Friday, June 30, 2017

Weekly Menu - the one with the Holiday that means summer is half way over !

Holy craziness . . it's July.  For Real.  What is up with that?  It's time to slow summer down a little so we can enjoy it a little more!  This week brings some busyness but it also brings some great family time so that is ok too.  Here's the plan for the coming week:

Friday - Pizza.  I'm done cooking for the week.

Saturday - Today we have a family gathering with a handful of my side of the family  There's a big cookout planned so I'm just bringing a salad and dessert and whatever I think my kids might like!

Sunday - Dinner is out today after a crazy busy day yesterday.

Monday - We are heading to my in-laws for dinner.

Tuesday - It's the 4th of July!  Steaks on the grill, baked white and sweet potatoes, cheesy green bean casserole, and garlic bread

Wednesday - Heading into town with my mom for dog training.

Thursday - This is one of these weeks where I'll wait until Thursday and see what we have left.

Thursday, June 29, 2017


My aunt posted a photo of her Day Lillies that had been munched on for lunch by some deer.  Which made me think of the story behind my Day Lillies.

Many years ago, my Uncle and Aunt (My dad's brother) handed out Day Lillies to all of the siblings because they live on "Day Lilly Lane" (Or something to that effect).  After several more years, my parenst needed to thin out these amazing Day Lillies so they passed some out to me.  They have totally filled in the fence line in my back yard and I love them!  Everytime I look at them I'm reminded of that gift and it is even more precious now then it was before.

Memories are a good thing.  They are precious.  Store them away, take photos, and live life filled with love.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

A few of my favorite things

I used to enjoy sharing a "Few of my Favorite Things" but then I noticed that they were all based around food HA!  Recently, though, I've been noticing that I have some new favorite things that I thought I would share.

Yes, a mop.  I read a great review on this mop and bucket and finally picked one up a few months ago.  It sat around in the box until this past week.  It's easy to assemble the mop and the instructions are clear and easy.  The spin pedal works perfectly and my floor is super clean!  I actually want to mop the floor!  To make it even better?  My kids want to mop because it's actually kind of fun! 

I love my blue-tooth portable speaker.  I use it with my ipad and my favorite Pandora stations to fill the house with music.  I love that I can turn Pandora on and then carry the speaker from room to room while leaving my Ipad somewhere safe.  We also enjoy it in the evening.  Instead of turning on the TV, I turn on our favorite relaxing musical "station" and let that play quietly while we enjoy the peacefulness of the evening.  It calms everyone down before bed. 

My new lamp.  (Ok, this isn't the exact lamp but it is super, duper close!) We lived in a dark living room for a few years until this past April when we finally bought this new floor lamp.  (Plus another smaller one!)  Now, our living room is filled with light and I just love it!  

The cool temps!   Yes, it is June and yes it was in the 60's today!  I just love it :-)  I know hot, humid weather is coming but for these few days, I will enjoy the cool, dry temps.

I've found a planner that I love and I also love the price.  It's big enough to write everything in need to write in it; I love that it is spiral bound and hard cover; I love that it is over half the price of the "big name planner" I used to buy several years ago.  This planner goes from August-August so I just pre-ordered by 2017-2018 planner and can't wait until it arrives in early July!

So, there are a few of my favorite things! 

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Tiny Home Craze

Tiny Homes.  We've all seen them, watched the shows and, if we are honest, wondered "what in the world are they thinking!".  Lets keep it real.  I live in a "tiny home".  No it isn't on wheels; nor does it have a loft that I have to crawl into to go to bed but it's still tiny for our family of four.  I'm always trying to figure out how to make more space.  This year, (as I think I've done every single year for the past 4 years) I'm trying again to minimize our space and our stuff.  I'm working toward not just cleaning out the things we don't love and use but also trying to use our space more effectively so that stuff always has a home.  I think that is one of my biggest goals this time around - homes for things so that when something comes in, we all know right where it goes.

