Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Thankful for a lovely 2023

It's the day before Thanksgiving, the day I make the desserts, deep clean the house, and put on Christmas music for the first time of the year (in theory; Abe was listening to a Christmas CD a few weeks ago). We really enjoy today, anticipating tomorrow, but I think it's safe to say I'm procrastinating right now. After all, I've loads and loads of cooking and cleaning ahead of me these next two days but I've decided it's the most opportune time to post what's apparently become a yearly blog update.

I think our biggest bit of news for 2023 is that we got a puppy. Little Daisy May was born in May and joined our family in July. She's darling! It's really great being a two dog family again. Our Doodle mostly loves her and the kids adore her. Daisy is an awesome dog.

Looking back over a year all of the day's sort of become a rhythmic routine, waking, school, work, cooking, eating, cleaning, sleeping. The majority of the year is filled with these necessities. The added spice to life this year came from two baseball season's for Abe. Last year was the first time he'd played so it was fun for him to experience two new teams with mostly all new coaches and team mates. He also started attending youth group at church now that he's officially a middle schooler. His social circle is rapidly expanding and he's been highly enjoying the newness of that.

Our Wren joined a soccer team for the first time this year. Running is her self proclaimed greatest skill so soccer was an obvious sport for her. I can't even begin to tell you how adorable it is watching eight little girls playing soccer against each other. Cuteness overload to the max!

Earlier in the year the small one took back to back to back swimming lessons at the YMCA. We now have two little swimmers in the family (I guess I'm really not able to call Abe little anymore. His foot size has officially surpassed mine and he'll most likely be taller than me within a year.) and we were able to spend more time together in various pools this year than what might be normal.

This year we took our end of summer vacation on and around Mackinac Island and into the Upper Peninsula. We were extra adventurous and brought both dogs along for the journey. The good news is that the U.P. and Mackinac areas are extremely dog friendly. Dogs are able to ferry over to the island for free. Virtually every shop allows dogs inside. The bike rentals in order to tackle the GORGEOUS eight mile trek around Mackinac Island also rents out dog carries to pull behind bikes. There are various dog friendly hotels to choose from. The trails and sites where dogs are allowed are practically endless. It was a bit of extra work having the two canines (although surprisingly the puppy did MUCH better than our Doodle who couldn't understand why we were carting him around to all these "foreign" destinations). What an adventure!

Our Doodle boy Party is in the photo, 
he's just hiding behind the pup who has taken over the screen.

Ooh, I forgot to mention the other new family member this year. Abe has had pretty big birthday parties for each of his ten years. This year he opted out of a party in order to get a tortoise. We chose a red footed baby tortoise that should in theory live for 60 years. Yep! Donnie joined the family in March and has done pretty well thus far. Abe soaks the little guy each morning, mists down the enclosure all day, it took us awhile to figure out the lights and heating situation, and aside from daily care it's a very simple but adorable pet. Tortoises really do every thing in slow motion and for some reason this slow motion creature is fascinating just sit and to watch.


2023 has been a year packed full or normal, routine, thus is life, way too busy, go go go. There was bickering, fighting, annoyances. Many, many, many "I'm so bored" moments. Fights about math. Puppy house training. But we also had our tiny garden. We read so very many books. There were friends, family, fun outings, a normal very busy summer season. We traded out the tiny blue car that I usually drove for a new to us car that my husband now drives (which is fine because I preferred our other car anyhow). I had been working one day still at the grocery store and two days at the daycare. I no longer work at the store and I'm really enjoying my job at the daycare. It was a year of overall good health and all in all we've a tremendous amount to be thankful for. Life is a blessing, a beautiful messy often times uncomfortable blessing. Thanksgiving overflows from here today for we are tremendously thankful!

Sunday, December 4, 2022

December 2022

One lovely hot summer morning the kids wake up, two and eight years old. The sun has risen two hours prior around 5am. The air conditioner kicked on before anyone woke to chase out the heat in the quiet humid home. Birds chirp endlessly right outside the front door. Life is busy, life is crazy! The clock just keeps spinning, I mean like fast forward spinning with abandon. Then suddenly years are gone, the children are four and ten years old. It's dark outside at 7am. The heater is chasing the cold chill of a December winter from the midst of a dark room speckled with Christmas tree glow. Christmas is just three weeks away AGAIN! How is Christmas here again? 

