Wednesday, 31 December 2008

She's here!

After roughly 5 1/2 hours of labor (we're not so sure this time because for a while I was in denial), Aimee Katherine Collier made her appearance on 27 December 2008 at 3:26pm. She was born at the Nativiti Birth Center in The Woodlands. Especially considering she was born 2 1/2 weeks early, she is a good size baby: 7lbs 5oz and 19 3/4" long. The last child we had that was this early was Kyrie and she's 11 now! No pictures with Alex yet because he's been away at youth leader training camp since Boxing Day. We were able to get a message to him though and we know he's very anxious to be home and meet his newest baby sister. We've been wondering why labor triggered so early. It's been speculated that I was on my feet quite a bit Christmas day when we had some of my extended family over and on the 26th, Tartan and I went looking and test driving Ford Expeditions. Personally I think it's because Tartan got me a beautiful birthstone necklace with a stone for each of the children- including Aimee. Now he'll have to take it back and have a December stone put in instead!
We had only just decided on the name Aimee a few days beforehand. Kyrie suggested Aimee, and Tartan came up with the alternate spelling. We were going to have Elizabeth as the middle name, but Tartan lobbied for Katherine while I was in labor and our midwife added her vote (her name is Katherine, too).
We are very thankful that she is here safe and sound and that I'm recovering very well. Praise God!

Trusting in Him and His timing in all things!
>Naomi for the Colliers

Saturday, 13 December 2008

We had snow

On Wednesday, it actually snowed here in Houston. Not a lot, but the kids were excited and went out and played for a while. They made mini snowballs by piling it up off the bumpers of my truck. I didn't get any pictures unfortunately because by the time I got off the phone telling Tartan about it- the snow had dwindled and then it got dark.

It's been officially announced so now I can make it public- Tartan has been promoted to a new position at work, effective 1 January. The downside is that he'll have to drive farther to get there and home again, which makes him very nervous about the upcoming baby delivery. He's trying to figure out if he can work from home that week leading up to the due date. If not, we'll find someone who can be with me during those times he can't be here. He'll be the manager of Planning and Stewardship for business side applications. Previously he's only been in the upstream side. If you're not involved with the oil industry, just know that it means it'll be experience broadening. We can look back at his career so far and see how God has placed him where he needs to be- even those times where it may not have looked like it. :)

I'm sitting here trying to think of what else I can say. The kids got the tree up and decorated- they did it all this year, including bringing it down from the attic and setting it up, Tartan got the lights up outside, and I put the stockings along the fireplace mantle. Next week is our last week of school until January. We may or may not have a week or two of school in January before baby arrives. We still haven't decided on the name and this is definitely the longest we've gone without one. I'm sure we'll decide before she appears.

We wish you all a merry Christmas; may it be filled with His peace, love and joy!
>Naomi for the Colliers

PS Tartan, Alex and I are on Facebook now.

Monday, 24 November 2008

November update

I can't believe I don't have any posts for November and it's already the 23rd. My excuse is that I'm tired. I barely have enough energy for the everyday things and some of those things go by the wayside sometimes, too.

We had a party for Abigail on her birthday: the 31st of October. It was a dress-up, Halloween themed party (no surprise)- though nothing scary.

Our weekends have been a little busy this month. We've had a campout the last 3 weekends, though last week, it was just the guys who went. First up was our church's first family campout which we had at Wolf Creek campground. It was organized by my dh (dear hubby). The big activity was fishing and I think all the kids who went fishing caught at least one. It was catch and release. They were mostly perch, but at least one bass was caught and one catfish. One of our experienced fishermen showed the catfish to all the kids and explained how to carefully remove one from the hook.

Last weekend was Webelos Woods where area Scout troops set up activities for all the Webelos dens in the area and advertised themselves so the Webelos can decide what troop they want to join when they leave Cub scouts. Alex was with his troop and as senior patrol leader he spent quite a bit of time making sure his patrols were ready for the Webelos scouts.

This past weekend was the Cub scout family campout at Cubworld at Camp Strake. We were able to take the camper, otherwise I think I would have stayed home. :) We didn't stay Saturday night: I think we were all a little camped out.

This week is a short school week since Thursday is Thanksgiving. We'll be staying home all weekend!

I have a little less than 2 months left before baby 6 makes her appearance. Believe me, I can hardly wait. :)

Giving thanks to God for everything!
>Naomi for the Colliers

Monday, 20 October 2008

A fun week

This past Tuesday we had the opportunity to have a mini Banchory reunion. Two families from Scotland and two families who previously lived there but now live in the Houston area all came over and had dinner and a great time visiting with each other. We had fifteen kids in the house plus the adults and it all went smoothly! It did make us a little homesick for Scotland.

Wednesday was our family small group. In comparison, the child count seemed small, though actually not really. We currently have three families besides our own coming and hopefully another will be joining us as well.

On Saturday we (finally) had a birthday party for Aidan. We had a good turnout to his Greek mythology themed party. The obvious highlight was the trip across the river Styx (our pond) with Charon (Alex in costume). Each of the boys was a hero in armor (life vest) and after paying the ferryman with a penny, each had to bring back water from the fountain of life (ok, not Greek mythology, but they didn't care) to be able to return to the land of the living. They all got wet and some got soaked- hence it was a hit. The weather was perfect; couldn't have asked for better.
Today was the Cub scout pack meeting. It was a halloween carnival with games, candy and the kids dressed up. Aidan decided not to dress up and was the only one in uniform- so he rather stood out.

For all the Colliers,

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Hook 'em!

