Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Introducing....

...our senior, Emily Susanne, Class of 2015:




How did we get here already???

Monday, September 01, 2014

Thoughts on the Eve of Another School Year

 Top row taken of each one in kindergarten; Bottom row taken in June 2014

It's very early on the day my kids start a new school year. And I can't sleep. Not because I'm worried. Not because I'm too busy. Just because I can't believe we've reached this point in life.

We have a senior, a freshman, and a 2nd-grader.......

Sigh.

During the first week of Emily's life, I remember looking at her and thinking that we'd only have her for 18 years. It seemed such a long time away. Then there were times during those long early-morning feedings that I wondered if I'd survive for 18 more years. It seemed like such a long time away.

"Blink and you'll miss it!" I remember people warning me. I knew they were right, but a big part of me thought, "It's such a long time away yet."

And here I sit, typing out my thoughts on the eve of our daughter becoming a senior. She'll be 17 in October. She's been looking at universities and learning to drive. It really isn't such a long time away anymore.

It's here. It's now. It's amazing!

People are right: Blink, and you will miss it.

Or just hang on and enjoy the ride. The view from the "parental window" is exciting, daunting, terrifying, and joyful all at the same time.

*   *   *

A Prayer for Our Kids on the First Day of a New School Year:

Lord, help our children as they embark on a new year of learning.
May they know the joy of discovering new ideas and learning new concepts.
May they be excited when they get things right and humble when they get things wrong.
May they feel gratitude for the privilege it is to be able to learn.
May they be thankful for good health and strong bodies and bright minds.
May they share their joy of learning with others in such a way as to excite those people to want to learn.
May they continually weigh what they learn against the core of their moral being.
May they be kind to one another and share their learning space with respect and love.
May they always do their best.
May they never forget where they've come from or where they are headed.
May they also never forget to enjoy the moment, to find peace with where they are and patience for what's to come.
May they always be awe of all You have created.
May they have wisdom to manage their time properly so they can do their best on assignments.
May You give them wisdom in their journey through school and later into the workforce.
May they never stop thanking You for the lifetime gift of learning.
And may they always remember how much we love them, no matter what!
Thank You for loving them more than even we can!
Amen

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Saturday Sweetheart

It's hard to believe that this sweet girl is going to be a senior starting this coming Tuesday. Sigh.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Friday Funnies


This doesn't apply to us, of course. But it was funny, nonetheless. :)

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Camp Woohoohaha! 2014

Each summer, since the year before Ethan was born, we've done a little one-day family camp that we named "Camp Woohoohaha!" It's a day that is full of crafts, outside games, and campy sorts of things, like s'mores, hotdogs, nature hikes, and sing-songs around a campfire.

We start the day with a loud rendition of "Reveille" to rouse the troops and get us all ready for a day of family fun. I usually plan the crafts and food, while Stuart usually plans the outdoor activities. Some years we've had to modify outdoor activities due to rain.

We were a little bit late doing our camp this year. Pre-school activities -- like high school soccer practice, school newspaper meetings, college visits -- overtook us, and we found ourselves in a flurry to grab a date before school begins.

So today, we did our annual tradition, waking the kids with an even louder version of our bugle call (since I now have a little Canz speaker). We had two activities to work around, but we used that time for some downtime and filled in with a DVD of Looney Tunes/Tom and Jerry cartoons.

Here are some highlights from our day: Boiled eggs and baked oatmeal for breakfast; a little canvas bag to color and keep our crafts in; an awesome obstacle course; painted garden markers; Cracker Jacks; a walk in the park; Poohsticks; an impromptu visit to the museum, where the kids built structures and saw the mummy; Looney Tunes cartoons; coloring puzzles; decorated notebooks and photo frames; hotdogs and chips and s'mores; a firepit; lanterns; and songs/jokes.

A great way to finish out summer vacation.

We have a few activities to do on another day that we couldn't do today, due to a couple of outside obligations, but that's not a problem. It gives us more time to enjoy as a family.

We seem to spend a lot of time together, but sometimes we realize that we just exist together, passing in our hallways, caught up in our own busyness. Having our little camp helps us to make the time to be together and have fun. Totally worth all the planning!

