Hello 34

The older I get, the less I seem to care about my birthday. When asked what I wanted to do for the day, I said hang out in my room all day.

What do I want? Ehh… I don’t really need anything. I had just ordered my wine cooler and a new camera. Let’s call that my birthday gift…done. Of course the adults were good with that, but apparently my kids weren’t.

Today they came up and asked me to come downstairs. I knew they had been decorating, but I really didn’t want to go downstairs. I’m a mom though and they worked hard, so I’ll go. Man am I glad I did.

I exit the room and lining the walls of the stairs are signs saying how much they love me. If you want to see the signs, I shared a video on my Instagram story: the.curious.alchemist. This was apparently my daughter, Scarlett’s, idea and she got the other 3 older kids in on it.

When I reached the bottom of the stairs, the kids presented me with a sign that they had repurposed from my baby shower with Mr. Henry. They snapped a photo before they would allow me to see it. It had once said “Have you seen this wizard?” Which they changed to “Have you seen this awesome mom.”

Then I came around the corner and there was a homemade banner.

Johnny plopped a sorting hat on my head that we have as decor in the living room. He asked me to close my eyes, then he played a voice recording he made sorting me into the awesome mom category.

Then I sat on the couch, Richard ordered me food from a restaurant I had wanted to eat at, but Corona. Once everyone was assembled in the living room…the kids presented me with a cake that they made. (Looked far better than anything I can do 😂)

Finally they added sparkler candles, but had decided to take some off because they were concerned there were too many 😂😂😂

A friend dropped a wonderful gift off at my door, another sent me a virtual giftcard, and Scarlett gave me a headband she likes plus 5 dollars.

I am so glad I came downstairs. I’m so blessed with these kids. I didn’t ask anyone to do anything special and I am just so amazed with how they came together to make it so unique.

This was by far the best birthday I’ve ever had. I worry about how I am doing as a mom all the time. Today I felt like I must be doing something right. ❤

Currently listening to: “Somebody’s Hero” by Jamie O’Neal

Currently Reading: The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger

Slowing Down

We have been socially distancing for 30 days today.

As the first week came and went I spent days in a panic, worried I was forgetting something. Maybe it was an activity, appointment, school assignment, etc. It has made me realize that there is just so much on my plate that I am dependent on a schedule. I have too much going on and I feel flustered so much of the time. Just this school year I have had school activities at 3 different schools conflict at one point. There’s PTO, girl scouts, dance classes, nutcracker practices, hockey practices, play dates, birthday parties, doctors appointments, dentist appointments, therapy appointments, school projects, orchestra performances, writing clubs, confirmation, student council, etc… On top of all of that is maintaining a household…grocery shopping, finances, cleaning, so on and so forth.

A new panic set in.

I enjoyed the freedom I had gained and the excuse not to socialize. This came with a lot of varied emotions. First it was all surreal, it felt like the whole world was closing down. I feel like I have spent the last 12 years of my life rushing to school, to work, to deal with kid activities, etc. If I made my life easier in some way, then I filled the gap instead of just letting the pressure fall off. Now that I had to slow down, I loved it and now I am terrified to lose it. For the last two weeks I have been wracking my brain to figure out a compromise, some way to keep a semblance of this life. I also felt guilt for enjoying this, for secretly wishing to stay at home just a little longer. I inwardly rejoiced when the dates kept extending.

I know that this has been completely devastating for many. Some have lost jobs or loved ones. There are people, even people I know, who are struggling to carry on in a new way instead of letting this bankrupt them. Here I sit with stability, enjoying my freedom, thankful we found our way back to Dave Ramsey and Financial Peace University a little over a year ago. We aren’t done yet, but we were more prepared for this. I feel bad about the struggles I see others going through and I also know that life can change for us so quickly. COVID-19 could devastate my father, my ex-husband, and myself. So of course there is a level of fear there. We started socially distancing as soon as we started reading about flattening the curve.

