Thursday, July 31, 2008

Dog Rehab

Sam and Joy

The Johnson Dog Rehabilitation Center is back open! A little background for those of you who don't know us personally....our little dog Joy was suddenly paralyzed last October 7th as a result of a condition called Fibrocartilaginous Embolism. She spent some time at the Mississippi State Vet School for a battery of tests and ultimately a diagnosis. She was paralyzed from the neck down, but slowly regained complete use of her left side and partial use of her right side. After 6 weeks of intense rehab (performed by the children and me) which included turning her and adminstering physical therapy and medications on a schedule, she progressed to the point of becoming an outside dog again. She moved slower than before, but she partially dragged her right side and could even sort of run.

Saturday, she suffered another injury, this time fractures to her hip bones and pelvis. She couldn't move at all. The vet said that with time (maybe 3-4 weeks) her bones should heal enough that she can become mobile again. She is not a candidate for surgery because of her prior condition. She is taking pain medication and is back inside the house recuperating. Today she is holding herself up in a sitting position for short periods of time, and she barks and tries to get out of bed when she needs to go potty. Progress!!

We love this little dog as well as our other three dogs and one cat. While I am not really an animal person (I tolerate them and of course I am kind to them---I am just as happy without a pet!), I love my husband and children dearly, and they ALL love animals. So we have 5 pets and 5 children, and I am happy to love and care for them all!

Monday, July 28, 2008


Since I first began homeschooling I have had preschoolers in the home. You have to plan for your preschoolers just like you do your "school-aged" children, sometimes even more. Preschoolers can not be expected to entertain themselves, watch TV all day, or stay out of the way and be quiet.
Actually I love preschool! I enjoy planning for my preschoolers, and I enjoy doing preschool activities with them.
Always spend time with your preschooler first. Our day begins with chores, breakfast, and the Bible lesson. The very next thing is preschool time. The older children begin their schoolwork independently while I spend about 30 minutes with the preschooler. During this time the activities vary depending on the age of the preschooler. Until they are four, I typically use this time for playing simple games, reading books, playing with play-doh, playing with toys, or teaching them how to play with the activities that I keep in boxes in my schoolroom closet ("educational things"). At age four, I shift my preschool time to more direct instruction. I teach an alphabet letter a week--its sound and how to recognize and/or write it. We do art projects that correspond with each letter, for example, glue feathers on the letter f. I use Get Ready For the Code workbooks as well as a few other preschool workbooks. This year I bought two workbooks from Building Thinking Skills and one from Sam's. We do a couple of pages at a time. Girls seem to enjoy this more than boys, so I adjust my expectations accordingly. Leah will probably want to do the whole workbook in one sitting! So my 30 minutes of preschool time with Leah this year will look something like this:

1. calendar
2. count the days of school (big celebration on day 100!)
3. Get Ready For the Code pages
4. a couple of other workbook pages (alternate the books)
5. art project or other activity (games, puzzles, teaching our phone #, etc.) I have these activities listed in my notebook.

Then after our preschool time together, the preschooler plays with educational activities alone or with a sibling until lunchtime. I have a list of 40-50 items that I rotate, using 2-4 things a day. Some of these activities are contained in a box, some of them have to be set up beforehand (like a water dropper activity).

Be warned--older children love preschool! They will beg you to do the games and activities with the preschooler! My three older children take turns playing with the preschoolers 30 minutes at a time while I work with another older child. We play "pass the baby (or toddler or preschooler!)" until all of our schoolwork is done--or until lunch. After lunch when your preschoolers nap or rest you can finish working with the older children if you need to.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Organizing Books

My system for organizing my books is really simple--I store them close to where they will be used, and I sort them by topic or author. We have bookshelves in the kitchen, den, upstairs hallway, in each child's room, and in our schoolroom. First, here is the breakdown of what I keep in each area:

kitchen--cookbooks, telephone books, directories
den--our (Jimmy and me) personal books, Bibles, Bible notebooks, scrapbooks, yearbooks, picture books, board books, fiction for the older children
upstairs hallway--juvenile fiction including most series books (Childhood of Famous Americans, Junie B. Jones, Jigsaw Mysteries, Betsy-Tacy, Nancy Drew and others), my collection of out of print Landmark books, other old books, medical books
each child's room--their personal books, series that interest them in particular (all Little Critter books are in Clay's room, Dr. Suess books in Sam's room, Little House books in Julie's room, plus each girl keeps her vast collection of American Girl doll books in their room), Leah and Sam each have a large collection of picture and board books in their rooms
schoolroom--all science books, history books, craft books, reference books, biographies

