Saturday, December 10, 2016

Weekly Wrap-up ~ December School

We are still moving along. I always love this time of year with schooling because it is spent finishing up some units or volumes of curriculum, finishing some good books, throwing in some holiday activities (and calling them "school" because, hey, the public schools do it!), and going on some field trips.

When we conclude our first semester we will feel accomplished and completely free to enjoy an extended break. Or, at least, that's how I will feel. The kids will just feel FREE!

This week's Advent activities included decorating gingerbread houses, making food garlands for our birds, studying St. Nicholas and having a St. Nicholas Day Feast, making homemade Christmas cards using a tutorial from Hodgepodge Mom, watching A Christmas Story (my kids had never seen it), and playing games as a family.

Yesterday we went on a field trip to Lexington, Missouri. In Missouri history we had been studying the Civil War. There were two major Civil War battles in Missouri: Wilson Creek near Springfield, Missouri, and the Battle of Lexington.

The University of Missouri Extension Center worked with the City of Lexington to create an audio and walking tour of the city and to trace the Battle of Lexington. This was a really neat way to go on a field trip! We were able to download the tours on our phone, listen to them in the car, and follow the map to learn about all of the historic places and events. That's good because it was about 20 degrees outside. The audio tour would give you directions to a particular place, have you stop your car, and then give you all of the information about the buildings in that area and the events that occurred. There was even some voice acting from different historical figures.

In the 1860's, Missouri was a Confederate-sympathizing state as it did have slavery. However, the government decided that it would not be wise to secede from the Union. We were in a precarious geographical location. The Confederates decided that if they took major cities on the Missouri River that they could force them to secede. Thus, the Battle of Lexington ensued. It was a bloody, three-day battle that ended with the Union soldiers surrendering to the South. The South succeeded in its attack by stealing hemp bales, soaking them in the Missouri River, and using them as rolling shields in approaching the Union soldiers. This battle is also referred to as the Battle of the Hemp Bales.

The field of the Battle.

Confederate General Sterling Price had his headquarters in downtown Lexington across from the county courthouse. A cannonball, theorized to be directed at Price Headquarters, missed and hit the courthouse. That cannonball is still in the courthouse today.

There are five unidentified Union soldiers who were uncovered in the 1930s. They were re-buried near the field of the Battle of Lexington.

This cabin was found under siding of a home that was going to be demolished. It dates back to the Civil War era. It was relocated and is now a personal residence.

One last neat artifact we saw was a cannon from Old Ironsides, the USS Constitution, that is located in Masonic College Park which was the headquarters of Union Colonel James Mulligan.

At the park is also a marker which shows where Col. Mulligan had his tent, under which was buried over $900,000.

This was a neat field trip. It is so interesting to really look into the different historical events that have occurred in our state. Our Missouri history studies have probably been our favorite subject this year.

2016-2017 School Hours Logged: 444 hours, including 78 hours outside home. Plus Summer Hours Logged: 141.5 hours, including 54 hours outside home.

(Technically, we are done with our required hours for this first half of the year. But, since we are taking an extended Christmas break into the first week of February, we are going to keep on for another two weeks to get ahead.)

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Wednesday Hodgepodge

Let's talk holiday decorating. On a scale of 1-10 where do you fall? (1=Scrooge and 10=Clark Griswold). What's your favorite corner-room-table-space to decorate? is it done?

I have always said that if it weren't for having children, I probably wouldn't decorate for Christmas. It's just busywork that I do not enjoy. For years I overdid it and was in a bad mood the whole time I was decorating and putting away. Even last year when I simplified down to a just a tree and stockings, I was still grumpy. I figured out this year that my grumpiness was because we had a real tree. It's a mess and gets so dry and brittle and I just don't enjoy it. So this year I bought a $20 artificial tree and stuffed it full of our decorations. I put a berry sprig on the fireplace mantle with our stockings. And I made a small advent corner. And that was it. And it felt good. I am enjoying the simplicity. So, to answer the questions, I would have to give myself a 2.

