Showing posts with label Update. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Update. Show all posts

Currently (June 2018)





Currently, I am...

Wearing:  I simple green t-shirt, and my favorite pair of shorts from H&M that I bought two months ago and am already wearing out.  Clearly I should have purchased a back up pair.  They were only $10!

Making: Body butter. A friend of mine posted on Facebook a couple months ago about this homemade body butter that she makes for herself and her girls.  Well, I happen to be a little obsessed with body butters, but I can't seem to find one that I really like since Bath and Body Works reformulated theirs, oh, 5+ years ago.  So I thought, "hey, why not?"  I finally got around to trying it this afternoon.  I added some essential oils to make it smell good, but I'm thinking that might be a wasted effort.  This particular recipe contains cocoa butter, and oh my goodness, the smell is strong.  It's cooling right now, and my whole fridge smells like chocolate.  I'm not mad about it.

Drinking: Peach-Pear La Croix.  I long ago learned that I don't love pop so much for the sugar as for the carbonation, so a flavored sparkling water will do!  The latest flavors I picked up were Coconut, Passionfruit, and this Peach-Pear.  I think Peach-Pear might be one of my favorites.

Eating: Nachos for lunch.  Not the healthy kind (is there a healthy kind?).



Cooking: I'm cooking out of the Fix It And Forget It Lazy And Slow Cookbook.  When I flipped through it at the library, I had to have it.  Basically the cookbook is broken up into weeks for an entire year, and each week gives you the menu, the shopping list, and directions on how to make the meals each day with the minimal amount of effort, using your slow cooker.  It's basically a ready-made year-long meal plan.  I've never been good at meal planning, so I'm all about someone doing the work for me!  I've made two recipes from it so far.  one was stuffed peppers, and it was great.  The other is Chicken Vegetable Soup.  I think the name of that recipe is generous, because there are literally only two vegetables in it - chopped up celery and corn.  We ended up having a change in dinner plans for the day I made it, so I haven't had any yet.  Derek had some for lunch and said it was more flavorful than you might expect for a vegetable soup recipe that only has chicken, celery, and corn in it.  I'm skeptical.  We're going to have the leftovers for dinner tonight.  I'll report back on Instagram or Facebook.

Reading:  Right now I am finishing up Voracious by Cara Nicoletti.  I am loving this book!  Each chapter is a little mini-memoir about her experiences with different books, and the food in those books.  Then she includes a recipe inspired by each book.  I'm not a food-memoir type of person typically, but this book is right up my alley!  I definitely recommend it.

(Remember how I was reading it before vacation when I hurt my knee?  I'm finishing it up now!)

Listening To:  Right this very minute I'm listening to the audiobook of Renegades by Marissa Myer.  You might know her as the girl who wrote the Lunar Chronicles.  I have to confess, I only made it through the first two books in that series, and I haven't felt compelled to pick up the rest - mainly because there are some weird experiments on humans (or human-like creatures?) that are ethically horrible, and I was a little weirded out by it.  Renegades, however, is funny and interesting so far - basically it's a superheroes story similar to X-Men, and some of banter between the villains and heroes is cracking me up!  I don't know if it's meant to be funny, but I am amused and loving it.

Also listening to Georgie fussing from her crib, so I'll be back.

Wanting: More time to read!  I just visited our local library sale, and I have too many books now.  I wish I could whole up for a week and knock a few off my list!  I'll try to show you guys what I found soon.  I got everything for probably an average of $1 a piece.  Not too shabby!

Buying:  This probably deserves it's own post, and you guys are going to laugh at me...but I bought a grain mill.  You know, so I can grind my own flour.  Ugh, I feel like a weirdo just typing that.  Basically, I like carbs.  I like bread, muffins, cookies, and cereal.  Since I like my carbs so much, I thought I might as well make them as healthy as possible.  Enter the grain mill.

I promise, I'm not turning into a crazy health food nut that won't eat white bread (we've already established that I love carbs).  But this is a fun kitchen project that is bringing back my love for baking, and I'm excited to give it a try!

And no, there's no hand-crank.  It's of the push-a-button-and-the-flour-is-ready-in-4-minutes variety.

Watching: The Bachelorette.  I just can't help myself.  If you follow me on Instagram, you already know that one of the contestants is from my (tiny) home town!  We actually saw the film crew while they were here.  And thankfully the guy is representing us pretty well so far, so I know who I'm rooting for!

