Ordinary Days

It is funny how the more I stay off the computer the more I love staying off the computer. During December and most especially when everyone was out of school I knew I wanted to curb my time down to almost nothing. I also decided I didn't want my Facebook or Instagram accounts anymore as I didn't enjoy them (this is my second rendezvous with Facebook and now I have really learned my lesson-I had to learn my lesson twice-I don't enjoy the pull I feel, and the time suck, and the obligation, and the information that fills my mind with too much non-essential.) When I hit those delete buttons it felt like I just did a deep-clean/clutter purge in my brain and freed up some space in my brain for more important things. It's crazy how that makes me feel calmer and more focused and organized and purposeful.  Apparently I need all the extra brain space I can get. :)

But I do want to keep up on blogging, even if it is only sporadic. It doesn't help that Janey has stopped taking naps-that happened just organically over Christmas break and it was perfect timing.  She goes to bed earlier and sleeps better at night.  But it's always an adjustment for me also, because I lose my reading/computer time, or at least some of it. I haven't finished one book yet since the Tidying Up book I read after Christmas.

On that subject I read this quote from ages ago somewhere and gasped at the truth of it:

"What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. 
Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention."  
Herbert Simon (1940's I believe.)

Isn't that brilliant?

"What are we going to do all day Mom?"  She is in the stage where she stuffs her whole world and anything else she can find into bags. It is hilarious what we find in her back packs and purses.  Missing something? Go find the back pack. 

My mom gave me this towel for Christmas and I love it.  My whole life revolves around food when the college kids are home. Mother of boys-do you ever feed your family a nice big filling dinner and then see them standing with their heads in the fridge 30 minutes after dinner? Because they are hungry again?  How is that possible?  

It IS nice to have them have a great appreciation of my cooking once they have experienced dorm food.  Isaac never complained about dorm food, but Abbey is having a harder time with it...maybe it's the difference in cafeteria offering (I do think some colleges do better than others in this dept.) but she is also calorie conscious and a little picky about healthy food (and lives in fear of the freshman 15) and I don't think there are many choices besides the plainest salad for every meal and who wants that. 

I do notice that the kids eat out a lot at college-gosh, what ever happened to the poor college student? I ate a can of Spaghettios for a meal quite often, and Jeff and I remember "splurging" on a lunch of .99 cent breadsticks with a little extra for sauce as our lunch. Cheap ramen noodles and mac and cheese?  I don't know. Things have changed, I DO know that. (And just for the record our kids have to pay for anything off the meal plan themselves-although we made an agreement this semester with Abbey because she wanted to go down to the lowest meal plan and use the difference for more off-campus healthy food.)  She will be happier I think when she has an apartment kitchen, meanwhile, "make do" is the answer.

Speaking of healthy food-I am going strong on my Whole30. It takes more time for sure, and there is a learning curve, but I have never felt hungry.  Mind control is the key-I don't let my mind wander to all that I am missing.  And once the sugar habit is kicked, and I lose that yearning, it is much easier. 
I wish I could eat chocolate all day long, I will never stop wishing that.
Chocolate is the best food on the planet. (And not healthy dark chocolate, creamy milk chocolate in foil wrappers.)

Janey is my workout partner sometimes (when Jeff is gone in the evening and I can't send Janey upstairs to play). We go in the basement, I do my weight routine, and listen to free Pandora set to Ed Sheeran. I look forward to it every day, really. 

Basketball season! Andrew is #20. These kids are so so cute. He has the best class. They are all so kind to each other. Jeff is his coach along with two other dads.  By the time our kids are all through grade school Jeff will have coached so so many years. I bet he will keep doing it also-let's hope he doesn't get old and cranky. I love that he is always positive and encouraging and never gets mad at the kids no matter what. He works with each one and they have fun. I really hate going to a game and hearing the other coaches get so mad and yell at the kids. (I should add that Jeff "yells" during games but yells plays and reminds the kids who to guard etc, not specific negative yelling at players or the team.) Maybe I'm being too sensitive and the boys can take it but I know I would have felt absolutely awful and never would have wanted to play a sport again if I had a coach get mad at me. It also raises the emotion of everyone in the building and the parents get tense also.  I always picture the kids going home and up to their rooms all dejected and feeling so bad about themselves. Which proves I'm a girl because I'm sure the boys just get over it by the time they get to the car. :)

Abbey went a little crazy packing for winter break, meaning she brought home half her dorm. Her roommate joked (but a little seriously) that she must not be coming back. Half the van was filled! After carrying all that back into the dorm this last weekend, I asked her if she was going to make that same mistake again and she said no.  I felt like I was dropping her off all over again, but this time my mind flashed back to preschool after Christmas break when they got used to being home and don't really want to separate again. She likes it but it's not always easy I don't think-dorm life in general and 19 hours etc. College is more difficult than high school in some ways isn't it?  I think high school is constant little life lessons in your face every day, but college is pressure and stress in different ways.  Planning, choices, organization, tolerance, etc.  

