Friday, December 28, 2012

night before a break…


It’s late, but I can’t sleep. So I thought I’d come down and look at my boys. Tomorrow we leave all 3 of them with Nana and Papa for the weekend. It’s been about two years since we had that much time completely childless…. But now it’s coming, thanks to the bittersweetness of weaning.

My mind got all wound up lying in bed tonight, and I couldn’t stop thinking of all the things we might want to do now that we have some time uninterrupted by the nap schedule. But then I would think about how my arms will feel so empty without the familiar weight of Ben in them.

See, they’ve become so much a part of us that we don’t feel complete without them. How does that happen? How did I get to the place where spending even a weekend without any of these 3 parts of my heart makes me a little sad?

IMG_0856 I know I’ll get used to the idea quickly enough. I love spending time with my teammate… precious time when we can finish sentences and thoughts unimpeded.

I remember feeling the weight and the completeness of family when I was younger. I remember that there were times when I felt like friends couldn’t really know me unless they knew my family. In college, I wanted to talk about my brother and my mom and dad and the way and the place that I grew up, feeling this need to explain and describe in order to feel truly known.

Then things shifted, and I got married, and it became more important that friends know my husband than the family I grew up in. The definition of family changed. I feel the change even more now.

To know me, to truly know me, is to know my children, too. When we look at each other, we see shared thoughts and laughs and dreams mirrored in each other’s eyes. I recognize it, though they are only dimly aware just yet.

So it is right that leaving them makes me feel slightly odd and off kilter. This is the season for that in our family, and it would be unnatural for me not to feel it.

Oh, the ways that they’ve stolen my heart….


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

the day after Christmas…


My little wise men giving the traditional gifts to the Baby Jesus. Next year, I’m going to have to get some real myrrh and frankincense from the health food store. They earned plastic gold coins this year by showing God’s love to others that they used to buy oxen, ducks, and chickens for people in need. Definitely have to do that again next year…

It’s pouring down rain. I somehow managed to oversleep by an entire hour, and Seth woke me up. I would feel guilty, but I guess everyone was tired enough that they needed to oversleep, too. Daddy’s back at work. =(

Seth is working on writing lowercase “y”s right now, and we’ve had some practice identifying place value of tens and ones. I think we’ll try and get in a reading lesson in tonight.

The freezer is getting really empty. I’m going to go to the grocery store tonight to restock. Time to cook up some chicken and ground beef to freeze. And I’m going to do these freezer crockpot meals again. They were good (all but the burrito meat)… but I think they are going to marinate in their bags for 24 hours before I freeze them this time for maximum flavor. And its time to make some more pizza sauce to freeze and more bags of pizza dough ingredients.

I’m going to make a doctor’s appointment for Ben and Evan. Ben’s had a mostly clear runny nose for two weeks now. I think its teething because he’s also got a ton of drool, but its time to check for an ear infection to be on the safe side. And Evan has had a runny nose when he wakes up for that long, so he’ll get a look see as well.

I enjoyed the time with my parents before Christmas, but I’m glad to be back in my nest again. The mundane is pleasant enough right now. =)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012



The great family picture taken at the professional level photo booth at our church’s family festival. And I had to make it black and white because David and I were too pasty looking for the internet. The end.

I just heard Evan say that he and Seth should build a clubhouse and go to the moon. They’re spending a lot of time lately building cars and trucks and “car transporters” and beds out of the small table and chairs in the playroom.

We’re not doing much school today. We’ve missed a good bit in the last few days because of sickness. First it was me…. stomach bug and sinus infection. Then Seth threw up. Then Ben. Hey, at least I can make it up whenever we need to.

I’ve kind of just come to accept this. Some member of this family has been sick pretty much since right before Thanksgiving. If I accept that we’re going to be sick a lot in the winter, then I don’t get as stressed out when the first person throws up. And even a quick glance at my Facebook feed makes it clear that I’m not alone. Misery loves company. =)

I can’t write about school shootings. I read about it, and I absorb enough to make me sad, but I block out the “too much” that would incapacitate me with worry and sadness.

Tomorrow we go to my parent’s house for a few days before Christmas. David is looking forward to me taking the children and leaving him. =) I’m going to take bubble baths and ignore the whining I hear coming from the living room and let Mom and Dad help me deal with it for a few days.

And now I must go because a skirmish has broken out in the playroom. Merry Christmas! The world is dark and sad and broken with sickness and death… but He was born into the darkness, and those small purple and pink candles that we light each night remind us that even a small light banishes the darkness. And how great a light He is!

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

good things…


Wing designer and builder extraordinaire.

- Ben gets slightly less destructive every day.

- Too many good activities and friends to spend time with, and that there will be summer to enjoy with the ones that school time takes away from right now.

- Dark chocolate toffee pretzel bark.

- Holding my baby in his dark room while he drinks a warm bottle.

- A school break coming soon for this weary mom.

- Boys in awe of something as simple as turning off the lights and lighting a candle for dinner.

- Husband reading scripture by candlelight.

- That chicken cooked in the crockpot falls off the bones easily, and that sometimes one dinner meal yields enough leftovers for another.

- Homeschool: usually the best part of my day.

- Snuggling up with my oldest while he reads his first story in a book.

- Seeing the lessons of perseverance sinking in when reading is hard.

- Big boys that spend lots of time together in their bedroom building “animal houses” out of pillows and play silks before breakfast.

- Being able to take the time out to talk and pray about being a sore loser.

- Husband encouragement and perspective…

- Praying for Daddy’s day during morning devotions, and having a son mention it to him when he gets home.

- The Christmas lights and decorations are up… even if the bathrooms are still filthy. =)

Friday, November 30, 2012

a walk to bethlehem…

The end of another week. A quick chicken noodle soup coming together on the stove, Baby Ben playing at my feet, Evan carefully stacking Legos at the kitchen table, a groggy Seth upstairs trying to wake up from his rare afternoon nap.

I get dinner on the table right as David walks in the door, and we tell the boys that we have something special planned for tonight. Coats on, shoes and socks found, and we’re piled into the van for a drive north of town. Traffic is bad, and we realize that the boys aren’t used to traffic jams. A chance to teach and explain about patience, and a time to have a family singalong of Christmas hymns.

We turn into a dark church parking lot and follow waving men with directional signals. Boys tumble out of car seats and run into the family life center. We are sorted into Jewish tribes and given plastic coins for our temple tax. We sign our names for the census.

People mill around tables of cookies and cocoa, waiting. The boys giggle and push a fussy Ben around in his stroller. They crawl under tables. I get increasingly tense as they get increasingly rowdy.

