Showing posts with label About Me. Show all posts
Showing posts with label About Me. Show all posts

This Or That For Fall

(Photo credit to my 8 year old, Wyatt.  I took them all out for yearly fall pictures, and asked him to take one for me.  Then all my kids wanted to take one of me, which was interesting, ha!)

It's dark outside.  The kids are still sleeping, and Derek brewed coffee before he left.  Harvey is sleeping on the floor at my feet.  I've already done my Bible time with the Lord, so don't think my priorities are too out of whack, but I made myself get out of bed early this morning because we have a busy day today and I wanted to have time to write a post! 

Those who have been blogging since the good old days, for which I am eternally pining, will remember that when you didn't have anything to say, you shared a survey.  Then everyone got all "professional" and "serious" about their blogs and dropped the casual get-to-know-you type posts.  But I still enjoy surveys, and I enjoy reading the answers to surveys, and I enjoy getting to know the people who are writing my favorite blogs, so by golly, we are doing the survey!  

(Don't ask me what I'm doing here, probably trying to explain to the five year old how to not get his hand in front of the lens - but honestly, he did a pretty good job otherwise!)

This is a fall "this or that", and if this sort of thing isn't nostalgic enough I'll try to incorporate some memories into it so it fits with my 31 Day Of Memory Keeping.  Feel free to snag and share it yourself if you want!  I grabbed it from here.

This or that?
1. Pumpkin spice latte or peppermint mocha?
Oh, I have to say peppermint mocha.  Pumpkin Spice Lattes are good and all, but peppermint mochas just taste like Christmas way more than PSLs taste like fall.  In my opinion.
2. Pumpkin bread or pumpkin pie?
Oh my gosh, why am I being made to choose between these?  We love pumpkin bread around here, but I guess since we have pumpkin bread or muffins so often, pumpkin pie feels more special.  
3. Thanksgiving dinner or Thanksgiving leftovers?
If we are just evaluating the enjoyment of the food, I would say that leftovers make the ordinary days right after Thanksgiving still feel special.  But if we are talking about overall experience, how can Thanksgiving dinner not win?  You get to spend a whole day with people you love best, playing games, visiting, watching football, and just enjoying each other's company.
4. Candy corn or Tootsie Rolls?
Oh, candy corn, hands down.  I think you already know why.
5. Haunted house or pumpkin patch?
I'm not into scary stuff, so pumpkin patch it is.  But can "corn maze" be an option?  Because I really like corn mazes.  We haven't been able to do one since Wyatt was a baby, just because they are so expensive.  I'm waiting until the kids are old enough for the cost to be worth it, but they are so fun!
6. Corn maze or hayride?
Oh, there's the corn maze.  *headsmack*  I guess I already answered this one!  Corn maze in general, but honestly right now with five little kids, we'd probably take the hay ride.
7. Caramel apple or candy apple?
Would you believe that I don't think I've ever had a candy apple?  So I'm not sure I could really say, but knowing me, caramel would win.

8. Boots or scarves?
Okay, this allows me to bring up something that has been irking me.  Guys, are scarves still...in?  I just have not noticed as many scarves when I am out shopping lately.  And you know how they are constantly changing which scarf styles are fashionable, mainly so they can keep selling you more scarves?  I can't for the life of me figure out what style of scarf is popular right now.  I'm not even sure I've seen people wearing scarves much anymore.  WHAT HAPPENED TO ALL THE SCARVES??
Generally speaking, I do like scarves.  But because of my current confusion, I'm going with boots.  I've never had trouble keeping up on shoe styles.
9. Holiday movies or holiday music?
Why must I choose?  If we are talking about holidays other than Christmas, I'd pick Hallmark movie specials, all the way.  I love that they make movies for every holiday you could think of, ha!  When it comes to Christmas, I would choose music.  I love my Christmas movies, but because the Christmas season gets so busy, music keeps things festive on the go.
10. Tire swings or jumping in leaves?
I've never truly experienced jumping in leaves, because no one actually rakes leaves in the mountains.  We just let them lie on the ground and enjoy the spicy aroma as they disintegrate.  I have experienced a tire swing though - my grandpa used to have one in this massive tree in his yard.  My siblings and I spent hours out there, taking turns on the swing.  Just remembering that now makes me want to hang one up by our house somewhere.
What do you guys think?  Tell me if you disagree with any of my choices, or feel free to grab this survey and fill it out yourself if you want!  


The Reason I Bought That Sweater



When I was a teenager, my mom gave me a white sweatshirt with blue stripes on it.  I learned the story later, of how she was wearing it when my dad proposed to her.  He had given her the sweatshirt and hidden her ring in the pocket.

I don't know what happened to that sweatshirt.  Eventually I must have outgrown it or ruined it, because I don't have it anymore, and I don't think it's one I would give away.  But in my memory, the light blue stripes on that sweatshirt wherever similar to another shirt.  One my mom was wearing in a faded snapshot from the 80's.

I like to think my dad or someone else in our family grabbed the camera to document how beautiful my mom looked, because she looked so young and glowing.  When I first found that photo in an old album, my mom told me she was actually pregnant with me when it was taken.





I found a sweater with very similar stripes to the ones on the shirts my mom wore when she was close to my age.  I didn't even think about it, I just bought it.

I like this sweater a lot, partly because it's cute, but majorly because it reminds me of her.

