The Liebster Award

Have you heard of this? It’s a blog award that one blogger can give to another one, and my friend Wren, who blogs with her sister at Finch ‘N Wren, has bestowed this honor upon my lowly little blog here. Wren and I were members on the Homeschool Review Crew for three years (she’s moved on to other things for 2017), and she is nothing short of a delight. I hope you’ll head over to her blog and check it out.

So what does it all mean? Just that Wren thought I was deserving to be recognized. That might not sound like a big deal, but it feels like quite the honor to me, and I truly appreciate being thought of for this award. As part of the award, I’m supposed to answer some questions here on my blog, and then I get to nominate other bloggers for the award. I’ll start with the questions and move on to the nominations at the end 🙂

Do you have pets?

No. Previously in our marriage, we’ve had cats, frogs, and fish, but never more than one at a time. For now, Will and I have decided that we’d rather have children than pets, though.

If you could do one thing over from your past, with the knowledge you have now, what would it be? 

This is hard because I feel like I’ve had a pretty good life. I can think of two things, one pretty serious and one that falls more into the “fun” category.

Fun: I wish I’d learned to knit long before I did. I only learned this craft 10 months ago, and it’s by far my very favorite thing to do, hobby-wise.

Serious: As a teenager, I would’ve been nicer to my dad. My parents divorced when I was small (5), and we did whole “visiting every other weekend” thing with my dad. As I aged, I started visiting him less and less often. Now that I’m an adult, I can see that the way he behaved was simply the only way he knew to show his love, and I didn’t fully appreciate it or him. Seeing him as a grandfather to my boys has been really rewarding, and I wish I’d had the wisdom to treat him better when I was younger.

What are your three favorite comfort foods?

Mashed potatoes, beef roast (not pot roast, though), and pizza

Do you prefer ebooks or regular books?

Ebooks, so long as I can read them on my Kindle. If they’re just PDFs that have to be read on the computer, then regular books. And I know that this is an unpopular choice, but allow me to explain. I do most of my reading while lying in bed at night or nursing a baby, so it’s easier to read if I can hold the book (or “book” as the case may be) in one hand rather than having the weight of a traditional book to deal with.

The exception is children’s books. Those should always be printed.

What is your favorite piece of jewelry and why?

My wedding ring for what I hope are obvious reasons 😉

What is your number one tip to make the mornings easier?

Go to bed early enough that you can get up before your children. I find it ideal to have some kid-free time in the evening with my husband and some truly alone time in the morning while everyone else is still asleep.

Also: cereal for breakfast. We need to be fed, but that doesn’t mean a complicated meal every morning. Quick and easy keeps things moving smoothly.

How did you choose your blog name?

I wanted something that was more about “me” than about a specific genre of blog. I don’t fit into a mold – I write what’s on my mind. My blog is about my family, not a certain niche, so I didn’t want a name that would force me into writing things that I wasn’t passionate about. I spent months trying to come up with something, and the only thing I could I liked was “Ladybug Dreams.” That, however, was taken (though not be an active blogger), so I tried to come up with other things I liked as well and failed. I finally mentioned to my husband my “problem,” and he came up with making it Daydreams instead of Dreams. That was available, so we jumped on it.

Fun fact: if you type in “ladybugdaydream.com” or “ladybugdream.com” you’ll find me. My husband was insistent that we buy all the related URLs we could think of (that were available) to make it as easy as possible for people to find me.

What made you decide to homeschool? 

This was something my husband and I talked about way before we even had kids. Other choices were never an option for us; we knew that we were going to have kids, and we wanted to raise them ourselves, not send them away to day care or public school. We had them because we wanted to be around them, and homeschooling was the best way to assure that connection.

Do you do meal planning by the week or month? Or not at all?

