My Kids Should Be Jealous: I Had THE BEST Grandparents

I wish I’d had a blog when my grandparents were still alive. I would have had loads of hilarious blogging material without any effort at all other than moving my fingers a few inches here & there over my keyboard. Seriously, I had the best grandparents ever.

Not the kind of grandparents that lived in houses covered in atrocious flowery wallpaper that smelled like moth balls & Ben-Gay, but rather the kind that went “gallivanting” every weekend, couldn’t stay off the road, sped around S-shaped curves like they were auditioning for Nascar & carried water or whiskey-spiked Coca-Cola in a cooler with red solo cups & Little Debbie cakes everywhere they went. Okay, so maybe the whiskey thing stopped before I was born, but it’s sort of a family legacy; couldn’t leave it out. The Granddaddy I knew carried just plain Coca-Cola in his cooler, but ask my mom and she’ll probably tell you about the whiskey. My grandmother carried water and toilet paper, but I thought it best if I devoted a post to each of them separately, so this one will be primarily about Granddaddy.

I miss my grandparents every single day & hate the thought that my children will grow up not knowing what an incredible, loving, dysfunctional set of great-grandparents they’re missing out on. So, naturally, I have to blog about it. You see, I’m too lazy to write all this in the journals I’ve been keeping for each of them since the day they were born. In fact, I may quite possibly have forgotten how to even write with a pen. Such is the reality of living in the digital age. (Kidding, I wrote to them yesterday, but I’m not nearly as eloquent without a cursor & a delete button.)

This is my Grandaddy. I know, I know – it’s spelled “Granddaddy” but when I was little, that’s the way I spelled it and I sort of like it without all those D’s. I didn’t walk around over-enunciating my D’s when I said it. “Grand-Daddy!” (Imagine me saying that in the most country-bumpkin voice you can conjure up.) No. In true Southern fashion, I ran my “N” & “D” together and dropped one of the Ds – I called him “Gran-Daddy.” There are better pictures of him, but I pulled this one from Facebook a long time ago and mine is currently deactivated so I can’t look for a better one.

You see that cup in his hand? It’s not soda. Okay, well, maybe a little bit of it is. Before I was born, he switched to plain Coke, but this is how I still remember him – in a button up shirt, a pair of Dickies, slicked back black hair walking around with a cup in his hand. What was in the cup is irrelevant & I can only speak about the version of him that I knew.

When we would go visit him as kids, before cell phones and all that, he would follow my mom home just to make sure we made it safely. Then, she’d wonder how she was going to know he made it safely & threaten to follow him home…it was an amusing cycle. He called all my female friends “Pretty Girl”, and in the same breath would greet the boys, “hey Ugly” which we’d all laugh about. My friends mom’s (& random women working in any store) were “Hey Beautiful!” He could make jokes with people that would be offensive coming from anyone else’s mouth, but somehow it was always okay for him. People laughed and felt at ease around him. He was quite the charmer.

And he spoiled me rotten.

He painted my fingernails, swore to me he loved the color red just because I did even though I’m pretty sure his favorite color was blue. He let me talk about all my dreams (even the stupid ones) and told me how great they were, & how he really believed they’d happen someday. He let me play with unlimited quantities of glitter and glue. istock-dog-racing-tnHe snuck me into the dog tracks in Florida and Alabama under a blanket in the back floorboard of his car and even let me pick the dogs he bet on (#1 – the red dog, for the win!) Introduced me to baseball; even though I didn’t care one bit about it I watched the Atlanta Braves with him (on mute) and he would take me outside to throw a ball around afterward. He bought me my first and only baseball glove just because we did that so often; he might even be the reason I didn’t like barbies as much as I liked “boy stuff.” He pushed me on the swing set, shot the head off a snake just for being in my general vicinity (or let someone else do it with his gun…maybe it happened more than once?) He held me when I cried.

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I think he may have even sort of loosely “kidnapped” me once for a few days, but he took me home as soon as I said I missed my mom.

He took me skating almost every Saturday for a couple of years when I was somewhere between the ages of 9 – 12. He showed up at so many school events he wasn’t obligated to attend, helped me with homework, cussed out poor teachers for no reason other than something they said or did made me cry (like calling me Elizabeth instead of Beth, lol). Bought a camera (as well as all the film for it) just because I randomly decided I was going to take up scrapbooking. He took me to have the film developed often so I had no excuse not to make those scrapbooks. It’s how I learned that I liked photography and eventually considered it as a potential career path.

He bought me too much junk food. Threatened my boyfriend and then – eventually – came to like him. Took me to every single doctor’s appointment my mom wasn’t available to take me to, and even some that she was…just because he wanted to. He picked me up for school in the mornings when I lived with my dad & brought me home in the afternoons. He continued doing that even after I got married (at 18) and my apartment was only a couple miles from the school. I could have walked – and as disappointed as my family was in me, I thought I’d have to – but he still just kept showing up. Every single day. He never complained about any of it. In fact, he seemed downright happy to do it. He spoke roughly to me one time in my entire life which broke my heart worse than anything else that was happening at that particular time (& there was A LOT happening), but once it was said it was over. He never used it to punish me or make me feel ashamed all over again; he just said what he needed to say and after he’d said his piece he let it go and we both moved on from there.

He drove to North Carolina to see me a few times after my husband and I moved there with our kids. I didn’t know it at the time, but he did so on a couple of those occasions so that he could give my husband money to make sure we could afford groceries and pay all our bills. James would try to pay him back, but usually he wouldn’t take it and James was instructed not to tell me…I guess because Grandaddy didn’t want me to feel like he was interfering or that he thought we couldn’t take of ourselves. He knew I was pregnant with our third and last child before I did.

He loved all of his grandchildren, and especially his great grandchildren. My first child was born on his birthday. He came to visit me (at my crappy apartment) just to see how I was doing (something he did often) and I just happened to be having contractions. My son wasn’t due for another few weeks so I didn’t realize I was experiencing contractions until Grandaddy started timing how far apart they were. The longer we sat there waiting for my husband to get home from work, the closer together they came. He was calm, but he did try to talk me into letting him go ahead and take me to the hospital. I wouldn’t leave until James got there to go with us (I think that’s the first time my Grandaddy ever did something I said instead of the opposite). He stayed at the hospital until Mr. Thoughtful was born & was one of the first few people to hold him. I’m pretty sure he claimed him the first time he held him. They loved & adored each other.

