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Well, it’s that time of the year, here in Texas.  We don’t know what the weather will hold for us from one day to the next, but we’re fairly certain we won’t see frost again until late November.  This week, we’ve had highs in the upper 80s, and highs that didn’t even break 60.  It’s the roller coaster we call spring.  The June bugs, however, are having a hay day…I guess no one told them that it’s only April.  Oh well…the gardens are planted, and now we have only to wait for the harvest.  I hope this week finds you well.  I also hope you’ll stay a while, and find something great to read!


 

by Angie Ouellette-Tower for http://www.godsgrowinggarden.com/ photo YoureTheStarHopLarge_zpsjbrldhcx.jpg

Welcome to week#3 of the April “You’re the Star” Blog Hop!
Before we continue onto the Linky party I wanted to share this post from my blog:

Before Life of Fred

Math has long been the bane of my existence!  We started our long-term feud way back in the 5th grade.  After many, many years of struggling, I was relieved to finish my last math class during my freshman year in college.  Imagine my chagrin when I changed my major a year and a half later and found that I now had to suffer through not one, but two semesters of calculus!  This is the stuff nightmares are made of!  To this day, I still do not understand why Genetics majors (yes, I have a B.S. in Genetics) had to take two semesters of Engineering Calculus.

Suffer through, I did.  I won’t admit how many times I had to try, but I finally managed it.  I passed two calculus classes…barely.  Then, an hour later, it was gone.  I brain-dumped calculus…all of it!  I would NEVER have to worry about math again.  That era of my life was over!  Whoop!

Then one day, I woke up and realized I was homeschooling.  How did that happen?  Well, that’s a totally different story…but now, I would have to not only deal with dreaded math again, somehow I was supposed to help my dear, sweet, unsuspecting daughter understand something that I couldn’t explain.  

Once again, math became the bane of my existence.  I desperately wanted to save my daughter from the wounds of life-long battle with that undefeatable enemy, Math.  But I knew I couldn’t do it by myself.  I began painstakingly perusing every homeschool website I could find to help me decide which of the myriad of options would be the silver bullet in my battle with my arch nemesis. 

We didn’t want a never-ending parade of workbooks.  We needed something that would be re-usable.  After all, we had more kids coming up behind.  It’s really easy to start spending money hand over fist when you use consumable curricula for a bunch of kids.  Bear was my only one of school age at the time, but that was no reason not to think ahead!  When you rule out workbooks, you’re left with a much smaller pool of options.

After consulting at length with my husband, we finally made a choice.

…and it was wrong.

But I wasn’t going to let that stop me!  I was going to stick it out.  This was the material we had chosen, and it would work, come Hell or high water!

Bear was miserable.  She was falling further and further behind.  Math was becoming her arch nemesis too, and I was just making it worse.  Math became a fight every. single. day.  As soon as I brought out the math book, she would just shut down.  I could see it, and it broke my heart.  By this time, Lizard was starting school too.  She started pretty strong, but then noticed all of Bear’s protestation.  She started saying that she hated math, and she had barely begun!  Something had to give.

So I started experimenting, curriculum-hopping, really.  As we all know, that can be a big problem with math in particular.  But I just knew that eventually, we’d find the right solution.  We had started with Strayer-Upton’s Practical Arithmetics, we tried a little Math Mammoth, and some Miquon Math, then Math Lessons for a Living Education (which is a workbook, by the way!).  Every one had their strong points, but they were far outweighed by problems for us.

Fred to the rescue

During all of my searching, I had run across the Life of Fred books several times.  I wrote them off as a fun little supplement for kids who really enjoyed math.  I figured the story line either overshadowed any math content, or that it was so contrived that it would be miserable to read.

But one day, in my desperation, for some reason, I opened a sample.  It wasn’t tortuous to read…it was actually pretty funny.  It was definitely outlandish, but entertaining.  Bear would enjoy the story, of that I was certain. 

Perhaps even more surprising, however was the amount of information contained in the brief little sample chapter I had downloaded.  There was actually math (and a lot of other stuff) there!

So, I headed over to review site after review site; forum after forum.  I really wanted to finally get things right and defeat Math once and for all.  It turns out, the reviews for the Life of Fred series are actually quite mixed.  Some said there wasn’t enough practice, others said there was just enough.  A few folks claimed that the series couldn’t stand as a complete curriculum, others said it was complete and added elements from across all the subjects.  Nearly everyone agreed, however, that their kids enjoyed Life of Fred.  

I knew Bear was an avid reader.  I thought a literature-based approach to math might be just the thing to finally make math manageable.  So, I went to Educents, and I ordered.  I started out with the first 4 books in the Elementary Series.  A few weeks later, I ordered the rest of the series, plus the Intermediate Series, and Fractions and Decimals and Percents.

About Life of Fred

I’ll get back to my story in just a second.  First, I want to pause and tell you a little bit more about Life of Fred.

The names of these books are enough to make you giggle a little before you ever learn anything else!  The elementary books are named alphabetically.  So, the first book starts with A, the second with B, and so on.  There are no grade-level designations on the books themselves.  The author recommends these elementary and intermediate books for Kindergarten through 4th grade.  The names are:

Next up is the Intermediate Series:

After that, the names get much less creative (for 5th grade right up through college):

Life of Fred is a whole series of books for elementary, clear up through college level math.  There is also a series of early readers and grammar books, for those interested.  So far, we have used the elementary series.  I have the intermediate series waiting on my shelf along with Fractions, and Decimals and Percents.  I also have the first set of early readers on order for my boys.

