Monday, March 26, 2012

The Big Things In Life


Me and sandwiches? We have a past. All through elementary school, my mom cut my sandwiches straight down the middle. She also wrote notes on my napkins reminding me she loved me, but those straight cut sandwiches stuck with me.

Much as I was sure the letter R was superior to the letter S (but the letter T beat them all), I was sure the proper way to cut a sandwich in half was along the diagonal. Furthermore, I convinced myself that all those kids who came to school with sandwiches cut the proper way were the rich kids. So that solidified a new paradigm in my mind: the "rich way" to cut a sandwich was a diagonal cut. I oozed rationality just as much as the next elementary-aged female, so of course I never once mentioned this to my mom. I ate my straight cut sandwiches and stewed over her obvious lack of concern for my lunchroom reputation.

Almost 25 years later, my husband can ask me, "do you want your sandwich cut the rich way?" and I know he's legitimately asking if I want my sandwich cut in half--along the diagonal.

Naturally, when I started making sandwiches for my kids, I was going to shield them from "poor sandwiches". I have always cut all of their sandwiches on the diagonal.

Until last week, when Sierra came up to me and timidly said, "can you just cut my sandwich straight down the middle?" Next thing I know, the girl's gonna decide the letter T belongs at the bottom of the heap.

Just a Reminder!

Just a reminder that all of the e-books at Pandia Press are 25% off through the end of March! I just bought Level 1 Earth and Space. We used Level 1 Life Science this year and really enjoyed it!

*Affiliate link. If you click through my link and decide to buy anything, I get a 10% commission.

Chicken Update

The chickens and turkeys were starting to get big. Still in that awkward teenage chicken phase, but too big to be cooped up in their containers inside.

The last week was a rough one around here, but Josh managed to finish their new coop to the point where they could finally move outside. It will need a little more work to add on nesting boxes and finish out some doors, but it's safe and secure as is.

Here's the almost finished product from a distance: Inside the enclosed part, there are shavings for them and two perches. Later on, there will be nesting boxes to the side: The bottom area gives them access to all the grass and bugs they want to eat. He's used as much lighter wood as possible (not all 2x4s this time) and we have wheels we'll be putting on so the whole contraption can move to new areas of the yard as needed
A ramp gives them access to enclosed portion when they want it, though they didn't quite get that concept today. They would go up the ramp, but stop before they got to the top and come back down. After the sun set, they just all huddled under the ramp rather that actually going up to roost, so Josh had to go out and put them up. Hopefully they catch on soon.

I didn't think to actually take a picture of the chickens themselves, but here's a picture while they were moving in and the coop was being finished up so you can kind of see how big they're getting. The big white bird is one of the turkeys, the chickens are much smaller They seemed very excited to move into their new digs. There was much happy chirping going on!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Joy

This kid can be a handful, but she understands joy better than anyone I know. Keep rockin' the pink tutu, Sedona.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Spring Planting Part 1

We are having unseasonably warm weather around here. It's definitely time to get all of the spring plants going in the garden. We had a weekend FULL of steady rain that put a lot of the work we had planned on hold. By last weekend, the plants we had bought were getting fed up with their small containers and aching to spread their roots!

First, I did some sprucing up of the carrot bed. As you can see, the weeds liked all that rain:
I spent two evenings during the week pulling all of the weeds and thinning the carrots (and taking horribly blurry pictures, but "ya get what ya get and you don't throw a fit")
While I was over there, I took a couple of pictures for those who may not know. When broccoli flowers (each of those green puffs on a floret you eat opens up into a flower), this is what it looks like When the flowers fall off, you're left with these little stalks And those bumps inside the stalks are broccoli seeds. I planted hybrid broccoli though, which means these seeds are not meant for saving. Instead, I finally pulled all of those plants out of the garden bed
And Sierra helped me fill the bed with orange, yellow, red, purple and gypsy bell peppers It's so nice working in the garden these days. These beds that are closest to the house have been there for three or four years now, so we've built up really nice soil. You can see how rich it looks over in one of the tomato beds That's one of the ollas going in. I wrote all about ollas back in 2009 including what they are, how we made our own on the cheap and how well they worked. These are the same ollas I made back then, no maintenance needed. The short story is they are buried in the garden bed like this
and filled with water as needed. The plants wrap their roots around the olla and utilize the water that leeches through the clay. This cuts down on water use and on weeds all at the same time.

