Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


the hamptons

   Posted by: liz

i have to be fully and honestly frank. the facade must be put to rest.

i am not a camper. i am not a camper in the woods, or in a motor-home. i’m not a camper in the summer, fall or spring. camping does not thrill me because i like clean and comfortable a little too much, especially if we’re talking “vacation.”

i think this is where i need to also admit that i think i’ve become a bit OCD. with cleaning and cleanliness. but i have a theory about this:  i’ve always been a neat freak and i never had to fight for an organized and neat home until i got married and then had three miniature tornadoes children. children who don’t know how to put anything away, or to keep food from falling on the floor, and who have no idea how to close a dresser drawer. and since moving to a farm, i’ve learned to embrace the dirty lifestyle we have. we get out in the barn, the pasture, the animals…and we get dirty. but i do have a thing about bringing that “dirty” inside the house. leave it outside and get a good, hot soapy shower before you sit on any furniture or put your hand in the fridge or the ice cube tray.

and this is why i don’t like camping. there’s dirt, no matter how hard you try to keep it out of the tent. there’s bugs and sweat and (shudder!) swimming in a pond or creek with crayfish.

i’ve become a girly girl. i love my comfortable hotels with the chlorine swimming pools and hot soapy showers and warm, fluffy pillows. i know camping is cheaper and don’t talk to me about the bedbug outbreak because i’ve already become a bit paranoid about any hotel we stay in because of it.  but i know that but when it comes to vacation…camping is more like a prison sentence than rest and relaxation.

there is no resting or relaxing for me when my boys are wading through a creek with SHARP rocks sticking out of rolling water that can have up to a thousand different flesh-eating bacteria floating in it. bring on the chlorine, please…and you’ll see my shoulders relax.  there is NEVER resting or relaxing when there is a campfire and toddlers and crazy/excited boys around, especially with sharp implements that are stuck into the fire for roasting marshmallows (that end up in your hair, then in your sleeping bag and guess who is then prowling around your tent at 3:15 looking for that sweet smell coming from your hair?  mr. rabid raccoon or mrs. black bear.

bring me my hampton inn, my comfort inn, and leave the musty-smelling tents at home. i know this does not mesh at all with my normally “natural” way of living.

maybe i need a 12-step program. but i know it won’t help me enjoy camping. it might help me tolerate it, but definitely not enjoy it.



running thoughts (III)

   Posted by: liz

a week and a half ago, i injured my toe. i’ve talked enough about it that i’m sure you know which injury i’m referring to.  the morning after injuring it, i was aching to go for a run. but i could barely put any pressure at all on the toe. i couldn’t even put a sock over the toe without yelping in pain.

i knew i had to take it easy, and not do any form of exercise until my toe felt much better.

eight days after the injury, i was back at the track and ran a full mile before stopping to walk. i know that’s peanuts to the majority of you reading, but it was encouraging to me. this morning, after a cup of black coffee, and a few almonds (for energy) i went back out and clocked a mile and a half. that’s half of a 5k!

what i learned from the toe injury: “i don’t feel like it” will never be an excuse not to run. i will run every opportunity i have. because i can.  when you have a real reason for not running, all you want to do is run. “i don’t feel like it” is an excuse, not a reason.

so get out there – pound that pavement! dance your run!


knitting for the boys

   Posted by: liz

with all the knitting i’ve been doing for kenny and myself, it would seem i’ve left out the three boys!

i have not forgotton our offspring in my latest “making” adventures, i promise you. in fact, here they are sporting their brand new, made-with-love from mama sweaters!

sawyer’s covering all his bases, “it’s cool,” and “peace out!”

adam DOUBLE LOVES his sweater!

rowan THINKS he likes his sweater.

they have yet to wear them out anywhere. in fact, for some reason, they all put them in the garage the minute after i snapped these photos. good thing i’m so in tune with my boys to know exactly what they love to wear! i will never be that aunt who crochets big bold sweaters that never see the light of day….


