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

The Kickoff To Summer



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



A Bad AirBnB Experience

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Lovely Gulf Coast Vacation Anyway

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



A Birthday Fishing Trip And Date

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







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

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



Back To Church And Playgrounds

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

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

Nature Hikes

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





Summer Planning

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

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


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



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

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


Shouts And Whispers



9:32 AM.  Some spunky spider threaded a silvery strand from the porch railing to the chair last night, and I'm sitting here looking at it as I try to figure out what I exactly want to write today. The wind is picking up, and I keep watching the thread in the sunlight, thinking surely it will break in the gusts.  But it hasn't.  Spider silk is strong stuff.

I didn't start this trying to draw an analogy here, but its kind of like the country right now isn't it?  Some days the events in the news are so crazy, it feels like the entire American civilization is hanging by a thread.  Maybe one day the last gust of wind, the last crazy event, will break it.  I hope our traditions and values, the things we used to all unite around as nation, will be like that thread, strong enough to string our country together amidst all this chaos, but if not...well, it's a good thing that we believers in Christ don't have to place our hope in men, isn't it?

I'd like to insert something I wrote on Instagram a couple weeks ago, for posterity or for any of you who don't follow me over there.  This is the bottom line to me:

I had some things I wanted to share this week, but all that is on hold for now, as Instagram was dominated yesterday by black squares. I don’t like getting involved in these things online, but this morning all my thoughts and feelings and discouragements coalesced and clarified. So against my initial instinct to swear off social media and just pray and cocoon with my kids (which still might be what I end up doing), I have a few things to say..First, to those putting your hope in social media campaigns, or conversations, or human organizations, or a political party, or violence, to spur on whatever change you think needs to happen, I think you will be disappointed..I like how someone else (@stopandconsider on Instagram) put it: “The spiritual oppression that all men are under is sin, and from that all the physical vestiges of oppression find their power. The only way that is changed is by proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ, who died for sinful men to reconcile them to God.”.
The solution to ALL our sin, the sins hidden inside us as well as the sins of murder and theft and racism that dominate the news, is CHRIST, crucified to pay the penalty of death that WE deserved. He is risen to conquer death, heal our souls, and give us victory over that sin..
HE is the One who sets us free, changes hard hearts, and brings peace to our sinful souls and broken world. If you don’t know that peace and reconciliation with God - I pray, I beg you, to seek and find that Truth...And one more thing - if we as Christians are trying to participate in this conversation on racism, rule of law, etc, and we leave out the Gospel, I’m sorry but we are doing it wrong. I’ve been personally convicted of this. What eternal good are we doing if we aren’t taking care to point others to Christ through this tragic situation? What lasting change can be made if we don’t preach the Gospel of Christ, which has the true power to change hearts and save eternal souls?.
It’s time to turn our eyes back to Him, our only true Hope amidst the chaos.

The events of the last few weeks have kind of been the last gust of wind for me, to turn my eyes back to what really matters.  These verses in 2 Timothy have been swirling in my brain through the turmoil our nation is facing - reminding me that this is my duty, this is my call:

Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all long-suffering and teaching...But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
2 Timothy 4:2,5

Paul was writing this to Timothy, who was a young pastor.  But when I read those verses to apply them personally, I am reminded to keep my mind on the gospel, and my energy focused on my kids. There are so many voices shouting on social media right now, it's hard to hear anyone, and the limitations of trying to speak the truth online become ever more apparent...but I can preach the Word to my kids.  I can be faithful in my efforts to convince, exhort, rebuke, and train them.  I can show them how to be watchful in all things by showing them what God's Word says about what is happening in the world, I can present examples of how to endure afflictions while giving thanks to God, I can do the work of an evangelist by pointing them to Jesus's atoning work on the cross always.  This is I can fulfill my ministry, the most important one, which has always been to shine the light of Christ in my home to my children, to write the Truth on their hearts.




(A couple photos from my birthday fishing trip last weekend.)

