Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Trick or Treat

We had a great night with some great friends last night.  We had a blast trick or treating and visiting.

Here is Princess TD as a bumblebee and Little TD as a Jedi.  It varied which Jedi he said he was, so I am still not sure which one he is here.


Little TD’s light saber actually lights up!  He loved that!  It reminds me of one day when I was home sick when Episode IV first came out way back when.  I was staying with my Grandma Siler for the day and she had to run to Stix, Baer and Fuller.  When we came up the escalator right at the top when we got off was a man dressed as Darth Vader complete with a lighted light saber.  He activated his light saber and then turned and spoke to me (all in the matter of a second or two) and I screamed!  It was very funny, but I was terrified at the time!  I have been watching for the return of the light up light sabers for Little TD.  I couldn’t believe they would deprive this generation of kids the cool stuff we had available as kids.  That was the most costly part of his costume this year, but he loves it!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Fall Leaves, Texas Style

Fall looks very different from what I grew up with in Missouri here in the piney woods of Texas.  My kids are missing out on the fun of raking the fallen leaves and jumping in the piles of leaves.  They won’t experience that here.  They have seen many shows and movies that have children playing in the raked leaves, so they are familiar with the tradition.  They decided this year to create their own version, Texas style!


Raking the pine needles….

IMG_5342 IMG_5341

and more raking….


and more raking!  We only have one pine tree, but it produces A LOT of pine needles!

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Finally, they get to jump into the “leaves”… it was very short lived since the pine needles are very pointy and hurt when they stab you!

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Then they cleaned up their pile.  They even did it without being asked!  Great helpers!

While all of our friends up north are enjoying raking and playing in real leaves, we will enjoy the shorts weather until Christmas!  Oh the joys of living in Texas!!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Experimenting with Science

At the homeschool conference this summer, I was able to put my hands on the science curriculum I have been eyeing on the internet for quite some time now.  Now, I absolutely love the Apologia Elementary series, but right now, that is more above Little TD’s head than I think I want to go at this point.  While I love our main curriculum, I have been struggling with the science portion for several years.  It seems more light than my kids are needing, but most homeschoolers that I talk with don’t worry about science in the early elementary years.  I guess it is the engineer in me that makes me want them to want science.

After I actually put my hands on the curriculum, A Reason for Science, and had my hubby look at it as well, we opted to go with Level B for both Princess TD and Little TD.  We decided that combining them in science and Bible would be the most advantageous for both of them and for me as the teacher!  One of the things that I loved about this program was that everything that we need for the experiments is included in the package.  When I pulled it all out to get started, I noticed that the first unit required something extra that I didn’t buy!!  It was not a huge deal, but I had to do a bit of searching to find the flowers that were needed.  Needless to say, we had to put off the first unit for a bit.

The first unit was to learn about how plants get water and nutrients through the stem. 


Princess TD inspecting the inside of the stem.


Little TD inspecting the inside of the stem.

In order to see how the plants use water, the experiment had us cut the stem of a white carnation in half and put half of the stem in blue colored water and half of the stem in red colored water.  We had to let the flowers stand for 24 hours without touching them to see the effects.

IMG_5317 The experiment set-up and ready to go.

IMG_5318 The flowers before.


The flowers after.

Little TD labeled the experiment a failure since the flowers were not as deeply colored as the picture in the book.  It is not clear in the picture, but half of the edges of each flower are colored red and the other half are colored  blue.  The entire petals did not color, but the edges did.  Princess TD loved the experiment and wanted to do it again. 

They love this new science program and can’t wait to do it every week!

How the Drought Affects Playtime

We recently took a trip to the local lake to have dinner along the lake shore for Mr. TD’s birthday.  We were looking at the docks and were discussing how we wouldn’t be able to pull our boat up to dock for lunch.  Even if there was enough water to float the boat, there would be no way we could get out of the boat and on to the dock!  The marina usually employs people to help you to tie off when you come in for shopping or dining.  They had a 8 ft. ladder laying on the dock to assist those who dare to pull in to get out of their boats!  I don’t think we’ll be heading out there anytime soon!