Thinking: I've wasted a lot of years being discontent with where I live, and I feel really dumb about it now.  It's beautiful here!  How many people get to live in the mountains?  No, there's not a Starbucks around the corner, but there is a cute little down-home ice cream shop that sells coffee.  No, there's not a Target I can go wander around when I need to get out of the house, but there is fresh air and wildlife and hiking trails, and all those things are free.  Yeah, a lot of people left, but a lot of people came.  For the first time in my adult life I feel entirely content with my my house and town, and it's a lovely feeling.

(The only thing I'm bummed about is that our church is so far away, but it's not even a big deal to drive!  And we're making friends there too.  I've just started focusing on what I have instead of what I'm missing, and it's making all the difference.  Contentment is a wonderful thing.)




Loving:  This lovely summer weather!  I don't know why, but summer seemed to come all in a flurry this year, and the novelty has not yet worn off.  I'm sitting outside to type this!  It's so pretty!

Praying: For rain.  I love the warm weather and all, but I don't love wildfires, and that's where we might be headed if we don't get some rainy days.

(Also trying out this linkup here!)




Let's Catch Up - Vintage Books, Etc.

 


Time for a good, old-fashioned life update post!

The last couple months have been so busy, mainly because of one thing: vacation.  First I spent a couple weeks getting ready for vacation, which took a lot more effort than normal because I injured my knee.  Then we were gone on vacation.  Then we were home and recovering from vacation.  Now we are finally settling back into a routine at home, so I have some time to sit down and write!

Vacation And Last Day Of School

Speaking of vacation, I will eventually get around to writing a post and sharing some of my favorite photos.  It was such a nice getaway, and so needed!  My philosophy of vacationing is that we get away so we are happy to come back home again, and our fun-filled week left me with just that feeling of being full and happy to be home.  It was so nice to go visit my brother-in-law and sister-in-law in North Carolina, and they are fantastic hosts who really made the whole thing relaxing.  We left feeling refreshed, and we are bringing that vacation feeling back home with us into the summer.  

I think I officially love vacationing in the middle or end of May.  We get back right in time for warm, beautiful weather in the mountains. It's been so warm and lovely the last week, and I've spent a lot of time lounging and reading on the porch in the sun.  May vacations kick off the summer with that vacation vibe to set the tone, and now I'm in the right frame of mind to make this summer relaxing and adventurous for our family!  I sat down last week with my bullet journal, the library calendar, a cookbook, and a kids' activity book and laid out a summer plan.  I'm hoping to fill this summer with good memories and good food!

We also finished up our last day of recorded school for the year last week (I say "recorded school" because we'll probably continue some casual schooling through the summer).   I'm kind of shocked about how easy it was to cross off 172 days, in retrospect.  That's a lot!  But it didn't feel overwhelming at all, even with having a baby.  I'm working on a post with all the lessons I learned in our first "real" year of homeschooling, so stay tuned.

Of course, when I told Wyatt that it was our last week of school, he got rather sullen and said, "But Mom, I don't want to stop school in the summer."

I was baffled.  "Why?"

Wyatt: "Because I like it."

"Why do you like it?" (I was expecting an answer having to do with seeing our Bible study friends on Wednesday or something.)

Wyatt:  "I just like it.  I like doing school."

I tell you, after a year with some frustrating moments standing out in my memory, it's encouraging to know that from his perspective, he is just remembering the joyful parts of learning that we've had.  I guess I'm not failing him after all.

Nancy Drew And My 30th Birthday Party

My 30th birthday is this month.  Starting way back when I was 25, I informed Derek that I would like a birthday party for my 30th, and this past weekend he delivered!  

We started off the day with some family time first and we went shopping at our local antique mall.  I've mentioned before that one of my favorite series to read as a girl was Nancy Drew (for me and every other girl I know).  Well, I found out recently that though the Nancy Drew books were originally written in the 1930's, they were re-written after 1959 to make Nancy and her pals more "modern".  In my reading about this, I learned that this was done in part to correct some racist language in some of the books, but there is some anecdotal evidence to indicate that the rewrites weren't completely for the better.

So obviously now I feel like I HAVE to read a pre-1959 book.  Are the new books noticeably different?  How exactly did they make Nancy "modern"?  DO I EVEN KNOW NANCY DREW AT ALL?

