System Status: October 2016

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Preying Mantis -

I keep starting these monthly status updates with something along the lines of how busy I am, so I don’t think I need to add that anymore as it’s kind of a given. We started B’s homeschool kindergarten in early September and work has picked up quite a bit for me in the last month, so things have been full, as usual. But it’s par for the course anymore, so just assume that’s how things are. Especially when I hardly ever post. 🙂

We’re finally (finally) getting repairs done from the hailstorm in July that destroyed our roof and a few other things. They replaced the roof last week and there’s a man walking around on the roof as I’m writing this replacing all the gutters. After this, we just need to replace two windows, shutters, and slap up some paint, and I think we’ll be good. All set for next year’s hail season, anyway. 🙂

E’s business is coming along nicely. They got their first two contracts last week, which was fantastic news. He was actually supposed to travel this week, but it turned out he didn’t have to (which is even more fantastic news), so he’s able to focus on some of the other things they have in the works. Starting a business is nerve-wracking, but also exciting and it’s been such a nice change to feel really positive about things. I think the layoff and then even more uncertainty about the future after they hired him back was really hard on us as a family, so regardless of how any of this turns out, I’m thankful we have hope right now.

E also finally demolished the completely useless bar in our basement this last weekend. It had no water or electricity or cupboards or anything in it…it was really just a platform covering up the sump pit and some other mysterious pipe sticking up out of the floor. The platform is still there (you can see it in the corner in this picture) but we at least got rid of the sides and the counter so now we have more space. I had fun rearranging maps and other things to make it all more cozy and useful. I love having a basement. I didn’t think I’d care all that much, but it’s so nice to have that space.

In the end of October, I’m into….



In September and October, I finished:

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald. I didn’t care for this one, but I think that mostly had to do with the audiobook narrator. The story took place in Iowa, yet she (a British woman) kept giving all of the American characters very obvious southern accents. Nit-picky, I know, but it was kind of distracting. The story was okay…just okay. I probably wouldn’t recommend this one.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. This was for the Reading Challenge. I was surprised at how short this one was, considering how long it’s been intimidating to me, and managed to finish it in just a few days. I thought it was going to be a lot darker than it was, which is one of the reasons I had never read it up until this point. I was even still hesitant to read it now, but I recently started looking through the AO booklists for high school and when I saw it listed there, I decided to give it a shot. Though it wasn’t mind-blowingly amazing or even one of the best books I’ve ever read, I’m glad I did finally decide to tackle it.

A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny. The second book in the Chief Inspector Gamache series was weird but good. I would read these books just for the descriptions of Three Pines alone. The people, the characteristics of the town, the weather (the first two were set around holidays), the entire setting is just magical. It’s interesting how Louise Penny contrasts this warm, friendly, inviting town with two murders. I think it’s a good balance as I otherwise probably wouldn’t like these books at all.

Les Misérables by Victor Hugo. Another one from the AO lists that was fairly short…I managed to finish this one in two days. I remember my Aunt going to see the musical version when I was around ten years old and raving for months about it afterward. This was a sad, but compelling, story that lost me a little bit toward the end. Still, I’m glad I read it as it instilled more confidence in me that these classics aren’t nearly as intimidating as I think they are. 🙂

The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin. The audiobook was narrated SO well. Her descriptions of Janie’s inner, mothering turmoil just hit me right in the gut as I know those feelings in so many ways so well. This was really good.

The Singer by Calvin Miller. This was also for the Reading Challenge for the book-recommended-by-your-BFF category. 🙂 My oldest friend recommended this one to me a few months ago and I was finally able to get a hold of the audiobook version last month. This is a beautifully-written and poetic allegory about the life of Christ. The author’s prose was amazing and I sincerely wish I could write like that. It was also interesting to see how he wrote about different aspects of the life of Jesus in allegory form….the little girl with the deformed foot, the miller, the “machine.” Thanks for the suggestion, BFF. 🙂

Help Thanks Wow by Anne Lamott. This was another one for the Reading Challenge and it delivered in its category – I finished it in less than a day. Though I don’t agree with everything Anne Lamott says, I love how she says it and her overall message. This was a good read and makes me want to explore more of her stuff.

Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear. I think this was a recommendation from a blog I follow and sort of a whim read. It was okay, but I probably won’t be continuing with the series.

I’m currently reading Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel and enjoying it a lot so far.

With B, we finished The Adventures of Buster Bear by Thornton Burgess and now we’re working on Old Mother West Wind’s Children.

I met my goal of reading 33 books this year in September. It’s not a lofty goal at all, but for me, a work-at-home-, homeschooling mom of two small children, I’m okay with that. If you’d like to follow along with my book reading adventures, you can find me on Goodreads or check out my Pinterest book board.


