Thursday, December 21, 2017

Life Lately

Well, it's almost the end of 2017. And to sum up this year I would have to use the word Chaos. Our lives have been flipped upside down in so many ways, some good and some bad, with TONS of changes. Quite honestly, I'm just ready for this year to be OVER!

Instead of dwelling on the past, I am going to look forward to the future.

I have sure missed blogging. I mean, I have missed the old blogging of days gone by where I spilled my guts on a daily basis, shared EVERYTHING our family was doing, made some people laugh, pissed off some people, and really just bared it all.

Our Journey to Excellence blog has seemed to have run its course. The only student I have at home now is Eli and his days are so orderly and ordinary that we really don't have much to share there. My definition of Excellence has changed so much that, really, I am much more concerned with our family just living and being who we are than trying to live up to some subjective definition of Excellence. I don't know if we are Excellent. In fact, I reckon we are far from it. And, honestly, most days we are too pooped to work toward it.

So, I am saying "good-bye" to Journey to Excellence.

But I am saying "hello" again to Taulman Times. Starting in January, if you care to, you can follow us over there. If you don't, that's also fine with me. Let's be honest, when it comes down to it we who blog really do it just for ourselves anyway. And if you really want a daily dose of reality, follow me on Instagram at nikki_taulman.

Esse Quam Videri.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Journey Journal ~ The Past Two Weeks

Our life right now is all home renovation with homeschooling on the side.

Let's start with the homeschooling. It's going so great! Every single day I tell Eli how proud I am of him and what he is accomplishing in his schooling. He is left on his own the majority of the time with a couple of hours of me in the afternoons with a one year old hanging on my leg. He is ROCKING school! I leave him a list of about four things to accomplish while I am at work in the mornings, and when I get home those things are done and done well! Pre-algebra, grammar, writing, reading. Check, check, check, check. When I ask him how things went he is smiling! He is smiling because he is feeling such a sense of pride in accomplishing hard things.

The last two weeks we have not touched geology just because I have, frankly, been too busy to plan out enriching lessons. Plus I am interested in it, as well, so I want to have the time to learn alongside him. Geography/cartography is a little easier for him to do alone so he is still working through that.

When we drive to speech therapy Eli reads his lesson to me out of Mapping Through Art. This sparks several discussions and usually has him searching the internet for more information or pulling up Youtube videos for him to watch and me to listen to while we drive.

Then Eli spends the rest of the week drawing the corresponding maps and doing the assigned activities. This is a neat program that he is really enjoying. The history of cartography is an interest of  his, and he is not only getting a good education in that but is also learning a whole heap of ancient history and historical geography with the mapping. It's neat.

I did ask him if he is truly okay with our current schedule whereby he works primarily independently, or if he is missing our one-on-one time learning together. He said the he enjoys doing his work alone (hello fellow introvert) (and I don't take offense to that because I get it!) because he has less distractions. I also think he is seeing what he is capable of on his own. In the past everything has been done as a group, and I'm not sure if he really saw what he was doing. Now it's all him, so successes are all his.

Proud mom, right here.

So we will continue what we are doing until we feel that we should be doing something else.

What about Brynne? This is homecoming week at her school so she has gotten her first taste of dress-up days. She has actually dressed up every day, with our favorite outfit being Twins Day with her bestie Rilee. These girls are so fun. Check out the cool shoes I picked up for them on clearance at Rue 21 for $5. Score! And on Friday she found out that their Twinsies outfit tied for winning outfit in the whole school!

Brynne's volleyball team was in the homecoming parade on Friday afternoon. She is really having fun with her friends at school. She also went to the football game Friday night, which is something she has never been interested in doing.

She is continuing to do really well in school. She said she thinks most kids hate her because she is smart. She has found that she loves the German language, enjoys her history teacher and class, and is the fastest typist in all of the school's Keyboarding I classes at about 50 wpm (and it's funny because I made her take keyboarding and she was SO mad at me but she LOVES it!). Brynne is a great student, and I am certain her teachers are happy to have her in their classes.

Look at their cute class shirts ...

Other things going on at home? Well, the big one is that Dawson has moved back home for the next couple of months! Living in Dallas was just not a financial win for him, and I really needed his help on our renovations, so he packed it up and came back home. It's really nice to have him back!

