Monday, February 29, 2016

The Road to Adoption

Lat week we celebrated this guy's Happy Home Day.

Yep, 7 years ago we stepped off a plane in Texas and Colby Jose became an American citizen.  He was our son from the moment we laid eyes on his picture 17 months prior.

We got his referral when he was 4 months old and brought him home when he was 21 months old.  Yes, it took 17 months to get that boy home.  It was a rough and crazy ride.

As I quickly told our story to a friend yesterday, I realized how much of the story I feel like I have forgotten.  Maybe that is God's way of protecting your heart and not allowing bitterness to take root. Maybe it is a way of wiping the slate clean and starting over new.  Or maybe I am just old and my memory has gone to pot.  You never know.

But a few things, I do remember!

I wanted to adopt for forever.  I was pretty open about it to others and pretty obnoxious about it to my husband.  He'll agree.  Like I would print out pictures of waiting babies and leave them on his paperwork to find.  Subtle I am not.  He would ignore me or simply shake his head no.  Fast forward a few years, or FOREVER according to me, and he got deployed to Africa, God got a hold of his heart, and he called me one day and asked if I still wanted to adopt!  Seriously.  God's timing, not mine!

I remember the first time we saw a picture of this baby!  He was 4 months old and we could not have loved anyone more.

 I remember the first time we saw an actual video of him!  Our adoption counselor got to go to Guatemala and see him, taking some things down from us.  We watched that video over and over again, just trying to take it all in.  I will forever be grateful for Laura and our agency and for the love they showed us and Colby!

I remember living on the computer for 17 months waiting for any information and pictures we could get.  Yes, I watched our son grow up via the computer for 17 very long and painful months,

I remember the first time Jorgelina, his amazing foster mom, put him in my arms.  I thought I would never be able to let him go.  Turns out we had to say goodbye to him twice before finally bringing him home on our third trip to Guatemala.

I remember the other kids seeing their brother for the very first time.  Salem could not stop touching his sweet face, Riley could not stop grinning, and Ashton started crying every time she looked at him or tried to open her mouth.

I remember our last plane ride to bring him home.  I was sick the entire trip and he was perfect and slept almost the entire plane ride.  That, my friends, is God's grace!

I remember looking in the back of our car on February 25th and seeing his sweet face peeking out of a huge winter coat and in a car seat for the first time and thinking, oh my word, he is FINALLY home.

Finally and forever!  God's perfect timing in God's perfect plan!

Just another cute picture! ;)
Oh how we love this boy!

Happy Home Day, Colby Jose! 7 years and counting to forever!

Linking up with Caroline!


Friday, February 26, 2016

The Legend of the Easter Robin, Review and Giveaway

As always, it is a joy to review for FlyBy Productions!  I love how they team up with the best of the best in Christian publishers and once again, I was not disappointed in this new product!

The Legend of the Easter Robin is a sweet tale about a little girl named Tressa and her Grandmother, who are patiently watching a robin redbreast tend to her nest outside their window.  While waiting, the grandmother tells Tressa the legend of how the robin got his red breast.  Weaving Pennsylvania Dutch tradition of egg coloring, the colors of a robin, and the Biblical account of Easter, Tressa learns about the sacrifice that Jesus made for her.

This 32 page hardback book, written for ages 4-8, may look like just another Easter story, but I found it to have much more of a lesson - that God takes cares of His creatures.  Humans included.
The grandmother's tale is one of the Easter story, but from a bird's point of view.  Yes, it is obviously not scripture perfect, but the book makes it clear that the story about how the robin's breast turned red it is a legend.  What I love about this book is that at the end there is a page dedicated to pointing out traditions and symbols that can be used to strengthen our faith and help us to remember the Easter story.

Another neat aspect of this book is that the fictional story is told with beautifully illustrated pictures by artist Richard Cowdrey, and the pictures turn to black and white when depicting the Easter story from the Bible.  I love how this visually helps children see the difference between the two parts.

While my son is right at the outer edge of the recommended ages, he thoroughly enjoyed this book and it is one we will add to our collection to be read for years to come.

If you would like a chance to win a copy of this book to add to your collection, please leave your name and a way I can reach you and a random winner will be chosen next Friday!

