Showing posts with label Thankfulness. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Thankfulness. Show all posts

Currently | December 2019

We had a lovely Thanksgiving last week.  We went to my parents' house and Derek's mom came with us.  We ate a lot of food and too much pie, played the A Christmas Story game (you know, like the movie?), and laughed and enjoyed each other's company. And now we have apparently charged full-speed ahead in the countdown for Christmas.  I'm still trying to get my bearings.  No matter how hard I try to plan ahead, Christmas always manages to catch me a little by surprise each year.

Speaking of surprises, I'm working on a freebie for all of you who are regular readers of my blog (hopefully will be up tomorrow), so I'm going to keep this "currently" short and sweet.

Wrapping...nothing.  All the presents arrived in the mail this week, so now I just need to buckle down and get them wrapped!  I actually don't enjoy wrapping presents very much.  I wish I did, but there are just so many to wrap, it gets overwhelming.  I'm going to be recruiting Derek to help me tonight while we watch a Hallmark Christmas movie.

Lighting...Christmas candles.  Weirdly, my favorite ones this year are not from Yankee Candle, as per the norm, but instead I'm really enjoying some that I found at TJ Maxx.  They have some great scents, and the candles are cheaper than Yankee, so that's a plus!  Anything pine scented is my favorite this time of year.

Baking...also nothing, but I am hoping to start on ginger cookies this week.  I've learned over the years to keep my Christmas baking to a minimum.  I'm always tempted to try a bunch of new recipes, but when I do that I tend to just get overwhelmed.  I may bring one new recipe into the rotation though, if things ever slow down enough.  I'm thinking some sort of candy recipe.

Sending...a present to my lifelong penpal, Felicia.  Keep an eye out, friend!  I'm also waiting for photos to arrive in the mail so I can start sending Christmas cards in earnest.  I decided this year to just use the boxes of Christmas cards I have collected over the years with a photo tucked inside, instead of our usual photo Christmas card.  It's actually been less complicated and stressful this way, not to mention less expensive since I'm using cards I already have!

Enjoying...quiet days at home, especially if it's snowing like it is today.  So far the first week of December has been chaotic and a little stressful, but today we have the whole day stretched out ahead of us.  We might read some Christmas picture books or bake something or do a Christmas craft.  It feels like the world is my oyster when I have a quiet day at home to work with.

(Wyatt took these photos for me a couple weeks ago - not too shabby, right?  He's getting better at using the big camera!)

Linking up here!

Why I'm Glad My Blog Didn't Grow


Well, another one bites the dust.

Yesterday I was browsing through my Bloglovin' feed, and I saw that another one of the bloggers that I follow has decided to call it quits.  I won't link to her post here, because it was a fairly new-to-me blog, and her site will be set to private in the next few days anyway.  Every time I see a blogger decide to step back from blogging, it makes me a little introspective.  It's a good thing to periodically reflect on my blog thus far and evaluate my priorities, I just wish the trigger wasn't always a negative one.

(It's still July, so that means I can still use sparkler pictures in this post, right?)

Regardless, I was thinking over this blogger's reasons for quitting, and thinking over my own reasons for continuing to blog over the years.  My reasons for blogging now are really the same as when I started it in the first place.  I like to write.  I like to create something pretty, either with words or photographs, and I like to share when I do.  I like to have this creative outlet for myself, this place to think things through, or stretch myself, or reflect some bit of my life that I don't want to forget.  I like to make friends with people who may be very different from me, but also kind of the same.

The blog has gone through stages, morphed a bit to fit whatever phase I was going through in my life, but it always comes back to these reasons.  I'm just very thankful that it remains a safe place for me to do those things, that it remains functional for my purposes.  I don't think every blogger can say that.

That Time I Tried To Grow My Blog

There was a period of time when I was actively trying to grow this blog and earn a little money from it - partly because the extra income was helpful at that time, partly because everyone was doing it.  And didn't I need to monetize and professionalize this blog to be taken seriously as a blogger?  When I realized that trying to make this into a job was making the whole thing a chore for me, I reevaluated then too and came back to my original purposes.