Here is one completed tomato bed. The bigger plants along the edge are garlic that our renters planted while they were here. I put in 10 roma tomato plants and 6 ollas. There is room to put in a few more things on the end. When I was done, I sprinkled some sweet and thai basil seed down the middle. The tomato cages were in a neighbor's trash pile about a month ago, great find!
We're also working on getting beans, squash, cucumbers and okra planted, all of that coming soon in another update!

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Start of the Organizing

A while back, I posted about my goal of organizing the house. Since then, I have slacked off and done...well, pretty much nothing. This is the reason my house needs an organization overhaul.

The school supplies storage is the area that is bothering me the most, so I decided to start there. I will have complete before and after pictures when we're done with everything, but I wanted to share this quick project first. I've decided to put up some pegboard to help hold supplies, so that the girls can easily reach what they need and can return supplies without having to get into boxes or drawers.

I started out with a basic supplies holder that I modified from an idea on the Fiskars website. As usual, I was looking for a way to re-use things around the house rather than buying a bunch of new things. I dug out some old home decorator fabric scraps I had from making curtains years ago. I also pulled out old, torn up jeans I had stashed in my fabric bins.

I cut all of the pockets off the jeans, keeping the back attached so it was still a pocket. I also cut 2 rectangles from my decorator fabric that were about 3 inches taller and wider than I wanted the final product. I laid out my pockets on the fabric until I got a design I liked: I used a white fabric pencil (anything that shows up on your fabric would work okay) to outline the pockets. I made sure the line was just under the edge of the pocket so it would be covered up and not show. I numbered the spaces so I would remember which pockets to attach first and last to get the right overlap I used some spray adhesive Josh had in his tool box to attach the pockets and let that dry.

Then I put my rectangles right sides together, sewed with a wide (about 1.5") seam allowance, flipped right side out and sewed again around the edge to make a crisper edge. Next I got out my cheapie grommet kit I picked up for $4 and installed 4 grommets along the top, making sure they would line up with pegs on the board. Word to the wise, put the grommet on the front side and the washer on the backside.
Finished product! A convenient and cute way to store pencils, pens, scissors and markers.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

A Whole New World

The chickens and turkeys got to spend an entire day outside this weekend. And what do chickens do when you give them about 5 times the space they're used to?
Group together, of course!

We were doing a lot of work out in the yard, so we put them in the old, dilapidated coop we used with our meat birds a few years ago. We just wanted to give them some access to grass and bugs for a while. There was MUCH happy chirping going on in the yard.

Later in the afternoon, they had a little too much excitement. A hawk came by to grab a chickie snack. It appears one turkey got pricked with a talon, maybe? There was a spot of blood on its back, but we couldn't find a wire it would've gotten caught on. Perhaps the hawk swooped in and made a grab before it realized chicken wire was in the way. About half the chickens managed to escape the coop too. Luckily, they were terrified by this development and were just circling looking for a way back in. They were pretty easy to catch and put back with their flock.

When there wasn't so much excitement going on, Josh was working on their new coop that they will be moving to soon
He just has the frame done so far. We managed to get all the wood for free. The 2x4s at the base are from the old (egg layer) coop. The rest of the wood was scavenged from throw away piles around town. He tells me the tall boards will be cut down a bit and there will be a slanted roof put on there with nesting boxes at the back. We found a sale on wheels, so we bought those for $4 each (it will move around the yard like our old one did). We will be able to pull together almost all the other supplies we need from around the house. I'll update when he builds more of it.

