Friday, October 29, 2010

How Do I Ever Do School?

We have been on Fall Break this week, and just like during any extended school holiday, I wonder, "How do I ever do school?"

My days have been full with regular household chores and that's about it! I have stayed caught up with the laundry every day--washing, drying, folding, and putting away. I also cleaned my entire house, top to bottom. Some other things I accomplished since I wasn't doing school included: organizing my Christmas gifts and lists, wrapping 10 gifts, playing baby dolls with Leah, playing numerous games with Leah, catching up on reading blogs, cooking suppers each night that did not involve a crock pot, and doing a little bit of Christmas shopping--both at actual stores and online.

What I did not do included: get up at 5:00 AM each morning, have a Bible lesson with the children every day (only 2 days), read aloud to the children (except at bedtime), do a 2 hour run with my friend Lynn, cart children to piano lessons and cross country practice three times this week or check any school work.

I really needed this break from our regular tightly scheduled school days to just regroup. It has been a great week!

What have the men of our family been doing?

They have been diligently working outside on our land all week. They cleared a spot to build a barn/shed on, and then today they built a fort/playhouse/shed for Leah and Sam. According to Clay, they worked on it for seven hours, with 2 short breaks.

The bigger hit was the log bridge that took 10 minutes to build! Jimmy cut down a dead tree that was nearby the fort site. He felled it across the creek, and secured it to be a bridge across the creek.

Clay and Sam on the bridge.

Right after I took this picture, Sam fell off the bridge down into the creek!
He was ok!

Here is Clay retrieving Sam's hiking sticks.

Jimmy and I are leaving this afternoon for Florence. We are running a half marathon in the morning. My parents are coming to keep the children, and I am really looking forward to the night alone with my husband!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Today's Christmas Tip

Christmas Cards

It's time to start thinking about Christmas cards. Are you going to send them? What kind? Do you need to take a picture? Where will you buy the cards? Many online stores are offering discounts on holiday cards right now.

If you are using pre-made cards that you sign, you can get started on those. Do several each day so it doesn't get so overwhelming.

If you are taking a photo for your cards, choose what your children or family will wear and plan a day to actually take the picture. With younger children, this can sometimes take more than one session. I remember before the days of the digital camera, I would take a roll of pictures (I guess 24?), take them to Target to the one hour photo place (this was when I lived in Jackson, and we had a Target!), then eagerly look at all of the pictures, hoping I would have at least one that would work. More than once I had to go back home and take another roll of pictures, go back to Target, and hope for the best again! I am so thankful for our digital camera!

Work on your Christmas card address list. Make note of anyone who has moved and update their address. When in doubt, keep sending someone a card. Who doesn't like to receive a Christmas card? If you are printing labels, go ahead and print them out, return address labels too. If you are handwriting the addresses, get started. Again, do several each day instead of one marathon session.

Are you including a family letter? Begin composing this letter, and print it out as soon as you are finished. Do you need to buy some special holiday themed paper for this letter?

Buy holiday stamps as soon as they are on sale. I asked the post office worker the last time I was at the post office if they had Christmas stamps yet. She laughed at me! She said that it was a little bit early, didn't I think? I just wanted to get them while I was already there if they had them! I will check this week. Do you think they have them yet?

After you have the cards ready (signed, printed, photo and letter included), enlist your children to help and make an assembly line. Play some Christmas music! Make it a happy time! My children love to read the names as they are stuffing the envelopes. Some names make them recall people they haven't seen in a while, and they discuss their memories of this person or family. Some names are of people they don't know, so they ask, "Who is this? How do we know them?". It really is fun to pleasantly discuss the recipients of our cards.

If you get started now, you will be ready to mail your cards on December 1st.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010



a poem by Leah (age 6), dictated to Julie

A tree is tall and green.
It makes a fuzzy bean.

The bean is soft and pink,
And it is very pretty, I think.

I blink at the pink thing.
It is gorgeous enough for a king.

The king is mighty and wise.
He has strikingly hazel eyes.