Several birthday parties have flown by in the blink of an eye. Wonderfully fun celebrations of life! A few family vacations are in the books. Several amusement park trips, an RV rental through Michigan's U.P. and an incredibly overstimulating trip to Tennessee's Gatlinburg/ Pigeon Forge area, including a short little cabin stay, two days at Dollywood, and of course a little jaunt through Smokey Mountain National Park. It's funny how you look back and remember only the amazing, most joy filled parts. That's a pretty great human quality I think.

The first year on a baseball team for Abe was tackled and highly enjoyed! Swimming lessons are underway at the YMCA for Wren. Our days of homeschooling continue as fifth grade is almost complete. Almost seven years into this homeschooling adventure (including preschool and kindergarten) we've really grown to LOVE history. Some days are seemingly identical. In fact so many of the days are seemingly identical but I couldn't complain for a second about that because the monotony is complete with health, yummy food, silly arguments, laughter... perfection? NO! Life is busy, life is crazy, life is MESSY, but life is a blessing. 

Friday, July 2, 2021

Saturday, January 2, 2021

All the big hugs

I am looking forward to the new, as always. Of starting a new chapter. Certainly of leaving behind 2020. Of a fresh calendar filled with holidays and birthdays. I have goals, dreams, ideas of what a good year would look like but no list of resolutions, besides one. My resolution for 2021 is to say yes to all the big hugs.

To be more specific, I will be saying yes to all of my little Wren's big hugs. Our little girl is a smart one! She potty trained around 20 months and quickly realized she could use the desperate call of, "poo poo," to get out of just about any uncomfortable situation. She'd be done eating, want out of her high chair, and despite the fact that everyone else was still enjoying dinner she'd do the call, "poo poo." She'd be getting sick of her car seat and start the alarm, "poo poo!" She'd be in bed for the night but not want to sleep... yep, "poo poo." She found out right quick that poo poo could get her out of just about anything. Because lets be real, my potty trained 20 month old isn't going to be told, "No, you can just hold it."

A good ten months has elapsed since the call of poo was first utilized and she's moved on to more crafty methods. Thus I introduce the big hug. Just about anytime she's gotten herself in trouble she gives a little pout and sadly asks, "big hug mom mom?" I mean, tugging at your heart strings always works right? If she wants me to stop doing something, like cooking dinner, or folding laundry, anything, you name it, little Wren needs attention, so, "big hug mom mom?" She uses, "big hug?" to try and get out of bed at night. She uses "big hug" for all the things she used to us the "poo poo" alarm for. Generally she's not really wanting a hug (sometimes she is but generally) "big hug" is a method to get at something or out of something she wants.

Most of the time my little Wren gets her big hug. Come on, I'd have to have a heart of ice to say no to her little ploy but sometimes she doesn't. Sometimes, without saying so, I let her know that I am on to her little game and she won't be winning this match. Sometimes the disciplinarian comes out. I mean, that's my job right? Yeah, maybe... The other day I said no, or that she could wait a few minutes. I was going to finish up what I was working on in the other room, not drop what I was doing and come give her a hug. But as she walked away on the other side of the baby gate I had this thought, if she were gone, if something had ever happened to this precious gift I'd regret it every day for the rest of my life that I'd said no to her request(s) for a "big hug." I would. I'm certain of that. Additionally, the poo poo alarm has mostly been abandoned and lets be real, the big hug ploy won't go on forever either. Sometime sooner than I could ever realize I am going to desperately miss her constant inconvenient requests for a big hug. At that moment, when I told her no, I made this year's resolution. I will say yes to all of the big hugs.

It's so little, right? It's so simple. I mean, she might ask for a "big hug mom mom," 30 times in a day but I can stop what I'm doing every single one of those 30 times to say, "yes." I can wash the bubbles off my hands. I can push the laundry aside. I can let her get up from her pillow at night or get a little ketchup on my shirt (while she sits there eating dinner and needing a big hug). And I will. I will say yes to all the big hugs.

