Showing posts with label Derek and Me. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Derek and Me. Show all posts

2019 In A Nutshell



Every year I write a year-in-review - it's quite possible that no one finds these interesting but me.  But it does my heart good to look back on everything that happened in the previous year - the surprises, sorrows and stresses, joys and beauty, the things that delighted me, and the things that didn't work out quite the way I wanted them to.  To see God's hand through it all and thank Him for the ways that He has worked in our family, and in my heart, over the course of one year.  So I'll try to make it interesting to read for all of you, but just know that these years, reviewed here on the blog, are something I need to do for me too.

Without further ado...

January



-I started the year out with making goals for the first time in many years.  Post coming about how that actually went...

-We finished up renovating the kitchen and Derek started on the master bathroom.

-We made the difficult decision to explore some of the other churches in our area, because of some drama that went down at our current church.  This led to a months-long period of discouragement for me as we realized the pickin's, for what we are looking for in our area, were pretty slim.

-I did a day-in-the-life series on Instagram - I always think it's fun to go back and watch these later.  It always brings back fun memories.

-We visited the stock show, and the kids loved it.

-Georgie started walking, and quickly took off!

-We braved a snowstorm and visited the "butterfly zoo", which was a nice spot of tropical in the middle of all that winter.


On The Blog: My Favorite 20 Books From 2018,  Four Quick Reminders About Teaching Children The Bible

February



-We went sledding at my parent's house with my sister and her family!  It was so much fun, and made me feel like a kid again.

-We did a field trip the the Nature and Science museum with friends!

-We bought valentines for friends.

-Wyatt turned 8 years old.  We had a fun day celebrating him with a trip to Bass Pro Shops and the movies!

-We had my sister over for Valentine's Day for a little mini party.

-My mom watched ALL the grandkids for me and my siblings, and we had a rare date!  We saw Ralph Breaks The Internet at the dollar theater, because we're fancy like that.

-We went on a winter nature hike.

-I started a classics book club with some friends from my college days!  We started reading Far From The Madding Crowd.

-We continued our church wandering, and I felt so untethered and lost.  I felt deeply discouraged all through February, and realized I was overloading myself.  I stepped back from a few things, which helped with my stress levels, but not with my discouragement.

On The Blog: Dear Candy Hearts | Little Letters Vol. 1, How's School Going? A Mid-Year Homeschool Update


March 



-We got alot of snow, and I came up with this list of reasons to like snow, in response to an unusual amount of local friends complaining about it.  We live in the Rocky Mountains, people!  It's going to snow.

-I finally started to get into a morning routine and I began getting up before the kids - something I've wanted to do for a long time, but it has been too hard with young babies before this year.

-I celebrated the 12th anniversary of the day I met Derek!

-We got hit by a bomb cyclone.

-We visited the zoo amidst the snowy remnants of the bomb cyclone.

-Clarice drew our family portrait.

-I got a sinus infection and the kids got another stomach bug.  We never threw up as often as we did in the 2018-2019 winter.

-I really started struggling with how much time I was spending on Instagram, and I wrote about it a little bit.

-It started to warm up toward the end of the month, and we enjoyed a park day!

-We did an "inside the orchestra" field trip with our co-op, and the kids loved playing around with the instruments!

-I thought I was starting to come out of my doldrums and discouragement, but now I think it was just the initial bounce-back from cutting things out of my schedule in February.

On The Blog: How Do You Balance Homeschooling With Toddlers?, How We Connect With Other Homeschoolers, Why We Keep A Traditional School Schedule, Why I Read Middle Grade Books

April


-My discouragement came back with a vengeance, and after sprinkling in exhaustion and some people problems, I spent a couple weeks basically just crying about everything.  I was so relieved when Derek called my parents so I could go to New Orleans with him for a work trip.  An escape and reset was really badly needed at that point.

-My dad gave me some encouragement too.

-Clyde turned five years old!

-I got back into taking the kids on "mom days", and had alot of fun on my mom day with Gwen!  She also lost her upper front tooth.

-We had a wonderful and refreshing trip to New Orleans!  Ate alot of Beignets, took a couple plantation tours, listened to alot of jazz.  I came back with a fresh perspective, and things finally started looking up for real.

-Tried a new egg-coloring method with the kids.

-We celebrated Resurrection Day!

-We noticed a sore on our dog's neck, so I took him into the vet and we found out Harvey had a tumor.  Tumors in dogs are most often cancerous, and we really thought we were going to lose him. He had surgery to remove the tumor, and thankfully we found out a couple weeks later that it was benign!  Apparently it was a type of tumor normally found in cats.

