Wednesday, January 27, 2016

What's Up Wednesday: Not Much!

You know, there really hasn't been a whole lot going on around here.  It's January.  And I think that about sums it up.  I really tried to enjoy January this year.  A friend inspired me to think of it as a cozy month.  I love cozy.  But laying on the couch with a book in my hand, a cup of hot chocolate in my other hand, a fire in the fire place and my blanket pulled up to my chin just doesn't happen around here these days.  So it's really just been life as usual, which is nothing to write home about.

Mondays require crockpot meals so we had chili.  It's one of Hannah Kate's favorites, and she's almost ready to put on a pot of chili all by herself without my help.  Last night we had florentine stuffed chicken breasts.  I decided to change it up a bit.  I added a little goat cheese, chopped artichokes and sundried tomatoes this time.  I wasn't particularly thrilled with the outcome.  Tonight we had hamburger steak and twice baked potatoes.  But in a moment of weakness today, I stopped by the bundt cake bakery and picked up a couple (okay, three) of bundtlets.  I'm also really wanting a king cake, but I know if I buy it I'll end up eating the whole thing because my people won't touch it after the first day.  And I really do not need to eat an entire king cake.

Snow.  Yes, snow.  Not that we had a whole lot of that where I grew up.  It seems like every year we always fell just below "the line."  But I do remember several really good snows, and we'd usually miss a day or two of school each year.  I vividly remember running to the window every two minutes searching for even the smallest of white flakes floating to the ground.  I'm certain I'd still do that today as an adult.  I would totally love to experience an east coast blizzard or snow in Colorado just once in my lifetime.  
But this is as close as we're going to get to snow.  We had a really thick frost on Sunday morning.  I was nearly tempted to tell the kids to go scoop some up and build a snowman!

Goodness.  I don't know.  I haven't really thought about this, and nothing really comes to mind right now.

Homeschool.  Dance.  Play.  Eat.  Sleep.  Church.  Repeat.

Well.  Unfortunately, I could write a book on this one.  Mardi Gras would be at the top of the list.  But, on the bright side, we'll have a week off from school, and then the lenten season always brings new vegetarian dishes to our local restaurants.  And did I mention king cake?  

We're also about to embark on a little construction project.  I am not at all looking forward to the process of going through it, but I absolutely can not wait to have it finished!  Ellie will have her own room.  Mason and Hannah Kate are going to switch back to their original rooms.  That means more painting, too.  Yep.  I'm dreading it.  I just really wish I could leave my house for a few days while someone else came and did it for me!

One of my goals for this month was to sew two shades for my windows and then the last two next month.  I mean, I've had the fabric at least a year now.  And since the last day of the month is Sunday, I should probably go ahead and get started on those first two!  Maybe this weekend.  Lately there haven't been enough hours in the day to really "work on" anything besides homeschool and church and homemaking.

I really do look forward to Ellie having her own room and Mason and Hannah Kate being moved back into their original rooms.  And the girls will have dance pictures next month so I'm looking forward to that.  They have some really cute costumes, and I was very excited when I found out that they even have costumes the same color this year.  So I have high hopes for pictures.  I'm also excited about our beach vacation with friends.  That's not until June, but we have a beach house booked, and I'm still excited about it!

I have a new stack of books that I can't wait to get my hands on, but I'm still trying to finish the same book I picked up at the beginning of the month.  The cover referenced Downton Abby and Kate Morton so I was a sucker and bought it.  I think I'm finally (maybe) to the "good" part.  Anyway, it's The House at Tyneford.  Mason and I also read The Adventures of Robin Hood this month.  Let me tell you.  I highly recommend this book for your older elementary aged child!  Mason LOVED this book!  He has never particularly loved a book before, but he actually asked to read it and looked forward to reading it.  He totally fell in love with the characters, and, y'all, he cried at the end!  He was totally into it, and I loved that.  Seth and I have been watching Killing Fields on the Discovery Channel.  They are following a cold case in our parish, and we know one of the lead detectives and are familiar with some of the others.

Mason.  Hannah Kate.  And Ellie.  Constantly.

No one cares.  Next question.

See above.  Maybe.  And church.

Oops.  I already answered this question, too.  And it'll be one month closer to one of my favorite months of the year.

