Burn, Baby Burn

We might have a slight obsession with fire.

After working on the shed, Ben had accumulated a nice pile of wood shavings. We could compost them like good hippies, but what’s the fun in that? Making fireballs is much more exciting.

 

After that was done, we burned the dollhouse my mom and I had tried to salvage.

We ended the evening by burning our Christmas tree. It goes so fast. Next time I’ll try to remember to film it. It’s impressive!

So, that’s what you do when you live in the country and can burn things whenever you like!

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Scorched

The ladies in my Monday night Bible study were talking about how social media invites comparison. We agreed that it can be misleading when you see people on FB and Instagram posting all these happy, exciting, important things. I then pointed out, though, that people who post the bad tend to be seen as negative. It’s hard to balance.

Sometimes, as I’m blogging, I feel bragg-y. All of the pretty, shiny moments get talked about and documented but rarely the bad stuff and never the mundane stuff.

So here’s my brief remedy for that:

In the past week, I set the yard on fire….in two different spots. I was using a blow torch to kill weeds. Ben does it all the time and has never set anything on fire. I should have known better than to think that I would have the same luck. I’m incredibly fortunate that Ben was working in the backyard where the first fire was set because I had no clue! I cannot fathom how horrible that could have turned out if it had just kept on burning unchecked.

I also burned by bottom lip. Badly. I was cooking noodles, fished one out of the boiling pot to test it. When I bit into it the water inside the noodle (it was a tube noodle, like elbow macaroni) the water squirted out onto my lip. It’s hideous to behold, but it’s healing fine so I’m grateful.

As for mundane, I am tired of dealing with crummy attitudes around here. I’m tired of planning meals, purchasing ingredients, cooking homemade Paleo meals, and then getting complaints, grumbles, and looks of disgust. I know it’s my fault for putting up with it. I wouldn’t put up with that kind of constant ingratitude from anyone else. I wouldn’t allow my boys to act like that to anyone else. So why do I let them do it to me? I don’t know, but no more! I have a couple tricks up my sleeve, but if they don’t work it’s time for a strike.

So that’s it. Well, some of it. The un-glamorous parts of an ordinary life!

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Hello Spring? February Catch-Up.

Me:

I spent the last two weeks of February sick. It started with aches and chills (but no fever). Just as I was getting over that I ended up with a horrible head cold. I finally had to get serious and just clear my calendar for 4 days. I did N-O-T-H-I-N-G. And it’s exactly what I needed. I hope a time comes when I learn that lesson. When my body is sick I need rest. Instead, I rest for one day and as soon as I see even a hint of improvement I’m back at it and I only end up prolonging my misery. Ridiculous.

What else?

I’ve been practicing Spanish every day on duolingo. I’m kind of addicted.

I was invited to join a mom’s group at church which was very exciting because we’ve been at this church for over a year now and I’ve not really made any connections. I serve at the thrift store where all of the other volunteers are retired. (They are dear ladies, but we’re at such different stages of life.) I attended the group yesterday and saw several women I recognized, but hadn’t met yet. Another women attended co-op last semester. She recognized me and we started chatting and we have a lot in common. The two hours flew by and I’m really looking forward to the next meeting.

I also joined a holistic mom’s group that is hosted by my chiro once a month. I’m the oldest one there and they only woman who is not pregnant or lactating, but that’s okay! It’s really nice to be able to discuss health and wellness with other people who “get it.”

I had an awesome checkup/cleaning at the dentist. ’nuff said.

I made it all the way through 1 Samuel and am working through 2 Samuel now.

Erica and I are teaching a Little House on the Prairie class at co-op. Well, Erica is teaching it. I assist and take pictures. She is doing an amazing job. I’ve known of her love of organization, of course, but to see it in action like this is pretty cool. Every single week she has a fun craft and work pages that correspond to the current chapter. I think the kids are really enjoying it. In May we’re all taking a field trip to Perryville to visit a farm that provides a “Little House” experience.

