library day.

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I know I’ve written about books and kids before, but I thought it was time to do it again. Mostly for selfish reasons; few things make me happier than children’s books.

When my kids were very little, we went to the library nearly every week, as much to play with the stuffed animals and puzzles and foam building blocks, as to stock up on books.

Nowadays, I request most of our books online, which my mother-in-law picks up for us. But once a month or so we like to go in person to browse the shelves. I choose lots and lots of picture books, and yesterday was the closest I’ve ever come to my 60-book limit (thankfully the older three have their own library cards!).

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We recently bought a new coffee table, and besides something sturdy we can put our feet up on (or sit on, if you’re certain members of the family), my other non-negotiable was a bottom shelf for library books.

We keep the books strewn across the living room for the first day or so, then the adult books go into a basket, and the big kids take their choices to their bedroom. The picture books stay beneath the coffee table. I’ve found that I’m much more likely to pick up a couple of books to read in a spare 15 minutes when they’re highly visible.

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A word about character books, like Star Wars and Ninjago. Call me a bad mom but I refuse to read these to my kids. Judah will read them to his younger brothers, or he and Amie can read to themselves. I’m sorry. I just can’t. Thankfully thus far no one seems emotionally damaged by it.

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Gabe and Noah may each pick out 4 books from the library. I choose everything else for them — but I’m always thinking about books they’ll really enjoy. Finding those books for all of my kids is a challenge I love.  I’ll include my favorite children’s picture book lists at the bottom of this post. By this time we’ve also discovered many favorite authors which we reread. We have wonderful book displays at the downtown Columbia library where I find other ideas.

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I’m enormously thankful for audiobooks for Amie, who struggles with reading. She’s currently listening to Little Women, and recently has enjoyed the Mary Poppins series, The Five Children and It, and Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm.

This allows her to listen to books at her comprehension level, then practice with lower level reading books and not feel discouraged. I allow her to get as many of these books as she wants, because she plows through them quickly (I think she checked out 30 yesterday).

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You may think with someone as obsessed with reading as I am, that I’m determined to raise readers. I’d love to do that, but it’s not something I’d ever want to force on my kids. I want it to be a joy. I just make sure there’s lots of reading material available (and am known to leave random stacks of picture books in various conspicuous places in our house), and that we read together often. I’m sure it doesn’t hurt that they see their dad and I enjoying reading our own books. We read in front of them, because I want them to see us take time for ourselves and have hobbies.

I’ve never once given my kids a set amount of time and told them they need to go sit and practice reading. But thus far, they all love books!

If your child struggles to enjoy reading, I’d suggest trying lots of different kinds of books (even nonfiction books about science or wildlife or sports) until you find something that catches their interest. And if reading is just hard for them, audiobooks are a great option. Actually, Judah is a great reader and he still listens to audiobooks about half the time. He enjoys being able to listen to a book and build Legos simultaneously.

When we adopted Gabe and Noah they didn’t have an attention span at all, very limited vocabulary, and hadn’t been read to before. So we read board books for a long time. We still sometimes do because we just don’t want to give our favorites up!

They struggle to pay attention to chapter books yet — although they love short story audiobooks like this one — but that doesn’t bother me. They have the rest of their lives to read chapter books, I’m all for stretching the picture book stage out as long as possible. Actually both Judah and Amie still often drift over to read picture books with us on the couch. I’m pretty sure all of us would benefit from reading good picture books on a regular basis (and C.S. Lewis says that the mark of the best children’s literature is that grown-ups enjoy them too).

If you’re having a lousy day at home and nothing seems to be going right, may I suggest stopping everything to read books with your kids? This practice has never once failed to cheer us up. It’s hard to be in a bad mood while reading The Cat in the Hat, or Arthur’s Loose Tooth or The Penderwicks. If you don’t have kids, may I suggest finding little people to read to? It will make you happy. I love when my cousin babysits for us, becomes she comes armed with a bag of picture books.

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My other favorite thing about Library Day in our house, is that Gabe and Amie set up the living room like a library and play “librarian” for at least an hour.

The public library is a gift. After living without one in India for close to two years, I don’t think I’ll ever take it for granted.

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Our favorite book lists for kids:

Read-Aloud Revival (sign up for email updates to receive their book lists)

Sonlight (this is a homeschool curriculum, but you can look under each grade for booklists, make sure to click on the “What’s Included” tab. Also you can request a free catalog in the mail to see all their booklists in one place)

Simply Charlotte Mason

I don’t know if you’ve seen this on Amazon, but if you search for a book your kids enjoy, you’ll get other recommendations in a similar style. I use this tool for every member of our family!



the workshop.

