Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Mid-Week Miscellany

  • We got rain yesterday! We saw the dark clouds and heard the thunder, but kind of expected it to all just bypass us again as it has every single time for the past month. But, no! It started around 8:30, I think, and was supposed to have stopped by noon. Instead, it kept right on falling in a perfect, steady, soaking rain until after 1:00. Again, we thought it was done, but it back started up and kept coming until about 4:45! The yard is already greener, and all of the crops just looked happier! Oh, what a delight a day of rain is!
  • Not only did we have rain, but the temperature dropped to 69 (our lows haven’t even gotten that low in weeks!), and never got back above 72. It was fantastic!
  • Naturally, we didn’t get to go swimming yesterday (a willing sacrifice, under the circumstances), but we did on Monday. Yay! We’ve missed it!
  • I just realized I forgot to share Olivia’s BIG news, and it’s been almost two weeks! Misc1Olivia now has glasses! She had commented on things being a bit blurry, and at one point she playfully put on my glasses and realized she could see better with them. Sure enough, she’s nearsighted with a touch of astigmatism. Naturally, she had to have purple glasses. There were so many purple options, but I just love the ones she chose. It’s taken a little while for me to get used to seeing her in them, but I think she looks so cute.
  • We have declared the next two weeks to be official summer vacation. We’ve not done much school the past three weeks, but they’ve been so busy for us! The kids have had a break, but not Mom! So, this is my week. Next week we have several doctor’s appointments, so it won’t be a real week off, but it does ease the pressure on me to not have to work school in. I love the flexibility of homeschooling!
  • Of course, the other thing about a natural love for learning is that the kids learn without really knowing it. We’ve asked the girls to do a little writing and to read a few books of our choice! And, since Steven and I haven’t worked on reading in several weeks, we’ll be reading together. But they think it’s mostly fun.
  • Angela has grown half an inch in a month. Fortunately, Steven and Olivia seem to be taking a break.
  • I need to sort pictures. I have taken 2,257 pictures since the beginning of December, but haven’t sorted any of them into individual folders. Oh wait – no, these go back to October! My “new pictures” folder is getting really full.

And there you have it – all of the “miscellaneous-fun-but-too-short-to-blog-on-their-own” thoughts that have been tossing around in my brain today.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Homeschool Planner Review

Over the last few years, I’ve heard many people rave about this homeschool planner or that one. Although I’ve thought many times about buying one for myself, I’ve never actually followed through with that plan. So, I was naturally delighted when I was given the opportunity to review a homeschool planner!

The planner comes from The Old Schoolhouse Store. I received the Primary Schoolhouse Planner designed for K-4th grade.

We are right in the middle of this school year (we’re very much “off” a traditional schedule!), and my hope was to be able to merge this planner right into our current school year Unfortunately, the planner wasn’t going to smoothly fit into the plan I already had in place. But, simply trying to fit the planner into our current system was probably the best crash course I could get! I was able to really see how this planner could and could not help us.

How is the planner organized?

This is a one-year planner Adobe download specifically designed for the 2011-2012 school year. The dated calendar pages run July 2011-June 2012, but many other forms and features are undated.

The planner can be used in a variety of ways. It can be entirely edited and filled in on the computer and then printed. It can be edited and used on the computer itself. Or it can be slightly edited (subjects and days filled in) and then printed and modified after printing. The pages can be printed individually as needed.

The planner includes month-in-view calendars, informative lists to help with teaching, weekly planning forms, and other forms for everything ranging from book reports to field trips to household chores and much more.


  • The planner is long – 234 pages long, to be exact. That could be extremely overwhelming were it not for the well organized table of contents. Because of that organization, it’s simple to see what works best for me and what I can just skip over.
  • There are a lot of options to ensure a good fit for various homeschool styles. For example, there are three different styles of monthly calendars and weekly planning forms.
    • My favorite forms are “Books Read” and the plethora of journal and report forms. They are fun, and they are varied. I can already see how one child would prefer one style, while another style would be perfect for one of my other children. The variety is wonderful!
  • Pages 81-124 are filled with “Informational Must-Know Lists.” Although most of this is information we already have, it is nice to have it all in one place, easy to find and use.
  • I give a different checklist page to each child. It looks like I can save a copy of this planner customized for each child without having to purchase multiple planners or lose all the entries each time.
  • The planning forms leave much room for flexibility. This is essential!


