Thursday, December 21, 2006

They grow up so quickly.....

This week we went to the toy store to do some last-minute Christmas shopping; I had to get some Groovy Girl Mermaids, you know, or Christmas just wouldn't be Christmas. Naturally I had to take the girlies with me, and my saving grace is that in Learning Express, there is so much stuff out for them to play with that it's easy enough for me to shop covertly.

This year, for the first time, we decided to let the girls choose gifts for give each other. We've kinda done it with birthdays before, but last year I think they ended up both wanting the same thing while they were shopping with me so it wasn't a surprise. This year, though, Abbie chose a very cool nail polish/makeup kit for Emma, and Emma chose a Jasmine pocket-doll set for Abbie, because she knows that Jasmine is her favorite princess.

I am so proud of them! They each put real thought about what their sister would like into their gifts. In the past, Emma has seen something she would really like and chosen it for Abbie, and then pretty much takes it over. Abbie lets her, which is entirely another issue, but you see how it goes. Typical kid stuff. They're growing up into such wonderful women-to-be. It does my mother's heart good.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Christmas Carol Fun

I recently updated my iPod with all my favorite Christmas songs, and the girls and I have been listening to them throughout the days. One day this week, Emma came to me and told me that her favorite song is "a desert song, and also one from the place to where the boys wear skirts." Er... that narrows it down....

I assumed (yes, I know what that does, LOL) that she meant one of the songs from Celtic Christmas or Celtic Christmas II, thinking that she had identified the Celtic sound with kilts. We went through every song and not one of them was the one she meant. Desert songs? For Christmas? What?

This morning, we were listening to Steven Curtis Chapman's "Music of Christmas" album, and when "Carol of the Bells" came on, both girls said, "That's it, Mom! That's our favorite song!"

As far as I have been able to translate, "desert song" means acoustic guitar in a minor key. I'm still wondering what "the place to where the boys wear skirts" means in their little punkin heads.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Presenting Thumbelina

The things I do for love.....
Last week, Emma came in and told me that she found "something like a snake" in the yard. I thought, surely the child would not approach a snake, and if she had, she would be screaming, so I said, "You mean like a big worm?" And she said yes, kind of like that. So, I went outside to see what it was, and she had, indeed, found a small snake in the yard.

I said: "Oh, look at the cute little snake!

I thought: "Dear God, they found a snake. What if it's poisonous? There are a lot of poisonous snakes in North Carolina, aren't there? I can't make them afraid of snakes. I am going to have to pick it up. What if it's poisonous? Okay, I don't think it could bite me if it wanted to, it's head is too small. I am touching a snake. Please, someone, pinch me and tell me this isn't really happening."

I did, in fact, pick up the little snake. It was a strong little bugger! They don't have any hands, so how on earth did it hold on to the grass so tightly? I had a hard time getting it - I didn't want to hurt it, and it, of course, was trying valiantly to slip into the grass and disappear.
Once I got it, I looked at its eyes, thinking "I can tell if it's poisonous by its eyes, right? How does that work again? Why don't I have a snake book?" It had nice round, yellow eyes, not poisonous looking at all. Actually, looking into its eyes, I sensed no animosity. I have an odd connection with reptiles - don't ask me why. They just like me. Isn't that a disturbing thought?

When we held it with two hands, it was quite calm. It reached up and sniffed my hair and my glasses. The girls each held it - Abbie went first, of course, because Emma wasn't quite sure she wanted to touch it. (Emma lives by the motto, if Abbie doesn't get hurt, then I might try, too.) But, once she saw that it wasn't dangerous or slimy, she held it too.

The girls named their reptilian friend "Thumbelina," and they talked to "her," and had a grand time checking "her" out. They really wanted to keep "her," but I didn't know what to put "her" in, and there is NO WAY WE ARE KEEPING A SNAKE IN THE HOUSE EVER but I didn't say that part. I told them to tell her goodbye, so they each had one more turn holding this little snake, kissed it goodbye (!), and we let it go back into the flower bed.

Honestly, it's things like this that make me so glad I homeschool. We've met Thumbelina the snake, and gotten to see a baby robin that was just learning to fly. We've had birds build a nest on our front door wreath, and seen them grow up and fly away. And let's not forget Hoppy the grasshopper - Abbie took him to preschool last year, and now every time we see a grasshopper outside, we say hello to "Hoppy." We find bird nests and leaves and pretty rocks, and bring them home. I have so much fun, I think I might be homeschooling for ME.