"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

A College Decision

We have already sent and graduated our oldest from college.  It was a hard and rocky path, but thankfully one that ended in success.  She went to school far away, had health problems, returned home, and then finished online.  It was a time that the Lord used to teach her, and us, many, many lessons, and for that we are grateful but boy, were we glad when it was done.

Enter daughter number two.  We were sure it would be easier.  We had been there, done that.  We knew more of what to look for and we were determined to really think out that major thing.  You know, that all important decision that could frame what you do for the rest of your life.

But, have you met our second daughter?  We call her our drama queen.  Not for the reasons you might imagine, and not in a negative way by any stretch of the imagination.

It is just that she LOVES drama.  Theatre. Musicals. Plays. Stage. Dance. Voice. You name it, she loves anything drama related.  And she was blessed to have a teacher and voice coach that helped her grow by leaps and bounds for the past few years!  (Thanks Ellie!)

All that to say, her dreams have evolved over the past year and especially the past 6 months.  She dreamed of Musical Theatre.  Problem is, she also desires to go to a smaller, Christian college. Google those combos and you will see our dilemma.

Not fun, folks.  It is a hard combo and when you add musical theatre into it, well the few GREAT choices are few and far between.

And they take work.  Lots. And auditions.  Because they have become Bachelors of Fine Arts degrees (BFA) they are on the rather serious side of the arts.

So she filled out a few applications, auditioned, and prayed for God's direction.  And, quite honestly, I prepared to pick a broken heart off the floor.

But guess what?  She was accepted.  To several.  And after a recent trip with her father to make a final decision, she has finally allowed me to share!

Riley will be attending Belhaven University in the fall to pursue a BFA in Musical Theatre.

Go ahead.  Google it.  I will wait.

Yep, it is in Mississippi. Nope, not close.

Yes, I am mourning a little! ;)

And here's a funny story.  She got the notification from this particular school while we were on vacation in Disney.  While waiting for the Lion King Show to start.  I am pretty sure a man down from us is still confused as to why we were celebrating and crying.  And I am pretty sure she floated above the seat the whole show.  Guys, I was afraid she was going to stand up in the middle of the show and join them in song.  She would do that, you know!

So while I am a little sad she is not going to be close by, I am so excited for her new adventure.  We are so proud of her and we know that God has great things for this child.  We trust Him to direct her path and allow her to do great things for His kingdom!

In the meantime, Disney better get prepared!  Riley has a plan!

Friday, February 19, 2016

5 On Friday

Hey, I had fun with this last week, so here goes-

1.  My three olders have started taking ballroom dancing.  They love it.  I am amazed!

2.  My youngest announced that he loves his new math!  We are trying out Math U See Gamma and Times Tales and he is whizzing through the times tables.  Every day of school is not wonderful here (shocker, I know haha) so this is HUGE!  Wish they had been around when I was a third grader.  Seriously, ya'll, I thought I would never learn multiplication facts.  I am pretty sure my mom and teacher thought I would never learn either!

3.  Have I mentioned Riley is a senior?  After being accepted at 7 schools (don't get me started) she has finally decided where to go.  I think she is going to actually let me share on Monday!  Here's hoping.

4.  Because of his deployment my sweet hubby has had a lot of time off of work.  Because of that, he has had the past two weeks off.  Can I just say that retirement cannot come soon enough?  I kind of like having him home.  It's like having Handy Mandy around.  And he's cute, too! ;)

5.  We have friends coming to visit us this weekend!  Remember Farmer Dan and his wife?  You know, the ones who taught us to butcher cows, pigs and chickens.  We have been blessed with so many special friends over the years but I have found that in each location God allows me to find a special friend that I do not know how I have done without.  This family- they are that and so much more.  They embraced and loved us from the minute we met them, they included us in their amazing farm adventures, they sustained us during our year deployment, they love us unconditionally, and they became family!  If you happen to think of me this weekend, know that I have a huge smile on my face and a full heart!  Oh, and maybe a head filled with schemes to get them to move near me!

I pray you had a beautiful week, friends.  I am thankful for YOU as well and that you choose to spend time here in our little corner of the blogging world!


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Take a Peek

If you know me, you know I like calendars.  And schedules.  And clocks.  OK, love those things.  I am a routine type of gal.

Therefore my homeschool is a routine type of homeschool.  As long as nothing weird comes up (that does happen occasionally) we pretty much do the same thing day in and day out.  Boring maybe, predictable for sure, but it works for us.

