Wednesday, May 4, 2016

What's Up Wednesday?

Ok, I'm posting this picture to throw you off a bit, because I'm about to get personal here and I want to distract you with this adorable baby girl, Emmalyn James (don't you just love her name?).

So, it's What's Up Wednesday, where I fill you in on what's been going on this week and though we've had other things happening, the only thing I can focus on is the fact that I'm 50 years old and will be getting braces in two weeks.    Yes, you heard that right......braces!

With that said, let me point out that I am about to get very humble over the next two years, starting with this post, where I point out my smile and what's wrong with it.

As you can see, my tooth is moving in the wrong direction and according to the orthodontist, it will continue to move as the years go by, leaving me more and more unhappy with my own smile.

This has been a gradual thing, but combined with TMJ, which has left my entire bite a bit crooked, it was time to get brave and do something about it.

And, let me tell you, you have not lived until you sit in the orthodontist's office and decide whether you want ceramic braces, which are much less noticeable, but bulkier in your mouth, or just plain old metal, which are less bulky, but stick out like a freight train coming down the tracks.   Yeah, this was my day yesterday!

So, I chose the metal because, HEY, if you're going to do it, you might as well just do it and get over yourself!

Invisible braces sound great, but braces are bulky enough without adding more bulk to your front lip and ain't nobody got time for that!

Just get the traditional metal and call it a day (or two years).

Ok, all that being said, I'm actually excited about this because with every single picture of myself, I get more and more aware of my crooked tooth.

After the dental appointment, my plan was to do my weekly grocery shopping.  I grabbed a little chicken wrap at Chick-Fil-A and sat in my car for lunch (remember my post on Monday?) and all I could think about was what I would or would not be able to eat in two weeks.

Could I still eat these delicious chicken wraps?  Lettuce? Almonds? Gum?

What would become of all my bad habits?!! And then, HEY, maybe I'll lose weight AND straighten my smile!  Now THAT would be worth getting my wires tightened every six weeks!

When I finished my lunch, I headed over to the grocery store and was painfully aware that I was loading my basket with carbs!  Was this some kind of involuntary hoarding of food, for fear I would never eat again, due to my mouth being so sore?

I really can't say, but I just went for it anyway and threw a few proteins and veggies in for good measure.

I mean, who knows?  I may never eat again, except through a straw, so I need to keep up my strength over the next few weeks, just in case......RIGHT?

Have you had braces?  Would you be brave enough to get them now?

Come on! Give me some stories.

On second thought.....only give me the good stories.  I know how people love to share their horror stories and apparently I'm susceptible to hoarding carbs, so don't push me over the edge like that!

Until Next Time......

Monday, May 2, 2016

When People Make You Awkward - Is it You or Is it Me?

Do you have a problem with awkwardness or is it just me?

I was telling some friends yesterday that I would rather sit in my car, alone in the parking lot, eating my lunch, than sit in a restaurant eating by myself.

At first hint of the Church Welcome, I want to crawl under the pew until the preacher says it's time to be seated.

And hugging.....can we just talk about hugging?

Should we, shouldn't we?  I will if you will.  "You're not a hugger, are you?"  "Really? When did I ever say that?"   I mean, hugging can apparently be the most awkward thing in the world!

Then there are those encounters that always put you on the defensive.

Someone who always has something negative to say, nearly every time you meet.  Those that, even when you are determined beyond reason, to be pleasant and kind, they shoot an arrow at you that sets you off and you walk away shaking your head that it turned awkward, once again.

Anybody with me here?

Do these things happen to you too or is it just me?

Is awkward verses not awkward the great divide?

In other words, some people don't care what anyone thinks.  They say and do whatever they want and don't even bother to look around for eyes on them.

Then the person who is painfully aware of every eyeball in the room, just about dies at the first awkward second and feels that whatever scene took place, the entire world just witnessed it.

My friends have often heard me say that I just want to go live on an island with monkeys because the awkwardness sometimes feels like it's too much.

Humans are difficult.

Then this morning I caught myself asking if it's always me or could someone else actually be the blame for the reoccurring awkward moments and I've decided that the answer is a huge YES.

Yes, I am often the one who feels the awkwardness.
Yes, I am often the one who walks away and wonders how we got from Point A to Point B.
Yes, I am often the one who ends up berating myself for not acting or reacting properly.

But, this morning.....

This morning I let myself off the hook.

This morning I had to give someone else the credit for being the awkward one.

It's not always me.

I'm not always at fault.

Some people are just awkward.

Humans are difficult.

So, the next time you see me, give me a hug!  I love hugs!  But, if you say something awkward while you're giving it, I can't guarantee that I won't get awkward right back at you.

