Tuesday, September 14, 2021

{Sweet Snapshots Lately}

We had a fun family day on Labor Day at our town's annual parade!  We were so glad to get to enjoy it this year after it being canceled last.  Grandaddy came and all the Gray's!  It was so fun!

Bear has been fishing and hunting every chance he gets!  Our neighbor, Mr. Ernie, has taken him striper fishing several times and he's sat on our property some and shot some doves, too.  Of course, we eat it all! 

This girl is expressing herself more and more these days!  She loves to change clothes {often} and comes up with the funniest wardrobe.  You never know with her!  The world is her stage and she owns it! 

We rotate out toys every couple of months and we are back on our Lego kick!  The girls played like this for hours!!!

Still soaking up the sun and swimming! Typically, we get until mid September so we are savoring every bit until it's just too cold again. Lots of mornings doing school and afternoons in the pool! 

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

{Starlit Sweetheart}

She stares at me with stars in her eyes. Completely unaware of the chaos surrounding the world at this very moment. She sings and dances her way through our home and fears absolutely nothing. Childlike faith in its most pure and glorious form.
She wasn’t always this way.
She came to me completely broken and afraid and, in a moment’s notice, something we both are completely unaware of can trigger trauma that is too deep for words.
But, safe in her home…surrounded by her family…she surrenders her soul.
I grab my camera and try to capture just a glimpse of it.
It’s what I see that’s missing from those that grace my newsfeed stuck and suffering…and that rip my heart apart and bring me to my knees in moans only the Holy Spirit knows.
It’s the joy and light that have been restored and prove that Jesus is always in the miracle making business.
It’s what reminds me that loving God and the people that He’s formed in His image are all that will ever matter in this world.
It’s what makes me long even more for His Kingdom to come. ✨
“We either live in that Kingdom, or we live in the world; we either take our cues from the Bible or from the media; we set our goals according to what is going to matter forever or according to the quotation of the day.” Elisabeth Elliot

Saturday, August 28, 2021

{Back to School Bash}

 Our church had a fun back to school bash recently.  It was open to the community and so much fun! AJ enjoyed the bounce house.  AG has restrictions due to her brain condition so anything like this is a big no for her but she was able to play games with Wyatt like dunking other kids and cup pong- which she was really really good at! Wyatt took her while I monitored AJ and Luke- well, kinda Luke...he ran around with his buddies!  The weather was gorgeous, too! 

One thing that her nannies shared with us before we adopted AJ and when we got her at the orphanage is that she LOVES to slide.  Boy, were they right! This girl has always loved a slide and started pitching a fit the first time she saw one in America when we were going to a baseball game one night.  She goes down it and then turns around the climbs back up (yes, on the slippery slide- who needs ladders??).  Well, I turned my back to look for Luke and this girl literally climbed up this giant slide all by herself!  Thankfully, there weren't near as many kids on it at the time and she was super fast (and unharmed).  Y'all wouldn't believe the number of times she went up and down.  Truly her happy place! I so wish I could show these to her nannies now!  Our girl is so joy-filled! 

This makes me laugh so hard!  AG was terrified of the giant blow-up police man but AJ loved it. ha!  I didn't realize until I was uploading the photos that she stood just like him with that little wave for the picture. She's a nut! 

Monday, August 23, 2021

{Bear Turns TWELVE}

 Our Bear turned TWELVE!  

Per his request, we had brownies for the day of & chocolate on chocolate on chocolate cake and cupcakes for his party.  The kid gets his adoration for chocolate honestly! 

Birthdays are forever a day off of school in this house {perks of homeschooling} so we took it easy and swam and celebrated all day long.  Instead of granola, he insisted that we add gluten free Oreos to their yogurt so everyone began on a sugar high! Oh boy! For dinner, he requested a local mexican restaurant so we picked that up to eat at home and finished it off with "Happy Birthday Brownies"!

My Fab Four!

I love this face he's giving his daddy.  