There will always be that part of me that dreams of growing up to be just like my mama.




Where I'm From


"I'm from the front pew of a wooden white church..."

I heard those words through the speaker on the way home and immediately turned up the radio, because that first line could have come straight out of my childhood.  I listened as Jason Michael Carroll sang "Where I'm From".  I resonated with almost every line.

A friend asked me last week what the best part was about living where I live, and I thought about that song, and tried to think of how I'd describe where I'm from...

I'm from a wooden white church too, nestled in plains surrounded by mountains, filled with people more like a family than a church.

I'm from a place where the aspens in the autumn take your breath away and fill the air with spice, and people drive hours just to look at them from the highway.

I'm from riding our horses across clear mountain water, the coldest water you ever tasted, because it hasn't traveled that far from the peak of a mountain.

I'm from sweater weather, and wood stoves, and hot chocolate, and golden leaves sharing space with white snowflakes on evergreen branches.

I'm from a place where you can lay in bed at night with the window open and hear owls hooting from the lodgepole pines, and elk bugling from the meadow down the hill.

I'm from a place where fall means the sweet smell of fresh cut hay, tractors hauling bales on the highway and occasionally dropping one, trucks carrying neon orange-clad men and women to the back roads, country music on the radio, and people asking where your dad goes hunting.

I'm from a place where you have your perfectly vague response perfectly rehearsed, because around here we guard our hunting spots like the Mint.

I'm from a place where my grandpa worked as a foreman for the water board, and raised his family in a tiny log house that they heated with a wood stove.

I'm from a boy who got payed a penny a log to chop wood for winter, and decided not to play football because it interfered with hunting season.

I'm from a girl who came here, fell in love with that boy in high school, and never left because she fell in love with the mountains too.

I'm from a mom who taught us how to weave wreaths out of willow branches and baskets out of pine needles, who kept the house smelling like cookies or stew, and feeling like love.

I'm from a dad who came home with cuts on his hands from hard work, whose flannel coat brought the autumn chill in with him, but somehow his hugs were still warm.

I'm from a place where people ask my maiden name and immediately know my people.

I'm from a place that pulls together after tragedy, and the speed limit signs are wrapped in ribbons for miles in remembrance.

I'm from a place where you know the names of the state troopers and which cars they drive, because they taught you driver's ed.  But you didn't have to learn to parallel park to pass, because no one does that here.

I'm from a place where the high schools feud by seeing who can paint the rock in their respective parking lots the coolest color.

I'm from tree forts, and hikes on an old railroad grade, and sleeping bags on the trampoline next to the best little brother and sister in the world, while bats flit across the stars.

I'm from a place where the wilderness is just a couple roads over.

I'm from a place that some people leave, but some people never will because they never would want to.

It's a place that gets in your blood if you stay here for any length of time.  And if you have the right kind of something inside to react to it, then it gets in your blood and stays forever, and you can never quite leave it behind again.  Maybe for a little while, but eventually you return one way or another.  Because there is no other place that feels as much like home.

I'm from a place that got in my husband's blood too, and we built a home and a family and a life up here where wild things grow.





That's where I'm from.  And like any place, some things change, things are always changing.  Some of what I've written is from my childhood and some is from now, and they are all mixed up and inseparable in my mind.  Some things don't change, and those are the pieces that have held me here.  I feel blessed that I get to raise my kids in the same place where our roots have grown so long.

So this can be where they're from too.

Candy Corn And Hay Bales




In my memory, the air has a slight brisk feel to it.  It's late summer, but fall is just starting to whisper in the leaves, a rustling that sounds different than leaves do in the spring.  

My mom, siblings, and I are walking along rows of hay bales, wearing leather work gloves.  I stop at one and swing my arm to bring a hook down into a bale, and then I drag it across a mown field to the truck waiting at the end of the row.  Some bales are heavier than others, depending on how tightly packed they are or whether they hold wet hay.  If we think the hay might be wet, we cut the bale open and let it dry out more before my dad runs the rake and bailer over it again.

My sister and I work together on the heavy bales, double-teaming it with our hooks or rolling them over to my dad's white truck.  He is in the back, swinging his own bale hook and hauling each one up into the bed to stack.

Once the truck bed is filled with bales higher than the cab, my siblings and I climb up to the top.  We hang on to the hay bales as the truck rattles across the uneven field to the barn.  Even though the bales are fairly secure, it still feels a little like riding on jello, the bales swaying a bit with each bump.



We take them to the barn and start the stacking process all over again, this time going clear up to the barn roof.  My sister and I work together most of the time on the top of the stack.  My dad and brother launch the bales up a temporary staircase that we built in the hay stack, and we girls hook them and roll bales into their spots, 20 feet off the ground.  Later, my dad will get a ramp that works as a bale escalator, so we don't have to work so hard to get them to the top.

My favorite part is sitting in the gaps in the stack.  I always wish we could leave a little stair-step ladder of bales and a nook like this all winter, so I could come out to the barn sometimes and nestle into the warm hay with a book.  My own little secret place.

But there are always too many bales to leave any gaps, and we work all weekend to get the hay in before it gets rained on.  At the end of each long day we are bone tired, and we go inside to a hot pot of chili on the stove, candy corn, and apple cider in the crockpot.

My dad doesn't store the hay in bales anymore.  After we all moved out, he invested in a round baler. Instead of small rectangular bales to be stacked individually like Jenga pieces, the barn is filled now with round bales taller than I am.