Overall, the chickens are doing well. They are getting more of their feathers and with the warm weather we've been having, they are getting by without their heat lamp during the day. They have quite the talent at filling their waterer and feeder with shavings, so I'm looking forward to moving them outside where that won't be quite as much of an issue.

Can't wait to have fresh eggs always available again!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Does It Matter When You Teach Reading?


I have always valued reading above all else in education. If you learn to read well, you can learn anything else you want to know. I always knew I wanted to focus on teaching the girls to understand and think critically about what they read. With such an obvious, clear goal in mind, the time table is easy, right? The earlier the better. Getting a child to read is a good thing, end of story.

Except that’s not the end of the story. When Sierra was younger, she started reading just before she turned 3. By the time she was 4, she was able to read just about anything up to a first grade level. The biggest benefit of that? Bragging rights for me.

It was two more years before I swallowed my pride and did some research about early reading. See, a friend of mine who also homeschools her children had mentioned something about early reading actually being a detriment. I totally blew off this information at the time, but it simmered in the back of my mind. And some relatively minor problems with Sierra’s reading and comprehension persisted until I finally decided it was time to learn about what was going on.

What I found out is that children really need to get through some physical milestones before they are cognitively able to read effectively. While you may get them reading words and parroting a story before they meet these milestones, they have a much easier time and process the information more efficiently if the physical milestones are reached first.

Armed with this information, I have approached reading differently with Sedona. While Sierra was interested in reading, I was also very interested in being the mother of an early reader. I have no doubt part of her drive to read was actually striving for the praise and attention she got from me for reading. In contrast, I have let Sedona completely call the shots. When she asks to read or play a practice game, we do. When she’s done, we stop. I praise her successes without suggesting we read just one more book. We read to her, we talk about the story, she sees us read our own books. The biggest reading skill she works on though?

That’s playing.

Yes, playing. The kind of free play where she hangs out in the backyard with her sister and no toys. The kind of play where she jumps and swings and digs and builds houses out of sticks and rocks. What in the world does that have to do with reading?

One of the key skills kids need to read effectively is “crossing the midline”. That’s exactly what it sounds like, you cross your midline anytime you reach across an imaginary line down the middle of your body. You cross the midline when you cross your legs, touch your right hand to your left knee, and when you read a page. Kids who cannot yet cross the midline will start reading on the left side of the page and when they get to the middle, their eyes have to actually stop and refocus to pick up on the right side. By then they often lose their place and get understandably frustrated. These kids are also using the right side of their brain to recognize the “picture” of a letter and doing more sight memorization rather than the actual phonemic decoding they can do once they bridge that connection between right and left brain. The kids that are relying on this memorization are more likely to mix up words that have similar beginnings and endings (i.e. thank vs. think), more readily reverse similar letters (i.e. b and d or p and q), are less likely to recognize spelling mistakes when they see them and have a difficult time learning to spell correctly in their own writing.

Crossing the midline also goes along with bilateral coordination. That’s the ability to make the two sides of your body work together and helps you develop handedness and write effectively. As the two sides of your brain start working together, you develop a dominant hand and a helper hand and they work together to cut a piece of paper, spread butter on a piece of toast, or numerous other activities we take for granted and forget are educational in their own right. Children having difficulty with this might skip crawling, start walking late or have clumsy motor skills. Along with crossing the midline, this bilateral coordination is an important factor in the ability to write well.

So what’s it matter? If the kid reads, you’ve overcome any possible hindrance, right? Not so fast. A child who is “forcing the issue” when their brain isn’t really ready will have a difficult time with comprehension. They simply don’t have the brain power leftover to create pictures of the story in their mind and imagine what might be coming next. It may take a while for this to really become evident because true comprehension is not a focus in early elementary classrooms (when most of the kids are learning to read and repeating back plot points).