The Life of Fred stories follow a five year old genius named Fred who is a math professor at KITTENS University in Kansas.  He gets himself into all sorts or ridiculous situations.  After all, while he is a math genius, he’s still a five year old boy, with no one but his doll, Kingie to look out for him.  He uses math in all kinds of ways to help himself or others.  Sometimes, he just enjoys playing with numbers.  

At the end of each chapter is a “You’re Turn to Play” section where students have around 3 to 5 problems to work out.  Word problems will not phase a student who is accustomed to working with Fred!  These short little problems are jam-packed with material.  Not only does the author test understanding of the skills already presented with these sections, he also uses them to illustrate methods to solve new types of problems.  Starting in Cats, there are also useful “Rows of Practice” in most chapters.  These rows are very helpful for practicing and learning math facts.

I also really like that the author brings all kinds of other lessons into the story as well.  Aside from math, Fred learns about Archimedes, star clusters in the Orion constellation, and a little about homonyms all in the first few books.  The stories and practice questions are also a fairly good barometer for reading comprehension.

Now for just a few cons for these books…after all, life can’t be all sunshine and fluffy bunnies!

First off, there isn’t a whole lot of paper and pencil practice with this course.  For us, this was actually a selling point, but for many, it may be a liability.  I’ve been using games and Times Tales to take the place of extra worksheets and drill.  Plus, there is no shortage of extra math material in this house.  If we need extra practice on a concept, we can find it!

Second, some of the subject material that enters into the story may be a little offensive for some families.  So far, I have not had a problem with any of it, but I use some of the situations as teaching points about the fallen nature of man.  There is a recurring character, C.C. Coalback, who is constantly taking advantage of Fred.  After all, Fred may be a well-read math genius, but at the end of the day, he’s still a naive five year old with no one but his doll to look after him.

Additionally, Fred never eats.  Whenever he gets food, he puts it in his pocket “for later”.  Now, I have 5 voracious eaters at home, so they find this part of the story particularly amusing.  However, if you have a little one who doesn’t eat so well, you may find this problematic.  

Lastly, the answers for the “You’re Turn to Play” questions are right on the next page of the book.  So, it’s not hard for students to take a peek at the answers before trying to solve them on their own.  However, if this becomes a problem for your student, there are a number of ways to fix it, if you get creative.

The Rest of Our Life of Fred Story

Now that we’ve found Life of Fred, math time looks a little different at our house.  Bear has started doing 5 chapters a day.  Now, eventually, she is going to have to slow down.  But, right now, she’s still working below her skill level.  The author of Life of Fred suggests that all elementary aged students, in fourth grade and below, begin with Apples.  That was a ton of review for Bear…which was a really good thing for her!  Right now, she’s about to finish Goldfish.  I’ve been reading along a book or two ahead of her, and I have a feeling our pace will slow significantly within the next couple books.

Lizard had been working through Miquon Math, but has recently requested to go to working just with Fred, just like Bear.  She has already worked through Apples and Butterflies, so she’s ready to move on to Cats.  She does not move through the books nearly as quickly, since she has pretty much caught up with her level already.

We do use some math games to practice our facts, as I mentioned earlier.  We also use some notebooking pages so that I can make sure everyone is understanding the things they read.

Bear is already carrying over a lot of the information she learns into her everyday life.  She will often make mention of some random pattern that she finds as she goes about her day.  She tells me all about it, and then says, “I can play with numbers, too…just like Fred!”  It’s music to a homeschooling momma’s ears!

I can also see how public or privately schooled students could really benefit from the Life of Fred series as a supplement to their math work from school, or possibly to keep up their skills during the summer.  There is no shortage of problem-solving practice in these books!

I know we are still at the beginning of our journey with the Life of Fred, but, I really do have to wonder, “Where were these books when I was learning math?”  Perhaps if I had been able to travel with Fred, my math skills might be a whole lot better!  Who knows, maybe Fred will even be able to teach this old momma a few new math tricks.

If you are interested in trying out theLife of Fred series, I’d really appreciate it if you would use my affiliate link for Educents

Click Here to go to the Life of Fred storefront  

Educents has fantastic prices on the Life of Fred books, from Apples all the way up to Five Days.  They also carry Times Tales, which I mentioned as a supplement for this program.  I do get a bonus if you make a purchase using this link.  However, I have not been paid or compensated in any way for writing this review.  All of the opinions given are my own!

