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This blog chronicles the adventures I share with my husband, daughter and son. It is also a place to share what I am learning as a homemaker, gardener, book lover and homeschooling mother. Welcome.

Sunday, December 31, 2017


Although the holiday break for Christmas is wonderful, special, I'm most thankful that Christmas for the one who believes in the actual birth of Jesus Christ can be celebrated every day.

Immanuel - God with Us

The gift of the presence of God's Spirit living within a human? Each day living the grace of Heaven on Earth residing inside of me? I will take Christmas every day. I need to celebrate that life, light, joy, forgiveness each day. The love of the Lord Jesus Christ needs to be the lense through which I see my life.

Some of my favorite verses from God's Word come from the book of John, written by his disciple of the same name.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. the same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. John 1:1-5

And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou has sent. John 17:3

I'm so thankful for the life, the light, the knowledge of the only true God and his Son, Jesus Christ, and to have him as the focus of my every day.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

25 of 40: loess bluff national wildlife refuge

our final 2017 hike
18 degrees ~ christmas eve ~ approx. 4 inches of snow
although we didn't reach 40 hikes for my 40th year - 25 hikes is quite a number
and the point is that we enjoyed ourselves and had this time together as a family

after the first loop the kids are still smiling - a good sign! - this was just after a snowball fight

We were able to take a hike on Christmas Eve at the Loess Bluff National Wildlife Refuge in Forest City, MO an 1 1/2 hour drive north of KC.  We received about an inch at home that morning and  assumed the accumulation to be greater to the north and it was at about 3-4 inches. These conditions coupled with frigid temperatures (18 degrees!) made for slow going; I was consoled by the memory of our first hike of 2017 in the snow at 13 degrees and the pictures show us smiling so we must have enjoyed ourselves. I was so cold when we began! But I didn't stay cold because all that movement warmed me up and the sun was shining which helped once we were on top of the bluffs out of the woods.

All three trails behind the visitor center are connected and we hiked them by creating two loops and Jesse recorded about 2 1/2 miles. The trails are rated strenuous because of the steep inclines up to the bluffs. Once at the top you have quite the view (seeing as far as Nebraska and Kansas) and get an glimpse of the 10-mile Wild Goose Auto Tour loop (which we drove after hiking) located across from the refuge.

I've mentioned before that hiking in the winter is one of my favorites and adding snow makes it extra special. Roone especially loved purposely falling and sliding on the snow, and Ella contributed to the fun with throwing snowballs. We saw deer as well as many birds and even had a bald eagle circling overhead when climbing the bluffs. It probably goes without mentioning that there wasn't a crowd to content with. We were the only ones on the trail, the only car in the parking lot. Yes, it was quite peaceful.

bald eagles


 immature eagle - photo credit: jesse via binoculars

immature eagle - photo credit: jesse via binoculars

After hiking we warmed ourselves in the car with hot tea and lunch then drove through the Wild Goose Auto Tour loop. We probably saw five other cars on the loop and since it's nice to go at a slow pace and stop frequently to view the birds it was great not to be rushed by crowds.

We drove the loop a number of years ago when the refuge hosted an eagle days event. My memories are of having young children, Roone getting ill, and the loop being quite congested and not seeing many birds. Our experience this year was the exact opposite, thankfully.

Our pictures don't do our experience justice, but we saw hundreds, maybe thousands of birds. We saw many bald eagles, geese, swans, hawks. This experience was great for Jesse because he is the most keen bird watcher of all of us. It's really mostly his thing, but he has taught the me and kids well and we also know how to identify quite a few feathered friends. Driving slowly we covered only 4 miles in the first hour because there were so many birds to view. We sped up for the last 6 miles because it seemed the largest crowds of birds were near the loop's beginning, however near the exit Jesse did see an owl, the only one of the day.

