Thursday, August 29, 2013

Frankie's Birthday

Everything about a birthday is exciting!  I love the packages with bows, the celebrations, the desert, but best of all is the smiles!  Each birthday at our house is greeted with breakfast in bed, and Frankie's 28th birthday was no exception.  Frankie loves her birthdays, in fact she even has two special days, her actual birthday and we celebrate 'Francis Marie' Day, the anniversary of her adoption.
Frankie always wakes up early for her birthday eager to begin the celebration.  This morning I heard her getting dressed at 4:45am!  I quickly 'reminded' her to get back in bed and wait for the celebration.  I then went about waking everyone else so we could prepare bacon, pancakes and chocolate milk for breakfast.  With breakfast in hand we woke Frankie with our singing of happy birthday and all climbed on her trundle bed to east breakfast. 
The biggest surprise was still awaiting Frankie, she didn't know that I had worked it out with her youngest biological sister, Sasha, to come for a visit.  Sasha and her mom arrived from Oklahoma around noon today and the girls spent the day together visiting.  Frankie was so very happy to spend the day with Sasha and hasn't stopped talking about her visit.  It was a wonderful day!

“We will go with our young and our old, with our sons and our daughters,
. . .we are to celebrate a festival to the Lord.”
Exodus 10:9

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Wednesday's Service

One of the great things about serving at the food pantry is you never know what your day will include.  There are a few things that are consistent like helping clients, checking items for expiration dates and unloading the truck from the North Texas Food Bank.  It is all the other jobs that are the unknown factors. 
There had been a generous donation of 140 pounds of pasta in 20lb boxes.  Our job for today was to split all of that pasta into 2 cup servings using quart Ziploc bags.  When we completed that we were given 60 pounds of rice to separate out.  Upon completion of the rice we were given 60 pounds of potatoes to bag up.  Needless to say, we kept busy.
Today was another hot Texas summer day and the air conditioner at the pantry doesn't work really well. The building was warm and there were a lot of bodies in a small space. When the delivery trucks arrived the doors had to be opened up allowing what little bit of cool air there was to escape.  Caleb and Abigail carried and unloaded boxes of canned goods and boxed goods.  During this very hot time for them, where was Mom?  Oh that's right I was given the task of sorting through the boxes of pizzas donated by Papa Johns in the walk in cooler! 
This summer on the Wednesdays we have served there are generally around 50 families who come through.  The highest number they have seen is 61 families.  Today Metro Relief served 77 families!  There is just such a need.  If you are unable to physically serve I would hope you would consider donating food.  If you see a case of corn, green beans, chili, granola bars on sale, pick them up and drop them off at the nearest food bank.  Or pass them along to us and we will get them to Metro Relief. 

Do to others as you would have them do to you.
Luke 6:31

Monday, August 26, 2013

Books We Read During the 2012-2013 School Year

On the side bar of the blog I try to keep track of what books the kids are reading.  Now granted, they read faster than I remember to post so there are always a few books each year that I miss.  It is somewhat sad to remove their book list of the blog each year, so a few years ago I started doing a post with just a listing of the books for that school year. This is mostly the just for fun books, the ones they read as part of their school work I usually do not include in this list.  Honestly, what 10th grade boy wants his friends to know he read Pride and Prejudice, right!
These are the books they picked out and read for fun or as part of their book club, some were at the suggestion of their friends and others at the suggestion of their Dad!  And yes, these are books they read, not some CliffsNotes version, or audio cheat but black and white page turners they enjoyed during the past school year.
Aida; All-American Girl; Animal Farm; Anthem; Artemis Fowl; Bible; Being George Washington; Ben Hur; Black Sails Before Troy; Catching Fire; Cave of Treasures; Cinder; Confessions of St. Augustine; Death Cure; Deeper; Denominational Doctrines; Divergent; Dragons of the Watch; Endangered; Ender's Game; Figs and Phantoms; Forever Princess; Fyre; Gregor the Overlander; Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane; Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods; Hamlet; Hobbitt; Holes; Howling Sphinx; Hunger Games; I Am Number Four; Infinity Ring; Inheritance; Insurgent; Islam vs. Christianity; Jefferson Lies; Killing Kennedy; Killing Lincoln; King Lear; Legend; Lionclaw; Lost Hero; Mark of Athena; Maximum Ride; Maze Runner; Michael Vey: Prisoner of Cell 25; Michael Vey: Rise of the Elgen; Mockingjay; Mysterious Island; Nation; Party Princess; ; Princess in Training; Princess Mia; Princess on the Brink; Princess Present; Prodigy; Rise of the Nine; Scorch Trials; So Long Insecurity; Son of Neptune; Spy School; Taming of the Shrew; The Dead of the Night; The Kill Order; The Land of Oz; The Outlaw Princess of Sherwood Forrest; The Power of Six; The Princess Diaries; Tunnels; Where the Sidewalk Ends; and Wolf Boy

