December 31, 2014

2014 Year In Review

This is usually my favorite post to write. Turns out that 2014 was filled with a lot of hurt and frustration that overshadowed the entire year. I sat down and attempted to write this post on 2 or 3 (okay about 5) occasions. Each time, I found myself pounding away at the keys with tears streaming down my face, so I would close my laptop and just deal with the fact that the task still loomed over me. I told myself that I didn't have to write it but that didn't take away the urge to do so. I chronicle my year. It's a habit. One that matters in the long run. And one day I'll look back and be glad I didn't skip it just because it was hard. So, I am choosing to focus on the good from 2014 because, despite the bad, a lot of great things happened! Here goes...

I remember making the decision to homeschool. I think I always knew that we would. It just took a little time for me to process it. I remember being amazed at how much easier it was than what I had expected. I remember the relief I felt of not being put into the public school box any more. Both her as a student and me as a parent. It was really freeing. I remember being surprised countless times at just how bright my child really is.
I remember rearranging our entire upstairs to accommodate the changes that homeschool would bring. I still think our Family Bedroom is quite possibly one of the best ideas I've ever had.
I remember sending an invitation to Linden, TN and planning a Family Valentine's Party with Skylar. It was complete with homemade decorations, gifts and yummy heart-shaped foods. And origami hearts. She was obsessed with origami for a while.
I remember weekly themed dinner nights with our friends where my house filled with 12 girls. We chatted and played and ate. Good times!

I remember dress shopping so that Skylar could be a flower girl. She latched onto a sparkly belt and that sealed the deal. Yeah, that little beaded ensemble was almost $70 but, because the Little Princess liked it, we bought it. Basically, we would have paid anything so long as my favorite tom boy found a dress that she would wear.
I remember Lil Sista's wedding. She was beautiful and radiant and told Skylar that she could dance her way out of the church after the ceremony. Therefore, my child did "the sprinkler" all.the.way down the aisle. Y'all have no idea how much she loves to dance.

I remember my first FaceTime doula baby. Born on his due date of all things, in 3 hours from start to finish. His mama is my Dallas bestie and she's a rockstar! I got to snuggle that sweet boy a few weeks later and it was much needed. Babies really are good for the soul!

I remember the Teach Them Diligently Homeschool conference. It was so nice to be among like-minded people all reminding me to relax and make this homeschool journey my own. Hopefully next year I can master the vendor hall. That sucker was overwhelming!

I remember doing Easter at home. Again, another one of my great ideas. This year, I really have learned more and more about not fitting into other people's boxes.

Starting with... if you are going to have shrubs, they might as well be useful. I remember (ex)Neighbor Wade coming over to help us pull out all of our bushes with his truck so that we could put in berry bushes. I also have a very fond memory of seeing him and Mike sitting on the back of the truck and just chatting afterwards. A sign of a successful mission between friends!
I remember reading at bedtime with Skylar. We finished Charlotte's Web, Because of Winn Dixie and several Little House on the Prairie books. The best part was hearing her ask for more!

I remember that Skylar made me a waterfall house in Minecraft for Mother's Day. That was about as special as it gets.

I remember another School's Out for Summer trip to the beach. I remember squirt gun fights on the beach, sneaking over to the hotel next door for movies by the pool, and watching my fearless girl teach herself to swim. A few weeks later she swam for 5 hours straight at a friend's house.

I remember feeling a strong conviction to be baptized. It felt awkward to do it as an adult. In the end, I decided I would much rather please God than people. It was a wonderful experience and I hope I encouraged others to also follow the prompting of the Lord.

Speaking of, I specifically remember the Lord asking me to go to Uganda. This homebody did NOT want to go. I also remember the sweet freedom that came from being obedient and saying "yes". Turns out, this trip was one of the most fulfilling things I have ever done.

