Thursday, November 26, 2015


We had an unusual Thanksgiving this year. Tim, Silas, and Naomi headed out first thing this morning to watch our church's Turkey Bowl while I stayed home with Devon and Teebs to bake sweet green muffins for breakfast and prep a few things for dinner.

However, Devon came down with a fever of 102+ last night. That meant he and I backed out of today's festivities and the rest of the Ws headed off to spend the day with the pseudo-inlaws, as per usual. It was the first Thanksgiving we haven't spent together as a family, but it was still a good day for everyone.

Devon and I sent everyone else off with rolls (thank you, Costco), Leslie's salad (salad of the little Ws' choice), and everything prepped for roasted brussels sprouts with balsamic vinegar. They had a great day playing games, jumping on the trampoline, eating lots of food, and visiting with everyone. They did not, however, take a single picture. Life goes on. They brought Devon and I each back a plate of Thanksgiving dinner and dessert, which we'll eat tomorrow, and the fun place markers made out of chocolate that my sister-in-law and her kids created this year.

Isn't mine cute? They do such a great job of making fun ones every Thanksgiving!

Meanwhile, this is what the day looked like for Devon and I. He came into my room after the Turkey Bowl people left and confirmed he still had a fever, so we decided to document the start of our non-traditional Thanksgiving with a picture. I wasn't sure if he'd get out of bed at all at that point, but he eventually did.

This what a big chunk of our day looked like. Me reading, him playing Kindle games.

I have things I could have worked on and was tempted to get some stuff taken care of while I was home, but I'd have been relaxing with everyone else if Devon had been healthy. So I decided to take it easy, even though there was work to do. I pulled slow-cooked coconut chicken out of the freezer and tossed it in the crockpot, since we couldn't eat the dinner we'd planned on having. We'll just do a little meal swap tomorrow and the other Ws can eat our leftovers while we eat Thanksgiving leftovers.

Devon and I each did our own thing for much of the day, but we also found Momo together and laughed our way through Cake Wrecks for a really long time. There was a little bit of editing/skipping on the fly to keep it kid-friendly, but it was so fun to just immerse ourselves in some humor for a while. This was his expression through most of our time scrolling through sarcasm and funny pictures. Good times!

Now two kids are in bed, two more are heading that way soon, Devon's fever has slowly dropped throughout the day (99.8 the last time we checked), he's feeling way better than he was last night, and we all enjoyed our day. It's not the Thanksgiving we anticipated, but it was still a great one!

Monday, November 23, 2015


Tim and I made a decision about 9:00 on Saturday night to take the fam on a road trip the next day. I'm not one who does spontaneous things, but I'd seen Sonja a week earlier when she stopped by my place for a couple hours and I just wanted a little more time with her. She and I tried coordinating schedules and Monday was an option, so we went for it. Except we didn't tell the kids.

Sunday morning was business as usual, until we blitzed as soon as church was done. We usually loiter until the second service starts, so the kids weren't thrilled to leave right away. Silas and Devon both passed notes to me during the drive home because they were suspicious about what was going on and wanted to figure out what was happening, but I just smiled and let them wonder. After lunch I told everyone to grab backpacks and fill them with a change of clothes. Then card games or books. Then jammies. Then toothbrushes. With each addition their guesses about what was happening got changed. It wasn't until we pulled out of the driveway that we told them our plan. So fun!

Here they are at our one pit stop on the way out of town. Ready to roll!

We drove for about three hours and settled into a yurt at Tumalo State Park. We've never stayed in a yurt before, but I loved it! All the pros of tent camping, but none of the downsides. We'd actually stayed at that campground once before, way back in the summer of 2010. It's fun to look at the pictures from that trip because Teebs didn't exist and Naomi was exactly a year younger than Teebs is now. Time flies.

Anyway, when we'd made the reservation the previous night we'd mentioned how we should try to connect with some of the other people we know in that area while we were there. There was no way to see everyone in a 24 hour period and it was all last minute planning, but Tim and I each contacted one friend to see if they could squeeze in time for a little visit.

My friend was Robin and she ended up inviting all 6 Ws over for dinner with her family. She and I have been friends for almost ten years and I've shown you pictures over the years of cool things she's made for me (aprons, quilted bag, baby blanket/quilt), but with the exception of a two minute exchange more than four years ago, I haven't seen her since a baby shower in 2010. We headed to her home as soon as we'd gotten settled into our yurt. It was so good to give her a big hug, eat good food (including my first gouda experience) together with our families, see all her creative/artistic endeavors, and catch up on life in face-to-face conversations.

Due to their respective professions, I figured her husband and Sonja's brother were probably acquainted (they are), but in a small world moment discovered she lives about two blocks away from Sonja's parents. I love it when worlds collide.

