Wednesday, June 29, 2011

At Least She Was {Sort Of} Listening

Pastor Dad was preaching about how a Christian's primary mission is to preach the gospel. He was also talking about other good things Christians can do that are not our primary mission, such as helping others who are hungry and thirsty.

Sweet Pea leaned over and whispered to me, "I'm both."

Monday, June 27, 2011

Blessings, Prayers, and Keeping Up

We're all home now. Philip is back where he belongs - with us. The crazy days are over (at least until two weeks of church camp).

Except...not.

My nephew (affectionately called Fen around this blog) spent last night in the hospital and will probably spend the next 48 hours there. The culprit was an abscess in his throat, which was surgically treated this morning.

As I had occasion to observe to my dad this morning, our family is so amazingly blessed. Despite the number of children in our family, our exposure to hospitals, procedures and whatnot has been blessedly small compared to what some children (and their families) go through.

Fen is a trooper and, in spite of his discomfort, I think he was actually enjoying having some of his favorite people gathered around him this morning (and yes, I include myself in that number). As he (and we) waited for his surgery, he watched the entire PBS Kids morning lineup and did not care for anyone to block his view from the Cat and the Hat or Sesame Street, so basically standard behavior for him.

I have no doubt he will have every nurse wrapped around his little finger by the time he goes home.

Please pray for him and especially for his mom and dad as you think of them throughout the next few days.

(P.S. I really do intend to get back into regular blogging, once I can spare two brain cells to rub together. Meanwhile, I'll be reading all your blogs and trying to keep up.  Alas, "trying to keep up" pretty much sums up my life right now.)


Picture: Lili's nine month old (!) hand. Speaking of people being wrapped around little fingers...

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Look Worthy Links - 6/25/11 Edition

What a crazy week. I feel like I've got nothing to show for it despite going everywhere (OK, just to Tennessee and back) and doing, if not everything, lots of things. I feel like I haven't seen my husband in a week, despite the fact he was only really away for two days. My house has been demanding my attention as if it's a toddler that was ignored to my peril. (How about some...Ants! And water in the basement! And, just for fun, gnats! That'll teach you to ignore me for more than a day or two! Welcome Home! Yes, I do imagine my house as a sentient creature at times, just in case you needed proof that Mrs. Candid Diversions has gone round the funny farm bend.)

Anyway, enough of all that. On to the links! (Blog links, that is. Not the golf course. I have never played golf in my life and I'm pretty sure it's going to stay that way.)

1. My friend Greyson of Snappers Photography is starting a series on how to photograph children. She knows her stuff so check it out. (P.S. Prince Charming and I may be just about ready to purchase our first SLR. Anyone have any advice for us? We do not want or need video features, if that helps narrow it down any.)

2. Have you been following the story about Debbie Reynold's costume and prop collection? (See this post and this post for some of the items) The first auction is over and it looks like a lot of the items went to Saudi Arabia or Japan. (See this Enchanted Serenity post for more) If that's true it makes me sad. These are authentic pieces of Americana and it's annoying that those Hollywood types couldn't rustle up the cash for a museum.

3. I think this Denim Bible Cover would be very practical for a kid. I'm tempted to try it except for the fact that my girls like their Bibles to be pink or purple and shiny right now.

4. We may be house hunting next year. I'll take something like this. OK, maybe not. But can you imagine one family living in a building that large? I love the idea of converting a building into a home (barn, school, firehouse, etc.) but Philip thinks it would be more work necessary. Oh, well. A girl can dream.

5. I could use a big beach bag like this now that the girls are in swim lessons and we're constantly (OK, twice a week) going to the pool.

6. Ever wondered how to fix up those ubiquitous pieces of laminate furniture? Turns out you can paint them.

7. I think this Faux Tearing Technique (for cards or scrapbooking) is neat. (Is it OK to say "neat" these days? Next thing you know I'll be saying "Jeepers")

8. This post Dispels Myths About Homemaking. I especially appreciated Myths #4 and #6. Those attitudes are personal pet peeves of mine.

9. A companion piece (from a completely unrelated blog) to the above: I Wasn't Trained to Be A Mom (But I Can Still Love it).

