Monday, September 28, 2015

Wrapping Up . . . However Long It's Been

I think I'm behind again.  Week before last was a pretty normal (for us) week. School, gardening, my Dad mostly finished the deck on the back of the garage (I think there are still a couple of boards he needs to add to the railing, but it works (just in time for me to be able to easily get to the big pile of collapsed boxes that are up there so I can start packing). And then, of course, on Friday we bought a house!

Sabbath after church, the girls and I headed to my parents' house.  My friend, Vicki was up to visit her dad, so we went down to see her, and of course while we were down there, spent time with various other MD/WV friends. Spent most of Sunday with Vicki and family. The kids and dogs had fun playing with the kids and dogs. I think Ashlyn had at least one dog on her lap at all times (Vicki has 2, and her dad has 1, so there were 3 to choose from). Little Bit really likes "Mr Wiggles" because he's small enough, and tolerant enough, for her to carry around :)

After we left Vicki's, we went to see another friend. The big girls and her boys were close friends when they were all toddlers, but then we moved away, and they started school, and the kids haven't really kept in contact at all. But last spring, she told me they had goats, so Ashlyn kept asking when we could go see the goats, so we invited ourselves over while we were in the area :)

It took the kids a little bit to get re-acquainted, but goats and go-carts are great "ice breakers", so they warmed up pretty quickly. The big kids spent most of the time riding the go-cart. Once the girls were comfortable with it, Lexie took Little Bit for a ride. She LOVED it!

Monday we ran some errands and hung out at Mama Papa's house, figuring out what of the extra furniture they have stored in their basement, we'll want to use in our new house.

Tuesday we went to another friend's house. The kids all had fun fishing and running around in the woods. Playing with the chickens, and then, they got out the zipline. They spent the rest of the day on the zipline. I can't begin to imagine how many miles they ran, all up hill LOL.  It was a little too fast for Little Bit, but she did go down a couple times, with someone holding onto the rope and running along behind her, to keep the speed down. Then she came back inside to play.

Wednesday we headed home, but that morning before we left, I went out to the playhouse to ask Mama and Little Bit a question and as I reached for the doorknob to go back in the house, THIS is what I saw.

Needless to say, I jumped, and yelled . . . and chose to walk around to the front door to call Dad, rather than going through this door! The big girls came outside along with Papa, and we all had a nice little nature lesson for the day.  Dad said it's a baby black snake (which, apparently, aren't plain black as babies), probably only a few days old. None of us realized they could climb brick walls like that.  As Ashlyn leaned forward to get a better look, it fell (jumped?) off the wall onto the deck. She and Little Bit jumped LOL. Once we stopped staring at it, it crawled BACK up the brick wall. I'm wondering if it lives on the roof.

To continue our nature day, we stopped by my parents' former office before heading home, and, while it's hard to see in the picture, we saw a groundhog climbing a tree! Didn't know they could do that! Ashlyn and Little Bit also think it's pretty cool that a groundhog (whom they named Chocolate Chip Cookie) had dug a hole RIGHT NEXT to the big full length windows in the breezeway between the buildings. They enjoyed watching him sit within "touching" distance, if there wasn't glass there.
After our nature-y morning, we headed home, and had a quiet rest-of-our-week. I'm starting to try to figure out packing . . . and feeling a bit gridlocked. There is NO WHERE in our house here to stack boxes and have them not be very much in the way. And with Dad still doing fix-it projects (so his table saw etc needs to be in our garage), there's really no space in the garage either. I think I've figured out a plan of attack, stacking the boxes in front of some lightweight shelves that I can wait and pack up/move AFTER we've moved the furniture and boxes out. Also trying to menu plan from the freezer and pantry to reduce the food we have to move, though eating DOWN on our stores of food in the fall, feels . . . wrong LOL. 

Sabbath afternoon, some friends invited us to go geocaching with them. It's been a long time since we've gone geocaching, I need to get more intentional about doing it, especially now that Little Bit is old enough to really get into it too. We had a nice hike, and fun figuring out a very clever geocache.

Friday, September 25, 2015


It's slowly starting to sink in . . . we're moving (again)!!! Last Friday we looked at the house, made an offer, and the offer was accepted, all in one day!

