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Orators in the Making November 17, 2007

Posted by Laura in Family, Homeschooling.

I mentioned a while back that we joined 4-H and that both kids were elected to officer positions. It has been going quite well and they have enjoyed the activities and responsibilities a lot. This month, the focus was on speechmaking. Participation was technically optional, but Benjamin and Rachel’s mean old homeschool teacher required it (wink, wink).

The kids are divided into two groups at meetings: K-3rd grade, which are known as Clover Buds,; and the ones 4th grade and older. (Rachel is in K and Benjamin is in 3rd grade this year). The Clover Buds’ speeches were to be between one and three minutes long. The older kids were eligible to go on to county wide 4-H competition and then possibly the state level.  Their speeches were up to eight minutes in length.


Benjamin chose to give his speech on “Fire Safety“- a very timely and informative topic as we hear of so many wildfires burning out west. Rachel’s was entitled “How to Take Care of a Baby”– a choice of particular interest to her since she has a baby sister that she likes to mother.

Benjamin dutifully read up on his topic and organized his facts. Rachel drew more on personal experience to outline hers. Both of them made notecards to use while speaking. Here are Rachel’s.


(That first card says Lydia is fun but a lot of work- that still makes me giggle every time I see it. She must mean all those diapers she’s changed and all the hours of missed sleep for middle of the night feedings).

They worked hard preparing and practiced for anyone who would listen. When the big day came, they were ready. They both volunteered to go first and ended up going one after the other right away. They didn’t show a bit of nervousness.

They remembered to speak up, look at their audiences, and stand straight and still. We were very proud of them, not only for the speeches themselves, but also for having the courage to stand up in front of peers to make a presentation. That can be very hard to do.


They each received ribbons to help them remember their accomplishments.


Our yellow belt November 16, 2007

Posted by Joe in Family.
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Late last spring, Rachel started taking Gymnastics lessons. She absolutely loves it. She is learning all kinds of acrobatic moves and is doing very well with it. Since I work a day job off of our little slice of creation, Benjamin and Lydia usually accompany Laura when she takes Rachel for her lessons.

It didn’t take long for Benjamin to notice that a Taekwondo class
slightly overlapped with Rachel’s gymnastics lesson. Scheduling
coincidence? I think not. They know how to cross market to siblings.

As you can probably imagine, it wasn’t long before Benjamin was taking taekwondo lessons. He’s worked hard and has already broken his first board. A few weeks ago he tested for his first belt promotion – from white belt to yellow belt. He passed!

These pictures are very grainy. Although there was plenty of light to see, it was apparently insufficient for the camera.

They make us spectators watch from a loft area. I guess it’s to keep us
from accidentally getting socked in the mouth by a wayward roundhouse

So, we now have a yellow belt in the house! Now, I guess we can cancel our home security system.  🙂

Another One for the Grandparents November 15, 2007

Posted by Laura in Family.

Here is one of our favorite Lyddie pictures- folded up and fast asleep.


The backs of my thighs burn just looking at this picture!


A unique way to make sure you never run out of O’s just when you need them.


Man, I LOVE those kids!

Some of these pictures were taken before we began helmet therapy.  I am happy to report that it is working beautifully and that Lydia will probably only wear the helmet for another month or 2.

Meet the Flock, part 9 November 13, 2007

Posted by Laura in Uncategorized.



(Napoleon perches on the old well crank to declare war on any who dare challenge him).

“Meet Nappy- he’s a pain.” According to Joe, this is the sum total of all you need to know about this bantam rooster. Seeing my look of consternation, Joe said, “What!? Ask any rooster we have and he’ll back me up on this!” I have to admit that his words do ring pretty true, but I’ll elaborate anyway.

A couple of years ago, I bid on a hatching (fertile) egg auction for “everything that’s laid today.” When the eggs arrived, I put them under a couple broody hens. Twenty-one days later, Napoleon (a Mille Fleur Belgian d’Uccle) appeared.

Almost from the start, he had attitude, not letting anyone chase him away from food or the best spot under mama. By six weeks old, he had pretty well established dominance among his nestmates. His position was seldom challenged.


As his permanent feathers came in, I noticed he was no slouch. He always appeared at attention in dress uniform, like he was ready to inspect the troops. His tail feathers seemed to be starched into an unnatural angle and stiffness. But most of all, he seemed not to be concerned in the least that he was by far the tiniest rooster we had. If anything, he was more arrogant because of it.