How Life of Fred Saved Math: An In-depth Review

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WELCOME to FAMILY feature week of the
April “You’re the STAR” blog hop!
Meet your FAMILY week Host & Cohost 

by Angie Ouellette-Tower for http://www.godsgrowinggarden.com/ photo YoureTheStarFamily_zpsmife1ehc.jpg

This week is FAMILY feature week
Swing by the Family hosting team’s blogs:

Miranda @ The Myrabev Life

Linda @ Country Loving Mom

Elizabeth @ Family Farm School

This is a month long Linky party featuring YOU!
There will be 4 different features each week and 4 different feature categories.  Just to be clear – this is NOT a themed party – you may link up ANY family-friendly blog posts any day of each month. 
The “theme” occurs in our weekly features:
WEEK#3 FAMILY – parenting, fitness, health, finances & inspirational (this can include anything about children like: education ideas for children, also self help, beauty etc –  anything family friendly)

by Angie Ouellette-Tower for godsgrowinggarden.com photo ShopHoppingFeatured_zpsf9fab123.jpg



(These features were chosen from the March “You’re the STAR” blog hop)

 

St. Vincent De Paul Catholic Church of Petaluma by Adventures in Wesland

15 Toddler Sandwich Ideas by Magical Mama Blog

Magical Mama Blog: 15 Toddler Sandwich Ideas
More Sights in Calabria, Italy by Mille Fiori Favoriti


100 Kid-Approved Summer Activities by From Play Dates to Parties
No excuses for bored summer days! This list of 100 summer activities for kids covers every day of the week including sunny and rainy day activities.
If you’ve been featured then please grab a STAR button below:

 

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All Hosts/CoHosts will post this blog hop on every Monday of each week.
Please link up your family friendly blog posts below!
It wouldn’t be a linky party with YOU!
(IMPORTANT NOTE: by linking up you understand that you might be featured next month and if so, we will use some of your photos from your post – rest assured – we will always link back to your lovely blog.  We might also share your fantastic posts on social media.  Also, you may link up as many family-friendly posts as you like & YES – other blog hops &/or giveaways are welcome {giveaways and blog hops will NOT be featured though}  Thank You & ENJOY! )

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Welcome to the party! We had an eventful week. The spring storm season has begun. This past Wednesday, this was the view from our front porch:

But, after the waters receded, all was well. We were wet, but fine.

I hope you take a few minutes to stick around. Grab a cup of coffee and have a good read!


by Angie Ouellette-Tower for http://www.godsgrowinggarden.com/ photo YoureTheStarHopLarge_zpsjbrldhcx.jpg

WELCOME to the April 2018 You’re the Star” Blog Hop!
Before we continue onto the Linky party I wanted to share from my blog:

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WELCOME to GARDEN feature week of the April 2018 You’re the STAR” blog hop!
Meet your GARDEN week Hosts

by Angie Ouellette-Tower for http://www.godsgrowinggarden.com/ photo YoureTheStarGarden_zpsb5jj8whe.jpg

This week is GARDEN feature week
Swing by the GARDEN Hosts blogs:
Angie @ God’s Growing Garden
Marci @ Stone Cottage Adventures

This is a month long Linky party featuring YOU!

There will be 4 different features each week and 4 different feature categories. Just to be clear – this is NOT a themed party – you may link up ANY family-friendly blog posts any day of each month.
The “theme” occurs in our weekly features:
WEEK#1 GARDEN – gardening, homesteading, recycling, outdoor activities &/or preserving (this can include any type of green living, repurposed ideas, outdoor concerns, posts relating to farm animals etc all while remaining family friendly)
by Angie Ouellette-Tower for godsgrowinggarden.comphoto ShopHoppingFeatured_zpsf9fab123.jpg
(All features were chosen from the March 2018 “You’re the Star” blog hop)
The State of the Garden by The Locust Blossom


Orchids in Ft. Myers by Comfort Springorchids blooming

Homeschool 101 – Garden Nature Study by Everyday Graceshomeschool gardening nature study unit

orchids blooming

Homeschool 101 – Garden Nature Study by Everyday Graceshomeschool gardening nature study unit



orchids blooming

Homeschool 101 – Garden Nature Study by Everyday Graceshomeschool gardening nature study unit

If you’ve been featured then please grab a STAR button below:

by Angie Ouellette-Tower for http://www.godsgrowinggarden.com/ photo YoureTheStarHopLarge_zpsjbrldhcx.jpg

WELCOME to the March You’re the Star” Blog Hop!

Before we continue onto the Linky party I wanted to share from my blog:


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WELCOME to EXTRA feature week of the March You’re the STAR” blog hop!

(Sometimes we will have 5 Mondays in a month – these 5th special Mondays are called “EXTRA feature” days)

Meet all of your STAR Hosts 

There will be 4 different features each week and 4 different feature categories (except for this special EXTRA day – we will be featuring 2 extra).  Just to be clear – this is NOT a themed party – you may link up ANY family-friendly blog posts any day of each month. 

The “theme” occurs in our weekly features:

WEEK#1 GARDEN – gardening, homesteading, recycling &/or preserving (this can include any type of green living,  while remaining family friendly),

WEEK#2 CREATIVE – arts & crafts, music, writing &/or dramatic arts (this can include sewing, dance, art history, handmade jewelry, computer art, fashion etc – anything creative while remaining family friendly)

WEEK#3 FAMILY – parenting, fitness, finances & inspirational (this can include anything about children like: education ideas for children, also self help, beauty etc –  anything family friendly)

WEEK#4 HOME – recipes, home décor, antique/DIY &/or travel (this can include anything about your home – even history posts – all while remaining family friendly)



by Angie Ouellette-Tower for godsgrowinggarden.comphoto ShopHoppingFeatured_zpsf9fab123.jpg



(All features were chosen from the February “You’re the Star” blog hop)

DIY Play Food Chocolate Cookies with Filling by Keeping It Real

DIY Play Food - felt chocolate cookies with filling - tutorial and pattern

Define: Blasphemy by A Narrow-Minded Woman

Happy Birthday Bear

Happy Birthday, my dearest Bear. The past nine years have flown by! You were such a tiny thing when we brought you home. Five pounds, 15 ounces…you didn’t even break 6 pounds. But look at you today! You’ve grown into such a strong, healthy, wonderful girl.