I will never forget Uganda. Touching those bellies. Teaching those women. Listening to the little swooshing heartbeats. And the privilege of traveling half way around the world with my Birmingham Bestie, the person who introduced me to this little piece of Africa through Pearl. I remember other things, like bats. One day that will be funny but not quite yet.
I remember tending to my little redneck garden. There is something really therapeutic about gardening. It's always exciting to see what's new each day. Like a heart-shaped tomato. I tried pumpkins for the first time and they took over my back yard. They also literally helped me explain the birds and the bees, even though it was a little earlier than I would have liked to.
I remember our neighborhood buddy LeDarrin hanging out here quite a bit. He is such a good friend for Skylar. He even helped her learn to ride her bike after countless attempts from me and Mike.
I fondly remember art camp because the Clay Lady is simply amazing but mostly because Skylar asked Jesus to be her Savior in the parking lot on July 17th.
I remember spending 2 weeks at the Cabin to close out the summer. I was hiding, really. I wasn't sure why at the time but it was greatly needed. It recharged me and gave me some perspective. Plus, it gave my kid some good ole fashioned summer fun.
I remember my first train trip. It was very unique and a great way to celebrate our 9th anniversary. We discovered DelMonaco Winery on that trip. I never thought I would like blackberry wine but theirs is amazing.

I remember my Daddy picking me a bumper crop of elderberry. He speaks my love language. Well, he does when he's not busy still trying to convince me to move back to Alabama. But I do have a soft spot for how he always pursues me.

I remember going gluten-free and it not being near as bad as I thought it would be.

I remember that Dr. Enuf, my village, YouTube (for the kiddo), and wine got me through conference season this year. And cute little Ruby nose scrunches to brighten my day. What would I do without them?
I remember being deeply hurt. After hiding under the covers for a few days I also remember wanting to clean all.the.things because that's my coping mechanism.

I remember that this Halloween will go down in history as the year I wore a box on my head for the sake of my child. Minecraft has been all the rage around here for the last year.
There are really no words to describe how much I rely on Pinterest, Etsy, Amazon & Siri. They complete me.

I remember finger knitting with my Mom at the kitchen table. It was during a time when I was processing a lot in my life. She just let me knit and read and play in her scrapbook room. And she always made sure I had a glass of wine. It was the perfect combination of space & a safe place.

I remember that anticipation really is the best part of traveling. I remember Wednesday nights spent day dreaming over Disney details. I remember going to the happiest place on Earth at the most wonderful time of year with my favorite people. It was indeed a magical trip that I will never forget!
I remember Skylar watching Dolphin Tale and telling us she is going to work there when she grows up. So, we went to see Winter in real life. I also remember that my kiddo still holds her title as World's Best Traveler!

I remember ringing in the New Year with Peppermint Hot Chocolate and Settlers of Catan.

In conclusion, I'm thankful for a new-found Nashville friendship that really blossomed over this last year. I'm not quite sure how I would have made it without her. I'm thankful for my kiddo and homeschooling and the amount of time that we get to be together. I'm thankful that I'm learning more and more how to be comfortable in my own skin. How to own my thoughts and emotions and not take on responsibility and guilt for other people's actions. It's becoming easier to not worry about what other people think of me. My only goal is to truly embrace the Lord's will for my life. To know that every bump in the road is for a purpose and to trust Him. To praise Him and be obedient, always. Well, to try my best.

2014 was really quite spectacular in the grand scheme of things and that's how I want to remember it. Just like this.

December 2014 in Pictures

Here are a few photos from the past month. 
 This year Skylar was finally able to touch Red Robin.
 At the archery range.
 Mickey shirts for Disney.
Gluten free, peppermint cupcakes for my birthday!
 Carl needed a stocking so I crafted this from my scrap fabric. Carl is getting needy. He also needed presents in his stocking. 
Proof that the box is just as much fun as the gift. I heart Amazon!
Making reindeer antlers at Awana.
Somebody is excited about her new cowboy boots and Auburn hoodie!
tLG at Upward evaluations.
Christmas at Disney!
Flynn & Rapunzel 
 We met Winter!