But every time I taste candy corn, even now, this is what I think of first.  Long days in the late summer sun, trimmed fields next to a rushing mountain river, rustling leaves hinting at fall, diesel exhaust along with the sweet smell of fresh-cut hay filling the air, and learning how to work hard with my hands.





On Knowing My Ancestors' Names | Short Thoughts #2



I heard a speaker a few months back who pointed out that by the fourth generation, your descendants probably won't know your name.

That thought immediately pierced my heart.  "No," I thought, "surely not," and I scrambled to extract my great-great-grandparents names from my brain.

I came up with nothing.


It made me really sad to think that their names could be so easily lost, not to mention their stories.

Another Reason I Blog

I like to think that this blog will help my grandchildren, and great grandchildren, and beyond, to know me some day. So maybe I won’t be just a name, but if they want to, they could dig a little and know what my life was like, what I thought when I held my children for the first time, what aspects of my personality might have passed on to them.

I wonder those things about my ancestors. I wonder what it was like to live at the dawn of the last century, what struggles they faced, how they handled things. I wonder if any of them ever kept a diary, and if so, what ever happened to it? Surely I’m not the first in my family with this drive to document personal stories.

(Me, and the first generation after me, on a hike this week!  Isn't the slight golden tint to the leaves gorgeous?  I like to think a love for the mountains is passed down from generation to generation.)

Anyway, with all this running through my brain the last couple months, I’ve been gathering names from my grandparents, writing down details that they remember, trying to preserve these memories. Trying to think of different ways to do that so it would actually work, since not everyone wants to record all their innermost thoughts on a blog like I do.

A Resource I Wanted To Share

In perfect timing, this book caught my eye:

(Note: I am on the launch team for this book and got a free copy.)







I knew I had to have it.

I was able to join the launch team for the book, so I got a free copy, but I’m actually thinking of buying a few more as gifts for my parents and grandparents!

Dear Grandchild, This Is Me is a prompt book to help someone get started in recording bits of their life story. There are a ton of questions, as well as more unique pages like envelopes to tuck in letters, a map to record all the places you’ve traveled, places to write memories of historical events, etc.

The only complaint about this book that I have is that some of the “where were you when...” historical events were kind of a stretch. Is Michael Jackson’s death really noteworthy? Should we even honor a per.vert with a mention in a book like this? I think not. I might scratch out his name and write “Elvis’s death” or something instead.

Aside from that, I will mention that this book is really versatile. Several pages have “choose your own question” options, so if one prompt doesn’t apply to someone’s life and personality, a different one will. The whole idea is just to get started in recording life memories, and this book is such a great tool for that! 

I want to pass this book on to my parents and grandparents, but I also might even fill out some of the book for my own grandkids...or maybe I’ll just take some of the questions and write about them here, as is my style.

Back To My Ancestors

Back to the topic of ancestors though, now that I have a few names, I am seriously considering joining Ancestry.com to see if I can start to construct a family tree. I have a few records and names from my parents and grandparents, and I’d like to continue, for my own curiosity and for the sake of my kids. I really don’t want to be one of those people who can’t name their great-great grandparents, and I want my kids to know who they came from too.


Have you ever looked into your family tree? Can you go back four generations, or are you wracking your brain and coming up empty like I did?

Video review here, if you want a closer look at the book:


Book Snobbery



I drag two chairs together, and spray sunscreen on my legs because I plan to be outside for a while.  The kids are jumping on the trampoline, until one of them shouts "Let's ride bikes!" and they head to the other side of the house.  I settle in the chair, and I can hear my children calling to each other, birds chirping in the trees, grass rustling in the breeze, distant cars on the highway across the hills, and ice melting in my glass.  I lean back in my chair, my head in the shade from the patio umbrella and my feet in the summer sun.  This is my ideal summer day - nothing to do, nowhere to go, kids playing happily, and a book in my hand.

To me, Summer is the season of reading a bunch of books that I don't have to read.  This summer has been pretty successful on that front - I've read alot, and I've been able to get through books quickly!  It's been refreshing, since it usually takes me months to finish any one book.  I've been reading alot, and as if to up my book-nerdy-ness quotient, I've also been watching a bunch of book-related videos on Youtube, which has been so fun!  I've discovered new channels, and the whole community kind of reminds me of what blogging was like back in the early days.  Just the average person, putting their thoughts out there and making friends.

Anyway, one of the channels I've been watching created this "tag".  Remember the old "awards" that used to go around blogland in the day, and they came with a list of questions that you had to answer?  This is like one of those!  I thought I'd answer the questions here (and maybe on Youtube too), just for fun.  Feel free to grab these if you want (you can give credit to the original tag here).  Then we can evaluate our book-snobbiness together!



1. Adaptation Snob: Do you always read the book before you see the movie?

I actually do not have any requirements for reading books before watching the movie. In fact, my philosophy is quite the opposite. Sometimes if I would like to read a book but haven't been able to get myself to pick it up, I'll actually seek out the movie version and watch that first. Often when I watch the movie first and enjoy it, it actually makes me more interested in reading the book.

2. Format Snob: You can only choose 1 format in which to read books for the rest of your life. Which one do you choose: physical books, ebooks, or audiobooks?

Oh, this is a hard one. I think I'd have to say physical books, but a little part of me wants to say audiobooks because I listen to books so much these days. But I don't think I'd want to give up actually holding a physical book in my hands.