-Took another trip to the zoo and admired the thousands of daffodils they had planted!

-Derek took the boys to see spring practice for his college football team, and he scheduled the girls and I for a Mermaid Painting Tea Party.  It was not something I would have ever dreamed up, and so much fun!

-I got jury duty - something I've always wanted to do is participate in the civic process through jury duty!  But the trial got cancelled before I could go.  Maybe someday.

On The Blog: Currently | April 2019, An Easter Memory



May


-We continued the bathroom renovation, and finally finished it up this month.  I forgot how long bathroom renovations take.

-Clyde and I got a mom day this month, and he helped me pick out some flowers, since I was itching for something summery around me.  Good thing I didn't plant them yet though, because it snowed again in May.

-I discovered a really pretty back room in our local library, and have enjoyed many blogging afternoons there since.

-The trees finally flowered late!  It was a weird year, because we usually get pretty flowers in April.

-We celebrated Mother's Day in a nice, laid-back way, and it was perfect.  I got some loose-leaf tea, and we visited my mom, and we relaxed.

-I bought a new swimsuit that I don't hate.

-We finished up school for the year.  In the snow.  I just laughed.

-Georgie started to get into "coloring".

-I visited the library book sale, which is basically the official start to summer for me.

-We started a new book for book club!  The Great Gatsby.  I ended up liking it way more than I thought I would.

On The Blog: How I Kept My Hair Under Control In New Orleans,  The One Thing Your Church Needs To Get Right , When Wiping Faces Doesn't Feel Satisfying


June


-We tried the last couple churches on our list, and finally made the decision to return to our old church.  We figured out that even with everything that had happened, it was still the best one for us.  I learned alot through this whole church process, and maybe learned to value loyalty to the local church body a little bit more.  No church is perfect, and I think maybe we needed to learn to stick with a place even when the imperfection starts to show.  I still haven't mulled over my thoughts enough to express them better than that.  But it was so good to be back.  Our church welcomed us back with open arms, and it felt like coming home.

-Clyde started gymnastics!  He was so excited, he bounced all over that gym.

-I got a very weird big toe injury.  I literally did nothing.  I was sitting at my desk and it randomly started swelling.

-Clarice and I had a mom day, and she's a clever little thing.

-We tried VBS for the first time for my big kids, and they LOVED it.  Georgie and I ran around town together, and spent too much money on donuts.

-We visited the Great Sand Dunes.

-Dollar movies started for the summer!  We went to the first one with friends.

-I celebrated my birthday at the homeschool conference, ha!  Including a spontaneous visit to a hotel.

-We celebrated Derek and my dad for Father's Day!  But Father's Day wasn't as perfect as I wanted it to be for Derek, so we celebrated again the next week with a campfire.

-We went to a state park, and though the day didn't go very well, it was very pretty.

-I took Wyatt with me to see Ken Ham at the homeschool conference.

-We visited Rocky Mountain National Park, but it was in the 50's in the middle of June!  So it was a chilly day.

-It finally started to feel like summer.  Wyatt made bird feeders and hung them around our yard.  We discovered that the bush in front four house is a lilac bush!

On The Blog:  Homeschooling And Bad Attitudes, My Homeschool Mom Summer Reading List


July


-We celebrated the 4th of July on the road to my grandma's!  We had a lovely visit with her and my Grandpa Bill, and we also took a trip to Mesa Verde National Park.

-I took the kids to the pool all by myself and shared a few tips here.

-We celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary!  The whole thing felt a little anti-climactic though, after our 10th last year.

-Wyatt and I had some one-on-one time, and he helped me shop for a few more summer flowers, now that we were sure they wouldn't freeze.

-It rained alot in July, and it was a quiet, nice mid-summer.

-We did some porch camping.

-We finally upgraded our mattress, which doesn't seem like a big deal, but it was. We have been sleeping on a 20+ old mattress for the last 11 years of our marriage, so we sprung for the really good mattress.  And it's a king now.  It's been really nice!

-We finally set up the trampoline my parent's got us for Christmas!  The kids love it.

On The Blog: A Few Homeschool Finds, Why I'm Glad My Blog Didn't Grow


August


-We saw a century plant.

-I felt ready for summer to be over.

-We took a trip to see my grandpa, and had a lovely day visiting with him and my Grandma Juanita.  They set up a unicorn sprinkler, and the kids loved it!

-We finally remembered we were supposed to take a vacation in August, and we got a last-minute trip to Florida on the calendar!  We saw the Everglades, went to SeaWorld, visited NASA, went to the largest McDonald's in the US, stopped at an orange grove, and had several pool and beach days.  We even did one day at Disney.  It was a much needed sunny vacation!

