Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Trick or treat

This year Josh was invited to a Halloween party and to a friend's house to trick or treat.  I was able to take him to the party, but we opted to trick or treat in my parent's neighborhood together.  Sometimes we just need a night for just the five of us!

The kids looked adorable.  Jack wore a Batman shirt and gear.  Josh was Legalus from Lord of the Rings.  His costume was a little iffy, but he had fun.  And Lydie was Rapunzel at her wedding.  Princess+Bride=happy girl!

We spent all night riding my Dad's Polaris (like a golf cart) around the neighborhood and surrounding neighborhoods.  The kids couldn't get enough.  There were a lot of kids out and it was fun.  But we still miss and talk about the big, annual Halloween party at our friends, the Hanbacks, in Georgia.  We still miss that fun tradition, surrounded by long time friends.

elf ears! :)

With every passing week we are feeling more at home at our new school.  It has filled such a sweet need for us, as we have few people our age and stage at church or in our neck of the woods.  But for the boys and I who have friends who have grown up in this community, it will take a while to grow roots.  But I am hopeful and love our new community.  I praise God for it!  As positively as I know we were called by God to home school and I can see the good fruits of those years, I love where we are now and would never want to be anywhere else!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Vulcan adventures

The third graders took a fun field trip to the Vulcan.  These children are so spunky and fun.  They are just a darling group and I truly enjoy seeing them every day.  My class has 15 students, and the other class has 15 as well.  This day was particularly windy and cold.  But we had a great day learning and playing together.  I love these precious little ones!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Their first reports

The children's first report cards (that were not graded by me) were outstanding.  They are learning how to work harder than ever before at school work.  The boys are pretty much in charge of their own studies, but I do insist on knowing what they are doing and checking their homework, just to stay in the loop.  I tried the first couple of weeks to review their material the night before a test.  But I found it is not necessary.  They have good study skills and review themselves pretty much every day in most subjects, whether there is a test or not.  And Lydie is ever eager to excel.  She is like I was in elementary school, over achiever, big time. 

Jackson's first quarter grades were:
(4rth year) Latin- 86
Earth Science, Grammar, Literature, History, Math (Grade 7), Bible, Keyboarding, Physical Education, Art- all As!

His highest grade was a 99 in Literature, and his lowest an 86 in Latin.  His peers have had three hours of Latin a week for three years.  The assignments are not even written in English!  Could you imagine stepping into that class?  We were very proud of his diligence and hard work.  We are praying that each quarter will be a little easier as we get the hang of it all!  I still believe that God gives different types of gifts to all children, and some may not be designed to make excellent grades.  They may be designed to excel in other equally important areas.  But for Jackson, I am thankful that he is using the "book smarts" that God has given Him to his fullest potential and working hard.  It is a sweet thing to see.

Joshua's first quarter grades were:
All As!  His lowest grade was a 94!

Joshua is just an all-around fast learner.  He has really, really done well.  He also entered Latin with peers who had received three hours of Latin a week for the past year.  He missed quite a few on his first quiz, and then the next test he made 103, with all answers and bonuses correctly answered.  Since then he did not miss a beat.  He made all A+s on his report card, meaning his averages were all 99 or 100 in every subject except the 94 in Grammar.  I have no idea how God will use these two bright boys, but it is exciting to watch them grow and learn!

Lydia Joy's first quarter grades were:
all Es and one S

Lydie received the highest scores of "Excellent" in all academic areas.  She received an "S" in self control which baffled me, as I see this area as one of her strengths.  But the "S" reflected her crying episodes the first two or three weeks of school.  Thankfully the crying is a thing of the past, so we are just encouraging her to keep up the good work!  She seems to be quite a leader in her class and loves her teacher and friends.  We are both still adjusting to our time away from one another, but I think she is doing really well for such a change!