A few days later {and not in the middle of the week}, he had a few little buddies come over to swim.  When asking him what he wanted for his birthday all he said was "To swim in the dark!"  

Wish granted!  Whew...that's an easy one! 

Of course baby sister saw me with a camera and posed asap! ha! 

A few simple decorations inside because the party was all outside!  Disco ball with dancing lights and loud music {another reason we are grateful we don't have neighbors nearby} and light up beach balls and glow balloons floating in the pool.  It was fun & so easy to put together! 

The boys!  

It took two people to light the candles this year! :) 

Gracious, this boy has my heart!  

Just a few fun boys and us!  I love seeing a full island with every little seat filled! 

Happy Birthday, Bear!  You are wildly imaginative and constantly busy.  You keep us wondering what you'll come up with next and it's only a matter of time before it's something that'll be on Shark Tank! We adore your out of the box self that refuses to conform and paves your own path wherever you are.  You are loyal and funny and keep life interesting.  It's a joy to watch you grow and grow up into the young man God made you to be.  May you always look to Him and know that the only One who loves you more than your daddy and me is Jesus Himself.  

One year left until you're a teenager!  Love you, my Bear!  

{Back to HOME School}

What a difference a year makes!  We have been doing school all summer off and on but decided to make it official and take "Back to HomeSchool" photos when Bubba began his dual enrollment courses at CIU.   

With Wyatt being a senior this year, he is taking all his courses in college...giving him a chance to get his feet wet in the higher education arena as well as earn college credits that we an also count towards his high school transcript. He is in person for his courses two days a week and home the other three (although he's also having to take a baseball class at the nearby high school where he plays- and that class we are not counting towards his transcript).   He was up early to get on the road so I took his picture first and then began the day with the younger three.  

Now for the littles and middle's photos...

Last year we truly found our rhythm together after trying different co-ops and hybrid schools.  I truly LOVE what we do at home and they do, too!  We begin with breakfast and Bible and then move into our Core Subjects (ELA/Phonics, Spelling, Reading & Math).  We do all of this together at the kitchen island and then the girls get a play break while Bear practices drums.  I also use that time to get laundry and any email/computer work done.  

After he practices drums, we circle up again and begin Gather Round.  It is a curriculum that we began last year after sampling several different units the year before.  It can be used as a core curriculum (just needing to add math) but we use it more supplementally.  I teach a lesson and then each child has their appropriately leveled work to complete.  We include more Bible (never can get enough of that!), geography, science, social studies, phonics, writing and much more.  

I think what I adore the most is that all of our time is together. There is nothing that we do apart (other than music lessons) and it allows us to truly sharpen one another.  I'm not busy teaching one type of history or science to one child and something else to another.  The creator of Gather Round knew what she was doing!  It's such a blessing!

Then, it's lunch time! We eat together and listen to another book, of course.  This year we are beginning with the entire Rush Revere History series.  They have study guides and quizzes for free online that Bear works through as we listen.  I do everything orally with the girls.  The kids are learning SO much with these books and they are just delightful to read.   

Lastly, we spend some time quietly reading or playing so that mom gets a much needed break! :) 

Most mornings, I sit on my porch and just give thanks for this being my life.  Yes, it's hard and it definitely doesn't always go according to plan.  There are days I would love to be able to run an errand or go indulge myself without having to finagle all the things that goes with being a full time mom/teacher/nurse/cafeteria lady/coach/maid and more!  There are moments the enemy attacks me and then there are moments he loses again.  Keeping my eyes on Jesus is crucial to making this work.  So, as much as I've pointed out all we do together in a day, I'd be remiss not to mention that it all has to begin with me at the foot of the Cross asking for His strength to be made perfect in my weakness in this high calling and long journey He's given.  My alarm clock goes off earlier than this not-a-morning-person would like but it's time well spent with Him and physically bettering myself to endure this marathon. 

Here's to my 13th year of trying to figure this out and being quite grateful that Jesus already has!