Seven Quick Takes : still staying home, blessings everywhere, sourdough starter, long-standing projects, and more staying home

Well, well, here we are. Still. We're still here. At home.

Like I've said before, for a stay at home mama homebody, there really weren't too many changes to my daily life. Trevor still goes to work... he's not really exposed to people at work this season of the year, anyways... It's pretty steady-as-she-goes around here.

But now, more than a month in, cancellations are starting to make an impact on us.


We'll Be Home for Easter : gearing up for a very unusual Resurrection Sunday

Well, this is going to be unusual.

I mean, the past month or so has been pretty unusual in itself, hasn't it? But there's something about drastically changing a big holiday that really emphasizes how different life is right now. This COVID-19 thing has affected daily life for so many, and I know that our minimally disrupted routine is not the norm and that we're very, very fortunate, but I can't help but feel a little sad as Easter approaches because our traditional celebrations just won't be happening.

Usually, we spend Easter with extended family. All the cousins play and do an Easter egg hunt on Trevor's side of the family, and on my side of the family we have Easter baskets and the fierce competition of the Egg Rolling Contest. And of course, lots of food at both celebrations. Family, food, fun, and most importantly, remembering the incredible gift of Christ, risen from the dead to save us from our sin.

But this year will be very different. We will be celebrating as just our little family at home.

You know what, though? The most important things won't change at all. Jesus Christ rose, whether we celebrate it with huge, loud, super fun family gatherings or not.

So. After feeling a little bit sorry for myself that my favorite holiday won't look the way it usually does, I set to work planning our own little celebration to make Resurrection Sunday a joyful, memorable day right here at home.

Here's what we've got planned :


Puzzle Hacks : three tips to keep your toddler interested in the puzzles you've already got

Puzzles are big around here. My toddler enjoys puzzles and spends plenty of time working on them.

I try to keep the puzzles in a good rotation to keep them fresh and interesting for my two-year-old, but every once in a while he'll go through a phase where he just doesn't seem as "into it." He gets bored.  But I really like puzzle time, because anything that keeps those little hands busy and entertained independently is a win in my book. When he's playing independently, I can sit and drink a hot cup of coffee with my feet up.



Did you believe me? Nah, I don't drink hot coffee or put my feet up. Come on now, let's get real. I do laundry.

In any case, I don't have unlimited funds to keep buying new puzzles, although I have had some great friends who have given us new-to-us puzzles, we've borrowed puzzles from friends, and I keep an eye out for thrift store or garage sale puzzles, too. Honestly, though, I don't love the idea of having nine thousand puzzles in my house, either, so I try to make sure that the ones we have are working hard to keep my kids entertained.

To keep puzzles fun and fresh, here are a couple things we do around here.


One Tissue Box, Three Toddler Letter Recognition Activities

I'm just gonna say it : the best toddler activities are free toddler activities.

I'm all about finding ways to use the stuff I've already got to make fun learning experiences for my kiddo.

My toddler has been interested in his name for a while now- he recognizes the first letter of his first name. He often pipes up from his car seat, "E for EVERT!!!" whenever he sees an "E" on a sign in town. He also yells, "Kanga-burgers!!" whenever we pass Burger King, but that's neither here nor there.


Seeing as he's already shown some interest, I thought I'd come up with a couple fun activities to help him recognize the rest of his first name.

And I had one empty tissue box.

Here's what I did!


Love in the Time of Coronavirus : showing honesty, humility, generosity, and kindness to our online neighbors

Well, here we are.

What a bizarre and exhausting two weeks it's been. There's been so much information, and so much of the information has changed drastically in the past few days, even. I don't envy our leaders as they scramble to try to determine how best to respond.

In stark contrast to the dramatic changes in lifestyle, circumstance, and responsibility around me; my God stays the same. A rock in the middle of a raging, confusing sea. And what a comfort that is to me.

As a Christian, I have been thinking hard about the way I, myself, should respond in all of this- especially in terms of how I'm using social media and the internet. 