Anyway, we headed back to our yurt after a few hours and the kids wanted a campfire. It was really cold, though, so we decided to wait and build a fire in the morning. Not as fun as one in the dark, but this campground stay was more about lodging and less about camping. We did spend a little bit of time playing Quiddler before bed, though.

Naomi and I were Quiddler teammates.

Teebs and Devon hung out on the top bunk at first, but eventually joined the game.

Silas and Tim were ready to get pictures done so we could just play the game.

Those pictures were taken while everyone was still happy, but some of us (mostly yours truly, but also the totally amped and over-tired Ws) were pretty much ready for the day to be done a short time later.

This morning we started our fire at about 7:30 when temps were in the low-mid 20s. Seriously. It was cold.

Eventually these Teebs and Naomi came inside and, despite the somewhat pained look on Teebs' face, had fun playing some game they made up while eating cereal. The cereal alone was a big deal because I never buy it, so they were excited for the treat.

Devon and Silas weren't going to let sub-freezing temps keep them from enjoying the small amount of time we had at the campground, so they took off exploring for a while.

They climbed up a hill and found a great view. Upon their return to the campsite, which is probably where the smoke in the lower left corner of the next picture is coming from, Silas grabbed Tim (wanted to show him the view) and a camera (wanted to show the rest of us), then headed back up. Here's one of the pictures he took.

We snapped a quick family picture before we left the campground. We were blinded by the sun, but at least we have proof that we were there.

Yes, I was wearing slippers. If you've known me very long at all, then you know I wear flip flops almost every single day of the year, regardless of the weather. I knew it was going to be below freezing, though, so I packed real shoes to wear today. At least I meant to pack them. About two hours from home yesterday I realized I'd left my shoes in my bedroom. Given the choice of flip flops or slippers when temps were in the twenties, I opted for slippers. You know me, always a slave to fashion!

We headed to Sonja's parents' home after we left the campground and I got to see this sweet baby face again. Is she cute or what?!

Two of Sonja's nephews were also there, so they played with the little Ws. So strange to think that their dad was 15 when I met him, just two years older than Silas is now. Again, time flies.

Naomi brought Candy Land and asked Susan to play with her, so Susan grabbed Teebs and spent some time gaming with the two littlest Ws.

Susan also made cinnamon rolls for everyone and we all visited for a while. Then she and Tim took all the kids (except Ella, who was about to go down for a nap) and walked them down to the neighborhood park. They burned off steam for well over an hour, which meant Sonja and I had a chance to just sit and chat without any disruptions. So nice!

I, of course, asked for a picture of all the adults before we left. We had some issues with getting clear pictures on this trip, but an imperfect picture is better than none at all. Right? Temps were in the mid-fifties by this time. Thirty degrees in about four hours. Crazy.

Other than a couple minutes when they dropped off and picked up Sonja last weekend, we hadn't seen Susan since she stopped by in August 2009 and it had been years longer since we'd seen Lane. Oh, the warm fuzzies that came with spending time with this family whose home I spent so much time in during college, and even beyond! It was wonderful.

We finally wrapped up our visit there and made one more stop before heading home. Remember how Tim and I each contacted one friend, other than Sonja, to try and visit? Tim's friend was Greg. Greg and I were both part of a Christian club on our college campus, but weren't particularly close. However, he also happened to live in the same dorm as Tim and invited him to a regressive dinner our group was having one night. That night was the first page in the story of the 6 Ws. Greg was our unintentional matchmaker.

Tim's seen Greg once in at least ten years, just for a brief visit, so they obviously needed picture proof of their time together today.

I'm Facebook friends with Greg's wife, Stacy, but hadn't met her until today. It was fun to get to know her a little bit. She and I jumped in the next picture, but we couldn't get a clear picture on our camera to save our lives. Thankfully, Stacy busted out her phone and got one that works.

Two of their girls were gone when we came by, but I got to hold their baby for almost the whole time we were there. She's such a cutie! I did, however, let Naomi hold her a little while for fun, Devon hold her when we were doing a picture of all the adults, Stacy hold her because she needed to eat, and Tim hold her just because he is Greg's friend and she is Greg's daughter. Wasn't that nice of me?

It was a whirlwind couple of days, but it was so great to see old friends!

We came home to no internet and I'm completely non-techy, but Tim eventually figured out how to fix it and I was able to get all these pictures loaded. Good thing, because I loved seeing everyone and wanted to tell people about our little trip.

Friday, November 20, 2015


Thursdays are our hardest day of the week because we're up late on Wednesday nights. While we still get some traditional schooling done, it's a lighter day and sometimes education takes on different forms. Yesterday we spent a chunk of our morning working on The Global Puzzle, a gift from a friend who knew we were going to buy it a while back, and listening to Geography Songs, which we got as part of our curriculum with Sonlight, but is also available on Amazon and Spotify.

