how and why we celebrate valentine's day scrooge

I’m a Valentine Scrooge!

 (even though I also love it a little bit!)

I have a love hate relationship with Valentine’s Day.

According to various lore, there are at least three historical Valentines. One St Valentine performed weddings for people when he wasn’t supposed to and got put in jail, or even sentenced to death.

Ahhh…how romantic. He put his freedom – or his life- on the line for love.

Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons, where they were often beaten and tortured. I’m a fan of people helping people. I’m wondering why no one knows we have a Harriet Tubman Day (March 10, if you want to add that to your calendar.)

One legend claims a man named Valentine was in jail and fell in love with a young girl who visited him. Before he was KILLED, he supposedly sent her a letter signed “From your Valentine.  That poor young girl!  Can you imagine if your daughter was getting mail from someone on death row, and later, everyone said, “Oh how sweet! Let’s make that a national holiday!”

The Roman Catholic church in the middle ages declared Valentine’s Day a holiday because they wanted to Christianize the February celebration of Lupercalia, a fertility festival,  which took place on February 15. Just as in the cases of the Christian celebrations of Christmas and Easter, early church leaders took dates on  which the people were already celebrating and tried to change them to worship the one true God, instead of whatever celebration they were having.

Maybe Catholic  priests didn’t think it was good idea for Luperci priests to run around town slapping women with bloody goat hides in a bid to make the women more fertile in the coming year. Don’t worry, the women liked it. (History claims.)

This doesn’t really have anything to do with my modern beliefs on Valentine’s Day, I just think history is interesting.


As a romantic holiday, I think it’s overrated and expensive. I think too much pressure is placed on guys to do the right thing. I also think giving stuffed animals and chocolates to women is stupid. I think it’s hard on people who are not in a romantic relationship.

I think waiting in lines to go out to eat on a certain day is ridiculous. Why spend an hour in line on the 14th, when you can be seated in five minutes the next week? how and why we celebrate valentine's dayIt’s crazy to spend $50 dollars on roses (how unoriginal by the way) when you can get them for $1 each a week later.if you’re going to spend the money, I’d rather have a single rose every week of the year because it meant someone was thinking of me at that moment, than a huge bouquet on a single obligatory day because my partner felt like s/he HAD to buy a bouquet on the 14th.

I saw the pressure in high school, and in the high school where I taught. The student council sold Valentines to be delivered during class, and the popular kids got a bajillion and the other kids got to watch and be reminded that they didn’t.  I witnessed the pressure in college and in my  twenties. People felt like they had to do something super special because Hallmark (and the jewelry stores, and the department stores, and even the grocery stores!) told them they had to.

What if you weren’t in a special relationship? What if you just started dating? What if you really wanted to break up but didn’t want to be alone on Valentine’s Day?  Or felt sorry for your boy/girlfriend, and didn’t want them to be alone on Valentine’s Day?

I’m a fan of jewelry, but not heart shaped jewelry. NO woman EVER buys herself heart shaped jewelry. Also, why would we want jewelry shaped like an organ? Nobody makes stomach or lung shaped jewelry and I’m as big of a fan of food and breathing as I am of love.

how and why we celebrate valentine's dayI’m too old for stuffed animals, and I was in my teens too (even though I still slept with my stuffed aardvark-that was different). I love chocolate but I buy it for my self when I want to. I don’t need someone feeling like they need to give me a pound of chocolate to tell me they love me. Since when is it healthy to eat that much chocolate anyway!? Also, none of these gifts show any originality, or  that the giver really KNOWS me. I want someone who sees me and knows that I want a tiny bonsai  for the mantel or that I would love a wireless mouse to replace my broken one.  Mostly it’s just that I hate presents given because you’re “supposed to”.

I also hate the obligation of a romantic relationship. I appreciate the recent uptick in “Galentine’s Day”. I still feel so much compassion for those people who feel sad, or wistful, longing for something they don’t have, on the actual Valentine’s and why we do what we do on valentine's day


I love a reason to celebrate in the middle of February. I love parties and any reason to have friends over is a good one. I love pink and red. I really do love chocolate and the shape of the valentine heart. I love my friends and my kids and my friends’ kids and want to give them sweet cards. I also really enjoy a good pun, and Valentine’s Day seems to bring out the punniest cards (See what I did there?)

