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

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.

Currently | February 2020


Currently...

Grateful...That we are not sick!  I started off January with that awful chest cold, and then a couple weeks later the entire family got a stomach bug.  This was a rare occasion when Derek and I were sick at the same time, so there was no one to take care of either of us.  Wyatt and I were the only ones who didn't throw up, we just lounged on the couch in misery for two days.  Fun times.

Loving...Quiet times before the kids get up in the mornings.  After Christmas and all that sickness, we have finally got back to a routine.  I usually wake up before the kids and drink coffee, and read my Bible, and read a book or blog before the kids get up.  Some days I get an hour to myself, some days I get five minutes, but it's nice either way.

Wearing...Alot of sweaters this week, because we got 8 inches of snow!  It's been in the single-digits with temperature, and this house does not have great windows, so I've been shivering my way through the days.  Last weekend I could have been wearing a t-shirt in the 65 degree weather.  We went on a family hike, and it felt like Spring!  But that clearly didn't last long.







Tasting...Hmm.  Well, not sugar, I can tell you that.  My eating habits have been questionable for the entire month of January, and it's time to lose the who-knows-how-much I gained over Christmas.  When I need to reset my eating habits, I go without sugar for a week or two, and it's been going well. My jeans are no longer cutting into my sides, so that's good.

Contemplating...Finally getting around to sharing my favorite books from 2019, and catching myself up on Goodreads.  For some reason I quit recording things on Goodreads after we went on vacation last year.  I just completely lost motivation.  Then last month I read a book called Reclaiming Conversation, and one of the points the author made was that the list of books that you check out from the library is confidential, because people (ie. the government) do not have a right to know what you are reading unless you want them to.  And that got me thinking, do I really want Facebook and Google spying on my reading list via Goodreads?  They already know a disturbing amount of information about me.  I'll probably still add my books on Goodreads for now, but it's something to think about.

Embracing...These wintery homeschool days.  Winter is hard with so many kids, we all get cabin fever.  But I've been keeping the apple cider brewing and snuggling on the couch while reading books to the kids, and it's been kind of lovely.

Working...On meeting my goals for the month of February.  Particularly the goal of memorizing Hebrews 5, and starting a prayer list page in my bullet journal.  Progress will be made today, I am determined.

Reading...The Last Of The Doughboys by Richard Rubin.  If you follow me on Instagram, you'll see that we saw 1917 in the theater a couple weeks ago, and Derek and I decided to read more about World War 1 together.  I saw this book at the bookstore and decided to give it a chance, and I'm so glad I did!  It's written by a man who interviewed World War 1 veterans in the early 2000's, when they were over a hundred years old.  It's been a really fascinating look at different experiences of the war, but also a fascinating look at centenarians.  I highly recommend it!  Derek is reading this one, in case you were curious.  Next on my reading list...A Farewell To Arms, All Quiet On The Western Front, and The Guns Of August, because about a million people recommended those to me.

Watching...The Bachelor.  I wasn't sure I even wanted to watch it this year, but I got sucked in again.  What is the deal with this group of girls?  Maybe we should stick with the over-28 crowd for the next Bachelor go'round.  These girls all seem too...young.

The kids are currently watching The Great Mouse Detective, which is bringing back alot of memories for me.

Preparing...For Wyatt's birthday next week, on which day he will turn nine years old, and officially be halfway through his childhood.  I don't really want to talk about it.

What have you all been up to lately?

The Christmas Newsletter I Would Have Sent



Christmas newsletters are very hard to get right.

Every year around this time, I get a handful of Christmas newsletters tucked inside of Christmas cards.  I am excited each time I get one - it's fun to read a little bit about what my friends and family are up to, what they thought was worth noting about their year.

To the people I know who send a newsletter each year, I give major props, because I also recognize that newsletters are hard to write!  You have to come up with something to say about each family member, and keep it within a reasonable length, insert some personality to make it interesting to read, and do it all without crossing the line into "braggy" territory.  I think all the newsletters I've received this year were able to strike this balance well, but I've never really attempted a Christmas newsletter because I wasn't sure I could do a good job of it.

However, I read a newsletter blog post on Michelle's blog last week, and it was fun to read!  I thought she really nailed the art of the newsletter, and it made me want to try one.  So I wrote up a newsletter for our family over the weekend.  I don't hate how it turned out, but it's too late to send it in my cards, so I'm just going to share it here instead.  Pretend this is printed on Christmas-y paper and showing up in your mailbox!

Note: This is actually a little long for a Christmas newsletter, but in my defense, there are seven people in this family on which to write an update.

---



Dear Friends and Family,

I have never sent out a Christmas newsletter, but now that we are exiting the too-tired-to-floss, new-baby phase, which has encompassed the last 9 (!) years, I thought I’d give it a go.

Don’t people usually say something like “this year has been one for the books” to start out a newsletter? I think every year could be considered one for the “books”, but in the general sense of the phrase, this has not been a “big” year. It’s been an ordinary, slow-growing year. But there is something wonderful about those restful, quiet years that I think is worth celebrating too.

For Derek, much of 2019 has involved home improvement projects. We bought a new house late in 2018, and  I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that I cried the first night we spent in our new house, telling Derek that it just didn’t feel like “us”.  He has gradually been making that statement untrue.  In the last year he has remodeled the kitchen and master bathroom, installed new flooring, changed out light fixtures, built a fireplace and (halfway) installed a wood stove, and started on the kids’ new play structure (still in the blueprint stage).  I was going to say that it feels like slow going, but thought better of it - seeing it all typed out makes that statement feel silly.  That is a lot of work! I’m grateful for all the hours and care Derek has put into making this place home.