We've been casually house-hunting, while trying to decide if we wanted to buy, build, or add-on to our current home. We weren't having much luck. Either the price was too high, or the house required a lot of work, or there were other houses too close . . . etc.

Then last Wed, I looked at a new listing that seemed to have promise. The pictures looked good. Checking out the property using google map's satellite view, it looked like it might work. . . Thursday after music lessons, we drove by it to see if the lot would really work. There are houses nearby, but not too close, and the way the house sits on the lot, it works . . . Time to see what hubby thinks. But he was busy, and didn't really look at the link I sent him that afternoon. Or that evening. Friday morning I asked (again) if he'd looked at it, and he agreed to let me show him the pictures. As I was showing him the pictures, he went ahead and called the listing agent. If he'd waited until we'd gone through all the pictures, it probably wouldn't have worked out. The house is rented, and the tenant gets 24 hour notice before a showing. The girls and I were leaving right after church the next day to go to my parents' house and wouldn't get home until Thursday. BUT . . . if we could leave RIGHT AWAY, we could look at it while the tenants were already out of the house for another showing.

My parents had talked about leaving first thing Friday morning, but decided to stay until mid-day, so they were still here. I'd mentioned the house to my mom the day before, but Dad knew nothing about it until I went out to where they were working on the deck, and told them we were leaving NOW to go see a house. Dad got changed, I got dressed (one of the perks of being a homeschool mom is getting to stay in your jammies till noon some days), we quickly made room for all 7 of us to fit in the minivan. And we left. Got there right on time, looked over the yard until the other potential buyers left, then went into the house. The rooms were smaller than I'd expected from the pictures, but we still really liked the house. My dad was impressed with how well it had been maintained. The girls liked that the "rustic" wood floors have some gaps between the boards, allowing them to "spy" on the main floor from their bedrooms. . .

The realtor mentioned that there were something like 7 other people who'd asked to see the house either that day or the next and suggested that, if we were interested, we might want to make an offer yet that day.

We went home, talked about it, looked over the sellers' disclosures the realtor e-mailed us and that afternoon, put in a formal offer. After some back and forth with the seller, early Fri evening, the seller accepted our offer and we are buying the house! We'll be closing on it, pending inspections, the end of October.

From the beginning of this journey, I've begged God to make His will crystal clear. I want to know we are making the right decision for our family. And I truly feel how amazingly all the puzzle pieces fell into place that Friday are a pretty good indication of exactly that!

My 2 "don't like change" daughters and I are still reeling a bit, but we're starting to get over the fact that it happened so fast LOL. I keep wanting to plan things out and realize that I didn't pay attention to those tiny little details that I would have noticed if I'd realized we wouldn't be going back to look at the house again. I figure once the tenant has moved out I'll ask the realtor if we can go back in and look at things so I can plan better, but it's not worth bothering a tenant who's trying to accomplish their own move.

I also didn't think to take any pictures since it was our first time looking at the house, but did copy a few off the real estate listing before it was removed.

The outside of the house looks like a farm house:

I love the big front porch! I can't wait to drink my morning coffee on that porch! And yes, I realize it will be November before that happens and I may have to bundle up to do it, that's ok! There's also a deck off the back of the house and a fire pit in the trees behind the house.

The inside has much more of a "cabin" feel.

In addition to a good sized eat-in kitchen and this living room, there's also a similarly sized sun-room off the back of the kitchen. I have to admit, while we've never been huge entertainers, I'm really looking forward to having space to invite more than one or two people over if we want to. And having two living spaces means the kids can play in one while the grown-ups visit in the other. With the girls all old enough to like to do things individually, it will also be nice to be able to read to Little Bit in the sunroom while Ashlyn practices piano.

Ashlyn is looking forward to having her own room. Lexie and Little Bit are fine with sharing a room. Guess which of my children is the introvert LOL. There's room in the basement to do a guest room space and still have room for a "go get your wiggles out" space that will also house most of the bookcases and such.  Another exciting thing for our family full of girls, is 2 1/2 bathrooms! After sharing one bathroom amongst 4 and then 5 of us for the past 7 1/2 years, I have to admit I'm super excited to have a master bath again! I'm also excited to have a large walk-in master closet, though more for storing everything from craft supplies to the clothes that Lexie and Ashlyn have outgrown, that I'm keeping for Little Bit, than my own clothes. I've learned to be content with a minimal wardrobe and will probably keep it that way :) The girls are all looking forward to bigger closets too.

