Monday, June 1, 2020

A Good Day

"I was glad when they said to me, Let us go into the house of the Lord."
Psalm 122:1

Yesterday was indeed a day of gladness for our church family. For the first time since March 15, our whole congregation was able to come together, in person, for a worship service. Yes, we social distanced. Masks were worn. People were seated in family groups with every other pew left empty. Blue taped Xs marked spaces to leave vacant. Hand sanitizer was available. Doors were propped open. Ushers were available to direct you to your seat and to guide the orderly exit at the end of the service.

But it was glorious! I was so happy to see people's actual faces and to sing hymns with all the people. Our service was live streamed online and also available on Zoom for those who still cannot get out, so that's a blessing too. In one form or another, our congregation was together. 

Trey's sermon was based on Nehemiah 3 and 4, and he encouraged us to build bridges to bring others to Jesus. He used the principles from the people rebuilding the wall in Nehemiah to illustrate how we can do the work set before us today. Bridges to Jesus. Isn't that just what the world needs?

After the service we all visited in the parking lot. There was much catching up to do and so many smiles. It was such a beautiful morning. 

Our Sunday afternoon was a typical one. I served lunch to my family and Julie, Big Sam, and Mae. After we ate, I took Mae outside and she helped me water my plants. Then I let her play in her baby pool and she enjoyed a popsicle. She loves to be outside! Pop took her for a walk, and Clay pushed her in her pink car and blew bubbles for her. Throughout the afternoon she also played with or was entertained by Leah and Sam too.  

Our church also had our Sunday night Bible study at our building (and on Zoom), so we attended that too. After more visiting in the parking lot, we headed home.

It was a nice, restful day, highlighted with the milestone of gathering again with God's people in real life.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

About Running

If you followed my blog in the long ago past, you know that since 2007 I ran fairly consistently. After I got into decent shape I set and met several goals for myself including running six marathons. However, this last year has proved to be my worst running year yet, and I actually think my running days may be over. 

But it's ok. I have discovered that I love walking!

Here's what happened: I slowly lost interest in running, even when I met friends to run. I can't explain it, but last July I just didn't want to run anymore. (Some of this feeling was because Jimmy had a scary episode of atrial fibrillation while running, and he had to curtail his running for a while. I felt badly about going for a run when he was needing to not run......so that explains a little bit of my loss of interest in running, but really it was just a good excuse for me to stop doing something that I had lost interest in anyway.)

So I ran and less, but I still ran a little because Lynn, Leanna, and I signed up to run the St. Jude Half Marathon on December 7. It got to the point that I was running only once a week, the day I met Leanna and Lynn for our long run, and as any runner will know, running only once a week, and doing a long run on that one day is asking for a running injury. And that is what happened. My hip began bothering me the entire time I ran. And then one morning in late November, during what was supposed to be a 10 or 11 mile run (I can't remember), about 3 miles into the run I had a sudden, excruciating pain in my left foot. I stopped immediately, but the pain did not subside. I walked a little; I jogged a little. Then I knew there was no way I could finish the run, so I hobbled back to my car. I wondered what to do. The half marathon was about ten days away, so I decided to rest totally from running until the day of the race. Unfortunately my foot still hurt every day, but I kept telling myself that it was getting better. 

And then I did the dumbest running thing of all. I ran (well, hobbled) the half marathon anyway. How crazy was that? My plan was to start out and then bail out if/when my foot pain got too bad. But I kept on walking/jogging/hobbling one more mile, and so I took three and a half hours (that is soooo slow), but I did finish. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb.

Of course I caused my foot injury to be even worse, and I really could barely walk. Finally, on December 11, I went to our family doctor and embarrassingly told him what I did (he knows me, so he wasn't surprised--I've had to see him for CrossFit injuries too, plus he is a runner). He did an X-ray, diagnosed me with a stress fracture of the 3rd or 5th (I can't remember) metatarsal, and prescribed two weeks in a walking boot. I reluctantly got the boot. The thing was, as long as I did not use my foot, meaning I didn't stand up or walk, my foot did not hurt. Otherwise, it felt like it was breaking in half. 

I made it 8 days in the boot. I couldn't wear it anymore! The change in my walking, even with a lift in my shoe was causing other kinds of leg and knee pains, so I stopped wearing it. Well, that was a bad decision. After a few days, I was back to having the same foot pain. So, I wore it again, and this time I made it 13 days! Yay! And that seemed to do the trick. I discovered one pair of shoes that kept my foot in the perfect position and pain free, so I wore those shoes all day every day for another month.

I tried to jog again in early March, but it caused pain. So I began to walk daily. I started with 15 minutes at a time, and I slowly worked up to 30 minutes. At first, if I walked longer than 30 minutes, my foot would hurt, but I have now built up to one hour of walking without foot pain. In fact, yesterday I deemed myself fully cured, and I ran a little bit. Just a little bit, less than half a mile. While I was running, my foot felt fine, but last night when Jimmy and I walked after supper, when we had been walking about 40 minutes, my foot began to hurt in that familiar way. Since I have walked miles and miles during our "shelter at home", I am pretty sure the running yesterday morning caused the pain. So that's that. I probably won't even try running again, at least not for another couple of months.

I know that was a long explanation!

I am still signed up for a 5K in the fall, which I will walk, and I am not sure what I plan to do about the St. Jude race. I have run that race every year (except one) for the last twelve years. They do have a 5K, so that is an option. Registration for St. Jude is in early June, so I will be making my decision soon.

I miss the idea of running, but I don't really miss the actual running. At least not for now.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Our Memorial Day




We had a nice, full day yesterday marking the occasion of Memorial Day. The city of Tupelo does a really nice job hosting a ceremony to honor those who paid the ultimate price for the freedoms we all enjoy today. It is a somber, reflective, and patriotic ceremony, and I am so proud and happy to attend it. This year, our own Uncle Kelly, Colonel, Judge, and dear friend, was the keynote speaker. He gave an excellent speech using the Gettysburg Address as the basis for his encouragement and personal reflections from serving our country. I was so proud of him!