Speaking of renovations, Oi!

This has been a messy week. Last weekend we tore down the eye sore that was our garage. I just do not understand what the previous owners were thinking when they erected that thing taking up the entire back yard and butting it directly up against the covered back deck. It, literally, looks like a tornado hit it right now with piles of lumber everywhere. And both my front porch and back deck are completely covered in building materials to keep them out of the rain.

We also tore down the chain link fence to make way for a new privacy fence.

Then on Tuesday I came home and our only bathroom had been completely gutted. We can still use the toilet and sink but we are now going to my mom's for showers. It's a tad inconvenient, but I just keep imagining the new bathroom we will have soon.

The attic renovations are making some progress as we now have some drywall up. It's taking great shape!

There is still so much more to do, however, and I am hoping that all of it can be done by Thanksgiving. My sanity has been tested, I can assure you. I have never taken so many deep cleansing breaths in my life. Lord help me.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Wednesday Hodgepodge

Have you ever spent time on a farm? Tell us a little about it. Have you ever grown your own pumpkin? Been on a hayride? Driven a tractor? Milked a cow?

I live in Small Town, Missouri, so I have been on several farms. I tried to grow pumpkins one year and ended up with one tiny one. I've been on multiple hayrides over the years. I have driven a tractor to help pick up hay. And I used to go with my high school boyfriend to a dairy farm while he milked cows on Sunday mornings. I didn't actually milk them, but I watched him do it.

What's something 'younger you' would like about you now?

The younger me didn't understand what it meant to be an introvert. She spent her whole time trying to fit in with a bunch of extroverts because she wanted to be part of the "in" crowd. But she was always miserable. She looks at me now and says, "Ah, so that's what was 'wrong' with me. I didn't know that to be truly happy I needed to be exactly who I was and form friendships (albeit very few of them) with others like me!" She was always okay with being alone, hanging out in her bedroom listening to music or reading magazines. She likes those qualities in me now. I would be her best friend. She would like hanging out with me because I wouldn't have any expectations of her. I would just let her be.

What are three things you'd like to do more often? Three things you'd like to do less often?

More often: Have a night where I can just lay on the couch and watch t.v. until bed, read, have my laundry caught up and put away.
Less often: that laundry, cleaning the kitchen (do we have to eat 3 meals a day?), vacuuming up dog hair.

What's on your nachos?

black beans, tomatoes, cheddar cheese, black olives, diced onions, shredded lettuce, sour cream, taco sauce.

What's the most random thing in your purse or wallet? Does it need to stay there?

A white chalkboard marker. No, it needs to go back to my daughter's because I swiped it from her house to use at work.

Insert your own random thought here?

My life is so chaotic right now with the renovations going on at our house. I don't think people, even my family, understand how hard this is for me mentally. My son-in-law asked my daughter why I get like this. I am feeling the squeezing vice grip of not having any order. Everybody is walking in and out, letting in flies, tracking in footprints. The dogs are barking incessantly. Every room is filled to the max with things from other rooms. There are so many questions, so much noise. To a normal person this is no big deal. To an introvert with mild anxiety this is torture. I am not just stressed, I am completely drained. It saps me of all energy to the point that I do not feel good physically. It makes me bitchy, as I was told. Believe me, I know all this and I am even bitchier on the inside. I am trying to take deep breaths and remember that it's temporary, that there are those who have been part of hurricanes and floods whose houses are like this right now with no end in sight, and to look ahead to how great it's going to be when it's done. But it still affects me, more me than the normal person. So I just need everybody in my life to understand that and give me some extra space.  I am looking forward to this weekend because after I work on Saturday morning I do not have anywhere I need to be or anything I need to do, so I can spend some time reorganizing and recharging. And it is much needed.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Things I Do for Me

It's 4:51 a.m. and I'm sitting on the couch with a blanket and my doggies having a cup of tea, and decided this might be a good time to share some of he things I do for myself each day. I have had a couple people ask what types of things I do to help myself be healthy, mostly in regard to exercise, but then I realized that exercise is only a small part of it. There are so many small habits I have developed over the years that work with exercise to help keep me on the path to healthy.