I came across this post from Snail Pace Transformations and really liked it.  The concept of having less is a really great thing but just because I have less doesn't mean I want to be part of the tiny house craze :-)

Monday, June 26, 2017

Something Yummy - Strawberry Rhubarb Brown Sugar Crunch

Strawberry Rhubarb Brown Sugar Crunch
Barefeet in the Kitchen

(Sorry for the blurry photo - I took this is with my phone . . .and after we ate 1/2 of it!) 

This time of year, strawberries are everywhere so when this recipe for something with strawberries and rhubarb popped up - it was took good to not make.  I love that the crunch is on the bottom and the top because the best part is the crunch, really.  The next time I make it, I would probably add a little more brown sugar to the crunch because it isn't super sweet.  


Fruit Filling:
2 cups shopped strawberries
2 cups thinly sliced and chopped fresh rhubarb
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup orange juice

Crust Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place the fruit in a mixing bowl.  Add the white sugar, cinnamon, salt and cornstarch.  Stir to coat and add the orange juice.  Stir again and set aside.

In a separate mixing bowl, combine the remaining dry ingredients and then add the melted butter. Stir to combine.  Press half of this mixture into a buttered 9 x13 pan.  Pour the fruit over the bottom crust and then sprinkle the rest of the dry mixture on top.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the crust turns golden brown.  Serve warm from the oven or let cool completely and slice into servings.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Our week in photos (with a few words thrown in)

This is what we've been up to this past week

Father's Day!  I didn't take a single photo but we did celebrate Darryl with "whatever you want to do" day HA!  We went out to his favorite restaurant, then got ice cream and ended our day with a bike ride.


- We went to swimming lessons, followed by a trip to a local park in the afternoon before going grocery shopping.  The day ended with the last baseball game of the season.  Two major accomplishments today:  Nate learned how to swing on his own AND Josh hit the ball AND scored a run!


- More swimming lessons!  (Sorry for blurry phone photos but I didn't have my big camera!) When swimming lessons started Josh said "I will never jump off the diving board.  Ever".  Well, today he did!  I think it helped that Nate jumped first and he couldn't let his younger brother "win"!  The rest of Tuesday - we all crashed.  For real.  You know you've been running like crazy when both kids sleep past nine, again, and after lunch, everyone "retires" to a comfortable place and plays quietly on ipads, watches TV, or reads.  I had originally planned a trip to another park but between just needing to stay home and be lazy and some pretty heavy cloud cover, we just were . . .well, lazy!


 - More swimming today with more diving board fun today too!

 - We attended a Library Event - Stormy the Magician entertained the kids today and yes, the boys are sure they figured out most of his tricks HA!

- The highlight of our day was getting to see our very special nephew/cousin, Braedon.  We haven't seen him in about a year and a half and we have missed his dry sense of humor and sarcasm :-)  The boys have a slight hero worship of him and they had fun doing all kinds of exercise competitions with him after dinner.  

No photos today but we did some fun stuff: 
- Another day of swimming lessons
- Fun at Nana's pool - it hit 91 degrees today which was so odd since we've had beautifully cool weather for a week! 
- A family drive around town after dinner with Josh giving directions


- We went to the library to get the beads the kids had earned for reading this week.  They are making necklaces with beads - each bead equals reading time.  They are hoping to fill up those chains over the coming weeks! 
- We also spend time in the children's area of the library reading books, doing puzzles and playing with toys. 
- Nana's back in town so we enjoyed a nice dinner with her and just hung out at the house for awhile! 

Friday, June 23, 2017

Weekly Menu - the week of normalcy

After such a busy month, it feels kind of odd to be planning a week of meals where there is really nothing going on.  I think my kids are tired of choices such as, "Do you want a Peanut Butter Sandwich or a Hot Dog before the game (or the pool, or running somewhere else)."  Granted my kids have a limited amount of foods they will eat anyway so I guess it doesn't realy matter to them HA!

I'm also out of my meal planning groove - anytime that happens I go back to a site that is my "go to site" for meal planning  - Pocket Change Gourmet.  Each month (and then weekly) they put out a great menu.  I love it because it is simple and often times, it includes meal ideas for recipes we already use like sloppy joes or pulled pork so I'm not trying a bunch of new recipes but rather just letting someone else plan for me :-)

So, here's the plan for the coming week!