So what does a normal day look like around here?

9:00- School starts!  Gonna be honest here- if my kids attended public school, they would probably never be on time.  We are NOT morning people.  I am not a night person either, but that is another story!

Colby (age 8) and I start with folder work and he does independent work.  At the same time, my 14 year old starts his school as well.  Now that we have a dedicated school area, he joins us for a few hours.  Prior to this new set up, he did school in his room, so I am glad to have him back in my area. He is still trying to decide if he likes it! ;)

After independent work, we move to the computer for history and math, then back to the table for the rest of our morning work.  As I recently talked about, schooling boys looks different for us than when we schooled our girls, so our computers get a lot of use.

We continue work until noon when we take an hour break for lunch.

12:00-1:00- Lunch and free time.

1:00-3:00- Colby and I finish our day with Science, Spanish, and Spelling.  Salem, who is an 8th grader, retires to his room, where he does several subjects on his computer,

3:00-4:00- Quiet time.  The theory is that everyone is in their own space reading, listening to audio dramas, or playing quietly.  Mom included - for reading, that is.  The reality is I always seem to have something else that demands my time, but I am working on it.

4:00-5:00- Clean up time around the house, dinner prep, errands, and such.

6:00- Dinner

7:15- Family devotions

8:30- Youngest goes to bed

The fun of having older kids is that you get to spend time with them apart from the littles in your life. The disadvantage to having older kids is that they are often on their way out the door for one reason or another just when you are ready to spend time with them!  Lessons, friends, and jobs take up their evenings occasionally, but we try to sneak in time together as often as possible.  With one entering the work force and one in her senior year of school, we know these days are fleeting.

Our one day that is different now is Wednesday, when we have co-op from 12-4.  We do a half day of school in the morning and collapse in the afternoon! ;)

While we may seem a little boring to some, my kids have learned to thrive in a more structured day. I find when we deviate from it too often, we end up a train wreck, and terribly behind.  We have also maintained our Sabbath Week schooling, with the exception of when Dad returned home after a year deployed.  By giving ourselves a week break every six weeks, we have time to regroup, relax, and get extra projects done around the house.

Everyone does things differently of course!  On Friday, click this link to see other homeschoolers' days!  You may be surprised at how different we are!
A Day in Our Homeschool

Monday, February 15, 2016

Schooling Boys

Before I had kids I knew everything about them.  I mean, I was a Child Development major for pete's sake.  I studied hard, read a lot of books, took a bunch of tests, and graduated Magna Cum Laude.  I had this thing called kids mastered!

Then I had one.  And three more to follow.  And I decided that I did not know much at all.  As a matter of fact, there are still times 21 years later that I am pretty sure I know nothing.

One of the brilliant things I was taught was that boys and girls are really not that different.

Oh, really?

See, I had two girls and I taught them school.  It went fairly well, despite a few bouts of emotional tears centered around math.

Then I started teaching my first son.

I thought he would NEVER learn to read.  He did eventually and now has his nose buried in a book often, but for several years I could not decide if he was failing or if I was.

Then I started teaching my second son.

I thought he would never sit still.  He... well, let's just say we are still working on that one. ;)

Guess what?  Those are two things I never dealt with while teaching my girls.  Never.  Now, I know that every child is different and some things just can not be put in a male/female box, but after over 17 years of this homeschooling gig, I am convinced that sometimes you just have to school boys differently!

So how do I school my boys?

With excitement.  Lots of lots of excitement.  Add fire or water to anything and you will have their attention.

With noise. The louder the better.  When they can be loud, they are happy.

With movement.  There are not many boys who will just sit at a desk for hours and work quietly (see, there is that noise thing again). To help with fidgeting, we change locations every few subjects.  Some subjects are at the computer desk, some on the couch, some at the kitchen table.

With interest.  My boys are not content to learn something just for the sake of learning it.  But, if I can tie the not-as-fun subject, math, for example, into a favorite subject, then I can catch their interest.  For one of my sons, all it takes is relating history to what he is learning.

With passion.  If I am bored with a subject, you can bet my boys are too.  If I get excited about what we are studying, I hear that excitement repeated when they share with dad that night what they learned.  I am amazed at how my passion affects theirs.

With fun.  Yes, you can make schooling fun.  While I do think it gets more challenging as they get older, my boys love games.  So we make up games, we have competitions between each other, and we laugh.  A lot.