  • As mentioned before, we are rather non-traditional in our school approach. The form that would work best for my weekly planning is already labeled for weeks 1-36, and that particular box is unalterable. We are currently on an 18-month, 60-week school cycle. Next year it will probably be a 14 or 15-month 45-week cycle. So, obviously a 36-week planner doesn’t quite work for us. There are ways to work around it, but I really like the layout of that particular weekly form and would love to be able to expand it to fit our system. There is another form that would work well, too, just not as perfectly.
  • I have to enter the subjects afresh every week. My current system allows me to use a pre-established form that allows me to keep repetitive entries instead of retyping them each week. This is just a preferred time-saving device that this planner doesn’t allow.
  • There is an awesome “Day of Learning” form for students to fill out. Unfortunately, our learning opportunities are quite different from the ones listed, but they cannot be changed. I wish that particular form could be much more customizable. But, in all honesty, it’s one form of many – there are so many other forms that are wonderfully made and flexible.

Bottom Line: I won’t be fully incorporating the planner into this year’s curriculum simply because I would need to make too many changes. But, I will be utilizing some of the forms. In fact, I think I’ll be utilizing enough of this planner that the cost would have been justified even without the helpful weekly planning functions. Keeping in mind that I don’t have other homeschool-specific planners to compare this one to, I think this planner is exceedingly well organized and is very functional. As I learn more how to adapt the planner to fit us specifically, I will possibly become a regular purchaser of Schoolhouse Planners.

This planner was sent to me by The Old Schoolhouse Magazine in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

For Today...Monday, June 27, 2011

Outside my window...grass that is growing browner by the day. At least it means less mowing this summer!

I am thinking...not much, to be honest. My brain is as little sleepy.

I am thankful almost well child (just a mild, lingering cough) and a husband at home.

I am wearing...denim capris, red sleeveless top, and red paint on my toe nails.

I am creating...a desire to sew again. Actually, I’m not creating that – it’s just welling up within me, reminding me that I need to discipline myself to set aside the time to create. When I am disciplined, sewing and writing both come naturally. When I am not, it seems I never have time or energy to do either one, even though I love both. Obviously, I’ve not been very disciplined lately.

I am remembering...friends. It’s a sad thing to forget friends, but a beautiful thing when no amount of distance or time between face to face visits can diminish them from our hearts and minds.

I am try my hand at making laundry detergent this week, with the hope that I will not be allergic to it!

I am reading...Still The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb. It’s not a bad book so far, but I guess I’m just not getting into it as much as I’d like. And the chapters are really long – not great for a mama.

I am hoping...for lots of trips to the pool this week.

I am hearing...the dishwasher and the washing machine,  sounds which remind me how thankful I am for each machine! The loud ticking of the clock above me, reminding me to change the battery so it will actually keep time.

On my mind...prayer for people who have either drifted from the Lord or have made conscious decisions to withdraw. My heart is aching.

From the learning rooms...I haven’t previewed this week, but I know one thing that will be new this week: a new science teacher! Doug is going to teach science two days a week before he leaves for work. Yay! Also, I can no longer say that Steven is a preschooler doing a little KG work. He has officially completed all of his preschool books and is solely in KG books now. *Sigh*

Noticing that...I should be hearing the dryer, too. Wonder if I forgot to turn it on, or if it’s just that much quieter than the washer. As I suspected – I forgot to start it.

Pondering these words...
Jesus calls to discipleship, not as a teacher and a role model, but as the Christ, the Son of God. ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer,

From the kitchen...something with beef, probably ground beef. Any suggestions?

Around the house...a need for tidiness.

