Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 in Review

If I had to sum this year up in only a few words, I would call it a roller coaster year. 

The constant motion of life, jostling from peak to valley, made me feel a bit woozy at times, exhilarated at others, and occasionally a tad bit nauseated.  But in the midst of life's ups and downs, our family has clung to the one constant in our lives... Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.  Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. (James 1:17-18)

It was a pleasure to serve the Lord this year in my home and with this blog and a comfort to know that though life is ever-changing, God's love for His people remains unchanged.  I give Him thanks for all He has done for my family in 2010 and ask you to join me on a little trip down memory lane....

In January I made sure none of my children will ever win a Nobel Prize in Chemistry.  I also shared a little about living in the South.

In February, we participated in the Great Backyard Bird Count.  I tendered my resignation from the TOS Homeschool Crew due to the return of chronic pain and then posted several reviews to complete my Crew commitments.

In March we celebrated National Pi Day with lots of fun activities and tasty Pi(e)!  One of my sons shared a little dream he has about a Yellow and Blue Kitchen, too.

April brought the Youth Birding Competition where we started out prepared to bird in the rain.  However, the Lord was pleased to send the rain while we drove and stop the rain as we arrived at each birding location.  I also began my series, Considering Homeschooling?.

I dedicated much of my writing time in May to journaling our homeschool journey and telling you all about Our Year with Tapestry of Grace, Our Science Choices, Writers' Workshop, and how I've Got Rhythm.  Michael and I celebrated our fifteenth anniversary, too!

In June, I completed Considering Homeschooling? with a post with a weird title.  We vacationed in Savannah, Georgia and Charleston, SC...a trip that was almost entirely free!  (I should have written about that!)  Instead, Michael and I turned our trip pictures into a photo journal which we called Summer School.  I also finally finished my series on birding with children, Birding 101.

I completed the Summer School series in July and destroyed my camera during Our Day at Six Flags over Georgia

In August, we held Wilbur's 10th birthday p-ART-y.  I shared how to make the invitations, to make the cake and treats, and to prepare art-themed activites

In September I took a little break from active blogging and shared some of my reader's favorites from the archives.  I did manage to write one of Our Family Stories about a special day sixteen years ago when I found a handsome young man kneeling behind a tree.

I returned to the blogosphere in October fully refreshed and ready to lose weight!  Wednesday Weigh-ins have kept me on track!  Thank you for your support!!  (Oh, and I took an Unintentional Horseback Ride that month, too!!!)

In November, I was Drowning in Soap while preparing to open the soap shop.  I also injured myself in a way That's Just So Dawn

The year ended with a visit from the Kingdom Arrows, our Top Ten Christmas Moments, and The Injured Party where Orville broke his arm!

On behalf of the Olive Plants family, I want to thank you for reading and invite you to join us here in 2011 for more homeschool help, bird watching tips, and funny moments.  We wish you and your family a very Happy New Year!


Saturday, December 25, 2010

Top Ten Christmas Moments

10.  The boys opened game cartridges for a new Nintendo DS before receiving the game system.  My parents had bought the games (and a new system) for them, and I had arranged beforehand for the games to be opened first.  All the adults pretended that Nohnie had bought the games for the wrong system and that we would just have to do a return on Monday....

9.  At dinner, Orville kept calling the Watergate salad, "Waldorf" salad.  After being corrected for the ump-teenth time, he sighed, Well, I knew it was some hotel salad.

8.  No one got run over by a reindeer.

7.  We saved Buzz Lightyear by surgically removing his Radar Rash and Battered Blaster. 

6.  Wilbur opened the package containing his pop rifle, and we heard pop, pop, pop for the next 2 hours.

5.  I got the high score on Bop-It!  (Another noise that lasted for 2 hours)

4.  When Orville opened his new Reformation Study Bible, Wilbur read the front cover as the Re-form-ta-tion Study Bible.

3.  I got the flu....

Oh, ooops....

Wrong list.  Never mind.

2.  When the boys finally opened the new DS from Nohnie and Papaw, they ran around the great room yelling, "Woo Hoo!  We got one!  We don't have to take the games back!  Nohnie didn't buy the wrong games!  You all are tricky!!"

1.  It snowed in Georgia!!!

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Kingdom Arrows Visit the Olive Plants

Our dear friends, The Kingdom Arrows, travelled to Georgia this week...
 just to see us!

Michael and I were excited to get to visit with our dear friends from our college days,
and Orville and Wilbur were just as thrilled to see their children.

We hung paper snowflakes from the ceiling in our classroom
hoping they would arrive to a winter wonderland.
You can see the piano that took my toenail.
It's a great piano...especially for FREE!
I'll like the piano again
when Orville's broken arm heals and he can play it!

