Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Wednesday Hodgepodge

I got up to run this morning, stepped outside, and it was raining. So, I find myself with an extra 45 minutes. Let's do a Wednesday Hodgepodge!

Do your actions match your words? Explain.

I try. Lord, I try. But I know I fail. Lord, I know I fail. But I pray, Lord do I pray. I have a real issue with inauthentic people. I want to be authentic! I want to be authentic in my successes and my failures. I try really hard not to tell my kids to do one thing while I do another. I wish I could say that I am successful at this at all times, but I know I'm not.

Sick as a dog, dog tired, it's a dog's life, every dog has it's day, can't teach an old dog new tricks ... now doggone it which saying could most recently be applied to your life?

None of these really apply to me right now, but I would say dog tired would fit most. I'm not exhausted exactly. In fact, I actually feel more energized. But I am meeting myself coming and going lately. I have started working part time which has actually been more full time with training. Then I get home and try to get dinner fixed, try to do a few things around the house, try to spend some time with my kids and grandson. Add in working out, church activities, sports practices, a few small trips, Brynne getting ready to start school, homeschool planning for Eli, visits with family, and an upcoming house renovation, and you have a mentally dog tired mama. Starting today, though, I go to strictly part time at work in the mornings and Brynne starts her school schedule tomorrow. So things will start to level out.

Your favorite book featuring a dog in the storyline? What makes it a favorite?

I guess it would be Because of Winn Dixie. Such a sweet story and it was an adorable movie. I love when a dog can change the life of someone.

What's something you hope to one day have the confidence to do?

I would really like to train and compete the Katy Trail Ride. It is an organized 244 mile bike trail ride on the old Katy Trail Railroad. I really, really want to do it to prove to myself that I can. Plus, I think it would be a cathartic experience. And I think I would like to have the confidence to participate by myself, not knowing anyone. I would love to push my body physically, to have all of that time to just think. With working now I don't know that it is something I will be able to fit in, but I really hope that someday I get the opportunity to try.

August 16th is National Tell a Joke Day. So tell us a joke.

A lady was in the grocery store filling a large cart with her 3 year old daughter who was not happy and was throwing fits left and right. An elderly man just happened to be in most of the same aisles as her. Throughout the whole shopping trip the mom stayed extremely calm. In the cereal aisle he heard her say, "It's okay, Sally, we won't be in here much longer and then we can go home." In the bread aisle her heard her repeat, "It's okay, Sally, we won't be in here much longer and then we can go home." He heard her repeating that to her daughter throughout the store. When her daughter would throw another tantrum she would just calmly walk on and say in a soothing voice, "It's okay, Sally, we won't be in here much longer and then we can go home." In the checkout line the man ended up standing right behind the lady and her unruly daughter. He admired her so much and just felt like he needed to say something to her. He said, "Ma'am, I have been following you through the store and have noticed how patient you have been with sweet Sally as she is clearly tired and hungry and unhappy. Most parents would have snapped at their children, yelled at them even, but not you. You just kept calmly telling her, "It's okay, Sally, we won't be in here much longer and then we can go home." The lady looked at him and almost laughed. She said, "Oh! Her name's not Sally, her name is Jane! Sally is my name!!"

Insert your own random thought here.

We are getting ready to start the renovations on our house! I met with our contractor a couple of nights ago to get our ideas mapped out. We are going to look at materials tomorrow night. I have the roofer all lined up to get us a (very expensive but imperative) new roof. And then it's GO time! It's going to be a loud, dusty, chaotic next few months. But I cannot wait to live in my house with all of the new space. Happy 100 years, house!

Monday, August 7, 2017

When You're Only Dreaming

I am not too good at dreaming because this thing called reality always seems to be at the forefront. I am a realist. I just am. Period. That doesn't mean that I don't have dreams, though. In fact, I had a pretty big, deep-seeded dream to own a small hobby farm. I am one of those who might be able to be Amish, sans the hot skirts and lack of air conditioning in the summer. I'm not afraid of work, even hard work. Would I enjoy every second of it? No. I don't enjoy every second of the work I do here around my house, either. But I always do what needs to be done. There is something so idyllic about waking early with the sunrise, tending the small animals, working in the garden, preserving food, baking bread, providing meals for my family, and sitting on the porch in the evenings enjoying the sunset.

