Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year Reflections

Wow! A new year is again upon us. I'm not big on New Year Resolutions, although I always have the old standbys in the back of my mind-- you know, the ones about losing weight, being more active, finishing projects that have been started for years now (like certain websites...) and the list goes on.

This year seems to be a little different though-- different in that there is much uncertainty. Uncertainty, but new-found hope. The economy woes have hit home, but along with that comes a time to simplify and take notice of what really matters-- like 4 precious ones running around. That's what counts. It's a good thing to take time to reflect on things like: do we really need digital cable at $75 plus a month? Or would little minds be better impacted by playing a game together? What junk can we cut out of our lives? How resourceful can we become? How can we simplify our rat-raced pace? It's in seemingly difficult times that humans are forced to grow.

It's exciting to see what's ahead. We're looking forward to a year of possibilities! Happy New Year to you all! Here's to peace, prosperity, and health. And losing weight, getting active... :)

PS- Take this advice: do NOT stand on double-stacked buckets. It could just ruin your day-- or more- if you're lucky :)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Until Next Year~

From our house to yours~
Wishing you a Very Merry Christmas and many blessing in the New Year!

Enjoy your family! We're unplugging for awhile and signing off for a few days~ God Bless!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

B.E. Taylor Grand Finale

Greetings from the deep-freeze of the North East~

Our whirl-wind of December is coming to a close~ We've been thoroughly enjoying the sights and sounds of the season. From shopping and dining to the Nutcracker and Trans Siberian~ You just can't beat quiet moments in a coffee shop before the Grand Finale of them all~

After it's all said and done, the Christmas Highlight for the children (ok- mom and dad too) is still the B.E. Taylor Christmas event~

This year was no different-

Now, the question is: Does the concert rate above Christmas morning? To be determined...

Friday, December 19, 2008

Trans Siberian ....

After years of loving their songs on the radio and hearing the rave reviews about the show, we finally had to check it out for ourselves~

The stage show was unbelievably impressive~ and at most times quite beautiful, even complete with falling snow on a few songs. Sorry, I couldn't find a video of that.

If you can ignore the crazy traffic it took us to get there, it is an experience you have to see to appreciate. Mark thoroughly enjoyed his Christmas gift from me this year. I was only thinking of you honey. Really :)

Just a side note: if you don't like electric guitars and hard rock (which I'm usually not a big fan of), you might want to check out youtube videos before you spend lots of money on tickets. You also might want to do some double-checking before you take your little ones-- or just stick with a B.E. Taylor Christmas (click on the Christmas demo) to be safe. You can't go wrong there :)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I know you want one too!

Don't ya love early Christmas gifts?? We received this beautiful hand-crafted vase from our dear family in the west-- I told her she needs to go into business! You should see her stained-glass work! Let's hear it~ 3 cheers for the stained-glass wonder-woman!! Thank you!!

Saturday, December 13, 2008


Sometimes life throws you a curve-ball. Then you hear someone speak a timely word, or happen to 'just' come across an article that makes ya think- this one came from Site Build It- the web-site design site Mark and I are using to build our websites. Maybe it will touch you in a positive way too:

