Worth The Time (Vol. 1)



I thought I'd try something a little new here and do a once-a-month post about different things that I think are "worth the time".  It could be books, movies, audiobooks, podcasts, articles, blogs, board games...it might be anything.  I'm just going to keep you all on your toes!

The Selection 

I've been really into watching the History Channel lately, and they've had some great new programming over the last couple years.  My latest favorite is The Selection.

This show takes a group of civilians and puts them through something that is like the training for the special forces - Seals, Rangers, Green Berets.  They seemed pretty "easy" on everyone in the first episode and Derek was ready to write the show off as not being realistic (my grandpa was in the army, and we've heard his basic training stories, which were worse than what they did on the first episode).  But I was still interested, so we watched, and it definitely got more intense!  Those instructors are tough! I'm still not convinced that it is exactly like special forces training, because I imagine that would be even more demanding, but it's so interesting to watch and get a taste of what those people in our military overcome in order to be prepared to protect us.  It's fascinating, and it makes me respect our armed forces even more.

It's just starting to get good now - if you get the History Channel, you can catch up on all the episodes here or on the app!

This Recipe

I made this pumpkin streusel coffee cake for our MOPS meeting the other day.  I recently read on Gina's blog that you shouldn't make something for the first time when it's for someone else, guests, etc.  That makes a lot of sense to me, so I made it and decided I would scratch it and make something else if it was no good.  But it was good.  The perfect amount of moistness, and the perfect amount of pumpkin flavor without being too overwhelming.  I used caramel flavoring instead of vanilla extract.  It was a winner!


The Sonicare Section On Amazon 

(Affiliate link below, but only because I really love Sonicare toothbrushes.)


This one is more a "worth the money" than a "worth the time" pick - but hey, time is money, huh?  And your teeth are worth something.  I stumbled across this AMAZING sale on Amazon of Sonicare toothbrushes, and as a dental hygienist, I feel compelled to share it.  You can take the girl out of the dental hygiene world, but you can't take the dental hygienist out of the girl.

Seriously though, these are my personal favorite toothbrushes.  When I brush with my Sonicare, I can feel the difference in my gums.  And I'm not just saying that as some hygienist ploy to get you to buy the good toothbrush!  I can really feel it, personally.

I bought Derek and myself new Sonicare toothbrushes, because the basic model is only $20! That is a great deal!  I've been really missing my old Sonicare since it broke, and I'm sharing the good toothbrush love.

(Check out these coupons though if you want a fancier model, because you can get an even better discount until 1/28.)

Alright, I'll be back again next month with more worth-the-time favorites!  I'm off to watch the inauguration!




Hikes, Hurts, And Haircuts



Does anyone else have a hard time getting back to the rhythm of life after New Year's?  This week feels like the first "normal" week since before Christmas - and it's not even actually normal since we had a long weekend for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  I'm declaring today an honorary Tuesday, so this old-fashioned post is a day late (but not really, because it's an honorary Tuesday).

A Winter Walk

I am happy to report that our sickness last week was fairly short-lived.  I had about a day and a half of feeling miserable, and then I felt almost totally better the next day.  A couple days after we had all seemed to recover from our cold I was definitely feeling the cabin fever though.  So I decided we'd take a winter walk!  I see no reason why we can't still enjoy the outdoors in the winter (we just have to bundle up first).  I drove us all to a stream, and the kids had a grand ole time poking through the ice with sticks.  It was a short walk, but it was lovely.  I think we might do it again this week.



























First Friendship Hurt

Today I sat down to type this with my bowl of mini wheats, Gwen sitting in the chair next to me.  Then I heard "Bobby* doesn't talk to me anymore."  I looked up, and she was looking at me with big, sad brown eyes.  She just looked at me, because I'm the mom and it's my job now to explain these things and make them better.  And my heart broke a little, and I didn't know what to say to my sweet little four-year-old with her first friendship hurt.