Then who's fault will it be?

Happy "No Awkwardness" Monday!

Until Next Time.....

Friday, April 29, 2016

WHY Do I Homeschool?

Well, today is the last post in the Week of WHY's series and we're ending with a question that I've heard many times over the past 19 years - WHY do I homeschool?

Over the years, certain aspects of this answer have changed and some have remained the same.

As far as how we got started with homeschooling, you can read about that HERE.

Homeschooling, for us, started out with a very strong intent of wanting to be the biggest influence in our children's lives.  

I wanted to teach my children from my worldview, which was a Christian worldview, and not have them sitting under the teaching of strangers and peers, 8 hours a day.  (Yes, teachers are strangers with their own set of beliefs and opinions, that they inadvertently share with your children.  Peers are just annoyingly influential.)

I wanted my kids to know about Jesus and not be dictated to about when and where they could mention his name.

I wanted to be in control of the content that my kids focused on, day in and day out. 

I wanted my kids to enjoy learning rich content and not how to fill in a bubble on a standardized test.

And, most of all I didn't want to have to undo all the untruths at the end of the day, such as the whole "we came from monkeys" argument.  

Over the years we studied and learned and played and read and traveled and did all the things that I wanted to do with my kids.

And over the years I fell more and more in love with both of them.

Eventually homeschooling went from an intentional choice of protecting their hearts and minds, to the greatest joy of building little humans, while encouraging them and guiding them and having talks about life and death and everything in between. 

Homeschooling built our family in a way that separation never would.

We shared our days together.   I didn't have to ask my kids how their day was, because I already knew.

We traveled as a family. When dad went on business trips, so did we and we enjoyed the richness of other places as a family and we didn't need to get permission to do so.

We talked when they needed to talk.  I was always available to listen and talk to my kids.  They didn't have to turn inward or to immature peers for advice.  

We grieved when we lost someone.  When tragedy would hit our family, I didn't have to shove my kid off to school to hide their feelings for 8 hours.  We lived life as it came and my kids had the freedom to cry and feel, when those feelings came to them.

We had the ability to look at events - past and present - through the Bible and with our faith as a guide.   We didn't have to hide our faith until the bell rang, for fear of getting in trouble.

As the years went by and my kids turned into teenagers, I was able to adjust their schedules to allow for more sleep (which they really do need).

I was also able to adjust their studies to fit who they were and who God was leading them to be, not just sit them down with some arbitrary list of subjects that some random person thought they needed to know.  

Through homeschooling, my boys were allowed to spend time perfecting their gifts and skills, which led to them both being excellent musicians.  

Homeschooling allowed my kids to focus on areas that needed extra time and effort and really work at things until they understood them, rather than just move on to the next concept because the teacher needed to move on. 

Basically, the bottom line is, that homeschooling allowed my kids to be themselves and work toward all that God intended for them to be.   It cut out all the junk that clutters up the school system and just allowed my kids and my family to live life that revolved around God and family.

So, to answer the question now - 19 years later and only one year to go - homeschooling was and still is, a way of life, not just an educational choice.

I still teach at home because there is no one else who can instill love and family and God into my child like his father and I can.

Not one other person will care about my child's heart the way that we do.

And we get one chance to do this thing and this is how we've chosen to do it.

Do I believe that if you send your child to public school, you won't be close?  No.
Do I believe that your child won't be a Christian if you don't homeschool? No.
Do I believe your child won't be a good, upstanding citizen if you don't homeschool?  No.
Do I believe all teachers are bad?  All peers are bad?  All subject matter is bad?  No.

Do I believe environments matter?  Absolutely.
Do I believe 8 hours a day around certain people matter?  Absolutely.
Do I believe lies can be instilled in our kids through teachers?  Absolutely.
Do I believe some peers can be detrimental to a growing child?  Absolutely.

Do I believe everyone should homeschool?  For the love of kids everywhere - NO!

I used to have a passion about sharing homeschooling with others, but I became skeptical over the years because I have heard every single excuse there is, for why parents CHOOSE not to.

And, truthfully, there is a mom around every corner who has disproved every single one of those excuses!  (Shout out to all my single mom friends who still homeschool!  You rock!)

Homeschooling is not just an educational option.  

Homeschooling is a way of life.

And for us, it's one that I would choose a thousand times if I had to.

**Thanks for sticking around all week!  I hope you've enjoyed learning some WHY's about me and what I do.  I've enjoyed sharing them.**

Until Next Time.....

Thursday, April 28, 2016

WHY Do I Blog?

Welcome back to the Week of WHY's series! 