I was really tired today, but I couldn't sleep during the Longhorn\Sooner game. It was an incredible game; both teams played very well, but the Horns came out on top! 45-35

We're thrilled; Oklahoma are big rivals and they were ranked #1. We're currently ranked #5, so we'll move up at least one.

(Background: American college football. The Longhorns are our university's team; they wear burnt orange, hence the banner color for our blog)

Go Horns!


Monday, 6 October 2008

Well, we've had power now for a little over a week and last Thursday we got word that we didn't have to boil our water anymore to be sure it was safe to drink. Our extended deck with pergola is now complete (except for 2 of the fans that Tartan is going to put in himself) and we're very pleased with it.

It's really pretty at night, but I haven't tried to take a picture of that yet.

Life is pretty much back on schedule now. We're still waiting for AT&T to finish installing TV and internet. There were some issues with signal degradation and we're not sure whether they've been able to fully address that or not. Hopefully we'll find out soon and the answer will be "yes".

Sometime in the near future I'm going to have to take my Sequoia into the shop for what will hopefully be only cosmetic work. I was taking the kids to AWANA two Sundays ago and a teenager who wasn't paying as much attention as he should have changed lanes not realising I was already there. No one hurt, his car had been stopped before he started to change lanes, and I was traveling fairly slowly. We're thankful that he did the right thing and described the incident truthfully to his insurance company.

We are looking forward to seeing some more friends from Scotland! I hope they have as an enjoyable time as the Richardsons so even more of our friends will come to visit.

According to the little ticker attached to all my outgoing e-mail, I now have 100 days to go before baby girl 6's due date. That's how long we have to figure out a name. I hope it's long enough. :)

Trusting in Jesus,
Naomi for the Colliers

Friday, 26 September 2008

We have POWER

Hallelujah! Thank you, Lord!

What else is there to say? (well, thanks to the Centerpoint workers for all their hard work to get electricity restored!)


Thursday, 25 September 2008

25 September 2008, 2:00pm

The waiting game continues.

We're on a reduced schedule for school. Kyrie's band class is the only activity left that has not restarted. The past several days Alex has spent a couple of hours at the FEMA POD (point of distribution) at Gateway Baptist church where his Scout troop meets. Today Kyrie wanted to be able to help too, so I dropped both of them off. I will pick them up in about an hour and then drop the boys off for piano lessons. Hopefully we'll also be able to pick up crickets for Lucky.

The last couple of late afternoons and evenings have been uncomfortably warm in the house. During the morning and early afternoon though it's been just fine. I don't know what it's like upstairs (there is one fan up there), but the kids haven't been complaining so I guess they're coping just fine. I tend to stay near a ceiling fan as much as possible. :)

Aidan and Abigail are still stuffy and sometimes coughing. Hopefully they'll be over the colds soon. Alex thought maybe he felt a little stuffy this morning, but I'm hopeful it's not the start of a cold for him.

Really nothing else new to report so I'll close for now.

Trusting in the Lord (and that the electricity will be back sometime soon),
Naomi for the Colliers

Monday, 22 September 2008

22 September 2008, 4:00pm

Happy 9th birthday to Aidan!

We just got our internet connection back last night, so I've posted all the entries I made in MS Word over the last several days. You have more than enough to read now about our adventures post-Ike. I'll try to add a few pictures later.

Alex and Kyrie had Bridge classes today and the girls are currently at ballet. Alex went to the church where his scout troop meets to be a volunteer handing out ice and water from FEMA. He'll go back there this evening for patrol leaders' council meeting.

Oh, and no, we don't have power yet.

In the midst of it all, we give thanks and praise to God for helping us get through this time.

>Naomi for the Colliers

20 September 2008, 7:30pm

It’s Saturday; no power. It had been reported that our area should have power by Monday evening, but I have since heard and Tartan also heard from someone else that it’s been moved off to Thursday. Sigh.

On the up side, we have water pressure again! With our HE washer, I can wash clothes with power from the generator and since we have a gas dryer we can use that, too. I can also have washed children again. I had used the camper tub\shower with the girls, but I hadn’t gotten to the boys yet. Now they’re squeaky clean- well, at least clean.

Today we had Kyrie’s long overdue birthday party. We had ten girls here besides Collier girls. Fortunately the weather held nice and we spent most of it out on the new deck. They bobbed for apples, played musical chairs and smashed a disco ball piƱata. I think they all had a fun time; I know Kyrie had a wonderful time.

18 September 2008, 6:00pm

Electricity has yet to be restored and the water pressure is so low, it’s pathetic. Today we discovered that the toilets upstairs can’t flush effectively so they’ve been closed off for now. I gave Bug and Abi baths in the camper, but I couldn’t move on to the others because the grey water tank was full. Of course, they’re both adding new layers of grime already. We purchased a 55-gal barrel of petrol from a co-worker today. He met a relative halfway between here and Dallas to get it, and as he pulled into his driveway he saw that their electricity was back on, so since it’s likely to be at least next Monday before we get power, we took it off his hands.

Some good things about the after effects of the storm:
-> Monday morning Abigail found a small, tailless perch on our front porch (no idea how it turned up there- probably involves the cat). Aidan wanted to dissect it, so Tartan pulled out the dissecting tools and remembering what he and Alex had learned last year when they dissected a fish, was able to point out various parts. Spontaneous science lesson.

->Aidan and Kayleigh went on a trip across the US. Aidan sat in the tractor mower and Bug sat in the cart behind it and they pretended to be driving to different states. Occasionally, he would come in and give Tartan a verbal postcard about where they’d been. Aidan eventually pulled out our huge atlas and set it in the cart for reference as they traveled.

