Just the Two of Us

My husband and I are still adjusting to the changes brought on by our kids reaching adulthood but I think we’ve made good progress. We don’t seem to be as depressed and worried. Our evenings are usually pretty quiet, and since its just the two of us, every night seems like date night.

My husband and I recently went on a trip that was carefully planned to encompass several tasks, ending with picking up our daughter for her Spring Break. We have a business in south Texas, which we were going to check on. It’s a long trip of about fourteen hours that we’ve become accustomed to, but we were also towing a “fifth wheel” which meant we had to drive slower. We had also been advised to not plan to drive more that about 6-8 hours per day. My husband had spent a lot of time getting both his truck and the new-to-us trailer ready for the trip, so that it would go as smoothly as possible. I was mentally prepared to just relax and enjoy a slower pace.

When it was time to go and the truck was loaded, I found myself thinking, “Is it really this easy? Can we really just get in the car and go? Are we forgetting the kids? Do we need to check their schedules?” Although I miss the kids, I’m enjoying this time with my husband to reconnect and enjoy doing things we like to do.

Small World

The first night we pulled into an RV park and were setting up for the night. Another truck and trailer soon pulled up beside us and its occupants also started setting up. The gentleman looked a little familiar to us, but I guess we both passed it off as him just having “one of those faces.” But a little later when my husband and I were outside, he approached us and, having noted our license plate, asked us where in Missouri we were from. Well, it turned out that they were from a small town 30 minutes from ours and we knew each other, we just hadn’t seen each other in several years. We all had a good laugh. Just one of those “small world,” or “what are the chances” type things.

Leaf Springs Eternal

The next morning we headed out, thinking we might possibly even be able to finish our journey by that night. We stopped in a tiny Texas town for lunch. As we sat eating, my husband was looking out the window at the trailer and thought that something didn’t look quite right. When he finished he went out to take a closer look and discovered that a leaf spring had broken. I’m not real knowledgeable about trailer parts, but evidently that’s something rather important. Scott said that it’s what holds the axle on the trailer. We were in a little town on a Sunday afternoon so we worried about being able to get the trailer fixed. We thought we’d be stranded there at least another day. Thankfully we were able to find a mobile mechanic from another town that could come fix it, but had to wait a few hours while he went to a third city to get the part before he came. He arrived, still wearing spurs because he had been out riding his horse, but he was a friendly and hardworking guy and had it fixed in no time.

Divine Intervention

While they were working on the trailer, I had called ahead to an RV park about an hour down the road to make a reservation. But by the time the trailer was fixed it was nearing dusk. My husband was tired and didn’t want to set up in the dark. Rain was also forecasted that night and he didn’t want to risk packing the trailer back up the next morning in a storm. So we found a hotel in the next town. It was nicer than we expected, and the owners were very friendly and didn’t mind our truck and trailer taking up one whole end of the parking lot. That night, strong storms came through, waking us up to the windows rattling and being pelted by pea-sized hail. The next morning at breakfast, Scott was visiting with the hotel owner and learned that there had been tornado warnings, and that they had 100 mph winds in the town where we would have been had we gone on to the RV park where I’d made the reservation. The  news reported a train being blown off the tracks, so we were especially thankful to not have been sleeping in our camper.

My first “giveaway” was scheduled to go live early the next morning and I was nervous about everything working right. Due to the turn of events, I ended up being in a hotel, safe, and even having good internet to work out a last-minute kink. I had asked friends and family to pray for our safe journey, and I really felt that God had answered those prayers.

The afternoon of the third day, we finally reached our destination. The weather was beautiful and we were able to tend to our business as well as visit with family.

Bird Watching

One morning our cousins took us out in their boat, hoping to show us some Whooping Cranes. “Whoopers” are on the endangered species list and protected. That area of the Texas coast is one of the few places they can be seen, so bird watchers from all over the country come, hoping to get a glimpse, and maybe a picture, of them during the short time they’re in the area.

Just the Two of UsWe lived in Rockport for many years so I was familiar with the birds and the special events designed to capitalize on the tourism, but I don’t think I had ever seen one before. Our cousins knew where to find them so we were lucky to get to see them. You’re not supposed to get too close or disturb them, so we stayed at a respectful distance. I took the best photos I could, so I’m sharing the best one I had, which, after zooming and cropping, isn’t all that good. Yep, there they are!

When we returned to the boat ramp, there was a large group of pelicans waiting patiently at the fish-cleaning station, hoping to get an easy lunch when fishermen came in. They seemed to be disappointed that we were empty-handed.Just the Two of Us

Photography Goal

I took my Canon camera so I could practice taking pictures. One of my goals for this year was to learn more about photography. I don’t want to bore you too much but here are a few more photos.

