Showing posts with label Old-Fashioned Blogging. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Old-Fashioned Blogging. 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.  


A Fresh Start

 


This post is brought to you by my brand new computer! 

It has been seven years since we bought my last laptop.  It had a good long run, before yesterday when it started taking 10 minutes to do whatever I asked it to do.  So we went out yesterday afternoon and picked up a new computer for me.

I still had to do school with the kids this morning, so I'm just now sitting down and getting it set up.  

I had a bit of a decision to make when the Mac guy asked if I wanted to transfer my data from my old laptop to my new one.  On the one hand, doing a transfer is the only way to make sure I don't lose anything.  On the other hand, there seemed to be something really nice about leaving all that "old" on the old laptop, and starting completely new.  Kind of like a drastic digital declutter, all at once.

I decided not to transfer anything.  I put some files that I thought I'd want to keep on my external hard-drive, and I'll keep them on there. I'm getting a completely fresh start with this new laptop.

The keys feel different, and the screen doesn't have any dust on it, and it feels nice just to type and have nothing freeze up on me.  I hope you'll allow me a chatty, nothing sort of post today.  I feel like I'm still running to catch up with the week, and I don't have anything good to say surrounding my theme for the month.  So let's just chat.

A Crazy Few Days

The last few days have been crazy.  Our car broke down recently, so we have been driving everywhere in two cars, and we checked out a couple new car options to see if we can find another car that we can afford that will also carry us all.  So it's been a lot of driving, and a lot of late nights driving all over the place, and picking up our car from the mechanic, and running out yesterday to buy me a new laptop.  To make a long story short, we are sleep-deprived and tired of driving.  But we're headed out to AWANA tonight anyway, and I think I need an afternoon cup of coffee to keep me awake for it.  It's that kind of week.

On the plus side, we did go to a pumpkin patch in the middle of driving all over creation, so I have some cute pictures to share whenever I get set up to edit photos on here!

A Little Library Trip

Last week we finally took a walk to our little local library, which we haven't visited since everything shut down in March.  I love that tiny little library. It smells a little musty, like old paper and glue.  There is a tree with pretty leaves right outside, and it blankets the ground every October.  For some reason when I rent books from that library, I actually end up reading them, unlike the books I get from big library in town.  The little library books just feel more worthy of being read for some reason.  Anyway, I picked up The Grapes Of Wrath and a story collection from an author I've never heard of, but the first story already made me cry.  I'll do a book roundup soon and share more.  But I've finally given up on forcing myself to read from a list, and I'm just reading whatever strikes me fancy.  I'm a chronic reader of many books at once.  It's incurable.

A Trip To Montana

This weekend I am flying to Montana with my mom for my cousin's wedding.  I've never flown out of state for a wedding before, so it will be an adventure. The wedding is another reason why it feels like I can't catch up this week.  I haven't even had a chance to do a test-pack (necessary since I'm trying to pack everything in my "personal item" so we don't have to pay for luggage).  I haven't even decided what to wear.  Our flight was pushed back by a couple hours, so my mom and I have to wear our wedding outfits on the plane, because we'll basically be driving from the airport to the venue.  What does one wear to be comfortable on an airplane and look good at a wedding? It's a conundrum.

It's going to be a whirlwind trip, and I wish we had a little more margin to check out Montana.  But I'll probably get to sit next to my mom on the plane, and that will hopefully be a nice time to visit with her.  So it'll still be good I think.  

A Hairdo Dilemma

Those of you who have been around a while know that I usually have short hair, but I've been letting it grow out some this year.  It's now shoulder-length, and I like that I can pull it up when I want to, though the length is still slightly awkward and not quite long enough for a bun.  But I kind of hate it down right now.  It just feels like so much hair.  I think I'll get a trim before I decide whether to chop it or give it another few months to get a little longer.

And I think when you start rambling about whether to get a haircut, it's time to bring the post to a close.  I'm sorry this doesn't quite fit with my 31 Days theme.  Let's just call this is a collection of "small things", the kinds of things you might ramble about to a friend over coffee.  An afternoon coffee.  Because it's been that kind of week.

How's your week going?





The Wednesday Five | Vol. 13


A Quote

But I”m glad it’s not rainy today because it’s easier to be cheerful and bear up under affliction on a sunshine day…It’s all very well to read about sorrows and imagine yourself living through them heroically, but it’s not so nice when you really come to have them, is it?
-Anne Of Green Gables

Anne, she says it like it is, right?