So maybe that's why I have been quiet on social media and my blog lately, because I have been mulling over how I can do better at this.  How I can lead their hearts to Jesus, pray for them better, train them in righteousness, and prepare them to stand firm amidst the persecution they will no doubt face someday.  

I feel more urgency for this than I used to.  I don't want to waste too much time shouting into the noise on social media, when my greatest impact will be whispering truth into the hearts of my children.

---

Anyway, I meant for this to be a light, catch-up post, but I guess I needed to get that off my chest first.  You all know I like to have fun, and sharing it all on here is part of the fun for me, so those posts are coming too!  Thanks for hanging around while I sorted through my thoughts over the last month.

And oh yeah, it's summer.  The sun is shining on my legs, and I can practically feel the Vitamin D being manufactured, boosting my mood.  The birds chirp from the trees all around, the table umbrella is spinning as the breeze picks up, and I hear some shouting from inside the house that I should probably go attend to.  Before I close my laptop, I look up again, and that silvery thread connecting the chair and the railing is still dancing in the wind.


Currently | May 2020


Currently...

Making...chocolate chip cookies.  I have a grain mill on my counter, and I usually try to grind fresh flour when I make baked goods - it's healthier because you get more of the nutrients from the grain that way, and I actually like the texture of the freshly ground grain in our muffins or whatever. But I finally realized that I have to give up on using the home-ground flour in our chocolate chip cookies.  It was just not working.  I reverted back to good old store flour when I baked yesterday, and the cookies were magnificent.  Yes, that is a very big word for a cookie, but I stand by it.

Learning...more about America.  That sounds like a loaded answer, but what I'm actually referring to is Hillsdale's free online courses, and if you've never checked them out, you should!  I'm doing the course called "The Great American Story: A Land Of Hope", and it's cool to get such a condensed overview of our history.  They have all kinds of courses though, including ones on the Supreme Court, economics (timely right now), the Constitution (also timely), the World Wars, Jane Austen, C.S. Lewis, Winston Churchill, and a bunch of different ones on literature.  I'm really enjoying the one I'm taking.

Dabbling in...gardening.  My lavender and basil have still not really sprouted, but Derek got a greenhouse set up on our porch, and he is growing vegetables!  I'm very excited to see how they do in the greenhouse.  Where we live, a greenhouse is pretty much required for any serious growing.  Maybe it will help cure my black thumb.

(In the greenhouse.)

Missing...the library.  Our state has been gradually opening up, and I'm getting more and more irritated that the library is dragging its feet.  I understand they don't want to open the building yet, but I see no problem in allowing people to pick up holds curbside.  They won't even allow us to return books yet, and I've got about a hundred picture books sitting in bags on the floor, just waiting.  How hard can it be to wipe down the returns or let them sit in a room to isolate for a day or two?  Other county libraries have been partially open for weeks and they make it work.

Reading...about ten books at once.  With the library still closed, I've been scrounging my shelves and the Kindle books on Amazon for my next read.  I have a terrible habit of reading a chapter or two of any book that looks interesting until one sticks, hence why I have so many going at once all the time. I'm currently working through Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (it's really fascinating), The Two Towers (it's a re-read, I've been reading a chapter each night), Unknown Valor by Martha McCullum (just started this one), and The Underground History Of American Education by John Taylor Gatto (also fascinating, and perhaps a little terrifying).  I'm going to start The Lake House this month though!  I mean it this time.

(Burning my Mother's Day candles.)

Loving...the way my kiddos have been handling this whole thing.  I know our routine didn't change as much as others', but we still haven't been able to go to a lot of the places we would normally go either. But they've mostly rolled with the punches and they've been finding all kinds of things to do around the house; they play elaborate, imaginative games with their stuffed animals or cars.  They cheer when we announce a movie night, dive into reading books they wouldn't normally pick up, and are particularly sweet little lights in my life right now.  Have there been alot more household messes to clean up?  Yes.  Has there been occasionally disappointment when I have to tell them that we are, yet again, staying home?  Yes.  But overall, they've handled it all very well.

