Snakes & Smoke & All Of That…

The morning dawned cold (for Texas) and I thought it would be so nice to start a fire in the wood burning stove so the kids could wake to a cozy family room and have a warm spot to cuddle by.  I am not sure what happened, but instead of being woke up gently with warmth from the stove the kids woke to the sound of the smoke alarm with the house filled with eye-stinging haze.  Then to clear the smoke we had to open the windows and turn on the ceiling fans.  For whatever reason the log in the stove refused to flame up but just kept smoking incesently.  The moment came when I looked at my kids and said,”Don’t ever do this” and then forced the very well lit and hot log out of the stove into a box which was then delivered to the burn pile where it smoked for hours.

So, began our day.  It was a good day, especially for Jonathan as we found three snakes during our gardening.  I personally hate snakes and have a crazy fear of them.  If you would like some laughs at my expense, you can read all about my fear of snakes on that link above.  The first two were baby snakes and nothing more than harmless garden snakes which are so good to have around that I leave them be.  You don’t have to worry about me killing a snake before I know what kind it is- I don’t stick around long enough to know.  I high-tail it out of wherever I am & the snake happens to be and yell for one of the kids.  Yes, you read that right I have my children do the snake killing.  I am the kind of mom that will lay down my own life for my children- until we meet a snake and then you are on your own.  Unless the child is still small enough for me to carry and then I run away with the child.

The third snake, however, was not so small.  Last week the young man who works for me dug holes for the Camellias I am planting along the fence.  Being such a full week I hadn’t had time to put those in the ground so I just dropped pot and all into the hole.  By dropping the pot and all into the hole it kept the wonderful rain from filling the hole back in before I could get the plant planted.  As it turns out, this also gave a good spot for a snake to take up residence.  I pulled the Camellia out, dropped it in my lap, pulled it our of its pot and tore up some of the roots.  I then leaned over the hole knocked some soil in and went to stick my hand in too.  Then I spotted him, coiled up in the hole hissing at me.  Glory Hallelujah I just about had a heart attack.


I then called for Jonathan, my resident dragon slayer.  He got his 4-10 and blew the snake’s head off, J is a dynamite good shot.  I would have left the snake alive except that it was colored like a water moccasin and acting aggressive.  I understand the fear the snake was feeling- I was feeling the same way.  But, we couldn’t take a chance and J shot him dead.  Literally, he blew his head off and nothing more so then the snake became a homeschooling science project.  With the trusted field guide to North American reptiles, we determined that it was a yellow-bellied water snake- harmless except for the heart attack and self inflicted injury you incur while trying to get away.  As the kids dissected the snake they found a frog in its stomach.  The snake was then skinned and that skin pinned to a board to dry in the sun.  Jonathan could not understand why Sierra would not even think about letting him bring that into the room that they share.  It seems that smells do not bother 11 year old boys.  So, J will decorate his fort with the skin. Effie the Pig got the rest of the snake, as it turns out water snakes must not taste too good- she didn’t really like it.




If you look close, you can see the frog on the ground at the end of J’ s knife.

As the boys and girl took the snake apart I got back to my work which was planting the Camellia and raking all the leaves and sweet gum balls up to use as mulch on my tomatoes.  There are about 30 tomato plants in the garden now and all of  them have a layer of cardboard mulch covered by a thick layer of leaves and compost.  Every time I raked and hit a stick which made leaves move I jumped.  Needless to say, I was a bit nervous for the rest of the day.  For all I knew, there could be another snake lurking about.

C, the young man who works for me, did great work putting in the brick edging for the knew path ways.  Now, the gardens in the front of the house are starting to take shape.  These beds are located under large shade trees so we have been planting a lot of azaleas, camellias, hostas, and vinca.  There is enough sunshine for Iris and day lilies to bloom so those will be added.  Sometimes, I fuss at myself for spending time on the “unproductive” gardens when there is still much to do in the veggie gardens and herb beds.  But with the rain, which is wonderful, those area were too wet to work and the great majority of the herbs are planted.  I still have Basil to plant but the weather keeps dipping down to very cool and I am gun-shy about planting it just yet. I just love my work!




