So this happened today…

As of today, we have a student driver…

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I’m not really ready for this, but here we go.

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Sophomore Year

Last year at this time, I was anxious about Gracyn beginning her high school journey. There was definitely a learning curve figuring out time management, and other junior adulting aspects of life. Freshman year was more than survived and I am so glad that as we begin the Sophomore year that we have some experience behind that will gird us for the year ahead.

I can’t stop thinking about how in just three short years she will launch!

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And that fuels my anxiety on a whole new level. It’s amazing how you can go from worrying about starting to high school to getting ready for college in just 365 days. I’m learning that each year of high school is filled with steps on the road to higher education. Every step counts. I’m not sure I understood that when I was on my own road, the way I do now.

One thing I’m sure of is the need to pray that God would guide us as only He can in this process. He knows what’s ahead and while there is work to be done on our end, we can trust.

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She’s grown a lot in the last year, not only in stature but in so many other ways. This year will be challenging, but we know she can meet the challenge head on. Every high schooler is required to write and publish a book this year. I’m so glad this wasn’t on tap for Freshman year! Gah! Thank you, Jesus!

By spring, she’ll have penned a book. This makes me want to break out in hives just thinking about it, but we have confidence in our teachers who will guide them each step of the way.

She is also, to my delight, going to be taking a film photography class with a top notch film photographer in the area. I’m probably going to peek at the notes. Shhhh… But, really I’m excited to see what photography becomes for her. This isn’t about my love for it.

There is just so much ahead that excites and scares and so many other feels. It just feels like a ball has been thrown into motion that can’t be stopped.

Know what I mean?

 

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So, what’s been going on?

I can’t believe it’s been almost two weeks since I blogged. That alone shows me that giving up Little Things Thursday was the hard, but right decision for this season of my life.  I want to thank everyone who stopped by to thank me for the 4 years of hosting and those who just generally gave a few words of understanding. Each Thursday since I have missed our little community here, but am so thankful that Tamar is carrying the torch!

I don’t plan to let weeks roll by between blogging like these past couple weeks, but I did just need some time to focus on being the mom and helping my family get started with the new school year.

So, what’s been going on around here lately?

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Our 2016-2017 homeschool year is now in the second week. We’ve started well, but I tell ya, those 6:30 mornings have been hard! Coffee, coffee…and lots of it.

Gracyn begins in September, but she has plenty to work on before the first day.

I’ve also been getting back into a meal planning and cooking routine. I don’t know what it is about summer that makes me say, “meh” to having a plan, but once school begins I become more proactive with making sure I’ve thought through our food situation. Tomato pies with homegrown tomatoes have been on the rotation, and I even attempted a Thai dish this past week. I have some skills to develop on that, but it was a valiant effort.

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We also busied ourselves fulfilling a birthday request for an updated room for Gracyn’s 15th birthday. We realized that this is most likely the last big re-do before decorating a college dorm room. Gah! Seriously?

I mean, we do have 3 full years before we need to send one off to college, but I know how this time thing works. Tapestry and bedding are from Urban outfitters. There are fairy lights around the perimeter of the room, and a desk to the right of the door for all those studying days ahead.

And speaking of studying…the PSAT is October 15th and Gracyn is studying for her driver’s permit. I truly am in some alternate universe, it seems. I’ve definitely turned a parenting bend in the road and have no idea what I am doing or how to make sure we are on top of all the stuff! #firstkid

We are figuring it all out and starting to talk colleges and degrees and scholarships. We are trying to verse ourselves in all of it to make sure we make the most out of each step in the process.

We bought study guides and SAT vocabulary cards to get going on prep.  Got tips? Send them my way.

That’s our slice of the world these last couple weeks and it surely feels like new territory in so many ways. I guess that will be lots of blog about in the days ahead!

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Summer Vacation

We are back from our summer vacation, also known as our last hoorah before school begins in one week! This time away was much needed for all of us. It was good to scoot out of town and away from home following having to put our Gigi down.  Leaving allowed us to separate ourselves from that hard decision and start healing from the loss.

If you follow on Instagram you’ve seen these, but indulge me to show some scenes of our time here as well. My in-laws live in North Port, Florida inside Sarasota County. They are so close to some truly beautiful beaches like Siesta Key, which is the biggest beach I have ever seen.

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My favorite of all the beaches is Gasparilla Island in Boca Grande. You may have heard me mention it before. It’s a quaint little barrier island with low numbers of visitors, essentially perfect in that respect. While it’s fun to visit other beaches, I’m always drawn right back to Gasparilla.