With encouragement.  Boys just seem to thrive on the "go team" mentality.  Maybe it is their sports gene. ;)  But when I am their cheer leader, they push on harder than ever to complete a task.

And finally-

With love! OK, so that one goes with all my kids.  Cuddles go a long way for any child.  When children feel loved, they usually cannot help but love in return.

All photos by First Noelle Photography
 Let's don't get so busy "doing" school that we forget to love our children first and foremost.  I want them to know facts and figures, sure, but I want them to know they are loved most of all.

Linking up with friends!


Friday, February 12, 2016

5 on Friday

I have been wanting to try something new for a while.  Well, new to me.  There are lots who share 5 random things on their blogs on Fridays, and I always love reading them, so I thought I would try it out.

I love peeking into others' lives.  So here's a peek into mine this week-

1.  Years ago, we made some major changes in our lives and have tried to do life in a more natural way, including health things.  I love essential oils and we use them A LOT!  But sometimes, things just get out of hand.  Like our last two weeks.  Three if us have been sick, only one has improved.  So this is what a doctor gave two of  us today-

Pitiful, I know.  So much for natural.

2.  My second daughter is a senior this year and is in the midst of college shopping.  She got accepted into her 6th college yesterday!  And I think she has FINALLY made a decision.  Announcement to follow soon!

3.  Moving in the winter is a challenge.  OK, so that is completely random, but it is so true.  Programs are in mid-swing, it is cold so everyone is hibernating in their houses, and well, it is just harder to meet people!

4.   I am thankful for church and church-friends.  We have found the most wonderful church and met the most wonderful people there.  They have embraced and loved our family from day one and everyday we marvel at God's provision.

5.  Anything that takes over our life and replaces God is an idol!  OK, another completely random thought, but it has been on my mind.  If all I ever do is talk about food and dieting, it has become an idol.  If all I ever talk about is my kid's sport or hobby, it has become an idol in my life.  If all I ever do is talk about working out, it has become an idol.  If all I ever talk about is curriculum, it has become an idol.  Yes, those things are fine and good- in moderation.  Just like everything else.  But honestly, friends, the only thing we should be consumed with is God!  Just saying.

So there you have it, 5 on Friday!


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Some days...

Some days you just need a break.  Today is one of those days, friends!

 I will be back on Friday, promise!

Until then a fun quote for you-

"Isn't it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?"

- Lucy M. Montgomery

Monday, February 8, 2016

Updating the House

While we have been busy getting back to a "normal" life, whatever that really looks like, we have also continued to make a few changes to our house.  The house was really in good condition, there were, and are, just some things we wanted to do to update to put our personal touch on it.

Like changing the chalkboard wall back to a normal wall.  The people who lived here previously were very talented artists.  Their wall looked lovely.

Ours did not. So we painted.

Changed out the basement door.  I do not love sliding doors any ways, and this one had seen its better days.  With the help of a very talented friend, my hubby replaced it with a door I love!

A lot of help from a friend!

 Just one last piece of molding to add!

Changed out several old blind sets.  This particular set was a monster.  A mom did not design these, I am sure of that.  Kids go in and out of sliding doors like they are a ride at an amusement park.  Kids cannot work blinds that not only open and shut, but also twist and turn to those sliding doors.  They maybe can play with them, but they cannot correctly use them.  And therefore they get shredded and broken.  And then become the bane of my existence,  Just saying.

Hung a few chandeliers.  We have been carrying these around with us since we lived in North Dakota over 10 years ago.  They once were an ugly brass, but I spray painted them black.  It was never worth the effort to hang them in a rental, but I could not wait to get them up here.  One in the dining area and one in my daughter's room.

Replaced the laundry room floor. Linoleum just gets tired after 15 years.  Especially in a laundry room!

Painted more door trim.

There are plans to update the kids' bathroom, hopefully remodel the master bath, and landscaping in the spring.  I would also like to have the kitchen cabinets painted and the fireplace refaced, but as my hubby keeps reminding me, Rome was not built in a day!

Why do you think he keeps reminding me of that??!

Have you ever done any remodeling?  I would love for you to share your favorite project!  Maybe I will get some more ideas.  Hubby will love that!


Friday, February 5, 2016

How Do I Homeschool When My Days Are Crazy?

