Saturday, February 27, 2010

Spring Comes to Camden

Today was a beautiful sunny day in Camden, and I felt that I would be doing Sophie a disservice if I kept her inside on such a day. So Brian, Sophie, and I packed up and headed to the park. We used that time to educate Sophie a bit more on all the playground equipment (because she was much too young to remember all her previous adventures to the park in Newton). Brian was extremely helpful in showing Sophie the slide and the teeter totter.

However, Sophie's favorite activity didn't involve any of the playground equipment, but just her ability to walk/run around with her daddy. That she was content just to walk beside her father warmed my heart! Hopefully these pictures and video has warmed yours as well.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Principal Praise!

It is so nice when someone tells you that you are doing a wonderful job... especially when you put in extra time and hours into your work. And this month, I have had the Principal pull me aside and tell me just how wonderful of a job I am doing! *choirs of angels are singing somewhere*

To kick start Black History Month I made a video featuring some of the staff at Ivory (that was old enough) telling children what they remembered from the Civil Rights Movement. I then put it into a video and showed it to all the children. The Principal loved the idea and was impressed by the video! I guess she was bragging to the faculty about it, and then took time to pull me aside and let me know that my effort and work was appreciated.... AND that I needed to become a certified teacher because they couldn't lose someone as talented as myself! (Yes.... that's right! I'm awesome and I'm not afraid to say it!)

Then a few days ago, the Principal informed me that the school district was asked to push the U.S. Census to the kids and try and get their parents involved in completing the Census this year. So... we created a school census for the children, along with a lesson informing them what a Census is and what it does, and plan to have them color a parent take home slip reminding the parent to fill out their Census form. She bragged about it at the Principal's meeting for the school district! And apparently, the High School Principal is still dismayed that I left the H.S. for Ivory, because I was (again) AMAZING! So... again... I was informed about the good work I'm doing in the library!

I had to share this bit of self-praise, because I'm sure we can all appreciate it when someone takes time to notice our hard effort and to let us know directly that is is appreciated! So for those of you that are bosses... every once in awhile... take time to praise those that go above and beyond your expectations.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Musical Moments

Sophie dedicates these songs to her Grammy & Grandpa Barton who bought her the harmonica in the first place.

Sophie has been tirelessly practicing the harmonica since she received it a couple months ago. However, this was the first time she was actually able to get several notes out of it. So move over Mozart, Bach, & Beethoven... Sophie is moving up on the musical scene.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Lenten Sacrifices

Typically around Lent you can hear about people giving up chocolate, pop, and various forms of entertainment. And... I've done that myself in the past. But in college I had the pleasure to meet someone, who took Lent fasting to a whole other and creative level. One year, he gave up his bed and slept on the floor (which allowed him to understand life without certain comforts). Another year, he gave up wearing swishy pants (which he constantly wore and loved) and instead substituted his attire with jeans or khakis. And lastly, once he gave up music in all it's forms (radio, cds, etc...) and this was difficult because he was a music major.

Since then, I've always tired to find creative but meaningful sacrifices for Lent. One year, I gave up swearing completely. And knowing that I most likely would fail at some point in this Lenten sacrifice, I stipulated that should I say a swear word, I immediately had to say a Rosary. (You learn to stop swearing quickly).

This year I've decided to give up a few different things. I love to read, particularly fiction books. So, this Lent I've decided to give up fiction books and only read non-fiction (or true) books that can help me and my family in some way. The books I read to Sophie; however, do not count, since that would hinder my reading to her when she brings me one of her books from her collection. And since this still does not seem like much of a sacrifice, I'm going to give up snacking. I love to snack and often catch myself missing out on meals, because I'd grabbed a coke or something earlier that day. Lastly, since neither of these really help my spiritual life, I plan to do a daily devotional throughout the Lenten season.

Now, I still don't think any of these compare to Nick's Lenten sacrifices, but I do think that these will be good for me. Eliminating snacking is hopefully losing extra poundage somewhere... knowledge is being gained by sharing information from non-fiction books... and I'm strengthening my personal life with God.

So, if you are struggling on what to give up for Lent. It's ok to do the basics sometimes as long as they are still very real sacrifices. However, for the adventurous who enjoy a good challenge... I challenge you to think of a very creative, but very real sacrifice this Lent. And remember... be joyful in the sacrifice rather than vindictive and angry... tis not the reason for the Lenten season.