->The kids have been outside a lot getting to know some of the neighborhood kids better. Even Aidan, who never goes out to play, has in the past couple of days gone out. I think partly because the weather has been cool (he hates heat), but mostly because he doesn’t have schoolwork to catch up on or the computer or the Wii to play on.

->The kids have done some real, manual labor. They have picked up sticks and branches and raked up leaves and the smaller debris. They have loaded the tractor cart and Alex has even driven the tractor to dump everything onto the burn pile. The usually sedentary Alex even spent a large part of one afternoon out back by himself raking and driving the piles to the back.

->Hopefully this will be a good thing: we’re switching our cable TV and internet service to AT&T. We’ve been thinking about this for a while and lack of responsiveness from Comcast was the last straw.

We did have the ultrasound yesterday and were able to see that I’m carrying a girl. Her measurements show her to be at 23 weeks of development which is exactly where we’re at. Everything that can be seen by ultrasound looked perfect. We don’t have a name picked out yet and that may take us a while. Probably an “A” name since Abigail is the only female “A”.

Oh, and I turned 40 today, too.

16 September 2008, 8:30pm

Still no power- except just now Tartan discovered an electrician; I haven’t asked him the details yet. He tied our large generator into the house so now we have fans and lights. We can’t run the AC or any of the big appliances, but this is certainly an improvement.

Today Tartan and the kids got most of the yard rubbish picked up and we had quite the bonfire. I didn’t feel particularly well today so I opted out. Nothing to be concerned about; just that ill feeling that won’t completely go away. I did call the birth center and we’re still on for the ultrasound tomorrow. Yea!

Last night we finished watching The Fellowship of the Rings and tonight we’re starting The Two Towers.

15 September 2008, 8:30pm

Still no power. Saturday night before the front it was uncomfortably warm and it was hard to get to sleep. Fortunately, the cold front did come through early Sunday with a noisy thunderstorm so the temperatures have been very nice since then. I’m not sure how long it will last and of course we have no idea when we get electricity back. Today we cleared up most of the yard and tomorrow we’ll hopefully finish it up and have a huge bonfire.

We were running low on fuel so Tartan went off in search. He got into the huge line for the Texaco on the 45 feeder road and 3 hours later he filled up our gas cans. The irritating thing is if he had turned left he would have had a much shorter wait at the Chevron station just around the corner. Or if he had waited at the Kroger gas station, they apparently had a truck deliver petrol not too long after he passed it by. Oh well, we have a good supply now. I hope it’ll last until power is restored.

With preparations for the storm, we didn’t get to the pet store to get crickets for Lucky and she was looking hungry, but Alex found an injured moth today and was able to feed her.

No internet so no phone. Cell signal continues to be poor. Tartan did bring home the camper so we’ll have air conditioning when\if we need it and he started up the water pump so we could take showers (yea!). It’s rather like camping out, but with some of the comforts of home, and of course, we’re actually at home.

6:30pm, 13 September 2008

No power yet. My sister and brother-in-law in Pearland got theirs back earlier this afternoon which makes us hopeful. At least we know that some people are getting back on the grid. Tartan put the Sequoia into 4 wheel drive mode and went to get the camper to bring back to the house. He was able to get out and back in again, but he decided to try tomorrow morning. The water is still a bit high in some places and he hopes it’ll be easier to tow the camper after the water goes down a little more. The rain has stopped which is good. The breeze has died down which is not as good. Since it’s getting to be evening, the temperature is bearable but I do wish a little bit of wind was blowing.

The last weather forecast I heard says it’ll get hot tomorrow, but in the afternoon or evening a cold front will start to push through. The down side is it’ll probably bring some more rain but on the plus side it should bring down the temperatures. I really hope Tartan will be able to bring home the camper because then we can hook it up to the generator and have air conditioning! Another nice discovery is that we don’t have to use the big generator for the refrigerators and the freezer. Tartan hooked them up to the little generator and even in “eco” mode, it’s running them, a halogen light, and my laptop just fine. We’re using up a lot less fuel this way.

The drainage ditch is gradually emptying out. What I didn’t know was that there was a branch clogging the outlet; Tartan spied it and fished it out of the way. That’s why even with the continued rain, the level went down and our yard didn’t look so flooded. Way to go, hubby!

The kids and I picked up the various branches littering the front yard and put them into one big pile. We’ll eventually have to move that pile and also pick up all the mess in the backyard, but at least we got a start while it was still cool outside.

1:00pm Sat, 13 September 2008

We lost power sometime between midnight and 3am. We hear on the radio that it could be 2 weeks before power is restored. I’m just recording some thoughts and observations to post to the blog once there is power and internet. Tartan did try plugging in the cable modem to the generator, but Comcast is apparently down. We’re very happy that we have the wrap around porch out front since Tartan has been able to put the generator out there and it’s under cover.

We had cell phone to begin with this morning, but now the networks are overloaded and we can’t get a signal. We made it through the storm with minimal damage. A couple of our bottlebrush bushes were uprooted, several branches are down, and right now we’re watching our front yard get flooded as the drainage ditch has reached its capacity. Amazingly, the only problem we have with the windows is a compromised seal in one window over the master bathtub. Also amazing is the fact that we managed to place our paddle boat and its tarp cover in a somewhat protected spot. When we saw how strong the wind was blowing, we thought that at the very least the tarp would blow away and the boat not stay in its original spot.

