31 Things for October…

Hello October

I say Hello, you say Goodbye! Yes, October is almost over… and I’m just getting around to letting you know I’m alive. But hey – here I am! Better late than never!

My list-making obsession is a beast. I would make a list on my arm if I ran out of paper. So to quell the monster and kill two birds with the stone, I’m sharing a few random tidbits with you about our busy lives in list form… because otherwise, you would neither see, nor hear from me for quite some time. Maybe until the end of the school year or beyond. { Sadly, I had to be reminded that I even had a blog from my 140$ something auto-payment to my hosting service that hit at the most inopportune time this month. You can thank Blue-host for my prompt return. Now let me write something so I can try to “get my money’s worth” out of this blog… }

Without further ado…


1. Our local homeschool co-op this year is off to a strong start. I’m loving watching my teenagers meet the hefty challenge of TEACHING their own classes! Kaden is teaching Creative Writing and English Composition this year for high schoolers. He was up until midnight emailing a new class schedule, a short story link, the week’s assignments, a character worksheet he created, and links to purchasing the required curriculum and books for the class. This is my unorganized video-gamer. What a transformation. Makes my mama’s heart happy. He’s all growed up and teaching high schoolers now!

Watercolor Technique

You should have seen Morgan’s little blooming art class, too! She managed to channel all that raw talent and passion for art into all the kids who signed up for her class – and there are like 11-12 kids in there! Not including me – and I’m taking the class, too… at home, after the fact. I’m determined to get all artsy-fartsy this year as one of my personal goals. I figured, why not!?! I had her make me a binder, just like all the other kiddies. They range in age from 8-42 in her class. Wait… did I say that out loud?!! Oh, well.

Take a look at the watercolor technique results they came up with this week. She also taught them clay techniques and they made miniature clay models of the moon – complete with craters and texture, so they could bake them and cast molds to create more next week.

2. It finally rained. Texas has been shriveling for so long now, that the trees were looking like fall back in July. Brown and crisp, that is. I’m so happy to see rain, I can’t stop staring out the window today. I never thought I would miss rain as much as I do – coming from Houston, where it rained nearly every day and the grass was green all winter. I don’t miss the humidity, though… so I guess it’s a trade-off.


3. I spotted SNOOPY in someone’s yard — and that reminded me of the new SNOOPY movie that’s coming out. We have advanced screening tickets to see The Peanuts Movie in Austin on November 1st! I can’t wait. Who doesn’t love Snoopy?! And what a great time of year for Peanuts since they are such a family holiday classic with their 1970’s era comics! I wonder if they’ll be as family friendly as they were back then? You can’t beat a Charlie-Brown Nativity. We love the old Peanuts Movies so!

Peanuts Media

If you want to follow along with the hype for the hippest pup of the retro-age, be sure to check out all the social media channels for the movie as listed in this image. I’m not getting paid to share them… just free tickets to see the show!

Brandt & Emily

4. On the photography front: I took photos at Emily’s wedding (October 10). I even have her gift already purchased and ready to mail as soon as I can get all her images finished and put on a flash drive for her. Tara’s wedding photo-book came in and I shipped her package to her yesterday; complete with a surprise gift or two for the baby room and the living room. Her wedding was in August, but it took them a while to pick their favorite images. It’s so hard to believe that I’m three weddings in to this amazing new career already.

Photography Wedding Gift Package

I have one more wedding, two family portrait sessions, and three senior portraits either pending or scheduled right now. Crazy fun!

5. I’ve cheated a lot in the way I’ve been eating lately. I’m sure I’ve gained back 5 pounds. I think part of the reason has been just stress from school starting back up. This year has been so difficult and busy – but also great. I’m trying to savor it because I know it is the last year I’ll be homeschooling my big people. I’m sure you get sick of hearing about how I can’t believe my little muffins are all grown up, but my six year old looks just like my oldest did when he was 6… and it’s such irony seeing my nearly 19 year old right next to him. It’s enough to make me want to suck my thumb and eat chocolate. { Never mind that pretty much everything makes me want to eat chocolate… } And it doesn’t help that #6 is true story…

That time I cooked enchiladas for 30 men.

That time I cooked enchiladas for 30 men.