I had to take this picture because our sweet neighbor Mary Carol came over with her Girl Scout cookie sheet and I told everyone to pick a box of what they wanted and she was bombarded with questions and orders and debates about what the order will be. She takes it all in stride and just smiles the whole time of course.

First snow! (I couldn't take a picture outside because I was too cold. I tell the kids I am allergic to winter.)

Little things I want to remember that I have no photos for:
Matt enjoying tennis practices in prep for trying out this spring.
Poker games during the evenings of break between boys and friends.
How both Isaac and Abbey willingly with no prodding called and worked their summer jobs all break to earn their own money (yay!).
Abbey coming so close to losing at left right center twice at family parties and how much she wanted to win that jackpot.
Isaac remembering a little boy's birthday at the place he works and bringing him a gift. 
The hoopla and excitement and talk of the lotto and how many laughs (and serious discussions) it brought to the house.
Abbey showing me make up tricks (and good ones!) and taking me to Sephora to buy a few things (where I lasted about 10 minutes-she knows by now I have a short ticking time bomb of mall time.)

And one more quick note:
Raising teenagers is hard. 
I never ever ever ever want to make anyone who reads this blog and has teenagers/young adults, feel like things are any different at my house than they are at yours. I record the good memories and the special sweet things, not the arguments and the frustrations and although there are times when I think we see some great huge strides of maturity there are also times when I think they've slid back to the age of say, around two years old and seriously sometimes I remind myself to take deep breaths and "break the wrist and walk away" and then I do so, and sometimes I remind myself to take deep breaths and walk away, but don't actually do it but let them have it in no uncertain terms with a strong lecture which is not always said in a mature quiet manner on my part but just couldn't be held back.  Late for church, picking on brothers, throwing clothes on the floor, tone of voice, selfishness, unappreciation,etc, etc, etc.  
This too shall pass. 
Notice the good. I have to remind myself often.
My mom wrote to me this break with the advice to parent them like they are who you want them to be-parent them like they are their best always.  It struck me as so so right. When we are frustrated we tend to see all the weaknesses and parent in a frustrated angry way and when we see the strengths we parent in a positive upbeat encouraging way.  So stay the course with the good in our minds and our expectations will be known and be brought forth. Now for the follow through. :)
My mom is so smart.


  1. Missed you while you were gone! LOL :-) As always, you offer such good, sound advice. Looks like you learned a lot from your mom. Happy New Year!!

  2. This is such good insight! Happy Wednesday!

  3. Thank you for the teenage tips! I enjoy my teens so much more than what I was expecting (I'm such a baby person). They're so smart and funny and interesting-like real people. So that makes it all the more frustrating when they suddenly flip into typical kid thing (being mean to a younger, "annoying" brother) or complaining about the dinner-I get confused and irritated! Love what your mom said.

  4. Loved reading this post. I too agree with the social media being a time suck. I have never chosen to do Facebook, because I don't think it would be a good choice for me. The time, but also the negativity. I need to fill my free moments with things that will be uplifting. Real, but uplifting. There are plenty of negatives in this world. I still love blogs, but I am careful with my selection of blogs that I follow on Bloglovin. It is a wide variety, but only ones that I really want to spend extra time on. I monitor that as well.
    You know it is funny. I have led a very different life than you, but I love your posts. You are genuine and that is what draws me to you. I worked for 31 years as a teacher. I loved and hated it. I could get very frustrated especially the last ten. Things have changed so much that it is really hard these days on teachers. I liked that it let me work and make money to provide for my family, but that I could be a mommy with time as well. My husband was in education as well, so other than the years before they started school they were always with us at school. The preschool years were my toughest, but teaching was still a very manageable job and I did not do a moment overtime at school. I brought home the work and did it after they were in bed. I love your thoughts on parenting. They really match my views as well. Teens are hard, but honestly you never get over fretting over them. Mine are in their twenties, but adults now and I still fret:) That is what mommies do. I love your mom's advice. I kind of learned that by default with my youngest. He was the rebeller. Did things the hard way. Very hard for two educators. He is figuring it out now, a little later than we would have liked, but I learned along the way that I had to stop the nagging and just love him. Have faith in the Lord and him that he would get there. I took a more positive approach and it has made all the difference.
    Keep blogging as you are one of my favorites. As for sporadic blogging, those are my favorites. Usually you had something worth saying when you do it only sporadically.

