Keeping On, Catching Up

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It is hard to believe that in 11 days the calendar will change and 2016 will be upon us. In the two months since I last posted I have done a lot of journeying in this life. I have explored, I have read, I have taught, I have played, I have rested, I have worked and I have grown. I am learning what it looks like to slow down and savor the days, to be present and live in the moment. I have spent more time enjoying God’s creation, escaping into a story and experiencing life with my people.

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What I have realized is that in the mundane I am making small deposits into the lives of my children and that, by the grace of God, will pay big dividends in the future. Our days are not always easy and rarely smooth but one thing is certain, these days are a gift. These precious children are a gift and my time with them is priceless.

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As I look toward 2016 and the God who is ordering my steps I feel thankful and confident. Thankful that God has shown great grace in His son Jesus Christ and confident that He is working in my life for His will and His pleasure. God has placed a desire in my heart for something more and I am eagerly anticipating how He will fashion and shape my 2016.

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Homeschool Week 9 Wrap Up

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Lord, how manifold are your works!
    In wisdom have you made them all;
    the earth is full of your creatures.

Psalm 104:24

Week 9 marked our 6 week break from CC and while I knew I didn’t want to take it completely off I wanted to use it differently than our “regular” weeks.  Primarily I wanted it to be lighter and spent exploring outside.  I just finished listening to a biography about George Washington Carver titled George Washington Carver: From Slave to Scientist. The story of this mans life moved me to tears on more than one occasion. He *FOUGHT* to overcome so many odds to become educated but yet remained so incredibly humbled.  Two reasons I believe he remained so humble was because of his faith in God and his constant contact with his creation. After listening to the biography I am more convinced than ever that we need to spend more time outdoors and learning about God’s creation. That being said, that is what we did.
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We visited Prairie State Park with friends one day. You can read a full post about that here. 

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We visited our local park and enjoyed exploring close to home. I was truly amazed at the diversity we encountered as we slowed down long enough to really look at things.

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We also took some time to explore our very own back yard! We have a garden spider who is hanging out with her egg cases outside our window. We have watched her eat a few bugs and are lamenting the reality that in a few weeks she will die with the first frost. However we are hopeful that her babies will survive and hatch in the spring. I noticed another garden spider on the play set as I was mowing this week. Also a walking stick but it disappeared by the time I made it back with my camera. The squirrels this time of year are really serious about their nut scavenging. Ulysses, the squirrel in the tree, was NOT happy I was taking his picture. If your not familiar with Ulysses the squirrel you should check out  Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo. (We listened to the audiobook from our library, great listen!) We have also had a nest in the ground. I am leaning towards a yellow jacket nest but not completely sure. I am in the process of eradicating the stinging insects but I do find the whole “nest in the ground” thing completely fascinating.

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We wrapped up the week painting. I am no artist, though I wish I were. However I enjoy creating memories (and getting better about relishing the messes) with my kiddos. I enjoyed a slower week and am thankful I got to spend it with blessings!

Linking up with Homegrown Learners Collage Friday. 

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Nature Hike | Prairie State Park Mindenmines, MO

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//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsam endeavoring to get my children outside more and when a friend of mine mentioned traveling an hour or so north to visit Prairie State Park I JUMPED on the idea. I have driven through the park on a couple of occasions but never actually stopped or hiked around. Upon arrival we stopped at the Nature Center which was really interactive and pretty neat. We could have spent more time reading and learning about the prairie and bison but we were ready to eat some lunch and *hunt* some bison.  Many of the bison were corralled for yearly health check ups. We saw one lone bison on the prairie and stirred up a few elk on our hike but the prairie itself did not disappoint.

 

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I was amazed at beauty and diversity of the prairie. The park ranger shared how every season brings a new allurement to the prairie. We may have to venture back every season to see God’s handiwork on display.  As we hiked along the Gayfeather Trail I could not help but consider what life must have been like for the pioneers who came to “tame” the land. I gained a new understanding of what is meant by the “rolling prairie” as what I once saw a few steps before vanished in the blink of an eye. As we crested one of the highest ridges of the park my mind was ushered to a previous century where smoked, from the near by indian village, lined the horizon and the wagon train left a well worn path and unmarked grave stones in it’s wake. My soul ached at the thought of the beauty of what once was and in a sense of what has been lost.  I was quickly comforted by the sounds of my children and their friends enjoying the prairie, tramping through the vastness of the tall grass and witnessing the diversity of the creator and His wonderful works.    

Homeschool Week 7 & 8 Wrap Up

Here is week 7 & 8 in review (bullet point style).

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  • The past two weeks have been filled with music, good books and volleyball.
  • I am so thankful Grammy is passing on her love for the piano.

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  • I am loving our loop scheduling this year and we are enjoying our nature notebooks.
  • Mr. J is showing some reading readiness so we are slowly wading into our Primary Arts of Language Reading curriculum from IEW.

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  • Fall is in the air and we went apple picking! Apple picking leads to apple eating…

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  • //embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsWe have been wanting to put a fire pit in for a few years. With the help of some friends we were successful. I love having a place to sit and chat (and eat smores!!) and enjoy one another outside.

