Sunday, September 30, 2012

We Are Thriving - Homeschool Week 1

From the time I received the curricula I ordered from the time I needed to start school was exactly  four days.  For about two seconds I thought I might crawl under the bed.  Then I realized that was not an option.  So, I pressed onward and upward and dove head first into the books and creating lesson plans and spelling words and art projects and bible lessons and science ideas.  Basically folks, I didn't sleep.  But, I had lesson number one covered without batting an eye.

Ah Yes!  The lesson you are wondering?  Learning can take place anywhere!  What is a mother to-do who waited one month to get an appointment just to get referrals?  That is right folks.  We dropped Addison off at preschool and drove straight to bag in tow.  We got our hot chocolates and started learning about owls, our science lesson for the week.  Allye provided entertainment for all of the patrons that morning...she needs no caffeine.  

Once Allye wore herself out we loaded up and let her fall asleep in the car as we drove 1 minute to the doctor's office.  With time still to spare we started our Language Arts the car.  I am keeping it really real for you here.  Eventually we made it to the appointment and back home where we set up shop at our dining room table.  It provides the least distraction and has awesome sunshine throughout the day!  As I fell asleep that night I was feeling very uplifted and peaceful....and tired.

The next morning was more then I expected.  While Allye took a nap Olivia and I got right to work.  What I didn't anticipate was Addison thinking this was sooo cool and wanting to do it too.  No fear, a few minutes later and she was cranking out shapes with her glue stick and practicing letter writing.  That afternoon was our first adventure.  We learned that owls often do not make their own roost, so I told the girls we were going on a nature hike to find things to make our owl a roost.  The best part?  As we are walking home Olivia says, "Mom!  This is so awesome!  I am learning stuff I would never be learning at school!"  I couldn't hide my smile.  She was excited...finally!

A couple of days later we made our owls and finally put them in their little homes we made for them.

*Toilet paper holder is used for the body.  Paint it or wrap construction paper around it in brown or black.  Place feathers all over and then glue eyes, beak and feet.  We used construction paper for the beak and feet.  We are girls, therefore; our owls have pink feathers.  :)

To complete our lesson on owls we made owl cookies!

Because this is "school" I am doing my best to let her do do most everything on her own.  This is realllllly hard sometimes.

Definitely Addison's favorite part of learning about owls!
Here are two other neat things we did this week.

For letter review (mostly for Addison) I drew out the alphabet on our driveway. One set of uppercase and one set of lowercase. Addison was given uppercase and Olivia lowercase.  With one space leftover I drew a smiley face as "home base."  I would call out the letter and they would run to the correct one.  Surprisingly Addison loved this!  Even though it was hard at times she did not want to quit.  We will do this again!

We also made our own paint!  The recipe is called puffy paint and now that I have fully experienced it here is what I think.  Very cool!  Very messy!  Kids loved it!  I recommend using card stock quality paper.  We made ours in bottles that squirt and used them as such.  You wouldn't have to do that.  The end result is a cool effect but they do take awhile to dry.  Also, only 1/4 of the recipe will fit in one of these types of bottles. 

Here is the link for the recipe I used.

I must tell you what a rewarding experience this is turning out to be.  She has repeatedly said how wonderful it is and how much fun she is having.  The demeanor in our home is more calm, relaxed, and fun.  We are spending quality time together at night now, instead of cranking out homework between dinner and bedtime.  As I am sure there will be moments when I want to pull my hair out, nothing can take away from the look on her face when she "gets it."  

What stuck with me all week?  

I have shown up where He wants me to be, and I am having a ball!

See ya soon,
The Homeschooling Mama

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Getting Out of the Boat

Hang with me here...nothing too cute or fancy but I must share and it will take a minute...or two.

As we rode through the winding mountains of North Carolina, towards Tweetsie Railroad this summer, I was very fortunate to be the passenger, for once.  My step-dad was driving and that gave me time to take in the lush scenery and just relax.  My quiet, calm, ride was quickly interrupted when I noticed one of those church signs.  You  know, where the church puts up a thought for the week.  Well, for some reason it seemed as though they were everywhere this summer and I even posted a few to Facebook when they seemed worthy of sharing.  However, on this day, this particular one stopped me in my tracks.  It said, "Don't put a question mark where God puts a period."  