6. My husband and I like to cook. Well, he likes smoking meat better than cooking, but he’s good at both. Each year we enjoy cooking for our church retreats and I was happy to see that we scored a 9.5 with the guys from our last men’s retreat. We scored higher than any other part of the retreat. They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Maybe Jesus got through better because they were well-fed? One can hope that my food points to Jesus – or at least Jesus would think it was yummy, too.

7. My mama has been having some diabetic-related eye issues lately. She got her fake lens in one eye laser-“polished” a week ago when we went down to Houston for some doctor visits and over the holiday in November, she’ll go back for more treatment – or at least a diagnosis of where she’s at. Prayers are appreciated.

Chickie Eye

Just for fun, this is what her eyeball looks like. Pretty cool, right? I love these machines. They have one at my local eye doctor, too. Pretty rad biological stuff, the eye; a squishy jewel of creation.

8. Instagram ROCKS!!! I’ve done a color-scheme and theme challenge for “IG” all during October and tried to keep my posts similar and make my “stream” of photos look nice. I picked Orange as the main color, and chose complementary colors of brown, green, yellow, white and black. I also chose to post a bit about the moon as my theme for October in honor of the notorious blood moon this month. Have you ever given yourself a creative challenge on Instagram? It has been a lot of fun! I think I’ll do it again in November. I like it better than having to post on topical themes, because I just take images as I have time… and they are always pretty random; just whatever I see as interesting or beautiful or funny – to capture the moment.

Tuckered Out

Tuckered Out

9. My little guy has a mild cold. Either that or a hefty dose of seasonal allergies. Poor thing.

10. Nemat Musk Amber. The world doesn’t have enough of it. I could eat it (please don’t – it isn’t edible). I’m wearing their white musk today and it is so faint I can hardly smell it. Morgan loves this stuff. I won’t ever buy cologne again as long as they keep making this stuff. My husband likes the Himalayan Musk the best. I used to buy it at Natural Grocers, but they quit selling it, so I’m going to start getting it from Amazon or the Nemat website. Seriously. I wear this EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

11. Today is bill-paying-day. Que the little black rain cloud… but I’m very thankful to be able to at least pay bills. Praying for those who are stressed about job losses.

Hens by Koko

12. My 6 year old is reading! He’s slow at it, but definitely has a grip. Such an exciting part of homeschooling! I love when they first start with Draw, Write Now! and writing out their letters with the Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons homework assignments. I love elementary school. I can’t wait to turn my entire homeschool focus on to it next year again. High school is kicking my butt.

Mockingbird Bath via @sprittibee

Mockingbird Bath

13. I have a few friends in my yard. One of them is a mocking bird. The other are the toads that live near my front porch and eat bugs there every night. I left them a water bowl all summer and they enjoy the rain stone at the bottom of our gutters on days like today. Unfortunately, our Argiope spider has moved away. I miss her pretty web.

I used to call these “peach tree spiders” because they always hung low from my grandma’s peach trees right about the level a young girl’s face might travel by when playing outdoors. I ruined a lot of their webs with my body – which can be a really creepy experience… however, I love them. We used to catch grasshoppers and throw them in the webs for fun.

Country kids. Oh, the stories…

Argiope Spider via @sprittibee

Zig-zaggy web art.

Nature is a great way to de-stress. I suggest you go out and seek some every day.

14. There’s a big hurricane near Mexico – the largest one they have ever measured this side of the hemisphere. Thankfully, we are up on a hill and out of danger from flooding, but I feel really sorry for Mexico and Houston right now… and some parts of Texas that are going to get a lot of rain and don’t have good drainage. I’m no stranger to flooding, coming from a FEMA disaster area prior to moving to the Austin area. Flooding sucks.

15. Koko got a telescope from his grandpa. He’s one happy little boy. A while back he told me “Space is my life”, but then he found out how long it takes to get to Saturn. The jury is out now about being an astronaut, apparently.

New Telescope

16. We used the new telescope to get a glimpse of the super-moon blood-moon. It was cloudy here, so our image isn’t that clear, but it was amazing, none-the-less.

Blood Moon in Austin Texas

The blood moon view from Austin, Texas.

17. Our local co-op had a mom’s fellowship this week and we had a potluck meal. Potluck meals are such a wonderful Southern thing. Foodie magic. Many hands make for light work. There were gluten free brownies and oat bars with chocolate chips… some sort of amazing raspberry marshmallow dessert that I’m still dreaming of… a delicious chicken and wild rice stew… and I took gluten free crackers, cream cheese with olive tapenade poured on top as a dip, and smoked chicken.

