Monday, February 23, 2015

Books January - February 2015

1 - 2 - 3. Uglies, Prettties, Special - Scott Westerfeld
4 - 5. Land of Stories books 1 and 2 - Chris Colfer
6. The Swish of the Curtain - Pamela Brown
7. Maddy Alone - Pamela Brown
8. Golden Pavements - Pamela Brown
9. The Blue Door Venture  - Pamela Brown

Fiction for my Kids (not counting picture books)
1. Haffertee Hamster - Janet and John Perkins
2. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever - Barbara Robinson

1. One Thousand Gifts - Ann Voscomp
2. 102 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum - Cathy Duffy

Friday, February 20, 2015

7 Quick Takes (vol. 36)

#1 - We've been off work this week, and I immediately came down with a terrible cold. It's been cold outside, so snuggling inside has been a good option for most of this week. Snow, well, that's laughable. While the rest of the east coast seems to be under mountains of snow and ice, we got maybe half an inch on Monday (the girls were off school that day--President's day).

So they cancelled school for Tuesday. On Tuesday afternoon, we got about 30 minutes of a light dusting.

So they cancelled school for Wednesday.

Thursday was really cold. Like a high of 15 or so. So they cancelled school for Thursday.

And apparently (because admittedly this is a large county) there is still ice on the roads in some places (but not in town where we are), so they cancelled school for Friday.

To make up for four days of missed school. Kids have a half day of school on Saturday. Which is a joke because we've done Saturday school make-up days in this county before, and the kids will watch movies and do nothing of significance.

Did I mention we're off duty? Yeah...we are. And I'm glad. 

More possibility of snow next week though. Maybe we'll manage two weeks off in a row!

#2 - One thing I've been doing while we're off (well, I started a few weeks ago, have just been finishing pieces this week), is doing a major overhaul of our house. We live in 400 sq feet. And while I'm not anti small-house living, it definitely does require some serious planning on furniture arrangements, etc. I finally got sorted through some areas that I've been avoiding doing for awhile. And then I made a list of what needed to be done to rearrange, remove, and create some more space in our little home.

13 item list. Which a few items of which were possible to do one step at a time, but most of which required moving Item A to point B, moving Item C to Point D, so that I can then move Item A to Point get the idea.

End result, I love it. Two big pieces of furniture are now gone, a chest that was in our room has been moved out of the room, thus reclaiming some serenity space for my bedroom, and a new bookshelf is now in the kid's room, designed for storing toys in a better manner.

Everything feels a little more breathable, and I feel good with the large boxes of miscellaneous items now gone. Still have one more area to sort through, and then comes the next tasks of putting in some major work on catching up on my scrapbooks so I can get rid of the boxes taking space in my closet. Once I've caught up on these last few physical scrapbooks, I'm switching to digital only.


#3 - Also on my list to do this week: edit one paper for a grad student.

Several hours later: check.


#4 -  This past three weeks (shift), has been crazy. Starting with jet lag fighting for about 10 days, combined with Zander's birthday, Valentine's Day, training sessions, and now I'm tired. I'm having a hard time registering that it's only been a month since we were in Thailand. Feels like a lifetime ago.

Oh, and did I mention that my daughter has been making steady plans about what she's doing the next time we're there? :)  bwa ha ha....the travel bug gene has been activated!


#5 - Been doing some research on kindergarten. Cause my baby is old enough to start kindgarten this year. That fact frightens me. So, my main focus with kindergarten, because in reality I don't necessarily believe kindergarten is necessary, But on the flip side, Blue wants to be in school. So, hey, why not. Reading and writing is definitely on her priority list, so there's not reason it shouldn't be on mine.

Unschooling, while something I've considered, is not my style. However, Before Five in a Row has been fun this year, so I think we're going to take the Five in a Row route instead. I like the idea of learning to read with "real books" instead of readers that have no real story and get boring after the first time. I figure Five in a Row--with it's use of great kid's books, should be a good help in that regards.

#6 - And there's my Baby Z, who is rapidly grown out of Babyhood and into Toddlerhood. His language skills continue to explode, and his sense of humor is hysterical. Everything is "funny" or "silly," and he looks for every opportunity to make people laugh.


#7 - Two year old Birthday Party. Spoiled greatly. Apparently living in a house full of girls leads to much love.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Daybook -- February 2, 2015

Outside my window...It is bucketing down with rain. Such a gloomy day. Post-Superbowl depression?