Happy New Year!!!
I hope yours is filled with big hugs too

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

November Resolutions

Goals, to-do's; I sometimes think I might be the most dysfunctional person I know. I generally have a few million goals/ to-do's swirling around and fighting with each other in my head. Generally, as in at least 95% of the time every day. How can it be possible to need to address so many issues at all times?

This coming month there will be no less than a million goals swirling around up there but I've resolved to tackle just a handful in specified categories.

Category 1.) Abe
-Work on gratitude
Okay, that's an entire blog post in itself. Can I do a quick synapsis... and go! 

My boy, growing so unbelievably fast has recently, or maybe not so recently been spending all of his time wanting. I'm not exaggerating. He watches maybe 15 to 30 minutes a day of youtube videos about Nerf guns, Legos, other random toys: scooters, hoverboards, oooh, can't forget the dog videos; he's constantly planning future pets. 15 to 30 minutes of youtube leads him to start dreaming and planning (both fantastic things) ALL DAY about how much money he'd need to save for which ever thing he's wanting most that day. What the time frame would be for acquiring said thing. When he's on an animal kick he's trying to decide which type of cat or dog would be best to start out with (when he's an adult and moves into his own place and gets his first pet). The problem is that he spends all of his free time and all of his head space dreaming. There's genuinely no gratitude for right now. And he makes himself crazy wanting, planning, dreaming. 

This month's "work on gratitude" plan includes:
-No youtube videos about toy stuff (or dogs or cats).
-Spending sometime each day consciously thinking and talking and doing some writing about things he's thankful and happy for RIGHT NOW.
-A bit less TV and more books.
-Purposed time playing with toys everyday. Yes, I am going to make him play with his toys.
-Have him train the dog, at least two new tricks
-And last but not least spending more quality time with him; going to the playground, doing puzzles, baking cookies, etc; Life gets so busy. He has TONS of stuff but it would do his little heart good to have more quality time.

Category 2.) Little Wren
-Get rid of baby potty
My baby is fully potty trained. No accidents, no naptime diaper, no longer needs reminders to go, but we still have the baby potty scooting around the living quarters with her. It's how we potty train. Judge away if you'd like but both my babies were potty trained almost fully at 20 months. It's going to take a little work on my part (MUCH less work than getting a 20 month old toddler potty trained) but I need to get rid of the baby potty. She's fully capable of using the regular one.

-Return three baby proofed areas back to normal.
It's not dangerous stuff like the cleaning supplies cabinet, more like, returning books to the front book case. Previously she would rip pages out of our books or totally shred them. And if not destroying them she would at least empty them all onto the floor (over and over and over). She's old enough now for these sorts of things to slowly return to normal. To clarify, she has her own book shelf filled with board books that she can access at all times.

Category 3.) Me
-Spending fast
Here we go again, back to the same old beast. The holidays are upon us. I am honestly not looking forward to Christmas expenses at all. I want to implement a serious spending fast like the good old days, at least for the rest of the year. Christmas presents will not be a part of the spending fast but that doesn't mean I intend to spend all willy nilly on Christmas either. 

Yesterday was the first time in a very long time that I really spent super creatively and it was so fun. I'm ready to spend a few months hyper focused on spending.

Yesterday I went to work with a $1.75 store coupon in my pocket. I grabbed a big handful of loose change from the change pile where my husband plops his loose change that he never uses. I brought my mug, a few bags of tea, and peanuts.

The first thing I did before ever clocking in was spend 99cents in change on a bag of m&ms for my little Wren who woke up when I was leaving and was crying franticly at my departure. I promised her m&ms upon my return (which calmed her down for my husband) and I knew that I needed to buy them so that I wouldn't forget, because for certain she would remember.