Choose Your Attitude
Michael is the kind of guy you love to hate. He is always in a good mood and always has something positive to say: When someone would ask him how he was doing, He would reply, "If I were any better, I would be twins!" He was a natural motivator. If an employee was having a bad day, Michael was there telling the employee how they could look on the positive side of the situation. Seeing this style really made me curious, so one day I went up to Michael and asked him, "I don't get it! You can't be a positive person all of the time. How do you do it?" Michael replied, "Each morning I wake up and say to myself, 'You have two choices today. You can choose to be in a good mood or you can choose to be in a bad mood.' I choose to be in a good mood. Each time something bad happens, I can choose to be a victim or I can choose to learn from it. I choose to learn from it. Every time someone comes to me complaining, I can choose to accept their complaining or I can point out the positive side of life. I choose the positive side of life. "Yeah, right, it's not that easy," I protested. "Yes, it is," Michael, said. "Life is all about choices. When you cut away all the junk, every situation is a choice. You choose how you react to situations. You choose how people affect your mood. Your bottom line: "It's your choice how you live life." I reflected on what Michael said. Soon after, I left the company to start my own business. We lost touch, but I often thought about him when I made a choice about life instead of reacting to it. Several years later, I heard that Michael was involved in a serious accident, falling some 60 feet from a communications tower. After 18 hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, Michael was released from the hospital with rods placed in his back. I saw Michael about six months after the accident. When I asked him how he was, he replied. "If I were any better, I'd be twins. Wanna see my scars?" I declined to see his wounds, but I did ask him what had gone through his mind as the accident took place. "The first thing that went through my mind was the well being of my soon to be born daughter," Michael replied. "Then, as I lay on the ground, I remembered that I had two choices: I could choose to live or I could choose to die. I chose to live." "Weren't you scared? Did you lose consciousness?" I asked. Michael continued, "...the paramedics were great. They kept telling me I was going to be fine. But when they wheeled me into the ER and I saw the expressions on the faces of the doctors and nurses, I got really scared. In their eyes, I read, 'he's a dead man.' I knew I needed to take action." "What did you do?" I asked. "Well, there was a big burly nurse shouting questions at me," said Michael. "She asked if I was allergic to anything. 'Yes,' I replied. The doctors and nurses stopped working as they waited for my reply. I took a deep breath and yelled... "Gravity." Over their laughter, I told them, "I am choosing to live. Operate on me as if I am alive, not dead." Michael lived, thanks to the skill of his doctors, but also because of his amazing attitude. I learned from him that every day we have the choice to live fully. Attitude, after all, is everything. "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. After all, today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday." You have two choices now: 1. Delete this. 2. Forward it to the people you care about. I hope you will choose #2. I did. ENJOY LIFE - IT'S THE ONLY ONE YOU GET !!!

Friday, December 12, 2008


Walked past the beautiful gingerbread 'mound' yesterday and discovered something-- it just doesn't look the same.
This is what is looked like upon completion.

The boys' ginger-train was still perfectly in tact.

I asked the children what could have happened?? They all said they have NO idea. I know my perfect angels would ALWAYS tell me the truth...

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

play day in pictures

PapPap celebrated another birthday-- and what does that mean? Play Day! It's become a tradition to celebrate by heading into the city for fun. Pittsburgh's Strip District has plenty of that. Our newest discovery and JuJu's new favorite treat comes from~ The Pittsburgh Popcorn Co. Normally, I'm not a popcorn person- don't get me wrong, I like it (ok- LOVE it when a certain someone in TX makes it), but can live without it. Until I discovered this~ Reese's PB Chocolate Popcorn-- OH MY! We're talking better than Harry and David's Moose Munch!!
On to Pennsylvania Mac Co. for PapPap's favorite treats~
And time to go a little further into town. Pittsburgh is full of beautiful buildings, but...
while it may not be the prettiest on the outside, the Clark Building is any woman's dream :) Why, you ask?? Because of the 3rd and 4th floors-- one word sums it up-- BLING! We just didn't realize today's trip would allow us quite so much time to look around...Hour #1 at the best jewelers in Pittsburgh: Hour #2: Hour #3: Hour #4: And I kid you not-- Hour #5! Not just any jeweler would spend 5 hours sorting through old family jewelry to see what was of any value. Even after all that, Elisha claims he'd still rather sit in a jewelry store than go clothes shopping any day.Now, I could add some more with pictures from a great new natural food store in the Strip-- Right by Nature, and yummy dinner pictures from Belle Notte, but I don't want to bore you too much. Oh-- and let's not forget Cafe Raymond-- the BEST breakfast sandwiches and quiches EVER! But, this smile is what it's all about~ Happy Birthday! PS-- were the 5 hours at the jewelers beneficial? :)! No, we are not to be concerned with wordly, material possessions, but a little sparkle is always fun :)

