Saturday, July 29

Listing A House

With Z looking for work that will take us closer to his mom, and the boys' activities (work, school, dance) keeping them in town from dawn to dusk, we've decided to sell the Forever Home and move into a rental.

Now to declutter enough that I can stage it and make a comprehensive list of Things To Be Done. Yikes!

Today, we worked in the basement and the foyer. I can't even pretend to have any idea how much headway we made, or what we need to do next. I just need to get some stuff out of the way so I can breathe. We did quite a lot, though, and this evening everyone is sleeping well.

Tonight we attended a going away party for friends. That's always a bittersweet occasion. We're happy for them to have new adventures and explorations, but there will be an empty place for those of us left behind. It was good to hug them one more time tonight, to see the kids all grown (growing?) up... And thank God for technology. We can video chat, keep up to date through social media, and email. So it's almost like we get to go along with them. That makes the distance easier.

Tonight, though, I'm beat, physically and mentally. It's time to kick off my boots and watch something stupid.

Be encouraged!


Friday, July 28

Vibrams on the Trail

So, as I've mentioned before, I wore my Vibrams Five Fingers to Philmont. As I've also mentioned before (although I cannot find that post now, so perhaps I mentioned it in a backpacking forum?), there seemed to be precious little information about how well they work as shared by the people who actually wore them and plenty of shared opinions by people who saw others wearing them and had decided that it was stupid no matter what the wearers had said. So, I wanted to chime in with my .02, having done it first hand.

Overall, they were magnificent. Not one blister, no twisted ankles, no particularly sore feet. Actually, for most of the trek, my feet were the only things that weren't sore. The rest was poor chiropractic care, improperly adjusted pack, and my general propensity to run into things. I will be wearing these on the Pinhoti, the AT, and, if I ever get back that way again, these puppies are coming with me to Havasupai.

Lightweight. I wore my new ones on the trail and took my old favorites for in camp. So lightweight!

Easy on/easy off. This is particularly helpful when you're getting and out of your tent, but it's an all-around benefit.

Excellent feedback. I knew before I transferred my weight to my forward foot whether my footing was sure enough to support me. I truly suspect this impacts the likelihood of twisting an ankle on the trail, protecting your feet by preventative measures. So even with the marked lack of ankle support, these are my favorite trail shoes.

Comfortable. Although I took my old pair to wear in camp, I never felt the need to take off my trail shoes once we got to camp. There was one night that we had a particularly damp campsite (at Pueblano) and we had crossed a stream little earlier, so the trail pair weren't dry by morning. I just clipped them to my bag and hiked that day in the older pair.

Quick drying - we crossed so many streams, and I could just walk through them and keep going without having to stop to change out socks or even shoes. With the exception of the freakishly moist camp mentioned above, they always dried quickly.

Bouldering. Ohhh, this was fun. The Tooth of Time, and the trail to the ridge were SO easy with the Vibrams. I tucked my poles away and scrabbled around like a rock squirrel, even with my pack on. It was glorious. Love. These. Shoes.

The stench. Lord have mercy, these things stink! I would say they stink after 10 days on the trail, but they stank at the end of the first day. WHEW!

Wet clay - if you go during monsoon season, you're just going to ski down the switchbacks. Use your poles and relax for the ride. I pretty much skied all the way into the Ute Gulch Commissary. That was a little bit harrowing, but once I realized I wasn't going to die, it was fun. I don't know that hiking boots or anything else would handle the slick bentonite clay any better, but in the spirit of full disclosure, I did want to mention that this was A Thing.

Going downhill, fully-loaded, fast. The last day of our trek, we left Upper Clark Fork and trekked 12.5 miles out of the canyon, over the Tooth of Time, and down the Trail of Tears. Because our crew did not believe in getting up and out quickly, we were on the ridge with the afternoon monsoon storms at our backs coming down the Trail of Tears. You do not want to be on that slope in the middle of a thunderstorm, where the tallest thing around is you, and we Advisors felt the need to get the boys off the ridge pronto. So we absolutely booked it down that last few miles. With a fully loaded backpack. My toes were a bit grouchy after that leg. Not enough to negate the benefits, but again, A Thing. And if I'm going to share my experience, I want to share all of it.


