Eight Years

Dear Alex,

Eight years!  Sometimes you seem so grown up already that’s it hard to remember you were a curious, wide-eyed toddler not all that long ago.  You’ve grown in your love of animals and nature, but you still drop everything to build a Lego set!  This past year you have discovered a love of herbs and history and you’ve become very confident in riding a bike.  It’s now one of your favorite things to do (even though last year you swore you would go your whole life without riding a bike).

Given the choice, you still choose to spend your time outdoors in the sunshine, and while you don’t mind a bit of cold during your winter, you still love hot summer days best.  You’re happy to swim for hours in Granny and Pappy’s pool or work on a new Star Wars or Indiana Jones Lego set with Pappy.  You can spend hours upon hours on the phone with Joey building imaginary sets and playing the best made-up games that the two of you create.

Your favorite thing in the world to do is still go to the zoo, and you still want to be a zoologist when you grow up more than anything else.  You are thoughtful, silly and sweet, and still love to snuggle during family reading time.  I am thankful for every day I spend with you.  I love you to the moon and back.

Love Mom



Outside my window… the sun is shining and the weather is changing.  Our evenings and early mornings are becoming cooler and the day time highs are in the 80’s.  There is nothing better than opening the windows and enjoying the fresh air this time of year.

I am thinking… about all the things that need to be done.  It seems like I’m always so busy thinking about things that need doing that I forget to stop and just be present in the moment.  This past week was long for us at home and filled with many divergences from our usual routine and the list of things to be done each day was impressive.  It’s easy to just keep pushing through, to get one more thing done off that list, but by Thursday evening I saw the look on Alex’s face that said “I’ve had enough and I need a rest” and the pure joy on his face when I let him stay up a little late so we could snuggle in bed and read all about deadly creatures was worth all the things that didn’t get done the rest of that night.

I am remembering… a fun visit with the grandparents last month.  We ventured a bit out from Austin to the lovely little town of Fredericksburg to visit the National Museum of the Pacific War.  Alex came home interested in all things World World II.






I am thankful… for the little things in life.  Being able to get up each morning and prepare for the day ahead.  Being able to cook up healthy, home cooked meals for my family.  Being able to work from home so I don’t have to travel in Austin traffic or spend time commuting.  Being able to educate my child in an environment where he can question, argue, learn and grow without being ridiculed, teased, or bullied.  Being able to pick up the slack, being organized enough to get it all done, and being able to see the joy in just being able.

In the kitchen… simple meals to make life easier.  I go back and forth so much these days on what types of foods to eat and what types of things to restrict in my diet to help with some of my food sensitivities.  It’s a very fine line to walk between balancing health and sanity when it comes to making to meals from scratch, staying within a budget, and not spending every moment in the kitchen.

I am looking forward to… cooler weather and the approaching holiday season.

From the schoolroom… Jamestown.  This week we are focused on the Virginia Company and the settlement of Jamestown.  We are also learning a bit about Leonardo da Vinci, world history, plenty of grammar, math and spelling. Last week we attended our first play, Charlotte’s Web, at the Zach Scott Theatre with our field trip group, Joyful Journeys.  A few weeks ago Alex experimented with some volcanic activity after painting some volcanoes from a science kit.




I am still reading… my way through Pocketful of Pinecones by Karen Andreola and really enjoying the little bits of nature study wisdom woven into the story.

I am wearing… jeans and a light blue t-shirt.

One of my favorite quotes: “Learning is not attained by change, it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence.” Abagail Adams

One of my favorite things… mismatched socks. 40 pairs of mismatched socks.


A peak into my day… 


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Outside my window… it’s dark and quiet.  I can hear the hum of the dehumidifier and a meow from Gracie every now and then.  It’s a peaceful, happy end to a long, busy day.

I am remembering… Alex walking into the kitchen last night with the “mark of the dragon” on his forehead, which he had drawn with a marker.  And if that wasn’t enough, because he is so immersed in How to Train Your Dragon right now, he added more marks to his chest and arms and proudly marched off declaring that now he looked like Hiccup.

I am thankful… for the voice of my sister on the other end of the line.  Some days it just idle chatter, other days it’s deep, meaningful discussions, but whether it’s a two minute “I just have to tell you real quick…” or an hour long “I don’t know what to do about this…” it always makes my heart feel happy to hear her voice and know she is just a phone call away.


In the kitchen… strawberry vanilla jam. And tomorrow the start of our ginger bug for making homemade, fermented soda.