Uncle Kelly

The ceremony began at 9:00AM. The weather was beautiful, the chaplain who spoke before Kelly was inspiring, and the patriotic music was touching. 
Here we are with Uncle Kelly


It was great to be with Lynn and her family during and after the ceremony. I briefly forgot about the coronavirus during this outdoor event. Of course, people were social distancing, but the Mims family and our family hung out together just like normal. 

After the ceremony, we came home and got ready to go to Julie's house for lunch. The only picture I took was of the cute, patriotic table she had set for us. We enjoyed a delicious lunch and a fun time playing with Mae. 

We left Julie's house around 3:00PM, and I enjoyed about an hour outside reading beside my pool. I fixed some more food, and then we went to Kelly and Lynn's for supper. It was so exciting! Our first social event (besides the Memorial Day Ceremony that morning) since the beginning of March. Kelly grilled chicken, and we enjoyed another wonderful meal and even better company.

The four of us
So good to be together!

Friday, May 22, 2020

The Last Couple of Days and Comments

First of all, I turned off the "prevent cross-site tracking" feature under preferences in Safari so I could reply to the recent comments you have left. As I was almost through doing this, I realized that instead of replying to each individual comment, I added my own comment to the post. So, I tried to respond to everyone......except for Polly. (Polly and I have been emailing, so I think we have caught up.) :)

Well, it's gotten hot here! Like all springs here in Mississippi, we have pleasant weather for many weeks, and then one day it's HOT. But I love the sunshine, and I try to sit outside with a book for at least 30 minutes each day.

I finished The Dearly Beloved on Audible, and I am dying to discuss this book with someone. I have so many feelings and opinions about Lilly and Charles and Nan and James.....their choices, their fears, their faith, their struggles. I would like to reread it one day in book form. I am currently reading two books: Greensleeves on my iPad and another Ann Patchett book, Bel Canto. They are totally different, but I am enjoying both of them so much.

Yesterday I had the great joy of keeping precious Mae all day long. Julie had a doctor's appointment (she's 28 weeks now), and I told her to just go home and enjoy a day alone. Since we are done with school for the summer, I have offered to keep Mae all day once a week so Julie can have some time to rest, read, clean, or whatever she wants to do. Mae kept me busy! I fed her breakfast as soon as she arrived, which included chocolate milk! Because she's at MiMi's house! Next we played with toys in my den and read some books. Then we went outside and enjoyed taking a walk, blowing bubbles, drawing with sidewalk chalk, and some swinging. Leah woke up while we were outside and Mae was beside herself with happiness to see Leah! Leah!

She loves her aunt Leah so much. Leah played with her some and they watched about 30 minutes of Frozen 2 in our camper (Mae asks to go inside the camper). After that Jimmy took her out to the barn for a little while and then it was lunchtime. I made her a grilled cheese which she ate almost all of, and best of all, I gave her two BBQ chips! (MiMi's house). She also ate some fruit. :) We played some more (inside and out) and then it was nap time.
I read her some books, sang her some songs, and rocked her to sleep (just like I did her mama and my other children when they were little). She must have been worn out, because she slept for almost two hours!

After her nap Leah and I played in the pool with her until Julie came to get her. I think the day was a huge success, and I cannot wait for her to come again for the day next week.

Side note: I did have to order takeout last night from our local restaurant because I could not get supper started while she was here, and I was too tired to begin it at around 5pm when she left! (Not sure how I did all did when my five children were little!) I will plan better next week and maybe get supper started while she naps.

Also this week I have been helping Clay get all his ducks in a row for pharmacy school. What a lot of digital paperwork, documents to collect, websites to visit, etc. He found out this week that he is missing one class in order to begin pharmacy school in August (a mistake in his scheduling, totally his mistake). So he has scrambled to get permission from the pharmacy school (UTHSC) to take the class this summer--it's Anatomy and Physiology II), and then apply to, gain admission to, and find the class offered at a community college. I think he's gotten it all figured out. If all goes as planned, next Tuesday he should be able to sign up for the online class which begins June 1 and ends June 26. He's working, so I guess he will be doing school every night plus on his days off. Fun summer!

Happy Memorial Day Weekend everyone!

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

The Last Day of School!

Leah and Sam completed their last day of school for the 2019-2020 school year yesterday! Yay!
We will continue daily Bible study together each morning, but other than that, our days are free.

I realize that I have not updated the sidebar on this page that lists our current curriculum in two years. I will update that this summer with our 2020-2021 curriculum. This past school year (Leah-10th and Sam-8th) we used the following materials:

Leah

  • English--Easy Grammar, Daily Grams, The Lively Art of Writing, Wordly Wise, and literature books corresponding with the history time period we studied (1700-1850). She read Pride and Prejudice, A Tale of Two Cities, and I can't remember what else right now. She also wrote her first research paper. She did written or oral narrations each day.
  • Math--She worked in Saxon Algebra 2 first semester, and then we switched her to Math U See geometry for second semester. She worked 2/3 of that book, and she will finish it at the beginning of the next school year before getting back into Algebra 2 (not sure if we will use Saxon or Math U See yet)
  • Science--Apologia Chemistry
  • History/Geography--We studied the years 1700-1850 in both American and world history. We also studied Ancient Greece once a week throughout the year. I read aloud to both Leah and Sam The Children's Homer. My resources and lesson planning guides were from A Gentle Feast Cycle 2 and Simply Charlotte Mason, Early Modern and Epistles. We used several books to cover this time period....too many for me to list right now, but I compiled our list choosing from both A Gentle Feast and Simply Charlotte Mason plus adding a Sonlight book here and there. 
  • Fine Arts--We studied the artists Thomas Gainsborough and John Copley, the composers Vivaldi and Mozart, poets William Wordsworth, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Robert Frost, and the Shakespeare play, Twelfth Night. Both Leah and Sam also worked half of Artistic Pursuits.
  • Foreign Language--Spanish. Leah completed her second credit of Spanish this year.
  • Bible--We memorized Psalm 139 this year and we spent time each day reading and studying Luke, Genesis, Proverbs, Psalms, Ephesians, and Jeremiah (not all of each of those books--portions of some).
  • I also read aloud to Leah and Sam Carry On, Mr. Bowditch, The Silver Chair, The Ravenmaster's Secret, A Napoleon biography, The Horseless Carriage, and Amos Fortune, Free Man.
Sam 
  • English--Easy Grammar, Daily Grams, Wordly Wise, written and oral narrations, and literature books from the same time period as Leah.
  • Math--Saxon Algebra 1/2
  • Science--He finished Apologia General Science from the previous school year and then worked through module 10 in Apologia Physical Science.
  • History/Geography--same as Leah, but with some different books to read (some books they shared.)
  • Fine Arts--same as Leah
  • Foreign Language--Sam began Rosetta Stone Spanish
  • Bible and read alouds--same as Leah
Sometime in the next week I will clean out Leah and Sam's schoolbooks, papers, desks, etc. I will average grades as needed, update Leah's transcript, and file whatever I think I need to save. In June I will begin thinking about our upcoming school year and buying what materials we need.

