Wrapping Up The Year: 2018



Last year on New Year's Eve, Derek and I sat down for our traditional ringing in of the New Year by drinking sparkling cider by the tree.  We usually spend this time reflecting on the last year together, and dreaming about everything we hope the new year holds.

But I'm not going to lie, last New Year's Eve, I broke down and cried when I thought about 2018.  We had just had our last baby (as far as we have planned), and after seven years of pregnancies or new babies or the hope of new babies, I didn't know what to look forward to anymore.

There are no big exciting things on the horizon!  There is nothing left to look forward to! I thought.

This is silliness for a multitude of reasons, but as I remember how I felt last year, I think I would just give myself a gentle slap, and tell myself to stop worrying about the lack of big events on the horizon.   Even when you don't seem to have anything exciting in the near future, things have a way of changing a lot over the course of a year anyway.  This year, I think the overarching lesson has been to learn to appreciate things as they are.

Wonderful things happen in the course of a year, and sad things happen in the course of a year, and you don't necessarily see any of that coming.  You can hope and pray and plan, but in the end God knows what will happen.  "A man plans in his heart, but the Lord directs his steps."

This year, I'm calmer on New Year's Eve.  Tonight I'm going to take inventory of where they Lord has brought us this year, how He saw us through to the present, and just memorize what it's like to be in this small moment in time, on December 31st, 2018.

It will all change before next year, and that can be happy and sad.  It's best to remember that it's always both.

Now, on to the year recap!

Note: Some of these links are to photos on my Instagram account (follow here: @callienicole7), and some are to blog posts!


January

-Georgie turned two months old at the very end of December, and I wrote about it on the blog.

-We went on a gorgeous mountain drive as a family on New Year's Day!

-I got in a lot of baby snuggles.

-We started homeschooling again after Georgie was born and I started to find my rhythm.

-I started attending my local Community Bible Study and reconnected with a lot of ladies I knew as a teenager.

-We went to our local stock show and bought the kids some new heavy-duty farm toys that they still love!

-We visited our local "insect zoo" with friends!

-Georgie turned three months old.  We found out that she wasn't gaining weight because she wasn't getting enough milk from me, and we started supplementing with formula.  I tried really hard to get my milk supply up, to no avail.  Georgie, obvious to my struggles, laughed and discovered her hands this month!

On The Blog: Why I Wear Makeup, 18 Book I'd Recommend From My 2017 Shelf




February

-Derek started swimming lessons with the big kids, which gave me some nice time with the littles!

-Wyatt turned 7 years old!

-The Lord started to convict me about evangelism.

-We celebrated Valentine's Day and I took a bunch of cute pictures of the kids.

-We took the kids bowling for the first time for our friends' 30th birthday party!

-I started to realize that there are other moms in this small town.  What do you know?

-Georgie turned four months old!  We figured out she had a lip AND tongue tie and took her in to get those clipped.  We discovered her love for toys.

On The Blog:  How To Start A Casual Blog, Evangelism Is Scary




March

-Georgie turned five months old.  She started to chunk up quite a bit!

-We made slime for the first time.

-We visited our dear friends on their ranch - a yearly tradition that we all love so much!

-We colored Easter eggs.

On The Blog: Thoughts About Homeschool Rooms, Large Family Q&A



April

-We celebrated our first Easter with Georgie!

-We booked our vacation for North Carolina in May.

-Gwen got her first haircut!

-We went on a field trip to our local railroad museum, and the kids had a wonderful time!

-Clyde turned four years old!

-I only spent $200 on groceries for the month.

-Georgie turned six months old.  I quit nursing her right around her month birthday.  It was especially sad for me this time because I would have gone longer, but my milk supply was just giving out.

-I introduced Wyatt to microbiology.  It was an exciting day.

-I injured my knee!  I had knee surgery after Wyatt was born and didn't have any problems since then, but I pushed a little too hard at the gym one day and ended up tearing my meniscus (just a baby tear). I hobbled around on crutches for a week.

On The Blog: Don't Be Like Bob, 8 Minute Memoir: Spring



May

-There were a couple wild fires and the air smelled like smoke.  It was unsettling.


-We visited my brother-in-law and sister-in-law in North Carolina for the first time in years!  It was a wonderful vacation. (I just realized I never shared photos on my blog! Sheesh. Lots of pictures on Instagram though.)

-Georgie turned 7 months old!