Sierra reversed her letters until very recently (though I partially wrote this off on her being left handed), and she has to really put in a big effort to get her spelling accurate, but it was this comprehension issue that stopped me in my tracks. The whole point is to comprehend. Not to give a summary of the story, but to truly understand it. To discuss it. To give a summary of the story from another character’s point of view or imagine what might have happened after the story ended. To point out fantastical plot points that don’t actually flow together. These are the skills that will help her critically evaluate the non-fiction she will need to educate herself in the future.

If I could go back in time, I probably would have waited another year to teach Sierra reading. I definitely would have taken it slower and paid more attention to her motor skills. She probably is a "true early reader", but I think paying more attention to what her brain was really prepared for would have made things easier on her. It's a little like potty training a kid when they're not ready yet. You can spend months battling over it and cleaning up messes, or you can wait until they're ready and be done in a weekend. The long term outcome is the same, the difference is in the frustration level for you and the child. Early education should be filled with excitement and enthusiasm, not frustration.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Sight Word Practice Sheets

A while back, I put together a few ideas I found across the internet and some tips from a friend of mine with some experience in early education and came up with sight word practice sheets for Sedona



I explained the steps to her the first time I gave her one, but since then she has been able to do them without any help from me. She asks for them all the time and they are great for keeping her occupied while I'm working with Sierra.

These sheets all utilize pictures rather than written directions and provide practice for several different skills that are important for pre-k and kindergarten kids. They're not just reading, they're also coloring, writing, and learning to cut on the lines and glue things in a specific space. The only input needed from the parent is to ask the child to read the word. I do this at the beginning, when I give Sedona the sheet, and again when she's done with it.

I started out by creating a set of 52 worksheets. There are 26 words. For each word, there is one sheet where the letters to cut out are already in the right order and one sheet where the letters to cut out are mixed up. All of these worksheets are available as a package on google docs and ready for you to snag for free. All I ask is that if you share this resource, you do so by pointing people to this blog post rather than directly to google docs. You can download the entire set of sheets and print out the ones you want as needed. Sedona has enjoyed them so much that we do them more than once, particularly for the words she has a harder time remembering. For this set, I mostly stuck to words that cannot be deciphered phonetically because that is what "sight word" means to me (though "sight word" lists are often Dolch words, which may or may not be phonetic). I will be making more worksheets in the future and providing those to you as well, so if you have specific words you'd like to see in the next set, just let me know!

FREE Sight Word Practice Sheets, Set 1
May 2012 Update: I've created another free set with 16 more words. More information on this post.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Curriculum Review

We are starting to finish up some subjects for our school year and I'm starting to buy the books we need for next year. That means it's time for another curriculum review!

To back track a little bit: Sierra is 7 and in 2nd grade, she does a mix of 2nd and 3rd grade workbooks with mostly 4th and 5th grade reading. Sedona is 4 and in pre-K, she has a completely child-led day.

I definitely had a better understanding of what I was doing this year. Unlike last year, there is nothing we used this year that I want to ditch completely. Here is a run down of what we used and what I liked or didn't

Evan Moor Spelling: These spelling lists and daily activities are still working pretty well for Sierra. I added in some extra hands on activities to help her practice her words each week and it's a little hit and miss on whether she wants to do those or not. She is a competent speller for her age, but it definitely does not come easy for her. This is one area that frustrates both of us. Her, because she has to work at it, and me because she often deliberately chooses NOT to work at it. When I average our her scores on the tests all year, she ends up with an 84 overall. Frankly, that's good enough. I struggled with spelling when I was her age and I'm trusting it will come with time. I've been encouraging her to write stories to help that along.

Handwriting: I have been using this free handwriting worksheet generator for both girls. For Sierra, I use character building quotes and make them 3/8 inch. I have her trace and then also write them again on her own. For Sedona, I make up sentences that she can read and make them 3/4 inch. After I started running out of ideas for quotes to use I realized I am not going to want to redo this for each kid, so I started saving the original in a 3 ring binder and making a copy for them to use. This way I already have them made up for little sisters down the road. Sometimes we do handwriting every day and sometimes we only do it 2 or 3 times a week, it depends on what else is going on that week.

