Sunday, July 31, 2011


My sweet oldest son is eleven today. He is pure delight. We did the usual out to dinner celebration with just our family of five. We went around and each described all the things we love about him. Words like, "unique, funny, kind, good brother, good, honest, smart" were used.
My son is such a joy. He is tender-hearted, quick to serve, and just fun to listen to. He has such insight on all things intellectual and spiritual. He is also a good judge of character. He is a lot of fun to talk to because he has the innocence of a child, but the intellectual and moral insight of a young man. It's really sweet. He is a natural at writing, so it is especially fun to listen to him tell a story.

This year will hold many new adventures for Jackson. He will begin to learn to play the guitar, learn how to play golf, watch his siblings for short periods of time without me, learn to drive the golf cart (better), and he will learn all that fifth grade has to offer. (He is especially excited about reading good books and blowing things up in chemistry!) This will be his last year of elementary school! I remember fifth and sixth grade being very pivotal years for me. We will have to take great care to show him how to guard his heart, while also giving him the freedom to learn responsibility and leadership. Our greatest parenting challenges will not be about learning to share or having good table manners any more. The road of parenting will be getting a little trickier, but it's all good.

He sure is a precious child. I am so thrilled to have him as my friend and son. I am so glad that as the oldest child in our home, he sets a good tone for the younger two. Happy birthday, Jackson! May God bless you and keep you, sweet boy.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Fun in the ATL

We loved our time away. I took every morning of VBS to do some things alone or with friends while the kids were having fun. Can you say SPOILED? I felt that way all week. I had coffee with several friends, visited one, shopped for birthday gifts and party items for Jackson, along with browsing all the clothes, books, jewelry, and craft supplies a girl could want while I walked through stores from my old stomping grounds. I am a little mad at myself for not visiting my two favorite flea markets. But then again, there is always next time! I had hours of conversation while the kids swam in the afternoons, had a very fun night out with my friends, and watched the entire BBC version of Pride and Prejudice- all 6 episodes- with my best friend. It was so fun and relaxing!On Friday, the last day of VBS, I dropped off the kids and went with a friend to the Georgia home school convention and bought or ordered all of our books for this fall. Wow, am I excited! It is SO good to be home. Now we are full of love and good memories for our Atlanta friends and so excited about the friendships we hope to make this year! And I honestly couldn't have gone one more day without my husband. Time to STAY HOME and focus on getting ready for school!Lydie doing the "I'm-at-Krispy-Kreme" dance!
Sweet Marie was Lydie's crew leader! Can't wait to have her down the road at Auburn this fall!!
The blow-up mattress didn't do so well. When I went in to check on the boys and found them like this I did the ugly, cry laugh. Lizzie thought I was so cruel. Wouldn't you laugh, though?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Praise God I'm not in a tailspin

I'm in Atlanta for a week. I had planned for a long time to come so the kids could be a part of our former church's VBS. It's the perfect way to visit and see ALL of their friends! But I almost reconsidered. I questioned whether I was really ready to come back. Would it send me into a tailspin? Would I white knuckle my friends and not want to go back to the farm? Would I get angry at my husband all over again for asking me to move? Basically, I expected all of these things (and more) to happen. But I came anyway because I had made a promise to my sweet kids.

So here I am. My friends and church are still the same. I will hold fast to a handful of friendships and the others will eventually fade. Life goes on. Everyone has new blessings and trials. And I am okay with being a visitor! This attitude is evidence that God never forsakes me. This peace is proof that He is working in my life. I am okay with having to start over with friendships. I am okay that my ministry now is not with suburban dwellers. I am okay that I am not part of this support group, my kids are not involved in these activities, they will not be in this youth group. They are all good. But I am on the outside looking in. These things here are not mine any more.

It is wonderful to visit. Our life was full of love and good things. This church and these friends were a saving grace for our family and marriage. We will eternally be indebted. But God has placed me somewhere else. And slowly, slowly he is giving me a heart for my new communities. He is changing me, and I am encouraged. He is worthy of a willing, joyful heart and I am going to try my best to surrender and trust in His unfailing love (and consequently share it with others!).

Monday, July 25, 2011

For Women Only: Hormone questions answered

Okay, several of you ladies have sent personal emails regarding this post about my hormone wackiness. I DID get the treatments. All of the hormones in my body were extremely off kilter. None of the numbers were within a normal range. Besides basic hormones, they also test vitamin B12 and thyroid levels.

