Tuesday, May 29, 2012


My husband is outdoorsy to say the least.  When we first started dating he went hunting and fishing a lot.  He took me hunting once.  Apparently I wasn't suppose to wear perfume or sing.  I haven't gone since.  Right before we found out I was pregnant with Nature Girl, we were going to buy a boat.

We have talked about it on and off ever since.  But, honestly we really can't afford a boat that would d fit all six of us and still be able to fish off of.  So this was hubby's runner up idea.  He is the proud new owner of a two seater kayak.

Yesterday, for Memorial Day, we took it out for its maiden voyage.  It wasn't ideal weather with the threat of wind and rain from TS Byrle (or whatever it was called).  But, fun just the same.  We went to a local lake at a local state park.  And he took each kid out one by one.  Of course they had a blast.

Some things hubby has learned:  when taking out the little guys some extra weight is needed up front, everyone needs a little paddle practise, LM did the best and it is hard paddling into the wind.  I enjoyed watching them from the shore.

It is a good choice.  We can take it almost anywhere.  It doesn't need gas and the kids can learn a little bit about paddling, fishing, etc. with a minimal amount of fuss.  We have a pretty large lake down the road from us, so daddy can take someone pretty much whenever he wants.

I am sure the kids will have a system worked out soon as to who goes when.  Hubby has taken a lot of years off from the majority of his hunting and fishing, so I am glad he has a little something he can do to get back into it.  Especially with the kids . . .

Monday, May 28, 2012

Book Club

About two weeks ago we had our last "official" meeting of our book club.  We read a short, informative book on Marie Curie.   We managed to read it in one sitting but it was packed with information, that I didn't even know!  (Not all that surprising really.)  This year we read biographies so I learned a lot, right along with the kids.  (One of the reasons I love to homeschool.)

Anyway, we met out at a local state park.  The kids did their presentations and we even included a science expo for some of the kids who were unable to do our homeschool science fair this year.  After the expo we ate lunch and then SWAM.  It was such a great day.  So relaxing and just so encouraging to be around like minded moms and their kids.

My reasons were four fold when I decided to start a book club.  First, we don't belong to any type of co-op, so I wanted to do something regularly with the same bunch of families.  Second, because we don't belong to a co-op, one of the things my kids "miss out on" is the opportunity to get up and speak in front of peers and others, so this filled a need.  Third, it gave me a great way to stay in touch with a bunch of women that I love.  And to watch their children grow right along with mine.  Lastly, it gave us a really great reason to read a bunch of books we might not normally have read.

I a lot of time last weekend working on book club stuff.  This year's focus is going to be on children's classics.  Although I hate to call them children's classics because many of them I have not read and are just as interesting to the parents!  These are the books we are going to read:  Anne of Green Gables, Iron Men, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, A Christmas Carol, The Swiss Family Robinson, Hans Brinker, or the Silver Skates, At the Back of the North Wind, My Side of the Mountain and Theras and His Town.

We are going to start off by having a summer club meeting at a state park about 45 minutes away and we will read Black Beauty.  The park has a spring fed lake and swimming and diving areas.  Field trip, relaxation, socializing, reading and learning all rolled into one.  Right in the middle of summer!

We love, love, love book club.  Below is a picture of all of the kids who participate (minus two teenagers).  The ages range from a about 6 months to 12 . . . 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Friday, May 25, 2012

Happy Haircut

Here you go Grandma.  They turned out beautiful, didn't they?  EG had to get in on the action, so I cut her bangs and a little off the ends.  She just doesn't like to be left out . . . .

Cool Mom and Blueberries

What do those two things have to do with each other you may ask?

Well, yesterday we went blueberry picking.  It is an annual thing.  I think we have gone almost every year for the last 5 or so years.  I know I have taken Boop in a stroller.  And I have some vague recollection of picking berries pregnant.  But, I just can't remember who I was pregnant with.

Anyway, yesterday was the first time daddy ever went and we had fun.  We picked a TON of blueberries in 45 minutes!  Three gallons full of big, fat, sweet, juicy berries.  Little Mama and I each picked about a gallon.

After we chatted with the blueberry man we went down to the river to play in the water and swing on the rope.

Everyone was a little hesitant because the water was cold.  But, it was so clear.  We could see all kind of fish and a turtle.  There were a bunch of different birds and one that had a very distinct call but we could never figure out what it was.

Finally, with daddy leading the way, everyone jumped in off the rope.  Including me.  I wasn't planning on it but the kids asked and I figured what the heck.  I ain't getting any younger and we only live once.

For one morning, I was the cool mom . . .