He definitely has little man syndrome. He has to crow twice as often as the bigger roosters and from a higher vantage point. Though he is physically incapable of mating with the standard sized hens, that doesn’t stop him from trying his best pick-up lines.

And you’d think that newcomers who grow larger than he would put him in his place quickly, but strangely, the opposite happens. When he faces off with a cockerel who plans to ascend the pecking order on Nappy’s back, the fight looks so lopsided that you’re reluctant to watch. The young upstart brazenly looks on puny Napoleon with disdain. A standard sized cockerel may weigh in at 7 or 8 pounds while Nappy is a “featherweight” (I couldn’t resist the pun) at a mere 1 pound.

Napoleon returns the stare and then the fight begins. The newcomer comes at him with spurs extended only to find that Nappy has not only dodged his attack, but has already come back with well-placed pinprick spurs of his own. The bewildered contender faces off again, but before he can gather his wits, Nappy has connected with his head and zipped away out of reach. This goes on another minute or two before the greenhorn bows out, defeated by Nappy’s speed and agility. The Little General struts away victorious.

Pancakes gone awry November 5, 2007

Posted by Joe in Family.

With the time change this past Sunday morning, I found myself wide awake an hour earlier than normal for a Sunday morning. So, as I sipped my fresh-brewed cup of coffee, I wondered how I could make the most of this hour. I decided to surprise my family by cooking breakfast.

Now, Laura is a wonderful cook. She doesn’t make the fancy dinners that you’d find in 5 star restaurants. You know the ones where you have 2 bites of pheasant surrounded by 4 strands of French-cut green beans that have been strategically placed to conceal the fact that you are paying a lot of money for very little food. No, Laura makes real food, really good. It’s a wonder I’m not 600 pounds.

Anyway, I used to know how to cook, that is before we got married. I didn’t have a lot in my repertoire, but I could make a few things in the kitchen. (Though my first and last attempt at Pumpkin pie didn’t go over too well.)

So, I decided this past Sunday to make pancakes. On the back of Bisquick box I found a  “Melt-in-your-mouth  pancakes” recipe. Viola! I’m in business!

I followed the directions and began putting the batter in the pan. As with a lot of things in life, cooking has a science and art facet to it. The science aspect is simply following directions. The art is knowing the little tricks of the trade, knowing just how hot to heat the skillet, knowing when to flip the pancakes over, knowing to shake the pan after you pour the batter in to flatten it out a bit.

The first few pancakes were admittedly a bit overdone as I tried to reacquaint myself with the artistic side of cooking. Eventually though, I got it and the latter pancakes turned out that golden brown color beautifully depicted in the picture beside the recipe on the box.

The kids helped set the table and we were ready for breakfast.

As everyone took their first bite, they thanked me for making breakfast. I took my first bite and thought “Well, they’re kind of dry, a little salty, and generally okay, but not nearly as good as Laura’s. Oh well, it’s probably just me being overly critical of my own cooking.” The rest of the family was dutifully eating.

Then I looked over at Lydia. At 9 months old, Lydia enjoys food. Every meal opens up a whole new world of tastes and textures for her. Especially this meal. She would take a bite of pancake, shake her head back and forth, stick out her tongue, and more or less act like she had just taken a bite of a lemon. Babies don’t lie.

Laura tactfully asked where I had gotten the recipe. “One the back of the box.”, I replied. I told her I was surprised that it had some unusual ingredients, like 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of baking soda.

“2 tablespoons? You mean 2 teaspoons.”, Laura suggested. “No, it had a capital T for tablespoon.” I replied.

Although I think its a woefully lacking standard, I do know that Tsp means tablespoon and tsp means teaspoon.

But, I got the box out to double check myself nevertheless. We looked at it together. Uh-oh! The recipe did call for 2 teaspoons. Laura also pointed out that it called for baking powder not baking soda.

Once again, I proved my culinary incompetence. “It’s the same thing. One is a name brand and the other is the generic reference to it, right?”  Wrong!

Only Benjamin could stomach the pancakes; the rest of us switched to cold cereal.

I’m glad that at times like this, it’s the intentions of your heart that count, not the product of your hands.