Sunday, December 7, 2008

New Appreciation

I was brave today. I set the boys loose on a gingerbread train kit, and a gingerbread house kit for the girls. That's saying a lot from a mother who's very neat, organized, and doesn't do well with chaos and messes-- yes, I do have 4 children :) Here goes:
No, I did not start from scratch. Figured those nifty little kits would work just fine. Building away... Here comes the point when I realized "Houston, we have a problem." This house is in definite need of a extreme makeover~It didn't make it. After a few tears (from the girls- not me), the gingerbread candy-land 'mound' was formed. Elisha claims that his train looks much better, but he tells Lydia- "it's OK-- it's all in how you look at things." What a philosophical little guy-- until it's his train that collapses :)
I have learned an important lesson-- I now give those guys that enter the professional gingerbread contests MUCH more credit-- it's not as easy as it looks. As for ginger houses next year- we're undecided :)

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Christmas Help

If you need some Holiday help with baking or some neat things for the children- just found this site. I think every traditional, and not so traditional, Holiday recipe under the sun is listed, so if you're not planning a healthy Holiday-- you'll love this:

Thursday, December 4, 2008


Last night was boys' night out--- the feature show: Walking With Dinosaurs. The boys LOVED it-- especially little Jacob--
Check it out if it comes to your city-- great homeschool experience :)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Birthday Bike

I'm finally getting through some old photos-- today's post is from Jacob's birthday-- his favorite gift- a new big-boy bike.
I can't believe how warm and sunny it looks-- just a month ago. Could we have a few days of that back? Just a few??
Ride on...

Monday, December 1, 2008

If you like trees,

keep my husband away.
These picts were taken a month ago and I'm just now getting them loaded. Mark loves his chain-saw. The trees don't. One aftenoon later...
the forest is now a field.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Easy babysitting~

Shopping season is upon us-- and ya just might need to happily occupy little ones for a bit--

A month ago I discovered the power of the electronic sitter-- Mark and I were discussing new computers with a very nice salesman, and after realizing no noise was coming from weary little ones- I found this:
Works for the big guys too :) Yes, we left the store with our money still in our wallets- for now :)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thankful Thanksgiving Turkeys

Finishing school-work a little early this week has allowed for some fun crafting~ We've been talking about Thanksgiving and what being thankful is. It's so important to appreciate what you have, and to make every minute count! I think we all agreed one of the things we're most thankful for is our family. Thus, the 'helping hands' family turkey was born. No, I'm not implying I live with a bunch of turkeys.... not at the moment anyway :)
Another fun project: a tree of Thanksgiving. Each child cut out leaves on folded construction paper, and wrote what they were most thankful for. It touched my heart that with as much fighting that goes on, each child chose mostly to write the names of their siblings above other things~ except 'animals' for Jacob and 'Legos' for Elisha. There are just some things that rate higher than a whining little sister :) He won't admit it, but I do think he'd chose her over Lego's anytime. OK-- 90 percent of the time :)
Wishing you all of very Happy Thanksgiving! May you have safe travels, and enjoy your families!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

That's just not right

It's been a long running joke in our house that in order to keep Christmas festivities 'special', I've told the children no Christmas music or decorations until after Thanksgiving Dinner. Now, I have contradicted myself this year and decorated already because of an extremely busy, post-Thanksgiving week. The joke has intensified by telling the children they can't look at the decorations yet, so they're confined to the office (but not really - LOL!). Now anytime Jacob sees any lights, he throws his hands to cover his eyes and yells "Don't Look! I'm not getting a lump of cold (yes, he calls coal, cold) in my stocking!"

After shopping yesterday morning, I arrive home to 'the gift.' Mark finds great pleasure in torturing me with mysterious Christmas gifts without tags. Thankfully, my honest son tells me "Mommy, you're not going to be able to stand it-- Daddy put something in the living room for you." Someone please tell my husband that it's not fair to beat me at my own game, and placing a Christmas gift out a week prior to Thanksgiving is just not fair!

