Showing posts with label Memories. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Memories. Show all posts

8 Minute Memoir: Spring



(Quick note - Post inspired by Amanda's beautiful 12-Minute memoir yesterday.  I forgot how much I like doing these, and it's so much easier to fit in before the kids wake up.  I'm getting my prompts here.  Thanks Amanda! Also, picture is from somewhere else where they actually have those magical flowering trees.)

6:46 AM

When I think of spring I think of one thing: mud.

I've lived in the mountains my whole life, and in the mountains spring is an endless cycle of snow which turns to mud, which is covered by more snow.  Even the springs that break form (like this one) are brown and grey in the mountains, with very little color.  We wait and wait, until suddenly, all in a flurry at the end of May, it goes from spring to summer in one week.

When I was a child I never understood why people liked spring.  When I became a young adult I started to realize that other places had flowers, flowering trees even.  And well, if you have a spring like that, it makes sense why you would like it.  But in my mountain world, spring is the ugliest season.

Mountain springs haven't changed that much since I was a kid, but while I used to hate the season, I don't anymore.  It's still brown and yucky, but I notice the green grass poking through the ground, hidden behind the yellowed leftovers from last year.  As my kids' feet pound the floor above me way too early in the morning, I realize I also hear birds singing an endless song outside the window.  I walk over to let our big hound mix outside, because he won't leave me alone until I do, and I hear squirrels chattering and I breathe in the cold, wet smell of melting snow.

Spring will always smell like that to me.  Not like flowers, or green grass.  Like mud and melting snow.  

There is life out there, new life stretching up, peeking around the corner, sitting in the tree branches.  I never noticed that as a kid, but I do now.  Now that I've felt new life in my womb, held it in my arms, and had a few more Resurrection Days under my belt, spring holds a bit more significance.  

So even these muddy, ugly springs are beautiful after all.  I look out my window and can see the echoes of God's words in Genesis - even here, in the mud.  

"It is good."

6:54 AM 

Happy Baby - Georgie At Five Months



Well, this month's update is about two weeks late.  Whoops! My sweet girl is now well past 5 months old!

This month has felt like a bit of a whirlwind, and I'm not really sure why.  I just know that I've been exhausted with everything on our calendar and have been intentionally trying to slow down.  The last few weeks I've been telling Georgie that she's my little stress reliever, because her sweet cuddles and big smile instantly lighten my mood!  I'm so happy she's my baby.

Growth And Eating

We're still struggling along with the nursing, and my supply isn't increasing at all - but I'm hanging on, because I'm not quite ready to give it up.  She's mostly on formula now.  I'm also happy to report that she's chunked up some even since her last monthly update.  Her little legs have the hint of rolls now, and I just love her round little cheeks when she smiles!  Her hair is starting to thin - I've figured out that babies' hair reaches the peak of baldness at six months old before it starts to grow back in thicker.  She still has hair, but I can tell it's changing texture.  She is gumming everything and drooling a lot, so I feel like some teeth may poke through soon - or we may have to wait another 3 months, you never can tell.

Sleeping

I actually told Derek the other day that I feel bad for everyone in the world who does not get to be Georgie's mom (ha!) - first, because she's just so sweet and happy and delicious, and second because this baby is the most incredible sleeper I've ever heard of.  She's STILL sleeping 12 hours at night, plus a 2-hour nap during the day!  I'm getting so much sleep, I have no reason in the world to be exhausted.  When I'm tired, everyone assumes it's the baby - no, it's my own fault.  I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop...it is just so nice to have a fifth baby who sleeps!  Georgie totally spoils us.  I told her the other night that she's the kind of baby who tricks you into having a sixth!

Firsts

Shortly after Georgie's 5th month birthday, we celebrated Easter!  It was Georgie's first on the outside, and she looked pretty cute in her dress that matched all the girls.  We also put her in the gumbo seat for the first time, and sometimes she likes it, and sometimes she hates it.  No other firsts yet, but I think we'll be adding a few in the next month as we look ahead to starting solid foods.



Personality

She is still the cutest, happiest little thing!  She greets me with a smile each morning, smiles when I kiss her cheek, smiles when I talk to her.  She loves her siblings and will just grin at them if they give her any attention.  

She's obviously very easygoing (see above), but she tries to assert herself when she's hungry.  Even then, her cry is just not that loud or disruptive.  If she has to cry more than a couple of minutes before I get to her, her cries turn to this hopeless wail, like she's upset that no one ever takes her crying seriously, and it's so sad and pathetic and cute-sounding. 

She definitely likes me best right now, and will just watch me when someone else is holding her, then she grins when I finally take her back.  She likes to talk, and has the cutest little cooing voice - I'm looking forward to when she adds more consonants to her repertoire!



