Just words...

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving! My parents hosted it this year, which meant a short 15 minute drive instead of our usual 50 minute drive. We missed my other aunt and uncle, but saw one aunt/uncle set and spent the day with my parents, brother and "Aunt Fancy" and her husband. We call her "Aunt Fancy" because both of the aunts are named Karen, but this particular aunt owns a lovely black and white horse named Fancy. Ava loves the horse, and consequently, loves Aunt Fancy!

We saw my in laws on Saturday for turkey dinner number two, and spent that day lounging, watching football, and I was knitting like a madwoman to finish a certain Christmas present...
My mother in law sure makes a delish pecan pie!

After two days of culinary indulgence, we spent Sunday working HARD, getting our house decorated inside. Before Ava was born, we used to get our tree and such on the weekend after Thanksgiving. But...once she came along, we felt that having the house decorated for Christmas on her birthday every year was just not the best idea...for many reasons.

This year, however, we are taking an unexpected trip waaaaaay down South, right smack in the middle of the month. So, we asked (very nicely!) if Ava minded having the tree up for her birthday party this time. She cheerfully said, "Sure!" but then decided that it was HER birthday tree and the boys could put NO boy ornaments on it. Uh-oh! There were tears, and it got worked out, but I kind of doubt we'll be doing this again any time soon.

All weekend, I felt like I was on the up part of a roller-coaster...tick...Tick...TIck...TICK and guess what's happening today? Happy Monday to me! Over the top...aaaaAAAHHHHHHHH! Ha!

With volunteer work, three classroom parties for our co-op, two violin lessons, a haircut (that I'm doing), and a birthday party to plan and throw, this week seems a bit daunting. Not my typical week, we've cut WAY back on crazy time obligations from what we used to.

We'll make sure to drink plenty of kefir smoothies and eat lots of green veggies and healthy fats to keep our immune systems bolstered during this stressful week. We also use something called Berry Well daily during stress or a cold/flu time of year. This stuff is fantastic, and tastes good. Perfect for anyone who is "new" to alternative medicine and having a hard time getting their kids to swallow the garlic and honey!

I"m doing some experimental food drying this week and next in prep for our upcoming road trip, which I hope to be able to share with all of you. Also, my packing list and how we still eat healthy when we travel!

Happy Monday, everyone!



this Boy


this Dog

we had to say


but the pictures





one more Last Time

Babywearing is near and dear to my heart...

it's one of the things I miss most about not having a tiny one in the house...and one of the things I hope I'll get to do again someday

Back in the spring, Ava went through a brief spurt of asking me to wear her on my back as I did housework. She was the one I wore the most as an infant because I was finally at home full time. After having to leave my boys as babies with a sitter, I just didn't want to put Ava down!

I knew that these were going to be the last times she asked me...she's getting so big and independent...as she should be!

So...as I wore her one more Last Time, I grabbed the camera and stopped time with our reflection in my dirty living room mirror...

i love you, baby girl!



We have this beautiful tree in the smack middle of our backyard...it's some type of hydrangea, we call it the "snowball bush"

Every summer, beautiful white round flower clusters grow, and snowball fights in shorts is a popular activity

Ava loves the flowers...

Daddy and I don't love the location of the bush


can't bear to cut it down!


It's about time!

Yesterday was my birthday.
It made me think about endings and beginnings
and it made me think about how much I had missed writing about our journey
during my hiatus.

I'm ready to pick back up again!

here's a little bit of this
and a little bit of that...

We took an amazing vacation to Hilton Head Island at the end of August/beginning of September.
It was all about the ocean! I had three pairs of wide eyes and thirty curious toes discovering everything there is about the seashore.

It was without a doubt the most incredible trip ever. After the initial discomfort of figuring out the island, enjoying our time together was effortless.  Our condo was right on the beach, and it was off-season, so we had a little strip of heaven all to ourselves.

We saw coastal wildlife, plenty of dead sea critters washed ashore (even a dead armadillo!) and got our fill of watching the magic of a sand dollar burrow it's way into the beach.

We saw an indignant puffer fish, a baby flounder, noisy blue crabs, oyster beds squirting up at the sun, and curious dolphins.