Now for today- errands to run in Tyler and more planting to be done.  I will have more seed trays of Basil done along with cuttings from oregano & mint.  We have been very busy and it is time for new crops of herbs to get going.  Hopefully today will be a snake free day.

So what gets your heart racing?  Snakes, spiders, mice?

Our Food For Thought…

As we homeschool, great emphasis is place on character and knowing God.  One of the best ways to get to know God is to read the book He wrote.  Each week I choose a verse that the Sierra and Jonathan will use as their copy work and handwriting lessons.  This takes care of two things- scripture memory and handwriting.  Most weeks, the verse comes from Proverbs.  Proverbs is a book filled with simple, one line instructions on how to live, treat each other, and relate to God.  The best way to change nasty attitudes is to change the stinking thinking with the truth.  Proverbs has lots to say about the heart and the mouth.

I have always been able to find a scripture to address any problem that I have ever faced in training my children.  Lately, bickering has been a problem so this weeks scripture is about bickering.  Now, when ever they start in on each other I can say “What does the Bible say about that?”  Then, they can quote this back to me and the bad activity is quelled.  Does this mean that once we learn this we never have to go back and re-teach it?  No, kids brains leak out of their ears while they sleep, so you have to put back what they lost the next day.  For this reason, we stay on one scripture for one to two weeks.  In this way, their minds are renewed and filled with truth.  Then later on in life, when their Spirit wants to do what is right and their flesh wants to do what is wrong and it is up to their souls to break the tie, there will be truth stored up in the heart for them to chose what is right.  If there is no truth on file, the flesh will win out.  I have seen very good fruit in my older two children who are now in college and a senior in high school and I know that the Word of God made all the difference.

I painted the end of my kitchen island with chalkboard paint. This is a perfect place to put our Scripture of the Week.

The First Eagle To Fly…

Cheyenne Kay in her new room

Today was a big day in the Ross household.  The first of our four children moved out.  Now, it was just down the highway a bit to Athens, Texas and Trinity Valley Community College, but it was a really big step.  It feels so odd as I sit here and type this knowing that she will not be coming home tonight or tomorrow… Of course, she will be back, after all, the college food holds no comparison to my home cooking.

There were only a few misty eyes for us today.  I had a good cry yesterday and got it all out of my system.  I don’t grieve that she is leaving, I am happy for her.  I grieve because a season of my life that I really enjoyed is coming to a close.  I am more than half-way done with the “raising” of my children.  There are no more preschoolers, no chubby thighs that I get to squeeze & kiss, no bellies painted to look like Indians with squished up berries as paint, & no more kiddos that will sit on the counter while I cook (now, they do the cooking which is not so bad)- those days are over.  But, what a GREAT ride it was.  I do miss Cheyenne, but to want her to stay would only be selfish on my part.  I was entrusted with an amazing gift and now I get to watch as she takes flight.

And taking flight she is!  She has earned a spot on the TVCC show team and got herself a job as a ranch hand at TVCC’s ranch all the while making A’s in her ag classes.  For those of you who know Cheyenne, you know that she is in her element!  Another great perk of the really  nice dorms that she calls home is that her room over looks the practice field for the football team.  Her deep brown eyes just lit up when we raised the blinds and saw the goal posts. She & I had a really great day, I loved every minute of it! I am really impressed with Cardinal Hall.  What a really nice layout the rooms have and they also have their own bathroom with separate vanities.  This dorm is brand-new and didn’t even have that peculiar smell that usually resides in old dorms seeming to have a life of its own.  She just doesn’t know what she is missing!

Speaking of missing, I maybe missing her and her dad may be missing her, but her sisters- not so much.  Cheyenne hadn’t even made it out the door before Sierra was taking up residence in her old room.  Apparently Sierra wasn’t moving fast enough- for Savannah was moving Sierra’s things out of their once shared room while Sierra was doing her chores.  Ever heard the phrase, “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out”?  That was pretty much the atmosphere around here.  You could just feel the love oozing.  Jonathan, however, maybe missing her, too.  He gave her a Lego figurine to take with her.  A twelve year old boy doesn’t part with legos thoughtlessly.  The significance was not lost on Cheyenne, the little guy is now sitting on her desk in the dorm room.  Jonathan’s pain was eased by the fact that he is on his first Boy Scout camp-out this weekend.  He was all smiles when I dropped him off this evening.

