Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Breeley's 11 month pictures

I love how this captures her serious side.
How big is Breeley?

Gaining confidence to explore.

A blurry keeper. :)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Ten Days to To Ten Years

In ten days Doug and I will celebrate our ten year anniversary. It's amazing to me that that many years have passed. (I certainly haven't aged ten years!)

Here are my ten favorite things about my husband.

1. He loves to laugh.
     I love the way our home fills with joy when he comes through the door. It doesn't matter what time he goes in to work (some days as early as 1 or 2 am), how cruddy his day was, he makes the kids and I feel as though nothing is better than coming home. The silly jokes, the games, the tickle wars and wrestling matches continue until the kids are tucked in. He manages to put a fun spin on everything. I am so blessed to have not only someone who shares the work load of raising a family but adds joy to it as well. Breeley loves laughing with her Daddy, too.

2.  His loyalty. 
     Doug is one of the most loyal people I know. He is a faithful husband. As a father, he is beyond trustworthy. He never makes a promise unless he is willing to keep it. He is an amazing friend and dedicated employee. 

3. He is so creative.
    He designs tools, kitchens and mosaic tile entryways. He is teaching himself to be a knife maker.  One of my favorite things is this gorgeous picture frame he designed and made. 

4. He is organized.
     Some days it drives me and my "fly by the seat of my pants" self nuts. But I admire it! He keeps our family's finances on track. Writes down lists to go to the store for me. At work his job is multi-faceted, and in every area, they know they can depend on him. 

5. He gives amazing backrubs!
     Granted, that's pretty selfish....but oh, so very true. : )

6. He pursues his interests and encourages me to pursue mine.
     I love how he never says never to something that interests him. It sets such a great example for the kids to watch him continue to learn and grow. It took me several years to learn that unless something creative is happening in his life, he is not content. 

7. He is a servant.
      Doug has a servant's heart. Wherever we go, Doug is willing to serve. The other day it was noticing a man in the L@we's parking lot trying to load some large pieces of cement board. Before I was even out of the car he was across the parking lot. Or the time I asked why it took so long to get home from work, he had turned around to help a man push his stalled car. When he sees a need he gives. No questions asked. Nothing wanted in return. He just gives.

8. He is generous with his time, talent and treasure.
      See above.

9. His gorgeous eyes.

10. He is uncompromising.
      I'm not sure if this goes in the win or lose column. : ) When my husband is convinced of something is worth fighting for, he will. When he has a chance to cheat, he won't. (Unless he is playing his grandma in Euchre.) When standing up for someone could cause tension, he does it anyway if he knows it's the right thing.  It's one of the many things that makes him so trustworthy and safe to have as a friend, father and husband.

I love you! I can't wait to celebrate ten years!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mama said there'll be days like this, There'll be days like this Mama said

Happy Mother's Day!

Being "Mom" is one of the greatest joys of my life. I love the sound of the giggles, the late night chatter of the girls, the enormous hugs my only boy gives, the sweet little "ma-ma's" that are just starting to come from my baby girl's mouth. There are so many blessings to being a mommy, my heart overflows with the joy of it.

There is also the other side of being a mom. And the "less than perfect mommy moments" as a friend of mine put it. The days when the chaos overwhelms. Sibling wars peak. My housekeeping and laundry folding are way behind. The flower gardens sport more dandelions than flowers that were planted. When dinner is the last thing on my mind and it's already 6:00.

Yes, my mama said there'd be days like this. I've got a wise mama!

As I raise my children there is something that Mom said that sticks with me. "God gives us children to grow us up while we are raising them." I didn't understand her. I had the phone tucked between my ear and my shoulder, my first newborn snuggled in my arms, talking to Mom.  I was ready to be Mom. Ready for the exciting adventures of parenthood. After all, I knew how this was going to go. I had my parenting map laid out and ready.

Fast forward a few years. My second newborn in my arms, standing at the window of our - fairly new to us , in the heart of being remodeled -home, job changes and pay cuts still being adjusted to, phone tucked between my ear and my shoulder, toddler tugging on my legs, crying into the phone, "Mom, how do you do it?"

The lessons I've learned as a mom have come from seeing my character flaws in my children and choosing to make a change in myself. Seeing the joy they gather from the little things and learning again to slow down and watch a earth worm bury itself. Blowing dandelion fluff and not worrying about the million new plants we just released. Rows of beets and lettuce growing crooked and uneven in my garden. Planted by little fingers that were full of joy.

I'm learning so much from my kids. From their joy. From their misbehavior.

It's easy to latch onto their joy. It's so difficult to find the heart of their misbehavior. Oftentimes, as much as I hate to admit it to myself. I need to root out the heart of it in myself. When my kids are angry and quick with their words, I look at the example I have been setting.

When they don't have time for each other, have I made time for them? Do they share freely? Do they seem insecure in their place in our home. So many areas they struggle with, I trace back to myself.

