Wednesday, August 26, 2015

What's Up Wednesday: Thai, Pho, Homeschool, Orthodontia and Football

Well, tonight we ate florentine stuff chicken breasts, spinach and sun-dried wild rice and sautéed green beans. 
Last night we ate leftovers.  And since we don't get home until nearly 7:00 on Monday nights, that has to either be something in the crockpot or something quick.  So this week it was dogs in a blanket (crescent-wrapped hotdogs).  I feel like I'm in a cooking rut right now.  I think the real problem is I can't exactly cook what I've been craving to eat lately: pad Thai and pho (Vietnamese soup).  Not at the same time though.  I made pad Thai for the first time a couple of months ago, and it really wasn't bad at all.  But I'm the only one who will eat it, and it took a lot of work considering I actually had to prepare two meals.  I found some recipes for pho, but I decided it would just be easier to get that at a restaurant.  I told a friend of mine last week that next time we have girls' night out, it needs to be Thai or Vietnamese!

I've been thinking a lot lately about our time living in Mississippi.  It was such a short time, only two years.  But I've often wondered what it would be like if we still lived there.  Would we still be living in the same house we bought when we first moved there?  Some of our friends have since moved.  Would be still be hanging out with our old peeps or would we have new peeps, too?  Where would the kids be going to school?  Would we be homeschooling?  How would we be serving in our church?  Who would our kids' friends be?

Homeschool.  Yep.  We've been at it for three weeks.  And maybe we're still in the honeymoon phase.  I'm sure there will be some "bad" days.  Maybe.  But right now we're all absolutely loving it.

Homeschool.  We basically spent this month getting used to our new schedule, figuring out what works best for us and how can best spend our time each day.  We've already had one field trip, and we have a back-to-school bash with our homeschool group this Friday.

Today I was dreading taking Mason to the dentist.  It was our fifth trip in only three months.  His mouth is a hot mess, and it's going to require a lot of orthodontia.  But our orthodontist is trying to be as conservative as possible and give Mason's teeth a little more time to do their thing on their own before making them.  The only problem with that is that now we're having to take measures to prevent his new permanent teeth from getting any worse in their placement than they already are.  So he was fitted with an appliance in the bottom of his mouth in May to maintain some space and to hopefully encourage some permanent teeth to come on in that we've been waiting on for over a year.  Our dentist actually installed this appliance because our insurance covered it 100%.  If our orthodontist would've done it, we would've paid about $500.  They took impressions and then he got the appliance.  It didn't really fit correctly to begin with, but the dentist did the best she could with it.  In less than three weeks, one of the back bands popped off, and Mason actually chewed the thing to smithereens before telling me about it.  So back to the dentist we went.  They acknowledged that it just never really fit right to begin with so they did more impressions and had it made again to fit a little differently.  Of course, our insurance wasn't going to pay for this replacement appliance, but our dentist was so sweet to not charge us for the new one.  All of this happened by the end of June.  

Last week Mason came to me, and one of the little wires had come completely undone from the back band.  The thing was just flopping around everywhere, and he was playing with it with his tongue!  I was so irritated that I didn't even call the dentist.  This is the same kid who can't keep a pair of tennis shoes longer than six months without putting holes in them, the same kid who puts holes in the knees of all of his pants, the same kid who is so rough on EVERYTHING.  I knew it couldn't stay like that so I called the dentist yesterday and took him today.  I told her that if she couldn't fix it, I wanted her to take it out, and I did not want another one.  I told her I was DONE with that thing.  There was no way I was going to pay $500 for something that's already broken twice.  Bring on the orthodontia!  

Long story short, Dr. H looked at it and said there's no way it should've broken like it did.  She also said he really, really needs it right now (I just didn't even question her because last time we had this conversation, she didn't feel that strongly about it.  So obviously she saw something today that changed her mind.).  So they took the broken one out, and she is going to send it back to the manufacturer and ask for yet another one done a different way.  She doesn't know if the manufacturer will charge her for the new appliance or not (because she thinks it's defective), but she said it doesn't matter because she is not going to charge us either way.  I'm dreading going back in a few weeks to get the new appliance because something tells me it won't last either.  We just need to make it to November.  That's his next orthodontist appointment.  I'm about ready to tell them to fill his mouth with metal and get this show on the road!

