Monday, July 9, 2018

A little catching up...

I haven't been the best at blogging regularly for awhile now. I am hoping to do better in the coming months. Until then, here's a quick little photo update from the last few months. 

While we were waiting for our house to finish being built, we checked on it every Sunday after church. This time the kids played king of the gravel pit! 
The girls and I went exploring in downtown Franklin one Sunday afternoon... only to find out that in small town in the south nearly every shop was closed. So we took pictures instead. 
A Trader Joe's impulse buy turned into a wonderful, and beautiful, horticulture experiment while we were living in temporary housing in Franklin, TN.
Exploring a new nature park on a cold and rainy day. The different mosses and lichen that were growing in the dampness of new rain was spectacular.
Salamander egg sack. SO COOL!!!!
Everyone together for a trip to our new science museum. 
Our newest family members, our adopted kitties... Aslan is on the left, and Apricot is on the right.
Sleepy kitties...
Some Mother's Day silliness... at least they bought me Paleo donuts from Five Daughters Bakery first.
More donuts... this time for National Donut Day.
The kids and I traveled to Virginia and spent a week with friends doing science experiments. They videoed nearly everything, but thanks to Hannah, I have this awesome photo of an experiment they did burning different salt compounds.
Fourth of July, downtown Franklin style.
We had the opportunity to go watch fireworks in downtown Nashville, from the 21st floor of the "Batman Building". I've never been that close to a fireworks display before, nor have I ever been eye-level. It was an incredible experience.
Some fun, new artwork. Come over and see it in person! :)
A view of the sunset from my bedroom window last night. There is so much beauty here.
A clean kitchen counter... a rare sighting around my house. But a beautiful one when it happens.

A new attempt at order...

Through the years, I've attempted to create at least a hundred chore charts and cleaning schedules. There have been times that I have used them well, consistently instructing and following up with my kiddos on a job well done. Then there have been other times that the chore chart mocks me as I walk past the refrigerator, unused and forgotten.

We've been in our new home for around 3 1/2 months now. We're pretty well settled into our routines, with a relatively predictable schedule. But the house is a wreck. The kids don't seem to notice the messes they make or the clutter they produce. I want them to be creative and explore their interests. I am striving to walk in the Spirit and be laid back about the house, but I have my limits, and we've recently crossed them. So, tonight I worked on some new chore charts.

I've wrestled with the concept of giving kids an allowance for a full decade now. I have no context for knowing if an allowance helped me develop a work ethic, I had to get a job at fourteen to help make sure we could keep the water running and the electricity on. I don't want to raise spoiled children simply because we can afford to feed and clothe them without violating child labor laws. So, after much discussion, Elliot and I have decided to give the kids a weekly allowance. However, we also decided that it wouldn't be "free" money, it is tied to a weekly job and some general helping out around the house. We've got them set up with some envelopes for tithe (10%), generosity (10%), saving (40%) and spending (40%). And we've also given them permission that if they don't feel like doing their assigned jobs, they can pay someone else the money they would have received to do the task themselves. Nothing like free market enterprise, right?

Here's a sneak peek at what I've come up with... I am sure some tweaks will be needed. Some jobs are harder than others, but the jobs rotate weekly, so everyone will have a fair share at the fun... eventually.

We start tomorrow. I'll let you know how it goes. :)

Thursday, April 12, 2018

23,000 pounds...

I have been striving towards a practical version of minimalism for the last few years, yet despite my purging and efforts not to buy new things, the stuff we brought with us to Tennessee weighed 23,000 pounds. And I have the joy of unpacking all 23,000 pounds. And trying to figure out where the 23,000 pounds of stuff should go. And mentally calculating how many more pounds we would have moved had I not been culling through things the last few years.

It's a mental game for me, trying to figure out how to find new homes for old things. The spaces in our new home are laid out very differently than in our last home, though I love the feel and layout of our new home. Unpacking is going slowly because I am trying to be thoughtful. Some days are like a rollercoaster, as counters get cleared off only to be cluttered again as I unpack another box or realize that some place I put something didn't work out and needed to be pulled out. Other days the kids need to play more than I need to organize and strategize the unpacking.

I am looking forward to finishing the living room so that we can have a space to relax and recharge in. Then I am planning to finish the bedrooms. The loft and office scare me (if I am being honest), and the boys have no interest in unboxing Legoland in the basement (they have interest in playing with the legos, just not unpacking the fifteen or so boxes their boxes of Legos and buildings are currently residing in).

Some of you are more seasoned in the moving business. Any tips? How do you figure out where to put stuff in a new space? How quickly do you get things unpacked and put away? How much do your kids help in the process?

Sunday, April 8, 2018

We're not in Kansas anymore...

Okay, let's be honest, I've only ever driven through Kansas on the way to Nebraska to visit friends. But for real, we're not in TEXAS anymore. It's weird to say it out loud. We don't live in Texas anymore. Somewhere around 30, I think I gave up the idea of every living anywhere besides my birth country state.

Yet, in a surprise turn of events, 40 has brought more than some creaky joints and thinning hair. A couple of months ago, we hitched up the wagons and made our way for Tennessee, just a tad south of Nashville. Two and a half years ago when we moved from South Texas to North Texas, I was anxious and worried about many things; leaving the only home I'd ever known, not knowing if friends I adored would still be friends beyond an Instagram like from time to time, would the kids adjust to a new location? But this move cross-country was met with much excitement and adventurousness. The first time we drove across the state line into Tennessee, my heart jumped for joy (and the kids hooted with excitement).

I love Texas. I always will. I married a Texan in Texas. I birthed my six babies in Texas. I made some of the world's most amazing friends in Texas. I am sure the kids and I brought buckets of Texas dirt with us in the crevices of our many pairs of muddy, life lived outdoors, shoes.

But I love Tennessee. In fact, I love it here so much I sometimes feel a little bit guilty, like I am not being faithful to my beloved Texas. I know that sounds silly, but I really did buy into that Texas pride thing like nobody's business.

And I do miss people. If I am being honest, I am also selfish. Seriously, if I could move all my friends here, I totally would. And I miss family, the idea of being close enough for someone to drive up, even if that rarely happened, was a comfort. But, thankfully, it's a pretty short flight, so I am hoping everyone knows that the "Vacancy" sign is hung out front anytime you want to check out the Nashville scene. Or to come hang out with us.

God has generously blessed us with a precious church, some sweet friends, kids settling into activities (albeit some kids have had to change direction from things they'd wanted to try), an amazing home, and a breathtaking landscape. Every day that I have to drive the kids to their activities, I am filled with awe of God's amazing handiwork in creation all around us.

We're excited to see what God has planned for us in this new place. We're thankful for the opportunity to follow His leading, through the mountains and the valleys. And, as previously mentioned, we're open for visitors!