His eyes match his bed of gold,
But his closet is full of mold.

The mold is icky and green.
It is green like a lima bean.

A bean is very tasty,
But not if it's too pasty.

Paste can stick to your head,
Then your head will stick to your bed!

A flower's bed is soft, green grass.
The tree grows in the center of the mass.

A tree is tall and green.
It makes a fuzzy bean.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Computer ABCs

I got the idea for this fun activity from my friend Kimberly over at Raising Olives. All you do is open another browser window and type each letter of the alphabet, one at a time, to see where your computer thinks you want to go. It really is interesting!

C--Cardamom's Pod This is a blog that I have enjoyed reading for a while.

D--Daily Mile I log all of my runs on this site.

E--Peppermint PhD. I know that this starts with a P, but Patti's blog address begins with an E. Patti is a sorority sister from college that I recently connected with on Facebook.

H--The Homeschool Classroom This a blog that I write for once a month.

I--I'm An Organizing Junkie The host of Menu Plan Monday

J--Julie's Journal My daughter's blog

M--Miscellaneous Musings of a 5X Mom Celee has become a good friend, via the blogosphere.

N--Notgrass Company They sell the history curriculum that I use for high school.

O--One More Mile A running apparel website--some of the sayings on the shirts I absolutely would not wear, but many of them are pretty cute.

P--Party of Two, Praying for More My sweet sister-in-law's blog

Q--Quick Checkout at Disney I guess that's because I recently did some Christmas shopping at that website.

R--Raising Olives Kimberly is a sweet friend that I met while blogging too.

S--Simple Joys This college girl is the daughter of some of our dear friends.

T--Tell 'Em Where We're From The blog of a real life friend.

U--USA Track & Field I guess it went here, because I was recently looking for a website that had state running records---it was not at this site.

W--nothing came up

X--XC T-shirts I have recently done some Christmas shopping here too.

Y--Your Shopping Cart at Yes, more shopping. Except that I haven't actually bought anything from ToysRUs yet. I just placed some Lego sets in my shopping cart while I look around for a better price!

Z--nothing here either

Well, as you can tell, I use my laptop for blogging, reading blogs, and online shopping! What do you do online?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Race For the Cure 5K

Saturday, Jimmy, Olivia, Julie, Clay, and many of their Spartan teammates and other friends ran the Race For the Cure 5K. It was a great day! The weather was perfect for a run--cool, but not cold. Jimmy and the children all had goals for this race, and I am happy to say that all four of them met their goals! And that is such a wonderful feeling! Jimmy and Clay both set a PR! Jimmy-20:13, and Clay 21:54. Julie and Olivia did not set a PR, but they both ran the time that they wanted. Olivia--22:53, and Julie--20:32. I had so much fun watching all of them race, but I think that I was more nervous watching, than actually running! If you are interested in seeing the full race results, click here.

Jared, Leah, and Sam, trying to stay warm before the race.

After the race, we all visited while awaiting the race results and awards presentations. We had about an hour and a half to entertain ourselves.....

Sam and his friends, "taking a nap"!

Julie, laughing at her friends playing Truth or Dare

Jimmy offering words of wisdom and encouragement to Clay

Then it was time for the awards! The young runners in green shirts won many trophies and engraved glass mugs.

Clay--first place in the Male 10-14 category

Julie won 3rd overall female. The second place lady beat her by less than a second!

Olivia--1st place in the Female 15-19 category

Jimmy-first place in the Male 40-44 category

Here are all of the Spartan trophy winners.
Congratulations to all of the Spartans!

After the race, a couple of Clay's friends came over for the afternoon. Olivia and Julie had two friends who were spending the day with us as well. Leah went to a birthday party and then home with her friend Avery. After lunch, two of my fellow Spartan friends came over to spend the afternoon (their children too) until time to go to the Spartan end-of-the-season party.

It was a busy and fun day!