And y'all know what he asked me as soon as we walked out the door?  "Mom, can we go to the store real quick and get me some gum?  I want to chew gum everyday until we come back."

I can't blame the kid.  I remember that feeling, too!

Right now I don't have any major projects going on.  I still haven't even touched the fabric for those window treatments I mentioned three months ago.  So maybe I should get to work on that.  In my free time . . .

Yes.  This!  Okay, so September doesn't exactly look like that where I live.  But I can pretend.  And I haven't been to Starbuck's in awhile, but if their pumpkin spice latte isn't in my store yet, well, it should be next week!  And the 63 degrees that hit my face when I walked outside at 6:45 this morning gave me hope that it's coming . . . FALL.  I'm so glad fall is after summer time!  I love summer time.  But I LOVE fall.  The last four months of the year are my very favorites of the whole entire year.  And I'm super excited about them this year!

Well, Food Network Star is over, and my guy didn't win.  But he made it to the final three.  And something tells me it's only the beginning for him.  Between now and next Saturday, I'm not watching anything.  But come next Saturday, it's football.  Bring. it. on.  I just finished Kate Morton's The House at Riverton.  Oh my.  It's possible that this might be my favorite Morton book of the three I've read!  But I don't know yet.  I just loved it though.  If you're a Downton fan, and you enjoy reading, this book is for you!  Even if you aren't a Downton fan, I still think you'll love this book.  Right now the kids and I are reading The Princess and the Goblin.  It's Mason's current required reading for school, but I decided we would all read it together.  Mason and Hannah Kate are actually enjoying it, and I am, too.  While we were at the dentist's office today, I started reading The Kitchen House.  I'm not sure right now how I'm going to feel about that book, but I'm hooked.

My (current) favorite song is Kari Jobe's Forever (We Sing Hallelujah).  But my (current) favorite song lyrics are Mercy Me's Flawless.

Then Like a hero who takes the stage when 
We’re on the edge of our seats saying it’s too late 
Well let me introduce you to amazing grace 
No matter the bumps 
No matter the bruises 
No matter the scars 
Still the truth is 
The cross has made 
The cross has made you flawless 
No matter the hurt 
Or how deep the wound is 
No matter the pain 
Still the truth is 
The cross has made 
The cross has made you flawless

My bumps and bruises and scars . . . well, Satan would like me to think they render me unworthy, useless, garbage.  As hard as it is to comprehend, they don't!  God sees me as FLAWLESS because of what Jesus did on the cross.  It's overwhelming.  Because I am everything BUT flawless.  Except that's not what the Bible says.  The grace.  It's amazing!


Saturday I'm chaperoning our church's 4th-6th grades for the annual Preteen Invasion conference.  Sunday is a 5th Sunday so that means we're having dinner-on-the-grounds after church.  I used to love dinner-on-the-grounds at my church when I was growing up . . .


The only thing I can think of here is that I got three inches cut from my hair last week and also got it highlighted for the first time in five years.  It was time.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Conversations With Ellie: Dance

This girl.  Cracks me up.  EVERY.  DAY.

Her new favorite thing is her dance class.  She asks to go everyday.  We finally got her to understand that dance day is Monday.  But when she wakes up on Monday morning, that's all we hear about!  And it's a long time from 5:45AM until her class begins at 3:30 in the afternoon!

And she's quick to show off her new dance moves to anyone who asks.  All of her routines end in a split (compliments of the big sister and cousin, I'm sure).  But this girl just loves getting dressed in her tights and leotard, loves wearing her little ballet shoes, loves everything about her little class.

When class was over yesterday, Miss J (her teacher) came up to me, and the conversation went like this:

Miss J:  I just have to tell you that Ellie finally talked today.

Me (thinking that she must not be referring to MY Ellie):  Finally?

Miss J:  Yes!  She hasn't said a word in class until today.  And she walked up to me and just started talking.  I honestly had no idea what she was saying, but I just nodded my head and went along with it.

