They’re growing up!

Got a few pics of my sunshines together tonight!  
 I’m so happy with how they turned out, I had to show you!
I think the two above are getting framed to go in my kitchen.  🙂
Mattie is 6 1/2, and Jacob is 10 1/2.
And at this point, they’re having more fun than is helpful…

Slip-n-Slide Fun!

It has been soooo hot here lately!  The kids are irritable because they’re not getting outside to burn off enough energy, so we pulled out our generic slipnslide… aka contractor grade plastic!  
Getting a head start with Daddy’s help!
It’s always more fun 
with someone else!
I decided to be a fun mama and join in.
I’m sore, but it was more fun than I expected.  I guess we all need to be a kid every now and then!
He’s a fun daddy too…
who goes a lot further than everyone else!
She’s on a mission!
That smile is a gift!
I love hearing this boy laugh.
Happy boy!

Beautiful Family Pictures!

My sister in law, Cherilyn Magee, took these photos of us when she was in town this spring.  I love the way they turned out!  I thought I’d share my favorites.  Several of these are already up around here!

 Mattie, 5 years    ~~~~~~~~~    Jacob, 9 years
 I think this one is my favorite of the entire day.  🙂 No attachment issues with this child, that’s for sure!

  This one is so sweet because Jacob got Mattie a honeysuckle flower and helped her put it in her hair.

  One thing I have always wanted is photos of Robert and I together.  We had some good ones one year, but didn’t have a home that was ours, so we never got them hung.  I’m going to take several of these below and decorate our bedroom with them now!

God has blessed us with a wonderful family!  I’m so thankful Cherilyn captured that blessing so well.

Schooling two this year!

New school books are so much fun!  It’s hard to believe I’ll have Mattie and Jacob to school this year.  Mattie is very excited about being an official kindergartner, though Jacob wishes he could retire all together.  How much changes in a few years!  I am choosing several things to do just like I did them with Jacob and several things to do differently.  It’s so nice to have experience!  We’ll start our new year in the second week of August when my three summer two-day-a-week charges go back to public school.

