Showing posts with label Random. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Random. Show all posts

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?


Tunnels And Light, Etc.



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

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

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

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

(Georgie, coloring during quaren-church.)

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

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

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

Homeschooling Update

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



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



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

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

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

Other Random Stuff

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

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



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

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

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

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



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

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

On Spying On People I Used To Know | Short Thoughts #1


I sat down this morning to write a chatty post and realized that each mini-section was ending up too long for my typical "tea on a Tuesday" type post, so I'm going to try something different this week.  I'm splitting up what could be a very long post into "short thoughts" posts.  So expect a few of these posts this week, because I've had enough on my mind lately.  Here we go.

---

Yesterday, while not feeling well because of some sort of ear infection I have brewing, I picked up my phone to zone out for a while and somehow found myself looking up people that I used to know on Facebook.  Not to friend them, just to poke around and see what became of them.

I know I am not the only one who does this, right?  But after looking up two or three people I suddenly became aware again, and asked, "Self, why are you doing this?"

I didn't really want to be friends with these girls again, so I had no intention of adding them on social media.  And it's not like they were the mean girls and I needed to prove something to myself either (well, not too much anyway - maybe a tiny bit).

I was mainly just...curious.

What a weird world that we live in, where we can remember someone from 15 years ago and immediately go spy on them on social media.  It's the kind of world that makes high school reunions obsolete, and that kind of makes me sad.

I think I would rather go 15 years without the ability to know anything about a person at all, and then run into them in the flesh at a reunion.  Catch up on their life all in one go, hear it from their own mouth, make note of the look in their eyes as they tell you what they've been up to.  Physically and emotionally see if there is any hope for a friendship left there, or if it was a good thing it faded in the first place.

And then I thought, I wonder if people that I used to know are spying on me.

That is a weird thought.

In many ways social media and blogs are a blessing - they let us keep in touch with people that we care about who may have faded away otherwise.  But they also allow us to keep people in our lives that it might be better to have fade away.

Perhaps it requires a lot of wisdom to know the difference, and to know how to handle these current times.  It's hard being the first generation to really figure out how to navigate the social media era with wisdom and grace and proper boundaries.

And as my little exhaustion-induced spying proves, I clearly have not figured it all out yet.


I guess if I have anything else to say about it, it would just be to encourage you (and myself) to evaluate whether it's worth reconnecting with the people that come to your mind - and if it is, reconnect!  Send a quick message and say hi.  Social media can be a wonderful way to naturally rekindle friendships.

And if you know that person you are curious about is not the kind of person you should reconnect with - well, try to pretend social media doesn't exist, mind your own business a bit, and let it fade.  Some people are only meant to be in your life for a season, and with social media now, sometimes we have to actively choose to keep it that way.

Have you ever spied on someone you used to know on social media?  (Come on, guys, 'fess up.  I know I'm not the only one.)

Why did you look them up?  Do you think it would be better if we didn't have that option?  


Let's Catch Up - Vintage Books, Etc.

 


Time for a good, old-fashioned life update post!

The last couple months have been so busy, mainly because of one thing: vacation.  First I spent a couple weeks getting ready for vacation, which took a lot more effort than normal because I injured my knee.  Then we were gone on vacation.  Then we were home and recovering from vacation.  Now we are finally settling back into a routine at home, so I have some time to sit down and write!

Vacation And Last Day Of School

Speaking of vacation, I will eventually get around to writing a post and sharing some of my favorite photos.  It was such a nice getaway, and so needed!  My philosophy of vacationing is that we get away so we are happy to come back home again, and our fun-filled week left me with just that feeling of being full and happy to be home.  It was so nice to go visit my brother-in-law and sister-in-law in North Carolina, and they are fantastic hosts who really made the whole thing relaxing.  We left feeling refreshed, and we are bringing that vacation feeling back home with us into the summer.  

I think I officially love vacationing in the middle or end of May.  We get back right in time for warm, beautiful weather in the mountains. It's been so warm and lovely the last week, and I've spent a lot of time lounging and reading on the porch in the sun.  May vacations kick off the summer with that vacation vibe to set the tone, and now I'm in the right frame of mind to make this summer relaxing and adventurous for our family!  I sat down last week with my bullet journal, the library calendar, a cookbook, and a kids' activity book and laid out a summer plan.  I'm hoping to fill this summer with good memories and good food!