They use all-natural (from yam and other vegetables extracts!?) hormone shots. They actually inject small (grain of sand size) pellets under the skin, in the hip area. Using pellets as opposed to pills or patches are supposed to keep the hormone levels up and not dipping up and down. (The hormones are released more slowly and gradually.) There first two injections were 1 month apart. From then on, I get the injection every 3 months. They check my hormones by drawing blood once a month. I take a B12 vitamin, calcium, Vitamin D, and a regular vitamin every day. And for some reason, I can't remember the explanation, I have to take progesterone as a pill as well. I'm not sure why it isn't in the injection.

Here are my personal results:
About 5-7 days after the first shot I felt a lot better. By 10 days in I was full of energy, less moody, and able to handle stress with a clear head. I just felt wonderful in general. The very first night I had trouble sleeping. I think it was due to the B12 injection they gave me. My body had almost NO B12 in it. They said I needed injections once a week, along with daily pills! (They said I shouldn't have had the energy to get out of bed every day. But strangely, I have never felt low-energy!)

About three weeks in I had a couple of nights that I was really hot. I think it was the first time I had PMS since starting the hormones. My skin also broke out! But it got better in about five days. I had NO emotional symptoms of PMS and "the monthly visitor" came and left very fast. It was the first time in maybe a year that I wasn't FULL OF ANGER during this time of the month. This is not the only positive mood change I have had! Enough said??

Overall, I am SO, SO pleased. Life has been pretty stressful since we moved. I am very thankful I have been able to deal with it feeling healthy and with plenty of energy! My husband, of course, RAVES about this treatment as well. As you can imagine, all of this is a very pleasant gift for him, too! Any more questions?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Lake Martin Lakehouse project *finally*

Growing up with my Dad, I had to learn how to think quickly on my feet. He is a dreamer, BIG TIME. And, he changes his mind a lot. Did I mention that he is impulsive? So it didn't come as a big shock to me when he called a couple of months ago and said he was buying a lake house. (By the way, I inherited it all...dreamer, mind changer, impulsive decision maker! :) )

What did come as a shock, however, is when he closed on it a couple of weeks ago, brought me a set of keys, and gave me 2 weeks to decorate it from top to bottom. He likes to assign me these types of big projects, often times forgetting that I am not an employee. But I agreed (okay, maybe even squealed out loud) when he asked, because I am a sucker for a fun project. And this task of decorating was really quite small in comparison to what he shares with us!

Here are the rooms to date. So far the house is a little sterile, with very few personal touches. I am sure in no time that will be resolved! But the basic furniture and decorative elements are all in place. Oh, and these photos are awful. I was really pooped the day I took them. Oh well. Looking forward to many days soaking up the lake!

Family Room
The tv console above is painted red, which is hard to tell! And this picture was taken before the flat screen tv was delivered. Looks so bare! Also, to the left of the tv console is the clock that I failed to photograph. It was one of my favorite finds!**I am surprising my Dad with sepia-toned photos of he and my Grandad at the lake when Dad was a boy. There will be three, hung vertically, on each side of the table above. Can't wait!

Dining room FoyerMom and Dad's bedroom

Our bathroom (Didn't photograph the others!)

Our bedroom

My brother and sister-in-law's bedroom

Friday, July 22, 2011

Science museum

We made a summer bucket list that has been very much ignored all summer! (There are three weeks left of summer break and I have NO idea where the summer went!) So the other day we decided to get on the ball and see what we could do about accomplishing some of the things on our fun list. There is a fabulous science museum in Birmingham called the McWane Center that both boys wanted to visit. So the kids and I enjoyed an afternoon of having fun (with a lot of learning mixed in!) It was a good day, just enjoying my kids, pulling out my dusty, neglected camera, and laughing a lot. Big blessing!

Hope you are making happy summer memories, too!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Thrilled for the fall

We have found a marvelous fit for school in the fall. I am beside myself with excitement. It's "above and beyond what we dared ask or imagine". My sweet sister-in-law found out about this opportunity for us through a friend. She has been praying, and God used her, BIG TIME! It's such an encouragement for me!