And then our tribe is called. Costumed interpreters usher us upstairs. We walk out of the building in the cold night. It’s smoky, and we hear Middle Eastern music and see lit torches on either side of our path. The boys instantly get quiet and alert. The atmosphere has changed.

We are led through different scenes. People leading sheep walk past us. We are offered fruit and cloth from street vendors. We are bullied by Roman soldiers and told to keep moving to Bethlehem. Evan holds our hands tightly and tells us that he doesn’t like them.

We stand in Herod’s court and watch his exchange with the Wise Men. He is a good actor, and the boys talk later about how mean he is.

Above it all, we see a bright star hanging over us. I wonder silently how many church members risked their lives to get it up that incredibly tall tree. Seth looks up and it, and I see wonder on his face.

We end at the stable and the babe in the manger. We are encouraged to go and tell the world that Messiah has come, and then we are back in the parking lot, slightly disoriented.

Seth tells me that he is so glad that we came. The boys talk about what they have seen all the way home. I ask them if Herod would’ve killed our baby boy if he had lived then. They discuss the many ways that they would protect Baby Ben from him. They all involve hitting and swords and one involves a giant bat.

David and I decide that Martin Luther King Jr. did something pretty amazing when he got people to protest non-violently. Violent retaliation seems to be pretty ingrained in human nature, even from a young age.

At bedtime, I give my baby a bottle and look into his beautiful blue green eyes. I croon “Away in a Manger” to him, and he snuggles close, tucking his tiny hands between his chest and mine. I give him an extra hug and kiss, thankful that we don’t live in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago.

‘Tis the season to make Christmas memories. Let the celebration of His coming begin….

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Crockpot red beans and rice….


I just made this for dinner, and it was wonderful. Seriously, one of the best crockpot recipes I’ve ever made…  I adapted this from “Slow Cooker Revolution,” and I think I may buy the book now…

2 onions, chopped

1 celery rib, chopped

6 cloves minced garlic

1 T. vegetable oil

1/2 t. dried thyme

2 t. sweet paprika

1/4 t. cayenne pepper

5 c. chicken broth (I used a carton, and then did 1 c. of water and bouillon)

1 lb. dried red kidney beans, soaked overnight

1 lb. andouille sausage, sliced

2 bay leaves

1 big or 2 small green peppers, chopped

3/4 c. long grain rice

salt and pepper to taste

a splash of red wine vinegar

The night before you make this, dump your dried beans in your crockpot and cover with about 2 inches of water. Cut up your onions and celery, and put them and the minced garlic, oil, thyme, paprika, and cayenne in a glass bowl. Stir, cover, and put in the fridge. Cut up the sausage and put it in a ziploc in the fridge.

In the morning, drain off the water from your beans, rinse, and drain again. Take that glass bowl of veggies and spices, put it in the microwave, and microwave on high for 3-4 minutes. Throw that in the crockpot with the beans. Add the chicken broth, bay leaves, and sausage. Cook on low for 9 hours.

During the last 1/2 hour of cooking, add in the chopped green pepper and the rice. Turn the crockpot up to high. When the time is up, cut off the crockpot, add a dash of salt and pepper and a splash of red wine vinegar. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Ben is sitting on my lap quietly. His hair smells faintly of vomit from the baby tent that he insists on napping in, even though it still smells of vomit. A thorough cleaning with many, many Lysol wipes and time outside in the fresh air only did so much, I guess.

We woke up to the vomit tent and pukey baby yesterday. He’s been sitting listlessly in laps quite a bit since then, forehead hot from running a low grade fever.

David was home for Veteran’s Day on Monday (thank you, God, for government holidays), so I took the big boys to their first homeschool gymnastics class anyway. They’d already missed the first one of the month because of colds. Evan’s “happy” of the day at dinner last night was that he got to jump in the foam pit. His “saddy” was that he didn’t get to do a somersault. Next week, big boy. Seth prayed this morning that God would let him know when we’re going back to gymnastics.

I’m letting them watercolor at the kitchen table while I type. There may be a time when this isn’t stress inducing, but now is not it. Evan’s paper gets soaked through in about 2.4 seconds, and there’s a reason why the paper towels are next to him, biding their time.

We’re all about steam and force and the water cycle in homeschool right now. It’s “Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel” week. High point so far? Bouncing around as gas molecules, huddling into a tightly packed ball when Mommy yells “Become a solid!”, and flowing around when she yells “Liquid!” Low point? The pinwheel will not turn when held next to a steam kettle, no matter what angle I hold it at. I think that experiment must be a cruel joke.

Energy levels are low around here. I’ve hit one of those points in the life cycle of a mom of littles when daily living feels like slogging through mud. I can still enjoy the beauty of the moments, but I wonder when I’ll ever feel rested and full of energy again. David and I use every minute of our meager rest times to rest, and the living room furniture slowly gets covered in a fine layer of dust.

It’s almost naptime. They’re all going down soon, and I’m going to gulp in the quiet with my cup of tea and my book… Evan just spilled the water. I’m outta here.

Monday, November 12, 2012

…. and this one…

Quoted on the Circe Institute Blog (via Brandy at Afterthoughts)…

Since Thucydides describes the rule of Pericles as an aristocratical government, that went by the name of a democracy, but was, indeed, the supremacy of a single great man, while many others say, on the contrary, that by him the common people were first encouraged and led on to such evils as appropriations of subject territory; allowances for attending theatres, payments for performing public duties, and by these bad habits were, under the influence of his public measures, changed from a sober, thrifty people, that maintained themselves by their own labors, to lovers of expense, intemperance, and license, let us examine the cause of this change by the actual matters of fact.”

Busy days lately, so I haven’t had time to write a real blog post on my actual everyday life. I’ll get to it eventually.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

my thoughts on the 2012 election…

“A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself within. The essential cause of Rome's decline lay in her people, her morals, her class struggle, her failing trade, her bureaucratic despotism, her stifling taxes, her consuming wars.”--Will Durant in Caesar and Christ

Sunday, October 28, 2012

breakfast cream…

It’s past midnight, but the Coughing That Will Not End Until Every Bit of Pollen Is Gone is keeping me awake, so I figured I’d write about breakfast.

I read that book about how French women don’t get fat, and I got at least one thing out of it that has changed my life….. breakfast cream.

This way, I can start out my day virtuous in the food department. If things go downhill from there, so be it, but it helps my motivation to be so pure and clean and healthy around 8:30 a.m.

