Monday, December 21, 2015

A Love of Reading

A major theory of my homeschooling is that if I teach my children to love reading and instill a love of learning, they will be students their whole lives. I will never, ever be able to teach my kids all there is to learn. It is impossible. But, for the most part, if they love to read and enjoy learning new things, I feel I have done my job. And at this point, with a 1st grader, 4th grader, 7th grader and a 9th grader, I have done that to varying degrees.

This week I had the privilege of continuing to teach my fourth child to read. As we struggled through a sound she has heard at least a dozen times before I had, what I thought to be, a profound thought. This isn't easy. And it really isn't intuitive. It is. But it isn't. The English language is fraught with exceptions to the rules. And crazy letter combinations. And as I got a little frustrated teaching some of those rules, I really understood how frustrating it can be for a little one to learn to read. Just when they have a sound figured out, a rule comes in. And then the rule changes.

As adults, for the most part, we take reading for granted. We just do it without much thought. I want each of my children to get there and to be honest, I am amazed when any child gets there. In my humble opinion, it is nothing short of a miracle when a child learns to read.

Having taught all four to read, I understand that some will struggle more than others. But, I feel I have done my job well, if there is a desire to read. And, for the most part, I think I have done that. We continue, almost every night, to read together. We have read some amazing stories. It is even cool now that all of us can read the same books but independently and I love sharing that with my kids. I have even seen my baby, beginning reader, reading books to the dog. I call that success . . .

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Guitar Recital

Little Man strummin' it up at his first ever guitar recital. He started taking lessons back in August. He really likes it and hopes to have a band with his friend.

He was super nervous and at one point wasn't going to perform. But, he saw his friend up there playing Silent Night and that motivated him so he was resolved to get up there too! 

He played Away in a Manager. And he did great! I was proud of him for learning the song. But, I told him I was most proud of the way he didn't give into his fear. We prayed together before he played and I didn't notice his hands shaking a bit. He told his daddy that once he started playing, he was fine.

It is so funny, because two weeks prior, he was singing on stage and had the lead role in our church's children's program. His teacher told me it is because it is something new. The wife of his teacher told me that some people just never get over the stage fright. They just learn to deal with it. 

I guess only time will tell. All I know is, he did great and he is ready to keep on learning. . . 

Friday, December 11, 2015

Didn't Make the Cut

Because we had the great family picture from my sister's wedding in April, I almost considered not having our annual pictures done by our photographer/former babysitter. But, as I was on the computer the other day, some of the old pictures popped up and I just knew we had to do it. And, of course, I am so glad we did. It is a tradition. And, I just love our photographer. 

The following are just  few of the about 60 pictures that didn't make the cut for this year's Christmas card.

I just love them . . . .

Saturday, December 5, 2015

God Isn't Fixing This

The above title of my post and headline, according to FB, was in a NYC daily newspaper. I read it two nights ago before bed. Mistake. I am a thinker and I don't need to be thinking right before bedtime. And, the Packers were losing again so there wasn't much of a distraction. The headline really bothered me. It showed pictures of four well known Christian conservatives and quotes of them saying how they would pray for survivors of those horrific acts of violence.

I couldn't help but think how empty those words must be to those who have lost loved ones recently. Especially if those individuals did not have a foundation of faith in God. And Jesus. Those things trouble me. I ponder these things. Life is short. There are no guarantees. A good family friend buried his father this week. He was only 61. I saw a lady at Target on Saturday. She buried her 14 year old daughter in February. It has been a year since my husband's shift partner was killed. I could go on.

Where is God in all of this? I am not a theologian by any stretch. So when I ponder these things it is on a purely homeschooling, wife, mother just trying to get the laundry done perspective. But, I ponder with heart and soul and with all of my being for answers. The beauty of it is, my God, the creator of Heaven and Earth is so much bigger than all my questions and always shows up to comfort me. To let me know He is here. In the midst of all the chaos. Big and little.

The answer I got this morning, as I pondered why isn't God fixing this, was in my quiet time. I am reading through Romans. Our pastor challenged us that if we want true heart change it has to begin with a constant input of the word of God. We fill our minds and hearts constantly with Fox News and CNN. But that isn't truth. Truth comes by the reading and hearing of the word of God. And viewing the world around me through that lens. A worldview. Everyone has one.