---

Sweet Georgie,

My darling girl, you are such a blessing to me!  There have been many times over the last month when I was feeling stressed, and I sat down to feed you and your smile just melted all the chaos away.  If I look you in the eye while you are eating, you'll grin at me around your bottle and give me a cute little "hum" sound, and I just feel like laughing every time you do it.  What a joy you are! Your personality is so sweet, and I just can't wait to watch it develop more as you grow.  I thank God every day for giving you to me.  I love you, darling.

Love Always, 

Mama

Reunions




This time last year, my belly was just starting to round with a new little life (Georgie!) when we made the difficult decision to search for a new church.  I remember crying.  We had been going to our previous church for seven years, and it took a significant amount of that time to really start to feel involved there, like we belonged.  Though we had been praying about it and felt like this was the right decision, I wasn't looking forward to starting over.

I didn't write about it during that time, but it was a long, hard search until we found somewhere that met our standards and felt right.  Maybe I'll write more about the process of looking for a new church someday, but let's just say I'm relieved to have it behind us.  There is a sense in which any body of believers feels like family, but every time you start attending a new church it takes some time to feel like you belong.  We've been pleasantly surprised and blessed to feel at home here quickly, and that has helped ease the transition, helped us know that it was right.  

A couple of weeks ago after the church service, I pushed open the door to the ladies' room, and looked up and into the face of a dear lady from our former church.  She stared at me for a second, and I stared at her, and then we burst out with each other's names and rushed to give each other a hug.  We laughed about meeting again in a restroom of all places.  My family visited with their group in the hall well after most of the regular attenders had cleared out.  It was a reunion of sorts, and I couldn't stop grinning for the rest of the day.  Reunions, when they are sweet, will do that.

---

March has been a month of reunions overall.  We also went out to visit my dear childhood friends on their ranch.  They can't get away that often, but once a year we make the trek out to see them.  I want to make it happen more often.  

We visited, caught up on each other's lives, introduced the baby.  We ate lunch, and remembered back to when we were kids, growing up in a little white church in the mountains.  Every summer there was an ice cream social, with real ice cream churned in vintage buckets, packed with snow from the nearest mountain pass.  There would be peach, and banana, and pralines and cream - the row of ice cream makers on the shelf above our heads brought it all back.  

























We will keep making this trip out to the ranch as long they will have us, because we love our friends so dearly, and our reunions make it seem as if we live much nearer than we do.  It always feels like we saw them last week instead of last year.

---

Reunions don't always feel so sweet as all this, of course, but when I do have moments of happy reunions, it makes me think how beautiful Heaven will be.  I imagine we'll see everyone who we know here who has trusted in Jesus, and that will be one round of happy reunions.  Then we'll see all the people whose names we know but who we've never met - but it will seem as if we had known them all along.  Then we'll see all the people whom Jesus saved who we never met, and we never knew their names, but we're still all connected because we've all been adopted into this family, through the blood of Jesus.

---

It's Good Friday today, when we remember Jesus's death on the cross.  My heart is heavy as I remember why He died - to pay the penalty for my crimes (and yours too), when He had no crimes of His own.  God became a man, lived without sin, and died in our place - covering our sin and reconciling us with Himself when we trust in Him to save us.

What kind of despair the disciples must have felt though, when He died.  I can't even imagine that feeling, because I've never had to feel it - we all have the benefit of knowing the rest of the story, after all.  Seeing Jesus on the third day, alive again, had to be an unimaginable joy!

And now, I'm just waiting for my turn.  Because someday I'll see Him too, either when I die and enter eternity, or when He comes back on the clouds to take us home.  And boy, that will be the best reunion of all.

---

Happy Resurrection Day (on Sunday), friends!  I pray that you know Jesus as your Savior too, and may you get a small taste of the joy of that coming reunion as we celebrate that our Savior is alive, forevermore!

"But the angel answered and said to the women, 'Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. "  

Matthew 28:5-6a

A Tiny Thing - Georgie At Three Months



The last month of our lives have been rather crazy, and a lot of that craziness is surrounding my sweet Georgie Bea.

Growth And Eating

In late January I finally took in Georgie for an overdue two month checkup.  I was excited to see how much she had grown!  She seemed like such a tiny thing, I was curious to see her percentages.  Nevertheless I was still surprised to learn that she had only gained 11 ounces since her two week checkup.  

In case you are not familiar with the weight gain curves that doctors use, that is not so good!  She had dropped completely off the chart, below the first percentile.  In the week leading up to our appointment I noticed she still seemed so tiny and delicate, but she seemed healthy and content, and she was hitting all of her milestones. I honestly didn't realize she hadn't been gaining weight.  I still feel a little guilty about this.

Enter "Operation: Fatten Up Georgie".  For the next week I fed her every two hours and topped her off with formula at least twice a day.  Whatever I did seemed to work, and a week later when we went in for a weight check she was up to 10 pounds, 2 ounces at 3 months old! She's still tiny, but her weight is moving in the right direction, so that's good.  