*lest you think i’m serious, these were made by me, but not knitted. we were invited to an ugly sweater party back in december, and i cut up an old afghan and sewed some granny squares onto the ugliest sweaters we could find. the boys decided nto to wear them to the party at the last minute, so they’re up for grabs if anyone likes them! ;)




starting school…

   Posted by: liz

…but not for two weeks yet!

i’m so glad that we’re still in full summer mode here because i would be completely distracted if i had to “do school” right now. i’m considering a very organic, easy-going start to school in a few weeks’ time, when i can finally put summer behind me and “get excited” about falling temperatures, feeling stuck inside, and non-grilled food for 6 months.

we are nearly ready with all of our curriculum, but actual planning has fallen by the wayside as our busy summer has just started to slow down.

the next two weeks we will squeeze out the very last bit of summer, practice going to bed early and getting up early (ha!), and i will finally plan out the first few weeks of lessons. then we start our weekly co-op again, and we’ll be back in the swing of things. secretly, i am looking forward to getting back into the swing of things…but overall, i still have an attitude of “let this summer go on forever!”

i’ll leave you with a few of our favorite summer things from the summer of 2011!

4th of July Sunset…

Spending our days poolside!

…or lakeside

on this day, it was even too hot to be in a 92-degree pool!

a summer roadtrip splurge!

darkening skies from a summer evening thunderstorm.

our new backyard swimming hole…this photo has inspired a swim-up bar in the deck plans!


seven quick takes

   Posted by: liz

*this week was VBS at our little local church. this was the 4th VBS that the older two boys have gone to there, and it was adam’s 2nd year. as usual, they all loved every minute of it. i’m glad that the older two don’t feel that they’re too old for something like this. i love going early to pick them up and watching them get really involved in the singing and dancing to the music. makes a momma proud.

* i mentioned this on facebook a while ago: kenny and i can’t get enough of the British show Doc Martin. we’re nearing the end of season 2, and i just noticed that it will only be available as “watch instantly” on netflix until july 6th. i think the first three seasons are available on hulu.  not only is it a quirky “big city doctor meets small seaside village,” but the writing is great: the storylines in each episode are so clever, and the dialogue and character traits are so charming (especially that of Doc Martin). i wholeheartedly recommend you begin watching TONIGHT.

* just because i’m a conservative woman…doesn’t mean i support a sarah palin or a michele bachmann presidential run. in fact as of right now, i wouldn’t vote for either of them. i believe in their politics, just not their leadership.

whew! glad i got that off my chest.

* i’m addicted to the runner’s high. and the running part is getting more and more enjoyable as well. for the past few runs, i’ve had to cut them short for rain (i’m afraid of ruining my android in the pouring rain, and i use it as my music and workout tracker (CardioTracker). i’m open to suggestions on music/cardio tracking devices that hold up in the rain!
since i’ve been stretching before and after my runs AND since i’m running in good running shoes, i’ve had no knee or ankle pain at all. i’m considering doing a 5K in july to get ready for the bigger 4 mile run/walk in august that i originally thought would be my first run. i think i’m ready to just dive in and get running in public. :)

* i saw a recipe for tostados recently and i have been craving them ever since! at book club yesterday, the hostess served us these great margarita jello drinks complete with salt on the rim of glass. also, apparently i am addicted to chips and salsa. or chips and texas caviar. or chips with sour cream. summer always brings out the mexican foodie in me. kenny and i once made homemade tamales after having them in Colorado. and one summer we were on a “Huevos Rancheros” kick. and now that it’s friday…i’m ready for a really good margarita!

* i have done absolutely zero planning for the upcoming school year. this is strange for me because i’m usually on it by now. we have done absolutely zero “courses” and i’m so much enjoying our time off. so are the boys. i’ve met a lot of homeschoolers lately who work through the summer and for a while i thought we should probably do that as well. but, on serious consideration of it, i am so glad we’re a “summers off” family.  i know i’ll have some reviewing to do in the fall, but by that time, we’ll all be ready to work again. at least i will.

