Tuesday, December 24, 2013

O Holy Night

'O Holy Night' is my favorite Christmas carol. If you think about it, it sounds so beautiful- the little family in the peaceful stable.
But... I bet it ws smelly, with all the animals.
And I'm sure Mary and Joseph were confused and scared.
Who were all these shepherds? Why did an angel tell them about their baby? Was he really the Son of God?

Think about Jesus, how he must have felt, leaving perfect heaven to come down here for UNperfect humans.
We're messy. We make mistakes. We're not perfect. But neither was that first Christmas.
But the Baby who was born that night was

...and he came for us.
Have a great CHRISTmas!! Love ya'll!


Oh holy night!
The stars are brightly shining
It is the night of the dear Savior's birth!
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till he appear'd and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!

Fall on your knees
Oh hear the angel voices
Oh night divine
Oh night when Christ was born
Oh night divine
Oh night divine

quick and easy Peanut Butter Cookies

Peanut Butter Cookies
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4ingredients
  • 1/2 cup  peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup  butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup  granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup  packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon  baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon  salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon  vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups  all-purpose flour
1.In a large mixing bowl beat peanut butter and butter with electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add granulated sugar and brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour. Cover and refrigerate dough about 1 hour or until easy to handle.

2.Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Shape dough in 1-inch balls. Place balls 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten the cookies by making crisscross marks with fork tines, dipping fork in sugar between flattening each cookie. Bake about 8 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Transfer to wire racks. Cool. Makes about 3 dozen cookies.
ENJOY! I've made these for my church banquet, my 4-H group, and my family-they're my specialty!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Carribean Princess Cruise Day 3 Cozumel, Mexico

The view of  Cozumel from our balcony + a selfie.
Day 3 we docked at our first port of call, Cozumel, Mexico. I was surprised that it wasn't as commercialized as I'd expected. Instead there were the street vendors, tons of them.
"Family, over here!"
"Pretty bracelets for pretty ladies!"
"Ooh, you like this, very nice hats and sunglasses!"
"Best prices in Cozumel!"
Be prepared to say "No, gracias." And you're going to have to say it a lot. The people go so far as to grab your arm and put bracelets on you. It was a little scary. But Dad is a great bargainer, having been to Hong Kong and Malaysia. He was in his element. We wentd up buying 4 woven bracelets, a Panama hat, and several exquisite seashells for the grand total of seven bucks.
This is us getting off the boat, with our church friends.

Then we rented a taxi. Our driver took us to the non-tourist-y side of the island, where the locals live. And it was beautiful. We ate at a little restaurant called Senór Iguana' s, right on the Caribbean Sea. There was a swingset on the beach and you could swing out over the sand. It was so pretty!
Next we stopped at another beach, but here there were  rocky cliffs, made up  lava rock that jutted out into the sea. We climbed some of them. It was a little scary, because the rocks were sharp and slippery, but it was really fun. While we were there,  a man approached us . He was clutching an iguana, which he proceeded to place  on Christopher's head. He then declared,
"Five dollars for a picture!"
We fell for it. :)

Then we had to get back on the cruise ship. You only have a certain amount of time in each port, and we didn't want to be left!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Caribbean Princess cruise Days 2

 Day 2 we were at sea. It  was Sunday, and there was a wonderful church service. The 'pastor' explained "I'm not a minister- just a nobody trying to tell everybody about Somebody." How cool is that?! He was from a tiny town in Alabama, and filled his sermon with fascinating stories about his church there. All the passengers attending the service came from different denominations and different places, and it was really neat to see them together worshipping God. I imagine that's what heaven's like.
After church,we played games and ate lunch in the buffet. Our friends taught us a new game called "Joker". It's pretty fun! That night was formal night- oh my. We dressed up, ate a delicious meal, and met a lot of new people. All of the workers on board are from different countries- Philippines, France, Ukraine, England, you name it. So it was really interesting to meet them and talk to them about their countries. We became good friends with the head waiter, Mr. Hector Catalan. Not only was he super nice, he is an amazing singer!! He sang beautiful songs every night during dinner.

Caribbean Princess cruise Day 1

     I was very blessed to be able to go on a lovely cruise with my family to Cozumel, Mexico; Belize City, Belize;and Roatan, Honduras.

Day 1

     We drove to the Port of Houston the morning we were supposed to go aboard. Our car was packed full of suitcases, and anticipation was running high as we met our friends we were traveling with.
Because of heavy fog, the entire Houston Ship Channel was closed!! Instead of arriving at 11:00 a.m., there was a four hour delay. We were very blessed that our friends had family living nearby, as that kindly allowed us to hang out in their living room for three hours!
Then we decided the head to the Ship Channel and see what was going on.

     Chaos. The other thousand people traveling on the boat had had the same idea, and were lined up at the channel. There were tons of cars. We were so close that we could see the ship, but because of the delay, passengers were still disembarking, and we couldn't board.
so close and yet so far...

