around here: week 12 2020

{shared by Haverlee}

{Amber Eldredge}

Pulling... Carly into bed with me at 6:00 am Sunday at my parents house where we slept cozily together for three more hours. Her lashes resting on her cheeks may be one of the most beautiful things in the entire world. That and her knuckle dimples get me every time...

Measuring... Carly on the huge wall measuring tape my parents have that they use to measure all the grandkids, and seeing that she has grown three and a half inches in one year. She's only a half inch shorter than Wyatt was at age five! (She just turned four.)  It makes me realize that she wasn't exaggerating all those nights when she woke me up crying because her legs hurt from growing pains.

Saying... goodbye to all our loved ones- my parents, my sister & her husband, my niece & nephews, and my sister's former foster daughter. It felt so good to hug our people and know that we had been blessed with one last weekend with them before our world's all shut down for a while.  I'm crazy grateful for that.

Driving... home from Vancouver in roughly four hours with Wyatt & Carly.  I listened to The River by Peter Heller, captivated by the idea of being stuck in a forest fire with nothing but a kayak and a backpack while the kids slept. 

Visiting... Barnes & Noble before leaving and stocking up on some much needed "supplies", knowing that once we arrived home, we would be staying there, quarantined together, for at least six weeks.  We got books (I got Untamed and the cutest gratitude journal!) stuffed animals, toys and a seashell puzzle for us to work on during our time at home.  Just walking into Barnes & Noble makes my soul feel fulfilled.  I love it there so much.  So many good books, journals, pens, and other trinkets that are all right up my alley.  One thing I didn't buy that I wish I had is a book light.  I don't own one and I think that it would make my nightly reading less irritating to Josh when he wants to sleep and I want to stay up and read. (#everynight ha!)

Keeping... Carly home from Grandma's with a runny nose and low grade fever Monday.  She was so sad to miss it, and I know Grandma missed her, too, but we wanted to play it safe and not get anyone sick.  Her illness never developed into anything else.  Just lots of sneezing and kleenex needed, poor girl.

Dealing... with highly emotional kids regarding school being canceled for the next six weeks.  It's hard for them to understand why we are doing this (what feels like "doing nothing") and how it's going to help.  In addition to school being canceled, their baseball season has been put on hold indefinitely (I'll honestly be shocked if they end up getting to play at all) and their upcoming appointments have been canceled as well.  (Orthodontic, dentist and pulmonologist- and that's just March & April!)

Helping... Josh put together 4th grade packets for his students to work on during the school closure (which will last throughout Washington state until April 24th).  So many stacks and so much collating!

Feeling... frustrated when the boys came home from their last day of school Monday and hadn't completely emptied their lockers like we had requested.  We told them (multiple times) to PLEASE bring EVERYTHING home from school as if it were the end of the year (because we honestly don't think they'll be going back this year) but because they think they know everything, they didn't. Sigh. So we have some shoes and school supplies now locked down at the middle school. #middleschoolmightkillme

Receiving... my Book of the Month order and feeling so happy about the books in it.  I chose The Good Neighborhood, which I immediately started; The Two Lives of Lydia Bird; and The Giver of Stars.  I am so excited to have so much good reading at my fingertips for this period of time at home.

Inspired... by this art during our home quarantine time.  I love how regardless of what is happening outside the home, the light and joy emanates from inside the home in the picture.  In fact, I loved it so much, I ordered a canvas of it during a sale they were running on their website. I can't wait to get it.

Listening... to And Now We Have Everything on audio as I do chores around the house this week and loving her brutally honest look into womanhood, pregnancy, motherhood and marriage.
Some quotes I loved:

{on mothers whose blogs she followed}
"Their lives were startlingly simple.  They seemed to do nothing but cook and clean and go on photogenic outings with their large families... their inner lives, or what they shared of them, could be broken down into a few themes, and always included gratitude for all of God's blessings and the desire to slow down and be more present so they could better enjoy their precious time with their precious families.  Oh, and their desire to have more babies.
... These women, the dread mommy bloggers, at least knew what they wanted.  They had a clear path."

{life with a baby}
"I couldn't figure out whether motherhood was showing me how strong I was or how weak.  And which was preferable.  In any case, I did my duty."