Wyatt, to my horror, is nearing 9 years old. I say “horror”, because I came to the realization this fall that once he reaches 9, we will be halfway through his childhood. Let that sit a minute.  He is a delightful kid, a little shy around new people, but ask him what his favorite animal or bird is, and he can talk your ear off. He knows more about animals than me, is better at identifying birds than me, and remembers interesting facts we read much longer than I do. Needless to say, it’s pretty easy to homeschool him when we break out the science textbooks (maybe not as much when I bring out the writing book, his least favorite subject).  Bike lights and an “adventure kit” (including binoculars, compass, and flashlight) are on his Christmas list.

Gwendolyn will be 7 years old “two days after Christmas, the same birthday as Daddy’s!”, as she likes to tell anyone who will listen.  She is fun-loving and easy to like, and tends to make friends wherever she goes. She is reading, but is desperate to get further in her reading curriculum so she can learn to read chapter books.  While I have become less of a planner the older I get, Gwen picks up where I slack off. She recently wrote out a detailed plan for Christmas morning that made me chuckle and melt a little.  Nail polish and Barbies are on her Christmas list.

Aren’t you supposed to include a paragraph about the family vacation in a Christmas newsletter?  Clyde’s paragraph might make more sense if I do. We went to Florida this year, mostly because it is the cheapest place to fly in August. Hurricane season and all.  We got home a mere week before the hurricane, crossed the Everglades off our National Park bucket list, and while we feel grateful that we can now say we took the kids to Disney World once in their childhood, our one day there taught us that we are not hardcore Disney people. Our favorite part of the trip was visiting NASA and seeing the Saturn V rocket and moon capsule, and it has launched (ha!) an interest in space for our whole family (except Derek, he was always a space guy).



Having said that, our 5.5 year old Clyde has latched on to space transportation as an interest.  When I ask him lately what he wants to learn about, the answer is always “rocket ships!”  If I picked an adjective for Clyde, it would be “charming”.  The kid can get away with saying the “darndest” things, just because of the charming little way he says them.  When he gets one-on-one time with me he always has a lot to talk about, and I learn such interesting things about him (like the fact that he wants to have eight kids someday - he said it so seriously, I knew it was well thought-out).  Rocket ship Legos and a model space shuttle are on his Christmas list.

Clarice turned 4 years old this fall, and while she has always had a big personality, especially for being so quiet, I’ve seen it developing more recently. She is my most imaginative child, declaring how fun it would be if the world were made of fudge, and excitedly informing me that the moon is following us home because “ he’s hungry!”  Her blue eyes and dimpled smile would probably melt the iciest heart, but when I pull out my camera she frequently takes that as her cue to try out every expression in her arsenal.  A Little Mermaid princess doll and a Barbie are on her Christmas list.

Our littlest one, Georgiana, just turned 2 years old, and I’m not sure I’ve met a more easy-going toddler. Redirection is a breeze, and is often accompanied by an enthusiastic “OH-KAY!”  Aside from the occasional flirtation with the “terrible twos” (which thankfully never lasts too long), she is very agreeable. She mainly just cries when she is thirsty or cold or within 20 feet of a moving vehicle (a healthy fear).  She is my most social child so far (that’s saying something, because Gwen was hard to beat). When we walk through a store or parking lot, she is usually holding my hand, and the other hand is waving at strangers as she shouts “HI!” She is usually rewarded with a grin.  On her Christmas list is whatever we decide to get her, and a new bunny-bear, which was her most prized possession before she lost it four months ago.

This letter wouldn’t be complete without including our protector-dog, Harvey.  He is mainly a teddy bear, following me around the house and settling in for a nap wherever I happen to be.  But he can break out his scary bark when he feels it necessary, which is usually when the poor mailman is trying to drop off a package.  He had a tumor earlier this year which briefly made our hearts sink into our feet, until we thankfully found out it was benign. He wants a rawhide bone for Christmas.

I (Callie) have been keeping busy homeschooling the kids, reading a lot of books, and figuring out how to keep this place clean (a never-ending, and possibly losing, battle).  While I occasionally miss working as a dental hygienist, settling into these homeschooling years has been very fulfilling (and also very insecurity-inducing, but we won’t get into that). The greatest joy of homeschooling to me so far is the freedom to point my kids to Jesus throughout their education, and getting a front row seat as I watch them grow academically and in their knowledge and love for the Lord. I wouldn’t trade that for anything.



Oh, and also I’ve been taking too many pictures.  I notice an occasional eye roll from a passerby when I whip out my camera, but most people get it. I’ve been told many, many times by the older generation that “it goes by so fast”. I take so many pictures because I believe the white-haired ladies who stop me in the grocery store to wistfully remind me of that.

Merry Christmas, friends!  We pray that  you each know the peace with God that comes through trusting Jesus, Who was born to pay for our sins on the cross, that we may live.  He is our greatest gift. 

Also praying as we approach 2020 that it is a restful, quiet year “for the books” for you too.  That may be a tall order in an election year, but nothing is impossible with God!  (Joking, but also kind of not.) Hoping for a peaceful New Year for you all!

Joyfully,

Our Little Family

"And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life." (1 John 5:20, ESV)








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?


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