I remember the first time it occurred to me that my children were going to be hurt by their friends.  When Wyatt was about two years old, he made a little friend in his nursery class at church.  Every time I sent him in, his friend would grab his arm and include him in whatever the kids were playing.  I stood outside the nursery window and watched this once, and I just remember feeling that squeeze in my heart.  I was so happy he had a little friend, but I was also strangely scared.  What if his friend dumped him eventually?  What if the friend decided he liked playing with someone else more and Wyatt felt left out?

I've had my share of friendship hurts, but it's even harder for me to think about my kids being hurt.  I know it's the nature of the beast, so to speak.  You can't really venture out and make the good friends without also taking the potential for hurt that comes with it, but knowing that doesn't make it easier to watch your children as they take steps into the friendship minefield.  It's only a matter of time.  I just pray that they'll find friends who are good enough to make the risks worth it.

I looked at Gwen, grasping for words.  I mumbled something about little boys going through a stage where they only want to play with the other boys, and said "I'm sorry, honey."  It seemed to be good enough.  Now she's bouncing around Clarice's high chair and laughing, friendship woes forgotten.

I'm the one still sitting here thinking about it.

Hair Color and Cut

Moving on to something more superficial, this week is not only inauguration week (for which I've planned a whole little President unit study for our homeschool), but it's also haircut week!  For me, and for the boys (because I need to break out the razor and give them a haircut this week).  I still can't bear to cut Gwen's hair.

On Saturday I'm getting my hair cut and colored.  This is what it looks like now:



I think it looks fine now, but I'm overdue for a trim.  The shape is getting a little wonky, and I wouldn't mind an inch or so taken off (not too much because I want to grow it out a little for the summer, but we'll see).  The part I'm having a hard time with is the color.  I'll probably just get my usual blonde and red highlights, but part of me wonders if I should try something new.

What is "in" these days?  I rarely color or highlight my hair, and I am definitely not up to date on current hair trends.  I kind of do my own thing, at least thus far, but I am going to ask my hairstylist/friend if she has any ideas.  I kind of like these (ignore the purple and blue ideas, those are for if/when I get up the nerve someday - which is not today).

Brunette Friends, do you color or highlight your hair?  What's your favorite look?  Should I try something new or stick with the old stand-by?

I'll post an updated picture next week!

What I'm Drinking: Celestial Seasonings Coconut Thai Chai.  Think of a more summery spin on chai tea.  It's good!

Old School Blogger Shoutout:

Felicia at Behind The Yellow Door - My dear friend Felicia has jumped on the old-fashioned blogging bandwagon!  She wrote a post about her New Year's Goals, and I think I need to steal her book goal for myself (too many books, you know).

Bekah at Shafferland - Bekah is a newer blog friend, and I have really been enjoying getting to know her better through her blog!

*Bobby is not the real name.  But it seems like a great fake little boy name, right?










Unlocking The Bible (A Review)


(Affiliate link below.)

Finally, a great book I can recommend!  I requested Unlocking The Bible by Jeff Lasseigne a couple months ago. The name "Unlocking The Bible" is a little misleading, because it almost presents the Bible as inaccessible without "unlocking" - but on the contrary, this book is a wonderful resource to help readers realize that anyone can read and understand God's Word.

The first couple chapters talk about the way the Bible was put together, and what qualified different books to be included in the Bible.  I thought this was really interesting.  I think there has been a lot of confusion and misinformation about how we came to have the Bible we can hold today, and these chapters explained why we can have confidence in the Bible as the inspired word of God.

The next two chapters give a timeline of the Bible, from Genesis to the writing of Revelation.  I've read through the Bible several times, but I really liked this condensed version of the story to give a bigger picture.  The part I liked best was the historical details that the author included, placing biblical event sin historical context.

Finally Lasseigne gives tips on how to study the Bible, and how to teach the Bible, along with an entire section with a summary and quotes about each book of the Bible.  I thought these sections were a great encouragement and resource!

This book is sound, and the author holds the Bible in high esteem - and I think this is something we need more of, even within the church today.  I highly recommend this book!  It was readable, but full of information and encouragement to dig into God's Word!

Note: I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for a review.  This is my honest opinion.