{on life pre-baby}
"Remember when we were real people?
Remember feeling in charge of your life?"

Finding... Carly's "knitting" around the house again.  She finds string and then gets kabob sticks from the kitchen and will sit and pretend to "knit" with it.  It's adorable and makes me wish I knew how to knit so I could teach her.  She's so fascinated with it.

Setting... up a great weekday schedule to follow everyday for the boys who are now home. 
6:30am Wake Up
7:00am Breakfast
8:00am Start Journals/Letter writing & History read aloud
9:00am Prodigy online (math)
10:00am Kahoots (online math competition)
11:00am Mystery Doug (science)
11:30am Storyline Online
12:00pm Lunch
12:30pm Silent Reading & Typing
1:00pm-3:00pm Screen Time
3:00-5:00pm Outside Time/Play Time
5:00pm Clean Up
5:30pm Dinner
6:30pm Story time
7:00pm Bedtime
We allow for some flexibility, but we have found that having a schedule is actually really good for our kids.  They like knowing what's next and don't do well with too much "free" time.  (It just leads to a LOT of fighting. #boymomlife)

Playing... outside so much everyday.  We are jumping on the trampoline, riding bikes & scooters, blowing bubbles and sitting in the grass.  Josh is throwing baseballs and footballs, and Carly's chasing balls through the yard to be just like her brothers.  I have never been more grateful to live in a house with a front & back yard.  And I have become SO grateful that we moved (back in August) into this house that is so much bigger than our first house.  What providential timing.

Chalking... our walk along with many of our neighbors to brighten the neighborhood and spread cheer.  The kids helped in the beginning, but sort of faded out, so I finished up each square of sidewalk.  I had so much fun doing it!  It makes me smile every time we are out there.

Watching... Jumanji 2 for family movie night Saturday while Josh made us brownies & pizza to enjoy.  It was a great movie night, all of us laughing and enjoying each other.  The perfect way to end our first week of being stuck at home together.


Laughter is how I'm getting through this.
Here are a few memes I found funny
that I thought I'd share:


And I'll close with a little encouragement.
You have so much courage.
Just keep going.
You got this.


What's Getting Me Through Quarantine (Days 1-10)

  • Chocolate chips & peanut butter
  • My new gratitude journal
  • Good books
  • Writing letters to loved ones
  • Puzzles
  • Having my teacher husband home with us
  • Diamond dot art (have you tried it yet???)
  • Homeschooling: our emotions unit; this history read aloud & Prodigy for math
  • Organizing all.the.things
  • Facetime & phone calls with family & friends
  • My 5:00am quiet time 
  • Social media, especially my Bookstagram friends like her & her & her
  • Evening walks with Josh & Grady

I have not left my house to run errands (except to sit in the car while we pick up the kids school lunches- the kids are required to be present, and they hand them to us through the car window) since March 15th.  That's ten days of being home, in quarantine.  I told Josh that at first I was surprised at how well I was handling it all, especially considering my worst type of anxiety is health anxiety.  (I'm looking at you, Coronavirus)

But then I thought about it some more, and realized, we used to do this for nine months at a time.  We would fly (in August) into our village in Alaska (where Josh taught elementary school) and be away from friends & family until mid-May.  My entire life would happen within the four walls of our home, barring an occasional visit to the post office or co-op (local "store" that was like a glorified, overpriced gas station).  Thankfully we also had friends there, a handful of fellow teachers whom we could spend time with, but most of our living happened in our home. (I'm looking at you, -30 degree weather)

One thing I am doing that is helping (a lot) with my sanity is waking up before the kids.  I spend that time doing whatever I want.  Sometimes I just scroll my phone.  But mostly I am reading or journaling, and, per the advice of my newest library book (The Stress Solution) I am saying a mantra, out loud, for two minutes. At first it felt kind of weird, but YOU GUYS when the kids start fighting and the twins are brawling over a Lego piece while Carly lays on the floor crying because I won't let her have a bag of chips for breakfast, my mantra pops right into my head and reminds me that "I am calm and in control." It is like legit magic. Highly recommend.

