Tuesday, August 31, 2010

homeschooling log 2010: chapter four.

With not feeling well for the past week, I did not do much with my little ones. We had Master's yesterday, and Ian spent time in the car ride home telling me all about Beethoven Bear and Mozart mouse. He's already familiar with a lot of Mozart's music as well as the music of a few other composers, due to all of the music that I like to play and the fact that many of the toys that I have gotten for them play classical music.

Well, with the inspiration of his commentary from the day, we spent the rest of the car ride home singing lots of songs. Ian and Natalie had me singing the same tunes over and over and over again, and I was happy to oblige. I know I probably did about ten renditions each of the continents song, the states song, the Spanish alphabet song, and the regular alphabet song. I also went over the phonetic sounds with them. A lot of singing.

This is my first time teaching one of my children to read. I didn't have to teach Bobby. Somehow, he already knew how to read by the time he was two and a half. To this day, I still don't know how that happened. But it happened, and schooling him was pretty much a breeze because of it. Ian is my first child that I am actually having to teach "from scratch," and while he has been doing well, today was a weird day. We had to go over the same set of words four or five times until he got it. I am going to re-do the lesson tomorrow. One practice that I got into when Bobby was small and I want to continue with Ian is never to move on to the next lesson until the one we're on can be done without difficulty. I'm in no rush. I want to see him "get it."

I put the lesson away and we got through the other activities that we normally do before moving on to picture study. Ian and Natalie both ask for that just about every day, along with reading. I love this gentle approach to learning how to make observations and articulate what one is observing.

I keep a little planner so that I can write down what we do every day. That way if there is a lesson that needs to be repeated, I can make a note of it, otherwise I will probably forget. It's part of the OCD planning side of me (and yes, that really is a side of me). I can really go overboard when it comes to planning my curriculum each year. I reminded myself before I even started this year that my kids are FOUR and TWO. Like, really. It's not like they need much. I've kept my sanity as a result.

But anyway, back to the planner. I used the "Homeschooling Journal" when Bobby was small but there really is just no need to use anything fancy. A regular old planner from Office Depot suffices just fine. Knowing little things like that would have saved me some money years ago.

Maybe in a later post I will share some about my homeschooling philosophy and style. I know I also still need to share more music resources. I have been remiss in putting all of that together. We have a school break next week, so I'll be able to concentrate on it more fully then. I'll still be doing school, but we will have a break from Master's so we'll be relaxing in Ohio with Daddy. We are all looking super-forward to being with him again. We miss him so much.

I apologize for this post being somewhat all over the place and rambly. That's not even a word. I apologize for that too. It's late. My night-owl nature seems to be morphing into something else since the new school year started. I am tired earlier. Wanna go to bed earlier. Am going to bed in the next five minutes. Because when I am tired like this I cease to make much sense. Chapter Five of the Homeschooling Log will be much more fasifsticated and edumacated sounding. I promise.

day 350: thoughtful replies.

So, we were heading home and a cop whizzes past us.

"Wow. That cop was going really fast," Bobby observed.

He then continued, "Why do we have to follow the law if the cops don't?"

There was a pause, then from the back seat, my little Ian replied,

"Because they're crooked cops."

I thought that was funny.

Laughter really is the best medicine.

Digital Field Guide: page 103

Images: The Life of Ty on Flickr. My my my these young whippersnappers.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

day 349: frida.


Well, praise the Lord! I don't feel 100% again yet, but today has been waaaaay better than Wednesday and yesterday. Which is good, since I needed to take my son to the mall and buy him a couple of items of clothing.

No, I do not do a whole lot of clothes shopping at the mall, because of the prices. But it's been a while since I got him ANYTHING, and I wanted to treat him since he has done so well these first couple of weeks of school. Year Four at Classical is no joke, so we've heard. He has met the challenge so far.

So, I took him to Heritage 1981 and Hot Topic and Aeropostale and got some things. His style is very cool-nerdy, so we ended up with stuff that definitely made him look the part. Actually, he looked very much the DJ. Very Kid Cudi. We like Kid Cudi.

He can't wear his Deadmau5 t-shirt to Master's or Classical because of uniforms, but that's okay. Everything else will do fine for school.

Speaking of school, this is Frida.

She was my little ladybug's present, among a couple of other things, her first Christmas.

Frida has sat on the shelf, but lately she has seen much playtime with Natalie. I think, however, that I may need to shelve Frida once more so that Natalie does not tear her up!