Also our experience has not been without its own small difficulties. At one point the restrictions at HEB curbside became so restrictive that I was having to order groceries 2-3 times per week. They limited the number of items you could get in an order as well as individual items like milk, frozen vegetables, cheese, lunch meat. For the average family I doubt this mattered much, but we have 10 people in our home. All of whom are home and eating 3 meals at home everyday. For a week or two I lived in fear that we would not be able to acquire the food to eat without going into the store. Thankfully these seem to be relaxing a bit.

As some know, Mr. Henry and I also got sick. I spent about a week and a half worrying about what to do. I seemed to have a cold/flu that clearly turned into strep for me, but at this point the doctors hadn’t implemented phone visits. We were distancing as much as we could and I was worried to go in. In an effort to avoid a visit I took antibiotics I had at home, but I didn’t have a full course. At first I started to feel better, even for a good or five days all I had left was lost hearing in one ear. Finally the hearing caused me to seek out nurse call. She pushed for a doctor visit and after 2 or 3 days I relented and scheduled a video call with my doctor 4 days later. She agreed that it was a virus turned bacterial infection and has prescribed me antibiotics and steroids. Finally after 3.5 days into the antibiotics and day 1 of steroids, I am feeling better.

A mask for sick me to wear.

Even with feeling awful, I was so happy to be at home. The kids and I have been watching the transformation of larvae into butterflies, movie nights, and board games. We have started planning and working on a home garden. We have de-cluttered part of the kitchen and created a homeschooling area. We had a drive by parade of our girl scout friends. We finished reading little women. They have had movie nights. They have created their own little world in the woods.

Finally when my therapist started making phone visits I told her of my predicament. I am still trying to find a way to make it all work. Individually I love all of the commitments in my life. I love being a part of each and every one of them. Yet, together they make me a crazy ball of stress. I used to come home some days and just sit in my room alone so that I could wind down. Socializing will always be taxing to me in an emotional way to me, but one that I do enjoy experiencing sometimes.

I still don’t know what the answer is, but I do believe that after this…my life will be different and I am different because of this experience.

Currently listening to: “Best of You” -Foo Fighters

Currently reading: Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding

Realizing a Dream I NEVER Asked for…

As I sit here in my home during my self imposed exile from my kingdom…I mean while I practice social distancing, I am just in shock. I think about how crazy this whole thing is and I am at a loss for words. I have to keep on trucking though, because if I don’t we will all lose our minds.

I never wished to be a teacher or even to homeschool. Actually quite the opposite, as I said I never wished to do either. I would laugh and say I just don’t have patience to homeschool OR I would joke that I would be fired as a teacher, because of my well educated sailors vocabulary.

Yet, here we are.

For those who don’t already know, my besties family and I live on the same plot of land together. I jokingly refer to it as our commune. We knew that socially distancing as a “commune” would be easier on our little community, so that’s what we set out to do. Rachel, bestie, and I shopped for supplies. After that we sat down to plan out our homeschooling schedule which we adapted from some Facebook posts that were floating around.

A snippet of the schedule.

The kids go back and forth between the two houses for their activities. Rachel covers english and history while I cover math and science. We share the creative time and my husband teaches the music class. We broke the kids down into 2 groups, the bigs (grades 5 thru 7) and the middles (grades 1 and 2) with the littles (pre-k). We also chose to have “school” on Mon, Tues, Thurs, and Friday. That gave us a nice midweek break.

On day one, I gave the kiddos a math assessment and discussed science topics we could do. During creative time, which the two groups alternate on, the middles/youngers made yummy banana bread.

Amazed at how hard they are willing to work.
Yummy!

Here we are at the end of day 2 and everyone seems to really be enjoying things. Today we worked on plotting the line of a graph and solving inequalities with the bigs. The middles worked on computing area and perimeters, while the littles worked on writing /recognizing numerals.

For science the bigs started to explore astronomy and even left with some homework. The middles are doing a report on the anatomy of an insect. They have chosen a Luna moth and a monarch butterfly. Finally the littles are learning about the plant life cycle.

Hard at work on their insect reports.

Today during creative time we started to clear a space to build a clubhouse! At the end of which, Johnny was working to climb a tree. I realized how many cool things they could learn with hands on experience and now I have so many ideas!