A New Look

I hope you like my new fall look. I really like looking at it! It's a Leelou template, which are always super easy to install. It just takes a little while to rearrange the widgets. Here's a little tip when you are making changes to your blog template or background. Open your blog in one tab before you begin making changes. Then open your blog again in another tab and use this tab to make your changes. Then you can go back and forth between the tabs to see how your blog used to look, and how you had your widgets arranged while you are fixing up your new blog page.

I do have a couple of questions, and I hope that some of you technical people out there can help me.

1. How can I increase the size of the text of my main posts. It is so tiny, I may have to get out my reading glasses! I know that you can go to the advanced tab under the design heading on your blogger dashboard. I have made changes to almost all of those settings--font style, text color for sidebar, text size for sidebar text, text size for header, etc. but there is no tab for post text size! Help! I know that I can go in the HTML coding and change the font size (I have had to do this with a Leelou template before), but I have no idea how to do this. Can you help me?

2. How can I increase the size of the teeny, tiny date text? I do need my reading glasses to see it! There is a post footer text size and font choice tab under the advanced area, but when I make changes to it, I don't see any difference in the outcome. Help!

3. The post footer after each post is just not there. There is no "Posted by Roan at such and such time" or "Labels: homeschool, etc." after each post. How can I get that to appear?

I am looking forward to someone smart out there helping me out! Thanks!

Friday, October 22, 2010

In My Kitchen

We are done with school for the day, and right now begins our Fall Break! One week off from school, and Jimmy has the week off from work too! Everyone but me (and Leah and Sam) is running the Race For the Cure 5K tomorrow morning. I am watching and cheering everyone on. I decided not to run this race....I met my 5K goal last Saturday, and I have been tired and sore all week. I have a half-marathon one week from tomorrow, and I want to make sure I am rested and ready for that.

Leah and I are in the kitchen--my computer is right here on the counter beside my stove--and we are just cooking and cooking. I really love to be in my kitchen, and it is even more enjoyable when I have a helper. We just finished preparing spaghetti for our supper, and now we are in the middle of making rice krispie treats, chocolate chip cookies, sugar cookies, and chocolate cookies (don't be too impressed, the cookies are all from mixes, and we are just adding butter and eggs). These are all desserts that Leah can make almost alone. We are stocking up on the sweet stuff to serve our company for tonight (2 friends of the girls), our company tomorrow afternoon (4 friends--2 for the boys, 2 for the girls), and our Spartan End-Of-Season party tomorrow afternoon. I will have to hide the desserts to take to the party so that they won't get eaten! The last dish we are making is hot chicken dip to be eaten with our lunch tomorrow. Yummy!

I am looking forward to a fun week with our whole family ending with a super fun half-marathon. Jimmy and I have some friends running this race too, and I am sure that we will have a great time together!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Happy Birthday Jimmy!

Well, it's been almost two weeks since Jimmy's birthday, but I still wanted to blog about it.
Jimmy was off work for his special day, and we spent the day together as a family, just taking it easy. The morning began with breakfast and gifts. The children all made their daddy handmade cards, and we gave him one special gift---a telescope! Jimmy has been wanting a telescope for some time now, and I actually surprised him. He had no idea what his gift was before he opened it. We have enjoyed looking at the moon and Jupiter. We saw 4 moons around Jupiter!
the kids, the cards, and the telescope

the cards

Julie framed her card, and we hung it in our bedroom.

After a leisurely morning at home, we visited Jimmy's parents for lunch. Jenny, Grace, and Megan were there too, so we had a mini-birthday celebration. Granmomma made Jimmy's favorite dessert--pecan pie. I was so glad that she made the pies, because I have not been able to perfect my pecan pie making!

Jimmy with his parents

the yummy pecan pies

After our visit, we rushed home to get ready for cross country practice. Then we rushed home to get ready for church.
The day started off slowly, but ended quite busy. I think Jimmy had a great day! We all were certainly glad to celebrate with him!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

It's That Time of Year!

Well, it's time to start thinking about Christmas! In fact, I am getting a later start than usual this year. I plan to begin preparing for the holidays this week, just trying to accomplish a few things each week. I will post each week's assignment.