Friday - Sloppy Joes and Baked Beans

Saturday - Pizza Casserole (this is something new but we love pizza so hopefully we will love this!) and Salad

Sunday - Grilled Chicken, Corn on the Cob, and Seven Layered Salad

Monday - Hot Dog Bar, Surpreme Pizza Dip and Chips  (The dip is new - we love appetizers when it comes to game days and special holidays but I hate trying new ones on those special days so I figured this was a good day to try it out!)

Tuesday - Hamburgers on the grill (after all, my husband is the grill master!), and French Fries!

Wednesday - Speaking of Appetizers - whats better than a meal full of appetizers?  Chinese Meatballs, Fried (Baked) Ravioli with sauce, and then salad - either leftover Seven layered salad or just a simple tossed salad is good.

Thursday - I recently purchased a new cookbook based on a friends recommendation - it is a "Healthy" cookbook.  I'm going to attempt to make Thursdays the night to try a new recipe and slowly (maybe) change out some of the heavier recipes we love (Chicken Fried Steak) for some of these healthier, "whole-30" kind of meals.  So first up is Pork Medallions with Blackberry compote and Cauliflower puree.  I'll add aspargus as a side of green and hope for the best!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Planning our Summer -- Or Not

Have you seen this floating around the Internet?  At first glace, it seems like a great idea but then, reality hits.  Who has to enforce this?  ME!  Huh!  

At first I was feeling bad about not having every moment of our day planned until my friend (and cousin) pointed out that when her boys were growing up she didn't plan anything - they either swam in the pool, on the trampoline, or riding bikes.  I figured out really quickly that it's ok to not have a schedule. 

Remember I posted how crazy the last few weeks have been?  So, my first plan is to take a few weeks off of anything specific.  We all need a break.  My second part of the plan is simple
1) We have some school review.  Very simply - handwriting and math review are on the list.  That's it.  Just one worksheet of each, each day.  A total of like 10-15 minutes. 
2) Reading - we are all participating in reading programs through the library/bookstore so we will read.  The goal is 15 minutes of individual reading a day and then I am reading a group book to all the kids for 15 minutes a day. 
3)  Activities - I'm planning more things to do this summer.  Simple trips to different parks, splash pads, and the pool.  Library activities, free movies, VBS, and whatever other inexpensive, fun things I can find.  
4) I hope to do some crafts and science experiments.  I'm not over planning these.  If I find something I love, I'll get the stuff I need and we will do it.  That's all. 

Will we have days of nothing? YES!  Will we have days where the boys are using electronics all day long? YES!  And guess what? That's ok!!  

Do you have a plan for your summer? 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Choosing Joy

I "found" this post in my drafts - I wrote it back in January but due to lacking "Joy", I didn't feel like posting it at the time.  As I reread it earlier this week, I realized that it's good.  I've come further in my "Joy" journey since January but I think it is also good to reflect on where we have been to see how far we've come. 

This past year brought events that stole my joy.  I believe that when you go through a life changing event you have to re-learn how to live a life you had prior to that event.  There is always a "before" and an "after"; a clear line in the sand.  As I came to the end of 2016, one of the conscience decisions I made was to work on choosing Joy throughout 2017.
In my "book" Joy and Happiness are two seperate things.  I have learned to laugh again and to find humor in things I hear and see.  I've slowly been able to sing again (granted some of those long praise songs - they wear me out about half way through and I'm done!).  The joy in my heart, though, is not there.  There is still sorrow and grief that fill that corners.  I know that my dad would say to me - find Joy.  So, that's what I am endeavoring to do.  You all know that when you decide to do something good, life will throw you a curve ball.  Boy did it ever!