     However, eventually, we got through,  went through customs and walked up the gangplank.
The view from the gangplank.
 The ship was called the Caribbean Princess. She was beautiful! Mom and I shared a stateroom with a balcony and the boys and Daddy shared another room like it. Our balconies connected. After seeing our rooms, we ate lunch, then explored the huge ship.
There were eight restaurants,a giant Movies Under the Stars poolside movie screen, a large theater, a spa called The Sanctuary, a Lotus Spa and Fitness Center, a casino, a Wedding Chapel,a sports deck, Kid's and Teen's Centers, a Library, an Internet Café, an Art Gallery, boutiques, and a Medical Center!!

Our room

Leaving the port of Houston.

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Governess of Highland Hall

I must admit, from the instant I saw the cover of this book, I was intrigued. It looked historical, and so I read the excerpt-
Worlds lie between the marketplaces of India and the halls of a magnificent country estate like Highland Hall. Will Julia be able to find her place when a governess is neither upstairs family nor downstairs help? 
Missionary Julia Foster loves working alongside her parents, ministering and caring for young girls in India. But when the family must return to England due to illness, she readily accepts the burden for her parents’ financial support. Taking on a job at Highland Hall as governess, she quickly finds that teaching her four privileged, ill-mannered charges at a grand estate is more challenging than expected, and she isn’t sure what to make of the estate’s preoccupied master, Sir William Ramsey.  
I was hooked. How would the author combine missionary work in India with Victorian England? So I read the book - and loved it. Julia interacted very well with the children, tried hard to teach them right for wrong, and
I felt like Julia was an easily identifiable character. Right from the start, she was headstrong and feisty, yet gentle and strong in her faith. I must confess, however, I was a little afraid the plot would be instantly guessable- ya know, the cliche governess falls in love with her employer, but can she win the children over? However, there were so many interesting details along the way that the plot wasn't dry or too familiar.
William was also an amazing character. You find yourself feeling sorry for him. His disloyal wife died and left to care for  two young children and he's the guardian for his deceased cousin Randolph’s two rebellious teenage girls. Plus, he's worried about his disabled sister Sarah and wild brother David. William is practically obsessed with saving the estate from the financial ruin. He wants to prove himself. The last thing he needs is any distraction coming from the kindhearted-yet-determined governess. ;)

In my opinion, the best thing about the book was it's message. Many times in movies and books, the main theme in any relationship is to simply 'follow your heart'. This book stressed that you should follow God's heart. Would he be pleased with your future spouse?
I really recommend you read this!
Disclaimer-I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

inspiring song

So, our youth pastor played this song for us, and it is so beautiful. It's one of my new favorites. I think the message is amazing.
Watch the video. You will be so inspired. I promise.

 Have a blessed evening!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Nancy Drew jewelry giveaway at Fantasy Art and Tree Chatter

I'm a die hard Nancy Drew fan. I own every single book, write Nancy fanfiction, and know all the character's sayings by heart. So when I found this jewelry giveaway, I was just browsing through the jewelry you could win, and... A Nancy Drew Necklace!! Not one, but 3. Plus necklaces withJane Austen quotes, cute cat jewelry, and so much more.I have to win this giveaway. I am determined!!The link to the giveaway: http://blog.aquariann.com/2013/09/black-cat-jewelry-giveaway-gift-card.html
NANCY DREW Jewelry, Hidden Staircase Necklace, Scrabble Tile Pendant

Monday, September 23, 2013

Secret Letters by Leah Scheier Book Review

Oh my. This book was so amazingly written, so suspenseful and well crafted, it's hard to know where to start first.
Basically, the book is about an inquisitive, clever and feisty girl named Dora in 19th century England. She uncovers a massive secret- Sherlock Holmes just might be her biological father. Dora is thrilled- she's read his biographies written by Dr. Watson so many times! So Dora journeys to London to learn the truth, and to ask for Holmes' help in a case. Her cousin is being blackmailed over love letters she wrote when she was a teenager, and Dora is convinced Sherlock will help. So she joins her cousin in London and arrives on Holmes' doorstep- only to learn he was murdered in Switzerland by an adversary. However, his dashing young assistant Peter Cartwright, also guarding a secret past, offers his help in her case. He is investigating a disappearance of a heiress, and they soon realize their cases are intertwined. So Dora goes undercover as a maid to help Peter, learning surprising things about herself in the process. I highly recommend this book for fans of Sherlock Holmes and Victorian-age-literature readers. It was suspenseful, moving, and kept you guessing until the very end. I really enjoyed this read. (The only objectionable content- an unmarried, pregnant maid that Dora befriends mentions abortion, and while Dora 'knew it was terribly wrong, she could not find it in her heart to condemn this woman'.  The whole scene is very brief - not more than four sentences, but I just thought I'd mention it as some of  my readers are young.)
It is very sad at the end, I must admit I cried a little bit. I hope a sequel comes out very soon.
My rating- a must read for mystery fans.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

My 15th birthday!