Happy Ash Wednesday Everyone!

PS- I suggested Sophie could give up fussying for Lent, but she informed me in one of her tantrums that she doesn't have to give anything up until she reaches the age of 18.

*** Side Note- All Religions (including Islam, Buddhism, & Hinduism) encourage fasting and prayer; although at different times of the year. ***

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Homemade Valentines Day

Typically for Valentine's Day Brian and I go on a nice day and enjoy each others company. This year, however, that wasn't exactly an option since most restaurants here are neither amazing nor open and we didn't have a babysitter for Sophie. So, we focused on having a 'homemade' Valentine's Day, that even Sophie helped participate in.

Brian, like most men, love BBQ and beer. So I bought a nice piece of beef, found a BBQ beef recipe on the internet, and made him "Sweet and Tangy Loose BBQ beef" to go with his beer for supper. (For the recipe, click HERE)

Sophie covered dessert making Brian's favorite... No Bake Cookies. I of course helped... which was ok. I didn't mind.

In return, Brian's Valentine gift to me was to have a free day all to myself while he watched and took care of Sophie! What an amazing gift! It was so nice to do whatever whenever. I even took a nice nap today! It was GREAT! I love Sophie, but sometimes I get tired of reading the same small books over and over to her and playing with her little toys with her. (We don't use a TV to babysit, so I don't get much free time with her).

Sophie's gift from Mom and Dad were crayons. While she is a little young, we figured since she tries to write on things with the occasional pen she grabs from our desks... perhaps she's ready for crayons. When she did get them she was more interested in putting them in and out of the box rather than color. And of course, trying to taste them. Thus... the blue.

Anyway, we wish everyone a happy Valentine's Day. Even if you don't get something like flowers and chocolate... know that sometimes 'homemade' gifts are even better than those bought in stores!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Arkansas Snow

Today is the second time I've seen it snow in Arkansas. Trust me, I'm not complaining... in fact I'm happy that it has only gotten cold enough two times to actually turn rain into snow because it means I haven't needed to shovel snow.

Anyway, it started snowing today around 2:30pm and plans to continue snowing until the afternoon tomorrow. Which makes for a very possible snow day tomorrow! The reason being that the snow will most likely melt and turn to ice. Horrible for drivers... wonderful for kids and teachers! However, it will have to be really bad driving conditions for school to be canceled, but on the possibility that school is not canceled the principal decreed a 'Most Comfortable Clothing' contest for the teachers. PJs are excluded... so I figured I'd show up in a t-shirt and shorts if we have school. So here is to hoping that we get our first 'snow day'!

This was our backyard at 4pm

This was our backyard at 6pm

And this was on Friday morning before I drove to school in my t-shirt and shorts (since school was not canceled)! Which, by the way... everyone at the school got a kick out of the outfit!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Mom Lectures; Sophie Bounces

Today we had a wonderful evening as a family! We turned the radio on and Mom did some crazy dancing (if you are my sister or one of my college friends... you've seen me do this), while Brian did some dancing with Sophie. All this was done in the kitchen. As well as Brian wrestling with Sophie and Oscar. It was truly a fun time! This would be how I would like Sophie to remember our family... having fun together, dancing, and playing in the kitchen. Instead... this is how Sophie remembers Mommy.

Sure... some of you are thinking 'cute'. Hopefully as time passes she'll remember me in a different light. It make take until she's in college, but hey... as long as she remembers me with her and the 'fun times' occasionally... that would be nice.

Also, since I'm in the mood to post videos, here is a video of Sophie this weekend showing off in her favorite toy. Aunt Kayla got to see how much Sophie loves to bounce first hand. Anyway... this is Sophie showing off. Enjoy!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Ready to be a Big Sis

Sophie's godmother Jill got her a baby doll for Christmas. And Sophie likes to play with her baby. Before I got my camera, she was rocking her baby back and forth in her arms. It was so cute. Once I got my camera out she wouldn't do it, but she did do something equally sweet. I think Sophie is trying to tell Mommy that she's ready for another baby in the house!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Negotiating Bedtime

Either I'm a sucker or Sophie needs to join the debate team when she is older. Previously, her bedtime was 7pm. Around 6:30 she'd get a bath and by 6:40 we'd have a bed time story accompanied with a bottle of milk. Lately however, she's been getting fussier around that bedtime and would not sit still and listen to the story. Which is strange because she loves story time! And you think when a child gets fussy, they are ready for bed earlier. But putting her to bed earlier, just made her whine and cry in bed for several minutes.

