The Last Nine Weeks

Today began the last nine weeks of school for three of my kiddos.  Having them home for Spring Break was great.  It made me miss homeschooling.  It made me love school.  I have two starting high school next year.  Someone pinch me.

High school?  And one will be driving soon….


Live is continuing to move at a rapid pace.  My baby girl will be in 4th grade next year.  My baby boy in 7th grade.

My photography business continues to grow.  I love it.  It’s been life changing!

Where did the little kids go?  I blinked and they were teenagers.  Men.  Muscles.  Hair.

Excuse me while I shake my head in disbelief.

I was eating with my husband the other day and almost stole a 2 year old (not really, but I did want to bring him home for a while.)

So life is changing and I feel like my blog will be too.  We will see…….

In the meantime go check out my fabulous and dearest friend Marian who just reworked her blog!  It’s amazing!  Check her out at her new home!



On School and Other Happenings…

School began for three of my four children last Wednesday.  The fourth child started yesterday.  As we begin another year of transition we find one child going from private to public school.   In the last three years we have:

  • moved from SC to FLA
  • gone from homeschooling to some kids in school
  • gone from that school set up to all kids in school last year
  • then two sick boys who didn’t get to complete their football season
  • this year we have one in public, three in private and two playing football

I think I’m tired!

This goes right along with all the changes my husband goes through at work.  It’s sometimes difficult to stop and breathe.

Our family motto has changed from “I forgot what it was” to “Happy, Happy, Happy” from Duck Dynasty.

Yep, we’ve hit an all time low.

I’d be proud to say we came up with something on our own but why do that when I can steal from the shows my husband watches.

No, I don’t watch Duck Dynasty.  I have to put my foot down somewhere.

In other big news… niece is engaged to a wonderful young man.  I shoot their wedding in January.  Yep, I’m excited!!!

Congratulations Matt and Korey!!!

From Homeschooling to School (The Realm of the Unknown)

Just recently my good friend IRL (in real life), The Scooper, dished on her family’s transition from homeschooling to school in her most recent post:

School Decisions: Finding Your Family’s Path & Walking in Freedom

I’ve walked beside her as she took the brave and scary step to enter this realm of the unknown.  As homeschool moms there is so much encouragement in our decision to homeschool.  Although there are adversities if you have “your people” you have lots of support.  Scooper admits she has ONE friend who has gone before her on this journey.  ONE.

I can say I have Two.  Two, including Scooper, who have walked this path just one year before me.  I am so thankful for their support in our family’s decision.  Their encouraging words have been a life line to me at times.  Scooper says it well:  “Even though homeschoolers are still greatly in the minority, there is a lot of online support and often much personal, community support for making the switch. It’s a countercultural decision and as I’ve said before, you need your people. I know I did. I’m thankful that such support exists; I know it hasn’t always been the case.”

The switch is difficult.  I, like Scooper, yearn to base my decisions on what God wants for my children.  I am a Christian.  I’m a Believer.  And in my heart of hearts I long for heaven.  When my kids were little my life required a lot of physical work.  As they have grown into 14, almost 13, 11 and 8 I find I now spend more time and energy on emotional things.  I no longer change diapers, rope them in for nap time or feed them with those sweet baby spoons.

Now I spend my energy tightly curling back fingers that I have woven into their lives, allowing them to grow into the person God wants them to be.  For me, this means learning to let them fail within the safe confines of our home so when they leave they do so as strong, God-loving adults.

I know many moms struggle with some of the same voices I do.  We often feel entirely responsible for our children, their grades, their dress, their friends, their attitudes.  But I’m learning, ever so slowly, to remove myself from their lives in healthy ways as to allow them growth and maturity.

And again I find God leading me through these unchartered waters.  From Scooper:    Allow me to share what I’m discovering:

  • Sometimes God leads us through His word. This was one of the ways he confirmed, for us, the decision to homeschool nearly six years ago.
  • Sometimes God leads us through prayer and meditation as we seek answers.
  • Sometimes God leads us as the Holy Spirit moves and leads in powerful and unmistakable ways.
  • Other times it is a still, small voice.  Sometimes God leads through wise counsel.
  • Sometimes God leads through the guidance of our spouse.
  • And sometimes God leads through circumstances and common sense.

For me it’s been the prayers and love of good friends, words from my husband, circumstances and God slowly opening my eyes to see that he has something better for my family than “the stuck place” I’ve felt we were in.  The merry-go-round of life.  The beating my head against the same wall and expecting different results.

I tend to glorify our years of homeschooling when I think back.  Yes, they were precious and they were sweet as we intertwined our lives with the sweet families God placed around us as “our people”.  There were park days and field trips and snuggle days with Barney, Blues Clues and lunches filled with jelly beans and PB&J.  There were also times I wanted to bang my head against the wall and scream, “I’m only one person!”  With four children depending upon me I took it upon myself to be their all and all.  Dare I stop her to ask myself, “In what way was I serving myself and not my kids?”  How does that get all messed up inside?  When did I depart from God first; me, my husband and my marriage second; and my children third?  When did they become the rulers of my universe?  Why did I let them?