Several years ago I had this mantra in my head to "just do a little more" and the idea was to try to do just a little better all the time, nothing drastic. I know so many wake up on a specific day with this list of insurmountable new daily tasks to change their lives, and most of those days land on January 1. And then failure happens by January 15th and another year feels wasted.

As I think about all of my daily routines and habits I realize that these are mostly things I sprinkled in here and there in an attempt to do "just a little more" toward the road to healthy living.

So when I share my day don't be discouraged. I did not just wake up one day and start successfully doing each and every one of these things. And there are some days that I don't do any of them. I give myself a break from the rigor on the weekends. But I figure doing the majority of these things 70% of the time is better than 0% so I feel pretty good about it.

Here goes.

* I set an alarm and wake up at 4:30 a.m. This is a new one. It used to be 6 a.m. then moved to 5 a.m. and in the past two weeks has moved to 4:30 a.m. I am someone who needs white space. I have to have peace and quiet ALONE time. With a busy life, that's hard to find, so I purposefully wake up at 4:30 a.m. to take advantage of the peace and quiet. And, I assure you, I am alone.

* I start my morning with a cup of hot green tea with Stevia and a few drops of lemon oil. I am not going to go into the sciences behind all of my decisions, but I know that green tea is good for you and something about a cup of hot lemon water is supposed to do something great for you when done first thing in the morning. Plus, it tastes good. (I have found that drinking this tea before exercising makes me feel better than starting with coffee.)

* Stevia. Several years ago I stopped using sugar (for the most part) and completely stopped using artificial sweeteners. I use pure liquid Stevia that I purchase at the Amish store. It does take a bit to get used to the slightly different taste, but it's all-natural and I love it as my sweetener. I do still use sugar sometimes while cooking, but it occurred to me this morning that I don't remember the last time I purchased a bag of sugar. I have the kids using Stevia for the most part, too.

* Early morning workout. If I do not work out first thing in the morning, I WILL NOT DO IT! Period. On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I run 2-3 miles at 6:00 a.m. after I have taken Brynne to volleyball practice at school. In the winter I run on the treadmill. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I attend a local workout class where we do Insanity! Live one day and Piyo on the other. There are evening classes I could attend on Monday and Wednesday, but I just can't do evening workouts. Can't.

* Oil pulling. Recently I started oil pulling with coconut oil for about 15-20 minutes while I am getting ready in the morning. This is just where you swish oil around in your mouth, pulling it through your teeth. This is supposed to pull toxins out of your body and help with dental health. Whether it works, I don't know, but it's harmless so I do it. I heat my oil for 10 seconds before I begin swishing and spit it out in the trash when I am done.

* Green smoothies. For breakfast each day I make myself and Kyndal a green smoothie. Ours include Greek yogurt, spinach, half an avocado, frozen mixed berries, half a banana, flaxseeds, oats, and a splash of extra virgin olive oil.

* Coffee. I do drink coffee after I get done working out in the morning. As I am walking out the door to work I blend my coffee, some milk, Stevia, and a tablespoon of coconut oil. It's so yummy.

* Lunch. This is where I can easily fall apart because I love lunch foods! And lunch is the meal that I want to pig out. And I am usually starving because I don't get to eat lunch until 1:30 p.m. and am not patient to make something healthy that takes any time. If I'm going to fail, it's going to be here. I try to eat some soup, or some crackers and hummus with fruit, or some tuna, or a wrap. I have to pay very close attention at this time of day. I do think I would like to start juicing and having a veggie juice with my lunch each day. I am researching that right now (again "just a little more"). And I am thinking I will just go back to purchasing Lean Cuisine meals to heat up at lunch on those days that I feel like grabbing something crappy instead because of time and starvation.

* Dinner. At dinner I allow myself to eat whatever we are having as a family. We don't get too out there for dinner, but usually just eat pretty simple things. I try to always have a protein, a carb (usually a small pasta or potato), and everybody has to have a veggie and usually some fruit. I like mine steamed, but Eli likes raw carrots and Brynne likes raw mini colored peppers. I try to stick to the healthiest foods as possible, but I really don't go overboard because of time and laziness.

* Water. We are a water-drinking family. In fact, I hardly ever buy soda or tea. We do have apple juice available at most times, but the kids are only allowed one glass per day. And there is always milk, but nobody really just drinks milk. We drink water. I try really hard to drink 60-90 ounces of water each day. I drink out of my 30 ounce Yeti and attempt to drain it three times a day.