I’ve got most of the plans in place for our next family vacation. I’m never vacationing in August again, if I can help it, so we’re going at the end of April. We’ll be heading down South. AR, LA, MS, GA, and FL. As it stands now, we’ll be spending a few days with Chelsea and Nate. I’m beside myself with excitement.

Ben: Ben spent all day Sunday the 17th working on our shed. And that was after he’d gone into church early to help with the coffee ministry. It was a warm day, but not hot. He did eat and drink throughout the day, but I guess it wasn’t enough. I woke up at 11pm to him rummaging around a drawer looking for his blood pressure cuff. His blood pressure was sky high, he was having difficulty breathing, chest pressure and chest pain. We called Karen to come crash on the couch and I drove him to the E.R.

His EKG and bloodwork all came back fine. They hooked him up to an I.V., gave him baby aspirin and some morphine, and his symptoms started to disappear. We were there for 5 hours though. I’m pretty sure this is where I picked up my nasty head cold.

The E.R. doc wanted him to follow up with a cardiologist, but after talking to our chiro and all my holistic mama friends, it really does sound like muscle fatigue/dehydration. Ben doesn’t ever drink enough water and he does not work out much at all. He’s extremely sedentary. He says he’s going to change that and I hope he follows through.

Ben’s decided to go to Guatemala in June to help build houses for widows. After a lot of run around, his passport is in and he’s excited to go. It’s a bit pricey, but it’s something he’s always wanted to do and our church sends a team down every year. I’m excited for him.

Our church is also starting a mini coffee shop every morning. They brew up tasty coffee drinks and sell them to the Sunday morning crew and all the proceeds will be used for funding missions. Ben is in heaven. He has always dreamed of having a coffee shop. We’ve just never lived anywhere that could support something like that and he’s always been way too busy to really pursue it anyway. But two ladies at our church came up with this idea and he’s going to be helping out. In fact, they may tour a coffee plantation while in Guatemala!

Luke: is still as into music as ever. He has a 45-minute lesson every Monday and then a 2-hour rehearsal with a Pop Punk band every Wednesday. Their end of season show is in May and we’re all looking forward to seeing him perform again.

Luke’s taking a health class at co-op. The first section is about general health stuff. The other section is about God’s design for dating, romance, and sex. Luckily, Luke is very open about talking about all of that, because the book they are learning from is about 100 years old and is so antiquated. Sigh. It’s been great food for discussion, I’ll give it that!

Gabe: Gabe is really growing up. In every possible way. We’ve been working with our chiro and trying different things and I guess they’re working. I’ve also cut grains out of our diet again, so maybe that’s helping, too. No major breathing issues! His vocabulary astounds me and I love to hear his take on things and the inner workings of his mind. He’s getting ready to be 10 and is counting down the days.

He’s also growing again, so that’s nice! He hates to grow out of his clothes, but he also hates getting mistaken for a 6/7 year old! I know he’ll never be big for his age, but average would be nice. We can do average.

So that’s February in a (big) nutshell. I can’t believe how fast it went!

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Mourn with Those Who Mourn

Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you. 

Isaiah 54:10

Mother and Child

I don’t know why bad things happen period, but when they happen to good, innocent, people it’s doubly hard to wrap my mind around. I’m grateful I don’t have to understand to know that the God I serve and love has got everything under control. That seems so meager in hard times, but I know it’s true. And I know that he is the God of restoration and healing and can bring beauty from ashes.

Lord, hold Geof and Gen and their sweet children. Help them feel your peace and comfort. Give sympathy and wisdom to those who are close to them who are caring for them during this difficult time.

Thank you for the beautiful life of Sebastian. Thank you that even a brief life holds so much value and meaning and can touch the lives and hearts of so many people. We won’t forget him, Lord, and we’re grateful for the time he did have on this earth. Amen.

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Valentine’s Day 2017

In years past I’ve cooked a fun breakfast or dinner (depending on the day of the week ), set the table with fancy dishes, and made a bit of a fuss. This year, I woke up sick and just didn’t have it in me to do much of anything.

