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Friday, November 27, 2015

Term 1 completed!

So although we began our homeschooling journey almost a year ago now (CRAZY!), we just completed Term 1 of Ambleside Online. Malachi is in their year 5 curriculum and Jonah is in year 1. It's based on Charlotte Mason's educational model, and is incredible! The boys' school books are all living books, not textbooks, and are so fun to read and digest! They are learning about Shakespeare, many poets and composers and artists, even Plutarch, and doing handicrafts, learning french, latin, memorizing poems and Scripture, practicing musical instruments daily in addition to math and copywork, geography, typing, health, science, literature, history, nature study and more! If you haven't ever heard of Ambleside; you should check out their site - I believe it's a wonderful and FRUGAL way to teach boys especially, and am looking forward to continuing this method of school over the next 15 years! :)

We took a break for thanksgiving week after they took their term 1 exams which they aced! ;-) It's been a fun week; lots of reading and board game playing and lego creating and time with my family in Duluth. I have SO much to be thankful for, including going hunting with my sweet hubby for the first time, and for him getting a doe and buck this year! We will be set for meat and I am so grateful! Feeding 3 growing boys is NOT inexpensive! Ha!


We are decorating for Christmas tomorrow and are so excited! The boys love pulling a chain off our Christmas countdown every day. We are also going to read one Christmas book a day in December. (All this past week I read a Thanksgiving book to them daily.)

December brings so much joy... so many fun traditions and opportunities to teach our boys what Christmas is truly about - JESUS! And remind myself in the process. December is always very emotional for me as well, with Samuel's birthday only a week before Christmas. He would be turning 8 on December 17. He is so missed...

Anyways, we start Term 2, week 13 of our 36 week year on Monday! Excited to dive back in, with some new books too! New poet, artist, composer, and hymn and folksongs! As well as new verses and poems for the boys to memorize! Life is good, God is even greater, and I'm so thankful for the opportunity to teach and be with these precious boys of ours. Prayer for patience is ALWAYS needed and appreciated though.
God is sure growing me through all this as well!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Back To School!

So, next Monday, August 31 is our first day of the 2015-16 school year! I am beyond excited and thankful for this opportunity to homeschool all 3 of our boys FULL-TIME this year! I am also giving piano lessons Monday-Thursday afternoons, in addition to Jamie and I being on the worship team, youth group leaders, and in some Bible studies! Malachi decided to join the cross-country team this fall, so that is another thing keeping our household very busy!

We are beginning Term 1 of Ambleside Online ( if you want to check it out,) based on Charlotte Mason's teaching style and philosophy. I think it is pretty much the best curriculum ever, especially for diversity of subjects, and for the quality of the rich literature and poetry, etc. that it offers. I am so ready to dive in! :) Seriously, check it out if you want to learn more. My Auntie Missy first told me about this curriculum, and after hearing that it's what she uses with their wonderful 11 children, I was sold first thing!

I would love lots of prayer for me to have patience, for the boys to get along, and for us to just be content and love learning and love each other and for my piano students as well, that I would be the best teacher that I can be with God's help. I have never really thought of myself as teacher material at all so this is very stretching for me, but I know that I can do anything with God's help!

Malachi is 10 and will be in Year 5 of Ambleside (grade 5 if public school). Jonah is 6 1/2 and will be in Year 1 of Ambleside online (grade 1 if public school.) Asher is doing Year 0 of Ambleside which is basically just reading lots of great books, because he's only 4 and would have been in 4K if in public school. Charlotte Mason does not recommend pushing any formal learning before age 6, but next year I plan to dive into reading and math a lot more with Asher, as well as handwriting. He will be doing some this year, but only what he wants to do, as he really isn't required to do much yet.


We have been doing lots of canning - 100's of jars of applesauce and lots of green beans and hopefully some freezer corn soon. Malachi and his friend went out this morning and picked green beans, peas, tomatoes, peppers, carrots and apples. It's so rewarding to see the harvest of our garden. Hoping that our chickens start laying soon! Fall has come, and so quickly! I am looking forward to fall though! I love the crisp air and the gorgeous colors and am excited for a more regular school and piano lesson routine after the busyness of the summer.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Exciting changes!