Overall, it was a great start to our first school experience.  The children seem well prepared academically and they are doing really well socially.  This weekend the boys have both been invited to parties, which was a rare treat when we homeschooled.  They all seem to be surrounded by friends when I peek in on them.  Praying that God would enable us to be encouraged and strengthened in our long drives each day.  Praying for continued wisdom and understanding.  And praising God for a good start!  Ready to keep running the race!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Update on life and fall decor

“We catch a glimpse of each other, we sense the smell of God, and although we rush away from the holiest of moments, we are utterly changed.  Life slams us into God…..and we realize that behind all the ordinary stuff there is something more dazzling and real than we can understand.  Life is holy ground.”  quotes from Radical Hospitality.

Life has truly changed in so many ways this year.  With me working outside the home for the first time since my oldest was born, and my children being in school for the first time, our world has been completely altered!  This past week marked the end of our first quarter of the school year, so I believe this is a good time to reflect on all the changes.

There have been a few days here lately that I wonder what in the world we are doing!?!  I mean, how many people take their three children, one only 6 years old, and drive an hour each way to their school?  It is a little different, and so far as I can find, the answer would leave us in a category by ourselves.  Well, that is okay, because we are often creating new categories for ourselves.  I guess this started when Andy and I got married at the beginning of our senior year in college!  It was something that we both felt an overwhelming sense of peace about doing and we were just so anxious to begin our lives together as husband and wife.  I have no regrets!  Moving from Atlanta and leaving a corporate job to start an organic farm in rural Alabama was not exactly conventional.  But prayer lead Andy to feel strongly that it was what God wanted for our family, and God wouldn't give me a peace in getting out of it!
Love candlelight on a fall night

So here we are, the unconventional family.  And now, we carry on the tradition and commute to school.  Oh well, such is life.  I discovered a long time ago that I could walk around feeling sorry for myself and comparing my life to others, or I could fix my eyes on Christ and enjoy His presence and all the love that He showers me with every day.  Life will often leave me wanting and discontent, until I remember that it really is not about my circumstances, what I have or lack, but about enjoying living for Christ and looking forward to being with Him for eternity!  It's a sweet, good life with that perspective.

Every year I pull out this watercolor painting from my friend Bonnie.
In regards to the advantages of school, oh, there are so many!  These precious children of mine are making new friends, learning how to manage their time, and learning how to work hard.  Their work is a little more intense and time consuming than their home school load.  But they are all putting forth great effort and are very self-motivated.  They learned at home how to study and were often self-taught.  Those skills are coming in handy at school with homework and school work.  They have excellent grades.  I think Jack might make a B in Latin, but otherwise they have all As across the board.  Although grades do not reflect the most important things in life like godliness, kindness, humility, etc., it is nice to see them excel and use their bright minds to learn and succeed.
Love the warm colors around the house

Their teachers are more than I could have hoped for.  They are each so well chosen for my children.  God is so good.  The tender boy has the insightful, tender teacher.  He is thriving.  The sweet, but strong willed daughter, has the more firm, but very wise teacher.  She knows when to give and when to stand her ground.  And Jack has a variety of teachers, all experts in their subjects.  He is moving at a fast pace that is often extremely challenging for him.  He has shed a few tears a couple of days on the way home because of the homework, long day, and long drive.  But he is learning how to be a man and keep pushing forward when times are tough.  Perhaps this lesson will save his life, his marriage, the church he attends, or who knows what when he is a man, this learning to find His strength in Christ and not give in easily to his feelings?  It is such an imperative life lesson and I am glad he is being challenged.
It isn't fall until we bake pumpkin muffins!

We have not quite gotten the hang of the commute.  I have yet to purchase books on cd or a dvd player for the car!  These things are on my birthday list for November!  I think having the Bible on cd in the morning, along with other books, would be great for us while we are waking up and eating breakfast.  My girl is the only morning person and her loud, incessant questions and comments in the morning challenge the rest of us...a.lot.  I need to invest in some I-tunes cards and download some fresh music, too.  And on the way home, most days the younger two have done homework by the time their brother is out of school.  (We get out at 1, he gets out at 3.)  So Jack often wants to work on homework and the other two want to talk.  We should utilize our new headphones more often.  I guess I hadn't thought out a plan for making the commute a good one.  I'll have to get on that!

