Showing posts with label Motherhood. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Motherhood. Show all posts

Are You Feeling The Christmas Stress Yet?



The Christmas stress is starting to set in a little bit.

I used to get overly stressed around Christmas time, after I had kids.  I just wanted everything to go perfectly and be fun and memorable.  But I also didn't realize just how much moms shoulder the burden of Christmas until I had kids.  It took me a while to figure out how to balance the Christmas season better, without letting the stress totally overwhelm me.

But clearly I'm still susceptible.  Christmas is basically two weeks away guys, two weeks.  And I have barely started any wrapping, and half the Christmas cards have yet to be sent.  Thankfully last week was the busiest week on our December calendar, and the next couple weeks will hopefully be much calmer and more joy-filled.

All that to say, I have a post up on Rooted.com about simplifying Christmas.  I'm talking about focusing on what...and Who...is really important this time of year.  I hope you'll go check it out, and then come back and please give me your best tips for navigating the Christmas season gracefully!  It's something I'm still trying to practice.


I've also actually written alot about Christmas and stress in the past, so obviously it's been an issue around here in the past, ha!  You can check out some of those posts below.

When Christmas Stresses You Out

Six Christmas Stressors (And What To Do About Them)

Five Ways To De-Stress During The Christmas Season

Four Ways To Recognize Advent As A Mom

My No-Stress Christmas To-Do List

Three Ways I'm Preparing For Christmas Before Thanksgiving

The Real Reason Why We Homeschool



"So, why did you decide to homeschool?"

I've been asked this question many times over the last several years, and sometimes it feels like a loaded question.  My standard answer has been that I was homeschooled myself and always knew that I wanted to homeschool too.  It's my non-confrontational, let's-not-get-too-far-into-this answer.  People can potentially get pretty fired up over educational choices, so I've fallen back to citing my own experience in an attempt to not rock too many boats.

But the truth is my standard reply is not really a real answer.  It's not a real "why".  "I always knew I would homeschool" is not a reason that gets you through the hard days when you wonder if it would have been easier to just put them on the big yellow bus.

If you know a homeschool mom, even one who grew up homeschooled like me, homeschooling is not the default choice.  You have to be a little bit of a rebel to homeschool, and you have to have a reason why you think it's better.  That might ruffle some feathers, but I do think it's a necessary ingredient to homeschool successfully.  As a homeschool parent, you have to have a solid reason why you think homeschooling is the better choice for your family in order to stick with it, because it's not easy.  That reason might vary from family to family, but you need one.

It occurred to me that maybe I’m not doing anyone any favors by not getting into the full reason why we homeschool.  So in this post I wanted to be little more up-front by sharing mine.



The main reason why we homeschool is because it is very important to us to protect my kids' childhood, and to train our children up in the fear and admonition of the Lord.  And we think homeschooling is the educational choice that is most conducive to those goals.

There are a lot of reasons we choose to homeschool and think it’s beneficial, but this is our most important one.

First, let's talk about protecting our kids' childhood.

Your mind probably jumps first to protecting their innocence, and that is part of what I mean here.  With things like comprehensive sex education and a rampant por.nog.raphy problem among younger and younger kids, if I can "shelter" my children from those things from a while, you bet I'm going to.  But there are other aspects of a childhood to protect as well.

To me, homeschooling is more conducive to protecting childhood in the matter of simple time.  I want my kids to have chunks of their day with time to play together, to read books for no other reason than interest, to explore God’s creation, to build something with their hands.  I want them to have time to connect meaningfully with the rest of the family each day, to be creative, to get bored, and time to just be.  To be a kid.  

I knew from my own homeschool student experience that homeschooling takes much less time (I found the estimates in this post to be pretty accurate), and there is obviously no homework.  That leaves my kids more time in their day to experience all the fun of childhood.  I wouldn't trade that for anything.



My second reason is that I want to train my kids up in the fear and admonition of the Lord.

As a Christian parent, I believe it is my duty to train and instruct my children in the faith.  This is backed up by Scripture.

"And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." Deuteronomy 6:6-9

And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4

We will not hide them from their children, but will declare to the next generation the praises of the LORD and His might, and the wonders He has performed. Psalm 78:4

There is no shirking this duty to teach the next generation about the Lord, whether our kids are homeschooled or go to public or private school.  My greatest desire for my children is that they would repent of their sins and trust in Jesus as their Savior, and that they would want to serve Him with their whole lives.  My goal as a Christian parent is to do everything I can to bring my kids to Christ and encourage them in living their lives for Him.

