Thursday, June 22, 2017

Wednesday Hodgepodge


Yeah, I know today is Thursday. It has been a crazy week! I have been enjoying a morning at home feeling a bit like a zombie but chugging lots of coffee. Blogging is something I have had the hardest time fitting into my schedule lately, but I felt like a little Hodgepodge reflection this morning.

The first day of summer is this week. What are 10 things you'd put on your list of quintessential summer activities? Will you try to manage all 10 this summer?

Our summer is half over, so we have been at the majority of these things already. Most of them will continue over the next month and a half.
1. Swimming
2. DQ (ours is only open during warm seasons)
3. Softball
4. Lake
5. Kids staying up late and sleeping in
6. 4th of July festivities
7. Grilling hotdogs
8. Sports camps for the kids
9. Lesson planning for the upcoming school year for me
10. Kansas City Royals baseball


Do you collect seashells when you're at the beach? What do you do with them once you get them home? What's your favorite place to comb for seashells? How many of the Best Beaches for Hunting Seashells have you visited? Which one would you most like to visit?

I do not collect seashells, but I do enjoy looking for them while on the beach. The only beach we really get to regularly is in Pensacola and there's not much in the way of shell combing there. We could head to Sanibel Island or another area with more shelling, but I wouldn't say that we are interested enough in it to do it.

At a snail's pace, shell out money, come out of your shell, go back into your shell, drop a bombshell, happy as a clam, clam up ... which 'shell' phrase could most recently be applied to some event or circumstance in your life? Explain.

Definitely go back into your shell. There has been way too much going, people, and activity for me this past month, and I do not operate at my best under those conditions. I, so desperately, want to go back into my shell and hibernate in my house with some mindless television, coffee, and good books. What I wouldn't do for a cool, rainy day. Most people just don't get how important, even necessary, it is for me to have a lot of alone time, peaceful days, and minimal activity. It is not just a mental thing but a physical one, as well. When I have been around too many people with too many activities I grow extremely weary and even start to feel physically unwell. I feel like I have to defend that all the time, even to those closest to me who cannot relate. But it really is just the way that I am, and I am prepared to protect it at all costs. In fact, it has become a sort of mission of mine.

What summer activity do you dislike? Why?

Sweat. Here is a newsflash. I DO NOT LIKE SUMMER! Actually, there is not much about it that I like AT ALL. Out of the activities above, I do not like to: swim, be at hot softball practices and games, be at the lake unless it's a rainy day, stay up late, or listen to the noise of the 4th of July. Instead, I would rather pick up some DQ sandwiches for dessert to eat after we have our grilled hotdogs, then sit down to do some reading (even lesson planning is relaxing to me) and watch a Royals baseball game on t.v. And I would prefer to do all of those things when it's about 45 degrees outside, and raining or snowing.

What's something you see as quickly becoming obsolete? Does that bother you?

Respect. Just look around. It's so sad.

Insert your own random thought here.

Can't wait to see Backstreet Boys in Las Vegas in a little over a week!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Tuesday Coffee Chat




I realize it's Wednesday, but yesterday I never had a chance to sit down with my coffee and my computer at the same time. Today's question is a fun one, and one we should ask ourselves from time to time. It's good for the soul to be reminded.

What is the best compliment you've received lately?

Last weekend I went to visit a friend. While there we did some antique shopping, just browsing, really. I came upon an original Risk game with all of the pieces, in mint condition, for $15.00. On a whim I bought it for Dawson.

When I got home I texted him a picture of it. Soon, he made a post on Snapchat. In it, he called me a freakin' GOAT.


Now, I have been called lots of things in my life, most of which I will not mention here nor admit, but a GOAT is not one of them.

I had to go to the worldwide web to find out whether I should be offended, because generation gap! I was not offended. GOAT means: Greatest of All Time. And, not only did he think I was a GOAT, but he thought I was a freakin' GOAT!

Sometimes being a parent is a thankless job. Thankfully, I have kind kids and get a heartfelt 'thank you' pretty often. My adult kids even say nice things about me on social media from time to time. I feel very loved by my kids. But this little compliment is one that will definitely stick with me.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Wednesday Hodgepodge



What makes you feel accomplished? Explain.

Monday would be what I would consider a perfect day of accomplishment. First of all I had nothing planned. So I got up when I wanted to get up, which was at 7:00 a.m. I could have gotten up earlier; I could have slept in later. But I woke up naturally and felt ready to get moving. All day long I worked steadily at things I enjoyed, but things that also needed to get completed. I wasn't on any kind of schedule, but instead did tasks as I felt led to do them. I went to the Amish greenhouse to pick up a few flowers. I came home and planted flowers, worked in my garden. Then I did some power washing on our house. I grilled burgers for dinner, enjoyed a glass of wine, watched a KC Royals game, did some reading before bed. By the end of the day my muscles were tired, my head was clear from all of the outside time, and I felt like it was a day well spent. That, to me, is accomplishment.

If you had your own talk show, who would your first three guests be? Tell us why.

