A love letter to Audible

Listening.

 

Dear Audible,

I was late to your party, I thought I had experienced audio books and didn’t feel the need to add one more digital subscription to my life.  I feel like I should apologize for those early thoughts seeing as how you have become such a huge influence in my day to day life.

I am a person who does not have dyslexia, living with three people who do.  Two of them are my children and it took me awhile to figure all that out.  I thought that maybe my kids were late bloomers, or I had not spent enough time on spelling, or they weren’t trying very hard or I hadn’t found the right kind of books to get them hooked on independent reading.  Then one day, my husband was working from home and got the “up-close and personal” view of our homeschool day.  “Hmmmm,” he said, “hearing the kids go through their school day reminded me a lot of my own frustrations in school.  Dyslexia can be genetic, we should have them tested.”

The rest is history, or maybe I should say a new beginning.  A beginning that had me whole heartedly determined that my kids were not going to miss out on a love of literature.  But there is the reality that I cannot read out loud all day every day, also some books are HARD to read out loud and some don’t interest me, like what ever book came after “The Lightening Thief”!  Audible doesn’t get tired or loose it’s voice, Audible doesn’t have to stop to switch the laundry or make dinner, Audible doesn’t force my kids to ONLY listen to “mom-approved quality” literature, it offers them everything, all the time.

That’s the first part, you helped my kids, and that’s huge but you also helped us as a family.  You’ve given us shared friends, shared stories, shared experiences.  We spent a month of evenings listening to, “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas” together.  We laughed, held our breath, sighed with relief, and occasionally fell asleep together.  We loved the shared time so much that we did “The Wind in the Willows” right after it.  A long car trip would not be complete without a “Harry Potter” book, but we’ve sprinkled in dozens of others for the shorter trips in our life.  A few favorites are “The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict”, “The Chronicles of Prydain”, “Whittington”.  Without this audio option my husband would miss out on all of these stories, all of these experiences and people that my kids talk about.

Please keep adding to your library, please keep improving based on the suggestions of your loyal community, please keep your costs affordable so anyone and everyone can enjoy the beauty of being read a story.

Many thanks.

Your loyal customer and big fan,

Diane

 

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What 9 and 11 looks like

My youngest is 9 years old, the last of his single digit years.  He’s an old soul, possesses an inner calm, he has not out grown his righteousness streak and I wonder if it’s simply a part of his character.  He is quietly bold, I feel his presence deeply at the times he does NOT say something or does NOT react to provocation.  That said, one of my great joys is to hear him wax poetic about something – anything!  Like most lightly spoken people, when they DO say something, you want to listen!  Once tidy, he now prefers his room……un-tidy.  He has a best friend, he has a more complicated relationship with his sister that is more about choice than just being related.  He holds my hand or his sister’s hand or his dad’s hand when we walk places.  He gives me a morning hug and asks to be tucked in to bed at night.  He loves being read to and got into biographies about Robert E. Lee this year.  He also found a love for Stephen Foster, arguably America’s first pop star, you many know him from “O Susannah”.  He likes Rick Riordan books, J. K. Rowling, the “Wings of Fire” series, “Johnny Tremain” and “Where The Red Fern Grows” also top his list.  He skied his first black slope this year and put us all to shame on the mogals.  He is kind, honest and brave.

My daughter, my fearless wonder, is 11 but if you ask her how old she is, she may reply, “I’m almost 13”.  It seems she may choose to jump over year 12 altogether!  She decided to quit dancing this year, which was a brave, wonderful choice.  She has found a joy in art –  painting, drawing, clay work, I can see this being a steady thing in her life.  She’s thinking about what she’d like to be when she grows up, the answers are costume designer, architect, inventor.  She struggles with school everyday and gets very sad when the results don’t line up with her expectations, it breaks my heart.  But try she does and after a pep talk she’s ready to plunge in again and again.  She has an excellent memory and if you get the chance to hear her recite poetry you are in for a treat.  She loves being read to and always asks for another chapter when our time is up.  She fell in love with “Anne of Green Gables” this year and all I can think is “of course,” she is SO like Anne.  In our homeschool group of foam sword duels and nerf gun wars, she is considered one of the best fighters, even among the older kids.  She is often elected the leader of the teams and relishes creating maps and assigning each player’s duties.  She’s a loner, she’s courageous, she looks out for the little ones – whether little in spirit or in size.  She loves animals, she still loves Toca Boca games, she could eat a hamburger and chocolate shake everyday if I let her, she sings along with the radio and dances in the car, she plays legos and likes to keep her room tidy (this is a new development).