But what I really wanted was for Frida to be Natalie's doll buddy during school time.

Digital Field Guide: page 103

Images: pretty life photography on Flickr

day 348.

The last couple of days I have felt absolutely miserable.

As a result, I've been completely unmotivated to do much.

I realized I would have to make a quick run to the grocery store at some point, and I was NOT happy about that. I'm really praying I will feel better tomorrow.

Digital Field Guide: page 102

Images: Explore on Flickr

day 347.

This is one of those days.

I woke up this morning feeling lousy, and this afternoon isn't much better. I drudged a bit through the day and it was all I could do to make it home. I think I am going to get pizza for dinner and crawl into bed. Ugggghhhh.

Digital Field Guide: didn't make it.

Images: likewise.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

homeschooling log 2010: chapter three.

My little ones had a wonderful first day at Master's Academy.

My son is in the Jasper class this year, and his teachers are all wonderful. They have a history class, an art class, a drama class, and a music class. Of course, with little four and five year-olds, the classes are definitely more activities than anything else. But Ian had a fun time and I am so glad we have a program like this to be a part of. This is my ninth year teaching there (we started when Bobby was five) and it has been a real blessing.

A real blessing, and a long day. But Master's days are always long. We know that going into it. Good days, but long days. I've decided that on those days (two each week) we'll get take out for one of the days and have crock pot meals or sandwiches the other days.

We went out for dinner tonight. Longhorn's. Yes, "Longhorn's." (See this post.) We don't usually do something that fancy. We hadn't eaten there in over a year. But it was the first day and I just wanted to do something a little special for the kids.

Now, when we normally go to a restaurant, it's all of us. Meaning, my husband is there too.

I should have remembered that, I think, and opted to get takeout pizza or something.

Mind you, my kids are not rambunctious or troublemakers or anything like that. But I did have to keep them constantly occupied with their toys and the little booklets they give you at the restaurant and things like that, so that they would stay seated and not keep trying to stand up in the booth and turn around and have conversations with the other patrons. I succeeded, but it was still a lot of work. And I was already tired after a long day.

But the food was good. And the kids ate their broccoli. (Natalie does anyway; Ian is my finicky eater but he ate well too and I was glad.)

And. Ian started writing his letters. In his little booklet. Without my prompting him to do so.

He's reading his letter sounds well (Natalie is too, and that's exciting). But he hasn't wanted to try to write them without my help. Ian is my perfectionist and does not like to attempt something if he cannot do it perfectly. Even despite my encouragement, if he feels he hasn't done something well he gets dejected very easily.

Well, this evening he totally took the initiative and wrote all of his letters himself! I was so proud of him. Bobby gave him a high-five, and Natalie did too and even told him "Good job, Ian!" That totally made my day. And it had already been a great day.

day 346.

Not much to tell here. Vehicles get followed on the road. Sometimes large vehicles. Sometimes large flatbed trucks carrying very large tires. Tractor tires probably.

And gaaaahhhh. I have NOT been feeling well today. At ALL.

It seems all of us (the kids and I) have had bouts of nasty stomach perturbation the last few days. Ick.

That was a random aside. Don't worry. I won't be sharing too much. 

Digital Field Guide: didn't happen. Gaaaahhh.

Images: caught up with some of the photography blogs in my Google Reader.

day 345: writing on the night.

I like to experiment.

I have so many ideas in my head that I have to make a list of them. Or a couple of lists.

One of my ideas was to see if I could make the night landscape look like a blackboard with the lights of cars "writing" on it.

Digital Field Guide: page 103

Images: the Shutter Sisters 365 group on Flickr

day 344.

So, I spend a lot of time in my car.

A lot.

Not just because I'm a road trip girl and I enjoy driving (it's relaxing to me), but because on most days I HAVE to be somewhere. My schedule and obligations dictate it.

And that means that sometimes I am driving home in the evenings after being gone all day.

It's not all that bad. We do have days when we can just stay at home and do nothing if we wish. This was one of those days. But we were out anyway.

I am looking forward to the days this coming week when we can just stay home and be lazy. I need some lazy time.

Digital Field Guide: page 102

Images: my LIFE Magazine app

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


I joined TwitterMoms soon after joining Twitter way back in February of '09. I thought it was a good way to get connected quickly with others, and it has been. They always have a wide array of things going on and products available for review. Today they have introduced a new product called Fracture. It looks really interesting.