In each area the books are sorted by topic or author. When I have a large collection of books by a particular author, I keep them together (John Grisham, Karen Kingsbury). The rest of the books are sorted by category--adult fiction, juvenile fiction, homemaking, parenting, marriage, Bible study, finances, encouragement, medical

In the schoolroom, these are the categories I have
easy readers
physical science--general
magnets and electricity
science experiement books
human body
nutrition and fitness
history (shelved in chronological order)
US. states
American Revolution
historical fiction
If You Lived in the Time of ....
Laurie Carlson type activity books
craft how-to books
art instruction books

In the den and in the boys' room I keep board books in baskets that fit on the shelves. This is a neat way to contain those small, bulky books. Plus you can just bring the whole basket to the couch or bed for reading.

In the schoolroom, some of the categories of books are kept in plastic labeled magazine storage boxes (botany, weather, etc.). I also keep one basket in the schoolroom for books related to our current history or science topic. The children are required to read books from this basket as part of their school. I keep books on a variety of reading levels on each subject studied.

Lastly, I keep a basket in my bedroom for books I am currently reading, and I keep a basket in the den for library books.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Week in Review

What a week this has been! My parents kept the four older children all week (thank you Mama and Daddy!) while Sam and I got ready for school! This is how most of the week went--I would work on something for 1-2 minutes, then I would play with Sam. Next I would get him interested in a toy or activity, and he would happily play for 1-2 minutes while I worked a little bit more, then he would need me again. When he grew tired of playing alone (and I think he tried out every single activity in my schoolroom closet!) I held him while I worked--I laminated, made copies, typed lesson plans, cleaned out drawers and closets with Sam on my hip. However, little by little I got almost everything done! I completely cleaned out my schoolroom, organized all of the books in our house, put together 10 binders with laminated dividers for the children's schoolwork, completed one year's worth of history lesson plans for Clay and science plans for Julie and Clay, made the year's plans for writing for all three children including their daily writing plans for August and September, made lesson plans for Olivia's and Julie's history for August and September, created timeline pages for all three for their history notebooks, made some really cute placemats (a post on that will follow), shopped for school supplies, copied Clay's spelling CD to his iPod, hung new posters on the wall, and I think that is all. What I have left to do is to make a list of science supplies and purchase what I need, type the clues for our annual back to school scavenger hunt, and plan Leah's preschool time. I plan to work on the preschool some tonight. I basically do the same thing for all of my children at age four, I just need to type up some specific plans for Leah.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Design A Wish 5K

We participated in the Design A Wish 5K held at the Pink Palace in Memphis last Saturday. The children and Jimmy all won medals! Jimmy--3rd, Olivia--2nd, Julie--1st, and Clay--1st. All of our times are listed in the sidebar. It was extremely hot! I am still pushing the stroller in these out of town races, and let me just say that I think that Leah and Sam get heavier every week! Plus, I don't train with the stroller. This was a tough race for me!
before the race
the children with their medals

Schoolroom Pictures

I finished cleaning out the schoolroom today! Here are some pictures of the results.

This bookshelf holds my teacher books, the children's markers, some general supplies, and on the bottom shelf, easy readers.

This is my supply closet. The bottom part holds paper, and the top contains more school supplies--some in labled cups.

Labeled cups in the supply closet

A partial view of my big schoolroom closet--This closet holds all of my educational games, activities, craft supplies, and the children's work buckets.

A work bucket--this holds their schoolbooks and notebooks.

Some of the labeled containers in the closet

Getting Ready for School!