I am thinking...that I forgot to write our cottage sponsorship letter for January. Oops! Guess I should get that done ASAP! I have a reputation to uphold for staying on top of those.

I am thankful for...a good group of cottage girls. They make life cheerful and satisfying. I know it won't stay this way for long, but I'm enjoying it while we have it.

From the learning rooms...[or in our case--the learning brain]...Baby Z is changing every day. His language skills are growing exponentially. And his interactions with toys and people are great. He is so much more focused on exploring and analyzing "things" than his sister ever was. He will sit and play with a toy for a long time, enjoying what he can make with them and do. I love it.

From the kitchen...Came quite a lot of yummy food yesterday. We had chicken wings and french fries (sweet potato fries for those of us attempting more paleoesque eating....we won't mention the batch of GF brownies that I couldn't resist making) and cheese dip and chips and veggie trays. In addition to brownies and cookies and other yumminess. How to convert girls to the Superbowl? Feed them well.

I am wearing...Sweats and a shirt because in order to get some writing time in and some exercise time in, I have to do both first thing in the morning before my smallest are allowed out and about. Because once they're out, I'm done for!

I am creating...Valentine's day and birthday plans. A 2 year old party (just cake and presents this year) and of course V-day fun for all my kids.

I am going...tonight, to take one of the girls to her second ballet class at a proper studio. As a Christmas present from one of the groups, they kindly gave her a semester of ballet classes. While I'm grateful that she is getting this experience, the ballet snob in me is cringing a little bit because the studio itself, just from initial feel, is not one I would have chosen. Highly competition focused and not very professional feeling. Interestingly enough, I was talking to a friend the other day, and she said that someone else had just had that same vibe from that studio, so it made me feel a little less snobby and instead feel like I can chalk it up to sheer experience (ha ha).

In my mailbox today.. .should hopefully be some presents that I've ordered for the above mentioned events. More wooden train tracks for Baby Z's trains to run on. We are train obsessed currently. And I'm good with it.

I am reading.. .a series of books called The Blue Doors. This is actually a very old young adult series that I only ever read the first one of growing up, and I finally got my hands on all five of the books (quite short), and have been enjoying reading the rest of the series. The first book, The Swish of the Curtain (Pamela Brown being the, at the time, 14 year old author!) was one of my favorites, and I can't begin to count how many times I read it. It's a very theatrical series, and quite a good read....just like getting closure!

I am stick well with this paleo eating thing for awhile as I really am enjoying how it is making me feel (minus a few exceptions like some chocolate and the occasional GF brownie). I'm finding my limits and learning how to best utilize them.

I am hearing...the sounds of the cottage girls getting ready for their day (giggles and vacuums and the occasional question coming my way). And wind howling around the side of the house. Really, it's best described as wuthering.

Around the house...I am officially unpacked and have most of our new decor from Thailand hung up/placed as desired. Happiness is pictures of elephants and floating markets.

One of my favorite things...watching my daughter interact with different groups of people. She has grown up around older kids her whole life, and I don't know if it's that or just her personality, but she has quite a level of maturity to her in her interactions with all kids (both her age and older). I'm curious to see how this works out in her life as she grows up.

A few plans for the rest of the week:
- ballet classes x3 (one cottage girl, one Blueberry, and I need to start back up with the campus girls)
- one birthday party to plan for and have
- Prayer session (we're doing a ten week class on campus)
- staff meeting
- weekend plans, TBD. Girls want to go shopping. I guess we'll see.

Here is picture (or more) for thought I am sharing...
This hands-behind-the-back thing is very new and extremely cute.

Want to join in? Go check out The Simple Woman's Daybook.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

In response to the accusations, finger-pointing, nose-snubbing, guilt-charging, and overall negativity peppering my facebook page regarding Katie Perry and her Superbowl halftime show (not that I'm in any way endorsing the halftime show, it was turned off at our house):

3 If you, Lord, kept a record of sins,
    Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
    so that we can, with reverence, serve you.

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
    and in his word I put my hope.

Psalm 130:3 - 5

Saturday, January 31, 2015

TCK - Going Home all Grown Up

To see the land of my childhood through the eyes of my children

To experience the sights and smells and tastes of my dreams via the senses of my kids

To relive the language and experiences of my growing up with the voice and being of my daughter

To visit long-hidden memories through the actions of my son

Sweet Surreality

Monday, January 26, 2015

There and Back Again

The last two weeks have flown by so quickly, my head is in a whirl trying to catch up again. Or maybe that's the jet lag? Either way, my head is a little whirly.