One of my favorite things...a restoration of routine.

A few plans for the rest of the little as possible. Swimming, hopefully. Bible study tomorrow night. Church Wednesday night. Maybe a long overdue trip to the library.

A picture worth sharing...a bean bag sandwich. This was taken after each child took a turn being the “meat” while the other two “chomped” on the giant sandwich.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

One Day at a Time

Well, once again (two days in a row for this week), the rain skirted just southeast of us. It’s like there’s something in the Almyra air that just repels rain sometimes. Our garden and trees, and farms are very sad. They so greatly prefer God’s watering to man’s. That’s just a reality of life. But, I’m thankful that we have irrigation options nonetheless (in our case, hoses and buckets – the hose is running on the garden as I type, and in a little while I’ll go fill buckets to water the trees).

Speaking of the garden, it’s bad. I mean really bad. Looking at it today, I think we might end up having to mow down everything but the corn. This afternoon I did mow a couple of strips that were just overrun by grass in hopes that water could get to everything else a little better. We have plans in place for better results next year, though. Hopefully we’ve learned a few things!

Steven’s croup appears to be gone, thank goodness! Yesterday early afternoon saw the last of the Baby Vader breathing, even though he was still running a fever. But, the poor baby is not well, yet. He now appears to have a good old fashioned cold. Runny nose, head congestion, and just all over ickies. I think he’s just used up so much energy trying to breathe lately that his body couldn’t fight off the cold. I’m definitely ready for my baby to be healthy again!

The girls, fortunately, seem to be staying healthy. They are such big helpers. I’m off to fix them a special snack for the afternoon now that they’re done with school work. Gotta do a few special things for them this week! Smile

Monday, June 20, 2011

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

For Today...Monday, June 20, 2011

Outside my window...a few gorgeous fluffy clouds in the early evening sky, and a steady breeze, hopefully bringing in that anticipated cool front and maybe some rain.

I am thinking...about how much I’d like to get the house back in order tomorrow.

I am thankful for...the fact that Doug made it safely to Memphis despite little sleep last night (he has class all week); that Steven’s bout of croup has not been too bad today; that we’ve been able to successfully treat his croup without a trip to the ER or doctor; and that God’s strength is perfect, especially when we have none!

I am knit capris, red sleeveless top

I am creating...nothing. I want to be sewing, but it just hasn’t happened lately.

I am remembering...the first time Steven had croup and how absolutely terrifying it was. It’s definitely not any more fun this time around.

I am remember to check the mail tomorrow. Doug always does it, but he’s gone this week. Between my sleep-deprived brain and sick child, I totally forgot to go today!

I am reading…same as last week – I haven’t read much at all this past week. Need to get back to it, especially considering what I need to have read for Bible study tomorrow night.

I am hoping...for a peaceful night tonight with no breathing problems.

I am hearing...the children chattering as they wait for me to come read a couple of chapters to them. I think I’ll go do that and then finish this later!

On my mind...not much. It’s too tired tonight.

From the learning rooms...I did do school prep today. You’d think I’d know what we’re going to do! But I can’t recall any of it. I blame the tired brain. Oh – Steven did get to pull out new flashcards today. They are Cars subtraction dry-erase flashcards. I had told him he could use them when he learned how to subtract. Well, he’s learned how to subtract, so I let him have them. He went through the whole deck today, using counters when he needed help figuring out the answer. He had such fun!

Noticing that...I left music on in the school room. I need to remember to turn that off.

Pondering these words...If you are not willing to give up everything for Christ, are you willing to be made willing? - F.B. Meyer

From the kitchen...right now, mansaf. I brought some home from Alli’s graduation dinner, and now I’m indulging. Yum!

Around the house...clutter.

One of my favorite things...mansaf. I’m hungry.

A few plans for the rest of the week...everything hinges on Steven’s recovery. But, we do hope to go to the library one day and we’d like to go swimming this week – we only got to go once last week. I have Bible study tomorrow night, and then we’re supposed to meet Doug’s parents for dinner in North Little Rock on Saturday night.