(Yup, that's me.)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

That Kind of Mom

I was at Boop's t-ball game on Saturday and I over heard a conversation between one of the 6 year old player's mom and the coach.  They know each other and are friends.  I wasn't eavesdropping.  It was impossible not to hear the conversation.

The mom is sporty.  She comes from work in stylish clothes and heels that would give me a nose bleed (or a broken ankle).  She always has combed hair (not in a ponytail) and make up on.  On Saturdays she is in some cute sundress with 4 inch cork sandals.  Always showered and this past Saturday had clean hair and a big floppy sun bonnet to match her white linen sundress.

Anyway, the coach was teasing her saying something to the effect of why doesn't she ever wear just plain ole' flip flops.  Her response was "Oh no, I don't want to be that kind of mom."

I am positive, she didn't really mean to say that, in that way.  Although, I have no doubt she thinks similar things about moms like me.  Because she makes every effort not to look that way.

I was in my stadium chair in jean shorts, tank top and, of course, flip flops.  What strangers have to say doesn't usually bother me much.  But, I was having a rough morning.  All six of us to the ball field by a little after 10.  An awards banquet after that.  A play date for the girls that afternoon and the grocery store to be fit in between.

Well, I had to ask myself "what kind of mom would that be?"  I spent the whole morning trying to figure out what she meant.  I am not stylish, I am comfortable, I don't spend an extraordinary amount of time fixing myself (I don't have extra time), I am on time most of the time, I love to watch my boy play ball, I have given up a career to be with my children 24/7, I have stepped out in faith and am educating my kids at home, I am more concerned about the inside then what I (or my family) wears on the outside, were just a few of the things I was thinking.  Is that the kind of mom she was talking about?

If that is the kind of mom she is talking about, then, I would say I am definitely that kind of mom . . .

Monday, May 21, 2012


I am ashamed to say, when I first read through the book Family Driven Faith, I had no idea what a catechism was.  Well, that is not entirely true.  I thought it had something to do with the Catholic religion and only the Catholic religion.

But, after researching it just a little bit further I found out there are a few different ones, depending on denomination.  The ones that I looked over are all set up the same way.  Short, poignant questions, with concise answers meant to help believers get a firm foundation of their faith.  If taught week by week, it could take up to two years for the Westminster Shorter.  That is a huge commitment of time.

Of course, I was intrigued and so purchased it about a year and half ago.  It immediately went up on our shelves.  It was kind of overwhelming.  The one I bought is called Training Hearts, Teaching Minds and it is a daily devotional type book set up weekly, based on one of each of the catechism questions.

About 3 months ago, God placed on my heart this idea to form a multigenerational LifeGroup where parents and kids go to a Sunday school class together, instead of being separated out in to age appropriate classes.  I ran it by hubby and a good friend and then we went to our Pastor.  We got approval from our church leadership body and we (us and our good family friends) started a new class.

So, for the past 5 weeks at 9:30 on Sunday mornings, currently four families (about 20 of us ranging in age from 3 years old to 45 years old) gather in a class room and are going through the catechism together.  Our current "teacher" is a good friend and he teaches Science to 5th graders.  He has been perfect in setting up his teaching time in such a way that engages the kids yet teaches the parents.

What I like about learning the catechism is that it has helped me understand some of the more profound questions about God, Jesus and man.  Our very first question was "What is man's primary purpose?"  The answer is "Man's primary purpose is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever."  The next six days of the devotion go through Scripture and bible stories that support the question and answer.  We read it almost every night, right after dinner, at the table.

Up until we learned that question, memorized the answer and read through some Bible passages explaining that, I can tell you I would not have known concisely what my primary purpose was.  I was created to glorify God!  In all that I do.  And enjoy Him forever.  Thanks to Jesus.  It definitely shows that my life has a purpose!!  No matter my circumstances.

Another questions was "Who is God?"  If you have ever thought about that question, it is a mind bender.  I know in my heart and I read in the Bible who He is.  We learn about Him in church and through daily devotions and Bible study at home, but I don't know if I could concisely/precisely answer that question in a manner that sounded somewhat intelligent, until we went through the question about a week ago.  "God is a spirit, whose being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth are infinite, eternal and unchangeable."

These are Biblical truths being taught to all of us.  It is so cool to hear EG respond to the answers.  Does she necessarily get what she is saying, probably not totally.  But, she is building a foundation on the rock of Biblical truth and scripture.  In other words, she is a getting a great start.

I don't know the future of our Multigenerational LifeGroup and I hope we will continue on with our catechism regardless.  But, I know it serves a purpose right now in encouraging families, our family, to worship, praise and learn about God together.  We will continue getting a firm foundation based in truth.