I quickly repeated it to my mom and step-dad and that was just the beginning.  He says, "Well, that is your mother."  Then I realized I just came by it honestly.  Not just questioning God, but everything.  We are are analyzers, my mom and me.  We could spend hours talking through one thing to come up with no solution but feeling quite satisfied.  We got a good laugh and the subject easily moved on to something else.  Except, on this occasion, this was brand on my heart.  Why?  I listen when He talks.  I don't question.  Or do I?  I got to thinking.  How many times do I think I know best?  How many times do I think He doesn't understand?  This is different.  Right?  Let's face it...I question the periods all the time.  Why?  I really mulled this over and purposed to work on letting His periods be mine.  Little did I know He would soon put me to the biggest test ever.

As many of you know we chose to separate our family and move myself and the girls to Florida while Nate stayed in Texas, just so Olivia and Addison could start school in August.  After many grueling hours of pros and cons and back and forth the decision was simple really.  We wanted what we thought would be best for them, in this situation.  So, the girls and I moved into our home in July and sent Nate back to Texas.  We prayed that Olivia would be accepted into a school that was not our assigned school.  We finally received notice that she was accepted and I felt the biggest sense of relief.  He answered my prayer.

As we nervously attended Meet the Teacher night my motherly instincts were quickly hightened as to some things that just seemed "off."  While I can now call this a "sign" I pushed it away.  Well, just until school started 5 days later.  Standing in the lobby of this chosen school of mine, my body began to panic.  I could not explain what was happening to me.  I have never expereienced something like this before.  As soon as I could get a call to Nate I broke down.  But why?  My heart was breaking for many reasons, but logically they just weren't life or death.  Or were they?

I stood by and watched as my brilliant, out-going, enthusiastic, fun-loving Olivia deteriorated right in front of my eyes.  Words, of which I am never short of, escaped me.  I felt helpless.  No amount of smiling and positive pep even cracked her stealthy code.  I slowly began to give some of this information to Nate and he just couldn't believe it.  I can imagine why.  No one that knows her could imagine this.  That is, until he came home for a visit.  He decided to take over school duty and saw for himself.  He wanted to quit the first day.  Drop off was bad enough for him.  Pick up seemed excruciating. 

We pressed on.  I prayed.  But for what?  I prayed for an answer.  I prayed and begged Him to show me what to do.  I need those big, flashy signs that say, "This way."  And it was on a calm and rainy morning when I was sitting across from Allye giving her spoonfuls of peaches-n-cream oatmeal that He whispered it to me.  "Homeschool."  In that moment my twisted heart began to relax.  Every nerve in my body began to slowly unwind.  He didn't stutter, there was nothing else.  It was a very simple message.  And instead of a period, I put a question mark.

I quickly relayed what happened to Nate and my mom.  Both were very supportive.  My mom even began fervently calling people she knew that homeschooled their children as to help guide me in my final decision.  As I was busy working on my question marks Olivia was slipping further away.  

I'll never forget this day as long as I live.  She stayed late for art class and I was in my usual rush from Addison's dance class to pick her up only to rush them home and eat and get to church.  Ah yes, Wednesdays.  In other words, I didn't have time for anything outside of my schedule.  Except, on this day, God had a different plan.  As Olivia plopped down in her carseat I said, "How was your behavior today?"  (She had gotten a "T" for talking just two days prior.  That happens when you are bored.)  She went into a panic like I have never seen and I knew it was bad.  This was God's big red flashing sign that I "ran" because we had a schedule.

Sitting in Bible Study that night, watching a Beth Moore study video, she looked straight in the camera and said, "Have you ever had a moment in your life where He says to you, 'I am not kidding!' "  I smiled and gave a knowing nod, and my heart wrenched as if He was saying, "She is talking to you."

As I slowly crawled to my room that night I noticed the answering machine flashing.  It was the teacher.  It was worse then I thought.  It was horrific.  I called Nate sobbing, unable to get anything out.  I had failed.  I had failed as a mother.  I had failed as a wife.  I had failed Olivia.  I had failed Him.  I chose my question mark over his period.  Why?  Because it was out of my comfort zone?  Because I was afraid of failing?  Because I was scared?  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!

In that moment there was a period.  Or was there?  As I researched night and day everything to begin homeschool I was interrupted from a call from the principal.  Would I talk with her about what happened?  Yes.  And I must say, as I left the house for that appointment I looked up.  Why?  Why when I just put the period there?

But He quickly eased my mind when I walked into church just two days later.  I looked down at the crisp white handout and in big bold black letters it read, "Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained."  The title of the sermon that day.  My ears were His for the next hour as he covered Matthew 14:22-33.  And when the pastor closed he looked directly into my soul when he said,

"When your called to get out of the boat.  Get out."

So, I am out of the boat.  Praying I don't sink. But knowing when I do, He will be there, with an outstretched hand, to calmly pull me through. we come!

"When you show up where God wants you to be, you are going to have a ball."-Rev. Brice Early

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Hey Ya'll, It's Fall!