I don't normally wear socks with my Vibrams, but I did buy some Injinji sock liners for this trek. (Not an affiliate link. I just love being able to include pictures.) They made the shoes a titch tight, since I hadn't bought them with liners in mind, but not uncomfortable and the shoes stretched quickly to accommodate the difference. They kept my toes warm in the damp, cool mornings, and they dried fairly well. Plus, they feel good.

Someone at Base Camp mentioned Swiss Socks. I'd like to try those out at some point, too.

If you do plan to wear Vibrams on a trek of any kind, get them well ahead of time. Train in them. Lounge in them. Wander in them. Wear them, break yourself in to them, get to know them. The learning curve is longer than with Just Any New Shoe. Once you've got the hang of them, though, they're very accommodating and straightforward. Know how they work for you, and what you can expect from them in performance. Then get a new pair (I went with the same style, same size, just to limit the variables, but I don't know that it mattered in performance) for the trail.

I hope this was helpful.

Be encouraged!
~ Dy

Thursday, July 27

The Fall School Plan, 2017-18

I've been making school plans since 2005. We began with one student and have slowly added to the roster every few years. This is the first year I didn't make one for James. He's off and running, doing his own thing - work, college, life. He went with friends to see Fiddler on the Roof while I was gone. He's budgeting tithe money, gas money, and savings. He's pre-reading his literature text over the Summer. I can't tell you how cool that is. He's got this. It's weird, but I was ready for it.

So I settled in to make firm John's plan, which we'd written down before we left for Philmont and I couldn't find Monday. Huh. We never found it, but we did eventually remember the details. He's taking all dual enrollment this year: EMT certification, ENG 101 (or whatever kids these days are calling it). Next semester he'll take Western Civ and College Algebra. That's 3/4 time enrollment both semesters. He'll keep working. He'll look for a new ballroom dance class that he and his girlfriend can take (their instructor retired at the end of this year - a very sincere loss for the students, although likely a much-needed reprieve for the instructor). He's got one more shot at the ACT for scholarship money in September, then he'll apply to JSU in October. That's it. I'm not instructing him in anything this year. That, I was not ready for.

It's OK, though, as Jacob seems to be taking up the slack left by his brothers. This kid has a jam-packed schedule and he is so excited about it! This is his Freshman year. He's a highschooler. Forgive me, but how is Smidge in High School? It boggles the mind. He'll be taking Geometry, Old Western Culture Greeks for history and literature, Home2Teach writing classes, Rocketry (a two-hour class, plus competitions), Ballet (as many classes as they will let him and we can afford), and three foreign languages (Latin, Russian, Spanish).

His reasoning is that this is a good year to do some searching about what he wants to study more in-depth. (I think he's also thinking that 12 foreign language credits would be pretty cool to have, but I don't know that he really understands what third-year Russian, Spanish, and Latin will look like with Calculus, ballet, and a strong humanities program like OWC. However, if he's willing to work hard at it and give it a shot, I'm all in as the support team. He'll have time to adjust as he goes, if needed. If I've learned nothing else from homeschooling this long, I've learned at least that we can adapt and adjust as we go, and that it doesn't hurt to set the bar high.) I'm actually pretty excited about working with him this year.

The Littles (still thinking of a new moniker for them) and I have a much better plan for this year than whatever it is we've been doing: we'll be library schooling while Jacob is in ballet classes. We did a trial run yesterday and it was lovely: tea and poetry, literature, history. Bonus of being able to go find ANY book we might need if the spirit prods us during our study time. (That actually makes me feel less anxious about packing our books away to stage the house.) Since part of Jacob's plan involves turning drive time into foreign language time, they're also getting additional exposure to Spanish, at least. We do math, science, and other topics when we get home.

That's it. Just three. This is so weird.

But it's good. The goal was to raise them up to be self-sufficient, independent, functioning young men and that's what's happening. So, win! I may not have been prepared to lose two in the same year, but I've got no actual complaints.

Be encouraged!
~ Dy

Wednesday, July 26

What A Ridiculously Long Month

I got home Sunday evening. It was wonderful to be home! I think the family actually missed me. Jase got up bright and early Monday to begin sharing with me every random thought he's had the last month. I think he saved them up, because they came hot and fast that morning. Em keeps hugging me Just Because. Z keeps smiling and saying, "I'm glad you're home."

The biggest indicator, however, seems to be the number of things they don't know the schedule for. When is the movie shoot? When does ballet start back? Are we taking Burritt classes this year? Can I do dual enrollment? Can we build a rocket? When are we going to the water park? I spent Monday finding answers more concrete than "soon" and planning the school year so we can begin it.

