Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Wednesday Hodgepodge

I recently read about four secrets to happiness from around the world. They were: Overcome your fears by facing them head on; Allow yourself to relax and reset; Work to live versus living to work; and, Find the good in life. Not sure if these are the actual secret to happiness, but which of the four do you struggle with the most? Which one comes most easily to you?

Years ago allowing myself to relax and reset would have been the thing of which I most struggled, but now it is the easiest to achieve. Maybe it's age, I don't know. But life is too short not to take some time for myself. I guess the hardest one for me to achieve would be always finding the good in life. I mean, I have cocooned myself into a life where what I allow around me is good. But the world as a whole is just so yuck and life of the masses is something that just doesn't look too good to me anymore. But I would agree, finding joy and good in all of life would be beneficial to personal happiness. If you get wallowed down in the yuck, then you feel hopeless.

How would you spend a found $20 bill today?

I'd probably take my group to DQ for burgers, foot long hot dogs, and ice cream.

Ego trip, power trip, guilt trip, round trip, trip the light fantastic, or trip over your own two feet ... which 'trip' have you experienced or dealt with lately? Explain.

I guess you could say that I took a round trip through the marrying off of my daughter this summer. It was a whirlwind of activity from the middle of May until the middle of July with two weddings (one at home and a renewal of vows in Mexico) and a reception back home in July.

If you could master any physical skill in the world what would it be, and would you use that skill?

Definitely sewing! I have always wanted to be able to sew, especially my own curtains/drapes and pillow covers. Although there was a time when I might have sewn cute clothes for Brynne, I wouldn't do it now. But when I have grandchildren it sure would be fun to be able to sew cute pillowcase dresses, rompers, and appliqués onto t-shirts.

As July draws to a close, let's take an inventory of our summer fun. Since the official first day of summer (June 20th) have you ... been swimming? enjoyed an ice cream cone? seen a summer blockbuster? camped? eaten corn on the cob? gardened? deliberately unplugged? watched a ballgame? picked fruit off the vine? taken a road trip? read a book? Are any of these activities on your must-do-before-summer-ends list?

Swimming? Yes. At the pool, in the lake, and in the ocean.
Ice cream cone? Not exactly. I don't really crave ice cream, per se, but I have had a Mister Misty Float.
Summer blockbuster? Not yet. But on Saturday we are going to see both Minions and Pixel.
Camped? Not unless you count spending the night at my parents' lake house (which I don't).
Corn on the cob? Multiple times.
Gardened? Attempted to around first the constant rains and cool temps and now the scorching heat and drought.
Unplugged? Yes, on our cruise in May. It was nice to not be connected to anyone but my family.
Ballgame? A whole lot of them. Brynne plays softball so we attended lots of games. I've also watched a few Kansas City Royals games with my parents.
Fruit off the vine? Not this year, but I have raspberry, blackberry, and strawberry plants that I hope will produce some fruit next summer.
Road trip? As a family we drove to Galveston, Texas, to catch the big boat.
Read a book? This summer I have read a few. My favorite was Nightingale by Kristin Hannah.

The Republican Presidential candidates will debate on August 6th. What's your question?

What is the biggest mistake our recent administrations have made causing the current state of our country and what do you plan to do about it? (P.S. I'm rootin' for you, Ben Carson!!)

What's your most listened to song so far this summer?

Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars.

Insert your own random thought here.

This week I took Dawson to walk around the campus of the community college he will start attending in a few weeks. We stopped by the bookstore so he could get some fun loot (sweatpants, shorts, t-shirts, etc.). It is crazy that he is now a college student! Truly crazy.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Simple Woman's Daybook

For today ... Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Outside my window ... it is stinking hot!

I am thinking ... about my mother-in-law and the not positive news she received about her bladder cancer. Looks like she has surgery and more treatment in her future.

I am thankful ... that all of Dawson's financial aid red tape appears to be finally completed and his A+ scholarship is now in the works to pay for his tuition and fees for the year.