A picture worth sharing…Wednesday night as we were cleaning up from Rec Camp, Steven was entertaining Knox by pushing him around in this little pool. It was so cute!DSCF0082

Friday, June 17, 2011

Kids Can Sew Camp

Olivia has officially completed a week of Kids Can Sew Camp at The French Seam in Stuttgart. And from what we can tell, she had a great time!

I intended to get pictures of her in action this week, but she was already done every time I got there to pick her up. Mary Ann got this shot of her yesterday, though.


On Tuesday she worked on learning the basics of machineSC2 operation. She sewed lines, corners, etc. on paper both with and without thread, and then used scrap pieces to practice on the serger as well. Then on Wednesday she started working on her bag. She finished her bag today and then made a little cosmetic bag to go with it. She learned how to work both the sewing machine (with different styles of stitches) and the serger. She loved the serger. I have one, but I’ve never been able to figure out what I’m doing wrong with it. I need to get it back out and figure it out so she can teach me how to use it! Smile 

Here are close-ups of her projects…

the bag


The cosmetics bag (and she will quickly tell you those are Ouachita colors, not LSU colors, thank you very much).


fun stitching on the side


Definitely a full and fun week for our big girl!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Rec Camp

I’m about to make one of those nasty confessions. I don’t like VBS. Yes, go ahead. Gasp. Draw back in horror and disbelief. It’s not that I don’t like the idea of VBS. It’s really not even that I don’t like the practice of it. I just don’t like my involvement in it! I’d love to be the “drop my kids off and go home for a couple of blissful kid-free hours” kind of parent. But, even before I was married or had kids, I just couldn’t stay away during VBS week. Why? Because I know it’s worth the effort, and I just can’t choose not to participate. So, though I dread it every year, I still try to be as joyful of a worker as I possibly can.

In order to increase the chances of that chosen joyful attitude, there are several things I do. I cancel school for the week. I try to work administratively or in kid-interactive situations that allow for breaks instead of two to three straight hours of me being in close proximity to a large group of children. This is important for my sanity, and therefore their safety. I also try to stay out of the heat as much as possible simply because my longevity depends on it!

Well, this week in Almyra we’ve had our version of VBS. We call it Rec Camp. Instead of massive decorations, intense music, and a theme, we have most of our theme wrapped up in what kind of games we’re playing each night. The first night we had old fashioned games. The second night was water night and the third was messy night. Tonight, the fourth night, is family night. Before games started each night, we had the Bible story followed by craft. Each night ended with a snack.

I helped Doug with the Bible story time, and then I managed to secure some of the record-keeping tasks that I so dearly love!!

The kids have had a ton of fun. This is the first year Steven has been willing to go down a water slide because he’s always been afraid of the water in his face. Not this week! This time around he had no hesitations, and was very proud when he got his face wet! Yay!

RC2RC1RC4Angie wasn’t too sure about messy night, but she did manage to get messy. Olivia had been looking forward to messy night for weeks! Needless to say, she had no qualms about digging in to the mess. Fortunately, there were plenty of water hoses to clean everyone off before they came in for snack time!RC3

Olivia also started her four day sewing class yesterday, so it’s been a very busy week for her so far! I could tell it had been busy when I found her like this yesterday afternoon. She never takes a nap! (And yes, for the record, that is a children’s dictionary she chose to read. No wonder she fell asleep!)


Fortunately it seems that the only casualty of rec camp was Angela. We got home last night and everyone got ready for bed. When Angie came in for IMG-20110614-00192prayer time and I was pulling her up into my lap on the couch, I noticed her left ankle was red. Then I noticed it was quite swollen. I don’t know if you can tell from this picture, but it was almost twice the size of her right ankle! All we can figure is that she got into a bed of ants while she was outside. We got some Claritin in her and went to borrow some “miracle” ointment we knew Rachel had. We moved her mattress into our bedroom just in case she got worse in the night, but IMG-20110614-00194she seemed to sleep just fine! Well, as fine as she could with her bed so covered with stuffies! Through the course of today the swelling has been subsiding, and it looks so much better. It was a little scary last night, though!