If you are curious that is over 26,000 pages of just for fun reading!  I mentioned audio books earlier, please don't get me wrong, I LOVE audio books.  My son Caleb is dyslexic and reading has been a huge challenge!  I even had a parent at church ask me one time when Caleb was in third grade why I didn't just stop homeschooling him and put him in public school so he could finally learn to read.  But I also had a friend at church come to me privately to say she suspected that Caleb was dyslexic and led us in the right direction. 
Everything he did in school I read to him up through about fifth grade. All of his just for fun books, school books, I read it all.  When he found a book series he was interested in that I couldn't read fast enough for him, his reading took off!  It is with great joy and thankfulness that I post none of these are audio books!  To mom's of dyslexic children take heart, it may not always be the struggle you are currently experiencing. 
His dyslexia is still there, he can flip numbers, letters, even ABC choices on test, but it is so much better, praise God!!!

It is always fun to look back and see what we've read like our 2008-2009 Book List or 2010-2011 Book List or our 2011-2012 Book List
It is to be with him, and he is to read it
all the days of his life so that he may learn
to revere the Lord his God and follow carefully
all the words of this law and these decrees
Deuteronomy 17:19

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Sunday Shooting

I could spend all day in a museum, or at the opera or symphony, but honestly there are very few kids that feel that way.  My kiddos have grown up with it and tolerate them well enough, but I do like to add in something for them on the days they indulge my artsy side. So today following the Dallas Museum of Art we headed over to the Texas Archery Academy. 
If you see the photo in the collage on the lower left corner, that is how I spend time at the range, drinking my mocha latte and reading whatever book I picked up, both from the Half-Price Books store just down the street from the archery range.  Jon always shoots with the kids and they wander to various ranges and shoot. 
Today Frankie wanted to teach me how to shoot,  she had so much fun at my inability and her expertise!  Love that girl!

Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
Psalm 126:2

Hotel Texas

If you've hung out with my family through our blog then you know we love the Dallas Museum of Art.  It is amazing to step out of our otherwise incredibly fast paced lives and simply enjoy the beauty of art.  Each one of the children enjoy the event for different reasons.  Abigail is my artist and she loves seeing new styles and forms.  Caleb is my historian and he loves the time periods and political backgrounds of each piece.  Frankie and I, well we like to go because the art is pretty!  As for Jon, well, he likes to hang out with the rest of us!
This summer the DMA has showcased the Hotel Texas Exhibit.  It is a collection of maybe fifteen pieces that were on exhibit when President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy visited Fort Worth.  Before coming to Dallas that fateful day the President and first lady visited Fort Worth.  This fabulous collection of  paintings by Vincent van Gogh, Thomas Eakins, Lyonel Feininger, Franz Kline, and Marsden Hartley, and sculptures by Pablo Picasso and Henry Moore, among others was installed in the hotel room the Kennedy's would stay.  An exhibit guide was made detail the history behind each piece of art.
The following morning before leaving the Fort Worth hotel the President telephoned the art organizer to thank her for putting such an impressive collection together just for their overnight stay.  This is thought to be the last phone call by the President.  The Kennedy's would go on that morning to host a fund raising breakfast in Fort Worth and then head to Dallas.  Because of the assassination in Dallas that day, this artwork was quickly returned to the private collectors and never displayed again.  All but two of the original pieces have been reunited at the DMA along with photos of the hotel room installation, newspaper articles, and other memorabilia from the two days in Fort Worth. 
In September this installation will be moved to Fort Worth where it will be on display commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination. 
This was especially a moving exhibit for Caleb because of all of his worth with the Sixth Floor Museum.  There were several acknowledgement to the Sixth Floor Museum for items included in this exhibit.  The Sixth Floor also prepared the fifteen minute documentary showing the excited of the President's arrival in Texas. 
These days should be remembered
and observed in every generation by
 every family, and in every province
and in every city. . . .nor should the
memory of these days die out among their descendants.
Esther 9:28

