As of today, we have a student driver…
I’m not really ready for this, but here we go.
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!
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.
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?
Welcome back to Little Things Thursday! I’m sorry I missed last week while on vacation, but I truly lost track of the days of the week during our week away.
We had a great time resting up before the school year begins on Monday. We’ve actually had a very full summer with little joys that make beginning a new school year a little more palatable. It’s important to enter the new year with a full tank, don’t you agree?
I’m still editing some of our vacation images, but here are 3 that I’ve had time to fiddle with.
I did way better using Instagram for capturing most of our adventures. I’m always scared to bring my dSLR to the pool or beach. I’m looking into getting waterproof housing for the next trip.
In other news…this week will be our last Little Things Thursday… While I’m really sad to let it go, it is time. It’s been a great 4 years hosting this linky and I have come to adore so many of you who faithfully join in each week. I’m still going to blog, but I’m realizing that having set themes to shoot for, set days to post and link, and such is getting harder and harder for me to keep up with. I want to be fair to all of you and I feel badly that I haven’t been able to link up with some of you hosting your own parties. Without hosting my own party, I may be able to join in more.
I have been agonizing over this decision for about 6 months, but was unwilling to throw up the white flag because I have enjoyed this highlight of the week so much. However, my kiddos are getting older and their needs, surprisingly, are increasing. There are way more carpool trips and activities than ever. With one child just 3 short years away from college, I need to focus on getting her ready to launch. Also, because of college, I need to spend time growing my photography biz to help support those college fees. The two boys are homeschooling at 4th to 6th grade levels which can also require a lot of me and them. The writing has been on the wall for awhile, but I was too stubborn to accept what I saw. I’m finally accepting the limitations before me and the end of summer just feels like a nice time to wrap things up.
So, while I still intend to blog, it has to be organic by fitting in with the rhythm of our days. I’ve blogged 10+ years now, and this blog feels like a sacred journal of sorts, so I’m not ready to give it up just yet!
I’m so thankful for micro-blogging tools like Instagram that does help me stay connected with many of you who truly have become dear to me over the years. I’ll still be keeping up with you in all formats that I can.
Thank you all for the amazing support you have given to me and this linky over the years. I’m truly grateful for your friendships, inspiring posts and work!
I do have some fun stuff coming up this fall, so I hope to still see you around the blogosphere, IG, and other places!
**edit** Tamar of Random-osity has graciously agreed to continue hosting Little Things Thursday over on her blog! So, please join her next week and let’s keep this party going. Thank you Tamar!
For one last time, let’s link up below…
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.
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.
Her favorite winter lounging place was by the fire.
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.
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…
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.
Until next year little friends…
So, how’s your little portion of the world this week?
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.
Cherokee is in The Great Smokey Mountains. Aptly named.
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.
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.
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!
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.
To that end, a few nice things this week.
What’s your little thing this week?
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:
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…
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?
Welcome back to Little Things Thursday! I think we are starting to settle in to our summer groove. I usually take a full week between school’s end and really delving in to summer to get my life straight. This year it was all about decluttering, a sort of refresher for the home after a year of being on the go. It feels so great to have aired out the home, so to speak.
And we brought some life back to our backyard. Memorial Day weekend had the whole family out weeding, mulching, and potting flowers. I love bringing some life back to our dull post winter yard each year. We have several tomato plants in the ground and that, besides our berry bushes, will be the only vegetables we plant this year. They are pretty much the only veggie with any sort of success rate around here. And by here, I mean with us. We are a bit brown and green with the thumbs. You just never know…
How was your Memorial Day weekend?
It’s been a week since I began my decluttering process the KonMari way. You may remember my mentioning it last week on Little Things Thursday and I promised you an update after reading the entire book and applying what I learned. I found the whole thing life changing in terms of how I view things.
Last week there were mixed reactions to the book. Most people who left comments were fairly on board with simplifying while a few others were thinking that decluttering was the last thing on their to do lists. There is no judgement either way because the real purpose of the book is not to force you to discard items you really love, but to help you make sure that you are surrounding yourself with things that “spark joy”.