* We do as much nothing in the evenings as we can, weekends, too. Brynne plays sports so we do have games to attend. But on the nights and weekends that we don't have something like that on the calendar, we just veg out at home. We are all homebodies and introverts and we thoroughly enjoy our quiet time. Most evenings/weekends we will all be in our own rooms doing our own thing. There are a few television shows that we like to watch together as a family, so we do that regularly. But when they are over we separate again.

* Early bedtimes are important! I get up at 4:30 a.m. Brynne gets up at 5:30 a.m. most days. So we are ready for bed early! She is asleep by 8:00 p.m. most nights and I do my best to be in bed reading by 9:00 p.m. My goal is to have the lights off at 9:30 p.m. so I can, hopefully, get a full 7 hours of sleep. Ideally I would like 8 hours, but try as I might I cannot get everything done in the evenings and to bed in time to be asleep by 8:30 p.m. Eli has a different schedule than us because he homeschools, so he goes to bed at 10:30 p.m. and gets up each morning at about 9:00 a.m.

* Right before bed I take a hot bath. This is something new I started about a month ago. I am not really a bath girl, but I have read about the health benefits of taking a steaming bath at the end of the day with 2 cups of epsom salts and some lavender oil. This is supposed to draw out all of the toxins from your body from the day. The goal is to last 12-20 minutes, and that's about all I can take. By that time I am sweating profusely and am so hot and tired. But, I will say, that when I get in bed right after that I am more relaxed than I have ever been in my life, and when I am ready to shut off the light I fall instantly asleep.

* After my bath I do not add any chemicals to my skin. I do not put on deodorant or lotion. I do not moisturize my face (although I am looking into non-toxic facial moisturizers at this time). I figure that I am giving my body a break of about 8-9 hours of chemicals while I sleep. Somehow that makes me feel better. I do wear deodorant after my shower in the morning, and I do completely moisturize my body, as well. I am also a huge fan of Bath and Body Works body fragrance sprays and completely cover myself with them each morning. I wear makeup that contains toxins. No matter how "green" I try to get with my cleaning products, those toxins are still there. This is my little bit of care I give myself at the end of the day to help counter-balance some of that.

* I end my day reading. My goal used to be to read 50 pages a night. Now I am usually too tired to do that. So I try to get in about 30 minutes of reading. As I start to read the last chapter I chew a Melatonin gummy and shut off the light. And BOOM I am asleep.

Mindfulness is a big word for me these days. To do all of these things I have listed, I have to be mindful. These things take a schedule, and a pretty strict one, at that. Like I said, I try to do all of this about 70% of the time. So I don't feel bad when I don't get it done the other 30%. It takes a lot of planning. And when we are on vacation, all bets are off. Again, these are not things that I woke up one day and said, "I am going to start doing every one of these things starting today!" Nope. Many are things I started doing years ago, and I have added in new things even as early as a couple of weeks ago. If something is not working, I stop doing it and try something else that does work. So far, at this stage in my life, these things are all working for me.

I feel better physically and mentally than I have in years. I feel healthy, am well-rested, and am satisfied and not deprived. It's all good.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Wednesday Hodgepodge

What pets did you have growing up? Tell us a little something about them.

We had various dogs, a couple of cats, a bunny for a night, and a pig for a night. Our longest running pets were Squeaky, my dog who hated everybody but me and hid under the couch all the time and snapped at everyone; Frisky, my brother's sheltie mix who was such a love; Cassie, the stray cat we fed behind my parents' back and then kept; and then her kitten, Battle Cat (named after HeMan that my brother LOVED). Battle Cat was such a big baby and still nursed to go to sleep off his mama when he was a grown cat. Cassie disappeared one day and Battle Cat was so distraught we had to give him away.

What is one thing you absolutely must accomplish today?

You know, this is the first day in many, many days where I don't have ANYTHING I must accomplish! So if I had to choose something, I guess I would say getting some one-on-one schoolwork done with Eli. He's been doing an abundance of independent work while I have been putting in some extra hours at the library. He has done so great, and I am so incredibly proud of him! But I miss our couch time reading and activities.

