Wednesday, November 27, 2013


I'm thankful for many things this Thanksgiving Eve.  Most of our family was sick last week.  It was an awful week.  We had to miss a lot of fun events that had been on the calendar for months.  Putting these disappointments in perspective in the mind of little ones is sometimes hard.  I want to be sympathetic, but on the other hand, want them to realize that the world has very large problems and not being able to go to a pizza party isn't one of them.  We've been reading The Hiding Place for history.  It's taken us months to get through, partially because we lost it for awhile.  Corrie is in prison now, and she's thinking about what she should have packed in her prison bag.  Things like aspirin, (because she's been feverish for weeks) soap, needle and thread, and a toothbrush are on that list.  The joy when she receives a little package from her sister filled with tiny gifts that are colorful is enough to make you cry... she hasn't seen color for months.  She's in a miserable situation, but the Lord is forever faithful and teaches her about Himself amidst this time of suffering for her.  She never doubts Him.  Corrie clings to her Savior.

History is good for perspective.  Even for me.  I was sick, on my birthday, and missed lots of fun holiday events myself.  I had to check my own heart.

It's made this week sweet and wonderful, as I sit here, able to drink my coffee (I always know I'm really sick when I don't want coffee!) and enjoy things like my body NOT aching, having energy to do the things I want to do, and savor foods that God is so good to give.

Here are some snippets, mostly from Instagram, of our last weeks.  There is much to be grateful for in these pictures.
My bedstand, after I cleaned out all the dirty tissues and crumbs :)  Thanks to Chris for making it pretty with the flowers!

My sickie buddy.  We were the sickest, and logged in the most time on Netflix.

For fever reducers.  You know it's sad when you have to start writing it down.  I'm not sure what this demonstrates... too many sick kids or a mother whose mind is slowly getting older ;)

Wildflowers/weeds from Nathan brought to me in bed.

Baylors beat Tech at the Cowboy's Stadium!

The new and improved downtown Fort Worth!

He easily outruns me now.  This was him looking back at me for most of the run, making sure that I was coming.

The sick ones stayed back from the Baylor/OSU game.

I was grateful to be by the warm fire.  This is how the other half looked.  Brr.

The first Christmas cookie of the season.

Gobbled up by the warm fire outside.

Mornings this week.  We aren't usually all in one room, but we were this morning, and it was sweet.

Done with morning school early and enjoying some quiet playtime.  I was marveling at how long this lasted.  There were YEARS that I felt like I couldn't leave the room for more than five minutes.  It's different now and I love that they are friends.  They still fight all the time, but have lots of good moments too.

I'm grateful for these days and these moments and all these boys in my life. 

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Homeschooling and Comparisons

This is the first post where I get into the nitty gritty of home schooling.  I'm not much of an advice giver, but you guys have asked (very nicely) and so I'll do my best to share with you what I've learned.

Let me begin with a few disclaimers.  I have only boys.  I know NOTHING about schooling girls.  I have a feeling it's a whole different ballgame.  I have a feeling I wouldn't be saying things like "a whole different ballgame" if I didn't have all boys.  So if you have a house full of girls, you might write an entirely different post.  But I do think some of these principles will apply to whomever you might have in your household.

Second, I'm not an expert in the area of home schooling, not by a long shot.  All I have is my own experience and research. 

And last, the way that we've home schooled hasn't been tested and proved.  My oldest son is 11 and I'm hoping and praying just like the rest of you that my boys will have what they need to make it in this great big world. 

  We began homeschooling in 2007.  Graham was five.  We had just moved to Minnesota and I didn't know a soul who home schooled.  It was lonely, and Graham (bless him) may have been one of the hardest kids ever to start with.  The boy had such an -- um, unique learning style.  He didn't like writing, which kind of makes subjects like handwriting difficult, or math since you have to do things like write your name on the top of the paper and be able to write that 1 + 1 = 2, or art since you have to do things like draw and paint.  And to top it all off, phonics wasn't clicking with him all too well either.  All the while, my friends' kids were excelling in whatever school they were in and I was feeling like a great big failure and feeling like it was all my fault.  On the days that I was tired and fed up with it, we fought, and I would lose my temper with him, and all those idealistic images of home schooling FLEW out the window.  Snuggling up and reading books were a disaster because the other three kiddos (who were 4, 2, and 1 at that time) didn't much care for snuggling up.  They much preferred to make loud noises, run around and irritate each other while I was reading.  Graham didn't like any part of school and I felt like he was getting further behind with each new day.  STRESS.  I remember it so clearly.

I'm giving you the background because I know starting can be HARD.  It's hard to not compare yourself and your kid to what everyone else is doing.  And sometimes home-school moms are overly competitive.  We all want to brag that our kids love to read, are obedient, and work diligently to get their school work done . . . all the while we are memorizing Scripture.  It's never been that pretty in my house.  We have days like that, and sometimes seasons like that.  But then one of us plays the sinner, and it's all over.  We struggle through some days and soar through others.  We celebrate the good days and apologize for what went wrong during the bad ones.  Home schooling is just like life.  It is an instrument that God uses to refine us.

The first part of this is written all to give you this great pearl of wisdom, or which you probably know.

Don't compare your situation or kids with others' situations and kids.