Being my first baby, I felt so clueless when you were born. I didn’t know how to change a diaper, or how to feed you, or how to bathe or dress you. But, I blundered my way through…with a lot of help from Daddy and the rest of the family. You screamed at us for the first 5 months of your life…the dreaded colic. At first, I thought there was something wrong…I had you at the pediatrician’s office at least once a week! He was a very patient, helpful man. Daddy started to tease me. He’d say, “It’s Tuesday, and you didn’t take Bear to the doctor last week. I bet they miss you! They’re sitting around the nurse’s station wondering, ‘It’s Tuesday. Where are the Bigley’s?'”

Eventually, you did stop crying. We started sleeping again. And I started to get more confident that you weren’t, in fact, going to die at any moment. You have born my blunders beautifully, and thrived in spite of them.

These days, when you’re not busy with your schoolwork, you can often be found cuddled up somewhere reading a book. You mostly taught yourself to read, after we taught you most of the letter sounds. You kind of took off, and taught yourself the rest. I wish I could take credit for it…but I can’t!

You enjoy helping your Daddy in the gardens. You’re a country girl at heart, and you don’t mind getting your hands or clothes dirty.  You’re help me out around the house and with your brothers and sisters a lot, too.  In fact, most days, I don’t know how I’d make it through the day without you here to help!  You’re always happiest, though, when I put you on Baby duty for a few minutes while I put in a load of laundry, or go outside to ask Daddy something.  You say it makes you feel like a grown-up.  You have a great work ethic…when you really set your mind to it. It will serve you well one day, when you figure out how to harness it.

Your favorite things to do, however, involve art. You enjoy all kinds of art projects. You spent some time this past Thanksgiving with your great-grandmother, learning about watercolor painting. You are still talking about that trip, and still enjoying practicing the skills she taught you. You can hardly wait until the next time we go to visit to have your next set of lessons. Your great-grandmother is very talented…I hope you heed her teachings, and commit them to memory.

You seem to have caught a little horse fever this year as well. We wish we could find some way to get you and your brothers and sisters a horse (or two). But, horses don’t come free, and we have very little expertise in horse care or training. I really need to hurry up and consult my sources (you know who you are). We don’t have the “we live in the city” excuse that G-ma and G-pop always used when I asked for a horse.  All I can tell you right now is, “Not yet, my dear. But perhaps soon. Keep that hope alive.” For now, you’ll have to settle for stable models and 1:12 scale horse and rider toys to go inside. If you’re lucky, maybe you’ll also get that stable cleaning play set you want that comes complete with plastic manure!

You made your birthday cake almost entirely by yourself this year.  You could have done it all by yourself if I had gotten out of your way.  But, I like hanging out with you, and at this point, you still like hanging out with me.  It was a fun thing for us to do together.  But, when it came time to put the frosting on and decorate, I had to get out of the way.  You did that part entirely by yourself.  I never would have even tried to draw a horse with frosting (I can’t even draw a horse with a pencil!).  But you weren’t afraid to try it out.  You claimed those horses…everyone else had to eat the sky!

I love the talks that we have together. Especially the rare long ones we get uninterrupted. You have such lofty goals and ideas for the world. I’m sure you can be a writer and a publisher and an artist and farmer and a momma. You have the drive to do anything you want!  

I love you, sweet girl.  Happy Birthday!


Hello!  We’ve had a bit of a different week.  I taught a violin lesson on Wednesday evening, and on the way (I was driving my husband’s car), the brakes went out!  So, I had to make my husband come to rescue me after the lesson (dragging all five children out in the cold right at bedtime).  Luckily, we all made it through the ordeal unscathed…and grateful.  But, it’s made for an interesting rest of the week, having to share a single car.  I hope you are staying warm!

by Angie Ouellette-Tower for http://www.godsgrowinggarden.com/ photo YoureTheStarHopLarge_zpsjbrldhcx.jpg

Welcome to week#3 of the February “You’re the Star” Blog Hop!
Before we continue onto the Linky party I wanted to share this post from my blog:

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WELCOME to FAMILY feature week of the
February “You’re the STAR” blog hop!
Meet your FAMILY week Host & Cohost 

by Angie Ouellette-Tower for http://www.godsgrowinggarden.com/ photo YoureTheStarFamily_zpsmife1ehc.jpg

This week is FAMILY feature week
Swing by the Family hosting team’s blogs:

Miranda @ The Myrabev Life

Linda @ Country Loving Mom

Elizabeth @ Family Farm School

This is a month long Linky party featuring YOU!
There will be 4 different features each week and 4 different feature categories.  Just to be clear – this is NOT a themed party – you may link up ANY family-friendly blog posts any day of each month. 
The “theme” occurs in our weekly features:
WEEK#3 FAMILY – parenting, fitness, health, finances & inspirational (this can include anything about children like: education ideas for children, also self help, beauty etc –  anything family friendly)

by Angie Ouellette-Tower for godsgrowinggarden.com photo ShopHoppingFeatured_zpsf9fab123.jpg



(These features were chosen from the January “You’re the STAR” blog hop)
 

Inexpensive Self Care Ideas for 2018 by Gluten Free A-Z Blog

Beautiful spa table settings

6 Morning Habits That Make Me a Better Mom by Mama Finds Her Way

Morning Routine

Considering Homeschooling? 5 Things to Think About by The Usual Mayhem

Should I homeschool


Old Fashioned Cheese Soup by Mrs. Kringle’s Kitchen

If you’ve been featured then please grab a STAR button below:

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We are in need of more Cohosts (click

HERE

to view a list of our current hosts/cohosts). 