I am looking forward to… seeing our animal friends at Pioneer Farms again.  After a break this summer a new spot opened up for us in the evenings.  We’ve really missed spending time with the donkeys, chickens, rabbits, horses and pig and walking the dusty trails that are reminiscent of a time long past.  It feels adventurous to step out of our modern life for a couple hours and getting a chance to immerse ourselves in the simple joys of farm life.

From the schoolroom… We finished up Christopher Columbus last week and have a week off before we return to study Jamestown for the next six weeks.

I am reading… Pocketful of Pinecones by Karen Andreola.  Stacie has been after me for a while to read it and although I am only a few chapters into it, it has definitely been a fun and delightful read so far, as promised. And, my hold at the library finally came through last night and I started The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne.

I am wearing… my favorite comfy clothes in the world…black capris, a burgundy t-shirt, and my zip-up sweatshirt.  Yes, a sweatshirt.  In Texas.  In September.

One of my favorite things… crossing off my checklist.

A peak into my day… 


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Outside my window… a whole flock of doves and a few small house finches snatching up the last little bits of bird seed for the evening.  August has been unusually mild this year and we’ve had more rain than in past years.  It’s nice to look out on a green lawn and wildflowers still blooming in Alex’s garden.

I am remembering… our past year volunteering at Pioneer Farms.




I am thankful… for audio books. Alex always has at least five or six on loan from the library and he carries his Kindle with him faithfully wherever he goes so he can listen to stories while he plays.

In the kitchen… nothing.  We have been working our way through stuff sitting on the pantry shelves for a while now and we’re getting close to not having enough to make a decent tasting meal.  Time for meal planning and a grocery list!

From the garden… It wasn’t our best harvest this year, but it certainly wasn’t our worst.  We had quite a few butternut squash early in the season along with green beans galore.  But Alex’s one tomato plant was the star of this season.  It outgrew three tomato cages and ended up being cut back four times before it finally gave up growing more tomatoes!






From the schoolroom… Second grade is finally underway and we have embarked upon a slightly different path this year.  I’m not sure how well I’m adjusting, but it seems to work well with Alex’s learning style.  He is really enjoying the focus on history this year but he still asks every day if we will be studying more about animals.

I am reading… Wizard’s First Rule, again.  I remember why I loved the Sword of Truth books the first time around.  I am also reading Serena for book club and wondering why I keep turning the pages, but I do.  And I am reading Fablehaven to see if it is something Alex would enjoy as he gets older.

I am looking forward… to camping as the weather cools down.  Our last experience left everyone a bit frustrated after attempting to take all three dogs, so we are going to try again minus the two small dogs and possibly minus the big one too!

One of my favorite things… bedtime reading with Alex.  We are almost done with Ember Falls.  As soon as the audio is available I can look forward to listening to it over and over and over again!

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Outside my window: Texas spring weather…unpredictable but welcome after the cold, rainy winter.  Yesterday it was stormy, windy and a high of 56.  Today it looks like a high of 74 with sunshine!

I am remembering: Alex’s birthday with his grandparents at the Texas Snake Farm.  He still talks about all the exciting things he got to see and do.  This was our second year spending his birthday there.  I think we might have started a tradition, so if you come to visit for his birthday, be prepared to spend time with snakes!


















I am thankful: for air conditioning.  It get hot in Texas.  Real hot.  My air conditioner finally gave out in my car and on the days Alex and I have to go places in the afternoon, Dustin is thoughtful enough to leave the truck for us so we don’t end up sweating it out in the Texas heat.  I can only imagine what July will feel like!

In the kitchen: so many things!  Homemade elderberry syrup to keep us healthy during the winter months.  Fennel pesto to use up some fennel fronds that I didn’t want to go to waste.  Hyssop Oxymel to have on hand – just in case someone comes down with a cough. Fermented carrots to tide us over until pickling season arrives.  More homemade bone broth. And homemade ice-cream for Sunday to carry on the tradition Aunt Stacie started of Sundae Sunday!



From the garden: new seedlings in amidst the losing battle with weeds.  While the rain has been nice for the extremely dry ground where we live, it has given weeds a new lease on life in our yard.  Looks like we have our work cut out for us!

From the Schoolroom: The finish line is in sight, but there are so many exciting things to come that it’s hard to imagine an “end” to our school year.  This year we have followed a six-week on, one-week off schedule and it has been an absolutely perfect fit into our routine.