* here is a picture of adam’s birthday cake. he designed his entire party!


gratitude ~ may 11, 2011

   Posted by: liz

dining al fresco after spending the afternoon in the warm sun…


owls! (again)

   Posted by: liz

our owl family was “featured” on the frugal family fun blog!  i’m so honored. :)


the smell of fire upon me

   Posted by: liz

the boys and i spent the day with 30 other students (and their parents) at a local conservancy that was “established for the purpose of providing an environmental and cultural education center for the community.”

our field trip was led by a local historian who provided our group an incredible hands-on learning experience. in our entire field trip, all the students were able to participate in cooking over fire, dipping candles, spinning wool, gathering apples and pressing them for cider, blacksmithing, wheat harvesting and planting, and we got to watch a replica of a revolutionary war musket being loaded and fired several times.

the boys pose with a revolutionary soldier:

pressing apples that all the kids gathered from two apple trees on the Conservancy’s grounds. this is a homemade, antique apple press:

The outdoor cooking fire:

The  barn on the grounds:

Big ol’ musket:

The students lining up to weed and plant wheat berries for harvesting next spring:

the trip ended at the open fire where we were shown how they melted material down for musket balls (bullets). the tools he used were blacksmithed at the Conservancy, and were authentic replicas of tools and molds used so long ago.

i still smell of the fire…the perfect smell to go with such a perfect fall day. what a blessing today was!  the perfect field trip on the perfect day. and i got to spend it with my boys!


i gave in…

   Posted by: liz

i normally dont’ splurge on fall decorations because i think they’re overpriced even though they’re beautiful. i hope to have planted mums in our front yard eventually, and grow our own gourds and pumpkins everywhere. eventually…

our local farmer is selling mums for $5.00 a pot. that’s the cheapest i’ve seen in years, so i splurged this year and actually BOUGHT mums. and pumpkins!

we grew some decorative gourds this year – i want to grow even more next year!

i hope your saturday is just as lovely as it is here in western, pa today!


school week 6, recap

   Posted by: liz

i know this blog has turned into a homeschooling blog. it morphed into it naturally because it’s pretty much what i think and breathe on a daily basis. if it’s not our family lessons i’m planning, i’m thinking about our homeschooling group’s field trips and co-op classes.

our homeschool group started a teaching cooperative this week that will meet every other week until mid December. this is the first time we’re doing something like this outside of just field trips. tuesday morning was our first gathering and i was exhausted by the afternoon!

we are focusing this semester on the colonial times of america. i am teaching the younger kids and there is an older kids class being taught at the same time by my friend jen which is a “reader’s theatre” event. we’ll close the semester with a big “as authentic as possible thanksgiving dinner,” joining the classes together and watching the older kids present their theatre piece. in my class this week, the students and i made butter as we discussed that colonial families had to make and grow and raise their food, very unlike today’s families. we then ate the butter on crackers – the kids’ favorite part of the class!

(i have very fond memories of doing a “thanksgiving dinner” in my kindergarten class and can even visualize pictures that someone took of the dinner. i think there were marshmallows and peanuts and raisins made into “turkeys” with toothpicks and dixie cups of apple cider. i even think i remember my mom was teacher’s aid that day.)

i was reminded by a homeschooling mom of teenagers this week to enjoy this time. she shared with me that she misses the days of taking her younger children to the co-op and looks back fondly on those days, even though she is enjoying the independence that her high school homeschoolers have these day. i love being reminded of such things, but i have to admit…i LOVE this time. i keep saying that each stage is my favorite, and i mean it! i love teaching and being with the boys and learning things together and trying to answer their questions about what we’re learning, diving into books and online information together. i love taking them to field trips and the co-op classes and seeing them make friends, interact with older and younger kids and adults. i love hearing what they’re learning when they tell others, and i love that i get to be there with them as they make these discoveries and learn these new things.

afterall…i’m re-learning things myself!


monday: rosemary garlic pork loin with green beans and salad

tuesday: chickpea and spinach curry over brown rice (not memorable!)

wednesday: mexican corn and bean soup, crackers; smoked apples with vanilla cream sauce

thursday: pork chops with gravy, new potatoes, green beans

* not much to report via dinners this week. it felt great not being sick, so i treasured the time in the kitchen preparing all our meals again! we had such cold rainy days most of this week, so we were stuck inside a lot. this weekend begins the big fall clean-up around the yard. lots of leaves!