In retrospect, I think her not gaining enough weight can be attributed to a "perfect storm" of a few different factors:

1. Georgie sleeps about 12 hours at night.  This is completely amazing for obvious reasons, but it was not helping her in the weight gain department.
2.  Because she sleeps so long at night, my supply had been dwindling.  However, this was so gradual that I didn't notice it until the last couple weeks when it became a problem.
3. My milk wasn't letting down properly.  I have five kids, and it's hard to find a quiet time to feed Georgie where we won't be interrupted.  I think this was making it hard for me to relax enough for my milk to letdown, which contributed to my supply issues.
4. On a normal day, Georgie is an extremely content baby, and she just wasn't letting me know when she was hungry.  I was feeding her at three hour intervals or so, but she needs more than that right now.  We now officially have her on a timer.

We'll have another weight check in the next couple weeks, but I am very confident that she is gaining weight happily now.  Her face has gotten notably rounder, and she even has a double chin.  She's even chubbed up since her three month pictures that I recently shared on Instagram!  Unfortunately my supply continues to dwindle, and I just don't have time or motivation to add pumping into an already packed day, so we've been giving her 2-3 bottles of formula each day.  We didn't make it as long as I wanted to with exclusively nursing this time, but c'est la vie. I'll just be happy if we can at least partially nurse until six months at this point.

As you can imagine, it's hard to keep up on things when you have five kids to take care of and one of them needs to be fed every two hours, hence why this post is late.  Aside from her weight, Georgie has been changing and growing in so many ways this month!



Sleeping

As I mentioned, Miss Georgie is an amazing sleeper!  She goes 12 hours at night, and I intend to enjoy this as much as possible.  I'm fairly confident she will stop sleeping through the night around four months because all of my babies have gone through a growth spurt at four months.  She also takes one afternoon nap during the day (having only one daytime nap is my tradeoff for a full night's sleep - I'll take it!).

Firsts

The day we found out Georgie wasn't gaining weight (January 25th), she laughed at me.  I can't tell you how comforting that was to me - right when I was beating myself up for not realizing she wasn't growing on track, she blessed me with sweet baby giggles.  It's a cute little belly-chuckle sound. She's mostly just laughed for me so far (and once for Derek), when I tickle her tummy.  I got the best video of her laughing at me repeatedly for a minute straight, and I rewatch it sometimes when I need a grin.  I just love her laugh so much!

She also discovered her hands.  One day I had her laying on the bed in my room while I got ready to go somewhere, and I looked over at her and she was just starting so intently at her hands.  I always find this phase so funny!  It's so cute to watch her little quizzical expression as she tries to figure things out.

We also celebrated our first New Year's with Georgie, and went to the stock show together for the first time as a family of 7.

She still rolls over both ways, but only occasionally.  However, she's such a strong little thing!  Her head support is pretty good for her age, and she pushes up with her arms really well when we do tummy time.



Personality

As I said, Georgie is mostly a very content baby, though since we've been feeding her every two hours she has gotten a little more vocal.  I think she finally realized she likes to eat.  She has the sweetest little grin, and she smiles much more quickly now than she did a month ago.  Her dimples are just the best thing ever!  I can also tell she's getting a little more attached to me - When someone else is holding her she will just stare at me and follow me around with her eyes.  She doesn't talk too often, but when she does it's the cutest little cooing/sighing sound.  If you want to hear her talk you have to stare right into her eyes and talk to her, and then she'll wait for a break in the conversation to coo back at you.  

---

Georgiana Bea, 

You threw me for a loop this month!  I can't believe how tiny you are, but your sweet little grins and baby talk reassure me always that you are doing just fine.  You are such a happy baby! Your grins light up my whole day, and I'm a tiny bit obsessed with your dimples.  I sit with you sometimes and just try to get you to smile over and over so I can catch a glimpse of them.  And don't even get me started on your laugh.  Your baby giggle puts both your dad and me in stitches - we just can't help but laugh along with you!  What a sweet little joy you are.  I can't imagine our life or family without you, my little lady.  You live up to your name.

I love you always, 

Mama



My Firstborn At Seven



Wyatt Boy, yesterday you turned seven years old.

Your birthday could have snuck up on me this year except for the fact that you have been reminding me about it for the last few months.  You are big enough now to sit down with a calendar and figure out how many days there are until things, and you were counting down the days.  This is also the first year that you had plans for you own birthday, and I tried my best to fill all your hopes with what I had.  You were so sweet and enthusiastic, in your quiet, shy way, about everything we ended up doing.

We took you to the Nature and Science museum, and walked through the gem section with you.  You are fascinated by the idea that such beautiful things can just be waiting beneath the earth for someone to come dig them up.  We took you to the gift shop and bought you some rocks for you "gem collection", and I loved seeing your face light up.  You wanted to know all the technical names, and how the gems were formed, and whether they were "real rocks" or manmade.  You are my thinker, and you love to just know things, especially anything related to physical science or biology.  You can stare for hours at books filled with birds, insects, and animals, and you always want to know how things work.