So, now the fun of packing and sorting and such. It's going to make for a busy autumn, but I think it will be a good move for our family.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

An Attempt to Catch Up!

I don't even know why I haven't been blogging . . . too much else going on, though nothing earth shattering or, really, enough to keep me from blogging . . .

So let's see . . . some highlights of the last few weeks . . .

My parents have been here quite a bit, working on adding stairs and a small deck to the back of our garage so we can access the storage space above the garage. It's almost done. The girls have all gotten experience screwing down decking and . . . I"m not sure what all else.  Little Bit has loved having tons of time with Mama as her personal playmate.

I started doing a separate Bible with Little Bit. Using the Jesus Storybook Bible. We read one story each week and then do one or more related activities. Depending on how much time we have and what I come up with. The first week we read the introduction (you know it's a great book when you want to read the introduction to your six year old!) and I printed out a big puzzle printable that someone created to go along with it. Little Bit and I had fun putting it together, it took up most of the living room!

I turned 40 in August. And have a wonderfully low-key, just us family, kind of birthday (my favorite kind!).

And, to celebrate turning 40, I got glasses LOL. I had glasses/contacts from 5th grade on, but a year or two before the twins were born I had lasik done. I was SOOOO thankful to not have to worry about glasses or contacts while dealing with infant twins. But over the last year or so I've noticed my vision getting worse again, so finally got around to going and getting glasses again. At this point, I wear them for driving and randomly other times. Sometimes at the computer, other times they annoy me at the computer . . . I figure once I get to the point of wearing them all the time, I'll go back to contacts, because I hate glasses, but for now, I'm dealing with glasses.

The girls are all very not impressed . . . when they said they didn't like the frames I'd chosen, I asked what kind of frames I should have gotten and the unanimous answer was, you just shouldn't wear glasses! I suspect it's mainly a matter of them not being used to seeing me with glasses, and they'll get over it eventually.

We've all been getting our baby fix regularly, thanks to our friend Sonya's new baby. She and I, and another mom, have been getting together to plan out Sabbath School for the rest of the year (they both work in the 0 to 3 yr old class, along with my big girls, and all 3 of us work in the 4-6 yr old class, so we've been figuring out stuff for both classes. And, discussing a small, informal, homeschool co-op we will be starting in a couple weeks. Little Bit has had fun playing with the other kids, but also taking her turn holding the baby. Lexie and Ashlyn have been great help at helping to keep the younger kids playing together, and taking turns holding the baby (notice a trend?). As well as taking a part in our planning since they help and teach too.

Little Bit found a kid-sized bench in the shade.
Last Sunday, we took a field trip to Steamtown National Park. They theoretically had some special extra exhibits and tours, but we never really figured out what was supposed to be happening when. And it was really hot, so that made it less appealing to try to figure things out. The highlight for Ashlyn was when we happened upon a K-9 cop demonstrating how his dog helps him. Unfortunately, they were playing music so loudly over the sound system that we couldn't actually HEAR his demonstration, but at least got to see the dog doing it's thing.

Climbing around in a "box car" full of "cargo"
We went through several engines, and other train cars. Little Bit got a start on her Junior Ranger, though she wasn't able to finish it because of the extra stuff going on (Lexie and Ashlyn earned their Steamtown Junior Ranger when they were 6, so didn't feel the need to try again, at least not on a hot, crowded day).

So it was a fun day, but could have been a lot more fun with some basic communication and organization on the part of the park.

Ashlyn's garden has been producing TONS of tomatoes, so I've been making and freezing tomato sauce for this winter. LOVING my vitamix! I just wash and core the tomatoes and chop them in half or so (to fit more in at a time) and toss them in the vitamix. When the vitamix is full I turn it on and let it turn them into juice/sauce. Then I pour it into my biggest pot and let it cook down all day. I'm not seasoning at all, that way we can turn the sauce into whatever we want when we use it. Since even my biggest pot ends up cooking down to only a 3 quarts (give or take) of sauce, I haven't bothered to can the sauce, I'm just putting it in freezer bags in the freezer. Thinking this winter, when having extra heat in the house will be a GOOD thing instead of a bad thing, I may pull it all out (along with some tomatoes that I froze whole last summer and never did anything with), heat it all back up and can it, to create more room in my freezer, and for easier quick use.