"This is the day that The Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!" Psalm 118:24

Here's an album of the photos I took during the day. Enjoy!

Do you have fun family traditions that you enjoy? Share them below!


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Happy National Dog Day

I was a little late in finding out that today was National Dog Day. Hopefully, our dogs still felt loved today -- like everyday.

We have two poochies: Buster Brown, 12, and Gigi, 5. They are both rescue dogs that we adopted from other states. They are both North American Peehounds, which means they are of indeterminate ancestry, though both have Shih Tzu in their heritage. In other words, they're ever-sweet and lovable mutts.

Buster weighs a little more than 30 pounds and has Boston terrier and Shih Tzu on his paperwork. Gigi weighs about 15 pounds and has French bulldog and Shih Tzu on her paperwork. They both have wiry hair and wiggly tails tipped with white. Buster has tulip ears and Gigi has bat ears. They look like siblings and make an awesome pair.

I grew up with English bulldogs, so I love our dogs' smooshy faces and snorts and wiggles.

Dogs are funny creatures.
 
Always loyal. Always ready to give a kiss. Always eager to greet you. Always wagging their tails, even when they don't feel very good.

A good example of how we humans should act?

Happy National Dog Day!

What is your favorite kind of dog?

Do you have a dog or two or three? If so, let me know in the comments. Include a photo, if you can.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Back to School...But Not for Us


So everyone is going back to school today. But not us. (Cue: Nah-nah-na-nah-nah.)

No, actually it always feels a little strange...like we're missing out somehow or like we're supposed to start. We start next Tuesday.

And, for one of our brood, that will be the last first day of schooling at home.

Kinda bittersweet, huh?

It's hard to think that we began all of this with Emily over 12 years ago. She stood in front of our rented house for a first-day-of-school photo and smiled her biggest grin. She wore a cute dress with a white knit top and pink-and-red gingham bottom -- a pink-and-red gingham strawberry appliqued in the center of the top. She had straight brown hair, neat bangs, and tanned skin. And she was so excited! (I'm still amazed the photo wasn't blurry.)

If I close my eyes I can still feel the warmth of that late-summer day, smell the hot macadam of the street, and hear the sounds of the city around us.

"Smile!" I say.

And she does, really really big.

Then hand-in-hand we head back into the house to start our journey of learning together.

Has it been easy? No way. As with most things in life it  has been filled to the brim with ups and downs, moments when we wanted to strangle each other, or hop on the nearest schoolbus (and that was me!).

Has it been worth it? Absolutely. Without a shadow of a doubt. I would do it again. Over and over. I learned so much with her, both educationally and personally.  

...

Sometimes this wing-spreading-letting-them-grow-and-go thing is harder than it looks.

How was your first day of school?

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sweet Sunday

Love this video (which includes the singer's daughter) and the message it conveys! YOU ARE LOVED indeed!!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Update: Saturday Sweetheart

So we drove 35 minutes to see Edward's first-ever away game as a boys' high school JV soccer player, and all we saw was this:


In fairness, we were told the JV team played after the Varsity team. But due to the rainy weather, we think they played them early. Edward did mention afterwards that he thought about calling us to let us know...but he forgot.

Sigh. Oh, well.

We were there. See? *wink-grin*


Saturday Sweetheart


What a difference seven years makes, right? The little guy on the left was 6 1/2 when he first started playing soccer. Now, at 13 1/2, Edward had his first high school game today. He's on the JV team and, while they didn't win, he seemed to have fun.

Here's a little trip down Memory Lane with the blog post I wrote on his first-ever day of soccer back in 2007.

I'll repeat it: What a difference seven years makes.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Friday Funnies (from the 5-year-old)


Two Ethanisms:

The other night, Ethan was praying before our devotions and said, "Help us to apply what we learn to our lives." Afterwards, I asked him if he knew what "apply" meant, wondering if he was just repeating what he'd already heard. He nodded and said it meant "to put something to use." We were all visibly impressed by this, so he fist-pumped the air and said, "Vocabulary for the win!" 