I had an amazing birthday! My friend JoGail came over and hung out, I got lots of cute and thoughtful gifts, and a general good time was had by all. :) (love that  phrase! It's so old timey- newspaperish.)
On my actual birthday, I worked in the surgery department, so I opened gifts when I got home. Then my family took me to Chuy's. I love that place. Then Saturday, I worked in the volunteer's concession stand to raise ,money for 4-H. I got some delicious cheesy fries. Then JoGail came over and we had a party!

We did our nails, played outside with my brothers and their friend, and talked for forever!  My mom made me a delicious coconut cake with fluffy white frosting, which was really good.

I was rather spoiled this birthday:
My super amazing friends I volunteer with at the hospital got me a ring. A real ring! It's so cute. I just love it. You can see it in the picture at the bottom.
I got the book Secret Letters, about Sherlock Holmes' daughter. It was epic. You should read it!
I received a lovely pair of chic brown slacks and a scarlet blouse, orange flower earrings and bracelets. Also two adorable journals, a purify water bottle, candy, and an Amazon Gift Card. My lovely relatives sent money which was greatly appreciated. I'm saving it for college. Medical school isn't cheap. :)

So now I'm 15. Everyone asks if I feel older. Not really, but when people ask me my age and I say 15, then it hits me.
Woot Woot!

Friday, September 6, 2013

How do we hear? The age old mystery EXPLAINED. :)

Ho do we hear? If you Google it, you get long, drawn out answers almost as confusing as the question. So I've attempted to explain this mystery, easily and painless. I want to be an ENT surgeon, and this was excellent preparation. So, how do we hear?
The answer is simple: sound waves. Sound waves are caused by vibrations. When you hit a cymbal, it vibrates, right?
Well those vibrations cause the little particles of air floating by to vibrate, too. These air molecules vibrate, and the sound waves are carried on the air molecules. There's no sound in outer space because there's no air! That's also why the only life from that could survive in space is the balloon aliens.

Think about it this way- when you drop a stick or stone into a body of water, it makes ripples, and those ripples move outward. They're always getting bigger. Sound waves do the exact same thing. The air carrying the sound waves moves closer until it hits the sensitive part of your ear, and it vibrates all the way to your eardrum. This helps you distinguish differences in sounds. The little bones in your ear move the vibrations to your nerves, which sends the messages to your brain.

But now we come to a complex question.

What's a sound wave?
 They're actually two things- compression and refraction. Compression is the part of the wave that gathers the air molecules and COMPRESSES them. Refraction pushes the molecules away. So sound waves are constantly compressing and refracting. They can travel through liquids, solids, and gas. Interesting fact- they travel through water faster than air, and even faster in solids like stone or iron.
Cool, huh?
Well, I hope this made it all little easier to understand!

Friday, August 30, 2013

things to do in and around Frisco, Texas

This is a wagon in the museum.
Recently I visited Frisco with my family.  A forty-minute drive from Dallas, it's a great little day trip for any one in or around the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Frisco is one of the fastest growing towns in Texas and even America, and it's chock full of wonderful activities for families and kids of all ages.

Spot #1:

    First, I'd recommend a trip to old downtown Frisco, filled with unique boutiques and quirky little shops, a vast library, and a beautiful new museum, The Frisco Heritage Center.
The center is large enough to be interesting, but small enough to be covered in an hour/hour and a half, so it's perfect if you want to see other attractions in the area as well. Plus, it's quite a bargain, $4 for anyone over 12, and $2 for anyone younger. One of my family's favorite parts of the museum was the 'rooms'. Several sections of the museum were furnished authentically as a Victorian Parlor, a 1960's living room(complete with a tv showing reruns of The Andy Griffith Show and Dragnet.) Then there was an 80's den complete with an Atari and some ancient Nintendo games that were predecessors to the Wii and the D.S. You could play them, as they were in good condition.(No doubt they were lovingly preserved by some fully grown 40-something video game addict) =)

 There was also an exhibit on World War Two that I thoroughly enjoyed, a replica of a beauty parlor that was probably in use during FDR' s administration, a small media room showing clips of old movies, quilt displays, and a mock garden toddlers could play in. Outdoors there are several old homes, a tiny vintage church, and a school, all of which can be toured, but ONLY on the third Sunday of a month, which kinda stinks if you wanted to see them any other day. All in all, however, the museum offered an interesting view on life in Frisco years ago. The center's website is here, and, if you're planning a trip, remember that it's closed Mondays and Tuesdays.

Helpful tip: Adjacent to the center is a restaurant called Babe's Chicken Dinner House, so if you go around lunch or dinner time, you'll have a place to eat, right next door! Their website is here.
Spot #2:

Shop at IKEA!