This year whenever you were asked what you wanted to be, you always replied with "a farmer and a worker".  You have been scoping out land as we drive places, trying to figure out where you could buy a farm.  But over the last month you've been talking more about being a "worker".  You want to build things.  We bought you a bunch of Legos this year, and seeing your how creativity grows is amazing.  You and your dad have built several things together, and I know that's one of his dreams for his kids come true, to sit and do Legos together with his son (and also go to a college football game together, which you also did this fall!).

We started first grade this year, and I don't think I expected to see you grow so much when we first cracked the books last summer.  You are learning so much!  It's so fun for me to see things start to make sense to you, to see how much you are learning each day.  You actually love to learn, and in that I see myself in you again.  I expect many years ahead of bonding over biology and zoology textbooks, since you seem to especially enjoy that subject just like I do.



One thing I love about you is your desire to do the right thing, and your desire for people to know about Jesus.  At Christmas time you made a little card in your Sunday School class that you were supposed to give to someone to tell them about Jesus.  If it were me, I would have completely forgotten about it, but you carried that card around in your pocket, scanning the stores to see who you might give it to.  You finally gave it to our cashier at the mall, and I'm pretty sure you made her day.  But I saw the serious look on your face as you asked her if she knew about Jesus, and my heart melted a little.  My sweet boy, I love the desire you have for others to know the Truth.  I pray you will never lose that.

Do you know how incredibly proud I am to be your mom?  You are a joy to me, Wyatt.  I love you so much, from that first moment I laid eyes on you seven years ago, and more every day.  It's a privilege to call you my son.

Love Always,

Mama

Hello, January




Watch out World, I finally discovered I can narrate blog posts into my phone whilst doing something else! This is how it works. I'm currently narrating into my Notes app while driving to the gym (don't worry, it's hands-free with the little microphone on my earbuds). When I get to the gym I have a big mess of a paragraph with no punctuation, but the bones are there, and I edit while I ride the stationary bike. Multi-tasking at its finest! No, I don't get as good of a workout in while tapping on my phone, but what can I say, blogging is worth it to me.

I've been meaning to write another old-fashioned blog post like this for a couple months, but it just doesn't seem to get done between figuring out how to take care of all five kids while homeschooling, so this is my solution for now. 


Back To School

Speaking of homeschooling, as of the second week of January we started school again for the first time since Georgie was born. Five days a week until the end of May will get all of our required days in before summer. That seems pretty good to me considering I took two months off for "maternity leave". I find myself putting a lot more effort and creativity into homeschooling the last couple weeks, more than I did last fall. I think I underestimated the amount of energy that being pregnant took out of me at the start of the year. Even though I have a newborn now, I feel like I'm able to put so much more into our days without getting worn out.

I shared my homeschool bullet journal on Instagram last week (don't worry if you missed it, I will have a blog post about my homeschool bullet journal in the months to come once I refine my process a bit more). So far this method is working like a charm! I really love keeping track of what we're doing this way, and I'm finding it really motivating to write down everything with my highlighting method to make sure we're getting a good variety of subjects in each week. Some homeschool moms really seem to thrive on a weekly schedule for different subjects, but I am doing better with just having weekly goals for our subjects and squeezing them in wherever it happens to work for that week. We've accomplished so much more with this flexible method than we did when I was trying to schedule our whole week out.

Family Outings And My Toy Strategy
Let's see, what else? We've had some fun weekends so far this January. We took a weekend road trip into the mountains and did a short hike with the kids. It was freezing cold, but I tucked Georgie into my Solly wrap, and she was asleep within two minutes, despite my frozen fingers.  It was nice to get outside. It's so beautiful in the mountains, even in the winter. 










We also took a trip to the stock show on MLK Jr. Day. The stock show is a family tradition going back to when I was a kid myself. It's fun to take the kids now and show them all the animals and wander through all the vendors together (and sometimes go to a rodeo, though not this year). We ended up getting the kids some really sturdy metal toys so they can set up their own little ranch. The set was expensive, but it came with a tractor and three trailers, and fence pieces that fit together, and a cow. The kids have been playing with it nonstop since we got it. We feel a little sheepish for spending so much on it right after Christmas, but this is a toy set that will last through all our kids, and probably even until we have grandkids. It's also an easy set to add to, which is something I'm working toward with the kids' toy collections. I don't know about you, but I really don't like getting random little toys for the kids that will break two months down the road.  I'm trying to narrow all the kids' toys down to a few categories that can be added to - like this ranch set, Legos, pieces to the boys' train set, Calico Critters, and eventually Barbies (yes, I'm getting my girls Barbies - I'm not one of those anti-Barbie people).