A great start for us all  . . .

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Our Puppy

Our puppy fits right in.  He is as crazy and energetic as the rest of them.

He loves being outside.
He loves daddy's garden.
He loves to chew.
He loves to dig.
He likes to bark.
He is jealous when someone other than him is in my lap.
He is jealous when I read or get on the computer.
He allows EG to pull him, hug (choke) him, pester him beyond belief.
He, for the most part, sleeps on his blanket on the couch.
He has had worms, mange and allergies.
If I tell the kids "get in the car" he runs for his cage.
He loves treats and to go for walks.
He has figured out how to get on the trampoline and loves it.
He has figured out how to get up to the "tree house" and he slides down the slide.
He is a good watch dog.
He has a large bladder.
He is a good traveler.
He loves flip flops and full roles of toilet paper.
He ears stick straight out sometimes and he looks like a bat.
Once he jumped up on the dining room chair and made it to the table.
If anyone is in the kitchen cooking, he is right there to help clean up.
He sits under EG's chair at the dinner table, for obvious reasons.
NG has been caught feeding him under the table.
He camps well.
Considering he is only 16 pounds he has very strong hind legs.
It is so fun to watch him dash after the squirrels in the backyard.

Yup, fits right in . . .

Friday, May 11, 2012


When I was first married, one of my bosses gave me a piece of advice.  It went something like this "Don't let your kids sleep in bed with you.  If they wake up in the middle of the night and come in your room, have them sleep in sleeping bag on the floor."

At the time, I wasn't real sure of the advice.  Of course, 11 years and 4 kids later, I totally get it.  It is a rare night that we don't have a visitor.  Majority of the time it is EG.  But, when it isn't EG it is one of the others.

EG has never been a good sleeper.  The reason why is, I just needed sleep so we developed some bad habits, early.  I would lay down with her or sleep on the couch with her.  I didn't care where we were (neither did she) I just wanted sleep.

Three and a half years later, my thought process is much the same, I just want to sleep.  When we moved her into a "big girl bed" which consists of a mattress on the floor of the girls room she slept through the night a couple of nights.

Then she started waking up again and depending on the time, like if it was after 3 or 4, she would crawl in bed with us because hubby and I would be getting up in a couple hours any way.  If she came in before then, I would walk her back to her room and lay down with her for about an hour.  She would fall asleep (and I would too only to wake up an hour later to go back to bed.)

Not an ideal situation, but it was working for us.  Then one night, I just decided if and when she came into our room I was just going to let her sleep with us.  (When the bigger kids do, they sleep on the floor, which is very rare.)  Everything I have read and been taught and have done was never THAT.  I am a huge proponent of having kids sleep in their own beds, all night, every night.

But, I also liked the sleep.

I started to think what am I going to do about this?  A habit is formed.  An expectation is now developed. I am doing the exact thing I said I would never do.  Then, two or three early mornings ago, in the darkness of our room, while my baby girl was trying to settle herself down to go back to sleep, she reached out and held my hand.

She is my baby.  I am certain there will be none after her.  Her young years will go by so fast and when I look back, the nights she cuddled with me and held my hand will be but a sweet memory.  Right or wrong, it is the way it is.  And most nights, I cherish the time . . .

Thursday, May 10, 2012


About two weeks ago, when the girls had their BFF sleepover, my friend offered to take Boop to spend the night with her son, which is Boop's best friend.  It was his first official sleepover.  He was so darn excited.  I was so darn sad.  Sad because my little man is growing up!

The three boys had a blast.  (Another of Boop's friends was there as well.)  And of course he did great!  It was strange not having him around though.

Then a week or so after that, EG had her very first sleepover.  I was helping out a friend of mine and was taking her three kids overnight.  One of the kids just happens to be EG's friend M.  Two girls 3 years of age was a little daunting to me at first.  But, they did great!

We might do it again someday . . .

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


There are many times, in my homeschooling career that I have felt that I might be missing something or felt I could be doing something better, different, etc.  There are so many choices and decisions to make.  It is a huge deal to educate your kids.

But, one thing that I know, that I know, that I know, that I have done right is read to my kids.  From the very beginning and literally almost every night.  I can remember rocking NG to sleep in the blue chair in the living room reading Charlotte's Web to her and she was about 4 months old.  It was her very first book.  And I could not wait to share it with her.

When each child was born, they got a book I thought they would enjoy.  Little Mama got Black Beauty.  Boop got Tom Sawyer and EG got Understood Betsy.  Back then I had no idea how important reading to my kids would be.  I just knew it was something I could do.  That I wanted to do.