Frisco boasts one of the largest Ikea' s, and it is a lot of fun to tour the model rooms, browse the kid's section,try Swedish dishes in the restaurant, and look around the HUGE store, which also features an indoor playground for toddlers. Plus, you can pretend you're a Food Network star in the model kitchens!! :P

Next, add flour, sugar, and the beaten egg, stirring gently...:)

I want our homeschool room to look like this!!
Here's Ikea Frisco's website.
Spot #3
There's an attractive new bowling alley called The Strikz, which my family loved. (I personally don't enjoy bowling whatsoever, but read on to see what I liked.) The cool thing about this place, however, was that it had a new, (clean!) arcade, laser tag play zone, laser target shooting range ,and a restaurant. So there's something for everyone, even the non-bowlers. :) Here's the website.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Charro beans!!!

You will need:
  • 2  cups dry pinto beans or 1 lb dry pinto beans
  • 8 cups water, to quick simmer the beans
  • 6 cups water
  • 6 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1/2 small onion, sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (10 ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chilies (mild or original)
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder, separated
  • 2 teaspoons cumin, separated
  • 1 lime
  • salt & pepper 
  • 1 can (8 oz)  tomato sauce 
  • 2 jalapenos, on whole, one seeded and diced.                                     

  • Directions:

      Sort your dried beans for stones and rinse.
      Bring beans and 8 cups water to a boil in a 6-quart or larger stock pot, and boil for two minutes. Cover the pot and then remove from heat and allow to sit undisturbed for 2 hours.
      After 2 hours, drain and rinse beans. Return to the stock pot with 6 cups water, and bring back to a boil. Once you've got it to a boil, allow it to then simmer covered for about 1 1/2 hours, with the top just slightly tilted to allow a little bit of steam to escape. Don't stir the beans. Resist. You can do it!!
      After the beans have simmered for almost 1 hour, begin cooking the chopped bacon in a separate saute pan.
      Before the bacon is fully cooked add the sliced onion and minced garlic.   Allow to fully cook, stirring.
      Once the bacon is fully cooked through, add the can of diced tomatoes with chili. add Cook for a few minutes to let the flavors settle, and then add 1 tablespoon Chili Powder, and 1 teaspoon Cumin. Cook a few minutes longer to allow the flavors to blend together. Add diced jalapeno. Do not drain! You want the bacon grease flavor in there... sit the whole jalapeno in the mixture to simmer as well IF you want a lil' extra spice.
      After the beans have simmered for the full 1 1/2 hours, check to make sure they're soft. Once they are soft, add the entire bacon mixture to the pot and stir in thoroughly.
      Add the remaining 1 tablespoon Chili Powder, 1 teaspoon Cumin, Juice from 1 lime, and Salt and Pepper to taste.
      Bring the beans back to a boil and allow it to simmer covered, top slightly tilted for at least 30 minutes, or until beans are fully cooked.

    Wednesday, August 7, 2013

    muy delicioso spicy Dr.Pepper pulled brisket//

    This recipe for spicy pulled brisket is quite possibly the best food ever, paired with homemade tortillas and guacamole. Oh yeah. :)
    You will need:
    1 brisket
    1 small/ medium onion
    2 cans of adobo peppers in chili sauce
    2 cans of Dr. Pepper
    1/2 cup brown sugar
    1. Place the brisket in a foil-lined 13 x 9 pan.

    2.  Slice the onion and place all around the brisket.

    3. Add the adobo peppers and the Dr. Pepper.

    4. Sprinkle brown sugar on. Once everything's been evenly distributed, pop it in the oven @  300 degrees Fahrenheit.  

    5. Cook for 6 hours. You can tell when it's done by the awesome smells and the way the meat falls apart. The same way you check brisket for doneness. 

    Yummy. Seriously, try this recipe- you won't regret it.

    Monday, August 5, 2013

    Awesome Giveaway at Bramblewood Fashion

    Hey guys! Just wanted to let you know about the awesome giveaway over @ Bramblewood Fashion Blog . (Love that name! Bramblewood... it just sounds so mysterious and pretty.) They're giving away some really cute jewelry, and I  hope I win those beautiful earrings!!Check it out!
    -Laura Ashley

    Sunday, August 4, 2013

    Trixie Belden books!!