You upload your photo to their site and they print it out on glass. Then they mail it to you, with instructions for hanging it on your wall. Instant decoration.

I am quite interested in trying this out, as I have YET to put any of my old photos on my wall, much less new ones! Difficult to believe, I know. I want to remedy this quickly.

And if I am one of the 100 participants to receive a Fracture to review, I will be psyched. I will also write a follow-up post about Fracture with my feedback after I've tried it.

Disclaimer: I wrote this blog post in response to a TwitterMoms RAMBO alert, making me eligible to get a Fracture picture frame for review. You can learn more about Fracture at http://www.fractureme.com .

Sunday, August 22, 2010

gifts and surprises, and a winner.

In the midst of making sure all my stuff is ready for school tomorrow, I am participating in a Twitter party hosted by Bree Bees and Parker PR Online. There are several folks participating, and there will be lots of interesting and useful prizes given away, from mom business owners. I hope I can win something. I got really spoiled last year, winning so many giveaways. I've won some this year, but nothing to rival last year. The year's not over, though!

Speaking of winners...

The winner of my Blogiversary Giveaway is the lovely A. Jarrett, amazing photographer and owner of Gabrielle Kai Photography!  I am HONORED to send one of my prints to you. I will be contacting you shortly.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


Another revisiting a page out of this past year's Project 365 book.

I wonder if I will make a photo book out of my 365 photos. Or at least some of my favorites. I know a lot of people do that upon completing their project, or they do something like that.

I might just do that. Go to Shutterfly and make a book. I've never used them before for photo books, but I have heard good reviews. I've only used Photoworks, and while I was pleased with their work, they did not seem to have many layout and design options.

Maybe I'll just get several prints and make my own book.

day 343: getting over a hump soon?

Okay. Second default day again.

It's supposed to storm on and off today. Hopefully I can get a shot of some lightning when it does. I've been trying for weeks!

And hopefully I'll be motivated to clean my house.

Digital Field Guide: read a page in Niki's manual.

day 342: defaults.

So, as I am nearing the end of this project, it appears that I am running into one of those photography blocks again?? Like what I experienced back in January? 

There's just not much of anything I want to shoot.

Yes, I always want to shoot my children. But I am reeeeeeally trying to spare you guys photos of my kids every. single. day.

One thing that I have noticed I am absolutely loving right now (besides the mainstay of my kids) is the sky.

Yes. Again.

I think that whenever I feel uncertain of what to shoot, from now on I will just make my kids the default and the sky my second default. It's always so nice.

Here's a second default picture today.

Digital Field Guide: read a page in Niki's manual.

day 341.

So, this week has left me a little bit tired. I'm looking forward to a day where I can get a bit of rest. I'm going to wait until evening time to do school with the kids. 

I'm pretty sure that one thing that is contributing to my tiredness is all of this dastardly heat at home. August is just as bad as June and July. And it's bad. And not bad meaning good.

I just don't do well in extreme heat. I know I've said that before. It bears repeating.

One bad thing about feeling like this is I feel unmotivated and uninspired to do anything creative. Well, not entirely unmotivated and uninspired, but enough to feel like doing anything is just too much work.

What's good though is, Fall is almost here.

Ahhhh. Fall.

And THAT gets me mega-inspired.

It's like my Spring.

I start feeling like I want to wax poetic on all things on Autumn. But I will spare you.

For now.

Digital Field Guide: read a page in Niki's manual.

Images: added new Flickr favorites.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

my blogiversary.

On 18 August 2006, I started this blog.

I wrote mostly about random things my kids were doing, funny things my oldest one would say, what I was cooking in the kitchen, and sermons from church that I wanted to remember. That was pretty much it. Here is my first post, entitled 'My Son's Firsts.'

I also wrote a special post every Tuesday and would include an old photo from my life or, eventually, a list of songs from different years in my life that were popular and brought back memories for me. I made it into a series called "Nostalgia Tuesday." (I know everyone else does something that alliterates, like "Freaky Friday" or "Thanksgiving Thursday" or something like that. I didn't. Because a.) none of the days of the week start with the letter 'N' and b.) I'm different like that.)

Life got a little more wild and I eventually got tired of blogging. So I stopped. I'm pretty sure no one was reading it on the regular anyway, so I didn't feel like I was flaking out on anyone.