A Book

In case you hadn’t surmised, I have added a re-read of Anne Of Green Gables to my morning routine.  I haven’t actually read the books for close to 20 years, if I’m not counting listening to them about 10 years ago.  Now that I am almost old enough to be child-Anne’s mother, I thought it would be time for a re-read.  I do find myself relating to Marilla more and more, but I still find Anne pretty delightful!

A Bit Of Nature


This tree outside our library is always the first to give us a hint of fall.  However, overall I am shocked at how many of the leaves up here are already looking yellow-ish!

A Recommendation

I highly recommend the Acorn Spice cleaner by Mrs. Meyers.  You don’t have to tell me how it’s not very effective and not very natural - I use it for the smell.  I still haven’t found another cleaner that makes me so delighted to be cleaning.  This particular scent is deliciously fall-ish.  A few times I have found myself wondering what that wonderful smell is, and then remembering that it’s my all-purpose spray!

A Moment Of Happiness

We started homeschooling this week - a soft start, so every subject except reading/math instruction.  I was showing Wyatt his history and language arts books, and explaining his work for the day.   When I told him his language arts book would replace his old reading curriculum now that he’s in 4th grade, he perked up.  “No reading?  This book is it?”  When I told him yes, he said: “Hmm.  Yeah, I’m pretty sure I’m going to like school this year!”  That’s what I like to hear!

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.


The Kickoff To Summer



Despite today feeling decidedly fall-like outside, Summer has actually begun!  The start to summer has looked different this year for all of us.  Usually the kickoff to Summer is the library used book sale, which didn't happen this year, and another major annual event, our local homeschool conference which I've enjoyed for the past three years, was also cancelled.  But we've still managed to have some fun and get in the summer spirit anyway!  Here's what we've been up to.



A Bad AirBnB Experience

Alright, you have to allow me to tell this story before I get to the fun stuff.  The last week of May we took off for a road trip to the Gulf Coast!  Coronavirus tensions were higher then, even though it was just a few weeks ago, so we packed up all our food and activities in the van, and planned to drive with as few stops at possible.  I figured when we got there we'd check into our AirBnB and just keep to ourselves and enjoy the beach.

I decided to book an AirBnB since when we were planning our trip it was still questionable whether hotels were open or not.  I figured it would be nice to have a whole house to ourselves anyway.  

We arrived at the house at maybe !0:00 PM local time, and basically got the kids settled and went right to bed.  When we woke up the next day, we started looking around...and realized the house was not really clean.  I guess since you pay a cleaning fee on the AirBnB website, I always just assume they hire a cleaning lady, and I also assumed they'd be extra thorough in cleaning since they had just allowed rentals again after the virus shutdown.  And the "recent reviews" said it was "sparkling clean".

Well.  The host basically admitted to me that all they did was steam mop the floors and clean the bathroom.  There was clutter on top of the cabinets and in all the closets, the closet door was hanging by a hinge and a light fixture was broken, there was dead flies and dust on all the windowsills, thick grime in the dishwasher, grease splattered in the microwave.  Dust on all the shelves.  At first we thought we could maybe do a quick dust job ourselves, but the more we looked around, the more grime we found.  So I requested a refund (only got a partial one), and we decided to look for a hotel instead.  The host was rude about it.  

Here's the kicker guys.  I was going to leave a review to let other people know that the place was not actually clean, but then I realized that your review is not published on AirBnB until or unless the host decides to review you as a guest.  So basically I could write a negative review, and the host could just decide not to publish it.  Which explains why all the available reviews claimed "sparkling clean" when it was clearly not sparkling clean.

Let's just say I don't trust AirBnb anymore.

Update: Did a little more research, and it looks like only the HOST will not be able to see your comments until after they review you?  If so, that's much better.  The wording in the AirBnB emails is confusing.

A Lovely Gulf Coast Vacation Anyway

Once we left the nasty AirBnB, (and once I got antibiotics for an ear/throat infection that developed while we were down there - another long story), we actually had a really wonderful trip!  We enjoyed a really nice hotel in Houston for a great last-minute deal, saw a movie at one of the theaters that was open in Houston, went back to a hotel in Galveston as soon as one opened up, and spent a ton of time at the beach.  I even finally figured out how to handle my curly hair in the humidity on this trip (the trick is to not try to straighten it, and just not care at all).  It was so fun and refreshing to go somewhere that felt almost normal, and I was sorry to go home.  I'll share more pictures and all the details in another post soon.