That's not to say that I don't recognize that my children have innate sin in their lives. That is part of my job as mom. Many times their wrong choices are simply that - wrong choices. Choices that need to be disciplined, corrected, changed. Just as their right choices need to be disciplined, applauded, encouraged.

In each of these situations God is growing me as a mom, as a wife, as His child. I'm so thankful for the godly Mom I have who encouraged me to "grow up" with my kids.  As I continue to learn from her, gleaning for the wisdom and discernment she continues to give I want to say a public thank you.
"Her children arise and call her blessed""

I love you, Mom! Happy Mother's Day.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Hitting My Stride

The school year is coming to an end. How is it that this school year is almost all in the record books?

The days required by the state will be completed in just a handful of days and now begins  "mommy days." The kids don't know it, but what the state requires is different from what I require. I'm not about to shut the books when I see my kids on the edge of a break through in math. Or when they are in the middle of a fabulous science until. Or when the history book that the beg to read is almost finished, but the days have already been crossed off.

So we are studying on.

And it's a good thing too. I finally feel like I've hit my stride. More than 170 days later. This year has been a roller coaster of a school year. We started early, I knew I'd need to build in some days with a newborn around. (Was it really just a year ago she was still kicking my ribs?)

We started in July. With a days old baby, caterpillars were ordered and math books were cracked open. Diagrams of the habitat were drawn, labeled, colored and proudly shown to Daddy. VBS interrupted (HA!) with it's stories, songs, crafts, and history/economic/social background of India - the kids worked (I'm a mean mom) to earn pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters to donate. The proceeds went to buy chickens and help pay for Indian children to attend Bible school.

Through the year, my mom - who still teaches at her local homeschool co-op - graciously sent the lesson plans, and study guides that she wrote over email for Ty and Becca for science. They loved reading what Grammy wrote for astronomy, oceanography (field trip to FL anyone?), weather, geology and more.

A few months ago I went to a Charlotte Mason conference. It was a small informal meeting in a friend's home, but it has changed my approach to homeschooling so much. I never had a "teaching style". Our days were loosely organized. I knew the kids were learning what the needed, but I still felt incomplete as a mom/teacher. Since that meeting early this year my approach to school and our days have changed so much. Especially in the last few weeks. Part of it I know is answers to prayers from dear friends. This has not been an easy year outside of school life. Our family has had big changes. Some good - Doug was promoted at work. Some wonderful - the addition of Breeley. Some heartbreaking - Jim's death. 

I think the biggest change this year has been the way I look at our school.  When I began to teach I said I would homeschool as long as I could still be a good mom. I've been blessed to be around families where homeschooling made the familial bonds stronger. I've also watched as families grew apart and didn't get back on track until school choices changed. My commitments are God, wife, mother, homeschooling mom... Keeping the third and fourth roles of my life straight are important to me. So this year I put that into practice. Up all night with a fussy baby? I had a choice: try to do school sleep deprived and grouchy or snuggle with my kids on the couch and watch a movie, listen to them read, get out the paints, or other activity that would build a family bond. I chose the latter. The kids need time to grieve? Let's do Bible and call it a day.

It may be later in the year than I would have liked, but I'm finally hitting my stride. It's so affirming of our decision to keep homeschooling. I know that each year will have it's challenges. Breeley's two naps a day are saving my sanity. What's next year going to look like with only one nap? We found a weekly co-op that the kids love. How will that fit into our schedule? I'm can't wait to see what next year looks like. I'm so excited to be finding my way down this crazy, fun, wild ride called homeschooling.

*The rest of the post is the kids progress this year. While I'm in the mode I thought I'd write that down too!

Tyler has grown leaps and bounds this school year. Still so inquisitive, he keeps me on my toes. His reading has improved about two grade levels. It's been so much fun to watch him take learning into his own hands. He researches the birds in our backyard, is devouring the "Little House" and "Boxcar Children" books, loves to build with his tool set and legos, and (he is a boy after all) frequently asks to take things apart so he can see how they work. Math continues to be a strong area. He is working on multiple digit multiplication including regrouping. 

Becca is doing so well at school. She flies through her seat work. Creative writing and arts are by far her favorite things. She is learning to write stories that flow well and loves to make "bubble letters." This year her handwriting has improved dramatically. (Thanks, Mom, for the workbook!) She is working on addition and subtraction and loves to read, sing and dance. Her love of learning is paying dividends for me. She often plays school with Hope and Breeley reading to them and keeping them occupied. She continues to read well above grade level.

Although I had no intention of starting a newly turned three year old in school, Hope had other plans. This year she has learned to write her name and draw faces. Along with the letters in her name, she is recognizes the most frequently used letters and their sounds. She counts to thirty and does some simple addition and subtraction using manipulatives. She loves to sort, recognizes most colors (red/green confusion), and memorizes stories and songs very well. Play dough and simple jigsaw puzzles are her favorite quiet activities. She is helping with chores and learning to play well alone. She loves to cut - thankfully paper - and paste. Some of her art work adorns our walls.