Holiday Task #1

Locate your Christmas binder. Dust it off. Spend a little bit of time reading your past year's plans and lists. Create the dividers or add the paper you will need for this year. Remember, having the Christmas binder will save you much stress! It is so nice to look back and remind yourself of what gifts you gave people in the past (so you don't give them the same thing again this year!), what foods you served at various parties, what homemade goodies you prepared, what handmade gifts you created, etc.

If you don't have a Christmas binder, now is the time to make one. Begin with a three ring binder, and make a cover for it. It doesn't have to be fancy, my cover is just a piece of Christmas paper with the words Christmas Binder printed on it. I made the following dividers by printing the title and then laminating the pages: Gifts, Addresses, Parties, Food

Each year I add new pages behind each divider, and I make sure I write the year at the top of each new page. Some of my lists and menus are hand written on notebook paper, and some of them are typed and printed out. I just do whatever is convenient at the time.

Holiday Task #2
Look through your gift closet, gift box, gift shelf, or wherever you have been storing gifts that you have been buying all year. You have been doing that haven't you? Whenever you see something that you know someone in your family needs or would like, and especially if it is on sale, buy it. It really helps your budget to shop for the holiday season year round. I try to keep my eyes open for educational-type gifts and games year round.

Take inventory of what gifts you have in your gift storage area. Make a list in your Christmas binder of what you have bought and who it is for. I add to these lists as I Christmas shop, and then I check off each item as I wrap it.

Holiday Task #3
If you are really ambitious, and you have already purchased a few gifts, wrap three gifts this week! If you want to wait until later to make the bows, that is fine, but you can go ahead and wrap three gifts, and then store them in your gift storage area. Don't forget to check them off your gift list when you wrap them, or you may forget!

Holiday Task #4
Speaking of wrapping gifts, take inventory of your gift wrapping supplies. Make a list of what you need: tape, wrapping paper, tissue, boxes, ribbon, gift tags. Hopefully, you bought most of this last January when it was 75% off, but if you are still lacking some items, make a list and begin looking for stores to put these needed items on sale. As soon as Hobby Lobby puts their Christmas wrapping paper on sale, I plan to stock up. The Hobby Lobby gift wrap is my all-time favorite.

I'll share more tasks next week. Please leave me a comment and share how your preparations are coming along!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Menu Monday

Here is this week's menu. Leah will be happy to know that there is only one crock pot meal! This is our last week of cross country practice three afternoons a week, so beginning next week, I should be able to cook more meat and vegetable type meals that take a little bit of time to prepare. I really do like to cook, and I plan to look through my Southern Living cookbooks for inspiration for next week's menu.

1. pasta salad, fruit salad
2. sandwiches, hot chicken dip and crackers
3. tacos
4. chili (crock pot!)
5. pork tenderloin, roasted sweet and white potatoes, roasted asparagus
6. chili dogs (using that leftover chili!)
7. spaghetti, salad, rolls

1. sweet potato muffins
2. banana applesauce muffins
3. sausage cheese muffins
4. pancakes, bacon
5. self serve (cereal, oatmeal, peanut butter toast, etc.)
6. cinnamon toast

1. leftovers
2. sandwiches
3. homemade pizza
Please visit I'm An Organizing Junkie for more menus.

Saturday, October 16, 2010



This morning I met one of my running goals--the one that I thought was impossible--I ran a 5K in under 25 minutes! My time was 24:39! I am not sure how it happened, but I felt really good for most of the race. By the last half mile, however, not so good. I couldn't smile for my friend, Julie, who I knew was taking my picture. The picture below was taken by another friend, Erin. I don't look quite so distressed in this one! At the time of this photo, I was in pain!

this was right before the uphill sprint to the finish!