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Four years ago, we had eight pine trees removed from our yard. David planted a garden and built Judah and Amie a magical play house in the corner.

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Less than two years later, Gabe and Noah arrived on the scene to help enjoy it.

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As cute as it’s always looked in our backyard, the playhouse has always been a bit of a sore subject in our family. And by that I mean, No one really played in it. It’s true. David spent hours buying lumber and building and painting this totally unique clubhouse for the kids, and then one day some neighbors gave us their tattered old trampoline, and it’s been the object of everyone’s affection ever since.

Sigh.

Not that I’m complaining. My biggest piece of advice to any mom of boys I meet is: Get a trampoline. It will change your life.

So here we are, in 2018, and David decided it’s time to move on to bigger and better things, namely: a workshop.

He disassembled the playhouse and friends from church were happy to take it off our hands. Then he bought some plans online for $30, and proceeded to begin building his Dream Workshop.

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Here it is thus far. Yes, it’s big.

It took me awhile to get used to a 12×16 structure looming over our yard, but now it seems normal, as normal as anything seems in our ever-evolving yard.

David began building the workship while I reread The First Four Years, by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and we were amazed to discover that the claim shanty Laura and Almanzo and baby Rose moved into was 12×16. Can you imagine?

And you know what’s hilarious?

The kids play in it constantly.

The star of this workshop is going to be the 48-paned window David’s dad found at the Habitat Restore. Actually, he found two: one for himself, and one for David. We’re hoping Steve uses his for a writing shed.

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David’s in the process of deglazing it (yes, that’s probably lead paint on the ground so the kids have had a firm warning). Steve also gifted us this beautiful white door and installed it for us the week after Christmas when David and I were laid up sick.

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David plans to use his workshop to store all of his tools, to do projects (like hopefully build me a bookcase for our bedroom), and probably most of all, keep his gardening operation working. This year he transitioned from using seedlings to starting everything from seed. This means trays of seeds are currently being stored in our house. I am okay with that only on a temporary basis.

The workshop will give him a launching place to garden to his heart’s content.

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Right now, it’s fun to see the kids enjoy it. This is the look I got when asking Gabe and Noah if they’d gotten into Daddy’s tools:

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Their favorite pastime is using the workshop for sports announcing . . .

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It’s a shame they don’t have any personality!

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It’s been a cold January in South Carolina, so everything in our yard looks very brown right now. But one day, the workshop will be painted and the garden thriving and it will be a place of color and butterflies and life.

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good-bye goose and penny.

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Before we left for our beach vacation, it was time to say good-bye to two of our girls. All along we planned for six hens; David built a coop and a run for six hens. But then when they all lived and all turned out to be females, our emotions got in the way and we wanted to keep them.

But the chickens started getting aggressive towards each other and David wondered if they were feeling overcrowded. So we decided to give away the two who were getting picked on by the others. Sadly, that meant they were also our sweetest-natured girls: Goose and Penny. But that’s the way life works sometimes.

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Amie cried and cried when we told her. She was heart-broken. But a family in our neighborhood was happy to give them a home. They have one chicken and seven children, and so there are lots of helping hands to take care of them. Amie was comforted to know the new owners are our friends and she can go visit the girls when she wants. Their new owners even told her, “We want to keep their names!”

Really, it was a perfect scenario.

We read that moving chickens in the evening is less traumatic because they can go right to bed in their new coop, so Goose and Penny’s new “dad” came over for them with two cat crates and a wagon. Judah and Amie walked over to see them settled into their home.

And I had a very sad girl on my hands that night. She cried and I made chamomile tea and we cuddled in bed and read her current chapter book together until she dozed off.

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The next day we left for the beach, which was a great distraction. By the time we got home, Goose and Penny were happily settled and laying eggs for their new family, and Amie felt much better.

And our remaining six chickens seem happier too. A friend told us they may all calm down a bit after they start laying, and it’s true. I’m so happy that Gabe and Noah can now catch them. While we were away Mum-Mum introduced them to their new favorite treat: dried worms. Now they’re hooked. If we shake the bag; they come running.

If only the girls would quiet down a bit, I’d be relieved. They’ve gotten noisy and I’m always worried about what the neighbors think. They are very opinionated and do not like to be kept waiting for breakfast in the morning, or to see us walk out into the yard without opening their coop so they can range free. Turns out we’re kind of push-overs, so for the most part, they range free.