Talking about a musical toy that has a dog sound that you can use instead of the normal musical instruments, Ethan told me that they must have had to use a lot of dogs to make all the songs since "there are 20 pre-recorded songs!" I asked him how he thought they trained all those dogs to sing like that, and he said, "I have no idea!"

Love the innocence and magic of childhood. He never ceases to make us smile and laugh!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Remembering...

This is one of the best ads I've seen in a long time. Advice to new parents...and good reminders to "old" parents.

Four things you give your kids: Time (give it liberally); education (take it seriously); spirituality (make it real); and love (the others pale in comparison).

Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Tempus Fugit...Or In Which Time Flies Over the Summer

I suppose it was my own doing, since I was the one who wished for a summer of boredom. Instead, we got a summer of chaos, in which we felt we were only just keeping our heads above water.

I'm not sure exactly what happened.

I remember the feeling of freedom as the school year came to a close. I remember thinking of the possibilities of what we could do...and what we didn't need to do. The whole summer sprawled before us. We talked of joining the pool. I dreamt of leisurely moments of sitting outside and reading or coloring or simply watching the clouds drift by.

Snort.

Today, I returned a bag of summer toys I'd bought at the beginning of the summer. Jump ropes and bubbles and jacks and marbles... I'd had a brainwave in the beginning of our summer break to do stuff -- like play outside -- with the kids. I'd been excited to finally have the time to play again with them. The customer service clerk at Toys 'R' Us asked me why I was returning everything. I told her it was because we didn't have time to use it, didn't really have time to play. She asked me why, and I told her. She assumed it was because "teens don't play," but I told her my teens do...we just didn't have the time due to other activities crowding in.

I felt very sad as I walked to my car. Sure, it felt better to return things we weren't going to use and get the money put back in our bank account. But I felt -- afresh -- the speed at which time is passing. When did I stop having enough time to play with my kids?

That said, the activities we did were fun. Here's some of what happened:

Emi and I did the "Official College Tour 2014" together,  even buying t-shirts from each of the universities. She did some job shadowing for her senior project and held the WWCS birthday picnic and WWCS Open Forum. Edward grew 6 inches and took some more one-on-one soccer lessons and started playing on the high school soccer team. Ethan finished first grade and read lots of chapter books. And I was able to write a ton of stories for the newspaper. We did manage to attend/host some picnics; light some fire pits; and make some s'mores. Stuart completely redid our main bathroom. High-five, Honey!

So all was not lost.

But I won't be lying when I say that I'm almost (almost) excited for school to begin so as to get back some of our routine.

*wink-grin*

How about you? Are you getting excited for the upcoming school year? Do you find that time is flying faster as you get older? Share your comments below! I'd love to know I'm not alone.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Meager Monday Musings

Once upon a time, a long time ago, I started this blog.

The idea came to me after I read several other friends' blogs...and I realized that I missed writing.

When I'm able to do this, it's lots of fun. But it takes time and dedication -- two things that are not always readily available when you have three kids learning at home.

Still.

Here I am. And it's Monday. And, since, I'm the only one awake at the moment, I'll type up a quick update to our lives and all some a few of the things I've been musing on.

The kids.

Emily is 16 now. 16. I have to pause a minute to breathe. She's in 11th grade and doing three, count 'em, three AP courses and Honors Chemistry and Latin. You might say she loves a challenge, though I think she's a bit overwhelmed at times this year. (We did try to warn her. *wink-grin*) She's learning to drive now...and it will be a slow process since we don't have the extra money necessary to add her to our insurance. Yet.



Edward is 12.  He enters the "teen world" in February. Egads. That doesn't seem possible. He was bumped up a grade this school year, skipping 7th grade, and going into all 8th grade...though his math and reading are 9th-grade courses. (Go figure.) We asked for him to be bumped up because it would make it easier. He spent his entire school career bridging two grades, due to how he tested into the school and where we decided to place him. It got to be a bit confusing at times...and we thought this would be easier. He's been taking some one-on-one lessons for soccer. He'll be on the high school soccer team next year so we thought this would boost his confidence/skills. And it has.

