Animal friends

Animal friends

Animal friends

I grew up with animals. At various times we had a cat, various dogs (the only one we had more than a year was our beloved Cockapoo), parakeets, and a hamster.  Josh had rabbits for a time and a cat, though those were for a less significant portion of his childhood than mine was.

Which is probably why I start eyeing the dogs at the local shelter every few months. I won’t act on it now that we’re in a fence-free house, but I really do love having a dog in the house, in spite of how much it would put a crimp in our day-trips to Disney and Universal.


(Rebekah with the dog I grew up with, the last time we saw him before he crossed the rainbow bridge)

We got a dog a couple years ago. Absolutely adored him. He wasn’t perfect, but we turned a blind eye to his weaknesses (like his barking at everyone who walked on the sidewalk behind our yard). But after a few months, we had to say goodbye, thanks to heartworm that made him extremely sick. It was heart-wrenching.

Then we got Meshach.

A rebound dog if there ever was one.

After about 2 months, it was clear that we were not the family for him, so we found him a new home and decided we were done with dogs.

(We couldn’t leave the “Shadrach/Meshach” thing hanging, though, so we picked up a husky stuffed toy from IKEA and named him Abednego)


(same kid, same couch, different dog)

When we chose this house and saw the covered lanai (back porch), we knew a parakeet would be happy to spend time outside listening to the neighborhood birds.

So when we got “Superhost” status on Airbnb, we decided to reward ourselves with getting the feathered friend we’d planned.

Enter Scuttle!

We semi-trained our parakeets growing up. The best-trained one, Sebastian, had been trained by mom’s friend, and he could free-fly and talk up a storm. I knew males were easier to train to talk (some people insist females can talk too, but it’s harder), and I really hoped he would learn to really trust us.

I started spending 10-15 minutes with him each day, teaching him to trust me and to step onto my finger. When he got comfortable with me, I added Rebekah to the mix and had him step onto her hand too.

Then the scary day when we let him fly in the main room of the house!

Of course he found the highest window to perch on…which then involved standing on a bar stool to get him back down.

But the second day, he landed on my shoulder!

And since then, he’s gotten completely trusting and fun! He flies from finger to finger, occasionally landing on our shoulders. He loves to get treats for doing it but enjoys the freedom even without getting spray millet when he does something cute.

He officially feels like a friend! He’s not talking yet, but hopefully that will come in time.

Gone away is the bluebird…

Gone away is the bluebird…

Gone away is the bluebird…

…here to stay is the new bird!

We’re still in all-Christmas-music-all-the-time mode. We’ll likely be de-Christmasing this weekend, and the kids have already requested that we listen to Hamilton as soon as we turn off the Christmas music. (don’t worry, it’s a cleaned-up version).

It was hilarious to hear the words to Winter Wonderland today, though.

Gone away is the bluebird…here to stay is the new bird

Because we have a new family member: a white parakeet (budgie) named Scuttle!

I really wanted to get a parakeet when we moved here. The former owners had a parrot who spent his time in the covered back porch. I grew up with parakeets and think their sounds are so happy…and they’re so ridiculously easy to take care of, making them the perfect pet in my book. (number 2 is a dog, but those are the opposite side of how much work they take, so it’s a parakeet or nothing!)

We hadn’t done anything about it because life is always busy. But when we realized we needed a way to celebrate the fact that we’ll officially be SuperHosts on Airbnb starting January 1st, I knew this was the perfect timing!

(Our former house is now an Airbnb property. We’re loving almost everything about being hosts, and apparently people like us too!)

The plan was to get a blue male bird. (males are easier to teach to talk, especially if they don’t have mirrors in their cage to confuse them into thinking their reflection is a friend.) We were going to call him Bruce and teach him “Fish are friends, not food” (parakeets are native to Australia…like the shark…yeah. Nothing like being hit over the head with a joke ;) )

But the two blue budgies at PetSmart were clearly females, and the couple male green ones reminded me too much of Max, the really grumpy, impossible-to-train parakeet I had in college.

