Monday, July 30, 2012

A Weekend Getaway

Thanks to a good friend and my sister, hubby and I were able to go to the beach this weekend.  Just the two of us.  At first the feeling was kind of crazy.  We hadn't been away in about four years!

We had a really, really nice time.  Hubby works with a guy who rents his condo and it is across the street from the beach and it had a pool.  We swam, sat in the hot tub, walked on the beach, did a little shopping, watched a movie and did a whole lot of nothing.

We witnessed a beach memorial service.  A 30 year old man who worked at one of the resorts/condos had been free diving for some sand dollars for some guests.  He was not far off the beach and something happened and he never surfaced.

I mention it because it was one of the most touching things I have ever seen.  About 100 or more locals held a memorial service on the beach with flowers and tiki candles.  What caught our attention was a huge group of kayakers, body boarders and surfers just sitting out in the middle of the water.  So, we kept walking to get a little closer.  We saw random flowers washed up on the beach and a couple of tiki torches in the sand.  So, when we saw the gathering of people we asked what was going on.

As it turns out, all of the folks in the water were having the service and throwing flowers into the water.  It was a beautiful and sad and a reminder of the unpredictability of life.

I forgot my camera so there are no good pictures of our getaway.  I was able to take one or two with my phone.  Friday night we had a good meal at a seafood restaurant on the beach.  Saturday we had a steak dinner.

We talked to the kids briefly Saturday night.  Our family friends who watched the three bigger kids found out Friday night that they had no water.  Not any water.  But knew if we found out we would come home.  So, they managed to keep it a secret!!  Eight people in a house with no water for over 48 hours!!  What wonderful friends we have!!  And we were never the wiser!

My sister watched EG.  When I talked with EG that night, she started to cry a little bit and say how she missed her snuggle bunny.  That was kind of tough.  But, I assured her we would be home the next day.  Sissy let her play a game on her phone to help occupy her mind.  She also, during the weekend, had taken her for ice cream, to see The Cat in the Hat at Barnes and Noble and out to Chili's and Sonny's and shopping.  They had big fun!

I enjoyed being away.  I think it is so important for us.  For any couple.  But, I did miss the kids and was glad to be home . . .

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


If I have learned nothing else in my life so far, it is that life is about choice.  And God, from the very beginning gave each and everyone of us free choice, a free will.

Unfortunately, in many cases, we as sinful humans have made bad choices, wrong choices, some with devastating effects for ourselves, for our families, for our human race.

No amount of laws or restrictions or rules will ever alleviate our human capacity for being sinful.  Our root of human sinfulness started with Adam and Eve and will be with us until Jesus returns.

We are studying in our catechism class the choice our original parents made, Adam and Eve.  God made a covenant with them "Do not eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and you will live forever."  And what did they do?  They broke the very first covenant with God and ate the apple.  Hence sin and depravity and evil entered into our world.

I asked myself "Well if God knows everything that is going to happen, why did it have to happen?"  My answer, not being a theological student by any stretch was "God wants us to obey Him because we love Him.  Not because we are a bunch of rule followers.  He wants us to choose to love Him."

He could have created us to automatically love Him and obey Him but that just doesn't seem as genuine, as real, as a love that is chosen.  Obedience that is chosen.  If I forced my children to love me and obey me, I suppose I would get some satisfaction from that.  But, if they choose to love me, choose to obey me, how much more glorious and wonderful and fulfilling.  I know I enjoy the freedom of choice and the blessing it brings.  And sometimes it heartaches.

In light of recent events, we as a population get caught up in they why things happen.  And make excuses and reasons.  We need to have answers that make sense or make us feel better.  We live in a sinful, depravity filled world.  Where people choose not to live for God.  No amount of rules, laws, regulations will ever stop the evil in this world.

