Showing posts with label Just Life. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Just Life. Show all posts

Out Of Sorts (And Real Tea)


Do you want to come over for tea this morning?

To my in-person friends, that's an open invitation, just so you know.  But otherwise, let's have virtual tea on a Tuesday.  And not the kind all the youngsters talk about, the gossip-y, drama kind.  No spilling of metaphorical "tea".  Let's have, like, real tea.  In a real cup.  

I feel old.

I've been watching too much TV.

Speaking of tea, try a cup of Nutcracker Sweet tea with a chocolate bar.  You can thank me later.

Hunting And Not Blogging

Where were we when I suddenly lost all motivation to blog a couple weeks ago?  You may remember that I was in the middle of a 31 Day blogging challenge, and I totally fell off the wagon.  I underestimated the amount of energy hunting would take out of me, and then the election-that-never-ended happened, and well, here we are.  I have lots of election thoughts, but I don't want to get into it on this blog (that's what Instagram is for, right?), so let's just talk about my hunting season.

On Saturday morning we woke up bright and early, and headed out into the woods in the dark.  As it got light, we started sneaking through an open area, and suddenly saw a group of deer ahead of it.  They were all female deer, and I had a buck tag, but it looked like they were looking behind them, down the hill where we couldn't see yet. So we decided to sneak up to a ridge to see if there was anything down there, and what do you know, there was!  We just so happened to drop down behind a log, so I don't think they could tell what we were yet, and I got a perfect shot.  The freezer is full now, and I feel really satisfied.  First morning of hunting season and we got one!  That's the best.

I come from a long line of hunters, I grew up hunting, but I hadn't been for over eight years.  I was quite worried about my ability to even hit a target anymore.  But Derek scouted out a great spot for me, and got me to the deer, and I was pleased to see that I am not completely useless out there, as I was afraid I would be.


It took us all day to drag the deer out a mile and a half (at least).  I felt like I had gotten hit by a truck the next morning.  It took me a bit to recover.

Sorting And Shopping And...More Sorting

Since then, aside from obsessively checking the news, I have also been working hard on finishing my Christmas shopping and sorting through this year's pictures.  

Last year I decided to print off the best photos of each kid from 2019 and put a little photo album in each of their stockings.  It was a lot of work, but they loved those little photo books.  And I liked knowing that my photos weren't just existing in some digital netherworld, but I had some hard copies now. I decided to make it a tradition so I would have motivation every year to get our photos printed.

Ideally I would sort and print photos throughout the year so it wouldn't be such a huge project in December.  But alas, it took me two eight-hour days to get 2020 photos printed up.  The prints are ordered and on their way and I'll probably be spending the next couple weeks getting them sorted (again) into albums.  Then another Christmas item will be checked off the list.

I actually finished the kids' Christmas shopping in mid-October, and a few days ago I ordered the last of the Christmas presents for Derek.  

I'm always torn about doing Christmas shopping so early.  I used to really enjoy Christmas shopping in December, because it added to the Christmas excitement for me.  But as we've added more kids to our family, I've realized that Christmas is much more pleasant for everyone if I finish the shopping early.  

Shopping for five kids is hard.  You want them to each have the same number of presents to open, even though the older ones start asking for more expensive gifts.  You want each gift to be of relatively the same size or value or excitement level.  And inevitably you'll buy them what they individually asked for, because you want to treat them like the unique individuals they are, but then the kids realize on Christmas morning that they like what their siblings got, and they wish they would have asked for the same thing.  It's just complicated.

Anyway, its done, so now I need to sort everything and start wrapping.

Maybe the theme of this post of sorting.  Appropriate, right?  Isn't that what we are all doing right now?  Sorting v0tes, sorting photos, sorting through news, sorting the Christmas budget out, sorting presents to be wrapped.  All while feeling out of sorts.  Just lots of sorting.

Some of the photos I sorted today are from our visit to my friends' ranch in October.  We try to visit them once a year, and it's always such a refreshment to see them all again.  This time was no exception.  I am so blessed to have friendships that have lasted for a majority of my life, with women who inspire me and encourage me in the Lord.  Friendship, especially with sisters in Christ, is such a gift.




A Library Embarrassment

Speaking of sorting, I went to the library yesterday and I had fifty-seven books ready to be picked up.  Fifty-seven!  And because they are quarantining returned items for up to a week, a lot of the items I had previously returned hadn't registered yet, so I had to ask the librarian for an override to check out my fifty-seven books, which put me over the library book limit.  I was so embarrassed by my huge stack of books that I rushed out of there as soon as I could, so I'm not sure I even got them all.  I have to count.  I may have to go back for whatever I forgot and ask for an override all over again, though hopefully my returned items will have been checked in by then.  

That's what I get for trying to get ahead of the Christmas picture book rush.  I requested a bunch, but apparently I was the only one in line this early, and they all came in at once.  But hey, our library system got rid of fines last year, so technically I could keep them until Christmas and not even get charged.  Maybe that's worth a little embarrassment.

(Note: I won't really keep all those library books clear until Christmas.  I'll put them back into circulation in December so someone else doesn't have to suffer the fate I did last year, which was to wait and wait only to finally receive my Christmas holds...in January.)