We also finished up our last day of recorded school for the year last week (I say "recorded school" because we'll probably continue some casual schooling through the summer).   I'm kind of shocked about how easy it was to cross off 172 days, in retrospect.  That's a lot!  But it didn't feel overwhelming at all, even with having a baby.  I'm working on a post with all the lessons I learned in our first "real" year of homeschooling, so stay tuned.

Of course, when I told Wyatt that it was our last week of school, he got rather sullen and said, "But Mom, I don't want to stop school in the summer."

I was baffled.  "Why?"

Wyatt: "Because I like it."

"Why do you like it?" (I was expecting an answer having to do with seeing our Bible study friends on Wednesday or something.)

Wyatt:  "I just like it.  I like doing school."

I tell you, after a year with some frustrating moments standing out in my memory, it's encouraging to know that from his perspective, he is just remembering the joyful parts of learning that we've had.  I guess I'm not failing him after all.

Nancy Drew And My 30th Birthday Party

My 30th birthday is this month.  Starting way back when I was 25, I informed Derek that I would like a birthday party for my 30th, and this past weekend he delivered!  

We started off the day with some family time first and we went shopping at our local antique mall.  I've mentioned before that one of my favorite series to read as a girl was Nancy Drew (for me and every other girl I know).  Well, I found out recently that though the Nancy Drew books were originally written in the 1930's, they were re-written after 1959 to make Nancy and her pals more "modern".  In my reading about this, I learned that this was done in part to correct some racist language in some of the books, but there is some anecdotal evidence to indicate that the rewrites weren't completely for the better.

So obviously now I feel like I HAVE to read a pre-1959 book.  Are the new books noticeably different?  How exactly did they make Nancy "modern"?  DO I EVEN KNOW NANCY DREW AT ALL?

Well, I am happy to report that I found a Nancy Drew printed in 1948 at the antique mall!  I'll try to read it soon and report back with my findings.











(I also found one of these "Best In Children's Books" volumes.  This is a vintage book series with excerpts from children's literature, short stories, and some early writings from authors like Richard Scarry and Laura Ingalls Wilder.  I'm sort of casually collecting them.)

After the antique mall we made a quick stop at our Sunday School class picnic.  We switched churches last year (it's still a little fresh to write much about it), but we are feeling so happy and settled at our new church now.  We found one of the rare churches that still does Sunday School, and it's a model that really works for our family since we have to commute a bit to get to the church.  It's nice to get to know the people while we are there on Sundays, instead of feeling a bit excluded with a small group model that we can't participate in on a regular basis.

But anyway, back to the topic at hand - my 30th birthday party!  



Derek sent out these pretty invitations to my close family and friends, and we all met to have dinner together at Olive Garden.  It was lovely to have all the people who are dear to me gathered together as I prepare to enter a new decade.  Derek also played Ben Rector's "I Like You" (which is currently "our song"), and he gave a really sweet, short speech and said a bunch of nice things about me.  I tell you, I could have cried, but I was too happy.  My heart was full.


 (Me before dinner.)


(We tried to get a quick family shot after my party - this is as good as it got!  Not pregnant, that's just a food baby - ha! )

Other Worthy Of Mentions

Guys, I went to our annual library sale last week, and I got SO MANY BOOKS.  It's a little out of control, honestly, but I see those bags of good books waiting for me and I get so excited!  I also made a second trip on Sunday for their final bag-of-books-for-$6-just-to-get-rid-of-everything sale, and grabbed a bunch more books, which came out to dimes a piece.  My goal for the next year-ish is going to be to read two of those library sale books a month.  Maybe I'll write a post soon sharing all my finds, and you can help me pick what to read first.

Speaking of books, I feel like my reading is way too subject to my momentary whims.  I am definitely a mood reader, and for that reason I either fly through a book that interests me within two days, or I start a book and abandon it before I reach the halfway mark because something else catches my fancy.  This is why I usually have 10 books going at any given time - I have bookish ADD.  

THIS IS A PROBLEM.  

