Showing posts with label Update. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Update. Show all posts

Sometimes I Just Feel Chatty



Well, I guess this is the week for chatty posts.  I might be losing steam on my Write 31 Days project, but I'm more inclined to think this has just been a busy week and I'm feeling more like chatting on here than anything else.  Here are a few things that have been going on with me.

I've been running all over creation this week, because for the first time in my life, I am volunteering politically(!).  I have mentioned before about how I wash laundry for a nearby pregnancy resource center, and I was excited to be involved in that way.  The pro-life cause has been close to my heart for as long as I can remember (I have a post coming up about that), and I'm always looking for ways to help wherever I can.

Well, I also happen to live in a state where abortion is legal until birth, and this just horrifies me.  So when I heard there was an effort afoot to stop late-term abortion in my state, I was on board.  I signed up as a volunteer petition circulator, and I've been running all over the place trying to meet up with people in my circles and gather signatures to get a measure on our 2020 ballot!  I'm also gathering up my courage to try petitioning in front of the library, but for now I'm just trying to get everyone that I personally know who is interested in signing it.  This is historically a hard state in which to pass pro-life legislation, but I'm hopeful we can at least get this on the ballot and let the people decide.  But anyway, that has been taking up alot of my time this week.

We've also been running to catch up on schoolwork, between Columbus Day on Monday and different petition meetings (though I'm totally going to take the opportunity for a little civics discussion with my kids while we are getting signatures).  Aside from a tricky week though, this fall has been going pretty well as far as school goes.  We are getting way more accomplished per week than we did last year!  I am hoping to get around to either sharing out curriculum or a typical homeschool day-in-the-life next week, so stay tuned.

Hunting season is upon us, so Derek is going to be in and out during the day for a couple weeks here. I am taking the opportunity this weekend to see some friends I don't usually get to see, so the kids and I are going to visit one of my dearest friends from childhood!  You might remember me writing about visiting their ranch before.  It's really neat for the kids to see what kind of work a real ranch entails, and learn more about where food really comes from...and then it's lovely for me to catch up with my dear friends!  I am so blessed that so many of my childhood friendships have lasted, and these ladies are such a gift to me.

Also, on my personal Instagram (that I'm totally open to anyone who is reading this following, so if you want to follow me there, don't be shy) I did a little chatty video/story about how I'm trying to make a better effort at writing down memories of my kids.  Maybe I'll turn this into a longer post next week as well, but if you watched that story, this is the memory-keeper I mentioned.  I think it's going to work pretty well if I can just manage to be consistent with it.

I guess that's it guys!  The kids are watching a Christmas movie that we rented from the library (we are starting early this year), and I'm off to make some fudge to hopefully bring with me on our visit to my friends' ranch tomorrow (I'll probably use this recipe, minus the food coloring - its so easy!).

Also, the sweater you can see the corner of in the picture at the top of this post is from Walmart.  PSA, because they have some great sweaters this year!  Also, this is my nail polish, and it's a really pretty shade for fall.

How has your week been, Friend?


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?




Summer So Far





For me, one of the beautiful things about writing has always been the ability to capture a slice of time with my words.  It's been a while since I sat down to write a post with that intent purpose - to stop time for a minute and look at what life looks like right now.  

New Growth

I'm sitting at the library, typing, looking out the window at a pine tree that has light green summer growth at the end of each branch.  I can look and see where the branch ended mere months ago, and I can see the new growth, bright and new, stretching the branches out past what they were.  Making them new with each passing day.  In my gut I feel like this summer will be a growing one for us.  Or maybe it's just that every summer is.  

With each summer, I'm one more year a wife and mother.  With each summer my kids are stretching and growing in every way, just like that branch.  We will tick each of their grades up as the summer sails past; second to third, kindergarten to first, nothing to kindergarten.  It puts me in the frame of mind to reflect and pray, and ask the Lord who I'm helping them to become.  

Derek is home with the kids right now, working on setting up a trampoline that could be christened "Callie's bane".  I'm starting to hate that trampoline, and I'm not sure you could understand why until you've tried to set one up on mountain ground.  We've discussed the best way to go about it for way longer than is necessary, and I think it's brought out some character things in myself that I'd rather not look at most of the time.  