You know, the funny thing is, during that period of time, I wasn't quite sure what I was doing wrong.  Why wasn't my blog growing the way so many others were?  Why did it feel like I had to fight so hard for each new follower?  It honestly was a discouraging thing to me.

But now that I am successfully past that stage and fully over the desire to grow for growth's sake, I'm actually really glad that my blog didn't grow.  Ultimately it was God's grace to me to keep this space small.

Graces Of Staying Small

Grace #1: I've had limited nastiness to deal with.

I don't worry about a lot of the things bigger blogs have to deal with as a matter of course.  I haven't had the stress of nasty comments because I have only encountered a handful of trolls in my eleven (!) years of blogging.

My husband sometimes asks me not to write about a controversial topic that is weighing on me, because he knows that I am not built to handle alot of conflict.  While I have strong opinions that I am willing to share, and I never write anything that I am not willing to stick by, often handling the discussions, even when they are good discussions, is emotionally taxing on me.  I am blessed that I haven't had to deal with much meanness, and that even when we disagree, almost every discussion I've had with people on this blog has remained respectful.

I can't claim anything I did as a strategy for a positive blog environment, I fully credit it to the Lord keeping my blog mostly in a bubble, keeping it small, and only bringing the people who needed to read it.

 Grace #2: I am a terrible receiver of glory.

A couple of months ago I read something in a book that immediately made me realize anew that it was the grace of God that my blog didn't grow.  This is what I read:

"Being glorious is for God. Giving glory is a human task....We bring glory, we give glory, we reflect glory. But we are terrible receivers of it. We cannot hold glory because it was never meant for us. We are given glory to give it to our Maker. This is our task. This is our purpose. If a pipe has no outlet for the water, it is pointless and it will burst. When a person receives glory and has no place to give it, they will burst. When they have only a little glory that they don’t know what to do with, they go sadly stagnant...I only have a little, and I am doing nothing with it. Or, I have much, but it has destroyed me. These are not good options."  -Rachel Jankovic, You Who?

This passage resonated with me so much, because I know in my heart that if I received too much glory, I wouldn't give it all over to God.  I'd hoard some of it for myself, and in the end, I think it would ruin me, and it would ruin this blog.  I know myself well enough to say this one thing: I don't need any help being prideful, and I don't need something else to be prideful about.  The Lord knows that too, and I think He saved me from some rather serious humbling by keeping me from the opportunity to be puffed up by my blog in the first place.

Grace #3: I am still writing to friends.

I remember in my first year of blogging, I told my mom that I hoped I never got more than a certain number of followers, because then it would be hard for me to respond and keep up with everyone else's blogs.  And while more people read this blog now than my original (very small) desired number, somehow the spirit of that thought has held steady.  I haven't had a conversation with every person who reads this blog regularly, because some people never comment.  But I personally know (in an online, virtual sense) a good percentage of the people who are reading this right now, and I love that I can say that.

I am thankful for everyone who reads my rather unpolished, small-blogger thoughts, thankful for those who have stuck around through the years.  And if you're reading this, I am thankful for you.  I'm glad this blog is still small and cozy and perfect for me.  It is a beautiful thing to still feel as if I am writing to friends.

As long as I can say that, and as long as I still need to get my thoughts out into written words (which will probably be forever, let's be honest), I don't plan on going anywhere.

So there's another periodic blog evaluation in the books!

I guess you're all still stuck with me. *wink*

Any thoughts about writing, or blog size, or unexpected graces?  I'd love to hear what you think!

An Update, With Thanksgiving

Over the last week or so, I have heard several people mention how Thanksgiving is a hard holiday for them.  Maybe they lost relatives around that time of year, or they moved and are away from family.  To be honest, I think I could have dedicated more thought to this over the years.  I haven't had any sort of major traumatic event happen close to a holiday in my life to this point, and I can see how that would kind of ruin a holiday.

I bring this up only because our church is going through some hard stuff right now, right before Thanksgiving.  I wouldn't call any of it "traumatic", but I can see a little more personally how some holidays may become difficult after a major change.