I'm sure I'm forgetting things we've been doing, but that's at least a brief overview of what we've been up to the last few weeks.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Book Review: The Biggest Story by Kevin DeYoung (and GIVEAWAY!!!!)

I love Bible stories, though I'm pretty picky about them. Too many kids' Bible stories add or leave out details, changing the story. When I was given the opportunity to review The Biggest Story by Kevin DeYoung, I was intrigued. . .

When I received the book, I was blown away. This is a GORGEOUS book! It just feels rich! The pictures are bright and eye-catching, and unexpected and . . . AMAZING. The book itself is big and has thick pages and a built-in ribbon bookmark. This is just plain a beautiful book!

When I began reading the book. I wasn't sure . . . I had assumed this was a picture book, for young children, and as such, it would be something I'd read to my six year old. But as I started into it . . . I don't think that would work. Obviously, others disagree, since the stated age range is 5-11, but I just don't think she'd "get it". . . this book FLIES through the main idea of the Bible, chronologically, focusing specifically on the things most key to understanding the plan of salvation, but it very much assumes that you know the stories it's mentioning briefly. I don't think she'd follow it yet.

So, instead, after I finished reading it, I handed it to my 12 year old, Lexie. Told her to read it and tell me what she thought. As she reading, she kept giggling, and reading excerpts to me that struck her as amusing (like the way it points out that so many people had more than one name). She had the same reaction I did, the pictures are really cool. It wouldn't work for little kids because they wouldn't know all the stories. I asked her how she felt about it for her age, and she said "it's funny, I like it. I don't think I learned anything." I didn't argue with her, but I wonder . . . sometimes I think reading  a "summary" level can help us see things differently. The humorous way this is written, the way it focuses so completely on how everything worked toward the ultimate "point of it all" . . . I think it CAN help us see things in a new way.

As I thought about it, I could see this book being a great option to use in a church class for tweens or teens. I think they'd enjoy the writing style, and, going through it, one chapter per week, it could be a good springboard for some great discussions.

It can also be a different "take" on things to read a a family at Christmas time or Easter time.

Overall, this is a beautiful book with a different approach to a well-known story. I'm thrilled to add it to my library!

If you'd like to add a copy to your library you can purchase it here, for $17.99 OR enter my giveaway to win a copy!

To enter, simply leave a comment on this blog post telling me how you'd use this book. Please make sure to include your e-mail address or another way to let you know if you're the winner.

For additional entries, share this giveaway on social media and come back and tell me where you shared it. Please leave a separate comment for each entry.

I will choose a winner at random on Friday, September 18. After I contact the winner he or she will have 48 hours to reply to me with a mailing address, or I will choose another winner.

"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Monday, August 17, 2015

August is Flying By . . .

My parents were here for most of last week, working on projects around here.

Dad figured out and fixed the smoke detector that would not stop beeping, and rather freaked me out when him messing with the wires in the smoke detector made the living room light blink on and off . . . he tells me he figured it out, I'm taking his word for it LOL.

Our big project for the week was to finish tearing off the shed on the back of the garage, Dad and I did a bunch of it during campmeeting in June, but didn't finish it. It's all gone (and now, this week's project is to start building stairs to the room over the garage, that could previously only be accessed by a ladder thanks to the original shed being in the way, hence the whole reason for this project).

Since I was helping Dad some, and Ashlyn's fully immersed in reading the Harry Potter books, I decided it could be an even more unschooly than usual week. Lexie was abit at loose ends, though she's reading the CS Lewis Space Trilogy, and apparently pondering something she wants to write, so she's been doing lots of talking to herself and telling me to go away when I ask who she's taking to, hee hee.