Thankfully, Ben had decided to pick up some breakfast goodies the night before as a surprise. They weren’t exactly healthy, but it was gluten and dairy-free so I appreciated that!

Thankfully, I’m usually pretty good at not waiting until the last minute on things so I had little gifts for Ben and the boys. For Ben, I’d picked up some “healthy” chocolate peanut butter cups. Each boy received a book. I just had to wrap it all and then print out my valentines and affix a little chocolate heart (ordered from Equal Exchange).

For dinner, I whipped up some pancake batter and Ben made the pancakes. We topped them with some blueberry-lavender jelly we’d picked up in Maplewood and it was a tasty dinner! I’d tried to color them pink by adding a few strawberries to the batter but that did nothing at all. Note taken.

Ben and I had already celebrated by taking a few hours to ourselves on Sunday afternoon. We wondered around Maplewood for a bit and had some coffee, explored Penzy’s and a book shop, and had fun looking at goodies in a shop that sold locally-made products.

He surprised me on Tuesday by placing sweet post-it notes all over the house for me to find.

It was a bummer being sick, but love isn’t just about the good times. It’s also about the not-so-good times and how you overcome them as a couple/family. My guys were sweet to me and let me get lots of rest. And what says “I love you” more than an uninterrupted nap?

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Cliff Cave Hike

We were blessed with amazing weather this past weekend. Low 70s!

I told the guys, earlier in the week, to prepare themselves for an outdoor adventure because we were absolutely going to be taking advantage of such unseasonable weather.

We went back to Cliff Cave Park and decided to do explore some of the trails we missed last time.

Cliff Cave Park in the Mississippi Greenway offers stunning views of the Mississippi atop rocky bluffs that tower 170 feet over the river. It lies within one of the most naturally diverse plant and animal communities in the region, offering rocky, droughty hillsides as well as woodlands and wetlands.

This unique park within the greenway gets its name from the cave tucked in the bluffs of south St. Louis County.  There is tremendous folklore surrounding the area, including stories from its past as a riverside tavern during the early exploration days of Missouri, a hideout for horse thieves as well a summer camping area for native Americans. It is known for its Karst topography – a region where the bedrock has been dissolved or collapsed, leading to caves or sinkholes.

First we walked along the bluff. It was a ton of fun with lots of steep climbing.

Starting out near the river.

Taking in the view

Now the workout begins.

Path along the ledge

First buds of spring

Leaving the woods

We climbed up the cliff, found a path in the woods, and then wound our way down to the road.

We followed the road for just a bit then crossed over to another path. Luke and Ben were already ready to head back to the car, but Gabe was just getting started. We hiked up a hill and found a slow-moving stream.

Erosion on the banks

We sat for a bit and then moved on.

We found the remnants of an old car.

Finally, we happened upon the trail for the cave itself.

The Cave

From the cave looking out.

Trail alongside the cave creek.

Following this trail lead us back to the road which we then followed back to our car. We’d stayed a bit longer than originally planned, but I’m so glad we did. I think this may be our new favorite local hiking trail!

Tracks

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Birds of a Feather

For years I had a cute heart wreath to hang on the door for Valentine’s Day.

I was randomly given a Styrofoam heart. I wrapped it in yarn and added a few handmade book-page flowers to it. That lasted for a couple years then the yard faded and the flowers looked sad so I stripped it down and hot-glued a bunch of scrunched book pages to it. That lasted for a couple years until a particularly strong wind storm came through and broke the wreath completely in half.

I was determined to make something new this year and not be (super) cheap about it. Because that’s what I often do. I don’t want to spend money and I don’t want to go without so I make a super cheap and often lame version of something that I have pictured in my head. That may seem like a sensible thing to do, but if I end up disliking what I settled for then it seems more like a waste of money than a prudent purchase.

