Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Wednesday Hodgepodge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is your goodbye message to summer?

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

Insert your own random thought here.

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

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Our Schedule

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

So far, this is how things look for us:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4:00 p.m. Eli completes school.

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

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

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

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

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

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

And then we do it all over again.

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

This is us. What about you?

Friday, September 15, 2017

Journey Journal ~ Sick

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Journey Journal ~ A FAIRly good week!

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

In between the fairs we had schoolwork to do.

Map tracing ... awesome!

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

Also reading aloud out of Brighty of the Grand Canyon.

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

Igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks using Starbursts.

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

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

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

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

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

She's on the back left.

The benchwarmers.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Journey Journal ~ We Rocked It

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

School life is good.

Thursday, August 31, 2017


August was ridiculously busy!

Annual week at the lake with Okie friends.

It's a highlight of our summer!

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

Brynne celebrated her 12th birthday.

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

Bennett turned ONE!

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

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

Brynne re-entered public school.

Benny had a fun first birthday party!

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

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

Eli started his 8th grade year homeschooling.

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

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Wednesday Hodgepodge

Can you believe we're rolling into the Labor Day weekend? What's a project you'll labor over this fall?

Well, I won't exactly be physically laboring over it myself, but I will be supervising it, hearing it constantly, and cleaning up after it. We just started a renovation at our house on Monday turning our attic into a master suite and second living area. Our roof is getting replaced tomorrow. Then we are gutting and completely renovating our one bathroom, tearing down a garage, adding a privacy fence, and installing a new HVAC to our ground floor.

Tell us about the best perks you ever had in a job?

You know, the best thing I can think of was when I had health insurance that I paid an extra $15 a month for (because my employer paid the base cost) that had a maximum yearly out-of-pocket amount of $100. Man, those days are over!

August 31st is National South Carolina Day. Have you ever been to SC? Any desire to go? According to Southern Living, these are the top ten things to do in South Carolina ... explore Charleston; bike, golf, or relax on Hilton Head Island; see the beach and boardwalk at Myrtle Beach; visit the state museum in the capital city Columbia; observe the wildlife and natural beauty of the Ace Basin; take a walk or. hop on a trolley and check out Greenville's charming Main Street; visit Fort Sumter where the Civil War began; stroll through Pearl Fryar's Topiary Garden in Bishopville leaving time to check out The Button Museum, also in Bishopville; see Morgan Island (also known as Monkey Island) - home to nearly 4000 Rhesus monkeys. Which is the most appealing to you today? If you're a SC native, resident, or frequent visitor what would you add to the list?

Take me to Charleston! Then move on to that relaxation on Hilton Head Island, a walk on the beach at Myrtle Beach, and finish it off with a walk through Greenville.

Beef, pork, country-style, barbecued, baby back, spare or short ... your favorite kind of rib? What's a dish you enjoy that really 'sticks to your ribs'?

I am not a huge rib eater or barbecue fan, but I do have a crock pot boneless pork rib recipe with homemade barbecue sauce that is pretty good. That with some cheesy potatoes and garlic sautéed green beans, and I am pretty happy. I would prefer a good meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and corn, however!

What's one important skill you think every person should have? Why?

Car repair. Because it's something you almost always have to pay a lot of money to have done. Wouldn't it be great if we could diagnose our own car problems and fix them without the stress of hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of dollars for something we have to have, so we are forced to come up with the money? Even the little issues cost a ton to diagnose and get repaired.

Insert your own random thought here.

Blogging is something that has been hit or miss with me the past couple of years, especially since I opened an Instagram account. It's just so much easier to take a quick snapshot and post a small paragraph about it. But I love blogging! And I want to keep it up. I have so many things I could talk about but then talk myself out of it believing that nobody really wants to hear my jabbering. My confidence level in a lot of areas has been a little squished, and I think that has been reflected in my lack of blogging. Should I post about the things that are on my mind? I haven't yet decided. I have a few ideas to get back into something a little more regular. Maybe I will.

Monday, August 28, 2017

The Big One

On Saturday we celebrated Bennett's First Birthday with family and friends. It was a great party and Kyndal did such a fantastic job with the food and decorations! Bennett had a fun day!