We have found a hybrid school about 40 minutes away. Sounds like a long way, but keep in mind it takes us 25 minutes to get to the nearest grocery store. The minivan is our second home during the school year! The kids will go to school 9-3 on Mondays and Wednesdays. They use the Sonlight curriculum to teach history, literature, geography, Bible and then they are using this book for Science. They are also taking guitar and art from very skilled teachers. I choose math and grammar/spelling and it is done solely at home. The teachers are all highly qualified with masters or doctorate degrees and plenty of excitement and passion. The two teachers that teach the core subjects are both currently home schooling their children, too.

I have ALWAYS said that a hybrid school would be the perfect fit for us. A lot of time with friends, a break for me, but still more influence at home and the opportunity to teach the children, and we will have loads of family time. I feel so blessed that we have found this opportunity that will serve us all so well! It became obvious after learning more about the school the boys attended last spring that it was not a good fit for us. I am so excited to not be completely giving up the precious time homeschooling the boys. Praise God for this huge answer to prayer!

Hope is the thing with feathers

That perches in the soul,

And sings the tune without words,

And never stops at all

And sweetest is the gale is heard;

And sore must be the storm

That could abash the little bird

That kept so many warm

I've heard it in the chilliest land

And on the strangest sea;

Yet, never, in extremity,

It asked a crumb of me.

"Hope is the Thing with Feathers" by Emily Dickinson

I am...

I was just dusting the nooks and crannies of Jackson's room and I found a paper from fourth grade that I had never read before. It reminded me of what a neat kid I have. My friend described him last week as "extraordinary". I think I agree, God has created these amazing people that we get to enjoy. Here were a few of his answers that I found interesting:

I hope..."I will be famous". (He wants to be a famous author.)

I understand..."life". (Really? Wow. Such confidence!)

I worry about..."my old friends in Atlanta". (How sad and sweet.)

I am..."myself". (Perfect. This sums up Jackson.)

Monday, July 18, 2011

A week away

The children and I left for 7 days at the beach. There is nothing quite so healing as stepping away for a while. We met our dear, sweet friends at the famous "Peach Park" in Clanton, and headed south from there. My friend Tammy and her children were a great encouragement to me. The highlight of the trip for me was staying up until the early morning talking with my wise, steady friend. We both had trials and blessings to share. And talking about them out loud gives way to gratitude for me. We shared thoughts of theology, parenting and homeschooling, fears, secrets, dreams. So thankful for my beautiful, vulnerable, honest friend!

During the day our routine was to wake up, eat, and head out to the beach. We stayed there or the pool until dinner time most days. We also played miniature golf, went to the water park, out to dinner, and on a long evening walk looking for crabs on the beach. Although our children are different in many ways, they got along very well and seemed to balance one another. I was especially excited to have Tammy's adventure-seeking son with my safety-seeking son at the water park. Because of him, my son tried and loved everything in the park including the "crazy" slides. I am almost certain he would have missed out on a lot of fun if it were just us there. And her two sweet, nurturing daughters made Lydie's week! It was a really good time.

I was so busy watching the children (Andy usually travels with me!) that I did not get out my camera a single time! It was just not a priority at all (as opposed to keeping my children alive and not lost!). So I have no photos to share!

Tammy left on Friday and Andy came down for a couple of days. We were all already exhausted and just about ready to come home. It rained the entire time he was there. In order for him to get one swim in at the beach and pool we had to just go in the rain! But I think he enjoyed the short time away, too. And we were really missing him by Friday! So all's well that ends well!

I spent some time in the Word every day. Here were some of the words God used to encourage me this week:

"But I trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me."

Psalm 13:5-6

**Reminder of the enormity of blessing found in my salvation alone!**

"Those who oppress the poor insult their Maker, but those who are kind to the needy honor him."

Proverbs 14:31

**Encouragement to press on and love the unlovely.**

"The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; I have a goodly heritage."

Psalm 16:5-6

**His will is good and perfect.**

"Those who are attentive to a matter will prosper, and happy are those who trust in the Lord."

Psalm 16:20

**Beautiful picture of the marriage of His will and my responsibility to obey.**

We took some bold steps last week. We made some big decisions. More about those soon...

