Thursday, April 30, 2020

Unexpected Play at the Unexpected Time

Have you ever seen the movie The Perfect Game?  It is one of our family favorites about a little league team from Mexico.  Based on a true story and VERY family friendly, we have watched it many times and love to repeat a few of the lines on a pretty regular basis.

"Unexpected Play at the Unexpected Time" is one of those lines, and boy do I have one for you!

We always told this child she was a real life princess.
Now we know Riley is actually a QUEEN!

A year ago, due a crazy set of circumstances, Riley auditioned for and was hired by Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament!

A few things about Medieval Times-
This is the first castle to open in 13 years!  Yep, it is a BIG deal.
Yes, they are a dinner theatre and you eat with your hands.
They are the largest breeder of Andalusian horses in the US!
The knights' names and standards are based on the owner's Spanish heritage

While all the castles are currently closed while we wait for Corona to pass, she is super excited to be a part of the Medieval Times team.

And hey, we get to live with a QUEEN!


Monday, April 27, 2020

Oh, The Places You Will Go!

Today we get keys to our new house!  Yep, we are moving again!

This time same town, different house.

If you will remember, the original plan was to live in this rental house (with its gorgeous views) until we had a house built.  We had not set out to build a house but simply could not find a place that fit ours needs.

We had found a lot we liked, talked to a builder, and started crunching numbers.  Lots and lots of numbers.  In the middle of that process a house popped up in my email, we took a chance and looked at it, crunched more numbers (Corona hit) and decided the Lord had different plans than we did!

Go figure!  Hineni

So we put one dream aside and embraced a new dream.

There is MUCH to be done to make it our own and we will spend most of the month of May doing that and moving things over.  So instead of house build posts, you will get house update posts!  Lots and lots of update posts!

First up, getting rid of a lot of gold fixtures and finishes, painting cabinets, new front door and light fixtures, new paint, and on and on!

Before and after pictures to come!

Let to work begin and a new dream start!


Thursday, April 23, 2020

Happy Graduation, Salem!

Graduation looks a bit different for seniors these days! With the world in lock-down while waiting for the Corona pandemic to pass, we are all sheltering at home and secluded from friends and family.  Graduation ceremonies and parties are being cancelled, and all over the world people are getting creative to find ways to honor their children's' graduations.

We had no party planned because we had determined to give Salem the once in a life time opportunity to travel to Israel for 10 days with friends of ours who tour the Holy Land every few years.  Like Salem, they are lovers of history and are amazing Pastors/Bible teachers, and we knew this was the BEST way for Salem to experience Israel.

Of course, due to travel restrictions, those plans have since been cancelled.  To say we are disappointed is an understatement, but we are trusting God's sovereign plan and His timing. (and planning to try again for his college graduation!)

Yep, that is about the look on his face when he heard the trip was off!  ;)  It was also one of the outtakes of his photo session, which ended up being done by his oldest sister!

Luckily we got some good ones as well!

Salem has been homeschooled all of his school career!  I remember thinking after schooling the two girls first, how will I ever do this with a boy?  Praise the Lord, he made it fairly easy.  While the days of tears with the girls were replaced by the rough and tumble of our first born boy, we did manage to rein him in enough to get the basics done as well as a few fun classes like aviation and architecture.  Salem would tell you his favorite classes are anything history related and he keeps us all up on the latest and greatest history trivia daily!

Like his sisters, he has spent his senior year dual crediting college classes and is just two classes shy of being done with all of his general college requirements.

He will be attending Yavapai College in the fall where he will study Gunsmithing.  Not quite sure yet where it will take him, but it is exciting to see him pursuing a much loved hobby and passion that will hopefully turn into a dream career in a few years. 

What a priviledge it has been to raise this young man and watch him grow and mature into a sweet child of God!  We are super proud of all he has accomplished and cannot wait to see where the Lord leads him next!

Soar high, Salem!  YOU ARE LOVED!

Hiding behind the camera- Ashton!

Monday, April 13, 2020

A Prayer a Day Challenge

As the weeks continue on with so many of us under stay-at-home orders, we want to continue our family challenges.

We started off with A Letter a Day, then A Verse a Day, and last week we conquered A Project a Day.  This week, while deep in the trenches of a global pandemic, let's go back to blessing others with A Prayer a Day.

Let's face it, there is not one person who is not affected or that will be not somehow be affected by the Corona Virus.  Let's cover those groups of people in prayer- one day at a time!

Monday- Those in the medical world, to include doctors, nurses, EMTs etc.  These heroes are working around the clock and putting their own lives at risk to take care of the sick - often at their own families' expense. 

