Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Summer Photo Essay




THEME

This week I want to invite you to take a moment and post a Summer Photo Essay memoir. Starting from around the official date of Summer to this past week - just give a basic summary of your summer as I know someone of you are photoholics! Haha! Make sure you jot down your memoirs about each photo so everyone can read about your summer. You can do the essay however you want. You can journal a lot of just caption the photo! Can’t wait to see what you all do!


1. Our diva, Dacey, doing her Angelina Jolie imitation.


2. Christmas in June! We went to Build a Bear. Isaac picked a Koala!


3. Jaden and Daddy dress Jaden's bear in a Spiderman costume.


4. Dacey and Diva Dog head to bed in matching jammies.


5. Daddy and Connor getting goofy before bedtime.


6. FOURTH OF JULY!


7. Isaac always puts a sparkle in my eyes.


8. And that Jaden's a real firecracker!


9. Jaden caught a lizard at the park.


10. Dacey's blowing bubbles for Mickey Pup.


11. Isaac's just "blowing bubbles".


12. Our early summer visit to the ER came when Connor went head first down six concrete stairs!


13. Here's the kids "in" Texas.


14. I think the whole "being in Texas" thing really went to Jaden's head.


15. A true Texas antenna topper!


16. The kids were suppose to meet a Texas Ranger on our way out of town, but he was called out before we got there! BUMMER!





17. Dacey, Tinker-Sidney, and myself attended a beautiful, summer wedding.


18. The kids showing some love... not an often seen sight these days!


19. Jaden being Jaden! (And what better thing could he be, I ask??)


20. Connor spent all summer snuggling with his Cricket!


21. And how could we forget the Hannah Montana 3D concert shown on Disney channel??


22. ISAAC'S SALVATION PARTY CAKE!!


23. The biggest event of our summer was Isaac asking Jesus into his heart and getting baptized which we celebrated the next day with our friends!


24. Connor learning to swim in Daddy's arms at Clear Springs Lake.


25. We brought Bella Rose home August 1st. Dacey instantly tried to love her to death!


26. Isaac proudly displaying his super kiss from his one and only super mom!


27. And then there was the day the kids went gangsta on me! Thank God it only lasted a day!


28. Bella Rose saying her prayers... probably asking God that we never dress her up again!


29. The first day of school. Here my "drama" students are pretending they are in prison!


30. The queen of back bends!


31. Jaden lost another tooth!


32. We enjoyed seeing Team Impact with our good friends.



33. Daddy swinging Connor at the park after a long day at work.


34. The kids with some of their buds at Burger King.


35. Hanging out with Nana watching the effects of Gustav from the front door.


36. Flash flood warning! You think??


37. Connor enjoyed an early birthday meal at Cracker Barrel. He loved his sundae!!


38. I think he was even more impressed with his Mickey head birthday cake!


39. He and his siblings couldn't wait to get into it!


40. After Connor's party the kids played "how many balloons can you hold".


41. Jaden spraying the water hose at the fire department.


42. AKC's Responsible Pet Owner Day in Jackson.


43. Isaac caught a butterfly and was thrilled until it started crawling up him!


44. Adorable!


45. Dacey's birthday party.


46. Blowing out her candles.


47. Dacey and Daddy playing Twister.


48. Happy Birthday, Dacey! Dacey and her new friend, Felicity Joy!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Choice to Homeschool



It has recently been brought to my attention that there are those who consider families who homeschool as "weird", "fanatical", or even "freaks". Well, call me a weird, fanatical, freak if you wish, but I'm a homeschooling mom and proud of it!

Despite what some may think:
1. I do not homeschool my children to shelter them.
2. I do not homeschool my children because I am opposed to public schools.
3. My children are not "unsocialized".
4. My children do live in the real world.

To the contrary:
1. Being homeschooled my children are exposed to the "real" world as they are not provided the luxury of being away from home when their father and I deal with the problems of the "real" world. They also watch and hear the news and have a good understanding of what is going on in the world around them.
2. My children are homeschooled because that is where God has led my family. I certainly do not believe that it is something that God has called every family to though. (I also am extremely grateful for my education that took place in the public school system.)
3. My children are very well socialized and are as comfortable in a group of their peers as they are when they visit the residents of the nursing home with our therapy dogs.
4.My children are not subjected to the traditional, and often limited classroom education. They are taught in multiple subjects that they would not be given the opportunity to learn in school. Just because it is called "home"school does not mean that our only learning takes place inside the confines of our own home. We learn around the clock in our every day experiences wherever we might be.