We’re pretty sure they’re all laying now and we get an average of 4 eggs a day, sometimes more. Yes, the eggs taste delicious. If you can believe it, we actually can keep up with eating all they’re producing, although we also want to share.

Amie, Gabe, and Noah make me laugh with how much they adore playing with the chickens. All three of them have gotten pecked in their actual eyeball, have cried about it, and go on cuddling them as much as ever.

We miss you, Goose and Penny!

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this week.

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You guys are truly the best. Thanks so much for checking in to see how we’re coping with our house craziness. Here’s a few things we’ve been up to this week:

– Gabe turned six years old on Saturday! We celebrated with a walk at the Farmer’s Market in the morning, and then met cousins and birth family at a splash pad in the afternoon. He got some fun gifts and felt very special. Six is when you start getting a weekly allowance at our house so he’s pretty excited about that too.

– David and I celebrated 13 years of marriage on Monday. Guess what our totally awesome anniversary gift was: we got to move into our new bedroom! That’s right, it’s pretty much completely finished. We even postponed the anniversary date night Steve and Linda gave us in order to hunker down and hang blinds and move furniture. It was amazing.

Like I said, it’s not finished and my temptation is to wait to show you photos until it matches the Pinterest-worthy image in my head, but you know what? That’s silly. When is anything in real life truly Pinterest-worthy? You’ve been cheering us on the whole time. So I’ll be posting some photos this week.

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– David’s anniversary gift to me was to buy a CSA share with a local farm. It lasts for 18 weeks and we pick up our produce on Saturday mornings at the Soda City Market downtown. We joined a CSA years ago in PA when Judah was just a baby and I’ve always wanted to try it again.

There have been many years in between where it was simply not a priority for our family, but I’ve been day-dreaming about reconnecting with this passion. There’s something magical about casting your lot with one farm, for better or for worse, and getting to know the people who grow your food. Happy Earth Farm is about 45 minutes away and we plan to take the kids out soon. They even have an Airbnb glamping tent if we want to stay for a night!

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In the meantime, I met Steve and Karen on Saturday and instantly liked them. Who wouldn’t melt at the sight of those cute cloth bags? And I’m not kidding, the food is just plain delicious. Suddenly our salads have sparkle and verve again. My favorite part of our first produce share was the recipes Karen included. I feel like David didn’t just give me food, but a hobby.

– Speaking of hobbies, Amie started a six-week sewing class on Friday that a neighbor is putting on for a few girls. She came bounding home with great enthusiasm, and a notebook syllabus full of homework and a fun schedule for the summer. If you’re wondering whether I’m the sewing type, I’m desperately not. But I love that my girl is excited about this and vow to do all I can to help her practice this summer. Thankfully I get to sit in on the class with her. And there’s always YouTube to help us out in a pinch, right?

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– You may be wondering whether I’ve given David his anniversary gift yet: our backpacking trip, and the answer is “no.” We’re going Thursday and Friday of this week. As you can see, we practiced setting up our (adorable! new!) two-person backpacking tent this weekend and wearing our packs. Don’t I look like I know what I’m doing!?

If you’re also wondering how a not-so-rugged girl like me is gonna do for two days in the sticks with no running water (and, um, no restroom), the answer is “Who knows!?” But I’m game to try something new! And no matter what, two days of just the two of us is going to be fun. It’s like a sort of marital team-building exercise, right?

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– Guys, I love summer, but I don’t love being out of our regular routine. Wait: I say this every.single.year don’t I? So now that things are slowing down with the renovation, I’m going to sit down tomorrow and write out a little schedule for us. Hear me out: I don’t do it to be rigid and over-bearing.

I just realized that what I want from summer is to spend unhurried time with my children. But somehow, when we don’t have a routine, I don’t slow down and spend time with them, I just find new, non-homeschooling things to busy myself with.  I start thinking that what my kids need is to be entertained, but what if they just need me?

I’m fairly good at being a chauffeur yet terrible about just relaxing and really connecting with each of them. So that’s what our routine will consist of. Also, remember chores? Remember baking projects? Yeah. That’s not really happening either. So this week is about getting us organized to make good use of our summer. If you have any ideas I’d love to hear them.

– Finally, I’m trying to be very selective about internet time these days, but one of my favorite bloggers and her family are spending a couple of months in China, working with kids in a foster home. It makes me so happy to follow along with their adventures. You should check them out.