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Can you see the difference between the top two Gasparilla images and the bottom two of Siesta Key? Gasparilla is just paradise, to me. The shallow waters are teeming with fish, and even sweet manatee who swam along the shore all day long. The kids were able to snorkel alongside the manatee for up close encounters…but without touching them, per the law.

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We also enjoyed the pool at the grandparents’ house. We jokingly bought our daughter the dolphin float when she requested swimming with the dolphins for her birthday. Little did she know that she would receive a free gift of swimming with manatee instead. Such a beautiful gift from the Lord!

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See where my daughter is standing? The manatee swam in that depth of water right by our feet near that rock outcrop. Of course, my phone was put away when that happened. We were able to look right down and see the huge bodies. Their noses were so cutely covered in barnacles. It was so fun to watch them swim circles around the pier and the beach every thirty minutes or so. Each time the kids grabbed a mask and swam with them. I do have a little video clip on my IG account @kim_littlebylittle of one encounter with the manatee.

The beach is pretty much filled with shark teeth, though, which means what you think it means. There are shark swimming along Gasparilla pass on the other side of the island. So you do need to be watchful and stay out of the waters flowing with the current. We stayed in standing areas only on the other side of the pass.

The waters are amazing. They were delightfully warm and clear.

It’s a fun treat to lunch at South Beach on the right side of the pier and rocks. It’s becoming a tradition for us. The town of Gasparilla is filled with gorgeous homes, restaurants, cute shops, and even has a Pikachu near 1st street for Pokemon Go players. I caught mine!

I definitely recommend this destination for beach goers, but I do hope it stays just as quaint and idyllic as it is now.

Linking up with Good.Random.Fun. this Monday morning!

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Little Things Thursday

If you follow on Instagram, you saw that we had to put our pug, Gigi, down yesterday. Gigi was to turn 11 this September, which is pretty old for pugs. Her health was beginning to deteriorate as well as her overall happiness. So, we made that hard call.

We bought Gigi at a little pet shop in Bangkok in 2005. We had talked about getting a family pet prior to the day, and we happened upon this shop the day they had two baby pugs. Gigi was the smallest of the two, and most likely the runt of the litter. She was just so cute, so we brought her home. We named her after our home state of Georgia, but decided to call her Gigi.

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Gigi was a rambunctious puppy with a strong mind of her own. She was funny and playful until about year three when she began having clusters of seizures every 6 months or so for almost 8 years. She was never fully the same after her first episodes and each cluster most likely brought about some damage to her body. She became less and less playful and more prone to just lounge the days away. She was a sweet companion, even so.

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Her favorite winter lounging place was by the fire.

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She was the ever hopeful dog for whatever morsels of food she could find, or beg for though. She guarded her food like nothing else. “Treat” was her favorite word.

Gigi wants a treat

Summer Days

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Thank you to those who left sweet words on my Instagram feed yesterday. That means so much! We are sorrowful over the loss of our Geege, but happy that she is no longer feeling the effects of age and health issues. She was a good friend to us for 10+ years. We are heading out today to take in some sweet time of fun and rest in Florida with family before the school year crazy begins.

We will miss you Gigi…


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Little Things Thursday

Welcome back to Little Things Thursday! I finally was able to transfer some of my photos from my laptop to my regular desktop PC. Thanks to Gina for reminding me that I could just use a USB drive! I was over-complicating the situation, which I’m prone to do when tired.

So, today I’m sharing just a few more of the cute faces of Cherokee from our trip.

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Until next year little friends…

So, how’s your little portion of the world this week?


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Summer Vibes

I’m trying to absorb as much summer as I can right now. I just looked at the calendar and we have 3 weeks and 6 days until the first day of school.

I’m kind of hitting that end of summer panic mode, the one where I realize I’m just not ready to get back into the swing of a school schedule. I’ve ordered curriculum, we’ve been supply shopping, and we’ve started cleaning up the school room. But, I’m holding on to summer as long as I can.

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I’ve been peaching. Trying new coffee houses. Scoring new colorful pens. Enjoying snow cones by the pool.

I’ve climbed more stairs than ever before at Tallulah Gorge in North Georgia. There was over 1000 steps (as in stair steps) involved to see these breath-taking views. Jasper was ready for a rest. My legs are still aching. We rewarded ourselves with fresh strawberry-peach ice cream on the way home as we stopped once again at a nearby farmer’s market.

We aren’t closing out summer just yet. We’ve a little more fun and relaxation on the schedule before school begins in earnest once again.