I know you want to know all about this, so here’s my recipe…

1/2 c. plain low fat Greek yogurt (BJ’s has the best price in town on this)

1 t. flax seed (makes me feel all healthy just to type that)

3 heaping teaspoons quick oats

1-2 t. raw, organic, local honey (or squirt some out of the big plastic container you got from BJ’s)

a few walnuts, almonds, whatever

Mix and eat. It looks gross, so your kids will happily leave you alone and continue munching their cinnamon Life…. =) Feel the healthy just coursing through your veins. You’re welcome.

Friday, October 26, 2012

friday morning….


This is what breakfast time looks like around here most of the time. “Benji Boo Boo” (the nickname that I call him most often) likes to get down from his high chair and pull up on Evan’s. We call him the “baby thief.” Yesterday, he stole a big hunk of pb&j off Evan’s tray and shoved it into his mouth very quickly, perfectly aware that he was going to lose it if he didn’t. And then he got lots of peanut butter in his hair.

Our tiniest can eat his big brothers under the table. He polished off two slices of homemade pizza for dinner the other night without batting an eyelash. And then banged his hands on his tray for more food…

Yes, I do put my 3-year-old in a high chair still. I have three children under the age of 6, and there is only so much getting up and down at meals that I can stand. No judging. =)

It’s a little chilly and gloomy today, and I’d love to make potato soup, but I don’t have any celery. Celery is essential. I briefly considered throwing them all in the car and going out for celery. And then I decided that it so totally wasn’t worth it. We’re having baked chicken and rice pilaf for dinner instead.

School starts in about 10 minutes. I am endlessly grateful for Ben’s morning nap. The boys have gotten really patient about me getting up several times in the middle of reading a book to stop Ben from stabbing himself with a pencil or pulling the computer modem out of the wall.

I am not so patient.

Fall festival at church is this weekend. Costumes are TBD still for Seth and Evan. I want to make Evan be a lion because that’s what we have in his size. David wants to let him be Superman if he wants. They may be showing up in totally homemade and mildly disreputable looking superhero outfits made of their pajamas and random capes and masks. We’ll see.

I borrowed an adorable Winnie the Pooh outfit for Ben. =)

Speaking of Ben, we keep his baby board books on the bottom shelves of a little bookcase in the living room. He crawls in there all the time now and pulls them off, turning the pages, and babbling in a little thoughtful, interested voice to himself.

We talk for Ben in a high pitched voice all the time, and the boys have gotten into it. I asked Evan to apologize to Ben the other day, and he did, and then he said in a little higher pitched voice, “I forgive you.” =)

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Rowing Madeline…

DSC_0005 A few weeks ago, we rowed “Madeline” by Bemelmans. I was surprised by how much the boys enjoyed this classic story. The rhyming helped a lot, and they could both recite large chunks of the book by the end of our rowing. I got a couple of other Madeline books from the library, and they enjoyed those as well.

Of course, we read books on France, and Seth decided to attempt making a model of the Eiffel Tower one day. We didn’t have quite the right blocks for it, but I love that he took the initiative =).

I also checked out “Anatole,” a story about a little French mouse who wants to help out in exchange for his morsels of food, so he tastes cheese and gives suggestions to those in charge at a cheese factory. This led Seth to want to try some French cheeses, so we had a little Brie with our lunch. =) I started calling bread, cheese, and fruit “French lunch” (instead of lazy mommy lunch), and it seems to have stuck. =)

DSC_0006 This link has been floating around the internet for French related food creations, but I didn’t have it in me to try and risk falling sugar wafers. So we made cheater pain au chocolat instead. It was easy for Seth to help me with this, and the fruits of our labors were quite delicious. I think we should try this one again with pie filling, etc.

While it was baking, we watched an episode of Madeline on YouTube about the Eiffel Tower…


There is a lot of symmetry in this book, so I had the boys make symmetry paintings. We just dripped paint on half of a piece of folded paper, and then they smashed the other half down on top. Et voila! I also held up small objects in front of a little mirror, and they could see the balanced reflection.


This book gave a great chance to talk about the digestive system. We found a wonderful book in the library about digestion, and I did the first experiment on this link with them. I used vinegar for stomach acid, since I didn’t have any orange juice on hand. We also watched this short video from Children’s Hospital to show what its like to go to the hospital and have surgery… just like Madeline!

We also sang “Frere Jacques” every day of the week. My boys love to sing with me. =)

Oh, and I can’t forget the Impressionist painters. We read a book called “Katie Meets the Impressionists,” and we talked about how France is known for delicious food and the arts…

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

bug day…


I am definitely not up to date on chronicling our homeschool journey here, but I thought I’d show you what we did one day in between rowing Five in A Row books. I decided to take a little break to follow Seth’s interest. He asked me to get him some books about bugs from the library because “bats eat bugs, and I’m a bat.” (We are definitely into some imaginary play around here. =)

“Bugs are Insects” by Anne Rockwell was a great kindergarten friendly book I got from the library, so we read that. Basically, it was all about how to classify insects vs. arachnids vs. true bugs.

Then we did a little hands on science from Janice VanCleave’s “Play and Find Out about Bugs.” I loved this little experiment. I cut pipe cleaners into short pieces, and we used those to give our insects 6 legs and antennae. We also taped some pieces of paper on a few of them to make wings that we could insert into our playdough bugs’ backs.

We rolled playdough into balls and strung them onto a toothpick. The smallest ball was the head, the middle size was the thorax, and the biggest size was the abdomen. The hands on visual really seemed to help get the parts of the bug stuck in their little brains. =)

We did this about a week and a half ago, and I heard the boys chanting “Head! Thorax! Abdomen!” to David just the other night. =)




Tuesday, October 16, 2012

mother’s minutia….


The boys are watching “Kipper the Dog” on Netflix. Even Ben. Yes, I prop him in the little rocking chair that was mine when I was a baby, and I let him watch with Seth and Evan. That little British puppy has changed their vocabulary for the quirkier. =)

I’ve got a chicken pot pie in the oven. I have a desire to make one every few months, and every few months I do, and I regret it. However, this regret seems to be quickly forgotten because I don’t remember why I vowed never to make another the next time the urge strikes.

I stink at pie crust. This time I tried one made with Bisquick. (Don’t ask me why I bought a giant box of Bisquick at BJ’s. I usually avoid baking mixes, but I did, and I need to use it up.) We’ll see how that turns out. I can’t bring myself to put canned cream of chicken soup in there, so I make my own roux on the stove. And I’m cheap, so I passed up the pre-made pie crusts at the grocery store. Yada yada. Anyway, that leaves me stirring and chopping and all in the middle of the afternoon when the boys are awake and fussing. I want to tear my hair out. Must. not. make. chicken. pot. pie. again. until. Ben. is. 5.