The cream cheese dip thing was a Pinterest idea. I wish I had taken a photo of it. I saw another recipe where someone had poured pesto over a block of cream cheese and it looked SO EASY. You can pretty much pour any topping over cream cheese and it works – Chili and spices with jalapeño, chipotle chorizo and cilantro, raspberry sauce… you name it. This was the recipe that gave me the idea: Pesto Cream Cheese. I had a jar of mixed olives (like the kind you would find all chopped up in a yummy Muffaletta sandwich from New Orleans) and I just poured the contents out over the cheese for everyone to dip their crackers in. It was pretty, fancy-looking, and yummy. I would make it from scratch next time and have olives that I hand-picked instead of a store-bought version for more flavor.

This recipe looks yummy: Herbed Olive Tapenade with Goat Cheese (minus the bread).

18. My daughter is having her first recital after starting the school year off taking voice lessons this year. If it doesn’t rain her out, that is. As a senior, this was her requested elective for the year and she’s got a beautiful voice. I can’t wait to hear her sing on Saturday.

19. We went to see The Martian. Loved it. So funny that some people think it was a true story. Not so funny that those people vote.

20. Speaking of voting… there’s an election going on right now. I got this image from Dan Patrick’s email list and wanted to share it here in case you were interested in the propositions on the ballot:

texas voting propositions on the 2015 ballot

Apparently, Dan is for all 7 of them. I don’t know about you, but I could use a property tax decrease for sure. Especially since I don’t even send my kids to public schools.

I’d like to read the text on Proposition 6. I’ll do that before I go vote and try to get my vote in before the early voting ends on October 30th.

From what I hear, Prop. 7 has been said to not raise any taxes, but to only allocate tax money already taken in a better way.

If you want to know the THSC (Texas Homeschool Coalition) take, you can read about what they think of the propositions on the article linked in this sentence. The short on their take is that they are neutral on a few and very much for the others. { I would also be for a proposition to ban mosquitoes, but the bats in Austin would picket the capitol. }

21. I’m still praying for the Oregon shooting victims’ families. Just this week, Austin Community College had a shooter on campus and they managed to nab him before anyone got hurt. What is wrong with these people? So sad to see the world groaning in these crazy times. So thankful to have a God that is bigger than all our fears and in control.

22. Do you have your Concealed Carry Handgun License? If not, why not?

Experiencing Astronomy

23. One of my favorite classes this year that my kids are taking is Astronomy. We were considering taking it at Austin Community College and the meningitis waiver freaked my son out. He also doesn’t really like driving by himself a lot yet, and thought being out of the home more this year was going to slow down his graduation, rather than help. So we asked around and found Experiencing Astronomy online. So far, it’s proven to be so awesome that I became an affiliate (click my link and I get a few pennies for telling you about how great they are). My oldest was the one who wanted to take the class for his elective this year, and the rest of the kids (16, 6 and 4) all gather around like little ducklings when the videos start so they can watch, too.

24. I’m not too snobby to eat eggs, bacon, and cereal for dinner once a week. Just sayin’.

25. While taking photos for Emily’s wedding, I slept in a cabin that had a family cemetery right outside the master bedroom window. Well, within a stone’s throw for sure. I didn’t mind this so much in the daylight, but driving up out there with very few lights on after dark gave me the heebie-jeebies. This particular graveyard was the resting place of two confederate soldiers, quite a few WWII veterans (two who were brothers in the same family – how sad!), and a woman who died as a Republic of Texas citizen. All of these people were related, as far as I could tell. At least one had been exhumed and brought there by the family to rest along side their loved ones. I’m a family history nut, so this was right up my alley.

private family graveyard

At night, the coyotes were in the bushes near the house screaming and making us wonder what we had gotten ourselves in to… but I sure enjoyed snooping out there when the sun was up. How nice to be able to be buried with your loved ones on private property. The only issue with this particular private property, though, is that it was sold to someone outside of the family! I wonder if any of them are still alive? Such a mystery.

26. Me and my daughter made it ALL THE WAY through the entire series of Downton Abbey. I can honestly say that I’m mad at them for making this next season the final one. And I can’t wait to watch it.

