Saturday, January 16, 2021

Wild Turkeys

This time of year, the wild turkeys graze in our yard daily.  Living in the middle of the woods means we get to enjoy a great deal of wildlife by simply looking out of our windows.  

Friday, January 15, 2021

New Years 2021

On New Years Eve, Dwayne decided to make a cake. He used the same recipe that was used in our wedding cake almost twenty years ago.  We played Scotland Yard, a game that he grew up playing.  On New Years Day, we had friends over and shared a simple meal of deli sandwiches and delectable desserts. We just enjoyed a few days filled with delightful leisure making the holiday very restful and celebratory at the same time.  

Thursday, January 14, 2021


Norah's reading Foundations.  She recently read Dune. She's always rereading Sanderson and Poe and Wells and Shakespeare and Esolen and so many others. Many of the books she reads were assigned as part of her homeschooling, originally. But many books, like Asimov's Foundations, she has come to as avid readers do via other books or conversations with other readers. It has been heartwarming and rewarding to watch her go from book to book to book through her childhood and now into her young adulthood. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2021



I pray for my daughters' friends. (I also guard their lives diligently and quite unapologetically.) I am grateful for the friends God has provided to my daughters. Interestingly, their friends' mothers are also the friends God has provided for me.  With friends, my daughters will translate Cicero, play chase, talk about books, share books, celebrate each other's gifts, and spur each other on in various good works. (And it isn't so different with the grown ups.) Iron sharpens iron at any age.  Seen in the pictures above are the gifts my oldest daughter gave/ received from her precious co-op classmate.  

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Reusing Giftbags


I save a lot of money and time by reusing gift bags, tissue paper, ribbons, etc. from birthdays and holidays. Sometimes I still need to purchase gift wrapping supplies like tissue paper. But most often, I can go months, even years, simply using what I have saved.  Over the years, our gifts have actually tended to look better and better, since we have more and more gift wrapping supplies on hand to use to adorn the gifts we give.  Most of the time the only things I have to buy are the gifts themselves.  But to be successful at saving wrapping supplies, you have to store them almost immediately and in such a way that they look as new as the day you received them. In order to ensure the supplies don't get damaged or wrinkled while in storage, I use a selection of shallow boxes that I have collected over the years to keep the items neat. And I keep all the gift wrapping materials together in a hall closet, so I can use them throughout the year.   

Friday, January 1, 2021

Books I Read in 2020

Books I read for the first time in 2020:

The Roar on the Other Side

Apologia's Chemistry

The Patriot's History of the United States

Listening for Heaven's Sake


Something They Will Not Forget

Jayber Crow

The Rector of Justin

Anna Karenina

Gawdy Night

Brave New World



Dante's Paradise

Homer's The Iliad

Books I reread in 2020:

The Office of Assertion

The Question

Northanger Abbey




The Horse and His Boy


Much Ado About Nothing

Julius Caesar

Norms and Nobility

Robinson Crusoe

The Scarlet Letter

Jane Eyre


A Tale of Two Cities

Amos Fortune

Up From Slavery

Books I read portions of in 2020:

A Beginner's Guide to Dante's Divine Comedy

Paradise Lost

Caesar's Conquest of Gaul

Miniatures and Morals

On Reading Well

Till We Have Faces

Books I started in 2020 and I am still currently reading:

The Brightest Heaven of Invention

The Consequences of Ideas

The Fellowship of the Ring


The Brother's Karamazov

How to Read Literature Like a Professor

How to Read a Book 

Rythmn of War 

A Mathematician's Lament

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Christmas 2020

 I wrapped gifts on and off for a week leading up to Christmas this year.  I usually wait till Christmas Eve and have a miserable evening.  Wrapping in stages made the chore much more bearable, even joyful, as I meditated on making each package beautiful and the joy that the girls would have in their gifts.

We always buy a gingerbread kit and we always use the leftover and unwanted Halloween candies to decorate the gingerbread house. As you can tell, the girls don't like gobstoppers or bottle caps, etc.

This December, Norah's classmate paid her to paint succulent pots for his mom as a surprise. He used an excuse to bring the pots over to us in secret earlier in the month.  Once the pots were painted, we all went over to their house for dessert and to exchange gifts a few nights before Christmas. That's how we got the pots back to her classmate in secret and in time for him to slip them under their tree. He sent a video of her unwrapping her gift and finding out that Norah had painted the pots. 

The same friend gave the girls a baby yoda she made as Christmas gift. Now "The Child" basically goes everywhere with someone at all times.