Nothing much. 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Fifteen in '15

One of the things I always find myself doing at the end of a year and the beginning of the next is looking back.  Compared to 2014, I have to say that 2015 was almost quiet.  Almost.  So here are my top fifteen of '15.  
1.  When I think about 2015, there's only one word that comes to mind.  Homeschool.  That was the year the Lord called us to homeschool.  This was one of those things borne purely out of obedience.  And the Lord has blessed.  I really never imagined we would be one of "those" families.  But it also didn't surprise me too much.  What did surprise me was how relatively easy the transition was for our family.  Of course, that's totally a God-thing.  Mason and Hannah Kate continue to enjoy it, and we've already moved forward with our homeschooling plans for next year.  So that's exciting.

2.  Besides homeschool, there's one more thing that will always be synonymous with 2015.  Seth and I celebrated 15 years of marriage.  We took a 10-day anniversary trip out west and northwest.  It was my first time ever visiting that area of the country.  And it was phenomenal!

Now.  Because I honestly had a hard time coming up with a list of fifteen, our anniversary and our anniversary trip will count for four of those fifteen!

3.  Glacier National Park was one of the most breathtakingly beautiful places I've ever been to!  I do hope to go back one day.

4.  I think our time in the Grand Tetons was my favorite of the trip.  The hike we took that day was amazing!

5.  We really didn't have enough time in Yellowstone.  But we had enough time that I know I definitely want to go back one day.  I'd love to take the kids there.

And.  In no particular order are the rest.

6.  Ellie, the "baby-est" of all my babies, moved into a big girl bed.  As a matter of fact, I feel like she's no longer a toddler anymore.  She really is a big girl.  I supposed what was most memorable about that was that the crib went down for the last time.

7.  Mason finished 4th grade as a Silver Scholar.  And he did it ALL. BY. HIMSELF.  That was the first year in three years that he was no longer in private therapy and reading remediation.  It was in 4th grade that he finally got it.

8.  Hannah Kate finished 1st grade as a Platinum Scholar and also as the highest achieving student in her class.

9.  I chaperoned my first kids' camp.  Most memorable was probably the shower I took once I finally got home!

10. July.  That is all.  July 2015 was INSANE.  We celebrated two birthdays, our anniversary, VBS (which was definitely one of my favorite in recent years) and hosted lots of Georgia family that month.

11. Ellie began taking dance.  Now, we're still right smack dab in the middle of this.  But I'm quite certain the best is yet to come.  I mean, the girl's got moves.  She's also got a little attitude.  She loves to sing and dance and dress fancy.  She wants to go to dance EVERY DAY.  She also still thinks she takes hip-hop on Tuesdays (which she does not).  So to say I'm looking forward to the recital this year is definitely an understatement!

12. I haven't blogged about this at all, but I began teaching the youth Bible study class at church last August.  That was definitely a surprise, something I did not at all see coming.  It's been a long time . . . YEARS . . . since I taught youth.  And not that I can't teach youth or don't like to teach youth.  My ministry for the last 10 years has revolved around children, mainly my own children.  And the SCARIEST part of parenting to me (right now) is the teenage years.  I mean, just the thought of it sends me running for a brown paper bag!  Teenagers don't scare me.  Teenage years do.  So, in my effort to delay my own children's teenage years as much as I possibly can (yeah, right), I've pretty much kept my distance from youth ministry!  So when I was called to do this in August, I didn't necessarily jump into the deep end.  Let's just say I carefully waded into the shallow end.  Besides, it was only supposed to be for an interim time anyway.  But that interim time has stretched a little, and I can honestly say I'm glad.  I'm having the best time with them!  And they have actually helped me to look forward to those teenage years with my own children.  Sort of.  Let's just say I'm not quite as scared now.

13. This seems silly, but I absolutely loved everything about our Christmas tree!  We had a real tree for the first time in several years.  As a matter of fact, I would totally be okay if it was still standing in the corner of the family room! 

14. Hannah Kate sang her first ever solo in our church's Christmas musical.

15. Mason recited Luke 2:1-20 in our church's Christmas musical.  Everyone enjoyed it so much that he did it again at our Christmas day service.

So even though there weren't a lot of "big ones," I'll always remember 2015 as a special year in the life of my family.  Because it's all of the regular, ordinary days that hold the fondest memories.  And there were too many of those to list in 2015!      

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Mason's First Kill

WARNING:  If you aren't a fan of dead animals and blood, you should totally come back later.

Last Saturday morning, I received a text around 7:15.  Mason had shot at a deer, an 8-point, but had missed.  At 9:25, I received a phone call telling me that Mason shot a deer and I needed to load up and head to the woods.  What?!  He shot again?!  No.  He did, in fact, kill that deer.  The 8-point?!  No.  It's 4 points.  I thought you said 8.  Well, it wasn't.