Grandaddy is the reason my son doesn’t eat food with ingredients and now I don’t even have the luxury of being mad about it. Every memory I have of them together is precious. I know they would still be just as crazy about each other now if Grandaddy were still alive…even though my son is currently in his teenage turd phase. quote-time-is-love-above-all-else-it-is-the-most-precious-commodity-in-the-world-and-should-be-lavished-sydney-j-harris-321676He managed to love me unconditionally through mine; I’m sure he would be even better for his great grandchildren. The main thing I remember about him is that he gave freely and abundantly of the most important thing any of us get in life – time. He spent it mostly doing things the people he loved wanted to do, either with very little regard to what he wanted or because what he wanted was to see us happy and as long as we were, he was. I don’t think anyone else will ever measure up for me in the Dad department. He wasn’t my dad, and despite the fact that I had two of them, my Grandaddy was better than both of them combined. No offense to either of my dads – they both have their strengths & I’m grateful to them for different things – but my Grandaddy was just that phenomenal. Nobody compares. He was the glue that made our family the unique, tightly-knit construct it remains now; a huge contributing factor in how my mother was able to raise my siblings and I to be so close, rather than growing up indifferent to or hating one another like many families I know/hear of. I regret that my children won’t get to fully experience how extraordinary he was, but maybe this helps keep his legacy going.

If you’ve lost someone this close to your heart, just know that I feel you. It’s okay to grieve for them & to do so at completely random times for seemingly nonsensical reasons. Still…think of the good times and smile in remembrance of them often. I know they’d want you to. ❤

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Beth’s Zuppa Toscana Recipe

IMG_4576Welcome to the Betty Crocker Paula Deen Justin Wilson Peg Bundy June Cleaver Edition of the blog! I’m always getting asked to share my Zuppa Toscana recipe. It started as a copycat of Olive Garden’s (I am borderline addicted to it & can’t afford to go to OG every other day), but over time I’ve made it my own and (if I can be a little braggy here) I’ve been told several times it’s better than Olive Garden’s.

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I know, right?! I’d never make that claim myself, but it’s super nice to hear anyway. It’s a good meal all the time, but especially soothing when you’re sick. Let me know if you make it, how it tasted, & if you made any changes because I like to try new things. Enjoy the mumbo jumbo that is coming your way next. 😉

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[insert mischievous grin here]
As a Southerner, you have to know we don’t always measure ingredients so it’s a little ambiguous there. How fun for you! It’s like Recipe Roulette! I tried to give my best approximation on how much I think I might use when I make one batch of this soup, but it’s pretty popular in my family so I’ve never made just one. I’m usually making enough to feed a small army…that being said, typing up a recipe for one batch was a little more challenging than I thought it would be, thus all the fun I’m having with it. Experiment a few times and you’ll find what works for you.

Ingredients:

  • 1lb Sausage (Your preference – spicy ground sausage, smoked sausage or even Li’l Smokies work. Sometimes I’m a domestic rebel and I mix them *gasp*)
  • Approx. 4 cups Kale, chopped – Sometimes I use a little more, but start with 4 & adjust to your preference from there. You can also substitute with baby spinach if you like, but Kale has more fortitude than Spinach (i.e. that’s Beth-speak for it doesn’t cook down as much). Spinach just kinda looks like green poop worms in your soup & slides down your throat like a snot-slug. Good luck being hungry after that.
  • 1 sweet onion (be careful not to use a disagreeable onion as you do not need that kind of negativity in your life soup), chopped – Sometimes I only use half an onion. I guess it just depends on how much you like onion?
  • Approx. 2 cloves of garlic, minced. If using the jar stuff rather than mincing your own, and you’re simply trying to repel vampires, 2 tsp should do it. If your aim is to invite Edward McSparklePants over for Murder Hour, maybe just keep adding cloves of garlic until your nostrils seize up & your eyes begin to water.
  • 1 TBS butter or olive oil (for caramelizing your onions & garlic vampire poison)
  • (at least) 32oz of chicken broth
  • Approx. 8 red potatoes to start
  • 8-16oz Heavy cream (start with one 8oz carton & add as needed from there)
  • Approx. 8 strips of bacon (cooked and crushed, for garnishing your finished soup, or you can just use bacon bits, but I’m extra so I cook my own)
  • Cayenne Pepper &/or Crushed red pepper to taste (I usually just add a little to mild sausage while I’m cooking it)

Directions:

1.) Grab your soup pot. If you don’t have one, buy one because once you make this you’ll want to keep making it. Actually…just buy a cauldron & triple the recipe.

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2.) Pour anywhere from 32 – 657.3 oz of chicken broth into your soup cauldron over medium heat. Now would be a good time to put in buckteeth, press on a witchy nose wart, wave your hands over the pot & whisper some witchy juju. I don’t know why you would do this, but please film it if you do.

3.) Chop your potatoes in whatever shape desired. Bonus points if you can cut them into triquetras.

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Great idea if you like potato mush in your soup rather than potato chunks. Fine…cut your potatoes in shapes without holes if you must.

4.) Add boring shapeless potatoes to soup cauldron with your chicken broth. If 8 potatoes isn’t enough, add up to 700 more. Boil until desired softness is reached. Usually only takes about ten minutes. Unless you made triquetras or added 500 more potatoes than necessary, in which case you should just set up a camera & let us all see how this experiment goes.

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5.) While potatoes are boiling, chop your onion (& garlic if necessary) and cook together in skillet with your tears until onions begin to look translucent. Add to soup cauldron. Repeat witchy juju chant for our amusement.

6.) Chop sausage if necessary/desired. In the same skillet (or a different one if you just looooove doing dishes) cook your sausage. Drain. Add to cauldron once potatoes are finished boiling.

855ff3280bfc41d19dde64615e60f5907.) At any point you could be cooking bacon, but I’m bad at chronological stuff so if you’ve been waiting for me to tell you to do it a.) take some initiative human! b.) now is your chance. Use your recently freed skillet, unless your children are doing the dishes, in which case you should definitely use every single available utensil in your kitchen. It’s not easy, but you can flip bacon using a whisk & an old pickle jar.

***Or cheat and use bacon bits, but beware; if you do this, you’ll need to grow an extra wart, turn green and chant your witchy juju twice as fast while twirling in circles on one foot. Don’t ask me why. I don’t make the rules; I just work here.

000a7649-8008.) Once you’ve added your sausage you can then turn the heat down to a simmer and begin stirring in Kale a little at a time. Add gobs and gobs of Kale. Or just add a little Kale, but don’t blame me when Kale starts crying & begging to know why it’s not good enough for you. Kale just wants to be accepted!

9.) If you’ve not added your pepper yet and you want some, it’s a good time to stir that in as well, but it won’t hurt anything if you wait until the end.

10.) Once Kale has simmered down (pun not intended), you can stir in your heavy cream. Add cream until the soup is light enough in color/creamy enough for you – anywhere from 8 – 8000oz. – and then allow to simmer. Do not let it come to a boil.