...and a really cute bunny by our boardwalk!

We went on a road trip south one day and toured the deep mystery of Savannah in a yellow trolley.  The city seduced us with it's magical canopy of trees and soothing green squares.  Forsythe Park amazed us and we spent an hour or so gazing at the white iron fountain...and giggling at the partially nude mer-men and long necked geese sculpted at the bottom!
At the end of the day, our ears ringing with tales of fearsome pirates and desecrated graveyards, we wound our way deeper into the city and enjoyed flavorful local fare for dinner.

We also took time out from the beach to go see Fort Pulaski and Fort Sumter, squeezing in all the history we could in the all too short week we had.  Gazing at century-old brick, molded by hands, and scarred by canon balls, we took a step back in time and appreciated our past all the more.

On the way back north we breezed through Charleston and gawked at the stunning waterfront residences. Having no more than a few hours in the city, I rolled down my window and had Marvin drive slowly as I photographed everything beautiful (which was everything I saw!)

The very last day of the trip, Marvin surprised me with a tour through one of Charleston's few remaining precious gems, a plantation home called Drayton Hall.
It's been left in it's natural state, only preserved, not restored. Original sun faded paint partially covering the hand carved mahogany ornaments on the walls, and no furniture to distract the eye from the architectural loveliness made for a veritable feast for my eyes! Sadly, our jaded tour guide rushed us through and I wasn't able to satiate my photographic appetite!! But it was still awesome...

When we got home, it was time to jump right in to our school year. There are definite advantages (like cost!) to taking a vacation at the beginning of everyone else's school year, but also disadvantages. Our homeschool co-op that we participate in started the week we got back, and I felt oh-so-rushed and pressured to rapidly undo the post vacation disaster that overtakes the house when one returns from a trip.

This time around at the co-op, I'm teaching a class, so there was even more prep and pressure involved! Fortunately, I had spent time in the summer planning out the entire two semesters in great detail, so I was able to be a bit more relaxed on the first day.

The kids did great, last year Benji was extremely clingy and I could go NOwhere (not even the bathroom) without him attached to my side, and Alec nervously used walkie talkies for several weeks to find me. This year, OH MY GOODNESS! It's like I have entirely different children!

I don't see Alec all day at all until it's time to go home, and I hardly see Benji and Ava unless I"m walking them to their next class. It's amazing what little time and patience can do when there are frustrating developmental stages with a child!

The class I'm teaching is going well, it's my first time working closely with teenagers...They are awesome! I've enjoyed every minute (mostly!) of it so far, except for the fact that we never have enough time in class to accomplish what I want to.

I finally got my curriculum choices for this school year narrowed down for my three...I had a major hitch in my giddyap a few weeks ago, though, when Alec found a history book on the shelf and positively BEGGED to use it instead of what we had planned.  Thank goodness we hadn't ordered anything yet!

You know you're doing something right when your child is begging to use a history book! So...we're derailing from our grand plan (which was to switch everyone over to Sonlight) and heading down the now familiar path of an ecclectic school year. A little bit of this and a little bit of that!

Benji's remedial exercises for reading are coming along very nicely, and Ava had her very first formal reading lesson today. Although she already knew what I was teaching her...that girl has a mind like a steel trap and has been listening in to her brothers lessons her whole life!

We are still doing the GAPS diet...have been since May. We did try and stick closely on our trip, but had a few "illegal" meals, too!  I promise I'll write about all that soon. I have some great food photos and recipes to post and lots to share about how going grain free has helped our family.

I've also recently learned that I have hypo-thyroid (low-functioning) and while to some that may seem dismal, I'm actually quite relieved. I've been feeling like something just wasn't right ever since Ava was born and this answers and explains a whole lot.  I'm looking forward to sharing this new journey to healing with all of you!

I'm finally feeling like I've got a pretty good handle on the routine of our life at this moment...but I know that won't last long! God has a habit of shaking up my snow globe the moment the flakes settle!!

And now, because it's the end of a long day of school, house cleaning, food making and violin practicing...I'm heading to my pillow!

'Night all...and thanks for reading!

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