But it also seems to me that Thanksgiving specifically would become a little more important in those circumstances as well.  I think in our American culture, we get so caught up in the trappings of Thanksgiving - the family, the turkey, the football, the pie - that we forget what the whole point of the holiday is.  It's for giving thanks to God for all He has blessed us with.  Sometimes it might be harder to see those blessings in the middle of all that is lost.  But they are always there, and how insulting to the Creator if we throw all His good gifts aside just because we don't have that one gift that we want.

All that to say, I'm thankful for many things this year even though this November has been filled with more heartache and stress and loss, in my own life and those around me, than some in the past.

I'm thankful for my precious children.

I went upstairs today to clean up the boy's room, and found a stack of papers all about fish beside Wyatt's table.  They are crinkled and bent from multiple readings.  He's his own little person, and I love seeing who he is becoming.  It just was a tangible little reminder at how much of a privilege is to raise and shape five precious and unique individuals.  I love that I get to do things like pick up dirty socks, change dirty diapers, and straighten wrinkled papers for all of these precious people.

I'm thankful for my husband.

Derek and I haven't been getting much couple-connection time lately, because he has been so busy tearing out flooring, putting more in, tearing apart bathrooms, and painting kitchen cabinets.  He's been working so hard to bring our vision for this house to life, and still doing his best to take care of the kids and me (especially since we all came down with a stomach bug last week).  He's something special.

I'm thankful for this house.

The remodeling process has been rough, and we've had multiple setbacks - from unforeseen delays, to ordering the wrong thing, to contracting a stomach bug, to even theft (someone stole $1000 worth of wood from us - how does that even happen?)!  I think I have finally accepted that I am not going to get the entire house put together before the Christmas season, and the Christmas decorations are just going to have to go up while we are still moving in.  It's a messy Christmas, and that's okay.  It'll come together eventually!

I'm thankful for my family.

This is a season of upheaval for us, in our house and in our church, but the people are the same.  I'm so glad I have my family (and friends too!) to lean into right now.

I'm thankful for my church.

Aside from the aforementioned upheaval, I can see that so many people are trying to handle everything in a godly way.  Maybe we won't always completely succeed, but the heart is there, and seeing that lets me know we are in a good place.

I'm thankful for my Bible study group.

So many of the ladies made me meals and watched the kids during the move!  They have showered me with love during a transition year, when I was sad about the need to quit our MOPS group in favor of homeschool stuff.  I needed the help with this unexpected move, and they stepped up and filled the gaps.  They've been such a blessing to me.

I'm thankful for audiobooks.

With the way the last three weeks have gone down, I'd be out of luck for my book club if we didn't have audiobooks!  Time to read a physical book I have not.

I'm thankful for the Hallmark Channel.

When you are really in a Christmasy mood but can't decorate (aaah!), Hallmark Christmas movies fill that Christmas-shaped hole.  We signed up for Fubo this year during the month of November and December specifically for football and Christmas movies.  You don't even need a major satellite subscription anymore to watch the channels you want!  What an age we live in.

I'm thankful for Christmas cards, and all the people who send them.

It's easy enough to keep up with people through social media these days, but it's not the same thing as when someone sits down to write out your name and send you a Christmas card.  There is so little of the personal touches anymore because of social media, but at Christmas everyone suddenly remembers that the mail exists, and there are wonderful people at a mailbox on the other side of the line.  It's a special thing.  Christmas cards, don't you ever die out.

I'm thankful for Christmas.

I'm thankful for all the fun Christmas trappings, and most thankful for the Savior who we celebrate.  The gift of our salvation through Christ's birth, life, death, and resurrection - that's the greatest gift, and He is the only thing that never changes.

Happy Thanksgiving Week, friends!

I'm hoping to get back to a regular posting schedule soon - I've got something about "The Anatomy Of A Hallmark Movie" in the works in my brain, so stay tuned! 

8 Minute Memoir: Spring

(Quick note - Post inspired by Amanda's beautiful 12-Minute memoir yesterday.  I forgot how much I like doing these, and it's so much easier to fit in before the kids wake up.  I'm getting my prompts here.  Thanks Amanda! Also, picture is from somewhere else where they actually have those magical flowering trees.)