For all the young mamas and papas out there, who are just getting started with their families, I send you love, support, encouragement, peace, and rest.

 


What 8 and 10 looks like

Sleepy 10 and wide awake 8

Sleepy 10 and wide awake 8 leaving Big Bend National Park

Today my kids are 9 and 11, since I wasn’t in the habit of blogging when 8 and 10 commenced, I wrote my thoughts down in a good old fashion journal.

At 8 years old you so aware, so curious, so thoughtful about the world around you.  You are fast, you are strong, you love Harry Potter books and your cat, Goodman.  You’ve made a best friend, your first beyond your sister and this family.  You received your First Communion and asked so many great questions through out the whole process it made me consider religious education in a new light.  You enjoy more space from your sister this year, you are putting more importance in your own voice instead of always deferring to her.  I still get one of your amazing morning hugs every morning, you still like to be tucked in at night, you are still not very good at brushing your teeth – this might be a personality thing?  You have some of the neatest hand writing I’ve ever seen on an 8 year old – boy or girl.  I love you more.

At 11 years old some changes are definitely afoot.  You are sleepy again, almost like a toddler, your emotions can overwhelm you and bring you way down or raise you way up – this scares you a bit and we are learning to ride these waves together.  Your love of dance continues and you had your first year preforming with the competitive dance team, you LOVE performing.  Ballet has replaced hip-hop as your preferred style of dance.  You are clever, funny, sincere, innocent, beautiful and vulnerable.  You let things in, you try things out, you remain one of the most fearless people I’ve ever encountered.  I love you more too.

For a walk down memory lane here’s: What 7 and 9 look like and 6 and 8.


A lot can happen in a year

And sometimes it can feel like nothing changes during those 365 days.  I turned 40, I joined Instagram – to look at others, not to post (for now), I have gray hairs, I’m better at homeschooling, I started watching “Fixer-Upper” along with most of Texas.  My kids are now 9 and 11 and life feels very sweet.

Here’s what Addie’s looks like:

We took out a wall to open these rooms (total Fixer-Upper move).

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Trying to save the original windows with some sanding and priming.

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We are finishing the floors throughout the house this month with a dark stain.  We found a really cool carpenter who loves old windows as much as we do.  He plans to rebuild the original windows and will travel from Ft. Worth to Camden to install them personally!

On the homeschooling front I’ve signed up for my first homeschooling conference through these guys: Wild and Free  Most of my school mornings begin with either a glance at their Instagram account or Courtney Adamo’s.  It puts my head in the nicest place and my kids reap the rewards of a calmer (more calm?) mama/teacher.

About 4 weeks old, don't know gender, we've treated them for worms, fleas and are both finishing a round of antibiotics.

Kittens about 4 weeks old, don’t know gender, we’ve treated them for worms, fleas and are both finishing a round of antibiotics.

Last but not least, we found these kittens abandoned at our local park, if anyone in the DFW area knows of someone looking for a new pet or pets please comment below.

 


Beavers and Ducks

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When we are not tackling junk piles or learning about forest management in Arkansas you might find us among the beavers and ducks.  This kayaking fun was brought too us by the handiwork of a few beavers and about 7 years of their time.  When my husband’s grandfather, Otho, was alive and kicking he loved to wage war on those long-toothed furry creatures, they were encroaching on his precious forest after all!  In the last year of Otho’s life though he came to see the beauty in the beaver’s efforts and happily gave in.

