Beautiful Life

Hey child up and go; A big world is out there waiting for us to live in every day. Outside you will find, there is love all around you; Takes you, makes you wanna' say; That it's a beautiful life and it's a beautiful world and it's a beautiful time to be here, to be here, to be here. -Fisher

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Creative Candy Corn

Yes, I actually bought this candy crud Halloween treat for my children. I agreed to buy a few small bags of candy because we weren't doing a lot of Trick-or-treating, and this is what they wanted. Thankfully, they are sick of it now and don't want anymore! They actually had more fun playing with it than eating it....figures, doesn't it.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Camping 101

This blog post contains loads of pictures of fun. If you never want to go camping, don't look might have to change your mind!

Here's a little Camping 101 for ya. You might as well practice putting your camper/tent/lean-to/whateva, up in the rain.....because you will have to, at some point. It's a rule I think. I can count on one finger the number of times we've gotten to put ours up without getting rained on!

And this camping trip was not the exception, apparently! It was just drizzling when we started out, but by the time we were finishing up, we were in torrential-down-pour-flood mode!

We weathered the rising waters in the relative dryness of our pop-up, had some dinner, watched a movie via my laptop and went to bed where we got a few drips on us, but otherwise stayed dry. That is more than I can say for the tent campers in our group!
Now I guess you are wondering why in the world I thought this post would lead to you wanting to head out on your very own camping excursion!

There's this for one reason! Yes, that would be my boys, all three, enjoying a canoe trip on the most beautiful lake in SC.

See the crystal clear waters?

See the happy boy faces?

Beautiful scenery that makes for great pictures!

The rocky shores of this lake are surprisingly beautiful too! Oh, and so is this little sweetie! She is one of the Seven Wonders of the World, I think!

Doesn't this look like the most fun?
It is if you stay in the boat! Right Tori? Right Stephanie?
Funny story.....on the last day, we decided to take the canoe out for a few more rows around the cove. Well, it was a tensy bit rougher than it had been on the other days and we didn't really notice until after we'd launched away from shore. So.....we were bobbing up and down and started to realize that we weren't really able to steer the canoe any ole direction we wanted to go. We were actually only able to go with the current. A strong current. That was taking us across the cove. At this point we decided to heck with it, we'd just go with the current and walk back, because it was looking more and more like this was a bad idea! Unfortunately, we couldn't get the current to take us up on a sandy area, on no! We landed on a huge rock curving into the water.....and well, the canoe tipped over. Don't worry, I was fine! I jumped out and only my shoes got wet! Oh yeah. Tori (10 year old daughter of a friend), Stephanie (7 year old sister of Tori) and Paul.....well, they went for a swim! Thank goodness they thought it was funny! Cold, but funny! I can just imagine what their Daddy was thinking on the other end of the cove watching it all unfold!!!! Eh.

This was Claire's first and last ride. She braved it and ended up thinking it was fun. She was supposed to be in Stephanie's seat when the canoe capsized. She baled out at the last minute....I wonder if she had an inkling of what was about to happen...hmmmmm.

Another Camping 101 tip for ya. Take Vanna White with you for all your photo display needs! Here she shows off the majestic foothills for us, as only Vanna can!

We took lots of pictures, as you can see. We don't get to do this enough and I want to remember it all, it was such fun!


If that lake doesn't make you want to go camping right this minute, how 'bout this waterfall? Huh? How 'bout this?

We were right there!

So close we could feel the spray!
Camping 101 tip- go with other camping buddies, it really does make the trip even better! These are some of Isabel's friends, Abby and Stephanie.

Really close!
Camping 101 tip-don't fall in!
I know that seems like a no brainer, but you never you,Timothy?

Camping 101 tip- hurry ahead of your husband and beat him to the top of the waterfall....that way his friends will tease him and it will be a hoot I tell you!

Camping 101 or should I say Hiking 101- don't try to carry a 35lb child in a very used backpack with a slightly injured back. You will pay for it later. Trust me!
But, she will have a blast, and that will count for something!

Camping 101 tip- take a screenwriter or a good skit book and a director with you, because campfire skits are the best! It's the most fun you can have with 16 kids and 8 adults in the dark! No, really!

This is Claire with her new camping buddy, Natalie. Natalie really does like Claire, she even shared her animal crackers, she just doesn't look like it here!

Or here!

The fishing was great!
They didn't actually catch anything. But, is that really important?

This is picturesque Autumn in SC. And this is a great reason to go camping in the fall. Because around here in the lowcountry, Autumn just looks like summer burned everything up, 'cause it's all brownish now.