6:46 AM

When I think of spring I think of one thing: mud.

I've lived in the mountains my whole life, and in the mountains spring is an endless cycle of snow which turns to mud, which is covered by more snow.  Even the springs that break form (like this one) are brown and grey in the mountains, with very little color.  We wait and wait, until suddenly, all in a flurry at the end of May, it goes from spring to summer in one week.

When I was a child I never understood why people liked spring.  When I became a young adult I started to realize that other places had flowers, flowering trees even.  And well, if you have a spring like that, it makes sense why you would like it.  But in my mountain world, spring is the ugliest season.

Mountain springs haven't changed that much since I was a kid, but while I used to hate the season, I don't anymore.  It's still brown and yucky, but I notice the green grass poking through the ground, hidden behind the yellowed leftovers from last year.  As my kids' feet pound the floor above me way too early in the morning, I realize I also hear birds singing an endless song outside the window.  I walk over to let our big hound mix outside, because he won't leave me alone until I do, and I hear squirrels chattering and I breathe in the cold, wet smell of melting snow.

Spring will always smell like that to me.  Not like flowers, or green grass.  Like mud and melting snow.  

There is life out there, new life stretching up, peeking around the corner, sitting in the tree branches.  I never noticed that as a kid, but I do now.  Now that I've felt new life in my womb, held it in my arms, and had a few more Resurrection Days under my belt, spring holds a bit more significance.  

So even these muddy, ugly springs are beautiful after all.  I look out my window and can see the echoes of God's words in Genesis - even here, in the mud.  

"It is good."

6:54 AM 

Marinating In Gratitude

Yesterday was one for the books, in the best possible way.

I feel like I should preface this post by saying that many of my days alone with the five kids so far have ended with Derek coming home right as I'm about to pull my hair out, and me escaping to wash my hair - even if it doesn't need washed - just to have a break.

But yesterday, it wasn't like that.  We had the most peaceful day that we've had, not just since adding our sweet Georgie, but in months.  I'm trying to go back over it in my head to figure out the "secret", so I can repeat it, if that were possible.

The morning went pretty normally, with the kids waking up before me.  Clarice climbed under the covers with me at some point, and I feel like I remember her reading a book in my sleepy haze.  After drifting in and out for a half hour, I finally got out of bed and got ready for the day.  The kids woke up Georgie because they went into her nursery to take care of her (which wasn't as tragic as it sounds, because I heard her stirring anyway).  I fed the kids oatmeal, I fed Georgie, and wrapped her into our Solly wrap.

She fell asleep, so I pulled out the play dough (which I've been meaning to do for the last two weeks), and read to the kids while they created things.  We read about Christopher Columbus.  We read two chapters of Dr. Doolittle.  We were on a roll, so I pulled out the next catechism question, and we worked on a memory verse, and we read the Christmas story from Luke (I figure if we read it every day for the next month, maybe they'll inadvertently memorize it).  And nobody cried (at least not until we were done with all our read-alouds).

I made lunch and got the kids down for a nap in the nick of time before Georgie got hungry.  I fed her and then practiced some reading with Wyatt while she slept on my lap.  I snuck her onto the couch and she stayed asleep, so I edited some of the pictures we had taken of her first two weeks.

Kids got up.  Pulled out the play dough again, and they entertained themselves for another hour while I chopped up potatoes for dinner.  I made dinner!  On my own!  Potato soup was bubbling on the stove by the time Derek walked through the door.

I still can't figure out what made it go right. But it's nice that it happened on Thanksgiving week, because I suspect it had more to do with my attitude than with the logistics of the day.  I watched this video, and while I'm mulling over some of it, what I do think is true is that gratitude makes all the difference in the level of happiness we feel.  When things start to feel overwhelming or frustrating, it is usually about the same time that I forget to feel grateful.  And when things go relatively smoothly it seems that it is usually because I decide to make the most of the day with my sweet children, from a heart of gratitude, instead of letting things just happen to us.

"Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever." Psalm 118:1

I had this verse on my chalkboard all last year, but it is sad that I didn't let it sink into my heart a little more.  There is a reason Scripture tells us to "in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." (1 Thessalonians 5:18)   

There is so much for which to give thanks - each day I have to spend with these sweet children, each day my wonderful husband comes home to me - it's such a blessing.  Somehow, having Georgie come at this time of year seems really appropriate, because having her here has reminded me that God didn't have to give me any of this.  But He did, and I am so grateful.  I think the Lord let today go so well to remind me what it looks like to slow down and give thanks, to marinate in that gratitude a little bit more. (Marinate - ha!  Because it's Thanksgiving week?  Turkey?  Oh, never mind.)

My hope is that I'll remember to be grateful on the rough days too, long after this Thanksgiving week is past.  

On Thursday I'll join the rest of the country in "giving thanks" - giving thanks to God for all the blessings He's given our family, and the way He has guided our nation so that we even celebrate this holiday in the first place, and for the greatest gift He gave by giving us His Son to save us.  But I want to carry that gratitude on into the craziness of December and through the New Year too.  And I wish the same for you, friends!  Because there is so much to be grateful for when we remember to slow down and look, and giving thanks "in everything" can change a lot.

Happy Thanksgiving Week!

The Balance Between Memory-Keeping And Memory-Making

We got another skiff of snow this morning, and Derek is home today, though he ran out to the grocery store a little while ago for milk and diapers.  The house is relatively quiet right now.  He left while I was still in bed, so the kids are upstairs watching some cartoon or another on TV.  Aside from some footsteps running across the floorboards above my head occasionally, it is peaceful and quiet.

I have no big plans for the day, aside from homeschool and working on my Christmas card list (Christmas time and this baby's arrival are looming).  I will probably do something a bit more elaborate for dinner, and by that I mean I'll spend the 45 minutes it takes to cut up potatoes for potato soup.  It's a potato soup kind of day.

But for now, it's quiet, and I'm hunkering down in my room, trying to figure out what to write today.  I was going to write about more frivolous things, but there are a few deeper thoughts left in the month after all.  Snow always puts me in a reflective mood, and this morning I'm reflecting on keeping a good balance between memory-keeping and memory-making.

Much has been said about how obsessed we all are with getting the perfect picture to share on social media, and viewing our lives through the lens of our phone instead of the lenses of our eyes.  I'm not sure I'm going to go that route with this post, because I've written this month already about how it's hard for me to even remember certain events without some documentation.  I am not gifted with an impeccable memory for times and places and events, so writing something down or snapping a picture keeps these things from being lost to me forever.  I don't think there is anything wrong with wanting to document the past, and indeed I think it's important.  It's most important I think so we don't forget what God has done.  How far He has brought us, and how He has worked in our lives and  grown our character up to the present moment.

However, I think there is a certain danger in getting too caught up in the past.  How we've "always" done things.  How things "used to be".  

Because the more years behind you the more you realize that things never stay exactly the same.

And that statement sounds wistful and sad somehow, but I don't really think it has to be.  Because would we really even want things to stay the same forever?  Would we want to never move to the next stage of life, to never watch our babies get bigger and develop their personalities, to never develop new traditions, try something new, grow?

There is room for a bit of sentimentality about the past I think, as long as we don't get stuck in our reminiscing about "the good ole days".  Because these days that we're in right now, these very present moments, are good too.  They drift on by, and tomorrow will be a memory before we even realize it.  And I think it's good to embrace the way things change, to hold on to our memories while making fresh, different ones in the present moment, and not to resent the fact that things aren't always "the same".  Because really, how boring would things get if they always were?

My goal I think, in all this memory-keeping, is to remember all that God has done for me this far, but not so I can wish for the way things used to be.  I want to remember His faithfulness and gifts in the past so my eyes are wide open for His faithfulness and gifts that are still in the future.  And when I keep that balance between the memory-keeping and the memory-making yet to be done, I think it's easier to live fully in the blessings of right now, and to be grateful for them.