I'm so glad we made the effort to have this adventure. Knowing of the snow and low temperatures I was second guessing our idea the morning of the hike, but then thought that it would be silly not to go when we had the time on our hands, and it became a stunning, peaceful way to enjoy our last opportunity to hike this year.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

snow days

The past few months the children and I have been reading Exploring the World of Chemistry by John Hudson Tiner. It is the history of chemistry, leading figures and pertinent discoveries, told in sixteen chapters. Ella and Roone said they were interested in chemistry this year, and since science isn't my strength I had to think through this request. (This is what I get for asking, "What are you interested in learning?") 

When I don't know something or if something doesn't come to me naturally I have to take the time to research and understand it. (Meaning, I didn't want to just get a chemistry set and go for itWhen one thinks of schooling and chemistry one thinks of diving into experimenting. From my hazy memory of junior high chemistry class that is all I can recall. I thought I'd take it from a different point of view with the kids and first read a history book about chemistry. Of course, they were suspicious about this idea, but it turns out that the book was short enough to get through in a semester's time with plenty of room to read additional books about prominent scientists. It has been an interesting, enjoyable time (for all, I think) and this non-scientific homeschooling mother has more of a grasp on the why's and what for's of chemistry. I can find almost anything interesting if it is explained in a reasonable way.

The idea now is to proceed with chemistry experiments over the next few months. This will be another challenge for me as the interest doesn't come to me naturally. However, it's not like it will be difficult. It's simply researching do-able experiments, of which there are a plethora, and gathering the supplies. 

I write all that to mention that in the history of chemistry book we read about Wilson Bentley (1865-1931) from Jericho, Vermont who discovered a way to photograph snowflakes without them melting first. It seems these days due to technological advancements that accomplishments have a way of not being impressive. I think we're numb to accomplishment maybe because it has become so accessible to so many, or maybe because the information about it has become so accessible. At any rate, experiencing the season's first snowfall and going on a Christmas Eve hike through the snow made me think of Wilson Bentley and how astounding of a discovery and accomplishment his photographs were at that time. As I scooped a mound of snow while hiking and looked at it with my husband I realized that the ability to photograph snow crystals is just as marvelous today. A compilation of Bentley's snow pictures was eventually made into a book, Snow Crystals. I can't see how I can now experience a snowfall and not think of Wilson Bentley. 

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

a day in the life {somewhat}

boiling water for coffee

breakfast with jesse

 making white chocolate peppermint cookies 
for jesse to take to work

 mandolin practice

christmas card prep and mailing

 essay writing


 wood staining for a new shelf

 roone's reading

meat sauce for spaghetti

ella making her way through the third wheel of time book

end of the day reading and chai tea

I told Jesse it's convenient to take pictures of our time outdoors because all that is on my mind is the experience and recording it. Whereas here at home, there are a myriad of things to do and be on my mind so I don't record it as much as I'd like.

Yesterday I decided to document the day, although it really isn't indicative of my entire day because I don't keep my phone handy. In fact, I don't even keep the sound turned up because I don't want to know when I receive an alert! Technologically advanced I am not.

It was sweet (to me) to capture bits of my day from beginning to end. It seems my waking hours are capped by warm drinks, which isn't a bad thing. Our days are regularly filled with reading, music, homemaking (there is always a big or little project in motion) and food preparation. Schooling the children really makes the day fly as we have a regular routine, although, thankfully, it's not rigid (so glad I'm in charge of that decision!). In fact, today it's already almost two o'clock. We've accomplished so much, but yet I don't know where the time went.

A "normal" day includes breakfast with Jesse before the kids wake, Jesse going to work, the kids eating breakfast, getting ready for the day and then schooling in the morning, breaking for lunch, schooling in early afternoon and then free time/dinner preparation in the late afternoon, dinner with Jesse, reading/games, and then bedtime. Written that way it sounds so simple, yet it's anything but. 

I'm going to try to capture more of my days in this way because I truly enjoy my "work" day and want it recorded to look back on just as I do our time outdoors.