Today I'm going to answer the question  - WHY do I blog?  

I remember the first time I ever heard the word "BLOG."   It was back when bloggers were mostly political or public figures, who wrote about news, opinions and what was going on in Washington or New York.  

Then, not too many years after that, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine crew started one for all the homeschooling moms, called Homeschool Blogger, and they had to walk us through the blogging world, because it was truly a new thing.

That's where I met so many great people!  Moms just like me - in the trenches with our kids, day after day - researching, teaching, succeeding and failing (in our own minds) and sharing it all with our fellow blogging moms, for friendship and support.

I am still friends with many of those moms and I treasure each and every one of them.

For those early years, at Homeschool Blogger, I mainly wrote about our day to day life of homeschooling.  It was a great outlet and like I said, great encouragement.  

Then one day, one of my fellow blogging moms said she had found a new platform called Blogger and she was moving her blog there, so I decided to check it out.   That's when I discovered that bloggers were so much more than just homeschool moms - they were budgeting moms, creative moms, coupon moms, DIY moms, recipe moms, and so many other types of moms!

It was like a whole new world opened up on this new platform and invited me in to share my heart and my day to day interests.

I began to really write from my heart - devotional type stories - in the hopes that I would encourage other moms at home.  It was where my heart was then and still is today.

Blogging isn't just something I do, in order to show off my life.   

Blogging, for me, is something I do in order to encourage other moms and women that we are all struggling and all grasping and all barely making it sometimes.

I blog with the intention of connecting with someone on a level that they need connection.  

We all need friendship and at times, we all need to feel like there is someone else "out there" that gets what we're going through.

That's what blogging does for connects me to women who have either been through life or are going through life - even if their life is different than mine. 

I want to learn from others and I hope they learn through me, as well.

Something that I don't do in my writing is tear down my family.  

I don't share personal things about my kids or my marriage - simply out of respect for these people of mine.

I will share their victories, but I don't share their heartbreak, sins, downfalls, shortcomings or anything else that would tear them down.

I have been known to share my own hardships, sometimes in relation to others and how their actions have affected me, but I try to do that in a way that is vague and not harmful.   Honestly, I have failed miserably at that, at times, and have had to go back and erase things that were said in haste.

Such is the life of a writer.

But, ultimately, to answer the original question of WHY do I blog, the answer is this.....

Because God gave me this gift of words and when I don't share them I'm miserable and when I do share them, I feel fulfilled.   Simple as that.

Blogging isn't for everyone.  Let's face it.....we don't need everyone to be a blogger!  We need some to be readers!

But, those who are bloggers know that it's something that comes from within and begs to be shared and I, for one, am so grateful to have this platform to share my heart with all of you. 

So, whether you're a fellow blogger or a welcomed reader - I'm thankful for you!

Now go read some blogs!

Until Next Time......

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

What's Up Wednesday?

We interrupt this Week of WHY's to bring you a What's Up Wednesday!

What's Up Wednesday is where I give you a recap of 
what's been going on in my life 
since the last What's Up Wednesday, so here goes:

(Collin and his best friends)

The latter part of last week was spent shopping for PROM, making decorations for PROM, actually decorating for PROM and chaperoning the PROM.

Needless to say.....I'm PROMmed out!

Thank goodness those things only come around once a year!

Then, bright and early Sunday morning, we were off to our church, then off to Collin's church to witness the 2nd Annual Student Takeover, where the youth take charge of the entire service, from start to finish.  Pretty cool, huh?

On Student Takeover day, the youth band plays all the music, the youth production team runs the sound, cameras, lights, big screen, and all things production.   The youth choir sings, the youth greet you at the door and several youth give their testimonies about how God has been real in their lives.

And, they do it three times in a row, for three services!!

Here's a sample of what we witnessed that morning:

(The video starts out a little blurry, but it will straighten out, I promise!)

Later that night we had the privilege of attending our oldest son's church for a night of worship and got to end our day by listening to Ted sing.  

It's a rare day that we get to hear both of our boys lead worship.  It does this mama's heart good.

By Monday, we were ready to settle down a bit and just get back to boring.   However, that seems to rarely be the case around here, so Monday night we spent the evening helping Ted and Alex clean their soon-to-be-new-home, which we were more than glad to do.   We got to spend time with our kids and Emmy and even if we were scrubbing and vacuuming, it's the time that counts!

Now, it's back to school planning and trying to find time to continue the GATHER art course I started last week.

That is, until the next "urgent" thing comes up.

So......what have YOU been up to?

Until next time.....

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

WHY Do I Still Say YES To Book Reviews?