The boys colored welcome messages on the windows
with Crayola window markers.
We also wrote Merry Christmas in a variety of foreign languages
on the dry erase board.
We found a helpful list here.
When the Kingdom Arrows arrived,
we had so much fun together!
The dads played Settlers of Catan
with Kae Kae and Orville.

All the children had fun together, but Orville thought Kae Kae was the Bee's Knees, and they formed a "music group".  They plan to email lyrics back and forth and write a song together.

The Arrows introduced the Plants to Shaun the Sheep...
so funny!

And of course, we went bird watching.

We went to a spot by the lake which is not far from the OP house.  We often spot Belted Kingfishers and Killdeer there, and I so hoped we would see them that day.  As we sat down to eat our picnic lunch, Joy-Bug was the first to identfy a Killdeer (by call)!  Good job, Joy-Bug!

After lunch, I heard a Kingfisher, and we started looking for it.  It flew across the water and perched on a boat dock allowing us all a peek!  Kingfishers are one of my favorites, and I am always excited to see one.

Then, sadly, it was time for the Kingdom Arrows to return to their home.  We said our goodbyes in the parking lot, and moments after they left, about 15 different species of birds starting singing and flying around the trees surrounding the parking lot.  Michael and I spent about a half an hour identifying them and added a new species to our life list- the Golden-Crowned Kinglet.  Sorry you missed it Kingdom Arrows! 
But don't feel bad...I've told other local birders about this spot and they never see or hear much there.  On the other hand, we always leave there having seen or heard 15+ species.  I think the birds like us there!  LOL!   Orville didn't get to participate, either.  Using binocs is difficult with a broken arm.  Wilbur was coming down with a cold and not very interested, so he stayed in the car and missed it, too.  But Michael and I had fun!  

Now, for those of you who didn't know this already, Heather and I were bridesmaids in each other's weddings.  She posted a picture of us from her wedding here.  So, how could I not do likewise?

from left to right
Esther, Kristi, Me, Tonya, Heather (Kingdom Arrows), Heather S.
What fun!  Hope to see the Kingdom Arrows again very soon!

Wednesday Weigh-in: Week 12

Well, no gain this week.

And I'm happy about that.  Every day this week, except for one, we were either at the ER or a doctor's office which doesn't sound like a diet obstacle, but it was.  Lots of driving to get one or both boys to a babysitter, then lots of time at the doctor's, then back to pick up the boys, then off to get prescriptions, late nights watching fevers and nursing migraines....  Completely blew our schedule and kept me from logging my food faithfully.

Sunday, we had a small Christmas celebration with the Kingdom Arrows (more about that in another post), and I enjoyed (and you must sing this to the tune of Jingle Bell Rock to fully enjoy it) Tater Tot, Tater Tot, Casserole and a piece of pie!  Yummo!

So this week gives me hope that when I have reached my goal weight, I will be able to maintain it without having to count calories for the rest of my life.

I will not post next week because we will be visiting my in-laws and I will have limited internet access.  My goal is to maintain a loss of 20-21 pounds until the New Year.

I will check back in on January 5, 2011 and let you know how I did!

Keep praying!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Update and Praise

Just a quick post to let you know what the podiatrist had to say yesterday...

There is no infection in my toe.  It is healing nicely and should return to normal in a few months.  He was even optimistic about the growth of a new toenail.  I had been told by two other doctors that it would not return, or if it did, it would be deformed and ugly.  He gave me an antifungal cream to apply which may allow the toenail to grow back normally.  It will be a few months before we'll know for sure, but YAY!  At least it's possible!

Thanks for your prayers.  When my primary care placed me on a second round of antibiotics and scheduled an "emergency" visit with the podiatrist, I was pretty shaken. 

I am so thankful all is well and praise God for the good news.

Hopefully that will be the last you will hear of my toe.  Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Wednesday Weigh-in: Week 11

Bad week, y'all...
I gained 0.4 of a pound
lowering my weight-loss total to 20.8 pounds.

Isn't it nice that My Fitness Pal rounds up so my little badge in the sidebar still says 21 pounds lost?!!!

Ah, was a strange and difficult week, so I won't be too hard on myself.  There was a Christmas party and a broken bone.  I have not logged into My Fitness Pal since the injury because life has been a little "off" since then. 

I took Orville to orthopedist on Monday.  He did not need a cast; the break is really high on the humerus, making a cast difficult/unnecessary.  The break is a greenstick fracture which will grow back on its own.  Still, we have to keep the arm in a sling and immobilized.  And he is disappointed that he has a broken bone but no cast for his friends to sign.  I'm trying to think of something we can make, like a paper mache cast or a memory book, that his friends can sign. 