It Was A Good Year


Each year on this little blog I finish off the calendar year with a year end post.  I love that I have eight years of these posts to look back on now (and it comes in handy when I forget when we went on that vacation, etc).  This year, my year end post might include some personal life details that I never got around to sharing through my apparent blogging mid-life crisis this year.  I want all that to change in 2017, because those life details are the things I want to remember when I look back on this blog someday.  I think they are the reason my kids will read it.

I give you our year in bullet points!

January



-January was a hard month for me this last year.  Looking back (no, even in the middle of it), I realize that after having Clarice I dipped into some mild postpartum depression (my 2016 word hinted at this).  It was never serious or scary or anything like that, but it did make it hard for me to enjoy my life for a while.  Unfortunately I have few pictures from January, except a few I shot at the end when I realized Clarice was going to turn four months old and I had barely photographed that month in her life.

-We took a lot of trips to Starbucks.  At least once or twice a week, when I was feeling overwhelmed by life, I'd pack up the kids and drive to Starbucks, and splurge on an iced coffee.  Is it really splurging if you do it twice a week?  I shudder to consider my Starbucks bill those months, but if a car drive and coffee helped me make it through hard days, I think it was money well spent.

-Gwen had a little trip to the ER! I woke up one morning, thinking the kids had let me sleep in a little, and came upstairs the find an empty bottle of children's Tylenol.  I wasn't sure if they had drank it, or how full it was or anything, so I called poison control and they determined that if the bottle had indeed been full and Gwen drank it by herself, that would not be good.  So off to the ER we went to determine what happened.  Thankfully she actually only had a tiny bit in her system.  Needless to say, I put the medicine further out of reach.  In my defense, they dragged chairs over and climbed up the shelve sin the closet to get it.  I didn't know they were capable of that!  We had a good talk about not touching medicine ever again in their entire lives, or something like that.

-Clarice turned four months old (and I couldn't even get up the motivation to write her a post, so I combined months four and five).



On The Blog: I shared about not ignoring the news in 2016 (still applicable for 2017), and I talked about why I can't quite drop the word "probably" when people ask me if we're done having babies.



February



-In February we decided to take the plunge and do a remodel of our house!  We had been considering moving to a different area in late 2015/early 2016, but we finally decided we'd be pushing our budget in moving, and we'd be better served by refinancing with a lower interest rate and taking out enough for a remodel.  So we started planning.

-I took a bunch of pictures of the kids for Valentine's Day.  I really love Valentine's Day, and every year I find myself wanting to take some pictures of the kids that involve pink hearts.

-Derek got me a museum membership for Valentine's Day.  He knows the way to my heart.


-I went to a women's retreat with my church, and happened upon a booth for a local pregnancy resource center, which was the start of my journey volunteering with them!  This was something I had been praying about on the previous New Year's Eve, and I felt like the Lord answered my prayers by bringing me to that booth.


-It snowed a lot, and the kids loved playing outside in it!



-The Bachelor started back up (which is obviously a highlight).  I shared why I watch the Bachelor.

-The Broncos won the Super Bowl!

-We celebrated Wyatt's fifth birthday!



-Clarice turned five months old!

On The Blog:  I shared some of my love for Valentine's Day here and here (P.S. I really love it), and I shared a friend's Etsy shop (she makes adorable baby shoes!).



March





-House remodel in full swing, and I was just sure we'd be done by summer (ha!).

-My sister surprised me with a pedicure!  For no reason! I pretty much have the best sister ever.


-I repainted practically our entire house.  We ripped the trim off everything.

-We went to a friend's wedding in several inches of snow.

-Our family and my sister's family took a lovely visit out to our friends' ranch!  The snow melted, Springtime showed it's pretty face, and the kids loved seeing all the animals.



-Clarice turned six months old.

On The Blog: I finally shared about how Wyatt asked Jesus to be his Savior (which happened September 2015)!  I wrote a letter to newlyweds who might be scared to have a baby.



April




-A pretty quiet month.  We stayed home a lot and baked cookies.

-My new nephew was born!

-We celebrated Clyde's 2nd birthday!


-I tried out a couple vlogs.