IMG_457611.) If you’ve cooked bacon, now is a good time to make yourself a bowl of soup & crumble some pig over it while cackling loudly. Remove buckteeth & warts (green skin, if developed, will dissipate over time), sprinkle some parmesan cheese over it like a baptism of HOLYMONKEYKNUCKLESTHISISGOOD. Then, say a prayer and enjoy. 🙂


 

Please let me know if you like it or what you may have done differently. Also, please note that I’m not liable for your green skin if you used bacon bits. 😉 

Questions, Answers & Ear Beans

Spoiler alert: This post has very little to do with ear beans.

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I’ve noticed something about myself that I find quite irritating: whenever someone asks me how I’m doing, I can’t answer them. My brain jumps back and forth between words like a scratched CD until I respond with something like “ask me tomorrow” or a sigh of “I’m here” which is scraping the bottom of the barrel as far as replies about your wellbeing go. tumblr_nztq1jbpbv1qa4l1ko8_540Why can’t I just answer a simple question? Because my brain is pretending to be a turntable remix of a really bad 90s song (zig-a-zig-ahhh, anyone). Do I answer with the obligatory “fine” & pose the question back to the asker as expected so we can both say we’re fine & get on with our day, or do I tell them how I’m really doing?

My first impulse is to go with the truth because I value authenticity, but for me personally there are (at least) two problems that come with that. One is that people don’t always want to hear the truth, or else just don’t know how to process it unless it’s positive. They expect you to say you’re good even if you’re not because that’s what we’ve all been conditioned to do. If you say you’re not fine, I’ve discovered a lot of people get real awkward real fast. Understandable. They may want (or feel obligated, depending on the person) to fix the issue or help you in some way & they don’t know how. They may offer sympathy, but what else can they really do? Most of the time it’s simply that they’re trying to get their 3 kids, 7 cats & $700 worth of groceries in the car; they don’t have time to listen to you tell them about the 3 piles of vomit you cleaned up today and the cheerio in Susy’s nose. Your friend loves you, but you never know what she might be dealing with herself…if Little Johnny has had a green bean in his ear for a month your cheerio emergency just doesn’t rank next to the stench of Ear Bean Rot.

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Plus, she’s bringing cats to Aldi – I think it’s time you asked her how she’s doing & really listen

 

The second issue is – and this is the one that trips me up the most – what if you don’t actually know how you’re doing?

That’s a silly question, right? Of course you know how you’re doing. You’re you! Nobody else is better equipped to say whether or not you’re “fine.” You live in your life – in your head – every single day. How could you possibly NOT have an idea how you’re doing? It’s not a hard question to answer…until it is.

And this is where the tone of my post abruptly takes a turn from quirky & mildly comical to downright sad (but relatable).

huge.10.51973In this (very temporary) phase of my life, I’m discovering that I do not know how I’m doing most of the time. I mean, I’m alive and that’s great. I have a relationship with Jesus and that’s even greater because it gets me through a lot of stuff (& will more than sustain me through this), but just hear me out. What exactly is the barometer one uses to determine their personal level of fineness? I would be chasing an entire box full of rabbits if I tried to break that question down enough to answer it so I’ll just skip to the point:

It has come to my attention that I have lived the past 14 years of my life (or more) for everyone else. I’ve devoted myself entirely to being a wife and mother. Sure, I did other things: I went to school for photography (from home so that I could be with my kids), I go out occasionally with a friend or two every now and then, and I’ve dabbled in various creative pursuits (again, from home). However, the bulk of what I’ve done with my life up to this point hasn’t really had an awful lot to do with me or what I wanted at the time. It was more about what was good for the whole rather than the individual. 39109088_202952020576489_2018366910923538432_nHomeschool isn’t for me; it’s for my kids. I do not get up early every morning and drive my youngest daughter back and forth to a christian private school that’s almost an hour away because I just love doing it. I have not lived several years of my life akin to that of a single mother because I just dreamed of being married to a man whose job means that he’s rarely home. It was never my dream to be a housewife or a stay-at-home mom (yes, it’s a privilege, but in the same way that you can love your job & not want to be there every second of the day, I’m allowed to say mine stinks sometimes). I can’t even decide where I want to eat when we go out because I always, always, always defer my preference to that of the group, to the point that I no longer have a preference an alarming amount of the time.

Some of you already get this because you’ve been here and you know exactly where this post is going. For everyone else, let me just clarify:

I have a lovely, beautiful life where I am fortunate enough to have the opportunity to be fully present with my kids each day. I do not have to leave them in the care of family, friends or strangers consistently so that we can make ends meet. I’ve gotten to be here for them from the first cry to the first zit and (God willing) I’ll get to be here for their first heartbreak to their first child. I’m not taking it for granted. I am so incredibly thankful for that & I honor the sacrifice of those parents who are forced to be away from their kids more than they’d like to be; I know it’s hard and you’re rockstars. My husband is an amazing man who unfailingly provides for us, and has missed a lot of those milestones so that I wouldn’t have to, another thing for which I am grateful. He didn’t drag me to the alter kicking & screaming & he never dragged me along to any of the places we’ve since traveled together. I made the decision to follow him in his time with the Army & I made the decision to follow along when he went to school in Florida. I did those things out of love and because I wanted my family to be together, (plus Florida was pretty friggin’ great).

Does that mean I should wake up everyday feeling 100% satisfied, totally fulfilled & I’m not allowed to want anything else? No. I don’t think we’re meant to feel completely fulfilled & content during our time in this world & to have that as an earthly goal is pointless and unnecessarily cruel to yourself. But, when your whole life is steeped in sacrifice right down to the daily little things like how you plan your day, where you go to eat, what movie you see…there’s a point when it just starts to feel heavy. You get tired & maybe start wondering why you’re doing it all.

It’s disconcerting when you step back from your life and feel, even for a moment, like you don’t really have an identity apart from your family. My decisions have always been mine, but I’m sure many of you can identify with the feeling that even though you made the choice to get on the bus, sometimes you can get a little salty knowing you never got to drive it. When asked how I’m doing I don’t know how to respond because my welfare – I would even go so far as to say my worth – is so inextricably knotted up with how my kids & husband are doing that I can barely see myself in the middle of that particular ball of yarn.

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What is with my cat thing today?

Nearly everything I do, say, think & feel revolves around them in some way. Just check my Google search history. You won’t find anything except homeschool stuff, parenting blogs, this blog (where I share more about my family life than anything), lots of prayers & scriptures specifically related to family, & Dean Winchester gifs.

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Okay, fine. Maybe this one bit I do entirely for myself, but look at him; can you blame me?