Well, I am happy to report that I found a Nancy Drew printed in 1948 at the antique mall!  I'll try to read it soon and report back with my findings.











(I also found one of these "Best In Children's Books" volumes.  This is a vintage book series with excerpts from children's literature, short stories, and some early writings from authors like Richard Scarry and Laura Ingalls Wilder.  I'm sort of casually collecting them.)

After the antique mall we made a quick stop at our Sunday School class picnic.  We switched churches last year (it's still a little fresh to write much about it), but we are feeling so happy and settled at our new church now.  We found one of the rare churches that still does Sunday School, and it's a model that really works for our family since we have to commute a bit to get to the church.  It's nice to get to know the people while we are there on Sundays, instead of feeling a bit excluded with a small group model that we can't participate in on a regular basis.

But anyway, back to the topic at hand - my 30th birthday party!  



Derek sent out these pretty invitations to my close family and friends, and we all met to have dinner together at Olive Garden.  It was lovely to have all the people who are dear to me gathered together as I prepare to enter a new decade.  Derek also played Ben Rector's "I Like You" (which is currently "our song"), and he gave a really sweet, short speech and said a bunch of nice things about me.  I tell you, I could have cried, but I was too happy.  My heart was full.


 (Me before dinner.)


(We tried to get a quick family shot after my party - this is as good as it got!  Not pregnant, that's just a food baby - ha! )

Other Worthy Of Mentions

Guys, I went to our annual library sale last week, and I got SO MANY BOOKS.  It's a little out of control, honestly, but I see those bags of good books waiting for me and I get so excited!  I also made a second trip on Sunday for their final bag-of-books-for-$6-just-to-get-rid-of-everything sale, and grabbed a bunch more books, which came out to dimes a piece.  My goal for the next year-ish is going to be to read two of those library sale books a month.  Maybe I'll write a post soon sharing all my finds, and you can help me pick what to read first.

Speaking of books, I feel like my reading is way too subject to my momentary whims.  I am definitely a mood reader, and for that reason I either fly through a book that interests me within two days, or I start a book and abandon it before I reach the halfway mark because something else catches my fancy.  This is why I usually have 10 books going at any given time - I have bookish ADD.  

THIS IS A PROBLEM.  

I feel like these bad reading habits really affect how much I enjoy any given book.  And when I start and stop a book several times before finishing, it also makes it difficult to give a good, thorough review (you may have noticed some of my reviews are dashed off a lot more haphazardly than others on Goodreads - this is why).  I'm trying really hard to be more disciplined about finishing the books I start, or giving a book a fair chance (at least 100 pages) before I decide I'm not enjoying it and pick up something else.  Am I the only one who has this problem?

Maybe I should start a support group.

What are you all doing to welcome in summer this week?  (I know, summer doesn't officially start until middle June, but in my book, if it's warm and green, it's summer!)


When You Feel Unsettled



I'm sitting here typing this, and there is a tinge of smoke in the air.  Despite some beautiful flowers poking through the ground and dressing the trees, it has been such a dry spring.  It's hard to enjoy the summery weather when you know the sun is sucking more moisture out of the ground.  I'm praying for rain or a big, wet snow to prevent wildfires this summer.  We've already had one just this week.

It's not the most comforting feeling when we're leaving on vacation this month.

The last couple weeks have been just weird and unsettling.  I hurt my knee two Sundays ago.  Badly.  I was peddling the bike at the gym, and my knee started hurting when I got in the car.  The next morning I couldn't even straighten my leg without pain, much less put any weight on it.  

I had surgery on that same knee seven years ago, so this feeling was familiar.  I was convinced I tore my meniscus again somehow, and I was going to need surgery and be on crutches for six weeks.  I was a soggy mess the rest of the day, crying because I'd be on crutches for vacation, and I had so many end-of-year events that week, and I couldn't take care of the kids...crying just from the stress of it all.  I shared what happened with different friends as my mom drove me down to the doctor's office, who then ordered an MRI.  I was pretty convinced my May was ruined.

Then my knee felt surprisingly good the next day.  And even better the next, and the next, until the day of my MRI, I could almost step on it.  Results came in.  No tear.  I was walking without crutches the next day.  I just don't even see how that's possible with how my knee felt just a few days before.  Because it was bad.  It felt like something had torn, but this week I'd say it's pretty much healed.