-I finished repainting the entire house!  It was a long project.

-It was an unseasonably warm month, and I may have broken out my summertime music.  I also read on the porch!  In April! This spring was almost good enough to make me like the season.

-I got a head start on Clarice's first birthday party.


-I got my first load of laundry to wash for the pregnancy center.

-Clarice turned seven months old.

-I finally felt like I was pulling out of my postpartum depression.

-We had to leave the house for a few days while Derek finished some remodeling jobs, and one day I did a little rainy springtime photo session with Wyatt while the other kids napped in the car.  He was so cute!



On The Blog: I shared Clarice's first birthday invitations (I got them way early!), and I shared three photo-printing apps I've tried.



May


-We went to a picnic with my whole family on my mom's side.

-I started a blog Instagram account (another way to keep up on blog posts).

-I started getting into audiobooks!  What took me so long?

-We celebrated Mother's Day.


-Took several trips to the zoo, and I drank a lot of iced coffees.

-I started on a lot of yard work around our house - the thistles and dandelions were out of control.  The thing about living in the mountains is that no one really notices or cares about yard work, so it's easy to let things go too far.  This was a particularly terrifying specimen, and made me think about how the Lord cursed the ground with thistles.  This one definitely looked cursed.


-Clarice turned eight months old.




June


-We celebrated my birthday.

-I went to the libraries used book sale for the first time - and I am a fan!  I got so many good ones!

-We celebrated Father's Day.


-Our car broke down right before we left on vacation. We delayed our trip by a day and bought a new car.

-We went on vacation to Yellowstone and Jackson Hole!  We tent-camped in Cody for most of the trip and had a great time. (Though I wouldn't let any of us get out of the car to explore Yellowstone because it FREAKS ME OUT. People die there every year you know, and I just can't really imagine a worse way to go than boiling to death.)


-Clarice turned nine months old.




July


-We celebrated the 4th of July on the road!  It didn't stop us from dressing the kids up and breaking out the sparklers.

-We spent a lot of lazy days at home with our kiddie pool and makeshift water table (wheel barrow with water and bath toys).


-Lots of trips to Home Depot and the science museum while Derek worked almost every weekend on the house!  We wanted to get it done before Clarice's birthday, so the countdown was on.

-Gwen seriously informed me that she wanted to believe in Jesus, and prayed to ask Him into her heart!  She'll understand more and more as she grows, but this was a sweet moment and big day!  She was so excited about the "big girl Bible" I gave her the next day and I often catch her in her room "reading" it.


-Clarice turned ten months old.

On The Blog: I shared my homeschool mom reading list, and I wrote about how I explain the gospel to my kids.



August


-Frantic weekends trying to finish up the last details on the house! I helped Derek put new white wood planks on our ceiling during a couple of these weekends.  Talk about back-breaking work.

-The kids and I explored some new parks while Derek worked on house stuff during the weekends.  We also ate a lot of watermelon.


-We finally took a break from our house project and went on a trip to our local (five hours away) peach festival! Derek's mom came with us and it was a fun road trip!  We're hoping to get back into this as a yearly tradition (we missed 2015 since I was nine months pregnant). We learned that Clarice loves peaches.


-Clarice turned 11 months old.

On The Blog: I shared all my plans for Clarice's birthday party, and someone asked me how I "do it all", so I wrote a response to the "how do you do it" questions.



September



-We took several gorgeous fall hikes.  Despite being such a busy month, I think this year was one of my favorite Septembers.

-Start of football season, and we kicked it off with going to a college football game!

-We started homeschool Kindergarten with Wyatt, and I wrote about our homeschool philosophy.


-More house projects.

-Debate season! (I am a politics nerd and actually enjoy these.)

-We repainted our house, one of the last projects before Clarice's party.  I helped Derek with this as well.


-Clarice turned one year old, and we celebrated Clarice's first birthday!!  I took her first birthday pictures (planning on sharing them ASAP on the blog).  On her actual birthday we went to the Children's museum as a family.  You can read my birthday letter to her here.

-We had a woodland themed birthday party for Clarice (it turned out even better than I had pictured!)