While Little TD waits for me to work on different subjects with Princess TD during school, he builds with his Trio blocks.  He has become very creative with what he builds.  This day, he was building boats. 

Here’s the story.  The picture is worth a thousand words!

IMG_5335 “Hey Mom!  This is how it is usually when we pull up to the dock.”



“This is how it is now.  There is no way we can get out of the boat!”

And for reference, here are a few pictures of the lake about 3 weeks ago.  I am sure the water levels are even lower now.  We are all praying for rain!

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Friday, September 30, 2011

Best. Movie. Ever.

Okay, maybe not the best ever, but it certainly ranks up there very near the top! 



We attended Homeschool Day at the Movies last Friday.  We went to see the movie Dolphin Tale.  If you haven’t seen it, you must go see it!


We had a crazy theater experience, and it turned out to be close to a private showing for 4 homeschool families from our homeschool group.

It was such a great movie!  I think we may even take Mr. TD to see it again this weekend. 

Our Way to Learn Geography

 IMG_5325 In January of this year, one of my brothers realized his boyhood desire of driving an 18-wheel truck for a living.  I am not sure what inspired this dream, whether it was our neighbor across the street who also drove a truck for a living or the endless number of movies about truck driving that were filling theaters at the time, I do not know.  Either way, he is driving all over the United States and at least once a week, he sends me a text message with his pick-up and drop-off locations for the week.  We have been tracking them on a large map.   Princess TD and Little TD take turns adding cities to the map.



We ended up changing the original small map pins for larger ones that would show up in the picture.  We have also decided to track Daddy’s travels as well.  The white pins are where my brother travels, and the dark purple pins are where Mr. TD travels.  We are on track to learn most of the states in the continental US by the end of the school year.  I think it is time to pull out our Star Spangled State book and learn more about each of the states where our family travels.


Happy Birthday Uncle Brian!!!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Princess TD’s Super Summer

It is hard to believe summer went by so fast this year.  It is also hard to believe I am so behind on posting pictures. 

Princess TD has had a very eventful summer! 

She started with her first ever ballet performance, where she was a flower.  She performed beautifully and is now enjoying a more challenging year of ballet lessons. 

Next came AHG summer camp.  We had so much fun with our friends in TX1318!  For Princess TD, camp gave her a bit of a challenge.  She attempted the ropes course.  While she was waiting for her turn, she lost a tooth!  She did a great job climbing all the way to the top, but once there, she couldn’t make herself navigate the ropes.  I was very proud of her for even trying…that was WAY up there and many of the moms who tried couldn’t believe the girls were doing it so well!

In July, Princess TD had her 8th birthday!  She participated in the local parade ON her birthday.  It was a special treat for her!  One of the badges she completed last spring with her AHG troop, was Social Skills & Etiquette, so she wanted to have a tea (lemonade) party with her AHG and ballet friends.  It was a sweet party and all of the girls were great!

I would say the highlight of her summer was ordering and receiving her American Girl doll.  She saved her own money and purchased the doll herself along with 1 outfit.  That was all she could afford.  She is saving now for more clothes.  I do have to say that she takes really good care of Lilly Anne, much better than her other dolls.

At the end of the summer, we had to make a hard decision to change to another AHG troop in the area.  We were asked to switch our ballet class to the regular meeting day of our original troop, so we were forced to look for another troop.  We just had our first meeting and Princess TD did a great job helping the girls (all new to AHG) perfect the sign and the salute.  I will be forever grateful to the wonderful trio of  A.N.E. for starting AHG in this area and for introducing us to the awesome program.  It is wonderful to see how many new families are being touched by this great ministry!

Here are a few pictures to give you an overview of Princess TD’s Super Summer!

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First Day of School

Our first day of school was very unique this year.  I had planned to spend a year and a half working on the current curriculum because I thought it was a bit of a stretch skill wise for both of them.  So, we didn’t “begin” a new level of our curriculum this fall.  I guess it wasn’t strange for the kids, but it was very strange for me.  It just doesn’t seem like a new school year without new curriculum.  We will be finishing up soon, since both kids are just cruising through their work!  Here are pictures of both of them on the “first day” of this school year!

bts2Princess TD


Little TD


Best buddies!