Evan Moor Geography: Sierra does these once a week (covers the whole week at one time). She LOVES them. At some point I may branch out and specifically focusing on teaching her capitals and things like that, but she already knows all the states, can label them all on a map, knows all the continents, and can find quite a few countries on a globe, so I'm not too worried. I may let her work through the next book over the summer and do more social studies activities next year, I'm not sure yet.

Evan Moor Grammar and Punctuation: Sierra also does these once a week by covering the whole week at one time. She does really well with these worksheets. She picks up most of the concepts quickly on her own. Every once in a while I have to sit down and really explain something to her because it's not clear from the explanations in the book.

Teacher Created Resources Editing Practice: This is a small book I picked up at a local teacher supply store. I have Sierra do these once a week and I call it "Fix It Friday". It's just a little extra practice on the grammar rules she's learning. As she gets through learning the basic grammar we'll transition away from the learning worksheets and incorporate more editing.

Right Start Math: We stuck with Right Start this year and it has been great. Sierra had a lot of frustration last year because she had learned to really rely on counting in her kindergarten class. She was really resistant to getting away from that. This year she is a whole different kid. There are still some skills that are frustrating for her, but overall it has come so much easier for her this year and she even says math is one of her favorite subjects sometimes. She is doing Level C (2nd grade) this year and it's much more time intensive for her than last year's math. We do lessons 5 days a week and there is a review worksheet (kind of like a short quiz) every 6-7 days. I love these reviews because it makes it easy for me to see where she needs a little more practice. She has nearly learned her multiplication tables by "stealth" (every day there is practice counting by some number. She can rattle them off and then also go back and tell you the equation, such as 7x3=21, but there has yet to be a formal "time to learn multiplication facts" lesson). We are also mentally subtracting 2 digit numbers and subtracting 4 digit numbers with borrowing. If you tell her something costs $6.27 and the customer pays $10, she can count back change. She's completely mastered telling time. She's also learned basic skills using a drawing board, t-square and triangles to draw correct geometric shapes. I've been happy and we'll definitely be moving on to Level D. Sedona has started Level A (Kindergarten) and done pretty well with it. She has to move slower than I thought because her attention span just can't handle an entire lesson at once. She loves to do them, but we have to split each lesson into two parts and she only does math about twice a week, so we've only covered about 20 lessons so far.

R.E.A.L Science Odyssesy Life Science: I have been so much happier with this than what we were using last year. The information is at the perfect level for Sierra and the labs really cement the ideas for her. My only complaint with it is that some things have come up at unreasonable times. Finding earthworms in December? Not gonna happen. So look ahead and switch up the units a bit to be sure you can get everything you need. I'm excited Pandia Press is starting to release some middle school level science as well. AND during March, their e-books (which is what we have) are 25% off! I'll definitely be ordering Earth and Space before the end of the month.

My Own History Curriculum: We're doing the Middle Ages this year and I couldn't find anything I liked for that. Rather than settle, I made my own curriculum and offered it up on the blog for free to anyone else who is interested. It's worked out well and I can't find anything that's quite what I want for next year (Early Modern History: 1600-1850), so I will probably start working on making my own for that soon.

Rosetta Stone Spanish:I have been so much more impressed with this than I thought I would be. We have the homeschool version and it's been nice to have a separate account going for each of us and then be able to pull up the reports of what lessons each person has done and what grades they got. I can easily see if Sierra skips over lessons (which she only did once, unintentionally). It was hard for me at first to keep my mouth shut and not correct Sierra. I'm glad I managed though because she's developed an amazing accent. It's impressive (and a bit embarrassing) that a few months of Rosetta Stone have totally surpassed my 3 years of high school Spanish. She has no preconceived notion at all of what the words should sound like, she just follows the pronunciation lessons. I still struggle with trying to force the accent while she's got the perfect Castilian lisp going on. I'm looking forward to watching her progress through the higher levels (we went ahead and bought levels 1-5). I have heard that kids need to be about 9 before they can handle Rosetta Stone on their own, but she has done fine with it.