Meet Dumplin'!

This is Dumplin, a little Bantam hen and our neighborhood chicken. Never heard of one of those before? Neither had I, until a couple of years ago. A chicken showed up one day, and my neighbor Chrissy adopted her and named her Henny. She had a little hen house in Chrissy's yard, and pretty much free rein of the surrounding yards. She was quite entertaining, if not particularly friendly.

Then, when Chrissy moved, Henny disappeared. There were no "remains," and I think someone had her trapped and taken to a nearby farm (maybe the one she came from in the first place).

Well, Mr. Dave (of the infamous pine tree incident posted previously) decided that he liked having a chicken hanging around. He has a friend who raises chickens, and brought home two - Dumplin, and Biscuit. Biscuit has since relocated herself a few streets over - we don't know why. Maybe she got chased there?

Anyhoo, Dumplin is still here. She's a strange little bird. She doesn't like it when you try to catch her, but if you give up and turn away she shrieks. Sometimes she sounds like a duck. Since Mr. Dave works all day and we are usually home, she likes to hang out with us. We like to feed her birdseed - she eats out of our hands. We leave the garage door at least cracked, if not open, during the day so she can come in - she spends a lot of time there when it's raining or particularly windy. She likes to roost on top of our cars (which are outside), even though I am sure there are warmer places for her. She seems so cold in the mornings now - it's been getting down into the 30's at night. This morning I found her standing on one leg, trying to keep her other foot warm, I guess. I thought about knitting her a little chicken sweater, but I can't figure out how to go about it. At the suggestion of some of the very knowledgable ladies from the Well Trained Mind boards, I think we're going to try to build her some kind of nest box this weekend, so at least she has a place to snuggle in if she wants.

If you have any suggestions for our little chicken - even if it's just to tell me to leave her alone because she's perfectly able to take care of herself - I would love to hear!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Pine Boughs Keep Falling on My Head....

I was awakened from nap today to the - ahem - sweet sound of power tools. I didn't think much of it; my husband had mentioned that he was going outside with our neighbor, Mr. Dave, and when those two men get together, power tools are usually involved. Like the time they built the catapult in Mr. Dave's driveway, and used it to shoot his dead Christmas tree to the top of the hill. (In case you're wondering, we do live in suburbia; it's not as if people aren't around to notice these things. I did tell Todd that they would not be allowed to play together very often - between Dave's creativity and Todd's engineering mind, they could cause a lot of trouble!)

After we were up and about, the girls went outside to see what was going on, and Emma rushed in to tell me that I had to come outside, right then. Out I went, to discover that the boys had decided to cut down the rather large Loblolly Pine tree that stood between our houses.

I knew this day would come; we've often talked about the need to remove that tree. It dumped loads of pine needles in our gutters, and was generally a nuisance where it stood. Usually, though, I get some kind of forewarning that these little projects are going to take place.

The girls and I went out and harvested all the pine cones we could find, and we got a 30-gallon garbage sack full of beautiful cones! We can make angels, bird feeders, wreaths.... whatever comes to mind. And, if we are so inspired, the branches are in the back yard for more gathering.

When I asked my husband why they decided today would be "the day," he responded, "Mr. Dave lost his satellite connection."

Friday, November 24, 2006

Little Sisters

My Abbie is such a funny little nut. Yesterday morning, she asked me what "no comprendo" means - I told her it means, "I don't understand." I'm not sure where she heard it; probably on Sesame Street.

Anyhoo, last night, my mom was telling us about taking the girls up to a park to ride their bikes. It's a small park in our neighborhood, with sidewalks all the way around and through it. It's a perfect place for bike racing, apparently. They rode their bikes around and around, and if one girl thought the other was ahead, they would quickly turn around and go the other direction so that they were suddenly in the lead. Tricky little things, aren't they?

So, at one point, Abbie was way ahead of Emma, who of course could not let that continue. Emma is, after all, the eldest and determined to be in charge at all times. She said, "Abbie! Wait for me!" Abbie replied, "I can't hear you!" and kept on pedaling. Emma yells again, "Abbie! Wait for me!" and Abbie says again, "I can't hear you!" and pedals faster. For a third time, Emma called to Abbie to slow down, and Abbie hollered back, "NO COMPRENDO!" and pedaled as fast as she could in the other direction. We laughed and laughed. I must say that one of the best fringe benefits about having children is the comic relief.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


We have had quite a day around here. LOTS of attitude from Em. This morning, I told the girls they could come with me to take the dog for a walk - always a big treat, since I try to walk before they get up most days.