5th generation is all about loving the beavers.

5th generation is all about loving the beavers.

This wetland is a perfect example of what we are working to cultivate in Arkansas, which is conservation.  Forests are amazing filters and do wonderful things for reducing our carbon footprint, as most of us know, but beavers are truly amazing little environmentalists.  Their dams and wetlands help fight drought, create healthier environments for other species and fight climate change.

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Plus it’s getting me really close to that pond moment in “The Notebook”, so yes, I’m totally down with the beavers.


To Grandmother’s house we go

Changing leaves on the tree in the horse paddock.

Changing leaves on the tree in the horse paddock.

Happy kick-off to the holiday season!  I love, love, love this time of year.  We’ve been working like mad weekend warriors in Arkansas and have lots of exciting new developments to share (like why we now have a horse paddock) but for now just a few links to get me back in the writing saddle.

If you are doing some traveling this holiday season here are a few things that have made a HUGE difference in our routine.

  1.  Yeti is a cooler company, we’ve had their hard cooler for a few years and decided to add their cooler bag to our stash this summer, couldn’t be happier!
  2. The only thing that makes Yeti better are Ball mason jars.  No more soggy anything!  They are easy to clean, easy to reach in and grab, they look great and are unbelievably versatile.
  3. This next one may not be for everyone but it’s worth mentioning.  Mason Pearson hair brush, travel size.  Prepare yourself, it’s $100.00 for a hairbrush but this brush has saved me from packing shampoo and conditioner for our 3 day jaunts.  The brush glides through my kid’s hair removing debris and dirt from the day and distributes some of the oil (and sweat) away from their scalp.  I brush before they jump in a shower or bath, they do a good water rinse and that’s it……unless.
  4. If they (or myself) are left with massive tangles, Honest Company’s leave-in spray conditioner has been a life saver.  This may be one of the most forgiving products ever, my kids can spray half the bottle on their head and their hair still looks great.(Note: if you are over 12 years old a few squirts will suffice).
  5. Castor Oil – hexane free – I’ve only had a couple weeks experimentation with this magic serum but I’m using it to tame my ever frizzy hair, my newly wild eye brows, soften my lips and ease my dry cheeks, rub in my nail beds, remove eyeliner, I’m not rushing to try ingesting this oil but just these applications have made it a must in my travel bag.
  6. For the ride itself I’m a huge fan of audio books, now that my kids are 8-10 years old the book selection is huge.  Harry Potter of course is amazing, but we’ve also enjoyed Rick Riordan’s books, currently listening to and loving Wonder and this one was also a family pleaser.  When I try to get in some schooling on the road The Story of the World keeps us all engaged as well.

Hope every one has some time for relaxing this weekend, I’d like to copy my daughter and do some this.

Lyon' like a dog

Lyin’ like a dog.

P.S. You might remember an old post about my hopes for Arkansas, here’s a picture from a recent weekend.  This is the latest property we’ve acquired, we aren’t Pinterest or Insta-worthy yet as you can see from the junk pile but we love it, warts and all!  Plus you can see the ingenious chiminea hack my husband conjured from said junk pile!

What to do when the top of your chiminea breaks off and a face full of smoke is ruining your dinner.

What to do when the top of your chiminea breaks off and a face full of smoke is not on the evening agenda?  Grab some corrugated metal and bailing wire – Stand back Macgyver, we’ve got this.


Good Dirty Summer

My son on Uncle J's tractor

Boys on tractors

Jumping bales with cousins

Jumping hay bales

100 year old barn

100 year old barn

Hay bale meditations

Hay bale meditations

Muddy creek walks

Muddy creek walks

Potato digging party

Potato digging party

Girls on tractors

Girls on tractors

Unearthing gem colored coolers while emptying rooms at Addie's

Unearthing gem colored coolers while emptying rooms at Addie’s