Personally, I was not as joyful with my surroundings as I could be. I knew that we had some excess baggage that felt more like an anchor than a bolster of joy. In an effort to give us space to pursue our true passions, I needed to spend less time managing items. If we can’t steward and store things well, then they must be superfluous to our lives. Storage is just a bandage to the bigger problem of excess.
I spent a full week purging every single room and closet. I took a serious look at each item, as the method suggests, and asked myself if the items “sparked joy”. I did feel a little foolish verbalizing the question, but it was so helpful. Marie suggests starting with categories, not rooms. You begin with clothing, move to books, papers, misc. items, and then on to nostalgia. Never start with nostalgia if you want to make it through the discarding process. You end with it because by the time you get to your nostalgia, you’ve honed the skill of knowing what brings you joy. Nostalgia is the most guilt inducing category, so you want to have your brave pants on before tackling it. This works! The only item I disagree with tossing in this department is photographs, obviously. I mean there may be some you could let go of, if you don’t even know what they are. However, we do need to be better about taking hundreds of nothing shots. And we do need to be better about giving our photographs that spark joy places of honor by displaying them. That’s my high horse.
I also love how Marie gives you permission to just let go of anything you have buyer’s remorse over. So often we hang on to things simply because we feel guilty about wasting money on it, even though we know we secretly hate it and will never use it. Or maybe we just have ambivalence about it and store it simply because it’s not that bad and maybe we will use it “someday”. She redeems those poorly purchased items buy telling us that we were taught that we don’t like shirts with patterns, or plaid doesn’t look good on us. We learned what not to buy next time! Or maybe we can let go of something because it’s purpose was already fulfilled by bringing us joy in the past, so we can let it go now because we are no longer gaining joy from it.
I discarded about 10-15 bags of garbage items and made a couple Goodwill donation trips. Remember, I’ve never been a pack rat. Still, I had that much miscellaneous garbage and unused items stuffed in drawers, closets, and spaces. It has been so freeing to give it up. Some things I just decided I could live without. We weren’t using them and there was no reason to keep them. We reached the place of “enough” and “joyful”. Everything has a designated home. If you discard thoroughly and put everything you keep away, you will stay decluttered. As the theory goes… So far so good in our home.
The tip on folding clothing has been revolutionary. I never knew I had that much available drawer space until I folded the KonMari way. Try it…it’s amazing. If this is all you gain from the book, you won’t be sorry.
Lastly, I truly believe this method will stay with me if I simply ask myself when purchasing, “does this spark joy?” I think I will know immediately if the items are needed, bring me joy, or if I am seeking to soothe some fleeting emotion inside instead. I will teach my kids to ask the same question, even if I gave them the items. No guilt. I don’t want them navigating their adult lives feeling bound to stuff. Sometimes I think we all just need permission to throw stuff away and to have less. It is a bit counter-cultural to think this way. We have to learn to carry memories and experiences without all the tchotchkes. Unless they really spark joy! I have a few items from Thailand that are joyful for me like my Celadon tea set from Chiang Mai. I prefer to buy one really great thing over a 100 little nothings.
If you took a look around my home today, you would not see sparse minimalism. You would see essentialism. Though, I can get on board with both and be happy. The bottom line for me is having freedom to follow passions without the anchor of stuff. Beautiful essentials are all I need. I love that take away from reading the book.
One thing I am not addressing here are the chapters that touch on some of the Japanese spiritual philosophies regarding things as living beings. This is briefly mentioned and from the perspective of a Japanese author. This subject is beyond the point of the book, in my opinion. If you want to ask me about those from my Christian perspective, I’m happy to share my thoughts with you.
Grab this book if you are serious about decluttering and simplifying your space. You can find the book on Amazon. Link is an affiliate link. Purchases made through this link do bring a few pennies my way and support this blog. Thank you.