In my experience, homeschooling is more conducive to training my children in the faith because I have the freedom as a homeschool parent to integrate this instruction into every aspect of their education.  Every subject they are learning is an opportunity to also point them to the Giver of all knowledge.  

"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding."  Proverbs 9:10

It is a huge perk to me that homeschooling allows us to start with a biblical foundation for our kids' education and build their faith along with their studies, as long as I am faithful in teaching them this way.




A Few Things I Am Not Saying

You should know that I am NOT saying that if you send your kids to school, you are not doing a good job training your children up in the faith.  I don't believe that at all.  I know many godly, Christian parents who don't homeschool and are doing a great job with their kids.  But it also can't be denied that there is a more limited window of time in which to train them up in the faith when they are at school most of each weekday.  I don't believe education is neutral - all instruction is guided by a worldview, one which may or may not be biblical.  You can be successful in training up your kids in the faith with any educational road you may choose, but some roads are going to have more obstacles to work around than others.  Personally, I would rather go with the road with less obstacles.

I am not saying that if you don’t homeschool your kids won’t have a childhood.  I am saying that it might take more vigilance and intention and effort to protect innocence and time to be a kid when they are at school for much of the day.

I am not criticizing anyone for making a different educational choice, and I’m not criticizing teachers.  I'm fully aware that not everyone is able to homeschool, and I personally know many public and private school teachers who care about their students.  Parents I respect may come to a different conclusion about what they should do about their child's education, and that's ultimately up to you as a parent.  This post is not meant to be taken as a criticism.  I’m only hoping to share a few of my honest thoughts about an educational choice (homeschooling) that is certainly not the road of least resistance, though I may have given that impression with my standard answer in the past. 




When it comes down to it, I think people ask me this question because homeschooling is a novelty still.  Public or private school has been the default option for many people, and they wonder why someone would choose something different.  My hope in sharing my honest thoughts here is to bolster anyone who may be thinking about homeschooling, and to provide more meaningful insight as to why someone would choose to homeschool for those who have not thought about it seriously before.  You may disagree with my reasons, and that's fine, but this is why we have made the decision to homeschool our kids.



Maybe I should turn the tables next time and ask "Why did you decide to send your kids to school?"  That might make for an interesting conversation, ha!

If you are a homeschool parent, what is your main reason for homeschooling?

The Happiest Place On Earth



We decide to skip the trolley.  After waiting in line for the ferry to leave Disney World for over an hour, I do not want to wait in another line.  "Let's just walk," I suggest, and I hope the parking lot is as close as I think it is.

We trudge across a nearly empty parking lot to a bridge that crosses over one of the many channels of water in Orlando.  Clouds cover the stars, but we can see the moon peeking out on the edges, a handbreadth up from the horizon.  We cross the bridge and I notice how the moonlight shines across the water through the trees.  The sound of junebugs are everywhere, and birds that are strange to our ears call from these little patches of nature in the middle of all the cement.

"Let's pretend we are explorers, and we just landed in the New World," I say as I push the stroller, trying to distract the big kids from their aching feet.  "See that little water channel, and those trees?  It would be like that everywhere.  And there would be birds calling, and crocodiles in the water, and maybe a panther in the trees!  Can you imagine what it would have been like to be here then?  Would you be scared?"

My oldest son's eyes light up as he considers the possibility, while my daughter looks happy that this is just a pretend game.  Up ahead I hear laughter, and I glance up to see Derek with our preschooler in one arm, and our near-kindergartner in the other.  They grin at me over his shoulders, and I grin back, listening as my oldest two beside me discuss how they would protect themselves in the jungle.  

And that's when I finally feel it.



We've been in the "happiest place on earth" all day, but here in this moment, walking on aching feet through a dark parking lot as if we are conquering explorers, this is when I feel the most magical.

And I realize now that we don't have to travel across the country and have "magic" manufactured for us.  We had tried that all day, and it was a failed attempt.  No, those blessed, happy, magic-filled moments can happen anywhere with a little imagination and gratitude, whenever I open my eyes to them.  They can happen with sore feet and damp hair, they can happen at home or far away, when we are doing something exciting or when we are so tired we are merely longing to be tucked under cool sheets.  

