Dec 032017

December has appeared on the calendar  this year without much pomp and circumstance. Perhaps that is a good thing as we have had enough interesting things taking place this year.

This time last year we had been in our new location for a few weeks, were working on buying a “new” car, settling in to a new school, learning new home school laws, finding a church, and trying not to get lost while out grocery shopping.

The months following included buying a house, moving again, surgery, visiting family, yet another new school (the house we bought was zoned for a different school), dealing with anxiety, loss of a job, finding a new job, joining and becoming active in our new church, learning to ask for help, finding a few homeschool groups to become a part of, and beginning to say “Yes” to things again.

I am very okay with December’s quiet arrival.

I have had a lot of time to think, reevaluate, ponder, and all those other lovely verbs which mean that I have spent time in my introverted brain working through things. What have I found?

1. Material things do not necessarily have intrinsic value, even if they are priceless in my eyes. It is okay to let them go.  I miss our old car. After driving it for 12+ years, there were a lot of memories made with that vehicle. It was within a few thousand miles of reaching 300,000 miles. It was a manual, 5-speed, 18 year old car. The air conditioning no longer worked, one door would not open from inside, the hood was peeling thanks to a hail storm, it burned through a quart of oil between each gas fill-up, it sounded rough, one rear speaker didn’t work, the rear windows started to not stay up, and the reverse lights stopped working. It was also paid for and never refused to start. In other words, a face only a mother could love.

The final straw was when I realized my brake lights were not working.

We had already bought a car to replace this old one, so there was no reason to drive an unsafe, now illegal, vehicle. Not wanting to risk someone getting hurt, we chose not to resell it to another driver.

It felt like putting down the family pet, but it was time. I may have cried once…or twice. Then I remembered, it wasn’t the thing which held the memories, those were still with me. The memories, not the thing, is what had value.

2. You can only say “No” for so long. In an effort to get a handle on the changes taking place over the past two years, I began to say “No”, especially to things which took time and a commitment.  At first this was good and I was more relaxed, and the kids had calmer weeks.

Then I realized I was beginning to say “No” to things which I needed to keep balance in my life, to things which the kids really loved doing. It took me getting cranky and my husband asking when was the last time I did X, Y, or Z for me to realize I had taken things a bit too far.

3. If you are always anticipating the bad happening, you will lose your joy. While there was a time I had to be on my toes constantly, that time is no longer now. However, it had gotten to be a habit. By worrying about all that could go wrong, assuming that is how people around me would react in various situations, dread filled my days. There was no room to see the joy.

I had noticed my anxiety concerning situations where it made no sense.  I kept doing those activities because I knew what I was feeling was irrational. It took a few conversations with key people to see the habit I had fallen into.

Once I was aware of this tendency I worked diligently to change. I was amazed at how quickly I was able to catch myself and adjust my view.

4. Rely on your friends and be someone others can rely on. Trying to fix things on my own, take care of everything on my own, not burden others…well, that is one area where Pride has a hold. Kind of ironic as my main love language is Acts of Service.

It took a family at our new church to show me how very okay it is to be honest and say, “I need help with_______.” The wife in this family was bold in asking for prayers concerning specific things, shared struggles they were facing, shared articles to help educate our congregation on particular issues their family was facing.

The response?


“Lifting you up now”

“You are not alone in this”

“When can we bring a meal”

“I am free to babysit on ____ if you need”

“Have you heard about (relevant professional)? We have had good experience with them/heard great things”

THEN someone found a way to help when they couldn’t otherwise – they made blankets to help raise funds to cover unexpected costs!

I expected the support to end after a few weeks, for people to forget, get busy with life, and move on.  I was wrong. This went on for months! 

Others had relatives pass away, broken bones, job losses, issues with kids… still the support kept coming. AND this family was there for others as well, in whatever capacity they could be at that time.

A year full of lessons, growth, new experiences, and blessings is almost to an end. While the typical month of thanksgiving has passed, I am wanting to continue to show my thanks to those around us.

