Showing posts with label Tea On A Tuesday. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tea On A Tuesday. Show all posts

Little Joys

I had grand plans to finish all my Christmas to-do's this week, since we are finally on Christmas break from homeschooling.  I was going to wrap all the presents, send out Christmas cards, finish baking, write Christmas letters, mail Christmas gifts...everything.  

Instead I find myself reading a lot of books, and now sitting down to write this.  Procrastination? Yes, I suppose so.  I did get my Christmas cards mailed, and today I hope to mail a Christmas present and start the wrapping.  I'm justifying taking a time out to write this because I can't really wrap until Derek is finished with work for the day, and I miss my blog.  


I've been thinking a lot about changes I want to make in the new year, and one thing I keep mulling over is how I can tip the balance away from social media and toward this blog again.  I've been struggling with social media for a long time, because while I think a lot of it is a waste of time, it is also the main way to connect with people online these days - including all of you, my blog buddies.  So what to do?  I don't know, but I figure just getting back in the habit of writing is the first place to start.  My writing motivation has derailed big time in the wake of the election, but it's time to get back to the little things, simple habits that anchor my days.  Blogging is one of those.

Anyway, what are you all baking for Christmas?  We have our Christmas favorites, but I always find myself wanting to branch out and try new goodies around the holidays.  My ideal holiday treat would be relatively inexpensive and basically fool-proof, which unfortunately rules out a lot of cookie recipes.  I live at a high altitude, and can basically trust no cookie recipe ever.  If you find a high altitude baking blog, send it my way, will you?

(One of the gingerbread houses we made with friends.)

On our list so far are the following: gingerbread cookies, sugar cookies, Christmas fudge, snowdrop cookies, and chocolate-covered pretzels.  And wassail on Christmas Day, of course.  Believe it or not, I used to make more Christmas goodies than that, but these are our favorites.  I'll probably just round it out with an experiment or two.

Instead of baking this week though, I've spent a disproportionate amount of time reading, which I do not regret at all.  I've finished several books, and am hoping to still make my reading goal of 48 books this year, even though I'm woefully behind!  I'm especially enjoying re-reading Lord Of The Rings during these winter months.  Those book are winter books to me.  I just got past the creepy marshes in The Two Towers, so basically we're getting to the good stuff now.

Despite everything going on, December has been as busy as ever for our family, with dinners with family and friends, Christmas light trails, and weekly Awana night dates for Derek and me.  We went out to one of our usual places last night, but there was no room for us in the outdoor-seating tent, so we sat under a heat lamp on the patio while drinking our root beer and cream soda.  We couldn't take our coats off (so I guess my careful outfit selection was a little pointless), but it was romantic sitting outside in the cold, eating our dinner and watching the traffic lights "blink a bright read and green".  I enjoyed it very much.  Sometimes things aren't ideal, but you make the best of them and find joy in it anyway.  Hasn't that been the story of this whole year?  

I hope you are finding the little joys this week, friends!  I'll try to be back soon with photos of the fruit garland project I did with the kids, and hopefully a book post and some Christmas reflections in the next week or so!

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?





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?




Holiday Preparations & Foibles



We got the Christmas stuff up this weekend.  A few years ago we decided the weekend before Thanksgiving was going to be our day to decorate, and I have to say, I like it.  I don't feel that Thanksgiving gets eclipsed by the Christmas decorations - if anything, it just adds to the air of thanks for me.  It's hard for me not to feel thankful in the early morning glow of the Christmas tree.






I'm sitting in the kids' playroom right now with just such a glowing tree in the corner, and a camp mug of coffee in my hand (well, on the shelf - can't hold coffee while I'm typing).  The rowdy refrain of "Jingle Bells" is already coming from the kids' room, so I imagine I'm going to be interrupted any minute, but I am hoping to get this post done and published before my self-imposed computer limit kicks me off.

Speaking of which, how is the social media/digital break going?  It has actually been much easier than I thought it would be so far.  Maybe it's because we are just dipping into the craziness of holiday preparations, and my mind has been too occupied with that to dwell much on Instagram.  I have actually not found myself picking up my phone before realizing I deleted my social media apps, which has been a surprise.  Maybe I'm adjusting quicker since this isn't my first break from social media.  There have, however, been several times when I thought about sharing something with you all on Instagram, and then remembered that I can't. But I've been trying to redirect some of that pent-up social energy into more personal interactions, which has been lovely.  I finally started a craft I had planned with the kids, I got a date on the calendar to visit my grandpa, I've written a few notes to people, and we had a game night at my sister's house (which is already completely decked out for Christmas too).





Back to the subject of tree decorating.  Am I the only one who finds the entire decorating process stressful?  I know it's supposed to be this time of joy and family appreciation, but for the last several years I have found myself running around, pre-cleaning surfaces in preparation for decorations, shouting to remind the kids to pick up their toys (again), trying to get cute decorating pictures, and just generally being a mess.  I escaped mid-decorating this year with Gwen to go do some Christmas shopping.  It was just getting too stressful.  I also decided to take the pressure of getting pictures of the kids decorating the tree off my plate.  It's about having a fun time, not getting a cute picture, right?  Except my efforts to calm down about taking pictures were voided by requests from each of the kids to take a picture of them so I could put it in their photo book.  So the camera did appear, but in a much more relaxed way.