Just being with the people I love most in the world, laughing and walking along together, that is the happiest place on earth.  That is a beautiful blessing given to me by God Himself.



That is magical all by itself.

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I wrote this after our trip to Florida in August, and now seemed like a good time to share it, since my month of memory-keeping is almost over!  You can read all my posts in this series by clicking on the picture below.


Nuts And Bolts Of Memory-Keeping







Now that my month of memory-keeping is nearing an end, let's discuss that actual nuts and bolts of memory-keeping, specifically as moms, shall we?  I am still trying to figure out the best way to keep memories for my kids.  It's hard for me to find something that I can consistently do for each kid individually and our family as a whole, at least without letting it take over my life.

These are a few of the things I've tried so far.  As you'll see, many of my attempts have been less than stellar.  I'd love to hear any tips you all have in any of these sections!

(Note: This post contains an affiliate link.)

Baby Books

I got each of my kids a baby book and was relatively good about filling them out - but to be honest, I totally dropped the ball for my last two kids.  I was not going to be that mom that keeps meticulous records for her first child and then doesn't do anything for subsequent kids.  I made a valiant effort, and yet, here we are.

In my defense, I did keep meticulous records for all of my kids here on this blog, which serves in the function of a baby book as well.  I just need to sit down and transfer the information I typed up here into my kids' actual baby books.  I still have my baby book that my mom filled out for me, and I think there is something special about seeing her words about me as a baby, written in her own handwriting.

Photo Albums

Once upon a time, before my third child, I printed up pictures from the first two years of my first baby's life.

And that's it.

I have alot of guilt related photo albums.  There are just so many pictures, I finally realized I can't possibly print them all.  Not only would it cost a fortune, but I don't have enough room in my house for that many photo albums. In addition, it's a huge chore choosing which pictures to print, and I just haven't made time for it yet.

However, currently the only child who has baby pictures to look through is Wyatt, and this is also unacceptable to me.  I remember loving to look through my baby pictures when I was a kid, and hearing my mom tell me stories about each photo.  So a big priority for the next few months is getting some pictures printed up!

More on my strategy in another post soon maybe, but I'd love to hear if you print pictures, and if so, how you choose and organize them.

This Blog

One reason I'm glad this blog never grew too much and I never tried to go too professional with it is that it not only serves as an outlet for my thoughts, but also as a record of our family's lives.  I recorded the kids' birth stories, month-by-month updates for the first year, yearly birthday letters, and a bunch of other random memories on here.

I would like to get caught up on printing my blog into a book.  There used to be a service for this (a very basic service called Blog2Print) which I used for the first few years, but I discovered a couple years ago that they raised their prices to ridiculous levels.  So I'm on the hunt for a better way to print everything here into a book, but at the very least I can print the posts I wrote for each kid and stick them in their baby books, like I mentioned above.  That gives me alot of comfort when I'm feeling like a memory-keeping failure.  The blog is the one area in which I haven't yet dropped the ball.

(If you've printed up blog posts recently and bound them in any way, I'd love to hear what you did!)

A Memory-Keeper Book





This is my latest endeavor.  Several months ago I realized that I would really like to have a better system for writing down cute things the kids say or do.  I have been recording things in my bullet journal off and on, but I wanted something a little more polished that my kids could also look through when they get older.

I purchased a Happy Memory-Keeper on sale, and I'm giving it a try.  The pages are pretty all by themselves and rather inspiring.  The boxes make me feel organized, and I can also easily add pictures or stickers to dress it up a little.

Most of the sections look like this:








I know myself, and I know I'm not going to write something down every day, so I'm just leaving the pages undated.  I'll fill in a box whenever something cute happens, and just make a note of the date until the whole page is full.  One page might last me a month this way, because I'm not going to slap stickers in all the spaces just to fill them up in a week.

The book also has some pages for special days:




So far I'm liking how it's going!  I make a note when something about our day stands out, and I will probably add pictures in some of the boxes eventually.



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As you can see, I have alot to figure out still when it comes to memory-keeping!  But I think the main thing is that I'm trying.  It may not be pretty or very organized, but I know eventually my kids will see the different way that I have tried to capture their growing-up years, and I hope when they do they can see how much I adored them.

How do you keep memories as a mom?

Stay tuned, I might do a more in-depth post about photo-keeping strategies I have tried! Some have worked, some not, but I'm slowly coming up with a plan.