I probably shouldn’t be writing. I’m not in the best of moods. I came down with a ridiculous amount of health problems over the weekend. I already had a cough for at least a week, and then I had a bun at an authentic Chinese grocery store, and that likely led to an itchy outbreak of hives, and about the time that the hives started worsening, I got a UTI. Then Ben and Seth both came down with the cough.

I have been waiting for locusts to show up….

Thank God for my mom. She spent Monday with me so I could go to the doctor and fill prescriptions and start feeling better. I’m a little concerned that the UTI isn’t going away any faster than it is. She gave me a prescription for an antibiotic I’ve never had before, hoping to get the cough and the UTI at the same time, but I’m wondering if it’s working. Still having to take pain killer for that one…

Today has been a lot better than yesterday. We had school, I got everybody out the door and to the park for an hour of sandbox play, and I smiled while Ben crawled all over the wet wood chips and ate sand. I stripped him down to his diaper before putting him in the car. I can tell that I have 3 children when I let the baby have free rein like this…. Didn’t happen with Seth or Evan.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

field trip fun…


I’m sitting here with a cup of cocoa, feeling a bit lousy. I’ve had a cough for over a week, and I thought it was my annual fall allergy making its visit. But now Ben is pathetically barking and crying, and I hear from my mom that Seth came down with a cough on their little fishing weekend at the cabin.

They’ll be back soon, and it’ll be time to gird up my loins for a week of sickness and potential quarantine. Sigh. So I thought I’d post a few pictures of a happier day.

I got a great deal on a fall family pass to the Museum of Life and Science in Durham. We took a break between book unit studies to head there with friends one beautiful fall day.

IMG_0741 Seth and Evan loved the pumping stations. There were all kinds of fun levers to experiment with, and if you pumped hard enough, you could get water to come out of lots of random pipes. =)

IMG_0743 Ahhh, the insect house. Seth is staring at these really awesome leaf bugs. They look just like green leaves, and their movements are kind of a sway, like a leaf blowing on a tree. Isn’t God cool? =)


They had several little petri dishes with live bugs in them, and you could slide them under the powerful microscope, and they’d show up on the screen far larger than life….

My goal is to get there again at least once before the end of October.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

it’s wednesday…


“Hey, look, Mom! I can take Ben down the slide!” “Yes, dear. Try to make sure he’s breathing when he reaches the bottom….”

It’s Wednesday. This week it feels like Tuesday because David was off on Monday for a random government holiday. It rained, and it was freezing. He took the big boys to storytime at the library, and I took out all the cold weather clothes for the big seasonal switcheroo.

I discovered that Seth only has one pair of non-sandal shoes that currently fit. I couldn’t find them this morning when it was time to go to the park for mom and tot art lunch. After scouring the entire house for them, I made him wear his dirty flip flops with a long sleeved shirt and jeans. I thought my head was going to explode.

Nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing, makes Mommy angrier than lost shoes. Evan loses his all the time. In fact, he lost his flip flops somewhere in the yard last week, and I still haven’t found them.

After Seth found his missing shoes in the back of the van (where he’d taken them off last night on the way back from the indoor playground), I told him that there would no longer be any warnings for shoes placed anywhere other than right by the front door. I find them somewhere other than that? Bam. Immediate nuclear punishment. I’m done with this, people. D-O-N-E.

Why, you may ask, doesn’t Ellen break down and get her poor little urchins more than one pair of shoes? Is it because she’s cheap? Yeesss… but its mostly because she hates shoe shopping for small boys. Especially for small boys with narrow feet and no arches whose shoes must fit custom orthotics to correct said lack of arches. The end.

When I pulled up to the house the other day after a quick weekend naptime shopping trip, the tree in front of the house caught my eye. It is the boys’ favorite climbing tree, and it has lots of nice little forks for them to get their feet stuck in so that they can then scream for someone to help them 542 times an hour. I digress. Well, one of the forks on that day was currently holding a soft yellow and green soccer ball and a large plastic t-rex.

I walked right past those bad boys and into the house. And they are sitting there still in perfect harmony, Rex’s mouth wide open in a vicious, toothy perpetual scream as he is crushed by the Soccer Ball of Doom.

Sort of like me right now as I hear Seth’s bedroom door open upstairs for the 3rd time in what was supposed to be my hour of solitude today…. Peace out.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Crockpot hash brown potato soup…

potatoes-300x236 photo of beautiful potatoes from The Farm in Orleans, MA

So, I’m now a Pinner, and there is this potato soup recipe floating around that calls for a 30 oz. package of shredded hash browns. It also has stuff in it that I’m not interested in using, like cream cheese and canned cream of chicken soup, but it got me thinking… I wondered if I could tweak my favorite time consuming potato soup recipe? Turns out I can. Score! I made this the other night, and it tastes almost exactly like my work intensive version…

Crockpot Hash Brown Potato Soup

1 30 oz. pkg. frozen shredded hash browns

1 onion

1 carrot

1 stalk celery

4 c. chicken stock (I use water and bouillon)

1 T. parsley flakes

pepper to taste

1 T. butter

1/2 t. salt

1 13 oz. can evaporated milk

Finely shred the onion, carrot, and celery in a food processor until nicely pulverized. This is important to the flavor of the soup, so don’t skip this step or I can’t vouch for the results. Throw that into your crockpot with all the other ingredients except the evaporated milk. Cook on low for 4-5 hours. Add the evaporated milk for the last hour of cooking. Serve with your favorite toppings. It’s even better the second day.

This is a thick, creamy soup. If you want it chunkier, try experimenting with cubed hash browns or frozen stew potatoes if you can find them. I may try that later…

My other recipe called for chopping up all the potatoes, parboiling them, pouring out the water, adding in bouillon, etc. It was time intensive enough that I only made it once last winter in my sleep deprived newborn haze. This is more doable. It doesn’t make quite as much soup as my original recipe, but that’s a small price to pay…

Friday, October 05, 2012

General homeschooling….

I’ve been writing here about the 5 in a Row books that we’re using to do unit studies, but I haven’t talked about the other things that we’re doing in homeschool.

Each morning, we start our school time after Ben goes down for his morning nap. I start the day with us singing, “Good morning, God. This is your day. I am your child. Show me your way.” Then we start our Morning Time.