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Sixth Floor Museum Living History with Dr. Thomas McConnell

Today was another great installment in the Sixth Floor Museum's Living History series featuring individuals who witnessed the assassination of President John F. Kennedy or other historic events of the 1960s.  Today Dallas native, Dr. Thomas McConnell who was Medical Officer of the Day at the Pentagon on Nov. 22, 1963, and was assigned duties at the White House, U.S. Capitol and Arlington National Cemetery that weekend. 
Dr. McConnell was an amateur photographer and presented wonderful photographs he captured over the weekend.  Photos that include close up of Jackie O and the kids watching the funeral procession. The most moving was a photo from Arlington Cemetery as the family walked away with the flag at half staff and the fallen President's casket being lowered into the grave.  Along with the photos Dr. McConnell told tales of that weekend at the White House. 
Following the Living History program, Dr. McConnell autographed copies of his book Dead Wrong which is  a series of vignettes from Dr. McConnell's long career in medicine. Several of the stories involve the Kennedy assassination.  Later as a pathologist he became interested in the Kennedy autopsy and engaged in correspondence with then Republican Representative Gerald Ford, later President Ford, who was the ranking Republican on the Warren Commission. Dr. McConnell's autopsy experience with gunshot victims informs his theory that the Warren Commission came to the right conclusion but for the wrong reasons.
Caleb and several other members of the Youth Advisory Committee were able to get their photos taken with Dr. McConnell.

A cheerful heart is good medicine,
    but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
Proverbs 17:22

Monday, August 19, 2013

Softball Tryouts

Everyone knows Texas takes their football very seriously, and if you live in Texas you know they take just about every other sport just as seriously!  This weekend Abigail participated in three days of tryouts for softball.  That is just crazy to me!  We are at the point where recreation leagues don't cover her age group but the organized homeschooling team don't begin for another two years.  She is twelve years old and has been playing of a 14 year old and under team. 
She loves softball and wants to play at the higher level but doesn't want to give up piano or drama club or book club or the myriad of other extra-curricular activities which she is involved.  At one of the practices they played for five hours in the Texas heat, she ended up throwing up because she got over heated.  She came home in tears because that may have hurt her chances to make the team. 
The momma-bear in me says really!!! She's 12, smacking the ball like no body's business and she puked, got up and went back to swinging! Maybe that's why I sit in the stands and am not on the field!

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might,
Ecclesiastes 9:10

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

One Man's Trash

Abigail and Caleb delivering the folded grocery bags

Last week at Metro Relief the volunteers were beginning to stress that they did not have enough plastic bags, you know the bags they use to sack your groceries.  When clients come through the pantry they check in with Ms. Ramona, they are then given a card to let volunteers know how many family members they are needing to feed.
If the client has a card saying 3-5, one of the volunteers would direct them to the breakfast items, the client could select 3 items. Next they would proceed to the canned food, from there they could select 5 items.  The next section would be pastas, beans etc. where they could also select 5 items.  Any fresh fruit or vegetables will be prepackaged for the clients.  Last this client would be permitted to select one bread item and one dessert.  There are also limited toiletries available to clients. 
When the client has finished shopping all of the groceries are bagged up and the kids would help the clients to their car.  This is where the bags come in, when you think the pantry assists 50+ families on Mondays and Wednesdays each with six or so bags it is easy to run through several hundred bags per week. 
This week we went to Staples to ask if they would donate their used recyclable bags to Metro Relief.  They were very generous and gave us a huge black trash bag full of used bags.  This week Frankie and Abigail went through the bags sorting out any with holes etc. and folded some 500+ bags. We were able to bring in Staples gift when we went in to volunteer.  They were very appreciative and Staples was fabulous that we could check in with them next month for more bags!
Fools fold their hands
    and ruin themselves.
Better one handful with tranquillity
    than two handfuls with toil
    and chasing after the wind.
Ecclesiastes 4:5-6