A Typical Homeschool Week




I've thought for a while now of sharing one of our typical homeschool days.

The only problem is we don't really have "typical" homeschool days.

We don't do the same subjects every day.  Some days we might run errands or go on a nature hike, and school looks a little different.  Some weeks are lighter, and some weeks we really accomplish a lot.

What we do have is a typical homeschool week, so I thought I'd share a sample week for you to see how we fit everything in.  This is an actual week of school that I pulled right out of my record book.  I tried to pick a fairly average week.  Some weeks we squeeze in more (especially with science or history), some weeks we accomplish less.  This is just to give you an idea.

You might also notice that we don't necessarily do a math or reading lesson every day - that's because we are actually ahead of where I had scheduled us to be at this point in the year, so some days we skip.  I shared a video about how I planned out our school year, and as long as we are staying close to my goal points, I'm fine with giving us a break on certain subjects some weeks.

Okay, here we go!  I had to guess on some of the surrounding details since I don't remember exactly how the day went several weeks ago, but in general these kinds of days are pretty typical for us.


Monday

The kids wake up around the same time that I do, but I tell them to stay in their rooms until at least 7:00 while I try to squeeze my devotions in.  Some days I can do morning devotions before starting the day, some days I can't.

I get the kids eating breakfast, and fix my makeup.  Then they play while I eat my breakfast and watch the news.  We enjoy having slow mornings.

Sometime around 10:00 or 11:00, I get Wyatt started on doing his math on the computer.  We are supplementing with an online curriculum this year, so some days he does math on the computer, and some day we do one-on-one instruction.  

He finishes math, so I have him practice his cursive while I do a reading lesson with Gwen.  The reading lesson goes quick so we move right on to Gwen's math.

After Gwen is finished I switch back to Wyatt, and we do a reading lesson.  Then I take a break to start lunch.

After we eat, as I'm getting Georgie down for a nap, I have Wyatt start outlining his writing assignment for the week and cut out his "mini books" for his science notebook.  I settle Clyde in with his kindergarten workbook too.  Gwen reads or plays quietly.  I help Wyatt with writing after Georgie is settled, and then we enjoy what's left of the afternoon.

Tuesday

I decide to try to get an early start today, so I start working on reading and math lessons with Wyatt right after breakfast.  As he finishes worksheets or math problems, I start working on spelling with Gwen.  When Wyatt is finished, he takes a break while I move on to Gwen's math.  I want to get her ahead, and she's already got a handle on the concepts in these lessons, so we do three in a row before we quit.  The little kids interrupt us a few times, but mostly play together upstairs, and Wyatt reads a book in the play room.

I make lunch and have Wyatt do an extra computer math lesson while I put Georgie down for a nap.  In the afternoon I work with him on adjectives and verbs, and we start writing his story for the week.  Then he practices his Spanish lessons for co-op before we quit for the day.

Wednesday

It's a rough morning, and we get a late start.  An hour before lunch I get Wyatt started on a math lesson, and Gwen started on writing practice.  We're going to focus on science and history lessons today, so I read a chapter of our Astronomy textbook to all the kids as we eat lunch.  We're learning about Venus, and they are fascinated.  After I get Georgie down, we do our Bible lesson and read a little bit of a book about Lottie Moon, since we are studying China in our history/geography curriculum right now.

We don't have time for anything more since I have to leave around 4:00 to take Wyatt to his soccer practice.  But after dinner, Derek and I pack up pajama-clad kids in the car and take them as far from civilization as we can so we can stargaze.  We see a few planets and identify several constellations.  We give the kids cookies on the way home, and they ask to go stargazing again soon.

Thursday

We have errands to run this morning, so I have the kids take some of their work on the go.  Gwen does math practice in the car and works on handwriting (this is probably tricky to accomplish while we are driving, now that I'm thinking about it).  Wyatt does some cursive practice, and reads his current chapter book, a kids' version of Swiss Family Robinson.  When we get home, I feed everyone lunch and Wyatt does a computer math lesson while I get the littlest ones down for a nap.  We are all wiped out, so I help Wyatt finish his story before co-op tomorrow, and we call it a day.

Friday

Co-op this morning!  We run around like crazy people trying to get out the door, but we manage to get there in a reasonable amount of time.  We are all scattered on co-op mornings.  The kids go into their classes and learn some subjects together with other homeschoolers their age.  Gwen and Clyde hear a history lesson, do a science experiment, and do literature (which involves picture books and possibly a craft).  Clarice and Georgie are in the "preschool" class, so it's mostly playing, snacking, and crafts.  Wyatt has a spanish lesson, science experiments, and writing (which I help to teach).