Bummed about...the homeschool conference being cancelled.  They held out as long as possible, and maybe I should have seen it coming with all the other things being cancelled, but I thought there might be a chance since it wasn't scheduled until later in June.  I think it's unfortunate they had to cancel it with so many people considering homeschooling more seriously as a result of this pandemic.  I'm seriously considering hosting a miniature homeschool conference in my house with my friends instead.  We are almost to the phase that allows more than ten people to gather, so it would be legal and everything.  We could watch a session or two from an online conference together, bring curriculum to allow others to look through it and get ideas, and make it a potluck!  I'm mulling it over.

(Gwen took this picture of me at sunset the other day.)

Excited about...our last day of school!  We are officially on summer break this week, and Wyatt in particular is excited about it.  The kids have been asking me to buy a kiddie pool, though it's not quite warm enough for one yet.  I think this summer in particular it will be important that I plan some fun things for us to do together, since our usual go-to's (zoo, parks, library programs) are in flux.  I want them to have fun and feel as little as possible of the lingering effects of this shutdown craziness.  Summer is NOT cancelled.  I refuse to let it be.

How is the summer looking for you right now?  Any plans to still make it fun?




Cold Coffee And Sunshine



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

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

(Hi!)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Tunnels And Light, Etc.



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

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

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

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

(Georgie, coloring during quaren-church.)

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

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

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

Homeschooling Update

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



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



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

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

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

Other Random Stuff

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

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



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

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

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

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



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

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

Currently | April 2020


Sharing...photos of our weekend hike.  Our state has shelter-in-place orders, but you can't tell me that getting outside is non-essential! (And thankfully the state agrees, so no conflict there.) It was so good for our family's mental health to get outside together and enjoy the crisp mountain air.  I have to say, I'm more grateful than ever to be living in the mountains right now.  It's a blessing to be a couple minutes from trails and woods with all this going on in the world.










Writing...letters to family and friends.  More accurately, the kids are writing letters - I have been letting myself become too distracted to sit down and write a letter.  I decided to change that late last week.  I had been keeping up on the presidential press briefings, and avoiding all other coronavirus news, which was working for me at first.  But now... if I'm completely honest, I'm a little sick of hearing from experts who don't actually seem to know anything except what we all already know, and are constantly changing their projections (ie. guesses).  I know that's not a popular thing to say right now, but it's how I feel.  I'm sure if there is some huge update, an actual update, the news will find me.  I know my state's requirements, and that's all I really need to know, so I'm quitting on the briefings too and just living my life for a while.  First thing on the agenda - actually sit down and write that letter I've been meaning to write for two weeks!  Ugh.

Teaching...myself to embroider.  I have been wanting to learn how to do hand embroidery for a while, and I think now is the time!  Especially since I've officially quitted on the news, I should have time.  I'm hopefully going to watch my first instructional video today.

Wishing...and praying this shutdown will come to an end sooner rather than later.  Summer is right around the corner.  If this virus really is seasonal, like they say, things will hopefully be looking up in the upcoming weeks.

Investigating...homeschool curriculum for next school year.  I got another homeschool catalog in the mail, and I've been flipping through the pages.  It's reminding me of how I used to love getting the JCPenney catalog, and Christian Book Distributor catalog, and American Girl catalog when I was a kid.  There is something fun about just flipping through a catalog.  I'm especially sad that the JcPenney catalog is no longer a thing (I don't think).  Do you remember how thick those books were?  I'd circle all the toys and clothes that I liked so my mom would know what I wanted for Christmas or my birthday.  Fun times.

Buying...Summer clothes for the kids.  I pulled out our tubs of summer clothes and sorted everything last week, and filled in a few gaps when Old Navy was having a 50% off sale.  I also ordered a couple fit 'n' flare dresses for myself, because they are perhaps the most perfect summer dress I've ever found.  More than other years, I'm looking forward to warm summer days, when hopefully the parks and libraries will be open again and Coronavirus Round One will, God willing, be behind us.  Remember at the beginning of March, when I complained that it was a boring month, and nothing fun ever happens?  I was right, nothing fun happened, but in retrospect, it can't be called a boring month, can it? I will never complain about a normal March again.