                                                                So, as many of you know, we began our homeschooling journey in the beginning of January. My mom has been schooling the boys on the days I work, and it has been a smooth arrangement. Recently though, my mom  shared with me that she really feels led to be free to do more ministry and possibly even look for a part-time job. Which means that I need to/get to quit my job at the WITC administrative office, where I've enjoyed being for the past 9 years, and be a FULL TIME homeschooling mama!! I am just ecstatic! Looking back over this past year, I can see how God has used many different events to shape and mold this all into being.... Ezekiel being one of the main reasons as well. Life is short, and so precious. I want to be the one spending each day with my boys and teaching them and showing them how to live in a way that brings glory to God... to learn by living, doing and enjoying being together! I feel so blessed, and am SO grateful for my hardworking hubby who by his dedication to providing for our family will make this a reality. He gave up his plans for going back to college in the fall, and has been most gracious.
Love you, honey!! <3

As many of you know, one of my favorite things to do is play the piano... I've been playing for 20 years now! I began taking lessons when I was 8, and I am thankful for the huge investment my parents made to my musical education. I had lessons until I was 16, and started playing for church at about age 14. I've never stopped playing each week and have been the lead pianist at church for the last 14 years or so. It has been such an uplifting and fulfilling way to use my talents to praise God! I've been giving Malachi and Jonah lessons since January, and Malachi especially has quite the natural ear for playing. I am going to begin giving some private piano lessons to try to supplement a bit for the income that we will be losing from me quitting my job in early June. I have some students lined up already, and am very excited about it!! If you know someone that is interested in learning how to play the piano, please keep me in mind, as the extra income from teaching lessons will help our family. Thank you!

Homeschooling is going well! My papa graciously stepped in for my mom the last few weeks while she was in Montana helping my brother and his wife with their adorable newborn baby girl. So, the boys had quite a few field trips and "real life" education being with Grandpa! It's been fun to read their reports about what they've done during their days with him. We've also planted quite a few vegetable seeds which are now germinating in our bay window, and have acquired a baby chick and duck, who the boys just adore! We have about 60 eggs (chicken and duck) in an incubator on our counter, and have been turning them morning and night. Praying we can get most of them to hatch! The warm weather has just been lovely, and we were able to load and unload quite a few trailers of wood with my dad this weekend. The boys love going down to the woods to get it, because there are swamps and ponds back there and they get to explore... :) 


The point my life is at right now is literally my dream life come true. :) A wife, mother, house in the country, next to family and close friends... just SO SO SO much to be thankful and praise God for! 

That's my update in a nutshell! I'm sure I missed things but this will suffice for now. This post is long overdue. 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

A long overdue post!

I just realized today that it's been quite a while since I last posted anything.... 
I don't know how it's possible, but every week seems to fly by faster than the one before. Seriously. 

So, we have almost completed 8 weeks of homeschooling already. EIGHT WEEKS! That just seems crazy. It's been a fun adventure... I don't regret it one bit. The extra time I've gotten back by having my boys home makes it all worth it. Has there been extra stress (okay, sometimes A LOT of extra stress), and times I've wanted to pull my hair out? Yes, there definitely have been. But the good days have outnumbered the bad. I also keep reminding myself that they, along with myself, are new to this homeschooling gig... 
We are still adjusting and learning and figuring out what works and doesn't work. I've always said I'm not a teacher, and I am still in awe how God worked this out, and is giving me the grace and ability to be a homeschooling mom, with the help of my lovely mother! 

Life is just SO busy with homeschooling, working a couple days a week, the boys' sports, and being youth leaders and worship team members at church. Add in some babysitting trade-offs, time with friends and family, housecleaning and shopping etc, it makes my schedule very full, but oh so good! I feel more blessed than ever before. I'm in a Beth Moore Revelation study with the women of my church, and it has been instrumental in deepening my faith and relationship with Jesus. 

I've also been dealing with some neck/ear/head/shoulder pain on the left side for about a month now, and after a week of a drastic diet and no changes, I went to a chiropractor that my good friend recommended. She said that she can most definitely tell I've had a stressful last year... due to a extremely traumatic and high risk pregnancy, losing a son, having surgery, and finding out my major anxiety was due to a thyroid imbalance, along with beginning to homeschool. Needless to say my neck and shoulders were full of knots! It's funny, because I honestly haven't felt that stressed. Haha! She is a wonderful chiro and I'm so glad I went to see her! I am thankful for people that know how to help others and are so good at their job!

This week we started studying the Romans for history in our homeschool time. We have this book that teaches how to draw some Roman pictures, and we've been having great fun with that! I took pictures of a few that Malachi did, (Jonah wouldn't let me take any of his, even though they were pretty good for a 6 year old) and he always amazes me. :)

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Ah, life! :)