I have had this personal running goal for 2 years now. 2 years! And I cannot express how happy I am to finally achieve my goal, a goal I had almost given up on. This morning I decided to try one more time. The weather was great (around 45 degrees), and for some reason running at this pace (7:49) did not seem to tire me completely out. Around mile 2 I decided that today was the day. Running is really a mental sport you know. I just kept telling myself that if I met my goal today, I wouldn't have to try again next Saturday!

The only disappointment in an otherwise perfect race day was that my sweet, loving husband was not there to witness my crossing the finish line. He is on call today, and so he was at the hospital. I really, really wanted to hug him and hear him tell me how proud he was of me. I wanted to see his face! Jimmy is my biggest cheerleader. I would have never even attempted to try to run if it wasn't for his encouragement. He is always positive, always supportive, always encouraging to both me and our children. He truly is the reason I even started running 3 and a half years ago. As soon as I caught my breath after finishing, I got my cell phone from my friend Julie and immediately texted Jimmy the great news.

Olivia, Julie, and Clay all had a great race too. All four of us won trophies! Many other Spartans won trophies too, and since we competed as a team, the Spartans won the team trophy too. Go Spartans!

Here are some highlights of the day. Thanks so much to Julie for taking all of these pictures!

the beginning of the race

Julie approaching the finish line

Clay finishing with some other Spartans

Olivia, finishing up that last hill

Sam playing during the awards

Leah, with a kitten that all five children asked me if we could take home
(We didn't! We already have 3 cats and 3 dogs)

Leah playing during the race

Sam playing during the race

One running goal down,
two more to go.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Union University XC Meet

Olivia, Julie, and Clay participated in the Union University XC Meet on October 2. I am a little bit behind in writing about both this meet and the Ripley High School meet which was held on October 9. Jimmy took around 300 pictures at the Union meet, and I am not sure how many at the Ripley one! I chose only 10 to share today.

And they are in no particular order....

This is Clay (in the green shirt) just after finishing his 5K (3.1 miles) race. He ran his personal best time--22:05! We were so proud of him, and he even surprised himself! He said that he could not believe it when he saw the clock.

Here is Clay during the race. He ran the Junior Varsity event, which was for runners in the 6th-12th grades. The top 7 runners for each team ran the Varsity event. The JV race included both male and female runners in the same event. The Varsity races ran the male and females separately. All 3 races were 5Ks.

Here is Clay edging ahead of another runner. Clay finished 26th overall.

One more shot of Clay during his race.

Clay, with the other JV Spartan runners waiting for the race to begin.

Julie and Martha

Olivia during her race. She finished strong!

Julie (right) and Catherine approaching the finish line. Our top 4 Spartan girls finished in 6th, 10th, 11th, and 12th place. That was a great finish! Only the top 10 finishers were awarded t shirts--Julie was number 11!

Julie, Catherine, and Martha warming up

Danielle with her mom (our Spartan Coach) and Julie

Our whole family enjoyed our day at Union University. The campus was really nice. It was also a college meet, so we got to watch the fast college runners compete first. After the meet, many of the Spartans and Blue Mountain College runners dined at Steak and Shake before making the two hour trip home.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Some Running Goals

If you are not a runner, you will probably find this post boring. I have several running thoughts and goals floating around in my brain, and I feel the need to get them down on paper (or at least on the computer).

First of all: Why do I even run?
  • My whole family (except for 4yo Sam) runs, and I don't want to be left out.
  • As we get older our metabolism slows down, and if we want to maintain our weight, we must either eat less calories, burn more calories, or do both. Running allows me to continue to enjoy one Coke a day, one glass of chocolate milk each night, and a reasonable amount of a variety of food each day.
  • Running has proven to be both great therapy and a super stress reliever. Each week when I do a long run with a close friend or two, we work out all sorts of problems....discussing them while we run. Also running alone is the best thing I can do to relieve stress.
Now, my current running goals:
  • Run 30 miles a week.
  • Run a half-marathon in under 2 hours. This will require a pace of 9:08. I really, really want to meet this goal on October 30th.
  • Run a 5K in under 25 minutes. This goal is probably impossible, but I still have it anyway. This will require a pace of 8:02. I can run at this pace for 2 miles or so, but not the entire 3.1 miles.
  • Run a 10K in under 55 minutes. This goal is a maybe, and it will require a pace of 8:51. I will not run a 10K until May, so maybe by then I can achieve this goal.
So, there are the goals, on paper for everyone to see! I'll let you know how I do.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Menu Monday