On The Blog: Why I Won't Be Sorry To Turn 30, Homeschool Curriculum: First Grade In Review




June

-We continued at the church we started attending in 2017, and really started to make some friends in our Sunday School class and enjoy the fellowship there!

-We went on lots of hikes.

-I made a bunch of summer plans after we got back from vacation!  I found out some disturbing news about Nancy Drew.

-We went antique hunting.

-I read in the hammock.

-Derek planned a birthday party for me!  We celebrated my 30th birthday with family and friends, and it was lovely.

-I reflected on nearly 10 years of blogging, and why I think it's still worth it.

-I tried making my own body butter.  Update six months later - I'm going to try a different formula.  Too greasy.

-I bought a grain mill.  It's not as weird as it sounds.

-The Lord really started working on me with contentment with where I live.

-I turned 30 years old!  It wasn't a big deal at all.  30 is great!

-Georgie turned 8 months old and started eating purees and sitting up really well!

-We visited my grandma and grandpa at their cabin, and they took the kids fishing for the first time!

On The Blog: Things I Regret (And Don't) From My First 30 Years, On (Almost) Ten Years Of Blogging




July

-We celebrated Georgie's first fourth of July!

-We found a house we liked and put in an offer, which was soundly rejected.  Weirdly (and ironically, as you'll come to see if you keep reading) it made me more content with our little house.  I started my home tour series.

-We put up a hummingbird feeder and thoroughly enjoyed watching our little feathered friends.

-Gwen started ballet with her cousins!

-I got this cool metal print of one of our vacation photos, and shared about how and why I decorate with family photos.

-I started homeschool planning, and found so many great resources - I was so organized!  I shared here.

-We celebrated our ten year anniversary!  We visited a lovely restaurant and farm to celebrate (the restaurant closed this year, so I'm glad we went one more time).

-We caught a couple $1 movies.

-Georgie turned nine months old!  She got her first tooth!

On The Blog:  That Time We Almost Moved (And Why I'm More Content Now), What I Learned In Our First Real Year Of Homeschooling




August

-We made the most of the last bit of summer!  I shared about all our fun summer things here and here.

-We let the kids camp on the porch.

-We had a couple campfires.

-Derek and I watched our show on the porch with twinkly lights.

-I pulled up a ton of thistles - yuck!

-We took the kids to see Christopher Robin in the theaters.

-We went on a big "last hoorah for summer" camping trip!

-We kicked the school year off with donuts!

-Georgie turned 10 months old!

On The Blog:  My Homeschool Curriculum Picks (2nd Grade and Kindergarten), One Thing That's In Our Morning Basket




September

-Wyatt started soccer as his first sport!

-I was very vague and mysterious in my September currently post, and that is because we put in an offer on a new house and it was accepted!  It was a whirlwind.  We weren't really expecting to move (see July note about contentment), but a house came up that we LOVED, and the Lord worked it out for us!

-Derek and I took a (late) trip to celebrate our ten-year anniversary together!  We decided to go to Seattle, and it was a great choice.  If I didn't live here, I might want to live there - we loved it!  The photos in these posts are well worth the extra clicks, I assure you - it was beautiful!
Permit Me To Gush (Pike Place - Seattle Part One)
Ferries And Lakes And Orcas Oh My (Seattle Part Two)

-I finally shared about our new house!  And that it had pink carpet.

-Georgie turned 11 months old!  Amidst all the house and trip craziness I forgot to post for her ten month update (and accidentally deleted her ten month pictures - I might have cried a little about it!), so I did her 10th and 11th month updates together here.

-Clarice turned 3 years old!


On The Blog:  Donuts And Peanut Butter Cups: Currently, 7 Things About Our New House




October

-Moving month!  Inspections went through, and I put off packing to the very last minute.

-I took Georgie's one year old photos amid the fall splendor.

-I was crazy and decided to do a writing prompt series, so I was surprisingly prolific on the blog.  You can read the posts I wrote about "How I Handle It" here.

-We celebrated Georgie's first birthday party in the old house, the last party we had there.  It was a donuts and pumpkins themed birthday party, and it was adorable!

-Said goodbye to our old house with a bunch of pictures and ceremony.

-Moving day was October 25th and 26th!  We moved most things into the garage because our house needed a lot of work.  We had the painters and carpet people scheduled for that very first week in the house.

-Georgie turned one year old!  I totally didn't take a 12 month photo with her bunny stuffed animal, because we moved right before her birthday and all that stuff was packed up.  But I did write her a lovely birthday letter, so I'm counting that.  We celebrated her actual birthday the week we moved into our new house!