It doesn't matter.  We'll take it.  This kid was really excited when I got there.  He was also trying to play it cool. 

Mason started going hunting with Seth about four years ago.  He doesn't like getting up at 4:00AM, and he doesn't like not seeing anything, much less not shooting at anything.  Honestly, he mostly lays down in the stand and plays his kindle.  And he really hasn't been a whole lot the past couple of years.  This year Seth had him in the back yard target practicing.  It was the first year he would shoot the gun without complaining about the noise or how heavy it was.  Seth took the day off last Friday and convinced Mason to go hunting with him.  They saw 12 deer that morning.  Seth said there was an 8-point that Mason missed out on because he couldn't get him up off the floor in time.  And then at lunch, Mason mentioned that "Daddy was sleeping in the stand."  In that moment, everyone froze.  Because even Hannah Kate and Ellie knew what that meant.  Seth . . . asleep in the stand?!?  So who knows if Mason missed out on that 8-point because he was on the floor playing his kindle or because his dad was snoozing.

Mason was pretty excited about those 12 deer they saw on Friday morning so he decided he would go back Saturday morning.  Seth was pretty confident that he would shoot something.  Or, at least, shoot AT something.  So his very first time with the gun in his hands in the stand, the very first shot he ever made from the stand, Mason made a perfect shot!  They estimated the deer was about 150 yards away.

As we watching the whole process of skinning and gutting the deer, I couldn't help but think how much Seth was in his element.  It was also quite an awakening for Hannah Kate.  She's been saying the past couple of years that she wanted to go hunting, and Seth was getting ready to take her.  However.  She has now totally changed her mind about the whole deer hunting thing.

There's a tradition . . . I'm not sure if this is a Bayham thing or a Louisiana thing or what . . . but I tried to warn Mason.  Seth called him over to hold the horns so the deer wouldn't swing around while they were cleaning it.  I tried to warn him.  But he didn't listen.

And so Seth got him.  Mason was so proud of this bloody handprint on his face that he didn't even want to wash it off when we got home!

And just for fun . . .

Seth can't remember how old he was when he shot his first deer.  He said 12 years old, but maybe he was 10 years old.  And he thinks he remembers his first kill was a doe.  But he isn't sure.  Here he is with his first buck.  PawPaw was quick to remind us that this deer ended up on the wall since it was the first buck.  That's all fine and good.  Mason's first buck is ending up in sausage casings.

And here's Seth's first deer bloody face.  Yuck.

I really don't think this next picture is related to the above one.  But I thought it was pretty hilarious none-the-less.  He's thrilled.

One of the things I learned is that killing your first buck is kind of like having a baby.  Stats are important.

Date of Kill:  Saturday, January 9, 2016
Time of Kill:  6:57AM
Weight:  119.4 lbs
Points:  4

Monday, January 11, 2016


So today I was going to tell you about Mason's first kill.  In case you haven't already heard.

But it's been a long day.  It's late.  And I'm watching the last college football game of the season.  Because that's how I ROLL . . .

You know, I always think I'll remember the really cute, smart, funny things my children say.  I mean, how could I forget?!  But in my older age, I'm forgetting.  There are two conversations I want to remember today.

This girl.  Cracks me up!  I mean, she has us belly laughing all the time!  And today was no different.
This afternoon we were on our way to pick up Abbie in carpool.  The kids were playing on their kindles.  Ellie's was a bit too loud, as usual.  I hadn't yet said anything, but I didn't have to.  Hannah Kate always takes care of that for me.  The conversation went like this:

Hannah Kate:  Ellie, can you please turn that down?  I don't want to listen to that music.  I'd rather listen to country!

Mason:  Do you even like country music?!

Hannah Kate:  Well, yeah.  I like all kinds of music.  Just not that music.

Ellie (very matter-of-factly):  I like CRUNCHY music.

But look.  It gets even better.  My friend called me this morning with another Ellie story.  She's the nursery coordinator at our church.  Every week she plans a Bible story, craft and game for the kids.  Yesterday they finished their Bible story and craft a little early so my friend decided to teach them a new game.  Usually they play red light green light.

Tracy:  Jade, instead of red light green light, let's teach them Simon Says.

Cali Grace (2 years old):  I wanna be Simon!

Ellie:  I wanna be ALVIN!!!