Ethan is our 5-year-old. He changed numbers in mid-September. And he's our super genius. No. Only kidding. What parent doesn't think his or her kid is a wunderkind? *wink-grin* He and I are doing first grade together, using K12 Independent again this year, and he's doing very well. His reading skills have exploded, and he's reading everything and anything, including books in bed. He's always been our little joker, but now he's very serious about his knowledge....a good and bad thing, I guess.


Speaking of school. Our youngest student reminded us that we never did his kindergarten "graduation" last summer as we promised we would once he completed everything. Since we pay for online access to K12 for 12 months, we continued schooling through the summer. It makes it a much more relaxed school year but also makes it easy to forget to finish school. We managed to complete the curriculum, but then life got in the way of ceremony. So I guess we'll do a winter graduation for him?

Well, the morning got away from me, and everyone is awake. I'm going to end this so that a.) I can actually post it...and b.) it isn't too long...and c.) I don't bore you.

Enjoy your Monday!

*  *  * 

What are your kids doing in school this year?

Friday, November 29, 2013

Friday Funny

An Ethanism from yesterday, heard while driving home from Thanksgiving dinner: "One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. Another baby was born! Yay! In 16 seconds something bad (a person dies) will happen, but two babies will be born!" 

Totally random. 

Totally Ethan.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving Thoughts

I am thankful for: God...my husband...my three children...my parents and in-laws...my sisters and their husbands...my brothers-in-law and their wives...my two nephews and one niece...my full-time job as a wife/mom/teacher and my part-time job as a journalist...my plethora of furry family members......a warm, dry house filled with love...sunny days and rainy days...the changing of the seasons, especially autumn and all of its colors...all the yummy food we enjoy...memories -- good and bad...the ability to laugh and cry and smile and frown and feel the emotions of life...tastebuds...coffee and chocolate and caramel...books that absorb me...television characters that make me love them...curiosity and the Internet that helps me to satisfy it...ballet and soccer and fencing and the eyesight to enjoy each...

So much to be thankful for!

Happy Thanksgiving!

"Count your blessings, name them one by one. Count your blessings, see what God hath done. Count your blessings, count them every one. Count your many blessings, see what God hath done."
~Johnson Oatman Jr., 1897

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Wordless Wednesday




Three-Year-Old Lawyers

My hubby and I were talking about children the other day. (It's a popular topic for us, given the fact that we have three of them.)

We discussed how people warned us about two-year-olds and the "Terrible Twos," trembling like they'd survived a horrific zombie attack and lived to tell the tales.

We laughed the first time, when our oldest was about 14 months old. "Riiiight," we said to each other because we'd subscribed to the notion that the "twos" would be "terrific."

And they were.

Then came three.

It's not that our sweet, adorable, angel-faced daughter sudden turned demonic. Not in the slightest. She just learned to talk.

And with talking came curiosity.

And with curiosity came questioning.

And then...came...arguing.

Now, arguing, in and of itself, is not a bad thing. Depending on how it's done, a person can learn a lot of good things, most importantly maturity and humility.

But when you're three and your language and thinking skills are still developing, those aren't the first things you're going to learn. In fact, you probably aren't going to learn much, except how to drive your parents batty, which, for the record, will come in really handy when they're future lawyers.

Now, 13, 9, and 2 years later (respectively), our little lawyers are still going at it. They're very curious and love to question things. And they still love to argue. (No one plans a career in law.)

But we, their parents, have learned a few things along the way.

Sometimes, when the arguing starts to get to us, we just smile.

One day, they'll have their own three-year-old lawyers.

*  *  *

How did you survive the toddler/preschool years with your little ones?

A Non-excuse, Excusing My Absence, or I'm Back...I Hope

So, it has been quite awhile since I dusted off the keyboard and posted on my beloved blog, and SO much has happened. In our lives. In our world. And...in blogdom.

Wow!

To say that I feel overwhelmed doesn't even begin to explain anything except for why I've not been here for a LOOOONG time. When I came to the blog world in 2006, not many people even knew what a blog was. I felt myself blushing each time I explained. I'd resisted creating a blog, just as I had resisted joining Facebook, because both felt a bit like a vanity project. But it became an awesome way to get myself writing again...and a great way to keep track of our growing family...and a wonderful way to keep in touch with family and friends overseas.