At my first break I jotted down a list of meals for the next two days:
Tues. Dinner :Cheese burgers with roasted sweet potato and onion (no necessary groceries)
Wed. breakfast: Bagels and cream cheese (check)
Wed. lunch: Alfredo on Rotini (check)
Wed. Dinner: Eggs and rice with peppers, broccoli, and onion -need rice and eggs
Thurs. breakfast: Eggs and Sausage (check)

My grocery list:
eggs $1.19
rice $1.59

I wasn't sure if I actually needed to buy eggs and I wasn't positive that we had rotini. I didn't have enough change in my pocket, combined with the coupon for both. The eggs were part a main meal and I was pretty sure we did have noodles so I chanced it. 

Unfortunately I have been having sugar problems this year (it's been boiled down to hypoglycemia). I started to feel a bit shaky with mild dizzy spells hitting. The mild dizzy with shaky is not too troubling but when full on vertigo hits at work it terrifying so I knew that I needed additional food. I ended up going to my car to dig up more change because I was determined to not use the bank card yesterday. I found enough to buy some Quaker rice cakes $1.69 which worked wonderfully at kicking the shaky dizzy feeling I'd been battling for about an hour.

I spent $5.46 yesterday.
$1.75 was the coupon
$3.71 loose change

I like that kind of spending day and I loved getting rid of so many pennies.
Today will be a good old fashioned NO SPEND. Even better.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Punk Pie Day


Last week Friday was a field trip day. We went to a really fun farm/ petting zoo with a ton of other homeschoolers and picked pumpkins from their pumpkin patch.

It's sort of become tradition to make pumpkin pie after we get home from the pumpkin patch. So both the kids have been asking if it's pie day everyday for the past week. This little one carried around her pumpkin all week asking for "punk pie."

We sliced the pumpkins in half, seeded, baked, and pureed them. Will roast the seeds later. We made pie crust from scratch. Baked it, then after mixing up the filling baked our punk pie. While it cooled we whipped up heavy whipping cream and wahla!

Hooray for our traditional punk pie day!!!

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

speak strength, live with honour

This year has been nothing if not absurd. I decided towards the end of last month that I was just done with it, done with the "chalk it up to 2020," done with the frustration, annoyances, overwhelmedness. I'm ready to make the most of what's left of an awful year. I am done with the muck!

I read the following quote in a book yesterday and I am ready to live this out to the fullest for the remainder of 2020, the most colorful year of my lifetime:

In January I wrote the following here on my blog:

New Year's Resolutions is a season. We fill the store with exercise equipment endcaps, weights, water bottles, yoga mats. The seasonal area (you know, where Holidays and garden time live) fills with vitamins, diet bars, protein shakes, the list goes on and on. The grocery side of the store runs ads and sales on "the healthy foods." It's tradition. People want to hope for a fresh start in January. Right? And the stores market to that. 
Not this year. I have the vast majority of my Valentines AND Easter displayers out right now. A few hit the floor before Christmas was over. The main aisles house a slew of Valentines items. The seasonal pad... can you guess what it's gone to now that the 90% off Christmas clearance has been stormed? GARDEN! Mind you, the Farmer's Almanac estimates our last frost date to be MAY 2. GARDEN? 
I noticed on facebook this month that almost no one was posting New Year's Resolution related things. I noticed that more people posted New Year's Resolution mocking memes and comments than that actually posted the fresh start ideas. Maybe my friends are just extra cynical. I can go with that. But the enormous store I work in too? Who decided that 2020 was the year that the New Year's Resolutions tradition dies?

Remembering this ponderance at the start of the year I have been thinking more and more, maybe a large portion of the population wasn't feeling the "new" vibe at the beginning of the year. By March, 2020 was like, "oh yeah, you think I'm nothing special, huh? Well, lookie here!!!"

I am going to try my darnedest for that fresh start right now. When it's time to say adieu to 2020 I will be the first and among the most eager to wave good bye. I will be all ready and waiting for the next fresh start. I will be happy to greet, with optimism and eagerness 2021. But for right now, I am ready to speak strength. I am ready to live with purpose and honour. I am ready to redeem 2020 and start fresh right here.

Another way of saying it (and also written in my journal):


Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Walked through it

One very positive thing that can be said for this wacky year is that my family got a whole lot of Vitamin D.