I feel like these bad reading habits really affect how much I enjoy any given book.  And when I start and stop a book several times before finishing, it also makes it difficult to give a good, thorough review (you may have noticed some of my reviews are dashed off a lot more haphazardly than others on Goodreads - this is why).  I'm trying really hard to be more disciplined about finishing the books I start, or giving a book a fair chance (at least 100 pages) before I decide I'm not enjoying it and pick up something else.  Am I the only one who has this problem?

Maybe I should start a support group.

What are you all doing to welcome in summer this week?  (I know, summer doesn't officially start until middle June, but in my book, if it's warm and green, it's summer!)


Nothing Too Interesting

(I did not take this photo today.  Obviously.)

You know how I wrote that post about "spring" in the mountains last week?  Well, it's snowing.  That's about right.

You know how people ask you, "So, what have you been up to?"  And you respond with "Oh, nothing too interesting."  Well, that's this post.  Nothing too interesting, but life isn't always edge-of-your-seat, is it?  Life is made up of a whole lot of nothing-too-interesting, so I see no reason why I shouldn't still take time to write about it.

The last couple weeks have felt so busy to me, but not with anything very substantial.  No, I've been busy with things like creating a spreadsheet with all the groceries that are in my cupboards, making muffins for the kids for breakfast to save money on cereal, and cleaning my house.  All helpful, good domestic things.  All things that, dare I say, I have surprisingly found rather fun.  

Once again, not things that are very interesting to write about, but that won't stop me from trying! Because guys, if you have never created a grocery-cupboard-spreadsheet, I feel like you should give it a try.  This was a particularly hard month when it comes to grocery money, so the spreadsheet was born from my desire to see how long I could make it without going to the grocery store.  I had no idea how much was hiding in the dark recesses of my freezer!  I've barely gone to the store at all this month - I've spent probably around $200 on groceries for April.  For seven people.  

I laid all the items in my cupboards out on a spreadsheet and then put together meals with what I had, and it's been amazing.  I saved so much money!

And we've actually been eating pretty well, if I do say so myself (thanks in large part to this cookbook).  We've had braised meatballs in wine gravy, spicy chops with sweet potatoes, skillet steak with peppers and cheese, barbecue roast, raspberry hazelnut chicken with potatoes (not as labor-intensive as it sounds, I made it with salad dressing).  And for breakfast we've been having these (amazing) nut muffins, banana muffins, cranberry muffins, pumpkin pancakes, and hard-boiled eggs (instead of the cold cereal we usually have).  

My grandma told me once that when you have less food to work with, it's easier to get creative and you almost end up eating better than when you have an abundance.  I must say, she was right.

I also realized about halfway through the month that I had read hardly any books, so last week I buckled down and finished FIVE books.  Pretty good, right?  And I'm halfway through three more that I'm hoping to finish before May!  

I've been having a lot of fun making videos with my recently read books this year, and watching other bookish videos on Youtube.  My friend Felicia has been on "booktube" for years, and I love watching her videos.  It's quicker and easier to talk about the books you've been reading, rather than sitting down and compiling a post with mini-reviews (at least it's easier to me, I don't know why).  So if you want to keep updated on books I'm reading, you need to stop by my channel.  Or you can also follow me on Goodreads, because I'm still writing reviews on all my books there (how is that easier than writing review posts on my blog, you ask?  I don't know, it just is!).

Speaking of May, we booked our vacation!  We are flying out to North Carolina this year to visit Derek's family!  The last time we went to North Carolina I was largely pregnant with Gwen, so it's been quite a long time.  We have four more babies on the outside than we did then.  I'm not going to lie, I'm a little nervous about flying with five young children.  The airline assured me (multiple times, because I asked the same question, worded slightly differently, repeatedly) that we would be sitting with our children on the plane.  "Are you sure?" I said.  "Because there are four of them, and one in my lap." But they assured me this would be the case without any extra seating fees.

Now I have the monstrous task of digging all the kids' summer clothes out of the closets, and sorting through them to see what will be acceptable North Carolina attire in May.  Southeast people, what's it like out there in May?  Because the last time I went on a May vacation somewhere that I thought it would be warm (ie. ARIZONA), it snowed.