Working on the clubhouse foundation.
Scaling the tree.

I feel like with as scary as some things are right now, my kids are doing great. They will forever remember this and so far it’s been a great experience for them. This virus seems to spread like wildfire and its path of destruction is vast no matter what we do. It runs the risk of killing and/or bankrupting so many people. We are trying to do our part in flattening the curve. There is so much panic and negativity out there, yet we are working our best to stay positive. Hoping everyone stays healthy out there.

Currently listening to: The sound of my ceiling fan

Currently reading: Eldest by Christopher Paolini

Building a Strong Foundation

I mean quite literally…we watched them build us a foundation. It was pretty cool to watch it go from dirt to huge concrete slab. As harrowing as some of the design choices seem, I feel so blessed that our kids get to experience this.

At the construction site with one of my baby boys.

When I ended the last post I talked about the foundation waffle they created. After the waffle was finished, the guys came out and put down a moisture barrier on all the mounds and down into the trenches. I believe (or guess) the purpose of this is to keep moisture from seeping up into the foundation.

The waffle with rebar and moisture barrier.

Once everything was covered, they went ahead with putting in all this reinforcing bar (rebar). The rebar went down into the trenches and then created a grid atop the whole thing. We let the kids stand down in one part by slowly lowering them down and back up. They thought it was pretty cool.

William in the waffle.

The day before the pour, the electrician showed up to rough in the plumbing for our kitchen islands and some in-floor plugs in the family room and study. I liked seeing all of that in there, it really helped me start getting a picture of where each room began and ended.

On the day of the pour we kept the kids home to watch. We got up at the usual 6:10 am and you could already hear the guys setting up for the foundation. We walked on over and saw them setting up the pumper truck and doing any last minute rebar work. They also used these yellow pieces to float the rebar above the waffle.

Kids on the day of the pour.

Concrete started to pour a little after 7 am. The large pipe of the pumper truck could be seen in the sky above the forest from the neighborhood behind us (where we currently reside). They continued to pour until right after 1 pm. We lost track of the number of concrete trucks after about 7.

The pumper truck was awesome.

As per usual my anxiety kicked up at the end. We wanted to put the kids hand prints in the foundation. The guys knew we wanted to and said they would let us know the perfect time. I was worried we would miss our window and some other comments by dad weren’t helping (like…its already too dry). Richard kept the faith and the guys called us over as they promised they would. Rachel helped with Mr. Henry while I took some pics and the prints turned out wonderful. Even William’s crazy print..which is so him right now, that boy is full of energy.

The hands of my little loves. ❤

Video to come later

Currently listening to: “Pain” -Three Days Grace

Currently reading: The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephenie Meyer

A Year and Half of Waiting

That time seemed to go by so slowly and I was starting to feel like the build was never going to happen. There was delay after delay with each step leading up to actually breaking ground and no matter what I did to try to make it go as smoothly as possible, the other parties just ended up causing more delays. However now that we have broken ground and I see the dream becoming reality…it feels like time is just flying by.

Piles of dirt ready to be spread out. They climbed all over these things.
Spreading it out to make the foundation pad.

In the last few weeks they have come out to outline the perimeter of the house. I have to be honest, I am having a hard time seeing the dimensions. The home is going to be roughly 3900 sq feet, but it feels small standing in the interior of the wooden outline. I thought I was losing my mind so I had Richard measure all the exterior lines and it all adds up. I can’t wait to see it when its framed.

Outlining the foundation under a gorgeous Texas sky.

They have roughed in the plumbing so now I can see where all the bathrooms, sinks, and washing machines are. We have opted to have a laundry room that will accommodate 2 sets of washing machines. Our builder has kept in mind our future plans for a small barndominum and second story bathroom and has plumbed with that in mind as well.

We have pipes!

Next up the foundation guys came out and started building the “waffle” as my builder called it. The internet says that this is a reinforced concrete footing with a perimeter footing and internal beams. I asked him if we are building so that it could support a full second story someday (not that we will ever need that) and he said that it could easily support 3 stories (that will never happen).