Where were you ten years ago? What were you doing there?

It was actually almost exactly 10 years ago (like within a week or two) that we were moving into our newly built custom home in Owasso, Oklahoma. What were we doing there? Making the biggest mistake ever.

September 26th is National Dumpling Day. Did you celebrate? Apple dumpling, Xiao long bao (steamed Chinese dumpling), chicken and dumplings, pirogi, matzoh balls, or gnocchi ... which dumpling on this list would be your dumpling of choice? Have you ever made homemade dumplings of any kind?

First of all I thought that said National DUMPING Day. Knowing what it really says changes my answer dramatically! (lol!) Chicken and dumplings would be my choice. I have made them homemade before, but really I just prefer dropping some cut up refrigerated biscuits into my creamy homemade thick chicken soup and serving it over rice.

There are two kinds of adventurers: those who go truly hoping to find an adventure and those who go secretly hoping they don't. ~ William Trogdon. So which kind are you?

I do love to find adventure, even though I am not extremely adventurous. That's not really true. I love adventure, I'm just not a thrill-seeker. I love to dig deep and find meaning and history and hidden treasure.

Insert your own random thought here.

Exciting news .... Dawson is moving back home for the next couple of months! He has been living in Dallas and, financially, it is just not the best situation. Since our contractor could use an extra pair of hands to help him finish our attic renovation, Dawson has taken me up on my offer to move back home until it's completed. He will get to live back home for free, save any money he can (he's hoping to go back to his former job part-time), and get everything prepared to get enlisted into the Air Force. We are very happy to have him coming back home, especially for his birthday and the upcoming holidays. This is a win-win situation for all of us.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Journey Journal ~ Banned Books Week Kickoff

I feel like I say the same thing every week ... life is CRAZY! I truly feel like we are just making it through each day. Thankfully, when I look back at our planner I realize that Eli has managed to get the majority of his schoolwork completed despite our wacky schedule. I am incredibly proud of how he has managed his work with the chaos.

There were no photos taken this week. Most of Eli's work was standard stuff .. math, grammar, reading, writing, drawing maps, watching geology videos, etc.

But, on Friday evening my library hosted a Banned Books Party to kick off Banned Books Week that begins today and runs through September 30th.

We discussed the history of banning books, including burnings and imprisonment, and current challenges and bans. We took some fun photos, had themed snacks, played Banned Book Bingo, and made posters to hang in our schools and community businesses. Eli and Brynne attended, and we had a good time. We are hoping that our party, posters, and wearing stickers will help educate others as to the importance of our fREADom to read without censorship.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Wednesday Hodgepodge

It's Tuesday night and I'm preparing my Wednesday Hodgepodge answers. I really should be going to bed because I am, seriously, so tired I could cry. But, I just feel like I need some quiet time, some reflecting time, some time to do something I want to do instead of something I have to do.

So let's dig into this week's questions ...

What's something you'd rate a 10/10? Tell us why.

Why this immediately came to my mind I will never know, but instantly I thought of the Monster Cookie from Cheddar's. You order it with your meal because it is made fresh and takes time. A large chocolate chip cookie is baked in a small cast iron skillet and then topped with ice cream, hot fudge, whipped topping ... you get the point. Heaven. Pure Heaven.

What job would you be terrible at? What makes you think so?

Any job where I had to be calling people on the phone. I was just thinking about this tonight. Kyndal just got a job as an administrative assistant and her first task was to call around to try to find some businesses to partner with the medical clinic where she works to provide shoes for needy kids. I would hate having to do that! But she loves it, which is awesome.

When did you last take a fall? What's something you're falling for (in a good way) these days?

In May I fell down the two steps from our kitchen to the back door. The next day I felt like someone had taken me into a back alley and kicked the you-know-what out of me. I could hardly breathe or move. What am I falling for these days? The upcoming Fall television lineup. I love it when all my shows, and new ones I don't even know I love yet, get started back up. I can't wait to sit and watch my favorites.

According to the Travel Channel, here are some of America's best fall festivals ...  National Apple Harvest Festival (near Arendtsville, Pennsylvania, close to Gettysburg), Harvest on the Harbor (Portland, Maine), German Village Festival (Columbus, Ohio), Wellfleet Oyster Fest (Cape Cod), and Wine and Chile Fiesta (Santa Fe, New Mexico). Have you ever been to any of the festivals listed? Which one appeals to you most? Does your hometown have any sort of fall celebration, and if so will you make it a point to attend?