Just the Two of Us

Just the Two of Us
Just the Two of Us
Smooth Sailing

The rest of our trip went well. We were able to visit with my parents and then pick up our daughter, all according to schedule. Scott and I are really wanting to have some freedom to go and do, so I’m learning to blog on the go.

Just the Two of Us

Looking Back, Looking Forward ~ 2016 in Review

The new year is a time when many people make “New Year’s Resolutions,” but I quit doing that a long time ago. For me, that term has become synonymous with “January goal,” because not many of them make it past the end of the month. They’ve become a bit of a joke, don’t you think? However, My husband and I are big believers in goal-setting. I actually take goals pretty seriously, so I make them carefully.

Looking Back

Looking Back, Looking Forward ~ 2016 in ReviewHomeschooling was a huge goal. I believed that God asked me to homeschool our kids and that helped me to be committed to the very end. When our daughter graduated high school and that huge goal was met, I found myself thinking, “Now what?” Homeschooling had been all-consuming for fourteen years, so suddenly it was like I had a blank slate in front of me and I wondered how I’d fill it.Affiliate Links - Mid-Life Blogger

When I started blogging back in May, I chose the name “Mid-Life Blogger” because it seemed to perfectly describe where I was, and what I thought I’d be writing about. I spend some time looking back, sharing my experiences and memories. I also look forward to what the future might hold. As this year comes to an end I’m thinking back over my first seven months of blogging. I’ve learned a lot of new things and had new experiences. I learned that there’s a lot more to blogging than I’d ever imagined. In fact, writing may be the least of it. I’ve learned terminology, the technical aspect of putting a blog together and publishing posts, a little coding, how frustrating “algorithms” can be, and made a bunch of new blogging friends.

Highlights from 2016

I’ve published about sixty posts so far. If you found my blog recently, then I invite you to explore my past posts by skimming the categories or archives. Here are some highlights from this past year:

Looking Forward

I’ve set a goal to improve my photography skills this next year, and my husband helped by giving me a camera for Christmas. I’m learning how to use it and hope I’ll be able to add better pictures to my posts. I found a free online course that looks like a fun way to learn. If you’re also interested, it’s at http://ayearwithmycamera.com/. The course is free, but there’s an optional workbook that you can order from Amazon that goes with it. Be sure to let me know if you join, too. We can learn together.

In general, I plan to continue to learn and improve my blog. I like exploring and look forward to seeing where Mid-Life Blogger takes me, and what new people I meet. I have some fun ideas for the coming year, so be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss out on anything.

I wish you health and happiness in 2017!

Happy New Year!

Looking Back, Looking Forward ~ 2016 in Review

This post was shared in The Homeschool Nook Link-Up Party.

 

Show Me Your Christmas Tree ~ Powell

Welcome to Powell! I was excited about participating in Show Me Your Christmas Tree, a blog hop featuring Christmas trees from around Missouri, and made sure ours was decorated in time to share. I want to thank our hostess, Terri Steffes, of Our Good Life, for organizing this fun holiday event.

Our Christmas Tree
Our Christmas Tree

We have an artificial tree that is pre-wired with white lights. Once my husband assembles it, I decorate it in the traditional colors of red and green, silver and gold, and then add the special ornaments. We top it off with a bright shining star.

Decorating Hint

I have some plain old red, gold, and green glass ornaments. They have some wear such as scratches, so I put them near the center of the tree to reflect the lights, help hide the wires, and give depth.

Christmas tree skirt
Christmas tree skirt

We’ve had our Christmas tree skirt for about twenty years, or so. It’s hard to believe, but I ordered it and had it monogrammed soon after we were married.

Annual Tradition

When our kids were young I started an annual tradition of buying a Christmas ornament for each of them. I tried to find one that corresponded to something special about that year. Someday I will give them their ornaments so that they’ll have some memories to warm up their new home. I have also bought some for my husband and I so that when that time comes we’ll have some left for ourselves.

Memory Lane

Decorating the tree each year becomes a walk down memory lane. As I get out each ornament out and hang it on the tree, I can’t help but think back about what it memorializes. Here are a few of them:

Baby Shoes - A gift when our son was born.
Baby Shoes – A gift when our son was born.
Our daughter's 1st Christmas
Our daughter’s 1st Christmas
The year our daughter raised rabbits
The year our daughter raised rabbits
The year our son learned to play the guitar.
The year our son learned to play the guitar.
Rudolph made by our daughter, and a diploma for our son's graduation from high school.
Rudolph made by our daughter, and a diploma for our son’s graduation from high school.
Thomas the Tank Engine - a favorite of our son as a toddler.
Thomas the Tank Engine – a favorite of our son as a toddler.
The year we moved to our new homestead in Powell.
The year we moved to our new homestead in Powell.
Christmas Village

While you’re here, I thought I’d share my Christmas village, too. It was accumulated over a long period, and a few pieces were gifts. I especially like the animated skating pond. There is a counter across the back of our den where I’m able to set it out. There’s even a short video if you’d like to see it in action.

