'what's up' weekly.

This past week has been filled with a lot of 'normal,' which I love.  We did school and are now two full weeks in.  Why that feels like a major feat accomplished, I don't know.  But it does, and I'm not complaining.

On Monday, I took the kids to a nearby creek with a friend.  Can you believe this is smack-dab in the middle of downtown?  I'm not kidding.

On Tuesday, we had our first Connection Group meetup of the Fall semester.  We're not hosting it in our home this year, so it felt a little strange to just go to Connection Group.  I think this is really going to make a big difference in my stress level this year; I'm already glad it's worked out this way.

On Wednesday, we headed up to the Amish as usual.  One of the gals that I've gotten to know asked me if I could bring her a few things 'from town' next week.  What does an Amish person need from Walmart, you ask?  Forty pounds of sugar and a pack of brown pipe cleaners.  Obviously.

Yesterday was our anniversary, so a couple friends came over to watch the kids so we could go out.  For being somewhat of a landmark anniversary, we played it really low-key: we went, with Callista, to Red Lobster.  We weren't able to do anything more exciting because we have a nursing baby and are broke because: six kids.  But I kind of loved rejoicing in our semi-boring anniversary date, because it was a reminder of the amazing things keeping us tethered close to home in this season.

Today is Friday, glorious Friday.  Which means bird study, painting, listening to classical music and (hopefully) napping.  It's also the night we order food in, so I don't have to prep, cook or clean up the kitchen in the evening.  Fridays are good days around here.

And other than that, the only major news is that Todd has suddenly developed an excruciating toothache, and the dentist can't get him in until the 28th.  So we're praying hard there is a cancellation so he can get in sooner, and that he's able to stay ahead of the pain until then; or that his tooth just miraculously stops hurting.

And, unrelatedly, in reading news:

In school this week, we read Big Claus and Little Claus in our Hans Christian Anderson anthology.  It is a dark and weird and hilarious story that we're still trying to mentally process.

I finished O Pioneers! by Willa Cather, and The Silver Chair by C. S. Lewis.  I've started Surprised by Joy and a book about healing a Diastasis Recti.

And Finneas discovered Robin Hood:

And that was our week!

happy van-niversary to my very, very favorite person.

Today, I have been married to this perfect specimen of a human for ten years.

Ten whole years.

I can't tell you how often I am blindsided by gratefulness.  He is so much more than I honestly ever thought I could possibly find.  He is stable.  He is good.  He is proud of me.  He is kind, and intelligent, and godly and strong.  He is the best dad - and seeing him so passionately father our kids leaves me so amazed that they will grow up getting to take him for granted - in the best way possible.  This is what life is for them, and they don't know how good they have it.

But I know how good I have it being his wife.  I get to laugh at his jokes, be challenged by his depth, and be provided for by his hard work.  I love the life we've built - really, the life he's built for us that I have the good fortune of getting to participate in.  At the end of everything, if I have nothing to show for my time here other than having gotten to be married to him, I will be more than satisfied saying I lived the best life.

Happy anniversary to the best friend I've ever had.  There is no one like you in the world, and I'm the luckiest to get to call you mine.

planning to set up your own daily schedule (pt. 2).

Grab that piece of paper and pen you had out yesterday; we're going to finish planning your routine, and then actually set up and implement it!  (If you missed the first two principles to consider when brainstorming for your schedule, check out yesterday's post to get caught up to speed.)


List out every single thing you're responsible for.  Like, everything.  Breastfeeding.  Cooking.  Wiping butts.  Grocery shopping.  Vacuuming.  Getting everyone ready for church.  Folding underwear.  Weekly date nights with the husband.  Write it allllll down.

Now, take a quick second to brainstorm - could anyone else be doing any of these things for you so they're not actually on your list anymore?  Keep in mind that everything costs something  - often in home management the question is, "does it cost time, or does it cost money?"  Those aren't the only costs you might be paying to keep something on your list, but they're definitely major players.  Menu planning saves you money, but costs you time.  Hiring a housekeeper costs you money, but saves you time.  What is each task costing you, and what would it cost to delegate out some of your tasks to others? 