We are beginning our 8th year of official homeschooling on August 4th. Actually, real life is education, so we really "homeschool" around the clock, all year long. But, the "school stuff" begins again here at our house on August 4th. The four older children are at my parents' house for a 5 day visit, leaving Sam and me here at home, alone, to prepare for school. I remember when Sam was a little baby, I carried him in the Snugli while cleaning out my schoolroom. I am still holding him while cleaning....I wish he could still fit in that Snugli! Yesterday we cleaned out the entire schoolroom educational supply closet (games, puzzles, art and craft items, etc.), the paper closet (this holds our crayons, markers, all kinds and colors of paper, scissors, pencils, notebooks, folders, etc.), and the other closet (Little People sets, stationery, mailing supplies, Bible class resources, etc.). I already have 3 large bags of trash! Today I plan to finish the cleaning. I will clean out each child's "work bucket" and put their schoolbooks for next year inside. The work bucket is actually a dish pan with their name on the outside--just like the ones I use for their folded laundry. They keep all of schoolbooks and any personal school supplies inside their bucket. When it is time to "do school", they can grab their bucket and sit wherever they would like. It makes it easier to school in the car when necessary also.
I keep almost all items in the educational supply closet in plastic containers of various sizes--some are clear, some are not. Each year I put more items in plastic boxes as the orginal packing becomes worn. The plastic boxes stack neatly on the shelves. In the past I have used a sharpie marker to label each box, but yesterday I made labels on the computer. It really looks good! I even made labels for the items I store in large plastic cups--pencils. colored pencils, scissors, rulers, etc. I plan to post pictures later today when I am completely finished. The cleaning and organizing take longer than normal because Sam's siblings are not here to help entertain him, I am holding him or playing with him while doing most of the work, and he slept only 25 minutes yesterday without me and my hair.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Greek Pasta Salad

I have made this several times recently, and someone always wants the recipe. The original recipe appeared in our local newspaper, but I have slightly tweaked it to suit our family's tastes.

Greek Pasta Salad

1 box angel hair pasta, cooked and drained

Mix together the following ingredients and then toss with the pasta. It tastes better after sitting in the refrigerator for a few hours.

1 large jar chopped pimento
1/3 can chopped black olives
1 small jar chopped mushrooms, drained
2 Tbs. Cavendar's Greek seasoning
3 Tbs. mayonnaise
3 Tbs. lemon juice
3/4 cup olive oil
6 oz. feta cheese, crumbled finely

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Seaside Day 4

This morning the water was finally clear. Leah and Sam stayed at the beach for 3 hours.

After lunch we drove to Destin to check out the outlet mall. I shopped a little bit (I always love the Carter's outlet store), and then we ate an early supper before heading back to the beach house. Clay went to the beach one last time that day with Russ, Will, and Seth. Next we all got ready for our beach pictures scheduled for 7:00. When we were finished taking pictures, we all walked to the town center for one last shopping visit to the Seaside Store. Then, everyone but Jimmy, Sam and me went out for a late dinner. Sam was exhausted, so I put him to bed and Jimmy and I packed almost everything. We wanted to have time the next morning to take the children to the beach one last time before our 11:00 check out.

Here are some pictures from the restaurant in Destin.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Beach Pictures

Last night all 14 of us dressed in denim and white and posed for family pictures. Russ has a new camera, and he set up his tripod and took numerous pictures. Then his battery died so we used our camera to take a few more. Here are some of them.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Seaside Day 3

Today began with Sam eating a pop-tart....but he wasn't sure exactly how to eat one! I guess it has been a long time since I have bought pop-tarts (and Jenny brought these). He sat there licking the top of it and then putting it down for several minutes. Then he said, "I'm done." I looked at his plate and saw that he hadn't eaten one bite. That's when I realized that he didn't know what to do with it. I broke the pop-tart into little pieces, and he gobbled it up in no time. Now he was ready for a day at the beach!

We arrived at the beach again today at 10:00. Unbelievably the water was greener than the previous day. It looked like thick green soup. It was really disgusting. Leah and Sam lasted one hour today playing in the sand before they began complaining that they were hot. They were afraid to get in the green water to cool off. So we headed to the pool. Leah, Sam, Jimmy, Megan and I stayed at the pool until lunchtime. Leah and Sam napped for a little while after lunch, so I joined Megan back at the pool for some quiet time. We read our Karen Kingsbury books and observed the crowd. All of the children came to the pool later that afternoon and we swam for quite a while.