Let the summer fun begin!

Monday, May 18, 2020

A Camping Trip

Last Friday we went camping at Tishomingo State Park, which is about an hour from our house. We stayed only one night (I didn't want to have to pack up camp and drive home in time for our church service Sunday morning), but we stayed all day Saturday until 5:00. It was nice to get away from home for a little while. It was very restful for me once we got there. I prepared all our food beforehand, so after I got everything set up in our camper, I spent my time reading in a chair outside. I finished John Grisham's new book, Camino Winds.

Here are some highlights from the trip.








Yesterday Josh Keenan joined us for lunch. He was driving from Tampa to Colorado, and he spent Saturday night with Julie and Big Sam. They all joined us for lunch Sunday after church services. (Julie and her family eat lunch with us every Sunday--makes me so happy!)

Josh was sporting a nice cornavirus hairdo, so Big Sam offered to give him a trim! After he used the clippers, I cut a little bit on top. I was scared I would mess up his hair, so I probably did not cut it short enough. 


Here we all are just before Josh got on the road again.
(Jimmy is the photographer.)

I have a little side note to share......I listed on my Modern Mrs. Darcy 2020 Reading Challenge list that I would read The Accidentals as my "book nominated for an award in 2020". Well. I started reading it over the weekend, and I pretty quickly abandoned it. I ordered it from Amazon, so I couldn't flip through it first like I do when I am in an actual bookstore. I realize that authors put a lot of time in writing novels, and I don't want to offend her, so I will just say that this book is not for me. 
Why? Two reasons mostly. One--it was a depressing subject, and it included more graphic descriptions of difficult situations than I am comfortable with, and two--it was full of profanity, including the Lord's name in vain. That is why I like to flip through a book before buying unless it is by an author I am familiar with. 

So, now I am on a quest for another book nominated for a prize in 2020. I think I will look at the Pulitzer Prize list and see if anything looks promising. 

*************Update
As soon as I published this post, I looked at the winners and finalists for the Pulitzer Prizes for 2020. Guess what? The Dutch House by Ann Patchett was a finalist in fiction. Yay! I have already read (or listened to) that last month. Now I have just one book left to complete the challenge. 

Friday, May 15, 2020

Are Your Days All The Same?

Do you have to think about what day of the week it is? What is the date? What is the month?

Without the regular markers of going places on certain days, I frequently lose track of what day it is. Most days seem like Saturday, even we are doing school. Thankfully, our homeschool year is wrapping up. Leah has to study for and take one last chemistry test. Sam is taking his last physical science test today, and they each have to finish up their current chapter in their vocabulary workbook, Wordly Wise. (We will just pick up where they leave off in August.) I am reading aloud to them Amos Fortune, Free Man, and we should finish that Monday or Tuesday. Then this school year is DONE! Yay!

More days of sameness coming up! But I have to say that with the exception of not getting to attend worship services and Bible studies with my church family (in person....not on Zoom), I am pretty content with the sameness of my days. I like walking more than once a day. I like reading outside after lunch. I like doing my housework in the late afternoon (since I don't have to be anywhere!). I like cooking more involved suppers some nights (again, I am home; I don't have to rely on the crock pot to cook while I am at some activity). I DO miss my friends. And I am sad that my children's camps and activities are cancelled. I know they miss their friends too. We have let them visit their cousins some recently, and that has helped everyone's spirits.

Speaking of sameness, there is one thing, that stays the same and His sameness brings great comfort. Hebrews 13:8 says, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." For that, I am thankful. When I feel anxious about the uncertainty of our future or even sometimes anxious about the sameness of my days, I also draw comfort from this passage of Scripture:
"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."  Philippians 4:6-7

Changing the subject----about the internet. I heard on the news earlier this week that 32% of Mississippians do not have access to broadband internet. Guess what? We are in the 32%! Our satellite internet has been tested and stretched to the max these last two months. With Clay doing his college work online, and all the Zoom services and studies we have going on, in both March and April we got the "you are about to use all your data for the month" warning from Viasat about 8 days before our billing cycle was up. We squeaked by both months, barely!
One day our home will have high-speed internet service. One day.
Thankfully, blogging does not use up a lot of data.

I hope everyone has a fun, safe, and productive weekend.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Some More About Books

Reading has been on my mind and so much lately. I have had more time to read during these coronavirus times. Back in January, I began Modern Mrs. Darcy's 2020 Reading Challenge. Her 2019 Reading Challenge is another goal that I set and failed to complete in 2019, so I purposed that I would do it in 2020. The challenge consists of twelve books in nine categories, and I have only one book left to meet this goal. Here are the categories and what I'm reading for each. I will also mention which book I have left to read.