About a year ago we took the first step toward that dream. We purchased 17 acres about 2 miles outside of our small town. It was the perfect location and I could see our constructed farmhouse, barn, animals, and the like. We knew we would have a few years before we could start building, but the dreaming definitely started. I even started a Pinterest Board called Farm Living.

Around Easter we realized that going forward with this dream was not going to be a good move for us. We also decided that we were either going to have to put some significant money into our current home (a 1918 bungalow that we bought on a foreclosure 5 years ago for $30,000 and made some cosmetic changes to make it home) or we needed to sell it and buy something a little sturdier and more functional.

So, we put our house on the market and actually found a farmhouse in town, just a block away from our current home, with 2000 square feet for $90,000. We put in an offer and started showing our house.

But as time went by, and with each showing, I started to become more and more sad about the thought of leaving this house. I started to realize that the farmhouse life, even one technically in town, was not for me. Even the farmhouse decorating started to get on my nerves. And the thought started to occur to me that if we were going to pay an additional $60,000 for a different house, that the same amount of money (probably much less) could go into our current home to make it all that we want.

Strangely, the kids confirmed that they did not want to move, either, even though they were going to get bigger bedrooms, their own bathroom, and an upstairs.

So we discussed the renovations we would like to make to this house, started collecting bids for the work, backed out of our contract, and took our home off the market with plans to stay here forever. We are going to replace the roof, tear down our garage, erect an 8 foot privacy fence, put in new central air and heat, buy a nice shed, gut and completely remodel our one bathroom, turn our attic into a 450 square foot master suite with sitting area, add a bathroom in the upstairs suite, move Brynne into our current master bedroom, and do a couple of small updates to our kitchen.

In the meantime, during all of these topsy turvy decisions, two of my friends who have taken on the hobby farm life have expressed to me how much time and money (more than they ever thought) it has taken to make their dreams a reality. I started to realize that my reality is that I was only dreaming when it came to this whole farm life thing.

I want a more simple life as I age, not to add anything else to my plate.

I do not want to take care of even one. more. thing.

I have carved out a peaceful life doing exactly what makes me happy. Why would I change that?

The kids are happy. Why do I want to disrupt them?

We can have everything we want right where we are. I can even get some chickens someday if I desire.

In our society we continually want more and different. I do not want to do that anymore. I want to be settled and comfortable and live a quiet life. Ever since the final decisions have been made, I have been at total peace.

Sometimes we have to move toward what we want to realize we don't really want it after all.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

8th Grade Curriculum - 2017/2018

We are just a couple of weeks away from starting back to full-time school. We have enjoyed a more relaxed school schedule this summer, concentrating on math and reading. But it's about time to jump back into our other subjects.

At the last minute I completely changed what we are going to be studying for social studies/history. I had planned for us to tackle the ancients, but Eli has had a recent interest in cartography. Since he is my only student at home this year, I decided to listen to where his interests are taking him and changed things up to a study of geography and cartography. Plus, I think a year of this will actually make the ancients come more alive the following year.

Eli will be in the 8th grade this year, and he will study the following:


This summer Eli attended and completed a Pre-Algebra Readiness course with Mr. D's Math. In my opinion, Mr. D is the Holy Grail of math and worth every penny. Any math course that leaves my son with dimples showing at the end of a quiz is the one for me. Eli is enrolled in Pre-Algebra for this school year.


Eli and I are both going to participate in his writing program this year and have decided to each make a magazine using Cover Story. I believe his topic is going to be dinosaurs. I am thinking mine may be simple living. It's going to be a fun course!


Every day Eli reads out of a book of his choice for 30 minutes to an hour. He is currently reading the books in the Halo series. I really do not care what he reads as long as he is reading.


We will continue with Fix-It Grammar by IEW. It has been an excellent fit for us, and this will be our third year and volume of this curriculum. It will have Eli very well prepared to take the Structure and Style and Student Writing Intensive B course next year.


Every morning we start our school day by reading a selection out of McGuffey's Eclectic Readers. We will be reading out of the Fifth volume this year.