Usually weekly, but sometimes I’ll do 10 days at a time. It all depends on how the budget is lining up. When I meal plan, though, I don’t do a “Monday we’ll eat this, and Tuesday it will be that.” I make a list of 7 lunches and 7 dinners, and buy the foods we’ll need to prepare those meals. Then when it’s meal time, I cook whatever sounds good from the list. This method works really well for us because I’m able to budget the food dollars, but we’re also not stuck in a “the menu says meatloaf but I’d really rather eat fried chicken” situation.

Do you have a favorite book or movie that you just can’t imagine never reading or seeing again?

Book, not that I can think of offhand. My favorite author is John Grisham. I never miss any of his books, but I don’t have a specific favorite. Movies, there are a couple. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (the Gene Wilder one) and The Wizard of Oz come to mind. Also the Harry Potter series, but I don’t watch those very often anyway. I might miss them if they were gone, though. Same with Twilight.

5 Random Facts about Me

  • I don’t wear pants. In fact, I don’t even own any pants except for my pajamas (and I do wear those).
  • I’m surrounded by males. Besides my husband and four sons, I have two brothers (no sisters) and three father figures (dad, stepdad, and father-in-law).
  • My beverage of choice is distilled water. I buy it in one-gallon jugs. I’d consider tap water except our town has hard water and it’s gross to drink.
  • My preferred way of planning is with a monthly calendar. I have a regular sized one on the wall in the kitchen and a small one on my desk near the computer. This keeps me on track for things like reviews I have to write here on the blog and all of our family’s appointments.
  • I have small feet. My shoe size is 6.5.

Paying it Forward

As I mentioned earlier in this post, part of this award is to pass it on to other bloggers. I contacted several that I thought would be deserving, but it’s been several weeks and only one replied, so I’m going to move forward with just the one honor. I’m honoring my friend Annette, who blogs at A Net In Time. She’s on the Homeschool Review Crew with me, and is always very encouraging to the other homeschool moms on our private forum. She’s a fellow boy mom, but she has just one son. Her blog is a wonderful place full of reviews, faith based posts (hymn studies, poems, devotionals, and more), and their adventures in homeschooling. I’m thrilled to be able to honor her with this award.

Thanks again to Wren for thinking of me for this award. Please make sure to visit both her and Annette when you leave here.

Blessings,

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A Bit of Randomness

I’ve been neglecting my this space for too long, so it’s time to remedy that with some random thoughts I’ve had recently. This will serve as both a quick update on me and my family as well as a reference point for me to add more details (in future posts) for some of these.

  • Way back in September, Will took the three older boys to one of the local Comic Con events. Will’s dad joined them as well, making for a really fun day. They met some really famous people and characters, but I’ll save the who for a future post 😉
  • Baby Dragonfly isn’t much of a baby anymore. He’s been walking for several months and he turned 1 over a month ago. While this new stage is amazing, I miss those cold winter days of just snuggling with a newborn that I had last year.
  • We had a lovely Christmas surrounded by family. We did our typical four celebrations: on the 23rd, we did presents with our children and went to church with my parents. On the afternoon of the 24th, we had my dad and his fiancee over for a meal together and gift exchange. The evening of Christmas Eve was spent with a dinner, singing carols, and exchanging gifts at Will’s dad and stepmom’s house. On Christmas morning, we went to church and then came home to pulled pork in the slow cooker, which we shared with my mom, stepdad, brother, and brother’s family (his wife and two sons).
  • I successfully knitted 8 sweaters for Christmas gifts: 7 for nieces and nephews and one for my dad. They were all really well received, which was quite rewarding after all the hours of work I put in making them. I finished the last one just one day before the party in which it would be gifted.

I’m sure there’s more, but that’s all I can think of offhand. I’ll expand on some of these, as well as try to come up with more innovative posts, this week.

Blessings,

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5 Random Things: December 10

5 random things

It’s been an interesting week here. I hope yours has been a bit less eventful!