The truth spoken to me this morning was this:

Romans 10:21-"All day long I have stretched out My hands to a disobedient and contrary people." He wants a relationship with us. He desires to be with us and inhabit our hearts. But, as a nation we have turned our backs on God. I won't go into detail about the many ways we have taken God's commands and trampled on them. How we have turned against the love He so freely gives. We don't love and honor Him. And we sure don't love and honor each other. But, we expect Him to "show up" and fix the problems we have created by our sinfulness. We want the blessings and protection of God but we don't want to give up our freedoms and selfish desires. We don't want to give up our "rights" and we want to be able to give our opinions. When I get those feelings I go back to the Cross. What if Jesus, on His day of crucifixion, instead of saying "not my will but Yours be done", said heck with this I am living for me. There truly would be no "fixing this." No hope. Ever. For eternity.

As believers in Christ we are called to Romans 10:15 "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace." And as followers of Christ I am not sure we are doing that either. In Matthew we are called to love God with all our hearts, souls, mind and body. And to love others as ourselves. The 10 Commandments boiled down to those two. As Christians, we need to live those two commandments loud and clear.

I am sure God's heart is breaking. He gives us the answer. The answer is Jesus. But, are we willing to accept it, believe it and trust it? As a nation, I don't know.  It boils down to a choice that each living human being has to make. It is up to each one of us to accept the challenge of trusting and excepting the truth of Christ. And then living a sold out faith in Christ. God has chosen to help us by making us, human beings, the conduit of His love. Until we accept that and embrace it as a world, I am not sure how much fixing there will be. But, I do know this. Some day this world will burn away. And Christ will come back riding on the clouds. Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is King. Then it will be fixed for good. Hallelujah, what a glorious day that will be . . .

Monday, November 30, 2015

Little Mama's Pointe Shoes

So, about a month ago, Little Mama passed her pointe evaluation in ballet. It is such a huge deal for dancers. It is a major accomplishment! She was nervous but she did her best and she made it!

We had an appointment to go get shoes. What a process. You would think by now I would know something about the whole thing. But I don't. Thankfully her teacher met us there and was super helpful.

The room was small. And I am not the greatest picture taker as it is. But, here is my beautiful ballerina. . .

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Shout Out to My Big Girls

For about six months now I have been serving breakfast once a month in an economically challenged part of town. A bunch of churches in our area have partnered together and for the last 14 years they have been serving breakfast to the homeless and the surrounding neighborhood.

A couple ladies from my church have agreed to take on the fingernail, card sending and coloring table. Just kind of ministering to the kids in the area. It is tough getting up at 6:30 on a Saturday but it is only once a month and honestly when I get down there and start serving I am always thankful I made the effort.

Anyway, because of our crazy Fall Saturday schedule, the two big girls needed to go with me. They were out late last night with their youth group and I am confident I was asleep before they were. In any event, I had to wake them at 6:45. They kind of moaned and groaned a little bit and it took them a few minutes to get it all together but not once did they complain! Not once did they whine and ask why. They were groggy and not overly talkative right away. But never a scowl even when they couldn't find their ballet stuff. (Of which I told them to get together the night before.)

I treated them with breakfast at McDonald's. And they went and served with me and never frowned or rushed me to leave to get them where they needed to be. They engaged the kids we served and helped with what they could.

For those who know me, I am super hard on my kids. My expectations are probably too high. But, this morning they lived up to those expectations and as I dropped them off at ballet I just told them how much I loved serving with them this morning!

When weariness hits this afternoon, it will probably be a little bit different story. But, I will take what I can get, when I can get it. Happy Saturday! . . . .

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Friday, October 30, 2015

Harry Potter Party

Some friends of ours had a Harry Potter party for a few of the families that had read the books over the summer. And it was super cool! Their daughters planned the whole thing and it was fabulous. I wish I could post everyone's pictures but I haven't asked permission and I try hard not to put other people's pictures on my blog. But everyone in the other three families dressed up as well and they were outstanding!

Moaning Myrtle in the bathroom. Ha, ha!

Butter beer. I didn't think I would like it because it would be too sweet but it was actually pretty good.

The dinning hall.

Even got daddy to dress up. We were Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, Little Mama was Tonks, EG was Fluer, Boop was Draco Malfoy and Nature Girl was Narcissa Malfoy.