3. Ship Snob: Would you date or marry a non-reader?

Yes, I would, and I did. Derek reads some, but he wouldn't call himself a "reader". I don't think you have to share all the same interests to be in a relationship with someone, and when you get down to it, reading is just a hobby, just one way of gathering information or learning or being entertained. And on the flip side, I think if reading is the only way you are getting information or being entertained, you actually could be limiting yourself a little. Being with someone who isn't exactly like you in this area could help you branch out and become more well-rounded yourself, just as you might challenge another person by introducing them to books you like. Derek and I have all kinds of interesting and intellectual discussions, so I don't think reading alot or not reading as much is a factor in that. If you are not married yet, don't be a snob in this area! There are alot more important filters to sift your dates through than if you share one particular hobby or means of gathering information.

4. Genre Snob: You have to ditch one genre - never to be read again for the rest of your life. Which one do you ditch?

Horror, because I never read that anyway, ha!

5. Uber Genre Snob: You can only choose to read from one genre for the rest of your life. Which genre do you choose?

Ouch, this is painful. I guess I would say "Non-fiction", because I'm an information person. I read books to gather information as well as a means of entertainment, and I think I can get both of those from non-fiction.  


Except don't let me think about books like Lord Of The Rings, or Anne Of Green Gables, or Chronicles of Narnia, because then I'll be so sad. Maybe I meant to say "Classics" instead. That would encompass all my favorite books, so that might be a better choice.  


It would definitely be one of those two though.


6. Community Snob: Which genre do you think receives the most snobbery from the bookish community?


I would probably say Christian Romance books (in my circles anyway), and I think it may or may not be warranted. On the one hand, alot of Christian Romance books are not super well written, or filled with cliche plot lines, or surprisingly racy while still managing to be a little preachy in not a good way. On the other hand, there are some good ones out there, and sometimes you just want a light and fluffy read that you can enjoy without sifting though inappropriate content, and a good Christian Romance is your safest bet for that. I've read plenty of books from this genre that I've enjoyed at one time or another, and plenty that I haven't.

7. Snobbery Recipient: Have you ever been snubbed for something that you have been reading or for reading in general?

You know...no, not really. I haven't had any comments directed toward me specifically anyway. But I'm also a little oblivious to other people's judgement, so maybe someone has been snobby to me about it and I just haven't noticed. I think generally speaking, readers/intellectual readers are a little more likely to be snobby toward non-readers/light readers than the other way around, but I haven't personally encountered that from either direction.





So basically I don't think I'm much of a book snob, ha! I do have specific tastes or things in books that I like or don't like, and I'm not shy about sharing my opinion (as anyone who follows my Goodreads reviews will know). But I do try not to be snobby toward people if someone else has a different opinion about specific books or reading in general. People are in different places and want different things from their reading, and I think that's okay.


Reader friends, feel free to snag the questions if you want, or tell me what you think in a comment! I'd love to read your answers.

On Being An Extroverted Homeschool Mom (Sort Of)






Somewhere between being a teenager and an adult, I became an extrovert.

As a teen, I was always quiet in groups, and if I had an afternoon to myself with a cup of tea and a book, I couldn't ask for better than that.  But when I was newly married, I took a Myers-Briggs personality test, and was only a borderline introvert.  The next time I took it, I was a borderline extrovert.

My theory now is that I was always an extrovert, just with a well-developed introverted side.  People always have both, they always are extroverted and introverted, just to different degrees and in different ways.  As I've learned since, being quiet in groups doesn't mean you are introverted.  It may just be that you haven't found a group you've clicked with.  As I became an adult, I had more opportunity to seek out friend groups of people that I wanted to be around, and I found that I loved hanging out with other people, when they were the right people.

That was why, when I entered the very introvert-inclined phase of new motherhood, I bundled my baby up anyway and made an effort to get out of the house.  We made friends at my church's mom group.  My baby and I met up for coffee dates with friends or a trip to the zoo on my days off.  I organized parties and girl's nights out.  I embraced my extroverted side, and we had a pretty full calendar and healthy social life.

Even adding more kids didn't stop me.  When we had two, then three, and four, I still planned outings almost weekly.  I didn't like to stay home.  If we could be out doing things and seeing people, that is what we did.

Once, as I was on the brink of the school years, I had a conversation with a friend concerning whether it would be hard to be a homeschool mom as an extrovert.  Wouldn't it be soul-draining, being stuck at home?  I told her that I didn't think so.  The great part about homeschooling is that it's flexible.  We can still have coffee with a friend in the morning and do school in the afternoon.  As the kids get bigger, schoolwork can be done in the car.  And then there are all the field trip opportunities and homeschool groups and co-ops.  I was pretty confident my social life wouldn't need to suffer just because we were homeschooling.

Overall, I was right.  It's not hard to keep up on a social life while homeschooling.  There are plenty of opportunities to extrovert.

But the thing is, I've felt a shifting in my personality again over the last year or so.  I still want and need days out of the house, and time to visit with other adults.  But over the last year of homeschooling, I've felt my heart turn back toward home.

I've come to treasure and look forward to my days at home just as much as my days out.  When we stay home, I can bake cookies and read my books (my love for books never waned).  When we stay home, we can be leisurely with our schoolwork and even get ahead of schedule if we feel like it.  When we stay home, we have time to sing hymns, and memorize Bible verses and catechism, and have poetry tea time.  When we stay home, the kids have time to run and play and be imaginative and grow in their friendship with each other.  When we stay home, I have more time to blog (fancy that)!