-I struggled alot with getting into fall and school mode once we were back from Florida, so that was a big swing from earlier in the month!  This is why I like to take vacation in June (but it's not an option with Derek's work).

-New classics book club pick - Dracula, which I never would have picked up on my own, but I enjoyed it!

On The Blog: Homeschool Wins And Fails (From Last Year),  Florida! 

September


-We started the school year and eased into it, because I wasn't ready.  We did nature hikes and visited a railroad museum to get us inspired to learn!  Also, Clyde started Kindergarten, so I officially have three students this year.

-I started experimenting with a simmer potpourri on the stove to get in the fall mood.

-I got involved in political volunteering for the first time, collecting signatures for a measure to stop late-term abortion in our state.  It's been interesting to learn about the process from this angle, and to see firsthand how much work goes into getting a measure on the state ballot!

-Derek and I got another rare date, and we went to see a play!  Hunchback Of Notre Dame, which was actually very depressing, but we had a nice time laughing about it together anyway!

-I started re-reading The Fellowship Of The Ring in earnest, and enjoyed it all through the fall.  I don't re-read very often, so this is noteworthy.

-My kids remembered learning about the Harvest Moon from school last year, and kept asking when it was - it happened to be on Friday, the 13th!

-There were fires in the mountains near our home, resulting from a pretty dry August and September - this is why I don't complain about the snow and rain.

-After meaning to all summer, we finally went fishing with the kids!  It was so fun, even though we didn't catch anything, and we want to go more often now.

-My little Clarice turned four years old!

On The Blog:  Homeschool Planning: How I Do It, How We Homeschool On The Go,  How I'd Do Disney Differently With Five Young Kids,  Should You Visit Kennedy Space Center With Young Kids?  

October


-I decided to try to blog every day in October.  I didn't make it, but I did blog a lot, all about memory-keeping.  It brought up a lot of unresolved feelings about social media and phones.

-I finally tried Stitchfix with a gift card I got over a year ago for my 30th birthday!

-We did a fall nature scavenger hunt for fun.  We also went fishing again, and I shared some photos and reasons to give fishing a try here.

-Wyatt started his second season of soccer, and it was fun seeing how much he has improved since last year!

-We took alot of nature hikes, and it's a good thing, because the fall colors were short lived.  I managed to get some family photos before the leaves were gone.

-It started snowing again!

-I went to visit my friends' ranch with the kids one weekend, while Derek was hunting!  We had a wonderful time, as always, and I'm so grateful for friendships that last.

-Georgie turned two years old!

-The kids hounded me until we celebrated Reformation Day again!  I shared my favorite Reformation Day resources here.

On The Blog: My Tips For Taking Your Own Family Photos, Where I'm From,  The Reason I Bought That Sweater, A Typical Homeschool Week,  The Day I Became Pro-Life , The Happiest Place On Earth 


November



-Clarice started her ballet class, which she has been dying to do for at least a year.  Gwen and Clyde started a homeschool gymnastics class, and they loved it too!

-After taking a home improvement break over the summer, we started again this month.  Derek took a week off work to install our fireplace for our new wood stove!

-I decided to take a social media break and signed out in the middle of November.  I needed some space and time to consider what I really want out of social media, and how to make sure it's serving me instead of the other way around.  More coming on this, I'm sure.

-We had a game night with my sister's family, and her Christmas decorations were up, and it was just lovely!

-We celebrated Thanksgiving at my parent's house, and Derek's mom came with us!  We ate good food, and played A Christmas Story: The Game, and it was lots of fun!

On The Blog: The Real Reason Why We Homeschool, What I Really Thought Of Stitchfix, Tools For A Social Media Break


December



-We visited a Christmas light display with my family to celebrate my dad's birthday!  We always bundle up and walk around outside enjoying the lights, and then go get pie afterwards.  It was unusually warm this year, so we were really able to enjoy the lights!

-We visited my grandpa and Grandpa Juanita again, and I loved hearing more stories from my grandpa's life.

-We visited our favorite Christmas shop!  We bought a "new house" ornament, since we forgot to last year.

-I finally made Christmas Bible verse cards for my Etsy shop.  (This might be a good time to bookmark them for next year, if you're interested?)

-Despite it being a short Christmas season, I stayed on top of things and didn't get too behind or too overwhelmed.  I shared about the presents I was most excited to give here!  I got a lovely gift in the mail from my longtime penpal Felicia, and another one in the mail from my dear ranch friends!