I'm crediting all the prayers.  God definitely healed my knee way sooner than I expected, and it was a gift.  

So I'm hanging on to that thought, as I sit here and catch a whiff of smoke, wondering if there is another fire someplace.  Derek isn't home right now, and he has some hard work-related things to deal with that will affect our whole family.  Both of these things are stressing me out.  But then I remember my knee, and I say a prayer and take a deep breath.  Rotten things happen every day, and sometimes they work out, and sometimes they don't, but this week I remember that we have a God who cares about it all.  When we feel unsettled and anxious, we are supposed to come to Him.

"Cast all your care upon Him, for He cares for you."
1 Peter 5:7

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
Philipians 4:6

I know those verses are so much used that they can almost seem cliche, but they will never seem cliche to me.  How amazing is that, that we have a God who cares for us?  And the proof of that is Jesus.  When we trust in Him for our salvation, our eternity is secure in Him.  If He died to save us from our sin, our biggest, most insurmountable problem, then He can handle all these little problems too.  And even if it doesn't work out like we want, we have Him, and that is all we truly need.

So I'll cast my cares on Him, and go work on some packing.

Happy Friday, Friends!

Nothing Too Interesting

(I did not take this photo today.  Obviously.)

You know how I wrote that post about "spring" in the mountains last week?  Well, it's snowing.  That's about right.

You know how people ask you, "So, what have you been up to?"  And you respond with "Oh, nothing too interesting."  Well, that's this post.  Nothing too interesting, but life isn't always edge-of-your-seat, is it?  Life is made up of a whole lot of nothing-too-interesting, so I see no reason why I shouldn't still take time to write about it.

The last couple weeks have felt so busy to me, but not with anything very substantial.  No, I've been busy with things like creating a spreadsheet with all the groceries that are in my cupboards, making muffins for the kids for breakfast to save money on cereal, and cleaning my house.  All helpful, good domestic things.  All things that, dare I say, I have surprisingly found rather fun.  

Once again, not things that are very interesting to write about, but that won't stop me from trying! Because guys, if you have never created a grocery-cupboard-spreadsheet, I feel like you should give it a try.  This was a particularly hard month when it comes to grocery money, so the spreadsheet was born from my desire to see how long I could make it without going to the grocery store.  I had no idea how much was hiding in the dark recesses of my freezer!  I've barely gone to the store at all this month - I've spent probably around $200 on groceries for April.  For seven people.  

I laid all the items in my cupboards out on a spreadsheet and then put together meals with what I had, and it's been amazing.  I saved so much money!

And we've actually been eating pretty well, if I do say so myself (thanks in large part to this cookbook).  We've had braised meatballs in wine gravy, spicy chops with sweet potatoes, skillet steak with peppers and cheese, barbecue roast, raspberry hazelnut chicken with potatoes (not as labor-intensive as it sounds, I made it with salad dressing).  And for breakfast we've been having these (amazing) nut muffins, banana muffins, cranberry muffins, pumpkin pancakes, and hard-boiled eggs (instead of the cold cereal we usually have).  

My grandma told me once that when you have less food to work with, it's easier to get creative and you almost end up eating better than when you have an abundance.  I must say, she was right.

I also realized about halfway through the month that I had read hardly any books, so last week I buckled down and finished FIVE books.  Pretty good, right?  And I'm halfway through three more that I'm hoping to finish before May!  

I've been having a lot of fun making videos with my recently read books this year, and watching other bookish videos on Youtube.  My friend Felicia has been on "booktube" for years, and I love watching her videos.  It's quicker and easier to talk about the books you've been reading, rather than sitting down and compiling a post with mini-reviews (at least it's easier to me, I don't know why).  So if you want to keep updated on books I'm reading, you need to stop by my channel.  Or you can also follow me on Goodreads, because I'm still writing reviews on all my books there (how is that easier than writing review posts on my blog, you ask?  I don't know, it just is!).

Speaking of May, we booked our vacation!  We are flying out to North Carolina this year to visit Derek's family!  The last time we went to North Carolina I was largely pregnant with Gwen, so it's been quite a long time.  We have four more babies on the outside than we did then.  I'm not going to lie, I'm a little nervous about flying with five young children.  The airline assured me (multiple times, because I asked the same question, worded slightly differently, repeatedly) that we would be sitting with our children on the plane.  "Are you sure?" I said.  "Because there are four of them, and one in my lap." But they assured me this would be the case without any extra seating fees.