We think some of the eye passed over us as the wind died down for a while before suddenly picking up again from the south whereas it had been from a northerly direction all night. We looked out the windows several times through the night and it was incredible seeing the power of the wind whipping the trees and rain. The children slept well for the most part though the girls all woke up around 5am and it took them awhile to get back to sleep.

Though it’s inconvenient not having power, at least it’s still cool outside and we can open some of the windows to let in the nice breeze. Now we’re just waiting for the rain to stop.

Friday, 12 September 2008

Settling down for the night.

We can hear the wind blowing out there, but our bedroom is currently on the leeward side. No rain as of yet. The picture is of the kids settling down in our room for the night. Bug is already asleep.

Hurricane Ike - report #3

Last update for Friday evening (9pm).

Hurricane Ike - report #2

Update on Hurricane Ike's progress, from Spring, Texas. (6:25 p.m. on Sept 12).

Hurricane Ike - report #1

Aidan Collier reports on Hurricane Ike from Spring, Texas.

We will make an effort to continue updates throughout the storm, depending on whether we have power and internet access.

Monday, 25 August 2008

18 years; 11 years

Today is our 18th wedding anniversary. What a day. Alex and Kyrie's outside classes and Kyrie and Abigail's ballet classes started today. We also had our 2nd week of band.

I had intended to drop Alex and Kyrie off and come home to work with Aidan and Abigail. Kyrie did not bring her art materials, so I had to drive home and get them. I decided not to drive all the way home again so I tried working on math with Abigail and Aidan in the truck. I turned the truck on to just have the fan on- not thinking about the fact that I was draining my battery. About 20 minutes before their classes were over it was so hot, I tried to turn on the truck: no go. I called Tartan, who took the day off thinking originally he'd take me to a movie and then when realising I would have absolutely no time that he'd get some things done. He drove out to jumpstart my car. We went home, having to stop for petrol because I was perilously close to being out, and I tried to hurry everyone through lunch. That didn't work well and we were 10 minutes late to band. A little (very little) schoolwork got done and then I had to deal with Kayleigh having an "accident"- I won't go into the gory details.

I took the girls to ballet and was very blessed to have someone watch Abigail for me when she got out of class and someone else brought both girls home for me. I thought I was going to have to stay there for 2 hours until they were done.

Now I need to round up the younger kids so we can go to the mandatory parents' meeting for boy scouts. Tartan and Alex are already there.

Enough about today. On Saturday, I took Kyrie to get her ears pierced. The two girls from next door and Abigail came along to watch. Kyrie picked out 14K gold studs with her birthstone (peridot). That all went well. The only thing she said was, "Ow. That hurts," after the first one was done. I would have liked both ears to be done at once, but there was only one person in the store. They look very good on her.

Tomorrow she's eleven years old! Happy birthday, Kyrie!

Trying to remember that God is with us in everything that happens,
Naomi for the Colliers

Monday, 11 August 2008

It's August: time for school!

At the end of July, we hitched up the camper and went to Fiesta Texas in San Antonio. We had three free tickets from the Read to Succeed program, so we *only* had to buy four more. It was fun, but very hot and the lines for the popular rides were r-e-a-l-l-y long. I prefer to go off-season, but Tartan points out that usually they're closed on Fridays during that time. It was nice to leave Thursday afternoon, go on Friday and come back home on Saturday so we could be at church on Sunday. On Sunday afternoon, Kyrie met up with her girl scout troop and they headed to Galveston for a short campout. They came back Monday evening- well before Eduard made his appearance.

Speaking of tropical storm Eduard, it brought us a full day of rain and that's about it.

The rest of us eased into school on Monday and Kyrie got started on Tuesday. This week Kyrie and Aidan actually got schedule print outs. I'm still working on Alex's. Since most of our outside activities have not started yet, it's been hard to develop a routine. I also needed to take in Fluffy for her shots and check up and that threw things off this morning. But, we are making progress. Alex is about ready to take his first geometry test.

Gotta eat my lunch!
>Naomi for the Colliers

Thursday, 24 July 2008

July update

It's nearly the end of July. What have we been doing all month? Not really much, but I don't do a lot in a day right now anyway.

We took the camper down over 4th of July to Corpus Christi and visited Grandpa. It was a very relaxing visit- at least for us. We took the kids to see Wall-E and we all enjoyed it. Kayleigh in particular was really excited about seeing it. When we went to see Prince Caspian, the trailer for Wall-E started but it was quiet in the theater so everyone heard her yell out "Wall-E!" I guess I'd been letting them watch too much TV. Tartan and I went out to dinner and saw Get Smart to celebrate his birthday.

Alex has his bottom set of braces in. It took him a few days to get used to them, but they don't seem to be bothering him now.

We've been to a couple of pool parties as a family. That's been fun. Thankfully I still have a maternity swimsuit. Aidan and Abigail showed they had learned a little from their lessons and Kyrie was swimming like a fish. Thankfully Kayleigh enjoys being in the water. A couple of our kids were very fussy about getting in the water when they were little.

Last Friday, Tartan and I went to see Agatha Christie's play The Unexpected Guest. It was sponsored by ExxonMobil so we had access to discounted prices on excellent seats. We thoroughly enjoyed it. Alex did the babysitting and managed everything smoothly. He had a list of numbers of people to try calling if anything unexpected came up- but fortunately that was only in the play. Speaking of which, Tartan figured it out, so we're one and one in solving her plays. I solved The Mousetrap which we saw in London.