Maybe I needed reminding that I don't need to be in control of everything.  Things don't need to be perfect.  My suggestions don't alway need to be taken or validated.  I need to be easier-going when things end up taking longer than I like.  When I look at that trampoline now, it's a reminder of so much sin still hiding away in me.  It's a reminder that no matter how old I get, I'll still need some growing too.  But long term, I think I'll choose to look at it and let it make me grateful for Jesus dying to save me from even these stupid "little" sins that no one else sees.  

(Actually, correction, Derek also sees.  I'm also grateful for a husband who loves me and puts up with me even when I'm being a pill.)




First Week

June this year went by in a flurry.  This is the first year I put the kids in Vacation Bible School.  All of the "big four" (Wyatt, Gwen, Clyde, Clarice) went each morning, and so it was just me and Georgie for a few hours each day.  The experience took me back to the days when it was just me and Wyatt, my first baby, and it reminded me how special that time was when one child got all my attention.  It also reminded me how slow (or boring, depending on your perspective) life used to be.  I have to really think to remember what I did with myself when it was only me and my one baby.  What did I do with all that time?  Then I remember that I also worked two days a week back then, so that accounts for some of it.

The kids loved VBS and came home with a music CD that they requested every day for about a week.  But I actually didn't mind, because the music was pretty fun, even for me.  The program they went to taught them a few jazzed-up hymns, which I love so much!  We've been learning hymns all year for school, so I'm happy they got a couple more to love over the summer.  Say what you want about church music and all that, but in my book you really can't beat hymns.  Occasionally a modern Christian song has lyrics that are similar in depth and impact to hymn lyrics, but it's rare.

Second Week

The next week we had the homeschool conference, which I talked about on Instagram, and I plan to write more about it in the next few weeks.  There are such varying opinions about homeschool conferences, and I know some people who are not impressed with them, or who think they are just an elaborate attempt to sell them something.  I can understand that perspective, but I don't share it.  In my experience, any product talk is usually a very small part of the sessions, and the rest is dedicated to homeschool and parenting encouragement.  I haven't had a year yet when I didn't leave with more inspiration and ideas than when I came.  

So this year was good, and I even brought Wyatt with me one day to listen to a talk about animals of the Amazon.  I loved having my boy there with me at the conference, and it made me realize that while I'm still a little bit of a homeschool mom newbie, we are in this now.  We are doing it.  It is no longer new, my oldest will be in third grade in the fall.  This is working, and he is thriving, and even though my homeschool plans never fully pan out, we are not actually messing this up.  That's exciting to me.



Since Then

Since those first very busy weeks of summer, we have mostly been staying around the house and relaxing.  I bake muffins (and listen to Wyatt declare that I make the best muffins ever - one of my major boy mom goals wrapped up in that statement).  I clean and dust and try to keep some order to things.  I snuggle Georgie before laying her down for a nap each afternoon.  

The kids play outside and make homemade bird feeders.  They rocket down the driveway on their bikes while I remind them to wear their helmets if they are going to do that.  They scheme about how to climb our most climb-able tree, and I have to nix using a rope in the attempt.  They come up with elaborate games with their stuffed animals, and I hear some of my words coming from the mouths of Komodo Dragon and Goose, for better or worse.  I've read ten books this month, which might be a record for me.    

On the weekends we go on hikes, or plan movie nights with the kids, or (most recently) do sparklers in the driveway. We've had some rough days, when I thought the lack of structure was going to drive us all crazy and I raise my voice (code for yell) and instantly regret it.  But mostly it's been everything I want from summer.  It has been calm, and restful, and beautiful.  Summer is a season of growing and changing and stretching in the quiet, and I'm hoping for the rest of the season I can open my eyes, pay attention, and really watch it happen.



How is your summer going so far, friends?

Currently | June 2019



Picking...which summer events to add to our summer bucket list.  A few weeks ago Derek and I sat down and charted out our weekends to make sure we get to everything we want to do this summer.  I want to do the same thing for my weekdays with the kids.  There are so many fun events at the library, at different parks, at movie theaters, and I want to have a plan worked out for each week!  Last week was full with VBS, and now the homeschool conference that I like to attend is this week.  So starting next week, the carefree summer schedule begins.  We did squeeze in a summer $1 movie day with friends yesterday though!