Now I have the monstrous task of digging all the kids' summer clothes out of the closets, and sorting through them to see what will be acceptable North Carolina attire in May.  Southeast people, what's it like out there in May?  Because the last time I went on a May vacation somewhere that I thought it would be warm (ie. ARIZONA), it snowed.

The spring snow, I tell you.  It follows me even out of state.

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?

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.


Sweater Weather Musings




You know how I never really got to finish my memory-keeping series in October, since Georgie was born sooner than expected?  Well, one of the things I was going to observe about that challenge of writing for 30 days is that somewhere along the way I've made blogging way too hard on myself.  

Back in the day I used to just type something up and post it, and there was something really freeing about not having to make every post completely perfect before sharing it.  It also seemed that those on-the-fly posts were the ones that recorded things that I would genuinely be interested in remembering later.  They are more enjoyable to write and relatable to read, and they are surprisingly quick to pound out on the keyboard.  

There is something to be said for "quality over quantity", but then, there is something to be said for just quantity too.  I've found over the years that the more I write, the more I want to write, and the more ideas I have for what to write.  So maybe every post doesn't necessarily have to be ground-breaking or perfectly polished.  Maybe it's sometimes valuable to quit tinkering with an idea until it loses it's life and just put something out there, even while it's still rough around the edges.

So all that to say, that's what I'm doing today.  Just putting things out there, because after taking it easy the last month (having a baby and all that), I need a little quantity over quality to get this blog running again.

Snow And Christmas Cards

It's supposed to snow again today, so I'm breaking out the winter mug and sweaters again!  We have had unseasonably warm weather the last couple weeks, and I'm kind of over it.  It's winter, darn it!  It should be cold enough for me to wear a sweater, and I want some pre-Christmas snow.  Every year I try to get everyone dressed up in their Christmas clothes before the actual holiday so I can take a family Christmas photo - then I don't have to worry about trying to capture a family photo amidst all the presents and chaos of the Christmas gatherings.  It's nice if my little Christmas family photo happens on a day when it snows (like the last couple years), so I'm anxiously awaiting some cooler weather.

Speaking of Christmas, on the agenda today is ordering some Christmas cards!  Receiving Christmas cards is one of my favorite parts of December, so I really wanted to try to send some out even in a year when we have a newborn.  I did not get address labels written before baby like I was hoping, so I think I'm just going to send a reciprocal card out for each one I get in the mail, for the sake of ease and spreading out the work load.  So if you want a Christmas card from me, send one my way!

How's It Going With Five?

We have settled into something of a rhythm for our at-home days over the last couple weeks, which mostly consists of feeding the baby and goofing off.  I did some schoolwork with the kids last week and probably felt way more accomplished than was warranted.  Today I am hoping to make some pumpkin bars. Pumpkin bars were supposed to happen last week before Thanksgiving, but they just didn't.  I've found a lot of things being migrated forward on my to-do lists lately.  I also hope to watch Hallmark Christmas movies and perhaps read some Christmas books from the enormous stack that I picked up from the library.  (It really is enormous.  I was in pain carrying them to the car with my already-injured shoulder.) 

Speaking of my shoulder, I don't know what is going on with it!  I mentioned a couple weeks ago that I slept on my neck wrong and my shoulder and neck were hurting.  I had a chiropractic visit that seemed to help, but I slept funny again last week and now I seem to have full-on tendonitis.  I decided I didn't care if my blood was too thin and I've been taking ibuprofen because it's really the only way I can make it through the day.  I can't lift things up from the floor, raise my arm above my head, or turn my head to the right without a jolt of pain through my shoulder blade.  I really am not sure what to do about it either, aside from ibuprofen, ice, and hoping it heals quickly.  I'm drinking ginger tea because I read that it helps with inflammation.  It's not terribly convenient to have shoulder pain when you have a newborn and two other children who occasionally like to be picked up.

Books

(Some affiliate links here, to help me buy more books...)