A New Bible Study
In more recent news, we did try a Community Bible Study in our area this week. When I was a child we went to our local CBS for years.  In case you might have forgotten, I was homeschooled from fourth grade through high school. CBS was one of the ways we got in our social interaction and Bible curriculum (all at once!). I have so many fond memories of those Bible study days, and I am still in touch with some of the friends I met then.

So I have known for a while that I wanted to get involved again when my kids reached grade school. I decided now was the time. On Wednesday we tried it out, and the kids LOVED it.  It was so cute to hear them talking in the backseat on the drive home, all about the Bible lesson, and what they played in the gym, and the snacks they had. I was also surprised when I went into the sanctuary for the concluding lecture to see Clyde, onstage, dressed in a furry robe. He was acting out John the Baptist for all the moms!  He was waving at me and blowing kisses. That's Clyde for you, my little extrovert! I am looking forward to next week.


This is where I would normally start talking books (because when do I NOT feel like blabbing about what I'm reading?), but I have an entire post waiting in my drafts about my reading plans for the year. I am hoping to have a little blogging time in the morning on Saturday (Derek is so sweet and lets me escape to the coffee shop every now and then).  I have several posts in the works, which makes me want to ask a weird question: which post should I try to get up next week?  My blogging time these days is limited. I'll let you all choose, if you have an opinion...you can help me prioritize!







What I'm Drinking: Coffee with Southern Butter Pecan creamer (because I forgot I was supposed to bring it to our mom's group yesterday - whoops).

What are you drinking on this fine Friday morning?  How is your January going so far?

How I Use Bullet Journaling



Every year in January, I head to Target and buy a new, crisp planner.

And every year I use said planner for approximately 2.3 weeks before my motivation to get organized peters out and I forget about it.

I am one of those people who likes the idea of a planner, especially the ones with monthly goal sheets and weekly layouts - but when it comes to actually using the planner, I usually find that all my organizational hopes are disappointed.  I stare at the blank lines and want so much to fill them in, but I usually end up writing stuff in those spaces just so the blank space won't be staring at me, or not using it at all and feeling like I failed somehow.  I've never been able to find a planner that is structured enough to help me stay organized and motivated without being too restrictive for my actual life.  

So despite dropping a twenty on a pretty planner, I usually still end up with random pieces of paper in a pile on my counter with scribbled to-do lists, book lists, quotes, and reminders.

However, I'm happy to report that all that changed last fall when I finally figured out what people meant by "bullet journaling".  

A few days before Georgiana was born, I was walking through our newly remodeled library and saw a new wall with displays of DIY books.  I stopped to skim, and found a book called Dot Journaling: A Practical Guide by Rachel Wilkerson Miller.  The subtitle said How To Start and Keep The Planner, To-Do List, and Diary That'll Actually Help You Get Your Life Together.  Honestly it just kind of looked pretty, so I picked it up for fun and started flipping through it in the car.  



I realized almost immediately that this was the planning and organization system I have been looking for!

Basically a bullet journal is a self-made planner and diary that can be anything you want it to be because you are the one who organizes it.  There are really no rules to it except the ones you make for your own journal.

I told Derek that I needed to give this a try, and we spent an afternoon driving around in search of a dot-grid journal.  On Sunday I finally got one, and I sat down to start getting my journal set up just as my labor contractions started.  I ended up bringing my bullet journal to the hospital with me, and one of my first pages is a timeline of my labor and delivery with Georgie!

To get a solid grasp on the system, you can check out the official bullet journaling website for free, but I highly recommend checking out Dot Journaling, because to me, it made the whole things seem more doable.  But that said, here is a little tour of my bullet journal to give you an idea of what it is.

Key

A page with a code for any of the symbols you choose to use in your journal (see "Daily Entries").

Index

Most bullet journals have an index, where you record what is on each page of your journal.  This makes it easier to find something later.  I guess some people write down the page numbers each time they mention different topics, but I think that sounds like too much work, so my index is pretty straight-forward.



Yearly Calendar

This is a calendar of the year, just for reference.  I have mine set up so I can write in dates of holidays, birthdays, etc. under each month.



Collections

In my journal, these are ongoing lists that I know I'll be adding to frequently.  I have:

1. Books To Read page
2. Books To Buy page, 
3. Products To Try page
4. New Words page (an idea I got from the Dot Journaling book that has proved really useful).

Trackers

I have a few pages dedicated to trackers for habits I want to nurture every day of the year.  In my journal these are:

1. Bible/Prayer Time Tracker
2. Exercise Tracker
3. Read-Aloud Tracker

The tracking pages are something I would like to be more consistent in using.  I have found that I haven't been updating my trackers that well, which kind of defeats the purpose.  I'll see how it goes over the next few months and evaluate if I think I'm using these enough to include them in my next journal.



Monthly Pages

In my journal, these pages are a calendar for the month where I write in events, doctor's appointments, etc (this was really useful to have in December).  It's nice to have my calendar all laid out and organized in a book I can carry in my purse, instead of just on the wall at home.  And I know they make pocket calendars, but I never use those.  For some reason I do use the calendars in my bullet journal.