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Square peg, round hole

I told my husband yesterday that since we moved I often feel like I am a puzzle piece that just will not fit into the puzzle of life here. I could name a thousand things I am thankful for in my life right now. And those are the things I try to bring to mind from day to day. But when it comes to the kids' school, church, this rural life, and the things we are involved in here it is all SO, SO different than what I am used to. I refer to our new life as "China" a lot. When a crazy thing happens, as it often does, I smile at Andy and whisper "China". (Does he know I smile so as not to cry??) Not because China is bad. But because China is on the other side of the world, completely foreign to me. And although some people LOVE China (and rightfully so), it does not appeal to me. I could give examples, I could write an entire blog on examples, but it would be rude, I'm afraid. My sister-in-law says I should write this blog and name it, "The Joke's On Me". Nice.

I am not sure if we will mesh into the culture and ways of life here. But I am trying to give it a try. I am trying to look for the best-case-scenario for our family. The first place I need to do this is with schooling. Honestly, when we moved here I had never felt so not-my-self and defeated. After the previous year of having our house on the market and having the ever-looming dread of moving I felt exhausted and sad. And then after the initial adrenaline wore off from our move, I felt overwhelming grief. I still wrestle with grief and lament and I wonder if it will take a year or two, as if someone died, to be able to lay it down and live unencumbered. The truth is, I love these precious people in my life. I love thousands of things about my life. I even enjoy our farm. But I struggle with our location. So with that heavy burden, I am very thankful that I let the kids finish out the year in a private school. I had nothing to give them this past spring but grief. Literally.

Back to best-case-scenarios. I was talking with my pastor briefly the other night about decisions. He asked what I had decided to do about the history teaching position. (I have been putting off the interview because of doubts.) I told him I was waiting on an answer from the Lord. He said it would be nice to always hear from the Lord, and easy, but sometimes we just have to act and trust. I think I always hesitate to do what I desire to do because I am afraid the Lord wants me to step out of my comfort zone and do something else. (This attitude might be why I am living in "China"!) Is this crazy? Does anyone else use this type of reasoning?

So for just a little while, I am going to pray, dream, and act. I think the only way to get out of this difficult move with my sanity in tact is to figure out how I want my life to look and go for it! I am not saying I will not listen to the Holy Spirit if he beckons me. I love this article about that very thing, and can relate to each point mentioned. But lately I sense my relationship with Jesus as something that hinders me. It's tragic and disturbing and I am not sure why I have been feeling this way. I am always waiting for Him to challenge me, and not in a good way. Lately, I feel like a battered, old dog waiting to get slapped. My eyes are half shut and my head is turned away, just waiting for another blow. I told Him the other day, "Your yoke is supposed to be light. I don't get it." But I am beginning to see that I am creating my very own daily weariness, and things have to change. When I look at myself as a daughter of the King, I realize I have it all wrong. He wants the very best for me. He gave His very life for me. And although sometimes His will does involve suffering, no doubt about it, it shouldn't always be that we throw ourselves into the most difficult, uncomfortable thing for the "sake of servitude". I am on a mission to find the square hole that fits my square-pegged self. I am giving myself permission for a while to avoid all round holes and find some good, "Ah-I-was-made-for-this!" fits! I know deep in my gut that I will not be able to continue living here if I don't make connections. And I have a few ideas of just where to begin...

Summer books

If Charlotte Mason were alive to see my book list, she would be so disappointed. I think she called this type of literature "twaddle". I confess, I am guilty of reading twaddle this summer. But it has been so relaxing! Here's what I have read so far:

The Rescue by Nicholas Sparks

**3/5 stars for being so predictable **

Room: A Novel by Emma Donoghue

**3/5 stars for giving me nightmares **

Shania Twain's autobiography From This Moment On

**4/5 stars for being very interesting and surprisingly well-written**

In the Company of Others by Jan Karon

**2/5 stars. The only book of her's that I felt bored reading! **

Began Fly Away Home by Jennifer Weiner. It was so vulgar by chapter 2 that I literally threw the brand new book in the trashcan. Very sad.

Obviously I haven't found many good books this summer. Any suggestions (fiction or not)?

Monday, July 04, 2011

Happy Fourth of July!

Playing in the rain (Who needs fireworks, any way?) Floating, swimming, fishing, tubing, boating, and water skiing the days away: Pool time with the girls

"A lake is a landscape's most beautiful and expressive feature. It is earth's eye: looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature." ~Henry David Thoreau