Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Back to School: First day traditions


Do you have first day of school traditions?  Some years I have been way better about this than others. Last year was discombobulated because Sam was on a roof with Jim when the other two kids started school, then we took a 2 week trip to NV in the middle of September, and started in again when we got home.  This year may be similar since we are currently on vacation and may not have all four kids  there to start on the same day when we get back, depending on Jim’s work.

But at least for many years, I would take first day of school pictures, measure the kids’ height to see how much they’d grown in a year, make a special breakfast, etc.  It didn’t always mean our first day got off to a good start, but at least I tried! 😉

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

A Satisfying Summer



We’re currently on vacation in Ohio, at the tail end of summer, trying to squeeze the last bit of fun out of it before we start back to school.  I’ve decided September is pretty much the perfect time to take a vacation, and am thinking about suggesting to Jim that we plan a trip somewhere every year about this time.  The weather has been great for the most part, not too hot and not too cool, comfortable for sleeping in the camper at night and playing outside during the days.

I wanted to write a bit about how satisfying this summer has been.  Of course, it went by too fast as it always does.  But for me personally I feel like it was just a really good summer, and I got a lot of things crossed off my list.  Before I get to that, though, let’s talk about the things I did not get crossed off!  
  • I didn’t accomplish my goal of setting up a chores/cleaning system for our family.
  • We didn’t go out for ice cream or eat at the local food truck.
  • We didn’t (yet) go canoeing as a family.
  • We didn’t declutter/organize the storage bins in the garage. 
  • We didn’t finish our camper remodel.
  • I didn’t menu plan very well and we often ate supper really late in the evening.
But here’s what I/we DID accomplish!
  • I finished Josiah’s quilt, which had been a work in progress for years.  That was one of my main summer goals, and I finished it on July 5!
  • We may not have finished the camper remodel, but we did replace the canvas, I finished sewing the curtains, we gutted the cabinets and benches, installed new flooring, and were able to actually use it for camping.  So I’m calling that a win!
  • We took an awesome family day at Story Land.
     
  • We (well, some of us) climbed our little local mountain with friends.
  • We went to the beach three times and the science center twice (so far...we will go a couple more times this fall).
  • I deep cleaned some spaces in my house. 
  • I made time to read and finished at least five or more fiction books over the summer.
  • I started blogging again.
  • I exercised 54 days in a row in July/August and have almost completed the C25K program again.
  • I am within three days of finishing reading through the New Testament with the Same Page Summer reading plan.
  • Jim and I made time for a couple of dates, both planned and spontaneous.
  • We hosted family and friends a number of times, which was so much fun! 

  • We made it to Ohio to visit family!   
Yesterday I took a little time to plan out some school/life stuff for after we get back home.  We have a pretty busy fall schedule coming up, particularly September, between starting school, work for Jim, a ladies’ retreat, revival meetings at church, etc.  And Jim and I still hope to sneak away for a day or two to celebrate our 20th anniversary a little late.  I still am behind on school planning and I really NEED to get back to a good menu planning habit so I can keep that part of life running smoothly.   But I’m feeling energized and motivated as the weather cools and the fresh start of fall lies ahead...I have loved the somewhat lazy lack of schedule through the summer, but am looking forward to jumping into a good routine again soon.  

Stay tuned...I hope to get a post or two written this week for our September back to school theme, also!  I hope all of you are wrapping up a great summer as well. 😊

Friday, August 16, 2019

Blogging Themes: thinking ahead

Yesterday as I was getting ready for my day and thinking about blogging, I had a brainwave.  I'd been thinking about blogging schedules, and planning certain recurring topics for certain days...but obviously I often have trouble sticking with a definite blogging schedule. 😉 So the thought that occurred to me was that I could plan overarching themes by month.  Not that all of my posts that month will necessarily relate to the theme (although they might), but it will give me something to think about and focus on...maybe help me as I look for inspiration here and there, too. 

Being me, I'm not thinking super far ahead, but here's a rough idea of what I'm going to aim for over the next several months:

  • September: Back to School
  • October: Let's Go Outside/Nature Study
  • November: Give Thanks
  • December: Christmas (of course 😊)
  • January: Heart & Home (focus on goals & habits for both)
Looking at this list, thinking about things I could write about...well, it has me pretty excited, actually!  I also hope to link to some other bloggers along the way who inspire me in these areas.  I hope you'll come along for the ride!