We do devotions together. Right now, we’re reading the Jesus Storybook Bible every day. We’re also memorizing Bible verses. It took about 3 weeks, but they can now both say Ephesians 2:8- “For it is by grace you have been saved, and this is not from yourselves- it is the gift of God. And this is not by works, so that no one can boast.” I was surprised that Evan learned it just as quickly as Seth did, and he’s only 3 1/2. I wasn’t giving him enough credit…

We’ve now moved on to “A soft answer turns away wrath, but harsh words stir up anger.” It seems relevant. =)

Then we read a short poem, sing our song for the week (sometimes a hymn, and sometimes related to the book we’re rowing), put a star on the calendar for the day, and color in the space on our weather chart. We also sing the days of the week and months of the year, though not every day.

After that I get into the 5 in a Row book. Seth’s math, reading, and handwriting come after that while Evan plays or does some preschool work. Sometimes we run out of time for that before Ben wakes up, and he does those in the afternoon after his nap. I also might have him do a few extra printables or activities that Evan wouldn’t be interested in in the afternoon as well.

We also don’t do 5 in a Row every day. For instance, I decided that I didn’t want to start our next book right away, and so tomorrow we’re going to have an insect day. I got some books on insects, and we’re going to do an insect identification experiment that I got from the Janice Van Cleeve Experiment Book on Bugs that we have. We’ll resume “rowing” next week. I like having the flexibility to take a day off in between longer unit studies to pursue other interests or take a field trip. Math, reading, and handwriting are every day activities, though.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Rowing “Lentil”…..

I’m definitely going to get behind on telling about our school work, but I did want to catalogue the “rowing” of “Lentil” by Robert McCloskey for those of you who are interested….

First of all, I owe a large debt of gratitude to this blogger for her fantastic page of Lentil ideas. I used a lot of them in our rowing, especially the science experiments on the five senses.

I went to the library and picked up books on taste, smell, and hearing. I also got a few basic books on patriotism and the fifty states. Lentil is from Alto, Ohio, so I gave them a little bit of information on Ohio, and we found it on our U.S. map. This gave us a chance to practice following basic directions on a map and using the compass on the map to find N, S, E, and W. We did a printable from homeschool share on this for the Wonder Book.

DSC_0382 This is our tasting experiment. I put out little dishes of bitter unsweetened chocolate, salt water, sugar water, and lemon juice. Seth and Evan both tasted each one and identified the type of taste.

DSC_0384 We talked about how our sense of smell affects taste. I had them hold their noses and try to differentiate between the peach and the banana yogurt. It was a little harder for them. We discussed how food doesn’t taste as good when you have a cold because of your stuffy nose.

To go along with these activities, I had Seth color this sheet, and then he told me everything he could remember learning about taste. I wrote it down on the same sheet and put it in his Wonder Book. I did the same with this sheet on hearing.

We did the experiments on hearing from the blog I linked, including singing in the bathroom to hear the sound waves bounce off hard surfaces instead of being absorbed. We bounced a ball on the kitchen floor and on a cushion to show how sound waves are absorbed by soft surfaces and bounce off hard surfaces.

Seth really enjoyed squeezing lemons and making lemonade with me. He made sure that his daddy had a glass that night at dinner. =)

We discussed jealousy and finding the joy in our uniqueness, since Old Sneep struggled with jealousy and Lentil couldn’t sing or whistle and had to use a harmonica to make music instead. We also talked about grace. The townspeople gave Old Sneep an ice cream cone and let him share in the celebration, even though he’d tried to ruin it.

We discussed how illustrations tell the story as much as the words do sometimes, and we looked for examples in the book.

We learned “She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain When She Comes,” complete with hand motions. =) I even found a video of a guy playing it on the harmonica on YouTube. I also found a couple of videos of brass bands, and I identified the instruments for them while we watched.

DSC_0390 And to end up the week, we whittled with soap. A bar of Ivory and a plastic knife can provide a lot of excitement (and fine motor skills practice…. =) They got soap shavings all over the deck, but it was worth it. And now the whittling that Old Sneep did in the book makes a lot more sense to them.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

rainy saturday morning….


See? Don’t my first cinnamon rolls look pretty? =)

David and I talked last night about what we should try and do today. There are so many fun fall things going on in our area right now, and I feel a little guilty if I don’t at least consider doing some of them on weekends… even if I’m not excited about putting in the effort to get us out the door.

We woke up to rain this morning, and I inwardly cheered. Guilty mommy is now off the hook, and she can cheerfully give in to puttering around the house and cleaning up the clutter.

Speaking of mommy guilt, I’m feeling a lot of it lately because Ben exhausts me so much. He’s an adorable, smiley little rascal, but he’s very, very mobile. We’re talking “taking the toilet brush away from him 5 times a day” and pulling-him-off-the-stairs-constantly kinda mobile.

My absolute least favorite thing that he does at the moment is stand holding onto the loveseat and whine and cry while I attempt to read his brothers a book. Brother is about to earn himself some crib time for that one.

I have little energy or patience for tackling big tasks right now…. and I blame him and his lightning fast crawling. I’ve been here before, and I know it’ll get better, but this is a tough stage for me.

I MADE myself clean yesterday during naptime, and it was a big effort to force myself to get off the couch and start. But now that the house is dusted, and I killed the pile of crud that has been collecting by the front door for months, I feel much better. Before I felt a little powerless with apathy and frustration, and getting moving on the ol’ to-do list helped immensely.

I like the word “immensely.” It has such a lovely sound rolling off your tongue. I should use it more often.

I’ve got chili in the crockpot. I’m using yet another recipe. I feel like I’ve been hunting for the perfect chili recipe for a very long time. And I’m terribly picky. It can’t be too tomatoey, and it must have beef and onions, but it can’t have sausage or bacon because that’s a little more unhealthy than I’m going for, and anything with tomato paste is definitely out… If you have an easy recipe that tastes identical to my mom’s chili but without the work, just let me know. =) Hah!

Monday, September 24, 2012

night musings…


The sun was just right when I noticed my baby’s shadowy kicking in the park swing and snapped it…

Another Monday come and gone…

It was our last day “rowing” Lentil by Robert McCloskey. I’ll put up pics of that later, but the highlight of today for Seth was probably getting to whittle with a bar of Ivory soap and a plastic knife. He and Evan made a huge mess of soap shavings on the back porch before I realized just how good Seth was at whittling. It does smell awfully pure and clean out there, but I’m wondering how hazardous it’ll be the next time it rains. =)

I looked around my house and saw all kinds of housework that I could probably be doing. So I decided to make a list of things to accomplish for the week… and then I hauled out the ingredients for homemade cinnamon rolls instead of tackling any of it.

Frankly, I’m ridiculously proud of my first batch of homemade cinnamon rolls. I remember being a newlywed about 11 years ago, and one of the most intimidating things that I could think of to bake was cinnamon rolls. There was YEAST and DOUGH and ROLLING DOUGH UP! I shuddered at the thought.