    It's no secret I love to read. Anyone who has seen this blog knows how much I enjoy finding a good book!  I've been a huge fan of the Trixie Belden books ever since my mom gave me her old copy of The Red Trailer Mystery a few years ago. Now, whenever I go to yard sales or book fairs, I keep an eye out for Trixie books. There are 39 in the series, and 2 quiz books. I had 8. Then, a few days ago, at the library, I saw seven. SEVEN Trixie Beldens that  I did not have. The cool thing about this library is you keep the books. Forever, and for free. I had just scored myself 7 Trixie Belden books. Ah, what bliss followed me home! Then a tragic thought struck me. You, my dear readers, may not know who Trixie is!
    Trixie and Jim

     Trixie is a teen living just outside the  town of Sleepyside-on-Hudson, in the Hudson River Valley area of New York. She lives at Crabapple Farm, which had been in her family for either three six generations  with her parents and three brothers, Brian, Mart, and Bobby. In The Secret of the Mansion (Book one) she meets lonely, sheltered rich girl Honey Wheeler whose family has just moved into the Manor House. A runaway boy in desperate need of their help soon arrives, and they have their first case!
    Throughout the series, the two girls solve mysteries that baffle the police and, along with their brothers and friends, form a club called the Bob-Whites of the Glen, through which they have fabulous adventures. The books were written between 1948-1984, and some are VERY hard to find. I feel super blessed to have found the original editions. Here is a list of the first 10:
    1. The Secret of the Mansion
    2. The Red Trailer Mystery
    3. The Gatehouse Mystery
    4. The Mysterious Visitor
    5. The Mystery Off Glen Road
    6. The Mystery in Arizona
    7. The Mysterious Code
    8. The Black Jacket Mystery
    9. The Happy Valley Mystery
    10. The Marshland Mystery

    Any other Trixie Belden fans out there? Comment and let me know!!
    (Thank you, pinterest for the photo! :) )

    Monday, July 29, 2013

    Traitor in the Shipyard review

    Andrew, my littlest brother, got me this book with his reading club form. (Can you say AWWW?) This is probably one of the best AG mysteries. It keeps you guessing until the very end.
    • The American Girl: Caroline Abbot, from Sackets Harbor, New York.
    • The plot: It's 1812, and Caroline's father's shipyard is frantically building ships to keep up with the British. When Papa's old friend arrives penniless, it's the least the the Abbots can do to give him a job. After all, he helped Papa escape from a British prison! Life is beginning to look up for Caroline. She even has time for sewing lessons at Miss Lucy's. But when things go missing around the shipyard, sails are slashed, and fires are started, Caroline soon realizes there's a British spy afoot- and it's someone who knows the shipyard well. Is it one of Abbott's trusted workers, whom she has known all her life, or could it be Papa's dear friend? It's up to Caroline to discover what's really going on.
    • What I especially liked: Just when all the evidence pointed to a character you were SO sure was the spy, new clues and hidden pasts would come to light.  I loved that the plot wasn't easily guessable or boring. I also always enjoy the 'looking back' section, which told all about real-life spies in the War of 1812.
    This was a very enjoyable and interesting  read, although I finished it quite quickly. It would be perfect for  ages 9-12, and was packed with facts about the war of 1812, which is an often overlooked part of our country's history.

    Saturday, July 20, 2013

    VBS teen leader

    This week, I was privileged to be able to help lead VBS at our church. I was the 4th grade teen leader. I had so much fun helping the kids with crafts, learning hand motions to silly songs, and encouraging them in their spiritual walk. Ms. L, who was in charge of VBS, explained to us teen leaders that it's important to set a spiritual foundation at a young age, so that when the kids are older and that foundation is shaken, it will not fall. I really agree with that. A lot of kids attend our church, but their parents don't often come. Each child that came to VBS was an opportunity to reach a whole family for God.
     This year's VBS theme was Colossal Coaster World, so we turned the church into a mini amusement park. There was a roller coaster made out of folding chairs and pool noodles in the sanctuary, posters advertising rides in the craft area (which was called the Scissors n' Stuff Emporium) and maps of the apostle Paul's journey in the Bible Study area. Paul's life was like a roller coaster, with its many ups and downs. All our memory verses came from 2 Timothy, and the kids learned what was happening in Paul's life as he wrote it. I had a great time getting to know all the kids. I have fond memories of my VBS teen leaders from when I was younger, so it's really neat to be in that position now. Well, that's my little spill. I have been helping Daddy and my little brothers with the fence all afternoon, and it was HOT. However, we have had more rain than usual for this part of Texas in July, so I'm very grateful for that. Hope you had a great day as well!

    Monday, July 15, 2013

    Volunteering @ The Air Show

       Thunder Over Cedar Creek Lake is an air show in our community. It consists of WW2 bombers that fly as low as 500 feet above your head to parachuters performing with the flag to the tune of 
    "The Star Spangled Banner". The show ends with fireworks dropped from the bomb bay of a plane over the lake. It's an very inspiring show. A few days ago,I had an unique opportunity to help there. My 4-H group and I managed a booth at the show, selling t-shirts to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project and Fisher House.  The most amazing thing happened while we were selling the shirts. A young woman and her mother buying shirts started to cry when we explained what the money was for. They said they were staying at Fisher House, a place for wounded soldier's families to stay while the soldier is in the hospital. The young woman's dad was  wounded and in the hospital, and Fisher House had provided them free tickets to the air show. Wow. This really made it personal - here was someone we were selling the shirts for. My group and I were inspired to sell even more shirts. We raised $400+! I enjoyed getting to help our soldiers and see the air show, and I hope I can help again next year.