  5. You're such a breath of fresh air. Thank you for never being shy about sharing your truths even (and especially) when they don't conform to the 2016 societal norms. I'm also really enjoying the spattering of kid photos again! I understand why you moved away from sharing them and I'll understand if you feel led to pull back again. But in the meantime...your family is SO precious and it's good to see them growing up. ❤️

  6. Sarah, Long time follower...and I have enjoyed your post over the years. I have told more people than you can imagine about 40 Bags in 40 Days because you have such great organizational skills plus I appreciate your perspective. My kids are in between your children's ages but I learn (40 bags, college applications, social media, etc.) so much from you and appreciate that you take time out of your busy life to document it. I ready two blogs each week and you are on top of the list. Thank you and Happy New Year! Sally

  7. HI Sarah, It's funny, but so many times when you post I feel like you're speaking directly to me! Haha. I've resisted Facebook since the beginning--I truly dislike everything about it. But old friends keep insisting--"it's how EVERYONE keeps in touch." I'm glad you posted your experience. It stressed me out just thinking about it. No Facebook.

    And for moms of teens, it does get better. As you said, it is so very hard, but the rewards later are so great. We are really enjoying our 20-somethings. Ps. I think your mom sounds like a wonderful mother!

  8. For some reason all this made me teary-eyed. I love your posts and I wish every time I read your blog that we lived close and you could be my mentor :-) I am raising 4 little ones and most days I get overwhelmed with the responsibility/ importance of doing this right!

  9. I love your closing paragraph about teenagers and it is okay to be imperfect. I want to know what your weight routine is... I've tried a few different ones the last few months and none of them are working for me! I don't know if I need to keep looking or just suck it up and do it!

  10. I loved this post. So much thought provoking information. I feel like you do about FB - I am in charge of keeping the page up for our hockey league and find I get on there to post something for the team and then I 'look around' and there's 20 minutes I'll never get back. I am done when this commitment is over in May and can't wait. The teenage years are throwing me for a loop! I just keep thinking that every phase has been relatively short lived and I know this will be too - it's hard to forget when you're in the thick of it though. And I love the advice your mom gave you. Smart lady!

  11. Allergic to snow! LOL!

    You have such sage advice and I am going to take that gem of advice your mom told you and put in on my iphone or fridge to remind me. "Parent them like they are their best always". Thank you to your Mom!!!

  12. I love reading your blog and am always happy to see a new post. My kids are grown but I tell moms of young kids all the time about your blog. It is so refreshing to see that you don't have to follow along with what everyone else is doing, just do what you believe is right for your family. Thank You

  13. Wait, your kids argue and leave dirty clothes around too?!?! Hahahaha, I always have to pep talk myself that they are such good kids, and remember that the annoyances are so normal, part of life, and they're allowed to "let go" at home. As long as they're good in public :)

  14. Love so many things about this post....starting with the fact that you listen to Ed Sheeran on free Pandora. Every night during dinner prep that is exactly what is playing in my kitchen :) My family is spread out in age as well: I have a 25 year old who is married and in graduate school, a 23 year old who just started her first "real" job as a kindergarten teacher, a 21 year old college junior preparing to apply to law school and an 8 year old second grader. I can relate to so very much of what you write about. The upheaval and adjustment that comes when the older set comes home for a bit, especially for my little guy still at home. I always feel sorry for him because he gets so excited that everyone is coming home then it is such a big adjustment when they all go back to their other lives and he is left behind again :( I had to have a little meeting about expectations when my 21 year old was home for a month over winter break, things like picking up after himself, letting us know where he was going and when to expect him home...just stuff that they seem to forget when they have the freedom of living away from home! There is a huge learning curve to having college age/young adult children!
    Could not agree more about Facebook. I found out pretty quickly that it was NOT for me! So much comparing, bragging, negativity, etc. I decided that if I was going to be expected to get along with extended family members it was much easier if I didn't read their nonsense on social media all the time :) Sometimes it is just best to NOT know what is going on in other people's heads all day long!
    Love your blog!