We listened to the soundtrack for the musical Wicked (which Tartan got to see in London a few months ago) on the way to and from Corpus Christi. The kids, particularly the girls, are hooked. Now we hear them around the house (even Kayleigh!) singing "What is this Feeling?"

This week the middle children have been going to VBS (vacation Bible school) at our old church in The Woodlands, Faith Bible church. Today, however, only the girls went as Aidan and Tartan went off to Webelos camp until Saturday. Alex collected some service hours helping out on an Eagle scout project so it was just Kayleigh and me at home for a couple of hours. We watched Blue's Clues, Teletubbies, Angelina Ballerina, and Diego- until I fell asleep. I woke up a little late, but not by much.

Time for my lunch!

Trusting in the Lord,
Naomi for the Colliers

Monday, 30 June 2008

Kayleigh Bug is 3!

The Bug turned 3 years old on Thursday. We didn't do a full birthday party since I just didn't feel up to it. She got a couple of presents on the day and we had cupcakes with the triplets from next door the following day. Her "real" gift from us, the new Leapster2, doesn't release until July 1. Hopefully it'll get here before our road trip over 4th of July and she can have her own "Gameboy" like the older siblings.

June has been moderately busy, though I've found a lot of time for naps. Abigail went to CYT (Christian Youth Theater) day camp for a week and enjoyed it a great deal. They had a little show the evening of the last day and it was pretty good considering they'd only had a week to learn it all. The following week, Alex and Tartan went to boy scout camp and Kyrie went to girl scout camp. Alex really enjoyed the environmental science class and he ended up helping out a lot in teaching the Weather merit badge. He and Tartan also survived the Death March, a grueling evening hike. Tartan got roped into taking over the archery range- so much for his being able to just sit around and do nothing! Kyrie enjoyed her first week long camp away from home, though she admits to suffering some homesickness. She enjoyed swimming, archery and drama class.

The big activity for last week and this is swimming lessons at the Y for the middle three children. Today I took everyone and Kayleigh got to splash around in the kiddie pool which she seemed to enjoy immensely. Alex looked extremely bored, but that happens sometimes.

Trusting in the Lord,
Naomi for the Colliers

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Got a heartbeat!

We have already told a few people, but now we want to make our big announcement. I'm eight weeks pregnant! I saw an ob today and the ultrasound showed one baby and a nice fast heartbeat. The baby's size is right on target for the number of weeks. This was the same ob who saw me during the miscarriage, so he was really pleased to be able to give me such good news this time.

I'm feeling green and a bit tired, but really excited. And, Tartan is too- well, excited not green or tired. I also got a prescription for some anti-nausea medication so I'm optimistic. The worst part of pregnancy for me is the nausea- not the increasing size or the tiredness or even delivery.

Now we're going to be thinking and praying about whether to continue with the ob, go with a birth center, or stick with home birth like we've done with the other five children.

Trusting in the Lord,

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

What about Bug?

In case anyone thinks we've forgotten all about Bug and she's been tucked away in a corner all month- here's a picture of our almost 3 year old. Her verbal skills continue to grow and she's pretty much potty trained. I don't know if she and Abi were just easier than the others to train or whether I've gotten better at the process. Likely it all has to do with the girls themselves. She still wears a pull-up at night though last night her sisters forgot to put her in one- and she managed to stay dry! This is a picture her dad took while she was watching her brothers dissect a frog.

Where did May go?

It was a busy month, I guess. I knew I'd gotten behind on blogging, but I hadn't realized how far! So, here's some of the things we've been doing....

Tartan was away in Europe for a week and a half at the beginning of the month, so I got to be single mom. Not really that hard since the kids are used to doing as much as possible on their own. I even have Kyrie get Bug ready for bed most evenings (and sometimes even Abigail does it!). We had a movie night (The Water Horse) and the girls had a couple of sleepovers with Mom.

The boys had their piano recital, which went very well. Family members had the opportunity to see their performances on Youtube. To Alex's great relief, I placed them on there privately so he doesn't feel like the whole world could tune-in. This was our first foray into posting on Youtube.

Alex, Kyrie, Aidan, and Abigail all got back into AWANA after Christmas break. Abigail got to finish her book that she started in Scotland, and Aidan and Kyrie made good progress in their new books. Kyrie made it through nearly 5 of the the 8 achievements in that short time! Alex's Trek group was more of a study group than the memorizing and doing activities for points that the younger ones do. He enjoyed it as well as volunteering with both the Sparks and the T&T boys. Next year, Kayleigh will be old enough to start Cubbies- so all the kids will be able to be involved with AWANA!

Aidan graduated from Bears to Webelos in Cub Scouts. It's hard to believe that he's so close to being done with Cubs. Webelos is a two year transition period that prepares him for becoming a Boy Scout. In the first picture he's got his new neckerchief on and is having his face painted as a symbol of his having completed one step and moving on to the next in Cubs.

What have the girls been doing? Well, they had ballet exams so they could move up to the next level in the fall. Abigail goes from Pre-Primary to Primary and Kyrie moves from Grade 2 to Grade 3. Below are pictures of the girls with their post-exam roses. A friend took Abigail's picture with her exam group and I took the picture of Kyrie at home right after her exam.

Kyrie also rejoined Girl Scouts this spring. We were bicycling home from church one Sunday and decided to go through Imperial Oaks park where Tartan spied a bunch of girls who looked about Kyrie's age pulling camping gear out of a car. He knew Kyrie missed scouts so they went over and found out they were a 5th grade troop who had just returned from an overnight trip. There were only a few meetings left in the year, but Kyrie attended almost all of them and also went on a weekend trip to Camp Agnes Arnold. This summer will be her first time to go to summer camp for a week and it'll be at Camp Agnes Arnold, so I'm glad she got a chance to experience it for a shorter period of time.

