Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Sweet Summertime

We have been soaking up the summer evenings (even though it's technically still spring) the past few weeks.  After dinner we'll quickly clean up and all head outside.  We set up the bean bag game set or the kid's lacrosse goals, throw out a quilt for Cash and play together.   Sometimes it feels so good to sit back and take it all in.  To see the kids playing with one another.  To see my man playing with his kids.  To know that years from now we'll reminisce back on these nights as a big family of little ones and we'll miss it.

We stay out until the sun begins to set and the fire flies come out.  Our yard is a magnet for them and we usually end the night with a jar full.  Every now and then a jar of them makes it's way in the house.  A few weeks ago the lid "accidentally" came off and we had at least 50 fireflies glowing around the house.  ;) Never a dull moment. Quite literally. 

After the kids are in bed we set the bean bag game BACK up for just the two of us.  Turns out it makes for some fun quality time together!  It seriously has turned into one of our favorite parts of the evening :) It's to be decided who is the better player.  A few more tournaments and I'll report back ;)

My prayer lately has been that I would have the discipline to slow down.  To just pause to take it all in.  If I had to describe our life right now... it would be FULL.  And a good kind of full.  The kind of full that is overflowing with the beauty of life with little ones.  But also the kind of full where your feet hit the ground running the moment you get out of bed until the moment you crawl back into it at night.  Thank you Lord for your blessings.

*** I almost didn't put this picture in this post.  But it makes me smile looking at it and it's something I want to remember :) THIS is what I feel like life is like with Cash Marshall right now. He is SO PRECIOUS and happy... but also SUCH a boy! Constantly thumping my face and pulling my hair.  It's not uncommon for me to have a scratch or two on my face from his wild love :)

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Quiet Season

 Well.  What started as a jump back into this space turned into another little quiet season over here.  Funny how that can happen without planning it. About the time I decided to make the blog a bit more of a priority, my computer decided to stop uploading pictures from my camera.  Our backup computer would do the job, but at a snails pace.  So what normally takes 10 minutes ended up taking over an hour.
  Life has been so good over here. We wrapped up the last bit of our "full time" school schedule last month.  The plan is to keep schooling through the summer, just a bit of a lighter load.  I have been working on a blog post that I'll share next week that is a recap of our school year.  The curriculum that we used and what our typical schedule looked like.
  The weather here has officially turned into what feels like early summer.  The boys are often found shirtless and everyone has ditched their shoes for bare feet.  I love that it's only early May and they all have tan lines and white hair.  We have been living outside every moment we can get. Soaking up the weather before it becomes unbearably hot starting in July.
  We have been eating our dinner outside a few times a week.  These are the nights that I truly treasure.  Every now and then it makes me stop and catch my breathe as I take it all in.  Four little ones running around, one little one on my hip... our favorite country music playing in the background...backyard lights twinkling...the smell of smoke from our fire pit... my best friend grilling our dinner... sticky marshmallow fingers and the sound of laughter (and let's get real... crying every now and then too!).  There is not one minute of this life that I take for granted.  It is such a complete honor and privilege to be the mama to this little group.
   So.  Here we go again on breathing a little life into this space.  Thank you for continuing to follow along despite the quiet seasons in between!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Good Intentions

Remember the time back in January where I said I was going to get back into the swing of blogging regularly throughout the week?!  Yeah… such good intentions :)  Somewhere along the way a whole month and a half have flown by since my last post. I'm not really sure how this happened?!  I think like anything in life priorities fell into place and this little area the past month and a half was moved to the bottom of the list.

I remember there was a time back in the beginning of blogging where I felt like I HAD to blog regularly.  I am so thankful that I don't feel that pressure any more.  It's freeing!  This place will always remain a creative outlet and a place of what I hope is an encouragement to other moms. And of course it's always fun to look back years down the road to see what we were up to at the time!

So as of late… a bit of what we have been up to…

Would you believe we haven't even had a single flake of snow this winter?!  And now here it is March.   Because of that we have been soaking up as much time outside as we can.  Most days we do a bit of school in the morning so we can be outside. And then the afternoon is spent with the little ones napping and the big ones finishing up their school work.  I love the flexibility that homeschooling has brought to our family this year.  Both academically and as a family.  We are able to get outside more as well as study subjects that the kids are interested in.  So many of you have asked for more homeschooling posts… they're coming!  Next week I'll be sharing a dear friend's story as well as a rough outline of what curriculum we're loving.

Hope all is well with you… thank you to everyone who has checked in asking what we were up to and where the blog posts have gone :) All is well!  And I'll end with a few snapshots from our week… 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Homeschooling- A Veteran Homeschooler

I am just giddy for you guys to meet my mom :)  She is the one who has mentored me through the process of homeschooling.  She is an incredible example to me and I couldn't be more thankful that she is mine! She will be back with more posts on the topic of homeschooling. But for today I have asked her to share her story with you all!


Our home school journey began in the late 1980’s…this was how I was intending to start my essay.  But, as I’ve thought about it, I realize that our home school journey started several generations before my own children were even born. Before I was born.  Our (both my husband and myself) grandparents were committed to a God centered world view.  They believed that Christ was in all, the very focus of our lives.  That included education.  My grandparents and parents committed and worked hard to provide a Christian education for their children. Schooling that had a love for God and his Word at its very core, not something just added as an afterthought. So, our desire to raise our children with this foundation was instilled in us both from birth through college. 