I have never gone to any of these fall festivals, but I think the National Apple Harvest Festival appeals to me most. Our town has a festival called Septemberfest which is Labor Day weekend. I attended more of the festivities this year than I have in year's past. I ran in the memorial 5k, went to the "beer garden" (which is really just a blocked off part of town by the liquor store where they put up a grandstand and have bands come play), and went to the Stroll in the Park which is a wine stroll. That was so much fun! I wish I would have been a tad cooler, but the yummy wines cooled me off!

What is your goodbye message to summer?

"You know how much I detest you and your steamy ways, so good riddance!"

Insert your own random thought here.

It's now 4:30 a.m. and I am finishing up this week's questions with coffee in hand. What do you do for white space in your day? Or are you someone who even needs it? I need it. I need to be able to sit and just stare into space, doing nothing, with a cup of coffee in hand (or a glass of wine when it's late in the day). I have found myself scheduled to the minute the past four weeks, and it takes its toll on me mentally and physically. I crave peace and quiet, no light and no noise. And those are things I do not get much of these days. I am praying that this is only a season and that things will calm down just a bit. I have said 'no' to as much as I can, and the things I have said 'yes' to are necessary things. What do you do to protect your inner sanctuary of sanity and peace? Getting up early is the only thing I can really think of to do right now to carve out a little extra quiet time. Any other suggestions?

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Our Schedule

This year we have found ourselves with a completely new schedule. This has proven to be a real adjustment for us. Having one child re-enter public school for the first time in 8 years, having me start a part-time job, and having Bennett here every afternoon has shaken us up a bit. But, we are starting to get into a groove and hope to actually get it more perfected soon, especially after our home renovations are complete.

So far, this is how things look for us:

4:30 a.m. Mom is up and dressed for a cup of coffee.

5:15 a.m. On Tuesdays and Thursdays Brynne gets up to get ready for 6 a.m. volleyball practice and Mom goes to work out at her Insanity class. (Brynne gets a ride from a friend on these days).

5:30 a.m. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays Brynne gets up to get ready for 6 a.m. volleyball practice.

5:45 a.m. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays Mom takes Brynne to practice.

6:00 a.m. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays Mom runs.

6:30 a.m. Mom is home for some coffee and a shower to get ready for the day.

7:15 a.m. Mom makes smoothies for herself and Kyndal who will be by soon to drop off her dog Chloe for us to watch while she's at work.

7:45 a.m. Mom is at work and Brynne is now starting school.

9:00 a.m. Eli is up for breakfast and a shower.

10:00 a.m. Eli starts independent work at home alone. He typically does his pre-algebra, writing, grammar, and reads out of a book of his choice. He takes lunch at 12:30 p.m.

1:00 p.m. Mom goes to pick Bennett up from Gamma who has been watching him all morning and brings him home. Then she has lunch.

1:30 p.m. Mom and Eli do schoolwork together. This is usually finishing up anything not completed in the morning, most often grammar, and then working on geology and/or geography/cartography and doing read alouds.

Somewhere in here Bennett takes a nap. (fingers crossed)

3:00 p.m. Mom picks Brynne up from school.

4:00 p.m. Eli completes school.

4:30 p.m. Mom starts on dinner and straightens up the house from a hectic day. House renovation comes to a conclusion for the day. Somebody comes to pick up Bennett and Chloe.

Evenings: We try to eat dinner around 5:30 p.m. and hope that it's a night that we are home with nothing to do. But, Brynne has volleyball games a couple of nights a week so those are factored in.

7:00 p.m. Mom starts getting things ready for the next day: gets Brynne's gym and school bags packed, gets clothes out for the next day, prepares coffee pot, gets everyone their vitamins, picks up house, maybe does a load of laundry, gets Eli's assignments for the next day prepared.

8:00 p.m. Brynne goes to bed and Mom takes a hot bath with a glass of wine.

8:30 p.m. (again, fingers crossed) Mom gets in bed to do a little reading.

10:30 p.m. Mom and Brynne and all dogs are peacefully sleeping, Eli goes to bed.