So, that’s our week so far. Rec camp ends tonight with family night, and Olivia has two more days of her sewing class. Then we’ll try to have a couple of down days before Doug heads to Memphis for a week of classes. Ah, summer – busy, busy time!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

For Today...Monday, June 13, 2011

Outside my window...another bright, sunshiny day. A bit of a breeze is blowing the little peach trees in the front yard.

I am thinking...about discipleship and how bound up it is in a community mindset. It must be a daily thing, and we struggle with it because we’re not together on a daily basis anymore.

I am thankful for...flexibility; friendships; my amazing husband and the life God has given us together.

I am knit capris and the coolest, lightest-weight top I could find (a blue flowered cotton blouse)

I am creating...ideas for Angela’s birthday. I think Steven’s actually not going to get anything homemade this year, so I get to focus completely on sewing for Angie!

I am remembering...VBS as a child (brought on by a discussion after Rec Camp last night). That was back before the big themes and special music. We sang “The B-I-B-L-E.”

I am be productive this week. I have a long list. Wonder how much of it I’ll actually get accomplished.

I am reading...The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb by Melanie Benjamin – I know nothing about the author or the book, so this could be interesting.

I am hoping...the forecasted temperatures for today and tomorrow (98 and 97, plus whatever insane heat index we end up with) don’t hold up considering we have kids and adults who have to be outside for Rec Camp both nights. Thankfully, both nights will involve getting wet, so that will help!

I am hearing...the dishwasher (and realizing I need to be hearing the dryer, too), music from the next room, and faint sounds of the children playing somewhere in the house.

On my mind...some quiet-time related thoughts that have been mulling in my mind but haven’t formed anything concrete enough to articulate.

From the learning rooms...a week off because of this week’s schedule.

Noticing that...Steven needs a lot of interaction and structure. He’s so much happier when school is “in session.”

Pondering these words...Those who focus much on God have much for which to praise. Those whose vision is merely terrestrial or self-centered dry up inside like desiccated prunes. God is your praise! ~DA Carson in For the Love of God

From the noodles and duck; lasagna, pot pie, and other casseroles will be on the docket for the rest of the week, again thanks to our schedule and the need to go pick up Olivia each day right about the time I should be cooking lunch.

Around the house...chores awaiting my attention.

One of my favorite things...chocolate.

A few plans for the rest of the week...eye doctor appointments today for myself, Doug, and Olivia; kids sewing camp for Olivia Tuesday through Friday mornings; Rec Camp tonight and tomorrow night (started last night) with family night on Wednesday; a birthday party Saturday morning; getting Doug ready to be gone for classes next week.

Pictures worth sharing...almost five years ago. It’s so fun to see where my “babies” are now and I love every stage. But there are some days I want to go hug these little ones again, too. Oh the bittersweet delight of motherhood.

Angie & Steven (9-8)3Livie & Steven (9-8)-2

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Beating the Heat

Now that I’m pretty much caught up on our spring adventures, I have to get back in the habit of just talking about daily life! So, here’s to shifting gears!

It’s definitely been a nice few weeks of being mostly just home. Celebrating Olivia, and then heading into June. We’ve gotten back to school full force, which has been a pretty good thing for us considering the nasty heat we’ve had lately. Believe it or not, our need for rain is getting pretty desperate – an odd thought considering that many of our rivers are still above flood stage from our spring deluge! So, we’re doing a lot of staying indoors out of the heat while praying for rain.
So, how are we beating the heat? Well, school keeps us busy. We’ve adjusted our schedule a little bit for the summer, but I definitely don’t hear many complaints about boredom. Fortunately, I don’t really hear complaints about doing school either. That’s a blessing! I know Steven definitely does better when we’re having school. He appreciates play time much more!