-We spent a lot of time at McDonald's while the house was worked on.

-We played in leaves.

-We also squeezed in some Reformation Day fun!

On The Blog: The Main Reason We Don't Celebrate Halloween, Why I Don't Daily Plan In Our Homeschool




November

-Lots of house renovations!  I wrote about everything we accomplished here.

-We voted.

-Lots of unpacking.

-Some things went down at church and our dear Pastor left (second pastor we've lost in two years).  We're honestly still sad and stressed about the whole thing.

-We celebrated our first real holiday in the house - Thanksgiving!

-We decorated for Christmas!

-I went Black Friday shopping for the first time in years and got ALL my Christmas shopping done!  I felt very accomplished. I also bought myself a couple things.

-I decided to go on a Facebook break for the month of December, which I mostly kept.  I was forced to break it a couple times, but overall I've really been enjoying being off Facebook!

On The Blog: The Gifts I Bought Myself, Screen Time - How I Handle It (Or Not)




December

-We took a break from home renovations to just enjoy Christmas together!  I wrote a Christmas list for Derek.

-We visited Santa (Georgie didn't like it).

-We made gingerbread houses with our friends from church!

-Derek bought us tickets to see A Christmas Carol!  We went with my sister and her husband as a double date!

-We went to a Christmas parade.

-We went to a Christmas light trail, which was beautiful (Georgie especially loved it).

-We surprised Derek at work and decorated his office for Christmas!

-I got my teeth whitened with Zoom at the dental office - it was an interesting experience.  Full video on Instagram.

-Got our new school area set up before we went on Christmas break!

-The kids were part of a living nativity at co-op and it was so cute!

-We got sick a lot, and I lost my voice.

-Lots of baking. 

-We went around to meet all the new neighbors right before Christmas, bearing Christmas candy!  Helpful hint: If you bring your neighbors a Christmas card or present, the best night to go is December 23rd.  People are usually home on December 23rd, before the Christmas rush.

-Enjoyed our first Christmas in the new house!  It was a lovely day.  We also put in a little more effort to the kids' "together presents" this year, and it paid off (play kitchen and Hot Wheels track were a hit!).

-Celebrated Christmas Eve at my mom's, and the day after Christmas with Derek's family!

-Celebrated Gwen and Derek's birthday on the 27th!

-I took Gwendolyn to get her ears pierced for her 6th birthday!  She's been asking for months and was so excited!  She looks so grownup now!

-Celebrated New Year's Eve (today) by cleaning the house in preparation for our official housewarming on New Year's Day!

On The Blog:  To Those Who Are Joyful This Christmas, And A Merry Christmas To You!

That's a wrap!





And A Merry Christmas To You!



Confession time: Christmas break has not exactly gone as I planned.

I had so many ideas for advent readings and crafts to do with the kids.  We were going to bake, and learn new Christmas carols and Bible verses.  I was going to continue waking up before the kids and get in a rich, meaningful personal Bible study leading up to Christmas Day.

And then the king of all colds struck us last week.  I tell you, if I ever needed a non-serious reminder of the sinful, fallen state of the world, this cold was it.  Even though we are well past being contagious, we still are struggling with scratchy voices and irritating remnants of a cough.  Derek took time off from work, and I rolled out of bed too late every morning for the past week.  Needless to say, my plans did not come to fruition. 

However, I finally felt well enough to get back to my new morning routine again this morning.  I grabbed the Christmas present I bought myself, an illuminated Scripture journal for the book of Hebrews.  I figured I'd just start by checking out the cross-references, and I stumbled across two passages that have helped set my heart back on Christ amidst the Christmas-Eve craziness this morning. (The first one is kind of long, try to take time to read through the whole thing - it's so good!).

"He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.  He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.  For by Him all things were created that are in Heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions, or principalities, or powers.  All things were created through Him and for Him.  And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.  And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have preeminence.  For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in Heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross."
Colossians 1:13-20

"For it is God who commanded light to shine out of darkness who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."
2 Corinthians 4:6


I just love how these passages talk about the light of Christ.  We are lost in darkness, in our sin, without Him - but when we were stumbling around in the dark, God sent us the light of Christ, the light of Himself.  He was born to make peace for us through the blood of His cross.  We are the ones who deserve darkness and death forever because of our sin, but He bore that penalty for us on the cross.  And now if we will merely raise our faces to His light, trusting in His sacrifice and what He has done to save us, we need never be lost in darkness again.





