Tim Gunn - I absolutely love him, and would love to have him help me see some positive additions to my daily style.
President Trump - I would like to hear FROM HIM what his views are, what his plans are, and how he is going to work to get our country back to its roots of growth and strength. I am tired of hearing the media's take on him or what he has to say or what he wants to do.
Shemar Moore - Cause he's just hot. But he's also fun, and I would like to hear about his decision to leave Criminal Minds after 10+ years and launch out on his own to chase a dream of being a lead in his upcoming show S.W.A.T., and about his work for M.S.

Do you have a great burger recipe? What's in it? What do you like on a hamburger and where is your favorite spot to order one out?

My burgers are pretty ho-hum. I buy the fresh patties from Aldi in the meat section, sprinkle on a little steak seasoning and garlic salt, then grill. I like my burgers with mayo, lettuce, onion, and tomato, typically with either Swiss cheese and mushrooms or with cheddar. My favorite burger? The
Mushroom Swiss Burger at Red Robin ... yummm!

What's the biggest anxiety producing thing you do on a regular basis?

I try very hard not to involve myself in anything anymore that might cause me anxiety. It's part of my simple, peaceful lifestyle I am creating for myself. I guess it would be anytime I have to actually call someone on the phone. I hate talking on the phone. I would much rather text or email.

This is the last Hodgepodge of May. Tell us about your summer plans.

The majority of my summer will involve transporting kids back and forth to activities and summer school, taking care of Bennett, going swimming, going to some garage sales. We don't have a major vacation planned this year, but we are going on some small trips: national stuttering conference in Dallas, a lake week with friends, and a fast one night trip to Las Vegas with Kyndal to see Backstreet Boys in concert! Kyndal and I have been to a concert in every Backstreet Boys tour, the first being on her 5th birthday. It's kind of an extravagant trip for a concert, but we just can't miss it.

Insert your own random thought here.

This morning I had a breast biopsy, my second in two years. Two years ago it was for some indeterminate calcifications that looked questionable and today it was for a fibroidadenoma that was detected in an ultrasound after I located a cyst during a self-exam. I have an amazing radiologist who does my mammograms. This year I opted for a 3D mammogram. He came into the examining room to show me the fibroid tumor on the monitor and to explain to me that it is a noncancerous tumor. However, he wanted me to have it biopsied. He told me that my regular breast specialist, an expert in the field, had moved to a hospital in Kansas, but called him personally to get me set up for my biopsy. He came in and handed me his cell phone number and told me to call him. So I did, and he got me all scheduled. After my biopsy today he explained to me that there is the very rare chance that this tumor is a localized cancerous tumor that does not spread or metastasize (although he would be surprised if it is) that would have to be removed if it comes back as malignant. But that is the worst case scenario, and he's not worried about it. But as I was leaving he said, "Now, you have my cell phone number  don't you?" He told me I could call him anytime I have any problems. You just don't get that kind of care very often these days. I am so blessed to have such amazing physicians in my corner.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Tuesday Coffee Chat




Today's Tuesday Coffee Chat topic is simply this:

Get something off your chest.


This summer I am coaching Brynne's softball team with the help of my son-in-law Collin, Kyndal, and another parent. When I took on this team, it was at the request of the players and some of the parents. I had been the dugout mom of their team for the past couple of years and had coached one game while the coach was gone. I have been involved with these girls in all of their sports for the past four years. We live in a small town so everybody knows everybody and our paths cross often when it involves our kids.

Now, I took on coaching the team with some knowledge of softball. I mean, I played as a kid and have been involved in several seasons. But I am not a skills coach. Most of the parents, and kids, understood that at the outset of the season. Do you want someone ultra organized? That's me! Do you want texted reminders and good communication? That's me! Do you want cool uniforms? That's me! Do you want a good dose of discipline and encouragement? That's me! Do you want lots of team building? That's me! Do you want your child to have the best technical coaching of her life? That's not me, but I have other coaches on board to help with it.


We have had a good season so far. I love these girls! Our record is 2-3, with one of our losses only by one run. Every game I see the girls learning and improving. They are so excited to play. They listen and work hard. They treat each other with respect, and me as well. I really couldn't ask for much more.

But then there are the parents.

One of my biggest complaints with sports parents is when they don't want to take the responsibility to be involved and volunteer their time, but they want to tell you how to do it. They constantly ask why their kid isn't playing a certain position or getting a different amount of playing time. We addressed this issue straight away at the beginning of this season. I made it very clear that I wouldn't listen to it. I wouldn't listen to it out of the girls, and I certainly wouldn't listen to it out of the parents. The girls have learned that I am serious about that. A couple of the parents have not.

I work very hard to be as fair as I can in playing time. I sit my own kid out sometimes to be fair, even though she is one of the better players. But the fact of the matter is that we have a few positions that are critical and only a few select players who can adequately play them. All decisions I make are based on what's best for the team.

For the most part we get along swimmingly. But there are always those couple of parents.

In the game that we only lost by one run, I got jumped by two separate parents about their kids' playing time and position play. I was on a high after that game because the girls came from a ten run deficit and almost won the game! They played so great, and I was so proud of them! But all I could concentrate on the rest of the night was the negativity of those two particular parents. And I was mad. I sent a strongly worded text to all parents reminding them that all coaching decisions will be made by the coaches.

Since then, one particular parent has decided she is going to keep on keeping on with the complaints, questioning when we do or do not have practices, etc. It's been everything I can do to just take a deep breath and keep my mouth shut.