Dear Readers, I appreciate you sticking with me through ups and downs, posts more about moving than gardening, months of quiet followed by a menagerie of posts (I was cleaning out my Drafts folder while trying to get back into the groove of posting), and other inconsistencies.

To show this appreciation, there will be a few giveaways in the upcoming weeks. They will include a variety of items, so keep checking back if a particular giveaway does not suite your fancy as the next one might.

First up, a coupon code to save $25 off a $100 purchase at Coldwater Creek.  This code is good through December 31, 2017.

The giveaway runs through Friday, December 8th. A winner will be chosen at random from all the entries and contacted on the 29th. You will have two days to respond before I chose another entry.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

$25 savings offer valid through 12/31/2017 on any merchandise purchase of $100 or more (exclusive of sales tax and shipping fees). For online, catalog and phone orders, use the code to redeem offer.  Offer can not be combined with any other offer. Discount not valid on previous purchases. No cash value.

Nov 292017

Here is a flashback from our home in Small Town.  One of the things I realized after we moved was all the free time I had.  I had not realized the amount of time working on the house, thinking about working on the house, contemplating working on the house, and shopping for items so I could work on the house had been taking up over the weeks and months.  I was sooooo happy when this project was completed…then we moved.  🙂 Hey, at least I got to enjoy it for a few months.

I am finally on to my last big project area – the garage.  This is something I have been working on bit by bit over the past few months.  First I painted all the walls in the fall, before the cold weather set in for winter.  Then the area became a storage/project area.

Finally, a month or two ago, I was set about connecting the second garage door opener.  A few weeks back we had gravel installed in order to allow me to enter the garage without driving through mud.  It was a great feeling.

This past weekend, I wanted to start actually tackling setting up all the pieces to make it look like more of an organized area and less like a pile of half-finished projects.

Step 1: Move things away from the back wall and sweep the floor.  I chose to start with the largest visual area for several reasons – it would give me a flat surface to work on, it would give me storage areas for the smaller items, it would free up floor space, and it would be a great motivator for later on when I start getting frustrated and depressed about how long this job is taking.

Step 2: Begin a list of all the things I need from the hardware store. It did not take long for me to realize I needed some items to finish up various parts of this organization project.  For starters, one of my cabinets needs a new shelf inside before I can attach the counter top.  A drawer needs a new bottom.  I am looking to add a shelf between my two lower cabinets. The list kept getting longer, so I grabbed a pencil and paper and put it all down.  Hopefully this will help reduce the number of trips to the store, as well as allow me to keep my eyes open for these items elsewhere (a.k.a. find them used or free).

Step 3: Set things up where they will be going. After moving things away from the back wall, which is where I am going to start, and cleaning up, I began to put things back into place where I will be wanting them to go.  My mind’s eye had pretty much figured out what it wanted, but actually putting them there showed me a few problems.

For starters, there is an electrical conduit close to the floor. When this conduit reaches the corner, it makes a rounded turn.  This prevents me from putting a cabinet all the way in the corner.  I decided to leave about 6 inches between the cabinet and the wall, allowing me space to store my saw-horses.  A problem just became a solution for another problem I was having – where to store larger items. Sometimes you need to step back and view things from a different angle.

Step 4: Place other items near where you think you want them. Not all of our old kitchen cabinets will be placed by the work bench.  There are two smaller cabinets that I am going to use near the walk-out door.  These will be great to keep things like deicer, ice scrapers, sunscreen, bug spray, and other season items we might need to grab quickly.

There are also several wire baskets I plan to use to help organize toys, as well as shelf supports I want to use in the laundry area.  These are placed near those locations to help those steps go quicker.  This also helps get things out of the way for the particular area I am working in at this time.

Step 5: Stop for lunch. This is often something I forget to do when working on a larger project.  It is much easier for me to keep going.  However, after a while I start to slow down, problems begin cropping up at each turn, and my kids get really whiny.

This time, before all the above happened, I called it time for lunch and put down all I was working on at the moment.  Things were going well. Ending, and beginning, on a good note always helps.

Nov 272017

This post contains affiliate links.