Reading...Hillbilly Elegy by J. D. Vance, which was a pick from my recent library book haul.  A few of you told me it was good when you saw it in my post on Instagram, so I picked it up first!  I am very interested in the story so far, especially being from the west.  It's been interesting to read about the dynamics and culture from a place in the US that I haven't had much contact with.

Eating...this cucumber, tomato, and avocado salad, with a bit of ranch dressing.  It makes me feel like summer.  I made this a couple years ago when I was pregnant with Georgie too.



Watching...An American Murder Mystery on Hulu, specifically the Casey Anthony series.  I go through spurts of true crime kicks, and I especially enjoy courtroom dramas.  I like to imagine I'm on the jury, since every single time I've ever gotten real-life jury duty, the trial is cancelled before I get a chance to even go to the courthouse. I just really want to be picked for a jury once in my life.  With so many people who hate jury duty, why does someone like me who wants to perform my civic duty never get a chance, I ask you?  It's a shame.  Anyway, sometimes I like to watch true crime shows and decide whether I'd say innocent or guilty if I was on the jury.  (For the record, I do think Casey Anthony was guilty of something.  But there wasn't enough evidence to be able to say exactly what went down.  I think her dad has it right.)

Wearing...these tanks from JcPenney.  They are just the perfect tank to me - relaxed without being sloppy, and they go with everything.  I have a few colors, and I wear them with shorts or distressed cropped jeans for park days, tied to the side or tucked with a skirt for a dressier look, or with "athleisure" leggings and a jean jacket for grocery shopping.  I buy a few every year, because I wear them so much they usually need replacing each summer!

Going...to the Great Sand Dunes!  We took a little weekend trip to the Great Sand Dunes National Park, and we all had so much fun.  It is definitely one of the more fun national parks for kids, in my opinion.  In May and June the snow melts off the mountains and the water flows down in front of the dunes, so it's like a beach in the middle of the country.  The kids had so much fun splashing in the water and building sand castles.  This was also the first time I've been there where the sand didn't burn my feet, so climbing up the dunes was actually fun instead of sweltering.  Just a great time all around.













Derek and I are looking forward to a few more short trips this summer.  We got a pretty decent tax return (which is the only way we pay for vacations).  We were thinking about splurging on a big trip this year, but I think we've decided to opt for a more moderately-priced trip and a few other smaller weekend trips.  You know, spread the fun out a little bit.

Wishing...that it would warm up just an incy bit more.  It's been a fairly cool start to the summer here - I don't think we've broken 80 degrees in the mountains yet.  I'd just like to get a couple 80 degree days so we can break out the kiddie pool and water-related toys.  Right now it's still just a little too cool for that.  I know all of you who are in sweltering parts of the country are probably wishing it was cooler, so don't think I don't appreciate that it's not too hot either!

Celebrating...my birthday this week!  I'll be spending most of it at the homeschool conference, and Derek and the kids are going to join me there in the evening for a science family event.  Then we'll do a little more celebrating together on Saturday (I don't know what we'll do, Derek has something planned.)

What have you been up to lately?  Any summer plans or good books?


Currently | April 2019



Do people publish blog posts on Saturdays?  Is that done?  Well, I guess I'm doing it.

Currently...

Reading...A Serial Killer's Daughter by Kerri Rawson.  Why do I get sucked into these true crime stories?  This one is a little different because it's actually less about the crimes and more about the daughter's own experience finding out what her dad had done.  It's a Christian publisher, so I'm hoping there will be some hope from her perspective, because I imagine that would be pretty traumatizing.  Why am I reading this book again?  It is interesting though.

Worrying...About Harvey.  If you didn't know, Harvey is our dog that we got before any of the kids were even on the way.  We found out last week that he had a tumor, which we initially thought was a simple skin tumor that would most likely be benign.  Turns out it was bigger than anticipated, so the prognosis is not looking as good now.  But we don't know what it is yet.

It's hard sometimes to be a pet owner.  You love your pets, they bring so much fun to your life, but you will almost certainly outlive them.  I had an engagement present Yorkie, Ralphie, that died a few years back after an attack, and I never could bring myself to write about it here.  I have a hard time knowing what to say, or if I even want to write about grief or worry related to dogs.  Every time one of my pets gets sick or dies, I experience a weird mix of grieving for the dog I'm going to lose, but also gratefulness that my children and husband are all healthy and happy.  Maybe that's just what experiencing death so close does, at least for me, and perhaps because it is a dog and not a person.  I'm sad for what I might lose and grateful for what I have.