Ways I personally delegate in our current life stage:...

[Click here to continue reading]

planning to set up your daily personal schedule (pt 1).

This week, I'll be reposting a few oldies-but-goodies about time management.  Many of these begin with the assumption that you watched my FB video on the topic, so if you haven't done that yet, I'd encourage you to do so!

Let's talk schedules/routines.  I walked you through mine in the video, but I'd love to get you started on planning your own.  Before you actually jump into the nitty gritty of setting up your schedule, I think it's especially helpful to think through a couple of things that will help you set up a successful schedule.

There are four guiding principles to think through first that have been especially helpful to me; we'll cover the first two today, and get back to the rest tomorrow, to keep this post from getting outrageously long.

Grab a pen and paper, because you're going to be doing some writing.

[Click here to continue reading]

back to school: accomplished.

Well, we did it.  We made it through our first week back to school since Callista was born.  And you know what, it really wasn't that bad.  In fact, I think we all breathed a little sigh of relief at the normalcy of it all, even though a couple things have changed already going into the new year.

I wish this photo was less blurry - I'm still completely idiotic without an autofocus option on our camera.  But I think you can still tell how big he's getting and how handsome he is.

How cute is she, and how long are her legs?!

The kids have started using planners this year as a way to foster more independence with their assignments, and we've been getting together with a family in town in hopes of establishing a nature group that will meet semi-regularly.  This is a huge answer to prayer for me, as I'm markedly indoorsy and need an outside motivating force to pull me out of the house - namely, someone who's expecting me for an appointment I had planned for in advance. Verrrrry little else accomplishes getting me out the door with all the kids.

We've met a couple of times now, and I think we've determined the park we'll be meeting at regularly.  Being an Iowan at heart, when I think "city park," I think, "flat grassy patch with a playset on it."  But I'm learning that parks in Columbia are a whole different thing.  The one we're going to be going to is a ten-acre timber with a hiking trail, smack in the center of a residential area five minutes from our house.  (Today we're headed out with another friend to the heart of downtown, where there's a fully wooded area with a creek for the kids to play in.)  If I could give Columbia a big old kiss on the lips for giving my kids the chance to swim in a creek and hike through a timber in the middle of town, I would.

In other related-to-school news, Finneas seems to be on the cusp of reading and is really desperate for it to finally 'click,' so we'll be picking up some Dick and Jane books from the library and seeing where it takes us.

Beyond those items of note, school will probably be pretty 'business as usual' for a while, which we actually all really appreciate for the structure it gives our days.  So we're looking forward to sinking back into a normal routine after being off-kilter for the last month and a half.  It makes it so much easier to manage our time well, get things done, and avoid the boredom and bickering that large swaths of unstructured time inevitably entail.

See?  No more bickering.

Or, as that sign would be translated in a more fun culture than ours, "School-time-happy-fun-day-hooray-yes."

As we're not the only ones getting back into the swing of school and establishing a refreshed sense of routine, I thought I'd spend some time this week revisiting some of the stuff I've covered on time management, getting the important stuff done, and still leaving room for margin and rest.  I suspect I'm not the only one in need of a refresher course as we head into the new school year.  If you haven't already, I'd suggest you start by watching my FB chat on time management (and ignoring how crazy I look in the still-frame).  Then throughout the week, I'll be posting more info on the topic to help you get started... or re-started, if you are anything like me and tend to fall off the 'I've got my life together' wagon with alarming regularity.

homeschool portfolios. (missouri record keeping)

The week the kids were up at my mom's and I was pretty couch-bound with Callista, I spent most of my time trying to gather stuff together to complete the kids' portfolios of last year's school work.

Every time I see this photo, I think, "Duh, I need to go back and change that to say Grade Two," since I originally wrote it incorrectly (because I'm clearly a dummy).  And yet I still haven't fixed it.