I love teaching in the classroom so much.  I forgot how fulfilling and wonderful it can be.  I love the curricula that has been chosen for me.  I adore my students and the staff at the school.  I just really feel perfectly suited and so happy,  I have found that teaching as a 36 year old mother of 3 has been a completely different experience.  For one thing, there is much more of a ministry with parents.  I am asked parenting advice very often by my students' parents.  I count this as a great privilege, especially since I have always been involved in women's ministry.  I guess this is women's ministry just in a different arena.  Having the opportunity to speak truth to 15 children is just pure joy.  We have the sweetest discussions and the teachable moments are always happening.  It's incredible and I love it.  I love that my own children are being discipled so intimately by other adults who are passionate about Christ.  I am seeing the fruit in all of our spiritual lives.

A little fall decor on the kitchen island
My precious husband has been so supportive.  He has become our primary chef, making dinner most school nights and often making the children's lunches.  In fact, now that the farm isn't full force, he often does the grocery shopping, too.  It's pretty incredible.  I enjoy doing the kids' homework with them and helping them prepare for tests in the evenings while he finishes dinner.  After four years of homeschooling, I would not be able to stand not knowing what they are learning!  We have this crazy excel spreadsheet of what needs to be sent each day to school (Jack has chapel clothes, pe clothes, and drama practice on various days.  Josh takes piano and art after school on special days, and takes play clothes for after school care on the other days that I work until 3.  And Lydie has to take ballet, tumbling, or art clothes on certain days, along with play clothes.  It's  a little crazy to try and remember it all!)  And then we have another crazy little schedule for cooking, cleaning the kitchen, lunch making, etc.  We have it all planned down to every detail because otherwise we would be lost.  It feels a little like we run a marathon from Monday morning until Friday afternoon!  We do spend the night close to school with my Mom and Dad on Tuesdays in order to get a break from the commute, which is a blessing for all of us!  And then there are projects, and special days at school, and field trips.  It makes for full, busy weeks!  The weekend time to be together and rest is much more valuable and appreciated now!

We are richly blessed!  We are part of an amazing community of like-minded people, we are making precious friends, and we are all learning so much!  When the commute gets to me I just remind myself that my husband is living out his dream, we have no mortgage, and the car that we put an insane amount of miles on each week is paid for!  There's always a silver lining!  Every day I look forward to what the day will hold for all the members of our little family.  I am so thankful!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Welcome, Fall!

 We welcomed the new season with a dove shoot.  Nearly thirty friends and family joined us at our farm.  The men and some of the kids went hunting.  And most of the ladies and girls hung out at our house to play and catch up.  Then we ate a feast, as every one brought a dish for a big potluck lunch.  I took no pictures at all of the day, but it was such a treat.  We enjoyed so much playing host and enjoying the bright, fall day together.  Looking forward to making it a tradition.
"I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers."
L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

Friday, October 05, 2012

The Viking ship project

Well, we survived our first school project.  Joshua was asked to make a Viking ship.  Thankfully, he is not a procrastinator.  In fact, he is just the opposite.  So he was done a week ahead of time.  Since we had never seen the ships from past years we really had no idea what to expect.  But I think his turned out nicely.  There were many that were much, much more extravagant.  But he enjoyed making it and his Dad enjoyed giving him advice.  And at least he made it himself and learned a lot.  The fourth graders had a parade up and down the halls holding their ships.  I was so proud of my little guy!

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Lydie's field trip with her Daddy

Lydie's class is studying community helpers.  They had a big day last week going to the fire station, library, post office, and park.  There are 30 kindergartners divided into two classes of 15.  Both classes have 9 boys and 6 girls.  Andy got to know a lot of the kids and parents and I was so thankful that he could attend.  It meant the world to Lydie (and me) to have him there.  This age is so endearing.  Everything is exciting and new for Lydie right now.  She does her little school workbooks on the weekends for fun and is reading like a champ.  She is the textbook over-achiever.
She is still adjusting to the long afternoons away from me on the three days that I have to work in my classroom until 3:30.  We are both adjusting, actually.  I miss the children, but Lydie especially, so intensely on those days.  The boys are a little older and ready for the longer afternoons away.  But at the sweet age of six, it is extremely important to me that Andy and I are Lydie's primary influence right now.  We are praying about a way to approach the school principal with a creative solution.  Until then, praying for little Lydie and all the changes in her life.  She is such a joy and delight to us!