So when we saw this pretty white one, who was playing in the cage with his cage-mate, we knew he was perfect!

The kids are in love. They won’t stop talking to him and looking at him and telling me every move he’s making.

Poor bird.

He’ll get comfortable quickly, and then we’ll work on training him so he can get out of his cage. We picked up books from the library and I’m giving the kids some time to learn this on their own.

He didn’t bite me when I moved him from his box into his cage (Max, the bird I mentioned earlier, totally would have), so I take that as a good sign that he’ll be trainable!

(he’s named for the character in Little Mermaid because Scuttle is a white bird who talks a LOT. That’s what we’re hoping for: one who will mimic a lot of sounds!)

Welcome to our little family, Scuttle!

Dapper Day

Dapper Day

Dapper Day

This past weekend was Dapper Day. It’s actually misnamed because it was the whole weekend, but that just meant we had more time to play!

What is Dapper Day? You can read (and see) all about it here. The short version, though, is that it’s an opportunity to dress up. The majority of the people we see do vintage outfits (lots of full skirts and bowties paraded around), but it can be anything dressy. It’s so much fun to be a part of, especially because I’ve always enjoyed the opportunity to be dressy.

Our family already participates in Disneybounding for most of our visits to the Disney parks, so we had to one-up “just” dressing up and make it into family themes.
We ended up deciding on two different movies. Saturday we did Jolly Holiday (from Mary Poppins), and Sunday we were the emotions from Inside Out. Most people liked our outfits Saturday but didn’t recognize who we were, but Sunday we were far more recognizable. When we went to visit Joy and Sadness, the cast members went COMPLETELY crazy. They said we won the day (which made us happy, since we picked out other families on Saturday that we considered “won” the day. And no, there’s no actual contest ;) )

They actually asked us to come back a little later to meet Baymax, and they all went crazy over us again. It was so much fun to make their days magical and have ours be so perfect too!

School: the next thing

School: the next thing

School: the next thing

Anyone who’s known me for awhile knows that we change how we do school constantly. I’m always finding something more perfect than we used before, and it’s rare that we get more than one year through any one program.

Part of that has been figuring out the kids’ learning styles. Jasmine is dyslexic. Rebekah is dysgraphic (like dyslexia but more focused on writing). Hudson is likely very mildly dyslexic, probably dysgraphic…and has boundless energy that would tire Tigger.

So when I look back at some of the choices we’ve made, I’m not surprised they didn’t work. It doesn’t deter me from trying something new, though, and I’m thankful that they’re willing to go along with whatever I bring into the house. (probably because they don’t really have a choice).


Our newest choice? Children Around The World, by WinterPromise. I used their Hideaways in History for Jasmine’s first grade year, and though we dropped some aspects of it (like spelling, not knowing at that time why it wasn’t working for her) the basic curriculum gave us a rich year. (if you want to read about some of our experiences, I recorded many of them here.)

We’ve gotten really involved with Compassion International as a church, and it’s re-kindled the fire for the children we sponsor through their organization. Visiting a Compassion Experience opened our eyes to just how much different childhood looks in other parts of the world, and how we can do something to help change someone else’s story.

So with that in mind, this felt like the perfect time to really dive in and learn about all sorts of people and countries. Oh, and food. Every week’s stop involves food of some kind. That makes it perfect for Hudson and I, especially!


So with that in mind, this felt like the perfect time to really dive in and learn about all sorts of people and countries. Oh, and food. Every week’s stop involves food of some kind. That makes it perfect for Hudson and I, especially!

The curriculum includes a one-month “Christmas around the world” unit. We’ll be spending a good deal of time at the World Showcase at Disney for those weeks (which means starting that soon, because our passes expire 12/15. I’m not looking forward to having to say goodbye to the parks for a time, but it isn’t forever)


This week we’re visiting the U.K. And yes, it’s made me wish we could actually get on a plane and see it for real. This could be really hard on the part of me that likes to see the world!