Then, on 18 August 2009, I started blogging again. I felt inspired to pick up the task of journaling my life again so I could go back and remember moments that had passed. Fall does that to me every year, and the beauty of the season hit me HARD last year.

I may have possibly gotten blogger burnout again and stopped a few months or a year later, had I not happened upon Tasra Dawson and decided to do a 365 project.

This project really has changed my life.

I am twenty-four days away from the end of my year-long project, and I am amazed at what has transpired. I'm also amazed that my humble little blog looks much different than it did when it first started.

I called it "The Living Well" after thinking about how I wanted to become someone that younger women could come to for wisdom and advice, like what is described in Titus 2. I envisioned myself as this deep well of wisdom from which anyone could come and draw when they were in need. I've also taught hundreds of students over the years and am always mindful of being an example and a sound influence on them.

In honor of my precious blogiversary, I am doing a giveaway! My first.

I will be giving away a photographic print of the winner's choice.

If you would like to win a print, go to the Rosebud Photography Fan Page on Facebook and take a look at the still life art wall photos. Then come back and leave a comment saying which one you would like. That's it. No more steps. I will not be pimping out this giveaway or my blog. That's not to say I wouldn't do that in the future. I just won't be doing it now.  :)

I will randomly select a winner on Sunday, 22 August, so please leave your comment by 11:59 p.m. on Saturday the 21st.

Good luck!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

day 340: all hail...

King Ian.

I think I'm gonna give it a few more months, and then maybe at the beginning of the new year we'll get his hair cut.

I think.


Digital Field Guide: page 102

homeschooling log 2010: chapter two. music resources.

My friend Candra is starting to do research on homeschooling and asked me if I had a few recommendations for music resources. I felt I was more than qualified to answer this because I

a. love music,
b. have a rich and diverse musical heritage, courtesy of my parents,
c. am a music teacher,
d. have been homeschooling for nine years and as a result have tried/used a lot of stuff,
e. have worked tediously to cultivate an appreciation for music in my children and in others' children,
f. am just cool like that.

I could probably come up with more lettered reasons, but you get the point.

So, I prepared a list on my Amazon profile highlighting some of the resources that have been hits with me and my children. Three things about this list...

1. There are many other things that I have used that I do not recommend, because they're lame. Like some of those Baby Einstein-ish CDs and stuff like that. ( I don't mean to offend you if you like that stuff. I'm sure it's not ALL lame; it just has not been of much benefit over the years at my house, for several reasons.) So those things are not on the list.
2. There is no Classical music or Opera on this list. Because I need to make a separate list just for that. I am, after all, an opera singer. I had way too much to add to the list, so I figured that genre should just have a list of its own. (And yes, children can learn to like this type of music if introduced to it early and with enthusiasm.)
3. There are lots of great "...for Kids" compilations out there. Motown for Kids, 80's for Kids, Hip-Hop for Kids, Broadway for Kids, Beatles for Kids, et cetera. And you could certainly buy those. But why? If I have Stevie Wonder's and The Jackson 5's greatest hits (which my little ones LOVE), all I need to do is go and add more favorites from similar artists off of iTunes. You don't necessarily have to find something geared specifically toward children. A lot of the stuff that you enjoyed as a youth may be what your kids end up loving too; the songs don't have to be re-sung by kids' voices or anything like that. Just play good music for them. (And PLEASE, stay away from that KidzBop crap. Yes, I said it. It's crap. Don't get me started.)

So here's the list.
My kidlets loved this. Loved it. We wore it out last year when we were on the road a lot. They still enjoy it when I play it, even though we don't play it as often.

This one was a big hit too. The entire CD is excellent, but the second half are mostly slow songs so by the time they rolled around my kids would be asleep. Still a great CD though.

Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Prima, Lionel Hampton, Carmen McRae, Blossom Dearie, Louis Armstrong. I really don't need to go on. You get the picture. It's good stuff.

Sweet, mellow music. Great lullabies.

Hip, upbeat, dance-worthy tunes.

I was hoping this CD had a particular song with Alicia Keys on it, but it didn't. No matter. It's still a great CD, and one that my kids enjoyed a lot last year.

I remember watching those Schoolhouse Rock shorts on Saturday mornings in between the cartoons. Good times. And great educational material.

My oldest loved this one when he was little, and learned a lot from it.

This was what my oldest listened to a lot when he was in first grade. He liked it. I had the Subtraction one too, but can't seem to find it on Amazon. It's not as good as the Addition one anyway.