Reading and Writing: We have done lots of child-led writing and reading. For writing, I either let Sierra pick a topic or give her a prompt and have her write and also draw a picture to go along with it. For reading, I have assigned a few books (Little House on the Prairie, On the Banks of Plum Creek, How to Eat Fried Worms), but she has thrown in plenty of her own during her free time (the Addy American Girl books, Ramona books, Sarah Plain and Tall, and plenty of science and history books as certain topics came along that interested her). Sometimes, I give her worksheets for what she's reading or I might have her write a summary and sometimes, we just talk about the book. She is participating on Book Adventure and really enjoying earning points there to trade in for prizes. Sedona is still reading BOB books and doing well with that. We'll be getting more serious with her reading next year.

John W. Schaum Piano Course: For music, I've been teaching Sierra "piano". It's really keyboard because pianos are expensive, and take up a lot of space and are a hassle to move. While keyboards are taboo with piano teachers and I understand that you can't learn on a keyboard and then move right over to a piano and play, I think it's unfairly elitist to vilify the keyboard. She is learning to read music and keep tempo and I think that's as good as she needs for right now. She has been able to take some of songs she taught herself on the recorder last year and transfer them to the piano as well as learning all the songs in this book. She will likely move on to Book A before the end of the year. I supplement by giving her theory quizzes that I make up on my own or get from the Texas Music Teachers Association. I'm confident she's picked it all up well enough to have a good start should she decide she wants to take lessons or teach herself another instrument.

Success Stickers! What? Stickers totally count as curriculum. I bought this book of 1200 stickers on clearance right after school started. I just picked it up because it was cheap, didn't think much of it. Oh my goodness have they been useful. Sedona absolutely LOVES to pick out a sticker when she's done with a lesson. When she's particularly antsy, it's often sufficient to remind her there's a sticker coming and she will sit a little more still with a finger on her ear to show me she's listening. Sierra is much more interested than I expected too. She likes to pick out a sticker to put on her papers when does a good job. I will definitely be keeping stickers around next year!

Whew!!! I think that's it. I've probably forgotten some of the smaller things. There are games and websites we have found useful throughout the year, but I'm pretty sure I covered the regular subjects.

What about you? Is there anything you used this year that you absolutely loved or absolutely hated? Something wonderful I'm missing out on that I just must check into?


**Except for free resources, all links are affiliate links

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Wildlife in the Garden

I've been stalking the backyard with my macro lens again.

Caught this butterfly over the weekend. It was frantically fluttering from flower to flower, so I set my shutter speed as fast as it would go and hoped for the best. Not too terribly bad!
I spent some more time with the bees too. It's a little surreal, you can sit right in the flowers and all you hear is a low, steady hum. They completely ignore me. I was always a little scared of the idea of having bee hives, but after watching how these act for the last few weeks and realizing how non-aggressive they are when they're busy, I'm more intrigued about small scale bee keeping
We have had TONS of birds around too. I'm very happy about this. I know it's going to be a rough year with garden pests and birds are one of the best ways to keep the bugs, particularly the grasshoppers, under control. Our chickens will help out with that when they're older, but for now, I'll welcome the birds. Last week, we had at least 50 robins hanging out in the backyard picking at the ground. I caught this one on the fence in the middle of fluffing up its feathers

To round out the post, I caught this guy on our plum tree. I wasn't sure what it was when I took the picture, but a few days later I checked out a book from the library about pest control and came across a picture of these. I'm pretty sure it's a hover fly and they eat aphids. The same book specifically named broccoli as a good plant to let go to flower to attract beneficial insects to your garden, so the TONS of broccoli flowers we've left in the garden will hopefully be helpful for us. Yay for good bugs!
I'm loving the weather we're having and the chance to get out and pay attention to the small things that are so easy to miss!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Rounding Out The Flock

We got the rest of our pullets (female chicks) last night! Two more barred rock, two more ameracauna and two red sex-link:
And that big guy (or gal) in the front? That is a turkey.