Between the stay at home orders (which, to clarify, instructed people that it was acceptable to go for walks), everything being shut down, and half of our favorite businesses closing down permanently we've gone for so many super long walks together this year it's unbelievable.

We live in a really nice beach town so walking around town for fun is really very enjoyable. We almost always walk from our house, down to Lake Michigan, and back through town. And for at least half the year there are fun little places that can cater to outside only business so an occasional ice cream, corn dog, or snow cone is an added bonus for the little ones.

One of my favorite things about this year's strangeness, encouraging us to walk about town TONS is that before the kiddos were born my husband and I went for really long walks or bike rides all the time.

This one was taken on a VERY hot day when we
were all melting, covering in sweat, almost didn't 
make it home. SOOOOOOOO hot!!!

2020 you have been a terror. I could say so many awful things about you. But try as you might there have been good things this year. So HA!

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Because you asked about the carrots

I did plant carrots this year!

I used up all the remaining seeds I had from years prior, a good sprinkling of purple carrot seeds and not quite as many traditional orange. They weren't planted in the purple bin from years ago, nor in the bin that followed. If you have old plastic storage totes, or happen upon free ones they work  REALLY well as garden planters BUT I can only say as much for one, two, maybe three years max if you treat them really well. Between the frigged cold winters here (making the bins brittle) and my exuberant son dueling with them, sticks as swords, those prior two bins are long gone.

This year I used the planter I had my first strawberry plants in. 

So, I used up old seeds, utilized an empty planter, filled it with remaining dirt I had from filling in puppy dog holes in the back yard and then... well, puppy dog jumped my garden fence and had a good dig in a bin full of tiny carrot sprouts.

I love this photo because one can really tell how playful he is in it. The fuzzy black dog will be ten months old in four days (the yellow lab belongs to my in laws). Our pup has been A HANDFUL!!! But he's overflowing with love, affection, and puppy-ness. He is a sweetie. None the less, long legs Party jumped my garden fence and demolished the carrot bin. I was really upset but I salvaged it and we just went on with the summer. I think we've picked a total of three orange carrots from the bin this year but there have been many more purple ones. Considering the catastrophe it's been a really nice year for carrots in our garden. It was also a decent year for zucchini and tomatoes. Now beans, that's another story. I have green beans taking over the world here!!! Beans! Beans! Beans! 

Our tiny garden: a really bright spot during 2020.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Wren is Two

 In June, wowwy that seems like a million years ago, the baby sister turned TWO!

I last posted about my Abe in May so here's a quick update about our little feisty Wren.
And feisty she is! It's fun raising a second little one, observing the similarities and the vast differences between her and her big brother. In truth, it appears that many of their shared traits, thus far she's learned from him. But it's wild how different they in fact are.

She's talking up a storm but she's pretty difficult to understand (at least if you don't live with her) and actually she's made up a little language of her own. Like how she calls a blanket - met, our dog Party - Neigh neigh, and her brother - Amm. She also likes to babble, even though she can speak real words, and sing made up songs. Her brother was a very clear speaker at a very young age and I don't recall him making up any words for things.

Abe also NEVER opened doors, until he was much older and allowed to. This little lady has been opening doors almost since she could walk (at around 12 months). Her brother NEVER climbed out his crib. Actually never, not once. She can climb out and in! He detested coloring pictures and she lives for the activity. I suppose it's unfair to compare the two but it's fun and fascinating both.

This little lady is overflowing with energy. She can run faster than me. She is silly as silly could be. She takes a good solid nap everyday but apart from that she NEVER slows down. She loves life, has fun with everything, and (another comparison) her big brother never went through the terrible two's thing but our small Wren has perfected the tantrum. Even down to calming herself down so that she receives praise and admiration. Daniel Tiger taught her how to "count-down to cool down." She can only count to two so the sweet little thing will be as upset as can be imagined, will stop herself, tears filling her eyes, put her palm level with the ground and say, "One (short pause) Two (short pause)." And then slowly sigh, with a big pouty lip and puppy dog eyes turned up towards you. Oh be still my heart!

She is wild. She is determined. She is silly, crazy, sweet. She is 100% a blessing!