If you are interested in joining us as a Cohost then please click

HERE

& fill out the form.

*******************************************************
All Hosts/CoHosts will post this blog hop on every Monday of each week.
Please link up your family friendly blog posts below!
It wouldn’t be a linky party with YOU!
(IMPORTANT NOTE: by linking up you understand that you might be featured next month and if so, we will use some of your photos from your post – rest assured – we will always link back to your lovely blog.  We might also share your fantastic posts on social media.  Also, you may link up as many family-friendly posts as you like & YES – other blog hops &/or giveaways are welcome {giveaways and blog hops will NOT be featured though}  Thank You & ENJOY! )

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Time marches on...another busy week

What a busy few weeks we’ve had around here!  Rhino turned three, we’ve been hatching chicks, and I’m still trying to work out our weekly trips to town for allergy shots and speech therapy while still managing to get all the required school work done!  

The thing is, I don’t see an end in sight!  The next few weeks bring a birthday, Halloween, a second round of hatching chicks, and then a trip for Thanksgiving.  I don’t know where I’d be without good old Google Calendars!

Rhino’s Birthday Recap:

My little Rhino is now three years old.  Now, he still lays claim to being Baby’s BIG Brother, but no longer admits to being anyone else’s little brother.  Three is such a complicated age! 

We celebrated on the evening of his birthday with a cloud cake, per his request, and a monster truck…complete with flashing lights, music, and wheelie-popping action!  Coolest.  Toy.  Ever.

Happy third birthday with a cake and a monster truck

Next Week:

Monkey will turn five on Monday.  I don’t know how exactly that is possible, but that’s what the calendar tells me!  He still hasn’t reliably decided what kind of cake he wants for his birthday, so I still can’t make plans for that.  I’m pretty sure he’s going to have to make his final decision today, so his daddy can bring any needed supplies home from town!

Hopefully, within the next couple of weekends, we will be able to get together with some friends to celebrate both of our October birthdays.

Halloween:

Usually in the past, my mom has made costumes for the kids.  She enjoys sewing, and does a great job.  However, this year, it just wasn’t going to happen.  She and my dad have been dealing with crisis after crisis this year…floods, fire, and the death of a parent.  Add in a home remodeling project, and my mom’s sewing projects have understandably gone on the back burner.  So, it’s up to me this year to acquire Halloween costumes (insert ominous music here!).

After a trip to Walmart, the children were not really all that excited about the selection of costumes available.  Some found that the costume they wanted wasn’t available in their size.  Some found that the costume they liked was too scratchy.  Others found that they just didn’t have anything all that exciting.  It was very disappointing.  

But then, in the car on the way home, someone came up with THE idea.  Someone wanted to be an Indian (Native American, for my more politically correct friends and readers).  Immediately, everyone else thought that was the best idea they’d ever heard.  So, everyone now wanted to be an Indian for Halloween.

As this conversation transpired, I thought to myself, “Now that is a costume even this DIY-challenged mom can make!”  So, I encouraged this line of brainstorming.  

I consulted with my mom on the plans for this project, just to make sure I wasn’t over-estimating my abilities…she would tell me if I were!  She agreed it was manageable, so, with her expert advice, off to the fabric store I went to purchase the perfect Indian costume fabric…with all 5 children in tow, of course!

After much fabric browsing, I finally found the right kind of fabric (I think!).  This is my big weekend project for the week.  I’m hoping to be able to post about my huge success next week…so stay tuned.  If it’s a huge flop, I suppose it might make for an amusing story, too!

So…wish me luck!  I’m off to make four little Indian costumes…


We have chicks hatching out in the loft above our room this week.  All day and all night we hear little cheeps and pecks coming from the incubators up there!  So, I must say, I’m feeling a little groggy.  Welcome to the Creative week for October’s You’re the Star blog hop!  Enjoy the party!


 

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by Angie Ouellette-Tower for http://www.godsgrowinggarden.com/ photo YoureTheStarHopLarge_zpsncuylahd.jpg

Welcome to the second week of the October blog hop called “You’re the Star!
Before we continue onto the Linky party I wanted to share this post from my blog:


Rhino and MommyMy dear, sweet little boy.  Where does the time go?  It seems like just yesterday we were meeting you for the first time (though you’d already been kicking and punching me for quite some time!).  Your birth itself was rather uneventful.  It was a four hour long induction.  At the end, there we were, holding our fourth baby.  A little boy weighing in at 8 pounds 7 ounces…bigger than any of your older siblings (though your little sister would eventually beat you by 8 ounces). 