Fun, cute songs that my oldest never forgot. And he's almost fourteen.

Several classics as well as songs that will teach your child the books of the Bible. Also something my oldest has never forgotten.

Such a great worship CD.

"Hey, hey, HEYYYYY!" You should watch it.

One of my kidlets' favorite tunes, "Mahna Mahna," is on this collection. It's also on the For the Kids CD.

Be sure to check out my Listmania list for slightly more detailed descriptions of these items. I say slightly because I had to keep editing them down; they only allow 400 characters max per description. I was getting a little too verbose.

(Aaaannnd I apologize for the small text. I notice when I preview this post that I am somehow writing in Lilliputian font. I can't seem to fix it.)

Monday, August 16, 2010


Looking through some more of my posts from the past year, my mind is spinning at the thought of how many photos I have taken. It is in the thousands. Multiple thousands. Yikes.

That's a good yikes.

It is not uncommon for me to take over a hundred photos every day. And I've learned a lot doing so.

I also love seeing how my children have grown and remembering so many little things about them upon viewing a photo.

(And if someone out there would share how I can repost the entire thing here without sharing just the link, please do tell. I admit I'm clueless.)

day 339.

This is how my son feels about visiting Guitar Center.

So, at the other mall in Dayton, we thought we'd have better luck.

Meh. Not much better.

The Dayton Mall is bigger, but the smaller mall down the street from our apartment is slightly nicer.

And, I'm noticing some alarming things.

No Anthropologie.

No Urban Outfitters.

No J. Crew.

No upscale department store besides Macy's.

No nice kitchen store (Sur la Table, Williams Sonoma). Al-though, I did notice a Le Creuset outlet closer to Cincinnati. So that's happy.

At least there is Guitar Center.

And at least there's a Sephora and a few other things at the open-air mall. Relief.

Man, when it comes to mall shopping, I really am spoiled.

I don't care.

Digital Field Guide: page 101

Images: the Photofocus group on Flickr. Yes, I am part of many groups on Flickr.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

day 338: what to do...

We ventured off to another park. Because that's what we do in Dayton. Go to various grocery stores and venture off to various parks.

Dayton is such an anomaly to me. On the one hand, we live in a very nice area, in an extremely nice apartment. There's a great pool, a cafe, a gym (which I have yet to go to), a common area with a billiards table, lovely landscaping and scenery, everything.

On the other hand, the mall, which is right down the street, is extremely small so there's not much in it. There is another open-air mall which is much better, so that must be the place where everyone goes. Really, what else is there to do? One would think there would be more entertainment options (as well as a much nicer mall) in such an upscale area.

Aaannnd, it turns out that the water is heavily contaminated. Awesome.

So yeah. The plan is to go to the salt water pool every other day or so, and venture to parks on the other days. Sigh.

Digital Field Guide: page 100

Images: the Moleskinerie group on Flickr

day 337.

Not much to tell today. My sweet hubby loves Red Robin.

And my little ones sing the "Reddddd, Robinnnn, yummmm" jingle.

And their Banzai burger is pretty darn good.

It doesn't beat Ted's Montana Grill (or even Five Guys) for me, but it is pretty darn good. It'll do.

For reading and images today, I hung out at the Nikon website.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

day 336: wendy's.

Ack! The signage creeps up again!

It's been a while since I posted a sign though, so it's okay.

It has been a while, right?

Digital Field Guide: Well, whadaya know. I went through my entire day today and didn't touch it. I know. Slacker.

Images: the Mid Century, Modern Interiors group on Flickr

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

day 335.

The sunset was so nice today. But I decided to go with a not-so-literal "interpretation."

We chilled out today and didn't do much of anything. I just needed some rest. Sometimes you just have those days, you know?

Digital Field Guide: read an article on my Nikon School app.

Images: J. Trav on Flickr

a revisiting.

August 11. Exactly one month before the end of my first 365 project. Wow.

I've decided to take this last month and share some posts from the past year that I hold dear to my heart, for whatever reason. I will do this a couple of times a week.

I've always been a journaler. I wrote in my first diary when I was a little girl, and I've had countless journals since. It's always nice to go back and read some of the entries, because it gives a clear picture of just how much one has overcome, and just how profoundly one has been blessed. That is why I am revisiting some of my older posts.

