Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Calm Before the Syllabus...

Thursday night.

Thursday night Erik and I go to our co-op's parent meeting, and it is then and there that we will receive two very important things....

My baby monkey!!  :-)
I had to throw that pic in!!!

#1 We will receive syllabi for all of our boys' classes!  

#2 And, we will, also, come home with a large box full of books, books, workbooks, more books, and a couple additional books.  I get all giddy when I go through the history and literature books!! :-)

We have so enjoyed easing into the school year ~ just doing the core subjects.  I keep reminding the boys that more is coming.... And, so Thursday night I will receive all of their assignments for next week through the end of the school year, and I will spend several hours this weekend playing with hours and minutes and fitting it all into a neat little schedule or attempting to, anyway!  And, the calm before the syllabus will be over. :-)  

I am so excited about all that they will learn this year, and all that I will learn, too, right beside them!  

Here are a few pictures of the boys enjoying the slow pace of the last two weeks...

I caught him just like this... cute!

A happy bunch of boys!

 James got to play with pattern blocks as part of an assignment the other day!  He got to use his imagination and make something.  I thought his design was so pretty!!!

 Big boys receive happy tokens for reading to little boys!

Meet Buddy.  He has been a big hit around here!

 Eriky's turn to say Grace at lunch.
I can hardly contain my giggles when he prays.  He is so serious about his praying!

He is a ridiculously cute pray-er!!!

Lije climbed his very first tree this week with the help and instruction of his expert tree climbing brothers! :-)  He was soooo excited!  Of course, I had to help him down the first couple times, but eventually, he got the hang of it!!

Silly monkey!

Lije fell asleep on my lap while listening to one of his big brothers read to me.  He is four, and he still falls asleep in my lap about once a week.  I know it won't last much longer, so I am soaking it up!!!

Playing games with Lije. 

I don't have many pictures of the big boys!  Oops!  Their work isn't as colorful or fun!  We've had a fun week and a half.  I'm a little concerned about fitting everything in after I see the dreaded syllabi tomorrow night.  But, I know it will all work out!  Step by step.  More and more I am learning that God orders my days, and they often do not work out according to my plans.  But, He knows what truly needs to be accomplished each day.  And, sometimes a broken heart or a child who simply needs a little extra attention comes before the checklist.  Isn't all of life about being sensitive to His Spirit?  Guide our steps, Lord, each and every little step.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Four Month Old Jackaroo!!

Hi, Mr. Four months!

Man, you are stealing my heart!  You have such a sweet personality, and it is really beginning to shine through!!  Your brothers adore you!  They are absolutely crazy about you ~ never leaving you alone!!  They always want to hold you, lay beside you, tickle you, or dance in front of you and make you laugh!!

You have such sweet big brothers!!

 You are really beginning to be a lot of fun ~ playing with things and interacting with us!  You are still sleeping in the pack and play beside our bed, and you are not yet on a firm schedule.

  You look like a combination of all your brothers.  I can see every one of them in you at one time or another.  I love how they love you and how you love them with all your big smiles and giggles.  We are so glad to have you in our family!  We love our little Jackaroo!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Good Old Rain Dog.

I often tell people that Rain has been with Erik longer than I have.

I guess that isn't entirely true.  Erik and I had been dating a year and a half when Erik got Rain.  He says that I mentioned wanting a dog, but I knew that my dad wouldn't let me have one.  So, Erik claims he bought Rain for me.  But, really, I think he bought Rain for himself. :-)  Or, maybe, he bought Rain for us.

Regardless, thirteen years ago a single guy living all alone, bought a dog, and our little family began.

Rain has always been a healthy dog except for a few UTI's.  And, I think we've always assumed he'd be with us forever.  Fast forward to a couple weeks ago...

Rain started panting and pacing unable to rest well or find comfort.  So, we took him to the vet, and they discovered a large tumor on his spleen.  So, we opted to have surgery to remove it.  But, when he went in for surgery, we didn't know what they would find upon opening him up.  And, we didn't know how well he would handle surgery being so old and all.  They gave us a little time alone with him before surgery...

It is crazy to pet your dog's soft fur and silky his sweet ears and know that it just might be the last time.

One five pound tumor later and Rain was good.  He had a few setbacks, a little bout with pancreatitis, but, all in all, he did well for a dog his age.

He had to stay with the vet for 5 days, and we missed him so much!  The boys did very well until Erik's brother and their family left, and then suddenly they began to notice his absence.  Joshua made a sign and hung it from the mailbox asking those who pass by to please "Pray for my dog Rain."  And, he made this replica of Rain and lay it on his bed...

We went to visit Rain several times during his stay.  They let us take him outside and pet him and spend a few minutes alone with him.  But, those visits were hard because Rain wanted so badly to come home with us, and we felt horrible leaving him.  At home the boys missed his barking ~ which we all hate normally!  JCT spilled some yogurt on the floor one day, then looked up at me and said, "If Rain were here, he'd eat that for me."  And, Elijah remarked one day that, "It just isn't the same without Rain."

But, finally, we got to go pick up our Boo Boo and bring him home!!!!  Doesn't he look happy!!!

He is taking quite a few meds, and his pathology reports are still pending.

But, we are so glad to have him home with us...

And, I think he is glad to be home with us, too.  We don't even mind all the barking.  We're actually kind of thankful for it!

Friday, August 12, 2011

First Day Pictures.

Saying the pledge....