Camping pictures 101-
have someone funny take the family portrait,
clearly Isabel is not feeling it!
Hiking was great!

We didn't loose anyone!

Well, unless you count Claire deciding to slip way down in her pack and take a little snooze. This hike was a little more jostle than she likes and so she handled it the way she handles things that make her nervous. She went to sleep and woke up when it was over. Based on the picture above, that was probably a really good thing!

Camping photography 101- tell your kids that it is not necessary to zoom in on all your gray hairs!

Yes, it was this gorgeous up there!

Claire didn't make it up for this picture. Poor baby. She was still in hibernation.

But, campfires don't seem to bother her in the slightest!

Camping 101- where there are boys, there will be FIRE!
Parker and Noah with their buddy, Timothy.

Camping 101- Enjoy yourself! We did! Clearly!

Now admit it! Don't you want to go camping?

As soon as we got in the door from our trip, Claire declared that she wanted to go back. Who would've thunk that our princess would love camping so!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Dare I share this.....

Besides the fact that my daughter will hang me one day for sharing all that I do about her......the last time I discussed this with you guys, Claire ran for the hills! Shortly after bringing her home we tried a little potty training experiment that went terribly wrong and hasn't been revisited for over a year! Since gaining a lot of the vocabulary needed to talk through this, we realized that Claire is actually scared of....well, seeing her poop. Sorry to be so graphic! But, that's it in a nut shell.

So, we spent the past months desensitising her to this sight as well as explaining to her that she doesn't have to look at it, just put in the potty and flush! She set a goal of working on it when she turned 4. We let her call the shots with this and have been talking a lot about it since her 4th birthday is just around the corner!

Then a few weeks ago she announced that she was going pooh....while in the tub. Not thinking, I snatched her up and sat her on the potty. This usually evokes an episode of frightful crying and clawing to remove herself from the offensive commode. As it happened, this time she was indignant, but not traumatized. So, we went with it. She "accidentally" pooped in the potty and I ran for a treat. Not expecting this, we were fresh out of M&Ms, but my visiting parents had brought chocolate with them, so it sufficed!

She got chocolate, she got lots of praise and she got to flush without looking! Wow! This is fun stuff!

The next morning, Claire made another announcement, so we rushed her to the pot. I went to the store for M&Ms after that. Apparently, this is catching on!

And so, with only a few accidents here and there, we have managed to go in the potty more often than not for about 2 weeks now!

Of course, I'm sharing this on the eve of our long weekend camping trip. Somehow I doubt potty training is going to transfer well to the campground! Oh well. I guess we'll pick up where we left off.

What most people don't understand about why this milestone is soooooo important for Claire, is that she isn't "supposed" to be able to do this. The nurses at the spina bifida clinic told me they doubted Claire knew when she was going, even though I told them that she announced it all the time, often before she is actually going. Due to her other issues, it just wasn't likely that she would have enough sensation to be potty trained. So, while most moms do celebrate the passing of the diaper phase, I am thankful that this is even a possibility for my little girl! WHOO HOO!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


20 years ago today, I was a 19 year old college freshman at USC-Aiken. I went to my Psychology 101 class totally oblivious to the fact that my future step-daughter was making her grand entrance!

20 years ago, if you'd asked me if I thought I would marry a man with a four year old, I would have given you the squinty-eyes with furoughed brow look. Huh? How would that ever happen?

20 years ago I would never have guessed that my life would be intertwined so much with the life of a 20 year old woman that I have no blood relation to.

20 years ago was 2 years before my life would be touched by an angel with golden locks of hair and rosy lips. 2 years before my horizons would be broadened by a 2 year old! 2 years before I would fall in love with the amazing and wonderful flurry that is my daughter, Lizzie.

Happy Birthday to the sweetest, smartest, most beautiful 20 year old!

I've loved being a part of the last 18 years and can't wait to see what the next 20 will hold for you!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Books Books Everywhere.....

But nothin' good to read. At least nothing that hasn't already been read, and in some cases, re-read.

Okay, so I never got around to the "Summer Reading" post that I eluded to a while back. Yeah, well. I was inspired by my friend Significant Source, when she posted about summer reading on her blog. But, it just never happened.

I can't imagine why. Ahem......5 kids + 6 cousins + 1 friend of a cousin + revolving front door + trip to Chicago + Swim team = wild and crazy summer with very little blogging time! Oh well.

It isn't because we don't read. Trust me.