Eli has expressed an interest in Archaeology. So, we will backtrack a bit and start our science year studying Geology. We will be relying on the Geology Unit Study by Cindy Downes using The Geology Book by Dr. John D. Morris as our spine, along with additional activities from Geology (Thematic Unit). We will also be reading Brighty of the Grand Canyon by Marguerite Henry and watching videos from Geology Kitchen and Earth Revealed.


The spine of our Geography lessons will be Mapping the World with Art by Ellen McHenry. Eli will study the history of maps, will draw maps, and then will do other fun activities from that text. Additionally, he will be tracing maps using Scholastic's Super Book of Outline Maps. We will also move through Charting the World: Geography and Maps from Cave Paintings to GPS with 21 Activities (we used a volume of this book in our WWII studies and it was excellent).


Read alouds are still a very important part of our day. We will start by reading several books with a geography spin, including:
The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet by Reif Larsen
Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
The Wanderer by Sharon Creech
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson


Eli will continue to bowl in his weekly league, will attend speech therapy once a week, and we have plans to join a once-a-month geology club. Here and there we will study other topics, things like the upcoming Solar Eclipse and Perseid Meteor Shower. Later in the year we will pick back up with some enjoyable studies launching off the television shows Timeless (American History) and The Zoo from Animal Planet (animal science). Who knows what else will grab our attention.

This will be a very exciting year for us as it is down to just Eli and me. Brynne will have her own adventures in public school. To everything ... turn, turn, turn ... there is a season ... turn, turn, turn ...

Monday, July 31, 2017


Wow. I can't believe it's the last day of July and, really, the end of summer. This week the kids and I will spend our annual lake week with our friends from Oklahoma to swim, play games, do some fun activities, and plan for our upcoming homeschool year. It will be strange only planning for one student as Brynne is just days away from re-entering public school.

We had a busy month with lots of little trips and some significant changes for our family. Here's a recap ...

Kyndal and I started the month with a less-than-24-hour-trip to Las Vegas to see our beloved Backstreet Boys in concert. It was amazing, as usual, and despite the utter exhaustion we had a great time together!

We had a fun 4th of July holiday with all of the kids at Farrington Park.

Brynne won 2nd place in the egg race.

Eli won 3rd place in the softball throw.

And Kyndal and Dawson ended up wet in the water balloon toss. Well, Kyndal ended up wet.

Collin's birthday is on the 4th of July so we celebrated him, as well.

Our family was forever changed when we attended our first ever annual conference with the National Stuttering Association. I have never seen Eli so happy in his life, and we have made a decision as a family to make this annual trip a priority. We had a great time in Dallas, met so many new friends, and will be attending in Chicago next year.

Dawson and Alyssa made the move to Dallas so that Alyssa can start school soon. They had a fun going away party at her parents' house, and we made the trip back to Owasso to celebrate with them.

There was lots of pool time.

And the next day we sent them off with lunch and some video game style laser tag.

I reached a milestone this month by running 5 straight miles without stopping to walk. I am training for a 10K in September, so this was an important run for me.

I also made the decision to take a part-time job as a circulation clerk at our local library. I will be working in the mornings (while Eli does independent work) and then homeschooling Eli and caring for Bennett in the afternoons. This will be the first time I have worked consistently outside the home in 15 years, so it is quite an adjustment. I trained last week and, so far, am absolutely loving my job! I was born to be a librarian. Age 45 is not too old to figure out what you want to be when you grow up.

Brynne attended volleyball camp at UCM, this year adding in a one-night resident camp.

Bennett had a big month as he started walking. He still prefers to crawl, because he can do that at lightening speed, but walking is now an option. He has also started saying some words ... ball, mama, more (when he wants a drink or food). He ended our month with a bang by winning first place in his division at a local fair's baby contest.

Here are all the proud grandmas!!

Then he turned around and just went ahead and won Grand Champion boy. He is one adorable dude!

Our month was just absolutely jam-packed! It was exhausting but lots of memories were made. August will have tons of highlights, too. But first, lake week ...

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Wednesday Hodgepodge

Growing up, were you close to your grandparents? Tell us one or two specific things you remember about them.

I was close to my maternal grandmother, Grandma Alice. My paternal grandparents were pretty indifferent as to spending time with us. My memories of my Grandma Alice are fond. We spent the night at her house most every Saturday night. We watched Love Boat and Fantasy Island. We played Double Solitaire. She took us to Sunday school the next morning. Another very fond memory is eating fried chicken dinners at her house. We would all cram around her kitchen table in the kitchen while she served us and then she ate her dinner standing at the counter. She would never sit with us.

