Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Indiana Summer

Two weeks ago little Abe and I went on a five hour trip south with my mom and my sister. We found ourselves in southern Indiana where many of my mom's relatives live and also where my grandparents lived when I was a kid. When I agreed to go on the trip with my mom and sister I wasn't really sure what I was signing on to. I haven't seen the majority of my relatives in Indiana since my grandmother's funeral eleven years ago. In a way they're almost like strangers. Between five of my cousins there are at least ten children in the family in southern Indiana that I'd never met. Is it weird for me to have been a little nervous about visiting my own family?

When I was a kid I remember dreading the drive down there. It was about an hour longer back then but for as old as I was and as annoying as my brothers could be it seemed more like a fifty hour drive then like the six hour drive it actually was. But the six hour drive also meant that we were going to visit my grandparents and their wilderness wonderland. For that I'd make the excruciating trip again and again. I know that at least once my parents dropped my brothers and I off at my grandparent's house and left us there for a portion of the summer. The three of us were free to roam the thirty two wilderness acres, investigate the gardens, swim in and fish in the ponds, and for hours on end enjoy every single bit of what it meant to be a kid.
Grandmother and Grandpa with
one of my aunts (their first born)
 I'm convinced that my intense love for nature started after those six hour drives in the summer as a kid. I hold very dear some of my fondest childhood memories from my Indiana summers. I remember so clearly the adventures my brothers and I had with our cousins in those clay bottom ponds. Visions of us swinging from grape vines over ravines in the woods have never left me. I remember firefly evenings and the smells that always came from my grandparents kitchen. I remember my grandpa taking us for amusement park like rides in his little tractor which he fondly referred to as Little Mack. Sometimes if I close my eyes and think hard enough I can smell the cigar smoke, Indiana clay aroma, and sawdust that mingled together in their garage. And how prim and proper both of my grandparents were, our grammar was always corrected, no running in the house, and no hats were allowed at the table.
Their home in Indiana shorty after it was built,
with only a small corner of the bigger pond showing.

After my parents divorced my grandparents sold their home in Indiana so they could move next door to my mom, their youngest. The property had housed their dream home. They built the house and spent their retirement working on the land. It meant a lot for them to move away from so much of their family that they'd spent so many years near and to leave behind their home. They did it to be with us, with my mom. Unfortunately my grandpa passed during the move. It was weird how in a very few short years during my adolescence I lost my family (when my parents divorced I felt like I lost my mom and my dad), I lost sight of who I was and all self confidence, I lost my favorite place in the world (my grandparent's home in Indiana), and I lost my grandpa. I mean talk about childhood being ripped away all at once.

My grandparent's have both been gone for a long time now. Eleven years ago my grandmother very happily departed in her sleep. She was ready. She missed my grandpa so very much. And more then twenty years ago my grandpa left us far, far too soon. It's been close to twenty five years since I last felt the magic, the safety, the love, and the very meaning of what it is to live while at my grandparent's home in Indiana. I've lamented that loss ever since.

Back to where I started, two weeks ago, seven hours after I got out of work including one rather exhausting five hour car ride later little Abe, my sister, my mom and I found ourselves in southern Indiana at my aunts house in the country. The sky was a dark nigh time expanse, clear as could be and speckled with millions of stars. Crickets were chirping, tree frogs were singing. In the darkness I could smell my grandparents home (although we were no where near it actually).

We spent the next three days reuniting with wonderful family. Except for the new children and the years we each wore (everyone looks so much older, including us to them) it was like time hadn't really passed. My mom's family are so kind and inviting. They're so down to earth and real. They're just as I remembered them and better.

A bridge my cousin built over a
fantastic stone bottom creek.
Between the five different homes we visited and the (literal) hundreds of acres combined that surrounded the homes, the three separate ponds, fish, the wilderness trails, dogs, goats, goat dogs... lets just say my Indiana family is living my grandparents Indiana legacy. I was in heaven. One morning my sister and I sat on my aunt's porch enjoying paradise for two hours while little Abe played in the wonderful hot end of summer sunshine.