    Friday, July 5, 2013

    Youth Trip

    I'm back! I hope you all had a wonderful 4th of July! Well, in approximately 3 days I am embarking on an adventure... canoeing! My church youth group is all going on a five day mission trip/ vacation.
    The first day, we will be canoeing for 3 1/2 miles. The second day... maybe more. I have never been canoeing. And... I am a little scared. Because everyone keeps telling me horror stories of tipping over in a canoe or having a snake drop down on them from a tree. But hey, I 'm pretty sure I can do it. (Hopefully.) And, I 'm starting to get pretty pumped about it. We're going to help another church with VBS, paint several houses, and help with whatever our host churches need. That will be stuff like childcare, painting, building, picking up trash ,and general cleaning. It should be really fun, and a great bonding experience for our youth group.
    If I survive canoeing.
    I'll let you know in eight days.

    We aren't allowed to have ANY kind of media on the trip- Kindles, Ipad, phones, etc- so I probably won't be blogging within the next 8 days, packing and meeting and leaving and all.
    This trip will be a good opportunity to help other churches even smaller than ours(If that's possible.)I'm excited about helping lead a VBS, and painting sounds like fun, too.
     I'm really looking forward to it.
    Even the canoe part.

    credit: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-mWGhS2lmtCY/UYlscXq7ZFI/AAAAAAAAABw/870ctM37mwI/s320/Canoe.jpg

    Sunday, June 30, 2013

    The Happy Prince And Other Stories by Oscar Wilde

    We've been reading Oscar Wilde's works for our homeschool literature , particularly The Happy Prince and Other Stories.  The book pictured above contains 9 stories. The first story, The Happy Prince, is the most famous. The story: A golden statue of a prince sits high above the city. Everyone looks up at it and thinks that it seems so happy. A swallow meets the statue ,which is of the late "Happy Prince". The statue houses the soul of the original prince, who in reality has never experienced true happiness. He explains to the swallow that he is very sad, as he can look down and see the suffering of the people. He never understood their suffering before. The statue convinces the swallow to help him by picking of his golden cover and taking pieces of gold to the poor. I won't ruin the ending for you, by
    but I can assure you it is (very,very) sad, yet strangely beautiful.

    My other favorite story from the book was The Remarkable Rocket. It is a wonderful example of personification, as Wilde does an amazing job making a group of firecrackers seem real. In the story, a bunch of fireworks are chosen to be set off for an enormous celebration of the prince's wedding. The smaller firecrackers are happily visiting amongst themselves when a large firecracker arrives. He brags about himself, what a great noise he will make when he is shot off, etc. When the time comes for him to be shot into the air, things don't go as planned. What make this story so enjoyable is the attention to detail Wilde puts into all his stories. He does not use so many words that it seems like overkill, but he uses just enough so you can picture it in your mind's eye. Below is an animated video from YouTube that follows the story EXACTLY. We enjoyed it very much.

    Image credit : http://www.wordcandy.net/files/2012-05-22-another-one-ill-be-skipping.jpg
    Video credit:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1NZ0-TrP06I

    Friday, June 28, 2013

    Back to Homeschool Magazine Review

    I've been a big fan of BTH magazine for a year now, and I write many articles for it. But today, I realized something very important. I forgot to tell my lovely followers of this! :)
    The magazine is free, and sent straight to your email bimonthly. It's filled with stories, book, movie, and game reviews, jokes, poems, essays, and educational articles all written by homeschoolers JUST LIKE US! You can submit anything you've written to it. I write for the magazine's writer's board, which is a neat oportunity.
    One of the main reasons I recomend it is that there is a wide variety of articles. The magazine always has a theme- fairy tales, sports, famous people- so there's always something for everyone. To read back issues before subscribing,  click here. The magazine is totally free, and there are no ads.

    Saturday, June 22, 2013

    Math, Doing Hard Things, & Life; A Random Post

    Math.Where shall I begin? Math and I go way back, but we are not exactly friends. We don't really understand each other. ;D Okay, so maybe Math isn't a real person. But I think if we could meet face-to-face, we might get along a little better.
    However, I've had a bad attitude about math. Declaring "I don't understand this!" and bursting into to tears isn't going to help me.  : ) We've been reading the book Do Hard Things, by homeschooled Christian teens, Alex and Brett Harris,  and it is an amazing book. The book explains that if you quit something just because it is hard, you're not living up to your God-given potential. People often focus on things that are easy - "I'm good at _______( insert skill here), but I just don't understand  _____ ....." -That's the wrong mentality, and it's one I've had about math. The world tells you to focus on your strengths, and that's a great idea, but what happens to the things you aren't so good at? You'll gradually get worse, and slowly even forget some skills. The cover of the book explains the purpose is to encourage "a teenage rebellion against low expectations." How many time have you heard  "You're just a teen." OR  You're homeschooled, you wouldn't understand what I mean."OR "This generation is going nowhere" ? Even worse, have you noticed people expect very low things from teens?  Have you ever heard: "You're so much better that the rest of the kids here,"? The book says:  if being better than those kids means you don't do all the bad stuff they do, are you really doing anything to be better? Alex and Brett explain "Be known for what you DO, not what you DON'T do."   To go to their blog click here.
    I strongly suggest you read  Do Hard Things . It's changed the way I look at math, compliments, other people, and the world in general. And, even better, the book is filled with diverse real-life examples of teens 
    ( including homeschoolers too, which is nice) that have done hard things. And the examples aren't always elaborate.  It might be that someone simply got out of their comfort zone by calling a stranger on the phone, or it might be that a boy campaigned against human trafficking and spoke at the White House. It teaches small steps to big change. Well, that's my spill. Have you read this book? Did you enjoy it? Comment! :D