~ * ~ * ~
Mattie – Kindergarten
Mattie will be doing Five in a Row with me this year!  We’ll just start back at the beginning.  She’s certainly sat in on a lot of the reading with us, but I’m excited to get to do our favorites all over again with her.  I’ll do it a bit differently than I did with Jacob, as Mattie is much more of a hands on learner.  I also want to do the FIAR notebook that I never did with Jacob.  (He was too young to do it at first and then it seemed awkward to start it in the middle.)
Mattie will also be continuing her reading progress with Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, Bob Books and other early readers, and Explode the Code workbooks.  (With 100 EZ Lessons, I don’t do it as formally as they suggest.  I think it’s a bit too scripted, but I had training on it when I was teaching so I can do it without having to read every word.  I used it with Jacob and I like the way it moves the kids through the skills, especially if they’re ready to soak it up and move quickly.) She’s doing well already and begs to practice “every day like when we do our chores, Mama.”
For Math she’ll be doing Critical Thinking Company’s Mathematical Reasoning.  She already spends a lot of time playing math games on the iPod, so much of this won’t be new material, but I really like the thinking this program includes as opposed to just concrete problem solving.
~ * ~ * ~
 Jacob – Fifth Grade
Jacob and I are moving in a new direction this year.  He seems to have outgrown Five in a Row (earlier than I expected) and is needing a curriculum that has longer, more connected studies.  (They do offer this for the older ages, but I know I won’t plan well for two kids that way, I can’t keep them together anymore, and he wants to do something different.)  I’m finding a bit of a groove for Jacob… finally!  I’m learning he likes to know what to expect, he likes to have a list to check off, he likes to have tangible, measurable assignments, and as much as I hate to say it, he likes workbooks.  And if you notice those things, very little of those fit in with literature based weekly unit studies.  Soooo, we’re switching it up for him.
For History we’re doing American History from Truthquest.  I’m not sure how quickly we’ll move through these guides, but I think I’m planning on doing three guides over two years.  These guides are set up so I read the commentary on a time period or person, then I choose whichever of the suggested titles we’d like to read.  There is no schedule and I can do it however it fits us best.  I’ll probably choose several of the picture book titles and a more challenging book for Jacob to read on his own.  I have to say, I am very excited to do this!  I have a major fear of commitment to a curriculum that gives me a schedule b/c I can’t handle not doing it the way they suggest. I also don’t know what I don’t know, so I’d never pick all the right stuff if I just checked out random books from the library.  Plus I don’t want to pay for something I know I won’t use!  With the Truthquest guides, they suggest that I do it however I’d like to, highlight the most important info in the conservative, Christian worldview commentary and I choose the books and printable activities I want to do.  Perfect.  🙂
For Math we’re continuing on with Teaching Textbooks 6 and adding some supplementary things from Critical Thinking Company.  I wasn’t very happy with his progress with TT, but I’ve started requiring him to read the lecture for himself before he listens to the computer lecture and his memory of the concepts has greatly improved.  Basically I’ve learned I just have a boy who does not learn well through auditory channels!  I also feel like TT does not include enough critical thinking and spoon feeds the student a bit too much, so the supplementary things should help with that.  (The reason I’m sticking with it is because the lecture is written out word for word and I’ve learned Jacob has to have that to read.  The other curricula that require me to orally explain the concepts just won’t work.)
For science we’re doing Apologia’s Astronomy!  I’m really excited about this one and Jacob got to pick it out himself!  I’ve heard great things about their products, and we’re going to be doing the activities with two families we love.  The journal looks perfect for Jacob too… some – but not too many – lapbook components balanced with a good amount of review questions, crosswords and copywork too.  (Mattie will tag along with the Junior Journal too.)
 For writing he’ll be doing Writing Tales.We’ve not done much formal language arts thus far, but he enjoys writing and I feel like it’s time to focus on it.  It’s actually written by a lady who goes to church with my sister!
Small tangent here… I’ve been trying to figure out what Jacob loves… what makes his heart beat, but I can’t pick a subject.  He likes science stuff but isn’t crazy about it.  He kind of likes history, but doesn’t seek anything out to learn something new.  He’s good at math but not motivated to do anything on his own.  He loves Legos, but I’ve already done that unit study!  So I’ve felt stuck as I’ve wanted to allow some delight directed learning but can’t find that which brings him delight!  Kind of a problem.   I’ve been asking the Lord for wisdom and He showed me what’s been staring me in the face for about nine years: words.  Jacob loves words!  He loves to read them, think about them, know where they come from, what they mean and how they’re spelled.  He loves to use them in writing and (constant) speech.  So I finally think I have figured out what he will love this year! 
For enrichment for him he’s going to do Vocabulary from Classical Roots, Unlocking Analogies, and Balance Math and More.  He won’t do each of these every day, rather he’ll work through one book, then do a unit of the other and then the other.  Each of these is based on thinking about words or processes and that is what he (and his mother) enjoys.  I’ve looked for the right vocabulary program for a while and this one is finally what I want.  It teaches English word families based on their Latin and Greek roots, so it’s all applicable (where Prima Latina wasn’t). They are all also workbooks, so Jacob will like them for their predictability and measurability.  I’ve had these for a week and am having to restrain myself from starting them with him… and doing them myself.  🙂  What can I say?  He is his mother’s child!
Finally, we’ll all be casually going through La Clase Divertida and learning Spanish together.  🙂
I’m really excited about this year and what I have for the kids.  It’s going to be a change to be sure Mattie gets some school attention too, but I don’t typically spend that long each day in the early grades, so I’m sure we can get it done.  I’ll let you know how it goes!

Every Day Life – Spring Pictures #2

Mattie and her cousin, Caleb.  She loves playing with Caleb!
Girl talk after a long day at Dollywood.
Mattie’s favorite ride at Dollywood this year!  Check out the little half-pint on the left with his hands up just like his mama.  🙂  That’s Logan, my 2 1/2 year old nephew.  
(We got some season passes for Christmas this year from my parents and have already gotten to go 5 times this season!  It’s the gift that keeps on giving for sure!)
 More Dollywood fun with friends!
Jacob carrying the rubber chicken all the way to the end at field day!
Jacob and his wonderful piano teacher, Miss Andrea.  She is sent straight from heaven, I believe!  She has done a great job with Jacob this year helping him develop his musical abilities.  She is in tune enough to buy him a Star Wars book to keep him motivated.  🙂  That’s a sign of a great teacher!  She loves him for his quirks, and for this I’m so thankful!
Mattie got her first manicure at a birthday party.  🙂
 Too sleepy to take out the pigtails…
Spring school!!!

Every Day Life – Spring Pictures

 So, you can tell it’s been busy here since I go into blogging hibernation.  🙂  Honestly, after Luke 14 is over, I end up in this overwhelmed funk and it takes my brain a few weeks to recover and feel like I have anything creative to give.  This year was better than before, except that I committed to teach at a Disability Ministry Conference a month later.  I know a month is a long time in between, but add a few things out of my control in there and it’s just been crazy for too long!  So anyway, here are two posts with some pictures of this spring.
 My boy turned 9!!  It’s so hard to believe.  Some days he just still seems like he still needs so much direction, and then on other days I send him to ride his bike or walk the dog around the block alone and he seems so big! 

