Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Last Day of School

In our opinion, there are many benefits to homeschooling. Not the least of which is getting to set our own schedule. Early in the school year, we asked the kids if they would like to try to finish all their school work by the end of April and then take a couple of months off to just play at the beach. They were interested, so we laid out a schedule and helped them set goals that would allow that to happen. They worked hard all year and made the dream a reality! They finished up with their CC stuff yesterday, and then after only a couple of hours of work today, Ruth was officially declaring herself on summer vacation. (The boys had finished what they needed to accomplish at home a week or so ago.) She was funny about this, too, because even though we technically had tomorrow to work before leaving on our trip, she was determined to finish before May, so she even did a Math lesson on Sunday to ensure she could really and truly be done in April! We celebrated by putting all our bags in the Suburban. Look out beach, here we come!

One of Ruth's finals at CC yesterday was to draw the whole world from memory,
 labeling the countries, their capitals and as many features as she could in an hour.
I'm biased, but I think she did a phenomenal job!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

You say Mickey Mouse; I say birthday party

Our Claycito is turning three in just over a week, so we celebrated with family today. What a fun party! I just can't believe this boy is getting so big!


A kick board to take to the beach (and a silly brother!)

Best Buddies

Max made a special gift certificate for Clay

Trying on Mr. Potato Head's glasses

We aren't sure whether to start calling him Bam Bam or Thor

a new friend

Blowing out the candles

Thursday, April 24, 2014

San Antonio

Because we just really needed something else academic (not to mention all the non-academic stuff!) on our plates between Weston's Memory Master testing and Ruth's finals next week, we scheduled the two older kids' annual SAT tests for today and tomorrow in San Antonio. :) But it's not all work. The kids and I are managing to squeeze in a little fun, too!

Max and Clay have had lots of playground time!

This. Over and over, for as long as someone will catch him.

Yay for hotels with pools!

The absolute best big sister.

This one is getting to be quite a fish!
He is even starting to venture into the deep end.

Another little fishy!

Clay showing me his "very boy"

You know when the Watts come to San Antonio,
there's going to be Mexican food involved!
We loved trying a new place (Guajillo's)
and were especially crazy for their guacamole.
(Though, truthfully, everything was delicious!)

Our message to Dad to tell him we wished he were with us--
and maybe to taunt him a bit about the Mexican food.
(And, I'll just say that a selfie with five people,
all looking at the right place at the right time
is something of a smart phone miracle!)

Big, big fun!

We have driven by these big boots several times,
and finally, after dinner, the kids said,
"Can we just stop and touch them?!"

Winding down at the end of a very fun day

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Memory Master

Today, Weston entered the elite ranks of what is known in the CC world as a Memory Master. What that means is that he memorized every single piece of information he was presented with in CC this year! The list of memorized facts consists of over 500 items, including the following:

  • 161 events and people in a chronological timeline (from Creation to 2001)
  • 24 History sentences, spanning from 800 AD to 1994
  • All 44 presidents, in order
  • Over 100 locations and geographic features in Europe, Asia and other select parts of the world
  • 24 Science facts, including biomes, planets, laws of motion and laws of thermodynamics, etc.
  • Latin verb endings of the 1st conjugation
  • English Grammar facts covering the eight parts of speech to varying degrees, with an especially heavy emphasis on the different types of pronouns
  • Multiplication tables (skip counting) up to 15 x 15, common squares and cubes, basic geometry formulas, unit conversions and four mathematical laws
This is a HUGE accomplishment, and we couldn't be prouder of Weston and the hard work he put in to earning this honor! He is also the youngest student on our campus who received the award this year! 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Pre-teen Party

When Ruth realized we were going to be at the beach on her birthday, her only lament was that she wasn't going to be able to have a party with her friends. So, we got out the calendar and found exactly one weekend in which it would be possible to have a party with her friends before we left: this one. Thankfully, all four of the girls she wanted to invite were available. We met the girls at Starbucks this morning, where we fortified ourselves with caffeine for a day of shopping, ice skating, cow sitting, ice cream eating and a whole lot of giggling. These are delightful girls, and we had a wonderful time! Personally, I'm glad for the opportunity to ease into 12. I need some time to get used to the idea, since it doesn't even seem like it should be possible that my baby girl is already that old.

Starting the day at Starbucks

The girls take on the Galleria

Shopping Success

Lunch at Fuddrucker's

Skating in style

Ruth has been enjoying the Arboretum cows since before her first birthday!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Because laughter truly is the best medicine...



Why do cows have bells?


Because their horns don't work!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Some thoughts about money and the government from Ayn Rand in honor of Tax Day