I have been given the privilege and the joy of watching my children learn at home and knowing as they exceed that I have taught them. And let me tell you, that is an exciting thing! But I also have been given the chore of making sure that my children are getting a quality education, and believe me when I say, that is a very daunting task!

Homeschooling is not the easy out. No, we are not bound to the same 8:00-3:00 schedule as children who are in the public school system. We have more flexibility than that. We also don't follow the August-May schedule either. Normally our children are homeschooled year round with no more than three weeks off at a time. That is a personal choice that our family has made based on what works best for our children.

Being a homeschool mom does not allow for me to have time off. I don't get sick days. I don't get to spend my day however I would best enjoy it. (And trust me, I could use a day at the spa or a shopping trip that didn't include four children!) My day, however, revolves around my children and their education. There are lesson plans to prepare. Lessons to be taught. Time to be spent with each child individually to help each child excel to their personal best. Then there are lessons to be graded and work to be corrected. In addition we participate in music lessons and sports and also field trips with our homeschool group. All of this combined with keeping a very active two year old occupied, cooking supper, and keeping up with housework, church, and our therapy dog ministry make for a very hectic life. I often say, "There's never a dull moment, but I keep hoping for one!"

Homeschooling is not for the faint of heart. Homeschooling is a calling, and it is a commitment. It requires far more planning and preparing than most people would think or expect. I don't know why homeschooling is attacked on so many levels. We aren't asking for permission or help. We aren't asking for understanding even. All we want to do is give our children the best education we can provide them with while doing what we believe God has called us to. And if you are one of those who think that being a homeschool mom is another title for "housewife who sits around sipping soda and watching soaps all day", you are more than welcome come visit with me on any given day!




Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6


Monday, September 15, 2008

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DACEY JADE!!!

The day started with us sneaking into Dacey's room while she slept and putting her gifts on her bed:






Dacey heard her Daddy talking and woke up wondering what was going on:
She sat up and saw the gifts at the end of her bed:
But couldn't quite believe her eyes:
So she asked, "Am I seeing things or are there gifts there?"



She quickly opened her first gift to reveal the American Girl doll she has dreamed of for more than a year now:



She loved the extra outfit we'd gotten for the doll and was quick to find a close match in her closet to dress like her:







It was a wonderful day. Dacey really enjoyed each of her gifts and I think she got everything she'd wished for. At one point today she told me that she was so surprised because she didn't think she'd ever get an American Girl doll. Her Nana even surprised her with American Girl perfume, lotion, a manicure set, and her favorite American Girl movie.



I think she will always remember her tenth birthday as a very special day! I know I will.


Ready for bed:



Dacey Jade is a very special young lady. I am really proud of who she is becoming. If you'd like to know more about my precious girl, check out her blog: Southern Jewel's Princess Diaries.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Field Trips, Birthday's, and The Dog Days of Summer

(Dacey and Connor exiting the fire truck.)

Yesterday our homeschool group took a field trip to the Fire Department in Brookhaven. I was really impressed with the lengths these wonderful firefighters went to to teach and entertain our children. They were patient and attentive. My Jaden really cracked me up at one point. When the fireman asked what the children should do if a friend or sibling was playing with matches, Jaden quickly responded, "CALL 9-1-1!!" LOL A few minutes passed before Isaac became bored. He took the opportunity during question time to raise his hand to ask, "Can we go look at the trucks now?" The answer was yes and all of the children were delighted! Even Connor got a turn to get in the fire truck and to spray the fire hose. Afterwards one of the firemen went up about thirty feet in a bucket and then repelled down for the children to see. We were all amazed at his acrobatic expertise.

I had taken the kids friends, Adrian and Emily, with us to the fire station and then to lunch. Dacey was thrilled when we dropped Adrian off at his house and she realized Emily was coming on home with us. Monday is Dacey's tenth birthday, and we'd planned a "surprise/slumber" party for her. Dacey was even more surprised when her friend, Hannah, met us at home later.

(Dacey's tenth birthday cupcake cake.)