10. World Magazine asks if it's possible to be Too Good a Parent. This one made me think about the fact that some have called me a laid-back mom (and meant it as a complement), and some people think that's probably true but would probably mean it as condemnation, and some people think I over-parent. Which just goes to show that parenting should be between God, the two parents in question, and their progeny because those are the only people who count in the discussion. I may have to come back to this in another post...

11. In a not unrelated but completely different post, this writer wishes dads would wake up. (Language warning)

12. This is a great post about Charlotte Mason and Unit Studies. I'm not anti-unit study per se, but they're not my preferred method of homeschooling and now I know why: all the work and connections are done and made by the teacher (Mom) instead of the student (child). My homeschool method attempts to be pretty much the opposite of that.

13. This braid is adorable and makes me wish we hadn't just cut off all three oldest girls' hair. Maybe Sweet Pea still has enough to attempt it...

14. And this Gibson Roll makes me wonder if I still have enough hair to pull this off. Probably not, but I'll keep it in mind once my hair grows out a bit.

15. Another link about hemming jeans. Because I still have some un-hemmed jeans calling for me to fix them so they can be worn. (And now you know that not only our house talks to me. Ack!)

16. Finally, because it wouldn't be a good link list without some food, these Deep Dish Cookies are on my must try list.

Did you stumble on any good links this week? Share 'em in the comments!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Dear Lili - 9 Months

Dear Lili,

You're nine months old today. I know, I don't believe it either.

Unfortunately, we just got home from a trip, everything that could go wrong today has, and Daddy isn't here to help out (ahem) so I'll have to update this post later with your truly amazing feats and pictures of your adorable self. (Daddy has the camera. Ahem again.)

To be continued but I wouldn't want anyone to think I didn't remember!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Confidential to my Prince Charming:

It is only possible to live happily ever after on a day-to-day basis. - Margaret Bonnano
It's so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life. - Rita Rudner
Happy 12th anniversary to the love of my life. You're my "one special person" for more reasons than I could possibly blog about. Thanks for living happily ever after with me.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Look Worthy Links - 6/18/11 Edition

I have no pictures to share with you this week (Bad blogger! Bad!) but lots of lovely links so let's get on with it.

1. This post on getting more curb appeal caught my eye because it looks like we will be attempting to sell our house next spring. After talking to contractors and realtors, that looks like our best option. Philip and I are thankful to have finally come to a decision on this. The panic will set in later.

2. Cherry Limeade is one thing I really want to be able to make at home. Even if the recipe gets it right (or close), I still won't be to copy Sonic's ice. I'm not sure why their ice is so good - and maybe I don't want to know - but it is better than other ice.

3. Making shorts from jeans is nothing new but these are super cute and I love how she finished the hem.

4. Tomorrow is Father's Day (hurry! Buy your card before it's too late!) and I thought about making this Homemade Twix Bar dessert for my children's dad (yes, that would be my husband) but...I'm making something else instead. I'll just have to make him this some other time.

5. Amy's post on When to Say When (concerning how many children to have in a family) is a thoughtful treatment of a tricky subject. The comments are mostly  non-judgmental, if you feel like chiming in.

6. I know I've probably posted something like this before, but I really do want to make at least one of these t-shirt skirts. They just look so comfy.

7. Did you know you can make your own baking powder? Now you know.

8. Yes, I know I am a total nerd-geek-take your pick of a suitable label. And yes, I really want a Mockingjay shirt like this one.

9. 10 Words You Need to Stop Misspelling. The Oatmeal site is funny but crude, so read at your own risk.

10. 10 Things Never to Say to a Stay-At-Home Mom. Yep. Never say any of these things. We stay at home moms will smile politely while you say something stupid and then we'll write a blog post for the whole world about what a meanie you are. Be warned.

11. How to Blog Without a Niche. I really appreciated this post because, as I've thought about blogging more consistently and possibly reaching a wider audience, I know I've violated the first "rule" other bloggers always talk about: choose your niche and stick with it.

I've thought about changing this blog, about creating a new blog (who has the time!), changing the name, changing the focus...you name it and I've thought about it in order to "fix" my blog. But, as you can probably tell, I've decided against all those things, at least for now. This is my blog and it will continue to be about whatever catches my eye (those "diversions" in the title) and I will be telling you what a I really think about stuff (the "candid" part). There will be lots of books, some homeschooling, some parenting, a dash of a craft or two, pictures of the cutest children on the planet (ahem), personal anecdotes and probably a thousand other things. And that's OK.