And I honestly just try not to think about it too much in the meantime.  Hopefully it's not too aggressive and we have a couple years left with our clumsy, lovable mutt.

Frightened by...Mice!  Why are mice so scary?  I think it's partly the surprise, and partly germophobia.  When we moved we realized we had mice in this house, and after some trial and error, we figured out they were coming in through a gap in the subfloor beneath our stove.  Derek taped it up to seal it, which solved the problem for a while.  But then when we were gone in New Orleans my mom saw a mouse in our house.  She laid out some traps and caught 2.5 mice while we were gone!  Yuck!  We then realized the little varmints had torn down the tape that Derek put up.  He fixed it, and we haven't caught any others, but still.  Yuck.

Awakened by...Woodpeckers.  Every morning.  One that does slow, exploratory pecks on the wall right above my head.  And another one that does a jackhammer peck on the metal flue that goes up from our laundry room, which causes an obnoxious echo through our entire house. (It's metal, bird!  Give it up!)  We would pull out the BB gun, but apparently woodpeckers are protected under some migratory bird law or something.  So we just yell and hit the walls first thing in the morning.  Great way to start the day, right?  So far the birds are not taking the hint.

Puzzled by...The lack of flowering trees this spring.  I have seen a few in town, but not many, and not at their best.  I'm genuinely disappointed by this.  The flowering trees in town are the main thing that redeems this muddy mess of a season for me.



Itching...To do some spring cleaning.  I haven't had a chance or the motivation yet to clean out the closets and organize things in preparation for summer.  You would think out house wouldn't be too cluttered since we just moved in October, but you would be wrong.  That's what five kids and Christmas will do to you.

Excited about...Jury duty!  My entire adult life I've wished I would get called for jury duty so I could participate in the civil process, do my civic duty, all that.  I got called once 12 years ago, but the trial got cancelled.  I finally got called again!  This is my chance!  I'm pretty sure they are going to dismiss me on the first day, but I'm still interested to see how it all works firsthand.

Planning...For all the summer fun.  I know it's still spring, but I am ready to be in full summer mode. I bought all the kids summer clothes a couple weeks ago.  (I feel like I didn't do too well price-wise, even though I shopped secondhand - is it just because my kids are getting bigger?)  I'm thinking ahead to an August vacation (not sure where we're going yet).  I am planning for little outings I could do with the kids, and day trips we can take as a family on the weekends.  I'm dreaming of afternoons spent reading on the porch in the sunshine while the kids play outside.  One more month and our summer break is on!

Looking forward to...Taking my girls out for some girly fun today!  Derek and his dad are big fans of the local college football team, and they decided to take the boys to spring practice.  The girls would probably enjoy going too, but this is kind of their guy thing, so we're going to let them have their time.  We are going to a Mommy-And-Me Mermaid Tea Party.  Yes, apparently there are such things.  It should be crazy keeping Georgie out of the paint (did I mention there is paint?), interesting to see what a Mermaid Tea Party is, and impossibly cute for obvious reasons.

What are you up to this fine Saturday?

Just Chatting



I pour a little half and half in the bottom of a pink marble mug, and top it off with sub-par coffee because we are out of the good stuff.  The kids are eating breakfast and watching an episode of Little Bear.  There are some TV shows that wind kids up, and some that are calming to children, and thankfully Little Bear is of the calming variety in our household.

I go around the corner and settle into the homeschool room.  I set up this room so we'd have a quiet(ish) corner of the house to do work in, but I've also found it serves quite well in the morning when I am trying to sneak in some personal Bible study time.  I am working through Hebrews (again), and close my eyes to run through the first three chapters in my head.  I was hoping to have chapter four memorized by now, but I always am too optimistic on these things, no matter how hard I try to be realistic.

And now quiet time is over, the kids are starting to get bored with Little Bear, and I am still sitting down to attempt to write this chatty post.



On Being "So Busy" And Feeling Like Myself

Elizabeth wrote a similar post about hobbies recently, and she mentioned that although she would never want to poo-poo those who are single when they say they "are so busy" (because doesn't every stage feel so busy?), the difference when you have kids is that you're busy, and any time you start something there is always the possibility of being interrupted.  I fully concur with that.  There are so many things I don't try to do, or posts I don't start to write, because I know I'm going to get interrupted.  But this is me breaking the pattern and spilling out some words anyway, even though I will likely be interrupted in the next five minutes.  Something is better than nothing, right?