  15. Hello Sarah! Thank you for your blog. I am a long time follower and I am not sure if I have commented before or not.
    I just wanted to share that each time I read one of your posts.....it feels like a letter from a friend....even though we have never
    met. You have a way with words and I love that you desire homemaking as much as I do. :)

  16. I know just what you mean with facebook etc. eating into so much time, but please please continue with your blog. Stories of your family, snippets of good advice on all manner of subjects, interesting book selections, and those darling photos and all wonderful to read and look at.

  17. Thank you for taking the time to post! I love reading your blog - all of your insight is just so refreshing and such a great break from the mainstream "junk" out there. You are such a blessing to all of us that read your wise words. Thank you!

  18. I've read a few of your postings now and I'm relieved to know we have a bit in common. I have a college-child too, and he too is worried about the 'freshman15'. In fact, I didn't really believe it was a thing until I saw it mentioned on your blog. You inspire me.
    Thank you.

  19. I had to comment...I read your blog a few years ago every day, then life happened to get a bit more busy with the birth of my 3rd child, juggling my work from home, other children, hubby, and all the life happenings...a few years later, I have a 14 year old, 9 year old, and a 3 year old now. I find myself always thinking back to your blog when I feel I need mommy/life encouragement. I came here this morning and was happy to see you still blogging. This post really spoke to me right where I am. Parenting is hard, but a good hard. I told my mom just recently that I always thought the infant years were hard because of the helpless little babe but now I am learning with my almost 15 year old, that parenting pulls at your heart and tests me even more. And I say that parenting probably one of the best teenagers I could have ever have dreamed up. But it is hard because you share in their disappointments as if it were your own, no, more than if it were your own. When they are up late into the night studying for their mid term in their AP class, your mind does not rest wishing them peace. When you have to tell them that 'no', they cannot go on their school orchestra trip to New York City (we live in Texas by the way) because it is a multi-layered decision wherein a parent has to take into account other children, time of year, budget, etc., etc...it breaks your heart as a parent because this child is a GOOD child and deserving, but this child is also a 'team player' in a family unit. So, anyway, I ramble on to tell you that I appreciate you. I appreciate your insight and the 'camaraderie' I always feesl when reading your blog. So, thank you :-)

  20. So true about the time suckers of life facebook and the gram. Arughh. Kids are soooo distinct in their personalities thanks for writing about the realities at the end of your post. Tears here. And a warning about losing weight--I lost a lot this last year (like 40lbs.) and the only drawback is how cold I am! I swear my inner flame has gone out and I'm shriveling and over New Years (when it was -14!) I seriously thought about gaining weight on purpose or to start nursing any baby I could find (I wined my baby last year), just so I could be warm!!! (read: Lots of yummy milk chocolate wrapped in foil! hahaha)

  21. I've been reading your blog for so long and had to comment - I can't believe how big Janey has gotten! It doesn't seem like you post that infrequently but I guess I didn't realize how much time had passed. I love reading your parenting thoughts and advice and can't wait to read back on these posts whenever I have my first kiddo!

  22. I deleted my FB years ago and love it! Though I have had an IG account for 3 years and absolutely love it..I pulled the plug last week and don't miss it at all. It feels really good to not care to look at my phone again..it feels really good to look at my children with no distractions. Thank you for posting. You are an incredible inspiration for mothering. :)

  23. Question for you...and any readers who may have an answer for me! Do you have any suggestions for books to read about raising preteen/teenage girls? We have been having a LOT of drama (unnecessary) with my 11 year old lately. I too am not a facebook/Instagram fan but yet the majority of teens/preteens are. Our 15 year old is the only one so far with a phone but yet all of our 11 year old's 5th grade friends carry them around with them! We definitely will stick with what we think is best but yet want her to have "normal" social experiences and also to learn how to handle social media. I've already printed out your stop posting selfies blog post to read to her ;) So anyways, I was looking for a book but can't find one! Any suggestions I'd appreciate!