Is there a nativity scene in your decorating somewhere? Post a picture or, if it's special to you in some way, tell us why. Or do both ... it's Christmas!

I used to have over 30 nativity sets, but our small house has little space to display them. I got rid of all but one nativity, and it's just a small one. It's pretty white porcelain. Again, simple.

Do you live in a social neighborhood? If so are you glad? If not do you wish you did?

Our neighborhood. Wow. The definition of social in this question is not the social I am going to describe. Our house sits smack dab in the middle of the most awful neighborhood. Across the street from us are duplexes that the sheriff visits several times a day. Behind us are many questionable family situations with lots of outside activity that we would prefer not to witness. Some entire family smackdowns tend to happen right out our window. It's a social neighborhood, alright. We just choose not to participate. We have purchased 17 acres 2 miles outside of town and will be building a farmhouse in the next couple of years. I cannot wait to be in complete solitude.

As the saying goes, 'there's no time like the present'. How does that ring true in your life right now?

My kids are growing up so fast. One is married with a baby. Another one is less than a year away from leaving home. One is becoming a teenager in just a couple of weeks. And the last one is leaving our homeschool to enter public school next fall. Life is so short. I look back on my 45 years of life and tend to focus on the regrets and lost opportunities. But 'there's no time like the present' to live in the present and enjoy it.

Do you dread Mondays? Why or why not?

I am one of those weirdos who loves Mondays. It's the day when routines go back into play and things feel normal. I have never been one to really enjoy the weekends.

Poinsettia, Christmas Cactus, Amaryllis ... which on the list is your favorite holiday plant? Are any of these on display in your home right now?

I love the simplicity of a poinsettia, and I purchased one for 98 cents from Lowe's last week. It's so pretty sitting on my fireplace mantle.

Share a favorite quote from a Christmas movie.

We are an over-the-top Christmas Vacation movie family. We can't just watch it at Christmas. We usually have 'Christmas in July' where I make a full Christmas turkey dinner and we watch the movie as a family. We quote it all. year. long. Even our little kids quote it. This has to be our favorite:
Todd: Hey Griswold, Where do you think you're gonna put a tree that big?
Clark: Bend over and I'll show ya.
Todd: You've got a lot of nerve talking to me like that Griswold.
Clark: I wasn't talking to you. (referring to Todd's wife, instead)
Anytime anybody in our family asks someone else where something is, the response is "Bend over and I"ll show ya!"
We also say, too often: Don't throw me down, Clark! or Is there anything else I can do for you, Uncle Lewis? or Why is the carpet wet, Todd? I don't know, Margo! or Don't piss me off, Art!
Really, I could go on and on and on.

Insert your own random thought here.

The kids and I have been enjoying our Advent studies and activities so far this season. Each day we tear a link off our chain to tell us our Advent activity of the day. We have made food garlands for our birds, decorated gingerbread houses, packed and mailed shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child and more. Last night we celebrated St. Nicholas Day with a feast. Each day we read a passage of scripture and add an ornament to our Jesse Tree. It's been a peaceful and meaningful Advent season so far.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Tuesday Coffee Chat

Today I am guzzling coffee during Coffee Chat time. You know how most people suffer from Hump Day on Wednesdays? For me, it's Tuesdays. I think I feel rested up and inspired over the weekend and then overachieve on Mondays. Then Tuesday mornings hit and I am a zombie. And as I sit here on the couch with a blanket on my lap and two doggies snuggled up close, I know that in about an hour I am going out to run and it's dark, cloudy, windy and a cold 35 degrees that feels like 25 with the wind.

But for now ... Time to share that favorite holiday recipe.

Do you have your Christmas menu prepared? We do traditional turkey and fixins on Thanksgiving, so I always want to do something different on Christmas. I always start the morning with biscuits and gravy and cinnamon rolls for my family and my parents. Then in the afternoon I prepare a large dinner for anybody who can be here, including extended family.