-It was a quiet Christmas season for us, with not as many gatherings as usual, but we did go to an ugly sweater party with our Sunday School class!  I got a fanny pack during the white elephant exchange, but it's actually a really nice one and I'm totally going to use it when we go to the zoo.

-I dabbled in creating my own recipes again, and invented this Spicy Raspberry Cheeseball recipe.

-I wrote a Christmas newsletter, just as a writing exercise, but I ended up liking it and was sorry it was too late to send it with my Christmas cards.  You can read it here.

-We did some baking together.

-We celebrated Christmas Eve with my family, and with my grandma and Grandpa Bill!  We will see Derek's family for a belated Christmas celebration next week.

-We had a wonderful Christmas Day together - it was about as perfect as a Christmas Day can go, and that is a rare thing because nothing usually goes perfectly.  We had time to reflect on Christ's birth, everyone was excited about their presents, and we just enjoyed each other.

-We celebrated Gwendolyn's and Derek's birthday (they have the same birthday, in case you forgot)!  I got Derek and Apple Watch because he has been dying to get one for years.  Gwen turned 7 years old!

-We are celebrating New Year's Eve tonight with final signature-collecting for my petition, and an impromptu dinner with my brother and his family!

On The Blog:  Bible Verses To Write In Your Christmas Cards (+ Printables),  When You Can't Find Christmas Peace

---

Wow, even though we didn't have alot of "big" events, it was a busy year!  I think there was alot of growing for me personally this year in different areas of my life.

A month or two ago, as I've been struggling with more circumstances that have left me feeling a little alone, Derek said to me offhandedly, "Maybe the Lord just wants you to learn to lean on Him more right now."  I actually think that sums up this year pretty succinctly.  I think the Lord used alot of different circumstances this year to teach me to lean on Him more and myself less.  I'm still learning how to do that, but I'm thankful that He is my solid rock, the One on whom it will always be safe to lean.



Happy New Year's Eve, friends!

Hope you have plans to do something fun!

The Big Easy (Our Trip In Photos)



My hopes for my little getaway to New Orleans basically boiled down to two things - I hoped Derek and I could get some quality time together, and I hoped that getting away for a couple days would give me a fresh perspective and get me out of my months-long discouraged funk.

I can report back in the affirmative on both counts!  

Derek and I had a great time together, first of all. We had beignets for breakfast in a cute cafe, went out to our favorite NOLA restaurant (twice), listened to some live jazz, and watched our favorite show before going to bed at a decent hour (because we are wild and crazy like that).  We had good chats about deep things, practical things, and silly things.  He indulged my photo-taking, and New Orleans is a photogenic city, so I have lots of good shots to share.  It was a lovely time.

On my hope of getting enough space to renew my perspective, that happened in the first two hours on the plane.  I picked up a fantastic audiobook that immediately hit on some of the things I've been so down about lately and gave me a biblical perspective on it.  It was completely something the Lord blessed me with, because the book was so timely and brought my focus back to Him.  By the time we touched down in New Orleans, I was feeling ready to bring that encouragement back and tackle my real life again.  The rest of the trip was just icing on the cake!

Highlights of New Orleans:

A plantation tour - I hit two plantations in one tour, Laura Plantation and Oak Alley.  Laura plantation was unusual in architecture, but oh man, the history!  It was probably my favorite just because I learned so much. (Also, those people were crazy.  Someone should make a TV series about it.)  Then I went to Oak Alley, which had towering oak trees on both sides of the drive and was completely gorgeous.  I wish Derek could have come with me, but he had to stay at his work conference.  I nearly missed my bus back because I misheard the pickup time, but that was the only hiccup.

Mr. B's Bistro - I had a chocolate molten cupcake and a bowl of gumbo at Mr B's the last time we were in New Orleans, and I've thought about that meal several times since then.  So of course we had to go back to Mr. B's (a couple times!).  I sprung for the bacon-wrapped shrimp and cheese grits one night, and oh my word.  It was so good.  Why is there not a Mr B's where I live?  It's expensive, but totally worth the splurge.

The Hotel Monteleone lounge - We were planning on doing a riverboat cruise again, but there were tornadoes or something while we were there?  I never witnessed this supposed bad weather, and the rain and wind weren't even too bad where we were, but we decided to be safe and just hung out at our hotel lounge.  Monteleone has the famous carousel bar that rotates slowly.  We didn't try that, but we did order a pop and sit in the lounge listening to the band one night.  It was just nice!