I made Rice and Roni and added cut up cooked chicken to it at least once a week the first year we were married. I didn’t have a lot of dinner ideas, and I had very little in the way of cooking skills. David knows about cheerfulness in affliction from firsthand experience.

Anyway, I have learned to bake since then. I started with a breadmaker, and at this point, I can even make bread without one. It’s been time to tackle my Mt. Everest of cooking for awhile now.

They turned out great, y’all. I even took a picture. I pulled out all the stops and used the plain dental floss trick I’d been hearing about to cut the rolls out of the rolled up log.

Another one checked off the bucket list! I like conquering something new and intimidating. It makes me smile. =)

And as if that wasn’t enough, I pulled a couple of pairs of pre-Ben jeans off the shelf in the closet, blew off the dust, and tried them on tonight. I fully expected them to be too tight, just like every other pair of jeans I own, including a pair I bought after Ben that has gotten too snug this week.

Praise the Lord Almighty, they fit. I do not have to drag my children to JC Penney and threaten to dismember them if they don’t stop climbing the dressing room walls and hanging from the light fixtures. David does not have to get creative when looking up “justifiable juvenile homicide” for yet another day.

AND the sweet lady who took our family pictures apparently knows how to do miracles with her Photoshop retouching tool. I saw one of them posted to Facebook tonight. The sheer amount of scrapes, mosquito bites, scabbed over ears, and swollen eyes should’ve made her run screaming when she saw our family coming, but she stuck with us, and it looks like we have a decent family picture for the first time since Ben was born.

It’s a “3-boys-under-age-6-family” miracle. You do know that God has given us an especially tough and seasoned guardian angel, right?

Due to the glorious fall weather, I’ve declared tomorrow to be a field trip day. Just another reason for homeschooling…. I’ve found more and more friends around me in this journey, and we’re headed to the local life and science museum with a couple of them tomorrow.

Time for bed so I’ve got the energy for it all. Nighty night.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

the story of ping…


I’ve wanted to share a little of what we’re doing with Five in a Row because I’ve gained so much from other bloggers sharing their book “rowing.”

Our first week of FIAR, we “rowed” The Story of Ping. Each day, we read the book, and Seth put the story disc on the map of China. Our first day, we talked about China. We read library books on China, and Seth colored a map of China that I’d printed from (They have great printables listed by individual book.) He decided to draw the flag of China under that, and we practiced saying “hello” in Chinese. We put that page in his kindergarten wonder book.

On our second day, we read about ducks. We got “Ducks Don’t Get Wet” from the library. We learned that ducks preen themselves, smearing oil from an oil gland near their tails onto their feathers. Because oil and water don’t mix, water rolls off their feathers, so they “don’t get wet.” Then we did a science experiment to show that. One of the brown paper bag ducks below has been painted with oil, and the other hasn’t. We put drops of water on each duck, and sure enough, the water rolled off the oily duck’s back. =)

Now it gets a little muddled, and I don’t remember on which day we did which thing, so I’ll just list some other activities and reading that we did.

I printed out the buoyancy charts from, and we tested the buoyancy of different objects, and we learned what a hypothesis is. We put our findings on the chart, and we added that to the wonder book…

We also put a blown up balloon in water and saw how well it floated. That simulated a duck’s air sack that it fills with air when it wants to float. It lets out the air when it wants to dive. I showed them how much easier it is to push a deflated balloon under water than the blown up balloon…

I got rice cakes from the store, and we had them for snack one day. Then we took the leftovers to a local lake, and we fed them to the ducks. American ducks apparently like rice cakes as much as Chinese Ping did. =) We identified the different kinds of ducks at the park.

Seth practiced drawing moving water by copying the techniques used by the illustrator of the Story of Ping, and we added his pictures to the wonder book. I also asked him to tell me things he remembered that we’d learned during the week, and I typed that up to add to the book.

We learned a lesson about discernment and taking punishment well from Ping, and I had an opportunity to talk with him about that later in the week when Seth wasn’t taking his own punishment well. =)

Seth and Evan both really enjoyed watching episodes of “Wild China” on Netflix streaming. Some of the aspects of Chinese life that we’d learned about from different books were really brought to life for them. Seth chose “Wild China” over Curious George sometimes! =)

We had orange chicken with potstickers and rice for dinner one night, and David got a pair of chopsticks at a local Chinese takeout place. They practiced using those to eat their meal. We listened to Chinese internet radio while we ate, and that was a good source of traditional music. =)

I got a lot of ideas from this blog post, and I’m grateful to her for the suggestions. I have no intention of raising a duck, but you see how far you can go with “rowing” a book if you really want to take the time and get deep into it. =)


Friday, September 21, 2012

thoughts on homeschooling thus far…


He asked me to wear a mask and cape so we could go to McDonalds one night as superheroes. And when your 5-year-old asks that, you do it… =)

We’re 3 weeks into this new adventure of homeschooling.

The first week, I thought that the added responsibility of teaching my children was going to take me down. It felt a little like having a new baby. Even if I’ve planned well and in advance, I still have some pulling together of books and materials that I need to do each night after the kids go to bed. I knew teaching the kids was going to be a time consuming job on top of everything else I already do, but it felt a little oppressive the first week. I’m not gonna lie.

The second week, I started relaxing and feeling a little better. I started getting a sense of where we were headed and what I needed to do and when. That only gets better every week so far, and I’m grateful for that. I now feel a lot more like I can do this than those first few days….

Our days are falling into a better rhythm, and I stress less about getting a ton done during Ben’s morning nap, knowing that I’ll have some time later in the day to do more school.

What I find interesting about this is not that I was feeling overwhelmed and stressed in the beginning. I am more interested in the fact that I felt a deep sense of joy and peace despite the “beginning something new and slightly terrifying” stress. It’s really hard to put how I’ve been feeling into words, and I hesitate to try.

Once again, it feels a little like having a new baby. (I know, I’m stuck with that analogy, but its the closest thing to it in my life experience of the last few years.) Its beautiful, and its sometimes hard. I feel myself learning and growing in ways that I wasn’t expecting. I see my eyes being opened to the excitement of learning all over again as I learn with my children. I’m noticing the world around me differently because of my teaching. The interactions that I’m having with Seth and Evan lately have been priceless to me, and I will treasure them in my heart all my life.

I don’t think that homeschooling is perfect. I’m going to have to work a little bit harder to provide certain kinds of experiences and opportunities that a regular school setting naturally gives. My mom had to do the same, and I think she did a good job, especially since she didn’t have a generation of homeschoolers behind her to point out possible blind spots and needs.

