In which a lighthearted podcast makes me think deep thoughts.

I just love Close Reads Podcast. I know I've said more than once that I really struggle to stay current with most podcasts because of my inability to focus on someone talking when the kids are makin' all the noise. But the Close Reads Podcast is worth finding that time. When they wrapped up their Pride and Prejudice Series I was so sad because I didn't think it could get better than that - but then they started a Lord Peter Wimsey novel and you guys, it got better! Of course, I've got a huge list of book in my to-be-read pile but I want to abandon them now to re-read this Lord Peter Series and I'm not sure how that will happen but I'll figure out a way something.

  was literally laughing out loud in the car this week listening to it. Which is saying a lot because I was driving home from a rather annoying appointment at the gynecologist. Form that mental picture then quickly let it go and only keep the part where you realize I obviously didn't get in the car in a super chipper mood. But I was able to quickly put that all behind me and just enjoy these three and their book banter.

Two parts in particular stood out to me. First, the part at the beginning about how old mysteries and detective novels were still quality literature. I love old school mysteries. So that was a nice reminder that while I'm glad I am stretching myself in trying new types of books, I don't need to feel guilty if I revert back to some good old fashioned Whodunits.

I also really enjoyed the little rabbit trail about side jobs and how lots of classical teachers and writers would love to just sit and read and ponder things all day but they gotta pay the bills. Even the amazingly talented Dorothy Sayers. The writing/thinking/academics of her life was in many ways was her "side job."  It wasn't the podcast's main theme by a long shot but it really got me thinking about my life. I'm not sure if "Homeschool Mother" is my side job and "Book Reader and Deep Thinker" is my dream or if it's the other way around. I can't imaging my life without either part. I'm not sure if it's actually something Charlotte Mason said or not but there is a saying in the CM circles that children need: Something to love, Something to do, and Something to think about. That's not just true of children but all people. And moms are people too ;-) But being a "Homeschool Mom" means I've got all those things covered.

It's so different from what the world seems to think a SAHM's life is like. They imagine drudgery and being "stuck" at home, they focus on the giving up of opportunities. That's just not how I see it at all. Yes, I work hard. And yes, choosing one thing means I can't choose another. But I can have my cake and eat it to, I just have to eat the chocolate cake I choose, not the carrot cake I didn't.

I didn't get all mushy in my anniversary post so I feel like I can safely do so just a tad here. But I'm really so blessed to have a husband who wants that same lifestyle. I can't just say "works hard to pay the bills so I can stay home" - although that is true, he does and I appreciate it. But its more that that, it's that the vision we had for what our lives would look like 10 years ago has materialized.

Not perfectly, but pretty darn close. I may have imagined fun family nights like the one we had Tuesday with us all roller skating together. And I may have imagined tucking my little ones into bed and getting a big hug around neck with an accompanying "Good night, mama!"

Oh, the fun that was had - before it wasn't!

I'm pretty sure I didn't dream of the huge meltdown that had both Jonah and I losing our cool in front of Lucy's American Heritage Girl Troop (you know, not just random strangers at the grocery store but people I have to see AGAIN!) before I had to carry him thrashing out of the roller skating rink and strap him into his car seat. But once he was in and knew he couldn't go anywhere, he calmed down and so did I and by the time we were home we were both ready to apologize so the hugs still happened.

So did the night of my tossing and turning and pondering my current book study group book Norms and Nobility and whether virtue can be taught and how can I teach virtue when I fail daily and then prayer and the reassurances God brought of HIS faithfulness and forgiveness. And the reminder via one of my favorite literary quotes that "Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it." No, that all wasn't in my mind ten years ago. But in a way, that WAS part of the dream, I just didn't know it.

And that tomorrow did come. Along with morning cuddles, complete with an extra "I love you so much mama, do you want to snuggle with me? I'll share my lovey with you." And that is why I can say, I'm living the dream.


I feel like my pictures are skewing the importance of these events

Last weekend was one of those when you look at the calendar and are thinking "well, it technically all works as long as nobody needs to eat, breathe or pee for 48 hrs." But in the end, a big ice storm came and everything was canceled.

 At first I was a little annoyed. Okay, maybe a little more than a little annoyed because I was supposed to have a very important doctor's appointment (that I had been waiting months for! ARG!) but overall, it was actually pretty nice. Most of the events will be rescheduled and Craig got an extra day of weekend that just happened to be our 10th Anniversary. It is nice to be able to spend your anniversary actually with your spouse. We didn't have a big fancy evening out but once the kids were tucked in, Tiramasu was eaten and Sherlock was watched. I won't complain.