We’re also enjoying the pool almost daily. Sometimes we adjust our schedule so we can go with friends in the mornings, but typically we go in the afternoon after school and nap. The temps have been so warm – and stayed so warm at night – that the pool water has already turned lukewarm! But, even so it’s a nice relief to be in the water.

I have been soooooo proud of my kids this summer! Except for the one summer the year before last when we got to spend as much time as possible in a church member’s pool, they haven’t had much exposure to swimming. And, they’ve all been scared of the water. Well, this summer the girls have just taken off! They both have already learned how to swim, and can even jump off the diving board without floaties and get to the side of the pool themselves (with one of us right there, of course). They are practicing their endurance, and both of them are doing flips and jumps and all sorts of things. All of that in less than two weeks! Pretty awesome considering Angela wouldn’t let her head go under water until late last week, and both girls were still pretty timid about jumping off the diving board with floats on. 

Meanwhile, Steven was still petrified of the water when we went for the first time Sunday before last. But, by the second trip later in the week, he informed me that he was getting in the water all by himself (as opposed to clinging to Mommy for dear life!). And, he did!

Then he discovered his feet would touch the bottom in the shallow end, so between that and the arm/chest float he wears, he started getting pretty confident in the shallow end. As long as his face and head didn’t get wet, he was good.

Then he decided that he wanted to go to the deep end like the girls. But, he couldn’t touch. So, he had to work past that fear.

Which leads to today…Mary Ann took this video of Doug and Steven in the deep end this afternoon – Steven was just going to town!

Oh, and before we left the pool today, he had decided to start jumping off the steps into the shallow end (with his floats on) in such a way as to allow his face to get wet!

Definitely serious progress! I can’t wait to see what these water babies are doing by the end of the summer. I can say this – I definitely enjoy the pool more knowing that the kids are much more competent in the water.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Not Quite Ordinary Observation

For Today...Monday, June 6, 2011

Outside my window...sunshine and a record-breaking heat wave.

I am thinking...that it just can’t be June already!

I am thankful for...the pool and the Stones who let us use it. Teachable children.

I am wearing...a blue sleeveless knit “stay-at-home” dress.

I am creating...ideas for my next sewing project.

I am I loved to have a clean room as a child, but rarely actually accomplished that feat unless coerced. I see the same thing in Olivia these days.

I am be more on top of things tomorrow so we can go to the pool.

I am reading...The Fitting Room by Kelly Minter for a ladies Bible study; A Reluctant Queen by Joan Wolf for review.

I am get the house back in order this week. Somehow I let it fall apart last week!

I am hearing...the air conditioner (for which I am phenomenally thankful!), the ceiling fan, and faint noises of the kids playing on the other side of the house.

On my mind...what to do next for school “busy work” for Steven since he’s about to finish the KG BrainQuest book he loves so much!

From the learning rooms...history: post Civil-War segregation, immigration, westward migration, railroad expansion; girls’ science: inventions such as the hook & loop, anesthesia, glasses, and adhesive bandages; Steven’s science: the five senses.

Noticing doesn’t take long to go from being concerned about too much rain to suffering due to the lack of it. Praying for a “good balance of sunshine and rain” for ourselves, just as we’ve been praying for the Choates.

From the kitchen...a sudden realization that I didn’t menu plan for this week! I’m sure quiche and chicken noodle casserole will be in the mix somewhere.

Around the blowing in nearly every room.

One of my favorite things...celebrating the accomplishments of my wonderful husband and precious children.

A few plans for the rest of the much low-key normalcy as possible before heading into two very, very busy weeks.

A picture worth sharing...nothing jumps out this week. Maybe by next week Olivia will finally have her room in order for a panorama of her new furniture!

Friday, June 3, 2011


Last stop on our whirlwind trip in mid-May was the Vicksburg National Military Park. Doug’s parents drove down with us. We started with the driving tour through the battlefield and then finished at the museum/gift shop. (Typically the tour is done the other way around, but right before we arrived, seven tour and school busses had descended on the park, and all of them were starting at the museum. So, we decided starting with the drive would be wise!)