Reading...East Of Eden by John Steinbeck.  I was about to quit on it, because I was finding it a bit depressing, but the book hit it's stride.  Now I can't pick it up unless I'm willing to sacrifice a couple hours reading it, I'm really invested in the characters and can't put it down!


What are you all up to?

The Wednesday Five | Vol. 9



I'm trying to bring back the Wednesday Five on the blog!  You can read other Wednesday Five posts here, and feel free to join in if you want.

A Quote

"The direction of a big act will warp history, but probably all acts do the same in their degree, down to a stone stepped over in the path, or a breath caught at the sight of a pretty girl, or a fingernail nicked in the garden soil." 
-John Steinbeck, East Of Eden

A Book

Ribsy by Beverly Cleary.  Tonight we all sat down together for dinner, which doesn't happen as often as I'd like, and Derek and I took turns reading it aloud to the kids.  It is nostalgic, written about a different era, and I love it so much during this crazy time.

A Bit Of Nature



A Recommendation

You have to check out this Youtube channel I just found - this little old lady has a channel called Great Depression Cooking, and she cooks a meal that her family ate during the Great Depression, and tells her memories from that time.  She's got to be at least pushing 90 then?  Man, I hope I'm like her when I'm 90. I thought it was particularly nice to stumble across her channel during uncertain economic times.  Hopefully we don't have a full-blown depression in our future, but her stories are interesting.

(Seconds of potato soup while I type this)

A Moment Of Happiness

When we were eating dinner tonight, the kids were all listening to the story so carefully while Derek was reading, and I was feeding Georgie a few spoonfuls of soup to help her not spill.  I put particular effort into a creamy potato soup for dinner tonight, and she really liked the potatoes. She takes a bite from the spoon, and then all of a sudden she looks at me and makes this wide-eyed, stretched-out silly face at me.  It was so cute and unexpected, I laughed.  Then I made the face back, and she laughed.  Then she said something cute and all my adorable little clan laughed.  

It's moments like that which remind me how even "hard" times have fun in them.  The world could fall apart, and I like to think we'd still find ways to make each other laugh. 

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?




How I'm Changing Our Homeschool During The Pandemic



As schools and libraries and businesses are shutting down, many assume that nothing has really changed for us homeschool moms during this pandemic.

That's partly true, but only partly.

For us, our co-op has been canceled, most likely for the rest of the year, and our weekly library trips are put on hold (ha! I keep stumbling into puns this week).  My kids have been asking me every night "What are we doing tomorrow, Mom?", and the answer continues to be "nothing".   It doesn't seem right to continue on with our schedule as though nothing has changed, when my kids obviously know something has.  They know we aren't going to co-op or church, and they know why.

While I'm grateful for the stability that homeschooling has given us, I decided to make a few changes over the coming weeks.  I find myself a little jealous of the extra time so many public/private school moms are getting with their kids.  I am blessed to get that amount of time with my kids every day, and it's easy to forget that!  This whole thing has reminded me that I get to choose the quality of the time that I get with them, and I want to up the quality during this unusual series of events.  I want to make some special memories with my kids too, even though homeschooling means not as much has changed.

So here are the things I'm doing to make the next couple weeks more exciting for all of us.



Take a step back from the three R's.

For much of the homeschool year, my main focus is keeping up in the "three R's" - reading, writing, and arithmetic.  Obviously those things are important, but we aren't going to fall behind if we lighten up on the tedious bits of homeschooling for a couple weeks. I want to pull back on the "have-to's" and focus a little more on the homeschool "want-to's".

More history and science.

I love elementary school, because there is so much flexibility in what we choose to study!  We get to follow our whims.  Right now we are going to focus on westward expansion in history, and see where that takes us.  And science will include alot more nature walks and special activities.