January 2nd:
1) The boys and I went to Meijer and Josh dropped a glass ornament on the floor, which shattered and sent glass everywhere and caused him to go into a sobbing mess in the middle of the store.
2) Nate stepped in  . .. something . . that someone left in the aisle.
3) The boys wanted snails for their fish tanks and were told they were all dead.
4) Darryl had the worst day at work financially that he has ever had.  Not only did he make no money, he owed money for his cab rental.
5) The boys were mad because I told them they could no longer watch a show they were watching because I acutally sat down and watched a few episodes.
6) And just when I thought it was over, I took out my contacts and one of them disappeared.  I can always find them when they fall but this time, no suck luck.  Talk about a downer to end a day!

I will admit that when I awoke on January 3rd I had no joy.  We were all still fighting coughs and colds and now, my vision with glasses was less than par.  All four kids were here and they were arguing.  HA!  I read :-)  All day and reading does bring me joy.

So, here I am two weeks later and I'm still working on choosing joy.  For example, I went to the eye doctor and ordered new contacts.  Since it was going to be 7-10 days before the contacts arrived, he gave me a pair of soft contacts to use for free.  It was fabulous.  Sunday-Tuesday I got lots done because I could see again!  And then I got up Wednesday morning and one contact was missing.  For real.  I haven't lost one in over 20 years and now I've lost two in less than a week!  Uggg!  (Joyfully it was free, right?)  Now, I'm waiting and hoping the contacts come in sooner (like Monday) and not later (like Thursday!)

Living life with joy is a choice.  Despite circumstances or events that come along.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Reality of Life Running at Fast Speed

Here it is the middle of June and I'm trying to figure out where the first half of the month went.  I kind of feel like I've been spinning my wheels and was contemplating why I feel like I haven't gotten anything done.  So, I pulled out my calender and took a look.  Here's the reality of June:

Last Week of May/First week of June - We still had our special session of homeschool co-op, baseball, Field Day, and a busy weekend of concerts with Darryl.
1st full week of June - We had to wrap up loose ends with school, choir practice, baseball, a choir concert and a weekend with family
2nd week of June - Vacation Bible School, Baseball, Swimming fun, a Field Trip, an activity at the library and camping!! 

No wonder I feel like it's been crazy!  I was thinking just yesterday that our last "commitment" is wrapping up because the boys last baseball game was Monday night.  . . .but then I remembered swim lessons started Monday morning HA!  So, 2 weeks of  swim lessons, four mornings a week and THEN I think it slows down.  

This week I'm focusing on regrouping, planning, and starting some of those June goals I posted about last week.  The kids need to get some reading time in to earn Library/Bookstore rewards and I need to put together their summer review "binders" to start in July.  

On a side note, you know it's been a busy season when your 7 year old sleeps in until 8;15 and your 8 year old sleeps until 9:00.  

Monday, June 19, 2017

Camping Trip #1

We survived and totally enjoyed our first camping trip of the season.  I hesitiate to type this next sentance because I might jinx our future trips this year but . . well . .this trip went off without a hitch.  It was almost too easy.  From hitching up the camper, to setting up, the weather (for the most part), and tearing down.  As the boys would say, "we beat our records for setting up and tearing down."  We'd love to get both of those events to under an hour but doing it in about 1 1/2 hours seems to be as fast as we can go for now!

I mentioned last week I talked about some stress-free camping ideas and the new one to us was two vechiles and let me tell you, what a game changer.  We loved having all four bikes, plenty of room to keep all of our snacks/coolers in the van and just to not have to jam things into one was great.  Plus, I got quiet time since I drove the van by myself HA!

We arrived on Thursday, set up the camper, unloaded and promptly decided that we were going to our favorite Pizza Place (Bernie O's) for dinner because we were HOT AND TIRED!  We came back to the campsite and took showers and put on PJ's before heading to the drive-in!  Just a few days Prior, I had checked and Captian Underpants was showing which the boys wanted to see.  Well, we got that and it wasn't showing because someone had a private party at one of the screens!  So, we made a quick decision and decided to see Pirates of the Carriabean instead which is not a choice we would make with the boys normally.  In the end, it was ok - there was no language or anything else - just lots of fighting which the boys loved HA!  Plus, when they got bored, they just played on their Ipads.