  • a book published the decade you were born--Greensleeves by Eloise Jarvis McGraw (not read yet)
  • a debut novel--Where the Crawdads Sing
  • a book recommended by a source you trust--On the Bright Side by Melanie Shankle
  • a book by a local author--The Guardians by John Grisham (even though he no longer lives in Mississippi, he did for a long time. Plus I read all his books.)
  • a book outside your genre comfort zone--Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (I normally don't like or read fantasy.)
  • a book in translation--The Murmur of Bees by Sofia Segovia
  • a book nominated for an award in 2020--The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
  • a reread--Hannah Coulter by Wendall Berry
  • a classic you didn't read in school--My Antonia by Willa Cather
  • 3 books by the same author--The Story Keeper, The Prayer Box, and Tending Roses by Lisa Wingate
I am not currently reading or listening to anything on this challenge list, although I have Greensleeves on my iPad and The Accidentals on my nightstand. Right now I am reading Camino Island by John Grisham. Earlier this week I started reading Camino Winds by John Grisham, but I quickly realized that it is a sequel to Camino Island, which I read in 2017. I could not remember enough of the plot of the first book to enjoy the sequel (in my opinion), so I stopped reading Camino Winds, and I am now over halfway through Camino Island

I am listening to The Dearly Beloved when I am walking. I am really enjoying this book. Although around chapter 11 or 12 I decided I disliked one of the main characters, and chapter 13 made me question whether or not I still liked another character.....and I want to just shake a couple of them and tell them to stop being so self-centered. Chapters 14 and 15 offered some hope....there are 23 chapters plus an epilogue in all. I really need someone I know to read this book so we can discuss it. There is so much to discuss!

What are you reading?

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

My Current Bible Study

Last year I set some Bible reading and study goals that I failed to meet. I set my expectations too high. So this January I thought long and hard about what realistic Bible related goals I could set that would be achievable. About the same time I listened to Kris Emerson's podcast, Excel Still More, about setting yearly, big picture goals and then breaking them down by month, week, and even day. I took his advice, and here is what I came up with.

Big Picture, 2020 Goals:

  • Listen to the chronological Bible on an app on my phone--the entire Bible in 2020.
  • Copy the books of Proverbs, Luke, and Acts
  • Keep up with my Bible study readings and assignments for the three Bible classes I attend at our church. Our ladies are studying a book on prayer by Edwin Crozier; we are studying the books of Luke and Acts, one chapter per week on Sunday nights, and on Wednesday nights we began with an overview study of the book of Proverbs, and now we are in a chapter by chapter study of the book of Jeremiah. 
  • I also read a Psalm (or part of a Psalm) each day to prepare my mind for prayer. 
Monthly Goals:
  • I divided the chronological daily Bible readings (audio) into 28 day months. I actually began this program the last 10 days of December to give myself some cushion in 2020. I knew that there would be some days that for whatever reason I would miss listening. When that happened, I didn't want to get too behind. I also listen to more than one day's readings when I have extra time for that same reason. So far I am on track. In the front of my planner I listed the readings I would need to complete each month in order to finish by December 31. I check off each month's readings as I complete them. When do I listen? Usually I listen in the mornings while I am dressing for the day, tidying my bathroom, making my bed, etc. These readings typically take 15-20 minutes.
  • I counted the number of chapters in Proverbs, Luke, and Acts, divided them by 12, and made another checklist in my planner. For example, in March, I was supposed to complete copying through Proverbs 30, if I remember correctly. Now that I have started copying Luke, and I see how long some of the chapters are, I realize that I should have looked at the lengths of the chapters before dividing the total by 12. I will need to copy more each day while I'm in Luke than I did when I was in Proverbs. That's ok, I will make this adjustment in my weekly goals.

Weekly and Daily Goals:
  • At the beginning of each week I look at where I am in relation to the month's assignments for listening and copying and make adjustments as needed. This morning I realized that I will have to copy 2 pages each day rather than one in order to stay on track. If I know that I may not have time one day to copy as much or to double up on my listening, I do extra on another day. Reassessing where I am once a week is keeping me from getting behind or discouraged.
  • I make sure that I have my Bible class chapters read and studied prior to each class's meeting. I usually divide these reading/studying assignments into more than one day depending on the chapter's length.
In all, I try to spend 45 minutes to one hour each day in Bible reading, studying, copying, and listening. It's not all in one block, and some days are shorter.

I'm already thinking ahead to 2021 and different goals and studies I would like to do. 
My hope in sharing my current plan is to encourage you to make your own Bible reading/studying plan or to continue in what you are doing. Time spent in God's Word is always beneficial. There are so many ways to read and study; the important thing is to just do something, no matter how small. 

Here is a picture of one of the books I am copying Scripture in. I have been copying Scripture for a few years now, but until January, I used a variety of journals and notebooks--nothing matched. I found these books (they are sold on Amazon and in Christian book stores) and I love them! I wish I had begun copying in them. I bought the ones for Proverbs, Luke, and Acts. They look so nice! They are actually called Journibles. 





Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Mother's Day and More

I had a wonderful Mother's Day! Three out of my five children were here to help me celebrate, and the other two were here in spirit! The weather was so pretty, and I spent a good bit of the day outside talking to my mother on the phone, planting a few flowers in pots, and watching Mae run around. 

I awoke to this beautiful table setting prepared by Leah after I had gone to bed the night before. 




Julie prepared a delicious meal that she brought over for all of us to enjoy. After eating, I opened my gifts from my children and also from Jimmy. The gifts were all so lovely and thoughtful. Everyone was so kind!

We planned to take some pictures with Julie and Mae...but Mae was sleepy, and then we just never got around to doing it. Leah and I did have Sam take our picture just before our evening Zoom church service. Leah is actually taller than me more so than this picture shows. I have on heels, and she has on flat sandals.

A very fun and exciting thing that Leah and I did Saturday was to attend a drive-by, social distancing baby shower for our preacher's wife, Jordan. She is expecting her third baby really any day now. It was so good to see people from our church family in real life and not on a computer screen. (I am thankful for technology! But I miss everyone so much!) The idea behind the shower was to drive by, hand your gift from your car window to the host (who would wipe it down with clorox wipes), and wave at Jordan, Trey, and their children. And some people followed that protocol.....but some of us parked our car and got out! We tried to stay 6 feet apart. (For sure we kept our distance from Jordan), but I did get close enough to Lynn for a picture. 

 the happy family of soon to be 5!