I am wearing ... my pjs. It's going to be hard to get out of them today. I didn't sleep good last night and I am tired!

I am creating ... well, more like planning, Brynne's birthday celebrations coming up. We are having a fish fry at our house for her actual birthday on the 8th. Then on the 14th she is having a pool party with friends and family.

I am going ... to go nowhere today. We went to the lake this weekend and I had to be out of town yesterday and will be again tomorrow for awhile. I covet my home time and today is a day when I have nowhere I need to go.

I am wondering ... how high my electric bill is going to be this month. Our air conditioners have been running a lot!

I am reading ... In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume.

I am hoping ... that I get some quiet time this afternoon to catch up on my episodes of Poldark.

I am learning ... (or re-learning) about the Proverbs 31 woman this week. I have studied her many times, but our Women Living Well study (Good Morning Girls) is now focusing on Proverbs 31. Did you know that the first 9 verses are directed to men? There is also a Proverbs 31 man! You don't hear much about him, huh?

In my garden ... I pulled out two tomatoes, two cherry tomatoes (more coming) and some garlic chives. I think I might have seen a couple of baby jalapeños starting!

In my kitchen ... more coffee calls.

In the homeschool room ... We are going to work for this next three weeks to complete our current grammar level, strengthen some skills in adding fractions, and finish Farmer Boy and The First Four Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Then we will take a break until the week after Labor Day when we will start our full-time schedule for the next school year.

A favorite quote for today ...

A peek into one of my days ... 

I see this view out my living room window multiple times a day.

One of my favorite things ... is seeing a hummingbird at my feeder on the front porch.

From the board room ... I have pinned a couple of recipes for Dr. Pepper cake for Brynne's birthday.  I can't decide between a white/vanilla bundt cake or a dark chocolate cake. Both sound yummy!

Post Script ... My friend Diane wrote about her frustrations with the lack of care opportunities for the elderly. She and her mother are solely caring for her father who recently had a stroke and have found very few options for his care. Rick's mom is now facing a major surgery and treatments for bladder cancer, and she is blessed to be able to live right on the property of my sister- and brother-in-law who, along with my niece and Rick, are available to help her to/from her appointments and with her care. It got me thinking about the future. What will happen when my parents need care, if they do? Although it's not something I want to think about, and it is hopefully many, many years away, it's still something we should all be considering.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Some Lake Fun

On Saturday the little kids and I decided to go to my parents' lake house for the rest of the weekend. It was a laid back time and very hot! We took a couple of boat rides, did a tad bit of swimming, checked the jugs for big catches, went out to dinner, and watched the Royal's game. It was a good time for Grandma and Papa to spend with Eli and Brynne without all the other grands.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Weekly Wrap-up ~ Summer School (A Giveaway!)

We got back to a somewhat regular routine this week, and it was amazing!

Tuesday through Thursday we did some actual schoolwork. We realized pretty quickly that our brains were a little dusty, especially in math. We had to brush up on some basics in adding fractions and then moved on to adding those with unlike denominators. By the end of the week we were back on track.

Additionally, we did a grammar page each day and some personal reading.  We read more out of Farmer Boy this week and finished a great book by Chris Grabenstein called Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library.

We have an extra copy of this book so we are going to give it away! 

All you have to do is leave a comment below letting us know what you are most excited about studying this year in your schooling. I will choose a winner next Saturday, August 1st (my birthday). This giveaway is restricted to U.S. residents only.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Random 5

1. Last weekend I ran my second 5K. Out of 509 women participants, I finished 159th. Out of the 15 women who were my age, I finished 4th. I was pretty happy with that! My only goal going into a race is just to run the entire thing without needing to take walking breaks, so my time doesn't really matter that much to me. But it is pretty cool to know that at my age and with inexperience I could finish in the top third and almost the top quarter.