 Josh sat in front of the van with his blanket, bear and the left over pizza!!
Nate enjoying a peanut butter sandwich.  He wanted to sit next to the speaker :-)

Our second full day included Bike Rides, Sand Dunes, the Beach, Ice cream, and great Steak Kabobs over the fire!

 The water was cold and the waves were big which made it so much more fun!  The beach at Lake Michigan is truely my happy place and I'd pretty much rather be there than anywhere else!

 The boys loved the freedom of riding bikes everywhere.  This year they are able to go on longer bike rides by themselves and made lots of new friends. (And rescued a few lost littles too!)
 We always walk to the pier.  This year, the boys planned out a bike ride for us that took us to the pier before heading to a huge sand dune.
 Josh managed to climb to the top of the sand dune.
 Nate made it part way before Josh was already on his way back down.
One of our favorite meals is steak kabobs cook over the fire and they did not disappoint.  Yum!

Satuday was our last day - which we really wished we had one more day!  A pretty heavy (and loud) storm rolled through during the night which brought lots of mud puddles.
The rain also brought us some duck friends (There is a duck in this photo!).  The boys had fun feeding them (it was a couple :-) ) and they flew back to us a few times throughout the morning.

We are already looking forward to our next trip in July and we added an extra day to our planned trip because we decided it is way too much work to set up/tear down a campsite without spending at least two full days there!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

End of the School Year

We ended our second year of homeschooling with Connections Acadamy on June 9th.  I feel like it was another successful year and I felt like I had things a little more under control than I did last year.  I have some plans for this coming year to make it better - better scheduling around our co-op events and field trips; some schedule extra days off before Christmas and after New years; ending everything in our school year by May 15th.

 Josh with his 2nd grade teacher.  She was really awesome and worked well with us through his online classes.
 Nate's first grade teacher.  (No, he's not crying - that's just his "smile" right now HA!) He loves her :-)
Josh ran his first race yesterday and Nate and our little friend walked the path to meet up with him and ended up walking almost the whole thing too!

These photos were from our year end field trip which was awesome.  We also played on the splash pad, swam in the lake and played, played, played!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Weekly Meals - The one with camping

When I wrote last weeks menu, I was still on the "high" of thinking I could cook all kinds of stuff for camping.  Then I remembered that I don't want all of that work (yesterdays post!).  So I revamped it alot and here's the plan for the coming week!

Friday - Our annual dinner of Steak Kabobs (over the fire) baked potatoes (crock pot) and macaroni salad (Compliments of Walmart).

Saturday - After enjoying the last morning of camping, then loading up, coming home, and unloading . . I never want to cook.  We will either have leftovers depending on what we didn't eat while gone OR we will do a Taco Bell Run!

Sunday - Father's Day!  I have a nice breakfast planned - Waffle House Waffles (I found the recipe online) and Sausage.  Darryl hasn't decided what he wants - he is torn between going out or me cooking so once he decides, then we will go from there.

Monday - It's a busy night with baseball and I have practice.  So I think something simple for the kids and maybe hot dogs at the park for Darryl and I.

Tuesday - Finally.  Home.  Sloppy Joes and Baked Beans!!

Wednesday - We are meeting family for dinner in Grand Rapids!

Thursday - Chicken Alfredo, green beans and garlic bread.  Seriously, chicken is so expensive, I might buy a bag of that pre-cooked chicken strips and just throw them in with the pasta and store baought Alfredo sauce.

And then it is time to go to the store!!!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Camping- Can it be easy and stressfree?

Isn't this what we all really want? 

A nice, peaceful time camping without any stress or worries? 

Well, let me tell you.  It seems like more often, camping is like this.

Last year, on one of our camping adventures, I realized that I spent more time cooking and cleaning while camping then I did at home, or so it seemed.  I started with coffee and breakfast; cleaned up and got lunch in the crock pot; cleaned up and put dinner in the crock pot; made dinner and cleaned again before getting out snacks and, yes cleaning again.  On our next trip, I went on strike! 