This little man had the time of his life
(and made several new furry friends)
Little Abe took tractor rides through the forests, skipped rocks in the creek, threw fish food to catfish, watched Doug the dog try to catch fish, oh yeah while he was swimming in the ponds with Doug and Cooper (another dog). He also swam and played with new cousins he'd never met before. He ran around outside barefoot for hours on end. He climbed trees, watched a plethora of different birds and butterflies, and truly enjoyed the beauty of hundreds of different flowers. Apart from the fireflies I remember as a child that were apparently out of season and swinging from grape vines (which I'm okay with him not having done) he spent three days in southern Indiana almost exactly as I remember it. It was the biggest blessing in the world for me to witness my son enjoying exactly what I remember so fondly enjoying when I was a child.


During the last evening there we had a big family cookout. Seeing everyone was wonderful. Enjoying the Indiana wilderness, and more than that, watching my son revel in adventure was priceless. The vacation away from home to just relax, with family, in so much beauty... it was basically like being at a cabin in the woods by a small lake for three days which I never ever get to do, was amazing! But most of all I regained something vastly precious that had been lost to me for almost twenty five years. Even though my grandparent's home in Indiana is essentially gone (no longer in the family; I can't go back and be with them there) I felt like I was there. And spending time with my aunt who looks (and acts) SOOOO much like my grandmother in her "mature" years, visiting with cousins that remind me of my grandpa, being with family that we mostly have only been with and around through my grandparents... I think the best way to say it is that pieces of my grandparents are in all of their children and grandchildren and great grand children and I could feel that while we were down there visiting. My grandparents have both been gone for eleven years, plus, but they were there. My cup runneth over. 

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Black Krim

This is the underside of my very favorite type of tomato

The photo doesn't do them justice but here's the last of our black krim sliced up

And the start of our third batch of soup for the year

Friday, September 15, 2017

Mid September Harvest


Today gave us one big bowl of romas, the last of the black krim tomatoes 
and the first of the bean harvest.

The stores have switched over from summer and back to school merchandise and are filled with autumn, Halloween, and harvest themed products. It certainly still feels like summer but these tomatoes and beans are harvest blessings in my book. Feeling thankful.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Tomato Soup Time

This year's tomato harvest was a bit smaller than last. I'm not complaining; we still had tomatoes galore. The weather this summer was a little odd and I put the plants in the ground quite a bit later than normal so all things considered I'm thrilled with the harvest.

Yesterday I made this year's second batch of tomato soup. I've just decided that fresh from the garden tomato soup is my very favorite thing to do with the plethora of tomatoes. I've taken to growing two varieties. For a few years now I've been growing a plain standard roma that my son and husband love to just gobble up cut in half with a bit of salt sprinkled on. The romas are good for so many other things too but in this house they are mostly just eaten fresh from the garden. The second tomato I've been growing is a real ugly heirloom called black krim. Honestly, once you cut into it it's not ugly at all. It's actually beautiful swirled with bright greens, very deep magenta reds and bright reds, filled with sweet juices that you can see all surrounding the seeds, it's lovely! They are perfect for anything (that you don't want too much tomato juice on). Fantastic for making sauces and salsa. I love a big slice of black krim on a hamburger or inside grilled cheese... the list goes on and on.

And, the black krim makes an awesome tomato soup! The tomato is so incredibly juicy and sweet that the soup resulting from it is unbeatable. I made the first batch from this summer's bounty about three days ago. I used three tablespoons of oil, a teaspoon of chopped basil, a teaspoon of salt, and some black pepper to saute five (large) chopped cloves of garlic. Then I added two cups of homemade chicken stock that I had in the freezer. To that I added an awesome colorful heap of largely chopped black krim tomato slices (I think it was about 8 large chopped tomatoes). About 30 minutes later, after simmering for at least 20 minutes I had a pot of awesomeness. Add a little whole milk or heavy cream, plop in the blender and get it all pureed and... amazing!

Last year I froze several bags of soup but this year after two large batches there's nothing to freeze. We can't stop eating it. I have to say, I'm excited that fall is just around the corner. I love the cool breeze in the air, the apple harvest, pumpkin season, sweatshirt weather... amazing colors everywhere the eye can see. Fall is awesome but for right now I'm still REALLY enjoying the joys of summer, even though soup sounds like a cold weather sort of thing : )

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Stargazing

How often do you look at the stars? I used to spend a considerable amount of time beneath their splendor. Combine that I lived in the country for several years (where light pollution doesn't ruin the view), I used to stay up so much later than I do now, and I spent endless hours driving between friends houses and driving home at night from friends houses; I think I've spent a good portion of my life under the speckled black canopy.