I always have good intentions of doing some extra "fun stuff" when we get home from co-op - like music or art practice.  But honestly, we usually come home and just crash.

Weekend

Typically we do nothing on weekends, but this particular weekend we squeezed in a field trip to a "Living History Days" event after Wyatt's soccer game!  The kids got to see how people lived and worked in colonial times, which is very appropriate since that's what we're studying in our co-op history this year.



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And that's it guys!  A typical week in our homeschool.  Here is a breakdown of what we accomplished.

Wyatt (3rd Grade):

6 math lessons
2 reading lessons
3 days of writing work
2 days of cursive practice
Weekly science, Bible, History lessons
Lots of free reading time
2 field trips
Everything we do at co-op

Gwen (1st Grade):

4 math lessons, and 1 day of practice pages
1 reading lesson (which is fine, because that's all I planned for the week since she is ahead of schedule)
1 spelling lesson (only one is planned per week)
2 days of writing work
Weekly science, Bible, History lessons
Lots of free book and play time
2 field trips
Everything we do at co-op

Clyde (Kindergarten): 

Kindergarten workbook pages
Weekly science, Bible, History lessons
Lots of play time
2 field trips
Everything we do at co-op


Clarice and Georgie (4 and almost-2 years old):

Lots of playing and books
Joining in on field trips, Bible lessons, etc.

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Looking at the breakdown, I am pretty happy with the amount of work we accomplished in one week, even though a couple of the days felt like light days.  It just goes to show how things tend to even out over time.  

I will say that after typing this out here, I'm reminded that I need to spend a little more time with Clyde doing more one-on-one lessons.  He is mostly getting workbooks and the whole-family lessons right now, since I'm still trying to figure out what kind of work he is ready for and how to work it into my daily schedule.  So maybe I'll make that a goal for the next couple weeks.

It honestly feels a little vulnerable for me to share this with all of you.  I know some people will look at this sample week and think we are totally slacking, while other moms might look at it and focus in on the things that make them feel like they are slacking in their homeschool.  

But keep in mind that this is just one week of our homeschool.  This is how things are working for us right now.  Like every homeschool mom, I am always adjusting our methods and figuring out our schedule a little better with each passing month and year.  As I said, things tend to even out over time.  By the end of the school year, I'll look back and be amazed at how much we learned and how much my kids grew in their skills and knowledge  - and if you are a homeschool mom, I'm sure you will be able to say the same when May arrives!  

How is the school year going for all of you?

The Memory Thief In My Pocket



I hate this picture.

Okay, hate is a strong word.  I don't hate it.  It's a picture of me and my son while we were fishing last week, so I can't hate that.

What I don't like about it though is that ugly square of a phone sticking out of my back pocket.

Just to clarify, I was NOT poking around on my phone during our fishing day.  The phone is in my pocket because I was using it as my camera.  Photos are a big part of remembering events for me, and  I never feel bad for keeping a camera on me to capture the moments before they slip away (within reason - it is possible to take TOO many pictures).  But looking at this picture yesterday, a thought came to me, and it was this: if there is one thing I won't remember and don't desire to keep memories of in my life, it's the times I am on my phone.  And maybe that should affect my priorities a little bit.



Social media has its place.  I don't think any modern tool like that is all good or bad, so this is not a post about deleting all your social media accounts so you can spend more time making memories.  I'm hoping this might just be a little reminder to you and me to keep some balance.  Because there are some things which are not worth giving up.

It's not worth it to miss real-life interaction in favor of virtual interaction.  Even if the virtual interaction sometimes feels more interesting.

It's not worth it to make your kid call you ten times while you need "just a minute" more to read about some obscure acquaintances' life on Facebook.  Because you probably won't remember or care about that acquaintance in ten years, and it's never "just a minute".

It's not worth it to spend so much time staging perfect photos to grow your Instagram following if it means you are missing real moments with your kids.  Instagram following numbers are sand castles, and your kids should have mostly memories of you without your phone in your face (or theirs).

It's not worth it to get a blog post up every day if you have to stress about cramming writing into a weekend that is going to be full of real-life friendships or put down your sick baby who just wants her mama.