What caught your eye this week? This post is linked to Saturday Stumbles at Simply Staci. Come share your links and see what other folks have stumbled on this week.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Library Books This Week

We collected our reading program prizes. I picked up a nice little red flash drive (and a red lanyard with which to, ahem, wear the aforesaid flash drive. Which I will not be using. Guess what kids? You get a nice red lanyard! Hooray!) and the girls won a variety of prizes that have blended with the VBS stuff they brought home so I'm not exactly sure what's what.

Anyway, the reading continues.

King, the Mice and the Cheese (Beginner Books)1. The King, the Mice and the Cheese by Nancy & Eric Gurney. I loved this book as a kid. I was describing the story to Philip the other day and he had never heard of it, so we ordered it at the library. (Side note: out of the thousands of books we own, I can't believe we don't own this one!) Sweet Pea has particularly enjoyed multiple readings of this one.

Giant John2. Giant John by Arnold Lobel. Another in the "books Karen loved as a child but does not currently own" category. The illustrations in this one are hilarious. Another hit with our Sweet Pea.

Oscar, Cat-About-Town3. Oscar, Cat-About Town by James Herriot. We own several of Herriot's books for children but not this one. All of them are fantastic with gorgeous, detailed illustrations. I've noticed Tigger carrying this one around to read it more than once.

The Happy Day4. The Happy Day by Ruth Krauss. We love Ruth Krauss. This story is more of a wintertime story but it doesn't really matter. Just a few words on each page make this a good choice for listeners with shorter attention spans. (coughFencough)

Choo Choo5. Choo Choo by Virginia Lee Burton. We checked this one out specifically for Fen who is enamored with all things train, plane or automobile right now. You really have to get into the spirit of the thing when reading this book aloud: lots of sound effects!

Cinderella (Puffin Pied Piper)6. Cinderella retold by Amy Ehrlich, pictures by Susan Jeffers. We usually have at least one princess related story checked out (this week we have 3). I like for the girls to have non-Disney princess stories. Not that we forbid Disney around here (as if). It's just I'd like them to be acquainted with many different versions of familiar stories (and there are so many good ones). This version has excellent illustrations.

The Twelve Dancing Princesses (Classic Fairy Tale Collection)7. The Twelve Dancing Princesses retold by John Cech. We came home with two versions of this fairy tale this week. This one and:

The Twelve Dancing Princesses8. The Twelve Dancing Princesses retold by Marianna Mayer. Of the two, I think our girls prefer this one but both are beautifully done.

A-B-A-B-A- A Book of Pattern Play (Math Is Categorical)9. A-B-A-B-A- a Book of Pattern Play by Brian Cleary. A homeschool mom has to to take every chance to squeeze in a little extra learning, right? Tigger enjoyed this one.

The Word Snoop10. The Word Snoop by Ursula Dubosarsky. Polly checked this one out but she hasn't actually finished it yet. It looks so interesting I might read it next!

Terror on the Titanic (Choose Your Own Adventure #24)11. Terror on the Titanic by Jim Wallace and

Chinese Dragons (Choose Your Own Adventure #30)12. Chinese Dragons by R.A. Montgomery. Two more "choose your own adventure" books that Polly picked up.

What have you been reading this week?

This post contains Amazon Associate links. Any action taken with these links could result in compensation for me. Opinions are my own and I encourage you to check your library or Paperback Swap first - these books are worth it!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Commonplace Book Words for Wednesday - On Habits

Watch your thoughts; they become your words.
Watch your words; they become your actions.
Watch your actions; they become your habits.
Watch your habits; they become your character.
Watch your character, for it will become your destiny. - Unknown (sometimes attributed to Frank Outlaw)
Brings to mind a Bible verse or two, doesn't it?  (Maybe Proverbs 23:7) How we think is so powerful: thoughts become destiny.