Kids Cook Real Food is having a sale Monday-Wednesday November 27-29  They will be running a quick sale where any new member gets the premium content snack videos ($20 value) absolutely free!

These 4 videos will teach your kids all about:

  • How to find healthy snacks
  • Using the food processor
  • Separating eggs

Engaging videos demo recipes for:

  • Homemade crunchy granola
  • Energy bites
  • Pumpkin pie bars

Make snack time healthy and easy by getting your kids involved in the preparation! All free when you purchase the Kids Cook Real Food eCourse Nov 27-29. Check it out here.

Nov 272017

This post contains affiliate links.  When you click below and join, a small percent of your earning will be credited back to me at no cost to you.  Thank you for helping support this site.  Good hunting!

You can earn money while saving it on all your big Cyber Monday purchases.  The Cashback Shopping site Swagbucks is offering big cash back – 3x or more – at over 120 different stores today only. They’re also offering big payouts on a varieties of different deals and offers from companies that would make great gift ideas. Get great deals without waiting in lines or even leaving your home!

If you’re not familiar with Swagbucks, they offer cash back in the form of points , called SB, when you shop. Then you can turn those points into gift cards to places like Amazon, Starbucks, Target, or PayPal cash. You can also earn points for discovering deals, watching videos, answering surveys and more!

During this past year, I have earned 1,310 SB ($13) back while shopping online for things such as – curtains for our new house, items from eBay, bank checks, ink for the printer, and more.  While this is not the main way I personally earn SB, it is a nice addition to my balance toward a gift card.

Click here to take advantage of the cash back, just create your Swagbucks account when prompted (it takes less than 30 seconds) and then you’re all set!

As a special bonus, if you sign up through me you get a 300 SB ($3) bonus when you earn your first 300 SB before December 1st! This site’s a great way to extend your shopping budget, especially around the holidays!

Nov 252017

No worries, we did not go on a hike through the forest on this very popular hunting day. Instead, I said, “Teeth brushed? Good job. Now out we go!”

Kid #1 : “Where are we going, Mom? What are we going to do?”

Kid #2: “Why? I don’t want to go.”

Me: “We are going outside, to the yard, to…play.”

Kid #2 was encouraged a bit more than Kid #1 to go outside. In the end we all got out the door, Kid #2 followed my promoting/example to climb a fallen tree, played for about 10, then disappeared back inside.  Kid #1 would not climb with us, but stayed outside with me for over an hour, walking through brambles, and observing wildlife.

Most exciting moment? When Kid #1 almost stepped on a sleeping opposum.

We then proceeded to look closer at it, talk about why it was there, and discuss if it would live through the night. (Looked as if it had been in a fight.)

While walking around, I realized there were no older cousins in their lives who have challenged them to do things or show them what might be possible. I tried to think of how I used to play with my younger cousins and do similar things. Not sure it hit the mark, but the kids “explored” areas of my parents’ property they had never been in…while staying out of the woods.

Even though we were not in danger, it did feel as if our every move was being followed…

After our fresh air jaunt, we came inside and did what had to be done – cheer our alma mater on as they battled their adversary in a very important game.

Best pre-game show I have seen in a long time.

Nov 242017

This post contains affiliate links.

Running now through December 3rd, the cashback shopping site Swagbucks is running a series of exclusive “Swagbuster” deals that offer increased cash back (in the form of SB points) at stores, when buying gifts cards, and big SB payouts when you discover offers from different companies. You can take all of the points you earn from these deals and redeem them for gift cards from places like Amazon, Target, Walmart, Starbucks, or PayPal cash, helping you extend your holiday budget further!

The deals change every few hours, and you can keep track of what’s available by clicking here. You need a Swagbucks account to take advantage – fortunately it’s free and takes less than 30 seconds to sign up. PLUS, if you sign up through me you’ll get a bonus 300 SB ($3) if you earn 300 SB before December 1st!

Nov 242017

Where was the Happy Thanksgiving post yesterday? Why was there no fall colored, Cucurbit inclusive picture ornamenting the website? Why no “100 things I am thankful for” post?