One of my favorite things: Listening the Alex talk to his cousins on the phone.  It’s like no distance at all separates them.  Joey and Alex have games they play, Lego sets they create and build, and stories they tell from one day to the next.  Sometimes Billy joins in the conversation too and I hear little voices sharing all the secrets and joys of boyhood without a though to being a few hours away from each other.

Please visit The Simple Woman’s Daybook for more daybook entries.

7 Years

Dear Alex,

It is hard to believe you are seven years old.  It seems like just yesterday you were climbing into my lap for another round of Brown Bear, Brown Bear or Look to the North.  Now, you read chapter books like Magic Tree House, Beast Quest and Geronimo Stilton all by yourself.  It doesn’t seem all that long ago you were still snuggling up for an afternoon nap.  Now you’re too busy to stop long enough to sit still for more than a moment!

Our days are filled with school books and reading books, lessons in the fort and long hikes in the woods.  More often than not, when it comes to the animal world, you are now the teacher and it’s amazing how much you know about animals I’ve never even heard of!  You still want to be a zoologist when you grow up.  While many things change…that never does.

You love reading and legos.  Some days it’s hard to tell which one you love more, but you almost always have one or the other in hand, no matter what else you are doing.  You can work on lego sets for hours and you usually hum the theme song to Star Wars while you are building.  I love the afternoons when I can hear you and Joey playing a game on the phone and both of you are shouting out Star Wars songs at the top of your lungs, happy and carefree.

I love watching you grow and I treasure every moment I have with you.  I’m so thankful to be your mom.  I love you always.



DAR Luncheon Honoring Veterans

I was honored to be able to take my dad as my guest to the November Daughters of the American Revolution Luncheon honoring Vietnam-Era Veterans.  Growing up we made many sacrifices as a family because of dad’s belief in service to something greater than himself – God and country – and because of that service, freedom for his family and all Americans.  He lived out that belief for 37 years, never asking or expecting compensation or gratitude, quietly taking on the enormous weight and responsibility of the lives of the men who served under him and the task of raising them up to be the next generation of soldiers.  I have seen the amount of respect he has earned over the years from so many who served under him, and I couldn’t be more proud to call him dad.

I’ve been asked many times over the years if I regret growing up with the military, or if I wish my childhood had been different and I have always said without hesitation – no.  It doesn’t mean it wasn’t hard.  It doesn’t mean I didn’t miss my dad being around.  But we had a solid foundation in our family and mom took up the slack and keep us moving forward wherever we were and whatever we were doing.  During the difficult times, mom taught me about strength and perseverance and dad taught me about honor and sacrifice. That’s what it means to grow up in a military family.  My dad, my husband, and so many others in my family made the choice to sign over their life for the freedom and lives of others.  To me, there is no greater sacrifice and it was an honor to be able to celebrate and recognize the men and women who are the very definition of American heroes.




Stephen F. Austin State Park Camping Trip

We finally took Alex on his first camping trip.  We’ve been planning to go for ages, but it took my sister planning a trip to Newman’s Castle to get us committed to finally doing it.

We packed enough stuff to hide out in the woods for a week (at least) and took enough conveniences to not feel too far from home, but Alex had a blast and it was fun to camp with family (we lump Jessica and her family right into our family) who are so much fun to hang out with!  Alex had five other boys and one little girl to keep him busy and the time flew by.  Had it not been for the 99% humidity and the tiny tent we took, I could stayed a few more days and not missed a thing!

For full disclosure, I must add that I have been giving Dustin a hard time for YEARS about how he thinks he can’t sleep on the ground anymore because he is too old.  We took our little tent and pads to sleep on.  I was WRONG.  Way wrong.  So wrong, that I didn’t sleep more than a few minutes the entire night, because the ground is HARD.  Even with a pad.  My hip fell asleep.  I didn’t even know that was possible.  The one benefit of being up all night – I got to hear the wonder in Alex’s voice when he woke up at 2 a.m. to listen to the owls hooting nearby. That’s not something we hear in the city!


Alex took quite naturally to helping build and maintain a fire.  Just like his dad.  He had a fire-poking stick, and he quickly learned how to use it.






Alex took his own tent and had a great time sharing with the boys (and occasionally Katie too). No, he did not sleep in it overnight!
















Soccer Season 2015

It’s soccer season again, but this time Alex is playing on the Harris Branch Neighborhood League.  This is the first year the neighborhood has organized any type of sport, so it has been fun getting to know some neighbors and not having to drive through traffic all over the city to watch the games!

Alex’s team name is The Raptors and he is Number 6

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