 You’ve been a little rambunctious from the beginning, and so you still are today!  You are a happy, healthy, strong 3 year old boy.  You have no sense of pain (we’re fairly convinced you have a future in the NFL at defensive tackle), and rarely show any signs of fear.  Sometimes, I wish you had just a little more fear.  You make your old momma so nervous sometimes, while you climb furniture and old tractors without a thought for your own safety.  You think fist fights are hilarious.  Luckily, when you do get hurt, a kiss and a band-aid still makes you all better. 



Rhino with a pipeA year ago, we were worried, because you didn’t seem to talk much.  You’d get frustrated and angry when you didn’t get what you wanted, but you didn’t talk much.  You’ve come so far over the past year.  You jabber up a storm these days.  Unfortunately, it’s still mostly spoken in a foreign language.  But, at least you’re talking!  You’re speaking more clearly each day.  By this time next year, I wonder if we’ll even be able to remember your special language! 

You have an exuberance for life that is infectious.  Everything is exciting for you…even if it’s just an episode of Paw Patrol (or is it Pop Control, as your big brother calls it…or maybe Bah Bole, as you assert?) that you’ve seen a thousand times…today.  After all, we bought them on DVD so we could see them over and over again.  You come grab my hands and start jumping up and down, telling me that you want to dance at least 3 times a day.  I need to agree far more often!  Just, maybe not while your baby sister is trying to sleep. 

Muddy RhinoSometimes, you look up and smile at me, and you have a certain twinkle in your eye.  That’s when I know that the proverbial brown matter is about to hit the rotary cooling device.  You’re up to something.  If I say, “What are you up to?” in my biggest, gruffest Mommy voice, you’ll get a huge grin on your face and start giggling maniacally.  Then, you’ll say, “I Doh-nooooo!” (that’s “I don’t know”…if you don’t speak Toddlerese).  Perhaps, when I get up to follow you, there will be a flood in the bathroom, or I’ll walk through the door just in time to see you scramble up the side of the bathroom counter to a perch you’ve found standing in the bathroom sink…why is it always the bathroom?  Your cuteness at these particular moments, when you know you’ve been ‘busted’ is incredibly endearing.  But, no…for your own good, I must stand firm…all while hoping that someday you have a little boy just like you.  Then you’ll understand.  I just hope your future wife is a patient woman (Bless her heart!). 

For all of the mischief you make, you pour out just as much love.  You bring Mommy flowers, and give me huge squishy hugs.  You can be as sweet and gentle with your little sister as you are rough with your big brother.  You have a big heart, my dear son, and you use it well.  I pray you keep it that way.  I pray for you every day.  On good days, I pray for all the big, grand things you might do with the life God gave you.  Some days, all I can manage is constant prayers that your guardian angel is being extra vigilant!  Thankfully, you’ve made it another year. 

I love you son.  More than you can possibly understand.  Happy Birthday! 


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WELCOME to CREATIVE feature week of the October You’re the STAR” blog hop!
Meet your CREATIVE week Hosts 

by Angie Ouellette-Tower for http://www.godsgrowinggarden.com/ photo YoureTheStarCreative_zpsumokaegr.jpg

This week is CREATIVE feature week
Swing by the Creative hosting Team’s blogs:

Colleen @ Butterfly in the Attic


Darlene @ Let It Shine

This is a month long Linky party featuring YOU!

There will be 4 different features each week and 4 different feature categories.  Just to be clear – this is NOT a themed party – you may link up ANY family-friendly blog posts any day of each month. 
The “theme” occurs in our weekly features:
WEEK#2 CREATIVE – arts & crafts, music, writing &/or dramatic arts (this can include sewing, yarn work, dance, art history, handmade jewelry, painting, computer art, fashion etc – anything creative while remaining family friendly)


by Angie Ouellette-Tower for godsgrowinggarden.com photo ShopHoppingFeatured_zpsf9fab123.jpg


(These features were chosen from the September “You’re the Star” blog hop)

DIY Farmhouse Fall Wreath by Wonderfully Made

How To Make Easy Fall Puppets by Just Measuring Up
Easy Kids Craft - Making Popsicle Stick Puppets and Puppet Theater from a Diaper Box

Embellished Fall Ornaments by Debbie-Dabble Blog

Easy Twine Wrapped Acorns by Vintage, Paint and More….
Vintage, Paint and more... twine wrapped paper mache eggs with pine cone caps make acorns for rustic fall decor

If you’ve been featured then please grab a STAR button below:

You're a STAR

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We are in need of more Cohosts (click HERE to view a list of our current hosts/cohosts). 
If you are interested in joining us as a Cohost then please click HERE & fill out the form.

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All Hosts/CoHosts will post this blog hop on every Monday of each week.
Please link up your family friendly blog posts below!
It wouldn’t be a linky party with YOU!
(IMPORTANT NOTE: by linking up you understand that you might be featured next month and if so, we will use some of your photos from your post – rest assured – we will always link back to your lovely blog.  We might also share your fantastic posts on social media.  Also, you may link up as many family-friendly posts as you like & YES – other blog hops &/or giveaways are welcome {giveaways and blog hops will NOT be featured though}  Thank You & ENJOY! )



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husband on a tractor

Recently, something happened that has made me think…a lot.  In fact, it really got under my skin.  I’ve been considering things a lot in the wake of the event.

