Thursday, September 24, 2009

High Places

I frequently find myself apologizing for my long rambling rants. I want you (dear reader) to know that the following words are specifically for my benefit and I write them because it makes me feel better. Ranting and raving is somewhat therapeutic. It might not make much sense and tomorrow when I re-read this post I most assuredly will cringe at all my grammatical errors. But for now....
I have never had the inclination to be a drama queen. And I am always slightly surprised to find myself in situations that might appear in some tacky made-for-tv movie. I also recognize that my experiences aren't the wowiest (is that even a word?) out there. Nor would I even wish them to be. Truth is God dealt with me a long time ago not to keep what He's done for me all to myself. It might be uncomfortable for some. I didn't ask to get sick, have a major car accident or suffer years of infertility and loss. Nor was I prepared for what came because of those things...depression, financial loss, guilt, despair. Our society only bends a sympathetic ear for a moment. Especially in the Christian world. We get tired of people talking about their problems. If trouble seems to follow somebody we label that person as having hidden sin or just plain whiney and faithless. Forgetting that we would have no idea what we would do if it happened to us. I can't tell you how much I fight that feeling of self-worthlessness and guilt. I will tell you this much. (I can't tell you and now I will..I just can't seem to make up my mind! :<))The first few years were easier to handle. In the years after my car wreck I wwas just so grateful that God had spared me and vowed to be better for it. I had been so badly broken. I still carry scars...two very long reminders on either side of my hips and legs. My head is permanently tilted in a questioning glance because of damage to the left side of my body, my shoulders don't drops. I have tissue damage all over my torso. But I can walk. I can't run or skip or dance . But every step I take is a gift. I have more metal on either side of my body than a small aircraft hanger, but that metal makes it possible for me to have somewhat of a normal existence. When you see me walk down the hall I am measuring every step. Beating in my chest is another miracle. Congestive Heart Failure isn't supposed to be a problem with someone my age. And I have experienced two major episodes twice. I currently sit with the blessed knowledge that my heart is functioning normally after a 3 year battle. The time before that it only took a year to recover. I try not to think of what might happen if I start having trouble again. I hate taking all of this medication, but I am thankful that it has kept me alive.

A few days ago while organizing some of my books in our homeschool cabinet I came across a notebook I had used for journaling during the first episode I had of congestive heart failure. I had used it for quite some time and must have stuck it with my regular office supplies. I have journaled quite a bit over the years and it was interesting to revisit that particular time in my life. Troy and I were youth pastors and I was about to finish an Associates Degree and begin work on my Bachelor's in Early Childhood Education. In this journal I talked a lot about my worries and fears. I journaled while I was in hospital and throughout the series of tests I took within the next days and weeks and months to find out why my heart function had weakened so drastically. I talked about realizing how I might not ever be able to carry a baby and what it felt like to understand what would happen to me if my heart function didn't improve. I also talked about going back to my classes. Tests, papers, visits with professors, lunch with friends, activities at church. Work, household chores, dinners with my husband. All normal, everyday things that I continued to do despite the hardships I was facing. I was physically exhausted. A weak heart will do that to you. But I just adjusted.
Everyday I wage a battle with myself. It usually involves what I feel is expected of me and how others view me. Reading that journal reminded me that despite what my natural inclinations have been through these years is that I didn't give up...I didn't let despair keep me from truly moving forward. I will be the first to admit that it was God that did most of the inspiring. I can in my own self do nothing. I think stumbling across that journal was a "God Thing." I recently have been feeling discouraged about my usefulness. I have been reminding myself of all I have lost and have cost my family. God reminded me that He was the same God who touched that scared girl 11 years ago. I don't know that I would wish that girl to know what was still yet to come. Later on in the journal I discover I am pregnant. Still later I lose the baby. It was a short time after that that we adopted our little boy. Which still has to be the most exciting thing ever! God did all that. And He has greater things in store for us. I am thankful He reminds me of His goodness and faithfulness. He also reminds me that I am His beloved child.
There is a verse in Habakkuk (3:19) that is beautifully poetic. It talks about how He will make my feet like deer's feet and how I will walk on high hills (or high places). I'm not sure if scholars would tell me it means something completely different than what I think it means, but I am looking forward to the promise of walking on those 'high hills" or experiencing more of those victories He has for me. I hope that I will be able to keep my toenail polish/flipflop option, instead of deer's feet. But I will take what I can get. His strength is perfect. ..