Missouri state homeschooling law requires, among other things, that we keep portfolio records of their work, which basically serve to prove that we completed the required number of core and noncore hours over the course of the year.  So along with the yearly and weekly schedules, booklist, and scope-and-sequence sheets, I had to include logs of all of our hours.

But after all that boring mumbojumbo, I got to show off the kids' hard, creative work in all of our subjects.

Atticus' completed free reading list for Term 1

A printout of all the poems, Scripture verses, math facts, quotes, and personal info (like phone numbers and addresses) the kids learned through the year.

Examples of Atticus' handwriting work... and his freestyle construction art.

As we read through Paddle to the Sea, we mapped Paddle's journey through the Great Lakes.

Other things included in our portfolio were copies they'd made of each term's Artist study works, lyrics to the folksongs and hymns we learned, and photos or examples of their arts and crafts.

Because Charlotte Mason schooling involves very little paper work or seat work, a lot of our documentation involved lists of activities we did and places we went (along with any brochures and guides available for these adventures), as well as lots and lots of photos.

When we moved from Iowa, where we had the amazing freedom of no state oversight, to Missouri, I was pretty bummed.  And while I would still strongly advocate for absolute homeschool freedom, the portfolio requirement here has at least provided the silver lining of a scrapbook of their work each year, which I probably wouldn't have kept if I didn't have to.  If we ever move elsewhere, I will probably continue (or at least attempt to continue) keeping these binders of their work.

Supplies I used:
1.5-inch binders
Subject dividers
Photo sleeve sheets

my bullet journal that's barely a bullet journal.

I've been seeing all the fancy bullet journal ideas floating around Pinterest for a  couple of years now, and while I stand in awe of the stellar individuals who find it cathartic to spend forty bajillion hours organizing and decorating their to-do lists, I don't number among them.  It just didn't seem realistic for me and my no-nonsense ways of list-keeping.

But I've recently been watching Facebook Live videos from Life(in)grace (whom I just adore), and in one of them, she details how she keeps her bullet journal.  And (spoiler alert) it's not a fancy schmancy system of hand drawn calendars and calligraphied shopping lists.  Basically, her bullet journal is just a composition notebook full of lists and notes, with a table of contents to make everything easy to find.  Period.  THAT. IS. ALL.

And I was like, how genius is that?  Instead of having one rando sheet of paper with my shopping lists, and another random bunch of index cards with my reading notes, and a few half-finished journals full of sermon notes, why don't I just keep everything in one simple place?  Maybe I'm a total idiot, but my mind was blown.

So I've been relying heavily on my bullet journal for the past few months.  Here it is in all its understated glory:

The basic gist is that I keep my whole brain in this tiny book.  I chose a smaller notebook than the composition notebook she recommends, simply because I can cart it around the house more easily, and it fits well inside my planner and/or my purse.  It has become as necessary to daily life as my glasses. 

So what all do I keep in here?  Well, first, my table of contents, because a notebook full of lists becomes infinitely less helpful if you can't find anything.  As I fill the book, I number each page and just go back and add it to the list at the front.

You can see there is really no order to things; I just turn to the next clean page when I need to start a new list or set of notes, but because of the table of contents I can still find everything quickly.  Easy peasy.

I keep a running to-do list each week, to which I stick a new post-it each day with the day's list.  It is literally the unfanciest bullet journal on the face of the earth.

This is how tidy my lists are at the beginning of the week.  (You can see that I have to write down what texts I need to send, because I don't always have the social energy to text.  I'm Paige.  I'm an introvert, and I'm terrible at living on this side of the millennium.)

Yes, I menu planned hot dogs.

The weekly list stays the same, but the post-its change throughout the week.

Here are the other things I've been keeping in here over the summer:

Monthly goals
Birth prep
Prayer list
Facebook Live topic ideas
Blog topic ideas
Freezer meals to make before baby's arrival
Notes from vlog series I've been following
Travel prep list
Grocery lists
Registry list
Author mentors I'd like to learn from
Hospital packing list
Meal plans
Weekly blog plans
Sermon notes
Homeschool prep
Amish delivery price list
Online purchases to add to checkbook
Online class notes
Library activity dates
Thank you notes to write
Library class notes
Craft ideas for school
Books to add to my library or Amazon lists
Prep notes for starting women's Bible study/book club
Callista's milestone dates
School supplies to purchase

All of that would be in my head (or, more realistically, index cards and cluttery post-its everywhere) if I didn't have it all in one place.  The best $3 I've ever spent.

