Catching Up



I realized today that it has been over three weeks since my last post, and I figured it was time to catch up on what we’ve been working on this last month. As I mentioned in the previous post, the election results took the wind out of our sails, but time marches on and life keeps going.

Everyone has had their own projects lately, so it feels like we’ve been operating in separate realms. I know this is only a season, but I’m looking forward to the holidays as a way to come back together to reconnect.

Because it’s been so long, I’ll use this post as a way to run through what we’ve been up to this past month.

Amberly and Lea


As I’ve hinted at in previous posts, the older girls had a special project for the month of November. They paused the rest of their studies to focus on National Novel Writer’s Month, or NaNoWriMo. This program runs the entire month of November, and the goal is to write a complete first-draft of a novel (aiming for 50,000 words) in one month. Amberly has attempted this on her own once before, but this year, they decided to collaborate on a project. They completed their novel, a children’s fantasy story, right on time. This book will become the focus of their creative writing class for the rest of the year, and they’ve already started the editing and rewriting process. They hope to be able to self publish by the end of the school year. The picture above is the cover Lea designed.

The other project they worked on during the month was studying to take a mock SAT. It’s early for Lea, but she’s going to take it as a way to gauge her preparedness and to design a study plan for the future. Amberly will be taking monthly mock exams until she takes the actual test later this year. The plan was for her to take the first exam this weekend, but I had some health issues come up, so she’ll take it this week.

My next post will cover their special project for the month of December, which will take place a week from Tuesday.

Joey and Evie


It seems like this was the month for health problems in our family. Joey has been dealing with a dental problem, and has spent the month on antibiotics. We’re still waiting for a referral to the oral surgeon, but hopefully we can get the whole thing resolved soon. Evie had a stomach bug the week of Thanksgiving. It started the day before Thanksgiving, and ended with her puking on the street as Santa passed at the very end of the Christmas parade. True story. It kind of reminded me of Mardi Gras. Thank God it was dark.

Both of the younger kids are hard at work strengthening their reading skills. Joey’s abilities have been growing by leaps and bounds, and Evie is so close to reading, she can almost taste it. They’re both pretty competitive, so they drive each other to try harder.

Joey has developed a fascination with George Washington after listening to the Hamilton! soundtrack a million and one times. We developed a unit study about Washington’s life. This includes reading several books, taking a virtual tour of Mount Vernon, and a copy-writing practice that has turned into a character development lesson, as well. Apparently, as a young man, Washington studied manners and behaviors of Society, and copied these maxims down. They have since been collected in book form, and Joey is following this practice. Each day he copies one of the rules down, and strives to implement that rule into his life.

The Grownups

Gordon has been hard at work finishing up his classes and preparing for his finals this week. He’s looking forward to almost a month off before starting up again in January.

I have been busy being mom and preparing for the holidays. Thanksgiving was so relaxing, and we completely skipped going out on Black Friday. Christmas shopping is complete (thank you, Amazon), and all that’s left is wrapping things up.

My new hobbies have been learning about essential oils (affiliate link), and playing with my new Instant Pot. I’m also seriously considering going to grad school, and have started the application process. The program I’m looking at is primarily online, so I’ll be able to work around everyone’s schedules.

So that’s it! Like everyone else, this is a busy time for us. I’ll post another blog after the girls complete their December literature project. To my readers, thanks for following us, and enjoy your holiday season!

Time Flies When You’re Building Memories!

What a whirlwind couple of days! They say that time speeds up as you get older, and I think that’s especially true when you have kids. It’s so easy to get caught up in the daily grind that you forget that you’re making memories. I want my children’s memories of this season to be happy ones. It takes an extra effort to stay in the moment when you’re so busy, but it’s so worth it to try!

Let’s Do the Time Warp Again!

Amberly and I went to see a live performance of The Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Hoogland Center in Springfield. We had a wonderful time, and Amberly really seemed to find her people. She thrives on nerdy fandoms, and had a blast watching all the people come into the theater in cosplay. We got seats right in the front row, where you can literally rest your feet on the stage. We were able to see and interact with the performers face to face. This was her first time ever seeing Rocky Horror, and she fell in love. We plan to make it an annual event, no matter where we are.

Fun at Rocky Horror

A Wrench in the Works

We spent Friday packing and preparing for the girls’ trip up to Michigan to see their dad and attend a cousin’s wedding in Wisconsin. As luck would have it (or not), we had some car troubles that complicated matters a bit. Apparently the van sprung a leak in a low pressure power steering line, and Gordon lost his steering capabilities on the way to class. We persevere, however, and things worked out.

Our Amtrak Adventure

Today was our travel day. Joey, Amberly, Lea, and I took the Amtrak train up to Chicago to meet the girls’ dad. The train was packed with people wearing Cubs gear. Now, I’ll be honest, I’m not a sports fan, but it’s hard to deny the energy surrounding the World Series this year. The excitement is electric, and it’s fun to watch people be so excited about something. It was a thankfully quiet trip up. Union Station was beautiful as always, and not overly crowded, which is nice. We had a nice relaxing visit, and the girls were off to Michigan about an hour before Joey and I came back down.

A Slimy New Experience

Because we had time to burn, Joey and I decided to try something new. The Cajun (Asian) restaurant in the food court sells Bubble Tea, and we ordered an almond one. It’s really difficult to describe this concoction. It was a sweet, milky, smooth slushy drink. The bottom third of the cup was filled with black, squishy, quarter-inch tapioca pearls. The fat straw was perfectly sized to allow these pearls up one at a time, so each drink provided an odd mouthful of fruit snack-like chews and sweet slush. I liked it okay, but Joey was in heaven–except for the brain freeze.


Visiting an Old Friend

When it was close to boarding time, we went down to the boarding lounge. One of the perks of traveling with young kids is priority boarding. We were hoping to see our friend, Amos the Amtrak pigeon. He’s been there every time we’ve traveled through Chicago. To our surprise, Amos’ clan had expanded, and there were now four Amtrak pigeons. Someday I’m going to get motivated and write a children’s book about Amos, but my hands are full at this point.


Away We Go…

When it was time to board, one of the wonderful Red Cap employees offered us a trolley ride, so that was a new experience for us too. Joey was so excited, I was afraid he was going to vibrate off the seat! Now we get to sit back, relax, and watch the sun set on this beautiful stretch of Illinois. Life is good!