  1. We had a snowstorm a couple of days ago. This might be par for the course in many parts of the country, but not where I live. My town is nestled right at the edge of a valley, so we rarely see snow, and when we do, it’s usually not enough to be concerned about – a little flurry and then gone. On Thursday, I was taking the trash out at 8:00 am when I noticed that it was snowing ever so lightly. By around 10, all the neighbors had come over to play (public school was canceled, so I let our kids have a snow day as well). By noon or 1:00, they’d built a reasonably sized snowman at the neighbor’s house.
  2. Thanks to said snowstorm, we had a power outage at our house around 4:30. It only lasted two hours (hardly anything compared to what others have during the winter months), but it was completely unexpected. We were definitely ready for it to be back on by the time the power company had fixed the problem!
  3. My laptop has been acting up recently. A couple of months ago the battery started charging only occasionally, which means I have to keep it plugged in all the time in order to use it. Not ideal, but not the end of the world. Still better than not having a computer at all! Well then, just a few days ago, it decided that even being plugged in wasn’t good enough and it wouldn’t turn on at all. Since then, we’ve been researching new batteries for it. We tried to support a local business (two different ones, actually), but neither of them had the battery we need, so we’re going to get it from Amazon.
  4. Today, however, I tried the laptop, “just in case,” and it’s working! We’ll still likely replace the battery in the next couple of weeks, but at least the several-days-long rest was enough to get it working again for now.
  5. My Christmas knitting is nearly done! We added two more kid sweaters that needed to be done at the last minute, and I’m pleased to report that I have only one sleeve plus one sweater left to go. With two full weeks left until Christmas Eve (when they’ll be presented), I’m confident that I’ll finish on time. Yay! (I have a post planned for next week – probably – showcasing all of the sweaters, so be on the lookout for that if you’re interested.)

Blessings,

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Halloween 2016

Last year, we learned that some stores in the local shopping mall offer trick-or-treating for kids. We decided to try it out and see how we liked it in comparison to “regular” trick-or-treating (which we’ve never done in the traditional house-to-house way with our kids). It worked out really great for us. It’s a great alternative, especially when it’s rainy (which it was last year, but not this year), and also if you’re in a situation that necessitates frequent rest breaks – there’s almost always somewhere to sit nearby when you’re at the mall. In addition to all of these perks, the amount of candy the kids get is reasonable but not outrageous, unlike regular trick-or-treating. The kids may not see this as a benefit, but as parents, we definitely do.

Because of all of those perks, we decided to take the kids to the mall again this year. Will had some work to get done in the morning (plus there’s that whole homeschooling thing…), so we went out after lunch. The kids each came up with ideas for their own costumes, and we put them together using things we already had around the house or could procure/make fairly inexpensively. In fact, I think the only costume we spent any money on was Seahawk’s, and it was only about $8, half of which he paid himself.

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From youngest to oldest, the costumes were:

Dragonfly: We opted not to dress him up. He’s little enough that he didn’t understand what was going on anyway, and he certainly doesn’t need a bag of candy. So he went as “an old man pretending to be a baby.” 🙂

Small Fry: A couple of weeks before Halloween, he said, “I want to go as a puppet for Halloween.” This was a great idea for a few reasons. First, it was a very creative idea. You don’t often see puppets out trick or treating. Second, it was a free costume. He just wore his regular clothes with yarn safety-pinned to his sleeves and backside which was attached to a pair of rulers tied together in a cross above him. Seahawk and Will took turns being his puppetmaster.

Munchkin: He received some camouflage pants for his birthday, and already had a camo long john shirt and toy soldier’s helmet, so he went as a soldier. Easy peasy.