(the kids made each other an ‘English Cracker.” They obviously didn’t pop open, and we forgot to include the joke. Oh, or the paper crowns. It was a picture they drew for each other in a toilet paper roll, with paper wrapped around it. The simplest version we could do!) 

We’re supposed to plan a proper English Tea. Of course I don’t have any of the fancy dishes or tablecloths, so our imaginations will need to be in full force. But we’ll have a great time anyhow because it revolves around FOOD!

Moving fun

Moving fun

Moving fun

We moved last week. It’s been an exciting period of transition.

Exciting is putting it mildly. Remember my post about faith lessons, which was from over 2 months ago? That was when we were looking at moving and making all sorts of other changes. I didn’t know if or when it would actually happen, and every day our plans changed or the circumstances around it changed for us.


We found THE house on August 19th. It was supposed to close September 25th, but thanks to Irma everything got moved back. And then, thanks to an incompetent mortgage broker, the closing date kept getting move later and later. We finally closed October 11th, but I didn’t think it would actually happen until we finally were signing the official paperwork.

I’ve been taking daily pictures of the progress (because it helps me stay motivated and not learn to overlook the boxes that are still left).

The living room/great room

The girls’ room

The school area

my son’s room

The master bedroom

There’s a part two to this project.
We’re going to be turning our former house into an Air BNB! (a short-term rental, if you’re not familiar with the term)

We’ve been working hard at making it ready for guests and are hoping to get it listed before October is done. It’s exciting (and ever-so-slightly terrifying).




When I was in middle school home and careers class, we did a little bit with pretending we were creating a business. I remember very little about it, though it seemed like it was more planning than creating or enjoying our success. (and something about a cow. Like it was our product name or something. I don’t know. That was a long time ago).

My children, on the other hand, are really learning what they’re doing, and they’ll remember the lessons from this process.

Last spring, Rebekah decided to sell lemonade, and Jasmine and Hudson decided to market homemade popsicles. They got all the needed components at the dollar store, and they spent time creating signs and plans.

They realized that they could open up their stands in front of the neighborhood playground, which also happens to be the school bus stop. If they were in place when the kids got off the bus, they could sell to all the kids.

In the spring, Jasmine’s and Hudson’s popsicles did far better than Rebekah’s lemonade. So Rebekah did what she needed to: she lowered her prices. She created signs to take to the busier intersections, and one day she had Hudson stand at the signs to get more attention to them. She saw more sales as the school year wound down, though Jasmine almost always sold more popsicles.

Summer in Central Florida is too hot to be outside, and there were no buses, so their business went into hibernation mode. But Jasmine was already planning for the fall. This time she was going to try her hand at lemonade.

A couple weeks before school started up again, she created a sign in Scratch, a site that teaches the kids how to program, code, and design. She bought the lemonade powder and put signs up all over the neighborhood announcing her opening date.

School finally started, so her stand could open. She hit the ground running, selling out of lemonade (or running out of cups) most days.

So she bought larger containers of lemonade powder. She got better cups. Today she placed an order on Amazon for better pitchers (She was renting Rebekah’s dollar store pitchers, which weren’t sturdy, and the rental period was ending).

And she’s making plans to add new things. She’s considering making limited-time lemonade popsicles. She is going to make a loyalty-rewards card to encourage more repeat customers.

And she has fans. There’s a girl in the neighborhood with a goal of buying a certain amount of lemonade (amount not told to us), so when Jasmine found out, she drew an adorable picture of the girl to give her when she completes the goal.

They’ve made good money, they’re getting practice tithing as soon as they get sales, and they’re learning how to deal with inventory costs and marketing strategies.

Whether they end up creating legitimate businesses as adults or not, they’re learning valuable lessons and I love seeing them figuring out how to solve the problems that come up. And I love that Josh and I are taking a back seat in this, offering suggestions as requested but otherwise letting them figure things out.