Sam digging in the sand--notice the blue Seaside shirt...we bought it for him the night before, and he liked it so much that he slept in it and wore it most of the day.

Russ ran with Jimmy, Olivia, Julie and Clay for a couple of days. Here they are ready to go!
Leah and Sam played in the gravel in front of and around our house looking for seashells.
Sam's blue Seaside shirt had to be washed!

The sisters-in-law...Jenny, Megan, Me

Will, ready for our walk to town

The whole crew!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Seaside Day 2

Everyone headed to the beach about 10:00 this morning. It was overcast, and the ocean was full of green algae and jellyfish! Sam and Leah lasted about 15 minutes! They were both hot and they were hesitant to get in the green water. So after making a few pictures Jimmy and I took Leah and Sam to the pool. They happily played until lunch. After lunch Sam took a 3 hour nap (very unusual for him), and I slept some of that time with him. All of the other children came to the house for a quick lunch and then headed to the pool. After spending some time in the pool, they walked around the town and then went back to the beach until suppertime. I have had a relaxing time so far---just cooking, reading, and playing in the pool with Leah and Sam. The children say that the water is already clearing up. I plan to take Leah and Sam back to the beach tomorrow to see if they like it any better. If not, we will be hanging out at the pool!

While I was running this morning Sam fell on the stairs and busted his chin. Since Jimmy (a doctor), Russ (a doctor in training) and Jenny (a nurse) all assured me that he didn't need stitches, I guess I will believe them!

We're Here!

We arrived in Seaside, FL, yesterday around 4:00 p.m. Amazingly the children traveled extremely well. They watched movies, played the car games I had prepared, and entertained themselves with their backpacks (I had put a few treats in each backpack for them). Sam took 3 naps, and I read 3/4 of a book. Poor Jimmy did all of the driving!
Shortly after we arrived, we were joined by Uncle Russ and Aunt Megan, Uncle Jeff, Aunt Jenny, Will, Seth, and Grace. After we unloaded our vehicles the ladies cooked supper while the men took all of the children to the beach--in the rain! They were all so excited and could not wait another second to see the ocean. Uncle Russ and Aunt Megan brought Julie's birthday present--a new digital camera to use for her blog. She has already posted some of her pictures.

Julie opening her new camera

We played games and visited after supper, and Megan helped me find the cute Mickey Mouse ticker for our next vacation! Thanks Megan!

Megan and Clay
Seth holding Sam

The sun is shining brightly this morning! I am looking foward to seeing the ocean myself!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Happy Birthday Julie !

Jimmy, Julie, and Leah before opening gifts

Julie opening a dress for her American Girl doll, also named Julie

Sam "helping" Julie open her presents!

Julie, Sam, Leah, and Olivia enjoying Julie's birthday morning

Clay, bored by it all!

Ready to Go!

We spent Julie's birthday packing for our vacation. She played with her new presents throughout the day, and we took her to Atlanta Bread Company for supper. Now everyone is ready for bed, and the car is completely packed! All I have to grab in the morning is my purse, sippee cups for Leah and Sam (already fixed in the fridge) and my coffee. We plan to leave at 6:30 a.m. Megan and Russ are bringing their laptop, so I may blog this week. The children are all so excited--and I am too!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Julie's 11th Birthday Party

Tomorrow is Julie's 11th birthday. She had a small party today to celebrate. I took 7 girls out for lunch and then to a movie. Julie tells all about it on her blog. Tomorrow we will celebrate the big day with our family. Typically on our children's birthdays we spend the whole day together--Jimmy takes off work for each child's birthday. The morning begins with present opening followed by the birthday child's request for breakfast. Julie requested Hungry Jack pancakes. We usually take them out for lunch or supper at the restaurant of their choice, and just spend the day doing whatever they would like to do. Since we are leaving for vacation early Sunday morning, some of tomorrow's activities will include packing. My girls always get new clothes and accessories for their American Girl dolls for their birthdays, so for part of the day Julie and Olivia will be playing dolls, I'm sure.