Seahawk: Ever since they went to Comic Con about 7 weeks ago, people have been telling Seahawk that he looks like Ron Weasley at the rate of a couple a week. It’s the long-ish red hair and his lankiness, I think. So he decided to own that and went as Ron for Halloween. He already had the jeans and dark red dress shirt. I bought some cheap yarn on Saturday and knit him a scarf (this was about $4). Then on Halloween, between lunch and leaving for the mall, we hit Goodwill in search of a cape – or something that could work for one. We couldn’t fine a cape, but we did find several T-shirts that had promise. I wasn’t convinced they were long enough, though. Then it hit me: a skirt! If we could find a long black skirt, we could slit it up the center and he could put the waste band over his shoulders. We found one with the weekly half-price colored tag, so he bought that using his own money. Because it was half-price, that was another $4 is all. He found a stick outside to use as a wand, but I don’t think he brought it out of the car. Despite not having a wand, his costume ended up so good that one of the mall employees told him that he “won Halloween.” He even got asked at least once if his hair was a wig, but it’s not. 🙂

So that’s what we did this year. Next year, we’ll likely do the mall again; it’s a win for our family.

Blessings,

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Apply for the 2017 Homeschool Review Crew!

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If you’ve read very much of my blog at all, you know that I’m a member of the Homeschool Review Crew. We’re a group of bloggers that has the amazing opportunity to try out homeschool curriculum, read books about a huge variety of topics, and even get some beauty products from time to time. All for free! Well, in exchange for our time, that is. To write a fair and balanced review, it’s necessary to put in the time to use the products, as well as spending time crafting a useful review that will be a help to the vendor (positive and negative are both helpful, and as a member of the Homeschool Review Crew, you’re never required to write a positive review).

Besides writing reviews, the Crew is a huge blessing in other ways. We have an active private forum where you can express your thoughts about anything and everything, not just homeschool related stuff. Have a question about the tomatoes you’re canning in the summer? Ask it! Looking for new recipes and don’t have time to search for yourself? Someone on the Crew is likely to have just what you need. Are you going through a rough time and you just really need someone to pray for you? We do that, too. And on the flip side, are things going really well and you want to give glory to God? Members rejoice with one another. It’s an amazing group to be a part of.

If you’re interested in joining this fabulous group of moms (and even a dad!), now’s the time. The Homeschool Review Crew is taking applications for the 2017 Crew year.

In order to apply, you need to:

  • Have a blog.
  • Currently be home educating at least one child. Your child/ren can be anywhere from Pre-K to 12th Grade.
  • Be active on social media of your own choosing (Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram)
  • Love curriculum, homeschool products and books.

If you’re selected to be a part of the team, you’d need to:

  • Maintain an active blog by posting a minimum of ONE non sponsored post a week on any family friendly topic of your own choosing.
  • Be committed to sharing each of your reviews on your social media platforms a minimum of twice. This can be twice on one platform or on any two platforms of your choosing in one week.
  • Use the review product you receive for a minimum of six weeks and write a review. We do not require you write a positive review and we do not tell you what to write. We do, however, have a few minimum requirements including a minimum word count.
  • Post your reviews to your blog and and link them up here on our blog during our due date window.
  • On a regular basis visit our private Review Management forum where we provide support, encouragement, and information necessary to complete each review.

Want more information? Ready to apply? Head over to the Homeschool Review Crew blog to find out more.

Blessings,

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Book Club ~ A Reminder/Update/Announcement

Book Club with Lori

Just a reminder that Lori and I are taking October off from the book club (did you read my review of The Pray-ers? That’s one of the main reasons we took the time off). We’ll be back on the first Thursday of November with a new book and new questions. If you want to join us, we’re reading The Bronte Plot by Katherine Reay this month. Here’s the summary from the publisher:

When Lucy’s secret is unearthed, her world begins to crumble. But it may be the best thing that has ever happened to her.

Lucy Alling makes a living selling rare books, often taking suspicious liberties to reach her goals. When her unorthodox methods are discovered, Lucy’s secret ruins her relationship with her boss and her boyfriend, James—leaving Lucy in a heap of hurt and trouble. Something has to change; she has to change.

In a sudden turn of events, James’s wealthy grandmother, Helen, hires Lucy as a consultant for a London literary and antiques excursion. Lucy reluctantly agrees and soon discovers Helen holds secrets of her own. In fact, Helen understands Lucy’s predicament better than anyone else.