It is scary, unfortunate and troublesome.  All that I feel I can do is my best to love God and others, minister to those who need it,  pray, immerse myself in the word of God, listen to God's will for my life, make choices that are pleasing to God, share with my children and others that God puts in my path the wondrous love of Christ and know, that as a believer, I will spend eternity in a sinless, perfect Heaven . . .

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Hope Chest

I have decided that I want each girl to have a "Hope Chest."  I just finished googling hope chests and what exactly goes in them and what their purpose is.  My thougths and ideas on them were not too far off from what their orginal intentions were.

I am going to take what I read, moderize it just a little bit and start one for each girl using things that I feel will benefit them some day to be wives, mothers, friends and followers of Christ.

I printed off a basic list from the Internet.  I am going to put it in a file and I am going to make notes as things come to me.  I am not exactly sure what type of box I will use.  A lot will depend on each girls personality.  And how much stuff I am going to collect.  The actual box will not be as important as the treasures and wisdom on the inside.

I will include books that have pointed me in the right direction.  If I do not include the actual book, I will include a list of them with descriptions and why I felt they were helpful.  I will also be sure to include the names of my all time favorite books such as Gone With the Wind and Uncle Tom's Cabin.

I have told them what I am planning on doing and the first thing we are going to get is a recipe box for each one.  Little Mama is already telling me what recipes she wants to include.  There will be a basic cook book and maybe some items that we see that each girl takes a shine to.  Maybe a candlestick or special plate.  Definitely journals and stationary.  The bigger girls and I have started journals to each other.  One day I write to them something that is on my heart.  And then, when they desire to write back, they do.  Those journals will be included.

I have memory boxes for each child.  At some point I will go through those and put some of the more memorable art work, cards etc. into each of their hope chests.  Each child also got their very first ornament on the Christmas the year they were born.  I will pass that on when they leave the house to set up their own Christmas tree.  (And maybe an ornament or two that they especially liked.)

I think I will include a special bible and a list of poignant Scripture verses.  And, I will try to include as much as I know about our ancestry.  Also, as a gift when each girl was born they each received  their very first book.  That will be put in it as well.

I suppose the list could go on and on.  As I think of things that would encourage each of my girls to be a Godly woman, wife, mother and friend, I will make a note and work on including it.

It will be a work in progress over the many years we have together.  But, every thing around here seems to be a work in progress. . . .

Saturday, July 21, 2012

New Language

I think I mentioned in an early post that the kids and I are taking a sign language class.  The lady who teaches it goes to our church and on Wednesdays and Sundays she and her sister sign the sermon for our deaf members.

On Wednesdays, the service is small and this past week we were able to sit in such a way as to be able to see Ms. S signing the songs and what the Pastor was saying.  Boop was captivated to say the least.  He kept watching her and watching her.  He would tap me on the shoulder and look up at me and grin when he recognized a sign.

A little while later I looked down at him and he was not only signing along with her with the words he knew, but he was learning and using some new signs that he had seen her do right then and there.  He was so darn proud of himself.  And so excited!  (I was proud of him too.)

The excitement was contagious.  I watched Ms. S as well, and tried out some of the signs we knew and some of the ones that we just saw her do.  I will be honest, it is a whole lot easier signing the songs.  I guess because a lot of the words are repeated over and over.  When she started signing what the Pastor was saying it was a little more difficult.

Last week in class I asked her if deaf people were patient with those who were trying to learn sign language.  Did they appreciate the attempt even though it might be slow and have many mistakes?  She said that deaf people are very, very patient and understanding and thankful for the willingness to try.  She said it would most likely make their faces light up with a smile.

I have no idea what we will do with our new found skill.  I am not sure if we will continue on.  But, it has certainly helped us have a new appreciation for the hearing impaired and what it takes to learn a new language and skill.  We have two more classes left.  We will just have to see wait and see where we go from here . . .