The girls had a grand time. They made a beautiful, butterfly craft, ate cupcakes, watched American Girls movies, and played Twister. Another surprise for the evening was the girls receiving matching FaithGirlz Bibles. They were delighted! Hannah wasn't able to spend the night, so before bed Dacey and Emily called her, put her on speaker phone, and had a devotion and prayer time together. Dacey later said of their Bible time, "It was so fun!"

(Emily, Dacey, and Hannah)

This morning we picked Jaden and Isaac up from their buddy, Daniel's house, dropped Emily off at her house, and headed to Jackson for AKC's Responsible Dog Owner Day. This is something Dacey has been saying she wanted to do since she first heard of it. "It can be my birthday present," she's told us. She was really excited to take our Cocker Spaniel pup, Bella Rose. The day consisted of a class on Therapy Dogs, an agility run, a conformation event, and a Jr. Handlers showing. Dacey was particularly interested in the agility part. She has always wanted a dog that could participate in agility trials, and Bella Rose just may very well be that dog. She's very athletic. We all enjoyed watching the dogs run the course. Jaden's favorite part of the day was the kids corner. They played "Pin the Nose on the Puppy" and won stuffed dogs, got their faces painted and more. Isaac, on the other hand, was thrilled going from person to person and dog to dog making new friends. I don't think there was a dog in the building that he had not petted by the time we left. From there we went and ate lunch, then to PetSmart to get Bella Rose some treats, and then on to home.

(The kids and Bella Rose watching the agility run.)

Dacey knows that her Nana has her a couple of gifts to open on Monday, but thinks that yesterday and today were her big gifts from Mom and Dad. After she went to bed tonight, she came back in the living room and said, "Momma, Daddy, this has been the best tenth birthday a girl could have asked for. Thank you so much." Little does she know that when she wakes up Monday morning she will have an American Girl Doll wrapped up neatly beside her. I CAN'T WAIT!!!

I have felt real bad for the past several weeks. I hate to admit it, but it really seems that I have relapsed with Fibromyalgia. I'm constantly tired and always in a lot of pain. I usually push myself all week knowing that when Tommy is home on the weekend he'll take over with the kids and I can rest. This hasn't been the case lately as there has been something or another for the past several weeks. It really blesses me that my baby thinks her birthday has consisted of a surprise party and a day in Jackson and thinks it is the best birthday possible. It shows me that there is a good reason for all of this running around and it is well worth it!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, PRINCESS! I LOVE YOU!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Seized by Temptation

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. 1 Corinthians 10:13







My children have of late been running wild. One sign of respect shown by saying "sir" or "ma'am" has become almost non-existent. (Yes, call us old fashioned, but we still expect that from our children.) When told to go to bed, they argue. When asked to clean up their room, they put it off. And when asked to do their chores? They put up a fight!

So last night we had a family meeting. My husband and I explained to the kids the things we have noticed in their attitudes and actions that are displeasing to us and told them what we expected them to do to correct the issues. We also discussed the consequences that would be in place when they failed to meet our expectations.

We hugged, kissed, and said our goodnights. I reminded the kids that as they prayed before bed they should ask God to forgive them and show them how they could do better. Off to bed they went. About ten minutes passed and Jaden (7) was back up. "Momma," he began, "I think I know what has gotten into us." I was very interested to hear this one. I asked him to continue. "Momma, I think temptation has seized us." THUMP! That was so not the answer I'd expected. We read 1 Corinthians 10:13 together and discussed that we do not have to give in to temptation because GOD IS FAITHFUL and allows a way of escape!

After he was tucked back in I thought about Jaden's precious answer... truly from the mouth of babes! I wondered how often I am "seized by temptation." Regrettably the answer would be often. It's not usually the big things but the little things that get me. There's the temptation to hit the snooze button when I know I need to get up and get going in the mornings. There's the temptation to sit at the computer and blog when I have a sink full of dirty dishes waiting for me in the kitchen. There's the temptation to sit and relax after a long, grueling day instead of spending a few more minutes with my kids before their bedtime. The list goes on and on.

Tonight as I go to bed I'm going to ask God for forgiveness too and to show me how to do better. And tomorrow I hope I can say as Jaden did today. When asked by his Aunt Sidney what had happened when he prayed, he replied, "God got all that stuff out of me!"

God, get all that stuff out of me too. In Jesus name, amen!


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CONNOR!