Maybe this shift isn't too surprising, since I've always been in the middle of the introvert/extrovert scale.  But I also think this is a blessing from the Lord.  Because yes, to homeschool, you do need to be at home sometimes.  It's His mercy to me that He has helped me rediscover this love for home right when I need it.  I'm still an extrovert, and I find ways to fulfill my extrovert needs as a homeschool mom.  But it's a grace that we are never all extrovert or all introvert - we are always, somehow, both.

Ways To Satisfy Your Extrovert Side While Homeschooling 

-Get involved in a co-op or Bible study (it's social time that also counts as school hours).
-Find some homeschool friends and plan regular field trips.
-Invite friends over for Poetry Tea Time.
-Be flexible (ex. shift your homeschool routine one day so you can have a playdate with friends).
-Plan at-home events with your kids (poetry tea time in the afternoon once a week, craft day, science experiment day, etc.)  Even if you stay home, it's helpful to have something different to look forward to!
-Take time to text friends or connect with other homeschool moms online on your days at home.
-Plan "mom's night out" days with friends.

Ways To Embrace Your Introvert Side While Homeschooling

-Appreciate the more leisurely pace when you stay home.
-Do something you enjoy that you can only do at home (read a book, bake, draw/paint, etc).
-Light candles.  Cuddle under blankets.  Embrace the coziness.
-Daily quiet time/silent reading hour (I don't think this will ever go away in our house).

Are you an extrovert or an introvert?  Do you ever have a hard time balancing those personality needs with your real life demands?


What I'm Asking For Christmas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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

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

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

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

What is on your Christmas list?  

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

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

Why I Don't Daily Plan In Our Homeschool




"You are a type A personality, aren't you?" my doctor asked as I packed away the papers full of information I came to discuss with him.

"Yeah, I guess so," I replied.  Everyone always pegged me as a type A, especially doctors, because I love to research subjects that are important to me, and I liked my house relatively clean.  So I always just assumed that's what I was, a classic Type A.

It was only after I had kids that I began to consider that maybe "Type A" wasn't exactly a perfect description of my personality.  I always viewed things like cooking and sewing as more art than science (not very Type-A), and I was never very into planning (also not Type-A).  But after I had kids, I realized that I had a spontaneous, let's-just-do-something-fun today side, which is far more descriptive of a Type B than a Type A.  During the baby and preschool years, I loved having my days mostly wide open, and being able to fill the hours with whatever struck my fancy.

I admit, as my kids grew older and homeschooling requirements grew more immediate, I mourned the loss of my newfound spontaneity.  Because you can't really be spontaneous when you have a list of things to be done each day, can you?

But this is my second official year of homeschooling (sort-of third year, but Kindergarten is only part time in our house), and I have learned that I still do not like to have my days planned out.  When I have a list of have-to's for each day, I feel the pressure and stress rising in my chest.  If I don't feel the freedom to run errands, grocery shop, or just declare a spontaneous field trip day, homeschooling can quickly start to feel like house arrest to me.

So my solution?  I don't daily plan our homeschool.  Instead, I plan weekly.

In my homeschool planning pages, I have a spreadsheet that includes all the different subjects, and what lessons and pages should be done each week.  I don't care how much we get done in any given day, as long as we do some school each day and get everything done that I have assigned for that week.

This has been really freeing for me, and allows me to still play with our weekly schedules a little bit.  If I realize we have no food left in the house, we might go grocery shopping and only do two subjects that day - then the next day we'll catch back up.  If math lessons are humming along really well, we might do two or three lessons in one day and give ourselves a couple days off of math the rest of the week to focus on history instead.

(Or freedom to gather chicken eggs with friends?  Just trying to make the pictures work here.)

So far, this weekly planning has been working much better for our family and my personality than daily planning would.  I imagine some adjustments will be needed as the kids get bigger and their workload increases, but even then, I remember handling my own schoolwork much the same way when I was homeschooled.  If I felt like doubling up on a few subjects and giving myself a lighter workload the next day, that's what I did.

So I don't know if I'd technically be a Type A or Type B, but I know as far as daily planning goes, as long as the weekly work gets done, anything goes.  I love that I can still make homeschooling work with the side of my personality that loves freedom in my schedule.

Do any of you daily plan (in homeschooling or just in life)?  Would you consider yourself a Type B or Type A personality?





How I Handle Things

(The colors out there are just gorgeous right now!  Seriously, the in-real-life colors look just like this.)

Something about October makes me want to write.

Last year I started a 31 Days Of Writing project, even though I had a baby due at the beginning of November.  I wrote about Memory Keeping (you can read all those posts here), and I definitely didn't get to all the posts I had planned because I was in pain and huge and Georgie arrived before the end of the month!

This year we are moving before the end of the month, but I'm still going to try another October writing project, because the trees and the cool air and the candles and the hot drinks make my inner self scream "Pull out that laptop and write!".



I saw this little image floating around Instagram the other day, and I thought, why not?  Let's do this (except I'm writing here instead of on Instagram)!  It'll give me an easy way to scratch the writing itch.