On The Blog: I watched part of a show that made me question what kind of things we as viewers are allowing on TV, and I wrote a guest post on Save The Storks about what you need to volunteer at a pregnancy resource center.



October



-We decompressed from all the house projects and birthday party prep to go on a late anniversary weekend trip.  The main event was going to an amusement park!  It's been forever since Derek and I were on a roller coaster!  It made me feel like a teenager again (when I wasn't sitting on a bench with my head in my hands waiting for the nausea to dissipate).

-Luke's Diner day! In which coffee shops all over the country turned into Luke's Diner from Gilmore Girls.  It was so fun!

-I started my Christmas prep, because I was determined to finish everything early this year!

(This snow only lasted one morning.  But it was pretty.)

-Clarice started standing and even taking a few tentative steps.

On The Blog: I shared 18 ways I would style mustard yellow leggings, wrote about preparing kids for Thanksgiving, and I shared about my literary society (and how to start one) - we are still going strong!



November



-I got a new iPhone!  An iPhone 7 Plus, and I am quite impressed with the camera on it.

-I took the kids out to drop off our ballots on Election Day!  I know it wouldn't be fun to stand in line with four young kids, but I kind of wish we weren't forced into only doing mail-in ballots.  I had to hunt down my "I Voted" sticker.  I stayed up far too late watching Election coverage and giving (in my own head) keen political analysis to any of my family members who cared to listen as the (surprising) results came in.  It was a good day.

-We finally got some more snow!  We went to MOPS in the morning and built a blanket fort at home in the afternoon.


-We set up our Christmas tree right before Thanksgiving!

-I got to try out a great photography program, and I still highly recommend it to anyone who wants to learn their DSLR.  Read more here.

-Celebrated Thanksgiving with breakfast with Derek's parents and dinner at my parent's house.





December


-We started advent! I made an advent playlist.

-All my Christmas prep was pretty much done before Thanksgiving, and it was a good thing because we hit December running!  Three different Christmas parties in the first week, with other events scattered in, including a trip to a Christmas parade that we do almost every year!


-We went to a magnificent walk-through light show with my family!  They have this huge tree (like fifty feet tall) completely covered in lights!

-We went to see "cowboy Santa"in our little town.  Clarice was not a fan.

-Around the middle of December it slowed down and we had some time to bake Christmas cookies!


-My friend Cassidy wrote a post on blogging like the old days, and it served as an epiphany to me. I wrote about old-fashioned blogging, and now that's what I'm doing on Tuesdays.  Old-fashioned, tell-a-story blogging, with blog reading and commenting galore.  I've missed it.

-We made a gingerbread house together!


-We celebrated Christmas!  Christmas Eve with my family, Christmas Day at home, day after Christmas with Derek's family.

-We celebrated Derek and Gwen's birthdays!

-We went to see Rogue One.  I had opinions.

-We got our act together and had a game night on New Year's Eve!  This has been a slow hosting year for our family since we were remodeling for the first nine months of 2016, so it was fun to have some friends over again!  We are hoping to do more things like this in 2017.

-Our party ended early for kiddo bedtimes, and we rang in the New Year by cuddling on the couch and watching New Year's Eve (one of my favorite movies).  We counted down at midnight with sparkling cider in hand.

On The Blog: I shared our upstairs Christmas decorations and our brand-new downstairs Christmas decor, and I shared three winter outfit ideas (Christmas parade outfit, Christmas cookie exchange outfit, New Year's Eve outfit).

---

That was our 2016!  I know it was a rough year for a lot of people (or is every year just "the worst year ever" for some?), but for us it was a really good year.  I feel finally settled in our home after eight years of living there, the kids grew and thrived, and it ended better than it started.  I don't know what the Lord has planned for us in 2017.  Maybe it will be a straight-forward year, or maybe we'll get a few surprises!  I love recording the years here though, because then I can look back and see everything significant that has happened in each year of my adult life...and how the Lord is working in all of it, the good and the bad.

But if I had to guess now, I feel like 2017 is going to be a good one.









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