Apparently in the craziness of last fall, I missed taking first day of school pictures.  That is likely because we were doing our first day of school in the basement of my mom’s condo as she was recovering from major cancer surgery.  In case you would like to see how they have grown, you can see their first day of school pictures from 2 years ago here.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Weather Explained by a 5 Year Old

It was raining the other day when we were working on school.  Yes!  Drought stricken Texas was blessed with rain!  We received almost 2” over the 3-day period when it rained.  Both Princess TD and Little TD were jumping up and down at the sight of the raindrops falling from the sky. 

I digress.

The rain was just a nice pitter patter, no thunder or lightning that day.

Little TD jumps in with his explanation of the weather. (This is what he said to the best of my recollection…I was trying so hard not to chuckle, that I am sure I have left out a detail or two.  My thoughts will be in green.)

“You know Mom, the rain is God pouring a glass of water.” I instantly wanted to go check to see if there was some water spilled somewhere in my kitchen since he had just refilled his water cup.

“And the thunder is Him banging on a drum, or maybe bowling, it just depends on the way He feels.”  Okay.

“Oh, and the lightening is him turning off and on the light.  It could be turning off and on a flashlight too.”  Mmm hmm.

“And those one clouds that look like those things, um, cotton balls.  Those are Mrs. (long pause)…those are what Mrs. (draws a blank again) uses to take off her nail polish.”  Here’s where the holding in the chuckles begins.

“Oh and Sissy, you know those dark clouds.  Those are the ones she’s already used.”  I thought I was going to lose it here!  I had to get up and go check my kitchen floor at this point.  Oh, and no water was spilled.


At the homeschool conference we attended recently, we attended a seminar about killing dreams of the people in your life.  I do believe I could qualify for this title, since I am not much of a dreamer and I attack everything logically.  Mr. TD is more of a dreamer than I am, however, he’s pretty logical too.  So we have been gently reminding each other not to kill our kids dreams, especially when reality will come along and fix some of the assumptions naturally.  This was an opportunity for me not to kill the vivid imagination of my sweet 5 year old son, and hopefully provide the few people who read this blog, a really good chuckle!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Long and Winding and Very Hilly Road

I really have the best intentions on keeping up with this blog. I know I haven’t done a great job. Really, I haven’t done a great job at anything lately. I haven’t been a good wife. I haven’t been a good mom. I haven’t been a good homeschool teacher. I have not been good at any of my roles lately. I have been thinking about what to do with my mom and about my mom and her health and what seems to be the lack of concern on her part. I have been consumed with these thoughts day and night for nearly a year now.

When we started down this road a year ago, I didn't expect it to be so winding and hilly.  I expected a straight path from problem to solution.  (My engineering brain at work again.) Life this last year has proven to be like our drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway last fall; up and down, left and right, and sometimes you go down so quickly, that it makes you a bit sick to your stomach. 

In talking with my uncle a couple of weeks ago, he suggested for me not to be obsessive about my mom and all of her needs to the detriment of my family. That was just what I needed to hear. It is time for me to shift responsibility back to where it belongs. It is her responsibility to fight the cancer. It is her responsibility to keep hydrated. It is her responsibility to take her medicines on time. It is her responsibility to eat 3 meals a day. It is her responsibility to quit smoking. I can’t make her want get better and live. It reminds me of the old saying, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” That is where we are with her now. We have lead her to the place where she can receive care from those who love her, but we can’t make her WANT to get well.

I will continue to be responsible for her finances. That is something I can do without harming my family. I will continue to pray for her healing and for her desire to live. I can love her, even when it is hard.

For the last 2 weeks, I have made the trip from home to Louisiana twice to help deal with the doctors’ appointments and the plan for the future. We have been so consumed by the recurring UTI, that we didn’t even consider the possibility that something else might be wrong. This last Monday, we went for a follow-up appointment with her urologist and found out about the mass in one of her kidneys. This was the first we had heard of this. He began to scramble to get a CT or PET scan done, indicating that he wanted to do surgery this week.