Looking up into the endless darkness spotted with those tiny bright dots is always awe inspiring. It makes me feel smaller and so much grander all at once. Countless people have written about the stars, paintings, photographs; artists have been trying to trap the memorizing beauty and grandness of the night's sky forever. We don't often have a clear sky in Michigan. In fact we have upwards of 90 percent cloud cover during all of the winter months. Last year they reported 94% cloud cover all winter long. That means that we only saw the sun and sky peaking through 6% of the time last winter.

Yesterday when leaving for work there was a perfectly clear star speckled sky overhead. I only had a few minutes to stop and marvel at it. My neighbors always have all of their outside lights on (it's weird). There are street lights just a few houses away at each corner... I could see the stars as I left for work and they were beautiful but it's not the same just glancing up at them while I leave for work at 5
am. I am writing this post as an encouragement for myself to get in some really good, purposed stargazing time before the end of fall.

You know that feeling when you stand at the edge of an ocean or look out onto the horizon from the top of a mountain? You feel like you're looking at something enormous, that you can see farther then you've ever seen before. Something so very much bigger than yourself if passing before your sight. I think the night sky, uninhibited by clouds beats both of those views, despite it's simplicity, despite it's being present each night (however, visible less often). Looking into the stars not only means one is looking billions of miles away (when can we ever claim that) but we're also looking into the past. One star is sending light from from five years ago. Looking at that one bright dot means looking five years into the past. Five years ago when my son was an infant, five years ago when my husband and I were at different jobs, when people who were still alive but are no longer, that light was just given off. Other stars are shining that was first given off 20 years ago, 50 years ago, 450 years ago. Light from when your mother was first born, your grandfather, during world war II and all the horrors, during the highlight of the Roman empire, and when Jesus walked the earth. Anything you may have read in history book. It's all in the star light. Standing beneath a clear night sky, right now, in this moment, light from all over history is showering down upon us.

It's not quite like looking at a fabulously old tree or a piece of stone that may be millions of years old. Viewing light from the stars is actually like looking into the past. The very same light you and I see from each of the different stars is the light that was given off by that star however many years ago. It's literally like looking back in time. I don't think most people stand before a clear brilliant night sky and think to themselves, "wow, I'm looking at history," but I think most of us can feel it. Without thoughts, without words, stargazing is still just as powerful an experience.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Poop Coffee

I have a word of advice, especially if you're a regular coffee drinker and especially if you like a pretty good cup (you know, like you're not in the habit of stopping by gas stations to buy a cheap cup of the dirty brown stuff. Maybe there's even a certain bean you prefer, like say a good rich Guatemalan bean).

Last week in an attempt to pinch pennies (for real though, almost nothing has changed here in the past few months) I picked up a cheap can of coffee. I won't name names. Great idea, right? No! For the past week I've been drinking coffee that smells like poop or at least very close to it. Okay, it's not that bad but seriously it's gross. I'm not in the habit of doctoring up my coffee. I mean I usually drink it black or with a teaspoon of sugar. But black coffee that smells like poop doesn't taste much better and it wasn't worth the $3 I saved. And yes I keep drinking it because I paid for it. Bleck! If you're thinking it might be rotten or something, it's not. It's just cheap and I can't bring myself to purchase creamer to help hide the flavor because that would counteract the whole "saving money" thing.

So, my advice: Brew at home. That saves a lot but don't try and pinch pennies buying cheap grounds or you might pay for it.

(Yeah, this isn't really an advice column. I just wanted a "constructive" way to complain about my poop coffee)
Signing off.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Blogging Hiatus

June? July? August? Well that went fast...

Our 2017 sunflowers

I had this sudden compulsion to stop by blogger and count my blessings... well at least five of them. It's much too much of a beautiful end of summer day to not quickly jot something cheery down.