In Search Of A Holly Jolly Read

Speaking of books, what is a good Christmas-y novel that you've read?  I need some recommendations.  I read The Christmas Carol last year, and also Hercule Poirot's Christmas, and those were both perfect.  My friend Felicia also sent me Christmas At The Vinyl Cafe in the mail, and I inhaled it in a couple days right around Christmas Day (highly recommend that one).  I'd like to have something Christmas-y to read in December. It's taking me so long to get through any book this year that I should probably start now.

Stress-Paralysis And Christmas Trees

In case you didn't notice, the entire country appears to be setting up their trees early this year.  Either everyone desperately needs a little Christmas merriment, or they're trying to hurry this crazy year out the door, not sure which. We usually set ours up a week before Thanksgiving, and yet I oddly feel behind already.  

Sometime this week I'm going to dig into our Christmas boxes and start switching out a few things.  Our schedule is a little off this year, and we don't have a full day free to set up the tree in the near future, so I'm trying to break the decorating into smaller chunks.  I'm feeling pretty stress-paralyzed, so you may have to hold me accountable if I don't share a Christmas decor photo on Instagram within a few days!  Who am I kidding, my kids will hold me accountable.  They are chomping at the bit to deck these halls.

A Few Finds

Before I go, I wanted to share a few helpful things I have found in the last week or so!  First, I got a couple advent studies to use with the kids, this advent unit study which was inexpensive, and this Advent study which is free!  

I also splurged and bought this winter nature journal - Gwen has been asking me for "constellation cards" because she wants to study constellations, and this journal came with cards and a bunch of nature study sheets (I also got her these constellation fact cards, and I don't believe there was any duplicates between the two sets).

And finally, if you are like me and have a terrible time shopping for the men in your life, I found this Christmas list for men on Amazon.  Both Derek and my dad give me ideas like "new socks" for Christmas, and I obviously am not going to buy them something so boring as socks (or at least not only socks).  This list had a bunch of things that I knew my guys would actually like.  I may have gotten a majority of Derek's presents because of ideas I found here.  (Surely I'm not the only one who can't figure out what to buy for her husband?  It's not just me, right?)


(From our fall photos this year - me and Derek.)


Have you decorated for Christmas yet?  Are you done with your shopping?  What's your favorite tea flavor (are you even a tea drinker)?  And don't forget to tell me your Christmas book recommendations too!


I'll be back later this week to share a few things that I put on my Christmas list!  Just for fun.  


Currently | September 2020

 

Appreciating...the long weekend, because Derek should be able to make good progress on the kids' treehouse!  

Stressed about...the fact that it's supposed to snow NEXT WEEK.  As in September 8th.  That is way too early for snow, and I am so nervous that all the leaves will immediately die and fall off, and there will be no Autumn to speak of.

Anticipating...the two weddings we have coming up in the next month.  I haven't been to a wedding in five years!  These are also the first weddings I've ever traveled out of state to attend - one in a neighboring state for Derek's cousin, and one for my cousin that will require a flight north.  It should be an adventure, especially in these, ahem, times.  If you've flown recently, please let me know what to expect.

Collecting...resources on civics and the electoral process, since I decided this is the year to introduce these subjects to my kids for real!  I've got quite a stack going, and so far our little civics lessons have been pleasant.  Right now I'm focusing on elections, and I think I will move on to other civics topics throughout the year.  I've avoided having to go in-depth on the three branches of government so far, so maybe that will be next.

Starting...Awana.  This is the first year my kids have ever done Awana, and I'm glad we have enough space in our schedule to include it!  We have always had too many sports, co-ops, etc, in past years to fit one more thing in.  But this year, for finances and other reasons, we cut out alot of our other activities, so it was the perfect year to give Awana a try.

Finishing...the ten books that I told myself I would finish before October.  Or I'm attempting to finish them anyway.  It's been too tempting to start a new book, because fall brings with it different reading moods for me!  I have six more books to finish (I removed one that I know is just not going to happen).  I need to get a move-on.  What are you reading lately?  What do you consider a fall-ish book?  I started a re-read of Anne Of Green Gables.  I couldn't help myself.

Enjoying...nature journaling with the kids.  I never felt like I could get the hang of nature journaling, but this year it is coming easier.  I credit this entirely to the kids' botany curriculum.  Turns out it's alot easier to nature journal when you have some knowledge about plants!  They do, after all, make up the bulk of the living things out there.




Making...chocolate chai masala truffles from this cookbook.  It's on our "Friday Fun Day" schedule for school today.  Is it a stretch to include making rich chocolate treats for school?  I'm going with no.  Kitchen skills and fractions.

Drinking...the pumpkin cream cold brew at Starbucks.  It is just so good!  But I'm only drinking it occasionally, because Starbucks prices are getting outrageous (I say this every year, yet I still get pulled in by the pumpkin).

Currently | August 2020


Reading...Things Jolie Needs To Do Before She Bites It by Kerry Winfrey.  I've been reading some heavy stuff lately, and sometimes you just need a little YA nonsense.  So far it's pretty cute, we'll see where it goes.

Watching...Alone by the History Channel.  We have been fans for a long time, but the newer seasons finally made it to Hulu, so we are catching up!  We are watching the season where the people are stranded in Mongolia, and I am convinced there is no way I would last a week there.  They have wolves in Mongolia.   I think I learned a little too much in our co-op when we were covering the Middle Ages last year (lots of problems with wolves eating little children, for real).  Wolves are worse than mountain lions or bears.  At least with the latter, there is only one, and you have a chance of fighting them off.  Wolves travel in packs.  Basically, you'd be toast.