Yay! Together!
(Leanna was there before we took this picture.....I'm so sad we did not get a picture or all three of us.)

Monday, May 11, 2020

Blog Comments and Flowers


I don't know what kind of flower this is, but here is its story. 

Last year I chose this flower from Lowe's to plant in this pot because it was red and tall. It had only one bloom on it when I bought it, but I guessed it would grow taller and bloom more throughout the summer. The lady at the check-out counter told me that this was such an easy and pretty flowering plant. She said that at the end of the summer I could dig up the remaining plant and keep it inside for the winter....and that next spring it would bloom again. I told her thank you, but knew that I would never do that! When it died over the winter, I would just dig up what was left and plant something new this spring. 

Well. After about two weeks last spring this plant's red flowers fell off, and the plant just sat there all summer. It never grew any taller, and it never bloomed again. I was so disappointed. It turned out to be just a medium-tall green plant in my pot. (I actually have two pots, planted with identical plants--both of them acted the same way last summer.) My plan was to dig them up this spring, throw them away, and choose something different.

I was pleasantly surprised a couple of weeks ago to discover that the red flowers were alive! They  both grew taller, and they multiplied. Look at all those red blooms! There was one flower last year. One! And now already there are multiple flowers on multiple stems in both pots. I have no idea what happened last summer or what happened over the winter (I left them outside in the pots all winter), but I am so happy with the result.

Blogger Comments
I love blogger comments! I read every one of them, and I like to respond to them, but.....something is up with the comment platform. A couple of people have told me they have had some problems commenting on my blog. Leanna says that when she types a comment, it disappears when she clicks publish. Trey says that while he can comment, it always labels him as "unknown" even though he is signed in to Google. When I try to reply to a comment on my own blog, it simply disappears when I click publish. However, I commented on my sister-in-law's (Megan) blog yesterday, and she uses Blogger, and it published just fine!

I did thirty seconds of Google research and found that (1) Blogger is outdated (that's what it said!) and (2) Many people who are trying to comment on Apple devices or using Safari are having the same "disappearing comments" problem. It's apparently because Apple, by default, has enabled "prevent cross-site tracking" from all websites, and Blogger needs this feature to publish your comment. So I looked up "what is cross-site tracking" and from what I can tell from my thirty more seconds of research is this tracking is what advertisers and maybe other entities use to gather data about the users???

So I don't think I want cross-site tracking, right? (I don't use Siri, or Alexa, or even the iCloud!) But I want to reply to comments on my own blog! And it's a mystery to me why I could comment on Megan's blog. (Leanna, will you try to comment on Megan's blog and see what happens?)

All that to say, I will work on this commenting thing! Those of you who can still comment, please continue! I am reading them. I enjoy them, and I want to respond. I just need to figure it all out. I have considered switching to Wordpress, but I have used Blogger since 2008, and I don't know if I have the brain cells to learn a new platform. I barely remember how Blogger works! Plus, what would happen to this blog content if I switched. One more note for you techie readers, I do own my domain, www.joyfuljohnsons.com. I just have it redirected to Blogger. (No idea how that works. I set it up years ago.)

Anyone have any advice? Comment please (if you can!)

Saturday, May 9, 2020

More About Books


So yesterday I decided to clean off the bookshelf beside my bed. I took every single book off the shelves, and sorted them into three piles initially.

  • Books I no longer wanted (I will donate them.)
  • Books I want to keep on this shelf
  • Books I have not read yet but want to
The picture above is the stack of books that I have not read yet but want to! Well, some of these books I have started to read but have abandoned them for various reasons (not the right time for that book, another book that appealed to me more was calling my name,  I was reading more than one book at the time and simply forgot about this book, etc.) Some of these books I bought, some are borrowed (and I know I need to read and return them), some are gifts, and some are suggestions from Jimmy. I had a few "not read yet" books that I decided that I will never read so I put them in the donate pile. This stack of TBR (to be read) is what I am left with!

And let me say a little bit about starting a book and not liking it, but later trying it again and loving it. I believe that sometimes the time is not right for a book to be read. That has happened to me several times. I'll begin a book and think meh....I'm not really liking this book, so I'll stop reading it. I may even recommend it to a friend or let them borrow it....and then after they read it and tell me about it I'll try it again. Usually, the second time I begin reading the book it works. For example, now may not be the time for you to read a book about a pandemic! Or maybe that is exactly what you would like to read right now. Sometimes we are in the mood for a memoir, and sometimes we just want to escape with some fun fiction.  

There have been times in my reading life that all I wanted to read were informational books about homeschooling and parenting, but now I find that I enjoy well-written fiction about normal people's lives--nothing too shocking or outrageous or unbelievable, just the normal daily struggles of people trying to live and love as decent human beings. I find that I learn a lot about relationships, forgiveness, self-sacrifice, hard work, and faith by reading about people and how they deal with challenges in their normal walks of life. 

However, I also can't wait to read John Grisham's new book which will be totally unrelated to my everyday life, but it will be such an enjoyable read!

Friday, May 8, 2020

Some More Blessings of These Times

While Jimmy has still been working, he had a week off in April (we had a week long trip planned to Arizona....zigzagging across the state, visiting the Grand Canyon and some other national parks as well...of course it was all cancelled), and he is getting home much earlier than he used to prior to the coronavirus. That, combined with the days being longer, means that we have more time together. I feel like Jimmy and I have had more time together the last six to seven weeks than we have had in a long, long time. Thankfully we still like each other! The time really has been a blessing.