The spring snow, I tell you.  It follows me even out of state.

Sweater Weather Musings




You know how I never really got to finish my memory-keeping series in October, since Georgie was born sooner than expected?  Well, one of the things I was going to observe about that challenge of writing for 30 days is that somewhere along the way I've made blogging way too hard on myself.  

Back in the day I used to just type something up and post it, and there was something really freeing about not having to make every post completely perfect before sharing it.  It also seemed that those on-the-fly posts were the ones that recorded things that I would genuinely be interested in remembering later.  They are more enjoyable to write and relatable to read, and they are surprisingly quick to pound out on the keyboard.  

There is something to be said for "quality over quantity", but then, there is something to be said for just quantity too.  I've found over the years that the more I write, the more I want to write, and the more ideas I have for what to write.  So maybe every post doesn't necessarily have to be ground-breaking or perfectly polished.  Maybe it's sometimes valuable to quit tinkering with an idea until it loses it's life and just put something out there, even while it's still rough around the edges.

So all that to say, that's what I'm doing today.  Just putting things out there, because after taking it easy the last month (having a baby and all that), I need a little quantity over quality to get this blog running again.

Snow And Christmas Cards

It's supposed to snow again today, so I'm breaking out the winter mug and sweaters again!  We have had unseasonably warm weather the last couple weeks, and I'm kind of over it.  It's winter, darn it!  It should be cold enough for me to wear a sweater, and I want some pre-Christmas snow.  Every year I try to get everyone dressed up in their Christmas clothes before the actual holiday so I can take a family Christmas photo - then I don't have to worry about trying to capture a family photo amidst all the presents and chaos of the Christmas gatherings.  It's nice if my little Christmas family photo happens on a day when it snows (like the last couple years), so I'm anxiously awaiting some cooler weather.

Speaking of Christmas, on the agenda today is ordering some Christmas cards!  Receiving Christmas cards is one of my favorite parts of December, so I really wanted to try to send some out even in a year when we have a newborn.  I did not get address labels written before baby like I was hoping, so I think I'm just going to send a reciprocal card out for each one I get in the mail, for the sake of ease and spreading out the work load.  So if you want a Christmas card from me, send one my way!

How's It Going With Five?

We have settled into something of a rhythm for our at-home days over the last couple weeks, which mostly consists of feeding the baby and goofing off.  I did some schoolwork with the kids last week and probably felt way more accomplished than was warranted.  Today I am hoping to make some pumpkin bars. Pumpkin bars were supposed to happen last week before Thanksgiving, but they just didn't.  I've found a lot of things being migrated forward on my to-do lists lately.  I also hope to watch Hallmark Christmas movies and perhaps read some Christmas books from the enormous stack that I picked up from the library.  (It really is enormous.  I was in pain carrying them to the car with my already-injured shoulder.) 

Speaking of my shoulder, I don't know what is going on with it!  I mentioned a couple weeks ago that I slept on my neck wrong and my shoulder and neck were hurting.  I had a chiropractic visit that seemed to help, but I slept funny again last week and now I seem to have full-on tendonitis.  I decided I didn't care if my blood was too thin and I've been taking ibuprofen because it's really the only way I can make it through the day.  I can't lift things up from the floor, raise my arm above my head, or turn my head to the right without a jolt of pain through my shoulder blade.  I really am not sure what to do about it either, aside from ibuprofen, ice, and hoping it heals quickly.  I'm drinking ginger tea because I read that it helps with inflammation.  It's not terribly convenient to have shoulder pain when you have a newborn and two other children who occasionally like to be picked up.

Books

(Some affiliate links here, to help me buy more books...)

The first couple weeks with Georgie I went through the first four seasons of Cheers during nursing sessions, and then I finally decided that maybe there was a better way to spend all this time than watching a show that was on television before I was born (though it's very interesting to see the hair styles that were fashionable back then).  So I've been trying to read more, but it's hard to land on the right type of book during this phase.  I either want non-ficiotn that gives me something to think about without straining my brain too much (because you know, sleep deprivation), or fiction that keeps me turning the pages but without much cussing or other smut that makes me feel yucky while feeding my sweet innocent baby.  Suggestions?  So far I am working through Okay For Now, The Austen Escape, The Vanishing American Adult, and World Religions And Cults Volume Two. (That last one was written from a  Christian perspective, and very interesting, and only $3 for Kindle today!)