Don't forget to check out our December update for full details.

December 2014 Update

Oh, December! You whirlwind, you. Let's back up and start at the beginning.

The Elf. Since I let the cat out of the bag about Santa I was hoping to be relieved of my nightly duty to move the elf. Because, well, I suck at remembering to do it. Except that tLG still expects it to move. Even though she knows it's not real. It's all about the chase. Something new to look forward to every day. I should have known. Lordy. So, once again I had to ask Siri to please remind me every night at 9:30 pm to "Move The Thing." Y'all have no idea how much I depend on Siri. Seriously.
Archery. Somebody managed to watch Hunger Games over Thanksgiving break. And then somebody proceeded to ask me about archery nonstop until I found an archery range. Turns out that somebody seems to have a natural talent for archery. By the end of our first lesson, somebody was shooting arrows into the long target with the big bow. And now somebody is having their birthday party at the archery range next month. Because somebody wanted a Minecraft party and there are bows and arrows in Minecraft.

Me? My arm looked like this when I was done. I don't think I was doing something right. Ouch!
Birthday. I turned 35 this month. Yes, I'm actually admitting my age. I have claimed to be turning 25 for the past 10 years. It's been a running joke in our family. But, for some reason, I actually feel good about turning 35. I've been doing a lot of reflecting lately. I think back to the person I was at 25 and cringe. I'm not convinced that 30 was much better. The Lord has been hard at work these last 5 years and I am thankful. Each day I am becoming more and more comfortable in my own skin. I am more patient and slower to speak and act. I've figured out what makes me tick, where my comfort zone is, what pushes my buttons, and how I cope with the uncomfortable. Most importantly I'm learning to embrace the uncomfortable because I've been shown enough times that God will use that circumstance to stretch and grow me. Now, I could be dead wrong here, but I think 35 is going to be a good year. Because, for starters, We. Went. To. DISNEY!!!

Disney. This trip got planned after a few casual text messages between me and my Nashville bestie discussing how much we love Disney. So we decided to go together. At Christmas! Let's see. "The most magical place on Earth" at the "most wonderful time of the year" with my most favorite people? Yes please! The best part? Victoria loves Disney even more than I do and basically planned our entire vacation. It was like I had my own professional Disney planner. Disney will have  to have it's own recap post but here are just a few teaser photos. Seriously, you just can't beat Christmas at Disney!
Christmas. I let tLG open her big gift before we left on vacation (camo luggage) and she opened her stocking on our last night in Disney. Tucked inside were tickets to the Clearwater Animal Marine Hospital. You may recall that this kid claims she is going to work there when she grows up and is enamored with the Dolphin Tale movies. So she was thrilled to meet Winter + Hope in real life. After a little layover in Clearwater we made the trek back to Nashville. My girl really is a fantastic traveler!
And now we are getting ready to welcome 2015. I can hardly believe it. For one last look at December photos, click here.

December 27, 2014

a look back at my 2014 resolutions

Before we move into 2015, it's only fitting to take a look back and see how I did on my 2014 resolutions.

1. Homeschool. Nailed it! We completed the last semester of 1st grade and are sailing through 2nd grade. I can't even tell you how much better homeschooling fits our lifestyle. I seriously don't miss public school one bit. In the last year I have been approached by probably 10 other families who are at the same crossroads I was at this time last year. I love giving the homeschool pep talk because I know how miserable they are and I know how much better things are about to get. It's not for everyone but if you are even considering it, then you are already sold on the benefits of it. The logistics just naturally work themselves out. Ultimately, you will wish you had done it sooner. And if you need the official pep talk, give me a call.

2. Keep a half tank of gas in my car. Check! At first this was REALLY difficult. It seemed that every time I got to a half a tank it was raining or snowing or sleeting or just plain ole #freakingwinter! But I was determined to be disciplined and I'm happy to report that this is a habit I started and kept the whole year. Granted, the fact that I don't have to drive back and forth to school twice a day (see above) has totally helped. I still only have to put gas in my car about once a week. That's right, math whizzes. I only use 2 gallons of gas per MONTH! See? #1 is looking better already.