  24. Hi Janelle! I don't know if I've ever read any good books specific to teenage girls-some of the books I have read just really get into deep problems and not the every day of parenting, which just ends up scaring me into parenting out of fear of what "could" happen. I think at some point most every pre-teen/teen girl can act out at home because of the stress of social pressures, etc at school and in their friend groups. It is so hard to give advice about teenagers also, because it's such a balancing act of knowing when to push and when to let go and when to react and when to let it blow over. I think the best advice I was given which I have found to be true is to decide what is important to you and your husband (ours was def. no phone till 9th grade) and once they knew the line was drawn they stopped bumping up against it. Stand your ground. Get them off social media as much as possible as long as possible-it is NO good for them. There will be time to learn, time to teach but kids are still KIDS, and can't handle it all, and need to be led gently with MUCH teaching when they are ready (which I would say is really not till their 20's and their brains are fully developed, but realistically high school WITH much advising.) They act out from the pressure of it all, and it's not healthy for them. Try to keep them busy in other ways and cultivate really good friendships with a few girls you KNOW are nice. Keep talking, talking, talking. One good read is "Hold On To Your Kids" about the importance of parents and family vs. peer relationships.

    1. Thanks ;) Just ordered the book. I definitely agree that my husband and I need to decide and draw whatever lines we want to draw. We're just amazed at what we have seen other parents allowing at such young ages and so we want to make sure we draw the correct line...which I know varies kid to kid and may vary over time too! Thanks for the advice!

  25. A) Thank you for blogging. My bff and I often will say "what would they do on Clover Lane"! You have inspired me to be very deliberate in how I use my time as a mom.
    B) Thank you for the last paragraph reminding readers you use this blog to remember the positives... and you don't always share the day to day difficulties. BFF and I don't have teenagers yet but we've also often said "Do you think Sarah ever has a bad day.... why can't we be more like Sarah"!
    And since I am on a role, C) The only thing I've struggled with on your blog is the series on staying at home. It's tough for me to read. IT makes me sad. I wish I was home full time with my children. I am not. I am fortunate to have a professional career which allows me to only be in the office two to three days a week... but I want to be at home. I know that is best but for our family we have sacrificed in different ways.
    I feel the need to plug the idea that teachers are underpaid. I married one. He is fantastic. He teaches at a private Catholic school. It is truly meant to be his vocation. He inspires faith in his students and has inspired others to go on teaching. I guess my point, which I tried to make on another Catholic blog recently, is that sometimes I feel God calls moms to make sacrifices for their family vocation... and in this case, I work hard to be as much as a stay at home mom as I can (I do feel it is best) but my sacrifice is for giving my husband to the Catholic education system which needs strong male men to teach and show young men how to be faithful Catholics/Christians. I see my whole family supporting our unconventional household (meaning we have help two days a week) in order to share Daddy. I feel ridiculously blessed to have a career which allows for me to wake up at 4 in the morning and do work or do work late at night so my days are free.. many women married to teachers don't have this luxury. I can only wish and hope that reform to teachers pay come sooner rather than later so families don't have to make the sacrifice we do in order to produce outstanding male teachers for our schools. You often hear that teachers are underpaid... regardless of that argument it's clear teachers are not meant to be the sole financial provider for their family

    1. I agree Jill! There is nothing like dedicated teachers, they make SUCH a difference, especially at that high school level and deserve to be paid more. I applaud you for doing what is best for your family in a difficult situation and I know you appreciate those days home which is wonderful and your kids will carry this with them.
      And yes, please KNOW that I have bad days, weeks, months, years. Some YEARS are really really hard. I make mistakes, say the wrong things, lose it with a teenager, get frustrated with a husband, etc. etc. etc. I never never ever would want anyone to think otherwise, I just hate that anyone would. That is the caveat of blogging-wanting to remember the good things and then painting a picture of perfection. That has never existed here! We are all working, growing, caring learning here all together and making mistakes as we go.

  26. Oh yes...my husband is an elementary school teacher and it is HARD living mostly off his paycheck. I do home daycare to supplement his income so that I am able to stay home but if I hear any more about the need for inexpensive but yet quality daycare I may scream ;) I DO understand it is hard for many families to afford daycare but really shouldn't daycare providers be paid A TON...and the same goes for teachers ;) But I also just want to mention that as long as you have great daycare your kids will be ok...I love my daycare kids as my own and while I ache for their mom's missing out on many parts of their lives/days, I know the kids are going to turn out great!

  27. Your mom's advice, I mean really? Is she just for real or what? I wish I had that kind of love and wisdom close by, waiting to be plucked .... Oh wait. I guess I do! Reading your sweet blog!

  28. I love coming here ♥ It's a breath of calm air that always points me in the right direction. And that dish towel is perfect! So is the pic of Janey. Allergic to winter! Bahahaha!