Feeling...frustrated.  So today was the first time since February when I've been able to go work on the ol' blog at Starbucks.  I was so excited!  Then I got here and our internet filtering system blocked me from joining the wifi.  So the first 40 minutes I've had in a coffee shop alone since February were spent on the phone with Covenant Eyes figuring out what went wrong.  Thankfully their customer service is pretty great, and I am grateful for what they do generally.  Just going to have to find a work-around for this Starbucks issue.

Choosing...to postpone all my homeschool posts that I had plan until we actually start school!  I had a bunch of ideas I wanted to write about, but I decided I needed a few more lazy summer weeks where I just read and take my kids to the park or for summer hikes with friends.






We start school the week of August 16th (trying to get an earlier start this year, in the hopes that next spring we can finish early and things will be normal).  So a couple more weeks and I'll get more of those posts and Instagram videos up!  Hoping I don't burn you guys out on homeschool content, but I really enjoy sharing ideas and hearing what other people are doing!

Consuming...not a lot of a sugar.  I realized my jeans were getting a little tight, so it was time to cut out sugar for a while again.  I'm also trying to get in shape, just because, but also because I drew a deer tag this year. This will be the first time I've been hunting in...probably eight years, and I'm woefully out of shape.  And unsure if I'd be able to hit the broad side of a barn.  And our freezer is also in desperate need of filling, so yeah, the pressure is on.  My plan for not wheezing my way up the trail includes going old-school and breaking out my Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred DVD - and yes, I still feel like I'm going to die after every workout.

Ordering...fall candles.  I am definitely in the mood for fall early, but I'm trying to restrain myself and enjoy what's left of the summer.  I think I'm feeling particularly fall-ish this year because, in my mind, the craziness going on in the world will be magically fixed in the fall.  This somehow despite it being an election year, and despite the logical part of my brain knowing something dramatic will go down in October, because they always try to pull those old election tricks.  But maybe this year will be different!  Who says adults can't believe in fairy tales?  (Sorry, that was kind of sarcastic and cynical.  I'm in a mood this week.)

Remembering...I've been pining after Florida this week, because around this time last year we were getting ready for a beach vacation.  I am treating this nostalgia by looking through our vacation photos from May, to remind myself that we did actually do some fun things this year too.  I'm aiming to get a vacation recap post up tomorrow or Monday!

Enjoying...the way the light shines in our windows in the morning.  I've been trying to keep my habit of getting up before the kids through the summer, and if I make it downstairs before 7:00, the light glows orange and pink through the windows.  It's really pretty, and I know a photograph wouldn't even capture it.  Sometimes when the light is just right, and I know there is no way to convey the experience accurately to anyone else, I just tuck those moments up in my heart and thank the Lord that I get to be alive right then, seeing something that feels like it's only for me.



P.S.  Trying...to figure out what these berries are.  Any ideas?  We spotted them on a hike with friends a couple weeks ago, and I'm terrible with plants.  We are studying Botany for science this year, and I am expecting to learn alot.


Shouts And Whispers



9:32 AM.  Some spunky spider threaded a silvery strand from the porch railing to the chair last night, and I'm sitting here looking at it as I try to figure out what I exactly want to write today. The wind is picking up, and I keep watching the thread in the sunlight, thinking surely it will break in the gusts.  But it hasn't.  Spider silk is strong stuff.

I didn't start this trying to draw an analogy here, but its kind of like the country right now isn't it?  Some days the events in the news are so crazy, it feels like the entire American civilization is hanging by a thread.  Maybe one day the last gust of wind, the last crazy event, will break it.  I hope our traditions and values, the things we used to all unite around as nation, will be like that thread, strong enough to string our country together amidst all this chaos, but if not...well, it's a good thing that we believers in Christ don't have to place our hope in men, isn't it?

I'd like to insert something I wrote on Instagram a couple weeks ago, for posterity or for any of you who don't follow me over there.  This is the bottom line to me:

I had some things I wanted to share this week, but all that is on hold for now, as Instagram was dominated yesterday by black squares. I don’t like getting involved in these things online, but this morning all my thoughts and feelings and discouragements coalesced and clarified. So against my initial instinct to swear off social media and just pray and cocoon with my kids (which still might be what I end up doing), I have a few things to say..First, to those putting your hope in social media campaigns, or conversations, or human organizations, or a political party, or violence, to spur on whatever change you think needs to happen, I think you will be disappointed..I like how someone else (@stopandconsider on Instagram) put it: “The spiritual oppression that all men are under is sin, and from that all the physical vestiges of oppression find their power. The only way that is changed is by proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ, who died for sinful men to reconcile them to God.”.
The solution to ALL our sin, the sins hidden inside us as well as the sins of murder and theft and racism that dominate the news, is CHRIST, crucified to pay the penalty of death that WE deserved. He is risen to conquer death, heal our souls, and give us victory over that sin..
HE is the One who sets us free, changes hard hearts, and brings peace to our sinful souls and broken world. If you don’t know that peace and reconciliation with God - I pray, I beg you, to seek and find that Truth...And one more thing - if we as Christians are trying to participate in this conversation on racism, rule of law, etc, and we leave out the Gospel, I’m sorry but we are doing it wrong. I’ve been personally convicted of this. What eternal good are we doing if we aren’t taking care to point others to Christ through this tragic situation? What lasting change can be made if we don’t preach the Gospel of Christ, which has the true power to change hearts and save eternal souls?.
It’s time to turn our eyes back to Him, our only true Hope amidst the chaos.