Leah's Swimming Lessons

When each of my children are four, I sign them up for swimming lessons. I look for teachers that are gentle and kind, and ones that make swimming lessons fun, not terrifying! This year was no exception. The older children's art teacher and her college-aged daughter teach the most delightful swimming lessons! They sing songs, play games, and generally just have fun learning to swim in a non-threatening environment. Leah pitched a fit the first day just like I knew she would! But after getting in the water and realizing that learning to swim was not painful, she did just fine. In fact when I picked her up after her first lesson, she asked if she could come back the next day! She eagerly looked forward to the lesson each day. Yesterday was the last one, and she was sad! So, what did she learn???? She can now put her face in the water (big accomplishment), and even greater--she can swim across the pool--with a smile! See photo above. I am so proud of her! I know that with a little practice and encouragement from her siblings she will be swimming all over our pool like a little fish in no time.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Car Games

I just found this great website, Momsminivan. It is full of fun ideas to make car travel more fun. I am printing out the printable games and putting them into a folder for each child for our upcoming trip to Seaside, FL. I am also putting together a little bag of various toys, games, paper, pens, etc. for each child. This will be our longest car trip ever with 5 children--8 hours. Usually if we are traveling long distances we fly. We have decided to leave early Sunday morning and make the trip in one day. We plan to stop in Birmingham for church services, and then head on to Seaside. I can't wait for the beach!!

Olivia is sewing little bags for the all of the children to collect seashells in. Julie is making journals for each child. Julie keeps a journal for all of our vacations. When we went to San Francisco last summer, Olivia and Julie made surprise vacation scrapbooks for each other. They had such fun working on them!

A New Blogger

My dear and very close friend, Lynn Mims, entered the blogging world recently. I know you will want to check out her blog! Here is the link.
I plan to make a list of my other blogging friends soon, but for now here are the blogs of my sisters-in-law: Megan, Amanda, and Mary Margaret. I have one more sister-in-law, Jenny, but she is not a blogger.....yet!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Another Fun Boat Day

Jimmy was off work today, so we packed up and headed to Bay Springs.

After riding around for a little while we dropped anchor and enjoyed a picnic lunch on the boat. As soon as everyone was through eating, the children were ready to swim in the lake. They love swimming in that lake! They play on the tube, jumping in and out of it and just swimming all around. Today Sam decided that he wanted to swim too--but with Mama. So I jumped in the lake too.

All of us swimming around.

I found out that Olivia and Julie do not let their feet and legs hang down in the lake water! They keep their legs horizontally in front of or behind them at all times. They are concerned about the murky water......what might be down there!

After swimming around for a little while the children were ready to tube. Clay went first, followed by Leah and Julie together (for about 1 minute--Leah was ready to get out), then Olivia.

After one last swimming session we rode back to the dock and headed home.Boat Hair!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Keeping the Home--Food Storage

I store several items in labeled, clear containers in the pantry. The containers stack neatly and you don't have all of those half empty bags closed with a clothespin! It keeps the food fresher too. This is what I keep in the containers: rice, sugar, plain flour, self-rising flour, whole wheat flour, powdered sugar, brown sugar, yellow cornmeal, white cornmeal, self-rising cornmeal, and goldfish. I sometimes keep cereal, animal crackers, and other things like that in containers too.

Funny Kids

This is one reason why I am record the funny things my little children say. Yesterday Jimmy needed more milk for his coffee. He was holding Sam, so he asked him, "Where is the milk?" Sam replied, "In the refrigerFRADER!" It really sounded funny!

Also yesterday I asked Leah what she wanted to be when she grew up. She thought for a minute, and then stated, "an Aunt". I asked her why she wanted to be an Aunt, and she explained, "So I can go visiting people!" I guess she enjoyed the visits from her Aunt Megan and Aunt Jenny this past weekend.

Also, when Sam wants me to hold him (which is basically all day, every day!) he says, "I want to hold you, Mama." In fact all of my children have said it this way.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

4th of July

It has become a tradition to invite Jimmy's parents, his sister Jenny and her family (Jeff, Will, Seth, Grace), his brother Russ and his wife (Megan) and Scott and Barbara Doles (dear friends of ours) and their children (Carrie Ann and fiance Ray and Jonathan) to cook out with us on the 4th of July. As usual we had lots of food, fun, and fellowship. Here are some highlights of the evening.