As I type this, we are waiting to get approval from her insurance for a PET scan to further investigate an abnormality in her kidney. She was supposed to have a CT scan this morning, but she has not been keeping herself hydrated, so her kidneys are not functioning properly, so she can’t have the contrast. My sister and I were both there with her last week and even with both of us watching, we couldn’t keep her hydration at a level where her kidneys function properly. It is out of our hands.

Please pray for my sister, my brothers and me to have wisdom as we make decisions about the future of my mom’s care.

For now, we rest in the knowledge that this is only temporary and that someday we will see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

It's been awhile...

It seems like just a few weeks ago I posted here.  Time has flown by so quickly.  I guess that happens when you are preoccupied with an illness combined with normal everyday family activities. 

Over the next few days, I will be updating you on quite a few things that have been happening around the TD Family household.  For now, I will start with the most obvious.

Princess TD cut off her hair!!

Yes.  She finally let my stylist cut her hair - it only took 4 tries!!  She decided that she wanted to let it grow long enough to donate it to a charity.  While most kids her age donate to Locks of Love, she opted to go with Pantene Beautiful Lengths.  With the Pantene program, her hair is guaranteed toward making a wig for a cancer patient.  She really wanted that.  She helped my cousin, Jo, pick out her wig after her diagnosis, so this was dear to her heart. 

I am so proud of my little girl for being so generous.

We have had a few tears over the missed long hair, but she is convinced it will be long again next week.  Well, it won't actually be next week, but it will grow back!

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In case you were wondering about the song, she said this was her favorite song.  It is called When I Get to Heaven by PureNRG.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Homeschool Mother's Journal - Week 2

The Homeschool Chick

In my life this week...

We took off school last week to work on redoing our kitchen floor.  It was a big job and the whole family helped get it done.  We were very grateful for the help from Grandpa and Grandma.  We wouldn't have been able to do it so quickly without them!

On another note, my mom had her last chemo treatment this past Friday.  She will have another follow up with her oncologist in a month, at which point he will run further tests to see how she is doing.  We are all praying that she can be finished with chemo and that the cancer has not returned.  She recently ran out of cigarettes and mentioned to my sister that she was "done" now.  I only pray that is true!

In our homeschool this week...

It is always a slow start back when we have taken time off school.  Since we took off last week to work on redoing our kitchen floor, today was the first day back and it was crazy!  I am hopeful that the week will end on a good note once we all get back into the swing of things.

Places we are going & people we are seeing...

Just before our week off, we took a field trip to our local aquarium with our homeschool group.  We had a wonderful time with a great group of people!  We even got to have one of Princess TD's friends hang out with us for a day. 

My favorite thing this week was...

On our field trip, I was able to convince Princess TD and her friend to touch the stingrays in the touch tank! That was priceless!  Princess TD has always been afraid to touch, but the two of them together developed the courage they needed.  They both were afraid of the sharks, but it was so much fun teaching them both about the stingrays and sharks.  Princess TD and Little TD have seen the pictures of the sharks we saw on one of our SCUBA diving trips and really aren't afraid of them, but it was priceless seeing the eyes of her friend as I described how close were were to them. 

What's working/not working for us...

Obedience.  First time obedience.  That is always a challenge.

Homeschool questions/thoughts I have...

We finished our reading program we have been working with for a year.  We started a new one, Drawn Into the Heart of Reading.  I love the program, but my brain is not comprehending how to make all of this happen.  I am sure that I am just making it more complex than it needs to be; I have a tendency to do that.

A photo to share...

The Crazy Aquarium Kids!

Our New Kitchen Floor

We have been planning and saving for a while for a new floor in our kitchen. Something more urgent always came up, so it has taken us a couple of years to have the money to replace our 13 year old, contractor grade linoleum. It is amazing that it even lasted as long as it did! Here is the transformation...

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It was a great family project!  After stirring all of the dust and debris, my allergies have been going bonkers, but they are beginning to subside now and will be even better once I complete a deep cleaning of the house!  We can't wait to have everyone over to see our new floor...maybe we'll just have to have a party!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Homeschool Mother's Journal - Week 1

I stumbled on this meme and thought it would be a good way to get back into blogging again. I know the far away family wants to know how we are doing and what we are doing.