The events of the last few weeks have kind of been the last gust of wind for me, to turn my eyes back to what really matters.  These verses in 2 Timothy have been swirling in my brain through the turmoil our nation is facing - reminding me that this is my duty, this is my call:

Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all long-suffering and teaching...But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
2 Timothy 4:2,5

Paul was writing this to Timothy, who was a young pastor.  But when I read those verses to apply them personally, I am reminded to keep my mind on the gospel, and my energy focused on my kids. There are so many voices shouting on social media right now, it's hard to hear anyone, and the limitations of trying to speak the truth online become ever more apparent...but I can preach the Word to my kids.  I can be faithful in my efforts to convince, exhort, rebuke, and train them.  I can show them how to be watchful in all things by showing them what God's Word says about what is happening in the world, I can present examples of how to endure afflictions while giving thanks to God, I can do the work of an evangelist by pointing them to Jesus's atoning work on the cross always.  This is I can fulfill my ministry, the most important one, which has always been to shine the light of Christ in my home to my children, to write the Truth on their hearts.




(A couple photos from my birthday fishing trip last weekend.)

So maybe that's why I have been quiet on social media and my blog lately, because I have been mulling over how I can do better at this.  How I can lead their hearts to Jesus, pray for them better, train them in righteousness, and prepare them to stand firm amidst the persecution they will no doubt face someday.  

I feel more urgency for this than I used to.  I don't want to waste too much time shouting into the noise on social media, when my greatest impact will be whispering truth into the hearts of my children.

---

Anyway, I meant for this to be a light, catch-up post, but I guess I needed to get that off my chest first.  You all know I like to have fun, and sharing it all on here is part of the fun for me, so those posts are coming too!  Thanks for hanging around while I sorted through my thoughts over the last month.

And oh yeah, it's summer.  The sun is shining on my legs, and I can practically feel the Vitamin D being manufactured, boosting my mood.  The birds chirp from the trees all around, the table umbrella is spinning as the breeze picks up, and I hear some shouting from inside the house that I should probably go attend to.  Before I close my laptop, I look up again, and that silvery thread connecting the chair and the railing is still dancing in the wind.


Currently | May 2020


Currently...

Making...chocolate chip cookies.  I have a grain mill on my counter, and I usually try to grind fresh flour when I make baked goods - it's healthier because you get more of the nutrients from the grain that way, and I actually like the texture of the freshly ground grain in our muffins or whatever. But I finally realized that I have to give up on using the home-ground flour in our chocolate chip cookies.  It was just not working.  I reverted back to good old store flour when I baked yesterday, and the cookies were magnificent.  Yes, that is a very big word for a cookie, but I stand by it.

Learning...more about America.  That sounds like a loaded answer, but what I'm actually referring to is Hillsdale's free online courses, and if you've never checked them out, you should!  I'm doing the course called "The Great American Story: A Land Of Hope", and it's cool to get such a condensed overview of our history.  They have all kinds of courses though, including ones on the Supreme Court, economics (timely right now), the Constitution (also timely), the World Wars, Jane Austen, C.S. Lewis, Winston Churchill, and a bunch of different ones on literature.  I'm really enjoying the one I'm taking.

Dabbling in...gardening.  My lavender and basil have still not really sprouted, but Derek got a greenhouse set up on our porch, and he is growing vegetables!  I'm very excited to see how they do in the greenhouse.  Where we live, a greenhouse is pretty much required for any serious growing.  Maybe it will help cure my black thumb.

(In the greenhouse.)

Missing...the library.  Our state has been gradually opening up, and I'm getting more and more irritated that the library is dragging its feet.  I understand they don't want to open the building yet, but I see no problem in allowing people to pick up holds curbside.  They won't even allow us to return books yet, and I've got about a hundred picture books sitting in bags on the floor, just waiting.  How hard can it be to wipe down the returns or let them sit in a room to isolate for a day or two?  Other county libraries have been partially open for weeks and they make it work.

Reading...about ten books at once.  With the library still closed, I've been scrounging my shelves and the Kindle books on Amazon for my next read.  I have a terrible habit of reading a chapter or two of any book that looks interesting until one sticks, hence why I have so many going at once all the time. I'm currently working through Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (it's really fascinating), The Two Towers (it's a re-read, I've been reading a chapter each night), Unknown Valor by Martha McCullum (just started this one), and The Underground History Of American Education by John Taylor Gatto (also fascinating, and perhaps a little terrifying).  I'm going to start The Lake House this month though!  I mean it this time.

(Burning my Mother's Day candles.)

Loving...the way my kiddos have been handling this whole thing.  I know our routine didn't change as much as others', but we still haven't been able to go to a lot of the places we would normally go either. But they've mostly rolled with the punches and they've been finding all kinds of things to do around the house; they play elaborate, imaginative games with their stuffed animals or cars.  They cheer when we announce a movie night, dive into reading books they wouldn't normally pick up, and are particularly sweet little lights in my life right now.  Have there been alot more household messes to clean up?  Yes.  Has there been occasionally disappointment when I have to tell them that we are, yet again, staying home?  Yes.  But overall, they've handled it all very well.