And, Kyrie managed another achievement through the homeschool PE class at the YMCA. She earned the Presidential Fitness Award which means she achieved at least the 85th percentile in 5 different physical activities.

Finally, the last week of May was really tiring. The girls had dress rehearsal for the Excelsior Ballet production of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe on Tuesday. Kyrie was there at 4 and Abigail from 6 until 11pm. On Friday was the performance they were both in which lasted until nearly 11, and Kyrie had to perform again on Saturday night. I'm not sure we've fully caught back up on sleep yet, but the production was marvelous. Abigail's class portrayed the flowers of spring after the White Witch's power begins to wane. Kyrie's class were the mice who remove Aslan's ropes after his sacrifice.

And now it's June and we're pretty much finished with school. Alex has a few things to wrap up and Kyrie is not quite finished with her math book, but otherwise we're ready for a break.

Have a wonderful summer, everyone!
Trusting in the Lord,
Naomi for the Colliers

Monday, 5 May 2008

Some fun school pics

PE in the rain. You don't normally get the chance to do that in school. I initially was just going to let them outside to enjoy watching the rain for a moment, but before long they were begging to go run in it. It didn't really take very long to dry off and get changed either.


I've been reading to Abigail from a book called Living Long Ago. The first section is about clothing, so you can bet she's been pretty interested. After we read about ancient Egyptian clothing, she used the suggestion for making an Egyptian style necklace to make one and put it on her sister. She's also made a medieval pouch (because they didn't have pockets) and an Elizabethan ruff. I don't have pictures of those yet.

It's a little hard to see, but that's a ladybug (ladybird) on the butterfly enclosure. I decided we could watch ladybugs and butterflies go through their amazing changes this year. We've done the butterflies for a few years, but this is the first time we saw one newly out of the chrysalis. It's wings were still crumpled up. It was a really cool thing to watch. Sorry, didn't think to take pictures of that. Below are pics of the girls releasing butterflies into the garden. Aidan released one, too.

And, I just had to include this one, though I'm sorry if you're squeamish. Just think crawfish boil and maybe that'll help. At least I didn't include the earthworm! Alex and Tartan dissected a preserved crawfish and also took apart one Aidan brought home from the church crawfish boil. It was good that he did because some things were easier to identify on the cooked version.

Just a peek into our homeschool- the interesting bits. :)

Trusting in Jesus,
Naomi for the Colliers

Tuesday, 22 April 2008


In case anyone was wondering, we survived the Monday madness. We only missed one activity, which was band, but Kyrie made it to the concert rehearsal in the evening, so I don't feel too bad about it. The kids felt the testing went well, Tartan got to hear the boys play at their guild audition, and the day overall didn't feel too stressful. Praise God!

Tonight I went to the homeschool information night put on by a group I belong to. There were quite a number of organizations advertising their co-ops, academies, extracurricular activities, etc. I saw a few possibilities for our family for next year, but we'll have to think and pray about it because there's only so much of even good/great stuff that we can do without burning out. Well, without my burning out (have to be truthful here).

Trusting in the Lord,

PS One of these days I'm going to post more photos.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Getting ready for extra busyness

The girls have been having extra pre-exam classes for ballet for the last few Saturdays and will for two more. Next Monday, the oldest three are taking the Stanford Achievement Tests (part 1), Kyrie has band, the boys have Guild performances for piano, the girls have ballet, Alex has Scouts, and Kyrie has band concert rehearsal. Do you feel tired just reading that? I do. Fortunately, Tartan is taking time off to take the boys to Guild. This weekend the guys are on the AWANA campout. The last week of April is ballet exams. In May there's piano recital, band concert, ballet rehearsals for performances of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe- and of the course the actual performances. And then, there's still school. On the other hand, PE and AWANA will soon come to an end. God willing it will all balance out.

I'm ready for summer. :)

We watched the Arsenal \ Man United game. It was quite the game. We did wish that the Gunners could have pulled a win, but at least it was a close contest. They played well, just not well enough.

>Naomi for the Colliers

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

A wee bit of Scotland

If we can't be in Scotland, then the next best thing is to have friends from Scotland visiting. It's been wonderful seeing the Richardsons and the Farmers and getting all the news. I don't like to put up pictures unless I've asked permission- and I didn't think of it. If I remember to, then I'll post a pic or two.

I like listening to their perspectives and impressions of Americans, and Texans in particular. I'm a native Texan (lack of accent notwithstanding) so I really do like to hear what they think. I hope they go back and have such glowing reports of what a great place it is that we get to see even more of our Banchory friends in the future! And, if the Pletchers are not available, we'd be more than happy to host, though we have to admit the accommodations are a bit tighter. :)

Though I miss Scotland, I do love Texas and one of the best things about living here is being closer to family again. We got to visit with Michelle and Mark this past weekend and just have a fun time together and catch up. Bianca and Jay had to bow out, but that's okay because we can just arrange another time to see them. Besides, they're babysitting for us this coming weekend. :)

Trusting in Jesus,
Naomi for the Colliers

Sunday, 30 March 2008


Arsenal played Bolton this weekend (not Liverpool)- and we didn't get the game here. We did get to see the highlights; made us wish we could have seen the game. What a comeback! We saw the highlights for ManU vs Aston Villa, too. Yikes! They walked all over Aston Villa. Ronaldo, Rooney, and I can't think of the other fellow's name, but they're quite the force.