I’ve had some very unpleasant moments where I’ve thought to myself, this is it. This is all I am. Somebody’s wife. Somebody’s Mom. As great as those things are, as much as I love them…it would be really nice to spend a little more time getting to know who I am apart from that, with the hope that maybe one day when someone asks me how I’m doing I don’t have a complete brain fart trying to mentally sort through everyone else’s wellbeing to find mine.

f0ef154d8be46cfbdaa546a74c69ce32--bible-verses-quotes-jeremiah-bible-versesFor now though, yes, I am fine. I’m kind of in a temporary slump, a little overwhelmed, and possibly on the verge of an early identity crisis (I did everything else early, why not this, too! YAY FUN!) but I know it’s not forever, I know there’s hope for the future & I’m going to do my best to keep my eyes on the important things until God gives me something else to do. Writing has always been a sort of catharsis for me so I’m going to stop NOT saying things about myself I think might possibly upset someone. There is somebody somewhere who can relate and at the very least sharing some of my experiences (which do not include my kids – gasp) might help them feel less alone (or less crazy). At best, maybe my words will give them hope, because despite whatever I’m feeling right now & whatever sad tone this post may have had at certain moments – I’m not oppressed by it. I’m learning to differentiate between my feelings about a situation and the truth of it. Writing is often how I do that; sometimes it helps to share it with someone other than the paper, or my ever-growing drafts folder.

So, now that you’ve been inside my head a little bit maybe you can examine this question for yourself and tell me honestly, how are you doing? How do you usually answer that question as opposed to how you consider answering it? Am I the only one who has ever been asked that & just sort of skipped like an old CD until my brain finally made it around the smudged part and then felt really stupid afterward? I can’t possibly be the only one so speak up! Do you have an automatic response (other than “good” or “fine”) that satisfies every situation? If so I would LOVE to hear it. It would be really nice to have one already queued up. Like this, maybe:

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Person: *sweetly* Hi, how are you doing? Me: *screaming emphatically* JESUSLOVESME, and you? Maybe if I try this people will realize I’m a little touched and stop asking. Lol

P.S. I joined a #my500words 31-day writing challenge and since it’s been brought to my attention that I rarely write about myself as a woman, I thought I would try to tackle that in some of my #500words posts. It’s challenging because I don’t always feel like I know very much about myself, but maybe this will help more than just me. If you’re not interested in knowing me (then I have no idea what you’re doing here, but) I just wanted to forewarn you in case. Run! Get out while you can! :p Otherwise, please feel free to subscribe to the email list because I don’t always share my posts on other social media sites. Thanks!

 

 

Homeschool Battle (Day 5,217)

Homeschool Battle (Day 5,217): Note the two changes in heading here and that will tell you all you need to know. LOL

But seriously – for those who have been following for whatever reason:

I was counting the days only by the days we were actively “in school” but then I thought how silly is that? I’m with these kids 24/7 – we’re ALWAYS in school (have been since the day they were born, hence the number at the top; it’s the number of days since my son has been an Earthling). I’ve been with them 24/7 since May 23rd. The fact that they are still alive, happy & healthy is a testament both to my love for them, & daily grace that only comes from Jesus because if it was up to me to supply my own grace – let’s just be honest – I’ve been out for a while. I’d have dropped them off at a donation center somewhere…is there a Goodwill that will give you a tax deduction for donating your teen? I’m willing to donate two for the price of one. :p

Anyway, Mr. Thoughtful is finally working in 8th grade math again after a lot of time spent refreshing himself in some earlier concepts. I thought we’d have done more writing and penmanship than we have by this point, but the math has taken precedence. I promised the kids field trips and that they wouldn’t be stuck in front of a computer or tethered to a desk all day and so far I haven’t been able to deliver on that the way I’d hoped. I do have a cool field trip planned for them on Friday though so we’re looking forward to that, and it really is only the beginning of the year; plenty of time still left for excursions outside the house.

Princess Sassypants ( who now wishes to be referred to as The Chicken Queen) has been reading like a fiend. If she was addicted to anything other than books, I’d have taken her to seek help by now. She’s read FIVE 500+ page books in just over a week. She’s on #6 now. We were reading the same series (I was on the 6th one) and she has now surpassed me. She couldn’t wait for me to finish it and I knew she’d have it read by this evening or tomorrow so I’ll get it back soon enough. 🙂 I’ve been trying to discuss them with her to make sure she understands what she’s reading, but also just to engage in a real conversation with her. She will answer my direct questions if they can be answered with a few words; enough for me to know she’s comprehending most of what she’s reading, but not enough to actually count as a conversation. I have to do all the work and drag everything out of her, which – if you’ve ever had a conversation with a person like that – you know can be mentally exhausting. I feel like I need to take a nap afterward lol.

Our “school days” have been shorter recently. When they started and were doing everything on a schedule, they finished in about 4-9 hours depending on which kid it was. I’ve since slacked off the schedules & routines and now they’re doing less work, but they’re doing it BETTER than they were doing at the beginning of August. Then, if they failed a quiz or something they would just keep pushing through the material because they wanted to finish whatever they had for the day as quickly as possible (which was a lot), meaning we had a lot of repeating throughout the week & it was throwing their schedule off (& throwing me into anxiety mode). Now they’re doing about 2-3 hours of work a day, but it’s solid, focused work. When they don’t make at least 80% on a quiz, they stay on that subject matter until they comprehend it and I haven’t even glanced sideways at a lesson schedule in 3 weeks.

The Chicken Queen (formerly Princess Sassypants) is attending a real live art history class two times a month & she’s getting into cooking. It seems to be her favorite way to learn; she really hates being on the computer for everything and thinks the voices they do in the videos (which they do to try to be cute and engaging) are lame. Lol I can’t say I blame her for that assessment & I do also enjoy getting outside the house, or at the very least, away from a desk. I’m still on the hunt for other classes for Mr. Thoughtful, but he hasn’t found “his thing” yet. I’m sure we will.

We’re together all the time so naturally we get on each other’s nerves sometimes. I’ve got two kids in some trouble right now so we’ve had several tense days recently and my mental load at the moment is heavy, but we’re making it. We get bored. We get stressed. We take breaks. I think we’re not doing enough. The kids even sometimes say they didn’t do anything that day when asked how school went, but I promise you they did – we just try to do as much hands-on stuff as we can and I don’t think they always realize that it counts, haha. I’m still wondering when we’re all going to get into a rhythm that feels good to all of us, but the three of us are so different I’m starting to think that rhythm is a myth. What feels good to one of us is probably going to feel a little off to the other and I guess that’s okay when you have two completely different personalities & academic needs you’re trying to cater to. When does it get easier? Does it ever get easier? I feel like we might go this entire year and have accomplished very little, but I’m hoping these diaries of our experiences will help me see some kind of measurable success after the year is over as well as enlighten anyone thinking about taking on homeschooling themselves.