Merry Christmas, friends.  I pray that the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ is shining bright in your hearts this Christmas (and that you have more joy than Georgie in that last picture)!

To Those Who Are Joyful This Christmas




I have found my Christmas joy again this season.

I haven't shared much about it here, but a few years back I struggled with a bit of postpartum depression.  I always say "a bit", "a little", because it didn't feel severe enough to say it without a qualifier.  I never felt suicidal, or like I wanted to hurt my baby.  I didn't stay in bed all day.  I just cried a lot, and struggled with my purpose, and felt like I was viewing my life through a bubble, without being able to feel enough of the joy.  And I just teared up writing that sentence.  It was just "a little", but it was still devastating in it's own way.

I think my struggle manifested itself most at Christmastime.  For a couple years there, when I was going into depression and coming out of it, Christmas was just about the motions.  I tried to listen to the music in church, to let the preaching reach my heart, to meditate on Christ and what He did by coming to save us.  I tried to conjure up an emotion.  But I was mostly just stressed and waiting for Christmas to be over so I wouldn't feel so behind on my to-do list.  So I wouldn't feel the pressure to feel joyful when I couldn't.

It's been a relief to find that I've finally come fully out of that.  That I can enjoy the beauty and joys of Christmas without the same kind of stress and heaviness pulling me down.

I share all this I suppose just to say that Christmas time isn't always filled with joy for everyone.  And I know people who say that seem like they are being killjoys (quite literally), but I have a point here, just hang in there with me.

The other day I stumbled across a Bible verse while I was looking for something else, but it stopped me in my tracks.  This is the verse:

"Like one who takes away a garment in cold weather, and like vinegar on soda, is one who sings songs to a heavy heart."  
Proverbs 25:20

I think we can all testify to the truth of this from personal experience.  But I think this verse really stood out to me this time because I've seen this very situation happen recently, right in front of me.  It's a little different seeing it as more an observer than a participant, and I think it grieves me more.  When you are the one with the heavy heart you are absorbed in the emotion, but when you observe this happening more on the outside of yourself, you see the damage.  And it feels like there is nothing you can personally do about it.

But maybe there is.



Today I was driving in the car, listening to a radio program, and I was reminded of that old song.  It's mournful notes are playing in my head now.  "They will know we are Christians by our love..."

I went home and looked up 1 John and read a couple chapters.  The lyrics above aren't actually in the Bible, but there is plenty about loving one another.  The closest verse to that song is when Jesus tells His disciples that "By this everyone you will know that you are my disciples, that you love one another." (John 13:35)

First John expands on the idea of loving each other:

"My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in action and in truth." 
1 John 3:19

"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.  In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought to love one another."  
1 John 4:7-11

I think it's easy to miss that fact that all this talk about love is specifically talking to us as Christians to love our Christian brothers and sisters in Christ.

This stood out to me more this time I read it, I think because we are currently going through a difficult situation at church that is painful in a lot of different ways.  I think in Christian circles today there is a lot of emphasis on loving non-believers, but on the whole I haven't seen as much emphasis on loving the church.  On loving the people in the church.

The thing is, it's a little easier to love people in the world sometimes, trying to point them to Christ (though too often through mere action, without the necessary accompanying words).  And we pat ourselves on the back for following Christ's command to "love one another".

But if we aren't showing that same love to people in our church, we are missing the whole point.  In the context of these passages, that is what we are being told to do.  To not just love the world, but love each other, love our fellow believers.  That's how Christ says they will know we are His disciples.  If we love our fellow believers.

So how are we supposed to do that, specifically this Christmas, when pain feels like it has to be hidden, and maybe those who are joyful have unintentional blinders amidst all the merriment?

1. You have to be in a church, or some gathering of believers.  Preferably a church though.  That's what the church is supposed to be for, for believers to come together to lift each other up, challenge each other to press on, to encourage one another, to care for each other's needs.  You can't do that as well if you aren't gathering regularly with fellow believers.

2.  Stop plastering on a smile.  We don't gather together on Sunday mornings to pretend we are all perfect and joyful and nothing is ever wrong.  We are sinful humans.  We still struggle with sin as believers.  Life is still hard.  We are still going to go through difficult times.  Jesus promised us trouble while we are here (John 16:33).  We still hurt.  We still hurt each other.  It's okay to show you are hurting or need help, so someone else can lift you up.