A Birthday Fishing Trip And Date

One thing that is not cancelled is birthdays!  And mine is in June.  We threw around a few ideas for things to do on my birthday, and we finally settled on going fishing.  I love going fishing, and feel like I could really get into it if we had more time/resources.  As it is now, we almost never catch anything because 1) the fishing is not that amazing in our state unless you have a boat, and 2) we have a bunch of noisy little kids with us every time.  But I think the experience of getting outside and enjoying nature is what makes it fun.  







We still really want to catch a fish sometime though.  I think we are going to try another state park soon that has a smaller pond with fish in it.  The fish in this lake were out the in the deeper water where our lines wouldn't reach.  We saw them jumping a couple times.  Or maybe we should just invest in a pair of waders so we can get out there further.  We will catch a fish someday.

Derek also took me on a birthday date!  We went mini-golfing, and then got take-out and ate it in a park while the sun was going down. It was lovely!



Back To Church And Playgrounds

Another great development is that our church was finally allowed to reopen.  It's different than normal, but it's just so good to be with other believers and worship together in person again.  Online church is fine in a pinch, but I strongly believe it's not a substitute for meeting with other Christians in person.  There's a reason the Bible says not to forsake the gathering together with other believers.  Anyway, that's been a nice bit of pseudo-normalcy lately.

Playgrounds also opened this month, so we've been taking advantage!

Nature Hikes

It's been interesting and kind of fun to me to see how everything being closed has allowed people to get back out into nature a little more.  During the little kids' nap time the other day, I took the big three on a nature hike, and there was so many people on the trail!  But I love how even when nature is a bit more crowded than usual, there is still so much space for peace and quiet and exploring.  Seriously guys, try to get outside more.  Also, state parks are hidden gems.





Summer Planning

Every year I pull out a calendar and a list of things we want to do during the summer, and I start plugging things in.  I have a process, because I want to make sure all of the things we most want to do during the warm months actually happen!  I wrote all about my planning process (including some ideas for stuff to do this year) on Rooted Family if you're interested.

Anyway, I have my list of ideas gathered (it took a little more research this year than normal), and sitting down to plug my ideas into the calendar is on the to-do list today.  I really believe that simple little bits of fun can really make the summer memorable.  I started freezing koolaid ice cubes this week so I could make the kids colorful summer drinks (just add Sprite), and it turned out really well.


The kids were so excited when I ave them the drinks.  The girls adorably clinked their glasses together and said "Cheers!"  And Wyatt actually wrote me a card to thank me for the summer treat.  That whole "the way to a boy's heart is through his stomach" thing is a cliche for a reason.  They made my day.



That's pretty much everything we've been up to lately!  Keep an eye out for a vacation post, coming up soon!  

And don't forget to read my post on planning an epic summer on Rooted, especially if you are discouraged about the summer not feeling normal.  You can still make it memory-filled, even in this weird time.


Cold Coffee And Sunshine



My coffee is cold in the cup next to me as I sit down on my couch today, laptop perched on my knees.  I haven't sat down just to write in a while!  My fingers actually feel stiff and slow in typing.  I'm asked often how I make time for my blog with the kids and everything, and the truth is that Derek usually gives me an evening or a whole afternoon at the library, and I knock out a few posts at a time.  I obviously haven't been able to do that for a while.  Even now, when our state has been slowly reopening for a couple weeks, our libraries are still closed.

But today, Derek and a friend are outside, building a treehouse for the kids.  The weather has been just lovely for a few weeks now, which feels like another bit of God's grace to us amidst all this turmoil in the world.  We may not be able to go to the park, but the mountains are unseasonably warm, and hot pine needles smell like summer.  I can hear the kids shouting as they play on the driveway.  And I'm sitting here, with my cold cup of coffee that I'll probably re-heat again in a minute, and a wilted little wildflower on the armrest of the couch, presented proudly to me by my golden-haired four year old a little while ago.  The darn woodpecker is attacking the side of the house again, and the hummingbird feeder is swinging outside the window.  It's a nice Saturday morning, and I decided today was the day to catch up the ole blog.  I should make this happen more often.

(Hi!)

Speaking of the treehouse, the kids are so excited for it.  It's really more of a playhouse than a treehouse, a little shed on a raised deck, with an even higher balcony-porch that wraps around a tree in our yard.  Derek wanted to make something sturdy and enduring, something they can enjoy now and when they are teenagers.  I think it's going to turn out great!  We are also toying with the idea of making a teepee further down the hill, but we can't quite figure out where to get or how to make a full-size teepee covering.