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  • We enjoyed the blood moon by the fire with a good book.

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  • Mr J was in heaven when the fire department showed up at library story time!

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  • We visited Pioneer Days at George Washington Carver National Monument for a field trip.  This is our third trip to Pioneer Days but our first trip where we really knew something about George Carver.  We have been listening to George Washington Carver: From Slave to Scientist. Despite numerous setbacks Carver sought and education and wanted to do great things in his life. I have been brought to tears numerous times while listening to this book. I can’t do him justice in a bullet point, George W. Carver is worthy of his own post. 🙂
  • At Pioneer Days the park sets up stations, old fashion games, story telling, laundry washing, candle sipping, open fire cooking, and exploring the awesome museum. My crew had a great time!

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  • All that apple picking yielded a few jars of pink applesauce, apple butter, cinnamon applesauce. YUM! I had a pretty great helper too!

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  • I am trying to build some free time into our days. While sissy was using her free time to sew I found my little guy on the deck chilling out in the sun!
  • We concluded the weekend with a fire in the fire pit, hot dogs, smores and a little reading of The Green Ember by the fire.

The past two weeks have my mama heart overflowing . They have been full of good things with my good gifts from God.

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Devil’s Kitchen Hiking Trail | Roaring River State Park

You know those days where you go to bed with your heart overflowing, those days where you wish daylight would never end? Saturday was one of those days. After putting in long hours the past few week my husband wanted to get outside and spend time together as a family, he suggested going on a hike. I immediately started checking local areas because we have some great options. After a little googling I decided we would head to Roaring River State Park. After looking over the trails I wasn’t sure what would be the best fit for our crew (4 year old and mom with baby on her back) but thanks to this awesome post on Adventures in the Ozarks I was sold on Devil’s Kitchen Trail. Rocks to climb over, caves to explore, spring water to touch, not to mention the various terrain we would encounter, it truly was a little boys dream! Off we went!

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When I told Mr. J that there were caves he insisted that he bring his flashlight! Miss K was a little more timid about the cave exploring. Even daddy got in on the action.  There were two different cave areas that were easily accessible.  Along with a few other rock formations that were really interesting. The name Devil’s Kitchen comes from one of the rock formations along the trail.  Before it collapsed there use to be a room like structure that is said to have been a hideout for  Civil War guerrilla soldiers. (I did have to clarify that I wasn’t talking about the primate type of gorilla’s!)

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We climbed 325 ft throughout the hike to a plateau where we stayed for a good portion of the hike. The terrain is beautiful with a variety of things to see. We are already talking about making this a winter hike so we can see more of the land once the leaves are off the trees.

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I think my favorite moments of the day came from the hands I got to hold and the conversations that we had. I loved hearing the big two talk about the different animalia, plantae, and fungi they encountered. I wish I would of counted how many fungi we surveyed.  As we were walking along the trail Daddy asked us to stop and look ahead to where we were going. We were at a place that we couldn’t see more than 100 feet in front of us.  He talked about how faith in God is much like hiking the path ahead, not always seeing what lies ahead but knowing that God has provided a way and we just need to walk in it.  Which led our kiddos to recite their verse from vacation Bible school, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”
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In reflecting on this day with my family I was reminded that this is the “more” I am journeying toward. The act of loving my people better, by intentionally being “there” with them.  Growing deeper by marveling about the goodness of God and His amazing creation. Living richer by being all in, wholly there, savoring the good, the true, and the beautiful gifts God has given me.  So thankful to be on a journey toward more!

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Lifebooking – August 18th Edition

Over a month has past since I have slowed down long enough to record our comings and goings. As I reflect upon the past six weeks I am reminded of the Lord’s faithfulness. I remember looking at our calendar at the beginning of the summer and wondering how we were going to do it all. I have been really intentional in not putting to much on the calendar but the way a few things fell kept us busy with back to back activities.

Miss K finished up sewing camp with her nanny the first week of July. During this week she created 4 different projects. A mini-tree skirt, a stocking, a pillow and a mitten. I love that she is learning to sew. Her creativity and generosity is unending. Not even a week home from camp and she had a list of things to create for friends. Since that time she has spent many hours on her sewing machine creating tin whistle cases, a baby blanket, and aprons. We even had a sewing party with some friends where we made cases for tin whistles and a couple of head bands. I am thankful that since we homeschool I am able to schedule in time for her to sew and work on her projects. She has a few more aprons to make and we are going to start working on receiving blankets for the pregnancy care center. We are working our way up to making pillowcase dresses to put in our Operations Christmas Child shoe boxes this year and  to send to another local organization.

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After sewing camp we took a family vacation with our extended family. We went to a couple of shows and enjoyed spending time with family. Following vacation my kiddos enjoyed vacation Bible school at my mom’s church. I am fairly certain we will be “journeying off the map” until next summer and the new VBS sound track rolls out.

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We concluded those three weeks with a first birthday party for Miss E. It is hard to believe she is ONE! We enjoyed celebrating the gift she is with our family and friends.

