via our hearts today.

She's a 2.5 yo Basset x hound mix. She's our designer dog (made by God), only I can't decide if she is a Bagel (Basset/Beagle) or Fawcett (Foxhound/Basset).
She was meant to be with kids.

Is this a grateful dog or what?