While I was grilling, Julie, Olivia, Jonathan, and Scott are playing cards.

Here is Barbara checking out my blog.

Ray and Carrie Ann

Russ and Megan, Roan and Jimmy

Pop with his sons

Granmomma and Olivia

Grace, Ellie (Will's friend), Will, and Seth

Julie and Seth eating homemade ice cream

Doesn't Seth's haircut look great? :)

Sam after eating his ice cream YUM!

Clay provided musical entertainment after our meal. He sang karyoke style, Oh My Darling, Clementime. He was accompanied by the keyboard. Julie also entertained us with two selections on the harmonica.

Grace and Leah playing dress up

We ended the evening by watching Jimmy and Russ present a spectacular fireworks show. Sam fell asleep during the festivities. Everyone went home except Seth, Russ, and Megan who all spent the night. We stayed up till past midnight visiting. It was a fun day!

Titus 2:3-5

The ladies in my church meet monthly for a Bible study. Currently we are choosing different topics or passages of Scripture to study for a month and when we meet, we share our notes, discuss the topic, and learn from one another. Last month we studied Titus 2:3-5. Here are the notes I made. The Scriptures are in italics and are from the King James Version of the Bible.

Titus 2:3-5

The aged women likewise that they be in behavior as becometh holiness.
* reverent, holy behavior
* not loud or obnoxious
* pleasant, dignified
* moral, upright

not false accusers
* not gossips or busybodies
* Don’t say anything about someone you wouldn’t say to their face.

not given to much wine
* We should not be slaves to or addicted to anything. We are only slaves to Jesus. Jesus should be the only thing we can’t live without.

teachers of good things
* Older women must teach the younger women.
* good things: Bible study, prayer, homemaking, marriage, parenting, service, hospitality, teaching

That they may teach the young women
* Teaching or training implies a long or ongoing relationship. We must spend time with younger women.
* You may be an older woman and a younger woman at the same time.
* We have a responsibility to teach and train young women, especially in today’s culture where mothers and daughters often live far apart.

To be sober
* Sober means being serious about your job. We have a huge responsibility as a woman. We must take this job seriously.
* Our lives will not be all fun and games. It is hard work. Women work hard!

To love their husbands
* No conditions here, just a command to be obeyed.
* A man feels loved when he is honored and respected.
* We must model and teach our children to honor and respect our husbands.
* We show honor when we treat him as special, do more than he expects us to do, and exhibit a good attitude---at all times.
* We must love our husband as he is; don’t try to change him.

To love their children
* TIME—this is the main way we show love to our children.
* Smile at them, hug and touch them, affirm them, praise them.
* Involve them in household chores, listen to them, talk to them, interact with them, and train them.
* Love them by teaching them the love of our Heavenly Father.

To be discreet, chaste
* Chaste means pure.
* Dress modestly.
* Do not be rude, easily angered, flirty, or flashy.
* Do not aim to draw attention to yourself.

Keepers at home
* The home is the woman’s domain.
* There is much work involved in running a household.
* A woman must smile and do it!
* Educate yourself, learn how to do things, plan, and organize.

* Sweet, pleasant, smiling, sympathetic, compassionate

Obedient to their own husbands, that the Word of God be not blasphemed.
* We can pervert our Christian example and the gospel itself by disobeying our own husbands.
* The husband is the head of the household, and we must submit to him. This is God’s plan of order of authority.
* Obeying our husbands relates to our loving him. We love God, so we obey Him. In the same way, submitting to our husband’s will shows our love for him.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Green Street Mile

This morning at 7:00 a.m. we all ran in the Green Street Mile. Everyone did great! You can see our times in the sidebar. Olivia won 2nd in her age group, Julie won first in hers, Clay won 2nd in his age group, and I won 1st place in the women's age group 30-39!! There were only 2 participants in my age group! Jimmy had a fabulous time for the one mile--5:47, but did not place in the race. His age group (40-49) is very competitive. You may recall that Leah was "training" for this race. Well, she lost interest in training, and she decided not to run this morning. She chose instead to sleep during the race!

Our family after the race