Thursday, August 15, 2019

From my bookshelf: Gone-Away Lake


I decided one fun feature I want to include weekly (if possible) is a favorite-book post.  This might be a children's book (picture book or chapter book), a non-fiction or spiritual growth book, an adult fiction book...pretty much anything that's one of my or my kids' favorites!  I have a feeling that the hard part will be just choosing ONE book per week...as I am an avid bookworm, and so are some of my kids. 😉

My choice for this first bookish post is a children's novel: Gone-Away Lake, by Elizabeth Enright.  I don't remember when I first discovered Gone-Away; it feels like this book has been a part of my life forever!  I also don't remember if my mom read it aloud to us, or if I first read it on my own.  What I DO know is that this is a fabulous summer read, and as a family we have read (or listened) to it at least three times over the past few years.  The audio version read by Colleen Delany is beautifully done and we would all highly recommend it!

Synopsis:  Portia Blake and her little brother Foster go to visit their uncle, aunt, and cousin Julian, as they do every summer.  Only this summer, Julian's family has moved to a new house in the country, and there are lots more places to explore.  One day while exploring in the nearby woods, Portia and Julian stumble upon an old colony of abandoned, dilapidated houses at the edge of a swamp.  Only they aren't ALL abandoned...an elderly brother and sister returned years ago to live out their lives in the place they had loved as children, away from the hustle and bustle of modern life.  Gone-Away Lake is the story of the friendship that blossoms between Portia and Julian and "Uncle Pin" and "Aunt Minnehaha."  There is also adventure, a little danger, and lots of fun reminiscing and old stories shared from a childhood at Tarrigo Lake (which later became the swamp, now called Gone-Away Lake).

It's hard to sum up this book in a quick synopsis...it probably doesn't sound all that interesting.  But Elizabeth Enright was a master at writing books about everyday life, taking a simple idea and making it come alive.  This book makes the reader feel like you are right there at Gone-Away with Portia and Julian, like discovering an old summer colony is something that might really happen to you.  It plops you right into the middle of a hot, buggy summer somewhere in New York state.  It also highlights the beautiful friendship that sometimes springs up between children and elderly people, and how much we can learn from each other.  I can't recommend this book highly enough...give it a try.  You and your kids will love it!  It is the perfect summer read.  Even though it is more than sixty years old, it has a timeless quality and is just as enjoyable in 2019 as it would have been in the 1950s.

And...if you read Gone-Away Lake, you must also put Return to Gone-Away on your list!  It is equally enchanting and wonderful.  You can often find copies of both books at thrift stores or used bookstores, but they are also available on Amazon or Thriftbooks pretty inexpensively.  Happy reading!

Friday, August 02, 2019

Friday Five: the summer decor edition

I thought it would be fun to do a decor edition, since I *finally* (read: late June) changed out my early spring decorations for things that are patriotic and summery.  Some of this stuff I already had on hand...other things came from Hobby Lobby and Marshalls!  (Side note: it is super fun for me to "treasure hunt" at Hobby Lobby.  I will admit that this is one store that can easily overwhelm my senses...it's been less than two years since we got one close-ish to us, and unless I have a plan of what I am looking for, I can wander the aisles and come out empty-handed, in spite of a 40% off coupon!  The best shopping experiences there are when I have something specific to find, and even better if I find it in the clearance aisle!)  Anyway, on to the post!

1. Table decor: I don't always keep flowers on my table, but when I do, I've been using this red checked cloth from Hobby Lobby to put them on.  I also found the "milk glass" pitcher (not genuine) at Hobby Lobby last week (marked down to $3.48!) and it makes a nice vase!  
 2.  Couch table:  I enjoy changing things up in several areas of my house, and this is my living room focal point.  The patriotic prints were free printables I found on Pinterest a few years ago.  The plastic plate and towel/runner were from Hobby Lobby, also on deep discounts. 
 3.  Kitchen cabinet display area:  more free printables, a dishtowel from Joann Fabrics (gift from my mom), Hobby Lobby plate, blue lantern from my grandparents' house!
 4.  Hutch display: this blue striped towel/runner is my new favorite from Hobby Lobby.  Also on clearance. 😉 The basket was my splurge for this year, I think it was under $10 from Marshalls.  I thought it would be fun to fill it with vintage books in shades of red, white and blue.  Two of these are vintage LM Montgomery books that I snagged at this year's library book sale!
5.  Random, non-decor related (since I don't have any other areas of my house that are decorated for summer): today Julia and Josiah went on an outing with their Sunday school class.  Here's a pic I "borrowed" from my friend Patty's FB page (she's their teacher, and an awesome one at that!).  They had perfect weather and a wonderful time out in nature, in beautiful Franconia Notch. Thankful for our church family and all the love and time that is invested in these kids!