I decided to focus on what we enjoy about camping which is family fun and sitting around the campfire.  Instead of labor intensive meals (either prepping at home or at the campsite) I went with stuff we could easily cook over the fire (Brats, Hot Dogs, ect).  I kept crockpot use to minimum with things like baked potatoes or corn on the cob.  

Every year, while camping, I say to myself, "Self, this year lets start working on camping stuff all winter - ideas, organizing, prepping crock pot meals for ease in meals."  And every year I don't do it HA!  So even this year, as we are getting ready to head out on our first adventure, I find myself scrambling to even find bins that I used last year because, well, I used them for other things throughout the year.  I WAY over planned meals and had to re-plan and remind myself to stop with the hard work!!!  (To think, I thought I would make an overnight breakfast so we could have a nice breakfast casserole one morning that only Darryl and I would eat anyway!!) 

Camping is supposed to be stress free. 
Especially now that the kids are older.  

Here are a few of my tried and true . . .and a new . . .ideas for stress free camping. 
1) I buy prepackaged snacks; like snack sized bags of chips, cookies, and popcorn.  These are kept in the snack bin.  We use these for snacks, obviously, but also to eat with meals.  
2) Use an electric cooler.  My mother-in-law found one for me at a garage sale a few years ago and it's great for keeping food cold without it being buried in ice.  Between the mini-fridge inside the popup and the electric cooler I can keep the food cold; I still use an ice cooler for drinks to keep them extra cold. 
3) Each person has a tote for their clothes.  Since we only camp for 2-3 days our bins are small but they are perfect.  At the end of the trip, all of the dirty clothes are then in the pop-up hamper and I can stack the containers together to save room.  I did this last year for the first time and it was a game change.  Bags just fall over and take up way too much room.  The containers sit right on a shelf in the camper. 
4) Take two vehicles HA!  This is new this year.  The latch on the back of the truck needs to be replaces so we can't open it up fully.  We realized that we'd need to take the van too and have now realized that this is a game changer.  We can fit all four bikes in the van plus all of the stuff.  Prior to this, Darryl and I stopped taking our bikes because we couldn't fit all four on the bike rack and the boys bikes had gotten too big to tie on top.  

I'm hoping that once we are on the road, the "stress free" feeling will take over because my lack of planning this time around does have me feeling slightly . . well . stressed HA! 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

June goals (even though it's half over!)

Earlier this week I posted my year goals using my birthday as the "year" date (even though I posted it a few months late ha!).  I have always liked to get a little more specific each month on goals related to and not related to that list. Yes, June is half over.  But, we had to finish up the last lagging details of school before I could focus on anything else.  Now, though, school is done and it is time to be diligient on things OTHER than school!!!  (Homeschooling really does take up a good portion of my time from Sept. - June!)

Here is my plan for the rest of the month:
1) Being intentional with weekly planning.  Each day I will post the schedule of the day for the kids.  I've found a few inspirations on pinterest but, as is usually the case, mine will be much simplier!  I like the idea of posted schedule because it will allow the kids to see what is planned (and unplanned) for the day. Included in this schedule are reading times (for reading programs) and school review - we are specifically practicing handwriting and reviewing math.
2) Scrapbooking - my nephews book is done!  (It had to be!) Moving forward with scrapbooking here's how June needs to shape up:
     a) Put together the shelf I ordered to hold all of my scrapbooks and then some.
     b) Put scrapbooks on that shelf AND tag (in some way) each book that needs work.  So, basically, as I put them on the shelf, I want to take a quick peek and see if it needs anywork.  Then I can go back through and finish them up)
     c) Sort all of the photos I have ordered already
     d) Scrapbook a total of 12 two pages spreads (basically 2 a day . .. with some free days thrown in since we will be busy sometimes)
3) Home - Finish the living room painting.  We did the bulk of it over memorial day but we need to paint out the trim and the door.  In general, I'm working on a "be a minamalist" plan for cleaning.  I'm planning to focus on a room a day (for example, every Monday I will work in the kitchen, Tuesday the bathroom ect).  Finally, the garage and basement are just projects that are never ending that Darryl and I continue to work on.
4) Family - I'm working really hard this summer to do things as a family.  We are camping, swimming, and more.  (June is kinda busy already!!)