I wish there was someway for us to have less marketing and consumption around Valentine’s Day so people don’t feel “less than” if they’re not romantically involved or obligated. All love to you, dear ones!


source :

January Books

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“A mind needs books like a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge. That is why I read so much.”― George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones

Great Train Robbery best books list

The Great Train Robbery ⭐️⭐️⭐️

As a novel, this book is too dry, technical and lacks luster. As a nonfiction account of a historical event, it’s very interesting and well told.

But then I learned he literally made it all up! He made up the transcripts, the dialogue and quotes, the newspapers he “quoted” from, all of it! Even some of the books he mentioned weren’t actually real. In that light, the book is genius!

I learned a lot about the time period as he would dive off into a tangential essay about some aspect of Victorian life that was germane to whatever plot trail he was next going to unveil.

I had a hard time with a lot of the period slang; some I could figure out from the context, some he did explain, but a lot of the time I felt the conversations read like The Jabberwocky. A Victorian criminal glossary would’ve been welcome. Modern dictionaries did not help with a lot of the jargon used in this book.

Other than that, it was an enjoyable read.

PopSugar Reading Challenge prompt:  A book you meant to read in 2018

“>the bird box best book list

Bird Box: A Novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


I’m one of those who hadn’t heard of the book until everyone started talking about the movie. I devoured both in short order. Both are powerful. Changes are made. I honestly won’t say “the book was better.”

I loved the style of writing. Sometimes it was lyrical. Sometimes short choppy sentences. Always got my heart racing. You never knew who the narrator would be. Usually Malorie, but sometimes a housemate or the omniscient narrator. The simplest act of drinking a glass of water was terrifying. Highly recommended if you like to be scared. Watch the movie too!

PopSugar Reading Challenge prompt: A debut novel


Homebody: A Guide to Creating Spaces You Never Want to Leave⭐️⭐️ 1/2

The pictures are absolutely incredible. At the beginning of the book, it has good definitions of what your style profile is (farmhouse, modern, boho, etc) along with describing each house by what combinations of styles it’s decorated in.

There are 22 homes pictured randomly throughout the book and they are never really redefined. So if you like the style of one bedroom, you have to read through the text to see which house it is, then flip back to the front to find out what style it’s in. Total pain.

Also, the styles all seem to run together to me-they are very much “Johanna” with lots of black and white and neutrally muted colors, even the boho styles.

There aren’t a lot of ideas for people who have to store a lot of stuff. If you have lots of things you need to be able to access but want hidden, like a typical homeschool family would, you’re out of luck. Also, all the open shelving in all the kitchens is ridiculous! Who actually has the time and money to have that few things which all match and coordinate? There is a lot of impracticality.

Also, if you aren’t, or aren’t married to, someone incredibly handy and willing to exploit that skill, you’re out of luck. There are lots of custom beds and other furniture featured, which just isn’t possible for most of us.

If you’re looking for a pretty book, this is it. If you’re looking for a book with concrete design ideas which you can put to immediate use, look elsewhere.

“>warm bodies zombie book book list best books

Warm Bodies: A Novel (The Warm Bodies Series)⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I thoroughly enjoyed this tale from a zombie’s point of view. Of course it was little incongruous because- hey, they’re zombies how could they even be coherent to begin with? but if you suspend everything you thought you knew, you can really get into this book. It’s not super fast paced and rather a lot more thoughtful and even angsty than I expected.

I love the closing lines of the book and the idea that we CAN BRING ABOUT CHANGE!, even if up until this point, you’ve been a zombie.

PopSugar Reading Challenge Prompt: A book written by a musician  –Isaac Marion is also hilarious incidentally.cozy minimalist home the nester book list

Cozy Minimalist Home: More Style, Less Stuff⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

As I was reading, I thought of several to whom people I really wanted to recommend this book. She helps you step by step break down your home, rebuild your style, and design your home according to what you’ve discovered, and do it in the proper order.

She’s funny and has great ideas and understands actual people and their actual abilities and budgets. She recommends shopping your house first. She encourages you to start small. She says God was the first artist and created us in His image, therefore we’re all artists. It’s just lots of good advice and concrete how-tos. Highly recommend even if you don’t think you need home styling help.

Educated: A Memoir ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I was enthralled and deeply moved by this powerful memoir. Once I started it, I had a difficult time pulling myself away. I thought this book was going to be about homeschooling and then how, in order to be successful you have to be all “Ivy League”. This is not the case.

Tara wasn’t educated in the ways we think of education. She had never heard of many basic things until she went to college.

She knew her life didn’t feel right, but she didn’t know what it really could be like. Her grandparents both had “normal” homes but due to her brainwashing, she didn’t feel like that was how people should live.