It Was A Good Year

Each year on this little blog I finish off the calendar year with a year end post.  I love that I have eight years of these posts to look back on now (and it comes in handy when I forget when we went on that vacation, etc).  This year, my year end post might include some personal life details that I never got around to sharing through my apparent blogging mid-life crisis this year.  I want all that to change in 2017, because those life details are the things I want to remember when I look back on this blog someday.  I think they are the reason my kids will read it.

I give you our year in bullet points!


-January was a hard month for me this last year.  Looking back (no, even in the middle of it), I realize that after having Clarice I dipped into some mild postpartum depression (my 2016 word hinted at this).  It was never serious or scary or anything like that, but it did make it hard for me to enjoy my life for a while.  Unfortunately I have few pictures from January, except a few I shot at the end when I realized Clarice was going to turn four months old and I had barely photographed that month in her life.

-We took a lot of trips to Starbucks.  At least once or twice a week, when I was feeling overwhelmed by life, I'd pack up the kids and drive to Starbucks, and splurge on an iced coffee.  Is it really splurging if you do it twice a week?  I shudder to consider my Starbucks bill those months, but if a car drive and coffee helped me make it through hard days, I think it was money well spent.

-Gwen had a little trip to the ER! I woke up one morning, thinking the kids had let me sleep in a little, and came upstairs the find an empty bottle of children's Tylenol.  I wasn't sure if they had drank it, or how full it was or anything, so I called poison control and they determined that if the bottle had indeed been full and Gwen drank it by herself, that would not be good.  So off to the ER we went to determine what happened.  Thankfully she actually only had a tiny bit in her system.  Needless to say, I put the medicine further out of reach.  In my defense, they dragged chairs over and climbed up the shelve sin the closet to get it.  I didn't know they were capable of that!  We had a good talk about not touching medicine ever again in their entire lives, or something like that.

-Clarice turned four months old (and I couldn't even get up the motivation to write her a post, so I combined months four and five).

On The Blog: I shared about not ignoring the news in 2016 (still applicable for 2017), and I talked about why I can't quite drop the word "probably" when people ask me if we're done having babies.


-In February we decided to take the plunge and do a remodel of our house!  We had been considering moving to a different area in late 2015/early 2016, but we finally decided we'd be pushing our budget in moving, and we'd be better served by refinancing with a lower interest rate and taking out enough for a remodel.  So we started planning.

-I took a bunch of pictures of the kids for Valentine's Day.  I really love Valentine's Day, and every year I find myself wanting to take some pictures of the kids that involve pink hearts.

-Derek got me a museum membership for Valentine's Day.  He knows the way to my heart.

-I went to a women's retreat with my church, and happened upon a booth for a local pregnancy resource center, which was the start of my journey volunteering with them!  This was something I had been praying about on the previous New Year's Eve, and I felt like the Lord answered my prayers by bringing me to that booth.

-It snowed a lot, and the kids loved playing outside in it!

-The Bachelor started back up (which is obviously a highlight).  I shared why I watch the Bachelor.

-The Broncos won the Super Bowl!

-We celebrated Wyatt's fifth birthday!

-Clarice turned five months old!

On The Blog:  I shared some of my love for Valentine's Day here and here (P.S. I really love it), and I shared a friend's Etsy shop (she makes adorable baby shoes!).


-House remodel in full swing, and I was just sure we'd be done by summer (ha!).

-My sister surprised me with a pedicure!  For no reason! I pretty much have the best sister ever.

-I repainted practically our entire house.  We ripped the trim off everything.

-We went to a friend's wedding in several inches of snow.

-Our family and my sister's family took a lovely visit out to our friends' ranch!  The snow melted, Springtime showed it's pretty face, and the kids loved seeing all the animals.

-Clarice turned six months old.

On The Blog: I finally shared about how Wyatt asked Jesus to be his Savior (which happened September 2015)!  I wrote a letter to newlyweds who might be scared to have a baby.


-A pretty quiet month.  We stayed home a lot and baked cookies.

-My new nephew was born!

-We celebrated Clyde's 2nd birthday!