And then we do it all over again.

Getting up at 4:30 a.m. is tough, but I am naturally a morning person so once I am up I am usually fine. I am thinking about pushing it back to 4:00 a.m., though, to give me just that extra time I need to sit in the quiet and do nothing (maybe blog!) before I hit the ground running. The only problem is that I do not know if I can successfully get myself to bed early enough at night to get in enough hours of sleep. I am still doing some tweaking.

This is us. What about you?

Friday, September 15, 2017

Journey Journal ~ Sick

It stinks because I have really intended to get back into a more regular schedule of blogging, one where I blog about the weekend on Monday, do Wednesday Hodgepodge, blog about a family event on Thursday, and then do our Journey Journal on Friday or Saturday. But, life! Yikes! Adding in a part-time job, a child attending an actual school building and playing sports, and a home renovation has completely zapped me of all extra time! I already get up at 5:00 a.m. but have found that I hit the floor running and don't stop until I collapse into bed at night. I'm considering getting up at 4:00 a.m. from now on just so I can regain some of that white space I have lost.

This week we added Bennett back into our mix now that Kyndal has started her new job. I pick him up from my mom's as soon as I get off work at 1:00 p.m. and take him home with me for the afternoon until his mama or daddy gets off to pick him up. It's made it a little more difficult for Eli and I to get some school time together, but we just make sure we take advantage of his nap time.

On top of all of that craziness, all three of us ended up sick with fevers yesterday. I couldn't go to work; Brynne couldn't go to school; and Eli couldn't do any schoolwork. We each stayed in our beds all day. Finally by the evening we were starting to feel a little better. Brynne and I recovered enough to get to school and work today, and Eli did some math work in bed since he was still feeling under the weather.

What did we accomplish before we all crashed an burned? Not a whole lot, to be honest. We only completed two of our four days of grammar, missed a rotation in writing, and only read out of our books one day. Eli worked hard on pre-algebra, but is a little behind so is going to have to do some catch up this weekend.

We didn't get as much done in geography and geology. Eli read and learned about Ptolemy and drew the boot of Italy. In geology he watched a video about snowflakes, read the book Snowflake Bentley (we still love picture books), looked up photographs of Bentley's snowflakes the internet, and then made some Borax snowflakes of our own.

Eli also picked away at a Crystal Mining block I bought at Hobby Lobby years ago. It wasn't as easy as we thought it would be, and so far he has only found a rose quartz. We'll keep working on it when we are feeling better to see what we can unearth.

Meanwhile, Brynne is chugging away at school and seems to enjoy it. She went to her first volleyball tournament and game this week. She played really good, and I was very proud of her!

We are certainly hoping for a smoother week this next week.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Journey Journal ~ A FAIRly good week!

For the past two weekends we have enjoyed some local fall festivals. Our town's Septemberfest was last weekend and the Fall Festival in the town where Kyndal and Collin graduated from high school was this weekend. We attended baby contests, wee queen contests, carnivals, 5Ks, wine strolls, and more. We have had a lot of fun, but we are certainly worn out!

In between the fairs we had schoolwork to do.

Map tracing ... awesome!

We still love our read alouds. Right now it's The Selected Works
of T.S. Spivet

Also reading aloud out of Brighty of the Grand Canyon.

Eli learned to use a protractor and compass this week.
He did great and especially loved making perfect circles.
Measuring angles was a brand new skill.

Igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks using Starbursts.

Our egg shell geodes turned out pretty nice. The table salt
produced the best crystals.

I am very proud of Eli with his schoolwork so far this year. I am gone in the mornings until 1:00 p.m., so he is on his own to do independent work. When I get home he has it all completed and is, usually, reading. Then we do some group work and projects in the afternoons. The independence has been awesome for him.

The Influenza made an early appearance at our house and took Brynne out for a week. Because of the holiday she only actually missed two days of school. She was a little stressed about the amount of homework she might have to make up for those days, but she was able to get it all done at school the first day back. She brought home a grade update on Friday and has all A's. I knew she would do well in school.

Thankfully, Brynne was over the flu in time to go to the fair this past Friday night and then to the junior high volleyball tournament on Saturday (she missed her first volleyball game last week). She finally got the courage to ride a couple of rides at the fair that she has always been too chicken to ride. Eli opted out of the fair, so Brynne took her pal, Rilee.