Her childhood is affected over and over by serious injuries of family members, injuries which are not treated. Reading about the injuries that happened was terrifying for me. I couldn’t not read it but at the same time I was horrified. What saddens me the most however, was that her parents didn’t know her birthday, or how old she was at multiple points in the story. It seemed like that was what made it so real to me that she didn’t matter to them.

One older brother in particular starts tormenting her, and the tormenting rises to the level of devastating abuse. In part in response to this, she decides to go to college, and by pretty much sheer force of will, teaching herself trigonometry, after learning basic math. She does well enough on the ACT to get into Brigham Young University when she’s only 17. From there, she starts a college career that at first she fails, but with support she eventually gets a doctorate from Cambridge.

However, each time she is drawn back to her family, her brother’s abuse continues, and the family denial turns more and more severe. The memoir becomes a story of her internal struggle—to believe her own version of her life and to have the strength to break away from her past.

I can’t remember most of my childhood due to traumatic events, and hearing her struggle with not having her point of view believed, and her family trying to change her memories and gaslight her was sickening.

I hope everyone reads this book. To quote an Amazon reviewer’s completely apropos words: “It’s a powerful, amazing glimpse into a way of life that most of us will never know, and an inspiring story of one woman’s ability to change her future.”

PopSugar Reading Challenge Prompt: A book about a family

desolation mountain book lists

Desolation Mountain: A Novel (Cork O’Connor Mystery Series)⭐️⭐️⭐️

I saw this book at Barnes and Noble and was immediately attracted by the title and book jacket blurb. I didn’t realize it was the one of many starring the same main character, but it worked well as a stand alone novel. It opened well and I read half of it in about a day because it was riveting. Then…I don’t know. It just tapered off and seemed like it was just trying to add pages before the big reveal at the end. Then the end just boom! Finished up. I wasn’t a fan.

I loved the relationships. I loved that the grown daughter, her family, and the college age son lived with the dad. I wasn’t actually even sure if the dad, Cork, or the grown son Stephen were the main characters. I was a bit disappointed that the women were all peripheral characters, sort of back drops to the men. I loved learning about the Native culture in northern Minnesota. It was clean.

But all in all, it was a book that was mostly, meh.

PopSugar Reading Challenge Prompt: A book with a two word title

“>Bring Me Back: A Novel⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I loved trying to figure out the twist and am proud to say I saw it coming. My suspicions were a bit different than how it all played out. I thought Finn was pretty much a jerk who took advantage of the people in his life and he and the other characters seemed rather one dimensional. I wanted him to do the right thing so badly. By the time I got to the end, I didn’t even know what I wanted to happen. I was satisfied and left hanging at the same time. I say YES, if you like thrillers, give it a go.

PopSugar Reading Challenge Prompt: A book told from multiple character Points of View

“>stephen king outsider book lists best to readThe Outsider: A Novel⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

I haven’t read Stephen King in a long time. This book made me remember why I used to be obsessed with him. I love how he’ll take a minor character, one you’ll never see again and tell their whole back story in a such a compelling way that you’re riveted. Some of the characters here though were the red shirted Star Trek guys.

This particular book had some plot holes and repetition in the conversation. The first part was straight up CSI and the second part was “oh-call up Sam and Dean!”. It was also a HUGE coincidence how the main characters got connected-almost so far of a reach as to be unbelievable-but I lovingly suspend a lot of disbelief when I read SK.

Over all, I liked it. I may pick up another of his more recent repertoire. Probably closer to 3 1/2 stars .

PopSugar Reading Challenge Prompt: A Book featuring an extinct or imaginary creature

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Thank you to the Instagrammers whose pictures I used. Their instagram names are above each photo. Go check them out!

My Book Year in Review

BOOKS. Books and more books!

I love to read. I started keeping track of what I read a few years ago when I started keeping a planner, and I am loving it! Here is a peek of my book year in review.
Book Goal:100

Book Total:105
(and several half done which weren’t worth finishing. My life philosophy is that it’s too short for mediocre books. I rarely finish a book I would rate less than three stars.)

Five Star Fiction:

click on the image to be taken through to purchase these incredible books! As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Five Star Nonfiction:

My Average GoodReadsRating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

(That’s because I rarely finish a three star or fewer book)

Most popular book I read:
I re-read the Harry Potter series every October. This year I included the kids. It takes me a LOT longer to read aloud. I had them finish the last few on Audible.