In case it wasn't obvious, that last one was me this weekend.  I'm losing steam on this writing challenge this month, and I think maybe that's appropriate.  Because I'm writing about memory-keeping, which goes hand-in-hand with memory-making.

I had a wonderful Saturday watching my son play his last game of soccer for the year, and driving three hours while we listened to stories to see friends that have stayed some of my dearest friends for the last twenty-two years.  Waking up later than I wanted to the next morning because I was such a good kind of tired, but still making it to church on time, and snuggling my youngest down for her nap before putting together a dessert for a game night with friends who are newer, but still becoming dear too.

And then yesterday, snuggling a sick baby instead of writing up the post I had originally planned for this morning.  I am happy to have this space to record my memories, because I know they would be lost to me if I didn't write them down.  But I won't fondly remember the actual recording of them, and I certainly won't look back nostalgically on time spent poking around on my phone, even if it's for the purpose of recording my memories.

The thing that makes memory-keeping precious is not the keeping part, but the memory itself.  And I think that's just a good thing to keep in mind in our modern age.  Memories aren't worth sacrificing, and it's a noble effort to guard against lesser things that might steal or tarnish memories that could have been made.






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.




The Wednesday Five | Vol. 2



A Quote

"Our hope in Christ for the future is the mainspring and the mainstay of our joy here.  It will animate our hearts to think often of heaven, for all that we can desire is promised there...Nevertheless, let it never be said of us that we are dreaming about the future and forgetting the present, let the future sanctify the present to it's highest uses...The man who has this hope in him goes about his work with vigor, for the joy of the Lord is his strength...He can labour without present reward, for he looks for a reward in the world to come." -Charles Spurgeon


This is from Morning And Evening by Charles Spurgeon, which I've been loving as an addition to my Bible reading lately.  A little bonus book pick for you!


A Book

Dracula by Bram Stoker.  This book is really not my style at all, but so far I'm kind of enjoying it?  I never read horror, but I am in a classics book club with some friends from my college days, and Dracula is what we picked for this season.  It is a classic, so I figure it's worthwhile to read just for the cultural references, but I'm halfway through and now I'm rather curious to see how it's going to turn out!  The ending in the book is supposed to be good...




Sidenote:  I am reading my leather-bound copy from Barnes And Noble, because it's the prettiest and least creepy cover I could find...also, I know I'm pale.  I promise I'm not a vampire.

A Bit Of Nature


The aspen trees peaked this last week!  But there are still a few areas where they have yet to change color.  I should really record peak week each year so I can plan our fall hikes to coincide.

A Recommendation

I have attended a few of these homeschool summits in the past - this is basically a free online conference with encouragement for Christian homeschool parents!  This year there will be sessions with Ken Ham and Voddie Baucham, so you should obviously sign up just for that.  But there also other speakers I have appreciated in the past, like Hal and Melanie Young, and Todd Wilson.  I expect good things!  It's happening next week, if you are interested.

A Moment Of Happiness

I took Clarice on a "mom day" last weekend.  We went grocery shopping, and I loved the feel of her dainty little hand in mine.  She insisted on riding in the cart until she was practically covered in groceries, and I remember doing the same when I was a kid.  I bought her a toy, a set of cleaning supplies.  "Mama, I can help you clean the house!" she declared excitedly.

We finished at the store, and I got her a happy meal as a special treat for dinner, since we never get happy meals when I have all the kids together.  She sat across the table, deconstructing her hamburger before she ate it, and every now and then she looked at me and gave me one of her dazzling grins.  Then she'd make a face at me to make me laugh.

She bounced along beside me as we left, like a little Tigger.  ON the way home she spotted the moon out the window.  "Mama, the moon is following us home!  He must be hungry!"  Then she laughed at her own joke, and I laughed too.

And I just kind of wish she could stay four years old forever.

A Fall Scavenger Hunt (& Thoughts On Memory-Making)



"Mom, do you remember when we did that fall scavenger hunt?"

I have to be honest, when my son asked me this on our mountain drive yesterday, I was totally drawing a blank.

"Um, no?" I said, puzzled.

"Yeah, we had to find like a red leaf, and a spider's web, and stuff, and you gave us candy corn afterward."

I honestly have no memory of this event ever happening.

See what I mean when I say I have a bad memory?

