February has done it again...teasing us with warm, spring-like weather, then reminding us it's still winter.
For most people in the US, today is a holiday. But our homeschool co-op was planning to meet. Thanks to the snow...we have a holiday!
I don't mind, or at least I'm trying to to let the change in schedule ruffle my feathers much. I tend to be a pretty structured person, so getting off schedule can throw me into a worrying tizzy. It doesn't help that our community day was canceled last week due to sickness. Now we are 2 weeks off!
I keep reminding me that the extra time at home is an unexpected gift. Now excuse me while I go get a cup of hot tea and a good book!
I went through some of my photos and made a grid of all the heart shaped ones I've posted on instagram in the past. Then I came up with this one to post this year.
I also had several small surprises for my girls throughout the day. I always show up at 7:30 with hot chocolate and our current read aloud, but today I had cinnamon rolls also. Then I invited them to join me for a special Valentine's Day tea at 3pm and had special decorations, special treats and a special visitor!
But it was more than just Valentine's Day here in Oregon...
it's also Oregon's birthday!
We love, love, love living in Oregon. Some of my favorite things include the wonderful waterfalls, majestic mountains and cool Coast. So I went through my photos and made a grid of some of my favorite views.
And last, but certainly not least, February 14 marked the beginning of Lent. I grew up in a church tradition that did not observe Lent, but over the years I have come to truly value this time of repentance, reflection and focus on spiritual disciplines. Every year I approach the season a bit differently, but always with the anticipation of remembering who God is and what my faith means.
I don't remember when I first heard about minimalism or when my desire to live with less was born. It had to have been around 10 years ago when my girls were very young and we found ourselves moving often. When my youngest was 5 months old we bought a new house and moved. 13 months later my husband took a new job in a new state so we sold our house and moved. 15 months after that my husband took yet another new job in another new state and we moved again. Repeat yet again 15 months later.
At some point during all the packing and unpacking, I must have realized we were drowning in stuff and I was spending way too much time taking care of the stuff and my young kids. I wanted something different.
Now, 10 years later, I am so grateful for the steps I have taken to pare down our material possessions and our commitments. Not only are there obvious benefits like having a tidy home and having more time to spend on things that matter, there are other benefits as well. We have managed to work our way out of debt and have learned to be content with what we have.
If you came to my home you probably wouldn't label me a minimalist. We have bookshelves full of books, cupboards full of dishes and closets full of clothes. To me minimalism isn't about owning less than 100 things or depriving myself of all material possessions. Minimalism in my life is an intentional attempt to promote what we value. It is about making room for what is essential. It is about creating margin in our lives and saying "yes" to what matters most. I can honestly say it makes a difference in how we live, and has given us a quality of life that we could not have purchased in any store.
Today I am thankful for where I live...not just the fact that I live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, but the actual neighborhood where I live. We have lived here 7 years now, and sometimes I just forget to acknowledge the beauty that comes from living across the street from this lake.
I don't ever want to take this for granted. It is a gift, and I am grateful for this gift.
As the month of January came to a close, and the month of February began I found myself reflecting on the highlights of the past month and what I was looking forward to in the next month. It seemed very similar to the reflections and planning I do at the end and beginning of a new year, and I realized that each new month can be a mini new year.
I find that I am much more successful and intentional if I have short term goals. This year in particular I am choosing specific areas to set monthly goals in. For example, I choose a new scale and piece to spend the month learning.
I'm also being more intentional with my reading this year. I have a list of specific titles I want to read, and each month I'm choosing several from that list. Inevitably a few books that aren't on my list will find their way into my reading stacks, and I love having a little margin for that to happen. Some of my favorite reads in the past have been books I happened upon accidentally.
Looking ahead into February....it's going to be a month of pretty intense schooling. We do have some visitors coming and we are looking forward to showing them around and having them here. Other than that, it's going to be a regular month - a Tuesday kind of month. (Have you noticed how ordinary Tuesdays can be? In our house, Sundays are the day we worship and rest, Mondays are back to school/work, Tuesdays are ordinary, Wednesdays are youth group, Thursdays are violin teaching days, Fridays are wrapping up the school/work week and Saturdays are weekend days!)
In our little corner of the world, we have signs of spring popping up everywhere! It's common to see blooms in February, but usually it's late February. I saw the first crocus blooming on one of the last days of January this year.
I even saw a dandelion blooming today! Looking at the forecast, it seems the rain is taking a break and some sunshine is headed our way this week. I hope I don't have to start mowing the lawn any time soon.
We are big fans of "Hamilton the Musical" here in this house. You may have think that the obsession has died down by now, but we still love all things Hamilton. In fact, we get to see it when it comes to Portland in March and we are VERY excited about that.
My daughter spends hours every day drawing, and her big project is drawing/writing out the entire musical in story board form. It's just amazing to me to see her work evolve and improve.
For her birthday, a friend gave her this clever set of crayons...HAMILTONES. The color names are fun references to the show and we love them all.