 Sometimes, when Daddy is away, we can do really girly things.  I mean, we can do really girly things with Daddy here, it's just different.  We love you Daddy!

Anyway, Saturday was the first day of Fall!  I have been counting down to this for 365 days people.  I. Love. Fall!  The best part?  We actually live in a place now that we can experience it!  WOOHOO!  Since Saturday  is pancake day I couldn't resist...

Then we got out the decorations and I had a special treat for the girls.  They got their own window clings to decorate their play room doors!

See?  Even Allye thought they were awesome!

Then we decorated our special tree.  This tree makes an appearance at just about every holiday!  Next, I sent the girls to pick out the outfit of their choice for dinner.  They thought I was crazy...but they went along...

because Mommy was sharing her "tea set" tonight to celebrate Fall with slow cooker pineapple pork, sweet potatoes, green beans, and pumpkin spice chocolate chip cake!  

"Always do your best.  What you plant now, you will harvest later."
-Og Mandino

Happy Fall!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Allye Update - 11 Months!

What a month it has been for our sweet Allye!  She has mastered walking and loves to run most times, as much as her hips will let her.

Her sneakers slowed her down at first, but it didn't take long for her to get "back in the saddle."  The scariest part is the fact that she loves to walk down our driveway.  It is on an incline and she scares me to death, but somehow she never falls.  

She is inquisitive more then ever now with bags and purses being her favorites.  It really doesn't matter whose bag, just ask the lady at the spray park...  There was no bench for me to crawl under.

Sometimes it is overwhelming.  For all of us.  So we must contain her.  Some methods are more creative then others.  

Although this is Allye's favorite method...

She is still eating up a storm and has progressed to eating everything from the table now.  Actually, eating might just be her favorite pastime. 

I told you, she eats everything...

At first, I fought the whole eating shoe thing with a vengeance.  But...with three girls, 6 feet, and no Daddy to pick up after us...she has had her fair share of gross.  No judging.  God made dirt people.

My favorite part of her growing up is her enjoyment of her surroundings.  It is such a joy to see how she interacts with her sisters and how her "growing up" experience is very different then Olivia's.  Sometimes I would use the word interesting, but most of the time I would say her experience is enriched.  Those big sisters offer something no adult can.

As we took her 11 month pictures I stared at this beautiful child that God gave us.  She is perfect in every way and has brought immeasurable joy to our family.  Her smile lights up my heart and I am holding on with both hands because I know how quickly these moments are slipping away.

Happy 11 Months!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Addison Turns 4!

WARNING:  There is lots and lots of cake and icing ahead!

 We have been counting down to the big day of 4 for 365 days.  Does anyone else feel my pain?  I mean, we have been talking about our third Dora birthday party for a year!  That is right...three years in a row Dora has been our main attraction.  Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to go on record here.  Dora is no longer invited to my house.  Well, that is, until Allye wants a Dora birthday party...

Anyway, birthday preparations started last Monday, since I decided to embark on the cake.  I had a helper.

 For obvious reasons...

There were lots of things about this cake that I could find fault with, but all that matters is my birthday girl loved it!

 We actually had to have the main celebration on Tuesday, the day before the actually day.  Ah yes, Wednesdays...can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em.  Can I get an Amen?

So, we had a pizza party (her favorite food) and invited over "the girls."  We ate lots of pizza and got right to the business of opening presents.

I love how they always get excited and want to help each other.  It's funny how the kids never mind but it drives the parents crazy.  They had a blast ripping into them and oohing and aahing over each little thing.

I would like to take a minute to show you what her future husband sent know...Cowboy Trynt?  Yes, his Mommy is patient enough to let him pick out what he sends her.  

He truly knows the way to her heart.  This must be why she was talking babies and marriage the next day.  More on that in a minute...

Then we cut the cake.  I still can't believe it.  That we cut it that is.  Two full days of nothing but cake and icing and it was torn apart in an instant.

The BIG day arrived and we were so lucky that it fell on a school day for her!  We started it off right with breakfast...

Everything needed a candle that day...

When I arrived at the school for snack time this is who greeted me.  Ready for her birthday bash at school!

 The cupcake festivities began...

 and there were more candles...

and lots of smiles...

I surprised her by inviting her friend, Lexi, to eat tacos with us after school!

 Next we headed off to dance class...

 This is when we had "the talk."  Addison says, "Mommy I want to have a baby."  Me, "Really?"  Addison, "Yes Mommy.  When can I marry Trynt so I can have a baby with him?"  No people...we are not teaching anything about babies or how to get them in this house.  But they are drinking from the same water...somehow.  Because..Cowgirl texts me on the same day this happened and says, "At dinner last night Trynt told me he was going to ride his motorcycle to get Addison and marry her so they could sleep in the same bed."  No, we are not lying.  We are worrying now about all future joint family vacations.  