    Good Night Everyone! Oh, and remember to:

    Thursday, June 20, 2013

    One chocolate chip

    This is a little haiku I wrote about a chocolate chip. I was making cookies the other day, and I spent a little too long observing a chocolate chip... We've been learning about a haiku in my language arts- you know, first you use 5 syllables, then you use seven syllables, then five again. I had to write about a common cooking ingredient, so I picked a chocolate chip:

                         One chocolate chip
                                so smooth, tiny, round. but now
                                                it's melted in my hand

    4-H State Roundup

    Thursday I went to State 4-H Roundup at Texas A&M University. It was HUGE. There are 254 counties in the state of Texas, and at least one   4-H club from that county is at State. So, of there are ten kids from every county, that's 2,540 4-Hers. Which makes for a crazy, hectic, and fun week. :) I participated in a Healthy Lifestyles Invitational Contest with two really good friends of our family.
    My Healthy Lifestyles team with our prizes! 
    The Healthy Lifestyles contest is when you study 8 classes of facts, and place them.It's like Livestock Judging or Consumer Decision Making in a way. I'll explain:
    You study things like teen driving safety, the My Plate, how to understand a nutrition label, things of that nature. Then you have a scenario you place. For example:

    John is not supposed to drive past his curfew, which is midnight. Which one of the following should he do if Bob wants a ride home, and it's 11: 30 p.m ? He doesn't want to break the law!

    Confusing? You bet! But, luckily, if you've studied the packet, you know which laws are important for him to follow depending on his age and what he should do. You place all the classes according to what you feel are the best options. So if you think option 2 is the best, 4 is okay, 1  is poor, and 3 is bad, you'd bubble in 2,4,1,3 on the scantron. Then your team has to give a speech.My team placed third, and one of the boys on my team won 1st high point individual! I'm  so  proud of my team, and I hope to try this contest and more again next year!!

    Monday, June 17, 2013

    Happy 8th Birthday Andrew!!

    Today my littlest brother, Andrew, turned 8! He was born on June 17, 2005.
    This is me (at almost 7) holding him for the first time!!

    Aww... :D
     Looking at the pictures above, I can't believe they were taken eight years ago. I mean, I remember every detail of going to see him in the hospital right after he was born, buying him a little shirt in the hospital gift shop,when I held him, I remember my dad saying "Use BOTH hands!!".... Sheesh. I feel very old.  He's such a fun person. I love reading or playing games with him! For his birthday, I got him the newest Magic Treehouse book, and a package of sour gummi worms, which he will hopefully share with me. :D
    Happy Birthday, Andrew!
     Check out his blog at http://adventuresofandrewc.blogspot.com/ !!

    Thursday, June 6, 2013

    Candy Striping

    Monday I had a really unique opportunity as a  hospital Jr. Volunteer. I got to volunteer in Day Surgery, instead of working the floor. ( working the floor just means I attend to patients in rooms-bring flowers, newspapers, coffee,etc to them, and wheel 'em  out when it's time to go home.) I worked in surgery and surgery waiting. I was able to do this thanks to a super nice lady at church, who is over surgery volunteers.The hospital I volunteer at uses volunteers as a go between with patients patients and the patient's families. Our job is to keep the family informed on what's happening in surgery, where the patient will be, and when they can see him. We also make the families as comfortable as we can, which means we make coffee, give directions to the cafeteria, and assist them in any way possible. It's especially interesting for me, because I want to be a pediatric ENT or orthopedic surgeon, and many of the patients are children with ENT related problems.

      Both floor and surgery volunteers deliver medical charts to Med. Surge 1 &2, ICU, and IMC. This is always fun, because you see what's going on in all the different departments. Our hospital is fairly small, but it's big enough to get lost in, and part of my job is showing people where ambulatory care and radiology are. The cutest part of the job is definitely getting to present new babies with little baby food spoons that have the hospital name engraved on them. We had five babies last Tuesday, and I got to give them the little spoons. :) It's funny, but wherever I go in my candy striper uniform, people are like"Oh, my goodness! A candy striper! I haven't seen one of those in years!" I love being able to tell them about my experiences. Do any of y'all volunteer at interesting or unusual places? Then you should comment and tell me all about it!