My son insists we did this scavenger hunt though.  After searching in the far recesses of my brain, I may have a vague recollection, but I have no idea where I found scavenger hunt inspiration the first time.  In an effort to duplicate something that clearly made an impression on my kiddos, I decided to put together a scavenger hunt for them today.

I considered putting together my own list of items to find, but did some quick googling first, and boy, I'm glad I did.  There are not just fall scavenger hunts online, there are lists of fall scavenger hunts online.  I found these papers for us to try out on this website, but thought I'd share the ones that stood out to me!



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I don't think you could complete this scavenger hunt list in a day (or at least we couldn't, since it includes some items we would find in the city or plains), but it would be great to do over the course of a week or two!  I like the pictures of the items for younger kids who can't read yet, but the actual things to find are good for older kids too.

This fall scavenger hunt is great for older kids who can read, or to do together as a family! My oldest son (eight years old) is working on this one.

This is an ideal fall scavenger hunt for younger kids because it has really simple items accompanied by pictures!  I gave this one to my four year old today.

This nature scavenger hunt has pictures and words, so I think it would work well for a variety of ages!  My middle two (six and five) are doing this one as I type.

If you kids in early elementary who might be up for a nighttime scavenger hunt, this one looks fun!

This is not really a scavenger hunt, but I love these kind of identification guides.  This one is a leaf identification guide that would be handy!

And if you are in a pre-Thanksgiving mood (or just want to bookmark this for November), I liked this gratitude scavenger hunt, a Thanksgiving Day scavenger hunt, and this Thanksgiving Reading challenge!

If none of these are interesting, or if you just want to see way more options than the ones I picked out here, check out the post 18 Fall And Autumn Scavenger Hunts For Kids - they had a bunch to sort through, these were just a few that I ended up saving!

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What was interesting to me about this whole scavenger hunt conversation was how different things stick with us, and so many things just slip away.  I can barely recall (maybe?) doing a nature scavenger hunt with my kids.  I feel like it would have been when my son was in kindergarten.  But here we are a few years later, and he still remembers that we did that.

What does all this have to do with memory-keeping?  I guess this post is more about memory-making.  You can't have one without the other.  So often I think that I have to orchestrate elaborate plans or make an elaborate effort to make a memory for my kids.  But this was so simple.  It required so little effort from me that I hardly remember it the first time, but it was really fun to my son.



My kids are running around outside right now as I type this, searching for spider webs and deciduous trees and pinecones.  I found a couple printables to hand out and basically said "have at it".  I promised them "corn candy" (as they call it) if they found as many items they could.  They are laughing and exploring and shouting every time they spot something on the list.



So I guess the point I'm trying to make with memory-making is to encourage you to take heart.  You don't have to try very hard.  Do something out of the ordinary now and then.  Mix in some candy.  They most likely won't remember that it wasn't perfect. They'll just remember the fun.








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:


Is Summer Over Yet?



This post is a week overdue.

Last week I shot my mouth off on Instagram and assured you all that a long, chatty post would be coming in the next couple days.  And here we are, a week later, and I'm finally sitting down on my private balcony with my iced coffee to write.  And private balcony sounds all fancy-shmancy, but it's not even quiet because the kids are literally playing right below me and shouting "Mom, are you out here?".  But I'm here now, and that's what counts, right?

Summer And Me Are Not Getting Along Anymore

I feel like this promised-blog-post scenario is pretty emblematic of how the last month has been going for me.  Great intentions that don't quite come together.  I had such big plans for this summer and I don't understand why nothing is working out!

I was literally in tears the other night over this very thing.  It was a few days before the month of August, and Derek and I realized in a panic that we still had not booked our vacation that we were, in theory, leaving for in a mere three weeks.  So I spent the better part of two days researching flights/hotels/activities for multiple vacation locations.  I finally got our Florida vacation booked!  (More on that in a minute.)  

Turns out, Derek was busy during those same days ordering the mattress that we have been meaning to order for an entire year.  I knew he was doing this, and I was okay with this.  

But then fast forward to 10 o'clock at night (never my best hour of the day), when Derek reminds me that the mattress is getting delivered tomorrow. And I have not ordered a bed frame for the mattress to actually sit on, or bedding to actually cover it; and they are taking away our old bed so we will be sleeping on the floor, and I realize my bedroom will be in shambles; and I have a paid article that I now need to finish before we leave on vacation, not to mention cleaning and packing and shopping for said vacation, and we're leaving in two weeks, and oh my goodness I have wasted the entire summer and haven't done anything fun with my kids since June!