What's an item you were attached to as a child? What happened to it?

I had a blankie that I still have today. In fact, I use it to cover Bennett when he is taking a nap at my house.

When you look out your window, do you see the forest or the trees (literally and figuratively)? Explain.

Outside my window are big, beautiful oak and elm trees. They shade our entire house. Overall I would say that figuratively I am a forest girl. I can generally see the big picture and not get hung up on the details to get there. I try not to lose sight of the end goal.

Do you like sour candies? Which of the 'sour' foods listed would you say is your favorite? grapefruit, Greek yogurt, tart cherries, lemons, limes, sauerkraut, buttermilk, or kumquats. Have you ever eaten a kumquat? What's your favorite dish containing one of the sour foods on the list.

I do like sour candies, my favorite being the large chewy sweet tarts. My favorite sour food to eat is Greek yogurt. But, I love the scent of all things citrus, so lemons rank way up there. I have never eaten a kumquat. My favorite dish with one of the items is lemon bars. Yum!

July 1st marked the mid point of 2017. In fifteen words or less, tell us how it's going so far.

It is not what I expected, but I am excited for the new direction.

Insert your own random thought here.

School starts in a month. We have been so crazy busy this summer that I don't feel like we have had any chance to relax! We haven't been to the pool once! Brynne is finishing up the last of her sports camps this week, and I would think that would mean it was time to slow down. But we have our yearly lake trip scheduled for the first week of August and then a little overnight birthday trip for Brynne to St. Louis the next week. And then school starts! I really need to work on a calmer summer next year. I haven't even had much time to read.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Wednesday Hodgepodge

I am literally sitting here at the dining room table in a dazed stupor after the busy couple of weeks we have had. I should have never sat down. So, I figured this was a great time to participate in this week's Wednesday Hodgepodge!

When was the last time you chatted with a neighbor? About what? (sharing that last bit is optional)

Oh my. My neighborhood. We live in a colorful one. I do not actually talk with very many of my neighbors unless it's to discuss the latest visit from the sheriff at the house down the street. On the 4th of July, though, while at the town's park festivities, I did talk with a sweet neighbor who lost her husband suddenly almost two years ago. She and her husband own the funeral home and are just wonderful people. She was widowed at too young an age with two teenage daughters and a young son. We discussed how she was doing, how she is coping with running the funeral home alone, how her oldest daughter has moved into the house across the street from us to help her run the business, and how she is handling solo parenting a precocious boy who misses his daddy.

River, lake, ocean, or waterfall ... which one are you most like and why?

Hmmmm .. I guess I would say a river. I just move along at a slow and winding pace, if not physically then mentally and emotionally. I took an online quiz that said I am a Lake. I am an independent thinker who enjoys their own company but am extremely welcoming when the time comes to open my home and surroundings to the people I care most about. I typically prefer to mind my own business and let others live their own lives in the way I wish to been control of my own. That's pretty accurate, actually.

July 13 is National Delaware Day. Ever been to Delaware? Delaware is called 'the first state' because it was the first to declare independence from the British. What's your state's nickname and does that moniker make sense to you? If you were in charge, what nickname would you give your state?

I have not ever been to Delaware. Missouri is the Show Me State. It comes from a speech given by William Duncan Vandiver in 1899. He said, "I come from a state that raises corn and cotton and cockleburs and Democrats, and frothy eloquence neither convinces nor satisfies me. I am from Missouri. You have got to show me." The phrase is now used to describe the character of Missourians as being not gullible, but conservative and unwilling to believe without adequate evidence. Yeah, I don't know about all that. We are a pretty faith-filled state and seem to be strongly Republican these days. I feel like at least in this part of Missouri we trust in the sovereignty of God for the most part. But that's only speaking for myself. I would call us the Pioneer State because that gets to the root of who we are.

What dish did you contribute to the last pot luck meal you attended? Do you have a go-to recipes for pot luck suppers?

I usually make "party potatoes" which are basically instant mashed potatoes cooked with lots of butter, sour cream, and cream cheese and then baked. The last potluck I went to was on a day I played cards with some ladies and I brought a sweet potato cornbread.