At this time, two weeks ago, my little family ad I were boarding an airplane to fly to New York - to board another airplane to fly to Seoul, Korea - to board a final airplane to fly to Bangkok, Thailand. At which point, Tuesday night, 11pmish, we were greeted by my parents and whisked away in a car to Hua Hin where we spent the next 10 days enjoying tropical weather, good food, and wonderful company.

Then Saturday the 24th at 12:30am we reversed the whole process, managing to arrive back home by 3pm, still Saturday the 24th. Time is a funny thing.

It was so wonderful being home. And what I find most significant is that it was still home. Which reinforces the idea that home is not a place but a concept. I was able to walk into a house I've never seen before (except in pictures), live in a town I've never lived in before (although I've been there numerous times as a child as we frequently went to that particular town when we were going to the beach), and feel completely as if I had come home.

Granted, much of the furniture of the house was familiar to me (although not all), and the pictures on the walls reflected the childhoods of me and my siblings, and even the silverware and the dishes and yes even a few swim towels are all those I grew up with...and that all helps.

But it's the foods we ate (and the fruit--oh how I have missed Thai fruit--mangoes that melt in your mouth, bananas that have true flavor, som-o, papaya, guava, I must stop raving...), the language that surrounded me, the smells and even the weather that we were blessed with, all of it just felt right. I was finally home.

And now, as I sit here early in the morning, listening to my cottage girls getting ready for school, trying to wake my brain up entirely after a rough night with a little boy who hasn't managed jet lag well at all (its 11pm, let's play!!), and to find my rhythm again, and I find that here, too, I am home. But it is a different home.

It's the home that has been mine in 13 years of marriage; mine through work and tears and adult growth. And the foods are different, the sounds and smells not at all the same, but my home it still is.

And I am satisfied. 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Thankfullness - 1000 Gifts January I

1. 4 Gifts Heard

- Beauty of four blended voices in a cappella. Thank you Pentatonix for adding some memorable sound to our Christmas this year.


2. A Gift Outside, Inside, and on a plate

- A visit to the Billy Graham library with the beauty of Christmas lights all around, a fire and Christmas stories inside, and a cup of hot chocolate at home to warm up.


3. 3 Graces you overheard

- Whispered to a baby brother, "I love you."

- A conversation between two residents over the phone, comparing their Christmases. And the statement of the one with us about how "Christmas should be about spending time with family" (although this is not her history of Christmases). Warm fuzzies that she has seen this new concept.

- "I like your hair," one resident from another cottage to one of the girls here (whose hair I did). Some needed validation :)

4. A Gift Old, New, Blue

- Red Touchscreen gloves for free which look lovely with my red scarf given to me a few years ago with my darling blue coat. I feel stylish.

5. Something you're reading, making, seeing

- A show that awakens and intrigues the mind, a pleasant heightening of tension and suspense without overt negative words or images, and a satisfactory conclusion to it all--Poirot.

6. One thing in your bag, your fridge, your heart

 - suckers for the child needing a bit of sweet pacification on the road

- a chilled bottle of Kombucha for a tired day needing a pick me up

- whispered sweetness from my love


7. 3 Graces from people you love

- squeezy baby hugs, even when I'm tired of holding him, my heart still melts.

- "You're the best mommy ever!"

- Words of affirmation from my darling, letting me know I'm doing well in our relationship.

8. Dusky light, surprising reflection, lovely shadow

- A very full moon, hidden on the horizon, a freezing cold night of lovely clearness.

9. A gift held, passed by, sat with

- a cuddly four year old who wants to snuggle and nap with me

- two happy children, playing nicely, sharing, and being kind. What else can any mommy ask? So i left them alone to continue.

- A sad child who trusts enough to talk to us and seek advice and support.

10. A gift sour, sweet, just right

- lemon meringue pie. seriously. What better thing can one taste?

11. 3 Graces from people you love

- a super mom cape for Christmas--because that's just fun

 - kindness shown from a big sister to a little brother--it warms my heart to see her care

- a blown goodnight kiss from a child who came to me angry and affection avoidant

Friday, January 9, 2015

7 Quick Takes (vol. 36)

#1 - 60 hours and I leave to go home!!!!!!!! I'm not excited or anything, can you tell? We're all packed other than a last few little things to throw in at the last minute. We've spent the week putting away Christmas decorations around the cottage, getting the cottage cleaned up and prepped for us being gone, and cleaning up our own humble 400 sq feet. The clock is ticking at a steady pace, and I'm feeling like when we leave I will leave my house in a good state to come back to, which was the goal.