P.S. The gift does not rattle, shake, or stir. Not that I'd know :) I'm just guessing-- really!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

This is why...

you should shut the door behind you.
The men and children were working outside the other day-(before the winter deep-freeze set in), and we all (ahem-- all of us children) learned a valuable lesson.When you leave the door open, little furry creatures of the chipmunk variety WILL enter the home and quickly scurry up the stairs into your house. When they are finally caught, they will leave little gifts of nervousness in your Tupperware container. Lettuce anyone?
Here's to warm, critter-free homes. :)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Here they are...

I just knew you couldn't stand it any longer--- you can't sleep at night because you HAVE to know how the apples turned out-- (previous post here).
Without further ado-- here are the old ladies in all their glory. Now, you could be really creative and dress them differently, but in this case, I grabbed the top pieces of material from the box. (thanks Lauri!) If you could see my pantry, you'd understand why-- but that's another blog post :)

OK-- they're not the prettiest things, but the kids had fun and that's what counts. And don't forget it's a great science lesson about the water content of apples. Now you can sleep easier tonight :) You're welcome.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Language Ideas

Need some neat Language Arts Ideas for Christmas? Here is an article sent to me by Cheryl and Melissa Moeller, authors of Baby Saves Christmas, Aunt Sarah's Alaskan Cookbook, and Homeschool Your Preschooler on $1 a Day.

Eight Ways to Enhance Any Language Arts Homeschool Curriculum at Christmas Time

1. Make up a story to tell your children over a period of days or weeks during the month of December. Swiss Family Robinson began as a series of stories that Johann David Wyss told his children bit by bit, each night at bedtime. As a parent, you can capture your children’s hearts and imagination with the retelling of the Christmas story and stories of your childhood Christmas memories.
2. The Long, Long Christmas Book Train. Around the ceiling in your homeschool room, put a large construction paper red or green train car each time your children finishes a book in December. Challenge your children to read enough books in December to make the caboose and engine meet or fill up a whole wall! When the Christmas train goal is met, throw a Christmas train themed party with another homeschool family.
3. Name that Christmas “Stuffie.” Give each of your children a $1 small stuffed animal or “stuffie” for your December homeschool mascot. Spend an hour thinking of names for your Christmas “stuffie.” Each child makes up their own list of 20 or 50 creative “Yuletide-themed” names, depending on the child’s age. Then, have them eliminate names and come up with their most favorite.
4. “Read to me by Skype.” Have an older homeschool student, cousin, aunt, or grandpa skype or telephone each day during December and read your younger child a Christmas theme story. If you have older children, have them call up a younger homeschooler each weekday in December and read to them.
5. Don’t get out of your regular Library habit. Your children could easily stay home during busy days and use the internet, but they also need to visit the library in person. Stay and read at tables. Do a Christmas craft, if offered. Gaze and gawk. Dawdle through the aisles.
6. Writing enhances reading. Reading also enhances writing. There are many opportunities for a child to write around the “Holy-Days.” The lost art of letter writing can be found again, when your kids write letters to each relative.
7. What you do; not just what you say. Even during the busy month of December, Mom and dad need to read each day to set the “reading is important” example.
8. Cereal Book Club. During December invite some homeschool friends over to your home for a Cereal (Serial) Book Club. Each child brings a box of their favorite healthy cereal to share and a copy of an assigned book in a certain series with the topic of winter or Christmas. Each child shares the book’s name, two amazing facts about it, and reads their two favorite pages of the book aloud. Encourage all the children to finish the other books in the “cerealies” (series).

Baby Saves Christmas by Cheryl and Melissa Moeller, mother/duo author team, is juvenile fiction with homeschool characters.


If you or a loved one is suffering with diabetes, here is a very interesting documentary about a cure~ you can watch the trailer here, at "Raw For Thirty"~

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

And there ya have it...

we are 'officially' a karate family with Jacob finally joining in the fun~ we figure we could just set up a few little cots and make the studio our second home. Knowing we're in it together as a family, having fun, and seeing the children learn the physical and mental disciplines as they mature, makes it all worth it. Until next time... kia! :)