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I’m posting again.  Let me sum up.  We had a quiet summer here.  B got some freelance work here and there, but not an internship, and nothing that made significant money.  That was disappointing for him, but it’s not like he didn’t try.  We got out and picked strawberries and blueberries, got our fruit and vegetables at the farm every week, cooked a lot!  I taught Musikgarten classes at the local community center on Saturdays, but decided it wasn’t worth continuing once B’s school started again.

In the Fall, the girls’ and my schedule picked up a bit.  Monkey started Musikgarten classes with a different teacher, since she was ready for the pre-keyboard classes that I’m not trained to teach.  That’s really been fun for her.  She’s continued in her gym class and loves it.  Her teachers love figuring out ways to challenge her, and I love that it’s fun and low key.  I joined a Community Bible Study that meets at a church just down the street from me.  They have children’s programs for the girls as well.  It’s been good for me to have a kick in the pants to be studying the Bible again.  Then, the girls spend Wednesday nights at B’s parents’ house and go to Bible Study Fellowship with B’s mom on Thursday mornings.  These girls are going to know their Bible stories!  And B and I enjoy having a date night each week and a morning for me to run errands or just sleep in.

Monkey and I do only about 30 minutes of lessons a day: a reading lesson from The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading and a handwriting lesson from Handwriting Without Tears.  We do other stuff informally: play with the abacus, Cuisenaire rods, pattern blocks, update her magnetic calendar each month, as well as plenty of read-alouds.  We’ve been reading through the book lists from a unit study curriculum called Five in a Row.  I’m not a unit study kind-of gal, but we’ve enjoyed reading the books from the library.  Monkey can count to 100 now and recognizes her numbers up to 100, and she’s working on skip counting and counting by 5’s and 10’s.  I think she’ll do fine with Kindergarten math next year!

I’ve been planning for Kindergarten now that it’s not too far away.  We’ll focus on continued reading instruction, letter formation, and math.  For math, I plan to use Singapore Earlybird and supplement with Miquon.  Then, I’m considering this to use for nature study.  And we’ll focus on developing the skill Charlotte Mason called narration.  I’ll have her narrate – with words, pictures, etc – fairy tales, paintings, and classical pieces.  We’ll read other literature too: poems, AA Milne and Beatrix Potter stories, plus some chapter books.  Then, we’ll probably do an overview of history with an “exclusive” timeline song, reading a book to learn about each event on the timeline each week, while we slowly create the timeline on the wall.  I think that will give her some “pegs” to hang future history learning on, which is really all you can expect for Kindergarteners.  I’m still waffling on what to do for Bible, but likely I’ll read The Child’s Story Bible each day and let the girls use the coloring pages I got from Hold That Thought.  We’ll probably memorize these ABC Bible verses (there are lots of these out there, but for some reason I like this list), some Catechism questions and answers, and some poems.  This sounds like a lot, but I don’t expect us to spend more than two hours a day on school… maybe a little more for read alouds.

I hope to get most of that figured out and loosely planned in the next few months.  Because, as it’s been six months since I’ve posted to this blog, in about 6 months from now, we’re going to have a new baby!  I’ll be 14 weeks tomorrow, and the due date is in mid-June.  We’re excited, of course.  Because I know this will be your first question: gender-finding-out will happen in January.  So, next summer will be filled with nursing and napping and spit-up-cleaning and getting to know the newest member of our family!  The girls are thrilled.  Chicken thanks God for baby every night when we pray before supper.  Monkey likes to think up possible names for the baby and ask increasingly detailed questions about how the baby got in there (yikes!).

I am feeling 75% improved from the first couple of months.  Unfortunately, just as I was getting over the constant nausea and exhaustion, I’ve been getting back-to-back colds.  So, there’s my excuse for being a terrible blogger the past 3 months, at least.

B is almost done with this quarter.  He’s doing some awesome work.  Here’s a bench (it’s actually a swing) that he designed and built:

He’s been doing web work for his department, and starting next quarter will do some admin work for them as well.  We are praying that God would provide the means to get through his school without having to take out any loans.  B is doing an amazing job of doing school, finding work, and still being a great husband and father.  We are so proud of him!

Once again, it’s been too long.  Here are some quick blips about the books I’ve been reading the past 9 months or so.

Postmodern Times by Gene Veith

I think I got this one in high school, and so once I finally got around to reading it the “times” have already past.  Well, not completely.  Helpful in understanding the end of secular humanism – how humanity’s attempts to perfect ourselves and our society have failed and resulted in despair, and how that despair is translated into culture.