#2 - Been looking for some cute kid-friendly "thank you" cards. I've pinned several lately, but I particularly like this style, at least for the current age we're at. I'm thinking: things to do on the many hours on airplanes coming up.

kids coloring–thank you cards –free printable

#3 - Trying to teach our squirrely older five Settlers of Catan. Three of them have played before (although either a long time ago or just a few times), and the other two have never played before. Chris is playing, and I'm being general adviser. Which is very tricky when you know what everyone has and are trying to advise fairly. And those you are advising have brains made of sieves....


#4 - In my never ending search for homeschool ideas and resources, I ran across this little article the other day: How I’m Using Spiral Notebooks to Simplify Homeschooling.   I like this article with it's simple view on how to organize, especially when juggling a lot. I feel this is something that's going to be very useful in a few years.


#5 - I bought Chris the board game Pandemic for Christmas. It is proving to be such a fun game! Totally a cooperative-play game, which is nice. Perfect for two people. And a quick play. Plus you save the world. Really, what is there not to love?


#6 - Other games we bought for Christmas: Dixit and Say Anything. These are really fun games as well. Dixit is like Apples to Apples but with pictures. Very imagination and family friendly. Say Anything can be hysterically funny and very thought-provoking depending on (a) who is playing and (b) how tired you are.


#7 - One of my more recent creations--the never ending rope. Fast, fun, easy, and cute:

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Daybook January 7, 2015

Outside my is a cold and blustery day. No, really. It is. It's also very dark out there as it is only 6:30am. Why am I writing at 6:30am? Because I'm trying something new. I have laid out a blog schedule for every day (not for each blog that I have, just a rotation of them), and as I have to be up at 5:30am every week morning, I'm trying to write in the wee hours to stay up on my blogs and, more importantly, my writing. We'll see how it works out. I normally come out, get the elementary girls up (of which I only have two currently), and do my devotions as they run through their school-morning routine on auto-pilot (they leave so early in the morning, they eat breakfast at school, and they are well-trained in what they need to do in the morning to the point where even our Relief Houseparents comment that they just get through their mornings with minimal input--goal achieved!). Normally when I'm done devotioning, I start working on some of the paperwork etc I need to do. But I'm determined to use this time for writing instead. It keeps me center in the cottage so I'm there to keep an eye on things and help as needed, but still use my peaceful morning to the best of my abilities.

I am thinking...of my countdown to Thailand currently going on--five more days!!! Yes, I'm excited. Getting giddy in fact. But with lots to do in the meantime, which is good because it makes the time go fast.

I am thankful for...a job that allows me to be able to travel like this. Not all the time, of course, but I do love our schedule here.

From the learning rooms...[or in our case--the learning brain]...we've been focusing on (what else!) Thailand the last week. Teaching Blue how to say Saw-wat-di-ka and kop-kun-ka (Hello/Goodbye and thank you). Reading The Little blue Tuk Tuk, and some other books on Thailand we have. Prepping her for some probable poking and prodding as the inevitable of being a cute, blond, little girl over there.

From the kitchen...

I am wearing...nothing exciting. Just jeans and a shirt. Oh, and my lovely new treble clef earrings that were my Christmas present from my husband.

I am New Year's resolutions. I know, I know. New Year's is over now, but I have found that I like to spend the first month of the year contemplating how I want to tackle the rest of the year and then starting in on those plans in February. Otherwise, in the hustle and bustle of December, I never really feel like I get much contemplation time in regarding these things. What can I say? I'm a planner.

I am hopefully get some new dishes for the cottage today. We're currently working with two very miss-matched sets that don't have enough of either set to form a full table (granted, we require lots of dishes for our meals, but still!). It'd be nice to just have one or even two sets that blend nicely.

In my mailbox today.. .I don't know! However, I do need to finish my Christmas thank you cards and get those sent out. And then perhaps someday I'll actually send out a Christmas New Years greeting of some sort. Sigh.

I am reading.. .Ann Voskamp's 1000 Gift. A book I've been wanting to read for awhile, and also a Christmas gift from my husband-dear.