March is the first month this year where I've actually felt like myself again!  I don't know what it was about January and February, but I just felt somewhat lost both months, like I was running to catch up to my life.  I realized I probably had to let some things go, and cut some things out of my life that were discouraging me.  I quit Bible study because it was just too much right now, put myself on a social media diet because I was escaping to it too often, and planned a few spontaneous field trip days for me and the kids because I used to do that all the time and I miss it.  

(I didn't know what photo to put in this section, so here is me in January, before my non-burgundy roots started to grow out. Maybe I should get my hair re-done one of these days...a hair appointment has never hindered me from feeling like myself, just saying.)

On Not Hating Spring Anymore

Though I do actually enjoy the winter, seeing some signs of Spring has helped bring me out of the duldrums as well.  I took the kids to a park twice this week, and we could have been in short sleeves, it was so nice.  The grass is greening up in town, and I am keeping my eyes peeled for flowering trees to start budding so I can whip out my camera and get some spring-time pictures of the kids (the only thing I regret about living in the mountains is that we don't have flowering trees).






The kids like to bring me "flowers" from outside, even though it's really just handfuls of dead grass (don't try to tell them that though).  But I was pleased to see the other day that in the midst of the grass and dirt clods that were left on my counter, there was a small, green, fern-like plant as well.  So spring is coming, even in the mountains.  

I used to hate spring, hate it, because up here it's mostly just mud season.  Snow is melting, but nothing is growing yet, and your shoes are constantly muddy.  But somewhere in the last couple years I realized maybe my loathing of spring was based on a limited, immature view of it.  When I was young, I hated hiking too, but now I enjoy the exercise.  When I was young, I hated going on mountain drives because it seemed boring, but now I love to explore new roads in the car and find all the gorgeous views.  When I was young, I hated spring because it was muddy and dull...and it's still rather muddy and dull, but when you look closer, you can see the signs of life returning after a long winter, and there is something more refreshing about it now.  Everything starts new again.  There is a redemption to it that I never saw when I was young.

Of course, it also helps that I can now drive to places where there are flowering trees (I love flowering trees).

On Medieval Guilds, Juggling, And Music

We are on the countdown until the end of the school year, and I have been tracking the days on our calendar and the lessons left in our curriculum book daily to make sure they are lining up.  I am not one who thinks you must finish the book before the end of the year, but I also don't want to reach our last day and realize we only have a few more lessons left.  The Type-A side of me would not be able to rest.  We are mostly on track though, and I am thinking of tripling up on our math lessons for a couple weeks so we can finish math early and take the last month of school to just focus on "fun stuff" - history and science.  I think it might be a nice way to wind down the year.

Speaking of winding down the school year, and also speaking of history, our co-op is doing our big spring event next week, a medieval "guild".  Each family is supposed to pick a trade, make some goods, and dress up in medieval garb to come barter at the marketplace.  I cannot tell you how much mental anguish I have gone through trying to figure out what to make.  I had signed us up to be weavers, but then realized how ridiculous it was to think that I could "weave" (knit) enough...something...to trade at the guild, all by myself.  Because of course my little non-knitting kids would not be a help.  I was thinking about shifting to some other simple cloth-related craft, but couldn't come up with a tight enough idea.  So after much frustration I switched us to being the jugglers.  Juggling is kind of a trade, right?  Court jesters and all that?  Okay, no, none of us can actually juggle, but we can make some pretty neat little juggling balls, and it's a lot simpler than weaving something.

And speaking of co-op, we also did a field trip the other day to an "inside the orchestra" event, and it immediately made me regret not taking up the violin in my younger days.  It also made me want to break out my flute again.  It's really tricky to learn how to make the flute actually make noise, and I already have that part down from years ago, so I'm halfway to playing it, right?  In reality I am not a very musically talented person, but I so wish I was.  Enthusiasm counts for something, I think.



On Book Clubs And Reading Too Many Books At Once

Despite never thinking I could keep up with a book club, I have found myself in two book clubs over the last year.  I get excited about book clubs because it's so nice to read a book and have someone to talk to about it.  I love reading a book at the same time as friends or family so we can discuss it later.  But I will also admit that I get a smidge stressed about book clubs or buddy reads, because I am such an ADD reader.  I can't stick with just one book!

