Archive for the ‘Life at the Inn’ Category

First Day of School, part 1.

Friday, September 2nd, 2016

The first day of full time, real life, public school for the three younger kiddos this year was August 16th. I was so nervous about the logistics of getting them hither and thither, but I needn’t have worried. It was no big deal. And the kids all had a good first day, even though they thought it was soooo boring to have to listen to All The Rules! Ugh!

There are definitely different challenges with public school than homeschool, but so far I wouldn’t say that either is particularly easier. While I miss my kids during the day, I am definitely finding that I’m able to get quite a lot done without them home, which is great, because once they’re home, I can really focus on being WITH them, rather than trying to multi-task work and studying with homeschooling and housework. Not to mention fitting Levi in there somewhere, poor guy!

The homework level isn’t bad at all, either. None of them have more than about half an hour of work on a daily basis. I feel hopeful that this year is going to turn out to be a year of great progress for my kids!

We didn’t do our traditional “What I want to be when I grow up pictures,” but we did snap some decent shots on their first day. Here you go:

DSC00990Lydia’s first day of 6th grade. She wanted to declare to everyone right up front that she is a proud geek. So, naturally, she chose her “Marvelous Club House” Woot shirt for her first day. I totally cried when I dropped her off.

She was able to find her way to and from all her classes without any trouble on the first day, and also discovered that she doesn’t have a locker partner! We weren’t certain at first, but as the days wore on, it was confirmed. Lydia officially has at least one space in the universe that is her Very Own. We have yet to get a few decorations, but we will.

We also found out this week that Lydia has tested into advanced Literacy, Social Studies, and Science classes! She needs some help in math, but I expected that, being that it was my weakest homeschool subject, no matter how hard I tried. The good thing is that her favorite teacher is her math teacher! I call that a blessing!

DSC00991This is Audrey’s first day of 5th grade. FIFTH GRADE, people! She was so, so excited for her first day! Daddy took her, since it was a Tuesday, and I had an early appointment at the office. That was probably best, since I would have been a hot mess dropping them off after dropping Lydia.

My little extrovert is already making friends and loving her teacher! She says her teacher is pretty strict, but she’s hilarious, so that makes it all worth it. The focus in class this year is preparing them for middle school next year, so her teacher is taking the approach of helping them shoulder the responsibility for their school work. I like this teacher already.

Overall, I am optimistic about Audrey’s prospects, and I look forward to seeing her blossom a little more this year. I think the challenge and stimulation of a classroom environment will be good for her this year, and it’s so far been confirmed daily in her after school chatter.

DSC00993Dain. This kid is in 3rd grade, if you can believe it. Honestly, I can barely believe I got him this far, and consider teaching him to read my greatest Life Accomplishment thus far. Frankly, I have run out of ideas of how to keep him focused and motivated, and am grateful for the help his teacher is already offering to him and to me as we navigate this year.

Third grade is a bit of a jump from second, and I wasn’t sure he was ready for it, even though we put him through first grade twice. This kid is uniquely bright, but difficult to motivate. He’s a lot like his daddy that way, which is encouraging to me. I have a feeling that he’ll be very self-motivated when he finds the right subject matter.

He adores his teacher, and wants so badly to live up to her high expectations, and I count that a blessing! He couldn’t care less what Mom thinks! (Of course I know my influence is more powerful, so just shush. If you’re a mom, you know what I mean.) His teacher and I are on the same page, and I have a feeling she and I will be talking a LOT about this kiddo and how to push him and challenge him without discouraging him.

Durin’s first day isn’t until September 6th, so no picture today. But I’m going to have to share a picture of him next to me, because Holy Tallness Batman! Sigh…

Why do they have to grow up?

Grace & Peace,
Tiff

My Little Stinker is Nine

Thursday, September 1st, 2016

So, Dain is nine now. As of August 9th.

How, may I ask, does such a thing happen? The passage of time is incomprehensible to me, and it gets old quickly. This kid. What can I say about him? He is my challenge and my joy. Snuggly and little one minute, rambunctious and loud the next. I don’t understand him all the time, but I love him deeply.