It bothered me a little bit about how good she did mean and evil. The look!

NG was Boop's mom. Narcissa and Draco Malfoy. So that was kinda funny.

NG, LM and I have finished all the books. Boop is on the fifth. We have yet to watch the fourth movie but we are looking forward to that. And LM is reading them to EG and they are on the second book. Harry Potter has been super fun for us . . . 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Latest Happenings

I dislike that life is so crazy for us right now. But, I have a moment to jot down a few of the happenings this weekend.

Boop and I started the weekend off by running a 5K together on Saturday. I hadn't run in almost 2 weeks but he really wanted to do it. So we worked it out. He started off pretty fast but about half way we ended up running the rest of the way together. At the end he put the afterburners on and beat me through the finish line. We both ran in under 36 minutes. Worked for me! We had a great time encouraging each other up and down the hills!

The girls had their Halloween party at church and dressed up as a Harry Potter witch and a nerd. Of course, I didn't take pictures of them. Or of Boop and our race. Oh well.

I did mange to get a picture of the kids at the pumpkin patch. We have been going to the same place for probably 10 years. I use to be so good about getting pictures. This year I was adamant about getting one. They humored me. No matching shirts or anything cute. I was just thankful they kind of looked like they liked each other.

Nature Girl had carved a pumpkin the night before with the youth group. But, we got three more pumpkins and let the other three carve. They did an awesome job all on their own. Last night EG put them all in the front yard, put candles in them and lit them. It looked spectacular! Because I am picture taking challenged I couldn't seem to get a great picture of them all lit up together, but did take one of each pumpkin.

See if you can figure out who carved what . . .

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Birthday Boy!

He is 10 today! He is sweet and lovable and has a smile that everyone adores! He has his daddy's good looks and his servant's heart. God has great things in store for this young man!

He loves boats and planes and football and golf and basketball and baseball and archery and fishing and Moose and he loves to draw. Oh, and I can't forget Legos!

Last night was a family birthday dinner. Today he has the day off of school and he is going to lunch with daddy and shopping for an ENO. Later on next month his uncle is taking him fishing with a friend. Happy Birthday Little Man . . .

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Beach, Part Two

Lots of pictures left to post. Monday was Labor Day and we could tell. There were people everywhere. We didn't get to take our traditional family picture under the beach gazebo until Tuesday. Just because there were so many people coming and going. Monday we just hung close to the condo. Hung at the pool and just relaxed. The night before, we watched our traditional movie, Courageous. Hubby and I had gone to the movie theater to see it a bunch of years ago. It was such a good movie with such a great message. Our first year at the condo we let the kids watch it. Now it is a tradition.

Monday night the we were all super excited to watch our first Harry Potter movie. They loved it. I fell asleep. During my favorite part too. Well, one of my favorite parts in the book anyway and I really had wanted to see how they did it in the movie. Oh well. I guess I was tired!

Loved seeing daddy and EG holding hands walking down the beach. She love, loves her daddy. 

EG had to have a picture with her toes in the sand.

While we were walking on the beach, a young couple caught our attention and had to show us this crab. Boop chased it all around getting it's picture. EG and I think we found it's hole/home in the middle of the beach. He is kinda cute!

EG loved the water. We would walk ahead and I would turn around and she would be running and playing in the waves. And, of course, the sunsets on most nights was spectacular. Sunsets at the beach never get old. . 

Friday, September 18, 2015

The Beach

It has been almost a week since we got back from our much anticipated beach trip. Going to the beach is such, such a blessing for all of us! We know it isn't real life. We know it is a place for us to just unwind and relax and regroup. 

The week before, the kids ask if we can do this certain thing or that certain thing. Our response is "no." Not that we won't probably do much of what they ask, but we go with no plan whatsoever and no demands on our time. If we want to shop, we shop. If we want to fish, we fish. 

We spend most of our time going from pool, to hot tub, to beach. Repeat. It is just so good for our souls.

The view off our back porch. Pool and hot tub directly to the left. Beach directly across the street.

EG became an official swimmer on this trip. She was more than able to keep up with the big kids.