Other house projects-in-progress involve a lot of plants.  Derek decided to try to grow our own flowers for our outdoor pots this summer, and he's been baby-ing little flower sprouts for a few weeks now.  The flowers we chose don't seem to be happy, and we aren't quite sure why.  The vegetable plants he got from a coworker, on the other hand, are thriving.  He ordered a greenhouse, and I consented to have it set up in corner of our back deck.  Our deck is a little funny, with a long, semi-narrow strip right off the back of the house, which takes one step down to a wider area where we have our table set up.  So the greenhouse will be on the upper section of the deck, next to the house.  I was hesitant to let the greenhouse live there, because I want the deck to feel clean, but I think it'll be alright. I'm planning on hanging some flower baskets on either side to make it look...fancier?  More lush?  I'm also a little concerned about the draining, but Derek says all the plants will be in trays.  The greenhouse may move to the side of the house if our plants outgrow it.  It's a pretty small greenhouse.  We are gardening newbies (though Derek has a greener thumb than me), so any tips are appreciated!

I've been trying to grow herbs in our kitchen windowsill as well, and the basil and chamomile is thriving, but the lavender and rosemary have yet to sprout.  Did I get dead seeds?  Do they just need longer to germinate? Or did I drown them?  I don't know.  I'm disappointed that the two herbs I wanted the most seem to be rebelling against me, but I'll give them a little more time.

Derek is still working from home, from the closet-office, and he probably will be for a while.  Our governor is encouraging those who can work from home to do it, and I can't say we completely mind.  Working from home cuts out two hours of commuting time for Derek, which means more time for movie nights and house projects.

Homeschooling exclusively at home, on the other hand, is getting wearisome.  We are itching to go on a field trip, or a library trip, or a park trip, or something.  Over the weeks when we were required to stay home, and there was nowhere to go anyway, I did lessons with the kids on the weekends to knock out a few extra days of our school year.  So we are on track to finish our required number of days by the end of this week!  I would love to do a field trip to celebrate the last day of school, but I'm pretty sure most of those type of places will still be closed.  Maybe a "field trip" to Barnes and Noble for some books to read over the summer, perhaps?  I just saw that our local Barnes And Noble is open, and I'm extra excited about it.

Speaking of books for the kids to read, Gwen is reading pretty solidly now, so I went ahead and ordered some of the original American Girl books on Ebay.  I was aiming to gather the Felicity and Addy series, and just happened to also get the Josefina series in the process.  Probably my three favorites of the original American Girls, so that worked out!  Did any of you read American Girl books as a kid?  Which were your favorites?  I never did get one of the dolls.

As our state and county has started opening, we've enjoyed visits with my sister and parents last week.  It is so good to see family, and especially to be around people who feel similarly about this whole crazy mess the world has gotten itself into.  As I've been following the virus news and shutdowns the last few weeks, I've been reminded of the fact that an economic depression is going to have horrible ripple effects in so many less fortunate countries too.  I read in an article that the number of people in the world who face starvation is expected to double this year as a result of the economic shutdowns around the world.  Double.  That just breaks my heart. What have we done to ourselves? Opinions run the gamut about this whole situation, and I am trying not to get into mine here, but it can't be denied that some of our actions in response to the virus have been much more devastating than many expected.

(On a related note, my friend Bethany - another childhood penpal! - is trying to sell bows to help with relief in the middle East during this coronavirus crisis.  She's sold out for now, but it's a cool thing she's doing, and you might consider following if you are interested.)

Anyway, to try to get back to a happier topic before I close this out, I'm still working through East Of Eden by John Steinbeck.  It's a long book, okay?  I'm most of the way through it though, and I still have no idea where it's going. How's all this going to end?  I'll probably go curl up with it on the porch as soon as I'm done typing this.  When I finish that book, I'm going full-steam ahead on The Lake House by Kate Morton.  I also started Unknown Valor by Martha MacCallum.  The cover caught my eye, and I kept seeing it everywhere, so I grabbed it at Sam's Club last week.  I'm already getting sucked into it, so that's my current nonfiction read!  What have you all been reading?  I have a full post on what I've read so far this year in the works for later this week!