This one is hard, because I know you will.  It's impossible not to.  I still do it.  Too much.  But I've experienced enough success and failure to know that it's worthless, all the comparisons.  But I'm asking you to try.  Kids are all so different.  So different.  And they will achieve things at different paces, especially when they are young.  That is o.k.!  Some of my boys are ahead of where I need them to be.  Some struggle with keeping up with what we assign them. They're different.  Some kids are more patient.  Some are more motivated.  Some are good at writing.  Some are good at math.  Some are good at reading.  And that poor first child.  We want them to be perfect at everything because that makes us feel good about ourselves.  You've heard moms talking about their kids.  Can you believe Johnny is only two and knows all his letters and sounds?  My Jenny devours books.  She's always reading.  Joe was asked to play on the all-star team.  We hear these things, and though we want to be happy for them, we have a hard time because we feel like a failure.  And as a home schooler, there is no school or teacher to blame.  There is only me, myself, and I.  And I've let the pressure get the better of me more times than I'd like to admit.

With time, I've become more comfortable with the idea of resting in God when it comes to my kids and what they will become.  I've always been comfortable with the sovereignty of God when it comes to things that are more spiritual, but when it comes to something like school . . . well, those things are up to ME!  I must get tasks done with sheer will power and hard work.  These are so intertwined.  There are some areas in school that can be accomplished with hard work, and others that you must simply wait for.  Waiting is hard.  Waiting for your child to learn to read, or waiting for them to finally hold that pencil correctly in their hands, or waiting for a bad attitude to be overcome.  Waiting and trusting in God that he has your child's best (which may or not be success) in mind is something that requires faith.  God gave your children to YOU.  You are the expert on them.  You can only push them so hard to be who they aren't.  Love them.  Teach them.  Pray for them.  Nurture them.  These are the things you are called to do.

For my next post, I'll get to that ever-popluar question, "What do you do with those little kids while you are schooling?"

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Things I Want to Remember

The weather made a turn for the better here in Texas about a month ago.  There's that glorious morning when you wake up, step outside and you are NOT hit like a freight train with heat.  It's an exciting development for me because it means the boys use our backyard again.  We don't have a whole lot of shade so it's hard to play outside much in the summer.  

The boys decided they were going to sleep outside and started getting everything all set up.  They did everything by themselves with only a little bit of arguing.
I hope they camp together for years to come.  I love camping, but it's been hard to do it as a family much because of having little kids.  So this practicing in the backyard is good for them.

Graham was testing out his camping stove.

Jopie was randomly using this tool (what is it called?  a big hammer?).

He smiles pretty much all the time, just like this.  No matter what he's doing.

Nathan, like usual, was the captain of fun.

With crazy hair.

I bet you never knew you could have so much fun with just one green ball.  Thank you, Schefflers, for the super fun birthday present!

Graham was in charge of dinner.  He made some stellar ramen soup.

The boys bonded, spent some good time outside, and we didn't spend a dime, well, besides 24 cents for each pack of ramen.

These are the nights I want to remember.  I love a quiet evening at home when it's just us.  And when it happens to be peaceful, it's an added bonus.  These days are slipping by so quickly.  Sweet Graham is almost 12, and it was just yesterday that we welcomed him into the world.  Now he's making dinner for his little brothers.  Soon we'll talk about driving and colleges and what he wants to do with his life.  I felt more confident when he was a baby.  I was an expert at keeping him fed and changing his diaper.  These next years in our family will have so many challenges.  I'm trying hard not to get ahead of myself, but the very thought of it makes me savor simple nights like this one.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Nathan's Party

Because Nathan is the fifth kid, he's really never had a real birthday party.  Poor kid.  His birthday alway seems to fall during a bad time.  So this year I wanted to throw him a big old party.  It wasn't really that big, but as many people as I could invite to keep it small enough so I could still enjoy his weekend and not spend all weekend cooking for his party.  I'm not all that great of a birthday party mom.  Their birthdays seem to creep up on me, and this particular party came about with an email to a few families about five days in advance.  But I'm thankful most everyone was able to come and bless Nathan.  He LOVED every minute of it.
Nathan wore his new Wolverine costume during the entire party.  I didn't intend on this to happen but I sure wasn't going to tell him to change.  

And these girls were so sweet to include Jopie and Nathan in their game.  See that girl in the pink.  Nathan says that she is his girlfriend ;)  Watch out boys, Nathan punches wildly when he doesn't get what he wants.

Baby Violet is his favorite baby.  She stole the show.  

I made about 100 cupcakes and we ate chalupas.

I have to admit.  The cupcake frosting was GOOD.  The cake part is from a box so I thought I needed to make up for that by making good frosting.

Note to self:  I should have cleared the counter behind Nathan because it bugs me seeing that big tupperware container and red cup.  But oh well.  His cute smile makes up for it!

I love all these friends in my kitchen!  It filled up my people-loving soul for at least a week.

And I love that he thoroughly enjoyed his party.

And I so appreciate that Riley, in the midst of her very busy junior year, makes the time to come to Nathan's party.

And Sallie, who has known me since I was born, now blesses my children by being their Aunt Sallie.

I'm grateful that he had such a special day!  And especially thankful that I get to be his mom!
Excuse the gummy sharks, but they were part of his birthday present and he REALLY wanted them in the picture, and I just couldn't say no :)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Excessive Birthday Cuteness

I just love this set of pictures.  Watching Nathan open his presents this year was, well, I can't even think of the appropriate word... maybe a mixture of cute and fun and lively and joyful and magical all wrapped into one.
Here he got his beloved Spiderman coat that he loves so much now that he cries when it's dirty.

 The rest of these photos will speak for themselves.  But oh my goodness, their sweet faces full of joy.  I love it all.  But especially how happy everyone else was for Nathan.  And how giddy he was over it all.

You have to love the excitement!

His big present from Grandma and Grandpa.  They came and surprised him for his big day.  They drove all the way from Minnesota to be with him on his birthday.  That's true love.

Stay tuned tomorrow for party details.