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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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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Little Things Thursday

Welcome back to Little Things Thursday. It’s officially summer for us here and that means it is time to gather books for summer reading!

I bought three this week.

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The first one I’m reading is the life-changing magic of tidying up, the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing by Marie Kondo. This is better known as The KonMari Method.

I’m only a couple chapters in and this probably isn’t the book for the faint of heart, except you probably should still read it if you desire to truly declutter your life. Now, I am not a person who anyone would ever accuse of being messy or keeping clutter. However, I still find myself spending way too much time managing and cleaning things because I live with others. I’ve made peace with the fact that things will need to be constantly cleaned because we use them. That’s fine. What is really eating at me is the incessant managing of stuff. That tells me one thing. We have too much stuff.

Again, by comparison, we don’t have that much. Yet, if I find myself spending a lot of time managing our things, we should have less things to ease that burden. Managing is just not how I want to spend my time. When I really break things down, I want to enjoy living with intention and purpose. I don’t want to be an owner of a lot of things. I don’t want to work hard to buy a bigger house so that we can fill it with even more things. So that I can manage more things. Or better yet, be owned by more things. That just doesn’t fit who I am at my core. But, it is so easy to get caught up in the urgency to have, isn’t it? I mean, we are getting fed that lie of urgency to have the latest and greatest at every turn. And, I’m not even talking about the things we really put to use and find value in. I’m talking incidentals that slowly creep in to our space and take over.

I like nice things, but I don’t really value stuff. I like a nice meal, a nice glass of red wine, or travel to experience a culture. I like nice, but I don’t like accumulating things, unless they truly serve me. I want our things to serve us and bring us joy, not end up being a monkey on our backs. I want the freedom to pursue the truly important things. That’s what this book seeks to help you discover, in part. There is a bit of Japanese philosophy woven in the pages, but there are some core principles that can be applied no matter who you are.

The thing I am enjoying about this book is the way it forces you to strip down to your core values, and when you do, you know where to invest. I like that.

I also appreciate how Kondo challenges every other decluttering tip you’ve ever heard and explains how they just don’t work. It’s fascinating and I totally see the points she is making against those things we have heard our whole lives: one room at a time, one thing in, one thing out, storage, box it up for 6 months, etc… Kondo takes a more comprehensive approach to clutter.

I’ll be sure to share more as I journey further in and apply the principles.

Share your thoughts on this book, clutter, or what’s on your summer reading list! Book link is affiliated link with Amazon. A few pennies from sales directly support this blog.


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Little Things Thursday

I haven’t picked up my real camera for anything personal this month. I rarely do when I am busy editing professional work or when trying to stay afloat with the demands of the home.

So, Instagram will have to do today. Oddly and frustratingly, my go to Instagram downloading program,Instaport, was down for service as I was trying to prepare for today. I found another service and got a computer virus in the process. Really struggling to get this post up tonight! But here we are!

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At any rate, I hope things are on the upswing going forward. Gracyn finished school on Tuesday and the boys have their last day of school today. So ready for summer.

We’ve been toying with summer break already. Everything just seems to say that it is time to enjoy the gifts of the slower season.

It’s time to read, swim, rest, and grow in all the best ways like all the personal development that isn’t afforded by others filling your schedule. Everybody sure seems to have a plan for your life! I love that summer allows you to say yes to the truly essential.

I’m asking myself lately what things are truly essential. I love the process of answering that question. Having an answer allows us to pursue our yes to a greater degree and say no to the fillers.

One yes I am looking forward to is getting back to more blogging and photography. I really do enjoy it when there is margin to create.

Let’s see what’s before your lens this week…

An InLinkz Link-up


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Little Things Thursday

Welcome back to Little Things Thursday where we share the little things of life through our images and words. I have a lot of little things swirling around in my head over the last few weeks, though I haven’t necessarily captured them all. This week, I thought I’d do a “currently” theme to encompass the bits and bobs I’m thinking about.

But first, a collage.

may 10, 2016

Currently:

Celebrating: Today is Gracyn’s last day of her Freshman year. We made it! I remember this time last year fretting over the changes ahead and this year has been positive and challenging. Hard to believe I now have a rising SOPHOMORE. What?

Considering: Simplicity. Really tossing around what it means to simplify our lives. I will begin with a bit of de-cluttering this summer. I’m not much of a clutter collector, but I know I can take a still simpler route to managing our stuff. Really, I feel managed by stuff and I think it needs to be the other way around. Yet, I don’t want to give up too much precious time managing things. I’m feeling like there just isn’t enough margin for the things I most want out of life because of the time spent managing things and being managed by programs. I want margin!

Enjoying: The Simple Show podcast and a huge influence in the above ^^^. I really enjoy listening to this podcast during my walks. Truly fascinating ideas. Some taken and some tossed, but yeah…good stuff. Give it a try… unless you love stuff and busyness…might not be for you.