All God’s Children and Blue Suede Shoes by Kenneth Myers

This one was unsatisfying for me, but offered an interesting definition of culture: “What we make of the world”, both in the literal and figurative sense of that phrase.  Also, it helped me understand what is meant by “The medium is the message”, and offered a useful critique of rock music and television along those lines.

Culture Making by Andy Crouch

This one was more what I was looking for when I read the previous book, and he actually adopts Myers definition of culture.  He helped give me a grid for evaluating certain aspects of culture with the following questions: What does it assume about the world?  What does it assume about the way the world should be?  What does it make possible?  What does it make impossible (or at least a lot more difficult)?  What new culture is created in response to it?  Crouch says that while condemning, critiquing, copying and consuming are all appropriate responses to culture, our primary posture should be that of cultivating and creating culture.  I found his discussion about cultural power and the call for Christians to creatively use the cultural power that we have for the sake of the powerless particularly compelling.

I was talking to our pastor about this, and he asked if I had heard of the Clapham sect (one of them was William Wilberforce).  I hadn’t, but I’m thinking about reading this book about it.

The History of Ancient Times by Susan Wise Bauer

Finished it.  Loved it.  I’m surprised that ancient history isn’t taught as an adult Sunday school class in churches because it makes so much sense of the Bible, particularly the Old Testament.  Like the position of Israel smack dab in the middle of all of those ancient powers.  Like how God’s people would not have survived a minute without all of those disturbing battles.  Like the Roman empire that Jesus was born into.  Like the influence of Greek philosophy on the early church.   I guess it’s assumed that people learn history in school.  Doh.

Seriously, I’m becoming more and more convinced that a good understanding of history is the key to understanding the issues we face today.

The Civilization of the Middle Ages by Norman Cantor

Next in the history of the world (since Susan Wise Bauer’s medieval history book won’t be out until February).  Still haven’t gotten out of the (long) introduction called The Foundations of the Middle Ages.  I’m enjoying it.  Gonna have to return this one to the library soon, but will re-check it out.

The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise

These two have an incredibly well-thought-out and complete plan for home educating.  I really like them and their approach.  I’m sold on their history and language arts curricula as well.

Men and Women in the Church by Sarah Sumner

A quite compelling interpretation of the disputed scriptures on the issue of women’s roles.  She is mostly arguing against the complementarian position, but doesn’t agree completely with the egalitarian camp either.  This was a non-issue for me until recently, when I became aware of the more extreme Patriarchy Movement.  Let’s just say I’m not a fan, and I felt very unsettled until I was able to finish this book.  I’m not 100% sold on Sumner’s conclusions, but I think she’s on the right track.

In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan

The follow-on to The Omnivore’s Dilemma.  I read this book because it sounded like what he advocates is very close to the conclusions I had already come to about food and health.  Way to be open-minded, eh?  Turns out I agree almost completely with everything he said!  He gives an interesting critique of what he calls “nutritionism”.  It was a good motivator as we began our CSA season.

A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter Miller

Post-nuclear holocaust novel.  Some interesting ideas tossed around about the relationship between science and religion, and about the nature of good and evil.  Weird ending, but I might feel differently if I were Catholic.

Interesting article… http://pewforum.org/events/?EventID=186

I find myself almost perfectly defined by the term “cosmopolitan Christian” and have new clarity about what made finding a church up here so difficult.

Oh, and it looks like the contract on our house should go through in a couple of weeks!  Whew, it will be good to get that behind us!

Well, we’ve actually had a few days of warm weather. Not just warmer than 40 degrees… actually up to 70 degrees and sunny. The cherry trees are in full bloom, and we’re seeing various bulb flowers come and go. We have some hyacinths in our yard that the girls stepped on, so I decided to bring them in and put them in a vase. They smell heavenly. They’re a proper substitute for my beloved mountain laurels in Austin. We’re beginning to notice that we actually have neighbors. Everyone seems to hibernate during the winter months, and suddenly with the longer daylight hours and the sunshine, people are emerging.

It struck me that God must have made seasons as a sort of spiritual training. I didn’t notice that I was depressed before, but suddenly, I’m happy, hopeful, dreaming, ambitious. Texas “seasons” are more of a manic-depressive-type than the long endurance required for a Seattle winter.