It’s been a difficult, wonderful, boring, hectic, beautiful, ugly thing, this homeschooling.

Homeschool Experience (Day 22)

I was making these diary-like posts on Facebook, briefly (& sometimes not-so-briefly) detailing how the homeschool experience is going for our family so far, but since I’m on a mini-break from Facebook I am updating here.

I can’t decide if this is the best or the worst thing I’ve ever done. 😂

I miss naps. I miss being able to clean my house in peace during the day while the kids are at school. I miss being able to catch up on shows I can’t watch with the kids in the same room. I miss being able to leave the house to run errands, or do anything, without having to wait for kids to get ready or pack up all the power cords to the electronics and take them with me (but that’s a different story). I don’t cook anymore. I barely sleep. We’ve managed to just barely keep the house in a condition that doesn’t make me want to totally pull my hair out & scream at everyone. I miss being ALONE sometimes…like in the bathroom for instance. They always want to talk to me when I’m in the bathroom. What is that?!

BUT

I’m getting some amazing quality time with all three of my kids. This is time I can’t get back & that I wouldn’t trade for all the naps, clean houses, & freedom in the world.

The two oldest are the only ones who homeschool & obviously that provides us with LOTS of time together, but I did worry that I wouldn’t get any alone time with my youngest, who is attending a private school now. I shouldn’t have worried because when I’m taking The Cuteness back & forth to school it fills that special spot just for her quite nicely. I know it’s only a car ride, but my kids and I tend to have our best conversations in the car. Then there are the times when we roll the windows down & the radio up, and we have a joy ride. I think those will probably be some of my kid’s favorite memories when they get older & now I have the opportunity to do that just with The Cuteness for an hour almost every day.

As far as my homeschoolers go: I was told about & subsequently researched the process of deschooling. We’ve been taking a more laid-back, natural approach to learning to fulfill that need & I’m planning on taking lots of field trips and doing hands-on activities for most of September & October, but because we have to wait for payday for that to be an option, they’re still doing computer work in the meantime – just not as much. Princess Sassypants is grounded so apart from educational stuff she’s not allowed to do very much at the moment. Because of that (& the fact that I’m paying for this program) I thought we’d better not lay our online learning to the side entirely.

This is where we are currently:

My 9th grader is working on the 9th grade level in all subjects except math, which is currently a grade level below. We are going to be working on writing a story together soon so he can get some practice with writing, penmanship, outlining, drafting, creativity, spelling, grammar, etc. but in a way that will be more enjoyable for him.

My 7th grader is working at a 7th grade level in all subjects, but I’m still assessing to see if she needs to be moved up or down. She’s signed up for art classes, which start at the end of the month, & she thinks she’s smarter than me. Note: she’s not.

While The Cuteness is at school and I’m home with the other two I’m able to better focus on them. In the past month I’ve been re-educated in the fact that Princess Sassypants requires A LOT of attention & focus. I already knew that, but maybe God felt like I needed a reminder to keep me on my toes a little more as she enters her teen years.

She’s strong-willed, stubborn, sneaky & resourceful, which are not necessarily bad things, but she does need help in learning how to use her powers for good. She’s been grounded from technology – apart from what she needs for school – for a couple of weeks, but she recently got herself into some deeper trouble. As a result, I’m SO tired a lot of the time from the effort it takes to stay a step or two ahead of her, but thank God it’s not that bone-weary, emotionally exhausted kind of tired; I just don’t sleep enough because I have to keep one eye open and on Sassypants. 😆 (As if I was really sleeping enough before anyway 🤷🏼‍♀️) So, while I’m watching her do schoolwork (something I’ve learned I have to do at all times or she’ll be doing everything but that) I have to engage in other things (such as writing this post) to keep myself awake. And coffee…LOTS of coffee.

If I can be totally candid (& it’s my blog so I can) sometimes I wonder if this homeschooling thing is going to work for her. The two of us being together all the time without any breaks & her current level of sassyness…I just don’t know.

At the same time I feel very strongly that public school is not going to be the best thing for her at this point in her life either. Between the bullying, bad influences, the prevalence of mental health issues & the confusion revolving around personal & sexual identities that is so rampant in every school now, she doesn’t need to be in an environment where we have no control over the amount of exposure she gets to those things. She has always gone about things in her own way & in her own time, but she’s also simultaneously impressionable & naturally rebellious; not a great combination & one I’m hoping to prevent from compounding over time. Right now her version of rebellion has reared its head in small, relatively safe ways. Annoying, aggravating, and sometimes hair-pulling & tear-inducing ways, but still nothing like what she could be doing.

My hope for her is that homeschooling will help cool the flames instead of fan them. I’m being consistent, patient (as I can manage to be) & trying to give her the space and time she needs to work things out for herself. She’s going to church, hanging around positive people, reading a lot, bonding more with her brother (who I’m hoping will help encourage her toward more positive behaviors)…I’m just praying it’s enough & that we’re doing the right thing. We promised at the start of this that we would give homeschool a full year before we passed judgement on it & these posts are a way for me to kind of document & keep track of the process. My hope for myself is that a year from now I won’t even remember feeling this kind of doubt, and that I will have a new & improved relationship with one of my favorite girls.

Speaking of improved relationships –

With Mr. Thoughtful, things have been a lot easier. He gets up, eats breakfast, (usually) does his daily chores & then he will proceed to school work without much (if any) prompting from me. I have the normal issues with him sometimes forgetting he was raised to use his manners, “forgetting” that he has to do his own laundry & clean the kitchen two nights a week, and he still hasn’t gotten his phone back from when he snuck his way onto social media (not because he hasn’t earned it, but because Mom feels way less anxiety this way), but other than those normal & very minor things I haven’t had any issues with him.

Homeschooling has, for the majority, been a very positive thing for him & me. We spend more quality time together, talk more & we have some of the best conversations. Lots of laughs. He’s listening better & being more open. He wants to experiment with things & is beginning to take initiative in figuring things out for himself (which I hope he will continue to do & become more sufficient with). He’s taking on a little more responsibility as far as trying to be a good example to younger kids and reminding his sisters not to argue with me because they won’t win. I don’t have to remind him to brush his teeth as much anymore 😆 but I’m sure now that I’ve written that I have jinxed myself.

To sum it all up, we’re still giving it our best shot, but trying not to overwhelm ourselves. I want to set them up for success by giving the time & space they need to explore & become excited about learning again, rather than bogging them down with lists of things they have to do & criteria they have to meet. We have our good days and our bad ones. So far way more good than bad for Mr. Thoughtful & sort of the opposite for Sassypants, but we are still trying to find our unique frequency that works for us. One way or another we’ll get there.