For homeschooling the kids, I am using the anxiety workbook a friend's counselor recommended for my kids' anxiety. It's called "What to do when you worry too much", was less than $10 on Amazon, and is SUPER easy to work with, including the kids in each lesson with drawings and discussions.  I am LOVING it.  We're also enjoying reading The History of the World by Susan Wise Bauer out loud each day.  It's the story of the world, with tons of fascinating history facts, but written in story form, so it keeps the kids' interest. We're doing Prodigy for math, and that is saving my life because my kids think they are playing a game (similar to Zelda, maybe?) with quests, but they are really doing math! Win/win!

Having my teacher husband home is, of course, also making homeschooling easier.  He is in charge of doing Science (we use Mystery Doug) and Kahoots (a competition the boys love to do) as well as running a Storyline Online while I shower.

In addition to school, I am aiming to do (at least) one thing each day that stays done (like, not dishes & laundry), and that has mainly been organizing, room by room, closet by closet. I just tackle one small thing each day.  Every single person in the house has commented on the junk drawer since I organized it last week. (It was really bad! hah!) I'm also staying busy with reading, a new sea shell puzzle and the diamond dot art the boys and I are trying to finish for Wyatt's bedroom.  (He got it for Christmas from my mom- it's been a team effort all the way!)

I shared on Instagram yesterday that before we all got stuck in our houses, I stopped by Barnes & Noble (oh how I miss you Barnes & Noble) in Vancouver and happened to pick up a gratitude journal for $8.  It has spots to write three things you're grateful for daily, and it's been a really great way for me to look for the silver lining among this craziness.  I have never been so grateful for social media as I have been in the last week and a half.  Checking on my friends, laughing at Covid19 memes (truly the best medicine) and cheering everyone to carry on has buoyed my spirit.  I also hit 500 followers on Instagram which feels exciting!

Three things I'm grateful for right now:

  • A warm cup of coffee in my hand
  • Sunny weather for my kids to play in
  • That I get to be stuck with my favorite people



around here: week 11 2020

{"I'm not tired" Exhibit A}
Jumping... on the trampoline with Carly one afternoon and cracking up over how staticky our hair got.  She looked like a giant ray of sunshine.

Building... amazing towers with magnetix after school each day.  These toys have been a great investment- all my kids play with them and they inspire lots of creativity.  This set is a good deal on Amazon.

Snuggling... with Grady any time I am on the couch.  He jumps up like he is a tiny lap dog and snuggles right in.  Mostly it's fine and I even enjoy it, but sometimes he gets really excited and jumps around and gets nippy (read: bites a little) because he just LOVES ME SO MUCH and I have to make him get down.  Haha. He's such a good dog, though, and he tolerates Carly's excessive displays of emotion, so I forgive him when he gets a little over excited  himself.

Enjoying... watching Josh throw the baseball to the boys in the backyard.  Baseball season is coming and the kids can't wait. It's our family favorite.
Also enjoying the sunrises and sunsets lately.  It just feels like a little smile & nod from above that He sees me and He loves me. Like a gentle hug.

Handling... stress the only way I know how- eating candy and reading good books. Hah!

Reading... Meg & Jo, which is a modern retelling of Little Women that I couldn't put down. It was so relatable (Meg has twins and is trying to do it all without any help) and Jo is trying to figure out what makes a life meaningful.  Apparently the second one, Amy & Beth is in the works.  I can't wait to read it!
I also started reading The Stress Solution by Rangan Chatterjee.  It is a beautiful book (the layout reminds me of Magnolia Farms things) and is simple to read, soothing and makes you feel like you could really have an impact on your stress level. (Which, to be honest, at times I don't.  Ha!)
This week I listened to Know My Name and In Five Years.  Know My Name was five stars and something I think everyone should have to listen to.  It challenged beliefs I didn't even know I held about victims of sexual assault and made me really question how our society treats and defines women. In Five Years was based on a really good idea, but the ending fell short for me and I just didn't love it.  Also the characters were a little one dimensional. Not my favorite by far.

Laughing... at Carly putting on Wyatt's sunglasses and singing, "It feels good to be a gangster".  I don't know where she gets half the stuff that comes out of her mouth, but she sure keeps us giggling.  She is also the resident chip stealer (LOVES my Doritos) and is obsessed with "gummies" (aka fruit snacks) and baby oranges in the cup.  I feel like I want to memorize everything about her right now.  She's so much fun.