Here is a post from last September. And, interestingly, it was published at 11:11.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

homeschooling log 2010: chapter one.

So, I've decided that this school year I will try to record some highlights of our schooling each week.

Today my son started eighth grade. He is in Year Four at The Classical School, and his class meets every Tuesday. He spends the rest of the week getting all of his assignments completed and ready to turn in at the next class. For the first day of school, he needed to have three books read and two book reports written. The three books were "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" by Robert Louis Stevenson, "The Screwtape Letters" by C.S. Lewis, and Mortimer Adler's "How to Read a Book." He was not impressed at all with the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, but loved the other two books and did book reports for those. I remember reading Adler's book because it was listed in Susan Bauer's "The Well-Trained Mind," and it is definitely a keeper for the bookshelf. I was really happy that Bobby liked it too.

He had all of his assignments completed and had a pleasant first day of classes. He said that they spent the bulk of the day watching Francis Schaeffer's video "How Should We Then Live?" and he took the time to tell me all about it while we were on the road to Ohio. I loved hearing him recount all of the information they had discussed in class.

My son has become quite the model student. He got straight A's last school year, and now I don't have to constantly stay on him about doing his homework. He knows that he's going to have a Latin exam every week, so he gets on the ball and does his Latin homework and studies for the quizzes right away. He read all of the summer books online, and I did not have to remind him once. He takes the initiative now and gets his work done independently. That is a huge help now that I am schooling Ian and Natalie.

day 334: bueller? bueller?

When you're on the road for a while and you know you've got to get your "photo-of-the-day" at some point, just rest your camera on your arm and snap randomly out the window every now and then. That's what I do.

Most of what you'll end up with is duds, but not all of it.

Some of what you'll get will be really cool. Like this.

Digital Field Guide: tried to read something on my phone, but that darn connection goes in and out on the road.

Images: contacts on my Flickr app.

Monday, August 09, 2010

day 333.

Taken with my Iphone using Hipstamatic.

Today has been a whirlwind. I'm gonna tell you now, I didn't make it to any technical reading or image hunting today. I've been going and going. All day.

It turns out, there was not just one orientation that I had to go to today, but two. With play auditions in between, plus errand running to pick up my oldest's son's Latin book. Not to mention squeezing in Chick Fil A for dinner before the evening orientation.

I am beat.

I will need to muster up some energy for the drive back up to my Hubby tomorrow.

In other news, I really like that I caught the view in my side view mirror in this shot. It makes me happy.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

day 332: rosebud queen.

We have this bath time ritual.

Once the little ones are done with their bath, my husband wraps my son in a towel and "presents" him as King. It's because with his hair wet, he looks very regal and important. He loves parading around for a few minutes as King Ian.

So, little sister has not wanted to be outdone. For the last couple of months, she has wanted to be "presented" as well. So she gets presented as Queen Natalie. This is the little Rosebud Queen in her royal regalia.


Well, just the robe.

Digital Field Guide: read an article on my Nikon School app.

Images: Alexei Vassiliev. Love the movement and ambiguity in these photos.


Tomorrow is Orientation at Master's Academy in Marietta. Thankfully, all of my lesson plans and my parent letters are written. All I have to do now is go to the website and upload copies of my syllabi which are already written as well.

Sigh. Whew. Insert other expressions of relief here.

Now that the hard part is behind me, I can really look forward to starting the year. And I am looking forward to it. Last year was one of the best years I've ever had at Master's, in the sense that I feel like I built some real relationships with several of my students. I've always had students that loved me and enjoyed being in my classes, but this year I actually took the steps to begin mentoring some of my students outside of the classroom and thus building a relationship with them that continues beyond the school environment and regardless of whether they attend the school or not.

I did that last year by starting AGE, which stands for Awesome Girls Extraordinaire. I don't know why, but I had the "bright" idea of inviting some of my music students to accompany me on some of my photo walks. They jumped on it. We had fun. And took lots of pictures. And I was able to learn things about them that I would not have learned at school. They learned things about me too.

This year, I want to continue building this AGE group. I have some ideas for activities that I want to do with them, but also I want to be extra mindful of recognizing those moments when I can speak into their lives. Not that I don't usually recognize them or haven't spoken into their lives already. I have. But I feel like there's so much more that I could do, and I want to always be alert and aware of those opportunities.