The Cuteness = The Weirdness

But in the best way. 🙂

Today –

I discovered that several of the church youth would like me to trade my children to their parents & take them instead, got a few extra kids from church to take home with me (no I didn’t trade my kids in or kidnap anyone else’s…this time), and I found a silver fork in my backseat…which has no relevance to anything. 🤷🏼‍♀️

The Cuteness has been on a roll today. She asked me, “if there were no donuts, what would cops eat?” Through giggles, she sang her brother and his friend a song that goes like this:

🎶I have green feet and I’m happy and I have green colorful feet and you’re mad because you don’t have nothin’…but brown little turkey feet🎶 😳

Before that, she wandered over to me & innocently greets me.

Her: Hey Mommy

Me: Hey baby.

Her: I remember one time when I was over at Uncle Gerald’s and I had to use the bathroom after eating some cheese crackers…

Me: Oh…kay???

Her: and I thought I had to poop.

Me: 😐 still not sure where this is going…

Her: but a full cracker came out.

Me: …

Her: So I must have swallowed a full sized cracker and pooped it out.

Then she heads toward the back door, opens it and nonchalantly says, “so now I’ma go see this turtle. Are you coming? Or are you not coming?” I don’t know what you think about this, but I think she’s a keeper.

Speaking of turtles…

The kids found a turtle, brought it in, made a home for it, named it Neville, endeavored to find a toad companion for him (which they decided to name Trevor), & then discovered that Neville is actually a female attempting to lay eggs. So, they renamed Neville – she’s Luna now – & took her back outside to find a safe place where she could tend to her business.

They quickly lost interest in watching her lay eggs so they came back inside & The Cuteness checked the chore board. I don’t know why because it’s not as if she was going to volunteer to do any today 😂 but luckily for her I had written on the board for today that we could be lazy. I should be vacuuming the dog hair out of my living room carpet, but it’s Sunday & that means rest. So she says to me, “the chore board says it’s a lazy day so I’m going to lay on the couch and rest. Rest In Peace.” She didn’t get why I laughed at that, but the rest of you probably will. Then she asked me how old our house is. 40 years old. “Wow! That’s old! Why can’t it be one? Then it could be a tiny baby house.” I’m not sure why she would want that, but I didn’t question her.

I’m so grateful to have this sweet, delightfully crazy baby in my life. Most of these things are probably only funny to me & I’m fine with that. I’ll write something better for you guys on Monday. 😉

Namaste 🙏

Warts And All

Good morning, Sunshines!

Today is The Cuteness’ 11th birthday & her 4th day at Skipstone Academy. She is loving it there, but I’m sure I’ll talk more about that (& the fact that it’s her birthday) later. I came here today because on the drive home from the school I heard this song that I’m sure I’ve heard before & just never really paid attention to. It made me think about some things & was the inspiration for this post.

I’m sure many of you know (or at least suspected) that I used to be on the fence about the whole religion thing. I still don’t care for religion very much (but that’s a different post), however I do love me some Jesus, which is something I never would have said out loud a few years ago. Not because I had anything against Jesus necessarily, but because I was afraid of how people would perceive me if I said that. I had a lot of negative associations with church; in that season of life I wouldn’t have called myself a Christian, but I believed in something divine. I just wasn’t totally sure who or what, & I really didn’t want to call it out and label it because doing so felt like stepping over a fence I was perfectly content with straddling. I also felt like I would be stuffing myself into this impossibly tiny, minuscule box where I wouldn’t be able to do or say anything without people playing the “But You’re Supposed To Be A Christian” Card.

I felt like having a relationship with God meant that I had to check off all these boxes & change basically everything about myself before the relationship could even begin. It was a list of don’ts and can’ts.

  • Don’t have sex before you’re married. Oops…missed that one.
  • Don’t drink
  • Don’t lie
  • Don’t swear
  • Don’t cheat
  • You can’t hang with friends who aren’t in the same place you are spiritually – they’ll tempt you to sin
  • Don’t show any skin, someone might be distracted by your shoulder *gasp*
  • Don’t flirt
  • Don’t say “Oh my God!” That’s taking the Lord’s name in vain.
  • Don’t listen to rock music, or basically any music unless it’s christian or instrumental
  • Don’t read books or watch shows which might contain immoral behavior, violence, greed, lust, etc. (I realized later that if I did this, even the Bible would be off limits)
  • Don’t fight back (all that turn the other cheek stuff)
  • Don’t make jokes, Jesus doesn’t like your sense of humor

I could go on, but you get my point. I looked at it like a list of checkboxes & good deeds to fulfill. That’s not a relationship, y’all – it’s a transaction. As noble as some of those don’ts are (some of them are completely inaccurate) it still felt repressive and impossible to attain that level of perfection. I thought, if I have to do all that (& more) to be worthy of Jesus I guess I’ll just keep on being a “heathen.” Who wouldn’t feel that way when they’re being told that everything they’re doing at every turn and everything they are is unworthy – or worse – worthless. I’m sure that was not the message I was meant to receive from all those years of attending church as a kid, but that’s what I got out of it. I can feel bad about myself quite sufficiently on my own. I don’t need a pastor, other religious people (any people, religious or otherwise), or God to tell me that I’m unworthy. I’m well aware that I deserve nothing God could give me. Right? Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt that way.

ephesians-2-8-thomas-nelson-biblesAround about the time I started attending First Baptist Church in Warm Springs is when I really started getting the message that grace is a thing for a reason, and that I didn’t need to already be perfect to be worthy of redemption. All I had to do was accept Him & confess my belief. That checklist, the list of don’ts and can’ts – it all goes out the window after that. A lot of those are worthy things, of course, but I don’t have to do them on my own before I can come to Christ & I don’t have to do them all at once. That last part was pretty revolutionary for me. I realized that I didn’t have to earn God, I just needed to want a relationship with Him. Just like any good relationship, it takes time, dedication, honesty…I can’t just bring certain parts of myself to The Lord. He made all of me, He wants all of me & He loves all of me just the way I am. If you haven’t yet, go listen to that song. 🙂

Anything that needs changing (& there’s a lot) He changes it in His perfect timing. The great thing I’ve noticed about the changes He makes is that it doesn’t seem as hard or uncomfortable anymore. The changes are gradual & I’m a much more willing participant in the process now than I would have been had I just kept trying to force it without God in my life.