-I tried out a couple vlogs.

-I finished repainting the entire house!  It was a long project.

-It was an unseasonably warm month, and I may have broken out my summertime music.  I also read on the porch!  In April! This spring was almost good enough to make me like the season.

-I got a head start on Clarice's first birthday party.

-I got my first load of laundry to wash for the pregnancy center.

-Clarice turned seven months old.

-I finally felt like I was pulling out of my postpartum depression.

-We had to leave the house for a few days while Derek finished some remodeling jobs, and one day I did a little rainy springtime photo session with Wyatt while the other kids napped in the car.  He was so cute!

On The Blog: I shared Clarice's first birthday invitations (I got them way early!), and I shared three photo-printing apps I've tried.


-We went to a picnic with my whole family on my mom's side.

-I started a blog Instagram account (another way to keep up on blog posts).

-I started getting into audiobooks!  What took me so long?

-We celebrated Mother's Day.

-Took several trips to the zoo, and I drank a lot of iced coffees.

-I started on a lot of yard work around our house - the thistles and dandelions were out of control.  The thing about living in the mountains is that no one really notices or cares about yard work, so it's easy to let things go too far.  This was a particularly terrifying specimen, and made me think about how the Lord cursed the ground with thistles.  This one definitely looked cursed.

-Clarice turned eight months old.


-We celebrated my birthday.

-I went to the libraries used book sale for the first time - and I am a fan!  I got so many good ones!

-We celebrated Father's Day.

-Our car broke down right before we left on vacation. We delayed our trip by a day and bought a new car.

-We went on vacation to Yellowstone and Jackson Hole!  We tent-camped in Cody for most of the trip and had a great time. (Though I wouldn't let any of us get out of the car to explore Yellowstone because it FREAKS ME OUT. People die there every year you know, and I just can't really imagine a worse way to go than boiling to death.)

-Clarice turned nine months old.


-We celebrated the 4th of July on the road!  It didn't stop us from dressing the kids up and breaking out the sparklers.

-We spent a lot of lazy days at home with our kiddie pool and makeshift water table (wheel barrow with water and bath toys).

-Lots of trips to Home Depot and the science museum while Derek worked almost every weekend on the house!  We wanted to get it done before Clarice's birthday, so the countdown was on.

-Gwen seriously informed me that she wanted to believe in Jesus, and prayed to ask Him into her heart!  She'll understand more and more as she grows, but this was a sweet moment and big day!  She was so excited about the "big girl Bible" I gave her the next day and I often catch her in her room "reading" it.

-Clarice turned ten months old.

On The Blog: I shared my homeschool mom reading list, and I wrote about how I explain the gospel to my kids.


-Frantic weekends trying to finish up the last details on the house! I helped Derek put new white wood planks on our ceiling during a couple of these weekends.  Talk about back-breaking work.

-The kids and I explored some new parks while Derek worked on house stuff during the weekends.  We also ate a lot of watermelon.

-We finally took a break from our house project and went on a trip to our local (five hours away) peach festival! Derek's mom came with us and it was a fun road trip!  We're hoping to get back into this as a yearly tradition (we missed 2015 since I was nine months pregnant). We learned that Clarice loves peaches.

-Clarice turned 11 months old.

On The Blog: I shared all my plans for Clarice's birthday party, and someone asked me how I "do it all", so I wrote a response to the "how do you do it" questions.


-We took several gorgeous fall hikes.  Despite being such a busy month, I think this year was one of my favorite Septembers.

-Start of football season, and we kicked it off with going to a college football game!

-We started homeschool Kindergarten with Wyatt, and I wrote about our homeschool philosophy.

-More house projects.

-Debate season! (I am a politics nerd and actually enjoy these.)

-We repainted our house, one of the last projects before Clarice's party.  I helped Derek with this as well.

-Clarice turned one year old, and we celebrated Clarice's first birthday!!  I took her first birthday pictures (planning on sharing them ASAP on the blog).  On her actual birthday we went to the Children's museum as a family.  You can read my birthday letter to her here.