I've missed the first few days (you're not missing much - my answers to how I handle those first two are "Um...I don't?"), but I think there are some good subjects coming up.  I reserve the right to skip any days that are too busy or for which I have nothing to say.

However, PLEASE let me know if there are any subjects on this list that you are especially curious to hear my thoughts on!  
It'll help me know what to prioritize when I get writing time.

First up - tomorrow you get to read my take on Halloween, which would probably be a highly requested one anyway, because if you've been around a while you might have noticed we don't celebrate it. (For you super-long-time blog readers, I've mellowed out about this subject in more recent years, don't worry).  Check back in tomorrow if you want, and please do tell me what else on the list sounds most interesting!

A Little Sunshine (Award)



When I was a kid, Focus On The Family had a pen pal program.  You sent in a card with your name and address, and they paired you up with another kid who also hoped to receive some happy mail.  By the time I reached junior high, I had ten different pen pals going.  I still have a bunch of letters from those girls filed away in my closet.  

Sadly, I lost contact with the majority of my pen pals, but there are still a couple that I am in contact with today, and one of them is Bethany from Waves And Lilacs!  Pen pals that also turn into blog buddies!?  It doesn't get much better than that.  

Anyway, Bethany tagged me for the Sunshine Blog Award a couple months ago.  I am pleasantly surprised that these awards are still around!  If you've never seen one of these posts before, I answer the questions that Bethany sent me, and then award some of my favorite bloggers and pose some questions to them.  It's a fun getting-to-know-you opportunity!




1. How do you balance motherhood and blogging?
Well, I've managed to balance being a mom with keeping this blog running since the beginning, so I've been asked this a few times.  As far as the practical nuts and bolts go, I sit down and type during nap/quiet time, occasionally get away on a Saturday morning to write, and I take pictures randomly wherever I go, just so I have a few images to slap onto a post when I need them.  I make notes in my phone when an idea strikes so I can remember what I want to write about later.  
Especially as my kids have grown, I rarely work on my blog when they are awake, which means I've had to learn to prioritize and scale back where necessary.  I love to blog as a hobby, but my kids are way more important than my blog!  I don't want to let it take my attention away from them, and I find that when I keep that in mind I still find ways to squeeze it in.
I've had people ask me how I find the time, and all I can ever say is that you find time for the things that are important to you.  So sometimes instead of reading a book or binging on a TV show, I spend my spare time writing a post or editing pictures.  I think we often have a lot more time than we think we do, if we just learned to utilize it better (that goes for me too!).
2.What is your dream vacation spot?
Italy.  Derek and I have been wanting to go to Italy since we got married.  Our original goal was for our 10th anniversary trip, but since that is this year, it's obviously not going to happen.  Maybe our 20th?
3.What is one item you would need if left stranded on a deserted island?
That depends, how long am I going to be stranded?  Did I get shipwrecked, or am I just being left there temporarily while the boat fills up with gas or something?  If we're talking temporary - my phone.  I'd have plenty of books to read on my Kindle app.  If I have been shipwrecked...my Bible and some flint (don't make me choose).
Maybe this question was supposed to be more fun, but what can I say, I'm practical.
 4.What is your top goal for the year?
I didn't really make goals for the year this time around, but I'd say for the rest of the year my goal is to get organized and into a good daily homeschool routine.  Last year we got our work done but we mostly flew by the seat of our pants, so I'm hoping to form more lasting habits and rhythms this year.
5. What’s your favorite romantic memory with your spouse?
Oo, good question!  The easy answer would be our engagement or any of the trips we've done together.  But my favorite more normal memory is probably our 6th anniversary. My cousin got married on our anniversary, and we had a fun time at the reception.  The kids were running around and dancing, and it was so cute.  But then our song came on, so I handed the baby off to relatives, and Derek and I danced to the same song we danced to on our wedding day.  It was a sweet flashback, and in that moment I just was so happy to be married to him all over again.
5. How did you pick your kiddos’ names?
I have a system.  First we print off the baby name list from 100 years ago from the social security website (we like old name).  Then we go through and cross off anything we hate to narrow it down.  Then we pick our top 10 names or so from what's left.  Then we look up name meanings, because that's important to us.  We narrow it down to 2-3 name possibilities.  With the first few we would pick the final name when we saw our baby's face (to make sure the name fit), but with the last couple we just had one choice and knew our baby's name before they were born!
6. You can only watch one show for the rest of your life. What is it?
Ugh.  Hmm.  I'm going to say Survivor or The Middle.  Survivor would be great because it has 36 seasons or something ridiculous like that (and counting), so we'd be busy for a while.  And we love to analyze that show!  The Middle would be great because it's so funny!  (Have you watched The Middle?  I haven't met too many people who've seen it.  If you watch it, you HAVE to start from the beginning, you won't get half the jokes if you don't.)
7. What is the anthem of your blog?
Hmm, "anthem" feels so high pressure, haha!  I think my hope for this blog is that someday my kids will read it, and will be able to see God's faithfulness in our lives, even when it was hard.  I've been singing the kids a new hymn lately as I put them to bed, and the words kind of encapsulate what I hope the overall trajectory of this blog (and my life) will be.  
"To God be the glory, great things He has done."
8. What is one blog post you are MOST proud of?
I've got over a thousand posts on this blog now, so this is a hard question. Skip?  I guess most recently I like my "Things I Regret (And Don't) From My First 30 Years" post.  It's a nice summary of my life and this blog thus far.
9. What do you shoot your pictures with?
I either use a Nikon D5200 with a 50 mm 1.5 f/stop lens, or I use my iPhone 7+.
10. What is your favorite recipe?
Oh, I found this great recipe that we've been loving lately!  It's in a cookbook called One Pot Wonders, and it's the "spicy beef and sweet potato braise".  So good!
11. Who/what inspired you to begin blogging?
I started blogging almost ten years ago now!  Back then, blogs were more like public diaries where you also made friends.  I started to blog for a couple reasons.  First, I loved writing down my thoughts about different things, and for me, it's a whole lot more fun to write if I have somewhere to share it.  Second, I was a young newlywed, and none of my friends were married yet, so blogging was a great way to make friends with other girls close to my age who were also married.  The internet has a lot of problems, but one of the great things about it is how it lets you connect with like-minded people from around the world!  I have friends from all over the country and overseas, all because of this little blog.