Here is the menu for this week. I am still having to rely on quick meals, crock pot meals, or meals that can be prepared earlier in the day and then just heated up at supper time.
Be sure to visit for more menu inspiration.

creamy Italian chicken and pasta (crock pot), green peas
homemade vegetable soup (crock pot), grilled cheese sandwiches
chicken and rice casserole (in freezer), black eyed peas
beefy noodle casserole (make earlier in day to reheat at suppertime)

That's Monday-Thursday. On Friday, we are attending a birthday party at suppertime.

For lunch, we will be eating leftovers, or homemade pizza.

sausage and cheese muffins
sweet potato muffins
cereal or oatmeal

Thursday, October 7, 2010


Since yesterday's blog post was titled, Grumbling, I decided to have a more positive title today!

In keeping with my theme yesterday of looking for things to be thankful for in difficult situations instead of whining and complaining about everything, our visiting preacher at our church service last night preached a sermon directly to me. Really. I felt like he was preaching to me!

He had 4 main points about Home Remedies. The first two points were very, very timely and applicable. In fact, numbers 3 and 4 are a little fuzzy in my memory right now....they both dealt with anger.....being slow to anger, the anger of man not bringing about the righteousness of God....but points number 1 and 2--those I remember vividly!

1. Be Joyful. Smile at those you love in your home. This seems like a simple thing, but it can completely change the mood in your home. Try it today. Smile!

2. Use Gentle Words. Why do we use a kinder tone of voice and kinder words to those outside our family? Why do we feel like we can just say whatever we want in whatever tone we want to those most precious to us? This is a simple concept too. Remember Proverbs says that a gentle answer turns away wrath. Who wants to be fussed at all day about every little thing? Try this today too. Use gentle, kind words with your husband and children today.

One more thing! Today is my wonderful husband's birthday! Happy Birthday Jimmy! We have a super fun surprise gift for him today. I'll blog all about it soon.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


Yesterday I received the October issue of Mom's Corners, written by Teri Maxwell of I eagerly anticipate Mrs. Maxwell's articles each month, because she usually writes exactly what I need to hear! This month was no exception.

I will admit it. I have been grumbling. But after reading Mrs. Maxwell's article, I am convicted. I am choosing today to turn my grumbles about my workload, my schedule, my "behindness in my to do list", my mountain of laundry that needs folding, my dirty, dirty kitchen, and anything else that my robs me of my meek and quiet spirit, and instead find things to be thankful about. I know that is the key. I know that God commands us in His Word to be joyful always and to give thanks in all circumstances.

It is nice to have a timely reminder!

Here is the link to the article. Grumbling, by Teri Maxwell. I hope you are inspired to be thankful today too!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Menu Monday

As I was planning my weekly menu a few days ago, I asked the children what they would like for supper this upcoming week. Leah said, "Please, nothing in the the crock pot!" Soup and stews are just not her favorite! I explained to her that with running practice three days a week, crock pot meals are just the best I can do right now.

So here's the menu:

Red Beans and Rice (crock pot)
Bean Burritos (crock pot)--prepared by Julie
Chicken a la King--prepared by Julie
Pasta Salad, green salad
Italian roast (crock pot), homemade macaroni and cheese, black eyed peas

Red Beans and Rice
1 lb. dried red pinto beans
link sausage, cut into bite sized pieces
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
4 cups or more water
6 oz. can tomato paste
8 oz. can tomato sauce
4 garlic cloves, minced

Soak beans overnight in water. The next morning, add all ingredients to crock pot and cook on high one hour and then low the rest of the day. You may need to add more water as the day goes on.
Serve over cooked brown rice.

Please visit for more delicious menus.