  1. Our Garden
    The awe inspiring fact that tiny, lifeless seeds are able to grow into such large bountiful fruit producing plants has yet to evade me. I'm in love with the garden. I'm in love with the fact that despite my planting the seeds, tilling the soil, and tending the plants, I am incapable of making them grow. The Lord alone resides over that feat and I feel truly blessed to be witness to it.
  2. My Job
    Do I love venturing from the comfort of our cozy home so that I can earn a little extra income? No. But I'm really tremendously thankful for a job that I mostly like and for the fact that I'm able to earn needed income for our family but only work twenty four hours a week. I feel very blessed to be where I'm at in life, able to make some money but I am also able to spend most of my time raising my son.
  3. Baby Sparrows
    OUR ROBINS came back this year. They built a gorgeous little nest in the honeysuckle and momma laid two lovely blue gems into the masterpiece. I watched as a crow swooped in and plundered the beautiful eggs. I was really heartbroken, furious... I may have wanted to retaliate with murder. I'm pretty easily jarred. Almost the entire summer went by, our robins vanished, and my anger with the crows never ceased. But then one day there were tiny little brown birds almost invading every bush surrounding our back alley. The little things were so hyper, so noisy, so excited about life. A large group of just learning to fly, jumping and flailing baby sparrows brought much needed joy to our nature adventures this summer. Life goes on, despite large annoying black birds, life goes on. I'm thankful for baby sparrows.
  4. Family
    It's generic, it's expected, it goes without saying but I cannot actually bring myself to making a list of blessings without it. Family and friends are thee number one most important aspect and biggest blessing in my life.
  5. Strawberry Rhubarb Jam
    I've been absent here for several months but not much has changed. I still LOVE food! Little Abe and I made a spectacular batch of strawberry rhubarb jam this summer and this morning it topped our breakfast french toast. I heated up a few sliced strawberries in the hot french toast pan to lay on top of the jam. Strawberry rhubarb french toast with black coffee... come on, is there any better way to start an end of summer Sunday? I think not!


This year has been really busy and really pretty wonderful. I did a heavy priorities check awhile back and majorly cut my online presence. The most significant omission was deactivating my facebook account for several months. There are a lot of people on facebook that I have little contact with otherwise but it was wonderful not having the monster that is facebook as apart of my life for quite a long while. I never meant however to stop blogging but leaving facebook, committing to spending almost no time at the computer during little Abe's waking hours, and loving the dis-connected life sort of just led to my unintentional absence in blogger. I've missed you all!

Friday, May 26, 2017

June? Disney. 2017 is flying by.

My blog and my brain seem to be stuck in April... is May seriously almost over? For real, June is less than a week away?!?!?

This year has been so unbelievably busy!!! Good, but busy. I have hardly been by blogger this year and I'm starting to seriously miss all of you. I think I'm going to declare this weekend, "blog catch up weekend," and I'll have to stop by all of your blogs and see what's been happening in your parts of the world.

Updates here: We just got back from a road trip to Disney World. Yep, DISNEY WORLD! (we went to three parks) My husband has basically been begging for this trip for years and I finally said yes. Yes, I temporarily lost my mind. Little Abe was tall enough to go on all but two rides and it turns out that he LOVES rollarcoasters.

That's basically the update. I just wanted to check in and say hello since apparently a whole entire month has gone by since I was last here. Now, let "blog catch up weekend" begin!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Furry fluffy wooly spring babies

The past month has been a whirlwind of outdoor adventures; walks (LOTS of walks), yard work, digging in dirt and worm finding for little Abe, Easter festivities, and other such springy fun.

I promise you there's milk in that pop bottle
and the goat is drinking it.

One of the highlights of the past month happened two weeks ago when little Abe and I attended a baby animal class at a local farm. The class was two hours of baby animal overload (meaning overload in the best possible way). Little Abe was able to pick up baby chicks, pet baby bunnies, bottle feed a lamb and a goat, and learn lots about the animals.

I enjoyed the goat portion the most. Miss Mary put all of us in a room and then called the parents to fetch a baby goat so that each child could bottle feed their very own baby goat. I can honestly say I was a little worried I might drop the two week old armful but it was a thrill carrying the little animal to my son who was waiting expectantly with a bottle full of milk. Once all the goats finished drinking they frolicked around the room full of children and parents. Baby goats are quite possibly some of the cutest things on earth and probably because they're full of such joy and antics. 







These tiny twins are only a few hours old!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Life is simply beautiful

I delight in the absolute simplest of things: a gentle breeze of crisp fresh air, bird songs and the musician's feathered flight, spying my son inventing new games on his own, smiling at my husband while he laughs heartily at something I don't find amusing (we do not have the same sense of humor). With spring comes a vibrant display of new life; the world surrounding almost screams of the miracle being birthed everywhere. I can hardly contain the joy this seasons brings to me through the same routine things that happen every single year.