WE HAD A WONDERFUL TIME CELEBRATING CONNOR'S 2ND BIRTHDAY! IT WAS TRULY A GREAT DAY!!!




Sunday, September 7, 2008

HIGHLY DESIRED, SON OF OUR PRAISE!




Even after we'd already had three children, Tommy and I still did not feel like our family was complete.

In the Spring of 2004 we were thrilled to find out we were expecting again. I had made it past the six week mark where I'd miscarried the rest of the children we'd lost. So we knew that we were on our way to having a baby. But in my fourth month I started spotting. A trip to the emergency room confirmed my fears.... I was losing our Layna Grace. A blood clot had formed behind the placenta and two days after the first ER visit, the blood clot burst. Layna was in her master's arms, and we were left to grieve.

Another two years passed by... I'd had another "possible, unconfirmed" miscarriage, but I still desperately wanted another baby. Almost two years to the day after we'd found out we were pregnant with Layna, we learned we were indeed expecting again.

The decision was made we would share the news with our children. Though they were all still young (3, 5, and 7) we wanted everyday of this child's life to be celebrated. We also wanted them to understand what was happening if mommy had to make any unexpected trips to the hospital.

Then almost two years to the day that I'd miscarried our Layna Grace, I ended up back in the hospital. A sonogram showed that another blood clot had formed behind the placenta. I told everyone, "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen." I believed with my whole heart that God had ordained this pregnancy and that I would carry this child to term.

The doctors sent me home that night advising me that I would be on bed rest for several months. "It will take weeks before the blood clot will begin enlarging or shrinking. We won't know anything for a while," I was told. I came home with appointments for weekly sonograms for the next several weeks.

The following Thursday I returned for my sonogram. The doctors were baffled. "The blood clot is gone!" they announced. The doctors were quick to give God the glory. "Do you know that blood clots do not disappear in a weeks time? Only God could have done this!!" I believe that is pretty close to an exact quote.

Connor Judson is literally translated "highly desired, son of our praise." Tomorrow is his second birthday.

Connor has brought me so much joy. I am so thankful that God let us have him. He truly has completed our family and in the process has earned the nick-name "wild man"! LOL He keeps me on my toes - to say the least! I praise God daily for my miracle baby. He really is my highly desired son of praise.


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Homeschool Routines

Well, it definitely took time for me to get out of my box thinking that we had to have it all done by a certain time each day. Over the past couple of years I realized I was setting myself up for disappointment and with disappointment came stress for our entire household. So now instead of following a schedule, we try to follow a routine.



The kids day looks something like this:

  1. Kids Day

  2. Get up, change clothes, make bed, feed dogs

  3. Breakfast, brush teeth

  4. Devotion time

  5. School

  6. Lunch

  7. Finish any school

  8. Chores

  9. Practice guitar

  10. Play time

  11. Supper time

  12. Bath time

  13. Clean up bedrooms

  14. Devotion time

  15. Bedtime - must be in bed no later than 9:00 P.M.

I always stress to my children that any job whether it is school work or chores that is only half done has not really been done at all. I also tell them quite often that if they day dream or waste time while they are suppose to be doing school work or chores, that is time that cuts into their play time. Rather than follow a clock, we do the job until it's finished to the best of our abilities. If we finish ahead of time, then we have the rest of the day to do what we want.

Life happens. Already this school year things have not gone according to plan. I have been sick for a couple of weeks. That definitely messes with our schedule. (Thank God we can still homeschool while mommy is in her jammies.) And there has been a certain hurricane that has cut into our school time this week. Rather than make my children and myself miserable over what hasn't been done, we'll just start back fresh next week (unless of course Ike heads for us too).


Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails.


Proverbs 19:21



Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Sweet Peace



You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3


Over the past twenty-four hours during flooding, tornado sirens, and power outages, I have more than once had to reassure my children that regardless of how things seemed outside that God was still in control!
As warnings of Gustav began a week ago, we started making preparations in expectation that we could once again lose power and water for a week or more. However, never did we panic because we know in whom we have believed and HE IS FAITHFUL! He is the same one who speaks to the wind and waters and they obey.... our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!
We are very blessed that we have been kept safe from most of the storm. We have only lost electricity three times for about five minutes at a time. We have a lot of debris surrounding our home, but there was no damage to our house. There is flooding in our community, but we are together in our home and dry!
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust."
Psalm 91:1,2