Posted in writing

Edible wildflowers…it’s posted on my professor’s blog.

You can read my guest post at the link below:

http://www.fourleavesandtales.blog/

The topic is on edible flowers. I hope it’ll inspire adding some new florals into your diet! (Nervous gulp for me though…I’m not an adventurous foodie.)

I hope you’ll also get a chance to become familiar with Frances Schoonmaker’s historical fantasy novel, The Black Alabaster Box. It’s a suspenseful and thought-provoking book for both middle-grade students and above. I’ll read it with my kids when they’re older! (still our household is obsessed with ninja and dinosaurs).

Thanks for checking it out, and have a good start to the weekend!!

Posted in writing

Upcoming: a guest post for my professor’s blog

I’m thrilled to write my first guest post for my old graduate school adviser, Frances Schoonmaker. She is a special mentor who challenged me to finish my dissertation before I burned out from the process. When I felt hopeless (which happened often), her guidance encouraged me to  persevere.

Dessert outing at Kitchenette with professor and study group after proposal defense in 2008
From left: Frances (professor), Youn Jung Suh, Wendy Pollock, Kate Spence, and me.

Dessert outing at Kitchenette with professor and study group after proposal defense in 2008

She’s written brilliant academic papers, but now she is channeling her creativity, research skills, and eloquent words into writing a historical fantasy, for middle-grade students and above grades. The first book in the trilogy is titled The Black Alabaster Box (The Last Crystal Trilogy Book 1).

The Black Alabaster Box (The Last Crystal Trilogy Book 1) by [Schoonmaker, Frances]

My guest post expands upon the different kinds of edible flower mentioned in her book.

Here’s a brief synopsis:

The setting is on the Santa Fe trail for families migrating west in covered wagons. Along their arduous journey, the beauty of wildflowers blooming throughout the unoccupied land is highlighted in her writing. Besides their colorful blooms, some edible wildflower supplemented and added taste to these travelers’ diets.

Grace Willis is the young main character who reluctantly leaves her home in St. Louis and journeys with her parents out west. Many are traveling to pursue dreams, like her parents wanting to open a hospital. Along the way she discovers happiness and friendship, except for some rowdy characters who wreak havoc on her nerves. All goes seemingly well until an outbreak of small pox affects their group.

This outbreak sets the stage for Grace’s many challenging experiences; tragedy, heartaches, personal danger, and uncertainty about her future and her parents after she gets kidnapped and taken into Oklahoma Territory.

During her time in captivity, she uses scouting skills to dare an escape. Those skills she learned from Mr. Payne, a retired Army scout and a friendly fellow traveler back at the camp. She learned which wildflowers were edible, how to stay hidden from “chasers,” and to travel undetected in the wild as the “chased” from her kidnappers.

This experience begins her involvement in the mystery and magic of the black alabaster box. Intriguing characters, new and old, surface and influence the future course of Grace’s life. But one constant companion is Old Shep, an extraordinary dog with a magical history. Through her various experiences, she learns that a child is capable of much bravery and tenacity.

I’ll stop here, because I may accidentally spoil the ending. But you can find out more about the book in her blog:

Four Leaves and Tales https://fourleavesandtales.blog/

Also, her book, The Black Alabaster Box (The Last Crystal Trilogy Book 1) is available at Amazon.

I hope you will enjoy reading and thanks everyone for your support!!
Posted in learning with kids, Raising kids

Kids say funny things

Kids give funny replies to everyday questions with their wild imaginations! I hope the following tidbits make you laugh a little this Monday afternoon.


Recent conversation with Ellis as we’re learning about the heart’s function:

Mommy: “Why does a heart beat?”

Ellis: “Because it’s dancing…la…la…la”


Conversation between siblings after Ellis accidentally overturned a can of sugared fruit bites on the table.

Elliot:” E-lllis, why did you do that??”

Ellis: “Oh, sorry.”

Elliot: “Wait.” (as he looks closely at the mess) “Is that sugar?”

Ellis: “Yea, it is.”

Elliot: “Can I have a taste of it?”


This recent conversation occurred while admiring our new 3-gallon aquarium housing 1 African Clawed frog and new Black Racer Nerite snail. Ribbit, a predatorial frog, was surprisingly co-habitating peacefully with its new tank mate. However, one week later Sticky was nowhere to be found.

Mommy: “Oh my gosh, I think Ribbit ate Sticky (new snail).”

Elliot: “What? He did?”

Mommy: “I can’t believe this. He ate his friend! You don’t eat your friend. You can’t eat your friend!! Ribbit, I’m so mad at you!!”