I’m not homeschooling my children because we can’t afford private school or because I don’t like the public schools. It’s possible that we could afford some sort of private school for our children if we pinched enough pennies.

My point is that we want something really different from a traditional school environment for our family. It isn’t easy to attain, and I’m still in the newborn phase, but so far, I can emphatically say that this “baby” has been worth it. =)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Greek Lentil soup…


photo credit to the Wall Street Greek blog

It’s been a stormy, gloomy day today. The boys played well together, school went well, and all I have wanted to do is bake and make soup. =) It feels like fall, and this is early for us in this part of N.C.!

A friend shared this Greek lentil soup recipe with me, and I LOVE it. Cheap, healthy, and with ingredients I usually have on hand….

Greek Lentil Soup

1 c. lentils

4 c. water

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves minced garlic

1 carrot, sliced thin

4 stalks celery with leaves, chopped

3 bay leaves

2 fresh tomatoes (or an equivalent amount of canned)

3-4 chicken bouillon cubes

1/4-1/2 c. good, robust olive oil (I used Kalamata olive oil from Trader Joe’s)

Soak the cup of lentils in a little water for half an hour or so. Rinse and drain. Put all the ingredients, except tomatoes, oil, and bouillon in a stock pot. Bring to a boil, simmering for 45 minutes to an hour. Check periodically and add a little water if needed throughout the cooking time. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for 20 minutes more. Pick out the bay leaves, and serve with warm, crusty bread.

A good olive oil is important for good flavor, and adding it in at the end is important to the taste, I think. Enjoy!

Thanks, my dear Catherine! This will be a frequent soup in our house this winter…

Friday, September 14, 2012

Friday evening…

Hi, all. It’s a beautiful evening, and I’m sitting here listening to the sounds of a daddy/boys wrestling match upstairs and crickets out the porch door. The lawn is freshly and beautifully trimmed, and I made it to Friday, and everyone is alive and has been edu-ma-cated.

The reason the lawn looks so gorgeous and neat is because David didn’t trim it. He does a good job, but he doesn’t have the tools and time that the lawn guys do.

I had to call them because he cut two fingers last Saturday with the electric hedge trimmers. We made a trip to the ER, and he had 5 stitches. It’s healing well so far (though prayers are appreciated, and we’re thankful he didn’t hit any tendons), and I’m bracing myself for the bill… Oh well.

We’ve just finished our second week of homeschool. I’m starting to relax ever so slightly. We spent the week doing our first Five In A Row book, The Story of Ping. They know a lot more about China, ducks, rivers, discernment, buoyancy, and drawing water than they did before…  And since they asked lots of great questions, wanted to do more than I suggested of activities, and got pumped every time I pulled out the books, I’d say it was a success.

We ate orange chicken and potstickers tonight for dinner while listening to a Chinese internet radio station. It was Seth’s idea to try eating with chopsticks which Seth and Evan shared back and forth. =)

David spent Tuesday and Wednesday night gone for work. I am still trying to recover from this. A very mobile baby and a defiant 5-year-old with a hair trigger temper do not make for relaxing days at ye ol’ casa.

But I made it. Yes, I did. And I’m used to the good and the bad all being rolled together into one big ball of awesome, right? =)

The baby is now screaming because Daddy brought him downstairs out of the wrestling match, so I gotta run. Happy Friday….

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

learning as we go…


This picture was taken on our first morning of homeschool, and it kinda sums up one of things that’s been on my heart in the last week and a half. We’re keeping a 3-ring binder to catalog what we’re learning and doing this year. I have named it the Kindergarten Wonder Book. =) I showed Seth on the first day how I’d printed off pictures of him and Evan and hole punched them to put in the book. He caught on pretty quickly.

He wanted to add something of his own to the book. So he created a picture of a pelican. (He’s been pretending to be a pelican lately, and he and his grandma got a book about pelicans from the library the week before school.) Well, he wanted me to spell out phrases for him. He created a page for his wonder book that is all about pelicans- what they do, what they eat, etc.

And in that moment, all kinds of thought and feelings collided for me.

I remember thinking, “Yes. THIS… THIS is what I was hoping for…even though I didn’t know what it would look like.” There is time and space to feed Seth’s excitement about learning.

I can encourage his initiative and stop to listen and include his personal interests into our school day.

This is my most treasured thing in the Wonder Book right now because it was all him, and I LOVE that…

DSC_0367-001 This is our science experiment on absorption and capillary action. As you can see, the middle cup has nothing in it at the beginning, but a day later, colored water had traveled through the rolled paper towels and combined to create green…. for an added color wheel bonus lesson. =)


1st day of homeschool photos…


DSC_0326 DSC_0345-001

Explaining the calendar, weather chart, etc., to Seth. We’re putting a sticker on each day and singing the days of the week and months of the year. They color in a section of the weather chart depending on the weather for the morning.

DSC_0359-001 I hid school supplies on the porch for them to find and unpack. Evan was most excited about his very first pair of scissors. I may regret that one. =)

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

meet the teacher…


This is my favorite picture from our very first day of homeschooling….

We started on Monday, and we’re having a great week so far. I’ve learned a lot about myself and my boys in just a few short days. I have a lot of emotions and thoughts that I’m still processing, but I’ll be back with more info soonish…. =)

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Ben’s 1st birthday….


Ben’s not-at-all girly butterfly birthday cake. Hey, I was tired of making snakes and rocket ships and trucks, and he’s a baby, not a big boy. It was pretty easy. I just baked cupcakes and one round 8 inch layer, and then I cut that in half and shaped it for wings.

DSC_0255-001 “Hey, that’s my present. Hands off, big bro!”

DSC_0280-001 Yummmm…. hands full of delicious.


The aftermath….

Friday, August 31, 2012

nature play…


“Every child is born a naturalist. His eyes are, by nature, open to the glories of the stars, the beauty of flowers, and the mystery of life.” – R. Search






Thursday, August 30, 2012

let it ride…

We went to our first homeschool support group meeting last Saturday. I was nervous. David figured out how nervous when I made them all change into collared shirts. =)

I looked around the big room full of families of all shapes and sizes, and I’ve got to admit, I felt a bit of dismay. There seemed like too many options and too much variety among my fellow homeschoolers for me to easily be able to feel a sense of connection.

Yeah, that whole “holding hands as we run through the meadow with deep, meaningful, and wholesome books in our unique yet matching backpacks to read by the clear stream while joyfully wading into nature study” vision I had may take awhile to come to fruition.

I know you’re shocked.