Eriky was trying to figure out exactly how do I do this????

Sweet brothers...

Joshua ~ 3rd grade

James Christofer ~ 1st grade

Elijah ~ 4 year old preschool

Erik Daniel ~  (Almost) 3 year old playschool

Happy Days!!! :-)

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Rest and Trust

I sat quietly with pen and paper two days ago.  I was alone with hot tea and a head full of dreams, and my pen ran furiously across my paper as I prayed my dreams to Jesus.  I was supposed to be writing about my goals for school this year, but instead of writing about scholastic goals, I found my mind fixed on goals of another kind.

Last year everything was new and a bit intimidating.  This year I am still a bit intimidated, but I am praying to trust and rest and breathe, to live each moment and not be swept away under the workload.  I am praying that my focus will be first and foremost their hearts and souls and then their minds.  A nourished, healthy, full soul will make the learning more of a joy.  It is His world.  All things are His.  All subjects begin and end in Him ~ the detail and precision of math, the story of His world from creation to the present, and the exploration and curiosity of the scientific world.  All things are His, and it is a privilege and a joy to walk this journey.

I am constantly aware of this...

But, I have five boys, and my home can be a tad busy.  And, when I sit down to schedule, I find that I need four more hours than the day gives me!!  And, so, practically, resting and trusting looks something like this...

Sit down, calm down, teach math to Joshua, leave him with work to practice on, deep breath, sip of hot tea, sit down beside JCT, teach JCT math, leave him with work to practice on, deep breath, long sip of hot tea, and on it goes....

So, my prayers/goals for this year are simply summed up in this...

Rest.... Trust.... Slow.... Breathe Deeply.... Smile easily....  Laugh loudly.... Grow.... Embrace the moment.... and Enjoy the journey....

Each day is truly a gift.

Monday, August 08, 2011

First Day of School ~ Just Kidding!!

 I've been telling the boys for weeks now that today would be our first day back to school, and they believed me!  Joshua took an extra long time waking up this morning...

I made pancakes and eggs.  It was a celebratory day!  I kept asking the boys, "Are you guys ready to work hard???"

Well, after breakfast we began the morning with our back to school treasure hunt!  The boys love a good treasure hunt!

My clues don't rhyme.  Call me lazy!

And, here is the treasure....

 Homemade notebooks, school supplies, favorite new books they've been wanting, some new preschool toys and games, and t-shirts to wear on the real first day of school (tomorrow)!!

 Erik and I prayed and chose four character traits to focus on this year. We had t-shirts made with the character trait written across the front, and a verse about that character trait written on the back.  We plan to do this every year.  This year our character traits are...

Focus ~ 1 Peter 5:8
Self Discipline ~ 2 Timothy 1:7
Honesty ~ Proverbs 16:13
Love (loving God first and others better than themselves) ~ Mark 12:33

Here is Elijah with a book that I checked out of the library over a year ago, and he absolutely loved it.  Off and on over the year, he has mentioned the book.  I tried several time to buy it, but it is out of print.  The cheapest I could find it for was nearly $50!  Finally, I found it for a reasonable price and bought it!!  He was excited, and instantly began flipping through the pages showing Eriky the yellow ball on each page!

After all the fun died down and the boys' minds began to turn toward school, I made a little announcement...

"Today, we are going on a field trip!!!"

I wouldn't tell them where we were going, but I did tell them to quickly change into their swimming suits!!  We met some friends and caravanned to a local splash pad!  I think the boys enjoyed their first day...

After the splash pad, we grabbed chickfila and headed home!  I barely got baby Jack down when a little thunderstorm rolled in and stayed for several hours!  Pure peace!  I made coffee and met one on one with the boys going over what will be expected of them tomorrow.  I showed them their new workbooks and books.  They paged through them while I explained various things. I gave them their clipboards with this week's assignments written out for them and their new laminated chore charts. :-)  Hopefully they will be ready to begin our new year tomorrow!!

Friday, August 05, 2011

Family Time

We had a great time visiting with Erik's brother and his family this past week.  Jason and Jen have 5 kids, too, and their ages line up fairly close to our childrens' ages.  Needless to say, the kids had a blast.  Jen was my best friend in nursing school, so we are always excited to get some time to talk, as well.  And, Erik and Jason, well, they do what they do best... bring out the silly in each other and go to the movies! :-)

We decided to celebrate all the kids' birthdays all together, all at one time.  We don't live close enough to go to each other's parties, so we decided to have one big birthday party.  And, Deana B bought the kids balloons, and Erik decorated the cookie cakes for us!!

I made a picture video of our time together, but some of my favorite moments were not caught on film!  Moments like when I looked over at JCT and Katey during the worship service on Sunday, and they were smiling and playing rock, paper, scissors. :-)  Or, the late night planning/scheduling Jen and I did ~ my kitchen table filled with papers and calendars and curriculum.  And, sweet conversations with my friend over hot drinks on even hotter days!  Or, when I handed Abby her birthday present, and Jen said, "Get ready, she is going to scream when she sees what it is." But, I didn't really think she meant that Abby would really scream, and then Abby opened her present and let out a 15 second long shrill scream, and I was slightly taken aback. :-) After she finished I looked over at Jen and said, "I think she liked it?"  And, one last favorite ~ watching my little namesake hug one of my old bridesmaid's dresses when I brought out a bin of them for the girls to play in.  Sweet memories!

Know ~ Dukes Family from jason dukes on Vimeo.
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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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