Continuing on with the Week of WHY, I thought I'd answer a question that I often ask myself.....

WHY do I still do book reviews?

The answer is simple......I can't pass up a FREE book!

Call it an addiction or an obsession or just a love of something FREE, but I cannot say NO when asked if I'll review a book.  Well, let me rephrase that - a book that actually interests me.

I have said NO to a few requests, just because I was too busy or the book subject didn't interest me, but that hasn't happened very often.

I mainly review for BookLook Bloggers, just because they have an amazing selection of books and I have the process down, so it's relatively painless to post my review.

But WHY do I take the time to even bother with FREE books?

Because I have loved books since the beginning of time!

My mom was always reading a book when I was growing up and I inherited her love for good stories.

And, I also love the look of books, the feel of books, a book-crowded bookshelf and a bargain rack of books at the book store.

I love the idea of one day (when I'm an empty nester, I guess), of working in the library and being surrounded by books all day, every day.  (But, I will not wear my hair in a bun!)

Books are magical to me.  Yep, that's right.

Every book represents someone's thoughts and imagination and knowledge about something important.

Each book has the potential to change your life or your thoughts or your outlook on something.

It just fascinates me that each little book holds such promise - even if it's just the promise of a great story.

All in all, I am just a lover of the written word and my preferred method is a hard copy book.

David always teases me that I'm a paper lover in an electronic age, but I don't care!  I'll fight for paper as long as I can still fight!

There are no amount of ebooks that can make you feel like you do when you walk by a bookshelf and see the actual covers and pages waiting to be explored.

So, that's why I keep saying YES to book reviews.

I can't pass up the chance to get to know one more author, one more book or explore one more great story.

And that just means that I need more bookshelves.

But, that's a post for another day.

Until Next Time....

Monday, April 25, 2016

A Week of WHY's

Do you remember when your kids were little and they would constantly ask you "WHY"?

"WHY is the sky blue and not green?"
"WHY do birds have wings?"
"WHY can't I put peas up my nose?"

I mean, the question of WHY could go on for days or at least until mom and dad couldn't take it anymore and we found ourselves saying "I don't KNOWWWWWWW!!!!!!!!"   Then they would slink off and give it up until the next thing fascinated them and the questions would start all over again.

Oh, little kids.  Don't you just love them?

Well, this week, I thought it would be fun to indulge our adult curiosity a bit and answer a few WHY questions about ourselves.  

So, I will be posting WHY posts all week and I would love for you to join in, either in the comments or on your own blog, and answer a few WHY's of your own.   If you're on Facebook, you can also post your comments HERE.

SO.......Here goes the fun!  Today I'll do a few smaller topics just to get us started:

WHY don't I wear dresses?
I don't know when it happened, but somewhere over the years I became very uncomfortable in dresses.  They seemed like too much work!  I'm a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl and I like it that way.  I only dress up to please society.

WHY coffee and not hot tea?
I have always loved the taste and smell of coffee.  Anything coffee flavored, be it candy, ice cream, cake - I love it all!  I think it might have happened way back when my dad would fix me coffee when I was little.   I'm a cold, sweet tea kind of girl.  I save hot tea for times when I am sick and I use it for medicinal purposes.

WHY haven't I ever colored my hair?
Well, this is a complicated answer - because I've seen some funky hair colors come out of salons and I have basically been afraid to ever take a chance on someone messing up my hair.  The thought of looking like a German shepherd on accident or like I had dipped my head into a can of maroon paint....  I mean, there are just so many bad scenarios!  However, the more gray hairs I see when I look in the mirror, the closer I get to taking that leap of faith.  Oh, my stomach is turning just thinking about it!

So, there you have it.  Some WHY's about me.

Over the week, I'll be answering some bigger topics, such as:

WHY do I still do book reviews?
WHY do I homeschool?
WHY am I a hospice volunteer?
WHY do I blog?

I hope you'll join me, at least in the comments or on Facebook, and play along for fun!

Until Next Time.....

Friday, April 22, 2016

Friday's Favorite Pictures

You know.....I've never been one to consistently follow a schedule in blogging, but I am challenging myself in that area right now because it's something I've always wanted to do.

So, my goal is to share some of my favorite pictures with you every Friday.   This helps me take more pictures during the week and challenges me to get creative.

Here are some that didn't necessarily happen this week, but they're still worthy of being some of my favorites.

The Tree (above) was a little surprise from my husband one day as he lured me outside.  It took me a few minutes to catch on, but I was thrilled once I saw it.   How romantic, right?