“Slow and steady, girl,” I tell myself. I repeat to myself not to expect too much, not to take on too much, not to sign up for more than one field trip in September… I want to do it all and become it all right away when I plunge into something new, and that usually isn’t good. Since my natural tendency is to overdo it, I’m fighting for simplicity and low expectations.

I need to listen to David when he says that the geocaching activity and the Old Salem field trip are too old for our boys this year. I need to maintain many of our activities and friendships and slowly and gradually change or expand them. I need to be gentle with myself, and get excited about the continuity of our lifestyle with Community Bible Study starting up and the change with adding that homeschool gymnastics class.

Ben has taken all 137 magnets off of our fridge now, so my time is up… Catch ya later.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

late summer day…


Love Ben’s expression here… “Yep, just chillin’ with my homie in the clothes basket, yo.”

Today is the start of kindergarten for many of my friends on Facebook. I’m seeing lots of pics of grinning kids wearing backpacks.

Us? Nope. Not starting until next week. David’s parents are taking the big boys for several days, and this week worked best for them, so there ya have it. It’s nice that we’ve got the option to be flexible.

Seth has been sleeping longer, having a harder time getting up, and napping more the last few days. The last couple of days, he’s been complaining that his legs hurt. I’m keeping an eye on it, but I really think that this is a growth spurt coming on. The same thing happened to me, and I remember how painful it could be… Poor guy.

Ben and I enjoyed a little quiet time before I dragged the sleepyheads out of bed. After he went down for nap, we had a marathon reading session. I have some new favorite children’s books. The boys love “Saint George and the Dragon” by Margaret Hodges. Beautiful illustrations, Caldecott winner, and Seth is really inspired to ask me to define the big words for him. We also love “The Adventures of Awesome Man” by Michael Chabon.

Then I started teaching Seth to tell time. He’s been begging me to learn for awhile. I borrowed a workbook and a learning clock from a friend, but it looked more involved to me than what he was asking for. So I used this Kindle download that I’d gotten a while back (when it was free). We’re not through with it yet, but he’s catching on really well. I think it’d be worth $4. There’s plenty of quizzing, and that’s fun in an electronic format.

A little playdough sculpting (Seth made a cool frog!), and then time for lunch. Ben is learning to love sliced banana, but he throws PB&J on the floor. We’ll try that again next week.

After lunch, we went to a local nature park and playground. We hiked the “secret” trail through the woods to the playground, and Seth got to swing a giggling Ben over and over again. I’m using my Beco carrier as a backpack now, and I love that, and so does the little man. They were getting tired toward the end, but I was able to use my secret weapon. “Hey, guys, lets see how fast you can get to me! 1, 2, 3, ……” =)

I love that everything is an adventure to them right now. I love that I get to be around whenever Seth has a random question (“Mommy, are mommy ducks blue?”), and I love that I get to answer it or help him find the answer. I do not love every single moment with them. For instance, the moment yesterday when they were all crying because they’d all had shots was not my favorite moment. BUT, I am grateful for this life I’ve been given. It’s pretty sweet right now…

Friday, August 24, 2012

hamburger potato casserole…

David was out of town last night, and in honor of his return, I thought I’d make one of his favorite dishes. It’s simple, hearty, and filling, and everybody likes it.

If you keep browned ground beef in your freezer, it’s even easier to pull together… You just have to plan ahead a little because of the baking time…

Hamburger Potato Casserole

1 lb. ground beef, browned

1 onion, finely diced or processed (I use my little 1 1/2 c. food processor)

4 red skinned potatoes, thinly sliced

2 T. water



garlic powder

onion powder

shredded cheese

Make a layer of sliced potatoes on the bottom of an 8x8 casserole dish. Cover with a thin layer of diced onions. Generously sprinkle it all with the seasonings. Add half of your ground beef, and season again. Repeat the layering with the rest of your ingredients. Season again. Add 2 T. of water, and then cover tightly with foil. Bake at 375 degrees for an hour. During the last 10 minutes of baking, uncover and add cheese to your taste, and then recover. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

finding my place…


The best welcome home ever…. =)

The kids are down for nap, and I’m about to get started on a big freezer cooking prep. Before I do, I felt like I’d write a bit.

We spent a glorious week at the beach with my parents and my brother’s family. It was one of those vacations when you’re really wishing you had an extra few days, so that’s how worth it all the packing and hauling was this time.

Now that we’re back, I’m feeling discombobulated. Yep, that’s about the only word for it. Combined with the downer from getting back to real life after vacation, and the worry and frustration from having a 5-year-old with violent temper tantrums, I’m also feeling very “in between.”

MOPs will be starting up soon, and I won’t be there. That’s been “my place” for the last few years. I’ve gotten easy friendships and playdates and contacts from MOPs with other women who get where I am and what I’m going through, so I have camped there and put down tent stakes.

Well, it’s now time to move on. And I don’t really know exactly where I’m going and who I’ll find there.

As much as I love my church, I haven’t found a solid place to camp there. We don’t live near most other young families in the church. The Sunday School class that we joined when we first joined the church didn’t yield us any close friendships. I feel like we tried, but there wasn’t a perfect fit there. It wasn’t anybody’s fault, but you know…

I have scattered friendships here and there that are developing, and that’s good, but those are newish, and so I don’t have the settled feeling that I would like.

I joined a local homeschool group, and the kickoff social is next week. I’ve gotten a couple of calls from ladies in charge, and they seem very nice. But I feel afraid to pin too many hopes on this. I’m not doing the co-op with them because that’s not where I want to go right now with our homeschooling, so I may be setting myself up for a chance to feel left out when everybody else does the co-op but us. Who knows?

And then there’s our current Sunday School class. It’s splitting into two classes because it got too large. Great problem, right? Well, we are going with the teacher that we grow and learn most easily with on Sunday mornings. (Although, honestly, the other teacher is another fantastic option, too. We’re swimming in too many great choices.) The class is a very diverse one of different ages and stages, but we provide the “married with more than one young child” diversity.

At the planning meeting last night for the new class, it became apparent after 10 minutes at the dinner table with most of the women in the new class that the majority of them have known each other for the last several years in a variety of ways.

After hearing some ideas for reaching out into the community as a class, including going to a place to socialize in the evening so we can become regulars there and be an open group that non-Christians can feel comfortable with, I felt even more lost. “Happy hour” isn’t too happy when you have three small children. I love my brothers and sisters in Christ, and we’re all doing our best, but I don’t know how I fit in and what I can do to make this feel more natural.

Getting the picture of why I feel discouraged today? Anyway, just pray the funk lifts, and I can move onward and upward with confidence…