Friday, July 20, 2012

Just Horsin' Around

So, in an attempt to a more effective homeschool mom (ha, ha) I decided to take extra steps to learn a little bit more about the most recent book club book we were reading, Black Beauty.  So I decided that we would go ahead and explore a little bit more about horses.

We have a lady in our Sunday School class who just happens to own a couple of horses (and at one time was our babysitter.)  I emailed her to see if she would mind getting together with a few of us and telling us all about horses.  From their upkeep to body parts.  And she was thrilled.  She use to give lessons and ride all the time.  But, she has since gotten married, gone back to school and has two young children.  So any horse time she can get, she loves!

She showed all the kids the tools needed to groom a horse and then let them go to work.

All the kids got a chance to clean the "frog" of a horses hoof.

Surprise number one:  all the kids got to ride.

Surprise number two:  all the kids got to paint the pony!!

Washing off the washable paint.

Bestest buddies!

The finished product.

Ms. L showing the kids how to measure a horse with a special "hands" ruler.  Then there is a tape you wrap around where the saddle girth goes and it estimates the weight of the horse.  Even though this horse looks kind of short, it is still a considered a horse.  If he had been one inch smaller he would be classified as a pony.

The kids (and I) had a blast.  I love horses myself and marvel at what amazing creatures they are.

The kids are going to take what they remember from the book, our field trip, do a little research and then hopefully give a pretty good report at our next book club meeting.

Hopefully we can do something fun like this for a few of this year's book club books . . .

Thursday, July 19, 2012


Today is the first day all summer that we have nothing and I mean nothing to do.  I sat in daddy's chair reading the newspaper and purposefully did not wake the kids.  Hubby is making breakfast of scrambled eggs and sausage.

We were suppose to go canoeing, but because I kind of messed up on our calendar, we ended up  deciding not to go.  We are going to do some school, I am washing curtains, the kids are going to wash windows, hubby is fixing the brakes on the van with Boop as a helper.

I am going to look as shelves to help organize our bedroom, the kids' room and the school room.  We might go to Old Navy because I have a $20 coupon.  I might download music (or upload I never have understood which is which) to my iPod for school.

We are having kabobs for dinner.  Love veggie and sausage kabobs.  I am so excited to do "nothing" . . .

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Family Bowling

On Sunday we all went bowling.  Our church reserved some lanes at a local bowling alley and we took advantage of hanging out with friends and doing something we don't typically do.  Bowl.

I have to admit, it is kind of fun to watch the little guys try and bowl.  Especially EG.  She was determined.  Boop was pretty competitive (just like his daddy).  He got two strikes in a row.  NG was kind of like "whatever" yet did pretty well considering her cavalier attitude.  Little Mama just wanted to spend time with our friend's baby in between frames.

That about sums up our family fun night!  We had had a busy day Sunday but I am glad we went . . .

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

God's Providence

As I have mentioned before, our Multigenerational LifeGroup (Sunday School) is going through the Catechism.  We are on Question 11 "What is God's providence?"  Answer:  "God's providence is holy, wise and powerful preserving and governing every creature and every action."

This past week we read a lot of Scripture from the book of Esther.  Do you know that in all the book of Esther, God is not mentioned directly?  Anyway, last week's catechism discussion focused around Mordecai's faith in the providence of God.  That no matter what Esther decided to do about the fact that the King, her husband, had just ordered all Jews to be killed (the King did not know at the time that Esther, his wife, was also a Jew), the Jews would not be killed because the future Messiah was to come from the Jews.

God's providence is all through the book of Esther, from the fact that Esther was chosen to be the next Queen, to the fact that King Xerxes couldn't sleep one night and read the transcripts of the happenings of the past few days and found out that Mordecai, Esther's cousin, had uncovered a plot by two of the King's men to kill him.  It is a great, great read!  And so much to learn.

We were so excited Saturday to read our catechism discussion questions and read the verses in Esther.  Such a great story about anger and pride and irony and faith.  But, that wasn't even the best part.  The best part was arriving in our church service after LifeGroup only to find out that our Pastor is going to spend the next few weeks discussing the book of Esther in depth!  Talk about God's providence.