Flowers and leaves blooming after the long cold white grey winter.
Baby animals being born in every field and every barn.
Birds nesting, working, playing, singing, nesting.
Seeds being sown and sprouting to grow into miraculous plants for a summer and autumn harvest.

Now that spring is truly here, the continuous rains have transformed our dead brown world into a vibrant green wonderland, the birds are all back and bustling, and our windows are open to let in the lovely clean scents and the happy spring sounds. Today my simple self is soaking in the ordinary yet miraculous. Today is perfection.


Sunday, March 12, 2017

Two Months In

I've been very absent in blogger land which sometimes is a reflection of chaos and bad crazy in my real world. I wanted to quick check in with all you folks, people I enjoy having a little part in my life and many of you whose lives I enjoy being a small part of as well to say no chaos and bad crazy going on here, just lots of busy busy life.

Two months ago I posted the following. I just read it today and realized how completely and totally true every world of it still is. This year, 2017 still feels really new, different, and despite the busy, busy, rush, rush this has been and looks to be a happy new year.

January 11: This year feels weird. It feels hopeful but weird. Maybe it's just the way I'm interpreting the fresh feeling of newness that virtually every January holds. After all we're only eleven days in and I've been focusing not on cleaning my home, nor on losing weight, or any other respectable task but instead I've been focusing on laughter. I imagine that could give this brand new year a feeling of hopefulness. Whatever the case it has one. 
My husband and I seem to be on the same page in many areas. There's nothing normal about that. When they say opposites attract they were talking about him and me. There's something really fresh and new and revitalizing about this place of strange unity. I feel like little Abe is at a place, at an age where so many huge new beginnings lie before him. He's getting so smart so fast. He's getting so aware so fast. He's able to do so many things so much more fully. It's mind boggling to witness. I'm in awe of him. 
Also, in terms of myself I feel so calm. I think my job was giving me so much anxiety for so long, and my health suffered as a result. Now that I'm feeling content and peaceful in my daily life I can feel my back pain decreasing. I can feel strength finally starting to build up in my back after so long of feeling almost cripple (something I try and not speak of often on the blog). I'm finding more motivation for little things, granted that has a lot to do with back pain decreasing. It seems that progress can now be made in so many areas that have been stagnant for a long time. 
And I'm excited. I'm excited to live each day as it comes. I'm excited for every tiny beauty. I'm excited for all things new. I'm excited for the joy that can be had in simplicity. I'm excited just to be. There's a really lovely calm amidst the excitement and I think it's what they call happy. I am happy.
Little Abe and his daddy

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Warmth; A few hours out of doors

The gate leading into our backyard got a makeover today.



Hooray for the first warm days at the end of winter.


 Boy arts and crafts?

I was (am) a tomboy so this has always been my kind of arts and crafts too. 
Anyone want to take a guess at how long this will stay up? 
I'd honestly be fine with leaving it here forever.

Monday, February 13, 2017

I want to look at people the way my four year old does

This week my son had an assignment where he had to tell the story of when a visitor came to his house. Last summer two of his cousins came over to play for the day. For the assignment he tried to tell me the story of that day. I wrote it all down as fast as I could.

The point of the story was to focus on detail. He was supposed to tell his story as if someone who knew nothing about his visitors was reading it. He did a very good job telling me about how much fun they had and what they did together. But I had to ask him, "what did your visitors look like?" At first while I was writing his description down I couldn't help but want to ask him for more specific details because this was what he told me:

"Siaara looks like a sister and her is. And she looks like a friend of mine. Asher looks like a friend of mine and he looks very brave."

I didn't ask him to elaborate though and I'm glad that I didn't. It wasn't until later that day as I was driving to my mom's and little Abe was sleeping in his car seat that his description of his cousins really spoke to me. My son has a really impressive imagination. He's very creative. He's incredibly talkative (to people that he knows) and his vocabulary is extremely large. He could easily have said that one of his cousins is very tall, that she has really long yellow-ish hair and that she is skinny. He could have said that she is pretty or that he likes her face (he's said that about several different people).