First, they wanted to ride their bikes. Then, they decided that their scooters were a better idea, because they haven't done a lot of bike riding, and going down hills can be scary when you're not confident in your braking ability. I told them it was fine, but there would be no whining or complaining, and they were responsible for their scooters - Mom was not going to be pushing them home.

It went pretty well for about two-thirds of the way - then Emma just didn't seem to be able to help herself and started complaining of being thirsty, hot and tired. I told her that when I start feeling crabby, I think about all the things I have to be thankful for, like two healthy daughters who are able to walk and run and play so that they can join me on walks on beautiful, sunny days like today. She didn't "feel" like trying to change her attitude, but she did stop complaining for the most part. I took them home, gave them water to drink and they rested while I had a shower.

After lunch, a friend needed some help while painting, so we went over to her house. It's less than 2 blocks away, so I walked and the girls decided to ride their scooters - until Abbie decided to ride her bike, instead. That was fine until we were about halfway there, when Emma decided that she wanted her bike, too, and we should turn around and go back for it. Umm - no. So, she informed that she hated her scooter and would never ride it again. I told her I would be happy to get rid of it for her, along with anything else she decided to complain about today.

They were pretty good while we visited, and she did fine on the way home. However, once we got home it was a different story. They were riding bikes in the driveway while I got dinner ready, and they asked me to move the car out of the garage, like we had done yeseterday. I said no, because dinner was almost ready and then it would be time to get ready for bed. She proceeded to throw a fit, so she received a spanking and then we practiced appropriate responses 5 times before she was allowed to go back out. She continued with her bad attitude when her sister asked whether I was going to move the car, so I told them it was time to come inside. She proceeded to yell at me, so I sent her to her room, where she ate dinner and now awaits me to come tell her when she can get ready for bed. She has been crying ever since, because she does not like to be alone - which would, after all, be the point of her eating alone in her room. I think she gets it.

This is so hard. Did anyone else know how hard it was going to be when they signed up to become parents? This week has been much the same every day. Emma does not want to do her schoolwork, and questions and argues with me about every task. When she's not being contentious, she is watching her sister work, in case Abbie might need some of her expert advice. In the amount of time she spends complaining and not working, she could finish her work for the week. She's only in first grade! Apparently I have not been responding strongly enough, in my attempts not to yell at her, because she seems to think she can behave horribly all the time. We didn't even *get* to school today. I have news for the dear child - we are NOT going to continue this way.

Tonight, while she is in the bath, I am going to take all the toys out of the room that Bean and Squinky share. I forsee the Bean spending a great deal of time in there in the near future, and I need to make sure she will not enjoy it. Sigh. Why, oh why, can't she see that this behavior will get her nowhere? I suppose, like her mother, she will have to learn this lesson the hard way.

Our current Bible memory work:

Do everything without grumbling or arguing. Then you will be the pure and innocent children of God. You live among people who are crooked and evil, but you must not do anything that they can say is wrong. Try to shine as lights among the people of this world...

Philippians 2:14-16, CEV

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Some Unbirthday Thoughts

So - yesterday went well, considering that I spend most of my birthdays feeling sad, lonely and crying on and off. I have been pondering the change, and I think God has been gently working on my heart again.

There have been so many wonderful little things happening at our house since we got home from vacation. It's been so, so good for me, because it's kept me from focusing on just how much I miss my family, which is what I usually do when we get back from Michigan.

  • My girlie didn't have any pain when she re-broke her arm.
  • The pediatric orthopaedist did her surgery this time, and is taking care of her. I like his plan of care for my daughter better than what we did last time with the other doctor.
  • We got signed up for a homeschool co-op - YAY!
  • The very, very nice co-op people put the broken child into a Backyard Scientist class, even though it was already full, instead of the PE class I chose (Doctor says not even ballet until after the first of the year).
  • The folks in my small group gave me a Happy Birthday balloon, flowers, and a giant cookie for my birthday!
I know there have been other little things, too, but these are the ones that come to mind. God has conspired to keep me out of the doldrums, for which I am so grateful.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Happy Birthday to Me!

I turned 35 today. Normally, I don't ascribe significance to my birthdays; I don't care that much about getting older. Today, though, was different. Today I learned something.

My husband and I moved to North Carolina 8 years ago. It was a tough decision for us; we needed to establish our marriage on our own, but we both grew up in Michigan and hated to leave our extended families behind. I knew God was leading us here, but it was scary.