Everyone has those kinds of days, right?  There are multiple appointments that have to be attended. Company is coming and your refrigerator is bare.  The kids are sick, the dogs need their shots, and your husband needs you to run an errand for him.

For some, there are even more pressing issues.  Hospital visits to make, chronically ill children to attend to. The list can go and on.

Some days just get crazy.

And yet school must go on.

So how do you get it done?

In my 17 years of homeschooling, I can tell you that some days you just skip school and play catch up later.  Even public school teachers get teacher workdays- you most certainly can take a few too. But let's face it, if we didn't do school every time something competed for our time we would fail as teachers.  And our kids would suffer the consequences.  Everyone must find their own comfort zone with those kind of days but let me share a few things that have worked well for us.

Have workbooks on hand- I know, I know, not every kid loves workbooks.  But there are some days that if a child of mine can open a workbook to the next page and work independently, I call it a success.  After all, independent learning is one of our goals, so what better way to foster that than to send them to a workbook on their own occasionally?

Utilize computers- I do not want my child alone in front of a computer all day, but there are a few things we do on the computer consistently.  What that means is that when I am not available my kids know exactly how to get to their programs, in our case, Writing, History, and Math, and do them on their own.

School where you are at- At the doctor's office? Do school there!  In the car?  Do school there!  Sick in bed?  Invite the kids in with you and do school there.  As a matter of fact, Colby and I have been doing school for the past few days in my bed while I was recovering from a bad virus.  At least he was having fun!

Read books-  Whether it is a simple stack of picture books or your child's favorite chapter books, always having books on hand for them to read can be a God-send.  With one of the three core subjects checked off (reading, writing, and arithmetic) you are on your way to a complete school day.

Let the extras go- Give yourself a break.  If music, art, and foreign languages do not get taught every day no one is going to die.  OK, it may mess up your pretty planner, but it will be OK, I promise. Sometimes we just have to move forward and know that they will learn what they need to learn.

Friends and family-  Just like when a public school has to call in a substitute, there may be days that you have to call for backup as well.  There are plenty of people out there, whether friends or family, that can fill in as teacher, teach your child something new, or just be an extra set of hands if needed.

After all, everyone's days get crazy sometimes!

Want to see how other people homeschool through life and while on the go?
I'm joining in with Timberdoodle's Learning on the Go Blog Hop.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Ashton's Attic Reopens

I always love helping people promote their new businesses, but when it is my own daughter's, well, that makes it even more special.

I do not remember when exactly we discovered Ashton had a love for sewing.  I do remember that I made her take a home ec. class for school and one of the things she had to do was a quilt.  It turned out beautifully.

At the same time she also began sewing prairie skirts under the teaching of another homeschooling mom just for fun.  She hasn't stopped sewing since.

Yes, she has taken a few lessons here and there, but for the most part she is self-taught.  And determined.

She also had wonderful mentor and teacher while she was in school and working in their costume shop.  Once she graduated from college her love of sewing continued and she got a job working at a dry cleaners doing all of their alterations.  That job broadened her skills and allowed her to do private fittings, bridal alterations, and more.  Ashton also found a passion for teaching and has enjoyed teaching private sewing lessons to numerous students of all ages.

Now that we have moved and are settling in, Ashton has expanded her private sewing (in which she does clothes and alterations) and reopened her Etsy shop featuring quilts, with new branding for her business by Jamie Kientz, who did a wonderful job! You can see her work on her Facebook page and if you need any branding or design work done, I know Ashton would highly recommend her!

Ashton sells three kinds of quilts, T-shirt quilts, Memory and Baby clothes quilts, and Rag T-shirt quilts. I have to say, the rag T-shirt quilts are my favorite, they are so soft and cuddly!

These are just a few of the quilts she has done!

My first experience with a T-shirt quilt was years ago when I had someone make one for Ashton's graduation.  The irony, I know!  I sent a bunch of T-shirts away to a stranger and hoped for the best. Thankfully, all worked out well and other than the hefty price tag, I was happy.  It was then I realized how precious these quilts are with the memories they hold.  From graduations to baby memories to special events, each quilt tells a story to the one they are presented to.  A perfect gift!

So, now you have a name!  And a face!  And a mom's recommendation.  Go gather your shirts!!

You can see her quilts at her Etsy Store or on her Facebook page, and see what else she is up to on Pinterest and Instagram