book box

In July, I joined Usborne Books & More as an independent consultant. My goal at the time was to get a discount on some books that would work as supplemental resources for school. We love our Usborne books, and even after everybody (even Annie) has investigated them, they’re fine. EVEN THE PAPERBACK BOOKS. They’re worth what I pay for them. But if they don’t cost me quite as much, then I can get more of them.

I’m in Facebook groups with other consultants and they talk about stuff they want to try and ideas customers have presented. You know that I like to dream and to plan. I like to organize projects. Direct sales is not my super-power, but working in this direct sales environment gives me the tools to play around with fun book-related ideas. 

One of the ideas I’m excited about is a monthly (or seasonal – I might make it seasonal so that it can be more full but not be a financial burden) book box! I just can’t decide exactly how to go about it. Shipping is my nemesis; the idea of doing one $10-$15 book at a time and having to charge $5-$8 for taxes and shipping on top of that really makes my blood boil. I want to be able to charge about $20 for a base package and include some FUN things that will make it special and give enough added value that I’m not fuming about the shipping. I also want to have levels – so you can add other theme-consistent books at a little less than retail cost (which will cover taxes and shipping and still leave me a little of the commission) for a bigger haul.

I posted a call for volunteers (to test a deluxe edition of the book box) on Facebook. I sorta want people to trust me and let it be a surprise, but I know that for people who aren’t already familiar with Usborne it’s kinda scary to say “SURE, here’s $45 for some books!” and trust that they’ll be worth it or that I’m not somehow taking advantage of people. So I’m doing this blog post, to sneak a preview of the book list

The books that I’m looking at for this first box (and it’s the full-on, most-stuff-included version) retail for over $40. There’s a baby board book (that even the big kids get a kick out of), a coloring book, a super-fun book to investigate, and an Accelerated Reader with organic gardening info at the end. I picked books that I want to use to supplement our fall school material, while the kids are getting school credit for helping me plan next year’s garden. I am already planning activities to go with these books, and I’ll be blogging about it and posting to Instagram and Facebook. 
I also have ideas about reading journals and book clubs, but that will take some more planning. 

I’m trying to build a Facebook Page with information about Usborne deals and building literacy. I want it to be helpful, to go beyond selling books so that I can share how important reading (and writing!) are. So far I have a few links to articles about reading, and photos of some of our Usborne and Kane Miller books. 

::: I need at least five volunteers to get enough of a bulk deal as a consultant to be able to offer this deluxe edition book box for $45. I want to be able to send out PayPal invoices and get the money by Thursday (September 3rd). That way I can get the books and send them out in time to get feedback and make plans for how to proceed. :::

saturday was warm

We tried adventure.

Annie was the only kid who wanted to adventure with me. Her idea of adventure and my idea of adventure don’t always overlap, though. She ended up on an adventure with DadDad. I took pictures of plants, largely underwhelmed with my results. I’ve been on the lookout for Project Island (and thinking about business ventures in terms of sea travel – we’ve been reading about 15th-16th Century explorers for school).

Because I’m on the lookout for Project Island, I’ve gotten myself stuck in a rut. Trying to leave room to crop or to add text dumped me over into the rut, and inspiration hasn’t struck to give me something to climb out with.

Oh well.

I did end up on an Actual Adventure.

There’s a caved-in-ish store at the corner of the property. I’ve walked to it once (and that was within the past few months, chasing the boys), but had not really ducked in and looked around. Boys, Brennan, Appy, and I ended up in the store on Saturday – I’m not sure if the motive was more “testing the limits” or “checking the fences.” I was glad I had followed, though. Along the back wall are wooden shelves, caught in a sort of slow-motion fall from exposure to the weather. There are songbooks in one corner.

I think I took “one more shot, goose girl!” about ten times. Brennan had stayed with me but was finished with my adventure long before I was. She refused my request for a(nother) in-the-woods photo and trooped fearlessly back up the hill.

So I took a picture of her trooping.

no school this week

I have big plans for this week. It’s an off-week for school. I’m going to do some sitting on the couch and reading and playing. And then we’re going to do some fun projects. And be glad it’s not cold outside. Well, one day it will be cold. But other than that… 

I’m so thankful for this week. 

I’m thankful today. It’s the anniversary of a lot lot lot of things, but one event sticks out. 

It’s Grandma Artie Mae’s birthday. I think she was born in 1917, but then I think she was born in 1918. And then I think I may be way off. Instead of asking or looking for the information, I’ve been tracing back over the lines of what I know. Then I remembered that we were the same age when our first child was born. That puts her birthday in 1917. 

So I was right. 

Unless I am very wrong. 


helena the owl

So. I made an owl for Annie for Christmas.



I, um, cheated.

I looked at a felt puppet tutorial and decided there was no freaking way I could make such tidy and adorable puppets. But I couldn’t get it off my mind!

So I started looking at types of felt. After six (seven?) months of “I’m just not going to…” I bought two rolls of thick felt and grabbed a few pieces of craft felt and some embroidery floss that didn’t match ANY of the felt (contrast!).

I looked at a few more owl toy pictures, then I freehandedly chopped up the felt. And I do mean chopped.


And then I started stitching. I can’t actually blanket stitch so I cheated there, too. HA!









She took about 5 hours of actual work, spread across three days. Then I had to wait a whole day to see if Annie even liked her. BUT SHE WAS SO PLEASED. She squeezed her and used her as a pillow and scooted around with her… whew. Winning!


giving thanks

I knew Thanksgiving would be hard. We’ve passed around a virus or series of viruses, so Jonathan stayed home with the middle two while I brought Ann and Quinn to visit my family. I didn’t get any pictures AT ALL, but that’s just how it goes when you try to be more deliberate about spending time together.

I did get pictures Wednesday. Wednesday… it started out okay. We had couch cuddles and AndiHebbert played with us before she had to drive back home.

But then I was trying to clean house and pack and make sure Brennan and Aiden felt loved and do some school work with Quinn… I wanted to cook a few things or make a project and suddenly it was almost 3pm and stuff like this was happening while I tried to finish my lunch:
I had completely lost control of my day and I could tell that my attitude was heading toward ugly. So we cleaned up the dishes and dressed warmly and headed outside for a nature walk.








There were rain clouds but the sunlight was gorgeous. Leaves were glowing. It was a big hug from God. I was able to feel genuinely and lovingly thankful for Jonathan and our wild kids and our home and the life that we share. There was a cascade – a domino effect – of gratitude. I was so thankful for so many things I don’t know how to mention them all.

It was good.

Two months


It’s been two months since Granny died. I still feel insane. I still feel like I’ve misunderstood or maybe it was just a horrible nightmare or it can’t be possible.


I’ve thought a lot about what I believe about death. I don’t really want to get into talking about all of that any time soon, but… I don’t even know how to explain it. Most of my ideas are less vague now. But they’re still complicated.


Is the 15th of every month for the rest of my life going to feel this way? This out-of-control, lost, confused way?