It can really work both ways: think the right things and you will most likely do the right things. Do the right things (whether you feel like it or not) and you will get your thoughts (and therefore your feelings) right.
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. - Aristotle
I so want to be a woman, a mother, a wife, a Christian, a person of excellence. It is both challenging and encouraging to consider that excellence is not something that is granted in one fell swoop but something that is earned in consistent improvement of habit. Habits of thought, habits of action, these things are both within my control.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Top 10 Tuesday - Favorite Non-Toys

My girls are surrounded by generous friends and family. Every birthday is a celebration; every Christmas an event (and we somehow manage to stretch it out for at least a week). This adds up to toys, lots of toys. The girls are good to help me sort through things and donate or sell some of the excess.

I really don't mind the toys as long as they're being played with and put away properly. (In a middle of the night trip down the hall to get the baby I mind a misplaced Lego VERY much!)

Despite this abundance of toys, there are a few non-toy items that can keep them busy playing for a long time. The best thing about this list is there are no required batteries and any assembly is done by the kids.
1. Cardboard boxes, any size. The big ones have been play houses, boats, airplanes and many other things. The small ones are tables, storage, costumes, hats, and who knows what else.

2. Paper tubes from towels, toilet paper, or wrapping paper. Telescopes, binoculars, microphones, periscopes...I could go on.

3. An old check book or bank register. Playing with these items always involves a faux-British accent. "Let me just write you a check for that, dahling."

4. A bucket and a shovel. It's a toss-up whether moles or our girls have done more damage to our yard. {wink}
5. A water hose. A sprinkler is good, a slip 'n slide even better, an inflatable pool much appreciated. But a simple squirt with the water hose will also suffice.

6. A blanket or quilt: tents, picnics, dresses, or just for rolling up "snug as a bug" (and then unrolling as quickly as possible).

7. Water. Have you ever seen children "paint" a blacktop driveway with water? A chalkboard will also work. Give them a bowl of water and paintbrushes and let them get to it. (If they finish the driveway, tell 'em to get your car next!)

8. A creek. If you want to get your children to play outside, you're going to need a water source. The ocean is amazing, a lake is great, but a trickling stream will do just as well. Bonus if there are fish in the water.
9. A ball. OK, yes, this could technically be considered a toy. But any type of ball will do, it needn't be something special or expensive. The girls invent their own games (some of which seem a lot like "Calvinball", a la Calvin & Hobbes).

10. A rope or some string. Yes, do be careful that your children do not tie it around their own (or their sister's) little necks. Once you've got that all clear, you won't believe how many things a kid can do with a rope: they'll tie it into knots, they'll use it like a jump rope, they'll walk on it like a tightrope (on the ground! you must insist it be on the ground unless you want to see your child attempting to walk between two trees), they'll pull on it, they'll tie it to a tree (I have no idea why). A purchased jump rope will do in a pinch.

I know I missed some things. What sort of non-toys did you or your children play with for hours?
This post is linked to Top 10 Tuesday.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Look Worthy Links - 6/11/11 Edition

Food For Thought:
1. How a Teacher's Rally Made Me Anti-Education (I can honestly tell you that I am not "anti-education" but I am for critical thinking about everything, especially sacred cows.)

2. 10 Questions to Help Gauge the Quality of Your Child's Education.

3. A Homeschool Mom Muses on Graduation Season. Each homeschool family approaches graduation a little bit differently. I could have gone to our "umbrella school" and walked with the graduates. I did not do that. My parents gave me a reception, complete with cap and gown. So, there are options but I suppose it will always be a sensitive subject. (One thing I missed out on: class ranking. I can tell you that I was first in my class and it would be perfectly true but, obviously, I was also the only person in my class.)

4. Since I Had a Baby. This post takes on one of those annoying commercials that seems to imply life ends after baby so put it off as long as possible. (Side note: one of my favorite things about the "Cross the Bridge for Life" activity that my family went to last Sunday: our slightly-larger-than-"normal" family blended right in. Of course, our BC view is closer to the Catholic than the typical "Protestant" view, as I understand them. But I don't really want to get too deep into that today.) My babies haven't kept me from doing anything I really want to do (like finish college, go to England, write, etc.).

5. Mental Multivitamin posted about an interesting study on Social Darwinism that seems to suggest friendships decay unless actively cultivated but "kin" relationships do not. The whole study is lengthy and controversial but this is an interesting bit of it. I tend to agree with this conclusion, although not unreservedly.
Fun Stuff:
1. How to clean a chalkboard wall. I love chalkboard walls you can see everywhere in blog land (especially Pinterest). This tutorial will help keep those walls in tip-top shape. (We don't have one. Yet. Just think how useful a chalkboard wall would be for homeschooling!)