So, here I sit the newest member of the group of parents that have adult children.  Wow, how the time flies by!  I am very pleased with the person that left my home as an adult.  I could not have asked for more.  Proud just doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel.  Now, I hear that not only will I get used to having the kids leaving home but I will actually grow to like it.  Thankfully, Cheyenne’s dad is also my best friend and I look forward to sharing an empty nest with him- even though that is still a few years away and I intend to squeeze every bit of fun out of the years left with children in my home.

These milestones come regardless- might as well celebrate & enjoy them all.


Summer Fun!

ImageYou know I am just amazed at the amount of laundry that a camping trip can generate!  That is what I have been doing today, that and washing the dishes out of the camping bin.  For every good time, there is a certain amount of work that goes into it.  As every mother knows, this is why we need a day off when we get back from vacation!  I wouldn’t have it any other way.

We have been having a good time around here.  A little traveling, lotta sun, and a whole lotta fun!  I love my bunch and I love traveling and camping with them. After picking Savannah up in Galveston after Sea Camp, we played on the beach and went to Kemah then spent a few days at Huntsville State Park. There was so much done in this one week, that it will take several blogs to do it justice.

Since being home, I have been catching up on house work (see above) and getting ready for school to start.  Homeschooling is a wonderful part of our lives.  I love that fact that I get to choose subjects based on the interests of my kids and then we get to take trips to study what we are studying in person.  So many subjects are brought into play in the study of one subject.  I am really excited about the Texas History Unit this fall.  By picking up books at the library, we are reading.  Reports will be written, using language and wrtiting skills, and documentaries will be ordered from Netflix.  Then we will travel to a state park near San Antonio so we can go see the Alamo.  In planning the trip, the kids will participate using maps (geography) and have to put together a budget for the trip- everyday use of math- all these subjects are pulled in while we study Texas History and this helps all that good information and knowledge stick.  Children were never meant to learn in tiny boxes, the mind was wired to mesh all the information together.

My Gang @ T-Bone Toms

Another year and a lot of good fun is on the way. We kick off “officially” on Monday.  Unofficially, we homeschool 24/7 all year long. It was quite odd, however, printing up the lessons plans and such.  I have for the past years multiplied everything by four, now I am multiplying by three as Cheyenne has graduated.  Wow, that is so strange.  And yet, it is a relief!  It seems so much easier to just have three, then next year I will only plan for two.  Life is changing big time.  These milestones come no matter what, might as will celebrate them!

Beautiful Girls

Masquerade was the theme and everyone looked wonderful. Of course, the masks didn’t last for long. Last weekend was our first homeschool prom. Some good friends of ours put it together and it was a lot of fun for my oldest girls.

No matter the age, girls love to get dressed up. Cheyenne and Savannah were no different. Finding the dresses was remarkably easy. Savannah borrowed hers and we found Cheyennes at a unique shop in Tyler. Savannah’s best friend, Renae spent the day with us and got dressed here, too. I had fun sharing the shopping and the day with the girls.

Once all the glamming was done, we headed to Athens. The girls danced for hours. The only challenge was that there was only one boy and about 17 girls. Of course, for the boy this may not have been such a challenge. Thankfully, he knew how to dance. I look forward to next year.

Something New….

Today is the first day of my first blog. I had been thinking about this for awhile, but a trip to the library made the decision final. It odd, but it was the fact that my 17 year old daughter did not know how to use a card catalog (which is now on computer) that made me see that I needed to start a blog. I was amazed at the fact that this kid can zoom all over the internet, tweet, facebook, etc. but had no idea how to look up a book on a specific subject and find it on the shelves. So, I taught her. We homeschool now, but for most of her school years she was in public school. I am guessing the library was just a place to work on homework. Anyway, as I thought about our lesson on the way home it occured to me- she probably thinks the same thoughts about me as she watches me limp around the cyberworld. So, it was settled I must enter fully into this era of communication. What an interesting journey I am sure this will be. It only took me 30 minutes to figure how to post a message on by blog. I must say I felt a bit smug that Cheyenne did not know how to help me. I often think as I am teaching my children at home’ “Who is the teacher around here?” There is much I learn from them.