Least Popular Book I read:

Book with the fewest pages: with 142

Book with the most pages: with 985

Highest Rated: (Good Reads average of 4.8 stars)

PopSugar Reading Challenge: finished all the prompts, including the advanced, except for “a book containing a heist” I finally finished in January.

Books that took place in Iowa: 3

Audiobooks or ones I read aloud: 6

Most books read in one month: 15 in July

Fewest books read in one month: 6 in June

Books on Kindle or Libby: 46

Murders: definitely more than 100

Goals for next year-Undecided

The average CEO reads 60 books a year so that may be my goal.  My goal of 100 this year was a HUGE challenge. Aiming for almost 2 books a week was hard with my busy life, but  I just wanted to see if I could do it!  Now that I know I can, I will likely back off so I can devote more time to writing (or watching Netflix. )


Simple Pillow Cover: A Tutorial

Do you want some beautiful holiday pillows but you don’t want to spend the cash? Do you have old pillows that need some new life? If you can sew a straight stitch or work a glue gun, you can make this.

Pillowcase tutorial couch pillow throw pillow cover DIY simple easy
A lumpy old pillow in need of rejuvenating

Materials needed:

Old pillows

Fabric-I got two kinds of cozy plaid flannel 50% off. I bought 1 1/4 yards just to make sure I would have enough.

Sewing machine or glue gun

Pillowcase tutorial couch pillow throw pillow cover DIY simple easy

Measure your pillows. Leave a small seam allowance across. Because my old pillows were rather bumpy, I made mine a little smaller than the actual pillow size because I wanted the new case to fluff it up.

Another tactic if you have flat pillows is to make the width a few inches wider than your old pillows and insert two of them into one case.

For the vertical edge you want it to be several inches longer than your pillow. My pillow is as big as the inside out part of the fabric you see here. The top extra fabric will be a flap you will tuck in.

Try to cut your fabric so the selvage edges will be the place you insert your pillow. This way you don’t have to hem anything.

Right sides together, sew or glue the seams.

Pillowcase tutorial couch pillow throw pillow cover DIY simple easy

Turn your “envelope” or case right side out and insert your pillow. tuck the flap down I side as far as you can.

Pillowcase tutorial couch pillow throw pillow cover DIY simple easy

Voila! You did it!

Now reward yourself with a nice warm drink and an intriguing book!

Easy to make pillow tutorial Easy to make pillow tutorial


Ridiculously Easy Christmas Decor DIY

Get a jar or a vase.

Take some twinkle lights. I bought a bulk pack of warm white from Amazon for about $2/string.

Wind the lights loosely inside.

Put Christmas balls in amongst the lights. I found a pack with gold and white ornaments for $1 at the Dollar Tree.

Voila! You’re done.

Easy cheap Christmas craft DIY holiday dollar tree

Since this jar had a lid, I taped the switch inside the lid. If you use a vase, just tuck it under a Christmas ball at the top.

Easy cheap Christmas craft DIY holiday dollar tree

This works with anything-colored balls, pine cones, garland, peppermints, cookie cutters. Tall vases in your center piece, Mason jars in kitchen, a fish bowl in the bathroom. Don’t limit yourself!

In other seasons you can fill the jar with other kinds of decor, corn in the fall, flowers in the spring, tiny drink umbrellas in the summer.

Easy cheap Christmas craft DIY holiday dollar tree

Go forth and be creative! I’d love to see that yours look like.


Cheap and Easy Kitchen Update

I live in a farm house built in 1850. It had an addition in 1901, and 2012. The kitchen was updated 1987! 1987!! My mother-in-law, bless her heart, sanded, stained, and varnished every one of these doors herself. It was a gigantic improvement over the from metal cabinets, a hole in the middle of the floor, wallpaper to these beautiful oak cabinets 40 years ago, but everything is showing its age. It’s challenging for farmers to update what seems “good enough”. It is also hard to realize that 1987 was truly a lifetime ago! I’ve been wanting change in the kitchen for a really long time, but as a stay at home mom and Classical Conversations director, I don’t bring in much money. I also have next to no home improvement skills and very little interest in learning them at this point in my life.

kitchen DIY before update kitchen backsplash cabinets
Look at my tiny puppers in February 2018! She’s almost a year old now!

After a lot of thought, I realized that one of the things that bugged me the most was the cabinets over the peninsula. They blocked the way of talking to anyone on the other side of the counter. They blocked the  natural light coming in the  sliding glass door. They are dark wood, making the entire room look darker.