So a few days ago while Brian was out playing games with the guys, I let her hang out and play until 7pm. Then we had our story time and she was happy and in bed by 7:30. There was no fussing or complaining (not that she can really talk... just babble) and she listened to story time like she had before. So I told Brian we'd try and delay her bedtime by 15 minutes. So instead of reading to her at 6:40, we start at 7. And instead of putting her to bed at 7, she's been going to bed around 7:15. And the past few nights, she's gone to bed easily and even sat still enjoying story time!

Our little girl (incapable of talking) has managed to negotiate and push back her bed time. Like I said in the beginning... I'm either a sucker... or I have a brilliant and persuasive daughter.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Yumm... Medicine

I'm so thankful for the people who made medicine taste good. It isn't a problem getting a child to take medicine when they get the nice sweet taste of cherries or something. It must have been a mom who invented or suggested candy-flavored medicine.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Further Financial Information

So I seriously understand that these two blogs (this one and the previous one) are boring. I get it. However, they can prove to be helpful to those interested, which is why I figured I'd share the information I've been reading about. Again, I'm not a financial guru, in fact I'd say I'm financially-challenged. My idea of Budget... is the rental car company! Or was... thanks to my husband rectifying that. And thanks to this book- "The Ultimate Depression Survival Guide", I know what a derivative is! I swear Brian (and probably many more people) would thought they would ever see the day I knew what the heck a derivative was! Anyway, without further ado... here are some more tips from Martin Weiss' book:

  • Make sure your bank is covered by the FDIC! Also, make sure you know the monetary limit they will cover.

  • Martin writes the safest place for your money is in U.S. Treasury Bills (not notes or bonds... but bills) because they have the best guarantee, have no limits, are exempt from state and local taxes, have low fees, free checking, and have immediate liquidity.

  • If you want to invest some money he recommends ETFs (Exchange-Trade Funds) and inverse ETFs. For example, if you have an inverse trade fund you are wagering your money that people will lose money. (Example: the UltraShort Real Estate ProShares will increase your money as the housing market and real estate value goes down. The UltraShort Financials ProShares will give you more money if the stocks go down.) You are essentially betting that things will get worse... and as things continue to get worse... you gain more money.

  • Further investment recommendations is investing in foreign currencies (specifically euros, British pound, Swiss franc, Japanese yen, Canadian dollar, and the Austrailian dollar). In his book he goes into the several benefits of doing this, which I will not be listing on this blog.

Now this evening, when I told Brian I would like to talk about our finances (I know... shocking right!), and told him some of the things from the book... he did tell me he didn't agree with the Treasury bills because of the low interest rate. When I'm done reading the book (and I'm 2/3rds done thankfully), he gets to read it and we'll see if his opinion changes at all. Perhaps I'll even post Martin's advice and Brian Oney's advice together and you can see the different recommendations from both of them. Then again, these past 2 blogs have been particularly boring, so perhaps we'll wait awhile before another such post. After I finish the book there will only be 1 more financial blog post and then I promise... I'll get on to more fun and happy friendly posts about our family and our quirky life. And after this book... I'm planning on returning to reading something fun and fictional! That is incentive enough for me to finish this book. Sure I'm getting a financial education and learning some things... but I'm ready to be able to get back to some more 'light' reading.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Financial Forecasts

I'm not a financial guru by any means, and it is DEFINITELY not something that I willingly or want to check out from a library. However, Brian was making fun of me because I typically can be found nosing around the fiction section of the library, rather than reading non-fiction books. The thing with me is that reading is mostly for entertainment. Yeah, I enjoy the occasional non-fiction book (particularly if it is historical), especially if it is well written. But there is no way that a financial self-help book is "well written"; however, I've been slowly reading Martin Weiss' book "The Ultimate Depression Survival Guide" and gotten some very good financial tips that I thought I would share. Part of the reason I'm reading this is simply to prove Brian wrong... that I can read non-fiction books and gain some information that can benefit our family. I'm only 1/3 done with the book (it really is painfully boring even if it is through and beneficial), but here are some of the tips I have gotten from the book that I figured I would share with anyone interested:

  • Don't invest in any long term notes or bonds (including US bonds). Currently bonds have begun crashing in Greece, Portugal, United Kingdom, Spain and Japan.