Fast-forward seven years and everyone -- and I mean EVERYONE -- and his uncle and his dog has a blog. Even our "beloved" gas company keeps a blog. I interviewed a man at Penske and he was hired for the express purpose of keeping the company's blog and Twitter feed.

Wow!

I've found a ton of parenting and homeschooling blogs that I enjoy reading. And even a few from past friends/acquaintances. Now it makes my little vanity project feel small and insignificant, which it is in the big scheme of things. And it's intimidating.

Yet, here I am, dusting off my keyboard (again) and starting up my blog (again). I'm only one of millions doing this. But I'm doing it to keep my mind uncluttered (as I reminded myself in my motto above) and I'm keeping a record for the kids...and I merely love to write.

Why not?

So no apologies...well, just one: Sorry it's taken so long for me to realize this. And no excuses. Okay...just one: How do I compare to all of these others, including the "professional" bloggers out there???

Simple. I don't.

I continue as I was before...keeping track of life and love and thoughts and fun and sadness and all the things that crowd in my head and keep me awake at 4 a.m.

Welcome back to you, lovely friends and readers. I've missed you!


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sweet Sunday

I love this song that we sang in church today. It's a definite favorite in our house, especially with Ethan.

 It's full of the hope that we live for -- that God gives us...freely!

 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Saturday Sweethearts


I love these kids!

Hands down.

They are the most precious creatures on this entire earth!

Yes, they drive me completely batty sometimes (not always that hard since it's a short "road" to battiness), but their love for me is unconditional.

And that makes me feel so special!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Shadow Play

I wrote this after our visit to the museum yesterday:


I saw our shadows walking home,
And we were close behind.
The icy wind blew all around;
The sun was somewhat kind.

Walking back from museum visit,
We relived fun moments.
Our faces froze in happy smiles
No time left for laments.

We turned a corner, nearly there.
And saw with joy we'd passed
Our shadows now in tired lag,
No match for legs so fast.

It's funny how the sun does play
With man at any age.
Sometimes our shadows speed away
Next, hide in silent rage.

~S. M. Foote

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Ha-ha-happy Ha-ha-half Birthday, Ethan!

Well, it's here. Another half-birthday to celebrate and enjoy!  I cannot believe our youngest is well on his way to becoming a 5-year-old!! Yikes! It goes WAY too fast! (she laments for the 500,000th time.)

So, here is Ethan Samuel in all his 4.5-year-old glory:


Every day is a day to celebrate each other, but somehow having another special day to look forward to each year makes everything a little more fun. And why not? They're only small for a short time, right?

Oh, and Happy Pi Day, too!

How do you celebrate special times at your house?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Do You Know Me?

I found this in my drafts and thought I'd publish it. It was written right after the boy committed suicide in January.

====================================

I've been pondering...a-thinking...musing...wondering on some things recently.

A young man in our area decided that his life was worthless...and ended it last Saturday. It's heartbreaking all around -- for his family, for his friends, and, most especially, for him. That a young person, only 16 years old, could feel that hopeless.  According to his friends, he was a handsome guy, charismatic and full of fun. According to his obituary, his passion was pottery. I haven't read anything official in the newspaper about why he chose to end his life, but I'm sure the reasons will come out before too long.

How many people knew him well?  Did he know that? Did he feel special and valued and really known? How many people knew his "passion was pottery"?

Sometimes it's easy, in our busyness, to miss really knowing people. We see them; we interact briefly with them; and we judge them. But do we really know them? Personally? Do we know their strengths and weaknesses? Do we know their likes and dislikes, what makes them giddy with pleasure or cry in anguish? Do we know their passions?

I hate to see a young person die. It goes against all human logic. People are born, grow up, and die in old age.  I know that's not always God's way. But it is how, in our humanness, we think.

So this brings me back to my ponderings...

Why does it take a death for us to really know someone? Why after they die do they suddenly become so much more important?

I've seen my daughter come home from her youth group functions, sad and frustrated. She wishes people would know her better, like her better, actually listen to her better.

She said she starts to talk to people and they walk away mid-sentence. She has become quiet and withdrawn. No one knows her very well. She is an average Christian girl from a Christian home who does her schooling at home.