But it also left us with a lot of unexpected down time. Craig got some basement insulation put in and I did some guinea pig sewing. What can I say, we know how to party!

I had made one cage liner pad and a few little doubler pads in some fleece the kids picked out but we needed another set and when we decided to move it up from the basement to the living room, I kinda wanted something that matched a bit more. I'm not super picky but zebra and leopard print really isn't my style. Luckily, I was able to get a lot of fleece for crazy good prices because of a sale so I made a whole cute matching set.

There is a fleece lined tunnel - definitely their favorite place to hang out.

A  matching hay bag to keep the cage tidier. 

A little fleece forest

Along with a whole cage pad and some yellow potty pads, each lined with u haul pads. That makes them all-in-one so all Lucy has to do (with a little help from me) is pick the whole thing up, shake it off in the trash and toss it in the bin for me to wash. Probably every 4-5 days. I think it will work well. Daily she and I just use a little brush and dustpan to tidy it up before we take them out for a snuggle and a morning snack.

The whole set up
 Left Side

 Right side. 

I still have enough pink polka dot cotton and fleece to make another cuddle cup or two down the road. 

Happy Coconut!

Happy Betsy!

So now just ignore the fact that I just put up one  picture (or four depending on how you count) for our anniversary and seven about our guinea pigs. I promise this does not reflect my relative affections for my husband and the piggies.

But I do think I'm going to grab Lucy on the next nice weather day and have her take a few pictures of Craig and I. Its sad how few we have from the last few years. Adding that to my to-do list right now!


5ths strikes again!

Update: this was written Sunday morning. It's now Tuesday morning an I've only gotten worse. But the girls were each bad for three days then bounced back so I've gotten be almost there. But it's a "you can watch as much TV as you want and pick your own snacks' kinda day for the kids. I think they wish I was this sick more often.

Listening to - Nothing. 

It's quiet. Which is great. And awful. Great because what mom doesn't appreciate a nice dose of quiet time. Awful because its only quiet because Craig has taken all the kids to church without me. Yes friends, I am sick. Last week Norah was sick, mostly clingy and feverish. Then, a few days after her fever passes, she got a rash on her face. Then Lucy got a fever. I didn't put it together until I mentioned her rash and said "Doesn't it look like someone slapped Norah on the face?" and then my brain instantly remember that meant something. Ah yes, Fifths disease. Lucy's fever is gone now too so they are no longer contagious but she was down and feeling pretty miserable for a full 3 days. No rash yet but I would not be surprised to see one later today or tomorrow. Of course, during all this I've been watching Jonah like crazy, asking him if he feels okay, taking his temperature 3x  day and he's been fine. But last night suddenly I starting thinking maybe I wasn't. I was kinda going off the assumption I had it as a kid, especially since I know I was exposed as a teen and didn't get it. But the flu like symptoms and muscle and joint pains of today are telling a different story. So maybe I didn't have it before or maybe this is another virus that's similar. Either way, mama don't feel so good today. I'm thinking we'll be pushing off school a bit longer.

Enjoying - The playing. 

Now it's funny because I had originally hoped to take off until mid-January but the kids were just squabbling so much and I needed our routine so I bumped up our Year 2 start date. I thought Lucy might mind but she was excited when I told her "Why wait Mom? I love school! Can we start today?" (Uhm, no, I love your enthusiasm but I got to get things ready child).

But since our break, we've had some great times. Snuggles on the couch, reading books and watching Tudor Monstary Farm, Jonah playing Legos, Lucy lying down in bed listening to audiobooks. All the nice things I wanted for the early part of the month. Go figure! I think it has something to do with forced separation between L and J. They can't fight if they aren't together, then when I allowed them to play together again, it felt like a treat. Hurray!

 Documenting - The Back to Schooling

So it was a short back to school session of two days. But we didn't know that at the time!

Lucy was excited about her new stack of books. Especially her math workbook. It's the same MEP math she used last year (just the next level) but I went ahead and bought the workbook from them for ~$7 (including S&H!), instead of printing it this year and she thinks that's the best thing ever. She's also quite interested in The Wind in the Willows and Heidi (based on the pictures she saw as she flipped through). I don't think they will disappoint her.

Jonah was quite proud of his stack too. We'll be reading just a page or two of his each day so they feel more like real school books. And it will give us lots of time to look at Richard Scarry's fun illustrations. 