Me:  Well, I was honestly concerned that she wouldn't STOP talking.  I mean, she talks constantly.  And she talks about dance all the time.  She loves to show off the dance steps she's learned thus far.  She's really enjoying it so I'm glad she talked to you today.  I just hope she doesn't start talking too much!

Miss J (smiling):  Oh, she's a great listener!  I enjoyed talking to her today, but she really is a great listener.

At this point, I'm convinced we are, in fact, NOT talking about the same Ellie.  And if we are, I sure wish this Ellie would be a great listener at home!

One of our favorite things right now is to have a conversation with Ellie about her dance class.  Of course, it won't be as funny to you as it is to us because we know the "back story" behind "dogs out" (apparently that's what they learned to tap their toes to, and she broke out in "dogs out" while we were in Walmart the other day, which was quite shocking and hilarious because I had no idea she had danced to it and didn't know at first where she'd heard it to know it . . . at least she didn't have any problem fitting in) and "hip hop" (she does not take a hip hop class) and other such lingo she uses.  But here Ellie is telling me about her class yesterday while we were waiting on Hannah Kate.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Hannah Kate: 2nd Grade

Hannah Kate was so excited . . . her first day of 2nd grade was on Monday.  Neither one of us knew quite what to expect.  And I think we're still getting used to it.  But she said she likes it.  I have to say I have the best student ever!  

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Ballerinas and the Diva

Monday was our first day of HOMEschool.  And it was also the beginning of another year of dance.  This year I have two ballerinas.
I really hadn't intended to put Ellie in ballet/tap classes this year.  But the office manager at the dance studio convinced me.  She reminded me that Hannah Kate was the age Ellie is now (actually a bit younger) when she began dance lessons.  I agreed to try it for a month and see how she does.  Well, it's been one week, one lesson, and I'm certain we are here to stay.

Before Seth and I left for our anniversary road trip, I took the girls to get their leotards, tights and dance shoes.  When we left the studio that afternoon, Ellie cried because she wanted to stay and dance.  I explained to her that it wasn't yet time for her to dance.  Needless to say, she has been so excited and could hardly wait to put on her new dance clothes.  

She couldn't wait to go to her class and walked right in.  Miss Jade gathered all of the baby ballerinas together so they could tell their mommies "bye."  A couple of the little girls began crying.  And Ellie looked over and gave them the stink eye!  Yes, she did!  When Miss Jade ushered them into the rehearsal studio, Ellie was one of the first ones to jump up and go in.  She didn't even look back.  

Last night a couple of my friends stopped by for a minute.  They asked Ellie about her first day of dance, and she immediately showed them what she "learned."  Her routine (which I'm sure had nothing to do with Miss Jade and everything to do with Hannah Kate and Abbie) ended in a split!  Yes.  The three-year-old is already doing splits!  It's a wonder she didn't tell Miss Jade how to dance!  Something tells me we're in for quite a treat with our littlest ballerina (or maybe that should be diva?!) this year.

Abbie also dances on Mondays.  My girls are excited because we will pick her up in carpool every Monday and all go to dance together.  It's going to be quite a year for all three of them.  Ellie will dance on the big stage for the first time.  Hannah Kate will dance a solo routine on the big stage for the first time celebrating five years of dance instruction.  And Abbie is celebrating ten years of dance instruction and her first year on the competition team.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Back to HOMEschool: 5th Grade

The school buses rolled today, and my Facebook feed was inundated with "back to school" pictures.  We went back to school today, too.  But it was very different than years past and the first day of a new adventure for our family.

I've not blogged a whole lot about this, but on March 16 the Lord called us to homeschool Mason and Hannah Kate.  Within two weeks, we knew exactly what He wanted us to do and how He wanted us to do it.  So we stepped out in obedience together as a family and continue to trust His plan for us.  

Today was Mason's first day of 5th grade.  Is he not the most handsome 5th grader you've ever laid your eyes on?!

Mason is enrolled at Sequitur Classical Academy.  Sequitur (meaning "it follows" in Latin) is a Christian, classical, university-model school that is sort of like a hybrid between homeschool and Christian school.  Sequitur is distinctly classical and Christian in their approach to education.  Classical based instruction methods focus on thinking well, speaking well and writing well, teaching the student to love and pursue that which is excellent, good and lovely, all to and for the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Mason "goes to school" on Monday and Wednesday mornings (they meet at a church in Baton Rouge).  There are seven kids in his class, and he has two teachers.  He receives all of his instruction during class time, and he will complete all of his assignments and school work at home on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

So . . . no, I did not make him "dress up" for the first day of homeschool (although there would be absolutely NOTHING wrong with that!).  He has a "uniform" for Sequitur.  