Bummed about...the homeschool conference being cancelled.  They held out as long as possible, and maybe I should have seen it coming with all the other things being cancelled, but I thought there might be a chance since it wasn't scheduled until later in June.  I think it's unfortunate they had to cancel it with so many people considering homeschooling more seriously as a result of this pandemic.  I'm seriously considering hosting a miniature homeschool conference in my house with my friends instead.  We are almost to the phase that allows more than ten people to gather, so it would be legal and everything.  We could watch a session or two from an online conference together, bring curriculum to allow others to look through it and get ideas, and make it a potluck!  I'm mulling it over.

(Gwen took this picture of me at sunset the other day.)

Excited about...our last day of school!  We are officially on summer break this week, and Wyatt in particular is excited about it.  The kids have been asking me to buy a kiddie pool, though it's not quite warm enough for one yet.  I think this summer in particular it will be important that I plan some fun things for us to do together, since our usual go-to's (zoo, parks, library programs) are in flux.  I want them to have fun and feel as little as possible of the lingering effects of this shutdown craziness.  Summer is NOT cancelled.  I refuse to let it be.

How is the summer looking for you right now?  Any plans to still make it fun?




Tunnels And Light, Etc.



I haven't written on this little blog in a week in a half.  It could perhaps be because I was obsessively checking the news last week for updates.  I also couldn't seem to get up any motivation to write because boredom reached an all-time high last Wednesday.  I couldn't think of anything interesting to say.  But all that's changed this week, and I'll tell you why!

Is That, Perchance, Light At The End Of This Tunnel?

Well, guys, the light at the end of the tunnel is getting very big, very bright, and very beautiful (as a certain president might say)!  

Just to sum up for posterity, our state went under a stay at home order (due to the coronavirus) at the beginning of April, and that was after two weeks of most people voluntarily staying home anyway. So we've basically been isolating for five or six weeks, along with most of the country.  The economy has absolutely tanked during that time, and at least 22 million people are now unemployed.  Even though our family's income is stable for the moment, and we were already largely at home anyway with homeschooling, it's been really painful to watch people being affected badly by the virus itself, and also the millions of livelihoods that are getting ruined by this shutdown.  Food bank lines are miles long.  Something obviously has to give.

(Georgie, coloring during quaren-church.)

Our state has put forth it's plan to start opening back up!  As of next Monday our stay-at-home order ends!  Woohoo!  We are still encouraged to stay home as much as possible, but there is just something about not being forced to stay home.  It's a freeing thing.  Retail opens back up on the 1st, and once they see how the coronavirus cases are affected by a partial reopening, they'll make a decision on restaurants in mid-May.  Things are looking up!

What does all this mean for our little family?  Well...we can get together with friends and family in small groups again without going against a government order.  I am looking forward to taking my kids to a park and (crossing my fingers) the library soon.  I'm also hoping some field trip destinations reopen soonish, because I had originally planned May to be "the month of field trips" to close out our school year.  We'll have to do all these things carefully, while being cognizant of giving people space and not spreading germs, but that's not a big deal at all after what the whole country has been going through.  We'll see what happens.

Has your state announced any steps or plans for re-opening yet?  I know alot of states have not come up with a clear plan yet, and if that's you, I'm sorry.  

Homeschooling Update

I shook up our homeschool a bit at the beginning of quarantine, but when it became clear it was going to go on much longer than I thought, we got back into a regular routine after a couple weeks.   In some areas I'm still motivated (got to finish that math book!), but in others, I admit, I'm feeling like things are a little stale.  We've finished up several of our curricula for the year, and are still working through others.  We have about 23 days left of the school year, and I'm trying to think of ways to still keep things interesting as we try to wrap things up.  For one thing, I bought this book:



I wanted to do a little unit of westward expansion of the United States, and I thought this book would bring it to life for the kids.  We did the seventh chapter last week (starting in the middle), and loved it!  My good friends who own a ranch also sent us this:



It's a bunch of resources they put together about oxen and their role in westward expansion, and it's been a great addition to our study!

This week I decided that if we can't go on real field trips as originally planned, we will go on virtual ones.  I have been looking through this website with a bunch of virtual field trip ideas, and I think we're going to do the aquarium today.  A friend also shared this marine biology class online, which we might check out.  Our geology curriculum just went over marine fossils, so this would all probably fit in nicely.

I'm also strongly considering putting together a little in-the-car photo scavenger hunt that I can do with the kids one day this week or next week.  Cassidy shared a scavenger hunt on Instagram the other day, and it looked so fun!  It would give us all a chance to get out and still enjoy spring, since alot of our springtime plans have been canceled.  I'm mulling it over.

Other Random Stuff

Last week was a complete bust as far as accomplishing anything, but this week I started feeling motivated again, and I finally cleaned up my house and took some "after" pictures. We've been in this house 18 months now, and we've accomplished a lot of updates.  If you'll remember our house used to have pink carpet, so yeah, it looks better now!  Keep an eye out, I'll probably get some new house tour posts up soon.

We had been enjoying beautiful warm weather before Easter.  Then it snowed.  Now it's back to beautiful sunshine again.



I've been doing a 30 Day Song Challenge on Instagram, and I have to say, it's been so much fun!  If you follow me on Instagram, you can see it on my highlights.  I might put it together into a playlist eventually.