  • The housing market will get worse. It is still not the best time to buy, but continue to wait because the prices will drop. Also, if you owe more than your house is worth... start considering other alternatives now because the market will get worse and it may prove difficult to maintain your house and possibly your mortgage.

  • Sell your stocks. Some investors are telling you to weather out the storm, but if you did the same thing during the Great Depression it took 25 years to recoup your original investment (and it's possible this depression could be worse and therefore take longer)

  • Don't trust Wall Street ratings, nor those of Moody's, S&P, and Fitch because they are biased. These business' are biased because they make money off of those that they rate.

Anyway, like I said... I'm only 1/3 of the way through the book, but I figured I'd impart some of these financial tips to those interested. As I progress, I'll update the blog with any interesting information to those interested. And like I said... this information doesn't come from me but from an actual financial guru who isn't as bad of a writer as I make him out to be... but finances is still isn't my specialties and I still can't completely understand the differences between stocks and bonds... but at least I'm working on rectifying that.

*For more information you can go to his website:

Monday, February 1, 2010

Civil Rights Movement in Camden

In honor of Black History Month (February), I've been video taping some of the staff at Ivory (those old enough anyway) who remember the Civil Rights Movement. Now, I'm not exactly BIG into celebrating Black History Month, but this does give me an opportunity to teach the students some history... so I'm enjoying the fact that I get to use my degree in a small way. It's actually been fairly interesting to hear a few things that the staff remember about the Civil Rights Movement such as....

  • Before the blacks integrated into the white school, they were given the old and used books that the white school had disregarded.

  • They also started integrating slowly... it wasn't over a day or two when all the black children started attending... but took several months. That was something I did not realize.

  • One remembers that as soon as the blacks integrated into their schools, the dress code for the girls changed to allow them to wear pantsuits, whereas previously it was only dresses. Probably some administrators and/or parents were afraid of black children looking up little girls' dresses during recess (all speculation on my end... I'm not sure if this was the real reason).

It's been extremely interesting to hear people originally from Arkansas (and therefore "the South") talk about what they remember. There are also a few... who would prefer not to talk to the students about it because their memories were more violent and frightening.

  • One remembers when the blacks started rioting in the school, and her band teacher told her that if they needed to leave school (through the window) to avoid the mob... do it! (Not sure if this would be good to convey to 2nd and 3rd graders... but something for the older students... this would absolutely be a good thing so they understand that it wasn't all peaceful).
We then had another woman who remembered the Civil Rights movement (not so much segregation and integration), who is not originally from 'the South', but from Detroit, Michigan.
  • She remembered the Riots in Detriot and when the National Guard would come by her house with a man in a tank making sure everyone was in their houses for curfew.
  • She also explained about The Big Four, which was a group of 4 white male cops who would interrogate and harass some black children in the neighborhood.
She was an amazing storyteller so that way you yourself could picture the events unfolding, even though they happened 40+ years ago. Absolutely amazing. I wish I could find a way to share all their stories and my movie/powerpoint with the blog... but I'm not sure I have the computer prowess to make that happen.

What would also be interesting is if I could get more and more people (from different areas of the United States and from different races and nationalities) to tell what they remember about the Civil Rights Movement and how they think things have changed for the better and for the worse. For anyone who does have a "Civil Rights Movement Memory" that they would like to share with me, I'd LOVE to hear about it. Feel free to email me at:

Health Update

Just an update on how little Sophie is doing since we reported that she was sick last Monday. She is currently doing much better! The antibiotics seem to be working because she isn't coughing as much and she hasn't had a fever since last Monday. She's as lively as ever; although, occasionally fussy since she is teething again. Otherwise, she's off running around, jumping on pillows, and playing with Oscar.

We really appreciate all the prayers we've received and have been lucky that she has been ok, particularly since two other children from her daycare came down with pneumonia.