I’ve never been one to say I need to be needed.  But as I dig deep within myself I wonder……”Did I need to be needed without even realizing it or did I accept the role of caretaker of the universe because I felt it my duty?”  Or maybe it just made me feel important. (ouch!)

The transition from homeschooling to school has been so difficult for me.  However difficult I’m beginning to learn to walk in the FREEDOM God has set before me.  I’m taking baby steps.  It’s hard.  Sometimes I cry all the way home from dropping the kids off at school and walk into a quiet house and wonder what to do with myself.

The Lord cautions me away from busyness.  He calls me into quiet.  There are days I feel I’ve accomplished nothing and days I feel successful.  And I wonder about the labels we place on things.  What is success?  I think back on Scooper’s words: “Trust that God has the right training ground for your kid and it may not be the one you’d planned. Your hope is not in a formula; it’s in a Person. Though we lead and guide our children, we too are led and guided by our own Shepherd.”

I’m holding tightly to my Shepherd’s hand as I continue down the path into the realm of the unknown.

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On School, Grace and Tears

My blog has been quiet the last two weeks.  In that time we’ve gotten three children who’ve been homeschooled for five years or more off to school and the other child, who did go to school last year, enrolled and started at a separate school.  Life for me, as I have known it, has changed.  A few of my BFFs from VFA (very far away) have texted or emailed to ask, “Did they start school yet?  You haven’t blogged about it.”

So here is the blog saying, “Yes, the kids have started school.”

It’s a huge adjustment year for us all.  Each one of the six of us are being remolded, shaped, squeezed and loved upon by our Father.  I have to say that although God has prepared me for these changes, taking upon the role of mom, prayer warrior and guide is hard.  No longer are my children fully dependent upon me for all they do in a day.  I sit in the afternoon and try to figure out their homework right alongside of them.  I’m back in school, no longer the teacher, but the student.

I drop them off curbside and instead of four getting out five hop out.  The extra traveler is my heart.  It marches into the school right behind my kids.  Then for 6 hours without them I’m on my knees.  Not always physically there, but in my heart and in my soul I’m there.  I’m raw.  I’m happy.  It’s not that it doesn’t feel right, it’s just hard.  I scramble to try my best to cook, clean, rest, iron, be happy, patient and loving.  Somedays I’m that mom.  Somedays I’m not.

Yesterday I snapped at my husband.  I spoke angrily to my oldest.  I picked them up from school with a few goodies I never buy for them to let them know I missed them yesterday.  I was glad to see them and wanted to give them an extra treat.  Then one of them says the grape juice tastes like medicine.  And I slightly begin to unravel.  Do I get an “A” for effort, at least?

How long did it take me to learn to live life with a grateful heart, with an attitude of thankfulness, realizing I have to CHOOSE gratitude?  I think I was in my 30’s.   I actually feel my brain stop, switch gears and tell my heart to be thankful….to concentrate on all around me that is good and to let the little things slide.  I wish and pray for this in my kids of 13,12,10 and 8.

“Thanks for cleaning my room or making my lunch or getting up 15 minutes early to make breakfast or putting a note in my lunchbox.” This fantasy world I sometimes long for isn’t necessarily realistic.  I was a selfish stinker as a kid.

Sometimes, tho, the little things feel like big things.  A tired mom maketh an overwhelmed mom.  A mom who has homeschooled doesn’t understand why they (school) can’t get done in 7 hours what I can do in 4 hours.  And why send home homework?  Who invented homework?  You (the school) has them for so many hours.  Can’t they be mine after 3pm?  Can’t families enjoy one another for a few hours between dinner, football practice, baths, packing lunches and getting to bed early enough to do it all over again at 6:30am the next morning?  Where do they learn balance in all that?

Frustrated, yes.

Having to live with it anyway, yes.

Glad they are at school, yes.

Trusting in God’s plan for our family this year is what gets me through each day.  Today is rest for me.  I sit on my bed covered in a blanket and preparing for a nap.  My good friend, Scooper, told me yesterday that one or two days of work equal just as many of rest for her right now.  She so eloquently writes:

God uses a day gone awry and a life run amuck to show me that plans, the little ones and the big ones, are to be held loosely. Control is an illusion. Middle School brings anxiety. Life defies expectation. Beauty blooms out of brokenness.

God has been so faithful to encourage me and my children through this transition.

One of these days I’ll sip coffee on the back porch with my husband and the illusion of control will be there, if only for a moment.  We’ll look at one another and smile.  We’ve walked through yet another patch of raising kids His way and there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Scooper is right.