Sunday, August 11, 2013

It's a Dogs Life

I am certain there is some kind of joke about where does a grizzly bear sleep and the answer would be, anywhere he likes.  The same is true of an English Mastiff.  Padme' is by far the most obedient of our children, probably the best behaved and at times the best groomed.  Maybe I exaggerate, but she is most definitely part of the family. 
She is an amazing companion to Frankie, each morning they go for a walk together and this week I snapped pictures of Padme' following their morning exercise. It's funny, she looks like I do when I get off the treadmill!

A little sleep, a little slumber,
    a little folding of the hands to restand poverty will come on you like a thief
    and scarcity like an armed man.
Proverbs 6:10-11

Friday, August 9, 2013

John F. Kennedy Learning Center

Caleb and the other members of the Sixth Floor Youth Advisory Committee met up at the John F. Kennedy Learning Center to clean up the JFK quotes the committee painted on the walls last summer.  Some of the quotes had a few too many little finger prints and needed touch up. 
There is also a new mural that the students at this DISD school painted and the principal asked that the Youth Advisory Committee clear quote and seal for the coming school year.  With all the practice Caleb has had painting this summer, I'm sure I can put his newly acquired skills to work around the house!

Nevertheless, the righteous will hold to their ways,
    and those with clean hands will grow stronger.
Job 17:9

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Basil Harvesting

Each week we learn a new skill at Metro Relief.  This week there were plenty of volunteers so the kids and I worked in their community garden. My gardening skills are minimal.  We have kept some sort of a garden every year and each year I have mild success.
The raised beds at the food pantry have soaking hoses running through each bed and obviously skilled gardeners.  Our job today included primarily harvesting basil, and more basil and more basil. We also harvested eggplant, and squash. 
The vegetables are included in the pantry items that clients can select when shopping.  We washed and bagged up the fresh herbs for clients. After spending the morning in the garden and smelling the wonderful basil we came home and prepared the most delicious eggplant parmesan. 

One of them went out into the fields to gather herbs
and found a wild vine and picked as many of its gourds
as his garment could hold. When he returned,
he cut them up into the pot of stew,
though no one knew what they were.
2 Kings 4:39