Linking up with Random-osity!

 

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Cherokee

I didn’t mean to disappear for over a week. You may remember that my kids and I traveled to Cherokee, NC to participate in a trip to serve the Eastern Band of Cherokee in North Carolina. The internet was bad, very bad. So, I was not able to blog or check in. In fact, I pretty much used up our monthly data just to check in briefly on my phone.

However, our trip was good, very good.

I’m not sure how to talk about it here. I want to be careful to keep the dignity of others in tact. I’m not sure how much you may know about the lives of the people of Cherokee, but I want to speak of those concerns with grace. I’m still figuring that out a bit. I’ll share more this week.

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Cherokee is in The Great Smokey Mountains. Aptly named.

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There is a good deal of touristy type things along some stretches of roads, but there are also some great museums that tell the story of the Cherokee. I wish I could have visited those. I hear the Cherokee have a drama that is really well done and tells their story.

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We stayed on the “reservation” and I was in awe of the beauty of the land. With the exception of a few areas of shopping and tourism, the land is just gorgeous this time of year.

The Cherokee reside in the Qualla Boundary which is roughly 82.6 sq miles and is not truly a reservation, but a land trust governed by the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Our church has served the people here for 18 years of summer trips. There are generational connections and relationship that have been built in those 18 years and both sides greatly look forward to the week spent together. It was so good to go and photograph the trip and just be a learner.

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We spent the week with babies, kids, teens, young mothers, and older mothers who have brought their kids in those very first years, and are now bringing their grandkids. It was such a sweet time.

The Cherokee kids love painting rocks, and the day began this way every day. What a joy it was to spend a week with new friends.

More on that later…

Linking up with Randomosity!

 

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Little Things Thursday

What a week for us all here in the U.S. of A. I’m sure many of you are as heavy- hearted and discouraged as I am this week with all the tragedies unfolding out of Orlando this week. Perhaps more than ever we need our Little Things this week to remind us that even in an ugly world, there are still good things to be found. Grace is still keeping us. We really need to put on our grace googles going forward, I think. It is so easy to get bogged down in this broken world, but I think we need to do a better job of lighting the way through the darkness for others.

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To that end, a few nice things this week.

  1. Rain. Though this caused a session reschedule, we really needed a good soaking rain.
  2. Making memories for families. The gift of portraits is so important and I love that I am able to design some beautiful memories for others.
  3. Good food. Summer is such a wonderful time to enjoy the fresh bounties of the earth. God is good.
  4. My first Erin Condren planner arrived. The search for a great tool for staying on top of life is quite a feat. I’m excited to try out this planner for the rest of this year and all of next. So far, in my few hours of exploring it, I am enjoying the fun design, colors, and functionality. I can reduce the number of sticky notes floating around my office, though I still love those, too. Interested in trying your own EC Planner? You can get a $10 discount with my referral code. You get $10 and I get $10!

 

What’s your little thing this week?


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Little Things Thursday

Welcome to Little Things Thursday, the linky where we share the little things that are making us currently happy through images and words.

This week has been busy with getting the kids back and forth to VBS. They are enjoying their week, while I am enjoying a little time to work on a few things.

Some things I am currently enjoying this week are:

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I’m only halfway through, but I’m learning a couple of fun ways of approaching the topic of happiness. Gretchen Rubin is a podcaster that I have recently been introduced to and her thoughts on the tendencies of people are intriguing. I really love the topic of personality. So, I decided to pick up a couple of her books for summer reading. Rubin essentially selected 12 things she desired to improve in her life to work on over the course of a year. She breaks each of those topics down to tell how she approached the changes. The biggest take away that I’ve learned so far is to “act the way you want to feel”. Yes. I think this is such great advice. You know? 

Speaking of podcasts…

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I found another fun one called Sorta Awesome. You can find it in iTunes. Megan Tietz used to write for the blog Sorta Crunchy, and has now developed to a full-time podcaster. I’ve added this to my exercise podcast-listening rotation. If you like podcasts, check this one out.

Finally, my three kiddos and I are preparing to head out on June 25th to Cherokee, NC. to assist with hosting a VBS program with kids living in the Cherokee nation. My daughter has participated twice, and this will be my boys’ first trip, of many, I’m sure. I will be helping with the documentation of the week, while our kids serve the kids from the reservation. Everyone is looking forward to the time. Oh and yeah…the little one here has a busted forehead after a run in with an exercise band. He is all glued up and on the mend. This kid…

How’s your summer going? What’s making you happy this week?


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