AND! It has become a mommy-daughter activity, as Penelope has jumped on board with her own bullet journal.  She likes to keep lists of story ideas in hers, as well as to-do lists and weekly plans.  She has a little pad of post-its she keeps in the back for fitting occasions, as well.  We are birds of a feather.  (I know these photos are super blurry, but she's just so adorable I had to post them.)

You would not believe what a lifesaver this thing has been.  I've already purchased and stickered another one to have ready when this one gets full.

 And that is how I keep my brain from leaking out of my ears.

our resident woodworker.

Atticus got a pocketknife for Christmas this past year, and he's constantly carrying it with him.  As long as he lets me know when he's using it, and is taking the safety precautions we've laid out for him, I've just let him kind of do his own thing with it. Until recently, he'd mainly used it for skinning the bark off of sticks he found in the yard.

But then a few weeks ago, I checked out a couple of books on whittling and woodworking from the library, thinking that we might spend some time on woodcrafts this year for school.  As soon as he picked up the first book, he was hooked.  He pored over that thing until he had it memorized.  He now spends his days telling me about what rasps do, and planning projects, and asking how much coping saws cost and how old he'll have to be before he can have his own saw.

Because he's still a bit too young yet for a saw, he's limited to his pocketknife.  Which he doesn't seem to mind, and he now spends two to three hours each afternoon by himself in the garage, hacking away on the stick of the day. 

The other day, I watched him from the kitchen window as he tried to find a good carving stick in our yard - picking up one at a time, examining each, and saying an audible "no" as he shook his head before throwing it down and looking for another.  He did this probably three or four times before finding the perfect specimen.  (He reminded me of Michelangelo, looking for the sculpture inside the block of marble.)

He has been giving his carvings away as gifts to each of us in turn.  He gave me THE most adorable, tiny, primitive little bird that now sits on my kitchen windowsill and keeps me company while I do dishes.  And he whittled a tiny little pegdoll-style soldier for Finneas, which he even wrapped and presented with a handmade card that read, "Dear Finneas, I love you. You fill my haert. You bring me so much joy. I love you Finn, that's wiy I made you this.  Hope you like it. Love Atticus."  UM, KILL ME NOW IT WAS SO SWEET.  (And the front of the card read, "To sumwun speshel."  SERIOUSLY I JUST DIE.)

I just love seeing this interest blooming in him!  Maybe by the time we get to woodcraft projects in school, he'll have enough experience and know-how to just teach me.  Or maybe I'll just let him continue to do his own thing with it and eventually employ him to build me a new couch.  (Believe me, the thought has already crossed his mind - he asked me yesterday where one might purchase cushion springs.  I'm liking where this interest is going.)

what's up weekly. (and callista's first bath!)

This week, like last, revolved around swimming.  Unlike last week, Callista got in on some of the water action.

She got her first at-home bath!  I'd given her some washcloth spot-cleans as necessary, and I don't like to give too many newborn baths because it dries their poor little skin out, but it was time.

And as for the big kids, they finished up swim lessons yesterday.  (Please forgive the sometimes-wonky photos; the autofocus on our camera lens has crapped out, so we're having to wing it in manual mode, which we know literally nothing about, other than "twist things on the lens around until stuff isn't blurry anymore."  So everything has ended up overexposed.)

Most of them are moving on to the next level next summer, and Laurelai is excited she'll finally get to join them!

And there hasn't been much else going on beyond that, other than the fact that we are officially ready to start school next week.  Amazon orders have been placed, trips to Staples and Hobby Lobby have been made, and bookshelves have been stocked with this year's stuff.  I am so ready.