Things are beginning to come together for us. We’ve committed to a church and are slowly meeting people. It’s looking like we might be able to get a community group going soon and get involved with a new college ministry. Brian is applying for various internships for the summer, and we’re hoping that someone will actually have the funding to pay him. We got an offer on our house… the first one in nearly a year of being on the market. It may not be “the one”, but it at least makes us hopeful that it will, indeed, sell.

Chicken is now weaned. It’s the first time in nearly all of our 5 years of marriage that I’ve not been pregnant and/or nursing, and it’s time for a sabbath rest. I’m beginning to feel restless… in a good way. I’m dreaming about where we’re headed and what God might have next for us. We’re reading a lot and thinking a lot… trying to envision how we will be a part of ushering in God’s kingdom to the Earth. We have lots of ideas and see lots of ways that our various interests and passions could come together.

Now for some mom stories:

Last night we were reading our story Bible before bed, and it was the story of the Israelites in the desert receiving manna from heaven. I think Monkey had heard the story in her BSF class that she attends with B’s mom, because I remember her telling me about it recently. As I got to the part describing the flakes of bread that the Isrealites found on the ground each morning, I asked Monkey if she remembered what it was called. Her response – “Toast?”

This morning, B left early to check out the men’s Bible study at our church. The girls had just received a “new” hand-me-down toy from some friends – some Calico Critters with a house and furniture. They played with it happily last night and began again as soon as they were up this morning. I got up and got them both dressed and then left them to play while I took a shower. Soon, I heard someone knocking on the door, yelling “No! No!” I told Monkey to open the door. Realizing it must be Chicken, I dripped across the bathroom to open the door and make sure she was ok. She was, and when I asked if Monkey was ok, she nodded her head yes and ran along. I returned to my shower, but soon was hearing screaming from their bedroom. I screamed for Monkey to come tell me what was going on, but after a couple of minutes without the screaming subsiding, I turned off the shower. I wrapped my towel around me and found them in their room, continuing to scream and flail about. I picked Chicken up and put her in the crib and marched Monkey into the guest room where I screamed that she must stay there until I could finish my shower and shave my other leg. To add insult to injury, my hasty exit from the shower broke one of the shower doors. *Sigh* The joys of motherhood.

Chicken is as goofy as ever. B recently took the girls out while I fixed dinner. Monkey rode the balance bike we’re borrowing from a friend, and Chicken rode in the Ergo on B. Since Monkey required a helmet, Chicken wanted hers too. When they got home, she didn’t want to take it off, so she ate her dinner wearing her helmet (and I will try to find a picture of this to post soon).

When we read our bedtime Bible story, we also sing a hymn. We usually sing the same one for a month, so that the girls can become familiar with it. This month we’re singing “Halellujah, What a Savior” for Easter, but last month we sang “My Jesus I Love Thee”. The last line of each verse in that song is “If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus ’tis now,” and in all but the first verse, the line before that ends with the word “brow”. Monkey picked up on this and started pointing to her brow at that part in the song, and Chicken, who doesn’t sing any of the words, began adding in “oooooowwwww” at the end of the 3rd and 4th lines of each verse. Last night, as we sang “Halellujah, What a Savior”, I noticed she was still singing her “oooooowwww” ‘s in various parts of the song.

When he comes, our glorious King, all his ransomed home to bring, then anew this song we’ll sing: Hallelujah!What a Savior!

We’re reading down a list of words, and after sounding out each word, she moves on to a vocabulary lesson:

hop (she stands up and starts hopping)
mop (she stands up and pretends to mop)
top (she pats her head)
lop… what’s lop? (me: like you lopped off your hair)
nod (she nods her head)
rod… what’s rod? (me: like a shower curtain rod monkey: like the shower curtain rod we hung the shower curtain on for Nana and Bubba me: yes, exactly)
sod… what’s sod? (me: it’s like dirt… like a kind of dirt, with grass… just ask dad when he gets home)

The weather was just getting warmer… more days of sun, and some days up in the 50’s.  I was down to wearing only 2 layers around the house, and sometimes just a vest for the second layer.  But yesterday afternoon the temperature dropped, and we woke up to snow this morning.  *Sigh*  It’s pretty, but it’s cold.  I’ve realized recently that I miss Austin.  I miss the weather (some of it, at least), but I also miss the culture.  I’m sure it would be different if we lived in Seattle proper, particularly nearer to the UW campus.  I just don’t fit here on the East side.