Show Me Your Christmas Tree ~ Powell

Show Me Your Christmas Tree ~ Powell

Show Me Your Christmas Tree ~ Powell

Show Me Your Christmas Tree ~ Powell

Show Me Your Christmas Tree ~ Powell

Skating Pond Video

Homecoming

There have been years when we were planning to travel so we didn’t get as many decorations out, but this year my attitude towards decorating is a little different. Now that both of our kids are adults, I want to make our home a place that they look forward to coming back to. Thank you for hopping by to see our Christmas tree. You can continue the fun by clicking the link below. Merry Christmas from Mid-Life Blogger!

“Show Me” Your Christmas Tree! Link-up

"Show Me" Your Christmas Tree

Related Reading

Check out these gift suggestions! Eggstra Special Gift Ideas for Homesteaders

This post was shared on the Hearts for Home Blog HopMonday Social Link-UpAll Around the Home and Homestead Blog PartyOur Simple Homestead Blog Hop, and Home for Christmas Blog Party Link-up.

"Show Me" Your Christmas Tree

3 Mistakes I Made as a New Blogger

Before I started blogging I tried to research whether I should start with a WordPress.com (hosted) or a WordPress.org (self-hosted) platform. Being brand new and feeling overwhelmed by all the terminology, I decided to play it safe and start off with WordPress.com which is the free, hosted platform. Although my learning curve was steep I learned quickly, and I soon became frustrated with “free” because of its limitations. A few months ago I decided to take the leap and switch to self-hosting, but I made some mistakes in the process that other bloggers might learn from.

3 Mistakes

1) Timing – I got wound up and decided to switch to self-hosting the week before taking our daughter to college, thinking it was going to be easy. Well, it wasn’t. And having all the other things I needed to tend to hanging over my head added more stress. I think I made some snap (and poor) decisions as a result. img_1093If you’re going to switch to self-hosting, don’t start the process when you have something important looming on your calendar. Not only to avoid adding stress, but also to allow yourself time to work through any problems that might arise. I encountered some problems during the process, and when it was complete, I then had to go through all my old posts and fix some things.

2) Theme – Have it chosen ahead of time, and verify that it will be supported by your chosen web host. I thought I’d be able to use my same theme, and then after the switch commenced I was told it wasn’t supported, so I panicked and bought one that looked good, but ended up being way too complicated. Then a different tech found that my old theme could be supported and switched me back to it. So I had bought one unnecessarily. The author was kind enough to refund my money, but ThemeForest would only give me an account credit.

3) Domain name – When it came time to register my domain name, I decided to alter it slightly, not realizing that would cause some other problems. I was able to get traffic forwarded from the old domain name, but that added an expense. I also didn’t realize I would be starting over on my statistics.

Advice to New Bloggers

Now that I’ve gained some experience I would offer the following advice to new bloggers:

The idea of self-hosting to begin with was intimidating, but in hindsight I think it would’ve been a lot easier. I only have experience with WordPress, but the dashboard (and learning curve) is the same for both platforms. Choosing self-hosted from the beginning would save the headache of converting later, and give you more freedom with plugins, design, and advertising.

WordPress

I chose SiteGround as my web host and have not regretted it. I can attest that they have great customer service! During my self-induced stress period I tested it thoroughly via “Live Chat.” I think I chatted with everyone in the department and they were all helpful and patient. I wish all companies provided Live Chat!

Web Hosting

As a new blogger, it really helps to find your “tribe,” – bloggers in your niche that you can learn from, and look to for support. Jen Snyder compiled a guide called “Find Your Tribe Online” that lists Facebook groups, Pinterest boards, and more. She put in the time so that you don’t have to. Finding your people will help jumpstart your blog. It helped me find some new blogging friends and inspired me to start my own tribe.

I hope that by sharing the mistakes I made that you might be able to avoid them. If I had to do it over, these are the things I would do differently.

Helpful Links

SiteGround

Find Your Tribe Online

 

Three Mistakes I Made as a New Blogger

Learning How to Learn…And Loving It!

Learning How to Learn...And Loving It!
Learning How to Learn…And Loving It!