Habit To Improve: Drinking water. I’m really bad at this and concluded that the best way for me to get my water down is with a cute cup with a straw.

Summer Goal: Feeding my soul. I’ve realized that there are so many things rattling my soul lately and I’d much rather feed my soul that have it sucked away from me. What I mean by soul is not so much in the spiritual sense, because that’s a constant. But, I mean those things that chip away at who I am constitutionally (personality, purpose, vision, dreams, etc…). I think it is a good thing to have your soul rattled from time to time to remind you of who you really are, what you are about, and to adjust if off course. I simply need to be a better steward of my heart, soul, and mind.

Looking forward to: My garden. We have a bit of work to do, but I can’t wait for our tomatoes, berries, and herbs to start coming in.

Well, that’s just a few of the things I’m chewing on lately. How about you?

 


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Little Things Thursday

This spring has been all about finding the little things in life that bring joy.  Spring has been exceptionally pretty and restorative to me this year.

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Finding beauty and life right around me has kept my perspective from tanking in the harder moments of life. And there have been a few stressful days.  Overall, I’ve been encouraged by the prospects of things to come in the months ahead. In someways it feels like a turning of the tide. Some call it HOPE! I think I’m calling it GRACE.

It doesn’t hurt that summer is just two weeks away… Oh the bliss of slow mornings and relaxed days.


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Florida Filled

We are back from spring break with full tanks and hearts. We desperately needed every ounce of this trip.

You know those times where you feel like you are living on just fumes? That was us. The last year has been a season of pillar to post living.

We needed extended down time where we could truly relax and not think about anything else other than enjoying time with family. My husband’s family was so gracious to love on us well, and show us a great week. We realized, at some point, that this was our very first spring break vacation as a family. We are fans!

I documented the highlights on Instagram. I tried to tone down the volume of posts, but I gave myself permission to just enjoy capturing for the sake of loving to freeze moments.

 

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Gasparilla Island State Park in Boca Grande is my new favorite Florida beach. Bea-u-ti-ful. The water is gorgeous and the beaches are densely filled with shells and shark’s teeth to the delight of my kids.

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Exploring Peace River Wildlife Center in Punta Gorda was another favorite. The mangroves here are impressive and there are little private nooks to enjoy along the coast.  We had the little cove above to ourselves. The kids hunted for crabs, which were plentiful among the mangrove roots.

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We loved Gasparilla so much that we decided to close out our time with a third visit. The boys had spent a few mornings on their grandpa’s fishing boat while we ladies enjoyed these beautiful beaches without them, so we knew we had to let them experience Gasparilla before leaving. We informed them that they could fish AND enjoy the beach, so poles were packed. Jack caught a Jack (Pompano) roughly minutes after casting the first line. Human Jack is now a fan of fishing off the beach and vows to never go to the beach again without a rod. Fish Jack lived to see another day, due to being caught on our last day and not having adequate cooler space to keep him fresh. Under other circumstances he would be dinner.

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The days were filled with good food, beaches, shark teeth hunting, shell collecting, wading, boogie boarding, fishing, morning and evening swims in the grandparent’s pool, and more! The days were full, but restful. We are thankful that we were invited to come take up space for the week with family. Thankful are we for these memories that our three will carry with them. There is nothing quite like remembering childhood family vacations.

Of course, I have other images on my real camera coming up soon! Thanks for sharing the joy of our experiences!

Linking with Good.Random.Fun.

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Little Things Thursday

Happy Thursday and Saint Pat’s! I hope you all are enjoying the beginnings of spring like we are in Georgia! I think this has been the earliest that we have settled into spring since I moved back to the States almost 9 years ago. Normally, I find March a bit manic, but this year she has been a woolly lamb.

No complaints. I’m glad to see the back of winter.

A look at March, so far…

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Voting. Soccer. A Thai Throwback. Holding the Thai flag for missions conference.

Texas Sheet Cake with sprinkles. Ice Cream Truck returns. Gifts from a friend. Blueberry blossoms.

How’s March treating you?


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January in a Nutshell

I’ve been on a mission this January to find the good of normally gray, glum days. January can be a bit of a drag, to me.

But not this year.
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And though we aren’t quite out of the month yet, I’d say that January has been good to us! We’ve had sunny days more than not, I think!

We’ve enjoyed creature comforts like warm soups, savory pot pies, hot chocolate teaming with marshmallows, and Funfetti cupcakes.

I saw a few snowflakes the day before I turned 44. I’ve always wished for snow on my birthday.  This was pretty darn close. And a bit hilarious when you see the “accumulation”.

I’m really thankful for the good that I found, but honestly, I’m learning that it’s all about fixing your eyes to see the good before you.

If you look for it, you will surely find it!

Linking with Randomosity.

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