2. What do you do when you have a barking dog next door who keeps you up all night? Turn on your white noise app and keep your phone right by your head. So far it's working like a charm.

3. I detest having garage sales and every year that I have one I swear that I am not doing it again. They are just no fun. But then my mom has one and I figure I might as well participate. This year I made every single item of mine 50 cents and didn't mark anything. And I made $100. Pretty good for just showing up. It's still my least favorite summertime chore.

4. So far I have been successful at keeping my grandma's hydrangea transplants alive and well! The key, apparently, is to keep them very well watered. They have new sets of leaves so I think they are going to make it!

5. Now that our summer crazy activities are over I have been able to get back into a good eating and exercise schedule. I'm back to tracking my foods on MyFitnessPal, and Kyndal and I are back at another round of 21 Day Fix. I am sore but feeling very good.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Where We Do the Schooling - Not Back to School Blog Hop

I could spend hours looking at all of the schoolrooms posted in this linkup. They are all so pretty and organized! I get so inspired by the ideas. But a dedicated schoolroom is SO not us. Our first year of homeschooling we had a schoolroom. Yuck. We hated being confined to that space. It's taken us a few years but we know what works for us. We do school where we do everything else.

We start out here, at the dining room table. It's bright and sunshiney and we have enough room for our coffee and tea.

Here we will do our Bible time, McGuffey's recitations and copywork. We also do our science topics at the table so that we have access to the whiteboard and enough space to do our experiments and to write in our science notebooks.

The living room is where most of the magic happens. This is where we watch CNN Student News, do all of our read alouds, and study history. It gives us access to warm blankets and the television for videos. We can sit in a comfortable setting and discuss.

This is also where the kids usually prefer to do their clipboard time. Their math, grammar, spelling, and writing worksheets are all placed on their clipboards and they complete their pages in a comfortable setting.

My mom helped me get a little more organized this year with our school stuff so that it was not all crammed on open shelves for the world to see. We moved our open shelving to the basement where I keep our "not using every single day" stuff. It's still easily accessible but not in the way.

I nabbed this cabinet from my sister's shed for our everyday stuff. The bench next to it contains some other things we use regularly but not necessarily every day.

All of our supplies are on shelves and tubs in this hall closet. It could use some organization, but it's not too bad. I can usually easily find what I need.

We keep all of our books here. This helps us not to lose library books. Our rule is that your library book either has to be in your hand or in this basket.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Wednesday Hodgepodge

Is your home air-conditioned? If it's not air-conditioned, is that by choice? Did you grow up with air-conditioning? If not, how did you cope with the heat? Share about a time or place you remember as being too hot ... the temperature kind of hot, lest anyone be confused.

We do have air-conditioning ... four window units. Our house was built in 1918 and the central air-conditioning unit was a dinosaur. It went caput a couple of summers ago. As if replacing the unit wouldn't be pricey enough, the duct work that would have to be reworked would do us in financially. That's when we decided to get window units. And they work great. We have a high-efficiency unit in our dining room that cools the entire main living areas of our house. Then each of the bedrooms has a small 5,000 BTU unit that we can each control individually. It's kind of like sleeping in a hotel room. It's perfect.

Growing up we had a window unit in the far end of our house, in the family room. The bedrooms had no air conditioning on the other end of the house. But we had an attic fan. My sister and I had our twin beds under each of the windows in the bedroom that we shared to get in as much night air as we could. When we went to bed it was so sticky hot. But when my parents went to bed and shut the windows and door on the front of the house, a whoosh of cold air came through the windows and we were cool all night.

One time when I was a little girl we went to a lake property of some friends. My mom, dad, and I slept in an un air-conditioned cabin and it was miserably hot! Stifling! The people we were visiting slept in an air-conditioned camper, peacefully snoozing away. We were up all night, miserable! My parents said at one point I cried, "I wish it would snow!" I can't remember if we left in the middle of the night or stayed until morning.

What's something in your life right now that falls under the heading of 'up in the air'?