When I retired as Homeschool Teacher, I started blogging because I enjoyed writing and wanted to learn more about using the internet. I haven’t always enjoyed writing. I went to school before the days of word processing when dinosaurs roamed the earth and writing anything, either by hand or typewriter, meant writing and re-writing, and using a bottle of Liquid Paper, to produce a paper worth turning in. All of that time, not to mention the tedious assignments, made me dislike it.

Inspired by My Students

I’ve actually been inspired by my kids, because they’ve learned how to learn. They’ve had the benefit of the internet to look up anything they wanted, at pretty much any time. They don’t wait to take a class, they figure it out theirselves. I’ve been a little envious of that. When I was growing up, the only resource I had at home was a set of encyclopedias, and it wasn’t exactly up to date.

Learning How to Learn

Nurturing the Love of Learning

One of our homeschool goals was for our children to learn how to learn. More specifically, we wanted to nurture the love of learning that they’re naturally born with. It’s the same principle as the common proverb, “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” Every education is going to have gaps. We can’t know what the future holds for our children, or what they’ll need to know. Technology changes at such a rapid pace that by the time it’s in a textbook it’s out of date. But if our children learn how to learn, then they can learn anything. Knowing how to learn is more than a skill, it’s having confidence in one’s self to learn independently.

Fostering Independence

So how do we foster this independence? I don’t claim to be an expert, but I have some suggestions based on my personal experience.

There are a variety of approaches to homeschooling, and one of them, Unschooling, is child-led, and follows their interests. While many families follow that style of homeschooling, all families can implement its principles to some degree.

  1. In kids’ free time, during holidays, and school breaks, encourage them to pursue their interests.
  2. Make sure your children have free time. Don’t over-schedule them.
  3. Design a purposeful environment by providing your children with materials that are educational, wholesome, and are in keeping with your beliefs. Consider culling anything that doesn’t meet that criteria.
  4. As they mature, give them more responsibility in planning their classes and activities.
  5. If you see an aptitude, look for opportunities to nourish it through extra-curricular activities, online classes, clubs, or camps where they can learn more and meet others with the same interest. Look for a mentor or apprenticeship. Don’t be shy about asking fellow homeschoolers for ideas. You never know, another homeschool parent or grandparent may have just the expertise you’re looking for, or know where you can find it.
  6. Don’t get so caught up in following curriculum that it doesn’t allow kids to investigate other things. Learning is learning, and they learn better when it’s their idea. Like another famous proverb – “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink” – you can force kids to do homework, but you can’t force true learning. Learning is more than memorizing facts, it’s an internalizing or synthesizing of the information, being able to dissect it and recombine it in new ways, and explain it.
  7. Don’t underestimate your child’s desire or ability to learn. They will all have their own pace and capability, but God created us to learn. They’re like little sponges. If they seem unable or unwilling to learn, it may be that the natural love of learning has been driven out of them because current subjects or methods aren’t meeting their needs. Re-examine your method and materials to see if some changes are needed.
Carry On, Mr. Bowditch

Carry On, Mr. BowditchYears ago we read a book called Carry On, Mr. Bowditch, by Jean Lee Latham. We’ve read a lot of good books through school, but this one was particularly inspiring. It’s a biography about Nathaniel Bowditch, who, despite adverse circumstances, found ways to learn the information he craved, such as borrowing books or finding apprenticeships. Primarily self-educated, he was a mathematical genius, and considered the Founder of Modern Maritime Navigation. Nathaniel Bowditch knew how to learn.

Learning Curves

A steep learning curve can be exciting, yet stressful. I’m more empathetic about that now. I already knew how to write, but all of the technology related to blogging was totally new. During the past several months, I’ve learned a slew of new terms and skills, and there were a few times that I needed to learn so much so fast that I felt like my head was going to explode. Learning How to LearnHomeschooling my kids helped to revive my own love of learning, and watching the variety of interests they’ve pursued has inspired me to pursue my own.

Learning should be a life-long pursuit. At least I hope it will be for me. It keeps life interesting and my mind stimulated. What new things are you learning?

Shared on The Homesteader Hop.