Add in those activities we never get to.

Amidst keeping up with our regular curriculum, sometimes I don't make time for the things I really want to do with the kids.  Things like nature study (still trying to figure that one out), art lessons, physical education (our basketball hoop needs more action), cooking instruction, and life skills (such as letter-writing, how to clean a bathroom, etc.).  I want to take this as an opportunity to spend time on those things right now.

Watch more movies.

Books are wonderful, but often movies really make things come alive. I see alot of Little House On The Prairie in our future.

Take advantage of all the free resources!

In light of so many people finding themselves accidental homeschool moms, alot of websites are offering more free educational resources than ever.  I'm taking full advantage!  I've already downloaded a couple free studies, and I'm keeping an eye on my inbox for more.  If you have any resources to share, please do!  I know there are a ton right now that I don't even know about.

(Just for a couple things, I really am enjoying Chantel's homeschool posts this week, and Raising Up Wild Things and Cottage Chronicles both have the cutest printables that I've seen anywhere!)



If you are a homeschool mom, are you changing anything about your school during the pandemic?

You can read all my homeschool posts here.


Pandemics And Whatnot



Let's have a virutal coffee date, since no real-life coffee dates are happening this week!

I've Got My Coffee, I've Got Toilet Paper (For Now)

Well, this has been a weekend for the books, and never did I think I would say that about a weekend where we literally did nothing.







On Thursday we went to our local railroad museum with my sister and cousins, and I'm so glad we got out one last time when we did, because by Friday things started shutting down.  Our co-op was canceled, and we made one last run to the library.  By Saturday night, the libraries were all closed.  A women's retreat I was supposed to go to was postponed, and our Sunday church service was put online as the doors were closed to the congregation.  

I know you know all this already, but I just wanted to write about it on my blog for posterity's sake.  

Derek tried to buy me bananas at the grocery store over the weekend, and they were completely out of produce.  We checked a different one later, and there was produce, but that store was out of canned goods.  I don't understand this stockpiling impulse at all.  Theoretically, if you were to get sick and get quarantined, couldn't you just get a non-sick neighbor to pick up the few things that you may not have in your pantry?  Or couldn't we just do that for someone else if we were the healthy ones?  But no, people have to go buy out all the stores until no one can get a package of spaghetti noodles or a bag of sugar when they need it.  Or let's not forget toilet paper (if you are a toilet paper hoarder, for goodness' sakes, share!)

Over-buying stuff might make people feel better, but for me, I think it's important not to be over-anxious.  I'll be staying home with everyone else, but I'm also not going to waste time worrying about something that I can't control at all.  I think the best thing to do is to pray for the nation/world, for the people who are badly affected by this virus, for the economy and the hit it's taking (another serious concern), and for wisdom for a quick resolution to this whole thing.

This too shall pass, guys.  It's going to be okay.

On Chickens And Vegetables

On a related note, I really am considering allowing Derek to do that chicken-raising project with the kids.  He mentioned it a few months ago because he would like the kids to join 4-H, but I was hesitant. I grew up with friends who had chickens, and always thought they seemed like a hassle.  But it would be nice to have eggs when you can no longer buy them at the store, right?  Also, maybe it's time to learn how to garden.  A black thumb has plagued me my whole life, but surely a person can learn.  Do any of you have chickens/garden?  The buying panic has made me consider that it might not be a bad thing to be a little more self-sufficient.  By that, I mean not at the mercy of the purchasing whims of the nation in a crisis.

A Book And A TV Series For Your Consideration 

On a positive note, I have been reading a ton this weekend!  Something about a pandemic that makes me want to hunker down with a book I guess, ha!  I was actually thinking about putting together a post about post-apocalyptic/natural disaster fiction to read during a pandemic, because it seems appropriate, no?  I'm serious though, I've been in the mood to read those kind of books.