Now, I don't always do well on my new year's resolutions. In fact, some years I have failed miserably (2010, 2011, 2012) hence the reason I kept 2014 short and manageable.

I hope you achieved everything you hoped to over the last year. I'd love to hear how you did.

December 26, 2014

Books I Read in 2014

Here's a quick look back at all of the books I read this past year. It's been a while since I have A) read this much and B) documented it. I was pretty impressed that I snuck in 25 books this year. Also, I finally caved and signed up for Good Reads (follow me). Hence the reason I actually tracked what I read. As you can see, I read a variety of books and they fall into a few different categories. 

  1. Looking for Alaska (John Green)
  2. The One & Only (Emily Giffin) - My Review
  3. Four: A Divergent Story (Veronica Roth) - My Review
  4. The Fault in Our Stars (John Green)
  5. Paper Towns (John Green)
  6. Allegiant (Veronica Roth) - My Review
  7. Insurgent (Veronica Roth)
  8. Divergent (Veronica Roth) - My Review
  9. Wild (Cheryl Strayed) - My Review
*Notes: I grew tired of John Green even though some people rave about him. I read the books all out of order (they aren't a series) but I found that his characters from book 1 & 3 were very similar and I wasn't impressed. The Fault In Our Stars was decent. Now... the Divergent Series? I LOVED them. I blew through those books in a few days at a time. I haven't read that voraciously since the Twilight series. 

  1. Dad Is Fat (Jim Gaffigan) - My Review
  2. A Love That Multiplies (Michelle & Jim Bob Duggar) - My Review
  3. The Year of Learning Dangerously (Quinn Cummings) - My Review
  4. Growing Up Duggar (Jana, Jill, Jessa, Jinger Duggar) - My Review 
*Notes: I do love me some Duggars. I wish they would write another book. I soak up every word. 

  1. Because of Winn-Dixie (Kate DiCamillo)
  2. Charlotte's Web (E.B. White)
  3. Little House on the Prairie (Laura Ingalls Wilder)
  4. On the Banks of Plum Creek (Laura Ingalls Wilder)
  5. Be the Shores of Silver Lake (Laura Ingalls Wilder)
*Notes: Most every night me and tLG climb into bed and read a chapter or two of a book. The best part is being able to watch the movie afterwards. 

  1. Monique and the Mango Rains (Kris Holloway) - My Review
  2. Motherwit (Onnie Lee Logan) - My Review
  3. Listen to Me Good (Margaret Smith)
  4. Ina May's Guide to Childbirth (Ina May Gaskin)
  5. The Amish Midwife (Mindy Starns Clark)
  6. The Law of Similars (Chris Bohjalian)
  7. A Midwife's Story (Penny Armstrong)
*Notes: Some of these are biographies and others are pure fiction. But I do love reading birth-related books fiction or not. 

What was your favorite book of 2014? Maybe it will make my reading list for 2015. I need suggestions. 

November 30, 2014

November 2014 Update

November was thankfully very quiet and calm so there's not a whole lot to report other than some random facts & events.

K-Diddy and Mimi came for a visit and were the first victims of our very own cockroach pranks, which is probably only funny if you know The Wilsons.

Skylar learned to finger knit and then tried to teach her Aunt Sheila via You Tube.

We voted. Then tracked the election results and called it homeschool. Because we can. And because it is. :)

We celebrated Veteran's Day. With art.

Fall happened and it was gorgeous. Too bad it was promptly followed by snow.

tLG learned to cook spaghetti.

We visited Opryland to see the lights although Skylar's favorite part is the nutcrackers.

The Bishop family went to Gatlinburg and tLG had a blast with her cousins.

I watched the Iron Bowl with a bunch of crazy Alabama fans & my mama. Roll Tide!

That about sums up November.