Thanksgiving



I should say something about Thanksgiving, shouldn't I?  We had a great dinner with Derek's mom and dad.  The kids ate hardly anything, Georgie got lots of grandparent time, and we played Yahtzee. I lost both rounds and was the only person to not get a Yahtzee.  When I was pregnant with Georgie I won almost every single game Derek and I played.  It was uncanny.  I joked that the baby must be lucky, and indeed, it seems since she is no longer on the inside the luck has left me.  Rats.

What have you all been doing, reading, watching lately?  







The Last Thing I...



(You may be wondering why I have a picture of pants as the headliner photo for this post.  It's a good question.  I'm adding an extra element to this post by adding the last photo in my phone.  See "The Last Text I Sent" for a full explanation.)

Back in the good ole days of blogging, one person would post a q&a, and the post would resurrect itself throughout Google Reader for the next week, each person filling out their own answers.  So for a little blogging nostalgia, that's what I'm doing today.  I saw this on Erin and Michelle's blogs, and if you like it, feel free to grab it too!


Last thing I ate: Creamy Chipotle Potato Soup.  From a can.  I think it was Campbell's?  I used to eat cans of soup for lunch all the time when I was working, and I have rediscovered the joy of a ready-made hot lunch.  Don't tell me about all the chemicals in canned food, because "ready-made" means a lot more to me at this stage in my life.

Last thing I drank: Leftover Vanilla White Mocha from Caribou Coffee.  Sometimes I buy an iced coffee and take two sips of it, and then don't finish it until the next morning.  Thank goodness for modern refrigeration.  We've also been trying to branch out from Starbucks lately, because Derek and I are both a little bored of it.  Introduce some new syrup flavors, would ya, Starbucks?  I feel like they just recombine the same drinks they've been doing for years, and they are all starting to taste the same.  If I had to suggest a flavor, I would point them in the direction of orange and Mexican hot chocolate.  Do something with those!

Last text I sent: To my friend, Kellie, in reference to my capsule wardrobe project (you may have seen a sneak peek already if you follow me on Instagram): "Yeah, I have been thinking about doing it for a while, because I typically only wear things I really like at any given moment anyway, and then I get bored of those items and feel like I want new clothes.  Having stuff that can go together gives me a lot more options for outfits with those things I like to wear, and being limited helps me be a little more creative with the things I already have."  Stay tuned because I have a whole post about my capsule wardrobe in the works (hence the picture of pants)!

Last book I read: (#afflink) I'm in the middle of Code Name Flood by Laura Martin, which is a middle grade novel set 150 years into the future after scientists have brought back the dinosaurs and the human race has been mostly destroyed and is now living underground.  In line with what we know about the future (and the past) via the Bible?  No.  Imaginative - yes!  It's a page-turner!  I've been on a middle-grade novel kick lately.

Last time I laughed: I have been mostly holing up in different rooms of the house and organizing things for the last couple days, so...I don't know?  Probably something cute one of the kids said or did.  

Last thing you bought: A stuffed animal net for Gwen's room.  See the answer above about holing up and organizing things.

Last movie you saw: Sense And Sensibility, which I watched as part of a watch-along with Hillary Manton Lodge (author), and I learned that the actress that played Elinor married the actor that played Willoughby!!  What?!  Also, I did not win the watch-along giveaway (rats).

Last TV show you watched: Everybody Loves Raymond.  I just appreciate that show so much more now that I'm an adult.

Last thing you googled: "Laura Martin Books", because I forgot the name of the book that I was reading.  Is it weird that I remembered the author's name but not the name of the actual book?  This happens to me a lot.

Old-Fashioned Blogging



This past fall my eight year blogging anniversary quietly passed by.

I’ve been blogging for eight years.  Do you know how ancient that makes me in blog years?  

I didn't start at the very beginning of blogging (there are some out there who have been blogging five years longer than me), but I remember why I started at the time.  I had just gotten married, the first of my friends, and I wanted to connect with other young married women.  Since there were none in my immediate circle, I turned to the world wide web.