This year's menu consists of:

Rosemary and Garlic Roasted Pork Loin
Party Potatoes
Green Bean Casserole
Stuffed Mushrooms
Bacon-wrapped Jalapeno Poppers
Homemade Macaroni and Cheese
Apple Salad
Homemade Cranberry Sauce
Sweet Potato Cornbread
Pumpkin Spice Cake Roll
Pecan Pie Bars

One of the favorites out of that menu is Stuffed Mushrooms. I adapted a recipe from the Pioneer Woman a few years ago and the men of my family love it when I make these. They go quick!

This menu is one of the reasons why I will soon be braving the cold for my run. 

Friday, December 2, 2016

Weekly Wrap-up ~ Tis the Season

We had such a great Thanksgiving break, and it was well-deserved. The kids have worked so hard this school year! I have been so proud of them. We are only a couple of days away from hitting our 100th day of school for the year. We are putting in four more solid weeks and then are taking an extra long Christmas break.

The next four weeks will be much of the usual: grammar, literature, personal reading, pre-algebra, astronomy, Greek mythology, Missouri history. Eli will continue to have speech therapy and will be bowling in youth league once a week. Brynne will continue to have basketball practice and games four days a week. We will continue to host our weekly enrichment class where the boys will get in some geography studies with "Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego?" and the girls will do some holiday creative writing and art.

We have a lot of work to do and need to stay focused. But, we are definitely going to have a more relaxed attitude during these last weeks of 2016.

We have taken away a couple of our daily subjects so that we can add something even more important. And that's a focus on the Christmas season, Jesus, and family.

I purchased an ebook called Joy to the World by Kathleen M. Bassi. It is a very simple approach to Advent combining daily Advent activities, an Advent wreath and its significance, and the Jesse tree.

I have done Advent activities with the kids in years past, but as they have gotten older it has felt a little silly and forced. They didn't really get into it, so I'd just give up. Plus we would end our first school semester early in December, and we'd be out of our routine so it would just get pushed to the back burner. This year we are continuing with our semester until just before Christmas. And, Joy to the World gave me a plan to follow with a good balance that will fit all of our personalities.

We made an Advent chain to help us countdown to Christmas Day. We brainstormed and came up with an activity to put on each slip of paper. Here is what we have planned:

December 1: Make our Advent chain with activities
December 2: Color Jesse tree ornaments
December 3: Go shopping for Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes and mail to headquarters
December 4: Decorate gingerbread houses
December 5: Make bird food garlands
December 6: Read about and study St. Nicholas (maybe a little gift left in the kids' shoes that night?)
December 7: Make homemade Christmas cards
December 8: Watch "A Christmas Story"
December 9: Family game night
December 10: Drive through Christmas in the Park
December 11: Watch "A Charlie Brown Christmas"
December 12: Read about and study Our Lady of Guadalupe
December 13: Read about and study St. Lucy and make cinnamon rolls
December 14: Make gingerbread men
December 15: Attend Junior High/Senior High Christmas choir and band concert
December 16: Make homemade Christmas cookies
December 17: Host an ornament painting party for friends
December 18: Attend church service
December 19: Make homemade dog treats
December 20: Make Christmas tree dinner favors for nursing home residents
December 21: Watch "Polar Express" and drink homemade hot cocoa
December 22: Wrap gifts and CELEBRATE Eli's 13th birthday! To the movies and dinner out!
December 23: Watch "How the Grinch Stole Christmas"
December 24: Celebrate with family
December 25: Celebrate with family. Christ is born!

I made a simple boxwood wreath encircling our candles, and placed them with a "Peace" sign and our Nativity. Each day at lunch we will say the weekly prayer and light our candle. It will help to settle us and focus us for the last half of our busy school day.

Before bed each night we will read about one of Jesus' ancestors and add the corresponding ornament to our washi tape Jesse tree that is on the back of our front door so that we can see it in our main living area every day.

We are really hopeful that we will have a meaningful holiday season that will continue to draw us closer together as a family.