Every single bit of every single day is nothing more than abundantly lavished grace on thirsty children in need of The Father’s love.  Whether we realize it or not.


For the first time in, well FOREVER, I’m considering backpacks for four kids.  Not just the drag your stuff to homeschool co-op backpacks but real-life SCHOOL backpacks.  Is it crazy that this intimidates me?  Yea, it’s my analytical, perfectionist side wanting to pick the perfect backpack to last all year.  Or maybe it’s my cheap-o side wanting a deal.

There, I said it, it sounds even more ridiculous on paper or the web or the computer…..WHATEVER!

I’ve looked at the $60 LandsEnd and LLBean backpacks.  I’ve looked at the cheap-o backpacks but still I don’t know what to buy.  I guess I”m looking for somewhere in between.  I do have four to buy.  I think Baby Girl may have hers already but not sure how long Hannah will be accepted in a private Christian school.  So, I’m shopping for the boys.

Anyone have a direction to point me in, calming words for a mom who can’t make a choice about backpacks, a good therapist to recommend?


Ok, I’m making myself chuckle!!

Still, backpack help would be great!!!

Maybe he knows….

Homeschooling year by year!

When we began homeschooling we knew that we would take each year as it came and pray for what God wanted for each child.

We’ve had one go to K4 and K5, one to 2nd and 6th grade and one to Montessori school for 1st grade.  Otherwise, it’s all been at home.

Most of you who follow my blog know that we’ve spent quite a bit of time and money at LearningRx this year.  It’s been that year for us.  Homeschooling and LearningRx.  Not much else, has happened otherwise except football.

Oh, I did forget we moved twice.  How could I forget that!  And we’ve had several deaths….my mom, a best friend’s daughter, my brother-in-law’s mom.  But all of that is another story…..I wander.

Back to school.

This year we tried many things for my 7th grader that did not work.  We began with one math curriculum and ended up with Teaching Textbooks which my son LOVES.  We also began one Language program, tried another and then made our own.  We’ve taken a lot of what we learned from IEW and applied that to our language this year.

Grammar?  We tried Grammarlogues but my son didn’t like it.  So we moved onto Vocabulary Cartoons and have used that for spelling, vocabulary and stuck Grammar in with language.  Back to pronouns, nouns, diagramming.  All those things boys LOVE!

My son also does not like fiction so the “normal” books don’t work for us.  He’s read ALL IN by Gene Chizik, Auburn’s coach and  Tim Tebow’s book – Through my Eyes.  Now, it’s his Science book he reads for reading time.  We’ve tried several nonfiction books but besides Diary of a Wimpy Kid, nothing has ever worked.  He’s a fact guy.  He’s practical.  He also spends a lot of time reading his History Book (Abeka 6th grade) for pleasure.

School has always been different for him.  He doesn’t conform to the norm.  He’s a very intelligent but he’s very different.  Thus, my gift from God on Christmas Day.  Born 12-25-98, nine days past due.

This year God has placed on our hearts for the children to go to a private Christian school.  We don’t know how we are going to afford it but we know if it’s God’s will he will provide.  He always does.  I don’t know what He is preparing the kids for.  I don’t know what he’s preparing me for, but I trust Him completely.  (Might I clarify that with “as completely as I can at this time and place in my life”).  It’s hard to let go of my chickens and intrust them to another where learning is concerned, however, I feel it’s His will for next year.

What will the following year look like?  Who knows.  I have trouble going past today.  I’m thankful that He keeps me reigned in to today, for it’s all He’s given us.  I fondly remember these days….

and these….

I am trusting that the One who does this:

…..can do just about anything HE so desires in the lives of my children.

Number Three Son…

He’s introverted, likes to get things right, leaves messes everywhere he goes and loves his best friend Seth.  He would come and snuggle with me when he was smaller…sneaking into my bedroom and into my bed in the wee hours of the morning.  He’d lay so still I wouldn’t even know he was there.

He’s my third born and I love him to pieces!!  Ten this past year, he’s growing just a little too fast for mom.

Love you buddy.

Whether it’s here or there…

Most of you know that we’ve been living in a rental house for over a year now.  I was just sure our house in SC (above photo…..oh, not the bird house, just a bird house in our front yard) would sell quickly and we’d be buying a home in FL in no time!  But, alas, I was wrong (not surprising).

After 10 years in SC it was difficult to leave the home we loved, the friendships we had formed and the homeschool group we were apart of.

Since moving to FL God has been so gracious to put many interesting people in our path.  I’ve met 3 Messianic Jews….I think that is super cool.   One was the man at the Oreck store today.  He came to know Christ after a major brain surgery in which he could have died had they not performed the surgery within hours.