(It snowed last week, and the afternoons were just so peaceful and pretty.)

Speaking of trees, I had an epiphany this weekend.  You know those Christmas trees that are made of that shiny, irridescent, tinsel-like material?  I always thought those were really ugly.  Why would anyone buy a tree like that?  Well, I have learned why.  We made a trip to our local Christmas wonderland store this weekend to look for some colorful outdoor lights, and I pointed out a tree to Derek that I thought was particularly pretty - decorated in icy blue and bronze, and just glittering all over the place.  Then it occurred to me that this was one of those trees!  Those tinsel-trees that I always thought were so ugly.  It turns out that when you add in some twinkling white lights and sparkly ornaments, the whole tree just looks like a glittering masterpiece.  Now I kind of want a tinsel-tree.





Thanksgiving is this week, and we are taking sort-of break from school.  I don't want to take a full-break, because I want more days to be added into our required totals, but I've decided this is history catch-up week.  Until Thursday, we are just going to sit around, read books from our history curriculum, and drink hot chocolate.  We might throw some Christmas books into the mix, and maybe a craft.  That's my plan.  I love homeschooling.




Also on the schedule - make the perfect chocolate pie for Thanksgiving.  This year we are bringing Derek's mom with us to my parent's house, and I think it will be extra-special to enjoy members of both sides of the family at the same time. I am tasked with bringing pink fluff salad, a relish plate, and a pie. I'm thinking of making a Hershey pie.  If you've never had it, think melt-in-your mouth, creamy chocolate that is about a thousand calories per slice (I exaggerate, but not by that much).  But if you have a favorite chocolate pie recipe, send it my way!

In light of all this holiday prep, I am also hoping to get some Christmas cards written this week.  If you are a blog buddy of mine and are interested in swapping Christmas cards with me, will you fill out your address on this form?  My Christmas card philosophy is "more the merrier", for giving and receiving, and I do have some extra time to work on them now that I'm hardly on my phone!  Turns out Instagram was the major time-sucking culprit.




Is Summer Over Yet?



This post is a week overdue.

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

Summer And Me Are Not Getting Along Anymore

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

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

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

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

Cue the tears.

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

So it's coming together.

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




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

Now, About Florida

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

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

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

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

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

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

We almost considered skipping Disney.

I can hear the gasps reverberating throughout space.

The Whole Disney Thing 

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

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

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

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

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

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

And Oh Yeah, School

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

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

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

It's just the summer, stealing my brain.



Are you ready for summer to be over yet?




Tea On A Tuesday Vol. 1



I'm a coffee person.  I always brew a pot when we have company, but frequently I'm the only one drinking it.  I don't really understand why so many people don't drink coffee, but if you came over I might brew a pot to help shed the chill from outside, or I might just put the kettle on and offer you a cup of tea instead.

I'd pull out my little specialty tins from David's Tea that my dear friend Felicia sent me for a late Christmas present, and I'd probably mentioned that I first met her through letters we started exchanging as 12 year olds.  How we still have never met, but we still manage a letter every six months and cross our fingers that one of these days we'll meet for real.  How she's a longtime, dear friend of mine even though I've never seen her face in person.

Not many people have had pen-pals these days, so you might think it's cool or you might not quite get it, but I'd probably mention how I wish snail mail wasn't such a thing of the past, and how I wish I was better at it myself.  All these words that we pound out and send off into the space of the internet are so...intangible.  There is something about a letter that you can hold in your hand, how you can see what kind of pen and stationary the person chose, see what their handwriting looks like, hear the words that people won't put out there for any person to see but that feel safe to write in a letter.  There is something special about that.



I'd pause and listen to your thoughts on the subject, and who knows where the conversation would take us, but I'm sure it would come back to a couple other things I've been thinking about lately.  

I might tell you how I've put myself on a 15 minute a day "Instagram diet".  I'm serious about it, and I had my husband put a passcode that I don't know to enforce my 15 minute limit.  

You might care less about all this because you aren't on Instagram, or you might look at me askew and say "wow" because you don't see why I'd take such measures.  And I'd explain that I realized how often I was escaping a boring day with mindless scrolling, and how I could see it was distracting me from my kids.  Distracting me from consistency in my Bible study, from things that are eternal, and from the legacy I want to leave (it's never too early to start thinking about your legacy).  And well, something just had to be done.  If I died tomorrow, I wouldn't want my kids to remember my face glued to my iPhone.  

Then I'd probably ask you if you print up pictures of your kids, and it would seem like a change of subject, but it's really not.  Because with all of this talk about tangible things, I'd probably mention how I want my kids to have pictures they can hold in their hands.  I'd talk about how I can never seem to get my act together with creating photo books, and I take an excessive amount of pictures so it's always felt like an insurmountable task to sort through them and print them all up.  You'd probably commiserate with me, because its probably a huge project for you too.  Then I'd tell you how I decided to print up my one favorite photo of each kid from each month.  Just one.  And how I'd like to accompany each photo with a short letter with my favorite memory of them from the month.  I'd tell you how I grabbed a basic composition book and wrote the rough-drafts of my five little letters already.  