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Today I made Gazpacho. Yummy! We have had lots '0 tomatoes coming from the garden. We put up almost 20 quarts over the weekend. We will probably have to put up more this weekend and I need to start drying some. In the meantime, we enjoyed this cold, super-healthy soup. Some might be too freaked by the amount of veggies in one bowl (let alone cold), but I find it refreshing and guilt-free.

4 cups of tomato juice
1 onion, minced (I used a red onion)
1 green bell pepper, minced (you could also use a milder yellow or red pepper)
1 cucumber, chopped
2 cups chopped tomatoes
1 clove garlic, minced (I used 2)
3 T. fresh lemon juice
2 T red wine vinegar
1 or 2 T of fresh, chopped basil
1 tsp. sugar
salt and pepper to taste

In a blender (or food processor), combine everything! Blend until well-combined but still a little chunky. Chill at least 2 hours before eating. Don't bother seeding the cucumbers and tomatoes. I think that is extra work when you already have so much chopping to do. I also made California Wraps using spinach wraps, chicken and avocado.
I sent Troy to work with some tortilla chips just in case he felt like he needed to dip them in the soup.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Pumpkin Lapbook

This is our Pumpkin Lapbook we did for our 1st grade year. I am not really sure where I got everything, but I do remember taking a look at some pumpkin lapbooks at and using ideas I saw there. You shouldn't have any trouble finding printables and minibook ideas for Pumpkins. It is a popular theme with elementary school teachers. I have many myself I have used before when I taught.

This is the back cover. Don't know why I have this up first, but oh well! It is a pumpkin observation sheet used while we carved a pumpkin. Actually, this is the clean one. The original one got ruined.

Here it is opened up. Again, I can't remember where all of it came from! Sorry! Should have done a better job in keeping records. I plan on doing a 2nd grade version so I guess I need to start researching!

Another collection of things to do.

The front of our lapbook. I used lots of scrapbook paper, pumpkin stickers and orange and yellow raffia. This one was such a hit that my mom used it as inspiration to teach with. She gives art classes to Senior Citizens in a nursing home. They make all sorts of jewelry, paint, watercolor paintings and she showed this to the therapists as inspiration for patients who need sensory activities. I made them a Snowman Lapbook complete with touch and feel activies, etc. And I didn't take any pictures!

Again, I believe that most of the activities I found from looking through other some other gals creations at I believe there is also a link for The Pumpkin Patch Parable activities by Liz Curtis Higgs. We love this book and I have used it for several years in a variety of locations around harvest time. And intend on using it again this year!

4th of July Lapbook

Here is our 4th of July Lapbook. To be honest, I don't remember where I got most of the stuff from. I can take some wild guesses! I did use lots of scrapbook paper, stickers and other odds and ends. I was blessed to get stuff at Hobby Lobby when they were marking down all of their stuff for the 4th. I even got some extra for a Flag Lapbook or a Constitution Lapbook, etc., etc.

This is the front. I am sorry it is so blurry. I battle with my little digital camera. If I were so inclined I would figure it out, but that's how it goes! I did copy and paste a vintage 4th of July postcard from online.
This is the back. I used some ribbon, construction paper and cut out the cover of our bulletin from church that Sunday! I believe in using all you have! This holds copywork, etc.
This lapbook I made to open up like a book. If you look really close in the left hand corner you will see some sparkle. Josiah and I made stars from baggies, glitter and sparkly stars.

Opened up in all its glory.

The top flap. It was a cut and paste activity.

More stuff.

I believe the majority of activities I got from (all free!)
and some more activities from has several free downloadable lapbooks if you sign up.