He is teaching me so much… about myself, about my relationship with the Lord, about life.  He is so much like I was as a kid, like I am now.  He helps me understand myself, really.  But that helps me understand him too.  For that I’m thankful!

My parents came down for Luke 14 and Jacob’s birthday.  I am trying really hard to take pictures of every day things so I don’t find out I’ve missed my chance.  I don’t have enough pictures of my kids with their grandparents.
Mattie and our neighbor getting a few quiet minutes without the older boys in the mix.
Mattie moving her stumps (home of several imaginary friends) to a safer place in the yard) with Daddy’s help.  (I could watch my man work on big boy toys all day long!) 
These precious feet I struggle to keep clean in the warmer months.  My barefoot girl who loves to wear dresses and dig for worms…
Enjoying a good read like Mommy… 
 Chatting on her phone like Mommy…
Dancing… totally not like Mommy! 

life with Pepper and random pictures – third try!

If it doesn’t work this time you guys are just going to have to imagine what these photos look like.  I don’t know if this is a Picasa problem, a Firefox problem, a Blogger problem or a virus or malware problem.  Argh!

Bath time!  I had no idea the excitement that would ensue following a bath.  The kids were hysterical!

Mattie loves Pepper. Pepper tolerates Mattie.  But Pepper can’t ever complain that she doesn’t get enough attention.
Jacob loves Pepper.  I think Pepper almost loves Jacob.  😉

Mattie and her wares.

She had $30 of her own money to spend from her birthday.  We went to a consignment shop and she got all of this plus 2 more things that were in the laundry basket b/c they were on her body within minutes of being home!  She picked it all out herself, and I only vetoed when it was a modesty or fitting issue.  She was a very happy camper.  It was delight in the true sense of the word.  🙂 
I get a kick out of all of her skirts.  I’d be happy if I never had to wear a skirt again in my life, and have pretty much felt that way for all 34 years of my existence, I believe.  Mattie prefers a skirt or dress every day.
I’m so thankful for “climbing trees!”  My kids (and the neighbors) spend hours each week climbing this tree.

I think it’s just hot when you have this much hair!  Why she chooses the hot bricks instead of the cool grass is beyond me. 

 If it’s hot out, what better to do than play in the dog’s water?  What else would it be there for, you know?

And can someone tell me when a fifteen year old moved in to my house? 
Mattie LOVES to pick out her own outfits.  Some are really cute… some are horrendous! But all of them are totally Mattie.

Kid Funnies (and a not so Funny)

We’ll go for the not so funny first:
Mattie gave us a good opportunity to be thankful for God’s protection on Wednesday.  I heard a big pop, buzz, and a breaker trip while we were heading out the door to go to piano lessons.  Went up to see what had happened and saw two of her “play” (but very real) house keys in the electrical outlet by her bed.  When she saw me she was quiet, but quickly fell apart with big tears wailing, “I’m so sorry, Mommy!!  I’m so sorry!”

The more I looked I noticed she actually melted 1/4″ off one of the keys! There was black all over her hand and the keys and rings had burn spots on them in 4 or 5 places… not to mention the black all over the outlet and the wall surrounding it.  The praise??  She actually (for once!) had shoes with rubber soles on that kept her safe.  I’m not much of a worrier, but it’s not fun to think about how badly she could have been hurt.  The keys had rings on them, so they touched each other forming a complete circuit. 

I actually wasn’t convinced enough that she would remember it. (Mattie is my repeat offender child for sure!) But when she saw the two feet of sparks when Robert tried to turn the breaker back on, I think that sealed the deal for her.  I sure hope it did anyway!


Now for the funnies:
Robert gave Jacob a kiss one night while tucking him in.  Jacob said, “Quit, Dad!  Stop acting gay.”

The next night ~ 
Jacob:  Now don’t you start acting gay again…. Dad, what is gay anyway?
Robert:  Well you know.  You said it.
Jacob:  I know, but I just can’t understand it.  
Robert:  I know.  Some people think it’s okay.  They don’t think it’s sin or that God doesn’t want us to act that way.
Jacob:  Don’t they know that it will never work?
Robert (nervously):  What do you mean?
Jacob:  Well, if two men get married, there’s not going to be anyone there to do the housework, like cooking and cleaning.  That’ll never work.  Don’t they get that?  Now if two women got married, it would be okay because they know how to do that stuff.

Clearly it’s time for Robert to start doing some cooking and cleaning around here!!!


The kids were going round and round with tongue twisters for several days at breakfast and lunch time.  One day, after many (very) unsuccessful attempts at Peter Piper picking a peck of pickled peppers… I heard Mattie say, “Here.  Let’s do this one!  If Peter Piper picked a tomato…”