Thursday, October 13, 2016

Nature Study...




I love nature study!  But, to be totally honest, I haven't always been very faithful about taking the time to simply make it happen!  I have all the books, and we keep a nature shelf! (I think I got the nature shelf idea from Soule Mama??) 



But, in the past I have made all the plans... only to be disappointed when I didn't follow through with them!  Kids love nature, and being outside discovering things together is so fun!!  And, to make it even more enticing, Erik had an oval shaped trail cut through the woods directly to the right of our house this summer.  It is perfect for nature walks! 

So, this year I was determined that we would find a way to be faithful!  I set the bar super low!  I find that setting the bar low helps to motivate me.  I am easily overwhelmed and give up when expectations are set too high.  So, here is what we are doing...

We take one nature walk a month!  One focused walk.  The kids look forward to it.  We collect leaves and flowers. We chase butterflies and whatever else they find that interests them.  We notice the changes in the trees/insects/wildlife from month to month.  We eat a picnic lunch.  When we get back home, we pull out our journals and write about what we noticed, and we draw something we collected.  (Everyone except James Christofer that is... His nature journal is a video put to music of pictures and videos he took of the rest of us while we were on our nature walk.  I'm always so excited to see the videos he puts together! Sweet memories in the making!) We, also, use the things we have collected to decorate the house! :-)  And, some months we even do a nature inspired craft of sorts! It all just makes me so happy! 


The best part is that we have been faithful three months in a row!  Easy peasy!  This I can do!




Love it!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Beach and Adding a Bit of Margin...

It feels sooooo good to prioritize blogging, memory keeping, taking time to write and reflect.  I love to reflect, think, analyze... It is who I am, how I was made.  And, for years I have not made it a priority, and my soul has yearned for it!  So, I am making a space of time in my day, at least once a week, for it!  Surely, cross my fingers, surely, I can make this happen!  If for no other reason than for my own sanity, I need it!

We took Columbus Day weekend and went to Santa Rosa Beach!  It was beautiful and fun and wonderful!

Sweet Emery...



Crazy Josh....


Jack and Emery playing a friendly little football game :-)


The condo we stayed in had kayaks with it!  We are now spoiled and will have to rent them every time we go!  The boys (Erik included) loved them.


Josh and James spent hours out there paddling away... They went a bit farther out than my comfort zone would have liked, but they were adventurous together, and I love that!



This is my resident marine biologist.  He really ought to live close to the ocean one day.  His heart is found somewhere deep in those deep blue waters.  He loves to fish and study all kinds of marine animals.  This is his happy place...


We had so much fun! New adventures...


I tried to take a selfie with Emery and Zeke, but I had to settle for one with each of them separately.  Somehow I couldn't get both of them in the same picture!





Every year all the boys have to play their annual beach football game!  Erik is the quarterback for both teams. :-)


Hours at the beach makes even this energizer bunny... Zzzzzzzzzzz....


Menchie's yogurt for dinner?!?!?!


The condo we stayed in was perfect!  We loved just hanging out there!


I took this picture from Erik and I's room at sunset one night...


We always load all our things and the kids in the van, and then Erik and I come in and run through one last quick time to make sure we haven't forgotten anything.  It is always quiet, and I always take one last long gaze out at the ocean.  I always fight tears.  I don't think it is so much that I love the ocean, but more that I love the time away from "real life" with the ones that I love the most. I treasure these little beach vacations.  They have my heart.  Until next time...

Usually we hit the ground running when we return home.  But, I was determined we would not do that this time!  I actually scheduled it so that the kids had only a few subjects to do today (our first full day home). I am learning that I tend to push myself too hard, and a little margin goes a long way when it comes to avoiding burn out.  So, instead of a crazy first day home, we have had a relaxing, sweet day.  I even made time to blog!  What???  Yes, and I am so happy I did!  And, I believe that by Friday I will be even more grateful for the slow ease back into "real life." :-)

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Embracing the Change...

It's been a while since I've visited this place, and I miss it!  I always say that I hope to be back here regularly again, but life steps in, and it all falls apart. But, I hope this time it will be different.  Yes, I am believing it will!  I am beginning to see a little glimmer of a light at the end of the tunnel.  Zeke is just about potty trained! Yikes! My baby will be 3 in just a few months.  

I've said it hundreds of times, but the winds of change are blowing through our home.  And, I guess they always are if I think about it.  Life is never stagnant.  It's always changing, stretching, growing, moving forward...  And, so this fall has brought some big changes for our family.  Number one, my sweet Joshua has started going to public school.  Here he is on his first day walking in with a sweet friend...  