For my monthly view I also have been including a habit/mood/health tracker, with categories like:

1. Drank 2 glasses of water.
2. Drank coffee.
3. Took a nap.
4. Had a migraine.
5. Feeling sad, irritable, anxious, happy, etc.

Once again, I feel like I haven't been as consistent as I would like with tracking my habits.  I would like to get better at this because if I could keep track, I think it would help me figure out some triggers for different health and mood related things (like migraines, being irritable, etc).  But the great thing about bullet journaling is that if I don't feel like I get the hang of it over the next couple months, if it's not working for me, I'll just drop it.


Daily Entries

In my journal I don't have any weekly planning pages since I don't find them particularly useful - I just skip right to my daily entries, which I organize with a to-do list at the top and notes about my day underneath that.

The night before I write the date and to-do list for the next day (with little dots next to each task).  I always have an idea of what I want to accomplish the next day, but in the past this list has just resided in my head or on random scraps of paper around my house.  I frequently forgot things.  It's been great to have all my to-do's in a central location - they don't get lost this way!

In the evening I cross out the things on my list that I finished (with an "x"), migrate things forward (with the > symbol) to the next day if I didn't get them done, or cancel them (with a slash mark).  

After that I write little dashes underneath with my notes about the day.  This is the "diary" part of my bullet journal.  I just write down whatever I did that day, and I can (briefly) include my feelings about it or not.  It's just a record of my day.  There have been a couple times so far when something was bothering me and I spent more time writing about it in this section too, but usually this note-taking only takes me a few minutes at night.  

Not everyone necessarily uses their journals this way, but I really like the idea of being able to look back on my daily entries years down the road.  I've often said the same thing about my blog - it's nice to look back on old blog posts, and this to me is like a mini version of that, filled with the things that no one will find interesting but me, or things that I might not find time to blog about (not everything can make it onto the blog).  

Now, I don't do a daily entry every single day.  Some days I'm just too tired, some days I forget, but once again, the beauty of a bullet journal is that whenever you miss a day, there is no blank paper staring at you, making you feel guilty (or is that just me?).  One entry just goes right after another, even if a week has passed.

Quote Pages

I wanted a place to write quotes that I like, but the problem is that I don't know how many quotes I will find before my journal fills up.  I didn't know how many pages to assign quotes, so I decided to put these pages in the back of my journal.  I've been reading books with a stack of index cards handy, I write down the quotes that I like.  I either transfer the quotes to these back pages or tape the index cards directly onto the pages, starting with the very last page and working backward.  When my daily entries and the quote pages meet, I'll be ready for a new journal.

Other Pages

Scattered in the midst of my daily entries are random pages that I just make whenever the thought strikes me.  Examples are:

1. Sermon Notes pages.  I take my journal to church each Sunday and make a page for my sermon notes.  This way they aren't on a paper that I'll just end up throwing away!
2. Random lists.  For example, I made a page with a list of all the gifts we got for Georgie in the hospital.
3. Grocery lists.  Yep, just sandwiched right in between my daily pages.
4. Budget pages.  I just started including budget pages, so I'm hoping to refine these a bit more, but so far I have stuck a monthly budget page in whenever the monthly bills have get paid off (sometime during the first week of each month).




This is where I can see how a bullet journal wouldn't be useful for some people.  Those with more of a type A, it-has-to-be-perfectly-organized personalities would probably go crazy sticking a random page in their journal like this.  But those type of people also probably do just fine with traditional planners.  For people like me, this is the beauty of bullet journaling!  I can write down whatever I want, anywhere in the journal, enter it in the index so I can find it later, and there are no blank pages!  I also cannot overstate the benefit of the amount of paper clutter this has eliminated from my kitchen counter.

Doesn't It Have To Be Pretty?

No.  Also, stop looking at bullet journals on Pinterest.

My journal is not very pretty.  My handwriting isn't very attractive, and I still have not developed any lettering skills. I have a bunch of mistakes crossed out.  I don't have any doodles.  I try to jazz up some pages with washi tape, but that's about it.  My bullet journal is very functional, and I like it that way, and I don't feel the need to make my pages Pinterest-worthy.  If you want to make your journal all pretty with your artistic skills, definitely do!  But don't let a lack of artistic skills stop you from giving it a try.

What Do You Need To Get Started?

First I'd recommend trying to get Dot Journaling from the library, because she has so many ideas for ways to use your journal.  My ideas here are just a small sampling, and it's quite possible you'd find a bunch of useful things that will work better for you than what I listed here.  You get to make your journal whatever you want it to be!