The kids were apart of the discussion in our LifeGroup.  And then we go to the church service and the Pastor is preaching the same story.  The kids recognized names and dates and plots.  This is just one somewhat seemingly minor example of the providence of God.  Our Life Group leader encouraged us to look back over our lives and pick out a few examples of where we could see God had worked.  Most every adult had something to say.  There are many, many areas in my life where I can see how God worked some things out.  Although I didn't always see it at the time.

I am really excited about our study in Esther.  My guess is that God has something to say to me and my family through the book of Esther and I am intrigued to say the least. . .

Sunday, July 15, 2012

I Love Publix!

It is our local grocery store and shopping truly is a pleasure there.  (That is their slogan - "Where shopping is a pleasure!)  I know it can be a little bit pricey but with coupons and shopping the sales we usually come out all right.

So, you ask "Why do you like shopping at Publix?"  I will tell you.  Today, I went to the grocery store by myself.  Yes, by myself.  I bet I can count on my hands and feet the number of times I have been to the grocery store by myself in the last 11 years.

Anyway, there was a long line to check out and I was pondering how long it would take me to get through the line.  All of a sudden, while I was day dreaming in the long line, one of the cashiers came up to me dancing and smiling and singing that he would take me on Aisle 3.  It was so cute.  It definitely made me smile.

Then the customer service lady was the one who bagged my groceries.  She immediately asked me "How did you get out of the house by yourself?"  I explained that the kids were at home with daddy watching a movie while he did yard work.  She went on to ask if I took any longer, if I just walked slowly up and down the aisles, if I took my time shopping.  She was so curious about whether or not I was taking advantage of being at the grocery by myself.  She seemed truly interested.

After my groceries were bagged she said "Walk slowly to your car!"

I don't mind shopping with the kids.  We have done it forever.  But, it was kind of nice to be by myself.  And, it was also kind of nice to shop at a grocery store where they know who I am and who my kids are.  Maybe the world isn't quite as impersonal as it feels sometimes . . .

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Somewhat Spontaneous

Well, as spontaneous as we can be.  On Thursday, when hubby was through with work, we drove to Jacksonville to see my mother-in-law.  Affectionately known by all of her 17 grandkids as "CoCo."   We have not seen her in close to a year I don't think.  That is unheard of.  The kids have never gone that long without seeing her.

So, when we found out she was going to be just a couple of hours away, we took advantage of the situation and went and spent a couple of nights with her and a few other of my hubby's family members.

We had a great time just swimming and catching up and spending time with family.  Unfortunately, CoCo had to leave but we are looking forward to visiting her and more family in September when we drive to PA for my oldest nephew's wedding.  (Boop is going to be the ring bearer.  He is going to be so handsome in a tux . . . )

Thursday, July 12, 2012

This Week

We have had some amazing opportunities this week.

First, on Monday, we went to a Mennonite Bakery where the sweet bakery lady (no pun intended) showed a bunch of kids, and I mean a bunch, how to make dough, cinnamon rolls, pretzels and then let them decorate a cake.  It was great fun and they got to bring home all of their goodies.

Monday night EG had her very first official sleepover.  Her friend M came to stay the night.  The big girls did a spa night for them.  Bath, nails, hair and we all watched The Princess Diaries.

Tuesday the kids attended their very first music class.  A friend of mine is a music teacher and arranged a summer harmony class.  There are about 10 kids in the class and they are learning to read music and harmonize.  They really seemed to enjoy it!  Wouldn't it be cool if my kids were like the Von Trapp family singers?!?  Ha, ha!!

After that, a lady from our church, as a ministry, is teaching the kids and myself and another family sign language for the next month or so.  She started out with the basics of the ABCs and then went on to teach about a dozen different words.