Recently I decided enough is enough and I would just read one book at a time, and read that book clear through before picking up another one.  That idea lasted for all of one book before I was back to reading a chapter here and there from five books again.  The problem is that I am a mood reader, and my moods change so often.  I also have a terrible time deciding what I am in the mood for and feel like I have to try five books before I can decide...and then I inevitably never decide and just continue piece-mealing five books at once.

(Who am I kidding, it's more like 10-15 books at once.)

I am going to try the one book thing again, maybe with my most recent bookclub book, Far From The Madding Crowd.  Have you read that one?  PSA: It's free on Kindle.

Chime in, do you play musical instruments, enjoy or hate spring, read too many books at once, or have experience with medieval guilds?  

Tips and tricks appreciated.

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.

Currently | December 2018



Currently I'm...

Listening...to Sawyer Brown's Christmas album and the sounds of my kid's giggling, and a story from Gwen about what happened when they played with bubbles (in the bathroom, because that's where bubbles are restricted to in the winter).

Drinking...A cup of coffee.  I had another epiphany last night that while I am very diligent to teach my kids about the Lord with words, I'm not doing so great at backing it all up with actions on a day to day basis.  I get irritable and angry often enough that I'm embarrassed about it, and they almost never see me cracking open my Bible because I've been squeezing it in during the evening after they are in bed.  So I'm too often treating them like a nuisance and never visibly reading my Bible, but I still preach at them?  Sounds like a recipe for raising hypocrites to me, and last night I was so convicted about it.  So I am radically changing up my daily schedule, and part of that is waking up BEFORE they do and starting the day with God's Word.  It's better for me to start my mind off on a God-centered foot first thing in the morning, and good for them if they catch me at it.  But...waking up before the sun...yeah, I need coffee.

Scheming...about surprising Derek at work today.  I felt like our relationship is really taking too much of a back burner these days, and the wear is starting to show.  So we are going to go pick up some cheap decorations, and surprise Daddy at work with Christmas music and hot chocolate while we decorate his office!



Thankful... that this cold that I was afraid was the flu (please see my Instagram post and video for more info), seems to in actuality be the mildest cold that we've had in a while.  I had visions of sick children lying about the house, but even little Georgie is perky and cheerful this morning.

Planning...a Rube Goldberg device.  You know, one of those set-ups where you push a marble, and after a bunch of stuff being knocked over, your cup of coffee is poured for you.  Examples here.  Sometimes I'm not sure what we got into with our co-op, because I have no idea how to build a Rube Goldberg device with a seven year old and five year old!  Let's be honest, it will mostly be me building it, but I think I'll read the chapter and have the kids draw a Rube Goldberg device...and then I'll just show them the one I come up with, ha!



Slacking on...sending out Christmas cards.  What is wrong with me?  Usually I have them out the week after thanksgiving, but I can't get my act together this year.  Which is a pity, because people need our new address to send US Christmas cards!  I really need to get on it.

Reading...alot of things, as per usual.  I'm reading Fool's Gold by John MacArthur, about discernment.  I'm re-reading The Lord Of The Rings.  I just started the Fellowship, and it's just as delightful as the first time I read it (or more, since I know the story now).  And I picked up Skipping Christmas by John Grisham, which is the book that inspired the movie Christmas With The Kranks.  Which happens to be one of our favorites (it's just so relatable as an adult!).

Waiting...on the photos to transfer off my phone and onto my computer.  I only have to do this about once a year, but oy, it's a chore.

Excited...about the book bucket I put together.  For years I've been wanting to wrap up Christmas books and open up and read one each day with the kids.  This is the year it finally happens!



What are you all up to currently?




One Month In - Home Remodel Update!



I told Derek last night that this week is the cutoff.  Once we get to December 1st, we are officially on break from renovating until the New Year!  He didn't take much convincing.

This has been a whirlwind month, and the house doesn't even look like the same house anymore.  I haven't blogged through the process as much as I'd like, but I thought I'd do a little update now that we're about one month into our new home!  This is what we got done, and what we still need to get done.