Grandma heard about our plan to raise a turkey or two and said Sierra wouldn't eat any turkey at Thanksgiving if we raised the bird ourselves. We've never hidden where our food really comes from though and we've raised meat birds before, so it never occurred to me to even consider the girls might have a problem with it. Just to be sure, I asked Sierra one day, "If we get a turkey and raise it, Grandma thinks you won't eat the turkey..." she looked at me like I had four heads and said, "Grandma's crazy! I LOVE turkey!" She also asked if she could make crafts with the feathers. I think we're probably in the clear.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Clearing Clutter

My 101 in 1001 goal #48, "have a garage sale", meshed really well with my goal of organizing the house and making it more functional. We have been collecting things for the garage sale by just throwing them in our spare bedroom. And then the garage sale kept getting put off, and put off, and put off. Until eventually our spare bedroom looked like this:
Yowzers.

So last week we put an ad in the garage sale section of our local paper and hauled all of our stuff outside. We ended up profiting just about $200 (after paying ourselves back for the newspaper ad and the change we'd gotten to have on hand), which we think was pretty good since we didn't have any big ticket items to sell.

Before we could do anything else with it, we went out that afternoon and bought this with it:
Clearing things we weren't using out of the house and replacing them with edibles outside the house? Definitely a win-win.

What we ended up with:
34 tomato plants
28 pepper plants (chili; banana; orange, yellow and purple bells)
1 blueberry plant
1 peach tree
1 orange tree
1 thornless lime tree
1 avocado tree (a bit of a stretch, but we're gonna try, just gotta keep it warm in winter)

We also got new pruning shears to take care of all the trees.

The thornless lime was a little bit of a surprise. I had no idea lemon and lime trees have thorns. Not just thorns; giant, vicious thorns like a mesquite tree. I was excited to get lemons and limes growing, but I saw those thorns and looked at my 3 kids and decided no way. It'll have to wait a while. We did finally find the thornless lime. I'm not sure if a thornless lemon exists? If it does, that's what I need.

We will probably get everything in the ground next weekend unless a few extra hours magically materialize during the week.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Out For a Sunday Stroll

Decided to take a nice little stroll today. For 13.1 miles.

Several months ago, my friend Carolyn started doing couch to 5K. She mentioned possibly signing up for a local 5K race and I scoffed and told her she had plenty of time to train for the half marathon instead. We went back and forth a bit, but I finally convinced her. At which point she started asking me peculiar questions about when I was starting my training. Turns out when you talk your friend into her first half marathon, she just might expect you to run it with her. Shoot.

Nah, I was really on board aside from some grumbling about training in cold weather. We did our weekday runs on our own and then met up on the weekends for our long runs. And this morning we woke up at 4am to get ready for a 7am start.

It wasn't real pretty, it wasn't real fast, but we got it done. I am incredibly proud of Carolyn, she's made some huge diet and exercise changes over the last several months. She's been rewarded by some pretty big improvements in her health and she just might inspire me to give up cut back on the sugar one of these days...

On to the pictures!
There were signs all along the running route. This was one of my favorites. Another was "you trained longer than Kim Kardashian was married!"
Around mile 10 or 11, a couple of our friends and Josh and the girls were waiting to cheer us on to the finish. They had signs for us too...I was partial to the "Don't Die!!!" one (that's my, "yay! supporters!" pose) After a hard morning, we crossed the finish line and collected finisher medals
Big hugs from the girls. Sierra was so excited I noticed her heart was beating super fast. Sedona jumped up and down and proclaimed, "You WON the race!! You got a medal!!!" (no, we didn't win, not even close, but her sweet cheerfulness was a great end to the morning)
Success!!! We're so happy to have met this goal. Now to set the next one...

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