After you read that book, if bullet journaling is for you, you'll probably be itching to get started (and if not, that's okay).  Technically after that you only need a notebook and a pen to get started, but this is what I actually use:

1. A dot-grid journal.  I like having a dot-grid because it allows me to more easily make calendar pages, and it helps keep my handwriting straight.  I also think the pages look cleaner without lines cluttering it up (at least when you have my handwriting, which looks a little slapdash as it is).
2. My favorite pens.  I like .5 mm pens.
3. A ruler (for making calendar pages).
4. A couple colored markers or highlighters (optional: just to make it prettier).
5. Washi tape (also totally optional, makes the pages prettier since I don't have a level of artistic ability that would be acceptable to me).

Why I Like It

As I said before, I don't think every personality type is conducive to bullet journaling.  People like me, who want to be more organized but don't care if everything is perfectly organized, probably would do better with this system.  This is why I personally like bullet journaling (if you didn't already gather my reasons from the rest of this post):

1. No blank pages.  One of the reasons planners never worked for me is that I get discouraged by the blank pages when I miss a day, or just don't have anything to put in certain sections.  There is none of that with bullet journaling because I only make the pages I think I will use, and I can drop them if I don't.

2. Less paper clutter.  I used to write all my random lists on random pieces of paper that would eventually end up in the trash or stuffed in my junk drawer.  Now I can either add those random notes to an already-existing list, or make a new one, and my to-do lists are organized in my daily entries.

3.  Everything is in one place.  My calendars, to-do lists, grocery lists, budget notes, quotes - they are all in one handy little volume that I can fit into my purse.  Things don't get lost.  I'm less likely to forget things.

4. I feel more organized and productive.  The daily to-do list setup has worked really well to keep me on task and help me not forget things that need to be done.

5. I have a record of daily life.  I know I'm going to find it interesting to look back on my day-to-day life when a few years have passed.  My daily entries have daily events, but they also have little things the kids did (or other things I want to remember) that never would have been recorded if I didn't have a bullet journal.

Will you like it for the same reasons as me?  Maybe, but it's quite possible that you will like bullet journaling for entirely different reasons, because I doubt you will end up using yours in exactly the same way I do!  Bullet journaling, in the end, is whatever you want to make it, and that's what I find fun about it. 

Do you have a bullet journal?  How do you use yours?






What A Year! - Our 2017



The house is mostly asleep, and Derek is getting ready for bed.  We watched the ball drop on TV, and I am alone in the living room, typing out this post in an effort to get it up before midnight.  Because this is one of the favorite posts of the year to me - where I look back on the year, month by month, and record everything that happened (I've been doing it for years - here's 2016's).  I love looking at the previous year in one whole chunk like this - it makes me realize again the Lord's faithfulness to us throughout the year.  But more on that at the end.  Let's start with January!


January

-Rang in the New Year with a nasty cold!  I gave up on the one word thing.

-Had to report to court because I got in a car accident in December. The other car was hardly damaged, my car was totaled. Let's just not talk about it.


-The kids and I discovered this cute little creek close to our house!  Fun day exploring outside.

-Did a unit about the presidents in honor of the inauguration, which we all watched together!

-Visit to the stock show.

-Got a haircut with my friend Katy Jo, and she did a fantastic job!  I always go to her now.  Also started buying candy hearts.

-Derek and I went bowling, which we hadn't done in a very long time.  Actually we had TWO date nights in a row!





February

-Wyatt turned six years old!  We did a PJ Masks party theme.


-My lovely sister was on the blog!

-I attempted the Big Backyard Bird Count, and quickly gave up when I was kinda sorta called out for misidentifying a bird.  In the birder's defense, I accidentally misidentified a bird as a really rare bird for my area, so they were just trying to gather more information, but the grilling might have scared me off.

-I got a bunch of Usborne books to use for homeschooling.


-I took a bunch of Valentine's photos of the kids! I love Valentine's Day.  I shared a bunch of old movie ideas for Valentine's.  I shared how my parents always made Valentine's Day special for me.  The kids sent Valentine cards.  I shared a bunch of Valentine gift ideas.

-Wyatt lost his first toot! The tooth fairy visited.



March

-On March 5th I found out I was pregnant! We took pictures and announced a week and a half later! Read the Baby #5 story here!

-I visited an antique mall with my mom and sister (the day before I took a test and found out I was pregnant!).

-I thought I should share a day in the life post with four before we announced we were having FIVE, so you can read that here.

-I secretly watched a lot of TV in the week and a half before we announced, to distract myself from my excitement and early pregnancy symptoms.

-Gwen surprised me with a paper bracelet one morning and it pretty much made my day!


-We made a difficult decision to search for a new church.



April


-We took a trip out to visit our rancher friends and had such a beautiful time visiting them!  My dear friend Holly also gave me a turntable, which I have wanted for a very long time!  Finding records to play on it has been one of my favorite things this year!

-Had an ultrasound on April 12th and saw our sweet baby moving on the screen!  I turned 8 weeks pregnant and felt like I was already starting to show!  I turned 10 weeks pregnant and bought some maternity pants (already).