2016-2017 School Hours Logged: 412.25 hours, including 69.5 hours outside home. Plus Summer Hours Logged: 141.5 hours, including 54 hours outside home.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Wednesday Hodgepodge

Give us three rhyming words that say something about your Thanksgiving holiday (or your most recent holiday gathering if you didn't celebrate Thanksgiving).

Squabble, gobble, wobble. What's a holiday without a little family disagreement? But it was all good and we enjoyed our Thanksgiving weekend together. My older kids had the funny idea to put two lemon halves under the skin of the turkey breast to make a "female" turkey ... *ahem*! It was so disturbing, but very funny. But it made the turkey really sour. We won't do it again, but it garnered some laughs. And, of course, after eating until we could burst, we definitely wobbled for a couple of days. I think I am still wobbling.

When did you last say, 'the more the merrier'? Did you mean it?

I don't remember the exact time I last said it, but I do say it pretty often (or something with the same meaning). I don't always really mean it deep down, but I try to be all-inclusive so if someone asks if someone else can come along, I always say "sure." And it usually turns out to be a really fun time with all of those extras.

What's one piece of advice you'd give someone who is your same age?

Exercise, moisturize, reenergize. (This was easier than coming up with three rhyming words in the first question.)

You're ordering a veggie plate, what four veggies are on it?

Cherry tomatoes, green pepper slices, cucumbers, and carrots.

Shop til you drop! Did you? Have you ever? Will you between now and Christmas?

Oh my, did we! And we do it every year. We are some of those sickos that go to Walmart on Thanksgiving night (but this year it started at six and we had already paid and were out the door by 6:15). We left our house at 6:30 a.m. on Friday morning to Black Friday shop and got home at 7:30 p.m. Then on Saturday Rick and I went to The Plaza in Kansas City to take my computer to the Apple Store for repair and walked out with a new laptop. Then we stopped at The North Face before going to dinner. I have online shopped like a crazy woman. And now I am done shopping! My mom, sister, daughter, and I will go shopping on Christmas Eve morning after breakfast together just to pick up any last-minute bargains. Yeah, we are shoppers.

What's your favorite chair in your house, and why is it a favorite?

Well, I love to sit in my striped chair in my living room that was a garage sale find for $35. It's super comfy. I usually sit in this chair to teach. But my favorite chair is my antique rocker that was my grandma's. There is something special about rocking my grandson in that chair.

Share an early memory of faith, religion, or spirituality.

Speaking of my grandma, I have such vivid memories of looking down the hall early on Sunday morning after we had spent the night with her on Saturday night to see her sitting at her kitchen table with her coffee preparing her Sunday school lesson to teach to her adult class. My grandma's faith and church devotion always made me feel closer to God.

Insert your own random thought here.

Around all of the shopping, our family did gather together for a nice meal on Thanksgiving Day. It was an extra special one for us as it was our first with our grandson, Bennett.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Tuesday Coffee Chat

On November 8, my last Tuesday Coffee Chat post, I talked about some of my plans for doing something for myself. That was the challenge.

I rambled a lot in my post because I had been feeling very blah/lost/apathetic/etc. I just hadn't felt myself for quite some time.

My goal was to read a chapter a day out of A Woman After God's Own Heart by Elizabeth George and allow God to be infused more into my daily activities. So, how did I do?

I did not read a chapter a day. But, I did start reading it and have been reading it slowly and absorbing it into my life. It's a good book with lots of insight. Throughout my reading I realized some other things I need ...

* I need to lighten up about relationships and just allow them to be what they are, to allow people to have the flaws that they have and worry more about my own flaws than theirs.

* I need to start my day with God so have been enjoying a daily devotional sent right to my phone via Joyce Meyer's app. It starts my day off right.

* I need to get back out on the pavement and run. Running helps me clear my head and makes my body feel so much better.

* I need to keep things simple. So my Christmas decorating this year consisted of buying a small $20 artificial tree to decorate and only putting out stockings and few other things. I love the glow of the Christmas lights and a little greenery, but I don't like clutter so this fits my need for order. I actually wasn't angry the entire time I was decorating this year. That's new for me so this simple thing must be a key to my peace.