It occurred to me, maybe I would like it better if I just took off the doors! Then I can see the light and the people. I can handle unscrewing things, even if I’m not super great at it. I can never seem to make the electric screwdriver work, so I unscrewed all the doors by hand. I had already KonMari-ed a lot of my kitchen junk, so I was able to put pretty things in the now open cabinets.


Cheap and easy kitchen update diy backsplash cabinet
Some of my grandmother’s and mother-in-law’s vintage Pyrex is now on display.

Another thing I wasn’t very fond of was the paint  or outlet covers behind the sink and counter area. It was always dirty even when I had just cleaned it.  On Amazon, I found some press on tiles that supposedly you can cut through with scissors. I thought this seemed like a project I could handle. As it turned out, you CAN cut through the tiles, which come in a 12×12 block made of 1/2 inch squares of reflective abalone shell like material, IF you cut between the tiles. I soon discovered however, that my measurements come in the middle of the individual squares. When you try to cut through the actual tile, it shatters into a million pieces and is extremely challenging to cut at any rate.

I persevered although, it took me for freaking ever and confirmed why I really hate DIY home improvement projects.

Cheap and easy kitchen update diy backsplash cabinet
In the middle of the epic (for me) tiling project

I’m really happy with how it turned out though. Even if I couldn’t finish it by myself, even if there are lots of mistakes and crooked areas, and even if it took a lot longer than I hoped, I would recommend the tiles. I would also recommend these simple little changes to update an older kitchen. What do you think?

kitchen sink back splash window silver outlet covers hanging pans
All neat and tidy. For the moment.

A Different Kind of October Bucket List

I know you’ve seen the October Bucket Lists floating around Pinterest, rife with bonfires and bobbing for apples, corn mazes and hayrides. Of course you want to do those traditional fall activities!

This post isn’t about that though.

We have an amazing calendar for celebrating every ordinary day that we have had so much fun with this year, and I just had to share it with you! Our one is similar to these.

I thought it would be interesting, but I didn’t realize the kids would just be obsessed with knowing what “day” it is all the time. It’s been a huge hit!

For this year, here are some ideas you can do in October to throw some easy celebratory fun into your life:

October 3-Butterfly and Hummingbird Day.    If you’re local to the Quad Cities, both the Family Museum and the Quad City Botanical Gardens have butterfly areas you can check out on the third.

October 4- Taco Day.   Seriously. Do you need directions for this one?

October 5-World Smile Day. Besides just smiling at all the people you meet today, and pretending you’re happy, you could take it one step further and take balloons to a retirement center, or a puppy to a playground, or buy some gift cards at the grocery store and then hand them to the people in line behind you.

October 8- World Octopus Day.  If you can’t get your hands on a live octopus, you could go to a Chinese buffet and admire the tiny edible ones. Watch some incredible sea videos. Did you know that octopus suction cups on their tentacles can stick to everything except octopus skin? Isn’t God incredible to have thought of even not letting the octopus get tangled up and stuck on itself?istock photo octopus Autumn bucket list fun days october

October 12–Old Farmer’s Day. I have been getting a lot of mileage out of this one by telling my Handsome Husband this day is all for him.

October 13–International Skeptics Day. I know you don’t believe me, but it really is.

October 15–I Love Lucy Day. Great day for binge watching one of the most intelligent ground breakers in television.

October 17–Wear Something Gaudy Day. Make it mandatory for the entire office. They’ll love you.

michael scott the office gaudy turban fall bucket list autumn fun days

October 18–Chocolate Cupcake Day

This is my absolute favorite chocolate cake recipe. It’s from Taste of Home. I’ve been loyal to this recipe since before I had kids. Also. It has coffee.

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3 cups packed brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs (we sell farm fresh eggs , Hint Hint)
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup baking cocoa
  • 3 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 cups brewed coffee, cooled
  • 1-1/3 cups sour cream


  • 12 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
  • 6 tablespoons brewed coffee
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4-1/2 to 5-1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with coffee and sour cream, beating well after each addition.
  • Pour into greased and floured lined cupcake tins. Bake 15-20ish minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
  • In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Beat in the chocolate, coffee and vanilla until blended. Gradually beat in confectioners’ sugar. Cut each cupcake in half horizontally. Spread between layers and over top  of fairy  cakes. Cover and refrigerate until serving

If you’re not up for making your own chocolate cupcakes from scratch, make your child do it. Failing that, buy a mix- I recommend Ghiradelli.