My stack! Most of my books are on my kindle so its short but I've written out a couple schedules and I'm ready to start reading all the books right now! I am really trying to pace myself though. I've learned that the only way to really slow my reading down is to have lots of books. I've gone from reading 1-2 books at a time six years ago to 4-5 the past few years but right now I think I have about 10 going on concurrently. We'll see if it helps me savor and ponder ideas or just drives me crazy. I'll let you know. 

Okay friends, that Ibuprofen seemed to have bought me 30 minutes of sitting up time but my body and my brain are done. Until next time, I hope you have better luck with illnesses than we have lately!


Meet the piggies

As I noted before, one goal for this year is to increase Lucy's responsibilities around the house. And what better way than a pet! Well, there might be better ways, but certainly not cuter ways. A few months ago I read these posts on Afterthoughts and realized that Lucy really needed a pet.

We went with guinea pigs. I've always been a fan of the small animal pet, my first post on this blog, all the way back in 2007, was about our last small animal, a hamster named Gus-gus. But guinea pigs are a little sturdier than hamsters if you have an Elmyra in your house. Our is a 4 year old boy but the video isn't too far off. He gets it from me I know. They are also lively during the day and pretty darn cute.

We decided to get them back in November and I was checking out Craigslist quite frequently in hopes of finding just the right ones when I saw a Guinea Pig sitting job pop up. It ended up working out for us so Snow and Coco came to spend a month at our house and gave us a nice chance to see what the responsibilities - and benefits - of Guinea Pig ownership would be before we took the plunge ourselves. And the money we earned was just what we needed to buy their own (and I can say we because both kids are helping with the care of these gals).

They are used to living in a much quieter house than ours and are pretty shy but have slowly come around to us although I think they'll probably be happy to return home next week. But all three kids seemed to be fans so Christmas came and a few Guinea Pig necessities showed up under the tree. 

And on New Years Day the right guinea pigs came along. They were a set of young ones, well socialized and living in a lively house and one week later they are starting to settle in quiet nicely.  We went and each kid got to pick which one they wanted. They were several really pretty ones, with different colors and an Abyssinian with crazy hair that I was routing for. Lucy picked this reddish, 4 month old Teddy Guinea Pig which she named Betsy.

She's already pretty friendly and will gladly eat from Lucy's hand while being held, or snuggle in front of her on the ground. I didn't know much about Teddy's before this but she definitely fits the stereotype of having a friendly and warm personality. Lucy's in love. Betsy is definitely her piggie. 

Jonah waved between a tri colored one that I liked but they decided on a baby white one. The whites were my least favorite but I let his choice stand. She was only 7 weeks old so pretty small and being all white, she kinda looked like a rat. But she's growing on me. 

He, being four years old, has been quite indecisive about her name. I'm a fan of the literary names so Lucy and I were really hoping for a Tacy to match Betsy but he wasn't impressed with that idea. After being Snowco (keep in mind the names of the two we are babysitting), Snowcone, Boo-Boo Butt, back to Snowcone and now, what seems be sticking and my personal favorite of his choices - Coconut. I'm just glad it's not Boo-Boo Butt. I couldn't complain too much about that choice because it was also a literary reference but I think Coconut fits well for a all white piggie and didn't hesitate to praise that idea. 

She's not as calm yet as Betsy  but from what I've read about taming a guinea pig, she's still doing really well. She likes to be held in the cuddle cups I made. Despite Jonah's many attempts, she won't eat from his hand then but will take long things like carrots sticks, celery or lettuce from my hand when she's in her cage. And no shaking or signs of distress when we hold her. And it's only been a week. Jonah doesn't have the patience that Lucy does for sitting with her so I've secretly snuck in a few times to give her some socializing sessions. And while Lucy would say Betsy is her piggie, Jonah says Coconut is his and mine to share. I don't mind that and it is what I expected. But in the next few years, I think that will change. Norah thinks they both belong to her and tries to hug, kiss and pet them all the time. But she does it all without actually touching them which is probably for the best at this point. 

She really doesn't want that carrot. But she'll accept a nose rub. 

Snow and Coco are here for a few more days and I'm waiting on a few parts to finish up Betsy and Coconuts C & C cage so its a bit crazy. I've got piggies upstairs and downstairs and boxes of hay everywhere you turn and I'm still figuring out what style of cage liner I like best before sewing several of those so I'm doing more of the work than I hope to eventually but once that is done and our system is in place, I'll start handing more of the work to Lucy and I think she's excited about that too. That will just leave me with three kids, a husband, 5 chickens and a cat to take care of, easy peasy right?


Happy New Year!