Once again, the majority of the week we were the only ones at the pool. Which worked for me because I didn't have to keep reminding them to be mindful of others. One particular day the kids, I felt, were being a little loud and disagreeable with each other. I said to myself "Geez, they are with each other all the time. Why all the fuss?" The next day I struck up a conversation with an grandmother type lady who was staying in the condo next to us. She, of course, asked about the kids and the whole school thing because it was the week after Labor Day. I explained we homeschooled and we go on vacation when everyone else goes back to school. She immediately said "I knew something was different. Your kids are quiet and so well behaved." I had to laugh inside because of my thoughts just the night before. The kids really were well behaved!

My people on the beach. The views the first night were spectacular. It was sooo good to be back and feel the sand in our toes. Our goal was to walk the beach every morning and every evening. That did not totally happen.

There was rain on the horizon the first night. LM was able to take a picture of the beautiful rainbow over the water and sand. So, so pretty.

The condo we stay in is super small. One bathroom for the six of us so it really can test our patience at times. Especially when you have to pee! But, the kids do their part to be considerate and somewhat thoughtful. I think because they enjoy our downtown just as much as we do . . . 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Crack Me Up

It is no secret that most law enforcement officers will never get rich doing their job. Many of them, including hubby, make much of their money working details. Extra jobs, over and above their 2 week, 80 hour shift work, that private citizens or businesses pay them directly for security. We were told many, many years ago, never to count on detail money for survival. And we have done that. Many of the extras we have been so blessed with come from that extra detail money.

Well, we returned from our week at the beach on Sunday. We no sooner pulled in the driveway then a neighbor we have just recently met came up to our driveway and started talking with hubby. Hubby explained during the conversation that we literally just got home from a week long vacation at the beach and were getting unpacked.

That did not phase our neighbor. He leaned up against our mailbox, preceded to pull up his pant leg and show hubby a dog bite he had just received. (He exercises in the neighborhood.) All the while asking hubby whether or not he should call animal control.

I had to laugh. Maybe my husband should hang out a shingle that says Attorney for Hire. Or maybe Doctor. I guess our neighbor takes public servant very literally! Don't misunderstand. My husband is more than happy to help and he answers questions like that All The Time. And is totally fine with it. (As am I.)

I, of course, just felt we should have charged $600 for the consult . . .

Friday, September 4, 2015

World War II

We just finished a book for book club about World War II. And it just so happened their was a World War II exhibit at our local history museum so I decided to take the kids. It was cute. They had a section where you had to look around and identify WW 2 airplanes. That was right up Boop's ally. They also had a table about ration cards and another table about how to signal using Morris Code and flags. They also had information on growing a Victory Garden among other things.

We enjoyed our little trip. It was made better by some friends joining us! EG got to have her picture taken as Rosie the Riveter. Just yesterday, when the kids and I were at a restaurant with both their Grandmas, EG looked up and on the wall was a picture/display of ration cards and she picked them out right away. Proud mama/teacher moment.

I love when I don't have to work so hard to coordinate stuff. And it all just kind of falls together. Some days it is confirmation that I am on the right track . . .

Friday, August 21, 2015


About 3 months ago, maybe longer, we were watching some big golf tournament on TV. In the latter part of my life, I was around golf. I caddied a time or two for my mom and stepdad. When I was older, I worked at a country club and one benefit of that was I was able to take a lesson or two. The Pro said I had a good swing but I think he just wanted me to continue so I would actually pay for my lessons.

Anyway, Boop really enjoyed watching the tournament and expressed a desire to learn to golf. Well, I know that golf isn't the cheapest sport out there and I sure wasn't going to dump a ton of money into something I wasn't sure he would stick to. So, I started asking around. Trying to find out the best avenue for a young boy wanting to explore the game of golf.

A man that I serve with at church, who is an avid golfer, volunteered to take him out and hit some balls. His wife about week earlier, texted me with a picture of a junior golf set at Goodwill for $13! So, Boop has a set of clubs, and the man has since taken him out and shown him how to hit the ball.

Daddy found him a titanium driver that he is going to cut down and I am going to get him some whiffle balls before we have a neighborly accident. My sister's husband likes to golf, so maybe one day they can go out and hit a bucket of balls. Paul can hit them but isn't much on the finer points.

When our friend dropped Boop off from hitting some balls I asked if I need to quit my day job and get ready for the tour. He kind of chuckled and said maybe in about 10 years or so.  Like so much in life "who knows" but is having some fun right now . . .

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Harry Potter

We have got some mileage out of the Harry Potter series this summer.