I kept thinking about it and thinking about it, "she looks like a friend... and he looks very brave." If someone asked you to describe what your sister looks like or your best friend what would you say? I wouldn't say she looks like my friend but there is something about a four year old describing two of his very favorite people looking "like a friend of mine" that just makes me want to be a better person. If someone asked me what my sister looked like I think it'd be admirable to say, "she looks incredibly kind. In fact she looks like someone who enjoys making people happy. She looks like a friend of mine and she's my sister."

I want to look at people the way my four year old does. One of the things that I keep thinking over and over, with as divided as things seem to be culturally these days I honestly believe that if he'd been describing someone of another race his description would have still been what it was. I know that my son doesn't see skin color or racial differences as something that makes people different from each other. I remember last summer when a family of very dark skinned individuals was at the splash pad by the river. They honestly stuck out like a sore thumb and I remember little Abe was sort of staring. I asked him, "why do you keep looking at that little boy honey?" And I remember he turned to me and said, "because he looks really cool!" He never said a word about the boy having really dark skin. I want to look at people the way my four year old does.



Wednesday, February 8, 2017

New in February

This month is getting away from me. It's flying by. Actually if I stop for a millisecond and think about it I seem to remember January being really super busy too. Okay, never mind. This mad rush feeling is apparently normal. I'm up early and my husband and son are sleeping (nope, they just woke up). Anyhow I thought I'd try and get a post in.

I planned to focus on all things new this month. So far I've not been as focused on the mission as I'd hoped to be but I've still gotten some new experiences in.

1. I made a new dinner that my husband seemed to like and I really enjoyed. The recipe is HERE Thai turkey zucchini meat balls with a coconut milk red curry sauce over white rice. The zucchini was in place of bread crumbs and egg. I did bake the meatballs in the oven at 375 for 15m. instead of browning them in a pan before simmering them in the sauce because I knew it'd be faster to cook them all at once in the oven and I knew that they'd stick to any pan I'd try to use (I don't have any good pans for browning meat). I also used apple cider vinegar in place of the fish sauce because the fish sauce smelled nasty. I will definitely make this recipe more. It was a very delicious meal that was not that difficult to make.

2. You know those chocolate no bake cookies with oats? Everyone's eaten them at some point right? I remember making them fairly often when I was a kid but don't know what recipe I used. I have not been able to find a good recipe for them and haven't made them in years because every recipe I tried has not been right. Someone at work mentioned them the other day and I asked what recipe she used. This wasn't a totally "new" experience but this was the first time I've made chocolate oatmeal no bake cookie the right way in decades! Hooray for good old fashioned recipes turning up after decades.

Chocolate Oatmeal no bake cookies
combine in sauce pan and bring to boil for one minute
(continue stirring for one minute boil)
1 stick of butter
2 c. sugar
1/2 c. cocoa powder
1/2 c. milk 
remove from heat after one minute and stir in
1/2 c. peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla extract 
Finally add
3 cups of oats
Then plop on parchment paper on cookie sheet to cool and set
Yes, these cookies are incredibly unhealthy. But they are exactly what I think of when someone says no bake cookies and they were a wonderful addition to the bitterly cold month of February. (They are also my husband's favorite cookie and I'm very happy to have finally made the correct recipe)

3. For little Abe's Valentine card making project I laid out a large sheet of postal paper on the kitchen floor. He used a long string to drag through several different colors of paint to paint lines all over different colors of construction paper. After the paintings dried he cut hearts out of them. This was a new craft that we haven't tried before and he highly enjoyed himself so this definitely makes it onto the new things in February list.

4. At work we sometimes get stock in on tiny little pallets. The regular large pallets get sent back/ re-used/ recycled but the tiny little pallets always get thrown out. I've been wanting to take one home but I've been too reluctant to ask permission (even though I knew it'd be fine as long as I asked). I finally asked permission when I saw one the other day and I'm pretty excited to have some FREE nice clean new wood to use for either crafting or simply for my little guy to hammer nails into. This was a new experience for me because before now I've just been too reluctant to ask. I think we might use the wood to make a bird house.

There have been other little things but like I said I have not been as focused on all-things-new as I'd hoped to be. This month is just flying by. I want to make sure and fit in lots of little things though. Like painting my nails a new color or wearing an outfit I hardly ever wear. I definitely want to go somewhere I've never gone, like just into a store I've not been in or to a neighboring town we've never explored. There is plenty of month left for tons of new experiences. I just need to remember to fit them in and be on the look out for opportunities.