My Nominees

For those I tag, if your blog is in my sidebar - I tag you!

Michelle, Angi, Rachel, Heather, Brittney, Emily
Amanda, Bekah, Meghan, Laura, Leslie, Rachel

My Questions 
1. What is a favorite childhood memory?
2.  If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
3. What was the last book you read?
4.  When you have some spare time, what do you do with it (besides blogging, of course).
5. With whom is your longest friendship?
6. Favorite summer beverage?
7. If you had the opportunity to attend your own funeral, what would you hope to hear people say about you?
8. All you ladies are married - how did you meet your spouse?
9.  Finish the sentence: "In high school I could have been voted most likely to..."
10.  Tell us something that we don't already know and wouldn't think to ask you.

Answer the questions on your blog, and then pass the award along (to however many people you want)!



Things I Regret (And Don't) From My First 30 Years



It's here! This week the third decade of my life is coming to a close.  There is something more significant about those decade increments, and I wanted to mark it here on the blog in some way.

I've been toying with different blog post ideas.  I've seen some people doing "30 Things I Learned Before 30", but I couldn't bring myself to write a post like that.  Most 30 year olds are still in the I think-I-know-so-much-but-I-don't-realize-I-really-don't stage, and that includes me.  When I reflect back over the last 30 years, I don't think I'm qualified to offer anyone advice.  I know less now than I thought I knew at 20 years old!  I've spent too much time with people further down the road and much wiser than myself to offer anyone life lessons from a still relatively shallow well of experience.

What I can do though, is look back over these first decades of my life and say what I've regretted, and what I never will, so here we go.

What I Regret From My First 30 Years

Caring Too Much About What People Thought In My Teens

Doesn't every teen care too much about what their peer group thinks?  Yes.  Does every adult wish they had cared a little less about what their teenage peer group thought?  Probably also a yes.  I was so insecure as a teenager, and I can't say that I could have really done anything differently to change that - confidence must be earned in some way, must be grown into.  But I still wish teenage Callie could have had a little more spunk and individuality.

Going On The Birth Control Pill

This one is a bit of a mixed bag, because I am obviously so thankful to have the children I have, and our rather frustrating journey to parenthood brought them to me.  God is sovereign and always had a plan.  But I went on the pill unquestioningly right before I got married, and I didn't know about it's potential abortifacient effect, which conflicts with my pro-life beliefs.  I didn't know it would seriously mess up my hormones so that when we were ready to start trying for a baby, things wouldn't work right.  I'll always wonder if there could have been another child, I'll always wish I did a little more research about birth control before succumbing to that cultural norm.  I just didn't know.

Not Getting Serious About Budgeting Sooner

This year I finally realized that grown-ups should have budgets.  I feel stupid even typing that.  It's not that I had no budget at all through my 20's, I knew what I had to spend each month and I had varying success at staying within that limit.  I didn't really overspend (except for one dark period between 2014-2015), but I didn't think enough about future goals and plans.  I didn't "give every dollar a job".  When I think of all the dollars I have wasted by allowing them to slip away without a plan every month, it makes me kind of sick.  I wish I had taken one of those financial peace classes or read more about making and managing a budget before I got my first grown-up paycheck.

Not Witnessing To My Coworkers

I got a job at a great dental office the year after we got married, and I worked there until I got pregnant with Clarice.  My sister even worked there for a while, which was so fun.  That office saw me through the birth of three of my babies, and I so appreciated the people there.  I worked there for almost 7 years.  And in all that time, I was too chicken to witness to my coworkers.  I was a good employee, and I know some will say that you should "preach the gospel, and if necessary, use words", but let's be honest, that's a cop-out.  No one ever got saved without the use of words.  I should have loved them enough to be vocal.  I kind of wonder if the Lord took me out of that job because I was blowing my chances to tell them about Jesus.  To me, this will always be one of my biggest failures.  From an eternal perspective, it feels like a waste.

Not Filming My Kids More

Not to toot my own horn, but I have kind of knocked it out of the park when it comes to taking pictures of my kids and documenting their babyhood.  But I've also had a video camera in my back pocket for years now, and I'm such a slacker on filming them!  In "my next 30 years" (you know I couldn't resist that country song reference!), I want to get better at filming their childhoods, before they slip away.



What I'll Never Regret

Putting My Trust In Jesus For My Salvation

Let's start with the most obvious one!  When I was four years old I asked Jesus "into my heart", and over the next years I learned and grew into my faith, made it my own.  I will never, ever regret asking Jesus to save me from my sin, turning to Him alone to save my soul.  It was the best decision I ever made, no matter how long I live.  I am so thankful for my Savior.