Last weekend I met a woman on the beach who attends the same church we do, is teaching at Classical Conversations this year (I taught there last year), lives in the neighborhood beside us and is a professional photographer.  She homeschools her three children on top of all that!!  She was wonderful and I felt it was a God-ordained trip to the beach that day.

We’re anxiously awaiting a close date on our home.  Here she is!!

I LLOOVVEE, love, love the kitchen…

We feel it is such a gift from our Father!  We all absolutely love it and can not wait to move in.

As we anxiously await God’s timing for moving in I am keenly aware of the journey He has taken us on through the last year.

He’s used the time to help us select a section of this big city we live in.  And he’s provided so much for my youngest and oldest children.  Last year was a tough homeschool year.  One child was diagnosed with ADHD and I fought that tooth and nail.  I’ve read books, searched on the computer for answers and have been led by God through a friend to a wonder center Learning Rx.  The place is amazing.  They retrain the brain to be able to pay greater attention, retain and store what they’ve seen or learned, retrieve that information, process information more quickly and a tremendous amount of other things!  Check out their website.  We are concentrating on our learning there for the first part of the year and I am so looking forward to what God is going to do with my children through the center.  I feel I am setting them up for future success in life and attacking the real issues going on in their brains and not just the symptoms.

I have even found an app for the ITouch that I am going to use to exercise my muscle called “The Brain”.  Lumosity also offers an affordable solution if you are interested in exercising your brain online.  Take a look at their website too.

After posting a Community Question on Pioneer Woman’s website months ago I have taken an amazing journey to find what I believe is the next step in helping my children succeed in life.  The brain is an amazing muscle that needs exercising and even tho I still believe in right brain vs left brain thinking (to a degree) I’m learning more and more about developing cognitive skills and long and short term memory, auditory work memory, working memory, visual processing, logic and reasoning, processing speed, auditory processing and spelling of sounds.

God’s journey is never our own….even tho it is.  He just has a different way of bringing us around so we know that we know it’s Him and not us!!!

More of Hendersonville NC

We enjoyed a lunch beside the road in the neatest little area.

The smell of BBQ drifted through the fall air and tempted us away from our ham sandwiches but thriftiness prevailed!!

Here are some shots from the day.

I want to live here…..

No comment needed here…

Nor here…..

They really are best buds…

Baby girl….

And two other bff….

Off to have Thanksgiving with family.  Have a good one!

Homeschooling is just a part of life!

The last few weeks have been full of fun things….

Things I wish at times I could share with my friends in SC.  Some of these things I have gotten to share with them.  You see, I have this one friend, Lisa, who knows everything about every living thing.  I swear!  She grew up on a horse farm in NY and somehow that has taught her everything you’d every hope to have in a homeschool mom friend.

We recently traveled to one of my favorite places together….Hendersonville, NC.  The apple orchard is there and one of my favorite places, Hands On Childrens’ Gallery.  This trip presented us with a surprise though.  Right outside the entrance to Hands On is the most fascinating woman, Brenda Ramer of Team Ecco.  Team Ecco is apparently a group of divers for she seemed to have traveled everywhere I’ve only dreamed.  And the next few shots are from her shop.

Can you guess what this guy is called?

She even fed him for us.  We learned that starfish digest or ingest their food by pushing their stomachs out of their bodies, wrapping it around the food, digesting it and then pulling their stomach back into their bodies.  Bet you didn’t know that did you?

Yes, it’s a starfish but it’s a special type of starfish.  Any guesses?

We also saw this guy swimming around in a nearby tank.

And two different types of water turtles.  I remember part of the explanation but not all of it.  Look how different they are…

They have pointed little noses as to breath when they surface.  She even has names for them all.  They are very tame and love being handled.  You could just tell how much she loved them all.

Here is Brenda and my sweet friend, Lisa, and all the kiddos.

Next it was on to Hands On where the master artist Sethman drew two of my boys with startling likeness.  Is this amazing or what?

That’s my oldest on your left and my youngest son on your right with the artist behind them.  Let me see if I can find the picture of my youngest behind his image.  It’s spooky close to exactly the way he looks.

Here’s baby girl painting a rainbow.

Here are some of the girls playing grocery store.  I think of the four hours we were there they stayed there for three of them.  Something about girls and shopping!!!

The entire day was amazing.  I think it was about three field trips tied up into one.  We had just as much fun as the kids did and hope to get to see Brenda again soon.

These guys are definitely BFF!!!!

And because I know Lisa will read this at some point….look what we found yesterday!!!

We have never seen an anole shedding its skin before.  We were amazed.  To add to the difference between Fla and SC here are what acorns look like here.  At home they are huge but here they have friends….fuzzballs and they are tiny.

Oh, and for those of you who were unlucky enough to see our “critter” we found in SC I finally found out what it was…..check this blog out…

I’m just glad I didn’t know what that thing was when I picked it up.  Cold chills!!!