I guess the only thing would be our official start date for back to school. We have had such a crazy busy summer that I haven't felt like we have gotten that period of rest that we need before we start. Right now I am playing it by ear. We might start sometime in the middle of August, but then again we might wait and start back full time after Labor Day this year. I will know it when it's time. Right now it's not time.

Your favorite light and airy dessert?

My grandma's angel food cake. No one makes it as good as she did, and I miss it.

When did you last feel like you were floating on air?

I am not really a 'float on air' kind of girl, honestly. I had to think really hard about this one. The only thing I can really come up with where I felt absolutely elated, ridiculously smiling despite myself, was when I ran a mile straight for the first time. That was several years ago when we lived in Oklahoma. And I had our dog Crusoe on a leash with me. The one-mile mark was about 20 yards ahead of us and he tried to stop and take a poop. I said, "Oh no you don't!" and dragged him the last 20 yards. When I got there I know I looked like a goof the rest of the way home because I just couldn't stop smiling.

Airport, airmail, airtight, airhead ... which have you most recently encountered? Explain.

I have a lot of airhead moments. I call it my Early Onset Alzheimer's. I hope I have not jinxed myself by joking about it. I do crazy things like pour cereal into my cup of coffee, put the gallon of milk in the cabinet instead of refrigerator, pour tea into one of the kids' bowls of cereal instead of milk. The kids just always tell me I'm so old.

Have you ever been to the Alps? If so where did you go? If not, is this a destination on your must-see list? If you were headed that direction this summer, which of the following would be your preferred activity ... a gentle walk, a serious walk, a bike ride, a boat ride around one of the lakes, or summer snow skiing?

I haven't been to the Alps and it's not necessarily on my list of must-see places. But a walk around it would be awesome! Knowing me I would first want to do a gentle walk but it would turn into a serious walk. And if I'm going to go I want to go to Austria ... "the hills are alive ..."

What is one saying or phrase that was considered 'cool' when you were growing up?

Gag me with a green twinkie. I'm not sure how cool that was, but I certainly remember saying it a lot.

Insert your own random thought here.

We have neighbors who are renting their house who have a dog that barks half the night .. I mean incessant not-taking-a-breath barking for two hours straight sometimes. If I get up out of bed and go outside and yell at it, it stops ... until right when I get under my covers and relax. It's like sleeping with a snorer. Even when it stops barking I can't go back to sleep because I am anxiously waiting for it to start barking again. And it does. I mean, seriously, is their dog not keeping them up with it's barking?? Have some respect for your neighbors! I thought about going and putting a note on their door telling them to get their dog under control. But in our neighborhood, and in the world in general these days, you have to be careful about hacking people off. I have an air conditioner that runs in my bedroom all night and a fan right next to my head for noise. It doesn't even take the edge off that barking. So last night I turned on my white noise app on the fan setting, turned it up, and laid it right next to my head. That helped. Really I just want to strangle the dog, and its owners!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Simple Woman's Daybook

Since Leslie at Time Out for Mom is taking her summer break from Tuesday Coffee Chat, I thought I would start doing the Daybook on Tuesdays instead.

For today ... Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Outside my window ... it's gonna be a slightly cooler day today with a high of 80 and some rain. I keep thinking I will get sick of all of the rain, but I don't. In fact I wish it would even get cold and rainy!

I am thinking ... about Brynne's new volleyball team and how I hope the new organization all works out to the girls' favor and that they have a great upcoming season!

I am thankful ... for air conditioning. Although this has been an unseasonably mild summer, the humidity has been high with all of the rain. It sure is amazing to sleep peacefully with nice cold air instead of feeling sticky all night.

I am wearing ... workout shirt and tank and tennis shoes. I'm going to be working out after while. Kyndal and I are starting a brand new round of 21 Day Fix. I gotta get back into my exercise routine. It all starts today.

I am creating ... lesson plans for our upcoming school year.