* I am reading for pleasure every day and taking some time to binge watch some television series (really from Netflix and Amazon) in my quiet time.

* I am doing most of this by getting up earlier in the morning and starting my day before the rest of the family. It really does make a difference for me even though I would love to sleep in a little later.

* I have started taking a supplement called Vitex (chasteberry) in hopes that it will help regulate my hormones. I think that my hormone imbalances may be a big part in the feelings I have been experiencing these past several months. I am trying everything I can to keep from taking synthetic hormones, so am hopeful this will help some.

The holidays can be a very exhausting time for an introvert. Taking care of myself may seem selfish to others but it really is a necessity. Doing the things I have mentioned in this post really make me feel more refreshed and ready to tackle the busyness of this season. I am looking forward to spending time with my family enjoying the holidays.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Weekly Wrap-up ~ Math Woes are the Way it Goes

Santa came early and I got a new laptop! Yay! Now I can actually start blogging again without saying lots of bad words and considering throwing my computer through the window! It's been a grueling several months babying along my old Mac, and my new MacBook Air is amazing! I don't have any photos on this new computer yet, and I am NOT going to rev up the old one to send myself some photos. So this will, hopefully, be the last photo-less blog post.

I mentioned in a previous post that we are ahead of schedule this year with our hours. That feels great! So we didn't stress when we took a full week off for Thanksgiving break and previously had to take almost a full week off school for sickness.

In most subjects we have been moving along steadily completely a lesson each week. We have been doing lots of reading, researching historical events alongside the show Timeless, enjoying astronomy and Greek Mythology, and learning more and more about Missouri's history.

Pre-Algebra had us at a standstill for a few weeks. But, one of my favorite things about homeschooling is our ability to continue working on a concept until we have it mastered. We have been camped out in math with adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing integers while using order of operations. There are a lot of concrete rules that have all piled up on each other, but it is absolutely necessary that we have these rules memorized before we can move forward in pre-algebra. The kids were both a little discouraged, but I assured them that we could continue working on problems until they were confident that they had the concepts mastered. At the end of the week before Thanksgiving break, I think they finally had it under control. We are going to do one more day of practice problems today to make sure and then will move on.

Election week was an interesting week! And we took advantage of it! We have followed it closely watching debates, discussing the electoral college, scrounging through the media reports. Election night I really hadn't planned on watching the results, but once we got started we couldn't stop. We put in about 6 hours of schooling that night waiting to see what would happen. As a family we held out until the final announcement that Donald Trump was our president-elect and that Hillary Clinton had conceded.

Our Missouri History studies that week had us learning about the artist George Caleb Bingham. We studied several of his paintings, particularly one called "The County Election". We completed a great art study that allowed us to discuss the differences between elections from the past and current elections. We had hours of interaction on these topics. I was so impressed with the insight the kids had with the art and the electoral process. It was a fun lesson.

The kids have also had their enrichment class with their friends each week. Eli and his friend are enjoying watching an episode of "Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego" and noting facts about locations visited. Brynne and her friend have been doing some seasonal creative writing and art.

Brynne is also now into the full swing of basketball, and Eli has started his youth bowling league. Brynne opted out of bowling this year. Eli is also still attending speech therapy each week.

In other words, we are busy all the time. We are planning four more solid weeks of school work and then are going to take a super long Christmas break this year from December 23rd until the first Monday in February! That will be so nice, especially since I am taking a week-long trip to Hawaii to visit a friend at the end of January.

2016-2017 School Hours Logged: 378.75 hours, including 63.5 hours outside home. Plus Summer Hours Logged: 141.5 hours, including 54 hours outside home.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Tuesday Coffee Chat

For the month of November, Leslie at Tuesday Coffee Chat is asking us to choose something we want/need to do for ourselves and to concentrate on that for the whole month. Then we can check in each Tuesday for a progress report.