Cafe Beignet - Everyone tells you that you must go to Cafe Du Monde for beignets when you are in New Orleans, but last time we went there we just felt crowded and rushed.  It was busy.  So this time we went to the Cafe Beignet on Royal Street.  It was tiny and quiet, the patio was pretty, the beignets were just as good, and we were serenaded the entire time by a street musician.  I'd recommend it over Cafe Du Monde!

French Truck Coffee - And I have to mention this coffee shop, because as much as I was dreaming about that molten cupcake for two years, Derek dreamed about French Truck Coffee!  It's probably his favorite coffee place of the many we've tried over multiple states.  So far, anyway!

Without further ado, some pictures for you!

Coffee Run


(French Truck Coffee before my plantation tour the first morning!)

Laura Plantation

(Me, solo on my plantation tour - yes, I propped up my phone so I could be in some of the photos.  You do what you have to do.)




Oak Alley








An Evening Walk Down To The River

 (Of course we had dinner at Mr B's first!)







Beignets For Breakfast









(I pretty much spent the rest of the day lounging around the hotel and blogging and reading.  It was lovely.)

Dinner And Jazz
 (Our hotel was so pretty!)

(Mr. B's.  The amount of forks there was a little overwhelming, but it was still worth it.)

 (Had to dress up fancy for dinner one night, you know.)

(The carousel bar at our hotel, which we did not try, but which definitely added to the atmosphere.)

Beignet Encore




(Last picture in New Orleans before I had to leave to catch my flight!)

New Orleans is such a fun city to visit as a couple.  Plants grow on buildings, there is always jazz playing somewhere.  There is just something in the air down there, something musty and mysterious and romantic.   I'm glad we got to go again!  

Have you ever been to New Orleans?





Ferries And Lakes And Orcas, Oh My! (Seattle Part Two)



Back to our Seattle trip!

Sunday

After finding out our whale-watching tour was cancelled a few days before we were supposed to leave, we scrambled and scheduled a different whale-watching tour for Sunday.  I was glad we could find another one, because whale-watching was an expected highlight for us - we just don't get a chance to see ocean life in our land-locked state, and we didn't want to miss our chance!

When we arrived, we asked the rental car guy if native Seattlans would roll their eyes at the tourists pointing at the whales.  Where we live, the tourists always stop traffic for elk, and it's so annoying because we see them often enough to not stop anymore.  He assured us that seeing a whale was still pretty cool, even for people who live there.







(This was the water in the wake behind out boat - look at that color!)

(I wish I had a better lens - orcas!)

(You can kind of see the baby in this one!)



We loved the whale-watching trip!  We saw 15+ different orcas, all part of an orca family in the Puget Sound.  We learned that different sub-species (ecotypes) of orcas will not breed with each other, because each ecotype has it's own culture and traditions that the mother orcas pass down.  They could identify all the orcas by the white patches on their backs.  The mothers lead the groups, and the male orcas will stay with their moms throughout their life, because the mother orcas have more social connections and can help them find a lady orca (ha!).  We learned so much from the naturalist onboard, and I interrogated her about her career path because I have a certain marine-life-obsessed little boy at home who would love that job.  

We also saw a bunch of seals and young bald eagles, which was cool too!

We went with the Puget Sound Express, and though they were a little pricier, they were one of the only tour companies that left from a suburb of Seattle, and we were only gone a half day.  I was just glad we got to go after our other tour was cancelled!

When we got back we went over to Gas Works, which is a park they made out of an old industrial area.  Why don't they do this in every city?  It was so cool!








We dressed up for dinner, and took a couple pictures together by the lake.  Then we went out to dinner at Five Guys after deciding to skip the fancy restaurant after all.







Monday

On Monday we said goodbye to our great little lake cottage, our spider friend, and the Market (I just had to go back one more time).  




We went by the market one more time and bought some loose-leaf tea, but we got a little lost on our way back to the car and stumbled upon Seattle gum wall!  I may have had hard time finishing my breakfast after that.  Blech!




After our Market stop, we had just enough time to ride the ferry over to Bainbridge Island for a quick lunch and walk, before we rode the ferry back to catch our plane!







I have to tell you, I was really impressed with the ferries.  You could hardly tell you were on a boat unless you went to the passenger decks.  I don't know much about engineering, but I feel like the ferries were a pretty amazing feat!

Overall, I really enjoyed Seattle!  One of the guys working at the Market told us that Seattle and our city feel pretty similar to him, and I could certainly see that.  The mountains and friendliness of the city definitely reminded me of home, but the fish market, whales, campfires all over the place, abundant greenery, and lakes and water everywhere were beautiful and different.  If I couldn't live where I live, Seattle might be my next choice!  I loved it.

Goodbye Seattle!







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