It's been a bit of a roller coaster, but all in all, his transition has been painless ~ easy, even. In this small town, we know pretty much every teacher he has.  Erik is so involved with the school athletics that he is very acquainted with coaches, teachers, and administrators.  In a funny way, it has felt like a safe little nest to send him off to.  I cannot complain.  Everyone has bent over backwards to help him.  When we walked into orientation, we were met with squeals of excitement from several teacher friends.  Everyone has been so welcoming, so excited to have him!  He is playing football and looking forward to basketball which begins in a few weeks!

As for the rest of us...

We are happily homeschooling.  James misses Josh, and I am with him on that.  He doesn't have his buddy during the day, and that is hard.  But, we are slowing growing accustomed to this new normal. And, we are trying to make the best of it. When Josh gets home and begins his homework, James takes a seat next to him and busies himself with some sort of quiet work just to be near him.  It's the sweetest...


We've joined a new co-op, and we could not love it more!!!  I love it academically, and I love it for the sweet friends we have gained!  LOVE!  We are so happy! Here is my crew on their first day!


It has been a funny thing ~ beginning something new without Josh.  We go on field trips.  We go to classes.  We sing our memory work.  And, he does his own thing, studies for his own tests, does his own homework... This is a first.  We've always been one unit, doing everything together. We've always studied history together, read aloud books together, gone on field trips together.  And, now we are studying Middle Ages, and Josh is studying early colonial America.... We are going on field trips and discussing them at the dinner table, and he sits, eats, and listens, and my heart yearns a bit for the good old days.  But, if there is one thing I've learned as a mom, it is that times marches on and that the very best thing to do is embrace the change and grow with it. There is not a doubt in my mind that this is the right decision for our family at this time. So, much prayer, literally years of prayer, went into this shift from homeschool to public school.  Erik and I have had the greatest peace about this decision, and that helps on the days when we miss our sweet big boy. He has the sweetest friends from the sweetest families, and that makes my heart so happy!!

In other news... Fall is by far my favorite time of year.  My heart is always so full during fall, so thankful.  I love the colors.  I love the chill in the air.  I love the cool breezes.  I love the smells of cinnamon and apples and pumpkin spice.  I love a warm drink and a sweater.  And, I love sunset football games between brothers.  They are my fave...

Our little world spins on and on... Time flying by so fast that I am left stunned and speechless at times.  When I started this blog, I had only Josh and James.  Now look at our crew!  Some days I feel fresh and happy and young like that mama I once was ~ the one who never had to think of lesson plans or dropping off or picking up kids at various activities.  That mama who just took her little ones on walks and drew with sidewalk chalk for hours on end....  And, then, at other times I feel war torn and tired.  I've lived a lot of life since the sweet simple days of only small children.  It is an interesting place to be ~ to be the mother of big kids with football and basketball games, as well as, the mom of little ones who still want to sit in your lap and listen to you read Brown Bear, Brown Bear over and over again.  And, so I try to find the balance, to be both these moms to both these types of children... Sometimes I find myself frustrated with the older boys' busy schedules or frustrated with the littles for not being "easy" for ME (note my selfishness) at their brothers' ball games.  But, really, they are all precious, and I pray God will make me enough to be the mother they all need, all 7 of them.


I hope to be back again very soon! :-)

Monday, May 30, 2016

The Beach 2016

When our plans to go to the beach were in the early stages,  Erik was hoping to find a place on Rosemary Beach or Destin.  But, for some silly reason, my heart is here at Fort Morgan.  I know it isn't as pretty.  But, it also is not as touristy nor as crowded. And, when it came down to being 2 blocks from the beach or being directly on the beach for the same price, we again went with Fort Morgan.  And, for 5 days we listened to old Jack Johnson (Curious George soundtrack) and took it slow...



Daddy did the big grocery trip once we got to Gulf Shores, and he bought some fun things!! :-)


I think one of my favorite things about the beach is how it wears out my kids!! So much fun!


I love that when we go (spring and fall) we almost have the beach to ourselves.  It makes watching the kids so much less stressful!


Next year we will have to buy a tent because someone did not like the sun on her! :-)


Mother's Day 2016...





My favorite thing to do at the beach...


Steamers in Gulf Shores at the recommendation of some sweet friends!  The perfect spot for a big family like ours!


Matt's Homemade Alabama Ice Cream was awesome! We will be back for sure!


Fort Morgan, thank you once again for a peaceful, wonderful family vacation! This makes our fourth trip to this beach, and it is beginning to feel like a second home to me!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Pouring Out...

Wow. It's quiet. I'm sipping hot chocolate and writing. What??

It's a rare treasure indeed.  I couldn't decide how to spend my quiet 30 minutes or so...  I could grade papers, get ready for tomorrow, or write...