In particular I've been reading The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Eghan, and man, that book puts things into perspective.  Imagine the air filled with so much dirt that it feels like you are eating it, people dying because their lungs are filled with silt, and not being able to feed your family except every fourth day because the economy crashed at the same time, and you no longer have a way to earn money.  That really happened.  Those people back then were made of some tough stuff.  I've found it particularly interesting because some of my ancestors were in Nebraska at that time, and I wonder if they experienced any of the things I'm reading about.  There is a really interesting series about the Dust Bowl on prime video, if you are interested in learning more.

I started that section with "on a positive note", but that wasn't overly positive was it?  To me it is positive though, in as far as the country (and world) had a lot to deal with in a very short period of time at the start of the last century, and they made it through.  They had World War One, the flu epidemic, the Great Depression, and the Dust Bowl, all within 20 years.  Thousands of people didn't die, millions of people did.  Things can always be worse, and I'm just thinking about this verse this morning:

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6

That's all I've got this morning.  Time to re-fill my coffee cup and get started on school with the kids! I'm thinking a hike might be on the schedule.  This is a good week to finally get serious about nature journaling, I'm thinking.



Currently | March 2020



Fixing...our minivan.  The van was making a funny noise, so we took it into a mechanic, who recommended we take it to a transmission specialist.  We paid a painful amount to get the transmission, which was supposedly falling apart, fixed.  Goodbye family vacation.  Only to get the van back and realize that it is making the same exact noise.  No one knows what it is or how to fix it.  I'm just mad we got the transmission re-built when that wasn't even the issue, but I guess eventually it would have had to be done anyway.

Wearing...these $2 shoes from Walmart.  They are having some great sales lately!



Feeling...quite upbeat this last week, because spring, actual spring, is in the air.  Last Friday it was nearly 50 degrees in the mountains.  The kids played outside all afternoon, and I didn't even have to shout to close the door to keep the cold out, because it wasn't that cold.  I didn't realize how sunshine-deprived I was getting.  I loved all the snow in February, but a week of sunny days was much needed.

Reading...The Lake House by Kate Morton, but also the homeschool catalog.  I am considering switching curriculum for a few subjects next year, and trying to decide what would be a good fit.

Borrowing...a tablet device from the library that I thought would be good for math review for my kids, but instead ended up calling them an idiot!  One of my kids brought the tablet back after practicing math facts and told me with a furrowed brow that the tablet had said (exact quote) "You idiot, what's wrong with you?" when a question was answered wrong.  Is anyone else as shocked by this as I am?  We don't call people idiots in our house, and I'm mad that a math program would call a child names just for getting a problem wrong. I guess it was supposed to be funny, but I wasn't laughing.

Hearing...that the grocery stores are selling out of toilet paper because everyone is freaking out about the Corona virus.  After my friend told me this, I realized that I was running low on toilet paper at home, and maybe I should see if the grocery store really was sold out.  And it very nearly was!  I snagged the last few packages of cheap generic because the only other option was a pricey Quilted Northern, and I resent that I had to contribute to the grocery store selling-out just because other people are panicking.  Can we all just calm down a little about the Corona virus?  I am so sad for the people who have died because of it, and it's a terrible and tragic thing.  But for the let's-clean-the-grocery-store-out type, we are in the United States, which is probably the best place in the world to get a scary virus.  We have a very high quality of medical care available to us here.  Maybe take a deep breath, say a prayer for people who are in more danger than you are, and try not to freak out.  No one wins when people can't buy toilet paper.

Recommending...picking a personal area of study for the year.  I mentioned this before, but in 2020 I am trying to learn more about World War 1, and I've done the same in past years with the Cold War and Winston Churchill.  It's amazing how much clearer different aspects of history can become when you learn more about just one area.  I've been really enjoying reading, listening to podcasts, and watching movies about World War 1, and I understand it better than I ever did when I learned about it in high school.  I think I'm going to make a habit of picking a topic each year to focus on studying, because it's been really enriching.  Have you ever done this, and what topic did you pick?

Linking up here.
© Through Clouded Glass. Design by MangoBlogs.