We also celebrated Clyde's birthday right before Easter!  My baby boy turned six years old.  We took him out to Dunkin' Donuts (drive through) for breakfast, colored Easter eggs on his birthday, and had a movie night.  He got legos and slime and a mini version of that alligator dentist game you probably remember from when you were a kid.  He was happy as a clam!  I'll get his birthday post up soon too.

(Kids opening their Easter baskets - we got them flip-flops, sunglasses, and an Adventures In Odyssey each!  And candy, of course.)

I also started reading Brave New World by Aldous Huxley with my book group friends, and wow, it is interesting so far.  Disturbing and interesting. I'm curious to see where the story will go.  Have any of you read it?



How goes the quarantine where you are?  Anyone losing your mind yet? (I was last week, I admit.)  What are you all reading? Any projects you've been working on? 

Hang in there, this can't go on forever!  Hoping you are starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel too.

Currently | April 2020


Sharing...photos of our weekend hike.  Our state has shelter-in-place orders, but you can't tell me that getting outside is non-essential! (And thankfully the state agrees, so no conflict there.) It was so good for our family's mental health to get outside together and enjoy the crisp mountain air.  I have to say, I'm more grateful than ever to be living in the mountains right now.  It's a blessing to be a couple minutes from trails and woods with all this going on in the world.










Writing...letters to family and friends.  More accurately, the kids are writing letters - I have been letting myself become too distracted to sit down and write a letter.  I decided to change that late last week.  I had been keeping up on the presidential press briefings, and avoiding all other coronavirus news, which was working for me at first.  But now... if I'm completely honest, I'm a little sick of hearing from experts who don't actually seem to know anything except what we all already know, and are constantly changing their projections (ie. guesses).  I know that's not a popular thing to say right now, but it's how I feel.  I'm sure if there is some huge update, an actual update, the news will find me.  I know my state's requirements, and that's all I really need to know, so I'm quitting on the briefings too and just living my life for a while.  First thing on the agenda - actually sit down and write that letter I've been meaning to write for two weeks!  Ugh.

Teaching...myself to embroider.  I have been wanting to learn how to do hand embroidery for a while, and I think now is the time!  Especially since I've officially quitted on the news, I should have time.  I'm hopefully going to watch my first instructional video today.

Wishing...and praying this shutdown will come to an end sooner rather than later.  Summer is right around the corner.  If this virus really is seasonal, like they say, things will hopefully be looking up in the upcoming weeks.

Investigating...homeschool curriculum for next school year.  I got another homeschool catalog in the mail, and I've been flipping through the pages.  It's reminding me of how I used to love getting the JCPenney catalog, and Christian Book Distributor catalog, and American Girl catalog when I was a kid.  There is something fun about just flipping through a catalog.  I'm especially sad that the JcPenney catalog is no longer a thing (I don't think).  Do you remember how thick those books were?  I'd circle all the toys and clothes that I liked so my mom would know what I wanted for Christmas or my birthday.  Fun times.

Buying...Summer clothes for the kids.  I pulled out our tubs of summer clothes and sorted everything last week, and filled in a few gaps when Old Navy was having a 50% off sale.  I also ordered a couple fit 'n' flare dresses for myself, because they are perhaps the most perfect summer dress I've ever found.  More than other years, I'm looking forward to warm summer days, when hopefully the parks and libraries will be open again and Coronavirus Round One will, God willing, be behind us.  Remember at the beginning of March, when I complained that it was a boring month, and nothing fun ever happens?  I was right, nothing fun happened, but in retrospect, it can't be called a boring month, can it? I will never complain about a normal March again.

Reading...East Of Eden by John Steinbeck.  I was about to quit on it, because I was finding it a bit depressing, but the book hit it's stride.  Now I can't pick it up unless I'm willing to sacrifice a couple hours reading it, I'm really invested in the characters and can't put it down!


What are you all up to?

The Wednesday Five | Vol. 9



I'm trying to bring back the Wednesday Five on the blog!  You can read other Wednesday Five posts here, and feel free to join in if you want.

A Quote

"The direction of a big act will warp history, but probably all acts do the same in their degree, down to a stone stepped over in the path, or a breath caught at the sight of a pretty girl, or a fingernail nicked in the garden soil." 
-John Steinbeck, East Of Eden

A Book

Ribsy by Beverly Cleary.  Tonight we all sat down together for dinner, which doesn't happen as often as I'd like, and Derek and I took turns reading it aloud to the kids.  It is nostalgic, written about a different era, and I love it so much during this crazy time.

A Bit Of Nature



A Recommendation

You have to check out this Youtube channel I just found - this little old lady has a channel called Great Depression Cooking, and she cooks a meal that her family ate during the Great Depression, and tells her memories from that time.  She's got to be at least pushing 90 then?  Man, I hope I'm like her when I'm 90. I thought it was particularly nice to stumble across her channel during uncertain economic times.  Hopefully we don't have a full-blown depression in our future, but her stories are interesting.

(Seconds of potato soup while I type this)

A Moment Of Happiness

When we were eating dinner tonight, the kids were all listening to the story so carefully while Derek was reading, and I was feeding Georgie a few spoonfuls of soup to help her not spill.  I put particular effort into a creamy potato soup for dinner tonight, and she really liked the potatoes. She takes a bite from the spoon, and then all of a sudden she looks at me and makes this wide-eyed, stretched-out silly face at me.  It was so cute and unexpected, I laughed.  Then I made the face back, and she laughed.  Then she said something cute and all my adorable little clan laughed.  