He is my last born, the bearer of all my “last firsts” as a mother. He often gets overlooked, to both his detriment and his benefit. The downside is that I often plan the least for his birthday, and think of him last when planning playdates and sleepovers. The upside is that I forget that his brother was doing a lot more around the house at his age, so I have to be conscious in spreading the workload a little more evenly.

His freckles just melt my heart, and his eagerness to please touches my warm fuzzy feelings. I’m a bit of a sucker for him, as hard as I try not to be. And I overcompensate sometimes by being harder on him than I should.

He is sweet, cuddly, hilarious, goofy, serious, devoted, friendly, and affectionate. He is challenging, mysterious, soft-spoken, clever, and distracted. I can’t wrap my brain around him, and I’m done trying to understand him. I just love him. With all my heart. Always.

Happy birthday, Dain!

Just Some Pictures

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

This summer has brought some crazy weather. Really crazy. The aftermath of this hail storm was mild compared to the ones that would follow after Jared & Tischel went home. I don’t have pictures of the storm that bought us a new roof, gutters, a paint job on the house/decks, and more. Perhaps I should. All I know is that the crazy weather can just stop now, thanks!

At the beginning of August, Trina and her boyfriend Jeff came out to pick up Jared and Tischel. In the one full day they were here, Trina wanted to take Jeff to Garden of the Gods. So we went. Once again, never tired of that place!

I love my family so much, and it’s always so good to see my sisters and their kids. What a privilege and a gift it was to have them with me for awhile.

Grace & Peace,
Tiff

Garden of the Gods

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016

To see a larger image, click on the first picture, and scroll through at full-size. To read stuff, scroll down.

I love Garden of the Gods. I always have.

I’ve been there so many times, but I never get tired of it. If you ever come visit me, I’m taking you there. You pretty much don’t have an option. Informed consent doesn’t apply to Tiffany’s tour guide job!

It is truly one of the most beautiful places on the planet.

Anyway. Trina was totally awesome and brought Jared and Tischel out to spend two weeks with Aunty! I’m so excited to have them, and they seem pretty happy to hang out. I’m so glad she got to stay a few days, too! That hasn’t happened in a long, long time. And it felt good to catch up on all the visiting we don’t do over the phone we hardly ever call each other on! Davey Family Fun Reunions are the  best, even if it’s just two of us.

Anyway.

This was Trina’s first time at Garden of the Gods. She sees the beauty that I see here in Colorado Springs. She sees why my roots go so deep, and why I love it here so much. It’s not just the beauty either. It’s the people.

Colorado is special, and if I ever have to leave, half of my heart is going to stay.

Homemade Scrubbing Bubbles

Monday, July 4th, 2016

2016-07-04-16.22.24.jpg.jpegHard water. The nemesis of all who have ever cleaned a bathroom in the history of ever. It’s awful. Combine that with the inherent dustiness of Colorado, and OH MY WORD I’M GOING TO DIE SCRUBBING.

I have tried every name brand bathroom cleaner I can find–not literally, of course, but enough that I became exasperated with how much elbow grease I had to put into the mildest of hard water stains. It was a lot, okay?

Lo and behold! I came across a version of this on a blog many moons ago, and have since adapted it to my own nefarious anti-hard water designs. This. Will. DESTROY hard water. With minimal work. It’s amazing. It’s safe. And it’s amazing. It’s my favorite homemade cleaner, hands down. Nothing is better. And it’s cheap.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 liter heavy duty spray bottle (HEAVY DUTY)
  • 1/4 c. regular Dawn dish soap
  • white vinegar
  • baking soda
  • empty, clean parmesan/spice contanier with large holes in the lid for sprinkling

Pour the dish soap into the spray bottle, then top it off with white vinegar. Go slowly with the vinegar, to minimize suds. Gently swirl the bottle to mix, until the Dawn is evenly distributed and put the sprayer on. Place baking soda in the empty container.

Sprinkle your tub generously with the baking soda. Be sure to get it to stick to the sides of the tub if you can. You may need to moisten the surface a bit by wiping it with a damp sponge. Sprinkle some more.