Y'all.  I. died.  Again!  Ellie's favorite show right now (and I'm not even kidding) is Alvin and the Chipmunks!  She's been begging me to take her to see the new movie, but we just haven't had time.  We saw a preview for the movie when we saw The Peanuts movie, and she just squealed and squealed.  She watches the little 30 minute shows on Nick and has just fallen in love with them.  She walks around the house shouting, "AALLLLVVVIINNNNNN!"

This one challenges me more than anyone has ever challenged me before!  She brings me to my wits' end most days.  But, man, I just can't imagine my life without her!  Because more than anything else, she brings a love and a passion and a joy that just makes everything all better!

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Hey there, 2016!

Well.  Here we are again.  Another new year.  2016.  

We weren't much for celebrating New Year's Eve when I was growing up.  As a matter of fact, I'm pretty sure that most New Year's Eves, I was in bed by 10:00.  But when I was in middle school, that changed.  We went to a Gaither and friends concert (I, for the life of me, can't remember now what it was called at the time!  Jubilate, maybe?) at the Omni (not the hotel but the old Omni Coliseum that was demolished in 1997 . . . we're taking it way back!) on New Year's Eve a few years in a row and stayed out (in DOWNTOWN ATLANTA, I might add) until midnight.  I thought I was in high cotton!  (Excuse the reference.  We're studying Eli Whitney and the invention of the cotton gin this week in history so I have cotton on my mind!).  So that was really the extent of my New Year's Eves growing up.


Seth and I have never done much to celebrate New Year's Eve either.  Last year we built a bonfire in the backyard for the kids and roasted hotdogs and s'mores and shot fireworks.  They've not forgotten that, and Mason began asking right after Christmas if we could have a bonfire again.  Well.  Our bonfire area in the backyard is currently a mud hole right now and is probably still under water a bit.  We've had so much rain, and the ground was so wet that all we could really do was pile up all of the leftover empty gift boxes and trash from Christmas in the driveway and put a match to it.  That worked well enough, and Seth roasted some s'mores for the kids.  He'd also taken them earlier in the day to get fireworks.  Let's just say that next time I will have to go with them.  I tried to explain that just because it's buy one get three free, you don't necessarily HAVE to get the extra three free.  Particularly when you end up with a ridiculous amount of bottle rockets that someone (Seth) insists on lighting up before getting to the "good" stuff.  I mean, just save them for next time!  I'll be just fine if I never see another bottle rocket or chaser or frog again.  But anyway.  It looks like we have a little New Year's Eve tradition on our hands now.

But you know what?  All of the s'mores making and firecracker popping began at 6:30, and everyone was back inside at 8:00 for baths.  By 9:15, this was my view.

So, yeah, New Year's Eve was really exciting around here.  Until about 9:00PM, at least.

I cooked my annual black-eyed pea cakes with cranberry relish for the new year.  I also roasted some cabbage "steaks."  Don't worry.  Seth and the children also had pork chops and macaroni and cheese on their plates!  This actually happened on New Year's Eve though.

Seth and I had plans for a date night on New Year's Day, and I knew we wouldn't eat two big meals in the same day.  So we ate our new year's meal on the eve instead (but we did eat black-eyed peas and cabbage again on New Year's Day at his mom's when we dropped the kids off, so that counts!).  They say that whatever you do on New Year's Day, you'll spend the rest of your year doing.  Well, if that's the case, I'm looking forward to a fabulous year of date days and nights with my husband!

Those two and half weeks of no school and Seth on vacation came to a very quick and sudden end yesterday.  We all got so spoiled having Daddy at home with us everyday for two whole weeks.  I thought it might be a little difficult getting back into our regular routine, but when I looked at the school calendar for this semester and starting counting my days and weeks, I got really excited.  Our last day of school will be May 4, and we'll have a week off for Mardi Gras and Easter.  Let's just say the countdown. is. on!

I enjoyed having my dining room back those last two weeks.  It was a dining room and not a school room.  But when I walked by today and saw this, I couldn't help but smile.  I'll see my dining room again on May 5!  And that's okay.  I really like the way it looks today.

And, so, it's a new year!  I have no idea what this year holds for us.  It was last year at this time that I knew something BIG was about to happen.  I just didn't know what it was. And now, here we are, halfway through our first year of homeschooling!  So whatever it brings, whatever surprises might be in store, I'm certain of only one thing.  We are ready!  Besides, I wouldn't want to do this life with anyone else but these people right here.  So.  Bring it on, 2016!