Ellis: “But he was hugging Sticky the other day.”

All of us were sad and disappointed that our frog will consume anything in its path. It will be lonely by itself. But it was hard to fathom how a small frog could eat the snail shell completely.

The next day while cleaning the tank, Elliot spotted Sticky under the sea anemone accessory. He was hiding on the rubbery bottom part of it.

Elliot: “I found him, I found him. He’s under the sea anemone. Ribbit didn’t eat him.”

Ellis: “I want to see. I want to see.”

Elliot: “Mommy, you better apologize to Ribbit. You hurt his feelings.”

Mommy: “I’m sorry.”

Elliot: “Nooooo, say it like you mean it.”

Mommy: lifting the lid and muttering in a solemn voice, “I’m sorry I falsely accused you of eating Sticky.”

Elliot: “Okay, that’s better.”


This conversation happened 2 years ago with Elliot, but I recall my shock clearly.

Mommy: “The letter ‘c’ is for the word cat…kuh…kuh. What sound does ‘c’make?”

Elliot: “Mee—owww.”

Mommy: speechless

Thinking maybe he misundertood me, I asked a similar question.

Mommy: “‘D’ is for dog….d-uh…d-uh. What sound does ‘d’ make?

Elliot: “Ruff ruff.”

Mommy: speechless.

Decided to let it go and continue with learning sounds before asking specific questions. His answers were funny and alarming to me at the same time. Safe to say we laugh about it now.

Posted in Personal growth, Raising kids

Who loves plush animals?

Our family is outnumbered by stuffed animals!! What is it about those soft, plushy things that I (ahem, I mean the kids) can’t resist?!

It’s a good thing we share the same penchant. When I was growing up, I loved dolls more than plush: dolls with yarn or silk hair, eyes that closed, dolls that pee’d (weird I know), dolls wearing frilly dresses or corduroy overalls, etc.

If you are aware of the doll craze in the 80s, you may remember the popular and beloved Cabbage Patch Kid dolls. It was the toy to have. They cost a fortune back then. My mom couldn’t fathom spending $60 for my new obsession, so the next best thing was getting an imitation. Sure, it didn’t come with a birth certificate or the designer’s signature on its behind. The stitching was a bit off on the fingers and toes, but the face was still the same. I carried that doll with me everywhere and even strapped seat belts on it in the car.

I finally got an armful of authentic Cabbage Patch Kid dolls when I was recovering from injuries sustained in a car accident. I was stuck in bed all summer, and my family knew just how to cheer me up: Cabbage Patch Kid dolls!!

I wish my kids liked dolls, but they’re more drawn to stuffed animals. Every time we oohh and ahhh over a cute new plush at a store, Chris sarcastically asks if we have space for ANOTHER one. Thank you for asking, and of course we do!!

Image result for Cabbage patch kids picture
https://www.bloomberg.com/features/2016-cabbage-patch-kids-battle/
Image result for Cabbage patch kids picture
By Andrea Barcellos on Pinterest

He asks, “Is the plush for me or for the kids? Obvious answer. Kids, of course!!

Most have a special story, person, or memory tied to how they became part of our plush family: memory artifacts? Our collection began to grow with frequent stressful doctor’s appointments for Ellis and friends sending us plush during hard medical times. And brother gets one too for being a good sport and going with the flow. Through all these years, our plush stash is kind of getting out of hand now.

BUT, decluttering our stuffed animal collection is something we avoid. How do you decide which ones to keep, give away, or toss? We all have to vote on it, and no one gets the boot.

As the kids get older, their interests will change and the process will be natural then. For now we’re good.

Chris, if you’re reading this, can you finally order those shelves for us? I would do it myself, but I’m pretty sure it would result in a crooked shelf with extra holes in the wall.

I found this funny quote about bears on Pinterest by Zazzle.com.

(source unknown but found on Pinterest)

Posted in Homeschool Adventures, photo challenge

Ribbit’s Picture Day

Yesterday when I wrote the “Unexpected” post, I only added a tadpole photo but not Ribbit as a frog. Its habitat was not picture-friendly, but it’s much better today with a water change. https://lagottocattleya.wordpress.com/2019/01/26/lens-artists-photo-challenge-30-unexpected/

Hello! My name is Ribbit. My favorite things to do are pooping, swimming, eating, pooping (oh wait, I already said that), stretching, playing, relaxing, exploring, and smiling to those who admire my cute face.

Nice to meet you readers!
I’m thinking…I’m thinking…yes, I do want flies for dinner.
Don’t mind me. This is just my fancy way of coming up for air.