I've spent quite a bit of the last week on my phone. I've been reading all the information I can find, and I've used social media to gauge how my friends and family around the country are being affected. Personally, I've got some "natural social distancing" going on. As a stay at home mama with children who are too young to be in school, living in a rural area, I don't get out much in a normal week, so not much has really changed in my own daily routines, but I'm watching. Through my phone, through Facebook and Instagram, through the internet, I'm watching.

Isn't it amazing how connected we all can be through the use of technology? I know that I'm grateful for the ability to talk to people even when we have to be apart. It's such a blessing to be in community in the midst of isolation.

However, all this technology? It's a double edged sword. A quick scroll through Facebook brings up nine different heated arguments, lots of differing information, and a whole slew of uncharitable comments.

It's really too bad, because as far as community goes, the internet and social media are what we've got right now. 

These are the meeting grounds, these are the forums, these are the support groups and the water coolers and the gathering places that we'll be frequenting in the coming weeks.

So as a Christian, how can I best show love on the internet in such a time as this? Here are a couple of my thoughts.



I'm sitting in my chair as I write this.

Koben is sleeping, Evert is outside with Trevor, off doing some serious work, no doubt. Getting the job done, as Evert likes to say.

The past two weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind, and I'm enjoying this quiet. The sunshine, the coffee, the blanket over my lap.

And I'm thinking about legacy.


Four Quick Takes : growing boys, small successes

And ack, it's been a month since I've put pen to paper (or, well, fingers to keyboard) for this little space.

What a month it's been.

But we're not going to go into all that.... let's take small bites, shall we, and just talk about this week.

This week!


7QT : imperfect progress, porridge, and grippy feet

So what's been going on around the ole Ally-sphere, you may be wondering.

Well lucky you, I've got mundane-life-type stuff to share!

...   .1.   ...

When last I wrote, I was explaining my goal for 2020 -- to be JOYFUL. And then telling you what I thought through in order to get me on the right track.

And of course, the very next day, I found myself knee deep in a Not So Joyful afternoon. Sigh.

Working on it. Progress, right? Small steps. But yeah, parenting is hard and marriage can be hard and life is just hard. Those are my wise words for today.


Joyful in 2020, Continued

I have decided that this year, I'm going to focus on being joyful. That's my goal, my resolution, my "one word" for 2020.

Like I discussed before (on this post back here), there are a lot of expectations I put on myself... but joyful is probably the most important (and overlooked) one of them all.

The trouble is...


It's not like I spent all of 2019 thinking, "Hm, I'd like to use today to be a grumpy grouch," or "Joy? What is this strange concept?!" Let's be honest, we're not -- well, I'm not -- inclined towards joy. It takes some work. And I realize that if I just leave this goal up to chance, it's simply not going to happen.

I need a blueprint. And so I sat down and thought about the three things (only three, let's be realistic, here) that I really need to be able to live more joyfully this year. And from there, I came up with three action steps - trying to be as specific as I could - to meet each of those needs.


Joyful in 2020

Well, here we are. 2020. A fresh new year and a fresh new decade.

I've seen the sentiment a couple of times- why all the pressure on setting goals and resolutions on January 1? Shouldn't we just start a new plan or a new idea whenever we're ready, whenever it's just time to make a change? And while I agree that change doesn't follow the calendar and any time is the right time to begin again, there's just something that I find so helpful about having this day; a day that is marked, set aside, celebrated - a day to start new.

To be honest, I've never really been one for resolutions. I have a perfectionist streak - and typically what happens is that if I fail once, I totally throw in the towel and give up. It's all or nothing. Probably not the best way to go about things, but oh well. I am who I am, I suppose. I'm not much of a resolution person, but there was a trend that started a couple years ago where people chose one word for the year. I liked that. Unlike "have quiet time every day" or "exercise three times a week," one word is much simpler, and in my mind, it's much less likely I'll fail.

This year, I knew exactly what word I wanted to focus on.