The Homeschool Chick

In my life this week...

In my last post, I shared what all has been going on in our lives for the last few months.  I have been overwhelmed with the outpouring of love and concern from friends and family.  It is always so comforting to know that others are praying for you.

In our homeschool this week...

This week was as perfect as a homeschool week could be!  Princess TD moved from carrying to borrowing in math with no difficulty...which is amazing considering the struggle we had with carrying to the hundreds place (and beyond) the previous week.  She is reading like crazy and devouring all books with ease.  Little TD took off with his reading/phonics lessons this week too.  He is so thrilled that he is learning to read and can't wait until he's finished with the "red book" so he can get his very own library card!

Places we are going & people we are seeing...

We had a great time last week at our homeschool group park day and also at the annual Valentine's Day ice skating party.  Both Princess TD and Little TD are having a blast comparing the Valentine cards they received and talking about the friends they saw.

This week we will again be headed out to park day for a fun afternoon in the warmth of the soon to be Texas spring.  We will also be attending our American Heritage Girls meeting for the first time this month...the previous one was cancelled due to the icy conditions!

My favorite thing this week was...

Seeing Princess TD and Little TD light up when they figured out what they were doing.  I never grow tired of that!

What's working/not working for us...

Right now, everything is working for us.  We seem to have found our groove.  I love our curriculum, with a few changes to fit my kids, mainly science and Bible.

Homeschool questions/thoughts I have...

Do I need to slow down, or just let things go?  Right now I am letting it ride, taking it one day at a time.

A photo to share...

Here is Princess TD at the Valentine ice skating party.  Little TD didn't skate.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


I have been absent from here because I have been finding it very difficult to share all that has been going on in our lives. My mind is constantly filled with scenarios of how the next few days/months/years will play out with our new life in dealing with the cancer. I can't seem to get past the constant swirling thoughts in my few moments alone to get written what we have been doing in school and in life.

When I begin thinking about how to take care of Mom when she's 800+ miles away, I just can't seem to figure out what to do about it. My sister has been doing a phenomenal job of taking care of her as she goes through the chemotherapy treatments. The question that plagues both of our minds is 'where do we go from here?' and I feel completely inadequate to answer that question. I haven't been present for the doctor appointments, I don't have the opportunity to ask any questions of them and I am finding that very frustrating. I can't get my mind to process a solution when I don't have the data. That is just my engineering brain at work.

You see, I have been helping my cousin as she has gone through breast cancer at the same time my mom has been dealing with bladder cancer. The difference is that my cousin is here in town and has allowed me to be there for her doctor appointments. I have had the opportunity to ask questions of the doctors, get the facts, get the plan and help her to process and move through the diagnosis, surgery, chemo and soon the reconstruction. She has appreciated my help and wanted my help. Now, I am not saying this has been an easy process. It has been hard in fact. I have given of my time, my energy (both physical and mental) and neglected other things that probably shouldn't have been neglected. But, I would do it again in a heartbeat. No one should have to go through this alone, and I am honored that she asked me to go through this journey with her.

On the other hand, in my mom's case, she was at home for the first part and with my sister now. Her doctor in St. Louis was more than happy to discuss anything and everything with me over the phone. I was able to ask as many questions as I had and she was patient and answered all of them. I have learned all I know about bladder cancer and its treatment from the internet. I guess the most important facts being that is was caused by her decades of smoking and that it is one of the most recurring cancers.

So what do we do now? That is the question that plagues me.

Mom is still smoking. She doesn't truly believe that is what caused her cancer. She is not taking care of her basic needs. She isn't being responsible. She doesn't ask the doctors questions, she doesn't want to know. She doesn't interact with me and my family when she is here with us. She isn't eating well. She refuses to take anti-depressants to get through this time.

How can we send her home to live alone when this is how she is behaving?

If we don't send her home, where will she go?

How do we pay for her to live?

In Matthew 6:25-34, we are told not to worry about anything that God will take provide for our needs. I do find myself worrying about this situation way too often. When I realize I am worrying, I pray. I feel in a lot of ways that if we let Mom go home alone, it would be similar to sending a young child out to live on their own. How would you not worry about that?