I love coaching these girls. But the sad part is that one parent can make a coach decide he or she is not going to coach the following year. When you are volunteering a lot of your own time for your child and other people's children, doing it all with good intentions, trying your hardest, and you have some jerk parent in your face because they aren't getting what they want? .... yeah, it makes me reconsider coaching in the future. It's not worth it. I try not to let it get to me but, come on, climb off my back. Or, I have an idea ... why don't YOU coach the team next year? Why don't YOU try to figure out how to get fifteen girls adequate playing time while also trying to win a few games, because you'd be the one bitching about all of our losses if I didn't consider individual talent and let us lose every game. Why don't YOU try thanking the coach for his or her time and devotion and love of your child instead of tearing him or her down at every turn? Or, how about you just sit down and shut up, thank you.



Yeah, I have needed to get that off my chest. Thank you for listening.


Friday, May 26, 2017

Turpentine Creek Animal Refuge ~ Eureka Springs, Arkansas


I am doing a little Flashback Friday today, as I am seriously behind on blogging our family life. Last month Dawson and I went on a mother/son trip. I had originally purchased him and I tickets to the Game of Thrones live concert, but our event was cancelled. We were seriously bummed! So I started looking for something for us to do together, and came upon a Groupon for Turpentine Creek Animal Refuge in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.



Dawson is very much an animal activist so I was hoping this might be something he would really enjoy. We stayed two nights in the Siberian Suite. (If I was going to choose which place to lodge at the Refuge, this would be it again and again.)

This ended up being the trip of a lifetime. Directly outside the window of our suite were two large tigers, Montana and Poncho. Out the front porch was a lion and liger pair. We could see panthers, other tigers, and bears from our suite.


Dawson and I arrived on Sunday evening and settled into our super cool suite. It was amazing, more like a small apartment than a hotel room. It was getting dark so we said "Hi" to the tigers next to our suite and went to get dinner at Amore. If you are ever in Eureka Springs, stop by and see these folks. They make you feel like you have just come into their home for an Italian dinner. Excellent!

We were up bright and early on Monday morning because we were so excited to see all of the other animals. We took off on a little self-guided tour around the perimeter of the compound and read the stories of all of the big cats. (It wasn't until we completed our tour that we learned that we weren't supposed to be on that road without a guide. Ooops!)






It is astonishing the work that Turpentine Creek does for these sweet animals. Without the owners, staff, and volunteers each of them would have been euthanized. Instead, they have created natural habitats for them to live out the rest of their lives ... their "forever homes". They have a vet clinic on site, a geriatric wing, and even a section created especially for a group of cats that were rescued who were traumatized and cannot be around any people.

The caregivers are so amazing, and it was heartwarming to witness their interactions with the animals. They spray perfumes at the cats for scent stimulation, spray water hoses into their cages for them to play in, and meticulously clean and preserve their habitats. We were told that the animals are allowed to do whatever they want while in their habitats. They do not "tell them what to do". They want things to be as natural for them as possible.

Of course none of this is possible without funding which comes, in part, from the admission fee into the refuge, products purchased, and rooms rented. One hundred percent of all proceeds goes back to the care of the animals. We saw a sign thanking those who have donated large sums of money. Ellen DeGeneres was on that list.

It was raining on Monday so Dawson and I took some time roaming around Eureka Springs having coffee (the best Cafe Au Lait I have ever tasted), shopping, and then stopping for dinner at a little Mexican place.




We also took some time to tour Quigley's Castle, the "strangest dwelling in the Ozarks". It was, in fact, the strangest dwelling I have ever seen. The inside was crazy. But it was neat to see the individuality of Mrs. Quigley in creating her home, filling it with those things she loved. God bless Mr. Quigley for being open to her wants and desires. I love seeing places like this, feeling other's lives from the past.



On Tuesday morning we took one more pass through the general public compound spending tons of time watching Bam Bam the bear (spending time watching him play is worth the admission price alone) and saying good-bye to Goober, the only monkey at the refuge.




This trip was magical. Dawson and I had never gone on a trip alone, sans those Boy Scout campouts of his youth, so it was so incredible to spend some time with my adult son. We played cards, ate, and just enjoyed the refuge and the beauty of Arkansas.

If you live in the Midwest and are considering a trip to Florida to go to Animal Kingdom, I highly recommend that you save your tourist bucks and book a weekend at Turpentine Creek. Your money will go to an excellent cause, and you will walk away feeling as though you have spent a weekend with the dearest of friends. Plus, just date your kids, especially when they are adults. It is such special time.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Wednesday Hodgepodge


What color is prominent in your home? Are you glad about that or wishing you could cover it up or remove it?

I have a few basic colors in my house ... pale gold, red, green, and black (cabinets, leather couch, etc.) I absolutely LOVE my colors! They remind me of fall, which is my favorite season, and make me feel warm and cozy. Even if I was going to be moving into a completely new house, I would choose these colors all over again. Even when they are out of style, I do not think I will be able to part with them.

What's something you'll NEVER do again?

Oh my. There certainly are a few prominent things. I will keep it light, though ... I will never watch a scary movie again. I value my sleep way too much to fill it with something that will keep me awake, especially in fear.

Tell us a couple of ways you fit the stereotypes associated with your gender, and a couple of ways you don't.