(Sidenote - If you want to actually see how far we've come, go on Instagram TV and watch my house tour videos on there (@callienicole7)!  I have one "before" video, and a "halfway through" video.  I'll share before and after pictures on here after we finish everything!)

What We've Accomplished

New flooring - You might remember the old flooring was mostly pink carpet, even in the bathrooms. There is no more pink carpet, and we've replaced it with a nice grieve carpet and (vinyl) wood floor downstairs!  The carpet was installed for us.  Derek did the wood floor.  We had $1000 worth of wood stolen from us though (we have our suspicions), which is a bummer because it's really throwing our budget off now.

New paint - We originally thought we'd paint everything ourselves to save money, but we changed our minds.  We decided to hire out the paint in the entire house (except bathrooms), even though it wasn't originally in the budget, because doing it ourselves would take forever, and I've realized I loathe painting.  I have to say, that painter was worth every single penny.  I'm so glad we didn't try to do all that ourselves, and the painter said he'd come back to touch up anything we weren't happy with, even up to a year later!  I knew I picked the right guy for the job.

Painted the kitchen cabinets - We went with white on the upper cabinets, and navy blue on the lower. I may have panicked a little bit when we first started painting the blue, but now that it's coming together I think it's going to look great when it's done!

Kitchen backsplash - Derek just finished it last night!  It's a nice tile with copper/gold/brown/grey/ivory pieces.

Granite countertops - They installed them last week!  However, as soon as they were in, Derek and I decided to prioritize the kitchen, because with the color of the cabinets before, the granite didn't even look that good.  It's amazing how much cabinet color affects the look of everything else.

New fridge and dishwasher - It had to be done.

Demolished the master bathroom - If you recall, there used to be carpet in the master bath.  We are now down to bare wood floors, the shower and tile is ripped out, and tub will be going soon.

Painted the downstairs bathroom walls and cabinet - I did this myself.  I tend to be a little sloppy with painting, so it's not as pristine as the painter's work, but it'll do.

Bought and assembled new furniture, hung curtains -  Most of our old furniture works just fine in the new house, but we did need a few new things.  I spent a ridiculous amount of energy searching for just the right furniture.  We found an entertainment center that we love a couple months ago, and I picked out desks for the school room, bookshelves for my "library", and new curtains for the playroom and the kids' rooms (blackout curtains - yay!).  I also ordered a new couch, because we are overdue; our other one is in that too-soft-droopy phase.  The new couch comes in January!

Unpacked 90% of our stuff - This is no small feat.  I have a few boxes of kitchen stuff, a few boxes of books, and toys left to organize, but I unpacked everything else and hung all our decorations throughout the house.  It's starting to feel like home now!

Set up our Christmas stuff - Very important.















What We Have Left To Do

Finish the master bath - I fully expect this project to take at least a month - we are saving it for January so we can enjoy Christmas without projects hanging over our heads!

The upstairs bathroom - we have done exactly zero things in the upstairs bathroom.  We want to paint the walls and cabinets, replace the pink toilet, replace the floor tile.  We are still trying to determine if replacing the shower tile (also pink) is in the budget.

Finish the downstairs bathroom - It still needs a new (not black) toilet, new countertop, and new faucet and light fixtures.

Buy kitchen curtains - There are a lot of windows in this kitchen, and the glare is serious!  We need something for the windows.

Finish kitchen island remodel - We want to put a faux brick with a German schmear-type look around the island to finish off the kitchen.  Right now the island just looks like painted plywood (which it basically is).

Buy and install wood stove - I so miss my old wood stove!  We decided we need one here too, and luckily, all the pipes are already installed for one - so we just need to install the rock backdrop and the stove itself.

Kid's playset - Derek wants to build the kid's a playset this spring, since we left the old one at our other house, so we budgeted it in.

Finish unpacking/hanging curtains - I have a few boxes left, and few rooms with now curtains yet - we're getting there.

Clean out garage - The garage has become the holding area for everything.  Can you believe I still haven't even parked in it?

We've accomplished a lot, but it still feels like there is a lot to go!  However, the main living areas of the house are mostly finished, so it's nice to not feel like we are living in a mess anymore.  It's coming together, and it's so nice for the kids (and my sanity) to have the extra room!  We haven't gotten into a good routine here yet though, and I'm looking forward to a little more normalcy during our December break!



© Through Clouded Glass. Design by MangoBlogs.