3.  Take the blinders off.  Maybe we all hide our hurt or stress so much because we've too often had our pain or grief ignored.  If you are blessed enough to not be currently struggling, maybe keep your eye out for someone who is.

4.  Don't sing songs to a heavy heart.  I think this is about paying attention to other's struggles instead of just our own situation.  There are usually little clues if you pay attention, little signals that maybe not everything is well in someone's life.  Often we don't even respond right when our brother's or sister's pain or hardship is glaringly obvious.  But that's a big reason why we are supposed to be gathering together in the first place.  To take care of one another, and lift each other up.  Singing songs to a heavy heart is not the way to lift each other up (it says so right there, in the verse I shared at the beginning).

5.  Practically - just reach out.  I think at this time of year, it's too easy to just ignore the pain of others, inside and outside the church.  There is merriment to be had, after all!  But I think in doing that, we miss the whole point of Christmas.  We are celebrating, after all, how God Himself reached down to rescue us from the death and judgement we deserve because of our sin.  He sent His Son to be the sacrifice, to pay the penalty for our sin, to give eternal life to those who believe in Him!  We ought to be reaching out to offer that hope to those outside the church, and comfort and help to those inside the church.

6. Share in someone's pain.  We are all really good at rejoicing with those who rejoice (at least outwardly), but I think mourning with those who mourn is even more important.  You can be happy by yourself and be just fine, but mourning by yourself is a terrible burden.  And maybe we reflect the truth of Christmas best when we are willing to reach a hand down to someone else.  Not just in generic, good-deed, pat-yourself-on-the-back ways, but with a heart to share in someone's pain.  It's harder to do that.  It costs more to feel someone's pain with them.  But it's also the way we can maybe lift them a little bit out of it.

The main point is: if you are rejoicing this Christmas, don't forget those who are mourning, even (or especially) those in the church - and take a little time to reach out to them with the love of Christ.  I think that is one of the best ways we could celebrate Christmas.

Have you ever had a Christmas where it was hard to feel joy?

I hope and pray that someone in the body of Christ reached out to you when you needed it.

What I'm Asking For Christmas

(My really cute baby and me. I know, how could I ask for anything more, right?  But Derek did want me to make a list.)

Every year a few weeks before Christmas I bug Derek to give me a list, and I write a Christmas wish list out for him.  This year I had a hard time coming up with a list.  I mentioned this to my parents, and they told me it only gets worse as you get older - you don't know what to ask for, and no one knows what to buy you.  Maybe it's because as you mature, you don't want material things as much as the intangible things that make Christmas special.  (Either that, or maybe it's the fact that as adults we just end up buying the little things we want throughout the year anyway... )

Still, I mustered up some items, and I handed Derek this exact Christmas list a couple weeks ago...and I'm pretty sure he didn't even follow it.

Well, I guess that's what Christmas money is for, right?  (Thanks in advance, Mom and Dad!)

Still, I thought it would be fun to share my little list here.  Maybe if you are like me and had a hard time coming up with a list in the first place, this will give you some ideas!

The Clockmaker's Daughter - I am a Kate Morton fan.  Apparently this book is a little bit of a departure for her, but I'm still all in!  I'm really hoping I get this one for Christmas, and if I don't, I'll be buying it ASAP.

A nice paperback copy of The Fellowship Of The Ring - I read The Lord Of The Rings trilogy when I was in junior high, and I will always love these books with a deep and abiding love.  I got the three-in-one hardback volume when it first came out after they made the movies.  I felt so cool with my four-inch-thick hardback.  Now, years later, when I've decided to re-read these books, I realize how impractical it is to try to read from a four-inch hardback.  So a nice paperback, or smaller hardback, copy is on my list.

Face masks from Target or Walmart - I just like those little $1-3 face masks.  I wear them when I feel like my skin needs an extra boost, or when I feel like I want to visit a spa but can't afford it.  Examples:




Moonchild palette from Anastasia Beverly Hills - I went to Sephora to browse for some inspiration (I told you, I didn't know what to put on my list), and I saw this highlighting palette there.  When I do my makeup, I put on BB Cream or foundation (depending on the day), set it with translucent mineral powder, apply a little blush, and top it all off with a sweep of highlighting powder on the tops of my cheekbones and the bridge of my nose.  I know it sounds like a lot of steps, but when I take the time to do it right, my skin looks all glowy (even without being pregnant).  I've tried a few different highlighters over the years and prefer the ones that are almost iridescent.  This palette has a few different highlighters with different colored undertones, all on the iridescent side of the shimmer scale, and I'd love to try them out.  