Tuesday- Those in the science/technology world.  These heroes are also working around the clock to find a vaccine, better diagnostic tests, and better ways to treat the virus. The pressure is on them, you can be sure.

Wednesday- Pastors, Missionaries, those who minister to the spiritual needs of others.  Let's face it, these heroes are also working overtime.  They are trying to care for multiple people long distance and continue to run their own churches via a whole new way, finding creative ways to keep the human touch available to their congregations.

Thursday- National and local level leaders.  It is easy to call out leadership and presume to know how we could do things better but none of that is helpful.  In the end, it is the Lord who has allowed them to be in positions of authority and they need our prayers.  Can you imagine the burdens they carry?

Friday- The world, the unsaved and our families. Those who are sick as well as those who are healthy.

The Lord hears our prayers, my friends, and praying draws us closer to Him.

Praying with you!


Friday, April 10, 2020

Prayers and Perspective

So many thoughts swirling in my head these days.  Where to even start?

Honestly, I have not felt like much in our current lives has looked too differently since all this Corona stuff started.

Stay at home?  Yep, we do that a lot.
School at home?  Been doing that for over 23 years.
Social distance?  We just moved and know a big whopping three people here.
Stop all non- essential activities?  No problem, haven't had the time to start any here yet anyway.

Not making light of the situation, just pointing out the facts.

But reality hit me hard this week.

Clarke is now teaching from home and summer school classes are at risk.
Our youngest daughter was laid off of her dream job and has no idea when she will get to go back to work, right as she and her sister have moved out into their own place.
My sweet grandmother is in lockdown in an assisted living facility with no access to friends and family, and my mom is by herself.
I have been on my knees in prayer over hurting friends, sick friends, and anxious friends.
I cannot even watch the news because it makes me feel literally sick.

It's a lot.
We are ALL under a lot of stress, whether we see it or not.
And currently there is no end in sight or hint of when we can get back to our "new normal."
It is enough to make for some hard days.  Not just here, but all over the world.

But here is the deal- I pray we don't get back to the normal we knew before.

After this is all over, I pray we will...
  • love more deeply and freely, 
  • appreciate the quiet, 
  • recognize what is important in our lives, 
  • let go of excess, 
  • say thank you more often, 
  • look for ways to help others,  
  • treasure friends dearly,
  • and be thankful that the Lord was faithful through the trial.
Oh friends, may we be changed for the better through this time.  What a waste it would truly be if we came through this fire the same person as before.

Let us use this time for good and use our lives for good.

Know you are loved and prayed for!

DO NOT BE ANXIOUS about anything, but in EVERY situation, by PRAYER and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to GOD. And the PEACE of God, which transcends all understanding, will GUARD your HEARTS and your MINDS in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7, emphasis mine


Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Tell Me a Story

Once again, The Timberdoodle Company has come through with another stellar product for homeschooled and public schooled children alike!  Whether you have been blessed with an artistic kiddo that likes to draw and create stories, or have a child that just needs a little encouragement in the creativity department, 99 Stories I Could Tell, the brain child of Nathan Pyle, will fit the bill.

What is it?
99 Stories I Could Tell is a 99 page paperback book with drawing and writing prompts to help your child begin to create stories in their heads- 99 to be exact. Beginning on page one, your child is guided by the author, as a character in the book, on the rules of engagement- "user guidelines" he calls them.  The next few pages encourages doodle practice.

The rest of the book looks like this-

The left side of the page uses writing prompts to get the creative juices flowing, and the right side of the page uses doodles to create a nine block of story prompts.  Each two page spread after that is the same lay out, with new writing a doodle prompts.  On each of the nine doodle blocks is a different symbol to help you reference your story.

At the end of the book you will find spaces to list your 99 story titles, and then reference the corresponding page where you brainstormed the idea.

What it is not! 
Notice I said brainstormed the idea.  Nowhere in this book will your child actually write out any of their stories.  This is just a place to help them create those stories in their heads and have visual prompts to remind them of those stories.  From there they can either choose to write the best of the best down to share or save, or just have a neat place to go to remind them of their stories.

This book is so open-ended and creative.  It is perfect for those kids that just need a little push to get started.  Though there are doodles provided to begin with- Nathan encourages the reader to break the rules, draw over the lines, add things and be creative- no boxes to check!

The writing prompts are fun and engaging and don't have a lot of space to write, so they will not intimidate those non writing kids out there!  They can just jot down a few sentences and move on.

Ok, there are a few.  One, when we read through the first few pages we were seriously confused on how it all worked.  Once we figured out what Nathan was talking about with the coding system so you could reference back to what story you were talking about from your final list, we were ready to go!

