Thursday, January 9, 2014


We found a great book at our library: Geology of the Great Plains and Mountain West, by Cynthia Light Brown. It was an enjoyable read. The information in it was easy to understand and connect to. My son enjoyed reading it with me. It has little experiments at the end of each chapter using very common household items (Warning: Be careful not to spill Epsom salts in the bottom of your oven. That was a BIG mess!). We tried several of them and the rest we just read through.

The best part for us was that we were able to connect some of our experiences from our travels and our time outdoors with the information in the book. We went back through some of our pictures to help us remember.

Waterfall at Devil's Den State Park, AR
Palo Duro Canyon, TX
Mark Twain Cave, MO
Glacial grooves, Kelleys Island, OH
Visiting the Great Lakes of Erie, Michigan, and Superior.
Rock City at Minneapolis, KS
The plains at Laura Ingalls' childhood home site, De Smet, SD
The Rocky Mountains, CO 

Caves at Meramec State Park, MO
The kids have spent countless hours exploring the land and creek at their grandparents farm.

    Thursday, January 2, 2014

    On the other side of our move: a lengthy update after a lengthy absence

    Well, we pulled it off! We sold a house, we bought a house, we packed it all up, we made the drive, and it all went pretty smoothly!

    The kids had a blast in our mostly empty house for the few days we were waiting on our furniture to show up. We grown ups did too, just imagining the possibilities. Then the furniture and boxes arrived and the mood shifted noticeably. As we were placing furniture and unpacking boxes, the realities of downsizing by 500 sq ft were fully realized. So although we thinned our belongings before the move, we had more thinning to do once we got here. After enjoying the openness for several days, we knew we didn't want to be crammed in our home with too much stuff, so we were motivated. Several weeks later we are still unpacking and still figuring out what we can live without and where to put everything else, but we are gaining on it.

    I injured my shoulder the week we got here, and was in PAIN for nearly two weeks, so needed to find a doctor sooner than I'd hoped. My first experience was not a good one and I found myself experiencing my first round of homesickness, missing my awesome doctor from home, my friends, my family, etc. Thankfully the night following the day where my pain peaked and my mood bottomed out, my shoulder improved dramatically and I decided not to make a second attempt at finding a doctor for now. I also started taking many time-outs from unpacking and organizing to call home and connect with loved ones and have helped the kids do the same.

    The kids and I have been out to our local library and park. I may not have a new driver's license yet, but I have a library card! :) I'm getting lost sometimes and sometimes getting from one place to another without using navigation. We're going out to eat, trying new restaurants and sometimes enjoying old favorites. Though we missed our usual holiday traditions with our families, we also truly enjoyed deciding how we might like to celebrate together and just doing whatever we wanted to do.

    I have been feeling a bit disappointed about our lives getting derailed. All the plans I made about what the kids and I would do this fall, also completely derailed. I know I said I would be flexible about that, and I have been, but there is a bit of sadness about it. That sadness though has been almost completely overtaken by a sense of awe at what my children (and I) have learned instead over these past months.

    No matter how busy things get, I couldn't do without some daily connection with my kids. So I snuggle up with them and ask about what they did that day. I love to hear what they're excited about! My son has been making texture packs for Minecraft, learning to use Photoshop, and making videos/art tutorials. My girl who has had a rough time learning to read, found a novel that she fell in love with and became a bookworm. She also has been sewing on the sewing machine by herself and baking with her sisters. My girl who has had almost no patience or tolerance for frustration has made an amazing shift somehow. She is verbalizing her thoughts and feelings and communicating clarity about who she is and what she wants. And my baby is so clearly not a baby anymore. She is more independent in every way. The three girls have become closer friends. I have witnessed much snuggling and tenderness between them.

    All of it has made me think about learning. At the beginning of fall, I had ideas about what I wanted the kids to learn, and many of those ideas involved me sharing my knowledge and resources with my kids. But here is how I have grown these past months: I have a new respect for how much learning goes into these big life changes! All of us have had to do a lot of research to find out where to live, where to shop, how to deal with trash removal, what groups to connect with, what bugs are we finding in our shower, what plants are in the yard, and how do we get from one place to another. Besides searching for facts, we've had to emotionally and spiritually stretch to meet the challenges of leaving all that was familiar and reaching out to new people, places and situations. We have all had to step it up and be more independent and competent, more flexible and compassionate. During a time when I had very little time to read to them or even answer their questions as I usually would, it is both amazing and humbling to see what they have figured out on their own and how they have grown.