I'm typing this on Saturday, you'll probably be reading this on Monday, which means Mother's Day was yesterday.  Our plan is to drop by Derek's mom's house in the morning, and then I think Derek has a picnic lunch planned for me and the kids.  They went Mother's Day shopping for me this week, and the kids are so cute, telling me not to look in their closets so I don't see the presents they got me.  Then I'm hoping to see my mom for dinner.  It should be a lovely day, and the first Mother's Day in a while when we'll get to see both our moms on the same day.

I'm feeling especially blessed by my mom this year, as I've seen her here and there during the shutdown, and she's dropped off little notes for the kids, and I've made more of an effort to talk to her on the phone regularly.  I've never been good at making those phone calls, I've never been much of a phone-talker.  But I'm starting to change my tune.  It's undeniably better to hear someone's voice and have a real conversation than to poke out characters for a text bubble.  And I've especially missed getting to see Derek's mom - we've sent letters to her, and Derek continues to talk to her regularly, but I hate that we had to miss seeing her on Easter.  I have a really wonderful mother-in-law, and it's not lost on me what a blessing that really is.  It'll be good to see her face.

The sunshine on the porch is calling my name, so I think I'll go grab that book now.

How have you all been?  What have you been up to?  Any restrictions lifting in your states yet?  Or for international friends, how are things going in your country right now?


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?




Bible Verses To Write In Your Christmas Cards (+ Printable!)



I think this might be the latest I've ever gone without sending my Christmas cards.

I am very fond of Christmas cards.  December is the only time of year when my mailbox (I almost said "inbox" - sheesh) is flooded with happy mail, and it cheers me up every time I receive a new card to open.  I like thinking that by sending out our cards, I can give a little bit of that cheer to people I care about too.

This year I am trying to personalize our cards a bit more.  I love photo cards, and usually that's the route I go with our Christmas cards, but I also realize that it's not as personal.  It's a printed card and photo, and unless someone leaves room to write on the photo card, everyone gets the same one.

I had a bunch of old-school Christmas cards lying around and decided to use them this year.  I'm going to tuck our photo inside with a handwritten note.  I can't guarantee that the notes are all going to be particularly meaningful, but they'l be written in my own hand, and I think that's something.

Another thing I love about Christmas cards is that they can also be a chance to encourage other believers by pointing them back to Christ during this hectic Christmas season.  It is so easy for the true meaning of why we are celebrating Christmas as believers to be lost in all the festivities.  Handwriting my cards gives me a chance to give a little Christian encouragement.  These are a few of the verses that I think are wonderful to tuck inside your Christmas card.



"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; And the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince Of Peace." Isaiah 9:6 (ESV)

"And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn." Luke 2:1 (ESV)

"And the angel said to them 'Fear not, I bring you good news of great joy which shall be for all the people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.'" Luke 2:10-11 (ESV)

"My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior." Luke 1:46b-47 (ESV)

"...And they will call His name Immanuel, which means 'God With Us'." Matthew 1:23 (ESV)

"And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, that we may know Him who is true...He is the true God and eternal life." 1 John 5:20 (ESV)

"This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him." 1 John 4:9

"Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!" 2 Corinthians 9:15 (NIV)



These verses are wonderful ones to write or type on your Christmas cards and newsletters, but I've also been working on something else...




A couple years ago I opened an Etsy shop to sell Bible verse card printable for labor and for new moms, but I have been really wanting to make a printable set with Bible verses for the Christmas season.  Something that can be tucked into a Christmas card as a little extra, something that can be attached to a present as a tag, something that will point back to Jesus.  Cards that can be used as a bookmark, or used as a tool to memorize Scripture around the Christmas season.









I finally made these Christmas Bible verse cards this year, and I'm really happy with how it turned out!  I used an app to create some watercolor "winter woodland" illustrations - each card has a unique watercolor image on it, along with a Bible verse.

These come in a full size set, which are 4.5 inches wide, and a smaller set with are 2.75 inches wide.  I think the large set would be a nice addition to a Christmas present, and the mini set are perfect for tags, bookmarks, or tucking inside a Christmas card!

You can buy these sets of eight printable Bible verse cards in my Etsy shop for $3!




Happy Christmas, friends!

I hope these little cards will be an encouragement to you to look to Christ for your Christmas joy this season!


Printable Bible Verse Cards For Christmas!  Perfect for Christmas cards, tags, or bookmarks!

Printable Bible Verse Cards For Christmas!  Perfect for Christmas cards, tags, or bookmarks!

Printable Bible Verse Cards For Christmas!  Perfect for Christmas cards, tags, or bookmarks!




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