Back on track.

We ran home.  Not really. I don't run anywhere. 

To get some quick dinner and more cake.  Yes, really!  You only live once!

Then we were off to church for Awana...and it was friend night!  So, we took "the girls!"

The best part of the whole day, for me, was when we got home.  By then we were all really tired.  Tireder then tired.  We dragged in and they hopped in the bath.  As I was brushing Addison's teeth I looked down and noticed something in her shoe.  I quickly realized what it was, because they are everywhere in my house.  

You see, Man could not be here on the exact day.  But, I guess you could say he was "with" her everywhere she went.  And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I married this man and am so proud he is the father to these three beautiful girls.  He loves them always.  He shows them always.  He is always there...near or far.

In honor of Addison turning 4 I am stealing this idea...

4 of Addison's Favorite Things:

1.) Dora
2.) Pizza
3.) Dancing
4.) Snuggling with Mommy and Daddy

My Sweet Addison,

You have taught me so much about life, but I am most thankful that you make me slow down and truly enjoy each day.  You are so carefree and spontaneous and I hope to learn more of that from you.  You make me a better person and mom and I hope that you know how much I love you and cherish you.  You are a gift to us that we will hold onto forever.  Your smile lights up my heart in a way that says, "I love you, let's have some fun!"  Your eyes have a sparkle that I could look at always.  Your words are sweet and intentional.  Of everything I ever teach you I want you to remember this, "Be yourself."  Because that is what I love most about you!

I love you,

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Daddy Diary Volume 2 - Day 7

Hey Dad, Mom here...

Do you hear my legs and feet thanking me right now?  You have too!  They were about to fall off and started begging me to sit down.  Honey, it is days like today that I try not to think about that nice cozy blow up mattress you get to come home and plop down on every a.f.t.e.r.n.o.o.n.  No.  I am not jealous.  My heart is just currently off-center about this.  Just you wait and see why.

So, I had to get two things done today.  Go to the grocery store and buy pounds and pounds of sugars and flour and butter, and start Addison's Dora cake.  I know I have said it before but I swear we are not doing Dora again!  This year I am being quite ambitious.

 Mine will look nothing like this of course, but I can guarantee that same Dora will be sitting on top of some kind of cake that hopefully looks like a dress.  Anyway, I thought I would get ahead of the game and bake the cakes today.  Yes, people...I said cakes.  I thought I had it all figured out and so I decided to let Addison help.

Then she informed that she wanted to do it all by herself.  Of course.  Well, since my patience cup was full I decided to let her.

 She actually did a great job and we got the first batch of cakes done.  Notice I said first batch.

That is right.  I quickly realized that it was going to take double the cake to make this dress....after I had washed everything up from our baking extravaganza...with an 11 month old hanging off my legs.  I am not bitter.

We had to run to school to get Olivia who, of course, wanted to "help."  I agree and then quickly realized why.

Yep, that is MY girl!  She made a bigger mess then Addison...that I cleaned up...yep, with an 11 month old hanging on my legs.  I actually got to thinking...maybe this will make my legs more muscular.  Maybe this is like a workout.  Maybe I am burning enough calories to justify licking the spoon, the bowl and having some crumbs.

It was all I could do to get that mess cleaned up before guess what?  They were hungry.  So, I planned a "cafeteria night" (choose your leftovers) and praise the Lord.  Maybe.  I don't think I thought it through completely.  Because...when we were done and Allye was screaming and tired and not feeling 100% I walked into a kitchen that looked like this...

After I plowed my way through that I started to clean the table only to find this...

Ah yes, that would be a Sharpie.  Very, very permanent.  Didn't even fade a little.  My patience cup was very close to empty at this point.  So I decided to get the big girls in the bath.

I turned my back for 0.4569 seconds to come back to this...

Yes, Allye strikes again.  You know what, I didn't even bother.  And do you know what else?  It is still like that right now.  'Cause guess what...I gave up.  Can't beat 'em, join 'em, right?  That is, until Addison started laughing (I was busy documenting the moment)...I turned to the tub in time to see Allye contribute to the toy selection...

 Yep.  Threw it right in.

I don't know what is wrong with your children today but I hope they sleep that right on out tonight.  In the meantime, I am propped right up in bed with screaming legs dreaming of Dora cake, made from scratch with rich buttercream icing that I fully intend to eat at least two spoonfuls of as I make it tomorrow.

Love ya,

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