Because of this heritage  the late 1980’s found my husband and I with 2 young children.  We believed that it was important for me to stay home and care for them and we were willing to make the choices and sacrifices necessary.  Those days were so sweet.  We played at home, we walked to the park, we walked to the library, we got groceries. We just lived life together. 

One day I heard Raymond Moore talk about home school on the radio.  I had never heard of home schooling and was intrigued.  I bought his books and started learning all I could.  My heart was drawn to this new idea.  I instinctively knew that no one else would understand and love my children the way that I did.  I wanted my husband and I to be the major influence in their lives. We wanted to shape their character and lead them in the God centered foundations that we had been blessed to have.  I wanted to be the one to see their faces light up withn the had an “ah-ha!” moment.  Also, I simply enjoyed their company and did not want them away from me and each other for large portions of the day.  

When we began home schooling there were 2 other home school families in our town. As for curriculum, there were 2 major publishers that would sell to home school families.  These books and teachers manuals were written for a classroom teacher so adjustments had to be made for a  mom teaching at home.  with the help of the other 2 families we started.  As I looked at these huge manuals I questioned my ability to tackle this.  My friend opened the book to lesson One. “Can you do this? Just lesson 1?“ Well, yes I believe I can. “Ok. Then start there. Lesson 1 Tomorrow do lesson 2.“  It is so overwhelming to look at the whole. But, when the goal is broken down into bite size pieces it is achievable. Another piece of advice we received was to take time to write out our reasons for home schooling.  It was helpful to think it through and by writing it down we had a commitment we could refer back to on the hard days (or years).

We began with a full 1st grade curriculum and 2 kindergarteners.  We were all learning together.  Every night after the kids were in bed I would prepare the lesson for the next day. I made sure I had read every scripted interaction between teacher and students and had every flashcard cut out. The kids truly were my guinea pigs.  Because I had gone to school I expected our days to look like “school”. Our days would be structured from 8 to 3.  It didn’t take long for me to learn that with just two students the work for the day could be completed much more quickly.   It they understood a concept we moved ahead.  If something was hard to grasp, we slowed down and worked at it until they understood.  There was so much freedom for us once I learned that mastery was our goal, not just moving through the books at the pace the curriculum set.  When we finally settled in to this new way of learning we were able to finish our bookwork in a couple hours in the morning.  I remember a grocery checker asking the kids what they did at school, “Oh, we just play and read books.”  That made me laugh then and it makes me laugh now. It just doesn’t get any better for 2 sweet kindergarten guinea pigs. 

Several years past and we added more children to the mix. Five in all with a 12 year gap between the oldest and the youngest.  Every year was different. I learned to relax with our curriculum but yet felt we  needed some structure to keep everyone moving ahead. All of life is learning, not just the time we sat at the table working on our bookwork.  It was amazing to me how much the “Littles” (yes, we had the “Bigs” and the “Littles”) learned simply by living life in a home with teenagers.  When the big kids were doing science experiments, like separating out a strand of DNA from an onion, the Littles were sitting on the counter watching every move.  When we talked about history or social events they were listening and learning.  Always learning. I had also learned to let go of the formal curriculum for the elementary grades and just focus on reading and math. Lots and lots of reading!  The library has always been our best friend.

The summer before the Bigs were to start high school we moved to a different state.  We left all that was comfortable and stable and started on a new journey.  I now had to make new connections, learn the home school laws in this new state and move into teaching high school. I was anxious to say the least. Could I even do this? High school is important! College and careers depend on a job well done.  It was all very overwhelming.  As I was talking to my dear friend , the one who encouraged me to start with lesson 1, she gave me some more wise words. She reminded me that up until now we had taken each year as it came. We had moved twice and added 3 kiddos to the mix. We had completed 8 years of school so far.  This was JUST THE NEXT YEAR. No need to be overwhelmed. Just do the next thing. 

Now, 25 plus years later, we have 5 children that have moved into adulthood and are Godly, loving, smart, compassionate and successful in their chosen careers. We have 3 children in law and 7 wonderful grandbabies. We are blessed beyond what we ever would have dreamed. Through it all I have learned several lessons I want to share with younger moms. 

    ~ Relax and enjoy the journey.  There are 2 sides to this. On one hand, I know the days seem long and the messes, meals and laundry are never ending, but, trust me, these days are so sweet. They fly past and before you know it your kiddos are launching out on their own.  Enjoy them! On the other hand, 18 years is a long time! You don’t need to learn everything at once.  You have a long time to learn how to read well, how to multiply and divide, how to figure algebraic equations. A long time! Relax. Slow and steady movement ahead is the goal. Remember the tortoise and the hare!

~  Building character and family relationships are top priority. Respect for authority, diligence, patience, and looking out for the other guy are things that won’t be taught in most curriculums.  This is the learning that comes from just living everyday together. 

And, I know you’ve heard it before, but it’s true. I wouldn’t trade a minute of our years home together! My best friends were grown there