Are there still things I struggle with? Abso-friggin-lutely. You’ll probably still see an expletive or 7 on this blog from time to time. I’m not always the most gracious individual. I’m sometimes inappropriately sarcastic. I’m proud. I have a temper. Did you know that? Probably not, unless you’re my kids or my husband. Accepting Jesus doesn’t mean I suddenly become perfect & never do anything I know shouldn’t or make mistakes. If you witness me at a bad moment don’t come at me with that “well I thought you were a christian” mess. I am. But, I’m also still human & anything God wants to address in my life or my behavior, He will, in His time. It’s liberating to realize that my options aren’t limited to

A.) hiding my true self, being ashamed & feeling unworthy every moment of everyday or B.) Going to Hell.

I get to experience the gift of grace daily & rest in the knowledge that God isn’t going to reject me because I’m not perfect. I am loved, warts & all.

Jesus, Take The Coffee! (Wait…What?!)

This is just to update you all that everything I knew about myself before 30 is a lie.

The other night, I had a cup of coffee after 7:30pm. I did not sleep AT ALL afterwards. All night long. I tried to sleep, but my anxiety was so high. I couldn’t stop thinking. I lay there, with my eyes closed, feeling the burn of tiredness and completely unable to quiet my mind & go to sleep. Some of you are sighing, possibly rolling your eyes. You’re thinking “duh, Sherlock. Coffee is meant to keep you awake.” Well…that has not been my experience since being introduced to coffee.

I know that years ago when I was in my early to mid 20s (that is such a weird statement…”years ago”…please know I’m rolling my eyes at myself) I could drink as much caffeine as I wanted whenever I wanted and sleep like a coma patient. It became my go-to when I couldn’t sleep. I’d just make myself a nice, hot cup of coffee and it was like tucking a baby in with a warm blanket after a good meal, a lavender bath & a sweet story; off to dream land I’d go. I have sworn to people on numerous occasions that this is something I can do. “Are you going to be able to sleep after having coffee this late?”  “Oh yeah, sure, no problem! I’ll probably get sleepy on the way home.” Not anymore.

:/ My body has decided to give me a prominent middle finger.

Not only is my caffeine tolerance lower, but losing weight is harder, my skin has more problems now than it ever did in puberty, there are spots in places where there didn’t used to be spots and there is definite crinkling around the corners of my eyes. I desperately need to go to the dentist. I’m 99.4590000% sure I have developed PMDD. I get stiff if I sit in one position too long & have to stand up slowly. There are bones inside my body that actually pop. WTF?!

Go ahead and laugh all you want (I’m laughing with you). I’ve been told all my life some of these things would happen. I never doubted it. I wasn’t cocky about it. “Oh that’ll never happen to me, meh meh meh.” I knew it would! But at 32? Really? I’m not even upset about the popping knees, a few wrinkles and a new freckle or two, or any other minor skin issues. I can do yoga, stay active, drink water, cleanse and moisturize. I’m not vain enough to care that I’m aging; it’s natural & it’s fine.

But, the caffeine tolerance? Really Jesus, Ya have to mess with my coffee?!? Okay, fine. If You say Thou Shalt Surrender Thy Caffeinated Elixar After 7pm, then surrender I shall. Your will & not mine, & all that jazz. Maybe it’ll help with some of those other issues, too. Is this your way of nudging me toward Whole 30? I’m here to tell Ya, I rebuke it! I am going to do a No Sugar Challenge with my friend in September though. Wish me luck: I suck at challenges. That thing Reshma Saujani said in her Ted Talk about how girls are more likely than boys to strive for perfection (& give up easier when they can’t attain it) is entirely true for me, which I suspect is why I often abandon – among other things –  healthy pursuits soon after starting, & why my writing habits are so inconsistent. I’m on the verge of getting real self-reflective here so I’d better stop & save this for a different post. 🙂 I’m going to go wash my face & enjoy some morning coffee before God decides to take that, too. :p Happy Thursday!

What Is Love?

tenor
You’re singing it aren’t you? 😀

A while ago I read something about love that kind of disturbed me & I found this post in my drafts folder that I finally decided to share. It occurs to me that a lot of people think love is pain, anger, sacrifice: that it’s unconditional, and it means making your own needs and desires take a backseat to those of the person you love, the person who also claims to love you. I suppose that sounds like a nice idea to some people?

I just have one question:

If someone truly loves you, would they allow you to sacrifice yourself to that extreme?

I don’t know about you, but I expect a person who says they love me to be willing to give and take just as much as I do. So, this is my take on the whole love thing. Feel free to agree or disagree; it won’t change my mind either way.

Love is not pain. Love can be painful at times, especially in the case of caring for people you love when they’re sick or hurting, but love is not the cause of pain. Selfishness, greed, miscommunication, sickness, arguments, misunderstandings: these things cause pain, and will inevitably occur at some point in your relationships because we’re imperfect & this is the way life is. Love is what allows us to have the courage and patience to work through the pain. 

Love is not anger. You can be angry with someone you love, but love is when you’re patient with a person despite being angry at them. Love is what guides you to control your anger.  

Love doesn’t mean you have to allow yourself to be abused, neglected, taken for granted, taken advantage of, or cast aside. Love may be unconditional in the sense that you can still love a person no matter what they put you through, but it doesn’t mean you have to like or tolerate their behavior. So often people mistake the word “unconditional” to mean that they have to just continue to put up with terrible things because they love you, or because you love them. That could not be further from the truth. There are people in my life whom I love dearly, but I don’t allow myself to be used or abused by them, or pulled into their petty drama. I can only imagine what they think about me because of that. I’m sure some of them think I don’t love them. Some of them have even confessed to thinking that I believe myself to be better than they are. That’s not true; I just know what my boundaries are. Sometimes it’s hard to maintain those boundaries and lines get blurred, but I do my best to get myself back on track when I slide off.

Love has boundaries. You don’t abuse someone you love. Everyone has a list of hard limits; things they simply won’t do or put up with. Relationships (romantic or otherwise) shouldn’t be the exception to that. If anything, they should be the first thing you put boundaries on because anyone you love deserves to have their boundaries acknowledged and respected.

Love is sacrifice in the sense that you’re willing to compromise to make someone else happy, but that person should also be willing to do the same for you when the occasion calls for it. It shouldn’t be consistently one-sided with one person doing all the giving and the other doing all the taking; there has to be a balance. I’m going to be in a relationship with mutual love and respect or I won’t be in a relationship at all.

Love is grace & forgiveness. There will be times when one of you needs to have more grace or forgive a little more because the other needs it. Likewise, that person should be willing to pull that extra weight for you when necessary.

Love is not providing someone’s happiness for them; it’s contributing to it.

Love is what gives us the strength we need to keep trying when our kids are doing everything they can to test us, hurt us or themselves, or to push us away. It’s what gives us the strength to be there and take care of our loved ones when they need us the most: when they’re battling addictions, dealing with the aftermath of bad choices in their lives, when their bodies are riddled with sickness and disease…instead of caving in to the rather selfish desire to let someone else do it just so we don’t have to see them suffer. It’s what keeps me going when I’m overwhelmed and I just want to hide under a nice, dark, quiet rock for ages.