We attended Christmas Eve service in the afternoon.

We've been members of Walnut Hill since before our oldest was born more than sixteen years ago, so I realized that I have been to sixteen years of Christmas Eve services at the same church. I am thankful for that.

Our Christmas Eve, we do Advent readings and then open new pajamas.  We also opened gifts from our neighbors. They gave the oldest the most amazing practice sword and the younger girls were given microscopes.  

On Christmas morning, we make cinnamon rolls and eggs for breakfast and read the final portions of our Advent readings.  

We have an extra cell phone that we have let our oldest use when she is volunteering away from home or on field trips, etc. It recently needed to be replaced with a newer model.  Our oldest asked for a music player for Christmas, but we gave her this cell phone instead because it can also serve as a music player.  Note: If she were more interested in having a cell phone, we'd be less willing to give her one. But since she could really care less, that's a strong proof she'll use it well. We had a lot fun writing out terms and conditions for its use. And the whole family had a lot of fun laughing as she read them aloud Christmas morning. Note: She was somewhat obviously disappointed with this gift until we pointed out to her that a cell phone can be used as a music player as well.   

We gave the middle daughter an iPod, something she asked for also, so she can listen to music and audio books, etc.

Dwayne's company sends a ham every year at the holidays. So we had ham, homemade mac and cheese, roasted Brussel sprouts, pineapple casserole, spicy honey mustard, and cranberry chutney for Christmas dinner.  

The sky outside was beautiful as we ate dinner. 

The youngest girls were old enough to make the homemade rolo turtle candies without much help from me. After dinner, we played Candy Lab, a new game our relatives sent.

On the morning after Christmas, we had a big breakfast of sausage gravy and biscuits.  I made sixteen bean soup with leftover ham and put it on to simmer all day on the back burner.  Our relatives sent us Carotgraphers, too, so we played that after breakfast. 

I bought our middle daughter several colors of concentrated water color. So the girls are now able to paint just about anything on Let's Make Art's Your Tube channel. So they have been painting on and off all day.  

We are enjoying these days of celebration, worship, and rest. 

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Goals for 2021

I'm making some goals for 2021.  

I'm keeping it simple, going back to the basics. 

1. Read the One Year Bible.  

2. Clean with Fly Lady. 

3. Take my vitamins and count calories. 

4. Read at least one book a week. 

5. Exercise five or six days a week.  (Anything from strenuous weight lifting to simple walks will count towards this goal.)

6. Contact one family member or friend every day. 

I've done all these things consistently in the past. I still do most of these somewhat consistently, but the last few years have been so busy and emotionally and physically challenging that I have fallen out of these healthy habits for weeks or even months at a time. So I am putting a renewed focus on these simple things that make the most difference in my spiritual and physical well-being for 2021.  

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

New Leisure Time

I'm done with my first semester of grad school. My oldest just finished all her CCPlus work for this semester.  It's also the official first day of Christmas break for our Classical Conversations Community.  A big snow storm is only hours away, so it's freezing outside. And I'm still a bit worn out from a full day of Blue Book testing and lively conversation with my Challenge 3 class yesterday. So I've got my feet up by the fire and I am leisurely reading five books at the same, literally. I'm reading one chapter in a book and then switching to another and then another.  I haven't been free to read what I want in months and I just don't know where to start, so I am just reading them all at the same time.  Whenever I get too restless from sitting and reading, I'll listen to my favorite podcasts and do some housework and/or meal prep. In the next few days, I actually look forward to writing a new essay on The Iliad for the Circe Apprenticeship, assessing my students' Blue Book exams, and writing their progress reports. Those are next things on my official to-do list. But for today and maybe tomorrow, too, I'm taking time to simply enjoy life and my new leisure time. The girls are also leisurely doing some schoolwork (but not all of it), reading books chosen from the library, playing piano, or writing their stories near me.       

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Read Aloud Moments

I snapped this photo of Avril all wrapped up in a quilt listening to our family read aloud, since she looked so adorable and cozy.  We're on the last book in The Wingfeather Saga. We read a chapter or two several evenings a week first thing right after dinner.  Sometimes our parrot, Arcus, will join us and he'll choose someone to favor and allow them to pet him.  Tonight he perched on Norah's shoulder and shirt collar as she read and tried to imitate her voice by making a rumbling noise. When she's reading, he makes a noise just like an a.m. radio station that hasn't come in clear yet. When she pauses, he stops. He's a huge distraction, and we all laugh, just reinforcing his behavior.