I love this picture!  Late one evening, after the kitchen was clean and most of the lights were off, I walked around the corner to see this guy longingly looking at my Ivy.   I had to grab my phone and snap a shot.   I felt kind of sorry for him, but I'm sure glad he didn't find his way in.

You will most likely see this photo again at some point, but I wanted to go ahead and share it now anyway.

This old lunchbox is a treasure to me.

The last time David and I went back to my dad's hometown, we stopped at an old piece of property  that once was the home of my great uncle.  There was no longer a house standing, but there was a dilapidated old barn with a car still inside.

David went inside the barn to look at the car and came out with this in his hands.

I can only assume it was my uncle's old lunchbox.

What a treasure, right?

There really is no telling how old it is and I won't let David clean it up (or barely touch it) because I want it kept just like it is.

And, lastly.....

The front porch, of course.

What can I say?  It calls to be photographed!

Now all I need are a few friends to sit in those chairs and enjoy some coffee with me.

I think I'll get right on that!  (But not today. Someone has Prom decorating to do!)

Until next time.....

Thursday, April 21, 2016

A Daily Battle

Have you ever noticed how easy it is to get in an argument?  (Well, unless you're one of those soft spoken, never say anything mean, sweet toned women.  More power to ya!)

That would not be me.

I have prayed for that to be me.
I have wanted that to be me.
I have determined that would be me.

But, so's not me.

I honestly don't go through my day looking for conflict.  No really.  But, because I can easily take a bite of someone else's bait, I'm frequently drawn into conversations that are less than fun.

My reactions are my problem.....THE problem.....and I am working on that.

No seriously, I am working on it and praying about it and trying to be more aware of dangling bait!

Don't Take The Bait!!

Does anyone else have this problem?

Here's a scenario for you.....

You're just having a conversation with someone and the next thing you know, they're bringing up something you did (that you've forgottten, but they haven't) over 20 years ago.   Really?

So now I'm at a crossroads.

I can either take the bait and react with an equally stupid comment, disdain, ridicule, backlash and all other manners of going mean girl or I can smile that smile that says "You're baiting me, but I'm not biting." and walk away.

Please, for the love of humanity (and my dignity) let me walk away!!!

I need to learn to walk away.

How do those calm - count to 10 - people do it?

My brain doesn't work like that!

My mouth and my brain are strangely connected in such a way that the minute my thought goes off, so does my mouth!

Help me!

And that, my friends, is a daily battle.

(They say confession is good for the soul.)

Until next time.....

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

What's Up Wednesday?

Well, it's Wednesday, so it's time for a What's Up Wednesday check-in......

Texas is once again flooding, as you can see by my front yard.  Of course, compared to Houston and people just East of me, this is nothing.  

Over the years, I've become very afraid of traveling in Houston when there is rain in the forecast, because you just never know when the highway is going to go under.  To think we were just there the day before all of this rain started, is pretty frightening.

(My first art journal page)

Meanwhile, in my cozy little farmhouse, Collin and I have been busy doing our thing.  For him, that looks like school work, music practice and watching some show he's been following online. 

 For me, I've been working on the creative course - GATHER - which I started on Monday.  

The first set of videos is about Praise and putting together an album of art and praises, so I've chosen to show you my first page and will thoughtfully consider sharing more later.  (Depends on how well I do!)

I also started a new Bible Study this week, with TimeWarpWife.   I am loving her new line of journals!  Go check them out on Amazon!

And, of course I'm reading a book......

I actually came upon this one by total accident!  I was reading another blog and she had a really cute thing going on in her house, concerning organization.   When she referenced this book.....well, you know I had to rush right over to Amazon and see what the fuss was all about!

And, somehow it magically appeared at my door about 3 days later! (That happens quite often.)

So far, it's a great read and I'm anxiously awaiting for this book to transform my housekeeping habits.
I'll keep you informed.

Today, at noon, I'm signed up to take a webinar on making your own printables, using Excel.  I've always wanted to get proficient at making my own forms, so I can create booklets and forms for my own use.

How in the world everything I've signed up for would end up in the same week, is beyond me!

But, it's been a rainy week, so where would I be anyway?

Thursday and Friday will be spent doing prep for the 4th Annual Homeschool Prom, which is Saturday night.

Can you say "last minute shopping?"  When you have a teen who is perfectly content wearing the same thing as last year and then your mom brain kicks in and you realize......he needs new clothes....three days before prom.

Don't judge me.

So, Thursday we will be forgoing all other important things, to frantically shop for new pants!

Hey, we all need a little excitement now and then, right?

And, there you have it....

What's Up Wednesday.

How is YOUR week going and WHAT'S UP with YOU?

Inquiring minds want to know!

Until next time.....