I am a nurturer, and I believe a woman's place is at home taking care of her family. I read lists of stereotypes of men and didn't feel like I fit into any of them, really, other than I am a natural leader and not meek and mild and silent and submissive. And, I like to drink beer out of a bottle.

May is Motorcycle Awareness Month. Have you ever owned a motorcycle? Ever ridden a motorcycle? If the opportunity presented itself would you hop on a motorcycle and go for a ride?

I have not owned a motorcycle. I rode on the back of one for a short distance once. I do not like them, hate the idea of a car coming up behind me. This is a "I will never again" item.

If someone wanted to understand you, what should they read, watch, and listen to?

You could read Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh, or just this blog. I would watch the show Parenthood. I remind myself a lot of Kristina Braverman. Definitely listen to "The Slow Home Podcast". It is definitely the direction I am heading and what I aspire to become.

Insert your own random thought here.

We have come full circle. Several months ago we bought 17 acres with the dream of building a farmhouse and having a small hobby farm. Kyndal and Collin were planning to build on the property, too. They decided that it would be best for them to just buy a larger home in town instead of to build. We, too, decided that it would be best for our family not to build. So, the property is back on the market. Then we were faced with a decision to either put significant amounts of money into our current house or buy a different one. We put our house on the market and put a contract on a slightly larger 100 year old house that has been remodeled and updated. Since then the kids have expressed an interest in staying in our current home, our roof here has started to leak meaning we need to replace it to even sell it, and I was starting to feel some sadness about leaving this house that I really, really love. We have decided, ultimately, to back out of our contract on the other house and take ours back off the market. We are going to stay put and do some extensive renovations here: replace the roof, tear down our garage that is falling apart and is an eyesore, put up a privacy fence around our back and side yard for privacy away from the trashy houses that are behind us, gut and completely remodel our one bathroom, renovate the cool upstairs attic into a 450 square foot master suite with bathroom and living area, move Brynne into the current master bedroom and out of the "meth" room in the basement (we kid her that her room was previously a meth lab by the previous owners), and put in a new HVAC system. I am so excited about all of this and feel so much more at peace! If I am learning anything at all currently, it's that I need peace in my life, and I do not need one more thing I have to take care of, like a farm. That is just a pipe dream that is going to have to die.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Tuesday Coffee Chat





What song reflects your mood right now?

I can't seem to find a song that truly reflects my mood, so I wrote my own lyrics. I am open to collaborating with any musicians who would like to write the music.

I'm so tired I could bawl.
I have absolutely hit a wall.
I'd love to read while curled up in bed,
but we have a late softball game instead.

My grandson who is usually perfection
has been fussy this week with an ear infection.
I care for him, usually, on Thursday and Monday,
but his other caregiver is gone until Sunday.

I am off tomorrow so you think I'd be glad,
but I have to go have a mammogram ... Rad.
The dogs are so needy, they whine and whine,
I can't pee alone because they barge in each time.

Everyone needs something, they push and they push,
and all I want to say to each one is, "Shush!!!"
"Leave me alone, let me have some peace,
or you may find a monster I release."

This, too, shall pass, I know it to be true.
But until then I am likely to act like a shrew.
The weekend is coming, I have nothing planned,
please don't give me anything, that would be grand.

The End.

Friday, May 19, 2017

The End of School


Although I haven't posted about it, we did officially end our school year at the end of April. The last couple of weeks just kind of flatlined as both kids were sick, Eli with an upper respiratory infection and Brynne bookending that with two bouts of stomach flu. It didn't feel like we officially ended anything: we just quit ... hours completed .... done.

Bennett started joining us for school two days a week
while his mama is at work. He liked astronomy.

Brynne did continue to work daily on Study Island in the subjects of math and English because she was going to be sitting for the state MAP test with the public school 6th graders. She did sit for that test starting May 8th, her first standardized test ever. She also got a small taste of school because she got to stay for recess and lunch with the other students. We live in a really small town so she pretty much knows everybody, but it was good for her to be in that environment for a few days. It didn't scare her off so she is all good.

It was obvious we had not been in a school in a long time:
They don't use No. 2 pencils in standardized testing anymore ...
They use computers! LOL!

This summer will be a completely different schooling experience for us. Typically we school part-time in the months of June and July making sure we hit grammar, math, and reading every day. Then we take off the first few weeks of August before we start back full-time. But with Brynne going to public school next year, she doesn't really need to stick with our lessons other than just getting in a good summer of reading.

She has also signed up for summer school with the public school from May 30th to June 30th and will be attending seven different camps for volleyball and basketball. So Eli and I will start back together at the beginning of June to keep him moving in our regular summer studies. Doing school without Brynne will be sad, but I guess I should get used to it.

Overall we had a really great year of school. We did an intensive study of Missouri history, read the Percy Jackson books so studied Greek Mythology and astronomy, and continued on steadily with math, grammar, spelling, and copywork. We had a fun time watching Timeless and researching those times in history, watching The Wheel and studying biomes, and watching The Zoo while learning about the animals and the inner workings of The Bronx Zoo. The kids did a lot of reading, had some enrichment classes at our house with a couple of their friends, and continued with their individual sports activities. Eli also continued with his weekly speech therapy and participated in some educational activities for National Stuttering Awareness Week. It was a well-rounded year, and our last as a little school of three. It was definitely a bittersweet year for me as I watch my two little kiddos blossom into young adults.