Spray the Dawn/vinegar mixture generously over all that baking soda. Any areas that lack fizz need more baking soda and another spray of cleaner. Spray some more. You can’t use too much. Get a good fizz going. (I don’t recommend using this on tile, as vinegar can break down grout. Use it for the tub only.)

Set a timer for 20 minutes, and sit and read blogs. Oh — run the fan in the bathroom or open a window. Vinegar is a potent fragrance, y’all. Do NOT go into the bathroom for 20 minutes. Do NOT cut this time short. Ever. Visit Pinterest, read blogs, scroll through Facebook, read books, call your mom, clean something else. Just leave it alone for 20 minutes.

Put some HOT water in a bucket or bowl, grab a good scrub brush. (You may need a grubby toothbrush for hard to reach corners)That tub will be sparkling in about 5 minutes of scrubbing, probably less. Guaranteed. Rinse REALLY WELL. Turn the shower on and aim it all over the place.

Done.

Shiny.

You’re welcome.

PS: I’d share before and after pictures, but I forgot to take them. Seriously though. I don’t care how hard your water is. This cleaner will work. Really well.

 

Totally Gross

Thursday, June 23rd, 2016

This is a before and after shot of the top of my kitchen cabinets. I have battled that nasty greasy dust that settles in formidable layers and surrendered. I have tried so many things, and eventually kind of gave up. This year, when I decided to spring clean, I decided I would google it.

Why I haven’t done that before, I have no idea. Suffice it to say that the last time I actually attempted to get this clean, I hadn’t yet figured out Pinterest. That’s as close as I will come to telling you how many years of grease-dust were on my cabinets. *shudders*

Anyway. I would rather write about other things, but spring cleaning has consumed my life, so this is what you get. (Sorry for the potato-like quality of the image. Cell phones. What are you going to do?)
gross cabinet
How I did it:

I started with this link: How to Clean the Tops of Greasy Kitchen Cabinets. I then realized that my cabinets were far more gross than hers were. *shudders again*

So, I modified her process a tad. I used her natural method, because commercial cleaners are overrated in the vast majority of cases. I don’t care so much about the chemicals, it’s just like buying pancake mix. Why bother when you probably already have all the ingredients you need already, and it will be far cheaper and work better? Baking soda and vinegar, baby. Baking soda and vinegar.

In the spray bottle of vinegar, I added about 10 drops of orange essential oil, just because. Why not? I also found that sprinkling the baking soda, then spraying it, worked better than the other way around. I then scraped and scraped, as per her instructions. I couldn’t quite get every last layer, though. So, while I continued to sprinkle, spray, wait, and scrape, I thought.

We happen to have some Goo Gone (one of the few cleaners I really like for rare tough jobs). After I finished scraping each section, I sprayed it down with the stuff.

Last, but not least, I “mopped” the top of my cabinets.

There is really only one effective way to mop.

    1. Glop lots of soapy water on said area. Like, make a frigging puddle. Rinse the mop.
    2. Wring the bejeebers out of the mop, until it’s almost dry.
    3. Mop up all the glopped on water.

Look it up. It’s how I learned at McDonald’s, and it’s way more effective than any other method, ever.

Anyway, I applied the same principle with a rag and hot soapy water. Totally got that last thin layer of grease up. To finish, I lined the tops with waxed paper (the above blog post suggests any paper you can find), just to keep things easier in the future. I’m all about easy housekeeping.

There you go. How I cleaned that grossness.

Happy now?

Grace & Peace,
Tiff

Regarding School

Friday, June 3rd, 2016

It’s time to announce it.

All four children will be enrolled in school this coming year.

No, I did not “give up” on homeschooling. I would very much love to continue to homeschool, but we just can’t quite see how to make it work right now, for a variety of reasons. We have prayed thoroughly. We have sought godly counsel. We have researched. I even considered quitting midwifery, but my husband and the Lord both responded with a resounding “NO!” So, they will be in school this year.

I am not frightened, but I am nervous. This is all new ground for me. I will be learning to homeschool the way my parents did: By refusing to totally abdicate my parental authority and responsibility just because my children will be at a brick-and-mortar five days a week.