-We had a woodland themed birthday party for Clarice (it turned out even better than I had pictured!)

On The Blog: I watched part of a show that made me question what kind of things we as viewers are allowing on TV, and I wrote a guest post on Save The Storks about what you need to volunteer at a pregnancy resource center.


-We decompressed from all the house projects and birthday party prep to go on a late anniversary weekend trip.  The main event was going to an amusement park!  It's been forever since Derek and I were on a roller coaster!  It made me feel like a teenager again (when I wasn't sitting on a bench with my head in my hands waiting for the nausea to dissipate).

-Luke's Diner day! In which coffee shops all over the country turned into Luke's Diner from Gilmore Girls.  It was so fun!

-I started my Christmas prep, because I was determined to finish everything early this year!

(This snow only lasted one morning.  But it was pretty.)

-Clarice started standing and even taking a few tentative steps.

On The Blog: I shared 18 ways I would style mustard yellow leggings, wrote about preparing kids for Thanksgiving, and I shared about my literary society (and how to start one) - we are still going strong!


-I got a new iPhone!  An iPhone 7 Plus, and I am quite impressed with the camera on it.

-I took the kids out to drop off our ballots on Election Day!  I know it wouldn't be fun to stand in line with four young kids, but I kind of wish we weren't forced into only doing mail-in ballots.  I had to hunt down my "I Voted" sticker.  I stayed up far too late watching Election coverage and giving (in my own head) keen political analysis to any of my family members who cared to listen as the (surprising) results came in.  It was a good day.

-We finally got some more snow!  We went to MOPS in the morning and built a blanket fort at home in the afternoon.

-We set up our Christmas tree right before Thanksgiving!

-I got to try out a great photography program, and I still highly recommend it to anyone who wants to learn their DSLR.  Read more here.

-Celebrated Thanksgiving with breakfast with Derek's parents and dinner at my parent's house.


-We started advent! I made an advent playlist.

-All my Christmas prep was pretty much done before Thanksgiving, and it was a good thing because we hit December running!  Three different Christmas parties in the first week, with other events scattered in, including a trip to a Christmas parade that we do almost every year!

-We went to a magnificent walk-through light show with my family!  They have this huge tree (like fifty feet tall) completely covered in lights!

-We went to see "cowboy Santa"in our little town.  Clarice was not a fan.

-Around the middle of December it slowed down and we had some time to bake Christmas cookies!

-My friend Cassidy wrote a post on blogging like the old days, and it served as an epiphany to me. I wrote about old-fashioned blogging, and now that's what I'm doing on Tuesdays.  Old-fashioned, tell-a-story blogging, with blog reading and commenting galore.  I've missed it.

-We made a gingerbread house together!

-We celebrated Christmas!  Christmas Eve with my family, Christmas Day at home, day after Christmas with Derek's family.

-We celebrated Derek and Gwen's birthdays!

-We went to see Rogue One.  I had opinions.

-We got our act together and had a game night on New Year's Eve!  This has been a slow hosting year for our family since we were remodeling for the first nine months of 2016, so it was fun to have some friends over again!  We are hoping to do more things like this in 2017.

-Our party ended early for kiddo bedtimes, and we rang in the New Year by cuddling on the couch and watching New Year's Eve (one of my favorite movies).  We counted down at midnight with sparkling cider in hand.

On The Blog: I shared our upstairs Christmas decorations and our brand-new downstairs Christmas decor, and I shared three winter outfit ideas (Christmas parade outfit, Christmas cookie exchange outfit, New Year's Eve outfit).


That was our 2016!  I know it was a rough year for a lot of people (or is every year just "the worst year ever" for some?), but for us it was a really good year.  I feel finally settled in our home after eight years of living there, the kids grew and thrived, and it ended better than it started.  I don't know what the Lord has planned for us in 2017.  Maybe it will be a straight-forward year, or maybe we'll get a few surprises!  I love recording the years here though, because then I can look back and see everything significant that has happened in each year of my adult life...and how the Lord is working in all of it, the good and the bad.

But if I had to guess now, I feel like 2017 is going to be a good one.

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