Yesterday Clay took Leah, Sam, and Clay's friend, Libby to visit Julie, Big Sam, and Mae about an hour away at a lake house where they are vacationing for a few days. As soon as Leah and Sam finished their schoolwork for the day, they took off. I used my time alone to read outside for an hour, clean out my pool, work on the never ending pile of laundry, and vacuum the basement. When Jimmy got home we went on a very pleasant four mile walk on and around the trails at our local high school. After that we ordered take-out from a new restaurant in our tiny downtown called Old Town Steakhouse and Eatery. This is our second time to order from them (they had just opened before the pandemic hit), and both meals were delicious! We ate at home, just the two of us on our table for ten. I guess that is what it will be like in four years when Sam leaves for college. We seemed small at that big table, alone. Jimmy played some nice music on his speaker to accompany us, and we put our food on real plates instead of just eating out of the styrofoam. Fancy. We ended our date by watching the beginning of a documentary on PBS about George W. Bush. It's two hours long, so it will probably take us 3 more nights to complete! I read a memoir by Laura Bush last year (actually listened to it on Audible, which I recommend because she read it herself, and her voice is so pleasant!), so a lot of the material covered in the show last night I knew all about based on her book. Her book is called Spoken From the Heart, and I recommend it.

The first 41 days of our shelter at home/stay at home/safer at home I cooked all the meals. All the meals. And then, one day after we had worked outside for most the day Jimmy suggested we order take out. What a blessing. I don't mind preparing and serving meals, but I got so excited about this simple pleasure. We ordered chicken and French fries from Abner's, and it was so yummy! Later that same week we ordered our first take out meal from the steakhouse we ordered form last night, and the kids and I kept saying how delicious it was! I was so excited again to have restaurant food! :)  We have since ordered Chick Fil A and ate with Julie's family one night, and that was fun too.

I just keep trying to look on the bright side. Some days are harder than others, but just keep looking. Surely there is a bright side in every situation.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Some Things We Have Done

I'm glad I took some pictures over the last six weeks, because I had already forgotten about some of these things. (And I'm sure other people in my family have pictures of other activities that I don't have.)

The four of us did some hiking at Dismals Canyon in Alabama.


Mae has come to visit us a lot.



Clay worked in his forge. He made some pliers completely from raw materials. (I need a picture of the finished product.)


We celebrated Clay's 21st birthday.


Mae loves to color.


And be outside.


Big Sam and I have given quarantine haircuts! I trimmed about 4 inches from Leah's hair and 5 inches from Julie's (no picture.)




Sweet Mae again!


Sam and Clay built a rock climbing wall. This is during the construction phase.


And this is the finished product.




The Easter Bunny came.

Leah, Sam, and Mae dyed Easter Eggs.


Clay made homemade bread and this homemade flan, pictured below.


I deep cleaned my oven (not using the self-cleaning feature). It took about three hours! This is the before picture. I am embarrassed to say that I have never deep cleaned my oven, and it is 15 years old!


After--not perfectly clean, but as clean as three hours of hard work, baking soda, vinegar, scrub brushes, norwex cloths, norwex cleaning paste, and elbow grease could get it.


Jimmy planed some boards from trees that had fallen or been cut down last fall.


Leah did a couple of Bob Ross art classes online as well as created much art on her iPad.

All in all, it has been a fun, productive shelter at home experience. I have kept up with my housework and even cleaned out a couple of closets and drawers.  Jimmy pressure washed all our concrete around the house and backyard/pool area, and he also finished a beautiful desk he has been working on for years. Sam built a go cart from an old piece of yard equipment....he attached a trailer hitch to it, and it will pull his four-wheeler. I need to take a picture of it!

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Staying Home With Books

After a week or so of our quarantine, I began to feel out of sorts. When I scrolled through my Facebook or Instagram feed it seemed like everyone was having so much fun while sheltering at home. Baking homemade bread. Cleaning out closets. Working in the yard. Preparing themed meals. Watching hours of Netflix. In general--getting lots of things done! Personally, my life had not changed much except that I was not driving the kids to activities 3 days a week or going to church services 3 times a week. Our homeschool load and my housework responsibilities stayed the same, and so I did not suddenly find myself with large pockets of time to fill.

Or so I thought. 

I had a pity party for a couple of days, and then I began to take a closer look and find the blessings of being at home all the time. Actually, I did have extra time in my day. Driving to and from those activities plus the time while they were doing the things did take lots of time. Running errands and buying groceries did take lots of time. And now that I was home all day, every day with no interruptions, I found that I could do some extra and fun things too!

Two fun and rewarding activities have been worked into my day almost every single day since mid-March. These are things that I was not doing consistently or spending large amounts of time on before sheltering at home.

Reading and Walking.

(It's a long story why I am not running anymore, and that's another blog post.)

I realized that walking up and down my driveway was great therapy. I had time to do it for thirty minutes each morning before we began school because (1)we were starting school later than normal since we did not have activities to get to at the end of the school day and (2) I did not need to allow time to shower, blow-dry my hair, and put on makeup because--no outside the house activities!

I also found that I can walk again for thirty minutes or more either during our lunch break or when I am done teaching for the day, usually by 1:30 or 2:00. And, many afternoons or nights, either before or after supper, Jimmy and I are walking for 20-30 minutes.  All those minutes of walking are adding up, and I feel so much better for doing it! I am closing the rings on my watch again. Yay!

An even bigger benefit is that when I am walking alone, usually an hour or more each day, I listen to audio books. I am on my third audio book, all listened to while walking up and down my driveway!
First I listened to The Dutch House by Ann Patchett. (9 hours, 53 minutes). Next, I finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. (I had about 13 hours left in that book). Beginning in March of 2019, Leah, Sam, and I have listened to all of the Harry Potter books whenever we were in the car. We were about halfway through book 7 when the coronavirus came, and suddenly we were not in our car anymore! Leah and Sam both finished reading it at night, but I decided to finish it on Audible while walking.  I am now listening to The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall. It is 10 hours, 50 minutes, and I have 8.5 hours left. 
Sometimes I listen to podcasts for a little while in between book chapters or books, but mostly I have listened to books. It has been most enjoyable!

Another blessing of extra time I have found is reading books. I am reading at least two books at a time in addition to my audio book--one on my iPad kindle app and one that is a hardback or paperback. I make time almost every afternoon to sit outside and read, and I also read in bed each night.