Eli's SLP is one of his best friends. And now he's almost
taller than her!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Wednesday Hodgepodge


May 17th is National Pack Rat Day. (Sidebar-should we be celebrating this? Hmmm ....) Are you a pack rat? Even if you're not a full fledged pack rat, most people have one thing or another they struggle to part with. Tell us what's yours.

Yes, I'm a pack rat. I just can't get rid of things I think I might need in the future. I mean, I held onto a particular pair of shoes for years and then the second I got rid of them they came back in style (or a version of them) and I had to buy brand new again if I was going to wear that style. I am not a hoarder ... yet. No, really, I'm not. I do get rid of lots of things, especially clothes. But I do hold onto lots of things, especially clothes. My problem is when we have too much storage space, I store things.  Having a full basement for storage is not, necessarily, a good thing.

What are two things you know you should know how to do, but you don't?

Change a flat tire. Bake a good homemade chocolate chip cookie.

Do you crave sugar? Do you add sugar to your coffee and/or tea? Do you use artificial sweeteners or sugar substitutes? When dining out is dessert a given? Are you someone who has slain the sugar dragon, and if so tell us how you did it.

I do not crave sugar in the traditional sense. I only use liquid stevia for sweetener or honey in a recipe. I do not avoid sugar in cooking, I just do not typically crave it. However, I am a carboholic. I love and crave carbs. And carbs gets converted to sugar in the system. So, really, I probably do crave carbs but in a different way than most.

What's a trend that took you a while to come around to, but now you can't imagine living without?

My iPhone. I fought it and fought it and fought it. I did not want that much technology at my fingertips because I knew I would abuse it. But when Kyndal and I were at a Backstreet Boys concert and I brought out my dumb phone to make a phone call and then a real point and shoot camera to take a photo (gads!), I felt like an old lady. So it was time to break down and get a smart phone. And, of course, I love it. I use it more than I would like, definitely, but I am able to put it away and enjoy my life instead of always staring at my phone (mostly).

What's a song that reminds you of a specific incident in your life? Please elaborate.

Today we are going to an amusement park called Worlds of Fun in Kansas City. When I was in junior high I went on a church trip there. My three friends and I met four super cute boys and hung out with them all day. That evening the park had a dance "club" with a DJ and it was there that I had my first kiss dancing to the song "Heaven" by Bryan Adams. For weeks afterward I would lay on my bed and wait for that song to come on the radio. To this day I think of that night when I hear that song. (And, yes, I was on a church trip, met a boy, and had my first kiss. Oh my. But what a memory!)

Insert your own random thought here.

There is so much randomness going on in my life right now that I could write a book. And I haven't uploaded photos to my computer in at least a month so I don't have a recent photo of any of it as a starting point. So I am going go to my photos and pull the last one I uploaded and write about it. Here I go.


Ahhhh ... that's a good one! These are my two nieces. They are both going to be five this year, three months apart. Ashtyn is the dark-haired one and Bell is the blonde. You will not find two little girls who are more different! But look at how beautiful they are! Bell lives in Oregon so we only get to see her a couple of times a year. Ashtyn lives just a few blocks from me, and I saw her just last night at Brynne's softball game. I love these girls, so full of spunk and sass! Such fun! I am so glad I get to be their Aunt.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Tuesday Coffee Chat


My fingers have not touched the keys of my laptop in quite some time. Sickness hit our house, life happened, things got busy, and blogging was the first thing to go. It happens. At the end of the day I have either been too tired to touch the computer or not able to sleep but not wanting to talk about what was keeping me from sleeping.

I am hoping to do some catching up in the next couple of weeks. The kids have been busy doing some great things. And we finished our school year. And we have made some life decisions. I want to be able to look back on these days someday to see what we were up to in the Spring of 2017. Because all of these things are important, no matter how big or how small.

I can't think of a better way to get back into my routing of blogging than to participate in this week's Tuesday Coffee Chat with Ink Interrupted.


Today's topic: I'm not jealous! What gets you turning green?

There was a time when I lived in a constant state of jealousy. Everybody around me seemed to have all of the things I thought I wanted. But I was stubborn and wouldn't admit that I was jealous. Instead, I either tried to keep up or I became indignant about doing that thing the opposite way. It was kind of the "I'll show you the right way to do it" mentality, when really I was seething that I couldn't have it the way they had it. It was vicious, and the direct result of the living environment we had created trying to be people we weren't. As a result, I didn't like anybody. Nearly every person represented what I did not have.

But, deep down, I didn't really want those things anyway. You know, keeping up is exhausting and expensive! The constant competition between others is ugly! I didn't want to be that ugly person, but I was caught in the vacuum of it .. the big house, the right clothes, the appearance of having a perfect marriage and perfect kids, working out how everybody else was working out even if I hated it, landscaping, vacations, activities with the kids, looking perfect at church, etc., etc., etc.

I had to get out of that environment.