A couple of weeks ago in Chicken’s mom and tot gymnastics class, I asked a blonde girl who was there with an Asian toddler if her husband was Asian or if the little girl was adopted.  She responded that the mother *was* Asian… she was the nanny.  Oh.  I began to look around and realize that all of those young-looking moms without wedding rings were probably nannies.  In the waiting room during Monkey’s gymnastics class last Friday, I estimated that about half of the adults there were nannies and not parents.  But it gets worse.  When I do actually talk to a mom, one of their first questions is “Where does Monkey go to preschool?”  So, I don’t have a nanny, I don’t send my 3 year old to preschool, *and* I’m planning on homeschooling.  In our urban Austin neighborhood, that was not necessarily the norm, but it wasn’t uncommon either.  Around here, I feel very out-of-place.

The closer Monkey gets to school age, the more I feel the need for homeschooling friends.  I don’t think that people who don’t homeschool are wrong.  But soon, their lifestyle is going to be very very different than mine.

I decided to try a local MOPS group in hopes of making some friends.  My first visit was a bit awkward since it was mid-winter break, and about 2/3rds of the moms who usually attend weren’t there.  Also, the speaker’s topic was sex… maintaining intimacy with your husband while your children are young.  It’s a legitimate topic, but awkward for my first time there.  Looking around, I fear that there won’t be like-minded moms that I’ll be able to connect with.  But, I’ll keep trying.

In the meantime, I’m getting better at being a more diligent wife, mom and homemaker.  I’m reading a lot.  I’m planning for homeschooling.

Monkey has moved up to the Little Gym’s performance team.  I had said I didn’t want her, at 3, having to perform or compete in anything.  I want her to enjoy gymnastics, music, whatever, for it’s own sake right now.  But, she had obviously outgrown the other class.  The team meets only once-a-week, and is still a fun class.  She’s learning some cool new stuff and thriving.  She has the same teacher who does such a great job of challenging her and keeping it fun.  They only perform a few times a year.  I also wasn’t going to teach my 3 year old to read.  I think I may be eating my words again with this kid.

Chicken gets her own gymnastics class now, and loves it.  It seems that she has her Daddy’s natural athleticism too.  It’s fun to do a class with her… second children don’t get near the same one-on-one time with mom.  She’s such a fun kid.

I’ll be starting up teaching music classes again in April through a local rec center.  I had been teaching one class at a homeschool co-op, and for multiple reasons, it was a really frustrating experience.  I ended that in January.  Hopefully the rec center classes will fill, and I’ll get to make a little extra money.

The house is back on the market.  We’re getting down to the last bit of savings.  B is looking for jobs and applying for scholarships.  We know we’ll be ok, but it’s starting to get exciting.

My little sister and her new husband are flying to Germany on Monday.  We probably won’t see them for over a year.  I talked to her yesterday, and she said it’s like she’s dying… everyone saying their last goodbyes… no idea of what existence will look like a week from now.  It’s surreal, but we’re excited for them.

Last, a plea for help: I really want to post some videos of the girls on here, but I can’t figure out how.  I tried google video, since I already have a google account.  But after 10 minutes of waiting for it to upload, I gave up.  I really want a site where the video can be unlisted… any ideas from you experienced bloggers?

Today is B’s first day of class for this quarter, and I wanted to begin with a more intentional schedule. Generally, it’s roll out of bed at the latest possible minute so that B can get out of the door in time to catch his bus. Then it’s wash my coffee pot and then make my coffee, and clean the girls up since they’ve already finished breakfast, and stumble back to put Chicken down for her morning nap before I’m even done with my coffee. Etc. We’ll see how long the more intentional schedule lasts. Since B has an early class on M/W, I don’t have a choice about getting up earlier on those days at least.

So, this morning, B and I were up shortly after 6, both got showers and did a little reading before the girls were even up (I had programmed my coffee maker last night… helpful motivation)! We all ate breakfast, B left, and I cleaned up (even my coffee pot!). Got the girls dressed, threw a load of diapers in the wash, vacuumed the guest room (site of Monkey’s shearing), brushed my teeth and put in my contacts. All BEFORE Chicken’s nap!

Monkey and I generally do “school” during Chicken’s morning nap. This morning, we started with about 5 minutes of reading lesson with Phonics Pathways. Then, we practiced writing the letter C: tracing with her finger on a big card, then in rice, then using the Handwriting Without Tears “wet dry try” method on a chalkboard, and then finally tracing with a crayon on paper. She asked to do an art project, and since I had just reorganized and filled out our art supplies, I let her paint with red and white tempera paints on our easel. While she was working on that, I tried out my new watercolor pencils I got for my nature journal. Then, we looked through the Human Body Encyclopedia we recently got from the library and read Sleep is for Everyone.