I am going ... to also get back into my healthy eating routine, also starting today, tracking everything on MyFitnessPal again. I've got three races scheduled in the next two months, two 5Ks and a 4-mile run, and I need to stay ready!

I am wondering ... if we'll be able to get Dawson's financial aid red tape completed before the August 3rd deadline. It's just such nonsense for someone who isn't even going to be entitled to any financial aid. We have to do it all though so that his A+ Scholarship will come through.

I am reading ... In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume.

I am hoping ... that my mother-in-law's surgery she is having this morning to remove the cancerous tumor from her bladder is successful and is the first step to complete recovery!

I am learning ... all about World War II. How in the world did I go through 18 years of formal education and not know anything about World War II except that Jews were sent to concentration camps? I don't know how we can understand or appreciate our world and our existence without truly understanding what all was going on during this time period. In fact, looks eerily similar to some of the political shifts today. How can we learn from our past if we don't even know about it?

In my garden ... ugh, not a thing. What a cruddy year for gardening. It is a mess. However, my new berry plants are loving all the cool temps and rain! Maybe they'll produce some fine fruit next year.

In my kitchen ... I've had a little helper. Brynne has shown an interest in cooking. This past weekend she wanted to cook dinner for our family. Actually she wanted to cook boxed macaroni and cheese and wondered if there was a meat she could add to it. I bought a marinated pork loin, some boxed garlic and chive potatoes, and some corn on the cob for her to prepare. You gotta start somewhere, right? I wanted her to primarily learn how to read instructions and plan how to cook all of these items to have them ready at the same time. We did lots of talking, planning, and I walked her through her preparations. She cooked the entire meal by herself and it was amazing! In fact, we ate every bite. No leftovers.

In the homeschool room ... We are working this week on some math, grammar, and reading more out of Farmer Boy and finishing Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library. We haven't done nearly the formal schooling this summer as we have in years past. Looks like we'll end up getting in about 6 total weeks. Our schooling has been more in the form of camps, lessons, sports, and major family events.

A favorite quote for today ... "There is an ill, Mr. Epps, a fearful ill resting upon this nation and there will be a day of reckoning." ~ from the movie Twelve Years a Slave. (Sounds a lot like our country now, huh?)

A peek into one of my days ... 

This was my view this time last week. Missing the serenity of the lake!

One of my favorite things ... laying in bed in the mornings with my cup of coffee and my dogs doing my Bible reading. It's not the lake, but it's still all right.

From the board room ... I am pinning all kinds of resources about WWII for our school year. Fascinating stuff!

Post Script ... Taylar sent me a link to an article called "3 Reasons Why You Should Trust Your Heart with a Child of Divorce." Dawson had shared it with her. There is so much truth to it, and I am pleased that he agrees with the article. Divorce is a tough thing and a decision I doubt many people with children take lightly. I know I didn't. Believe it or not Kyndal and Dawson's wellbeing was actually a big factor in why I divorced their father 16 years ago. I can't say it's a decision I regret, although I do hate any pain it has caused them over the years. Thankfully I see them both having an incredibly strong ability to love, despite being children of divorced parents.

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Wedding Reception

The Summer of the Wedding concluded with the wedding reception on July 11th. It was held in the Community Center in the town where Kyndal and Collin graduated from high school. There is a tradition to how wedding receptions are handled there, and we followed the norm for the most part. The only exception was that we did not serve a sit-down dinner. Instead we opted for a couple of snack bars. It was a fun night full of dancing and celebrating!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

5th/6th Grade Curriculum - Not Back to School Blog Hop

It's crazy that it is getting close to starting back to full-time school. We still have several more weeks before we jump in full force. But in order to be effective, planning our curriculum by this time of year is a necessity. This week is iHomeschoolNetwork's Not Back to School Blog Hop Curriculum Week!