Perfume from Skylar - I have been eyeing these perfumes for a few months, and I finally caved and ordered the sample palette when they had a Black Friday special.  These perfumes are made with more natural ingredients (if you care about that kind of thing), and they are supposed to be mix-and-match.  They are mix-and-match, and they all smell good. I'm leaning toward Coral, Isle, Meadow, or Capri.  I should probably decide which one I want sometime before Christmas.

Essie nail polish - You know how they say that the brands you prefer aren't usually set until your 40's?  Pretty sure that is not true for me and nail polish.  I like Essie, I pretty much don't use any nail polish but Essie, and I'd like a new color.

USA Pan cookie sheets - These things have some sort of silicone coating that is supposed to make them really stick-proof!  Plus I am in desperate need of new cookie sheets.

What is on your Christmas list?  

I'm pretty sure I won't be getting all this stuff, but it was fun to put this together anyway!

P.S.  I should also note that I'm pretty sure Derek got me something even better than my list.  Will update after Christmas!

Currently | December 2018



Currently I'm...

Listening...to Sawyer Brown's Christmas album and the sounds of my kid's giggling, and a story from Gwen about what happened when they played with bubbles (in the bathroom, because that's where bubbles are restricted to in the winter).

Drinking...A cup of coffee.  I had another epiphany last night that while I am very diligent to teach my kids about the Lord with words, I'm not doing so great at backing it all up with actions on a day to day basis.  I get irritable and angry often enough that I'm embarrassed about it, and they almost never see me cracking open my Bible because I've been squeezing it in during the evening after they are in bed.  So I'm too often treating them like a nuisance and never visibly reading my Bible, but I still preach at them?  Sounds like a recipe for raising hypocrites to me, and last night I was so convicted about it.  So I am radically changing up my daily schedule, and part of that is waking up BEFORE they do and starting the day with God's Word.  It's better for me to start my mind off on a God-centered foot first thing in the morning, and good for them if they catch me at it.  But...waking up before the sun...yeah, I need coffee.

Scheming...about surprising Derek at work today.  I felt like our relationship is really taking too much of a back burner these days, and the wear is starting to show.  So we are going to go pick up some cheap decorations, and surprise Daddy at work with Christmas music and hot chocolate while we decorate his office!



Thankful... that this cold that I was afraid was the flu (please see my Instagram post and video for more info), seems to in actuality be the mildest cold that we've had in a while.  I had visions of sick children lying about the house, but even little Georgie is perky and cheerful this morning.

Planning...a Rube Goldberg device.  You know, one of those set-ups where you push a marble, and after a bunch of stuff being knocked over, your cup of coffee is poured for you.  Examples here.  Sometimes I'm not sure what we got into with our co-op, because I have no idea how to build a Rube Goldberg device with a seven year old and five year old!  Let's be honest, it will mostly be me building it, but I think I'll read the chapter and have the kids draw a Rube Goldberg device...and then I'll just show them the one I come up with, ha!



Slacking on...sending out Christmas cards.  What is wrong with me?  Usually I have them out the week after thanksgiving, but I can't get my act together this year.  Which is a pity, because people need our new address to send US Christmas cards!  I really need to get on it.

Reading...alot of things, as per usual.  I'm reading Fool's Gold by John MacArthur, about discernment.  I'm re-reading The Lord Of The Rings.  I just started the Fellowship, and it's just as delightful as the first time I read it (or more, since I know the story now).  And I picked up Skipping Christmas by John Grisham, which is the book that inspired the movie Christmas With The Kranks.  Which happens to be one of our favorites (it's just so relatable as an adult!).

Waiting...on the photos to transfer off my phone and onto my computer.  I only have to do this about once a year, but oy, it's a chore.

Excited...about the book bucket I put together.  For years I've been wanting to wrap up Christmas books and open up and read one each day with the kids.  This is the year it finally happens!



What are you all up to currently?




The Gifts I Bought Myself


It has been years since I've been Black Friday shopping.  I think some of the magic was lost for me when they started opening Black Friday doors on Thursday.  Come on, people.