What is your number one tip for a brand new parent?

No matter how tempted, or scared you are, put that baby in his or her bedroom the first night and keep him or her there. Do not sleep with the baby! Allow yourself to get some sleep without jumping up every time you hear the baby wiggle, grunt, toot or whimper. If he or she needs you, you will know it!

Insert your own random thought here.

This past week our family attended the National Stuttering Association annual conference in Dallas for the first time. I have so much I want to share but haven't been able to assimilate it all yet. All I do know is that Eli met others who stutter for the first time in his 13 years. He and Brynne attended teen workshops for three days, learned an invaluable amount of information, and made some life-long friends. Rick and I did the same. I have never seen Eli so happy in my life. What he took away from the conference is that his goal is not fluency but to be an effective speaker. In other words, he is allowed to be okay with being a person who stutters and to concentrate on just being the person he really is inside. In his words, he was so happy because he was with his "people". We have made a decision to attend the annual conference every year from now one. It was that life-changing. Next year: Chicago!

Friday, June 30, 2017


The month of June was an insanely busy month for us. It's mostly Brynne's fault. Eli and I are content to just sit at home doing our thing. But that Brynne just has to be busy, so we let her drag us all around.

Here is a summary of our month:

My heart almost broke dropping her off the first day.

Brynne attended summer school this month. She studied math, English, genetics, and newspaper, and then took some elective courses including cooking, survival camp, and the building of a ground drone. The students took pre- and post-tests in math and English, and Brynne scored the highest in math of anyone in her class. If you are a homeschool mom I am sure you can relate to my feeling of relief not only that she did well but that apparently I have been an adequate enough teacher for her over the past 7 years. Really I am just so incredibly proud of her and am excited to see how she does in public school. I think she's going to knock their socks off.

I coached Brynne's softball team this year. We did not have a successful season in numbers ending with a 2-9 record, but we had several close games, learned a lot, and had fun, I hope. I have decided that being a coach is not my calling so I have demoted myself back down to dugout mom and secretary for next year and am going to let this year's assistant coach take over. (In all honesty, I only agreed to coach this year because there wasn't anybody else to do it. Motivating mom, I am. Technical coach, I am not.) The team sure was cute, though! And, Brynne really blossomed this year in softball! She found that she is an excellent 3rd baseman, moving there from 2nd base. And she was without a doubt our most consistent hitter, hitting the ball at almost every single at bat this year. She rocked!

I am the slowest runner .. but I actually beat a few people!

The first Saturday in June I went to visit my blogging-turned-in-real-life friend, Jodi, who used to live in West Virginia but now only lives two hours away from me. We had such a nice time just talking, eating, drinking wine, and antique shopping. She also supported me in a 5k for Pathways Community Health as we have one of their facilities in our town. I beat my personal record by about a minute.

Brynne participated in two volleyball camps and a basketball camp at University of Central Missouri. She always walks away from those camps a better player.

While Brynne was at summer school and various camps, Eli was staying up late and sleeping till lunchtime. In the afternoons he did some schoolwork. We have continued on with our daily Fix It Grammar lessons, he has read every day from 30 minutes to 1 hour, and he started a new online math class with Mr. D. Can I just say THANK YOU LORD FOR MR. D!!! Eli has only been participating for two weeks but he has actually been smiling when he finishes his lessons each day! He said that Mr. D is the ticket for math. Thank goodness! Eli has also been going to speech therapy, and next week our family is traveling to Dallas to attend the National Stuttering Association national conference for the first time. He is really excited about that!

On Friday nights we are participating in a family bowling league. It's fun to play 9 pin and win a little money. The kids are really enjoying it!

We have had some visits from Dawson and Alyssa. They are moving to Dallas starting this weekend so seeing them has been good for our souls.

Older brothers rock.

Finally, Brynne celebrated her birthday a little early with a swimming party and sleepover at Kyndal's. One of her friends is moving away this summer, so she wanted to have her party before she moves. The girls had a great time swimming, playing washers and dodgeball, and making tie dye shirts. Twelve year old girls are fun!

And that was our month! Brynne is done with summer school and softball now, but that doesn't mean our July looks any less busy.