I hope everyone in blog land is having a really great (if not jam packed) February.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

A tiny month of things I love

Valentines day is kind of, hmm, to be honest, well it's kind of lame. I never actually dated anyone in high school thus I had to watch all the girls around me getting flowers and candies and balloons in school on valentines day every year. I remember it being a unique sort of torture. Truly it was awful.

This year will mark fifteen years of marriage to a really funny man who is incredibly talented (he's an incredible singer song writer) and who is quite sensitive in a vulnerable sort of way but he is NOT sentimental. He thinks valentines day is lame too and he has this serious issue with buying flowers because quote, "they stink and they die." (I LOVE flowers)

To recap I'm not much a fan of valentines day but I do have a bit of fun posting about "things I love" on the blog in February. I'm a pretty big fan of love.

I don't doubt that most of my posts this month will be about my son (who is in time out right now actually) and I think I can do the theme great justice by starting out the "things I love" with The Mouse and the Motorcycle. He and I have been flying through chapter books this year (all of one whole month so far). The most recent book we read was Beverly Cleary's, The Mouse and the Motorcycle.

I personally really enjoyed the book but even more so I loved reading it to my son. Hearing him request each day that we read it brought such joy to my heart. I want him to love books and to love reading. I feel like I've been putting a significant effort into nourishing his love of reading over the past several years. Now that he's getting excited about reading chapter books together, now that he's specifically requesting that we stop whatever it is we're doing at any given moment so that we can sit down together and read, I love it!!!

We finished reading The Mouse and the Motorcycle on Sunday. Little Abe has really enjoyed most of the chapter books we've read but he seemed to enjoy this last book the most. On Monday we had plans to go to the library to return the book and get the sequal, Runaway Ralph (Ralph is the mouse who rides the motorcycle). We never ended up going to the library because little Abe decided that we really should read the book again. His exact words were something like, "You know mom, at first I didn't really think I'd get into that book so much. But actually I really actually LOVED it!"

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

January Numbers Are In

This is the first real "Numbers are in" post I've done in a long time. Spending was pretty high this month BUT at least I accomplished my goal of tracking it all again.

Food grocery spending was a bit higher than normal (we tend to average $12 a day). There certainly wasn't any food stocking up done but I think we ate a bit healthier than normal. That always raises costs a bit especially when I have to factor in my husband randomly bringing home healthy items here and there that cost a pretty penny. Ugh, he does not know how to be frugal!

I don't think we did bad at all in the food out category.

The pets category consisted of one bag of dog food (with a free one in tow). Since I don't include medical in the average daily spending I have NOT been tracking our eldest dog's insulin and syringes expenses here.

I did some stocking up in the toiletries and cleaning categories. The stock up does raise spending for this month but will help in months to come.

And I had to buy new pants for work (in the clothing category) and I picked up a few really good deals on clothes for the kiddo.

Food Groceries $397.27: an average of $12.82 a day
Food out $73.76: an average of $2.38

Pets $29.15: an average of 94 cents a day
Stuff $12.93: an average of 42 cents a day
Toiletries $24.93: an average of 80 cents a day
Clothing $36.87: an average of $1.19 a day
Cleaning and house supplies $65.78: an average of $2.12 a day


Average daily spending for 2017: $20.67

It was a pretty good month here at the $12 a day household but goodness it was an expensive one (more like $21 a day) and it's pretty hard to believe that it'll be February already tomorrow. Wow!

Monday, January 30, 2017

February Plans (Just slow down mommy)

Okay, not really plans. This is a goals post.
I'm hoping to fill February with new. New places, new food, new activities, new hobbies, new crafts, new books, new words... okay, I could probably just keep typing forever. My goal for what always seems like the coldest month of the year is all-things-new; to add some spice to the winter.

I actually have a three point checklist of things to focus on this month. Each day this month I'd like to ask:

  1. Did I experience something new today? What was it? (February focus)
  2. Did I laugh today? What made me laugh? (January focus)
  3. Did I rush my son? Do either of us seem less stressed? (Something I want to work on)
As far as question number three is concerned I've noticed that I'm regularly telling my kiddo to "hurry up." Regularly, like A LOT. I'm seemingly always rushing him along. In noticing this I've realized that A.) I have very little patience and B.) I'm teaching my kid to always be rushing. He definitely operates on his own timeline (as all children do) but when I really stop and observe his timeline I actually like it more than mine. His way of doing things includes more fun, more savoring, more joy, and quite frankly I don't want to "instruct" any of that out of my four year old.