And keeping his arm still is REALLY HARD TO DO

Monday, December 13, 2010

Rosetta Stone Give-away

Michael and I had a talk just last night with Orville about his Japanese studies.  He has been "studying" Japanese for a couple years with Rosetta Stone and really enjoys it. 

Why Japanese, you ask?

We don't know. 

He just always wanted to learn it, and God provided two levels of RS at a price we couldn't pass up.

Well, last night we were discussing our goals for next semester and decided that it would be more profitable for Orville and me to study Korean together.  I am currently tutoring two Korean children and learned last week that I have been adopted by the Korean community.

It seems my Korean friends actually consider me to be "Korean".

Isn't that sweet?

Well, if I'm Korean, then I need to know a little of the language.  Orville wants to join me and sees the value in learning a language that he can practice with native speakers.

Now, here's a chance for us to win a Level 1 Homeschool edition of Rosetta Stone for the language of our choice.  If we win, can you guess what we'll choose???

You can enter for a chance to win, too.  Here's how...

Now is the perfect time to give your child the gift of possibilities for the holidays with Rosetta Stone Homeschool — and you can WIN a Level 1 Homeschool program, language of your choice (valued at $249)!

Right now Rosetta Stone is having a special Holiday promotion on our Homeschool Edition program and we’d like you to help spread the word! Everyone can save up to $150 on Rosetta Stone Homeschool by visiting our website at

By helping us spread the word you can win a Rosetta Stone Homeschool Edition Level 1 program, language of your choice, valued at $249.

This is a computer based curriculum and Rosetta Stone will also include a headset with microphone, and a supplementary “Audio Companion” CD so you can practice lessons in the car, on the go, or where-ever!

Students participate in life-like conversations and actually produce language to advance through the program. Rosetta Stone incorporates listening, reading, grammar, vocabulary and writing along with speaking and pronunciation lessons. For parents, the new Parent Administrative Tools are integrated into the program to allow parents to easily enroll up to ten students in any of 12 predetermined lesson plans, monitor student progress, grade completed work (the program grades the work automatically as the students progress), and you can view and print reports for transcripts. Homeschooling a lot of kids at your house? This program is designed to enroll and track up to ten students (five users on two computers) and will work for nearly all ages — from beginning readers up to college students.

To win this program, copy these paragraphs and post them in (or as) your next blog post, and/OR post about this contest on your facebook page. Then go to the original page at

and leave a comment saying that you’ve posted about, or have linked to, the contest. Please make sure the link works to get back to the original contest page when you post, and good luck!

Quoted from


The Injured Party

So every year our church has a caroling party.

And every year, one of us is injured or sick on the date of the party.

Four years ago, Michael stepped on one of my sewing needles.  I thought for sure I had put that thing back in my little magnetic storage case which had been placed back inside my sewing basket.  Evidently not, because his heel found it, and he had to go to the hospital and have it surgically removed.  It was millimeters from the bone.  Ack!  He stayed home to recover while the boys and I went caroling without him.

Three years ago, I had just had major surgery and wasn't quite back up to speed.  Brushing my hair was an accomplishment then.  Walking the neighborhood while singing would have felt like climbing Mount Everest, or something really hard like that.  So Michael took the boys, and I stayed home to recover.

The next year Michael had pneumonia.  It was just me and the boys again.

Last year, I was sick (not with pneumonia, thankfully, but just good and sick) and Michael took the boys and a batch of Nutter Butter snowmen cookies.

When I injured my toe two weeks ago, I jokingly said, "Well, it's almost time for the caroling party.  Someone in this family had to get hurt."  I wondered if I would be able to attend since wearing a shoe felt like torture at the time. 

However I was able to wear my loosest-fitting pair of tennis shoes by Monday without passing out, so I decided to go.  I was determined that our family would finally attend the party together.  I guarded my foot (because even though I'm back in shoes, it is not completely healed and if someone stepped on my toe...ahhhh!), and we all made it there.

At Last!

However, I was not to be the only injured party....

While playing outside, Orville fell from the play equipment.  His left arm took the impact, and he has a greenstick fracture in his humerus

Which isn't very humorous.

But it's not too serious, either.

He is currently in a splint, and I am taking him to the orthopedist this afternoon to have it set.

He is doing well and being very brave.  The ER doctor prescribed a pain reliever, and it is keeping the pain in check.  He had trouble sleeping Friday and Saturday nights...difficult to find a comfortable position.  He did sleep well last night, though, and is adjusting to life with one functioning arm.  He should heal quickly and be good as new within a couple months. 