I am go back to a more paleo-esque diet when we return from Thailand. Tried it out in November/first part of December and actually really liked it (took me about a year to work up the courage to try it, lol!). Lost 5 pounds in 5 weeks with no effort, and had more energy. December was rough and I finally just gave up in disgust, knowing something had to give somewhere and doing the cooking that was necessary to make the paleo work was it. However, now that I have tried it and know what I'm looking at and what will need to be done to eat that way, I'm actually looking forward to making that a regular part of my life this next year (with exceptions along the way). We'll see how I feel after several months.

I am hearing...the heat blowing through the vents. The chatter of the twins as they get ready for the day. And the vague sound of someone's radio playing worship music. Good start to the morning.

Around the Christmas decorations are almost entirely down. I started yesterday, planning on just putting a few things away. Well, I managed to get everything packed and ready to be stored. What is left is the outdoor lights (only one string this year), and the tree itself, and the boxes. All of which are lucky husband's job to do. I was originally thinking it would have to wait until we got back from Thailand, so yes, I'm patting myself on the back over this one!

One of my favorite things...watching my children play together. Blueberry is a great big sister, determined to teach Baby Z well, and Baby Z absolutely adores her and generally likes to follow her lead (although he is decidedly opinionated still on what he wants to do).

A few plans for the rest of the week:
  • finish the last bits of packing (mostly ready to go, just the final things to toss in)
  • go out to dinner with the cottage! We were blessed with a very kind donation to let us go out to dinner and a movie as a cottage. A rare treat in our lives. Haven't told the girls yet, but they will be super excited when we do.
  • get thank you cards written and squared away
  • get the cottage in shape to pass down to our relief's while we are gone
  • get my house clean and tidy before we go so I can come back to peace and not chaos
Here is picture (or more) for thought I am sharing...

I love this picture of my Blueberry. This was her first Christmas performance-type-thing she's ever done. I was worried she wasn't going to participate, but in the end she did and had a blast.

Want to join in? Go check out The Simple Woman's Daybook.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

“There’s always something to look at if you open your eyes.” – Fifth Doctor, Peter Davison

Friday, January 2, 2015

7 Quick Takes (vol. 35)

#1 - The ending of last year and the beginning of this year has been quite full, almost like a crazy version of the 12 days of Christmas. 19 Christmas parties in 10 days, followed by three cases of the flu, Christmas visitors in the form of my big brother and sister-in-law, two friends dealing with tragedy, and a very long trip to Tennessee to help one of said friends.

#2 - My harrowing trip to Tennessee went something like this: The plan - 3.5 hour trip with Z in time to arrive and watch two little girls while their mommy has a hard day. The actuality: sheeting rain followed by thick fog followed by an insane GPS that changed my directions in the middle of the craziness and sent me into the mountains instead of the direct route I intended to follow (apparently the normal road was under major construction). After realizing the turn I was on was not the one I wanted, I went ahead and took that route because it would get me there relatively close to the time the other path would have, just a much more windy route. All fine and well until the road stopped due to a major accident that stopped both directions of traffic. Long story short, my trip turned into a 6.5 hour trek complete with at least one moment of tearful breakdown....and one son who had one as well.

#3 - Despite my own tiredness from the long shift and the exhausting drive, I'm glad I was able to go for a few days to help out Hillery. Her mother died just before Christmas. There's nothing more helpless-feeling inducing than seeing a dear one hurting and not being able to help. My ability to help here has still been limited, but going for a few days to be there, clean house, help cook, and generally try to be supportive was the best I could do. In times like this, what is one to say other than to give love.


#4 - I will now spend the last few off days of this week packing and preparing for Thailand! Yayness! Seven years, it has been, since I've been home. I can't wait, despite the long flight we face with our two little ones. Lord help us and everyone traveling around us!


#5 - I've been enjoying some Poirot recently. Netflix just released several new seasons, and it's been delightful watching his "leetle gray cells" at work. As these are all later seasons, I'm not as familiar with these episodes as I am earlier ones. The fresh mystery is always fun.


#6 - This is the second Christmas in a row that Blueberry has come down with the flu around Christmas. I'm grateful that other than the coughing that lasted for quite awhile, both she and Z recovered relatively quickly and painlessly, and both were able to actually participate in and enjoy their Christmas year.  Favorite present--a tunnel and a small trampoline to keep my two bouncy children, well, bouncing!


#7 -  

One Year Ago Today

On this day, one year ago, we completely changed our lives. We drove away from jobs and home and loved ones to a new adventure of the very m...