The reason is a pretty good one…I was trapped in the wooded wilds of the Midwest, kept from leaving by a fierce wild cat.  You should have seen the size of this lovely creature of nature! It must have been 5 feet long and close to 200 lbs!

Its rumbling purr was so loud all of its natural predators within 5 miles were alerted to its presence.  I was lucky to make it out alive and in one piece.

Apparently this particular animal is known for it’s skill of climbing and cunningness. I am telling you, it was dicey going there for a bit.

(Due to the angle of the lens, objects may appear smaller than there were in real life.)

Nov 242017

This post contains affiliate links.  Keep warm and enjoy a cup of your favorite beverage while earning money back on your online purchases. I do what I can to help. 🙂  When you sign up through one of these links, as small percent of your earnings will be returned to me at no cost to you.  Thank you for helping support this blog.

The Cashback Shopping site Swagbucks is offering big cash back at over 120 different stores all throughout Black Friday weekend. They’re also offering big payouts on a varieties of different deals and offers from companies that would make great gift ideas. Get great deals without waiting in lines or even leaving your home!
If you’re not familiar with Swagbucks, they offer cash back in the form of points when you shop. Then you can turn those points into gift cards to places like Amazon, Starbucks, Target, or PayPal cash. You can also earn points for discovering deals, watching videos, answering surveys and more!

There are not a whole lot of deals I have seen which will prompt me to leave the house today.  Perhaps a few, but I think I would rather spend time at home with family.  Shopping for some of the deals online not only saves me gas, but allows me that extra time with family I do not get to see very often. (We are visiting family members out of town.)

Earning money back from those online deals, while drinking a cup of coffee and eating a breakfast I didn’t have to make on my own (Thanks, Mom!), makes it a good morning all around.

As my kids are starting to read more, and keep peeping over my shoulder, I am not going to detail exactly what I plan to purchase today, but I would love to hear of any good deals you find.

Click here to take advantage of the cash back, just create your Swagbucks account when prompted (it takes less than 30 seconds) and then you’re all set!

As a special bonus, if you sign up through me you get a 300 SB ($3) bonus when you earn your first 300 SB before December 1st! This site’s a great way to extend your shopping budget, especially around the holidays!

Nov 232017

This post contains affiliate links.
Simple Meal Planning - Plan to Eat

Plan to Eat’s 2017 Black Friday Weekend sale will start on November 24th and run through November 27th.

To help make this offer available to everyone, Plan To Eat has extended all trials and yearly subscriptions that were scheduled to expire after the 15th of November so that you can take advantage of this sale without interruption to your account.


This also makes a great gift.  If you are looking for a clutter free gift, a gift for someone who lives in a different location than you, or for someone who seems to have everything, this is perfect.  You can also purchase a subscription now and give it to them later.

After years of meal planning 3 meals a day 7 days a week on my own, taking hours each month to put together meal plans and searching for recipes, I took the plunge and tried a free trial.  The ease of putting menus together, adjusting the meal plan as life happened, and the convenience of being able to adjust meals with a click quickly made me a convert.  Plan To Eat was everything I had been trying to do on my own, but always falling short of accomplishing.

Get 50% OFF your yearly subscription to Plan to Eat during this annual sale — even if you already have a subscription! That’s only $19.50 (or $1.60 a month) for a full year of organization, peace of mind, and healthy eating.



To learn more about this great offer click here.

Nov 222017

Addition Help

A story about 9 wanting to be 10 (addition help).  There is more in this lesson, but this short story is a great way to connect the left and right sides of the brain to learn a new fact.  She goes on to talk about 8 “itching to be 10”, and so on.  What a great way to present this method of adding.  My non-apraxic brain automatically sees this, but I was never sure how to frame it in a way that George would get it.

I am not sure how the school has been teaching this, as they never told me, but I do know that the method they were using was not working for him.  Once he understood Touch Point and Adding On, he had trouble learning any of the other methods.  Memorizing doubles has not taken place, so that will be another area I will look for help with.

The video above also gives a visual representation I can use, in a physical form to add in sensory input, to find the answer to a math problem.

Here are the math facts set to music.