The first couple weeks with Georgie I went through the first four seasons of Cheers during nursing sessions, and then I finally decided that maybe there was a better way to spend all this time than watching a show that was on television before I was born (though it's very interesting to see the hair styles that were fashionable back then).  So I've been trying to read more, but it's hard to land on the right type of book during this phase.  I either want non-ficiotn that gives me something to think about without straining my brain too much (because you know, sleep deprivation), or fiction that keeps me turning the pages but without much cussing or other smut that makes me feel yucky while feeding my sweet innocent baby.  Suggestions?  So far I am working through Okay For Now, The Austen Escape, The Vanishing American Adult, and World Religions And Cults Volume Two. (That last one was written from a  Christian perspective, and very interesting, and only $3 for Kindle today!)

Thanksgiving



I should say something about Thanksgiving, shouldn't I?  We had a great dinner with Derek's mom and dad.  The kids ate hardly anything, Georgie got lots of grandparent time, and we played Yahtzee. I lost both rounds and was the only person to not get a Yahtzee.  When I was pregnant with Georgie I won almost every single game Derek and I played.  It was uncanny.  I joked that the baby must be lucky, and indeed, it seems since she is no longer on the inside the luck has left me.  Rats.

What have you all been doing, reading, watching lately?  







Somewhat Unexpected Joys



My, the last few weeks have been busy.  I think the nesting is officially upon us, and I've spent a lot of afternoons sorting through long-neglected corners of my house.  I've been trying to get things in order before this baby arrives, finishing projects, and spending a lot more time at home than I normally desire.  I'm typically an on-the-go type of person, but this pregnancy is bringing out the homebody in me, and I've been enjoying all our quiet days at home.  Actually I need the quiet days at home, because even a few hours out of the house these days leaves me exhausted!

All this being-at-home leaves me with a little more time to rediscover some simple joys.  These are a few things I've been surprised to be loving lately.

Sounds of the kids waking up from nap time.

Don't get me wrong, depending on the day and how exhausted I am this isn't always necessarily welcome, but the longer I'm a mama the more I like hearing my kids waking up from nap.  Maybe it's the fact that Wyatt doesn't nap at all anymore, so I've begun to let the "nap time is me time" idea go.  But seriously, they are so cute.  Some days they spring out of their rooms, cram their shoes on their little feet, and run outside.  Some days they are especially sleepy and wake up with mumbles and whines, and it's a prime opportunity to get some rare snuggle-time in.

Today, the kids have just burst out of the rooms after nap time and are upstairs right now, decorating the house with "fall stuff"; paper leaf and turkey creations that Wyatt put together while the others slept.  I am finding it really adorable.  I love that we've had this time to stay home and let their little creative juices flow.

Leggings.

In case you couldn't tell, I'm just not a leggings type of girl.  You will probably never find me in a grocery store in leggings or pajama pants.  I like some structure to my clothes.  So it's somewhat surprising how often I find myself reaching for my leggings lately.  Maybe it's because I am so sick of tugging on baggy maternity pants that won't stay up, or rolling down the band of maternity pants that are cutting into my bulging middle, but bring on the leggings!  Today I started out in jeans (they say to dress like you are going to be seen and you'll be more productive, right?), but now I'm sitting on my bed, typing in some glorious gray leggings, a tank top, and a chambray shirt.  Going-out appropriate?  (Not to me.)  But while pregnant-and-staying-home?  Complete bliss.

Making play dough.

I mentioned this on Instagram the other day, but it bears repeating here.  This summer, I was curious about Zdough, which is a scented play dough brand that was popping up on all the homeschool preschool feeds I follow.  I ordered some, and brought it out for the kids to play with the other day, and something about having play dough that smells good was just really fun for all of us.  In fact, pretty much anytime some normal thing can have a scent, I'm all over it.  

I popped back on Etsy the other day because I was thinking about getting some smaller tins for the kids' stockings this Christmas...and I realized that Zdough is only offering subscriptions right now since the owner is having a baby.  Which makes total sense, but also totally foiled my play dough plans.

This seemed like a good opportunity to just try to make my own, so I grabbed this recipe and gave it a whirl.  Then I made another batch.  And another.  I may have gotten carried away.

There is something weirdly therapeutic about making scented play dough.

So now we have three containers in our fridge, scented like pumpkin spice, almond, and orange cream (basically whatever flavorings or extracts I had in my cupboards).  The kids love it, and I weirdly love squishing it between my fingers too.  I promise I'm not turning into one of those wacko snowflakes who needs a safe space with play dough and puppy dogs in order to cope with life!  But if you have kids, use the excuse to try making play dough.  It's just kind of fun.

Bath stuff.