Durin is enrolled in a local charter school that focuses on skilled labor training. He will be spending 90 minutes to three hours daily in a shop class of some sort. They cover woodworking, plumbing, machining, electrical, CAD, construction, and more. By 11th grade, he will get to choose a track to follow, after trying everything they have to offer, and will start earning stackable certifications. He will also have the option to stay on through “grade 14,” and earn an Associate’s Degree in his chosen trade. How cool is that?

He has always expressed an interest in construction, and this is his opportunity to essentially have an apprenticeship-style training. What’s more is that he gets his first two years of college free. So, if he chooses to work in his trade, great! If he chooses to go on and get a four-year degree in something else (or even his trade), he already has his prerequisites completed, and can probably work his way through the rest of his schooling making a living wage. He will also be ready, straight out of high school, to make a living wage and support a family if that’s what he decides to do. He is really “nervoucited” — my kids’ word combining “nervous” and “excited.” What he is looking forward to the most is the school’s emphasis on developing a good work ethic. He told me that he feels like he needs to grow in that, and I thought that was pretty insightful. He’s not drawn by the tools, the classes, or the other cool things the school offers. It’s the work ethic he wants to develop.

The others will be enrolled in neighborhood schools that are a bit on the small side for this area, and have high standards and good reputations. Lydia is looking forward to trying out for cheerleading, art classes, and choir.

Audrey and Dain are looking forward to meeting new teachers, and making new friends.

So, here goes nothing.

Or something.

Grace & Peace,
Tiff

PS: I may or may not address our reasons for choosing this route this year.

A Non-Sequiter

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015

Because, random.

If I’ve learned anything with homeschooling, I’ve learned to stop sweating the small stuff. Small stuff like using a normal human voice when reading a phonics lesson. Who cares, as long as his attitude is good, and I can hear and understand him? This is a tiny brief glimmer of one tiny smidgen of me doing something decent. Either that, or I’d rather deal with this than drama and headaches.

Also, months ago, the girls and I got haircuts. Here are the pictures. Because I’m sure you were wildly curious.

30 Days of Thanksgiving, days 10 & 11: Because, stomach virus.

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015
The day he deployed, saying 'bye to Little Red.

The day he deployed, saying ‘bye to Little Red. Look at those chubby cheeks!

Day 10: I am thankful that the stomach virus that swept nonchalantly through our home was short-lived. Miserable, but short-lived. I am also thankful for good general health among the six of us, so our immune systems could handle the vomit carnage. I’m exaggerating, of course. Durin was the only one who barfed more than twice during his battle with the bug. Still, even he was only down for one day.

So, I will be diffusing Thieves oil, airing out the house in spite of the chill, and cleaning doorknobs with grapefruit seed extract and whatnot to make sure this bug stays dead.

Day 11: Today I am thankful for my veteran husband, Levi, who served eight years in the Air Force, and was deployed once during that time. Without him, and other men and women in uniform, this country might be a sorrier place.

After a tough weekend, I am surprised at how well this week is going, in terms of productivity. I’m one day behind on my midwifery and childbirth education reading and homework, but as long as I get it all done by Friday night, I will have a true-ish weekend! (Levi works nights and weekends, so a real weekend never really happens for us as a family.)

Thank you so much for sticking around and putting up with these weird, disjointed posts. Y’all are so understanding. And in the meantime, won’t you please visit CAPPA’s YouTube channel, and consider subscribing? This is the channel I am running for CAPPA, and would dearly love to get the video messages out to a wider community! Thank you so very much!

What are you thankful for today?

Grace & Peace,
Tiff

This Is a Filler Post.

Monday, July 6th, 2015

Last weekend, we visited Mt. Rushmore, Deadwood, and the Crazy Horse Memorial. Sadly, I have not had the time to write a fun, picture-filled post for you about the trip. I’m working on it, though. In the meantime, enjoy some random silliness that defines our daily lives via a photo dump from my phone’s archives. Some of these are more recent than others. (Thank you, Captain Obvious, right?) There is not enough coffee for today.

Anyway.

No children or animals were harmed in the taking of these pictures. Unless you count abdominal aches from laughter.