Back then, that’s why people blogged - just to connect.  And we wrote about silly things.  Much of it was neither profound nor pinnable.  It was glorious.

I remember, after a year of blogging, telling my mom how I had 20 followers now, and I hoped I wouldn’t get much more than that, because if my blog grew too big, how would I reciprocate by reading and commenting on more than 20 blogs every day?  Everything about that sentence tells you how blogging has changed.

I remember when it started to change - it was the year I had Gwen, and all of a sudden there was a crop of brand-new bloggers, and with them came change.  Their blogs grew rapidly, companies started sponsoring posts, and before we all knew it, blogging purely to share your life became no longer relevant.  It’s nice that your child started walking, but how many pageviews did you get last week?  It’s nice that you went on vacation, but when was the last time you got a sponsored post?  It’s nice that you want to share what you’ve learned while mothering, but why don’t you turn it into a link-up?

(Do you see the time that I am publishing this?  That’s because I wrote it in the parking lot while waiting for a doctor’s appointment, and I published it as soon as I could connect to wi-fi after I finished writing it.  I didn’t schedule it for tomorrow morning.  I’m posting on Tuesday, the slowest day of the blogging week.  I didn’t even take time to create a highly clickable post title, or create a pinnable image!  Do you know how many modern blogging rules I am breaking with this post?)

Adapt or die, that’s the survival of the fittest rule, and it seemed to apply to blogging.  Those who had no desire to adapt to this new blogging scheme slowly petered out.  And those who did adapt lost something.

I want to bring it back.  Just a little.

I want to tell you I bought a Christmas graphic tee.  I’m tempted to turn it into a mini series about how to style a Christmas graphic tee, and I might.  But why can’t I first just tell you I bought a fun t-shirt that I like?

I want to tell you that this fall I helped to host a women’s Bible study at church.  Four months have gone by and I’m just now telling you that.  I want to tell you how fun and encouraging it was, I want to tell you about the quirky ladies.  I want to tell you about how I had to quit, and how one of the ladies gave me a Starbucks gift card as a farewell present (bless her, just bless her, she knows I need my caffeine!). I want to tell you all this without having to turn it into a “Ten Reasons You Should Join A Bible Study”, or some such impersonal silliness.

I want to tell you about how I had the kids packed up, and I walked out the door this morning to a chorus of muffled howls coming from the car because I took too long to get the kids their Pop-tarts (our breakfast-on-the-go of choice).  How I felt slightly bad before I broke out laughing because it was so cute and ridiculous.  And there is really no way to turn that into a post either pinnable or clickable, but I want to share it, these little bits of life.

So let’s do this again, shall we?  Let’s take some time to share bits of life and a cup of tea on a Tuesday.  See you at the same time next week.  

(Or not, because I am going to be wild and crazy and not schedule a post ahead of time!  Just check back sometime on Tuesday and I’ll have something up.)

What I’m Drinking: Dirty Chai tea from Celestial Seasonings, mixed with a hot chocolate packet. It is delicious.

Also note: This spur-of-the-moment post prompted by Cassidy's post on blogging like the old days.  I'm not the only one who misses it.

Update: Please read this blog post on more about how we lost old-fashioned blogging, and how to get it back!

Snapshot Of A Saturday

Saturdayblog

Listening . . . To Clyde complaining at me from the living room - he wants me to pick him up so I will be typing most of this post one-handed.  But if we are talking music?  I have been listening to Taylor Swift radio on Pandora.  I'm trying to get a sneak peek of her new songs, since I want to wait until after Christmas to buy 1989.  I've heard three of them so far - thumbs up to two of them, and thumbs down to "Blank Space".  Singing about purposely letting a player take advantage of you?  Really Taylor?

Eating . . . Caramel Brownie Cheesecake.  My own invention.  It's really rich, and really fattening, and really good with a cup of tea.

Drinking . . . Water?  Not as much coffee lately, because I'm trying to wean myself off the caffeine.  I skipped my weekly Starbucks before work the other week, and I felt like I was in a fog all day.  That's when I realized I may have a problem.  I did drink a little tea today though, in my fancy tea cup, because I felt like it.