Monday, August 5, 2013

DIY Dishwasher & Laundry Cleaners

I am convinced that Pinterest is just about the greatest use of the World Wide Web! Well okay, for the purpose of this post it is.  Just think you can go to this site check out how to do something and then read reviews and comments of others who have tried it and find out their opinions.  I’m talking gardening tips, home schooling experiments, lactose intolerant recipes; I promise it is all there.  In fact Sunday Frankie was getting ready for church and was upset that she couldn’t find the white blouse that she always wears with her blue skirt.  I took her to Pinterest, searched ‘blue skirt’ all kinds of cute photos popped up.  We found a skirt similar to hers with a pattered blue blouse similar to something in her closet, whew, crisis averted thanks to Pinterest!
My latest find on Pinterest is do-it-yourself (DIY) house cleaning supplies.  I do not like that chemical smell of most cleaning supplies.  I am not found of trying to remember what can and can’t be mixed together.  Everyone in our house has allergies of some sort.  I want a healthier, safer, non-toxic and yes cheaper alternative! Where else would I turn but Pinterest? 
Several years ago I experimented with the powdered version of DIY laundry soap.  There was a honeymoon period where it was fabulous, clothes were clean, I was saving money, and all was bliss!  But after a year I noticed that the fabric of our clothes was deteriorating.  Tiny, tiny holes in everyone’s clothes, the fabric was courser, and the towels weren’t really white.   When that batch was up I went back to Tide and was much happier with the results, but disappointed that for whatever reason it be hard water or whatever that the DIY Powdered Laundry Soap did not work for us.   
This time I decided to start with a DIY Cream Laundry Soap, this is not a liquid and not a gel, it is more the consistency of mayonnaise. We have been using this for several months and I am very pleased with the results.  The clothes smell clean but not perfuming, a serious bonus for our allergy challenged family!
Next on my thrifty, eco-friendly DIY list was Liquid Dishwasher Soap.  This is a gel type formula; the instructions on her web-page are pretty simple.  I do use white vinegar in the rinse agent compartment because of our hard water issues.  The verdict is still out on this one, primarily because it did not ‘gel’ the way the author’s tutorial described.  So for now I shake the bottle before each use and my dishes look great.
Next I moved on to an All-Purpose Cleaner, something to wipe down counter tops or a quick spray in the shower between cleanings.  This smells amazing, I need to get a spray bottle, so far I have just tilted it over on my cleaning rag and it has worked beautifully.  This page on her website also has downloadable labels, which make it easy to distinguish between shower cleaner and spray pesticide!
Having conquered laundry, dishes, and countertops, it was now time to move to Toilet Bowl Cleaner. Granted you can pick up toilet bowl cleaner at Big Lots or a dollar store cheap, so saving money isn’t a big deal on this one.  This was more a matter of, ‘hey, I have all those ingredients’ project.  I also waited to mix up the cleaner until I had an empty bottle. 
My last DIY experiment was a DIY Soft Scrub.  I am already on my second batch.  We use this in the sinks, tubs, etc.  With three bathrooms there is always something that needs scrubbed!
Several of these recipes call for castile soap; I used Dr. Bronner’s Citrus Orange with Tea Tree Oil.  I ordered it online at Walgreen’s website.  You can also purchase it at Target, but I found it cheaper on-line even with shipping charges.
Any fabric, woven or knitted material,
or any leather article that has been washed
and is rid of the mold, must be washed again.
Then it will be clean.
Leviticus 13:58

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Saturday Fun!

Don't you love it when you find a Saturday with nothing on the calendar?  That happens so infrequently that we embraced our precious time together today.  We did have a small commitment this morning at church, but this afternoon we were able to visit Texas Archery Academy.
All three children enjoy shooting, Jon even gets in on the action with them.  I am blissfully content to watch the process, plus I mess up my nails!  My favorite part of the day was dinner at Genghis Grill!  


Elisha said, “Get a bow and some arrows,”
and he did so.
2 Kings 13:15

Friday, August 2, 2013

Funtastic Friday

Throughout the summer our youth group at church have participated in Funtastic Friday.  This is usually just an evening of silliness and bonding for the kids that is concluded with a devotion and worship time. 
Tonight's event was a video scavenger hunt.  The kids were separated into five groups and competed to finish their lists.  Some of the fun items they needed to capture were:  a photo on a couch in IKEA; photo on a train track; a photo outside of a snow cone shop; a photo inside Sam Moon with each member holding a Hello Kitty item and even a photo in front of one of the many longhorn statues in Frisco. 
Caleb and Abigail were in separate groups but both had a great home and came home with fun stories.  I remember doing Polaroid scavenger hunts with the youth group when Frankie was this age.

On my bed I remember you;
    I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help,
    I sing in the shadow of your wings.
Psalm 63:6-7

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Popsicles in the Park

Tonight was the last day of Popsicles in the Park in east side McKinney. Our youth group met up with other volunteers to grill hotdogs and play carnival type games with the neighborhood kids.  There were over 150 kids from the neighborhood who came out for a meal and to play with our big kids. 
Abigail was pushing one of the little boys on the swings when his younger brother came up and told him to get off so he could swing.  The boy swinging did not want to stop, so the younger brother persuaded him by saying, 'I'll tell Momma you been cusin'.  The child on the swing responded, 'but I ain't been cusin!'  The brother retorts, 'I don't care, I'll tell her you has.'  With that, the boy got off the swing and Abigail began to push his brother on the swing.  Abigail was dying laughing but wasn't sure if it was appropriate!

An honest witness tells the truth,
    but a false witness tells lies.
Proverbs 12:17