This election has got me, like most people, feeling a little discombobulated. I feel all out of sorts. Where are we headed? What are we doing? What will become of us? I have a sinking feeling that if there was ever a time to get close to God and get right with Him it would be now. Now is the time. I think we are going to need Him. I know that I need Him, but I think I am going to need him more and more as time goes on. What is it going to take for Him to get our attention?

He's got my attention.

I want to be so close to God that I have an unshakable faith in Him and all He allows to happen in my life. I want to be the recipient of His blessings, but also His protection.

I cannot change the world. I cannot change any other one person. But I can work at change in myself, especially that change that I know I need to make.

I have talked recently about my apathy, lack of confidence, frustration and anger. I have burrowed myself away in my home shutting everything and everybody out. It's my safe place. It's where I want to be. I look at the first half of my life and, in many ways, worry that it has not counted for much. Then I panic and feel like I don't have that much time left to make things right.

I recognize how God and I are 'hit or miss' in our time together which leaves me flailing around and 'hit or miss' in how I feel about people and situations and myself.

I find myself wanting to do this or that and change this or that, but then realize I don't really have the energy for it. I think that is because I am not involving God in my decisions so I am trying to do it all in my own strength. And that wears me out. Heck, I am not even asking God his opinion about what I should not be doing.

Take care of myself. That's been my answer.

I just feel like God wants more from me. He wants more for me. He needs me as much as I need Him.

This is a rambling post, huh? I haven't really given an answer to the question. So I guess that's where my updates will find me ... figuring it out as I go along.

But I do know for sure, God is the key.

*** I wrote this post last night as I was going to bed. This morning I picked up a book off my bookshelf that I have owned for years. I have read a little of it, but never the whole thing. I was wondering last night how I really felt about my post and my feelings and what I would do about any of it. The first chapter was about making your life count for God. The gist of the prologue and first chapter was that it is all about discipline. I decide to acknowledge God and he then provides me with answers and guidance. I have an obligation to him and He has an obligation to me. I am not alone.

So, for this first week of November, I will begin reading a chapter each morning out of A Woman After God's Own Heart by Elizabeth George.

I look forward to seeing where this takes me.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Whoa, Nellie ~ The Election

Do you know who hasn't made an appearance on the blog in a while? ... my opinionated, possibly evil twin sister, Nellie. And she has some things to say. I have to warn you: Nellie does not have a filter, and she's been quiet for too long, so gird your loins.

I saw someone post their early voter sticker on their IG account today with the caption that they "threw up in their mouth a little" when they voted. That made me mad. Grow up, people! We have four candidates in the presidential election. Do your research, pray, and then vote, unabashedly. If it drives you to the point of vomiting, then sit this one out. And then don't bitch and moan when things happen that you don't like.

I am a Trump supporter. There. I said it. I am not choosing the least of two evils. I am not vomiting on my way to the polling place. I have researched these two candidates and what they can do for me and my family, and I have decided that Donald Trump is the one to do it best. If you are voting for Hillary Clinton, you are wrong. There. I said that, too. If you like the shit-hole condition of our country and the direction it's been going in for the past 8 years, then go ahead and vote for that lying, cheating, conniving woman. If you want all of your constitutional rights stripped from you, then vote for her. If you want the government to control every single aspect of your life, and lie to you while they are doing it, then vote for her. If you want change, then don't.

Why am I voting for Donald Trump? I think the following response from someone else on the internet sums it up best:

Because I use my head to research and find out what candidates really are, not what the media wants me to think. 

Because Donald Trump has more women in executive and managerial positions than any comparable company, which tells me he is not a misogynist.

Because he pays these women the same or more than their male counterparts, which tells me looks for capacity and skills in people, not color, gender or race.

Because he fought the West Palm Beach City Council to be able to open his newly purchased club, so he could include blacks and Jews as members, who had been banned until then. This tells me he is not a racist.

Because he has raised wonderful children who have turned out to be outstanding, hard-working and compassionate adults. He must be doing something right.