I think that's a good starting point for June (especially since, well like I said, it's almost over!)

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

My 45th Year.

For me, it seems like my birthday is a start of a new year.  I feel like I've been given another year to make a difference and need to set some goals.  There is a place I want to be in a year from now so instead of starting on January 1st maybe it makes more sense to start on my birthday.

1. I'd like to read some books.  I have a stack of books that I've been wanting to read for about 10 years HA!  I used to be really good at setting my books goals and reading them and then, along came digital books and I'm not so good at that anymore.  I find that I need non-fiction books in paperback so I can make notes, re-read, and start over - something I struggle to do in digital format.

My plan is to read down my list and have my two books for each month in hand by the first of each month (some I already own and some I don't)

So here's my list for the year - 24 titles.  (2 books a month in case you needed help with the "new math" haha)
1. Listen, Love, Repeat
2. Wait and See
3. Uninvited
4. 5 Habits of Women who don't give up
5. Unglued
6. Taming the To Do List
7. The Mended Heart
8. What Happens When Women Walk in Faith
9. Keep it Shut
10. Am I messing up my kids?
11. Living So That
12. Breaking Busy: How to find Peace and Purpose in a World of Cracy
13. Choose Joy
14. Girl Meets Change
15. Hoodwinked
16. Own your Life
17. Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World
18. Simply Tuesday
19. Steadfast Love
20. The Fringe Hours
21. The Mingling of Souls
22. Women of the Word
23. Parenting: 14 Gospel Prinicples that can Radically Change your Family
24. In This Hosue we Giggle

2) Scrapbooking - I've finally back in my groove.  Attending crops, budgeting to get caught up, and, well, trying to catch up.  I'm currently working through 2014 and 2015.  I don't usually do two years at once but I accidently ordered photos from each year (I had Jan-March of 2014 but thought, later I was 2015 so I ordered April-June of 2015 - oops!). I've also started ordering pages from 2011 that are completed but I never ordered digitally.  Yes, that's three years I'm working on now HA!  So here's my basic goals for the next year.

1. Complete my nephews grad book by June 1st.
2. Complete all of 2014 and 2015 completely - all pages in scrapbooks; any memorabilia on pages and in the book; page protected and completed.
3. Go through all of my old scrapbooks and hopefully have them all completed - I say hopefully because I know I'm missing page protectors and I'm not sure if I can fit all of that in the budget throughout the year but I'm going to try.
4. Update the family albums with the boys year by year photos, sport photos ect.
5. I'd really like to have 2016 also done within this next year so that I will only be technically one full year "behind".
6.  Order one month of the digital pages each month AND order enough pages to put them into an album each month - this might be a stretch on the budget so, it might be order digital pages one month and scrapbook pages for this project the next month.
7.  Since this involves photos:  Print photos of each of our animals we've had since getting married and frame them; hang them in the bathroom alcove/hallway - I project I've wanted to do for a long time.
8. Get professional family photos take THIS summer.  It's been a few years and it is time.

3) Bible Study - I have a Bible Study book to do on Psalms.  Psalms is a very long book so for now, that is my goal.  When I finish this, I will pick something new at that point

4) The House.  I have some very specific goals for the house this coming year.  Sure there are things we'd like such as a new dishwasher, replacing the garage door, replacing the house doors but, those are some bigger ticket items.  Instead I just have somethings to accomplish.