2. This parachute wedding dress is exquisite. The story about it is amazing: It saved the groom's life before its new life as a dress.

3. This story is a great example of a big bank getting a taste of its own medicine. (Don't you love it when the little guys win?)

4. I love this anniversary gift: map hearts. I definitely need to make this sometime, even if not as an anniversary gift. (Side note: our anniversary is only eight days away! Twelve years! Ten of the best years of my life. *Rim shot*)

Food:
1. Seven Layer Cookies into Ten or Eleven Layer Cookies. (If I make this recipe, it will be back down into 9 or 10 layers because I'll omit the nuts. I'm sure they're fantastic no matter what.)

2. Oreo Cheesecake: two of my favorite treats combined into one beautiful dessert.

3. Chocolate Peanut Butter Torte. I wonder the best way to make this without a Pampered Chef torte pan - any ideas? I used to have such a pan (actually it comes as a set of two) but I didn't use it often enough to justify keeping it.

4. And, last week I posted a recipe for Samoan Cake. This week's Girl Scout related treat: Thin Mint Cake. You're welcome.
And, I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge that this week was Fen's (my nephew) second birthday. Happy Birthday to one of the lights of my life! If I hadn't been so busy chasing you around and playing your favorite game (TACKLE!), maybe I would have had time to mention it yesterday. {wink}

So anyway, what caught your eye this week?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Library Books for This Week

Our library reading program is in full swing - my girls have turned into reading machines complete with stopwatches (for those tracking minutes) and towering stacks of books (for those tracking books). Here are a few books they came home with this week:

Charlie the Ranch Dog1. Charlie the Ranch Dog. The Pioneer Woman wrote a children's book. Of course she did. (She's already done everything else) Anyway, this book is cute and the illustrations are rich and detailed.

The Mixed-Up Chameleon2. The Mixed-Up Chameleon by Eric Carle. Fantastic illustrations (as ever) and a great - but not heavy handed - moral (which reminds me of I Wish That I Had Duck Feet) about wishing to be something you are not.

A Birthday for Frances3. A Birthday for Frances by Russell Hoban. This must be the only Frances book we don't own. (Unless we do own it and the girls forgot. That's happened before.) Everyone in our family loves Frances. (Have I mentioned that one of our girls is a Frances?)

Spot's Hide-and-Seek4. Spot's Hide and Seek by Eric Hill. Sweet Pea is a fan of Spot.

What's There? (Walker Surprise)5. What's There? by Melanie Walsh. This is a board book with flaps to lift. Fen and Lili have enjoyed this one.

Ramona and Her Father6. Ramona and Her Father by Beverly Cleary. Tigger is really enjoying all the Ramona books these days. However, she's counting books instead of minutes for the program so she has now switched back to picture books, in order to maximize her numbers. {wink}

The Finders Keepers Mystery (The Boxcar Children Mysteries #99)7. The Finders Keepers Mystery. A Boxcar Children book. Polly loves a good mystery. She devours these books.

West to a Land of Plenty: The Diary of Teresa Angelino Viscardi, New York to Idaho Territory, 1883 (Dear America)8. West to a Land of Plenty by Jim Murphy. (Part of the Dear America series). Another Polly favorite: historical fiction. (Wonder where she learned to love that?)

Lost on the Amazon (Choose Your Own Adventure #9)9. Lost on the Amazon by R.A. Montgomery and

Search for the Mountain Gorillas (Choose Your Own Adventure #25)10. Search for the Mountain Gorillas by Jim Wallace. Both of these are "choose your own adventure" books. Polly - like her dad before her - delights in these books. She'll curl up on the couch with several and you can hear her announce such chilling things as "Oh, I just died." or "Well, I ended up in the river. Better try again."

What are you reading? And are you involved in a library reading program? Our program started June 1 and our girls already have their first prizes (except for Tigger who has already earned two prizes. As Philip observed: she's in the reading program sweet spot, young enough to only track books but old enough to be a strong reader and finish them quickly).

This post contains Amazon Associate links. Any action taken with these links could result in compensation for me. Opinions are my own and I encourage you to check your library or Paperback Swap first - these books are worth it!