However, this year I took advantage of Black Friday shopping when a friend invited me to go with her - I wasn't even expecting to buy much, but I ended up getting all my Christmas shopping done.  I forgot how freeing it is to get your shopping done early!  The rest of December is wide open now! I am looking forward to having more time to do Christmas projects with the kids and less time worrying about presents.

However, I may have also bought myself a Christmas gift on Black Friday.  I laughed when I read Elizabeth's post about buying a gift for yourself, because I totally do that.  This is what I got:



1. Housewife Theologian by Aimee Byrd.  

I read No Little Women by Aimee Byrd last year, and it was excellent.  I have been looking for a chance to buy another book from her, and Amazon's book coupon seemed to be it!  I'm really looking forward to this one - I love books that make theology accessible, and also that encourage Christian women toward good theology.  I'm expecting good things.




I cam across this after a similar recommendation from Jami Balmet's blog (or Facebook page or something), and I have to say I'm so excited about this one.  It arrived in the mail today, and I flipped through it - it is perfect!  On the left page it has the actual text of Hebrews, and on the right page it has a blank dot-grid page for you to use for journaling, or whatever.  

I know Bible art journaling has been going on for years, but after mulling it over for a long time, I decided I'm not a huge fan - I don't like how the illustrations so often go over the text of Scripture, and how the focus often seems to be on the art instead of the Word of God.  I'm sure it can be done well with a heart to bring glory to the Lord, so if you do Bible art journaling and have found a good balance, I think that's great - it's just not something I'm interested in.  However, there has been something appealing to me about those wide margins, because I'd love to take more thorough notes when I'm reading through a book of the Bible.  

This little volume is perfect for that; I can focus on one specific book and write down everything I'm learning with a full blank page!  I am so looking forward to using it!  I chose Hebrews, because I've become a little attached to that particular book after trying so hard to memorize it (I'm only shakily up to chapter 4).  I'd like to renew my memorization attempt in 2019, and I think this will help.





Do you buy Christmas gifts for yourself?  What did you get?

(No need for it to be spiritual, I also bought myself a new lipstick today for the Christmas season, ha!)

Screen Time - How I Handle It (Or Not)




Yesterday I quit Facebook.

I decided at least for the month of December, me and ol' Facebook need a break.

Back in October when I tried to do the "How I Handle It" series on my blog, one of the prompts was "how do you manage screen time".  I admit I was a little prideful at first - I don't have a screen time problem!  What's there to manage?

But maybe that question just needed a little time to sink in, because I started noticing more and more how much time I was actually spending on my phone.  And while there are a few different things that draw me in, Facebook was the number one culprit.  I feel a little embarrassed admitting that, because I always felt I had struck a good balance with Facebook - until the last couple weeks, when I had an epiphany.  

I was using Facebook as an escape whenever my life started to feel a little boring or hard.

Yes, I have become one of those people.  And it's not healthy.

And what's so great about Facebook anyway ?  Even at it's best, I've always recognized that it's also a bit of a waste of time.  I've quit it before.  I can share photos with grandmas though texting instead, and do casual blogs really need a Facebook page?  I'm saying no.  So I signed out of Facebook on all my devices, and cut the cord for (at least) a month.

While I've felt the urge to check Facebook a couple times since then, I weirdly almost immediately felt some of my creativity coming back.  I've always had words just bundled up and bursting to come out, and I was happy to learn that eliminating Facebook has made me want to spend a little more time pouring them out here on the blog, instead in Facebook comments that are forgotten almost as soon as someone clicks on the notification. 

People can say what they want, but I will always think of blogging as one of the good things that can come from the internet, at least for me.  It doesn't have the same instant gratification as Facebook, it's not addictive in that way.  You have to sit still and focus to read (or write) a blog.  You have to think through what you want to say.  It's a producing online activity, instead of just a consuming one.  It's less about that shot of social media dopamine, and more about sharing life and documenting things you don't want to forget.

Yeah, I think quitting Facebook will be a good thing.

So how do I manage screen time?  I'm not very good at it for myself, honestly.  But quitting Facebook is the first step.

Are you on Facebook?  If you've ever quit Facebook, how'd it go?



One Month In - Home Remodel Update!



I told Derek last night that this week is the cutoff.  Once we get to December 1st, we are officially on break from renovating until the New Year!  He didn't take much convincing.

This has been a whirlwind month, and the house doesn't even look like the same house anymore.  I haven't blogged through the process as much as I'd like, but I thought I'd do a little update now that we're about one month into our new home!  This is what we got done, and what we still need to get done.