Being Homeschooled

When I was 8 years old, my mom made the decision to pull me out of public school.  She did this at a time when homeschooling was not common, and looking back at it now, I so admire her bravery.  I am thankful every day for her decision. Being homeschooled allowed me space to stop thinking so much about what other kids thought, and start caring a little more about what God thought.  That first regret in the list above could have been so much bigger.  That decision by my mom to homeschool me became a major part of my testimony - without it, I don't know if I would have grown in my faith or walked with the Lord through high school at all.  It's a big reason why I always knew I'd homeschool my kids.  I wouldn't be who I was today without it, and I never look back at homeschooling and feel that I missed out on anything.  Instead, I gained something precious from it.

Getting Married Young

When I was still in hygiene school, I remember walking into the office one day with a sparkly ring on my finger.  I was so happy and excited.  I remember one of the front office ladies looking at me with concern.  "Are you sure?  You are so young.  What is the rush?"  She didn't get it, and a lot of people didn't get it.  They didn't understand that I was committed to not sleeping with anyone before marriage, so living together was not an option.  They didn't get why I didn't care to "have some fun" first (marriage is fun, people!).  They didn't recognize that when you already know you're going to marry this person, there is really no point in waiting just for the sake of waiting.  They didn't think a 20 year old was mature enough to make that kind of decision.  But we were absolutely committed to each other, and we got over every rough spot together.  I love him more now than I did then.  Did I have growing up to do?  Yes, but I got to grow up with my husband next to me, my best friend.  I'll never regret marrying him young.

Not Drinking

That whole "drink a little more lemonade, and not so many beers" (you know, from the song?) does not apply to me!  There are a multitude of reasons why I don't drink, and I won't get into it here.  That could be a whole other post, and it is a post I've attempted to tackle several times but was never satisfied enough with the result to share.  I think there is liberty here for Christians, so I'm not going to judge you if you do have a drink (without getting drunk, of course, see Ephesians 5:18).  But I absolutely think it was a great decision for me to never open that door.  I don't want it or need it to relax (a bubble bath and chocolate does the trick), I don't need it to have fun (I honestly feel sorry for people that do), and let's just think for a minute about the money I've saved over the years by not creating that (potentially addictive and risky) habit.  I don't imagine I'll regret not having a drink in my next 30 years either.

Having Children In My 20's

I started having babies in my early 20's, and had my last baby in my late 20's.  People are always surprised at how young I am, considering I have five kiddos, and sometimes they're even a little judgey about it.  But I'm quite happy with how it turned out.  I'll graduate my first child at 40, and probably my last before I hit 50.  When you are young you have more energy, and I'll hopefully be a younger grandma, which will be fun.  I might even get to see my great grandchildren, like my grandparents have.  Having babies young isn't always possible, and I want you all to know that my heart aches for every woman who wants to be a mama, and for whatever reason she can't.  I know young motherhood isn't possible for everyone.  But I don't regret it a bit.  I personally don't see anything but positives attached to becoming a mom when I was young. I'm glad we didn't wait too long.

Having A Big Family

I've written about this at length, so I'll keep it short here, but goodness, I'm so thankful for my five kids.  Our house is loud and chaotic and full to the brim with joy, and I wouldn't change a single thing.  I'm so proud of my big family.

Quitting My Job To Stay Home Full-Time

There was a crossroads in my life a few years ago.  When my first three kids were little, I was able to work just one day a week.  I didn't have to be away from them very much, and was still able to supplement our income.  It was a blessing.  Then things started shifting, becoming a little more stressful at work, and they told me they needed me to work more days per week.  I hated the thought of giving up that job at the time.  But I didn't want to spend more time away from my kids, especially with another baby on the way and kindergarten looming (I wanted to homeschool).  After I quit, I felt so free (and also a little guilty and insecure about no longer contributing my "extra" to our income, but that was silly and I got over it).  I don't think I ever realized how much even just one day a week was taking from my energy, and now I have it back to give at home.  If you are a working mom, I'm not trying to send you a message, so don't read this section that way, please.  But for me, I'm so glad I let that job go and came home full-time.

Starting This Blog

If I'm totally honest, I struggle with this little online space sometimes.  Blogging has changed so much, and I've changed so much too.  There are times I still love having a place to share my thoughts, and times when I am afraid the whole thing is pointless.  But as I write this today, I'm glad I've documented the last decade here.  Would I remember so much of my 20's if I hadn't taken time to write about it?  Without this space, would I have slowed down, formed my thoughts enough to be able to look back now and see God's hand in the journey from 20 to 30?  I don't really think so.  I don't know what the future holds for this blog.  My children are growing, and life keeps speeding up.  I imagine it will look different in another 10 years than it does today.  But I'm so glad I take some time to write about my life here, and God's hand in it all, if for no one else than for me, to stand as my "ebenezer".  It's a reminder of God's goodness to me.  I don't regret writing here.  And thanks to all of you who have read my posts and stuck with me through the years.  Without you, I don't know if I'd have this record at all.

And just for fun, remember that unofficial 30-year-old beach shoot from my vacation?  Here are the outtakes.  The tide was coming in, and the waves just kept coming in higher, and that water was cold!













Here's to the next 30 years!



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