1.  Paint the living room.  We've been able to replace our entertainment center and get some new lights.  So now we want to finish the update by painting and putting up some new artwork.  I also have a shelf to order for the scrapbooks (which in turn frees up storage space in the playroom!)
2) Replace the carpet and organize the playroom.  When our dog was so sick near the end of her life, the carpet in the playroom took a beating.  Not to mention it is already about 18 years old and . .. pink.  It's a tiny room so the cost is minor.   I also need to organize again and make that room more usable.
3) Update the boys room -just some simple organizing, changing out some artwork and creating some display shelves for their TDK belts and other sport trophies.  Once the playroom is done, I'm going to finish up some organizing in their rooms.  I kind of know what shelving I want to use in their room so they each have a very specific space.
4) The basement.   My goal is to finally clean the space out.  A couple of shelves, a couple of bins, and a huge trash pile should take care of it ;-)  We've talked to the boys already about the "playroom" downstairs and that we are going to turn it more into a Lego Space.  A space for the bins of legos that they use for fun, Some shelves for storage (there should be extras left from cleaning out what we already have) and a table for building.  This will clear up space in their bedroom for their favorite complete projects.

5.  Family - If we don't plan family events, they don't happen.
1) Camping - we currently have two dates on the calendar and are hoping to get one more in before summer is gone.
2) An anniversary get away - Darryl and I are hoping, planning and saving for a three day get away in August for our Anniversary.  Nothing big, just a few days away.
3) I have a few other things on my radar - A trip to Mackinaw, A trip to Chicago, a Short getaway over spring break in 2018 like we did this year (we combined it with our annual trip to celebrate when we got engaged). A trip to a hotel with a waterpark would be fun as well as a vacation somewhere new and fun!
4) The boys are getting older so some of it is just trying to be intentional and look for things that they would enjoy.  Going to Zoos, a Christmas Concert, Birthday plans etc.

6. School.
1) Online schooling is great but I still have to plan.  I want to work our schedule better so that we have more breathing room around holidays and also giving me at least one day a week to accomplish things I need to around the house
2. Summer review - we are focusing on a few key things.  One, handwriting.  Two, Keyboarding. Three, Math and Four, Reading.  We are wrapping up school right now and I plan to give the boys a few weeks off before giving them a summer schedule.  It will be very simple (because I don't like summer school either!) Just 20 minutes a day is my goal and then reading 2-3 days a week.

I'm sure I'll add some more to my list as I go along but for now this is a good start.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Grief - The Shadows

Almost a year ago I wrote a Blog Post about being silenced by grief.  One of the profound things about grief is that it morphs into different creatures.  Sometimes daily; sometimes weekly; or something it just pops up out of no where.

Most recently, it has struck me that grief brings shadows.

Losing someone that you love leaves an emptiness but as time passes by that emptiness moves aside and what is left behind are dark shadows, often lurking just on the edges of life.  Think about a photo with shaded  edges - where everything is darker and just a little blurry.  The photo may show a happy family, enjoying life but those blurred edges represent lose and hurt.
As year one passes by and year two begins, I find that a person goes from the overwhelming since of what was lost to the sense of what is missing or, maybe it is really of what is being missed.  Baseball games - especially the very fist hit of the season; birthdays, the rebuilding of an Amp (My husband was working on his recently, using tools my dad gave him and made the comment of, "I really missed your dad today because he would have loved being part of this process). See, those things are the blurred edges of the photo - instead of full joy, there is sadness mixed with joy.
Even as there are glimpses of sunlight through the trees; as happy memories are made; life events happen; really, "Life" moves on . .. there is still that corner of darkness that no one really understands unless you have lost someone who brought life and light to daily lives. I personally find myself more profoundly impacted now when someone dies because I know the feeling of grief and I also know what they face in the days ahead.  Just a week or so ago, Dr. Bradley, our vet, passed away unexpectedly.  My heart hurt for his family - the son who ran his office and worked with him daily; his wife of 50 years; his daughter and grandchildren.  Dr. Bradley was an amazing vet and I am saddened by the loss but I am more saddened for his family and their loss.  I know that hurt and it's not fun.
In the midst of all of those shadows, though, is light.  God gives us light; He gives us strength.  Yes, I still struggle with Sundays and holidays and missing my dads laugh and wisdom.  Yet, I love hearing my kids talk about Papa and all of his wisdom he shared with them in their short years; or seeing them recently use the tools he gave them as a gift on that last Christmas.  I love hearing others tell stories or share quotes or wisdom he shared with them.

Truth be told, Grief is hard.