Some might say The Injured Party is a thing of bad luck or a stroke of fate against us.  However, we believe that 
Providence says, Whatever God ordains must be; but the wisdom of God never ordains any thing without a purpose. (Spurgeon, God's Providence, Sermon on Ezekiel 1:15-19), and through it all we are learning when trouble comes, disease comes, pestilence comes, smile at it, and say:

"He that has made his refuge God,

Shall find a most secure abode;

Shall walk all day beneath his shade,

And there at night shall rest his head."

Let this be thy shield to keep off the thrusts of distress,
let this be thy high rock against all the winds of sorrow. Sing,

"Though the way may be rough, it cannot be long,

So smooth it with hope, and cheer it with song."

We are thankful for God's protection and trust in His Providence. He has a purpose for all things, and we give Him praise.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Wednesday Weigh-in: Week 10

So here's some good news...

I'm wearing shoes again!  I was able to wear my loosest-fitting tennis shoes yesterday.  It was uncomfortable, but not excruciating.

I was able to do some light exercise on the Gazelle yesterday, too!  Thank you for your prayers.  The Lord is healing my toe, much faster than I anticipated.  He has blessed my dieting efforts this week as well.  This week...

I lost 1.6 lbs.
bringing my weight-loss total to 21.2 lbs!

Okay, since I have lost consistently for ten weeks (there was one week with no loss, but no gain either), I want to share a little tip.

This is the first time I have dieted that I have not tried to eat particular foods in particular amounts.  For example, dieting in the past has always meant eating at least one salad every day.  For some reason, in my world, diet = salad.

Well, after a week of salads, I get tired of them and my stomach begins to cramp.  Not pleasant...and after a few weeks, I start "cheating" and eating things like potato chips. 

That restrictive feeling of having to eat a certain number of fruits and veggies each day while keeping the fat to a minimum and watching carbs... aaaahhhhh!  It always backfires.  It makes everything except for salad seem like the forbidden fruit, and I want the "bad stuff" all the more.

Before I began this diet, I evaluated my eating habits and found they weren't really that bad.  Most nights I cook dinner at home and include lean meat and a couple veggies.  Breakfast usually consists of something good, too.  Lunch was my most problematic meal where I often opted for something fast, like PBJ's.  I have made the biggest change there, substituting lean meat sandwiches or lower-calorie soup.

Simply put, I am counting calories but I don't get too worked up about how those calories stack up.  I'm eating fruits and veggies every day, yes, but not a salad.  And I'm not eating according to any set diet plan.  No counting carbs or eating cabbage or counting sevings of each food group or points.  I eat as best as I can each day and keep track of it, stopping at 1500-1600 calories.

I make room for some things I enjoy, too.  For instance, I like to start my day with a soda, not diet, the real thing, so I have that one soda each day.  It's my cup of coffee, y'all.

And there is plenty of room in my food budget for snacks.  Sometimes even potato chips...not the whole bag.  I have to keep to the serving sizes but I remind myself that getting to have 14 chips occasionally is better than no chips at all. 

I am trying to learn to live with self-control which I know is a fruit of the Spirit and so I pray about these things.  I know when I am lacking in one of the fruits that I am sinning and must repent.  When I am struggling with patience, kindness, gentleness, self-control, etc., I must pray for extra measures of grace.  Those fruits are not my work but the work of the Holy Spirit. 

I covet your prayers and appreciate them so.  Please pray for me this week as follows:
  1. Complete recovery of my toe.  Praise the Lord and give Him thanks for the healing thus far and that I can wear shoes again.  Ask Him to help me as I get in small exercise routines each day and work back up to my norm.
  2. For continued self-control, particularly through the holidays.  There's a lot of blogging going on about how we are to celebrate and about the bah-humbug syndrome.  Not trying to fall into that category...there's no inner-grinch residing within me.  However, this is, for me, not the time for grand and long-lasting celebrations.  I plan to enjoy particular days with family, but cannot use the holiday season as an excuse to indulge day-after-day.  Though there are many who are in a position to let the wine and cookies flow and can celebrate His goodness and abundance this month, for me, that would not be worshipping God but self serving.
  3. For my friends who are dieting with me.
  4. For God to be glorified.

Happy Healthy Living!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Olive Plants Sale! 50% OFF!

All of my soaps make great gifts or stocking stuffers!
Don't miss this sale!

I am getting ready to close down the soap shop for the year which means I'm ready to move the remaining inventory.  I have marked down everything to my rock-bottom prices, many items are 50% off.