Enough football.

The Cub Scout campout was a lot of fun. The weather was mostly very nice- especially Saturday. Abigail fished, the boys ran around with friends or just relaxed, and Kyrie went to be "caddy" for her Dad at the nearby golf course. They all also had fun riding their bikes around the loop where our campsites were. I enjoyed not having to do laundry or cook and Kayleigh was pleased to be able to sleep in a tent with her sisters. Saturday night was movie night and the scout pack and families sat out under the stars watching Enchanted on a large sheet. Very entertaining. We'll likely get a copy one of these days. Sunday morning is when Abigail finally caught a white bass. Too small to keep, but she was chuffed. I did get a picture. We had almost finished packing up when the rain let loose and came pouring down. Fortunately, everything dried out very quickly at home. All in all, a terrific campout.

For the Colliers,

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Go Gunners!

Out of curiosity, if you understand what the title means- could you leave a comment? I'm not sure who stops by on a regular (semi-regular, occassional) basis. Some of you must know what it means and are probably aghast.

Tartan was just channel surfing I think and we came upon an Arsenal football (soccer) game. I can't remember who they were playing; it was English Premier, but they weren't one of the top teams. We were really impressed with Arsenal's level of play. Another time the match was a little more even, but Arsenal pulled out on top. We were disappointed this weekend when they lost to Chelsea, but I think we're hooked. I believe they play Liverpool this weekend so we'll have to record because we're off to the Cub Scout family campout. We have not seen ManU play yet. It's funny but we rarely watched football when we were in Scotland. We did watch the World Cup, at least the last few games, but that was mostly it. I think we're watching it now because it reminds us of our time in Scotland and because we have to hunt for it now. It's also nice to be able to watch a sporting event without commercials.

I still find it strange that football jerseys don't have the team name on them, but the sponsor- which can change. Apparently for years, Arsenal wore O2 but now they're sponsored by Emirates Airlines and their jerseys say "Fly Emirates". We've seen them play at Emirates stadium- is that their home stadium and did it used to be called O2 stadium?? Chelsea is Samsung and ManU is AIG. Does anyone have the Gecko on their jerseys?

Speaking of the Gecko, Geico is sponsoring an exhibit at the Houston Zoo. We went this past Saturday, but we missed seeing the Gecko who is available for photos and supposedly speaks with what the brochure called "that cute British accent". I never really thought about his accent before because I first saw the commercials in Scotland. He just sounds normal. :)

I've rambled on long enough. Time for school.

Hope you had a happy Easter. He is Risen!!

Trusting in the Risen Saviour,
Naomi for the Colliers

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Alex is 14!

Alex is excited to get the soundtrack to The Return of the King from his grandpa and (on the right) he's pleased to receive Super Smash Bros Brawl for the Wii. His siblings were even more excited that he got Brawl. He's been hyping it up with them for months. So far it seems to be a hit.

Hard to believe it's been 14 years!
>Naomi for the Colliers

Saturday, 8 March 2008

March madness

I'm not talking about the college basketball championship series. I'm talking about "Ah! It's March! Are getting anywhere with school!?!" The answer is, yes, we are- but a moment of panic still comes. I won't bore you with the details of our homeschool, though.

Instead, I'll tell you about our latest family trip.

Last weekend we hooked up the camper and drove to Austin. We stayed at McKinney Falls state park. We didn't see much of the park, so I think we'll try and stay there again sometime. The reason for the visit, besides seeing my brother and his wonderful family, was Explore UT. Our alma mater has a campus-wide open house every year and we decided to check it out. It was a lot of fun: we got to see our old school and we and the kids enjoyed everything from scenes from Shakespeare acted out to a lecture on medieval weapons. The girls and I watched Shakespeare- the boys went to the lecture. We saw demonstrations at the engineering schools, made shields and crowns in the South Mall, ate lunch at our old dorm, Jester Center (the cafeterias look a LOT nicer now), and learned to march like the Showband of the Southwest in the "Bubble"- an enclosed playing field.

We enjoyed having dinner with my brother, my sister-in-law, and my nephew, who is a couple of months younger than Bug. Abigail showered him with affection and he loved it. He was more reserved with myself and Tartan, but he seemed quite happy with all the cousins.

Sunday morning before we headed back home, we visited the church where the pastor who married us is now the senior associate pastor. We don't know if he knew to be looking for us, or maybe it's just that a family with five kids just naturally sticks out, but he did see us and came over to give us a warm welcome. We haven't had the opportunity to see him since Aidan was traveling in a car seat, though we've kept in touch by e-mail - mostly at Christmas. He looked a little older (I'm sure we did, too!), but he had the same energy, good humor, and obvious love for his job and his Boss. :) We also met both sets of parents of friends of ours who were ex-pats in Norway while we were in Scotland. They treated us like they'd known us for years rather than meeting us for the first time.

Since Alex will be 14(!) as of March 18th, we might soon find ourselves making more family trips centered around possible college choices. Wow, what a thought. I won't say what he's getting for his birthday {bag of coal} since he might read this beforehand. Just kidding, son.

Trusting in the Lord,
Naomi for the Colliers

Monday, 25 February 2008

The Mouser

Y'all have heard it a million times, right? Cats chase mice. "An American Tail", "Stuart Little", "Redwall"... we are told that cats chase and eat mice. And I started to get skeptical. Maybe in the Middle Ages, sure. But we are in the Modern Era now, and that sort of thing doesn't happen anymore.
Then I got back from a Boy Scout meeting to find our cat Fluffy chasing a rock. A rock with a tail. It turns out she was hounding an unidentified rodent - either a really fat mouse or someone's pet gerbil - and having a really good time of it. She would sit and wait for it and then at some non-determined time she would leap out and tackle it. Then she would bat it around - once I saw her throw it up then slam it down - and then she would sit and wait again. I might post pictures I took. >:)

Don't look away, don't turn around, and don't blink... Good luck.