Cue the tears.

But after a good night's sleep, I remembered that I usually perform best when things get down to the wire.  I got all the shopping for bedding and vacation necessities done, and the bed is pretty much put together (except for a headboard, which will wait).  The article is mostly written now (I just have to put it together).  I'm halfway done with packing.  And I somehow managed to take my kids to the park one day, which probably qualifies as some sort of summer fun.

So it's coming together.

And all this explains why I am weirdly ready for summer to be over.  I finally understand what moms mean when they say that they miss the structure of the school year.  I need some external checks to keep myself motivated to get things done, and the routine of the school year does fill that role.  I used to enjoy the freedom of having no routine in the summer, but I'm over it now.




(Photos of my anniversary date outfit, back when I was still feeling thrilled about the summer.  Shirt and purse from Target this year, shorts from H&M, shoes from JustFab.)

Now, About Florida

Speaking of vacation, after checking to see where we could fly for the cheapest price, we finally figured out Orlando flights and hotels are ridiculously cheap in August.  

I guess hurricane season and 100% humidity scare some people off.

But after a brief discussion, we decided that we could make this trip work, so to Florida we will go!  Pray with me that no hurricanes blow into Florida this year, because we are mountain people and we are a freaked out by the idea of hurricanes with no truly high ground to retreat to.  

We are going to drive down to Miami first, and check out the Everglades and anything else cool to see down there.  (Suggestions for things we should see?)  Wyatt is particularly excited about seeing wading birds, since he doesn't get to see them in the mountains very often (at all), and I have high hopes that we'll see some unusual things that he can add to his birding list. 

(He wrote a list of all the kinds of birds that he has seen in the wild.  I didn't even ask him to, I casually made the suggestion and he practically shouted, "That's a great idea, Mom!"  I can't tell you how delighted I am by everything about this.)

After Miami, we'll head up to Orlando.  Cape Canaveral and the beach were high on our list.  I wanted to do Seaworld because I knew the kids would love seeing the marine animals.  But I do have a confession (prepare yourselves).

We almost considered skipping Disney.

I can hear the gasps reverberating throughout space.

The Whole Disney Thing 

I know alot of people are really into Disney, and it's supposed to be the most magical place on earth and all.  But I haven't been there in sixteen years, and my memories of it are a little vague and hazy.  I think I was too interested in spying out cute boys for Disney World to make much of an impression that year (that's a little embarrassing to admit, but I'm being honest here).  Nowadays, I am much more interested in the Everglades and the ocean and the Kennedy Space Center, and not so interested in standing outside in the brutal heat and rain, waiting in line for rides that are probably not as good as our local Six Flags anyway.   Not to mention paying out our noses for the privilege of standing in said lines.

But Derek said he doesn't feel like we can really go to Orlando without visiting Disney, and I couldn't really deny this for some reason.  Are you even allowed to go to Orlando without visiting Disney?  This is our main chance to take the kids to Disney World, maybe the only time we will ever be so close to going there.  And I do know the kids (the ones who are old enough to appreciate it, anyway) will be happy to go.

So we are going to plunk down the ridiculous price for six tickets and make it happen, although every second of that transaction will pain me I'm sure.

I am weirdly looking forward to the parade and fireworks though.  That stands out in my memory from the time we went there when I was eight.  

Probably because the scary Ursula in the parade pointed out me and my six-year-old sister and said we were "tender, sweet things", and I felt like she was threatening to steal our voices and turn us into those weird ocean plant-people, like in the movie.  We were both slightly flattered, slightly traumatized.

Somebody please talk Disney up to me.  Tell me the magic will completely win me over.  I will cling to your words while we are plunking down the $750+ dollars.

And Oh Yeah, School

One of the perks of homeschooling is that we are able to go on discounted trips in August when all the kids are back to the first week of school!  One of the downsides is that I'm not sure if we should immediately start back to school the week after we return from vacation.  I think I've settled on just starting in September and squeezing in extra days throughout the year so we can still finish on time.  To finish up by mid-May we would usually start in August, but I think we will need that extra week to recover from our trip and hopefully squeeze the last little bit of juice out of the summer. 

Not to mention that I also need the week to finish actually planning the school year.

If you are new to my blog, I promise I'm not usually so disorganized and crabby.  

It's just the summer, stealing my brain.



Are you ready for summer to be over yet?




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