I want to inspire them. Encourage them. Remind them that life is such an incredible gift, and that each of them is a gift. I want to pour myself into them in such a way that they are compelled to pour themselves into others. I hope that I can motivate them to settle for nothing less than walking in their destiny at all times. This is such a precious and tumultuous time for these girls, as the temptations to go down potentially harmful and even destructive paths seem to be so prevalent at this age. I made many mistakes when I was their age, and I realize that there weren't many people around me at the time that I could look up to. My mother is the exception, but she was working two jobs and I was left to my own devices most of the time. While I was responsible by most people's standards, I know that if I had had some sort of mentor in my life I might have fewer regrets now.

Maybe I can play a small part in helping these girls steer clear of those negative paths and thus help them go into adulthood with few regrets, even no regrets.

I know that sounds like a lofty goal, but I think the Lord is giving me the grace to do just that. Just as He has given me the grace to be a wife to my husband, and to raise my three children in the fear and admonition of the Lord, I feel like he is giving me grace to be an example for these girls.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

day 331.

Woohoo! A box of Prismacolor Verithins managed to stow away and sneak themselves up here with the rest of our belongings. Awesome!

Wait... did I bring any of my art supplies with me? At the very least one of my journals?


Digital Field Guide: page 100

Images: Gabrielle Kai Photography on Flickr

Friday, August 06, 2010

day 330.

I have discovered that Dayton has many nice parks.

We found one today, and it's more of a "walk-around-and-sit-on-a-nice-bench-and-look-at-all-the-pretty-scenery" park than a "great!-now-the-kids-can-run-around-on-the-playground-until-they-wear-themselves-slap-out" park. But the kids did run around for a little bit on this little patch of grass. And I was able to sit on the nice bench and admire all the pretty scenery, which included a large fountain in the middle of the (I guess it's Miami??) river.

Look at all my youngun's hair. It really is gorgeous. My oldest said he looks like Dragonball Z. I think he's right.

Digital Field Guide: page 99

Thursday, August 05, 2010

day 329.

The lovely pool is open until Halloween. Yay.

My babies were a little more comfortable in it today than they were a couple of days ago. My little Rock Star even went underwater once, and did NOT freak out.

He also fell into the hot tub, and amazingly, did NOT freak out then either. I am glad I was not aware of that particular incident until after the fact, because I would have indeed freaked out.

There are many reasons why the lovely pool is so lovely. It's a salt water pool, and not chlorine.
It only goes to about 5 feet. The water is not cold. There are large steps that lead down into the pool, and the top step is more like a platform where the kids can play. And there's a nice hot tub.

My plan is to spend every other afternoon down at the pool when we're up here so that the little ones can get comfortable with it.

Digital Field Guide: read an article on my Nikon School app.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

day 328: homeschooling.

Back in 2006, I started three blogs: this one, a music one, and one called The Day School where I would share my homeschool adventures. I got bored with that one very quickly and left it alone, and focused on this one. That's not to say that I haven't had any homeschooling adventures; I just haven't felt so inclined to write about them. Every now and then I play around with the idea of journaling there again, but, ho hum...

I started school with my little ones this week. The first week of school is always so exciting. My oldest starts next week, and he'll be in eighth grade.

Meanwhile, my little Rock Star is doing Kindergarten. We are easing into everything, only doing reading instruction and picture study and reading lots of books this week. Next week we'll add math and other things. He is so excited! He wants to do more once we're finished.

And my little Ladybug is having a ball right alongside him, learning the letter sounds and recognizing them as fast as he does! I love it.

She still grabs her books and brings them to me to read to her every day. This one is one of her favorites. You can tell that we've read it a LOT.

Digital Field Guide: a page in Niki's manual

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

day 327: ohhhh...

I know. It's the sky again.

I can't help it, people! It's been looking so darned a MAY zing every day for the last SEVERAL days and well, I just can't help it.

It amazes me even more than flowers.

Don't get me wrong, I think flowers are absolutely gorgeous, but if you have read my blog for any period of time you know that I am not a HUGE flower photographer. Sometimes they really do get to me and I just have to do it, snapping away, like I did in the Springtime. But in general, I don't do flowers all that much.

But the sky. Ohhhhh the skyyyyyy.

It's reminding me of the song that's very popular right now by B.o.B. called "Airplanes."

"can we pretend that airplanes in the night sky
are like shooting stars
i could really use a wish right now, wish right now,
wish right now."