Last night he told me he was nervous about being the new kid at school at not knowing anyone.  I told him that everyone in his class was going to be new and would not know anyone (this is the first year that Sequitur has offered 5th grade, and that's currently the youngest grade and the reason Hannah Kate isn't enrolled there).  That seemed to help.  And he jumped up out of bed rather quickly this morning when it was time to get up at 5:45 (SO DO YOU EVEN WANT TO KNOW WHAT TIME MY ALARM WENT OFF THIS MORNING?) and quickly got ready.  But when it came time to drop him off, I saw it.  It lasted only a moment.  But it was fear.  And sadness.  It was reality, the reality that he was not going to school with his two best buddies since kindergarten.  

I would like to say I handled this situation LIKE A BOSS.  But I did not.  At all.  But you know who did?  Mason did.  When I picked him up, he threw his back pack in the truck and couldn't stop talking.  He didn't even get in the truck.  He stood there with the door open going on and on about what his teachers said and who the kids in his class were and his new friend Ezra.  I was not about to complain about the intense heat and humidity that was filling my truck because he was standing there with the door open and why in the world couldn't he just hop on in and tell me all about it?!  Because, in that moment, I was so thankful for the new friend Ezra.  And I was also reminded ONCE AGAIN how brave and courageous my boy is.  I was reminded that the Lord takes much better care of my son than I ever could.

At this moment, I am physically and emotionally exhausted.  I don't expect this to be easy.  This is a BIG change.  Change is hard.  Even change that's good is hard.  And while I didn't fully know what to expect today, I certainly wasn't expecting the sadness I felt.  I don't question the why or the what because I know that for sure.  It's settled.  We will obey.  But all day long I wondered about the how.  I mourned for the friends Mason won't see at school everyday this year.  I still don't have it all figured out (and never will), but God is good.  He took perfect care of my son today.  Mason said he had a good day and that he thinks he's really going to like his new school and his homeschool.  And God also took care of this hot mess of a momma.  

After what had already been a long day (the girls started dance today, too), I had to go to parent orientation at Sequitur tonight.  I met the mom of another boy in Mason's class.  We immediately connected and had such an encouraging conversation.  This is her first year homeschooling, too.  And her son (who is in Mason's class) went to the same school that Mason used to go to, except he went to the other campus!  They live in the same parish (county) we do.  By the time I got home tonight, the kids were in bed, but I can't wait to tell Mason tomorrow that one of his new friends actually used to go to MSA, too.

Some might say it's a small world.  Honestly, the chances of this happening . . . well, I never would've guessed that in a million years.  That's the hand of God going before us, answering our prayers, providing in ways that only He can do.  He's got this, and He continues to show me over and over that we are right where He wants us to be.  It's not always comfortable.  It doesn't always feel good.  It's messy at times.  But that's the only place I want to be . . . it's the BEST place to be!  God is faithful.  He takes care of my Mason (and Hannah Kate and Ellie and Seth).  And He takes care of me.

It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.
~Psalm 18:32

Saturday, August 08, 2015

What's Up . . . Saturday???

This was Wednesday-a-week-ago's post.  But it never happened because my flight to Denver that day was delayed several hours, and then I spent the next 10 days enjoying a road trip across Colorado, Wyoming and Montana with my love.  So here we are!

What We're Eating This Week
So obviously I spent the last 10 days eating out.  We actually didn't eat out a whole lot and were very conservative when we did.  Seth's favorite was the elk meatloaf sliders at Tupelo Grille in Whitefish, Montana.  I tried a bite, and I have to admit they were very good!  Of course, it's my personal opinion that the sweet pepper relish totally made the sliders!  Tupelo Grille was definitely our favorite restaurant.  Their flash fried green beans with sesame-soy mirin vinaigrette were delish, too.  