Does anyone there know her passions? What makes her tick?  Does anyone there know that she danced for over 10 years? Does anyone know that she made it into the National Honor Society and loves to learn? Does anyone there know that she writes for "Voices" and has a keen desire to do public relations and missionary work when she grows up? Does anyone know that she loves fashion design and started her own fashion design company when she was only 9?

Does anyone care?

I know how she feels. I used to feel afraid that it would take dying for people to actually get to know me.

Why is that?

She has a "small group" leader at youth group. But she just complains that Emily doesn't come to everything. Does she know and understand that financially we can't afford to come to the church every time the doors open? Does she understand that we have other obligations, including work and two other children, that also take our time? Does she know that we value family time much more than organized activity time?

Does she care?

Probably not.

She doesn't even really know our names. And, every now and again, Emily is a blip on her radar.

It makes me sad.

It shouldn't take a tragedy to rally people around another person to celebrate who they were. We should all be doing that now.

Monday, March 11, 2013

I'm (Trying to Be) Baaaaaa-aaaaack...in the Saddle Again

Happy mid-March Monday to you! (How's that for alliteration?)

I don't know about you, but I really wish we didn't observe Daylight Savings Time. It really messes with the head. It's like having jet lag without going anywhere. Still in all, it's here and in a few days we won't remember that we're an hour ahead of Eastern Standard Time...still, idle grass...

So, what's been happening in your little corner of the world?

It's been awhile, to say the least. And I promise to catch up...if not today, then soon.

I had high hopes for today. I promised to publish something today, right?

But some days are days that try men's (or women's) souls....if you know what I mean.

Until later...


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Realizations

I've realized something important about myself and my blog...

I've missed it. I've missed writing posts. I've missed posting photos. I've missed keeping up with the daily happenings in our own little family. I've missed reminiscing. I've missed musing merrily on Mondays.... 

And, mostly, I've missed my old color scheme. 

Isn't that odd?

I loved redesigning my blog in a new template -- it has a lot more freedom -- but I realized it was just too busy.

When I started blogging back in 2006, I chose a color scheme of green and yellow. I love those colors. They're soft and warm and remind me of Spring. 

Now, I'm not saying it will get me writing again in earnest. (I sure wish it would.) But I do know that I need to keep going with my little quirky little piece of the blog-o-sphere if for nothing else but to save my sanity. 

Writing is therapeutic. It allows us to express ourselves with thought and clarity that we often can't verbalize. It's not for everyone, I realize, but it is something that I personally find I can't live without. Whenever I try, I begin to feel like I'm dehydrated. My brain goes in circles, and I feel cluttered.

So I've done a work-around (my old color scheme wasn't available on the new templates of Blogger), and I think I have something of my "old look" back on here. 

Fingers-crossed, I'll see you tomorrow. *wink-grin*

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Sweet Sunday

I know I have a bit of catching up to do...so many special days have passed between last August and now.

But in an effort to get back to blogging, I'm posting a video of a song we sang this morning. Very poignant, particularly at this time.

I'm so thankful that "the God of angel armies is by my side!!"


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sweet Sunday

In today's world, this is especially poignant: "I need you, Jesus, to come to my rescue...where else can I go? There's no other name by which I am saved. Capture me with grace...I will follow you." 

 Hope you enjoyed a very sweet Sunday!

 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Saturday Sweethearts

I'm so thankful for how much my children love each other. Don't get me wrong, they have their moments of wanting to strangle each other, too. (Sometimes more often than we parents would like.) But it isn't unusual for them to find something fun to do together.

Here are my boys this morning, reading together from a pile of books I discovered on a shelf under our coffee table. They spent another half-hour reading more of them together.

Relaxing mornings. Amusing books. Brotherly love. Three perfect ingredients for a Saturday Sweethearts post.


Friday, August 24, 2012

Friday Funnies

I found a free app for my iPad -- called "Toontastic" -- that I thought might prove handy for school. It allows kids to create a cartoon -- using the different parts of a story. We've had such fun creating our own cartoons with it.

Here's the latest funny attempt that I created for the kids (don't laugh too hard at its dumbness):