Related Reading

Boredom: Gateway to Creativity

Raising World-Changers…second-generation unschooling

Save Your Memories with an Easy Email Journal

I have kept an “email journal” since my children were small. Periodically, I would write an email to my parents and sister about my family’s activities, then I would print it out and keep a copy for myself. I’ve put about twenty years of journals into 3-ring binders. It’s fun to go back and read through them and remember some of the things we’ve done. I especially enjoy re-reading the funny things my kids said and did when they were younger. Here are a few examples:

October, 2004 (Margaret, 6 yrs)

Today the kids and I went to our new Walmart Supercenter for the third time since it’s grand opening, yesterday. I was trying on sunglasses and all of a sudden, Margaret started crying and yelling at me, “MOVE! MOVE! Go somewhere else!” I had no idea why she was so panicked. I asked her if she was feeling sick, or if she had to go to the bathroom. No. She was upset because she had touched a watch, and at that moment, someone over the loudspeaker said, “Call the police!” (Hayden said that they said something else with “please” in it. I didn’t hear it at all.) I tried to convince her that they wouldn’t call the police on her just because she touched a watch, but she wouldn’t believe me. She did calm down, though. When we got home, I suggested that Margaret take a bath before gymnastics, which she did. Hayden started playing a new PlayStation game that he had bought – a racing game complete with police sirens. When Margaret heard the sirens, she thought the police were coming for her, so she jumped out of the bathtub and ran to get dressed. Then she realized that the sirens were coming from Hayden’s game. I’ve been chuckling about this all afternoon!

June, 2005 (Hayden, 10 yrs)

You may have noticed that Hayden is drawn to anything electronic and technical. A few days ago he changed the ringer on my cell phone so that it clucks like a chicken when I’m getting a call. Yesterday I was sitting in the library looking at a magazine while the kids were watching a movie. The clucking started and people were looking around with the funniest expressions, trying to figure out where it was coming from. I suddenly realized it was my phone, grabbed my purse and hustled out of the library.

The email journal was an efficient way to keep in touch and preserve memories at the same time. I tried the scrapbooking craze, but found that it was a time-consuming and expensive hobby. This method worked better for me.

Steps to start An Email Journal of your own
  1. Write a newsy email about what you’ve been doing lately. Remembering to write periodically may be the hardest part. Frequency is up to you, but the more often you write, the more memories you’ll preserve.
  2. Send to its intended recipients.
  3. Print out a copy for yourself.
  4. Use either a 3-hole punch or plastic page protectors to put them in 3-ring binders.
  5. Include photos in your journal, optional. You can buy plastic sleeves for that purpose. This is something I wish I had done from the beginning.

It’s never too late to start. You may also want to include emails you receive from friends and family. Do you have a funny story to share?

Related Reading

Caution: Warnings from a Retired Homeschool Mom

Shared on Blessed MOMdays Link Up Party and Homestead Blog Hop and The Homesteader Hop.

Comfort Zones

I could have named my blog something about leaving my comfort zone. In The Birth of Curren Christian Academy, I shared how we began homeschooling. That was a big leap out of my comfort zone. My biggest fear in homeschooling was that I wouldn’t do a good enough job and that my kids’ futures would be compromised as a result. But I kept my eyes on God and prayed without ceasing for His guidance every step of the way. In fact, our school motto was Phillipians 4:13. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Now with our homeschooling completed, I can look back and see His hand in our lives and that He was faithful to work through me.

What Does the Future Hold?

Recently, I asked God what was next. While homeschooling my kids, my entire world seemingly revolved around them. If I wasn’t teaching them, I was reading about homeschooling, comparing curriculum, planning field trips, or running my taxi service. But now my future looked like a blank canvas. In some ways it was exciting as I thought about spending more time with my husband and pursuing my own interests, but in other ways I worried about feeling empty. It didn’t take long for God to point me in a new direction which, again, is taking me out of my comfort zone. I’m meeting people that are at rock bottom and have problems I haven’t had any prior experience with. God was faithful in homeschooling, so this time it’s a little easier to step out in faith and find out what He thinks I have to offer.

Titus 2

In my younger years, when anticipating this time of life, I hoped that I might follow the teaching in Titus 2:3-5:

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.  Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.”

Last year my church started a new women’s ministry based on that passage with just the right timing for me to start transitioning into that role, and it, too, takes me out of my comfort zone because as an introvert I’m pushing myself to do things I’m not comfortable with, such as meet new people, teach, and lead others in prayer.

Blogging

And yet another leap was my decision to start blogging, to put myself “out there” and share some of my experiences. I’m hoping that there might be some who would enjoy reading about them, and maybe to encourage homeschooling mothers just beginning their journey. For me, forcing myself out of my comfort zone means learning new things and trusting God.

If God is calling you out of your comfort zone, whether to homeschool your children, or some other ministry, then step out in faith. It won’t be easy, but it doesn’t all rest on you. Just allow Him to work through you. Matthew 11:29-30 “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  God is faithful, and you will reap blessings beyond measure.

Has God asked you to do something out of your comfort zone? Tell me about it in the comments.

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