My favorite challenge in the kitchen recently was cooking for my cousin who is allergic to dairy.  I've never had to prepare meals around this particular allergy before, and it was VERY hard.  I didn't realize just how much dairy I use!  But I learned that there are lots of options and ingredient substitutions (although I'm honestly glad I don't have to deal with that on a regular basis!).  I somehow managed to make a dairy-free bread pudding.  Having had the "real deal," I wasn't very impressed with it.  But Denise loved it, and that's all that matters.

It's no secret that I love to cook, and I often spend a lot of time in my kitchen cooking rather complicated meals with lots of ingredients and lots of prep work.  But that's going to have to change.  I'm going to have to revert back to some classic, quick fix meals to accommodate our new school schedule.  I'm not particularly looking forward to that.  But it's easy for me to spend too much time in the kitchen.

What I'm Reminiscing About
Seth and I just celebrated 15 years of marriage.  I've thought A LOT about these last 15 years, all the miles and memories in between.  It seems like we've been married forever, yet it seems like only yesterday.  The 10 days we just spent together on our anniversary trip were a dream!

What I'm Loving
Have I mentioned that Seth and I just spent 10 days exploring parts of Colorado, Wyoming and Montana?  We went to Glacier National Park, the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone.  The entire trip, everything about it, was absolutely amazing!  I'd never been to that part of our country before, never been any farther west than San Antonio or any farther north than Missouri (not including New York and the east coast).

What We've Been Up To
Well, July was super crazy and super fun.  And . . . you know . . . ROAD TRIP.  (I've only mentioned it three times already!)

What I'm Dreading
This one is super easy.  Enough said.

What I'm Working On
School . . . HOMESCHOOL . . . begins next week!  I've ordered curriculum, organized notebooks, joined a couple of homeschool groups.  But I still have a lot of work to do.  I need to nail down our daily schedule and put together some lesson plans for Ellie.

What I'm Excited About
As much as August is my least favorite month of the year, it means that my favorite season is just around the corner.  FALL!  I had the opportunity to wear blue jeans, leggings and long sleeves on our trip.  I bought a new scarf.  Yes, I am excited about fall. And football.  And pumpkin spice everything.  And cooler weather foods.  And football.  Oh.  I already mentioned that.

What I'm Watching / Reading
I read three books in July: The Hiding Place, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Forgotten Garden.  The first two books were required reading for Mason so we read them together.  The Hiding Place was a very haunting book that evoked a lot of emotions for both of us.  About half way through, Mason said he would never want to be so mean to people just because of the way they looked or what they believed.  And then he decided that he hated the Germans.  Yes, we talked about that.  And, by the end, we were both teary-eyed.  Mason said his favorite book this summer was Tom Sawyer.  It was a difficult read, but I can understand why he would say this.  Tom was quite a rascal!  And The Forgotten Garden was for my reading enjoyment, and enjoy it, I did!  This was my second book to read by Kate Morton.  I took several books on our trip.  I read only one all the way through.  It was Greg Iles' The Quiet Game.  There were things I liked about this book, but just as many things I didn't like about this book.  I haven't decided yet if I'll read anymore of Iles' books.  I'm currently reading another Morton book, The House at Riverton.  And I'm loving it just as much as her other books!

We are still watching Food Network Star to see how our Louisiana boy does.  We are a couple of episodes behind though.

What I'm Listening To
Christmas music!  I had to go ahead and choose our Christmas musical for church so we can begin practicing.

What I'm Wearing
Nobody cares.

What I'm Doing This Weekend
Well, seeing as how I've been gone for 10 days, I came home to nothing in my refrigerator and pantry.  So I had to do the one thing I absolutely refuse to do on the weekends.  Go to the grocery store.  It was just as horrible as I remember it being.  I'm so thankful I have the opportunity to go grocery shopping during the weekday mornings.  Next time we will eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches before I go shopping on a Saturday!

What I'm Looking Forward to Next Month
I'm nervous about homeschooling.  But I'm so excited, too!  I'm also looking forward to seeing how Ellie reacts to dance lessons.  Her little class begins on Monday, as does Hannah Kate's.  I can't believe it's that time of year again already!

What Else is New
Homeschool.  It doesn't get any newer than that!