And so five years ago I did. We gave up our $400,000 house for a $30,000 one in my childhood hometown. We did some cosmetic work to it to make it homey and adorable. We settled into a routine of significantly less concentrating on family instead of things. Life and expectations slowed WAY down. All of a sudden all of those things that seemed to matter there absolutely did not matter here. We live in a poor community where people are really just trying to make it in the day-to-day. There is no competition to have more than someone else. It's a small community where everybody is just living life, where it's perfectly acceptable to just spend time at home enjoying a quiet evening doing nothing. Our kids are allowed to play sports they love without feeling inadequate because they are not striving at age 11 to go pro. We are surrounded with perfect imperfections. Everything is small and scaled down and minimal.

This life isn't for everybody, I get that. But it's for me. I really realize it's for me when I try to answer the question of what gets me turning green and I realize that I cannot think of one single thing. Five years ago I could have written a large novel on the topic.

Jealousy creates a life of chaos. My soul needs peace. I am so grateful that I have found it.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Weekly Wrap-up ~ School Called on Account of Family


I am sure many of you are like we are right now ... ready for some spring temps, getting a little tired of the school routine and ready for the end of the school year, and lack of general motivation.

We have been pushing through Spring Fever, working hard on getting Brynne ready for standardized testing, and beginning to wrap up some subjects. When we start to get ho-hum about our studies it usually means we are ready for a little science.

Watching "The Wheel" on the Discovery Channel has prompted our studies of biomes. Last week we set up a science experiment to determine which of four biomes would yield the best results in growing impatiens, lima beans, and rye grass. We have the deciduous forest, grasslands, rainforest, and desert. We will be observing the growths in these biomes for the next few weeks.








A sweet lady at our church tapped Eli on the shoulder last Sunday and handed him a crinoid stem that she had found on her property. The crinoid is an ancient sea animal, but also still in existence in many oceans today. When Missouri was underwater a long, long, long time ago, there were an abundance of crinoids. It is now the state fossil. We spent some time researching the crinoid, watching videos, and doing a crossword puzzle. We are hoping to get permission to go onto her land soon and look for more fossils.


Otherwise school has consisted of the usual grammar, spelling, reading, writing, math, and studies in astronomy, Greek mythology, and Missouri history.

This week we cancelled some school work here and there because we had an influx of visiting family members in town. On Wednesday my aunt and second cousin were visiting at my mom's, so I went for lunch and ended up staying most of the afternoon. Dawson came home for a visit yesterday afternoon and my brother and niece were visiting from Oregon. We cut our school day short that day. And today, we just called the whole day off. With big brother home for a few days, we knew it would be impossible to focus. Sometimes family is more important.

Brynne wrapped up her basketball season and we are now beginning softball practices. I am the coach this year so it is definitely going to be an interesting year! Eli is still bowling every week in preparation for state tournament in May. Brynne is also running in preparation for the Girls on the Run 5K in May.


We have such a busy summer ahead!

2016-2017 School Hours Logged: 795 hours, including 163.75 hours outside home. Plus Summer 2016 Hours Logged: 70.75 hours, including 27 hours outside home.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Weekly Wrap-up ~ Teaching the Test


If you are a homeschooler I think you would agree that a big motivating factor in your decision to homeschool is that you have the right (with limits in some states) to teach your children what you want to teach them. At least in Missouri, we do not have to get approval for our curriculum or follow Common Core.

Brynne will be reentering public school in the fall for 7th grade. The school will require her to submit assessments to enroll, standardized test results. We do not take standardized tests. Really, we do not even take tests. Our assessments are typically based on discussion and mastery of materials as we compete lessons.

The elementary school has agreed to allow Brynne to sit with the other 6th graders to take the MAP test in May. That way she does not have to take a standardized test by herself at the high school sometime this summer, and I want the school to proctor her test so there is no question about its results.

The 6th graders do testing in Math and English. Because we do not follow Common Core, I need to make sure that Brynne has covered all of the topics that will be on the tests. I purchased Study Island for two months. She is working on a lesson of both Math and English each day. English has been super easy for her so far. Math has presented a few challenges, but she is moving through the problems nicely.

Because Eli and Brynne use the same curriculum in all of our subjects, we have put away our current Math curriculum and Eli has also been doing the Math portion of Study Island. Although he will not be sitting for the MAP test, or any standardized test in the near future, the use of Study Island is helping me see his strengths and weaknesses in Math. It has helped me see where our focus should be next year. In fact, it has shown me that, perhaps, we should scale back a bit for him with Math concepts, to slow down and let him digest some things that we have, obviously, not covered thoroughly enough. He was showing some extreme frustration and distress about his progress, so we shut down Study Island and covered some other material for a few days. His entire demeanor changed (I mean for the whole school day) because he was experiencing some success in Math instead of constant failure. It has helped me identify what Math we will be covering the rest of this school year, through the summer, and into next Fall. Homeschooling is a blessing, even when standardized testing gets involved.

But Brynne is pushing on in preparation of her test in May.

What this whole standardized testing thing has really shown me, though, is that our public schools really are so standardized.

I was at the high school last week at a Meet the School Board candidates forum and play practice was going on in the gym. I looked around the commons area at the posters and things hanging on the wall displaying some of the other areas of extra-curricular activities. I listened to the school board candidates discuss the challenges in our schools including technology, making sure students are ready for college and life after high school, etc. But in my mind all I could think was, "How in the world do you have time for all that other stuff if you have to be 'teaching the test'?" No wonder our students are strung out, spaced out, and stressed out.