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As a side note, Monkey loves looking through the DK encyclopedia, and all of the “Let’s Read and Find Out” books (which is most of what we got this time) are excellent… appropriate for a 3 yr old but interesting. She doesn’t prefer the Magic School Bus books, but that doesn’t break my heart.

Soon after, we got Chicken up and had lunch. Once lunch was cleaned up, we went for a good walk in the snow (with Chicken in the Ergo, refusing to wear her hat). Then it was naptime for the girls, and I made myself spend 30 minutes doing productive reading and music class prep before I got the computer out. Monkey didn’t nap (as is becoming more and more typical), so she’s been in here with me occupying herself with various things while I’ve checked e-mail and browsed message boards. Now, it’s getting pretty late, and Chicken has been sleeping more than 3 hours! Maybe a growth spurt? Aha, there she is!

I’ll let you know if the rest of this week is as productive as today has been.

Monkey didn’t nap yesterday (which isn’t unusual), so I let her play quietly in the guest room (also our “school” room, with all of the toys inappropriate for Chicken) while Chicken napped. Chicken woke up, and Monkey came out clutching her security stuffed animals (Elf, Lamby and Bear, now named Huggy, Sleepy, and Buddy), messing nervously with her hair. Which, come to mention it, looked a little odd. Then it hit me. “Oh, Monkey!” She burst into tears. I couldn’t decide whether to do the same or burst out laughing. She had cut her hair.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t just a little off the ends. It was mostly in the front, the part that we have worked long and hard on growing out. I think she tried to even it out and got some off the back too. Honestly, it looked very much like a mullet. At first I was amused. The more I’ve thought about it, the sadder I’ve become. Her hair has come in so slowly. Most little girls her age have long ponytail-able hair that has been cut multiple times. Hers is curly curly in the front and straighter and longer in the back. It was always hard to figure out what to do with it, but I patiently waited for it to finally even out. Let’s just say we’ve taken a big step backward.

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The lost locks:

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I was going to have a professional try and clean it up, but we couldn’t get her in until tomorrow afternoon. Since I wasn’t going to take her out in public as is, I did it myself.

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Honestly, I think she’s happier with short hair. She’s a low-maintainance kind-of girl (wonder where she gets that from?), and those curls were constantly in her face. Maybe it will grow out into a style we can both be happy with… by the time she’s 10.

We’re on an organizational tear this week. Getting rid of boxes, sorting toys, clothes, books, art supplies, hanging hooks and shelves. I actually organized my pile of sewing stuff. I told B last night: we haven’t been this organized since we were married. It feels good. Things get done when you’re organized. I’ll post pics of the results when we’re through.

Oh, and I found the best organizer/planner for a stay-at-home-mom. If I had made my own, it would have looked exactly like this. I only wish I had found it sooner. Check out that perforated weekly grocery list. Genius.

In other news, we’re night-weaning Chicken this week. I know what you’re thinking: “Already?!?” After 17 months of naps, not nights of sleep, I’m ready. Monkey is sleeping in the guest room so that her sleep isn’t disturbed. B is the hero who goes in and gets cussed out for not having the appropriate equipment. Last night, I went to bed at 11 and didn’t hear a thing until 7:30 this morning. It was the strangest feeling… like I’d been in a coma. She actually slept all night. Fingers crossed that tonight will be the same. We’ll have to throw a party.

More details on my self-education plan:

Lingua Latina will be my guide for learning Latin. See that “Frequently Bought Together” trio? That’s what I got. It’s actually an immersion approach to learning Latin. Familia Romana is a story of a (surprise) Roman family told in Latin. It slowly introduces the student to vocab and grammar. A College Companion explains what you’re learning in English, which is particularly helpful for people who, like me, are attempting to teach themselves. Then, there’s an exercise book.

Why Latin, you ask? My understanding is that Latin gives you a thorough understanding of the structure of a language (grammar), boosts vocabulary, and teaches you to more precisely express meaning in words. Because I want to become a clearer thinker and communicator, this seems like a good place to start. Plus, it will make it easier for me to teach my kids Latin, when they’re ready for it.

I’m going to use this copy book to work on my cursive. It’s an extra bonus that the copy work is in Latin.

I’m using this book as a guide for my nature journaling.

And, I’m currently reading History of the Ancient World by Susan Wise Bauer to begin my history study. Since the next three books in her adult series are not currently available, I’ll probably just continue with her series for elementary students. The goal right now is not depth. I just want to have a big picture understanding of the progression of history, a context for everything else. Plus, I love Bauer’s approach to history.  B teases me because he frequently catches me laughing out loud.  Reading ancient history!