I stayed in the class as long as I could (EG had a hard time sitting still) and learned some new signs as well.  It was kind of fun to watch the kids make the signs.  Some were a little hard at first.  Boop probably had the most trouble but the teacher was really patient and encouraging.  The girls were making short sentences with the words that had learned.  Toward the end, EG paid attention long enough to get some of the signs.

It is hard to believe it is the middle of July already.  We have been super busy but doing a lot of great stuff. . .

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Fourth of July

I am having trouble with my blog.  I know I posted these pictures but most of the words didn't appear.  And, I noticed it happened a couple of times before.  Not sure what the problem is, so I thought I would just repost.

Anyway, we had done something different on this 4th of July this year.  We decided to read the Declaration of Independence together.  I had never read it before.  Isn't that crazy?!?  I will be honest, it was tough in some parts.  But, as I explained to the kids, as we learn more about the beginnings of our nation and our fight for independence the wording and thoughts and ideas will take on new meaning.  Will hopefully become more clear.  We intend to read it every year.

For dinner and fireworks we went up to our church.  This is the ninth year they have put on a celebration for the surrounding community.  And it is the place to be.  Sooo family friendly.  This year the fireworks were the best!  

There was early rain so there was a lot of mud.  But, the rain cleared up.  The bugs we under control and just had a great time.  Definitely one of our favorite holidays to celebrate . . .

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Last Week and This Week

This is one of those posts that is more like a journal entry.  I want to write some things down so that the kids and I will have a memory of them later on in life.

Wednesday a Week and a Half Ago:  We have a sweet family from church who we have developed a relationship/friendship with.  The mom and dad are a little older and they have one beautiful daughter who my kids have taken a shine to.  She really is so sweet and so darn cute.

The mom knew about the girls' BFF Club and wanted to "hire" them to help her pull off an surprise birthday party for her soon to be 5 year old daughter.  She had wanted the girls to cook and package 60 hot dogs for the party she was planning at a local park.  Because of various decisions made on my part (mostly being of logistics and time) just my girls and I, at about 9AM the morning of the party, cooked and wrapped all the hot dogs, placed them in aluminum foil lined coolers and had them to the park in plenty of time for the surprise.

The three days before the party we had had a horrible weather front come through and the outside party was a little doubtful.  My friend prayed and prayed for no rain.  Come party day, it was one of the most beautiful summer days we have ever had in our part of the country!

All the little girls' friends and parents had gathered for the surprise and when her daddy walked her up to the park pavilion and every one yelled surprised, she was truly surprised.  The look on that little angel's face was priceless.  It was from 5 year old shock to one of the biggest smiles ever!

All the kids played and ate.  All the adults talked and ate.  No one was a big hurry to leave because of the company and weather.  We ended up staying all day.  We got there at 9:45 and didn't leave until almost 4:30.  Got home in just enough time to shower, grab a quick dinner and make it to church on time.

This Past Monday:  A friend of mine has started a women's book club and we met for the first time.  The club meets at a local state park with a swimming lake.  So, while all the kids swam the moms were able to discuss the first two chapters of Stepping Heavenward.  So far it is a really great book that prompts all type of discussion about religion, Christianity, parenting, motherhood, daughters etc.

Because the gathering was at a lake and we were mostly in the shade and the kids were enjoying hanging out with friends, I was in no rush to get home and do laundry.  So, after the discussion was over we stayed for another hour or so.  We were home in just enough time to throw a load of laundry in and figure out some type of dinner.

Just a few notes about the great weather and good summer memories  . . .

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Three Things

As I approach a new school year, like next week, the only three things I know for sure are:

1.  I want my kids to love to learn.
2.  I want my kids to be able to find things out for themselves, think for themselves and then be able to express themselves.
And the most important thing:
3.  Be arrows for Christ.  Taking their God given abilities and using them to further the Kingdom of Christ.