Love can also inspire you to walk away from a person if that’s what is best for them or your relationship. Sometimes we just have to love people from a distance. Love is a lot of things, but it’s not pain. I’m about to make a bold statement and say that if the love you’ve experienced was more painful than anything else; it wasn’t love. If you have more bad days with your significant other than good ones, examine that to see why that is. If they don’t seem to care about your needs and routinely seek to satisfy their own desires over yours regardless of how it makes you feel, that’s worth examining, too. Why do we accept so much less than we deserve? Just so we don’t have to be alone? Because we’re scared of the unknown? I’d rather be alone having to scrape my own path through life than in a relationship that consistently hurts or degrades me.

Everyone has to walk their own path though. This is just food for thought. Do with it what you will.

 

These Updates Are Just Vague Enough To Make You Wonder ‘WTH’

Hello Hello Hello from the worst blogger ever to the best readership ever! You handle my yo-yo blogging like a boss & I can’t thank you enough for hanging in there & always encouraging me. Almost every time I’m out somewhere I run into someone who says “you should write more on your blog; I miss you.” When I’m on social media I get a fair bit of “you should blog about that” comments which I love. For you guys to have such faith in someone who blogs as inconsistently as I do is basically a unicorn miracle wrapped in a rainbow and covered in glitter sprinkles.

So, I feel like I owe some of you a brief explanation of what’s been going on in life since I last posted in June. If you don’t care about this part feel free to skip it; it’s not like I’ll know.

I thought I would do a brief synopsis to sum up every month of 2018 so far.

January: Hubs came home in December (after graduating from MMI) but it flew by in a whirlwind of holidays so we spent January just enjoying having him home. I looked forward to starting school in July. 2018 is my turn! 🤓 Honestly, I’ve forgotten most of what happened this month. 😏

February: Our 14th wedding anniversary came & went. 😍 Kids told their dad to stop grabbing my butt. It’s too late now kids; after 15+ years of butt-grabbing there’s a permanent indention there & over a decade of habit-development that is impossible to stop. Hubs worked on quads from our carport while he tried to find a decent job in motorcycle mechanics. My son had long dirty hippie hair he never wanted to wash.

March: I made some blog posts herehere & here. I turned off all social media notifications & because of that it took me anywhere from 2 – 90 days to respond to people. What can I say? I just got sick of the constant connectivity. Wanted to focus on the family that was incessantly getting on my nerves. 😆 I posted a video of my youngest daughter singing a Lauren Daigle song on Instagram & still haven’t stopped listening to her sweet voice. We decided to homeschool our oldest two kids & attempt to send our youngest to private school, for reasons. Hubs still working out of carport & hating it. I cooked a lot of biscuits.

April: Our nephews went back to live with their mom again after being with us for nearly 6 months. It was a bittersweet month of changes. My youngest daughter, The Cuteness, & my niece sang at church; it did my heart good to hear it. Applied for an interview regarding private school admission for The Cuteness. Hubs still job hunting. At some point in the previous months we started a book club filled with women from our church; I can’t remember when, but I do remember the book was good and we were still meeting about it in April. I looked forward to that one hour a day of adult conversation.

May: My brother got married & I was the MoH so I got to look pretty for 4 hours. Woo! Went on a beach trip with our church youth (including my two oldest, Mr. Thoughtful & Princess Sassypants) which turned out to be more of a mountain trip 10 minutes from home due to inclement weather in Florida, but it was still nice & much needed for all of us. My mom’s house was shot up in a literal drive-by shooting (I wish I was making that up). Thankfully, she was at work when it happened & no one who was there was injured. Interview at Skipstone Academy went well. The Cuteness shadowed there two weeks later to see if she liked it. School ended, summer began. Mr. Thoughtful turned 14 & I discovered at his party that he has quite an eclectic group of friends…

June: My Mom decided to have a beautiful tiny house built on my property (we’re still working out the logistics of that). I helped with VBS. I wrote one blog. I played a lot of Disney Magic Kingdoms. We busted A LOT of water balloons. There were water gun fights, bonfires, late nights, chores going undone, swimming, church, some kids being grounded from time to time, phones taken away, too much YouTube, & lots of reminding kids to pick up after themselves, shower & brush their teeth. Hubs found a job & agreed to hang my yoga trapeze up in the house before he left to train (it’s about time – I’ve had it for 3 years!) I puppy-sat quite a bit for my sister & brother-in-law.

July: Connections Book Club ended on a good note, though I do miss my weekly coffee + adult conversation. Got a Stitch Fix box I couldn’t afford & bought it anyway. Got The Cuteness officially enrolled into Skipstone Academy. Almost wanted another puppy, but after days of my dog-niece peeing on my carpet & my dog-nephew vomiting all over my house I’ve been temporarily cured of the notion that this is a good idea. My Sadie-Baby is perfect (& grown, & house-trained, & quiet); she’s all the furry love I need. The kids lathered each other up in shaving cream outside & then they turned their sights on me when I stepped out to film them. 🤦🏼‍♀️ Hubs left for training for his new job & only came home on weekends. My yoga trapeze still did not get hung up. I stopped cooking; “fend for yourself” nights for the win! Surviving on coffee because I CANNOT sleep. Big surprise here🙄: I didn’t get to enroll in school like I had been looking forward to for more than a year. It’s coming, but apparently God had other things in store for this year.

August: I hung my yoga trapeze myself, posted it on social media & now everybody thinks I have a kinky sex swing hanging in my foyer. 🤷🏼‍♀️😂 Hubs gone again for orientation for his new job, which is not in the field we spent thousands of dollars getting him educated in. 😑 Mr. Thoughtful & Princess Sassypants started homeschool; some days are better than others. I like it when they cook. The Cuteness started her first day at Skipstone today (the 21st)! I’m missing having the house to myself for any amount of time during the day, but I am simultaneously enjoying watching the process of my other two kids learning. Trying not to kill Princess Sassypants is slightly more challenging than I thought it would be. (If you’re not sure how parenting a homeschooled teenager works, that was a joke; please take your finger off your phone’s emergency button.) I flirted with the idea of doing Whole 30, but I don’t have that kind of discipline & apparently I’m not the only one. That being said, a somewhat comical (yet, entirely candid) series regarding my outlook on health, dieting & my incredibly lacking willpower may possibly be meandering around out there somewhere in the future. We shall see. The Cuteness turns 11 on Friday.

I’m so sleepy right now I’ve almost nodded off twice while proof-reading this. So…hasta mañana! I’m off to exercise my cat-napping skills.

You’re the greatest. ⭐️