So, our week didn't start off so well. Monday felt like a complete disaster to me. ;-) The boys weren't listening or focusing well, and I was very impatient and emotional. Not my finest hour. But we DID manage to get our school done (even though it literally took until supper time), and the high point of our day was going sledding with my dad to my sister's house and visiting with them for a bit. Such a nice reprieve from school!
Fast forward to today: SO much better. Like a million times better! I was calm, patient, loving, cheerful, and it made such a difference! I also decided to let the boys choose something fun that they wanted to study/create, instead of all the "boring" subjects I've been forcing on them. Haha! So Malachi originally wanted to build a solar system model, but instead decided on a miniature Pompeii and Mt. Vesuvius that we could erupt when complete, using baking soda, vinegar and red food coloring. We spent the first 2 hours of our school day on this fun project! It was a first making paper mache with my boys, and if you could have seen the mess, I guarantee you would have cringed! LOL! My whole kitchen floor, island counter, and the boys were COVERED with paper mache. They had unfortunately had a bath first thing too! ;-) But I stayed calm despite the mess (which is SO not me; so I know it must have been God's doing) and we just enjoyed being together and creating. They changed clothes afterward and we got all the mess cleaned up.
Today Asher wasn't feeling the greatest (I think he's teething since he's been sucking on his fingers all day), and he was laying on the couch in a blanket. Jonah went over to him, held his head in his lap, and began praying over him, for Jesus to make him feel better and comfort him. It was the sweetest thing ever. I think my heart completely melted... Then after lunch, Malachi said "I think I want to read some books to Asher to cheer him up." So he took a large stack of books out and commenced to read them all to him. So precious! I love how my boys take initiative all on their own to care for their littlest brother. The ways our family has drawn closer together in this past month of homeschooling are almost too numerous to count. God is ALWAYS good and I want to shout it from the rooftops! I never imagined myself here at this point in my life, or that I would have taken on such a giant undertaking as this, but here I am. I couldn't do it without Jamie's support, hard work ethic, and doing Phys. Ed with the boys. Also, this wouldn't work at all if it wasn't for my mom. She is such a help on the days that I work. She is very thorough with what she teaches the boys and they learn so much from her!
I know I am TRULY blessed.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Faith's Lodge

Late last summer, my Aunt Beth told me about this neat grief center she had heard about called Faith's Lodge. Ironically it was located only about 40 minutes away from us, but I had no idea it existed. I applied for us to go as a family to a weekend retreat, but it was filled up until January, which seemed forever away at the time. The next thing we knew, January was upon us. We set out on our trip to Faith's Lodge with some trepidation and apprehension, just not knowing what to expect. 

But it was just GORGEOUS up there. It's set back in the woods, down a winding driveway, up on a hill. It personifies the Northwoods, in every way, from the antler chandeliers, to the wooden log furniture, to the fireplaces in every room! Everything inside had a woodsy theme. We had a lovely room with two soft queen beds and a pull-out sleep number couch! Even our own fireplace! There was a sunny and spacious library with both children's and adult books. A large living room, dining room and amazing kitchen. Personal rooms both upstairs and down. The kids' favorite rooms were the craft room, playroom, tv room, and library. They had an amazing time with all the other kids whose families were also attending the weekend. Malachi was by far the oldest, but he didn't mind, and taught the younger children new games.

The first day there we had a facilitated group discussion with a social worker, up in the very top of Faith's Lodge, in a cozy room named Natalie's Nest, after a young girl who has passed on. Prior to this, Jamie and I had never attended any type of "grief group" or anything similar, but it was actually very healing. Each of the 5 families took turns telling their stories, and there were lots of tears, empathy and understanding. We also talked about grief, and our regrets, etc... I think I cried more listening to their stories then when I told ours, which surprised me.  :) 

We spent the whole time together as a family, getting to know the other families, and talking about the babies that we miss so much. It is healing to realize yet again that we are NOT alone, and that so many others go through the same heart-wrenching pain that we have. It was encouraging to find new friends that share our faith, (there was a lot of talk about heaven) and while the sadness and loss is very evident, they also weren't bitter. There were many God-things that happened; the neatest of which is that one of the moms who was there volunteers and heads up making knitted things, and special boxes. They are given to families that lose a baby, at the very same hospital that I was sent to after having Ezekiel! After comparing notes, we figured out that the stuff St. Mary's Hospital gave us for Ezekiel, including a cuddly teddy bear, was from Janelle, who lived for 8 years right by my grandparents! Such a small world... I love how God orchestrated that we would meet in person. I don't believe it happened by chance who came to Faith's Lodge this particular weekend. 

We made lots of special things in Samuel and Ezekiel's memory with the crafts they provided. Lots of painting of birdhouses, "love light" candle jars, heart rocks, stepping stones, and more. It was therapeutic in and of itself to just sit, paint, create and talk about our boys who are so loved and missed. It was healing for me. I needed it, to just bring myself back to that place, and be okay thinking about it, sharing my regrets and griefs, my fears, and struggles. Especially with how my grief from Ezekiel is so different than my grief over Samuel, and that it feels like it should be the same... that I'm somehow letting Ezekiel down. All I know is the peace I have been given is definitely from God! This weekend just shows me again His love for us, how He wants to bring us wholeness, but yet dependence upon Him, and not self-reliance. I honestly wouldn't want to be at any other place in my life right now. Reflecting on all that I have been through, I am so thankful to now be here, and feeling closer to Jesus than I ever have before.