The concrete on the front porch has been repainted. The basement stairwell is textured and painted. Both are so lovely! I'd hoped to come home to boxes, but no boxes so far. That worked out well in the end, though, as I needed to pull out this year's books and set them aside. Today, perhaps, boxes.

I have so much appreciation for how they all worked together to take up the slack that my absence caused! Other than expressing it verbally, I've tapped into my joy at having this home, this family, this life, and I will remember to share that joy with them, as well. This month away was long, but it was a mental and spiritual sabbatical during which I had the room to breathe, to think, to align my priorities with my goals. This is some exciting stuff!

Other than the weather (it is July in the South), it is so good to be home!

Be Encouraged!
~ Dy

Sunday, July 23


I have a den full of boxes and three empty book cases! We gave away one book case, and I hope to give away more this weekend. We learned a few things:

* If you want to get kids to read books, have them take books off a shelf to put in boxes. We got SO much reading done today! Like they discovered a secret library I'd been holding out on. It was hilarious.

* When your 18yo and your 11yo curl up on the couch to look at Rembrandt pictures together, you really can't care that they aren't working. (I already knew this, but it was a beautiful reminder.)

* One book case can hold a LOT of books! Wow, we are richly blessed with books.

* Dust is insidious.

* I'm wondering if white book cases would mitigate some of the room-shrinking effect... but then I wonder how bad it would look when they get dirty... then I spin around in circles like Gayle Waters-Waters preparing for company. So. No actual decisions, and I'm a little dizzy, now.

* Also, I need a vertically-capable roomba. Do those exist? If not, why not? I can't be the only person who's thought of asking Santa to look into this.

* And finally, we really should have gotten a storage shed before we started boxing things up. But, you live and learn. It'll be fine.

The nice part is that nobody minds working inside when it's hot 'n sticky out there! Plus, the Popsicles don't melt so quickly if you're indoors! Win!

Tomorrow's task will be the kitchen. It's already pretty tight, so I'm thinking it will be an easy day. Also, it's only going to be in the high 80's tomorrow! So that's downright doable!

Be encouraged!


Saturday, July 1

Good Saturday Morning!

It is T-2 until liftoff! How ridiculously exciting!

The Littles and I visited Miri and the Babies yesterday. She set it up for them to make homemade wikki stix, which was very cool and I think we're going to have to do that again in the future! The kids played while we visited, and although I really didn't want to run more errands yesterday, it was nice to do something for the Littles. And a little something for me, getting to spend time with a sweet friend.

While we were in town, we ran errands, as well. Found stuff sacks large enough to use as bear bag bags (which is awesome, thank you, Cabela's!) And lashing straps for John's pack (although I should have bought the ones at Walmart last week, to be honest - longer and less expensive for the same material, there). Live and learn.

Today, John and I will do the final pack up and make sure everything is secure, there's room for additional troop gear and the tents, and see if we've forgotten anything. Honestly, I've got food, I've got a good sleeping pad (and a repair kit), and I've got proper clothing. Anything beyond that is gravy at this point. We're ready to hit the trail.

Oh! My new Vibrams came in yesterday, too! I realized that I've trained in this one pair the whole time, plus our teen hikes, plus I wear them to the river, to the store, to work on the property... It's been a good year! The last thing I wanted, however, was to have a blowout on the trail and get stuck buying boots at the camp after I've done all my training in these. So I ordered the same size, style, and brand that I've been wearing. They look so pretty and new! And, seeing them side-by-side, I was glad I got another pair! The soles on my first pair are not as, erm, healthy as they seemed. Fortunately, once you're used to wearing Vibrams (which can take some time), the shoes themselves don't have the break-in period for a new pair that traditional shoes require, so they should be good to go by the end of this week. I'm taking the old ones as camp shoes and back up, though. Figure they deserve to see the desert mountains one more time.

Gotta pack for Circe today, too, and get my suitcase to a friend. She's going to meet me there with it so I'm not traveling with a week's worth of business attire to Philmont! I need to find her something that says, "I do not know what I'd do without you!" Maybe a mug that literally says that. But I'd have to fill it with gold bullion or Amazon gift cards or something, because she's really that amazing. And not just for her mad luggage hauling skills, either!

Be encouraged!

~ Dy