Happy Memorial Day, my friends!



all about the chickens.

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Are you tired of chicken pictures yet?

I just can’t resist. What’s cuter than kids and chickens!?

Our flock of eight is 4 months old now, which is hard to believe (the chickens are a week older than our master bedroom addition project). A pullet is a female chicken that’s less than a year old; we call ours “teenagers” right now. They typically start laying at around 6 months. And if you can believe it, we won’t know until close to then for sure that they’re all females, so we use the term “pullet” in faith.

We’ve had some friends say they were certain they had all girls until they suddenly started hearing a distinct “cock-a-doodle-doo,” and had to go searching to find its source.

But we couldn’t resist naming them all, and Amelie continues to pray against roosters.

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Everyone in the family got to name one, and Amie got to name three because, after all, she’s their mother. So here’s the line-up and the breeds, we’ve got two of each:

Wyandotte (pronounced Wine-dot). They’re the strikingly pretty black and white chickens Amie is holding in the photo, and are our largest and feistiest birds. They’re a bit aggressive for my taste, but Amie is very devoted, despite receiving several nasty scratches. She named them Eleanor and Scarlett. They’re strong women.

Black Star. These are black-and-copper-colored. Noah named one Goose almost immediately after we got the chicks and it stuck. I called the other Penny.

Minorca.  The Minorcas are all-black. Gabe chose the name Flowie (short for “Flower”), and Amie named the other, our smallest bird, Lola. Flowie and Lola are the speediest girls of the bunch.

Maran: These two ladies are black and white speckled. Judah’s is called Bellatrix, which you understand if you know Harry Potter (and I suppose reveals what he really thinks about chickens as pets), and David named his bird Annie, after his two favorite authors, Annie Proulx and Annie Dillard.

We’ll keep you posted about which breeds turn out to be the best layers. In the meantime, we love their funny little personalities, and Amelie is definitely the only only of us who can keep all the names straight.

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Thus far, owning chickens has proved to as delightful as it sounds. We read that they’re the easiest pets to care for, and have found it to be true. Amie takes care of all their food and water, and David changes the straw in their coop once a week. We can compost both straw and poop.

Feed for eight chickens costs about $30 a month. I’m not sure how much the straw costs exactly, but it’s quite inexpensive. Don’t ask how much materials and time for the coop cost. Think of it more as a work of art.

Now, like I mentioned, chickens do produce a lot of poop. Though their coop is larger than standard for eight chickens, for awhile we let them free range in our backyard all day. However, we soon became a bit overwhelmed with clean-up (I feel like they deliberately poop on our patio and picnic table), so now we let them out for a couple hours a day. It’s sure hard to resist their longing clucks when we walk outside in the morning. They just love to be free to roam (kind of like our children).

They walk saucily through the garden beds whenever they can get away with it, but haven’t tried to eat anything. Our favorite is when they roost on the playhouse ladder.

We haven’t had trouble with predators yet. Our backyard is securely enclosed, and since we’re in the middle of our neighborhood, rather than bordering the woods, we haven’t seen raccoons. We do have a hawks that like to circle over our yard from time to time, so we keep an eye on them. It’s pretty amazing how chickens instinctively seek cover and are able to blend in with their surroundings, but so many friends have lost chickens to other animals that we don’t want to get lazy.

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The larger the chickens grow, the more difficult it is for Gabe and Noah to catch and hold them, which makes me so happy that we got them as newborns. Holding chickens often supposedly makes them more mild-mannered, although this has not exactly proven to be the case with Scarlett and Eleanor. Come to think of it, maybe it has. How much worse would they behave if they were left to their own devices!? So the kids still play with them lots.

And it’s about the most charming thing in the world to be pulling weeds or reading a book in the pavilion and have a little flock of chickens rooting around for bugs in the pine straw. There’s something about having a happy animal nearby that just makes life better.

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Yes, four months in, we’re very happy chicken owners.

If you’ve got kids and are thinking of getting chickens, as several of our friends are, I’d definitely wait until the kids are old enough to help with the chores. It will make your life easier, and as with any pets, it’s a great way for them to learn responsibility.

We’ve decided we aren’t indoor pet people, but now I’m wondering . . . should we get a rabbit??

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rim of the gap.

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By David

A few weeks ago I grabbed Judah and Amie and headed to one of my favorite places, Jones Gap State Park, a stone’s throw from the North Carolina border and a million miles from distracted days in Columbia.