How it all began:

an annoying, baby-waking dogMy day started out much like my days always do.  My husband got up about half an hour before I did.  When I got up, I was a little grumpy.  It had been raining overnight, and the dog had been acting strange.  She had woken me up at 4 am.  I tried letting her out, but when I opened the door, she didn’t want to go.  She then followed me into the restroom and growl-talked (those of you with dogs will understand what I mean) to me.  After I’d finished in the restroom and started back to bed, she reclaimed her nightly spot on the couch and laid down.  I got a drink of water, and headed back to bed, hoping I’d be able to get back to sleep in the 2 hours I had left.  As I laid back down, here came Patch, running back into our room, growling and squeaking…and waking up Baby.  

I fed Baby and put her back down to sleep, but was faced with less than an hour left before I knew I’d have to be up and ready for the day.  

I was irritated with the dog, and seriously grumpy to start my Monday.  Stubbornly, I lay in bed, seething and rebelliously pretending I still had enough time to go back to sleep while my husband got up to start his day.

Just as he was going out to tend to the animals, I got up, emerged from our room, and was angrily stalking towards the shower.  He noticed, and made a little joke about my being grumpy…which almost immediately diffused the situation.  I was still mad at the dog, and I was still grumpy, but he had made me smile.  I would be able to get myself back under control.

Andrew went off to take care of the animals, and I wearily shuffled off to the shower where I managed to wake up a little.  

By the time Andrew headed out to work, I was still feeling a little “off”, but functional.  We joked a little more about my being grumpy as we were saying goodbye for the day, and both laughing about it.  

From there, our day here at home progressed normally.  It was Monday, so the kids were all off our routine from the weekend…and there was occasional fussing about an assignment, but nothing out of the ordinary.

After breakfast, I sent Andrew a message to tell him that we needed milk and a prescription picked up before he came home…I wasn’t really expecting an answer, so it came as no surprise that I didn’t get one.  

A couple of hours went by.  We were hard at work.  Soon after lunch, Baby started fussing, right on schedule at about 1:15.  Time for her afternoon nap!  I gave instructions to the other kids as to how they should use their time while I put Baby to bed.  Then, I brought Baby in to our room to feed her before she went to sleep.  

I often do a little internet surfing to make sure I don’t fall asleep while I’m nursing Baby before her nap.  It’s dark, it’s quiet, I have to sit still.  If I don’t have something to keep me from it, we’re both fast asleep!  Then I wake up an hour later, while the older kids have been doing who knows what in my absence, and I have a crick in my neck from sleeping while sitting up.  It’s just not good.  So…I play internet.

The news:

my husband's car
My husband’s car

This particular afternoon, I opened up my laptop and checked my email…nothing of consequence.  Then, I headed on over to KBTX, the local news station’s website to check on the weather.  It had been raining off and on all day, and I wanted to check the radar.  But, I never made it.

My heart stopped when I saw the top story on the KBTX homepage.  There was a picture of a small champagne-colored SUV, smashed beyond recognition.  The headline underneath read, “Fatal car accident this morning on Highway 21.”

I couldn’t breathe.

Andrew drives to work on Highway 21 every morning in a small, champagne-colored SUV.  But the one in the picture was in such bad shape that I just couldn’t tell if it was his or not!  I was trying to stay calm so I wouldn’t upset Baby.  I slowly managed to click on the link to the story, desperately hoping that it was the wrong place on Highway 21.

There wasn’t much more information.  But, it did tell me where on Highway 21…and it was not the wrong place.  My husband drives that stretch every single day.

Panic set in.

I realized I had to calm down so I could get Baby down for a nap.  I couldn’t do anything.  There were rocks in the bottom of my stomach the whole time she nursed.  She took 22 minutes.  It was all I could think about the whole time.

“What if it was him?”

“There are thousands of SUVs that color.”

“He should have been at work already.  But how long did it take the news station to post the story?  It didn’t say what time it happened.”

“I texted him a while ago.  He hasn’t answered.  What if he’s dead on the side of the road and I’m sitting here texting him about milk, and not thinking about something important?”

“It can’t be him!  It can’t be him! Please, Dear Lord, don’t let it be him!”

I laid Baby down in her crib and quietly left the room.  For once, she didn’t scream when I put her down.  I walked across the living room to get my phone.  The older kids were in the kitchen, washing the dishes we’d used at lunch.  I picked up my phone just as I received a message…

Was it him?

It was from Andrew.

“Thank you, Lord!”

He wasn’t dead on the side of the road.  He said he thought there were still a few gallons of milk in the garage refrigerator, and asked if we had to have the prescription that day, or if it could wait for a day or two.

“Really?  I’ve just been through the longest 22 minutes in my life!  You’re worried about milk!?!”

But then I came back to reality with a jolt.  He had not been here during my 22 minute panic attack.  He probably hadn’t been on the internet all day, so it was unlikely he had even seen the story.  Andrew was working…blissfully unaware of the emotional roller coaster from which I had just disembarked.

I checked the outside refrigerator…no milk.  So I answered his message, and went on with life.

I talked to him on the phone a little while afterward and told him all about the incident.  He looked on the news page and agreed that it did, in fact, look a lot like his car.  But, the back window (one of the only things left intact) wasn’t the right shape.

Apparently, I need to pay more attention to back windows.

Thoughts

Often, when I’m faced with a scenario, I have a tendency to jump to the worst possible conclusion…just as I did in this case.  I convinced myself that my husband was gone in an amazingly short period of time.  It was only afterward, however, that I started to consider what it might have meant to our family if something like that were to happen.