I can see it in the eyes of my two students at home in just the little bit of standardized learning they are doing with Math.

And the standardized learning is anything but enjoyable. And because there is so much of it in just one day's lesson, we have had to put some of our other topics on the back burner just to get them completed.

Public schools have to do that every day. That's why you see so many extra-curricular activities happening only in after-school hours or being eliminated from the schools altogether.

I am not going to lie when I say that I am sad that Brynne is going back to public school. I think they try, I really do, but they are just not able to meet the needs of all of their students. I pray that she will not get lost in the shuffle. If anybody can navigate the waters of public school it will be Brynne. But I can't help to stop and think of the other students like Eli who would drown in that environment.

I only have 6 weeks left of teaching Brynne. I hate it that those weeks will be spent teaching the test. But, for her to be prepared, it is what has to be done.

Instead of taking off a full week for Spring Break this year (um, we did just start back to school from Christmas Break at the beginning of February), I told the kids that I would just give them off 5 random days between now and the end of our school year. They thought that was a great idea. We had pre-scheduled a day off this past Monday because we had such a busy weekend and I was pretty sure we would all need the day off. I was right! We were exhausted that day, and I had caught a cold and needed some mindless rest. Then yesterday we took off another day because I got asked to sub in my mom's card group, and I played cards all day. This week was a little low-key, but that was great for us. We still completed what we needed to complete and are ready for a full, strong week next week.

2016-2017 School Hours Logged: 752.5 hours, including 160.75 hours outside home. Plus Summer 2016 Hours Logged: 70.75 hours, including 27 hours outside home.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Simple Woman's Daybook


I just plain don't have an answer for today's Tuesday Coffee Chat question, but I am up early and drinking coffee and in the mood to write so I am going to do a Daybook entry instead.



Looking out my window ... It is dark and chilly. It seems we are having a last blast of cold air before spring temps settle in for the duration. Why is it so dark at 7:07 a.m.? Because of that darned Daylight Savings.

I am thinking ... about how behind I am on my 40 Bags in 40 Days Lent challenge. A super busy weekend and then a cruddy cold zapped my time and energy.

I am thankful ... that I feel much better today after several days in a row of that yucky cold.

One of my favorite things ... is when I am struggling with a particular issue and then God speaks to me directly through scripture. Seek and you will find.

I am creating ... thoughts and ideas for our softball season rapidly approaching. I am coaching this year!

I am watching ... lots of DVR'd shows. I have also started watching House of Cards on Netflix while I run on the treadmill.

I am wearing ... pjs and robe now. Workout clothes in a few minutes. And then I'll shower and put on some jeans, a sweatshirt, and probably Ugg boots to do my senior citizen meal delivery.

I am reading ... The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin. 

I am listening to ... The sound of my air purifier and my diffuser sputtering as it empties the last of its contents. And dogs snoring.

I am hoping ... to get caught up on some housework and laundry today and get our bread baked for the week.

I am learning ... that is best to just keep my opinions to myself most times.

In the kitchen ... something is stinking in my refrigerator and I cannot figure out what it is. I have pulled everything out twice and can't find the culprit. Yet, each time I open it I smell something funky. 

In the schoolroom ... Instead of taking off a full week for Spring Break I told the kids that we would just take off five random days between now and the end of our school year. Yesterday was one of those days after a crazy busy weekend of basketball. That pre-scheduled day off worked out great because I felt so rotten yesterday. Back to the books today!

Board Room ... I love this idea for the pots on my front porch! They would smell amazing and I could harvest right out my front door.



Post Script ... Sadly, author Amy Krouse Rosenthal passed away yesterday of Ovarian cancer at the age of 55. She wrote an amazing article called "You May Want to Marry My Husband" that I just adore. What a sad day for her family.

Shared Quote ... I actually dreamed last night that I forgot to take my cell phone with me somewhere when we really needed it. Then I saw this today and literally laughed out loud because I have actually done this!!



A Moment from my Day ... We have been doing a whole lot of basketball lately. Basketball is a long season, starting the first of November. We have one 3 on 3 tournament and another team tournament scheduled before we end our season. This is the last year for Brynne to play rec basketball, and she is going to miss it so much! Her coach has been amazing and has instilled in her a real love of basketball. She is ready for junior high basketball because of him. (In fact, I blame him for her going back to public school. She just cannot not play basketball. It is now in her soul.) There were over 15 girls who played basketball this year for 5th and 6th grade, mostly 6th graders. That required the coach to divide up the tournament team (the team that played together last year) to have two equal-skilled teams. Brynne's team won second in their conference in both the regular season and in the conference tournament. The other team finished 3rd in both. It has been such a fun ride! I am so incredibly proud of Brynne and her skill and character when on the court.






Thursday, March 9, 2017

Wednesday Hodgepodge


What is one area of your life where you're a perfectionist? Is that a good thing?

This is kind of a hard one! I would say that I don't think I am a perfectionist, but I have a feeling my family would object and start hurling examples. I know that I like my day to go a certain way and when it doesn't I get my feathers ruffled. One thing I do obsess about all day every day, though, is my couch pillows. I want them on the couch properly so I reposition them several times a day (and sometimes pick them up off the floor. Really, people?).