As the two travel across England, Lucy benefits from Helen’s wisdom as Helen confronts ghosts from her own past. Everything comes to a head at Haworth, home of the Brontë sisters, where Lucy is reminded of the sisters’ beloved heroines who, with tenacity and resolution, endured—even in the midst of impossible circumstances.

Now Lucy must face her past in order to move forward. And while it may hold mistakes and regrets, she will prevail—if only she can step into the life that’s been waiting for her all along.

I think this sounds wonderful, and I can’t wait to get started. I have my copy waiting at the library; I just keep forgetting to pick it up. I’ve set an alarm so I’ll remember to head over there as soon as they open this morning.

Blessings,

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Ballet

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I’ve been taking ballet classes for one week now (a total of 5 classes), and it’s been a lot of fun. Tiring, but fun. There are a lot of things that come fairly naturally to me, but because I’m not as thin as I should be, a lot of things are difficult too. I find stretching and pointing my toes fairly intuitive, but doing the demi-plie (dem-ee plee-ay) and even more so the grande plie, are quite difficult for me.

Left: First Position Center: Demi Plie Right: Grande Plie

Left: First Position Center: Demi Plie Right: Grande Plie

The classes are teaching me a lot. It’s especially nice because I’m taking classes at two different studios, so I’m getting a variety of methods of instruction. I can see how this might be good or bad, but because I don’t have aspirations to become a world famous ballerina (lol), I’m totally okay with “good enough.” I’m thrilled to simply be learning the basic techniques of the art of ballet, even if I never get the opportunity to really do anything with it because of my age and current physique.

So, what have I learned? Ballet moves, obviously. Some French terminology, since ballet originated in France. And perhaps most surprising to me, that even when you’re barely moving at all doing the ballet moves, you get really hot and sweaty! It’s such a workout for the muscles that even when you move slowly, it’s definitely not an easy, low impact task. One of my classes focuses more on technique, and I sweat slightly less in that class; the other focuses on choreography, and we move all over the dance floor in that class, so by the end, I’m definitely ready for some cool air.

If you’ve ever considered learning ballet, I highly recommend it, even if you’re older and not in that great shape. It’s very rewarding. So rewarding, in fact, that we started taking the boys to the “Boys Dance and Movement” class where they learn ballet and gymnastics basics, and which is immediately followed by the Partnership class where they truly become male ballet dancers themselves, lifting and holding the ballerinas during their jumps. In just one short week, this has truly become something our whole family enjoys doing.

Blessings,

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A Night at the Opera

My favorite classical composer is one who is often forgotten these days: Gioachino Rossini. He was a master of opera in his day, writing over 35 operas in barely 20 years. When I was in high school concert band, we played a few of Rossini’s overtures (the part of the opera that the orchestra plays before the actors come on stage – the “opening credits,” so to speak), and my very favorite one was L’Italiana in Algieri – The Italian Girl in Algiers. The piece was difficult, but once mastered, it was so beautiful that it quickly became my favorite, and remains thus to this day. Outside of the overture, though, I knew nothing of the rest of the opera.

 

A few months ago, we looked up Rossini operas, thinking that it might be something we’d (well, I’d) enjoy since I already love his music so much. The closest one was in Paris. That’s a bit far for a date, so we tabled the idea for a while. Then randomly a few weeks later, Will checked again, and guess what? The local opera house was doing a Rossini. But not just any Rossini opera… The Italian Girl in Algiers. We bought tickets about a month out from the event, and anxiously awaited the date.