Now, as I read through all of these"homeschooling help" books, I see how important it really is.  God designed us to want to read.  It has been an honor, privilege and a blessing to be the one to cultivate that desire in each of them.

I love when they are "bored" that they look for a book and start reading.  I will never forget when Dr. H had to check on NG for something and when he came in the exam room (she was about 18-24 months) she was "reading" a magazine.

So far, they have all learned to read differently.  I have learned to just take my time and make it enjoyable. The benefits are paying off.  Early today I was thinking, I only have one child left to encourage to read.  Kind of sad.  But, then I think about all of us on the couch, almost every night reading.  And the gift of literacy continues to give.

One night last week, I was tired (not to mention my eyes are getting bad), I asked NG to read for us.  She did and she did fantastic.  It was so nice just to hang on the couch with the kids and absorb the words.

If, by chance, I get nothing else right, at least I know I have instilled the desire to read in my children.  Whatever they don't know, which will, I am sure, be something, I know they have the tool to learn it themselves.  Isn't that the goal of education?  Not knowledge but the desire to know . . .

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Beautiful Ballerinas

I know I have said this so many times, the opportunity to see my girls dance is one of the greatest joys in my life!

Yesterday was the girls' end of year recital.  They both worked so hard.  Practicing at home almost every day. (I got tired of the songs!)

As much as I don't care to sit at ballet two, three times a week, when I see them up there on the stage, I know I will go to almost any lengths for them to continue to dance.  It is a great program, it is a ministry through a local church and they have friends with whom they have been dancing since the very beginning over 7 years ago.

Oh, I know neither one of them will be a "professional" or maybe they will.  But, for now, I am being very selfish and want them to continue their journey as prima ballerinas!

My beautiful, beautiful girls.  Inside and out . . .

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Fort Connell

Last Friday, EG and Boop were playing so well together.  They had taken our entry way table and turned it into a fort.  While building it, they didn't argue.  The worked together and got the job done.  By dinner time, they were asking to spend the night in it.

I hesitated and them told them they could ask daddy when he got home.  Of course, daddy's response is "if it is OK with mommy."  So, I am tired of being the "no" mommy so I said yes.  (Hubby was shocked!)  Anyway, they ran around the house screaming and yelling they were so excited!

Come bed time, they each went into their side of their fort, laid down, wiggled around for about 15 minutes and went to sleep.  I never heard from them again until morning.

They had a blast!  It's kinda cool being the "yes" mommy . . .

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

End of the School Year

Well, it isn't the end of the school year yet, but I do find myself critiquing what worked for us this past year.  And what didn't.  I find myself thinking about our goals for next year.  What I want to accomplish.  This year is going to be a little different.  At least I think so.

My goals have changed a little.  My desires for my family and each of our roles in the family are changing, growing, evolving.  And our school days need to reflect that.  Our school days are our life.  And whatever life brings us.  Which many days don't look anything like a traditional school day.

My goal is to continue school through the end of May.  We are taking the month of June off and then I hope to be ready to start again the second week of July.  There are two main reasons for this.  First, summer in our state is brutally hot so why not take advantage of our indoor time and do school so that when the beautiful days are here we can take advantage of them.  Secondly, I want to be flexible during our school year.  When field trips come up, opportunities to serve and other circumstances that life throws our way, we can take the time off of "school" and participate in those unexpected things.  And I won't feel so guilty!

I am also taking a different approach to school.  I am still following Amblesideonline  loosely but I am looking forward to tailoring our school day to each child, with the realization I cannot fit all I want to do with each child within each day.  Our family worship time is a must, Math is a must, reading to each child and spending time with each individual child is a must.  Gardening, cooking and maintaining a house and yard are skills I want my children to grow on.  The rest is all just added bonuses that I will fit in each day, as time allows.  (Science, time line, music, art, Spanish, Latin/Greek, language arts, writing, history etc.)

Less is best.  I started taking that approach after the holidays and have been amazed at how relaxed our days have been and how much we have accomplished.  This coming year I will have to find more creative ways to do school.  We will be at ballet three times a week.  And we still plan to volunteer at the transition community and Meals on Wheels.  Not to mention soccer, basketball and baseball for Boop.

Shakespeare will be on CD in the car.  And the hours we will be at ballet will be for reading and other things that the kids can do individually.  Wednesdays will be for Art, Music, Geography, Timeline, and Latin/Greek.  The rest of the week we will continue to stick loosely to our daily schedule.

I love that I have flexibility and can tailor school to each child.  I love that we have flexibility in that we can do life as a part of school.  Or school as a part of life.  I love that I can change things up.  I just love having the kids at home. . . .