Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Official Start of Summer

It is officially summer now that Memorial Day has passed.  I feel we were so blessed to be able to get away for a fantastic trip up to our favorite lake, Lake Michigan.  We were so fortunate to have Friday through Monday in our favorite camping cabin near Michigan City, IN.

I love camping cabins, especially when they have a private bathroom, a splurge!  There is no real kitchen, just a sink, small refrigerator, and microwave, no worries.  I am not there to cook.  There is one sleeping room with two bunks. The best part of the cabin is the front porch with the picnic table. It has just enough room to set our folding chairs and drink our coffee each morning.  Awww, blissful.

The tidy campground itself is family owned and operated, which I love. They keep the grounds well maintained.  The pool is the main attraction for our kids.  If they did not have one, we would probably look for another spot, it is so important.  I love the laundry facilities myself.  I was able to wash three loads at once while they swam.  That means no big laundry to do when we get home.  Yay!

This being a holiday weekend, the campground was full.  That was to be expected.  It was still nicer than going to the state park with literally 10,000 others trying to get to the beach.  After doing that for years, we are now a little wiser!

This year, we did go to a very lovely beach a little farther east, only 20 minutes from our cabin in New Buffalo, Michigan.  We were able to park close and enjoy the beautiful day with fewer "friends." There we have gone since before we were married, but not often with kids, as the state park beach is closer to Grandma.

In closing, here are some pictures from our weekend below.  I never tire of the beauty up north.  You know it is a good trip when you get home and start searching Zillow for a beach home.  Sadly, it is not in our budget, but it is fun to dream about.  We get to go back in July, September, and October.  I will be content with those wonderful gifts!

Us in the cabin.

Michigan City lighthouse

National Lakeshore access in Beverly Shores, IN. 

Grandma joined us at Deep River Park in Hobart, IN.

New Buffalo, MI 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Bloom Where You Are Planted

It is perhaps the most wonderful time of the year when all is blooming or about to bloom.  It seems the grass could not be any greener and cannot grow any faster, too.  There is an almost constant hum of lawn mowers about.  We are no longer in survival mode.  We thrive!  (Well, try not think about the allergies this season brings!)

Tomorrow our home learners will have reached day 180, which is always a great day.  They have loved their online school.  Each has grown in ways that have surprised and delighted me.  God blessed our efforts beyond my expectations.

We are looking forward to some time off but the kids will be very busy with a couple trips, camps, a youth group overnight outing, and band camp for the oldest.  The few weeks of summer will go quickly.

It is a time to grow things, ride bikes, read for pleasure, swim, create, and enjoy all our blessings.  It is blooming time for plants and our own lives as well!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

A Walk Through My Favorite Little City Park

In our old town, where we still go to church and now my husband works, there is my favorite little city park near our church.  The past two weeks before youth group, we have stopped to take a walk.  I miss being just down the road, but these little visits are just the thing until we move back north next year, LORD willing.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Sparks of Joy!

I just finished reading a very interesting book, "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying" by Marie Kondo.  Once you get used to the personification of things and ignore the mystic leanings (very few), the book is as it claims, life-changing.

I have been on what seems to have been an adult life-long journey to declutter.  I have purged so many times, usually until it hurts  and right before we moved.  I can remember hauling van loads to charity stores many times, yet things always come back and I feel cluttered again.

I am a big fan of Flylady.net and her "You can do anything for 15 minutes a day!"  I have participated in many of her "27 fling boogies."  I have a permanent box that I keep for discards.  I am always looking for things to purge. I LOVE to purge, however, I never made progress until now.

What is the difference?  Kondo's method is terribly simple, but you have to blindly trust her at first because what she asks seems counter productive.  First, you gather all items in a single category, all at once.  This is huge.  You can actually see how much of something you have collected.  Always before I decluttered areas.  I cannot tell you how awesome it is to see how many books you have and to see them all fit into one area after they are purged.  No more boxes hiding in the attic, garage, and all over the house.

Next, after you gather, you ask yourself a single question while holding the object, "Does this spark joy?"  This one question is critical  You are not asking yourself whether you love, need, or have space for the object.  Those questions always confused and overwhelmed me.  You are simply asking if you feel joy when you hold it.  Sounds kind of silly, but it works.  If you do feel joy, you find a space in your home for it.  If you do not, you thank it for its having fulfilled its purpose in your life and move it along to its next home.

This is very freeing to me.  I was able to purge two whole categories, media and books, without any hesitation.  I have always resisted purging these two because of a sentimental attachment.  I will continue to purge my whole house this way in the coming weeks.  I cannot wait!

Kondo's book is the best book on tidying that I have ever read.  Go read it!

Monday, May 9, 2016

2016 Garden is Underway

It is finally time to plant!  And as usual, I am sad that I did not start seeds inside a few weeks ago, but it all works out in the end.  We love to buy plants from our favorite local orchard.  Really, they do a great job and I don't have space to start seeds inside with all my geraniums.  Haha.  I also can direct sow a few things.  One winter I will start seeds inside.  It is a promise!

This year, I have 2 cherry tomatoes, 1 pepper, marigolds, catnip, lavender, mint, oregano.  The herbs are perennials.  I am going to direct sow cilantro, basil, pole beans, bush cucumbers, and dill.  I will have several containers in addition to my garden box. I really need more boxes.  :)

I love the Square Foot garden method, it is so compact, yet bountiful.  Here is a peek at last year's boxes.  

I learned a lesson about having too many tomatoes when there is only one tomato eater in the house! We did enjoy lots of cucumbers, enough to make refrigerator pickles several times.  My son is looking forward to more.

I will miss not planting sunflowers.  They took up so much room and I need the space for my pole beans this year.  Sacrifices one must make!

Monday, May 2, 2016

A Dog's Tale

For many reasons, my being allergic at the top of the list, we don't have a dog.  This makes me sad at times, as I do love dogs.  I love and have two cats, so I am fortunately not suffering from the dreadful state of being pet-less. So, when my parents decided to adopt a dog, I kind of felt like it was part my dog, too.

Their adopting a dog means that I get the best of both worlds.  I get to visit the dog, love it, and then go home to my dog-free home.  Short visits with dogs don't seem to bother me, too much, unless there is a lot of fur in the house.  Usually, only the wet dog smell will send me into sneezes on top of a stuffy nose and watering, itchy eyes.

They found their little dog at a rescue not too far from my home.  After they decided to adopt her, we went for a quick visit.  She was a little darling of a thing.  At that time, we thought she was a mix between a beagle and a boxer.  We did not know of or had ever heard of the basenji, which she is so obviously part of.  She has a beagle head on the body of a basenji.  So cute!

She has the energy of a basenji and their affectionate nature.  She, I keep calling her that, but her name is Mercy Jane, is less than a year old and was a stray, sort of.  She was running loose, picked up by the shelter's manager and when the manager asked around about the dog, the owner, who had seven kids and was a bit overwhelmed, decided to give her up.  Mercy went to the shelter and started the process to adoption.

Mercy does not know a stranger.  People find her instantly charming.  Mom and Dad have a keeper!