Camping Lapbook

We made this lapbook this summer after we had spent a week at VBS. Our church had a Camping Theme and Josiah was thrilled! I will disclose up front that my idea of 'roughing it" is a Motel 6. At the end of our Camping Unit, Josiah and Daddy camped out. Of course, it was in the Living Room (do to some really hot weather and scary storms), but all in all it was a success!

This lapbook camp exclusively from, but we also did activities courteous of Smokey the Bear Smokey the Bear has fun for all ages!

I used a variety of scrapooking paper and stickers. I also used some cute wilderness buttons and attached them to ribbon. Fun!

Monkey See, Monkey Do Lapbook

We just finished (well, almost finished) our Monkey See, Monkey Do Lapbook. Basically, we learned a little about monkeys and Africa and read a lot of Curious George books. Josiah has always loved Curious George and has a lot in common with the little monkey! I must have had some forewarning of what was to come because Josiah's first birthday was a Curious George party!
I am not a very good picture taker, but I will try the best I can to explain what is on each page.

This section opens out from the center of the palm tree. I cut the palm tree from construction paper and each top leaf can be lifted up. The little cutout monkeys are answers to addition and subtraction problems found in the Barrel of Monkeys pocket. I got the cutouts at the teacher supply store. A very inexpensive way to add color without using your computer ink!
The green polka-dotted pocket is actually a little file folder that opens up and reveals some sort of science or discovery project we did. I got the file folders at the teacher supply store as well. I plan on using them in other lapbooks.

This page opens up to find all of the little books we did while we learned about monkeys and Africa. I will put some links at the end that inspired me. The yellow thingy across the middle of the book is actually a felt sticker that says bananas. It came with a monkey (that I put on the front of the lapbook) and a few smaller bananas.

These are a variety of activities. The top petal book is actually monkey idioms. There is a great little book at Homeschool Share already to print out, but I ran out of space and had to make my own smaller version. The Curious George puppets (which Josiah loved) and the Invent and Built It came from either the PBS Curious George site or the publisher of Curious George Houghton Mifflin (links to follow).
The Finding the Ending Sound pocket goes with the little monkeys (g,m,t). This is actually a little young for Josiah, but he loved it anyway. I got this activity from The Mailbox Magazine.
The yellow-pocket file folder has another activity we did together.

This is the cover. I copy and pasted a Curious George Picture I found online into my publishing program (Printmaster). I used scrapbooking paper throughout the lapbook as I do in most of our lapbooks.

The back of the lapbook is just a pocket that he could put his copywork and any worksheets or coloring pages we might have done.
The sites I used for this unit were:
The Publisher of Curious George, Houghton Mifflin
(this also has an author page and we had intended on making a minibook, somehow it was forgotten)
The PBS site for Curious George.
Wow! This has a little bit of everything. What I used the most were the Science and Engineering activities. They certainly have enough material to print of to make several lapbooks!
This is one of my favorite sites ever! They not only have a Monkey Lapbook (which I used some of the components from), but a Curious George Lapbook as well.
are sites you can go to purchase lapbooks or unit studies for Curious George.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Some of this and that...

I shouldn't even be on the computer tonight. I am up to my eyeballs in piles of homeschooling "stuff" trying to get myself together for the new school year. We did school through the summer but it was really relaxed and I flew by the seat of my "Bermuda shorts." We did just return from a week with the in-laws. I have made my husband promise me a trip fairly soon that involves just the three of us...with no chance whatsoever that we bump into someone that even resembles someone we know in real life. Enough about that...I'm a bit traumatized from that last trip, but I'll get over it (with counseling and possibly medicinal assitance).
Anyhoo, it is my goal in the near future to fill my blog with pics and resources of our lapbooks (we have quite a collection) and any other resource that has been beneficial to us in our quest for cheap, yet memorable learning experiences. Josiah is a very kinsthetic learner...I have found a eclectic style of schooling works for us. I really wasn't a good curriculum follower even when I taught school. I suppose it also makes sense for me to "create" my own since I occasionally write Children's curriculum for cash!
Enough of that ridiculous self-promotion! It was my goal to get as much put on the blog over the summer...obviously, other than changing my background a few times, I haven't achieved that goal. I need to allot myself time everyday to do just that...instead of playing those silly quizzes on facebook (that in itself is a whole other issue).
For now, I need to get back to the project at hand. I will have to say that I feel really blessed to be able to spend this time with my son...and I am able to use some of my training and education to help him along. I miss my creative (yet slightly fruity) teacher friends. It has been hard to know that teaching will probably not be my lifelong occupation. But at least this way I can still play with pocket charts and math manipulatives. And finding uses for all those adult wipey containers my mom brought me from her job at a residential care facility...I'm in heaven.
More later....