Back in May, my sister mentioned that she was reading the first one and that it was good. She thought I might like them and the kids would definitely enjoy them. Honestly, I am not a big "fantasy" person. I have read the The Lord of the Rings and it was OK. And the Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe books. Same reaction. I know, call me crazy. I remember when one of my boss's was reading them when they first came out. At least 15 years ago, I think.

I had been to our Goodwill book store and saw the first one and almost bought it. Just out of curiosity. But, I had told myself before I went in that if there was a book not on my list I would not buy it. I think I even mentioned it to the kids to keep me honest. I put it back on the shelf.

A couple of weeks later, I was at our local homeschool curriculum sale and a lady had the first three for sale. I happen to be standing next to a mom from our book club and I asked her about them. She whispered that she liked them and her kids loved them. That they even played dress up. (Her oldest child is Boop's age.) So, I bought them with the intention of reading them first.

Well, I know sooner got them in the house and finished the first one, then they all started bugging me about reading them. A few of their friends happen to be reading them this summer also. I got through most of the first one and then let them have them. They were hooked and it is almost all they talk about.

It has encouraged two of my reluctant readers to seriously read over the summer. We had to borrow the other four books from a friend. But, with four of us reading them, we have also had to get some from the library. Just to hard to share! It has been cool. The three older kids sequestered away in Boop's room all reading one of the books. They finally had something to talk about that they all could relate to. Super cool! And, of course, I knew what was going on because I was reading them also.

Nature Girl finished them all in like 10 days. Maybe two weeks. Little Mama is catching up to me with the fifth book and Boop is on the third. They have taken Pintrest tests to find out what house they would be in and what their Petronis would be. All three of them. Together. Boop has played spell games with his friends. The big girls giggle over Harry and Ron.

We have yet to watch the movies. When we go on vacation, Boop should be done with the third book so we are going to watch the first three movies. Everyone is super excited to see them. Daddy is probably excited to watch them just so he knows what the heck is going on. Half the time he has no idea if who they are talking about is real! Even EG gets in on all the action because of various videos on the Internet. The big girls are planning their Halloween costumes based on Harry Potter. And they have been teasing me about having a HP marathon movie night with friends. We shall see.

I try hard to avoid twaddly books. Books just not well written. I belong to a homeschool group that helps point to really good literature. And, about 2 months ago, they had a bunch of posts on Harry Potter and almost all of the moderators gave a thumbs up to the books. That they were well written and encouraged thoughts and ideas and had a great story line. I was sold. Some object to the magic or whatever, but we read a ton of fairy tales and mythology so I didn't see much difference. Plus, what great conversation starters at the house.

I have a little over two more books to go. I am curious how it all ends. I have to admit, I am ready to read something else. But, I will say it has been enjoyable and I am glad it was something I could do with the kids. And I am anticipating watching the movies with the family on vacation.

It has been a fun way to spend the summer  . . . .

Monday, July 27, 2015

EG and Me

We left some of our people at camp yesterday. I know they will have a blast. The two big girls have been before. But, this is Boop's first time for the whole week. Crazy!

It stresses me out to leave them there. But, I know they are in good hands. So many of the kids friends were there. We also know quite a few of the counselors and know the director and his other staff fairly well. Not to mention one of my favorite mom's is cooking all week. So, those bases are covered. I guess the real stressful part is Boop remembering basic hygiene and to put on sunscreen!

Anyway, that leaves me and EG together for the week. That is crazy too! I have never spent so much alone time with her. Last night she got DQ and we watched a movie. Today I played Little People with her and she has helped me clean and we walked the dog. (Many of these things my bigger people usually do.)

Tomorrow we will cook together and run errands and I will take her school shopping. Wednesday she has a playdate with a new friend. That will be weird, too, because I depend on the big kids to be my babysitter during playdates. Hmmmm. I will have to be on my toes. Thursday hubby is home so I think we will surprise her with lunch and a movie. And then Friday is pick up at camp. (Maybe fit swimming at Sissy's in there somewhere.)

EG is really good about playing by herself. Although she does crave interaction and she loves to talk. So far she hasn't said she misses them during the day. The night is the hardest because she is all alone in her bedroom. I miss my big people too but am enjoying my alone time with my baby.

If this week is like any of our other weeks, it will fly by regardless of how many people we have in the house . . . .