The start of the foundation waffle.

They dropped off all the metal for the foundations grid and have just been plugging away. The kids have had a fun time going through the maze of trenches that have been dug in preparation for plumbing and foundation.

Some of these trenches were sooo deep. The kids loved it! (They were monitored of course…)

Being a part of each process has been so much fun and sometimes a little harrowing at times. I am so concerned that I will make a bad design decision, the options seem endless sometimes. Going through showrooms of windows and doors, stone and brink, flooring, lights, etc. Its an adventure and I have to remind myself that it is so awesome we are able to pick each little thing.

Currently listening to: Doc McStuffins

Currently reading: Messenger by Lois Lowry

Throwback Thursday: Love is Love, the More the Merrier

Ok so background…this blog was posted on another platform June 13th 2014. At the we were living in Lake Elsinore, California. This is one post that I don’t intend to add much into the meat of it , but expand upon it….it has withstood the test of time.

A post I read on the internet today got me thinking. (I wish I had mentioned what the post was) In the end I came to the conclusion that I am very proud of my maternal extended family. (I am also very proud of my paternal family as well, for many reasons, but this one applies as well) As a child I never quite understood just how amazing they were at unconditional love, but as an adult their love astounds me. 

You see our family is truly a mixed bag. We have different professions, politics, interests, etc. However it goes deeper than that. We are also made up of a vast mix of DNA sequences. Meaning that we are not all “Blood” relatives. You might be thinking that this is true of many families. Of course the people who marry are not blood relatives (well hopefully not). I mean to say that some of the children that entered this family were not “blood”, but my family taught me that blood doesn’t matter. Love does. 

I have seen many people discuss how families coming together in this way can be a disaster. Unfortunately I think most of the time this is true. We fail to see past the blood lines and forget that a human being is there. My family never made significant differences between the genetically linked relatives and the non genetically linked ones. This led to what I believe to be a beautifully cohesive and loving family. Oh of course we have our disputes and our problems, but at the end of the day we love and care for one another deeply. 

A family is not just made by the combining of DNA sequences, but also by the acceptance and love towards one another. 

We are not perfect, but I am so proud to call these people my family. I wish that I had understood as a child and teenager just how magical their love is. 

This is so true and I want to elaborate on it. My mothers biological father was tragically taken in a car accident when my grandmother was pregnant. The man who took his place, who raised 2 bonus daughters as if they were his own blood, is an amazing father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. As an adult I have so much respect for the fact that he has never once made any of us feel lesser. Even after he and my grandmother divorced, there was never any thought of us being less of a family. His new wife has joined the family with just as much patience and love with our crazy crew.

After this divorce, my grandmother married a man who has also been one of the best grandfathers a girl could ask for. I have so many fond memories of jogging with him, golfing, and working around the family motel. I used to tell people I was so lucky…I had six amazing grandparents and while some are no longer with me, I appreciate every second I have had with them.

I also had various “uncles” who were great men that came into our life in various ways. I still remember my Uncle Manuel teaching me about photography. He would bring books to me and helped inspire a lifelong hobby in me. My Uncle Curt…he was like a big brother to me. As we have aged we haven’t exactly seen eye to eye, but who was a large positive part of my youth…from birth until my 20’s.

These people, and many others, helped shape how I think of families. While I love my blood family, I also love those people that I have invited into my life despite any biological connection. The childhood experiences have taught me that being blood does not give one a free for all excuse card to be toxic. I will invite people into my inner sanctum who I trust and have earned their way there showing their mutual love and devotion for myself and my family. A devotion that I gladly return.

I enjoy my village…the amazing blood relatives and all the bonus ones that I have been blessed with. If I do not say it enough…I love and appreciate you.

Currently listening to: “Africa”- Weezer cover

Currently Reading (for the second time): Eragon by Christopher Paolini

Book Review: Ban This Book

So a friend added me to an online book club this year. Each month has a new theme for the book to be chosen. The club came up in discussion with my son recently. I told Johnny (age 11) that February’s book club book for me was a banned book. He didn’t know what that meant…because in our house we don’t ban books.