    Thursday, May 23, 2013

    EASY-but elegant- Key Lime Pie

    Hello, dahlings! Would you like to hear the world's easiest and yummiest recipe ever? You know you would. :)


    • 5 egg yolks(you know, separate the yolks from the whites)
    • 1 (14 oz.) can of sweetened condensed milk
    • 1/2 cup key lime juice (don't worry about the snazzy kind in the big shiny bottle. Great Value and Food Club brands are okay.)
    • 1 (9 inch) prepared graham cracker crust.

    1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
    2. Combine the yolks, sweet milk, and lime juice. Mix really, really well. Pour into the unbaked pie crust.
    3. Bake for 15 minutes. Allow to cool, and garnish with lime or whipped cream if desired.
    Well? Wasn't that easy?

    Monday, May 20, 2013

    Vacation part 2

      We left Dauphin Island a little earlier than planned, because it was starting to rain really hard, and we were worried about the only road out flooding(That sounds so dramatic. But,it really was the only road out - after all, it is an island!) So, we headed to Mobile, as it was on the route home. Dauphin Island is about 40 minutes from Mobile, Alabama, and there are tons of fun indoor things you can do there. We went to the Gulf Coast Exploreum of Science, and it was amazing!! I loved the health area. There was a large computer screen where you went 'shopping'. It  calculated all your  'purchases' and told you how healthy or unhealthy they were. The whole health room was educational and fun! There was also an exhibit called The Debakey Virtual Surgery Center. It was in the My Bodyworks health gallery.You have  the opportunity to conduct your own virtual surgery - you choose open heart surgery or knee surgery. Then you get to use the scalpel to cut open the skin, the saw to cut bone and the retractor to access the heart. The patients' vital signs are displayed on the screen as you try  to complete the surgery successfully and quickly -and keep your patient alive and healthy. I was a little scared I'd mess up and "hurt" the patient, but I completed a successful surgery. It seemed so real! The knee surgery was my favorite. The surgery center also had many other medical things you could practice: seal blood vessels with laser beam accuracy, challenge your hand-eye coordination with exhibits that mimic endoscopic surgery techniques(you used a big stick to push little bits of equipment through a tube. Daddy and Andrew were really good at it.) and learn about careers in health and safety. I loved this because I want to either be a pediatric nurse or a dietician. Then we went and ate at a restaurant called Felix's Fish Camp. Their crab soup was AMAZING! Then it was time to head for home.

    Friday, May 3, 2013

    Our Vacation Part 1

    Monday,we drove through Louisiana. We drove from our house in Texas through Shreveport, and then straight down, all the way to New Orleans. We stopped at Oak Alley Plantation, just outside of New Orleans, and had a tour of this amazing old plantation....
    Oak Alley

    The weird looking thing is a ceiling fan. A slave would pull the rope, and it would fan the guests.

    The plantation owner's' wife slept here.

    The very lavish master suite.

    One of the slave cabins

     We crossed a lot of bridges over the Mississippi. You could see a lot of factories and oil companies.

    Then we were in New Orleans. Parts of it were very pretty.

    However, parts were scary. We decided to go for a walk through the streets, and we wanted to walk down Bourbon Street, because it's very famous. However  there were a lot of bars and clubs, and shops that sold stuff with, er, bad pictures on it and posters of ... people posing , shall we say, inappropriately... We quickly abandoned that idea.

    Then we went to eat at Deanie's Seafood. It was really good.

    It started raining, so I had to take a bunch of fast pictures from the car.

                                                     There were beautiful flowers everywhere.

    Tuesday, we kept driving, through  a little piece of Mississippi and Alabama, then we got on a long bridge and drove to Dauphin Island, Alabama. We rented a beach house called "Sunny Pit." It had 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a nice kitchen and 360 views of the Gulf and the Mississippi Sound. It was so cute!

    My room at the beach house.

                 We went swimming every minute we could, even when it was windy and raining! On the days it stormed, we played board games and read books.

     We toured historic Fort Gaines, also on the island. It guarded Mobile Bay from Union soldiers during the Civil War It was used as an outpost during the Spanish-American conflict in 1898, and as an Army base in WW 2. The famous quote "D*** the torpedoes... Full Speed Ahead!" was given during the Battle of Mobile bay , which took place at the fort. All over the fort were little tunnels leading to rooms that would've stored ammo, men, or guns.
    There were tons of winding steps leading to tiny  rooms, like secret passages. It was really fun to walk through it, imagining what it was like for the people there.

    These stairs seemed to go on forever, but they led to a large store room for guns and supplies.

    Mobile Bay.

    Wow. This was very long. Part 2 won't be as long, I promise. Comment?