This is our first time doing the puzzle and I think it's going to be really helpful in understanding geography, an area we're not so good at ... despite having a great wall map. We almost always have a puzzle in progress, so I'm sure this one will be done over and over again as time goes by.

(This post contains affiliate and/or referral links, all of which you can also see on the blog sidebar, which means our family earns a little bit of money or credit for any purchase you make and/or search you do after clicking those links. Thank you to those who use them!) 

Thursday, November 19, 2015


I'm thankful for kids that are helpful.

What's something that you're thankful for?

Monday, November 16, 2015


Devon has been talking about Winter Jam for several months and really wanted to go. Naomi heard him talking about it and decided she also wanted to go. So the two of them took money from their spending envelopes for their own tickets and split the cost of getting their chauffeur, otherwise known as Tim, in the door on Friday. They headed to Portland, Tim treated them to shakes, then they rode the Max from their parking spot to the concert. 

It's not the greatest picture, but here's proof that they were there. They thoroughly enjoyed themselves and got home late that night.

While they were gone, the other little Ws had a movie night. We had to run a quick errand that evening, so Silas used some of his spending money and had Teebs help him pick out some snacks. We came back home and they hunkered down with goodies to eat and a couple movies they'd picked up at the library earlier in the day. I used the time to catch up on e-mails, read a book, and work on a puzzle, then watched a movie with Silas after Teebs went to bed.

It was a pretty great  night for all of us, even though we were doing different things. 

Sunday, November 15, 2015


A few years ago a friend made a swag of Advent stockings for the little Ws. Each year we put little candies or other goodies in the stockings and the kids take turns opening them up each day from December 1st through Christmas morning. The kid who opens the stocking gets the treat and also reads a Bible passage written on a piece of paper in the stocking that tells of the birth of Jesus. It's been a fun tradition for us, but I knew we'd be doing something different this year.

It wasn't that I disliked what we've been doing and we haven't abandoned it forever, but ten days ago I found out my friend was going to be selling the Advent study she'd written for this year. Heather regularly encourages and challenges me through her writing, so I knew I'd love whatever she came up with for an Advent study. Her study, Experiencing Advent, became available to the public on Friday morning and I bought it immediately. It's in the form of an e-book, but I knew a hard copy would work better for our family. I quickly hopped on the website of a local print shop and uploaded the e-book there, then picked up the printed and hole-punched copy that afternoon. There is also a Kindle edition available on Amazon, if that works better for your household.

Can I just say that I love it? I can't wait to go through the study with the other Ws this year! Heather did a great job of making it meaty enough for adults and older children who want to focus on celebrating the birth of Jesus, but not so academic that it will bore young kids who want to have fun. With a great mix of Bible verses, discussion questions, history, music, crafts, and recipes, it has something for everyone. Although it's packed with lots of information and activities, it's also very easy to skip or tweak things to suit your family dynamic, schedule, and so on.

If you are looking for a new way to keep your household focused on Jesus during this season, then I encourage you to buy this study. Focusing on Jesus does not mean skipping all the festive parts of this time of year, and this study actually includes several of those things, but it does mean not losing sight of the reason Christians are involved in all the traditions and festivities of the Christmas season in the first place.

Here is my hard copy, which I'm  keeping in a three-ring binder.

Just a few little details for those who want to buy the study. First, (and I'm sure this goes without saying, but I want to say it anyway), if you prefer a hard copy over an e-book, then don't print copies for anyone other than yourself.  Making copies for friends and loved ones (or forwarding your e-book, for that matter) is well-intentioned theft. Don't do it.

Second, if you print your study, then you will lose the links that are in the text. I simply went through my e-book, clicked all the links, then wrote most of them on the top of the pages they were on in my hard copy. (I skipped the links to Bible verses and a couple that were about where to buy particular craft supplies.) If you don't want to write them down, then you can easily pull up your e-book if you want to check out a link.

Finally, if you are local and would like a hard copy that you don't have to print yourself, then head to Yes Graphics' site, upload your study, and pick it up later in the day. I chose black and white, three-hole punched, and the slowest turn around time. It was done before the end of the day and cost $3.00. Easy peasy and you can swing by the library to drop stuff off or pick stuff up while you're in the neighborhood getting your Advent study.

I hope some of you will be enjoy Experiencing Advent while our family is!

(This post contains affiliate and/or referral links, all of which you can  also see on the blog sidebar, which means our family earns a little bit of money or credit for any purchase you make and/or search you do after clicking those links. Thank you to those who use them!) 

Saturday, November 14, 2015


I've been friends with Sonja for half of my life. She's been "Aunt Sonja" to the little Ws their whole lives and four months ago she made me "Aunt Bethany". Today I got to meet the sweet girl that made my friend a mom.

Here she is in all her cuteness, sitting in our dining room just after arriving and right before I snatched her all to myself for a while.

Oh, I love her.

And I love her mom.