Can't live without books! Thomas Jefferson quote

27. We have our noses in the books this year… or at least we should. Right now, I’m letting the boys watch Aristocats. It’s hard to be mad at the teens for being distracted when the little boys are giggling at their favorite childhood Disney characters. It’s time to practice their scales and their arpeggios. My little boys could use some cultured, soft-spoken mama cat guidance… to soften their rough, fierce, alley-cat ways. And singing cats are funny!

Queen Ann's Pocket Melon or Vine Peach via @sprittibee

28. We discovered a new (or new to us) type of cucumbery melon growing in town near a chain length fence. It was growing on a ground-covering vine and looked like a miniature pumpkin – slightly orange and round – about as small as an egg. I smelled them, brought a few home, and did some research, only to discover that they are a mix between a Queen Ann’s Pocket Melon and a Vine Peach or Mango Melon. I’m not sure how they got in this particular place, but they smell nice and, though bland, they are edible. Apparently, back in the 1800’s they were more popular and women carried them for their scent and left them in bowls on the table for the nice smell they give off. They were also pickled since they taste like a cross between a cucumber (mild) and a cantaloupe.

If they are sufficiently ripe, they have the faintest sweetness, but mostly they have very little taste. They can be pickled while still green or ripe and also can be made into preserves. The centers are much like a cucumber with a jellied mass of seeds and there is not much flesh to eat once you discard of the rind. We ate a few fresh and I am planning to plant some next year.

With how dry it was this year and how wild they seemed to grow in this harsh summer in an area that got little water and had limited soil, I can imagine they are very hearty! I plan to pickle them and chop them into salads next year if I get a harvest of them. Online they also had a few other names. I can understand why they might have called this a “Vine Peach” as the texture of the skin prior to handling is fuzzy (the fuzz wears off if you rub on it), and the texture of the flesh is more like a peach than a cucumber because it is softer to the teeth if they are ripe. I like the fact that they are cute and orange, also.

I love random in-town nature study projects! Especially when you discover something you haven’t ever seen before and learn that it’s edible! { The ones in the articles I have read online are more red-colored than the ones I’ve found, but everything else they describe is the same. }

Here are a few links for you horticulturist homeschoolers out there:

Queen Ann’s Pocket Melon: A Treasure Almost Lost

Plum Granny, Muskmelon, Queen Ann’s Pocket Melon Seeds from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange

Mango Melon/Vine Peach

29. Koko hates cleaning his room “more than anyone else hates cleaning up”. He’s even gone so far as to tell us he’ll never ever touch another Lego or buy one because he never wants to clean them up again. I seem to remember another little girl who was about his age telling her mama to sell all her toys in a garage sale because she didn’t want to clean them up. I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. He happens to be the one who looks the most like me, also. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

Sprittibee's Pirates

Arrrr, landlubber! Be ye afraid of our scowl? Best not tempt us to send you to Davey Jones! Dead men tell no tales. #apirateslifeforme

30. While we don’t “celebrate” Halloween, we certainly aren’t above dressing up any day of the year. Lately, the favorite flavor of costume is Pirate. This week, my four year old hasn’t been out of his pirate costume much. I’m going to try and wash it before he strips his clothes off and comes downstairs in a backwards vest with wonky Velcro, holding a plastic sword again.

I’m beginning to fear they’ll make me walk the plank.

31. You’ve now had a full month’s worth of blogging in one post. And I need a nap. Let’s hope November is smooth and spectacular — and full of family fun and yummy cranberry, turkey, dressing, and pies! { All as gluten and sugar-free as we can muster, of course…. :::sheepish grin::: }


  1. says

    Update about the Austin Community College statement made in my post:

    Heather, we at Austin Community College read your recent blog post. We share in your sentiments to the victims in Oregon. We’d like to provide some clarification regarding the lockdown that occurred last week at the ACC Eastview Campus. While the campus did go into lockdown, there was no gunman or shooter on campus. The Austin Police Department initiated a SWAT standoff with an armed man at a field several miles from the campus. ACC Police took precautionary measures to lockdown the campus. Here’s an article from the Austin American Statesman which may provide you some additional information: http://www.statesman.com/news/news/local/swat-team-responds-to-report-of-armed-man-in-east-/nn7Kj/.
    Thank you!