Sunday, June 28, 2009


There is a good chance that I am related to a good portion of Southern Missouri. Both of my parents were born here. Both had generations of kin folks who made the rocky hills their homes. As many with many families some moved away…some moved away and came back. I always wonder if those who have the Ozark clay running through veins, but have never actually lived here get a sudden hankering for fried crappie and blackberry cobbler, occasionally find themselves rocking in time to the sound of a fiddle, or have the urge to put up a henhouse in the backyard. I hate to be stereotypical…after all, there are poets and artists in these hills. But most of us aren’t so removed from our roots not to appreciate the practicality of using a perfectly good piece of property for chickens.

For much of my childhood I lived a good distance away from any relations. Don’t get me wrong. I still lived in the Ozarks…just the Arkansas part. I can promise you that in the 1970’s there were still “stills” hidden in the hollers and hills. It was disconcerting moving to the bosom of my extended family when I was a young teenager. Still today I find myself looking at particular nose or expression of the eyebrows and wonder…”is that nose a Michel nose?” Or “could those be Wilson eyebrows?” And..”those have to be Bilyeu ears!” (you would know what I am talking about if you saw them first hand).

As an adult I have added to the vines and limbs of my family tree. My son doesn’t have the Michel nose…or the Bilyeu ears. His expressive eyebrows come from watching his mother (me) and his Papa use them accordingly. We grafted Josiah into the family tree. But, though he is not a child of my body I can still see the quirkiness and creativity that I attribute to the hillbillies I claim as kin. He hasn’t shown any aptitude for the musicality that runs deep through both sides of my family, but that’s okay…I’m sure I have a cousin somewhere that can’t carry a tune in a bucket. Josiah’s eyes still shine bright during family sings and he has great rhythm. Not that it would matter. Family is more than shared DNA or eyebrows. I am blessed I have gotten to experience the best kind of family love…the love of “just because you are you.”
P.S. The picture is of my mom (Sherry Lou Bilyeu at the time) and her grandpa...Grandpa Willie Bilyeu.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Feeling Mighty Fine

Around the holidays a friend of mine sent me a nutritional product she had started selling. She is a cancer survivor and wants to keep herself as healthy as possible. She had amazing results on the product and thought I would benefit from it. Remarkably, I have had really good results. I am loosing weight, gaining energy and most importantly, have been healthy since I've been taking them. You have to understand that because of my health issues I am constantly battling whatever bug is floating around. I spent the entire fall season sick with something. Not only did I miss work, but had to leave my job because of my health. I am eventually going to start selling them myself so I can get my own products without any cost to me(or nearly so). I will be the first to tell you I am not a salesperson. In fact, I really hate selling anything. But, it's important enough to me to be able to stay on the products. I would put my "schmooz" on..but I don't think I have any "schmooz" in me!

Birthday Boy

My baby celebrated his 7th birthday on Thanksgiving. The prize birthday present was the suit purchased for him at JC Penney's from Ama and Papa. After we had stuffed ourselves with turkey and the like at my house we whupped it up in honor of Josiah's birthday. Papa helped Josiah adjust his suit and Ama took pictures of the birthday boy as well as the ever adoring cousins. Alexandra and Madalyn absolutely love Josiah and are enchanted with everything he does...not that I blame them. Isn't he handsome? The hat was a birthday gift from Uncle Ryan and Aunt Stephannie and the kids...It also has a matching whip...all part of an Indiana Jones outfit....which I can tell you was a big hit!
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