Speaking of Bauer, she’s my new hero in the homeschooling world. I recently devoured her book on a homeschool approach to classical education The Well-Trained Mind. I’m still a Charlotte Mason devotee (Mason herself was a classical interpreter, and The Well-Trained Mind is very easy to blend with Mason’s ideas), but I’ve grown tired of many of the CM followers (at least in the online world). Half seem to be translating CM’s philosophy into a post-modern wishy washy “delight-directed” approach, while the other half are, well, your stereotypical homeschoolers. I don’t have a problem with these folks, but I’m simply not one of them. I never will be. I feel much more at home with Bauer and her approach to education. Read about it in her article Dodging the Homeschool Stereotype.

My title is getting too long as the number of topics I cover in this post is increasing, so I will end here. Soon I will post more about what the girls and I are up to these days.

This dang blog is haunting me. There are plenty of good reasons for neglecting it. A move across the country and a husband in grad school. Two busy girls to keep up with. There are some maybe not-so-good reasons too. Like, I wish I was a better writer, and I hate doing things I’m not good at. I have three drafts that I’ve never finished because I couldn’t communicate my thoughts and ideas to my liking.

A little bit of catch-up: We’ve been here in Seattle for 4 months now. We’ve just returned from holiday travel in Texas, and it was weird to fly North to come home. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this truly feels like home, even after visiting my previous homes.

B did great in his first quarter (that’s right… 8 more to go!) of school. He’s already been recognized as a “natural” by his professors and peers. I think he’s enjoying it, too.

Monkey grew up all of a sudden. She’s taking gymnastics classes, which she loves. She’s so strong and graceful. I finally stopped resisting her desire to learn to read, and we’ve begun a phonics program. She’s catching on quickly. We’re also doing some informal handwriting and other preschool-ey skills. It’s been fun. I recently researched some pre-k science type books, since she’s my child-of-a-million-questions. I think we’ll start with a pile of library books about the human body. She loves to sing, and we’re always amazed by her memory.

Chicken is one goofy little person. When she starts talking, it’s going to be hilarious what comes out. Her facial expressions already say so much. She loves animals, books, and snuggles. A couple of stories to illustrate:

A couple of months ago, she woke up early from her nap. I wasn’t ready to entertain her, so I left her with a pile of board books, hoping they would keep her happy for a few more minutes. At least 30 minutes later, I heard her fussing. Expecting her to be standing up, books thrown all over the floor, waiting for me to get her, I opened her door. Thanks to the early sunset here, it was dark in the room. She was lying on her back, holding a book above her, fussing that she couldn’t see it anymore. When I turned on the light, she pointed to the page and said, “badabadabada”. If I had left her lamp on, she probably would have been happy to stay in there longer!

While we were in Dallas for Christmas, we went to visit my grandmother’s new apartment. She has a cat named Princess. When Chicken saw Princess, she pointed, squealed, and ran in place, for probably a full minute, she was so excited to see her. When she got to pet Princess, it was heaven on earth. The funny thing is, she’s not just interested in cute, snuggly animals. She’s equally excited by fish, snakes, manatees, whatever.

Here are a couple of Christmas morning pics:

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As for me, I am enjoying this season of life. I love the natural beauty up here: the mountains, the trees, the birds, the water, the seasons. I never realized that I had missed out on Fall, growing up in Texas. Moving away has also been a unifying force for our family. Maybe part of it has to do with the girls getting older, but I’ve never enjoyed being together as family like I have the past few months. My sense is that these three years while B is in school are an important preparation for what’s next. Although we would like to find a church and make a few friends up here, I don’t want to get super busy. I want to form some habits and set a good rhythm for my personal life and for our family life. I want to take the time for some self-education. The reading and research I’ve done for my children’s education has made me long for a better education for myself. I’m starting with history and Latin (!). I’m also going to re-teach myself cursive (I have terrible handwriting, and can’t really even write in cursive). My plan is to get to logic/rhetoric and a study of some of the most important books of Western Civilization. I also want to explore and form better habits in various spiritual disciplines. I want to make a habit of nature journaling (which I began in Austin, but haven’t even touched since we moved up here… what a shame!) and maybe add in some art and music history. I may not get to all of it in the next 2.5 years, but I hope to get a good start. Maybe I’ll become a better writer and take better care of this poor neglected blog….