Weighted down with snacks, books, stuffed animals, and a thermos of coffee, we chatted on and off on during the two-hour drive.  At one point I asked Judah to read aloud from Romans 10.  Amie had asked the night before how someone could be sure they were a Christian.  And so we talked about what it means to confess and believe.

I think that both our older kids are born again, both with very different expressions – Amie loud, confessional, eager; Judah quiet, steady, willing.  I’ve seen Amie sob over sin.  I’ve heard Judah say very simply, “I know God is real because he’s helped me in hard places.”  I have learned so much from both of them.

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Our first stop was Tandem Creperie in Traveler’s Rest, my favorite breakfast in the universe.  If I ever land on death row, I’ll be choosing my last supper between a pimento cheese burger from the Whig bar in Columbia and a Tandem lumberjack crepe.  We loaded up on carbs and more coffee and basked in a glutinous stupor.

Thirty minutes later, we pulled into the park and headed to the ranger’s station.  I’d hiked most of the trails there on my own or with friends but somehow missed the Rim of the Gap trail, touted as one of the top five hardest hikes in South Carolina.  The ranger took one look at Judah and Amie and said, “You know, I don’t see too many kids that age do this trail.  Actually any.  Why don’t you try the waterfall?”

Judah and Amie must have smelled the condescending tone.  Or else they misheard him.  We came for Rim of the Gap and we were going to do Rim of the Gap.  Or bleed trying.  Which we did.

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The weather was overcast and cool, the river water high.  We saw all kinds of animals: turkey, chipmunk, butterflies, salmon, snakes, salamanders.  We walked, jogged, scrambled up and over eight miles of rugged terrain.  I held Amie a few times.  We stopped every thirty minutes or so for a breather.  From parking lot to parking lot we were on the trail for five hours.

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My general rule of thumb is that I like to be hiking slightly longer than I spent driving to get there and back.  We did that and then some.  I couldn’t be more proud.

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There’s something to be said about quantity time over quality time, long hours in each other’s company, with nature unfurling before us one step at a time.  Breathing hard, single file, without a word between us is it’s own kind of intimacy.  I cherish these memories and can’t wait to share them with Gabe and Noah.

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our additions.

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Notice I said additions, not addition. I don’t have house addition news quite yet, but we got a few other additions in the meantime.

Eight, to be exact.

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David has been wanting chickens literally since the summer we moved back from India. That’s when he developed an enthusiasm for having a backyard homestead. He decided bee-keeping may be a bit ambitious, but built our garden the month we bought our house (number one priority). The time hasn’t been quite right for chickens (number two priority).

Thankfully David’s parents, Steve and Linda, moved from Pennsylvania into our neighborhood two years ago and got chickens soon after. We lived vicariously through them for awhile, got to help out with the chores, and loved being out in their “living back yard.”

The chickens provided a source of endless entertainment for our three youngest, animal-loving kids, especially Amie. The chickens were Mum-Mum’s girls, but I think they were also her girls.

Last and best of all, we got free eggs, and they were delicious.

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Steve and Linda decided to give away their chickens for a few reasons this winter, and we were all disappointed, but Amie cried and cried.

In the weeks since, we’ve been surprised by how much we really miss having them around, and we miss their eggs.

It seems the time is finally right.

And so here we are, today, with eight two-day old chicks, who will live in our basement for a few weeks until they’re old enough to move to a coop (which David will build). We are all enamored.

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Everyone will get to name one when they’re older and we figure out their gender (any roosters have to go away because of the city regulations). We will all learn how to help take care of them. I can’t wait to teach them to eat slugs, which are prolific in our yard in warm weather. Ugh.

Amie told us, “This is the best day in my whole universe. I’m begging God not to let any of them die. Can I sleep with them tonight?”

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P.S. I know I’m running late, but I’m just about finished with my children’s bookshelf post! Happy Friday!!



six things on friday.

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Happy Friday, dear friends!

Here are six things that are making my life a little happier these days:

1. We have a holiday and birthday cinnamon roll tradition. David’s birthday was October 7, but we had a few busy weekends in a row, so I finally made his cinnamon rolls this week. Homemade cinnamon rolls are something I was intimidated by until my friends in India showed me how very easy they are. Now I’m teaching Amie how to make them.

If you’re interested, here’s our tried-and-true recipe. I prepare them the night before and then bake them the next morning and whip up a quick glaze.