Trusting in the Lord,
Alex for the Colliers.

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Happy Valentine's Day

A little early. Just wanted to warn anyone who might actually stop by to not open Valentine card e-mails from anyone you don't know. The Storm Worm virus uses an embedded link to install itself and make your computer part of a botnet. A single user then has access to all the machines in the botnet.

Actually whenever you receive an e-card from anyone you don't know- just delete it.

An article about this is at

I subscribe to, so it's legitimate. I mostly get weather warnings from them. It does have ads which may or may not be helpful.

Naomi for the Colliers

Saturday, 9 February 2008

Just another busy week

Alex was elected patrol leader for his patrol. Someone nominated him for senior patrol leader, but he respectfully declined. He wants to get a better feel for leading just a patrol before taking on the whole troop. His dad thought he should have left his name in, but I think it's fine for him to take a little time until he feels more comfortable with the idea. He has four years of scouts (as a boy) ahead of him.

Kyrie's ballet class are going to be mice in the spring production of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe that Excelsior is going to put on. Abigail's class are going to be flowers. They're both working hard to learn all they need to know for that and for ballet exams in May. They both have expressed interest in taking drama class, as well as ballet, at Excelsior next fall.

Aidan is about finished with his Bear requirements and should be ready for the Cub Scout Blue and Gold banquet next month. He enjoys piano- but not practicing. We're really having to work on that. He got his orthotics and seems to be adjusting to them very well. He hasn't complained about them other than to say they were just a bit uncomfortable after having worn them for an extended time.

Kayleigh continues to be our cute little Bug- sometimes with attitude, but still cute.

We're having friends over tonight. That always makes for an enjoyable evening, but I should probably put the kids to work for a little while tidying up. I think I need to go take care of their wet things. They've been out in the yard running in the sprinklers, but I hear their voices now.

Blessings to you and yours!
>Naomi for the Colliers

Thursday, 31 January 2008

Last day of January

Wow- where did January go? Anyone else feel that way?

On Monday, Alex received recognition for having achieved the rank of Star in the Boy Scouts. We're very proud of him. He managed to get his requirements done in good time without much prodding from Mom and Dad. Good job, Alex!

This week has been frustrating electronically speaking. Monday I went to print the kids' school schedules and it wouldn't work. I've printed from this computer with no problem since we got our wireless HP printer. I installed (not without difficulty) the printer software on the Vista machine that Alex primarily uses. It had the same problem. The only machine I could print from was my laptop. Finally Tartan told me to find a USB cable and link to it directly. That does work and suddenly Alex's machine started being able to print- without my doing anything else to it. Then, last night my laptop suddenly went blank. I have no idea what's happened to it. I don't think there's anything we can do with it except take it to be repaired. It's probably out of warranty by now. I've also been unable to load Olive Tree's Bible reader on my ipaq. The install keeps giving me a runtime error.

I think I'm the Empire State building of the house. We recently read an article reporting on the odd occurrence of dozens of cars daily shutting down within a few blocks of the building. Apparently once they're towed a few more blocks away, they work just fine again. We think it's the Daleks. If you haven't seen "Daleks in Manhattan"- then never mind.

Abigail lost her second tooth, finally, yesterday evening. Hopefully the tooth fairy will show up sooner than last time. But she didn't last night.

Hoping you're all avoiding most of the cold and flu bugs out there,
Naomi for the Colliers
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding." Pr 3:5

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Orthodontics & orthopedics

What they have in common besides the "ortho" is that they're expensive. :)

Alex just had braces attached to his top set of teeth. At some point they will be joined by a set on the bottom. He decided to have the plastic parts in a plain clear rather than some neon color. Kyrie has already stated that when she has to have hers she wants color. Unfortunately, she almost certainly will have a turn.

To try and fix Aidan's in-toeing, the orthopedist has ordered orthotics to put in his shoes. They cost $300.... each. We were a little stunned, but hope that it'll make it easier for Aidan to run and participate in sporty activities.

Sorry this is so short. I'm coming up blank on anything else remotely interesting to share.

Trusting in the Lord,
Naomi for the Colliers

Friday, 11 January 2008

A new talent.

We have a prodigy in the family. An artist who - before now - never seriously painted. She has an eye for detail, fine motor skills and patience. Surely all the marks of a great artist. Who is this mysterious master painter?
Kyrie. Really! She wanted to try her hand at painting yesterday, so I decided to let her try painting a few of my Warhammer and D&D miniatures. And she did better than I ever could. When I saw her paint that well, I gave her an unpainted miniature. It took her two hours to paint it to masterwork quality. All it needs now is a bit of touch-up (perhaps later this afternoon) and maybe we can post pictures of it.
One might think that I might be envious of my little sister, but I'm actually very important in the painting. I supply the miniatures, the paints and paintbrushes, and my experience in painting. Kyrie's got the talent, I've got the know-how.
Kyrie says she really enjoys painting, so I've pulled out every miniature I've got. I seriously think I saw a gleam in her eye when I showed her the minis. I think my long-waiting Gondorian army won't lack paint much longer...

Trusting in the Lord (to bless our lives),
Alex for the Colliers.