In February along with noticing laughter, and focusing on new, I want to just slow down. I think I might actually like February this year.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

WAR OF MONSTERS AND THE GOOD GUYS (HUMANS)


Written by four year old little Abe:

Wonka and his friends Mump, Munk, Nunk, and Moniegulungie, they went to space to find some snacks to eat. They didn't find snacks. They just found humans. Then Wonka and his friends said, "Ooh, let's try to eat them." 
The humans said, "What do we do?!?!" and then someone found a bomb in their pocket and then they threw it at the monsters. But the monsters didn't blow up. They even got more madder. One of the other humans found a sword and he stabbed it in the monster. But the monster even got more mad. Then there was a huge war between the humans and the monsters Wonka, Mump, Munk, Nunk, and Moniegulungie. 
The humans got a big stick and they threw it at Wonka and his friends. The monsters got more and more madder than last time and then the monsters threw the huge stick at the humans. Then the humans died and the monsters ate them. Wonka and his friends Mump, Munk, Nunk, and Moniegulungie said, "Yum!" 
The End

__________________________
Transcribed almost word for word with only a few "and then"s omitted.


I think the moral of the story is that you can't fight off monsters with a big stick?

Saturday, January 28, 2017

January Goals


The new year is already aging. The month of January is drawing to a close even though I'm not so sure I've accepted that it's 2017 already and not still 2016. My goal for the month/ first of twelve new year's resolutions was simply to laugh more. What a neat and enriching goal it's been. 

The list I compiled for ways to focus on laughter and to try and laugh more was as follows:
  1. Read funny stories, funny poems. We've read funny stories each day. I'm really enjoying this part of the goal.
  2. Watch funny movies. Not many were watched but this did add laughter to the month.
  3. Tickle regularly. I might have tickled little Abe less than normal but there was still tickling and giggles and this is towards the top of things that cause laughter in my life.
  4. Tell jokes. Little Abe's jokes don't really make sense but I still laugh. I tell him jokes that I think are funny and he doesn't get them and doesn't laugh. This wasn't a very effective strategy for laughter.
  5. Discover/ sing silly songs. Or sing normal songs in a silly way... either way we laughed.
  6. Document on the blog one moment of laughter each day. I thought I'd blogged a bit too much about funny things and backed off. I probably could have kept it up though just for my own pleasure. It's funny how sometimes we forget to use our blogs for ourselves, when at least for me, that's why I blog in the first place.
  7. Remind myself to laugh. I totally did this and as silly as it is and as odd as it felt it was a good practice. I laugh in my head so often that I miss the physical benefit of laughing out loud. I did remind myself to laugh throughout the month. Who would have ever thought that laughing is something you can practice/ get better at.
  8. Take photos of laughter. I was looking forward to this idea a lot but my camera is on it's way out, like not working properly at all and I basically took no photos this month.
  9. Make time to be less serious. I think I did this, less intentionally but still I did it.
  10. Read a book about laughter. I read two books containing at least bits about laughter.

I've pretty much already noted the results of this goal. I feel that noticing laughter all month was incredibly enriching and impactful. This January, a very gloomy, very cold, usually somewhat heavy feeling month was filled with much more joy then I'm used to. I seemed to delight in little things (something I strive to do) much more regularly and easily then I generally do in the midst of winter. Normally by now winter depression is beginning to set in and I'm starting to fearfully dread February's arrival. I'm not scared of February this year. I'm kind of looking forward to it. Haha, I feel like something is wrong with me.

In conclusion January's goal was a big fat success.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Sunshine

I just wrote a long post that was all: heavy, heavy, gloomy, gloom, gloom.

And then I said, "nah." and drafted it.

As the years pass, I am coming more and more to understand that it is the common, everyday blessings of our common everyday lives for which we should be particularly grateful. They are the things that fill our lives with comfort and our hearts with gladness -- just the pure air to breathe and the strength to breath it; just warmth and shelter and home folks; just plain food that gives us strength; the bright sunshine on a cold day; and a cool breeze when the day is warm.
-Laura Ingalls Wilder