Sometimes I read a book before them or with them so we can have discussions, but I don’t believe in banning them. In the past I have had others question choices I have made for my children. Like the fact that John read all of the Harry Potter books when he was in second grade as the latter ones can be a bit on the dark side. However when you have kids with a reading level that is much higher than their grade level, it can be a challenge to find something that suits their reading and maturity level.


A week or so after this discussion, he came to me with the book “Ban this Book” by Alan Gratz. He said that the inner monologue of the character in the book was a lot like his own. That much of it was the way he though, but not exactly the way he acted (the kiddo in the book doesn’t often say whats on their mind). He asked me to read the book and it was clear that it was important to him.


So I did.


It was wonderful. It was so witty and wonderfully written. I appreciate Mr. Gratz for helping me understand my son in a deeper way, while simultaneously helping me teach them about censorship. As an adult I found it a quick, easy, and delightful read. I would happily allow my kids to read this book, aged 9, 11, or 12. It is a bit beneath my 4 year, but I could read it aloud to him. I still think it wouldn’t be all that interesting to him. I think aged maybe 8+ is a good starting point for this book.

I appreciated that the book brought together kids of all different hobbies, backgrounds, social cliques together for a cause. It also showed how we can misjudge others or their intentions. Overall, there were some great lessons in the book. I would say that if a parent is a bit more on the conservative side, they might not like some of the words mentioned in this book. Sex and books that mention sex are mentioned in this book, so keep that in mind as it could bring up some questions.


After my son returns this copy to the library we will be buying one for our own family library. I highly recommend this book to all my mom friends and their kiddos.

The next book I am working on is The Giver, which I have found on banned lists. I have read it in the past and I just don’t get how it can be challenged, though the ban book clearly points out that the challenge is subjective to ones owns opinions.

Happy reading all.

Crafty isn’t Always a Bad Trait

Crafty is such a curious word. The actual definition meaning “clever at achieving one’s aims by indirect or deceitful methods.” Yet informally used today to mean “of, involving, or relating to the making of decorative objects and other things by hand.” I must say that I may very well be a specimen of both definitions. Alas I only wish to discuss the latter today. Sorry to disappoint.

Bachelorette Party gift I made for the bride.

I would say that over the last year I have grown a love for crafting gifts or items for others. Whether I sew them, crochet, or circuit them. I used the latter to create a personalized tote and make-up bag for a friends bachelorette gift. I also made a personalized stocking for my mom who flew out from California to be with us during Christmas.

Stocking for my mother

This last Halloween is when it really took off. I decided to hand make my eldest a costume. She decided to be Queen Elizabeth I and though not historically accurate (I have some sleeves and pieces to add), I was quite proud of what I made. I also drafted all the pattern pieces myself. I made the corset (what I’m most proud of), bum roll, and farthingale myself as well. She loved it and even won her orchestra Halloween costume contest.

The contest picture they took. The costume was still unfinished.

I listened to my children in the months leading up to Christmas so that I could pick up ideas for a handmade gift. I have decided that I will be turning this into a tradition. Each year I will make my children a gift. This year Aurora received a Wings of Fire hoodie. I think hers was the easiest this year.

The Wings of Fire themed hoodie for my daughter.

Johnny had said he wanted a green crocheted blanket. I would say this was my most labor intensive gift and it took me months. Anyone who knows this kiddo, knows how obsessed he is with minecraft creepers. The colors in the blanket reminded me of his various shades of creepers. I am so thankful that he loves it and takes it all around the house to lounge with. I also made his creeper a matching blanket.

Johnny and his new blanket.

This is the second crochet project of mine in the last 10+ years. It is far from perfect, but it is loved. I feel far more comfortable sewing than I do with crocheting. I have sewed many many times in the last 10 years and normally do 1 large project each year.

Scarlett wanted a poodle skirt. This was another simple sewing job. I actually completed it in a couple of hours. I love the way it turned out, but did need to let out the waist a tad. That is one struggle of surprise gifts, can’t just go measure the kiddos lol. As I was rushing to make this the day before Christmas, I really did not take any full pictures of it.