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When the time came, we left the kids with a babysitter (Seahawk is capable of babysitting, but we didn’t want to pressure him by leaving him alone with the littles – especially the baby – for so long by himself) and left for our date. We dressed in our formal clothes and had dinner at one of our favorite places. Then we headed into the big city for the opera. We arrived in time for the pre-show, which was quite interesting. It was a college professor giving a speech on both the composer and the opera. She also explained a bit of the director’s vision for this particular rendition so we wouldn’t be taken aback. (It was an interesting blend of current and timeless.) After the pre-show, we headed up to our seats – officially the “worst seats in the house.” To stay on budget, we were seated in the very back row of the second balcony. Our seats were a tiny fraction of the cost of anything on the orchestra level. Even though we were so far away, though, the way the theater was set up, our view was still great.

The story of L’Italiana in Algeiri is one based in reality in that it takes place during the early 1800s when the countries of northern Africa were taking Italians captive as slaves. The opera opens with Elvira, the wife of the Bey (king), in despair that her husband no longer loves her. Mustafa, her husband then comes in and confirms her laments; he talks to Haly (his servant) and tells him that not only is he tired of his wife, but he’s also tired of the rest of his harem. He wants Haly to find him an Italian girl. Haly is given six days to accomplish the task. All of these characters exit, and Lindoro (an Italian captive, and my favorite character) comes in to clean up the mess. He sings an aria about his lost love, Isabella. Mustafa comes in and tells him that he’s got a wife for Lindoro – the queen, Elvira. They have a comical duet where Lindoro tries to explain that he doesn’t want a wife because he loves Isabella, but Mustafa convinces him that the woman he has in mind for Lindoro is wonderful in every way.

The scene changes after Lindoro’s aria, and we meet Taddeo and Isabella, Italians who have been captured by Haly and his men. Haly is sure that Isabella is the perfect Italian girl for Mustafa, so he has kidnapped her and is taking her to be the king’s new woman. Taddeo, Isabella’s lover, is captured simply for having been with Isabella at the time. To keep both of them safe, they decide to pretend to be uncle and niece rather than lovers. The first act ends with a huge number featuring all of the characters singing about their various situations – Elvira mourning the loss of her husband, Lindoro and Isabella shocked at the sight of each other, Taddeo still trying to figure out what’s going on, and Mustafa and Haly talking about how perfect Isabella is for the Bey.

The second act focuses on Isabella’s plan to escape with Lindoro (you see, she was THE Isabella he sang about during his solo). At the same time, Mustafa makes Taddeo his “kaimakan” (kye-mah-kin) – essentially a made-up title meaning “second in command.” Taddeo is given a new uniform to wear to denote his position, and he asks Mustafa if he was given this position simply to impress Isabella, whom the king has decided he loves. His answer is a resounding, “Of course!” Meanwhile, Isabella and Lindoro come up with a crazy idea to distract the king so that they can escape together back to Italy. They will tell the king that Isabella wants him to be a “papataci” (pa-pa-tah-chee). This is another made-up title, and it means that the king will join the ranks of Isabella’s own male harem (basically). His job as a papataci will be to eat, drink, sleep, and enjoy Isabella’s company. He readily accepts, and the plan is in place. Lindoro keeps Mustafa occupied while Isabella plots their escape. The opera ends with Isabella telling Mustafa that she and Lindoro are leaving and that he should get back together with his wife. And they all do just that.

Prior to attending this opera, I had no idea that some operas are comedies, but this one definitely is. There are so many funny parts (and my summary didn’t really do justice to any of them). While L’Italiana was produced by the local opera house here, very few of the main players are actually from around here, which actually made it feel even more “legit” than it already did. The cast and crew hailed from all over the world (the man who played Mustafa is from Cairo, Egypt), including the director, who is German.

I’ve rambled on far too long for one post already, but I have more I want to say, so I’m going to add more in a post next week. The focus of that one will be “why I think you should go to the opera (and take your kids with you).” I hope you’ll join me for that one.

Blessings,

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Picture of the Week: At the Beach

Baby Dragonfly had his first experience at the beach last week. He’s the only one of our children to not hate the feeling of the sand. (The others like it now, but always freaked out when they were babies.)

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While we were there, Will and the big boys decided to build a sandcastle. Overall, a fun day for everyone.

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Blessings,

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