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Jack's field trip

This month Jack's class went to local caverns to enhance their study of Earth Science.  I was able to take a personal day and go with him.  I had such a great day getting to know the other parents and his friends.  This class is a sweet group of kids, very polite and kind.  They have really embraced Jackson and he is making a lot of precious friends already.

Sixth fun!
It was a little cool for the butterflies to be very active.  But this one was beautiful.

Panning for treasures is always exciting.

Wow, the caverns are spectacular.
This was a fun day of going through the corn maze, enjoying the butterfly garden, panning for gold, and exploring the caverns.  I am so thankful that I was able to go with the kids! 

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

His big debute

Jackson tried out for the school play.  He was hoping to just get to know some new friends and "maybe get a speaking part".  He read as the part of a pirate (for Peter Pan), but he impressed the judges.  And as it turns out, he got a part with many lines in every act, playing the part of Wendy's little brother John. 

Once received the script and saw all of his lines, we were astounded and so was Jack.  He has practice every Wednesday after school until 5:00 most weeks until the play in May.  It's going to be a lot of work, and we are excited about all that he will learn.   He loves, LOVES his time with the other kids and says they have a ball.  We are so shamelessly proud of him!

Lulu turned SIX!

Our girl turned 6 on the 21st of September.  She is such a spunky, joyful, little thing.  She enjoyed her day of celebration.  First, a birthday banner to walk into.  Then cupcakes at lunch.  (Chocolate with sprinkles, a family favorite.)  I was able to let the principal step into my classroom for about five or ten minutes so that I could go to recess with Lydie's class and sing to her and serve her cupcakes.

Just as I knew she would, she has made a huge following of friends.  It's actually crazy how many buddies she has.  The grammar school (grades K-5) is out at 1:00, but the rhetoric and logic school (grades 6-12) get out at 3:00.  Every now and then Lydie and I need to go upstairs to do something where the big kids are when she is done with school and they are still having school.  EVERYBODY knows her and says hi.  I have no idea how, but kids from every grade love to talk with her and hug her.  It's so cute.  She has three really special girls in my class who just adore her.  So every afternoon after school Lydie writes them a note and leaves it in their desk.  Then they write her back and leave her note in my bag.  It goes on every day.  And the girls in her kindergarten class are so precious.  She loves them all and we have enjoyed the first few birthday parties this year, spending time with them and their families and getting to know them.

For dinner, Lydie chose Moe's, of course.  We let her open our presents that evening.  She got an electric diary (too funny), the doll from the Brave movie, and clothes.  By the way, clothes are not a dull gift for her.  She LOVES getting clothes for her birthday, and that started on her first birthday when she squealed at the clothes from her Nana.  It's so fun.

Lydie is still my little best friend.  She can be quite demanding and egocentric, still.  But she is simultaneously sensitive, giving, and kind.  She does an excellent job at school.  Her teacher marvels at her self control.  She is reading and adding really well and she loves to do workbooks for fun at home, always feeling disappointed when she has no homework.  (She is such a carbon copy of me, it's ridiculous.)  She is growing in the grace and knowledge of Christ, as we see her becoming so much more knowledable about God's word and integrating it into her decisions and worldview more and more.  We just adore her and look forward to watching her enjoy this fun, exciting year in kindergarten!  What a blessing!

Monday, October 01, 2012


We have yet to celebrate our anniversary.  Maybe at the end of October?  There has been too much to do, so far.  But these flowers that Andy sent to school were so lovely.  They stayed this beautiful for weeks.  I confess, I did not even buy my sweet man a card this year!  But I can honestly say these have been the most amazing 16 years and I consider our marriage my greatest earthly treasure.  I am so excited to spend this life and eternity with my sweet Andy!