Don't forget...if you buy 3, you get 1 free.  Plus I offer free shipping on orders of $25 or more.

Earn an additional 10% discount by helping me advertise the sale by posting on your blog!  Comment below with a link to your post to receive the discount.

Click here or the "Olive Plants Soap" tab above to see my Christmas specials!

Happy Soapin'!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Olive Plants Soap for Sale! Last Week Sale!

Because there is only one week left for me to guarantee shipping in time for Christmas,
I am offering a...

Buy 3, Get 1 Free!
through December 10, 2010
Free shipping on orders of $25 or more!

Earn an additional10% discount by
posting on your blog about my sale!
Email me at homeschooldawn (at) gmail (dot) com with a link to your ad
to receive your discount.  Thanks! :)

I am happy to announce that I am now selling Christmas novelty soaps online, right here at Olive Plants.  To see my full line of olive oil, goat's milk or glycerin soaps, click the "Olive Plants Soap" tab beneath my blog header, or click here if you are a subscriber.

I think you'll like what you'll find.  Like this...

Mmm...cupcake soap!
Do I eat it or bathe with it???
Makes a perfect teacher gift!
And comes in a gift box!!

or maybe this...

I have lots of fun soaps for the kiddos on your gift list!
Great stocking stuffers
and they encourage hand washing!

or perhaps this...

These sparkling snowflakes will make your bath glisten!

Have I got your attention yet?  

Good...hop on over!  I have many more soaps available, all of which make great stocking stuffers or Christmas gifts.  They're all reasonaby priced, too.  Plus, shipping is free on orders of $25 or more!  

You will find prices and ordering instructions on the Olive Plants Soaps page.  I look forward to doing business with you!

Happy Soapin'!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Wednesday Weigh-in: Week 9

I was really worried about this week's weigh-in.

Really, really worried.

I lost 4 lbs
bringing my total weight loss to 19.6 lbs!

Since the toe incident, however, I have not felt well and have not eaten well.  When I went to the doctor, I received 3 shots...tetanus, antibiotics and steroids.  The combo knocked me for a loop with some major side-effects.  So some of my weight loss can probably be attributed to a lack of appetite.  Plus I was pretty sick last week and did not eat much then either.  I think that weight loss just kicked in.  So don't try to lose 4 lbs in a week like me.  I have not gone about it in the healthiest of ways.  :)

For those of you keeping up with my toe saga... currently I can't wear a shoe on the injured foot.  I can barely stand for the bandage to touch my wound, meaning my regular exercise routine is out for a while.  The pool is out too since I have to keep the wound dry and clean for a few weeks.  I am giving myself a few days to recover from all the meds (I was given 3 prescriptions in addition to the shots) then I will plan a new exercise strategy...sit ups or pilates maybe.  Not the cardio I need, and it's going to be tough to work around this toe, but I am determined to do something....

20 lbs. lost is a BIG milestone for me, and I don't want my injury to interfere with my progress.  I am at a weight I have not seen since we have lived in Georgia.  I have officially lost what I call the Tennessee-stress weight (very stressful events prompted our move from TN to GA).  After I lose 10 more lbs, I will weigh what I did when I found out I was pregnant with Wilbur.  Having lost 20 lbs, 10 seems not as hard as it used to.

For those keeping up with the chronic pain saga, the doctor recanted her statements concerning fybromyalgia.  She forgot that she had mentioned anything to me about it the previous week and told me to go back to previous doctor...that he could better advise me.  For now, I plan to get through the foot thing, continue to lose weight, and pray about returning to see previous doctor or see a rheumatologist or some other plan that has not yet been made known to us.

Disappointing, yet I know God has a purpose and a grand plan that I cannot comprehend.  I am resting in Him, trusting His sovereignty, thankful that His mercies are new each morning.   

Here are my prayer requests this week:
  1. For the pain in my foot to subside, at least enough that I can find some way to exercise.  Also for the quick healing of the area where the toe nail should be and the small puncture wound, created when the nail dislodged.  It is doubtful I will get a new toenail; there was extensive damage to the cuticle which leads us to believe the nail bed is severely damaged.  If the nail returns, it will be a deformed, ugly looking I've been told.  All of that really means very little to me.  My main concern is for the wound to heal over and the new skin to callous so that I can wear shoes and regain full mobility.
  2. That I will continue to lose weight, or at least maintain what I have lost, even though my physical activity will be limited for a few weeks.
  3. For wisdom concerning which doctor to see about my chronic pain problems and what testing, if any, to undergo.
  4. For my two friends who are dieting with me.
  5. For God to be glorified.
Happy Healthy Living!