Here are the books I have read since the beginning of January, with most of them being completed since March:
Tending Roses by Lisa Wingate
The Guardians by John Grisham
Send Down the Rain by Charles Martin
The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin
The Light of the World by Elizabeth Alexander
Never Say Never by Lisa Wingate
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod
On the Bright Side by Melanie Shankle
The Story Keeper by Lisa Wingate
The Patron Saint of Liars by Ann Patchett
Hannah Coulter by Wendall Berry (a reread)
The Prayer Box by Lisa Wingate
My Antonia by Willa Cather
Don't Overthink It by Anne Bogel

I am currently reading:
Greensleeves by Eloise Jarvis McGraw
The Language of the Sycamores by Lisa Wingate

Books I have just purchased and are ready to be read next:
Camino Winds by John Grisham
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
The Accidentals by Minrose Gwin

Melanie Shankle's timely released book, On the Bright Side, reminded me to do just that. One big bright side of being home all the time is lots of time for reading---and walking.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Sheltering At Home: The Beginnings of These Strange Times

I have so many things to say about this whole sheltering at home thing. For me, it seemed to come on suddenly. The coronavirus wasn't really on my radar in January and February. In early March, I think, Leah asked me about it, and I googled and read a little bit...  Olivia and Julie both asked me about it, and someone mentioned that we may want to get a week or two worth of groceries "just in case"....so I really did not think much about it. I rarely watch national news (like 10 minutes of the Today show 3-4 times a year). I do read our daily local newspaper every day, but until early March, I just don't remember much coronavirus news in there either.

Then on Wednesday, March 11, Clay called me saying that news he was hearing around campus indicated that the coronavirus was spreading, and that the college was most likely going to extend his Spring Break (which would begin March 14) for an extra week.  We debated for a day or two about whether he should fly home as planned, or drive his car since he would probably be here two weeks instead of one. We finally decided for him to drive. I cancelled his flights, and I am so glad I did! They never opened campus back up for classes or for the students to return to the dorms.  Like most college campuses around the country, his college transitioned all their classes to the online format, and he finished his semester here at home. In fact, just today he is allowed to go back on campus to retrieve all his belongings and move completely out of the dorm. The school has strict social distancing policies in place for the move-out. He is allowed 4 hours to move out, and only 10 students can move out per dorm at one time.  Clay drove all day yesterday to Florida. He will pack up my SUV this morning (with a luggage carrier on top and a carrying tray on the back), and drive all the way back home after lunch.

Beginning on March 14, things began to look slightly different around town.....the local schools and colleges extended their spring breaks another week, lots of people were at the grocery stores stocking up on food and supplies, and activities and meetings began to be cancelled. We were off school and Jimmy was off work the week of March 16 for our Spring Break, and by the end of that week, our town was beginning to shut down. Our mayor limited gatherings to 10 people, and restaurants and other businesses began to close or offer curbside business only. Our church switched to online services.

The rest of March and most of April here looked like all the rest of the country. Most people stayed home. Our state and town issued a few different orders at different times: safer at home, shelter at home, shelter in place, etc. All I know is that we stayed at home. Of course Jimmy went to work, but the rest of us stayed home. I did grocery delivery once (which was a delight), and the other weeks I have done grocery pick-up. A couple of weeks ago I wanted to buy my own groceries, so I went to both Kroger and Sam's one morning. It was so strange! I went back to pick up last week, but I plan to go inside the stores myself when I need groceries again. They are out of so many things, and I feel like I need to see what else is available and make adjustments to my list based on what the store does have.

In upcoming posts I will share what we have done to pass the time at home, what some of my struggles have been, and what blessings have abounded because of these strange times.

Monday, May 4, 2020

I Think I Might Begin Blogging Again

It has taken me 30 minutes to remember (and relearn) how to sign in to blogger, update the "About Me" section, and make a few updates to the colors and design on my site. Whew!

I have thought a lot about blogging these last 49 days. (Who else is counting how long you have been "sheltering in place"?)  I have many thoughts swirling around inside my head--concerns, confusions, hopes, expectations, distresses, blessings, anxieties, and much much more.

Since I have not shared on this blog in over a year, I will begin by catching you up with my family.

  • Jimmy is still practicing cardiology. He will celebrate 20 years in his practice here in Tupelo in October. 
  • I am still homeschooling my last two children who live at home full-time. Leah is finishing up 10th grade, and Sam, 8th grade. Our last day of school this year will be around May 18-20. They each have 11 days of work left to complete.
  • Olivia and her husband Brian still live in Indiana. Olivia works at an elementary school about 1 mile from her house, and Brian works at Walmart. I try see Olivia at least once every three months. We visited them in Indiana at the end of February, and Olivia is scheduled to fly here in early June.
  • Julie and her husband Big Sam live about 15 minutes from us. Julie is a full-time mother to Mae, age 20 months, and she is expecting another baby in August. The gender will be a surprise! Big Sam preaches full time at a small congregation in Rienzi, and he also works part time for Relias Healthcare. 
  • Clay finished up his junior year at Florida College here at home, online (coronavirus). He has been accepted to pharmacy school at the University of Tennessee, and he will begin his studies there in August. 
  • Leah and Sam's homeschool has not changed any due to the coronavirus, however, they have missed participating in their outside activities including track, CrossFit, piano lessons, and teen Bible studies. 
  • I am just carrying on like always---cooking, cleaning, teaching, doing laundry, etc. Jimmy and I will celebrate our 29th wedding anniversary next month, and I am still so happy being a wife and mother and now a grandmother too!

My hope is to write a little about how confinement at home has been for me. What has encouraged me, what has depressed me, and how I am trying to look on the bright side and make the best of a strange situation.

I'll try to catch up on changes in my life regarding exercise, homeschooling, Bible study, and much more. And I'll try to update family photos soon too.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

How The Housecleaning Went

I completed my very first week of following the Clean Mama routine! It went well. Each day took longer than the 15 minutes she advertises for me to complete the daily cleaning task, but I did each day's assignment.