A few years ago, I purged my linen closet of all my bath products.  I was coming off of a stage of life where bath stuff was the go-to gift, and I just had way too much of it.  I figured that instead of limping along 8-year-old bottles of shower gel, I should just start from scratch and buy the stuff that I would really appreciate as a grown-up.  I still haven't really replaced the shower gel, but a few weeks ago I got a free $10 to spend at Ulta, and I chose bath stuff.  

Pretty much every time I have purchased C. Booth bath products I have not been disappointed.  Right now I have the Egyptian Argan Oil Body Butter and the Foaming Dry Body Polish And Cleanser.  Let me wax poetic for a moment, because I love this stuff.  It makes my skin feel clean and fresh and healthy and like I smell good (which is nice when my pregnant nose is picking up every molecule of weird scent from every corner of the world which I inhabit).

First, the body butter - I hate body butters that leave me feeling greased or sticky.  Heavy body butters usually get assigned to be my hand cream before I go to bed at night, and that's the only way I use them.  This is the stuff I actually use all over, because it feels light and refreshing on my skin.  And the smell is perfect - it doesn't smell like anything to me except clean.

Next, the body polish - this was a new product for me, but I'm so glad I splurged on it.  My skin has been feeling itchy lately, like it needed some exfoliating.  This is one of the more unique scrubs I've used - it actually is dry, like a powder, and I was a little taken aback when I opened the container.  But when you add a little water and rub it over your skin it doesn't feel like scrubbing with sugar.  It goes surprisingly far and does seem to foam a bit, and I like the smell.  It exfoliates without adding a layer of oil onto my skin.  It's just really nice stuff!  

Our math curriculum.

I mentioned in my first grade curriculum post that we are using RightStart this year, and more than once I've gushed to Derek about it in the evening when he gets home.  It just makes so much sense to me.  I think some people might have a hard time seeing where the curriculum is going with some of the activities, but I don't because it actually reflects how I think about numbers.  I can already see how Wyatt is grasping general math concepts and visualizing the numbers in his head, and it's kind of exciting to me!  I'm not necessarily a math person (though I did alright with it when I was in school), so I'm surprised how much I'm enjoying teaching Wyatt math.

Personality books.

Since my little Myers-Briggs "What AM I?!" mishap, I've picked up a few personality books and I am excited to read them.  I'm in the middle of one right now, and I'm hoping to get to the rest as soon as possible.  Reviews probably coming soon (also keep an eye on my Goodreads), but this is the list I'm working with right now (these are affiliate links):

Creative You: Using Your Personality Type To Thrive by Otto Kroeger (Have yet to start.)
Please Understand Me: Temperament, Character, Intelligence by David Kiersley (Have yet to start. Also, this is apparently a link to the second edition, and my library has the first...)
Reading People: How Seeing The World Through The Lens Of Personality Changes Everything by Anne Bogel (Listened to Anne read the first chapter on her podcast and am anxiously awaiting my copy in the mail.  Also, the Kindle version is only $3 right now, so if you are interested, grab it!)
The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin (Almost done with it, and while I thought it was a bit hokey at first, it is making more and more sense now that I'm 3/4 of the way through the book.)

Maple pecan iced coffees.

The one on-the-go joy on this list.  Everyone loves pumpkin spice in the fall, but this girl is recently on a stricter budget, and I just can't swing $4-5 every time I want a coffee.  However, I have this horrible habit of thinking I need a coffee every time I'm running errands or heading to a playdate with the kids.  It's like the promise of the coffee is what gets me out the door and fuels my uncomfortable pregnant self to go to all the effort of strapping four kids into the car, then out of the car, then back into the car (repeat x amount of times).  

I was driving along running errands the other day, and decided to get something at Dunkin Donuts instead of the expensive-coffee-chain-that-shall-not-be-named.  I'm so glad I did, because they had their fall flavors out, and I struck coffee gold!  If you need a more affordable, and arguably more yummy, alternative to pumpkin spice, get yourself over to DD and try the maple pecan iced coffee!  It is so good.  I think I like it better than PSL, which was a happy and unexpected discovery.

Candy corn.

Of course.  Because it's fall.  I feel there is really no need for explanation here.  So maybe this little joy is the one that actually wasn't unexpected, but it's fall, so I have to mention candy corn.

What kinds of things are you surprised to be loving lately?





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