What if my husband weren’t here anymore?  What if my children lost their dad?

What if my husband weren't here anymore? What if my children lost their dad? Click To Tweet

I know he would be in a better place.  I have no doubt of that.  But, the selfish part of me keeps reminding me how much we would miss him.  He does so much.

husband working on the tractorMy husband keeps this family moving.  He works hard to make money to provide to us.  Then, he comes home and works hard to grow food to provide for us.  Then, he comes inside and often cooks dinner and takes care of the kids while I put Baby to bed each evening.

What would we do without him?

I know we’d find a way to manage…but, how?

Our kids would have to grow up without their dad.

This evening, as I sit here and finish writing this post, I have been alone all day and all evening with the kids (though, in a house full of 5 kids, can one ever really be “alone”?).  Andrew had a rare evening when he had to stay at work late into the evening playing with NMR spectra…extra points if you know what that is!  I often don’t realize or appreciate how much he does to help our family.  But, when he’s gone, it really hits me full force.  I didn’t manage to finish getting all the kids in bed until after 10 tonight.  It turns out you can’t cook dinner and nurse a baby to sleep at the same time.  I need him here to make things run smoothly.  

I need him because I need him.  He’s my husband…the father of my children.

Our kids need him.

We’d be lost without him.  

My heart aches for the family that did lose someone that day.


The Blogger's Pit Stop

 

 

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JENerally Informed

 

 

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Blueberry Dessert Recipes

 

Messy Marriage

 

WW Blog Hop cohosts July 2017

 


I’m amazed and very excited that my blog has been nominated for a Blogger Recognition Award from Natalie at New Momma Survival!  Go check out her blog, you’re in for a treat.

I just started this blog in February of this year, so being nominated for an award comes as a bit of a surprise!  I’m still trying to figure out all of this technology stuff.  I’ve learned about so many things that I didn’t even know existed over the last few months.

This award is a nice way for bloggers to recognize other bloggers, and help each other bring in some new readers to our sites.  So, this award doesn’t come with a blue ribbon, but it does come with a small little to-do list…just a few rules:

  • I must recognize and thank the fantastic blogger who nominated me, and provide a link to her blog.
  • I must write a post to showcase the award.
  • I must write a story about why or how I started my blog.
  • I must give new bloggers at least two pieces of advice.
  • I must select fifteen other bloggers to receive the award from me.
  • I must leave a comment on my nominees’ blogs to tell them about the award, and provide a link to this post.

Why did I start this blog?

Well, the short answer to this question is: because my husband told me to!  But, I suspect that if you’re reading this, you might want a little longer version of the answer.  So, here it goes!

I am famous for my exasperated emails that I send to my husband when something weird or frustrating happens around here.  We were spending a rare minute just sitting and talking one day.  The conversation drifted back and forth to various subjects.  We started talking about things you can find on the internet.  Andrew made a comment that I’d be really good at writing a blog because I have an entertaining style of writing…especially when I get excited about something.  He said he always looked forward to opening my emails, because he knew they were going to be entertaining (when the subject line didn’t say “grocery list,” anyway).  I laughed.  I thought he was joking!  Me?  Write a blog?  I dreaded having to write papers back when I was in school!  Then, I realized he wasn’t joking…he honestly thought I’d be good at it.  I filed the thought away to return to later…and promptly forgot about it for over a year.

I thought about it again in early January of this year, and started looking into what would actually be involved i creating my own blog.  It was mind blowing!  I had to think about all kinds of stuff…should my blog be self-hosted?  What company should I use?  What on earth is SEO?  How do I make those cool pictures everybody uses for their pinnable images?  Well, I finally waded through everything, and convinced myself I could do it.  

I figured I already had the hard part down: content…what to write about?  I’d write about what I spend 98% of my time doing.  I’d write about being a homeschooling mom of several children.  I have a semi-unique take on life, given my city upbringing and subsequent choice to live and raise my kids in the middle of nowhere.  I couldn’t make these stories up if I tried!  I don’t get to post as often as I’d like.  My kids and their educations are a higher priority, but I hope our experiences can at least entertain, if not inspire, other people.

Advice for New Bloggers

Well, I’m not sure I’m qualified on this one, since I haven’t been at this very long myself.  But, I’ll do the best that I can.  

First, take advantage of social media.  A lot of my traffic comes from Facebook and Pinterest.  I’m still learning about Twitter!  Tell your friends and followers to tell their friends to come take a peek at what you’re doing on your blog.  Join groups and group boards…don’t be shy about posting your work!

Second, take the time to get to know fellow bloggers.  Take advantage of link up parties.  Make sure you follow the rules.  Always visit other links when you party…that’s one way to meet people and form relationships.

 And the Nominees Are…

(In no particular order)

  1. Baby Henry Likes
  2. Tiny Toes and Big Adventures
  3. Little Lady in the Big World
  4. Ariana’s Corner
  5. This Big Wild World
  6. Military Spouse on a Mission
  7.  Southern Hearts Blog 
  8.  More Than Prep in Your Step
  9.  Frida Kabo
  10.  Christine Keys
  11. Parenting Expert to Mom
  12. The Happy Life Formula
  13. Petite Style Script
  14.  Healing Mama Remedies
  15.  Family Food Garden