If you have a kiddo who is not confident in their "art"skills, the doodle part may be a bit intimidating at first.  That being said, the author does a great job of showing ideas and allowing time for doodle practice.  Once they get started, there will be no stopping them.

My opinion?
I like the little book a lot.  The quality is great- it even has a plastic cover on it to protect it and make it a more lasting memento for your child to have. Once I got over the idea that they were not actually writing out the stories, I embraced it- see you can teach an old homeschooling mom new tricks!  What a fun idea to just have a reference point to jog your memory about a story you have to tell.  It makes me think of a time when stories were passed from one person to another, and sometimes one generation to another just through word of mouth.  What a great skill to develop!

This could also be a great way to catalog family stories that you share! Maybe have each person in your family take turns, notating family stories and memories made, so that in years to come you will remember and can easily share and pass those stories on to the next generations.

And oh my word, what stories we could tell these days, right?

99 Stories I Could Tell is recommended for 6th graders up, and is also included in the Timberdoodle  9th Grade Curriculum Kit.

Monday, April 6, 2020

A Project a Day Challenge

You knew it was coming, right?  Those of you who know me know I love cleaning and organizing- my home and others!  34 Weeks of Clean and Clearing Out The Clutter were born from my need to organize my life, and they have kept many busy as well!

Since we are into week 4 for many of self isolating, we are continuing on our family challenges as a way to help keep ourselves busy.  We started with A Letter a Day, and last week we challenged ourselves with A Verse a Day!  I pray both have been a blessing to you and others during this challenging time.  If you have not gotten around to those two challenges- hey, it is never too late to begin.

So this week-

A Project a Day!

Now, as you will see, most of these are seemingly pretty "mom" specific. I urge you to alter them to suit your family's needs.  For instance, when you do your junk drawer, have your kids work on their desks drawers.  Or when you do your pocketbook, get your husband to work on his night side table drawer. (just saying!)  Or while you do your jewelry, have your whole family work on their sock and underwear drawers! And shoes?  I am willing to bet everyone could go through a good shoe purge. I am also willing to bet you can come up with several others areas in your home that could use a little attention.  Unlike 34 Weeks of Clean, this is not supposed to be a long, drawn out process.  Just a fun project to get you motivated each day so you can feel like you checked something off your daily to-do list!

Here's the thing- during our regularly busy days, things pile up because we "don't have the time."


Instead of looking at it as a negative, let's accept it as a gift from the Lord and get moving on those honey do lists!  By the end of the week, you can pat yourself on the back and have a little family celebration for a job well done!  Maybe the person who gets the most done can choose a special dessert to make that everyone can share!

Are you ready?  GO!

Monday- Clean out your junk drawer.  Or drawers!  Let' face it, these catch all drawers, or areas, pile up throughout the year with stuff we just don't need.  Now is a great time to pull it all out (a 34 Weeks of Clean trick) and sort through it.  Toss old pens and half chewed pencils, old notes, and expired coupons.  Return things to where they really belong and enjoy your neatly arranged space!

Tuesday- Clean out your jewelry.  Really!  When is the last time you took a good look at all the jewelry you have tucked here and there?  Again, put it all in one location and then piece by piece sort though it.  Broken?  Toss it.  Haven't worn it in 6 plus months?  Time to get rid of it.  Let someone else enjoy it if you are not!  If something is just taking up space maybe it is time to rethink why you are keeping it.

Wednesday- Clean out your pocketbook.  Dump it out, take the time to wipe it down or even toss it in the washing machine, and then return only what you need.  Just for fun, let us know what the most unusual thing you found hiding in the depths is!

Thursday- Clean out your shoes.  Since most of us are in the about-to-change-seasons stage, now is a good time to clean up the winter shoes and put them away.  If any seem pretty tired, tired to toss them.  Pull out those summer shoes, summer is coming I promise, and evaluate what you have.  If they look like they have seen better days, hurt your feet, or did not even get worn last year, time to move them out! I realize shoes are a sore spot with many woman, but trust me when I say you CAN have too many.  Find a few pair you love and feel comfortable in, and then spend your hard earned money somewhere else.

Friday- Your choice!  Do you have an area in your house that is calling your name?  How about a space in your home you avoid?  Or one that is the bane of your existence?  Today is the day to face the giant!  Turn on some fun money, grab a helper, and get started.  You can do it!

Friends, I pray you are not just surviving the shelter at home recommendation, but even thriving. These are challenging times, but we can do it!  Take this time to slow your life down, reconnect with your family, and stay safe!

You are loved!