In my family, birthdays are a big deal. My mom has a gift for making you feel so special, so loved on your birthday - it's a beautiful thing. I grew up spending my birthday with grandparents, aunts, uncles cousins; whoever could come and have cake. Since we moved here, I think I've had family with me once.

So, I've been depressed on my birthday almost every year. I just figured it was what it was; I miss my family and I am acutely aware of how much on that particular day.

Today, though, was different. I had to renew my driver's license, and my husband stayed home from work so that I could go to a scrapbooking event at a friend's house. I could not let him see that I was feeling blue when he surprised me by taking the day off for my birthday! So, I smiled a lot, thanked him profusely, opened my presents from my family with the girlies, and then got on my way to the DMV.

On the way, I had to stop at a gas station for my caffeine fix, and the man working there was so friendly and cheerful, that I fixed a smile on my face and said "Great!" when he asked how I was, and chatted with him a minute. I felt my spirits lift a little more.

At the DMV, I made a real effort to be friendly; people who work with the general public day in and day out do not need any more unhappy people in their day. I chatted with a girl in line about the cool purse she was carrying, and found out she'd gotten it in England. I told her my funny license renewing story from last year (see below) and we both laughed. I thanked the woman who gave me my new license, and she thanked me for thanking her - I could hear the surprise in her voice that someone showed gratitude in the DMW office.

When I got to my friend's house, I met another homeschooling mom, which was a tremendous blessing in itself. She also had her 6 year old daughter with her, and I learned that this little girl and I share the same birthday. I could not possibly feel sorry for myself in the presence of this beautiful child celebrating her special day, telling me all about the Ariel birthday party she's having - you know how much fun it is to have a birthday when you're 6, right?

I have a Mary Kay business, and one thing you hear a lot is "Fake it until you make it!" I suppose you hear it in any sales-related field. You have to put on a happy face when you deal with people because they need to know you are focusing on them and their needs. I am not typically good at hiding my feelings, and don't often put much effort into it. Today, I put it into practice, and it WORKED. I started the day feeling blue, but when I stepped out of my pity party and made a point to be cheerful to other people, somehow the smile worked its way into my heart, and by the end of the day, it was real.

I can still feel that little place in my heart that wishes I could have celebrated my birthday today with my parents, my siblings, sibs-in-law, my nieces and nephew. However, I learned that even on MY birthday, I don't have to wallow. I can rise above the sadness and, eventually, the joy will creep its way into me and become the real thing.

(License renewing story: Last year, my husband got a card in the mail to renew his driver's license; we thought since we'd been here 7 years it was time to renew. He got his, and a week later, I went to get mine. At the DMV, I handed over my old license to the nice gentleman helping me, and he asked me what I wanted to to do. I told him since I'd lived here 7 years it was time to get a new driver's license. He said, "Ma'am, you can't renew this more than 180 days before it expires. What is it that you want me to do today?" I said, "I have lived here for 7 years, and I need to renew my license!" He then explained to me that in North Carolina, you renew on your birthdays ending in 5 or 0; my husband had turned 35, but I was still a year away. So I got to go home and tell my husband how OLD he was. And that although I would be 35 the following year, he would still turn 36 first. Ha!)

Friday, May 05, 2006

My Baby Is Broken! (where are the mommy sedatives?)

E broke her arm this week - of course, the right one, with two weeks left of school, so we will be improvising. Yay for homeschool!

I did not see what happened, but she said she was walking down the slide at the park, tripped, and put her arm out to catch herself - and obviously hit hard. All I heard was "Oh, dear!" and saw her arm flopping as she ran over to me. I didn't think it was broken, because she only started to cry when she saw how her arm was hanging. We were there with another family, and thankfully when I said, "What should I do?" the other mom said, "Where is your pediatrician's office? Go there, right now." I look back and laugh at myself, because my brain just shut down at the sight of my baby's arm flopping like a rag doll's. I think it's a good thing I didn't realize it was broken because I may have just passed out on the spot. So much for grace under pressure!

She snapped both the radius and the ulna right through, a couple of inches behind her wrist. We went to the pediatrician, then the orthopaedist, then the ER, where they tried to set the bone. New X-rays today showed that it didn't work, so we get to go in for general anesthesia on Monday, where they will try to set it one more time, and then do surgery if that doesn't work.