Stranger Things - Stranger Things - Stranger Things -

In early September, we binge-watched Stranger Things (my amazing, awesome, incredible friend Meg is sharing her Netflix subscription with us) which I didn’t think I’d like because I don’t generally like “scary” movies/tv, but this was great. They captured the 80s SO well (and not in the normally overly-done, cheesy way that tv shows/movies tend to do) and the story was good. It was a little suspenseful at times, but never outrageously scary or gory. I definitely recommend it!

Our standard shows started back up in the middle of September… The Goldbergs, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Middle, and The Last Man on Earth. We added to that The Good Place and This Is Us, both of which I’ve liked. This Is Us was ironic for me…. in the first episode, they were all celebrating their 36th birthdays and it premiered the day after my 36th birthday. And one of the characters is named Rebecca…. because, you know, it’s all about ME! 🙂


I really need to start writing these down because I can never remember what we’ve watched when I get to the end of the month. I’m pretty sure we watched Captain America: Civil War….I think? But obviously, it wasn’t particularly memorable (other than Ant-man – he has the best lines).

We also watched Zootopia since it got such good reviews. The sloths….how can anyone not love sloths?


We haven’t really tried any new recipes lately due to the aforementioned busyness. I’m craving all things pumpkin, though, and maple butter popcorn. I keep waiting for Azure to post their sugar pie pumpkins, but they’re not and I’m getting impatient.


Smokey the Bear NFS Posters (FREE!) -

Smokey the Bear Educational Posters. I picked these up after a woman in one of my Charlotte Mason Facebook groups mentioned that she was able to get them from her local Forest Service office. There’s one just down the road from us, so I emailed them and an extremely kind woman told me to come on in and pick some up. I left with several posters and a few other Smokey-related things, all for free (you can also get them on their website for $10). I’m growing pretty fond of the National Park Service and the National Forest Service!

Primal Pit Paste. (It’s cheaper at Natural Grocers.) I think this is the second time I’ve posted about loving some kind of deodorant here….what does that say about me? Anyway, they sell this at the grocery store and I thought I’d try it as it’s cheaper than the other stuff I was using. It’s also way better and I love the smell and texture.

MEP Math. I wrote about this in the kindergarten curriculum term 2 post, but I felt it needed to be mentioned again. I love it. If you’re looking for a homeschooling math curriculum, use this one!

Caramel Apple Rooibos Tea. I had this at my Charlotte Mason book club a few weeks ago and I’ve been craving it ever since.

Stardew Valley. When do I have time to play this? Hah. 🙂 It’s a beautiful little game. Totally worth the $14!

On the Blog.

Camping at the Great Sand Dunes. “We crammed all of our gear (including the tent which we checked for at least three times), the kids, and crossed fingers into the car and made the journey south once again. We arrived without incident, found a campsite with a great view, then set everything up (including the tent) and had ourselves a lovely little camping trip.”

How To: Monthly Meal Planning. “I’d get my plan down on Sunday night (sometimes Monday morning just before leaving to go shopping) and feel all kinds of accomplished, only to have that feeling completely replaced by resignation when I had to return to it again the following weekend. Week after week. Month after month. It was like laundry or dishes or housework of any kind….just never done. But then I started thinking about the fact that it HAS been done. Literally. I joined Plan to Eat on June 4, 2010, which means I have six years of completed meal plans at my disposal. So why am I making it harder on myself than it needs to be and trying to come up with brand new meal plans (which aren’t actually all that new because I use our favorite recipes repeatedly all the time) each and every week? Enter Plan to Eat‘s Menu option, found in the Planner section.”

Charlotte Mason-Inspired Kindergarten Curriculum (Term 2). “Last week marked the halfway point of our first term working through B’s Charlotte Mason-inspired kindergarten curriculum, so I thought it might be time for an update as well as a link to Term 2! Here’s a review of what has worked, what hasn’t, and a few more notes.”

Bird Sightings.

Chickadees, folks! We got black-capped chickadees! For about two days….right before my birthday. I’d like to think it was a little birthday present for me (because, again, it’s all about ME). They didn’t keep coming, though, and we’ve been chickadee-less ever since. Still, I’m hopeful that once we switch to our winter feed (a 20-lb songbird blend for $14 from Costco), we’ll see more of them. Mostly we’re just getting house finches, magpies, scrub-jays, collared-doves, the occasional mountain bluebird, and rarely, juncos, right now. Everything else seems to be where the trees are or headed south for the winter.

(Ironically, as I was writing this post, a chickadee flew up to our feeder. 🙂 )

Favorite Instagram.


#maxfieldparrish sunset. <3 #arthistorymajor #arthistorian #arthistorydork #arthistory

A photo posted by reb (@humbleplaces) on

And there you have the state of the Reb. 🙂

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  1. I loved primal pit! But then I started reacting to it like I do everything else.

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