Pretty pink poodle skirt

I sewed William a blanket from some cool robot fabric I found. Finally I crocheted Mr. Henry a textile blanket with different types of yarn. I don’t have any pictures of these just yet, but maybe I will sneak some in.

I have so many ideas for other projects, I can’t wait to have a craft room where I can spread out and spend more time crafty all kinds of fun stuff.

Currently listening to: “Anyone” -Demi Lovato

Currently reading: The Giver by Lois Lowry

Throwback Thursday: Remember to Live

Ok so background…this blog was posted on another platform October 28th 2014. At the time we had been living in Texas for about 3 months.

To be honest, I have been feeling as though I am grasping for time, always trying to find yet another moment to steal because there is just not enough hours in a day. PREACH… ME ALL THE TIME. The university is a black hole that consumes my time with seemingly no end. So glad this is over Lately it has led me to deep discussions of what my end goal is. I didn’t figure that out until my last semester. I fear I am burning out of Chemistry. I have spent some time trying to decide what I wish to do with a career. Turns out, I just want to be with my kids.

All the while we have been in the hectic process of purchasing our new home, which has been quite the time consuming stressful process as well! DUDE…STILL. UGH I am happy to announce that the process is complete and we are homeowners yet again! If I ever have the time, I might just decorate it. AGAIN. Man…I hope this is the last time for at least a decade that we buy another house. Geesh.

Our front door, decorated for Halloween. I stopped decorating this year… Its just to much clutter in the tiny house.

Then with the kids in so many activities, we really have minimal spare time. It only gets worse. It has led to some deep pondering. In the end I have decided I will not kill myself for perfect grades. I need to enjoy the moment as well as plan for the future.  I really tried to put this into practice towards the end… and my GPA reflects it. lol

What is that future?

I think I found it. BOY WAS I WRONG

I will complete my degree in Chemistry as planned. OK..OK.. I did do that. I will minor in anthropology as well. Yup..did that too. Guess I wasn’t totally wrong. Finally when it is time for Richard to move on to his post doctoral studies, I will apply to PhD programs in anthropology. I did not do that. I was way too burnt out by the time I finished. I just wanted to go back to being a mom. Yes,  you read that correct. I’ve done some soul searching and I am enamored with anthropology. Ok so I still am.  I aim to tie my subjects together with emphasis on radio carbon dating. I love learning and talking about the past. It fascinates me. I feel a renewed sense of purpose for my education. It’s refreshing. I mean at least this helped me make it through?

Most of all though, I am going to remember to live! Still working towards this

Currently listening to: “Once Upon a Dream” -Sleeping Beauty Sound Track

Currently Reading: Ban this book by Alan Gratz (Johnny wanted me to read this)

It’s Finally Happening!!!

I have wanted to sit down and write this for a few days now, but I just have not had the time. Girl Scout Cookie season has me super busy.

After 18 months of working towards it, we signed the final paperwork for our construction loan. Best of all, we didn’t have to cut anything from our plan! Also we found a local lender that approved us for a 1 step loan.

The signed docs…blurred for privacy lol

I am so excited to share the process of the home build with y’all. We are using a local custom home builder. The original property was 13 acres, but we had it split into two and are building on the 9 acre parcel.

The survey of the property…again blurred for privacy.

It was a rainy day during signing and my anxiety was at an all time high. It was finally happening. Since the closing the dirt guy has been out, the electric company, and the water company just put our water meter in.

I cant wait until this is the view we see when we look out our front door. This will be out side yard/front yardish. I am standing in our turn around. (See below) Still have no clue what to do with the rest of the 9 acres. I’m sure dad will have an awesome idea of turning it into a beautiful land and play scape.

A picture if the open field and our woods behind it

There is still so much left to do, but we have jumped the biggest hurtles. Now I can share design choices, room layouts, etc with everyone.

The floor plan 🙂

So tell me…what do you want to see? To know more about? We want to capture everything along our journey.