Because his economic plans makes sense, are conservative in nature, and I vote based on what is best for my family, my friends and my country.

Because everybody, the left and the right are afraid of him, the media is trying to destroy his image, and even foreign governments are voicing their opinions, so he must be doing something right. Clean house maybe?

Because I want a Supreme Court that will uphold the Constitution, not behave as minions of the administration. I have had enough with judges who are more like political activists than law enforcers.

Because I fear for my family’s safety if the current trend of not confronting blatant terrorism continues – which is a threat to our way of life.

Because I am fed up with the rampant corruption of this administration. Accountability in government is paramount, and as this administration has demonstrated, it is a foreign concept to them.

Because I am fed up with the political correctness gone wild, and because Trump is not afraid to say what everybody thinks but does not dare to say. A thug is a thug, regardless of color, and that's it.

Because it is about time someone puts America's interests ahead of other countries.

Because I know he recognizes and embraces America's exceptionalism, and will not tour the World apologizing for who we are. That tells me he is a patriot.

Because, unlike HRC, he has actually held a job, worked hard and achieved success.

And last, but not least, because I am more offended by what Hillary does than by what Trump says.

I also think we have become this weak, hamby-pamby, get our panties in a wad over every stupid little thing kind of country. I am not one to get offended easily, if at all. So, honestly, I don't care if Donald Trump has said some crude things. I have said some crude things. Am I not allowed to be a possible conduit for change because I have said crude things? I sure hope that's not the test.

One thing Donald Trump has said that has stuck with me is that this campaigning process has changed him as a man. He has always been at the top looking down. But during his travels with real American people he has been changed by them and what he has seen. He has never denied anything he has said and done. He has admitted his opinions and failures and successes and has also admitted that he has changed some of his opinions throughout the course of this election process.

How about Hillary? Oh, dear Lord. That woman has been plotting her power trip for 30 years. And if you think she hasn't, you are blind. It has been a calculated plan. I honestly think Donald Trump woke up one day and said, "I've had enough. Somebody needs to do something!" I am praying he is successful in his quest for change. Because, people, anything is better than what is going on right now.

But here is one belief on which I absolutely stand: No matter what happens in this election, which candidate is left standing victorious, God has this. Period. If it turns out in the way I do not want, I know that God is allowing it to happen that way based on HIS plan, not Donald's and not Hillary's.

What God wants from me is for me to pray, vote, pray some more, and then get my butt into my home and family and start being a conduit for change there! We all need to do this. We need to be kinder to our parents and siblings, better friends and lovers to our spouses, more loving parents to our children (and by that I mean do what our kids need instead of what they want), love our neighbors when we can, mind our own business otherwise, and take care of our own bodies. If every person did that within the walls of their own homes, instead of trying to control what everybody else is doing, we would be a healed nation. Period.

So for the next four days I am going to spend some time in prayer. I am a Christian woman.

And as a Christian woman, on Tuesday, I am voting for Donald Trump.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Pumpkin Patch and Halloween

Our family spent an afternoon at the pumpkin patch a couple of weeks ago, and on Halloween we had a nice night of trick-or-treating.

We headed to the patch on a nice 88 degree day. Yuck. It wasn't quite the flannel-shirt-wearing day we had hoped for, but enjoyed our time anyway.

Collin's parents and brother, Austin, joined us. The big hit at the patch is always the tall slides. This year even Bennett got to ride one with his mommy and daddy.

This little guy enjoyed his first trip to the pumpkin patch.

We had a nice night celebrating Halloween. Dawson had to work, and Eli was recovering from being sick and didn't really feel like doing the whole costume thing and trick-or-treating. He hunkered down in his room playing video games instead.

I was a grandmummy even though Collin, Kyndal, and Bennett spent the evening with Collin's family and Bennett's cousins. Wasn't he the cutest hobo you've ever seen?

Brynne, however, was up for a fun night, and Rick and I had fun walking around town with her and her friends.