Wearing . . . Jeans, a green sweater, and a plaid infinity scarf (see, in the picture below?  I thought we needed a visual).  I was never much of a scarf person before, but I am really into them this year! It helps that I got an amazing deal on some clearance scarfs at Charming Charlie earlier this fall - 4 for $10!
 
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(That's the top of Wyatt's head behind me, in case you were wondering.)


Feeling . . . In limbo.  I feel like I am just waiting for situations to change, waiting for things to make sense, waiting for some direction from the Lord on what we're supposed to do next.  I feel like this in-between stage has become my new normal right now, and I have never been good with uncertainty.  The stress is getting to me.  I found a gray hair the other day and promptly plucked it out.

Weather . . . A gorgeous fall day, though a little on the windy side.  Good sweater weather.  And hopefully good hunting weather since Derek is elk hunting as I type this.

Wanting . . . To get all my Christmas shopping done.  It's a tight budget year, so I want to get everything bought and wrapped and off of my to-buy list.  That way I can start putting something aside for those unexpected Christmas expenses that always wreak havoc on our bank accounts in December.  I really sound like a scrooge right now.  I love Christmas, but I hate budgeting.

Needing . . . I don't know.  To quote Wyatt and Gwen's Little Angels movie "Wanting and needing are not the same thing." (Can you tell we've watched that one too may times this week?)  I suppose I need some time to finish some researching and writing, and I need to buy milk.

Thinking . . . I can't wait for my friend, Heather, to get married next weekend!  You might remember me mentioning Heather and Hazel before.  We grew up together in the same church, and even though they moved 3+ hours away, we still try to keep in touch. I was so surprised and happy to get a letter this summer from Hazel telling me Heather was engaged!  We are driving out on Saturday for the wedding, and I can't wait to see everyone.


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Enjoying . . . A lazy Saturday afternoon.  The kids are still in that mellow mood left over from nap time (though Wyatt didn't really nap - I think he's just tired).  They are laying all over the floor, playing and talking quietly.  The sun is streaming through the blinds right now and shining on my face.  Harvey is barking at something outside.  The plan for the rest of the day?  Watch a little TV, read a little of my book, and make something hot for dinner since Derek will probably be hungry when he gets home.

A Home Wish List

Derek says I have been in a "mood" lately - one of those I-hate-everything-in-my-house-and-I-want-to-change-everything moods.  I call it post-baby nesting, but the truth is that this happens at least once a year.  Unfortunately budget prevents me from doing everything I would like to do (especially since buying Gwen a "big girl" bed is something we will have to do sooner rather than later).   I have done a few things here and there, but I have so many ideas!

However, there is no reason I can't dream and plan a little, right?  Here are a few things I have been eyeing lately.


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I would never even look at this type of coffee table normally, but I saw a picture on Kaitlyn's Instagram feed that made me like it!  I like the rustic feel of it.

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These are classic books that have beautiful illustrations on the covers.  I love the idea of decorating with books, and these ones would be so pretty on an end table.  Rifle Paper Company also has gorgeous journals and prints.

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Psalm 23 SM Web



Aspen We Will Serve The Lord Watermarked



I really couldn't pick just one print from this shop!  These are my two favorites, and I will probably buy both of them at some point (or maybe if I feel brave, try to paint my own).  One of my goals is to incorporate more Scripture into our home decor, and I love these.  They are so appropriate too, since we live in the mountains!

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This is not from a shop, but I found this TV stand that I think we need.  We still have a hand-me-down TV stand from when we were first married, and I think it's time for something new.  I like how this one fits into corners, because our living room is laid out in such a way that the corner is the only place where we can put the TV.

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I already made my own striped curtains for our dining room, but these chevron ones caught my eye on Etsy the other day.  I'm thinking when I decorate our downstairs family room someday, these might be perfect.  If I can scrounge up 100+ dollars per set.  Oy.  I'm generally a cheap curtain person, but I might make an exception for these.

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And that is it, my friends!  Maybe someday I'll get everything on this list.  At least now I have a record to remind me what I really want when budget allows!  Any other favorite shops for home decor that I should check out?

Note: I received no compensation for mentioning these shops - I just like their stuff.
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