V10The biggest hit along the trail was the canon. There was a display of different types of canon at the entrance, and then there were more scattered throughout the battlefield in various locations. v11

v12The drive through was primarily arranged with the Union lines on the first half of the drive and mostly Southern lines along the second half. Along the way were blue markers showing the Union lines and red markers showing the confederate lines. There were also various places to stop and read details of what was happening in each location.

But the most common sight in the park was the monuments built in honor of the soldiers who fought at Vicksburg. Numerous small monuments like these were absolutely everywhere, each represented state honored in nearly every spot they V8fought. Illinois was probably the most highly represented state. Here Steven is standing in front of one of the Ohio markers.

v16Each state also has a single large monument, like this one honoring Arkansas’ contribution.

A little ways into the drive, we came across this V7house. It was the only house in the battlefield left standing after all was said and done. The owners were immigrants who stayed loyal to the Union. During the fighting they lived in nearby caves while Union forces dug trenches and fortifications all around the house.


The house sustained heavy damage, was used at one point as a hospital, and was apparently never again inhabited by the owners, although they are buried in the back yard. It is in the process of being restored for tourists.

Next door to the house was the Illinois memorial. I v18didn’t get a shot from the front for some reason, but the memorial design was based on the design of the Pantheon, complete with the vaulted ceiling and impressive open skylight.V1V3






On the walls are large plates with the engraved name of every man who served in the fight for Vicksburg.

Then we came to what I thought was the highlight of v19the tour: the USS Cairo. We stopped for a picnic lunch in the shade near the Cairo, and then went for our tour of the ironclad. Sunk in the Yazoo River just north of Vicksburg in 1862 and raised in 1964, it is the only surviving ironclad in existence. Purely fascinating. Even more fascinating was the fact that even though it sunk in a matter of twelve minutes, no lives were lost.

v13v14v15You can see original wood salvaged from the river bottom intermingled with the newer wood used to help in the reconstruction of the ship.

Leaving the Cairo, we proceeded to finish the driving tour along the mostly Confederate side of the line, continuing to see the monuments and markers from the siege. We ended the tour with our stop at the museum/gift store, and then said our good-byes and rounded up our extremely tired children for the drive home, but not before snatching up v17some appropriate headgear as souvenirs. Steven was glad to have a Union cap to go along with his Confederate one so he and his sisters would now be able to dress appropriately for their mock battles!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Back to our “vacation” trip…

We drove straight from Alli’s graduation to Monroe to spend a few days with Doug’s parents, arriving late Saturday evening. We spent Sunday and Monday just relaxing with Grandma and PopPop, each child finding their own favorite “Grandma & PopPop’s house” toys.

Sidewalk chalk (this is actually a stage, complete with seats in front and a little eating area to the left).

Monroe 1

Olivia loves these little magnetic animals that you can switch around to make hilarious new critters!

Monroe 12Monroe 11

And Angie, of course, likes anything dainty like dress-up clothes and this miniature tea set.

Monroe 13

Somehow I didn’t get any pictures of Steven playing, but he did join in on the sidewalk chalk some and enjoyed his many balls!

Meanwhile, Steven and Olivia got to help Grandma make deviled eggs for our Tuesday trip to Vicksburg.

Monroe 8Monroe 9

And then there was the handprint project. Back when Monroe 4the girls were much younger (2 & 4, I think), they did an activity with Grandma pressing their hands into cement and then decorating garden stones. Monroe 3There was one for each of my girls and for Morgan, but we just hadn’t gotten around to adding Steven to the mix yet. We’ve had his kit for some time, and this trip we pulled it out for him to make. He made a colorful pattern to go around the edges (he loves patterns!).

Monroe 7Monroe 6

Then he pressed his handprint into the wet cement and we put in his initials and the date.  Finally, he filled in all of the empty spaces with more colorful pieces.

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Quite the artistic achievement! He had lots of fun!

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All in all a nice, relaxing couple of days at Grandma & PopPop’s before our day trip to Vicksburg (post coming soon!) and return home.