With all the meme's floating around, it looks like 2016 was not the best year for a lot of people. We actually had a great year in our house, getting some major goals accomplished, finishing up our first year of "real" homeschooling (as in, a grade with a number and not a letter :-), visiting lots of family and doing pretty well health wise. I can't complain. But I hope that if you didn't have a great year, that this will be a nice corner for you to turn. I just love new starts. New days, new seasons, new years. Pretty much any excuse to make a new list is a good thing in my book.

And I am making lots of new lists in my new bullet journal. My last one took two years to fill up but I made it stretch through these last few weeks, using both my old and my new because I wanted to be lazy and put future things in my new one. But today, the old one gets put up for a while (I can't throw it away until I know I don't need any of that info!) and the new one becomes my bosom friend.* The last thing I did with my old one was add the last few hours spent outside this week. Grand total for 2016 = 881! Not quite 1000 but I'm very happy with it!

But despite my love of new years, I didn't actual plan to stay up. The kids are too cranky if shortchanged on sleep still and Craig was out side-hustling for our mini-van. I planned to spend an hour or so trying to finish up the 2016 scrapbook on Shutterfly then read a bit before going to bed at a decent hour but all of a sudden I looked up at it was 11:45! So I speed read the last bit of my last book. I have to end my book count on an even number so it really was speed reading but I did it! Whew. And it was just a cozy mystery so no harm done. 92 books read in 2016. And despite being in my 30s now, I wasn't asleep by 9pm. Although today I'm kinda wishing I had been - or at least that I drink caffeinated beverages.

I never think I have too many goals at the end of December but then by the time January rolls around, I've got a nice list. This year it's:

- Reading

- Mother Culture

  • A mommy sit down time. During the summer, I have a regular routine where they play outside and I have bible reading/prayer time. But when it gets cold, that kinda falls apart. I've started it up again and trying to enforce the "you can handle issues for 15 minutes without me." Trying. It's kinda like making a phone call though, they are just fine when I'm unloading dishes but pick up the phone or sit down with my bible and suddenly its a crisis. I read somewhere about a mom who put out a special thing (ceramic bird?) when she was busy. Maybe I should try something like that. 
  • On a very similar note, I've got a couple books on my list that need more than a casual reading so I want to have a time to sit down and read when I can actually take notes. Along with that I want to do better about commonplacing and filling in my Book of Centuries. I wanted to last year but 80% of my reading was probably done on my phone while nursing. This year I should have a better shot at this now that Norah is toddling around.
  • Stay off Facebook. I like instagram because it isn't a time suck but facebook doesn't seem to add too much to my life. I don't plan to give it up for good but I'm taking a break and I want to take them frequently and/or reduce my automatically going there when I've got 10 seconds to relax. Starting school up again will help as all my relaxation time becomes potty breaks anyway. 
  • Be more consistent in my vitamins. It's not new stuff but I get out of this routine so easily and I really do feel better when I'm not deficient in B12 or anemic. Shocking, right?

- Family

  • Blog/Scrapbook more of the fun everyday family stuff again. The cute things the kid's say, the things I want to remember. Dragging the nice camera out. Taking videos. We all love looking back on those things but I have to record them in order to do that.
  • Stay close to current on scrapbook. I'm actually pretty close to finishing up the scrapbook as I've been able to work on it regular this year on evenings Craig is gone. I'm having a hard time now because I've done the big events but I have a lot of cute but totally random photos from my phone that I'm having to kinda compile together into pages. I like that I take pictures all the time with my phone now but I do want to be better about getting my nice camera out too. Once 2016 is gone I'll print both it and 2015 and that will probably motivate me even more because we look at ours all the time. 
  • Continue to get outside a lot (but I'm not tracking it this year because I think we have the habit now) but also do more camping/hiking/outside our normal spots stuff. We've got the good habits now I just have to keep them!
  • Increase kid's responsibilities. They do well with what they've got but its very routine. I want to start teaching more skills, especially to Lucy as I feel like she is getting to the point where she needs the real work. They've asked to plan and cook dinner more often and while right now that is a lot of work for me, I know it will pay off so I need to get it into the schedule.
Looking back over my list, it's pretty much exactly what I as thinking when trying to come up with a theme word for the year:


I want to be consistent. Nothing is new, nothing is a 180 from my current life. It's all the same stuff, I just need to do it like I'm Mike Mulligan and more people have come to watch me (i.e. - a little better). And having said all that, I have a feeling God has some deep stuff for us this year. That's always a bit scary but I trust Him. Let's see what 2017 brings!

*I just finished watching Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea with the kids so sorry/not sorry but I'm sure my next few posts will be full of anne-isms.