The Harry Potter books are definitely the biggest/most actual reading Ashlyn's ever done, preferring to listen to audiobooks than read herself, but I'm noticing that she pays a lot closer attention to details when reading, than I do. . . she's making connections as she goes, reading the books that I only realized in retrospect, and sometimes not even then. I've suggested to Lexie (whose, reading style is more like mine, read everything in sight, quickly, and just get the main idea)  that she might enjoy re-reading the Harry Potter books and notice connections she missed the first time through, because she didn't realize they were important.

Little Bit is thrilled to have Mama here to play with :)

Last week was the final week of the library reading program, so much reading happened to get those last tickets in. I'm thinking, in keeping with . . . I have 3 children, who do school in completely opposite ways . . . whereas Ashlyn HATED reading programs of any sort when she was younger . . . they stressed her out, big time! Little Bit definitely responds to the idea of getting something . . . Ashlyn wanted to learn to read because she couldn't stand knowing there was something she didn't know. . . Lexie wanted to learn to read because she wasn't about to let Ashlyn know something she didn't know . . . Little Bit doesn't care, BUT is putting the pieces together and likes "getting stuff" for reading . . . So I'm pondering a reading incentive chart of some sort for her . . . I'd just go with Pizza Hut's "Book It" except there aren't any eat-in Pizza Huts anywhere near us, just carry out, which doesn't work for Book It, so if, in addition to having to buy pizza for the rest of the family, I also have to drive out of the way to get to the restaurant it definitely becomes an expensive "free" pizza LOL.

So that was our week. . . nothing earth shattering, but we're keeping busy :)

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Wrapping Up the First Week of August

Another quiet week . . .

Ashlyn's excited to be harvesting cucumbers and a few tomatoes from her garden.

Little Bit got to hold our friends' new baby when we were over there this week. Soo sweet! Somehow, even though she's bigger, and older, than the twins were when she was born, I was more nervous having her hold the baby . . . maybe because she's my baby, she's not supposed to be that grown up yet (just don't tell her that, she doesn't like it, hee hee).

Lexie decided to read Harry Potter this summer and once she was addicted, she told Ashlyn she had to read them too so that we could watch the movies (I have a hard and fast "you can't watch the movie till you've read the book" rule). So last week Lexie finished the series and Ashlyn is now addicted as well. As a special "big kid treat", once Ashlyn had finished the first book, I borrowed the DVD from the library and we stayed up late to watch it  after Little Bit was asleep (because it would have been too scary for her). Needless to say, we had a slow start the next morning, but it was fun :)

We wrapped up our week with a visit from Mama and Papa, and grilling corn from my brother's garden, yum!!!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Weekly Wrap-Up!

Our summer continues to be quiet and uneventful, just the way I like it! Much to Little Bit's frustration, her sisters have been reading tons. That leaves her to her own devices. She loves drawing, and playing with her magna tiles, and stuffed animals, and playing outside. She found the aprons that our neighbor made for Lexie and Ashlyn when they were around her age, and had fun trying them on. Needless to say, they fit her perfectly, so now she has two new aprons.

Last week our neighbors were on vacation so the girls helped with making sure their puppy didn't feel too lonely while her family was gone. A mutual friend was house/dog-sitting but the girls happily went over when she was at work.

A friend from church had her baby a week ago, Friday. The girls asked me multiple times a day when we could go visit the baby, and we were all more than happy to go over when they were ready for company.

Lexie, Ashlyn, and I each took a turn snuggling that newborn sweetness! Awww . . . there's nothing like it!

Little Bit is starting to read a tad. One afternoon she wanted to earn some "tokens" in the library reading program, so I pulled out some easy reading books I had from when the twins were her age. I was pretty sure she had a pretty good selection of sight words, despite never "learning to read" per se, and I was right. Between words she recognizes, and deductive reasoning from the pictures, she's definitely starting to read. Good thing I found a good sized stack of the easy books, because she likes to go through 10 at a time (that earns her 2 tokens at the library).

And some cute randomness. Ashlyn's cat, Moccasin has always had a thing for boxes, if we have any laying around, he's sure to find them and sleep on, or in them, but I had to laugh when I walked by and saw that he'd squished himself into this little box that I'd set by the basement door with some other stuff to go down to the basement. Silly cat.

Finally, don't forget to enter my giveaway for an awesome new video about Exodus!  Today's the last day!