It's moments like that which remind me how even "hard" times have fun in them.  The world could fall apart, and I like to think we'd still find ways to make each other laugh. 

Coronavirus Quarantine Coffee Chat



Let's just take a moment and admire my title alliteration (I worked hard on that one).  And after you're done admiring, let's pretend we are having coffee together, round two!

A Coffee To Try

Speaking of coffee, have you seen that whipped coffee trend?  Apparently it's a thing - started in South Korea during their coronavirus self-isolating measures.  You take instant coffee, sugar, and water, and whip it with a hand mixer, and it turns to this foam-like consistency.  Then you top a glass of milk with it and let it gradually melt together.  This idea was so interesting to me - who would have thought those three ingredients could turn into this creamy coffee foam?  I've never had any coffee like that before, and it was fun to try.


A Little Encouragement

How is everyone feeling during this second week of social distancing?  While we have been mostly in good spirits, I did find myself getting overwhelmed late last week over some minor stresses, and I realized that it would take a very little straw to break the camel's back right now.  After getting out of the house for some breakfast at Sonic on Saturday, and virtual Sunday school and church services, I am feeling better this week.  Our pastor pointed out that we should be careful not to binge on Netflix or news, but to binge on God's word, and I was convicted by that.  I haven't spent enough time just praying over this whole crisis, and I want to focus more on that.



The sermon was also a great reminder of things we can be certain of in these times of uncertainty.  It's certain that we will have trouble in this world.  But it's also certain that Christ died to save us from our biggest problem, sin; that He has conquered death and this world; that this world isn't the believer's true home; that one day He will return or call us to Heaven, and this light suffering will be nothing in comparison to His glory.  I've been saying from the start that we should keep the coronavirus in perspective, but more than an earthly sense of perspective, for those of us who have trusted in Jesus, an eternal perspective comes with real peace.  Peace that passes understanding.

A Record For Posterity

Just for a little record for my grandchildren who may read this someday, last Monday the President asked us to practice "social distancing" for 15 days.  Social distancing involves staying home as much as possible, washing your hands alot, staying six feet away from each other, not shaking hands, etc, and trying to keep groups under 10 people.  That last one is tricky for us, since we have 7 people in our family alone, but we are still trying our best to follow the recommendations.   The idea is to slow the spread of the virus long enough to give the government and medical community time to prepare for a potentially bad impact from the virus.

I've been watching no news except for the President's press briefings each day, and that is the way I like it.  From what I heard, so much of the commentary is politically-driven, and sometimes even bordering on panic-mongering, and I don't need that in my life.  Watching the briefings has given me a good idea of what is actually important to know, and I'm impressed with the way it's being handled, though a little skeptical about the plan of checks being sent out from the government.  Where is the money for that coming from?  I understand why they want to do it, but a couple thousand dollars per household is a ton of money, and it doesn't just come out of thin air!  We'll see what happens with that.

Last week most press questions were implying that we would be locked down for months, which I was finding stressful.  Not because it would be personally hard to stay home that long, but because the resulting economic damage could be devastating to the entire country.  It's only been a week and I already know people who are losing their jobs.  I couldn't wrap my head around the idea of months.  Yesterday President Trump assured the nation that we can't let the "cure" be worse than the illness, and that they are hopeful that we are looking at a matter of weeks rather than months.  Weeks I can handle, so I found that heartening.

Today they are starting clinical trials of an anti-malaria drug in treating the coronavirus, and if that works it would be a game-changer - as the President said, "a gift from God".  I spent time this morning praying that this medication would be effective.

In our state, we are looking at restrictions for the next 30 days, but thankfully not a shelter-in-place order as some states are dealing with.

How We Are Keeping Busy

More personally, the past week has not been that unusual for us.  We are a homeschool family, and not much has changed in our day-to-day life because of that.  Our co-op has been basically canceled for the rest of the year, and having every day of the week at home has been refreshing.  The biggest change has been having Derek work from home every day, but that hasn't been too much of an adjustment.  He was working "from home" two days a week before, though he often ended up working from our local coffee shop.  So our main obstacle was finding him a more isolated corner of the house to make working at home feasible.  We ended up setting up an "office" in our master closet, and even though it's a cramped space, he says it has been working really well!  We are probably keeping the closet office from here on out.



I've been trying to make homeschooling a little more fun over the last week, and we've been trying to send letters to some of our friends and family.  We've been slacking on the letters for the past couple days, but we'll get back to it today.  I especially want to write a letter in response to my friend Hazel this week.

The kids have been spending alot of time outside, then it snowed and all their pent-up energy was unleashed on the house.  Now it's melted and I'm making them go outside again.



I've been watching too much TV, and I'm trying to step back from that this week and spend more time reading - reading the Bible, and reading my big stack of library books.  Sometimes a mindless distraction is not a bad thing though, so we won't give up TV entirely.