Here's how it went:

First of all, each day I made my bed, cleared the clutter, washed, dried, folded, and put away (at least) one load of laundry, and kept the counters wiped clean. I completed these daily tasks fairly easily, because I already do these things every day.  Clean Mama also tells you to check your floors each day. This was a new task for me to do, but I did it too, and my floors have not been this clean in a very, very long time. To complete the check your floors task, I ran all three of my Roombas every single day.  After a year of having Roombas, it still amazes me the amount of dust, dirt, and pet hair those things pick up every time I run one.

Monday:  bathrooms-- I cleaned three of our bathrooms alone and helped Leah and Sam clean their bathrooms. It took way longer than 15 minutes, but probably less than one hour total. If I keep on doing this every Monday, it may take less time since they won't be as dirty.

Tuesday:  dusting--I was skeptical about dusting my entire house in one day. However, I was pleasantly surprised! It did not take as long as I thought it would, and Leah and Sam dusted their own rooms. I also think this task will take less time if I continue to dust once a week.

Wednesday:  vacuum
Thursday:  wash floors

I actually combined vacuuming and washing floors, and divided my house in half. Since I have all wood floors (with the exception of ceramic tile in my schoolroom),  I have to vacuum right before I mop. I vacuumed and mopped the basement and upstairs (where all the kids's bedrooms and bathrooms are) on Wednesday, and then vacuumed and mopped the main floor of my house on Thursday. Leah and Sam helped me by doing their rooms plus a little more on Wednesday, but I did Thursday's work all by myself. Both of those days took a long time. On Thursday, it took me 1 hour and 20 minutes to vacuum and mop! My right shoulder is hurting from all that vacuuming and mopping!

Friday: catch all--I was so happy on Friday! My house was clean! For my catch all, I chose to clean my microwave and stove. I also washed sheets on my bed, Leah's bed, and Olivia's bed (because Leah was having three girls spend the night, and we needed clean sheets on those beds)--and I went ahead and washed my sheets too instead of on Saturday because I was going to be out of town most of the day Saturday.

Saturday:  sheets and towels--Since I had washed sheets yesterday, I didn't have to do this today. But I did forget Sam's bed! Oops! I'll get his sheets next week. I wash towels all through the week as needed, so I just did regular laundry today.

Overall, I am so glad I tried this method of cleaning. It was hard work, and it took longer than I wished, but I am so happy with the results! I plan on doing it again next week, and also adding some of Clean Mama's monthly tasks for February.  I'll just get done what I can before March gets here, and then I will try to mark off as much as I can on March's list.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Housework

It seems like I am always behind in my housework. (According to my standards--which have gotten lower and lower over the years!) My friend Heather introduced me to Clean Mama about 3-4 years ago, and I was so interested in her blog, her books, and her products. I even emailed a cleaning question to Becky, the author of Clean Mama, and she emailed me back! However, even after reading her blog and books, I have yet to implement her cleaning system. I have made some of her homemade cleaners, and I have printed out many of her checklists (all of which are included in the back of her books), but so far, I have never followed one week of her cleaning plan.

But this week is the week! I am going to follow her instructions, and do exactly what she says. Even though I don't think it's going to work for me (that has been my excuse these last few years). But since my method is not working that well, I am going to try hers. Then I will either know for sure that  it's not for me, or I will be pleasantly surprised!

So today's task is cleaning the bathrooms plus the five daily tasks the recur every day. These are:

make your bed (check!)
clear clutter (we do this several times a day, but always after supper before bed)
check your floors (I have already swept my stairs, and I have the Roomba going)
wipe down counters (I do this all throughout the day)
do one load of laundry (check! one load washed, dried, folded, and put away)

I have four bathrooms and one half bathroom, so I will enlist Leah and Sam to help me clean those later this afternoon when we get home from piano lessons.  Clean Mama says she can clean all the bathrooms in her house in 15 minutes. I highly doubt we can do that, but with the three of us working together, hopefully we can clean all of them in 30 minutes.

Happy Cleaning!

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Our Recent Trip to Disneyworld

We went on our semi-annual (isn't that every two years?) trip to Disney World January 2-9. This marked the 6th time we have done this Disney vacation with the Mims family (Kelly and Lynn and kids). The Johnsey family (Joe and Leanna) have joined us three times, and this year we added Julie's husband, Big Sam, and Parker's wife, Alyssa. (Parker is Lynn's oldest son). Our family was missing Olivia and her husband, Brian, but we did have a new family join us, the Green family (Mike and Amy). Our total headcount was 26. 

Just looking at the hundreds of pictures we have between my phone, Jimmy's phone, Jimmy's camera, and the Disney Photo Pass makes me want to go back! The weather was so nice, and we had so much fun!

I selected several pictures from the week to give an overview of our time at the four parks. We visited each park two days except for Animal Kingdom--we only went there one day. But the day we visited Animal Kingdom, we were all on the 7:00 AM bus in order to be there when the park opened. Our plan, along with hundreds of other people, was to run straight to get in line for Avatar. Which we did. And after a 2.5 hour wait, we rode it! It really was amazing and entertaining, and worth the wait. However, I am not sure I would have waited much longer for it. As we exited the attraction, we saw that the current wait time was 4.5 hours! 

All four Disney parks were exceptionally busy and crowded the whole time we were there, and we spent a good bit of time waiting in various lines. But, since our people are all older, it was fine. We just enjoyed each other's company (and lots of snacks!) while we waited. We did have fast passes each day, but other than that, we had to stand in line. For example, we stood in line for The Little Mermaid for over and hour! Crazy! But it was still fun.  One thing we did to minimize the wait (and again, this worked for us because our children are older) was to take advantage of single riders lines when they were available. We don't mind riding with strangers if it speeds up the wait!

One of the things the children enjoy doing on the rides that take your picture at the "most thrilling part of the ride" is to pose in crazy ways for the picture. I am sharing several of these pictures to give you an idea. 

Here are some pictures from the fun week:





































What a fun filled week! I can't wait to go again!