Early on she said she wanted to be a hot dog, but was questioning her costume choice as the night started. Running into ketchup and mustard confirmed that her choice was a good one!

It was a beautiful night in the 70's, and we walked all around uptown where the businesses and churches line the two main streets to hand out candy. It's a safe and fun alternative to going door-to-door.

Overall, October was a fun month spent with lots of family. Dawson celebrated his 20th birthday, we visited our family in Oklahoma, celebrated my grandmother's 85th birthday, and my brother and his family came for a visit from Oregon. It was a great month!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Tuesday Coffee Chat

In my quest to get back into a regular blogging schedule, I realized that Tuesday Coffee Chat is back this fall! I've missed some weeks, but I would have anyway because of the whole "I haven't felt like blogging" thing.

And, of course, today's topic is a doozy.

How do you handle your failures? Are you a crawl back into bed and wait for it all to pass kinda person? Or are you a jump immediately back on the horse sort?


There was a time ... quite a long time ago ... when I did not know failure. I was full of confidence (possibly arrogance) and just plowed forward through any failures and mistakes I made. Things didn't shake me or deter me or knock me down. I just believed that I could do whatever I set my mind to do, and I did it. And when I failed I just kept moving in that direction until I succeeded.

Somewhere along the way I realized my lack of invincibility. I even began to look back on past successes to realize I was the only one who thought I succeeded. Friendships I thought were solid were anything but solid. Other relationships I thought were true and honest weren't true and honest. The things I thought I wanted weren't things I wanted. Fail. Fail. Fail.

And my confidence went down the toilet.

Now I don't trust my instincts when I succeed. I am not sure what success is anymore.

My response is no longer to just push forward. My response now is to scale back my expectations and live each day as simply as possible. In other words, I find that I no longer have the courage to take any risks. High risk equals high return. But it also means a crashing fall if my instincts are wrong. And since they have proven to be wrong so much of the time, I no longer trust them. That leaves me in a place of isolation, I know. But it feels to be the safest place for me. And I just don't have the energy to always be fighting for something. I am more comfortable to just letting life happen around me, jumping in when I feel inspired to and sitting back during all of the times when I don't.

Really I just try to appreciate the small things in my life, the little successes, those day-to-day things that bring me joy. Although I feel a little knocked down by the realities of life, I am not unhappy with my station in it. Maybe I am really, now, who I was always meant to be and, before, was really striving to be someone I was not. I'm not sure.

But the bottom line is that when faced with failure ... with adversity ... I now tend to take a few steps back instead of jumping several steps forward.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Missouri Monday ~ Preserving our History

A couple of weeks ago the kids and I went on a cool field trip to to the Arabia Steamboat Museum.

In the 1860's, the Arabia sunk in the Missouri River while transporting goods and passengers. There were no casualties (other than a poor donkey who was still tethered when they excavated), but the goods sunk into the mud and soot of the Missouri where it stayed preserved for over 100 years.

This is what took down the Arabia Steamboat, still lodged
in it when they found it.

The path of the Missouri River changed in that decade and in the 1980's a group of excavators located the Arabia buried in a corn field in Kansas, now on the opposite side of the river where it sank. What they recovered is nothing short of astonishing.

Those are dishes I wish I had in my kitchen!

All of these wooden clothespins survived a decade of submersion!

Although the steamboat itself was in bad shape, and only one portion was able to be recovered and restored, the goods were still in remarkable shape. Those goods recovered were originally being transported to pioneer stores for sale ... clothing, housewares, building supplies, food, guns, perfumes, etc. The items were so well preserved that even a jar of pickles was opened and still edible. The museum still has items that have not been completely restored and those items are kept in a cooler on the site and worked on until they can be transferred to the museum floor.

We are going to be building a house and what I wouldn't give
to have those doorknobs!

One of the excavators was on site to talk with us and shared that they are currently in the process of digging up another steamboat. All total, eleven steamboats have been recovered.

To see Missouri's history in such a tangible way was very overwhelming to me. It was truly amazing.