I was a "late bloomer", a "reluctant reader" .....okay, I failed my pre-primer in first grade. Whatever. I caught on eventually, and I remember going to the library with my Mom and Grandma in the summer and bringing back stacks of books to read. I loved going places in those books! I loved that it was like a movie playing in my head!

Now, required reading, that was another story. Ahem.

To this day, I'm happiest if I have a good book going. Sometimes, I have two or three! So, of course I hoped to pass this love for print on to my offspring! My children's book collection was ample before my children began to arrive on the scene. It helped that I was a kindergarten teacher and could collect said books and call it "a business expense". Ha! If only the IRS had allowed that....but, I digress.

We read to Lizzie a lot. We read to the boys a lot! We read to Isabel......okay, things got a little more complicated when we added another kid. We slacked off some. Yes, go ahead. Play her some violin music.....and now she's really pathetic, because she's *gasp* a middle child!

But, we've seen the error of our ways. We are reading to her a lot now, and Claire too! And our kids LOVE books!

The boys, like me were not early readers. But, once they acquired the skill, they ran with it! They raced through the simpler chapter books like the first 12 Magic Tree House books and got bored easily. And, once they got the hang of reading, THEY HAD TO HAVE A BOOK TO READ. Because, they like to read. They like to read a lot.

All. The. Time.

They follow behind me in W@lmart with a book to their noses. They sit in food courts and read when I let them. They read in the car, no matter how long or short the trip is. They read at the pool. They read at the beach. They read every where except church....but, they've asked. THEY ASK FOR BOOKS FOR's that serious, people!
Yup, they are avid readers. It's official. And, these pictures I've been showing you are not of our children's book collection. They are of the boy's collection of chapter books.

I'm thinking we could start our own library pretty soon!

And, they don't just read, they devour books. It takes less time for them to read a book than it takes for me to find them something else to read! I'm having trouble keeping up. Coincidentally, that is what reminded me to write this post. I've run out of things for them to read and they have one book left....which they are both trying to read. At the same time. As you can imagine, that is not going well!

Here's the rub. I'm very picky about what they read. *gasp*. I know you never saw that coming.

O be careful little eyes what you see
O be careful little eyes what you see
There's a Father up above
And He's looking down in love
So, be careful little eyes what you see

I take my job seriously. Proverbs 22:6

So, for a while now, a lot, but not all, of their books have come from Christian sources. Especially since they love fantasy so much and you never know what might be lurking in some of today's secular fantasy.
Now, you may think that that is going a tad overboard.
I'm okay with that.
So, what are some of the boy's favorites through the years? Well, interestingly enough, they just got finished reading, and loved, the Rick Riordan series that starts with The Lightning Thief. This is a secular series, but it was recommended by trusted sources. I first saw it referenced on my friend's blog and she was right. They thoroughly enjoyed it and learned some Greek Mythology while they were at it! Homeschooling moms love to slip school in when children least suspect it!

Most of their favorites have been Christian Fantasy though. They have read and re-read books from the Donita K. Paul Dragon Keeper series: Dragon Spell, Dragon Quest, Dragon Knight, Dragon Fire. Then there is the Oracles of Fire and Dragons in our Mists books. Both series are by Bryan Davis and both boys really enjoyed these immensely. As a matter of fact, the boys name The Dragons in our Mist as an all time favorite and then Oracles of Fire. In Parker's top 10 favorites is The Door Within series by Wayne Thomas Batson. Noah says they are all so good, but if he had to choose favs, he picks those too and, The Wormling series by Jerry B. Jenkins and Chris Fabry and Isle of Sword and Isle of Fire by Wayne Thomas Batson. Oh, and he doesn't want me to forget to mention, The Way of The Wilderking series by Jonathan Rogers! Really, they have so many books that they love.
They have also read classics like The Swiss Family Robinson, Julie of the Wolves, Crispin, The Hobbit.....the list is sooooo long.
But, we are struggling right now to find good, safe reads. I ran across The Mysterious Benedict Society the other day at the library, but unfortunately, the librarian or Media Specialist as I guess they are called now, could not tell me if they would be a good fit for our family. She did however, turn me onto some websites that review books.
If you are looking for clean reads for kids or adults, check out Homespun Light. It was formally Clean Reads but moved to this new blog. Reading to Know is another blog that I have used recently.
As for The Mysterious Benedict Society, based on knowledge gleaned from these blogs, I decided it was a go. But, we decided it might be cool to read it as a family, rather than the boys reading it alone. So, I still have the problem that they need some new books to read NOW.
Any recommendations?