  • The money will go into channels that will carry it, not to the most productive, but to the most corrupt. By the standards of our time, the man who has the least to offer is the man who wins. 
  • Therefore, we must control men in order to force them to be free. 
  • If people are in need, we've got to seize the things first and talk about it afterwards. 
  • You want me to provide the jobs, and you want to make it impossible for me to have any jobs to provide.
  • Money is made--before it can me looted or mooched--made by the effort of every honest man, each to the extent of his ability. An honest man is one who knows that he can't consume more than he has produced. 
  • …the man who damns money has obtained it dishonorably; the man who respects it has earned it.
  • Men who have no courage, pride or self-esteem, men who have no moral sense of their right to their money and are not willing to defend it as they defend their life, men who apologize for being rich--will not be rich long.
  • Such looters believe it safe to rob defenseless men, once they have passed a law to disarm them.
  • Money is the barometer of a society's virtue. When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion--when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing--when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors--when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don't protect you against them, but protect them against you--when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice--you may know that your society is doomed.
  • There is no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for me to live without breaking laws…But, just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted--and you create a nation of lawbreakers--and then you cash in on guilt.
  • The public may curtail my profits any time it wishes--by refusing to buy my product…Any other method of curtailing profits is the method of looters--and I recognize it as such.
  • When robbery is done in open daylight by sanction of the law, as it is done today, then any act of honor or restitution has to be hidden underground.
  • After all, it doesn't make any difference to the poor whether their livelihood is at the mercy of an industrialist or a bureaucrat.
  • Who are you to stand against the government? Who are you, you miserable little office rat, to judge national policies and hold opinions of your own? Do you think the country has time to bother about your opinions, your wishes or your precious little conscience?
  • Our modern laws are elastic and open to interpretation according to…circumstances.
  • There's no surer way to destroy a man than to force him into a spot where he has to aim at not doing his best, where he has to struggle to do a bad job, day after day. That will finish him quicker than drink or idleness or pulling stick-ups for a living.
  • …money inside a man's pocket had the power to turn into confidence inside his mind.
  • Are you thinking that death and taxes are our only certainty, Mr. Readen? Well, there's nothing I can do about the first, but if I lift the burden of the second, men might learn to see the connection between the two and what a longer, happier life they have the power to achieve. They might learn to hold, not death and taxes, but life and production as their two absolutes and as the base of their moral code. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Finished Project

Some of these are very similar to other pictures I've posted, but I wanted to show the whole finished project together in one place. The tour will take you from the front, all the way around the house, moving around to the left.

front walk

front walk, from the "parking lot"

stone work

lower patio



upper patio

grill area

upper patio, from the other direction


the "beach"

bed on the kid's side

less glamorous but very important slab for future well house

after dark

all lit up

Sunday, April 13, 2014

And, the winner is...

After SEVEN hard-fought games (three yesterday and four today, played back-to-back and partially in the rain), the Marble Falls Athletics came out as the tournament champs! There is one little boy in this household who will be beaming all week, and a couple of parents who couldn't be prouder! Way to go A's!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Baseball Mom (and her soapbox rant)

I did not choose to become a "baseball mom." To tell you the truth, I don't even like baseball. (Apologies to all the family members and Americans I just offended!) What I do like are two boys named Max and Weston, and what they like (right now) is baseball. So, I took on the role of "baseball mom" willingly, if not whole-heartedly--I admit, I did not order t-shirts from the MLB teams, which my boys' teams are named after, to wear to all the games, and I have not had any desire to create a cute accessory out of an actual baseball. But, I have been to every game (save one, when I had to work, and one, when they were playing at the exact same time, and Dad and I had to divide and conquer), including FOUR games just today. And, I am washing uniforms at this very (late) moment, so we can do it all again tomorrow. And, I do get my voice a little out of whack yelling for my boys. For my boys. Not at them. Not at the umpire. Not at the other team. Not even at the guy in the parking lot who accidentally left his lights on, shining in the face of the batter. I will be the first to admit that I have my flaws, but I do constantly try to check what is coming out of my mouth at games (especially given my own competitive nature), and I would like to encourage all the other Little League parents out there to attempt to do the same (regardless of the sport). This game, this tournament, this season isn't going to make or break your child's future, in the rare event that he (or she) even has a future in this sport. And, it isn't going to redeem your past, as much as you might like it to. They are just little boys (and girls). Let them play and have fun. Let them learn a little about the game and about teamwork. These are valuable lessons. But, don't be overly critical. Or obnoxious. Or competitive. Or act like something really important is on the line. It isn't. To be fair, most of the parents are very supportive and encouraging, which I certainly appreciate. But, there are a few who could use a slight adjustment in their minds (and mouths) about how important this is in the grand scheme of things. [End of rant.]

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Product Love

In my last favorites' list*, I mentioned Almond Milk.
This is kind of like the HNL of that. 

This camera is small enough to slip in my pocket or carry in my purse
but takes pictures like one of the big boys, even from quite a distance. I love it!

The seemingly endless winter this year has forced me to wear sweaters on a very regular basis.
This rack is perfect for drying lots of things at once and even has a place for shoes.
Plus, it folds almost flat, making it super easy to store.

My old Kindle was getting pretty worn,
so when I saw the Kindle Fire deeply discounted one day, I took the plunge.
(And, I also treated myself to the fun hot pink case!) So far, I'm very happy with my decision. 
The fact that these flip-flops are super comfy, slightly scented like vanilla and dishwasher safe
are just a few of the reasons I love them. I'm pretty sure I'll be living in these all summer.

These palapas have added just the right ambiance to our "beach."
(All we're missing is the ocean!)

We love granola around our house, and this is some of the best we've tried.

After some issues with my previous watch turning my skin black,
I did some research and decided to try a Skagen watch.
I love the femininity of this watch (and the fact that it hasn't caused any discoloration)! 

For everything from cooking to moisturizing, this is our go-to oil.

The Warthog sharpener has helped us get the epidemic of dull knives in our house under control.
I love that it's small enough to store in the knife drawer and easy enough for Ruth to use (with supervision).

Jeff has been urging me to read this for years, and I have finally gotten around to it.
It's definitely going on my list of all-time favorites!
(I think I will have to buy Jeff a new copy, since I sort of went crazy marking
meaningful passages in the copy I borrowed from him!)

We love our Keurig and all the flavors of coffee we can choose from.
This is one of our current favorites. We are also loving Creme Brulee and Houston Blend.

*You can see more of our favorites by clicking on the tab at the top of the page.