Still lacking time for that endeavor? Go to a cupcake store. Here a few of my local favorites: Oh So Sweet  in Davenport, Eastern Iowa Baking Company, in Eldridge and Old Towne Bakery. in Moline.

(Also, America? Can we please start calling these fairy cakes?) 

October 20 —International Sloth Day--I have a trip to pet sloths in Costa Rica on my lifetime bucket list, but I know I won’t be able to go this month, unfortunately. I vote we not adult that day and be sloths instead. It’s mandatory.

October 24–Bologna Day–How easy will it be to have fun with this? Make a bologna sandwich. Learn the Oscar Meyer song. Use bologna to demonstrate the parts of a cell.

October 26–Howl at the Moon Day–the full moon is the 24th, so it will still be nice and gorgeous by then.

October 29 —National Cat Day— I have some sweet kitties you can pet, but the kittens and cats at the Humane Societies and pet stores always need some love. Make it a priority to go and snuggle a cat today!

Which idea are you actually going to write in your planner and make happen?


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My First Tattoo

I start getting it in a couple weeks. I am so excited I told my tattoo artist that I wasn’t going to be able to hold still. He didn’t think that would be such a good idea. I put it in my planner in all caps and double exclamation points!!

This is a prototype he drew on me with Sharpies. The real thing will not be as red and the insects will be bigger.

Aviana is a ladybug because she’s bright unique. She’s hard working and helpful. She’s beautiful and rare, and poems will be written about her.

Brielle is a dragonfly because she rarely is still, she’s bold and bright, she gets attention wherever she goes. She flits from thing to thing and makes things happen. I’m sure they’ll pattern a better helicopter or some other new invention based on her design.

Cadrian is a grasshopper because he is constantly on the go. He’s always outside. He moves fast and leaps and bounds into his life with all his energy-which is considerable.

Denton is a honeybee because he’s a hard worker, continually moving, intense, and creates beauty. He is as sweet and snuggly as can be, but if he feels he’s been wronged by you, he’ll kill himself to sting you.

Elivette is an orchid praying mantis because I nearly died giving birth to her. My midwives saw a praying mantis in the parking lot of the hospital once they knew I was going to recover and sent me selfies with it, telling me they recognized it as a sign all of the prayers of the hundreds of people praying for me were answered and to remember God answers prayer. On Elivette’s first birthday, I saw a praying mantis outside my kitchen window (the ONLY time I’ve ever seen one here on the farm) and knew God was reminding me how much my family needs me and how faithful He is, and to always pray. Because Elivette is my precious pink pixie, it couldn’t be an ordinary praying mantis to represent her though!

And Finnella is my firefly. She brings light to all of us. She’s the gift we didn’t know we needed. She lights up our home more than we thought possible.

All eight of us were born in June, July and August, so that is why the bugs are positioned on the rose, larkspur and gladiolus. Also, the gladiolus happens to be one of my favorite flowers and reminds me of my paternal grandma’s country garden. I had Latin Lady roses in my wedding bouquet. And larkspurs are purple, which is my favorite color.

What are your tattoos? If you don’t have any, would you get one?


School on the Farm-Summer Update

We got our The Good and The Beautiful curricula yesterday and started the handwriting portion today. I’m doing their language arts with my younger three this summer and into the year. Finnella is only three and this is totally NOT necessary; she just doesn’t want to be left out of anything and insists on doing whatever everyone else is doing.

I’ve not used a handwriting curriculum before, but I think sometimes it’s necessary. Younger son decided he wanted to keep writing until he got tired…or more likely he wanted to beat his brother by getting a few lessons ahead of him. Nevertheless I appreciated the simplicity of the lessons. Practice one perfect letter, instead of doing it over and over. My boys need extra help slowing down and paying attention, and with fine motor skills, so I think this will be a good fit for us.

My older girls are going to be in Challenge B and A this fall and that is plenty for them to focus on. They are working on math (and music) this summer just to keep them in the habit of doing something schoolish every day. Right now I’m listening to the cello and in the pauses, the ukulele. My oldest son will be starting Essentials of the English Language in our Classical Conversations community for the first time (it’s a three year wonderfully repetitive program).

The boys continue with their Barton Method Tutoring twice weekly throughout the summer. We do our Together Time Books (when I read aloud to all of the kids, from nonfiction and fictional selections) semi-regularly.

Obviously, we school all year round, but not every day. We are casual about it, while at the same time we are gently structured. Life doesn’t take an artificial summer break, so we don’t either. We find plenty of time for lazing in the hammock or going swimming, camping and all the summer fun.