Last week my friend Megan and I took our kids to the lake for a few days. While they were swimming and playing card games, Megan and I were digging into our lesson planning. I was able to accomplish three months of lesson planning. It got me really excited about our upcoming school year! We have some fun and exciting things to learn about this year.

We are a literature, unit study based eclectic homeschool, drawing from many different types of curriculum. I posted about our curriculum choices a few months ago, but I now have everything nailed down, planned, and on the bookshelf.


New Testament Overview, Grapevine Studies - Stick Figuring Through the Bible. We will continue with this much-loved curriculum. It will likely take us the majority of the year to finish it. It's a great way to start our morning.


McGuffey's Fourth Eclectic Reader and McGuffey's Fifth Eclectic Reader. Reading the Little House on the Prairie series and watching When Calls the Heart really inspired me to have the kids use these classics to do recitations and to read a copy good vocabulary, poetry and prose.

Fix-it Grammar, The Nose Tree (IEW). We will complete The Nose Tree and then move onto the next level of Robin Hood. This program has been a good fit for us as it involves literature, writing, and a slow-progression of learning grammar.

Soaring with Spelling, Levels 5 and 6. Brynne has specifically requested that we go back to a formal spelling curriculum. She loves spelling. With an emphasis in writing, that we will begin in the next year or so, it's important that these kids can spell. Plus, the lessons are fun!

Winning with Writing, Level 5. When ordering Soaring with Spelling, I saw that JacKris Publishing now has this program. I purchased one level to see how we like it.

Current Events

CNN Student News. Of course we will continue our year with a daily dose of Carl Azuz and his 10 minutes of current events and puns. We love this show! Hopefully we will get in our field trip to the CNN Headquarters in Atlanta next year.


Mastering 5th Grade Math, Volumes 2-4 (Fractions). We are finishing up Volume 1 and the kids have decided that they prefer the teaching methods of Jason over Mr. Demme in Math U See.

Life of Fred, Fractions. Yeah, we are going to bring in some Fred. I like how the books use literature to teach math in real life. It will be a fun supplement to our weekly lessons and with Eli's personality I know that he will love the antics of Fred! Math can be enjoyable, you know.


Further Up and Further In. We had such success with Prairie Primer and the Little House series that we are going back to Cadron Creek Christian Curriculum. We will spend our year with C.S. Lewis and The Chronicles of Narnia series. This will be our daily read aloud. The kids are very excited to read this series. It covers Bible, art, cooking, music, English, and reading. We discuss these things from the curriculum guide. But, we really use the guide primarily for the health and safety, geography/social studies, science, and history aspects. This is from where I usually draw the majority of our science topics for the year.


Further Up and Further In. I will draw our science topics from this study and then use various resources, primarily literature, to teach the topics. We try to do experiments whenever applicable and do science notebooking.


World War II Unit Study, self-prepared. Narnia is a fictional world. But it was written during World War II, so we will do an exhaustive study of this period in history. We are using World War II for Kids as our spine and will build on that with books, videos, activities, projects, games, and any field trips we can find. We will finish up the unit with a trip to the World War II Museum in New Orleans. (I have done some lesson plans for this already and it is all coming together so great! I am very excited to teach the kids what I have learned!!)


The kids will continue to read books of their choice. Brynne is pretty hooked on the Warriors series and there are a gazillion books in the cats series so she will be busy for a while. There is also a series involving dogs and bears from the same author that interest her. And she would like to read the other eras in the Little House series, The Rose Years, The Caroline Years, etc. Recently Eli started reading the How to Train Your Dragon series, and he loves it!

We will also have a read aloud going at all times that corresponds with either our Narnia series, WWII, or a desired field trip. At this time our selections include:
  • The Miracle Worker (then going to see the play)
  • Under the Blood Red Sun (WWII)
  • My Side of the Mountain (Narnia)
  • The Diary of Anne Frank (then going to see the play)
  • Number the Stars (WWII)
  • Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass (then seeing the new upcoming movie)
  • Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes (WWII)