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Just a bowl of cherries


I have been addicted to sweet cherries this summer!  They've been on sale at the grocery store most of the summer ($2.99/lb or maybe less a few times) and I keep buying them.  I about choked last week when I bought two bags and went through the self-checkout, and realized that I spent over $13 on cherries!  Oops.  $2.99/lb doesn't seem like much until you weigh it out! 

Anyway, the cherries are delicious and we just eat them fresh.  Last year we were given a bunch of sour cherries and I made a pie out of them, which was also yummy.  In fact, I might still have some of those cherries in the freezer...I will have to check, as that would be a perfect summertime treat. 

There's an old saying: "Life is just a bowl of cherries," basically meaning that life is pretty sweet.  I have to agree that with all its ups and downs, this life we've been blessed with IS sweet.  In just over a week, Jim and I will celebrate twenty years of marriage.  We met when we were both 20 years old and were married at 22.  This means that we have known each other/been part of one another's lives longer than we were alive before we met.  (If that makes sense.)  Sometimes I look around me and wonder where the last twenty years have gone!  It's a little crazy thinking of all the living we've done in that time.  All the memories, all the hardships, all the good things and bad things that have happened, all the day to day moments that make up a life.  We've lost five of our grandparents in that time, but added four children to our home.  We've been part of three different churches.  We've lost touch with some old friends and made some new ones.  We've fought, made up, cried together, prayed together, laughed together (a lot).  And this wasn't really supposed to be an anniversary post, ha!  Just some ramblings as I thought about cherries and the sweet life God has given our family.  Right now I am at the point of trying to hang onto the moments and store up the memories.  Our older kids are quickly closing the gap to adulthood, and while that too is a special thing to watch, soon our home won't be quite the same.  I am excited for all the future holds but I also want to squeeze the most that I can out of all the time I have left with them!  Already the changes have started, as Sam is old enough to work with Jim and frequently does...and he is outgrowing some of the things he used to enjoy.  At the same time...he's also old enough to babysit for a few hours and that part is AWESOME. 😀

I guess I'll stop rambling for now, except to say...enjoy the cherries. Treasure the life you've been given!🍒 

Monday, July 29, 2019

Monday Musing: Consuming vs. Producing

**this picture has nothing to do with the post, but my big hydrangea finally bloomed again this year, and it's so beautiful!**

I've been thinking of how I can really focus some intentional time in this space.  It's been years since I've prioritized writing here (or anywhere, for that matter)... the quick little snippets of life are so much easier to quickly put up on other social media platforms with a picture, from my phone.  (Blogging from my phone doesn't work, sadly!)

I've been mulling over how I used to be a lot more of a producer (writing content for my blog) and now I'm more of a consumer (scrolling everyone else's FB and IG posts, Pinterest, blogs, etc.)  Part of it is lack of time to think and formulate worthwhile content. Part of it is that homeschooling takes much more of my time than it used to.  Part of it, I suppose, is that blogs have begun to go the way of the dinosaur, and longer gaps between my posts equal fewer and fewer readers.  Part of it (let's face it) is the fact that I consume...i.e. waste time...on other social media which I could be spending on the blog.  Ouch.  Yet I hesitate to come on here and claim that I'm going to post more, because my track record with that is less than stellar!  There is lots of *good* content out there--content that helps me grow spiritually, as a person, as a mom, as a homeschooler...and sometimes I feel like I don't really have a lot to add to the conversation.

But, I still love to write.  I enjoy putting my thoughts out there, and I most especially enjoy looking back on the little pieces of our life that I've shared here through the years.  PLUS my sister-in-law (who just published her first novel!!) has started a blog to go along with her website, and I figured maybe I should start writing again so we could motivate each other along the way. 😉

So, we'll see how it goes.  I hope to make a plan soon of a blogging schedule that I can follow weekly (themes for different days?), maybe planning to post three times a week.  If I could plan a time to write all the posts at once and then schedule them to be published on different days, I think that would help.  Sometimes I like to write on the fly, though...  Anyhow, we'll see how it goes!