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After an incredibly busy few weeks our lives have slowed down greatly.  The slow pace has allowed me to read, reflect and think on what is important and most pressing. As a CC director I am prepped and ready for the CC year to begin. Here at home we already have one week of school under our belt, which I plan to write about soon.  I feel like this is the calm before the crazy that I know is just around the corner.

Moments to remember

Miss K – Her eagerness to tackle the school day and the work ethic she is applying has been so encouraging. She has risen to the challenge and is embracing third grade with a twinkle in her eye and joy in her heart.

Mr. J – He is so ready for “school” and is super stoked about his Super Mario Bros back  pack. Little man LOVED VBS and wanted it to last (in true Mr. J fashion) FOR-EV-ER!

Miss E – This sweet girl is getting super big and almost a full time walker. She is my water baby and has enjoyed spending time this month in the swimming pool. If we can’t quickly locate her in the house we know she must be headed for (or splashing in) the dog water.

 

Lifebooking – July 2nd edition

It is hard for me to grasp the reality that it is July. What that means is in a matter of days my youngest turns one and in a matter of weeks we will begin 3rd grade and preschool with the older two. I have always heard time flies as an adult but seriously, this is nuts!june2015_034

We have been enjoying the rhythm of a few slow weeks after a very busy first week of June. The first week of June included Classical Conversations practicum, camps for the kids and training for me! Miss K loved geo draw, Mr. J loved play camp and Miss E did great in the nursery! They attended 3 days and then stayed home while I attended another 3 days elsewhere for another training.practicum1

Since practicum we have enjoyed slower days and a few nights at the ball field cheering on our favorite softball and t-ball players. I haven’t been a “sports” mom for about 4 years, I have enjoyed seeing my kids on the field having a great time. I think everyone needs a little t-ball in their life to bring down their blood pressure and remind us that truly it is the simple things in life that make the biggest difference.  You know, the important things: playing in the dirt, high fives from friends, swinging for center-field because you can, running the bases full tilt with your head thrown back enjoying the breeze,  and jumping on home plate with your arms raised in victory because you made it safely home! T-ball has been a reminder to me that I need to get my hands dirty by actively engaging in my life, to be willing to encourage my friends to keep on keeping on, to live with gusto for the glory of God, and run my race well as it has been laid out before me so that I can cross the finish line victoriously because of what Christ has done on my behalf. I ❤ T-Ball!tball

In typical midwest fashion the past few weeks have been HOT. We have attempted to stay cool by spending a little time in the water hose, baby pool and the local aquatic center. Miss K enjoyed the zero entry at the pool while the big two enjoyed the slides and other amenities at the pool.10419972_640961866888_3266763544632882537_n

The past few weeks have afforded me the opportunity to have different combinations of children with me because one or two of them have been at Nanny & Papa’s house. It has been a lot of fun to spend one on one time with the baby of the family because that rarely happens when you are #3. Also Mr. J has been able to be the “oldest” since Miss K has been at Nanny & Papa’s house all week going to sewing camp with Nanny. Siblings are a funny thing.  Before Miss K left she was a little sad because she thought she may miss her brother and would for sure miss her sister and daily Mr. J has asked to go back to Nanny’s house and get sissy. He even wanted to save her some cookies the other night and I hear she has been eating kids meals and saving the toys for him. Being an only child there are many days I do not feel cut out to raise brothers and sisters. It is hard, there are fights and tears at times but God has reminded me through my sweet children that relationships are not easy, but worth it. I have been so thankful for the glimpses God has given me of the love my kiddos have for one another.

Miss K loves to create things. We often joke everywhere she goes she  leaves a sparkle and a trail of tiny scraps of paper behind. This week she has attended sewing camp with my mom. She has made a mini tree skirt, a mitten to hang on the tree, and an embroidered stocking. I cannot wait to see how the Lord uses this passion to create and make in her life for His glory.sewcamp

I cleaned out the curriculum cabinet yesterday and put away second and replaced it with third grade curriculum. I am looking forward to spending some time over the course of July to fully prepare for the upcoming school year.

I am looking forward to what tomorrow brings but am so very thankful to experience today.

Moments to remember:

Miss K’s boldness in conquering the big slide at the aquatic center all on her own and her “owning” the responsibility of being the oldest at the pool. I told her I trusted her to make wise decisions as I was keeping up with the younger two and she did a great job of following the pool rules and always checking in with me.

Mr. J’s abundance of energy and zeal for life couple with his sweet, tender heart. I have enjoyed tons of kisses and cuddles from my sweet boy. His favorite things to do is to try and kiss me on the cheek and I turn my head and smooch him on the lips! Giggles ensue.

Miss E’s growing like a weed. Her sweet, always happy disposition has been a balm to my soul. She greets me with a smile and usually a few sweet squeals. She loves for you to stack something and knock it over. She is getting brave and beginning to let go of things when she is standing. Probably my favorite is when you are holding her she cuddles up to you and lays her head on your chest… melts my heart every.single.time!