I chose to write even though it is painful for me right now.  It is painful and slow.  I feel uninspired. I don't talk about it much ~ how hard it is.  But, everyday is a challenge these days.  This stage of life calls for me to be many things for a good many people.  I work from sun up to sun down and give until I am literally, completely, and wholly spent. I crawl into bed so exhausted. Each day I give every ounce of everything He gives me.  Never in my life have I felt this kind of tired.  It is new to me. The laundry must be done, the counters wiped, the dinner for 9 made, the papers graded, the naked bottomed baby chased, the white boards readied for another day.... The list goes on and on.

I don't meant to complain.  But, it has been on my mind a lot lately.  Lord, how long can I continue at this pace with almost never a moment to myself?  Being the introvert that I am, this is such a stretch!

And, as I ask this question, I feel His answer pressing in on my soul. He tells me that He is doing something, working some beautiful things in me, working some ugly things out of me...  He assures me that He sees me on those days when I feel like no sees me.  On the days when I feel like a body being drug from one fire to the next, doing my best to put each one out ~ little hands grabbing my sweater pulling me to the fridge for more milk, older boys asking for a grilled cheese or homemade cookies or a fried egg on toast, math questions, a stopped up toilet again... I'm stumbling through so bewildered and overwhelmed, trying to just. do. the. next. thing.  On those days, He is near, and He assures me that His hands are on me, molding me, stretching me, holding me closely.  He is not far removed.  He is not distant. He is with me here in my chaos.  And, that is beautiful. And, it makes everything worth it.

And, as hard as it is.  I feel Him like never before.  As we puttered through our school day today listening to praise and worship on You tube in the schoolroom, Oceans came on. I couldn't breathe, I cried so hard. I just worshipped right there with Zekey holding my legs and the boys working all around the table.  I just cried and couldn't stop. I looked around the table.  Do they get it?  I know we have been faithful to tell them all about our great God.  They could beat most adults at Bible Trivia. But, do they get it?  Because when you are being stretched and pulled and tugged and worn ragged by the world, Bible trivia won't help you. But, the Holy Spirit of the Living God inside you breathing life, infusing hope, raining grace, and pouring out mercy ~ that will be all they need. Oh, how I pray that they get that!

I'd like to be perfect like... yesterday!  But, I'm not.  Try as I may, I cannot go long without derailing.  He knows.  He keeps assuring me that He is working, and I feel it, so I keep on.  And, if you want to know the truth, that exhausted feeling that I feel at the end of the day....

I LOVE it.  Is there a better way to live than to give all I have? I crawl into bed, pull up my covers up under my chin, and lay there just praying.  My bed has never felt so wonderful as it has the last few years when more has been asked of me than ever before.  I'm thankful. One day when life is quieter, less busy, I will miss going to bed completely spent.  I'll miss the way it felt to pour myself out ~ empty. Only to lay down and let Him refill me for the next day.

Thank You, Jesus.

Friday, October 02, 2015

These are the days!

My boys and our sweet neighbor friends singing the pre game national anthem before beginning to play football in the front yard.  Such fun! Fall makes my heart happy.

I can't explain it.  I just love this time of year. Everything about it makes me happy!  The smells, the colors, the cool weather... Happy.

These two are night and day different, but they get along so well.  I love them so much.


Watching college football...


We were too into the game to stop and take Jackaroo to bed!


School outside... It happens during fall because mama can't stand to miss out on the nice weather!

This little dog,"Sniffer," continues to hang around.  Now he has started sleeping on our doorstep.  How sweet!  If Erik would let me, I'd adopt you, little one!


One evening this week all the kids played on the swing set.  Every now and then it hits me that one day this wooden structure will stand empty and quiet, no children crawling over every inch of it.  I'm so thankful that this is not true today.  Our swing set is 10 years old and going strong!  It gets so much playtime. It is beginning to look a bit worn.  I love it.  My big boys still play like kids.  I don't know what I'll do when they quit!?!?!  I will miss these days!


Climbing trees...


I love fall so much, but I'm really trying to take in all the GREEN!  I know that in less than two months the leaves will all be gone.  The green is so lush and pretty, but it is slowly turning right before our eyes!  One season bleeding into the next. Might as well sit back and enjoy the change!


Photo bomb!


She has my heart.  There aren't words.


Leaves scattered on the pond means fall is on its way.  Our home, our little neck of the woods, it means so much to me.  The tall trees, the pond, the land for boys to run and play.  I am always grateful for our little piece of land, but during the fall months it overwhelms me.


My photo
Hi! I live in a sweet country home overflowing with love, laughter, and little ones. I have been blessed to journey these days beside a man that I love, respect, and admire. He is my soul-mate and best friend. Together we are seeking to raise our seven children to be lovers of God, to be wise and discerning, and to be all that our sweet God created them to be. I am in the goldfish and cheerio stage of life, but I am keenly aware that these days are slipping right through my hands. This blog is my attempt to keep our memories safe for years to come.

 

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