Because printing some pictures is better than printing none.  And it's harder to blink and miss a childhood when you are keeping an eye out for a memory to record.



Then maybe I'd get away from all this heavy talk, and I'd ask you what you thought about the Bachelor, or whether you've been able to get outside with all this snow.  I'd ask what you've been up to lately, if you've read anything good.  

And we'd sit, and enjoy our tea, and visit face to face instead of through a screen.  And it would be lovely.

I wish I could have you all over for tea on a Tuesday.

---

Shoutout to Amanda for making me want to write a "visiting over a hot beverage" post again with her coffee date posts.  And feel free to steal the term "Tea On A Tuesday" if you like it, and write your own.  I lifted the phrase from a long-ago blogger that is no longer writing.  I don't think she'd mind if we bring it back.

Moving And Other Realizations



Do you ever have one of those weeks, where you feel like you were busy all week, but someone asks you what you did, and you can't think of anything?  That's kind of how moving is.  You feel like everything is crazy and you are constantly doing something, but when you think about it you realize all you've really done is sign paperwork and occasionally leave the house for an inspection.

A Quick Moving Update And Reminiscing 

Speaking of inspections, everything went well, and things are moving forward nicely.  We are closing on our current house on the 18th, and we close on our new house on the 25th!  This week moving started to feel real to me, and the bittersweet nature of leaving our first home is starting to twist my stomach.  Our leaves are starting to change, and the weather is starting to cool down.  It's beautiful here right now.  This would normally be the time that I would utilize our wood stove to warm up the living room, but we're supposed to keep it clean for the new owners.

I think that is one of the things I'll miss most about this house.  That wood stove.  When we were first married, we lit a roaring fire in it and decorated for Christmas.  My sister came over to help and took a picture of me and Derek, still newlyweds, in front of the fire.  When the power goes out, we heat the house with it.  One wintery day when we had a couple feet of snow outside, the lights flickered out, and I even cooked on it and made us grilled cheese sandwiches and caramel fudge on top of that stove.

I'll miss it.  I'll miss warm winter days, snuggled in the wood-warmed living room with my babies.

Birthdays And Photo Sessions

We celebrated Clarice's birthday last weekend, and it hit me that this is the last normal family birthday we'll have here.  We are having Georgie's big one year old party here before we move, but that feels different since we'll have all our friends and family present for an official party.  Clarice's birthday was the last time we'll decorate with simple streamers the night before, and light candles and sing happy birthday on an actual birthday in this house.  We'll celebrate Georgie's actual birthday in a new home.

Clarice's birthday was nice though.  We went to church, then the zoo, where she requested to see the "eweh-phants".  We came home and gave her birthday presents, and she exclaimed "I WUV it!" and "I a'ways wanted dis!" over every one.  Three years ago, she was the baby who kept me waiting after my due date, and I cried because I wanted to meet her so badly.  She hasn't made me cry with sadness again yet (except at the thought of her growing up).  She is such a delightful girl.

(Clarice and me, at the zoo!)

I'm trying to get Georgie's one year old photos done before the madness of moving really starts, so I took some pictures of her today, and on Wednesday we'll get her cake pictures, family pictures, and Christmas card pictures done in one fell swoop.  I get excessively stressed over taking our own family photos, which is why I decided to split them up this year.  However, I'm convinced Georgie's little session today took twice as long as it would have if Daddy had been around.  Daddy is where it's at these days, and he's the one who reliably gets Georgie to smile.  I did some pretty ridiculous things to try to coax a grin out of her today, and nothing.  Thankfully siblings were around to help me, and the blubbering lip trick still worked.

 (This is about how Georgie felt about our photo session today.)

But What About Packing?

I haven't started packing yet, partly because I don't want to live amidst a bunch of boxes for our entire last month here, partly because we can move over most things in the drawers they are already stored in (there are really only a couple closets and a cabinet that needs packing - I think), and partly because I am having a terrible time just keeping up on regular old things like schoolwork.  We are ahead in reading and math, and about a week behind in everything else.  And why?  As I established at the beginning of this post, all we've really been busy with is paperwork.

I guess in September I've learned that paperwork can take up a ridiculous amount of time and energy, fall makes me want to curl up on the couch with a blanket and never move or let strangers into my house again, three is one of the cutest ages, my baby prefers me to hold her but prefers Daddy to make her smile, and selling a house makes you feel like you spent all week working yourself exhausted over a few signatures (because that's exactly what you did).

Oy vey.

(On a hike with dear friends last week, one of the few substantive things I can say we've done lately!)

What I'm Drinking: Pumpkin Spice Tazo Chai, steeped in coffee, with cream and Stevia.  Mmmm!

Has fall finally fallen in your neck of the woods?  What fall goodness are you drinking? Should I be concerned that I haven't packed anything yet?  Why are we moving again?

(I'll be glad we did all this about two seconds after we're moved in, just wait.)

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!)


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