2. A monumental event happened in our house yesterday: at 11:45 AM I told my children I was going in my room to exercise for 30 minutes, and I’d make their lunch when I was finished. Well, they got hungry and decided to make their own lunch (peanut butter and jelly sandwiches), and the big kids made one for Noah.

Of course they scampered in and out of the room asking questions, chatting with me, picking up free weights to follow along, but I did it! I did the entire work-out and when I was finished: my kids had eaten lunch, carried their dishes to the sink, and we could move on with our day!

This may just be the dawn of a new era, folks.

3. One more note on fitness. A few weeks ago, David and I started ROMWOD, which is the CrossFit daily stretching program. I am not a CrossFit person and doubt I ever will be, but I can carve out 15 minutes a night to stretch alongside my husband. We do it immediately after we put Gabe and Noah to bed, and the big kids often join in. It feels very restful (so much so that Amie has been known to fall asleep on the floor by the end of the routine).

This habit has been so, so good for us! I’m gaining some flexibility, my posture is improving, and my form is better when I exercise. Perhaps best of all is that my psychiatrist and doctor have been after me to do daily deep breathing exercises for my anxiety, and ROMWOD includes that.

Having said all of this, fitness and exercise still do not come naturally for me. I’m learning that, at the end of the day, taking care of my body doesn’t involve some grand game plan or even subscribing to an expensive program but small, daily choices to get up and move around.

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4. I’m cautiously optimistic that my anxiety is lessening. I don’t know if it’s the deep breathing, the medication, the therapist, prayer, boundaries, or all of the above, but David and I noticed this week that in some ways I seem to be much more like my old self.

Anxiety is a funny thing: I can now become obsessed with looking for these improvements and then spiral down if I have one bad day, so I’m trying to be very even-keel about these latest victories. We had a wonderful new members’ class at our house two weeks ago with 40 people here. I felt happy and calm and loved cooking chili for them all. And we’ve had a couple other social events this past week that I thought would send me into a tail-spin of panic, but turned out to be enjoyable.

Now the other temptation is to say, “I’m all better!” and start stacking back up commitments and obligations. So I’ll resist that. My life continues to be stream-lined to the barest of necessities. And when once in awhile we add something in and it goes well, I give thanks.

I know this probably deserves a blog post on its own, but I really can’t describe how good this time of my extreme limitations has been for my family. I’m home more. I’m not rushing around frantically trying to please a whole load of people and live up to an image I’ve given myself. I have more energy for homeschooling and for gardening and exercising.

I feel like I’m truly learning, in tiny fits and starts, to live out of a place of rest instead of a place of performance and striving.

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5. I’ve started my first bullet journal!

This is something I’ve had my eye on nearly this whole calendar year, through the blogs I follow. At its simplest, bullet journaling is just using a blank notebook to create your own day planner and organizer, tailor-made to your needs. I thoroughly read these two posts as I got started: one from the official Bullet Journal website, and this detailed one from the Lazy Genius Collective, and at their advice, practiced for a couple of weeks in a cheap notebook to make sure I like the method.

Per both of those websites (and a post here for all you Modern Mrs. Darcy lovers), my bullet journal is very plain and simple. No fancy drawings or artwork. I love looking through the elaborate journal spreads on Pinterest but I know that trying to keep up with that would stress me out. So I stick to the basics.

The biggest reason I like the bullet journal method: all the random thoughts and bits of paper scattered throughout the house and notes on my phone and craziness in my head are now consolidated into one place. It travels with me in my purse. It keeps me from staring at a screen. I even use my bullet journal for my grocery list.

David has seen how well this new system is working for me, and ordered his own notebook today. Actually Amie started her own bullet journal with a pretty notebook someone gave her, and it doesn’t surprise me at all that thus far her pages are as fancy and colorful as mine are plain. I love it. Soon I’ll give you a blog post with our favorite tips.

6. And finally, the things we see/hear on news are depressing, but there is so much good in the world, you guys. Let’s look for the good and also be apart of the good, in small, faithful ways. One story: our friends from church, Ben and Jeanette, are approved to adopt a five-year-old boy from China (see photos of him on Instagram @thewalkersadopt). They had an adoption fundraiser on Sunday night with live music, chili, and s’mores, similar to ours in 2014.

And they raised $10,000 in one night.

That is just one example of many I could tell in the life of our church and our community. The generosity and courage of the people around us is heartening. God is at work.

Have a wonderful weekend!

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