As far as projects - keeping on top of household chores has still taken up the majority of my spare time, as it always does.  But I do have one extra project.  We have a vacation booked at the end of April.  We may have to cancel it, but we are not going to make any decisions until a couple days before we are scheduled to leave, so I am treating everything as if we are still going.  The coronavirus news has been changing almost daily, sometimes for the worse and sometimes for the better, so who knows what the status will be by then.  I'm going to be cautiously optimistic for now.  Today my project is to pull out the kids' summer clothes, and figure out what gaps are in the kids' wardrobes so I can determine what summer things I will need to buy, and which things I need to get before our hopeful vacation, and make a budget for all that.  So that's what I'll probably be working on today.

A Bookish Conundrum 

And because I can't end an update without talking about what I'm reading, I keep wavering on which book I want to focus on while we are mostly stuck at home.  I started The Lake House by Kate Morton, and I'm enjoying it, but I also got a few chapter into East Of Eden by John Steinbeck, and I'm finding that really interesting.  Which to read, which to read.  Have you read either of those books?  Which one should I choose?  Maybe I'll just continue alternating for now, and see which one pulls ahead.

How's this week going for all of you?




How I'm Changing Our Homeschool During The Pandemic



As schools and libraries and businesses are shutting down, many assume that nothing has really changed for us homeschool moms during this pandemic.

That's partly true, but only partly.

For us, our co-op has been canceled, most likely for the rest of the year, and our weekly library trips are put on hold (ha! I keep stumbling into puns this week).  My kids have been asking me every night "What are we doing tomorrow, Mom?", and the answer continues to be "nothing".   It doesn't seem right to continue on with our schedule as though nothing has changed, when my kids obviously know something has.  They know we aren't going to co-op or church, and they know why.

While I'm grateful for the stability that homeschooling has given us, I decided to make a few changes over the coming weeks.  I find myself a little jealous of the extra time so many public/private school moms are getting with their kids.  I am blessed to get that amount of time with my kids every day, and it's easy to forget that!  This whole thing has reminded me that I get to choose the quality of the time that I get with them, and I want to up the quality during this unusual series of events.  I want to make some special memories with my kids too, even though homeschooling means not as much has changed.

So here are the things I'm doing to make the next couple weeks more exciting for all of us.



Take a step back from the three R's.

For much of the homeschool year, my main focus is keeping up in the "three R's" - reading, writing, and arithmetic.  Obviously those things are important, but we aren't going to fall behind if we lighten up on the tedious bits of homeschooling for a couple weeks. I want to pull back on the "have-to's" and focus a little more on the homeschool "want-to's".

More history and science.

I love elementary school, because there is so much flexibility in what we choose to study!  We get to follow our whims.  Right now we are going to focus on westward expansion in history, and see where that takes us.  And science will include alot more nature walks and special activities.



Add in those activities we never get to.

Amidst keeping up with our regular curriculum, sometimes I don't make time for the things I really want to do with the kids.  Things like nature study (still trying to figure that one out), art lessons, physical education (our basketball hoop needs more action), cooking instruction, and life skills (such as letter-writing, how to clean a bathroom, etc.).  I want to take this as an opportunity to spend time on those things right now.

Watch more movies.

Books are wonderful, but often movies really make things come alive. I see alot of Little House On The Prairie in our future.

Take advantage of all the free resources!

In light of so many people finding themselves accidental homeschool moms, alot of websites are offering more free educational resources than ever.  I'm taking full advantage!  I've already downloaded a couple free studies, and I'm keeping an eye on my inbox for more.  If you have any resources to share, please do!  I know there are a ton right now that I don't even know about.

(Just for a couple things, I really am enjoying Chantel's homeschool posts this week, and Raising Up Wild Things and Cottage Chronicles both have the cutest printables that I've seen anywhere!)



If you are a homeschool mom, are you changing anything about your school during the pandemic?

You can read all my homeschool posts here.


The Wednesday Five | Vol. 8





I'm trying to bring back the Wednesday Five on the blog!  You can read other Wednesday Five posts here, and feel free to join in if you want. You can borrow the format and slap any old day of the week on there.


A Quote


"Shake not the head, feet, or legs; roll not the eyes, lift not one eyebrow higher than the other, wry not the mouth; and bedew no man's face with your spittle, by approaching too near him when you speak."
-George Washington, from his rules for civility 

I thought you all would appreciate that part about not "bedewing" any man's face with your spittle in light of the events this week!


A Book

East Of Eden by John Steinbeck.  Our little local library, the one that is a ten minute walk from my house, was still open today.  I went in (careful not to touch anything), and rented this book.  I've never read anything by Steinbeck, have you?  Grapes Of Wrath I've heard of, but this one sounded interesting.



A Bit Of Nature


Isn't this fence in our neighborhood so neat?


A Recommendation

I recommend you keep an eye on your email this week, because a lot of companies are having online sales to combat the fact that people aren't out shopping in person.  I'll probably have alot of packages coming next week (so glad that postal service is still up and running)!  I ordered a swimsuit I've had my eye on for a while at 20% off, dresses for the girls at over 50% off, and some new essential oil blends from Plant Therapy at 30% off.  Good deals this week, and lots of homeschool websites are sending out freebies too - email/online is where it's at right now!


A Moment Of Happiness

Georgie was following me round the kitchen this morning, and I bent down with my lips pressed together to give her a kiss.  She threw her chubby little arms on either side of my head and pulled my face to hers, crossing her eyes as she aimed at kissing me on the lips.  I don't want to ever forget her concentration and precious little face.

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