-Celebrated Easter and did a bunch of Good Friday/Palm Sunday things with the kids!

-Got a new couch cover, which was very exciting.

-Lots of trips to the museum and zoo.

-The exhaustion really hit this month. I was so tired in the first trimester this time.

-I wrote about helping Clarice adjust to the new baby, and I'm happy to report now that she has done amazing with Georgie!



May


-I finally shared all my audiobook secrets on the blog!

-We went on vacation to Arizona! I brought a bunch of books. Saw Mesa Verde, the Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, Lake Powell, and Meteor Crater.

-We visited my grandpas' graves in advance of Memorial Day. It was neat to let me kids see all the headstones and talk about how men have died for our freedom.

-Celebrated my first Mother's Day as a mom of five on the road to Arizona!



June

-Derek finished our porch extension! It turned out beautifully.  We also got new appliances!

- I shared a little bit about our previous year of homeschooling kindergarten with preschoolers and toddlers underfoot.

-We visited the church we would end up choosing as our new church home, even though we didn't make a final decision then!  We also enjoyed a lovely park day that same day.

-Celebrated my birthday! Entered the last year of my 20's.



-Went to the homeschool conference and finalized my curriculum picks for first grade.



July

-We found out the gender of Baby #5 and had a gender reveal party!



-Derek and I celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary.

-Chopped my hair off and got new summer makeup.

-Decided to do a maternity capsule wardrobe for the remaining months of my pregnancy.

-Went to a family reunion on Derek's dad's side!

-After visiting at least ten churches over the last several months, we finally decided on our new church home!



August

-I sent in a letter to apply for an inactive status on my dental hygiene license.

-I felt like I started nesting at the end of July and beginning of August.  I organized a lot, and drank a lot of coffee, and watched a lot of TV.


-I flew out to New Orleans to meet Derek, since he was there at a work conference! It was a wonderful trip!  We counted this as our "babymoon" since we never got to have one with any of the other kids.

-Wyatt started first grade at home!


-I started our baby's quilt.

-Went to visit the city's botanic gardens.



September

-I talked a barista out of a pumpkin spice latte on September 1st.


-Finished the baby's quilt in record time! Finished putting the nursery together.

-Went on a gorgeous fall hike.

-Went Christmas shopping!

-Got our maternity pictures taken by my dear friend. It was pretty much my dream maternity photo session.

-I discovered the joys of making play dough and wearing leggings.

-I made a fall wreath with felt flowers for our front door.

-In case you couldn't tell by now, this was definitely a nesting month.  I finished a ton of pre-baby to-do's and thought of a few more.




October

-I decided to do a blog-every-day challenge in October on memory-keeping.  Wrote a lot of thoughtful posts as part of it, and it was fun to just blog without over-thinking it.


- I tried to take the kids on separate "mom days" before the baby came!

-We went to our dental office's fall festival and the kids got their first taste of mini golf. Clarice especially took it very seriously.

-Derek took Gwen on a princess movie date and she loved every second of it!

-Derek took Wyatt to his first CU game.

-I started an Etsy shop (oops, did I forget to mention that? I did.).


-I told many, many people that I was sure we were definitely going to our due date.

-Georgiana Bea was born on October 30th, two weeks early!



November

-We headed home from the hospital on November 1st!

-I suffered through a lot of back/shoulder pain for the first couple weeks postpartum, which was weird, but Georgie was a dream baby and started sleeping through the night at a couple weeks old.

-Spent most of the month hanging around the house and settling in with our sweet girl! But Derek and I did go out to a movie on November 10th and everyone who saw us was quite impressed. Georgie was declared the "cutest baby ever" by the concessions clerk.

-Celebrated Thanksgiving with Derek's family!


-I attempted to go postpartum jeans shopping.

-Georgie turned one month old.



December

-More hanging around the house and settling in. 

-Lots of Christmas gatherings. 

-Sugar cookie decorating (twice, because the first batch got ruined with sour frosting flavoring). 

-Made a gingerbread house with the kids on Christmas Eve Eve.

-GEORGIE SMILED!



-Rang in the New Year with a two month old!


So here we are, on the last day of the day of the year. Today is that day in the middle, when we all are looking back and forward at the same time. We look forward to everything we think will happen in the year ahead, but the year before is still fresh, reminding us that we can never really know. Every year holds some surprises. I didn't suspect on last December 31st that I'd be holding the best kind of surprise before the 2017 year was out!  What an unexpected blessing this whole year has been.

So today I'm looking back with gratitude on the beauty of God's plan for our family as it has played out over the last 12 months...and I'm looking ahead with anticipation for what the next 12 months might hold. Maybe there will be unexpected joys, maybe unexpected sorrows, but I'm so thankful that God is in His heaven, with His gracious hand over it all.

Happy New Year, friends!  May His faithfulness be more apparent to you than ever in 2018 - or if you've never put your trust in Jesus to save you, I pray that this is the year you will.


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