So, as I finish (or at least continue) planning, I am trying to keep those three things in mind . . .

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Winter the Dolphin

This past weekend we went to visit Grandma.  It was time for a visit AND we wanted to see Winter the Dolphin from the movie Dolphin Tale.  For those who don't know, the movie was about a rescued dolphin whose tail needed to be amputated.  Then was replaced with a prosthesis.  We saw the movie last summer and it was fabulous.  One of my all time favorite movies!

Anyway, the movie was filmed on location very, very near to where my mom lives.  So, we thought it would be a great family treat to go see the actual dolphin at the Aquarium.  And visit the actual movie set.

It was hot and it was busy but it was so worth the trip!

The kids in front of the houseboat that Hazel and her dad lived on in the movie.

The nest where Hazel would hang out.  She was homeschooled in the movie so that was cool.

Boop has a thing for sharks and all kinds of swimming ocean creatures.  So, this whole trip was really cool for him.

They took the kids' picture in front of a green screen.  We never did find time to go look at the pictures to see what exactly was on the green screen.  It was fun trying to explain to them what a green screen was though.

There were a lot of tanks to look in and see various types of sea life.  The first one had sting rays, a couple nurse sharks and a few different types of fish.

They had touch tanks and on display they had all different types of coral and crabs etc.  

They had different areas with sea turtles and otters.  The Aquarium, inside, looked just like the movie.  Except with way more people!

Winter!  and her trainer/physical therapist.  She was in a tank all by herself and would come up on the shelf so people could see her.  While we were there she did not swim around much.

They gave about a 10 minute talk on the real Winter.  Her real story isn't like the movie.  She was found as a very young dolphin on the West Coast.  She was rescued, but not by a boy.  A prosthesis was made by a company that had heard about the dolphin.  It is true about her spine and the way she compensated for swimming etc.  Still a great story about a miracle dolphin!

Picture of Winter and her friend from under the water.

The Aquarium was not very fancy.  In fact, it looked like it was not ready at all for the popularity of Winter, that I am sure came on with out much notice.

There was a really funny bird in the movie named Rufus.  Little Mama took a picture of this bird at the Aquarium.  We were not sure whether or not this was the bird from the movie but it looked a lot like him.

Winter's face.  So sweet.  There were three other rescued dolphins at the Aquarium, Hope, Nicholas, and Panama.  Christa was in the movie and from the Aquarium, but she recovered so they released her back to her home.

Winter only wears her prosthesis about 5-10 minutes a day.  She has "physical therapy."  This is her trainer and the prosthesis.  Dolphins' skin is so delicate that it sheds quite often so as to keep it slick so the prosthesis can not stay on long.

Touch tank with sting rays.  

Nicholas doing tricks for us.

One of the neat things about our field trip is that it included the entrance fee to the place where they actually filmed some of the movie.  As we walked in they had all the directors chairs from the actors in the movie.  I thought that was cool.  The chair where Harry Connick Jr. sat and Ashley Judd.

The kids are in front of the garage scene where Sawyer fell asleep at the computer while researching dolphins.  It was filmed on that exact location.  I thought that was really cool.

The doctor's office/lab.

The indoor nest where some of the scenes were shot in front of a green screen.  There were at least a half dozen real scenes from the movie that we could see and various props such as Hazel's clothes and the chair and fishing pole that the old man was sitting in in the beginning of the movie.

One of the cool things they just added was a thing called The Hurricane Experience.  We walked into what looked like Sawyer's living room and it had sound effects, physical effects and scenes like we were in a real hurricane.  It wasn't for the faint of heart.  It had 20 mile an hour winds (which are really minor) and cracking noises of live electrical wires, things hanging from the ceiling like flying through the air, "wild animals" loose like snakes and alligators.  It was totally cool!

We had a really good weekend.  Walking on the beach and finding shells, swimming in Grandma's pool, visiting with friends and a little shopping.  A great weekend get away . . . .