(Sidenote - If you want to actually see how far we've come, go on Instagram TV and watch my house tour videos on there (@callienicole7)!  I have one "before" video, and a "halfway through" video.  I'll share before and after pictures on here after we finish everything!)

What We've Accomplished

New flooring - You might remember the old flooring was mostly pink carpet, even in the bathrooms. There is no more pink carpet, and we've replaced it with a nice grieve carpet and (vinyl) wood floor downstairs!  The carpet was installed for us.  Derek did the wood floor.  We had $1000 worth of wood stolen from us though (we have our suspicions), which is a bummer because it's really throwing our budget off now.

New paint - We originally thought we'd paint everything ourselves to save money, but we changed our minds.  We decided to hire out the paint in the entire house (except bathrooms), even though it wasn't originally in the budget, because doing it ourselves would take forever, and I've realized I loathe painting.  I have to say, that painter was worth every single penny.  I'm so glad we didn't try to do all that ourselves, and the painter said he'd come back to touch up anything we weren't happy with, even up to a year later!  I knew I picked the right guy for the job.

Painted the kitchen cabinets - We went with white on the upper cabinets, and navy blue on the lower. I may have panicked a little bit when we first started painting the blue, but now that it's coming together I think it's going to look great when it's done!

Kitchen backsplash - Derek just finished it last night!  It's a nice tile with copper/gold/brown/grey/ivory pieces.

Granite countertops - They installed them last week!  However, as soon as they were in, Derek and I decided to prioritize the kitchen, because with the color of the cabinets before, the granite didn't even look that good.  It's amazing how much cabinet color affects the look of everything else.

New fridge and dishwasher - It had to be done.

Demolished the master bathroom - If you recall, there used to be carpet in the master bath.  We are now down to bare wood floors, the shower and tile is ripped out, and tub will be going soon.

Painted the downstairs bathroom walls and cabinet - I did this myself.  I tend to be a little sloppy with painting, so it's not as pristine as the painter's work, but it'll do.

Bought and assembled new furniture, hung curtains -  Most of our old furniture works just fine in the new house, but we did need a few new things.  I spent a ridiculous amount of energy searching for just the right furniture.  We found an entertainment center that we love a couple months ago, and I picked out desks for the school room, bookshelves for my "library", and new curtains for the playroom and the kids' rooms (blackout curtains - yay!).  I also ordered a new couch, because we are overdue; our other one is in that too-soft-droopy phase.  The new couch comes in January!

Unpacked 90% of our stuff - This is no small feat.  I have a few boxes of kitchen stuff, a few boxes of books, and toys left to organize, but I unpacked everything else and hung all our decorations throughout the house.  It's starting to feel like home now!

Set up our Christmas stuff - Very important.















What We Have Left To Do

Finish the master bath - I fully expect this project to take at least a month - we are saving it for January so we can enjoy Christmas without projects hanging over our heads!

The upstairs bathroom - we have done exactly zero things in the upstairs bathroom.  We want to paint the walls and cabinets, replace the pink toilet, replace the floor tile.  We are still trying to determine if replacing the shower tile (also pink) is in the budget.

Finish the downstairs bathroom - It still needs a new (not black) toilet, new countertop, and new faucet and light fixtures.

Buy kitchen curtains - There are a lot of windows in this kitchen, and the glare is serious!  We need something for the windows.

Finish kitchen island remodel - We want to put a faux brick with a German schmear-type look around the island to finish off the kitchen.  Right now the island just looks like painted plywood (which it basically is).

Buy and install wood stove - I so miss my old wood stove!  We decided we need one here too, and luckily, all the pipes are already installed for one - so we just need to install the rock backdrop and the stove itself.

Kid's playset - Derek wants to build the kid's a playset this spring, since we left the old one at our other house, so we budgeted it in.

Finish unpacking/hanging curtains - I have a few boxes left, and few rooms with now curtains yet - we're getting there.

Clean out garage - The garage has become the holding area for everything.  Can you believe I still haven't even parked in it?

We've accomplished a lot, but it still feels like there is a lot to go!  However, the main living areas of the house are mostly finished, so it's nice to not feel like we are living in a mess anymore.  It's coming together, and it's so nice for the kids (and my sanity) to have the extra room!  We haven't gotten into a good routine here yet though, and I'm looking forward to a little more normalcy during our December break!



© Through Clouded Glass. Design by MangoBlogs.