At the volleyball tournament she only got to play a little bit because she is not technically on the A Team because she is in 7th grade (I think it is such a stupid decision to automatically make all 8th graders A Team and all 7th graders B Team instead of placing them on the teams based on skill level. God forbid we reward girls who are skilled at a sport and play hard with good attitudes. Let's reward the girls who aren't because we don't want to ruin their self esteem. Don't get me started on that rant. I better stop now). Brynne did get to play some and I can very proudly say that she showed her skills when she hit the court. She is a really good player, and has a much better attitude than her mama. Her team won 3rd place out of 8 teams, and could have won 1st had the better skilled players actually played. But I guess if they are happy placing 3rd then all power to them. For me, I am just proud of my girl for how she always gives her sports her 100%, playing hard, playing consistently skilled, and having a winning attitude. That's what really matters to me. Plus she is absolutely as cute as can be!

She's on the back left.

The benchwarmers.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Journey Journal ~ We Rocked It

I hope everyone had a great week! We really did. Do I dare say that I think we might be getting a small handle on our new schedule? Things went much more smoothly this week and felt a whole lot less scattered.

In geology this week Eli concentrated on the three types of rocks: igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic. We read all about them in our Geology text, and then he watched All About Rocks and Minerals, Bill Nye: Rocks and Minerals, and four episodes of Geology Kitchen.

We attend a small country Methodist church. The elderly ladies there all know that Eli has a love of geology so they bring him samples from their properties pretty regularly. Ms. Lois has taken a special interest in Eli. She brought him three rocks a couple of weeks ago that looked like they could be geodes. He wanted to keep one intact, but we studied all of them and then broke two open. There weren't any beautiful crystals, but one did have a sandy core. It was interesting!

We decided to make some of our own egg shell geodes using three different kinds of salt.

In geography Eli is still learning about the earliest maps. We made our own paprys paper using corn husks and he drew an aerial map of the furniture in his bedroom. In addition he learned about Strabo and Erathosthenes and how geometry was used to measure the distance around the earth. Those were some smart dudes.

His map drawing this week was of the Nile River. And then he traced a current map of the region that includes the Nile River.

As our roof was being torn off our house this week with lots of noise and dust, Eli came up to the library to do some of his schoolwork. I love looking out over my desk to see him working away. He's a good boy.

Although I am not planning to report much on our everyday subjects of math and language arts, I do have to brag on Eli. We have used Fix It Grammar by IEW for the past three years. It has been a slow but steady process for him in editing and diagramming sentences. But the past two weeks he has shown how much it has all started to click for him. He is really doing great, and I am so proud of him! (And Brynne reports to me from public school how so many kids in her 7th grade class still do not know how to identify basic parts of speech like adverbs and adjectives. She is appalled! This Fix It Grammar program has been excellent, and I love hearing confirmation that what we have been doing has worked!)

And in math Eli takes a live online pre-algebra class with Mr. D. He has become completely independent in his study of math, working with Mr. D. Other than helping him schedule out his work for the week, I do not have to do anything in this subject. He does all his own work and then grading, enters his grades in the online gradebook, takes his own quizzes, and logs into his own classes. I am just here to check up on him. It's great!

School life is good.

Thursday, August 31, 2017


August was ridiculously busy!

Annual week at the lake with Okie friends.

It's a highlight of our summer!

Bennett won Grand Champion Boy in a nearby fair baby contest.

Brynne celebrated her 12th birthday.

The kids and I took a trip to St. Louis to Mastadon State Historic Site
and the Saint Louis Zoo.

Bennett turned ONE!

I treated my nieces and Bennett to Build-a-Bears for their birthdays.

I finally got to start working at our local branch at the library. This was my first
display. I'm the morning librarian. I love it!

Brynne re-entered public school.

Benny had a fun first birthday party!

Rick took the kids to St. Louis to witness the Total Path of the Eclipse.

We started major renovations on our house, including an attic remodel
into a master suite and the ripping off of our roof to put on a new one.

Eli started his 8th grade year homeschooling.

Brynne ended the month (tonight) with a 102.5 degree fever.