I am (quietly) freaking out over here. At the ER, the nurse told me I should probably not be in the room when they worked on E's arm, because it would be very upsetting, but the doctor did not know, apparently, that I might want to leave because he just started. It was awful, to put it mildly! But, E needed me to be there with her, and she, thanks to the magic of conscious sedation, doesn't remember a thing. My shoulders are so tight they hurt. My stomach has butterflies that seem to have taken up permanent residence, but E is left with only a vague distrust of the orthopaedist. I'm glad for her.

This puts a wee kink in the summer plans - no swimming lessons in two weeks, and potentially no ballet recital, either. I'm also thinking we may have to change vacation plans, because she will probably need her cast off in the middle of when we were going to be out of town for an extended trip. Ah, well, c'est la vie! And, she is alive, she didn't break her neck or have a concussion, or any of the other horrifying things that can happen while children play.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Sweet Sounds of Spring

Today something happened that I found blog-worthy! This week, my girlies, whom we shall call E and A, both have their birthdays, and my parents are visiting. We went to the store this morning, and upon our return, we saw a sparrow fly away from the front porch. I said, "Oh, no, I bet she's building a nest!" My mom said, "Yep, she's got a nest on top of the wreath on the door. You might want to take it down, or you'll end up with a bird in your house sometime."

I didn't believe her, and thought it was nifty that there was a bird nesting on my wreath, so I didn't think about it again.

This evening, I was baking a cake for A's birthday, and decided that since I had to separate a dozen eggs and sift flour and stuff three times, I would like my iPod, and headed out the front door to get it out of my car.

As I was sitting at the kitchen table, I thought I heard tweeting. Interesting, since it was dark outside and birds are usually quiet, and it wasn't time for the bird clock to chime. Then I noticed the focused attention of my cats on something above my head..... and saw the sparrow sitting on the ceiling fan!

I called my mom downstairs to show her, at which point we were both caught in a fit of the giggles. Then the bird started flying around, and we thought maybe if we opened the front door, left the porch light on and turned out the other lights, the bird would fly back outside. Instead, she flew straight upstairs - where there was also a light and we hadn't thought to turn it off! She went right down to the bonus room where my dad was trying to watch television, after a busy day of building the swing set in the back yard.

At that point we had not only the cats, but the dog, my girls and my dad involved too. We ended up shutting the cats in my bedroom, putting the dog in his crate, sending the girls with Grandma to finish getting ready for bed, and my dad and I kept the bird flying around so she would get tired and let us catch her. My dad was finally able to throw a towel over her, picked her up gently and let her go outside - after everyone got to see her, pet her head, and of course, take a picture.

I went outside to take the wreath down right away, because I didn't think we would remember not to use the front door for several months while waiting for the baby birds to fledge, and found - you guessed it - five little blue-speckled eggs. They are so tiny! We decided to wait and see if the mother bird will come back tonight, and otherwise, they will probably be too cold by tomorrow. I hope she comes back - I feel badly for her that she was traumatized in the house.

Last year I had a dove make a nest in one of my hanging plants, but I haven't put any out yet this year because it's been too cold (silly me, I thought we were safe from nests). We left her in there, and she laid three eggs - we even saw one of the baby birds just after it had hatched. I have a picture to prove it! But, the next day, mommy dove (whom the girls named Molly), baby bird (Rosie) and eggs were gone - probably eaten by a racoon or something. It was sad. It would be really fun to be able to see the progress of these baby birds, if the mother will come back. Here's hoping!

Saturday, March 18, 2006

I started a blog?

Well, this is interesting! I wanted to respond to a post on a friend's blog, and discovered that in the process, I would be starting one of my own. Hmmm....

I started out calling it "Sunflower House" - I love sunflowers. They are such bright, happy flowers, and they permeate my house with their cheerful faces. Also, there is a sweet children's book called The Sunflower House that my girls and I enjoy tremendously. I was going to hame our homeschool "Sunflower House", but then someone pointed out that it will be the name on my children's diplomas and transcripts, and I decided that we will be "Acorn Hill Academy," instead. It's boring, and will make no sense if we ever move, but it works for now.

Why did I call myself 2lilreds? I am the proud mom of two little redheaded girls. They are the delight of my life. They are 367 days apart in age, which makes for lots of fun and lots of challenges. We've just started our homeschool journey together, and we're having a great time and learning a lot - and not just academically. :-)

I don't know that I have anything significant to say, so we will just see where this little piece of cyberspace takes me. Welcome - and God bless.