I wandered through the floral section of Michael’s muttering to myself like a crazy lady for about 45 minutes but I finally made my selection and after 30 minutes of crafting at home I had this:

Love birds

I have a thing about birds and I honestly don’t know why. I love watching and feeding birds. I unknowingly accumulated a ton of bird decor over the years. I seriously didn’t even realize my apparent adoration of birds until someone else mentioned it to me and I was dumbfounded! How does a person not even know they like something? How could I fill my house with bird prints and pictures and collectibles and not even realize I was doing so? Especially as I do not like birds in person. They completely terrify me. Even pets. I cannot stand for them to be flying about my head. Total and complete panic.

Anyway, the store didn’t have any Styrofoam wreaths so that lead to me choosing this twine wreath. Then I saw the birds and the nest. Then I saw those pretty flowers on clearance. The moss was something I already had. And the ribbon looked like it would go well with the natural theme I had going on.

So there it is, the story of my little love bird nest which is complete and ready to greet everyone who comes to our door!

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Homeschool Organization

Over the years I’ve tried different approaches to homeschool supplies. In our previous home, the boys were little so I didn’t have much in the way of dedicated homeschool supplies or curriculum. I had one little shelf that I put everything on and that was that.

When we moved to our current house we had an extra bedroom that became the homeschool room. Around that same time my mom moved and bequeathed all her homeschool supplies and curriculum to me. It was a lot. 7 kids and…..I don’t even know how many years worth of curriculum and books and supplies. It was a lot.

Then we added on to the house and had to get rid of a bedroom. It made the most sense to knock out a wall and make the homeschool room open to more of a dining room. Because you can now see into that room from the moment you walk into the house, I felt like I needed to repaint, declutter, and spruce it up.

I carefully combed through the mountains of books given to me by my mom and ended up donating a lot. Some of the highschool level books were packed up and moved to the basement. The remaining few were placed on bookshelves in Luke’s room.

That didn’t leave much in the way of day-to-day supplies so I hauled a crate up from the basement and stacked everything in there. At the beginning of the year there were some hanging files, our workbooks, and then a plastic box containing pencils, tape, etc.

But halfway through the year it starts to look like this:

We started doing school at the kitchen table and the idea was that I could stash the crate away at the end of the day. Or at least at the end of the week. But it got so full and then overflowing that I didn’t bother and so this is what stared at us every. single. day.

Every year, about this time, I clean it out and it does help, but it still just wasn’t enough. And that’s where my beloved IKEA came in.

We were shopping at IKEA the other day and I saw this cart:

It was love at first site. Baby, you’re coming home with me.

I put it together myself in about 30 minutes and transferred everything over right away.

Ah, that’s better. And it rolls so I can just roll it into a nook in the dining room where you can’t even see it.

I love, love, love it and don’t know why I did’t think about doing something different sooner!

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Polar Plunge Fun

Despite the misleading name, the Polar Plunge had nothing to do with swimming! Let’s just get that out of the way!

This past summer, the boys attended a VBS at the church of some friends. Since then, we’ve been invited to several special events hosted by the church. We haven’t been able to make any of them, but I’m happy to say this one worked for us. It was a blast!

 

Read to go.

The church rented out the tubing section for the night so there wasn’t a huge crowd. This meant that the kiddos didn’t have to wait in long lines. They were able to make 10 runs or so. I think I did about 5 before I was tired of walking up the hill!

Ready to get going

Heading up

Wheee!

Done and all in one piece!

Afterward we grabbed dinner together and the boys were in heaven.

I’m glad we had this opportunity because it’s just not something we’d do otherwise. It was great exercise and a ton of fun!

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Girl’s Night In

I’m so glad to have a best friend who enjoys the same things I do!

The bestie decided to try and get a small group of ladies together once a month to do a craft. As a crafty introvert I wholeheartedly support this plan!

We each chipped in a few dollars and she provided several ideas and goodies for us to create with.

I chose this:

I’m determined to find his some little twig arms. I think it’ll complete him nicely.

It was kind of fun to have some direction but still a lot of leeway for personalization. I really enjoyed seeing what everyone came up with and am really looking forward to next time!

 

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