What's something you find perfectly ridiculous?

Oh so much. Mostly it's people and their need to have a cause when it eventually becomes clear that they don't even really know what they are standing up for except just to be making a point (and an ass of themselves, ahem!). i.e. Colin Kaepernick and his National Anthem fiasco, and I could name oh. so. many. others. Enjoy the UK, Miley Cyrus!

What's a skill you've developed by way of that old fashioned saying, 'practice makes perfect?'

Running. Running was something I kind of started out of necessity ... I either jogged with Crusoe or he drug me around the block. Getting to where I could run a mile without stopping was one of my defining moments (in fact I was just a few feet from the end of it when said Crusoe decided he needed to stop and take a poop, so I drug him to the end). I kept at it, and I remember the exact day that I realized that I wasn't winded after running a mile and just kept going. I have run some 5Ks and a 4-mile run. I would say that I am far from perfect at running ... I am slow and not always motivated. But I have hit a really good groove where I run 2-3 miles about 4 days a week, and it feels good, and I actually enjoy it. I am finding new ways of extending my endurance, increasing my pace, and taking care of my body.

What's your idea of a perfect breakfast?

One that I don't have to cook. Ha! If I could choose I would go to a brunch buffet at a nice restaurant. My plate would include an egg casserole, biscuits and gravy, sausage, some fruit, and a cheese danish. And lots of coffee!

What's a trip, holiday, vacation, or day outing you've taken that you'd rate a perfect 10? Tell us why.

I have been on many perfect 10 excursions. So to choose one is extremely difficult! I would have to say the day that Kyndal and Collin got married in Cozumel in 2015 ranks up there with a perfect day/trip/holiday/vacation. The event was flawlessly orchestrated by the coordinator from the moment we stepped off the ship to the ceremony to the cake to the seaside champagne toast to the post-wedding beach day. Everything about it was perfection.



What quote or saying perfectly sums up your life right now? If you can't do perfect, how about one that comes close?




How would you spend $300 today?

If I had to spend it today I'd go to the Amish greenhouse and buy all of my flowers for the spring. However, it's a little early to buy flowers (we are supposed to have snow on Saturday). If I could hold onto the money for a month or so, I would use it to buy future farmhouse stuff at Junkapalooza where I am going at the end of April.

Insert your own random thought here.

Being a mother of adult kids is agonizing. I worry so much more than I ever did when they were little kids. I have one who is trying to sell her house and buy a newer, bigger one that will increase their expenses, so I worry. I have one who is trying to find a job and figure out his future, so I worry. Both of them are good kids, smart, strong, but I still worry. I know they don't understand, and won't until they are parents of their own adult kids. I know they think all I do is harp on them and point out the negatives and feel like I don't support them. But, really, I am their biggest supporter. I am just a mama who is scared to death that her children will be hurt by life. Hug your littles, everybody. One day too soon they will be adults.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Tuesday Coffee Chat




Who is someone you miss?

I have a few friends I don't get to see often enough, and I miss them. I miss my mom when she's in Florida for several months at a time. I miss Rick and the kids when one of us is away. But, to be honest, I have not had a lot of real loss of loved ones in my life.

There is only one person I think about often and truly miss, and that's my Grandma Alice. I especially miss her in the month of March because her birthday was on St. Patrick's Day.


At my Grandma's funeral I shared that she was the only person in my life who had never disappointed me. She was a tough old gal, but there was no question in my mind how much she loved me.

She was the grandma who had the family dinners where she served everyone while she stood at the kitchen counter to eat (plus she made the best chicken dinner on the planet). We spent the night with my grandma most Saturday nights. We would play double solitaire, watch The Love Boat and Fantasy Island, wind the clock before bed, and take turns sleeping with her. She always woke up in the middle of the night unable to sleep and would turn on her lamp to read. She rose before dawn on Sunday mornings to sit at the kitchen table and prepare her Sunday school lesson. Then she took us to church.

My grandma attended a lot of my events, which was nice, but mostly she just welcomed us in her home. I have fond memories of picking and snapping green beans, playing with her dog, and she had the most amazing azalea bush in her backyard. (I transplanted some of it last year and I am praying it survived the winter.)

I have several things of my grandma's that reminds me of her every day. That old clock we used to wind is in my sitting room. I use her metal measuring spoons and measuring cups every time I cook. (I played with those spoons and cups when I was a baby, and now my grandson will get to play with them.) I cook my eggs in her extremely well-seasoned cast iron skillet every morning. My dresser top is filled with all things that were my grandma's ... the antique plates that hold my jewelry, the mirror frame that my mom made when she worked at a frame shop when she was a young woman that held my grandma's makeup, her antique brush and mirror, statues of a man and woman that I have had in every one of my houses, a small framed picture that I retrieved from her house when she went into the nursing home. My most treasured possession is her Bible.


 



One thing I regret is that I didn't talk to her enough. I didn't ask about what she was doing during World War II, how she was raised, things she did for fun when she was a girl, dreams she had, goals she met, etc. I learned a smattering of things about her through the years but I never sat and had an intentional conversation with her about her life. By the time I was really old enough to understand the importance of that, she was aging and conversations were a little difficult.


How I wish she was here so we could just talk.