I have been singing that song a lot over the last couple of months. I want to do a cover of it with my son (who has been so busy with all of his OWN stuff he has precious little time for his dear mama and all of the projects SHEEEE wants to do) and maybe we'll get around to it next week. I'm itching to post another YouTube video. But anyway, back to the skyyyyyy...


It also makes me think of just how big God is. Which is, a lot bigger than I can imagine without my brain starting to hurt. And then THAT reminds me of a song that I wrote about six years ago...

"God is a mystery
I cannot wrap my mind around Him
I am so small
Life is so small
And He is so big

God of the universe
How can we begin to fathom Him
The pupil of his eye could be the size
of the Milky Way
He is so big

So let us breathe in the mystery
Of the Holy One, whoa
Let us breathe in the mystery
Of our Father God, whoa"

Yeah. That's pretty much what the sky does to me.

Digital Field Guide: another page in Niki's manual.

Images: Perou

i'm featured!

A couple of weeks ago, Tasra Dawson contacted me about being featured on her blog. That was so exciting! And humbling, since her blog is read by LOTS and LOTS of people. Feeling intimidated, I proceeded to write my photography story and share a few images.

Seeing the finished product on her Feature Friday really made my heart smile. I am so grateful to her for featuring me, not to mention inspiring me to follow her on this journey. I got the chance to assist her on a shoot a few months ago, and I tell you what, she is gold.

Thank you so much, Tasra!

day 326.

Ohhhh the skyyyyy.

We arrived at 12:30 in the morning, and I have spent most of the day being worn out. Definitely had to head out a few times, to stock up on groceries for the week among other things. It looks pretty nice up here. I'll be back to my regularly-scheduled 365-ing (with reading and image hunting) tomorrow.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

day 325: on the road again.

Driving, driving, driving.

Now, I am used to driving several hours at a time. But I got tired pretty early on during this trip. This does not bode well for my future trips back and forth.

I am just working on psyching myself out and reminding myself that it is no longer than a regular day at work for the average person.

I am such a road trip girl. Being on the road always reminds me of the myriad of times that I was traveling on the road with my parents or other relatives. With my parents, we drove to Miami at least twice for family reunions, as well as to several lesser-known places in South Georgia. We drove to St. Louis. I traveled with my mother to Chicago, West Virginia, Detroit and Canada. Not to mention rides on the bus a couple of times to Chicago with my great aunt, and a trip with a bus-load of relatives to Dayton, Ohio, which happens to be where we're headed now.

I have driven a fourteen-passenger van, towing a 14 ft. trailer from Georgia to Florida to Alabama to Tennessee to South Carolina to Arkansas and back. I've driven to Tulsa, Oklahoma twice. And I've covered the whole of the East Coast, from as far north as Kittery, Maine all the way to Tampa Bay.

Not only that, but I have traipsed my happy butt all over southern Mexico on a bus, as well as large chunks of Italy and England. I've seen the Austrian and Slovenian countrysides, on a bus. Being on the road just seems to be in my blood. Give me a pair of headphones, some peanut M&M's, and enough batteries to keep my walkman going (or nowadays, just give me my iPhone charger), and I'm good to go.

It's relaxing for me, I think partly because the memories I have of traveling with my parents are such wonderful ones. We always had these great adventures, it seems. And discovering new places was always fun and kept me alert and interested. It's all the same for me now, as I explained last year.

I'm so thankful that I get to have these relaxing road trip moments again.

day 324.

I am getting ready for an eight-hour drive to Ohio.

My husband has a four-month stint up there, so we will be calling Dayton home.

I'm looking forward to the trip. I always love traveling with my family and discovering new cities together. We have lived in Nashville, Tennessee, Albany, New York, and Charlotte, North Carolina. We've also been able to travel to Chicago, which we did this exact time last year. That was an amazing trip.

I'm hoping there will be enough fun things to do in Dayton. I've only been there once, for a family reunion when I was nine or ten, maybe eleven. All I remember, besides being in the hotel watching my relatives playing cards and drinking Scotch, is the family picnic at some park. Other than that, I remember that there seemed to be a whole lot of nothing.

Perhaps that has changed in 25+ years. Perhaps.

Cincinnati is only an hour away, so there's a possibility that we could just head there on weekends if Dayton is a total dud. We'll see.

I am spending tonight cleaning and packing and preparing for the trip, so I won't be reading or image hunting today. I won't be doing it tomorrow either, since we'll be on the road.