Feeling... sad that the bus is so stressful for Wyatt, but knowing that hard times produce perseverance and eventually he will be stronger for having gone through this.  If I swoop in and save him (in this case, pick him up from school everyday) each time he faces something hard, he won't learn anything.  Sometimes in life we have to do things that make us uncomfortable and in the end, we survive it.
He hates the bus because it is so loud & chaotic.  I get that.  But his ride is less than ten minutes and I know that he will be okay, even if he is uncomfortable for a short period of time.

Grateful... for the amazing Barbie House Carly received from my friend Shana whose girls no longer play with it.  It is crazy how much fun she is having with it.  She plays with her pups in it, and her barbies.  Hours of fun!

Catching... up on the boys' missing work this week as we prepare for the third quarter to come to a close.  It's not easy having kids in middle school (I seriously had no idea) but at least now that we're on the third quarter, I know better than to wait until a week or two before the end to check in and see how grades are/what assignments are missing.  With seven classes per kid we need more time than we did in elementary school.

Surprised... by Carly who came upstairs the other afternoon with strawberries and bananas on kabob sticks, one for each of us, and announced that for snack she had made us "fruit kabobs" (a favorite around here).  She is so thoughtful and independent.  I was really proud of her.

Having... the twins' twin friends over for the afternoon Thursday and loving how sweet they are with Carly and our dog.  Easton even climbed into the dog crate with Carly (and Grady!) to play for a little while, making Carly's day!

Road tripping... to Vancouver with Carly & Wyatt for a visit with my mom and Erika, my sister's former foster daughter. There aren't even words to describe the hug Carly & Erika shared on the front step of my mom's house.  They hugged like girlfriends being reunited, so hard and for so long, it made my mom and I both tear up.  The bond those two have, from so long ago, is the sweetest thing I have witnessed, and letting it blossom this weekend was magic.

Hearing... while driving to Vancouver (on Friday March 13th) that schools in all of Washington state are closing for the next 6 weeks to try & slow the spread of Corona virus.
This impacted the plans we had for the weekend, as it closed the pool we were going to swim at and made us decide to stick close to home (even if it was mom's house, not ours) instead of going out like we usually do.  Luckily my sister's family was also visiting my mom, so Carly had Erika and her cousin Romy to play with, and Wyatt had both his cousins Ferris & Milo to play with.  They were all quite content.  Carly & Erika played "Rockstar" with mom's toy guitar and microphone; and the boys all played Legos & ball in the garage.

Soaking... in all the green the Pacific Northwest has to offer.  Even Carly noticed and exclaimed, "Look how green the grass is!" I didn't realize I missed moss until I was taking pictures of the moss on my dad's rock in the front yard and I was like, "Ohhh! We just don't get moss where we live. I miss it!" Haha!

Playing... in the snow with the girls when we woke up to a winter wonderland unexpectedly on Saturday. They had so much fun, and Carly cracked me up when she exclaimed that it was good "snow ball making snow" because the snow in Vancouver is much more wet than our snow in central Washington (it tends to be more dry) and she was thrilled to be able to make snow balls so easily.  She and Erika had a snowball fight (miraculously with no tears) and then they all jumped in the melting run off that was like a small creek running along the sidewalk.  Splash! Splash! Splash!

Throwing... them all into the tub when their toes and fingers got too cold to stay outside any more and then marveling over the fact that we got three little girls to love & play with this weekend.  Used to be we had five boys age 3 and under.  We never imagined we would get to do hair and pick accessories and play baby dolls.  We're living our best dream life currently!

Convincing... Carly she really did need a nap (She.was.not.tired- see exhibit A above) and that if she would just lie still she would fall asleep and get some rest and play more with her friends again once they all woke up.  (She had trouble sleeping the first night and had been awake off & on) Sure enough, all three girls slept and were great that night. Little sweethearts.

Loving... the way my mom takes care of us all and wanting to be the same way.  I was making myself a sandwich with plain bread and she swooped in out of nowhere and showed me that they had croissants and bacon and lettuce and tomatoes, and before I knew it, I had a gourmet sandwich and Lay's potato chips to go with it.

Hugging... my dad tight when I got there and before I left and, feeling so grateful for my parents and this last weekend (for who knows how long) that I got to spend with them.


because that's how I'm surviving all of this