Thursday, December 29, 2016

Merry Christmas 2016!

A friend asked me what one thing she could pray for me during the Christmas holiday season, and my answer was "peace."  God answered so abundantly on Christmas Eve.  Our family celebration was peaceful and loving and everyone had good attitudes.  I am so very thankful! It was exactly what my mama's heart longed for.

Reading the Christmas story from my Grandpa's Bible.

The siblings drew names this year and only purchased a present for one sibling.  We called it "secret sibling" and all of them really liked it.  Daughter G loved her sweater and socks from son L!

Little Man had son G.

Daughter G had daughter H!

Daughter H had son L.

Son G had son C (wearing his two new hats).

And son C had Little Man.

A new scarf and CD from my oldest.

Yes, those are storm troopers with santa hats on.

I love this series of's this reaction that lets parents know they got the perfect gift!

My hubby and I wanted to be very intentional with giving daughter H a memory this year.  Something that communicated both love and truth.  So we gave her her own set of board books, and then read them to her while daughter G videotaped it.  We did not have the opportunity to read books to her when she was little, so now, Lord willing, when she looks at those books in her room she will remember the love she felt from us when we read them to her.

Christmas morning....stockings on mom and dad's bed!  (daughter H was already gone to her bio mom's house)

 Holidays are still somewhat treacherous for us, because they are for daughter H, but I am so thankful that God gave us a wonderful, peaceful, love-filled family celebration of Jesus' birth.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Our Week In Review

 I so love our history curriculum, Tapestry of Grace!   It is designed to be a four year cycle, and each year covers a specified amount of time beginning at creation and going all the way up to modern times.  In the fall of 2015 we began Year 2, which is the most packed year plan of the four.  It covers history from the fall of the Roman Empire (around 400 A.D.) to the presidency of John Adams (around 1800).  A LOT happened in the world during those 1400 years!  We got bogged down about halfway through the year last year and never finished.  So, as I have previously mentioned, we just picked up this fall where we had left off and kept going.

My high school boys have a very full plate of other classes this year, and we have done history as the "spine" of our school for many years, so my husband and I felt that they just did not need to do history as "full" as Tapestry is designed to do.  It is an amazing curriculum, but we moms need to be careful to control it, and not let it control us.  So this year I have essentially been cutting and changing each week's reading to make it a big lighter and more manageable for my kids.  I have been looking at the week's scheduled reading and accompanying questions, and separating out the various threads or themes and giving one to each of the boys.  They each have less work to do, but when we have our history discussion all together, each of them ends up learning from the others and I usually add a few comments to help them see how it all fits together.

This past week two of our boys worked on this:

(I changed the title, the reading, and the questions, so I am not sharing proprietary information from Tapestry of Grace by posting this photo!)  :)

Another of our boys read about the colonies that were chartered after the monarchy was re-established in England (hence they are called the "Restoration Colonies"), while Little Man worked on a comparison chart of four different Indian tribes.

I have found our discussions to be richer this year because each boy has in depth information on a single topic to share with the rest of us, rather than coming to discussion with several questions not answered because the workload was overwhelming.

This flexibility is one of the many things I love about Tapestry!

We did our usual math, grammar, science, and homework for various co-op classes (logic, economics, Latin).  I am so blessed to have our three high school boys in the English class I teach at our co-op. We are currently reading and annotating the novel My Name is Asher Lev, about an Orthodox Jewish boy who has an extraordinary artistic talent, and how his exercise of that talent creates conflict within his family and within his Jewish community.  It is fascinating and I am really enjoying the discussions we are having in class.

The highlight of my week was the fun date my husband and I went on to his new company's Christmas dinner/party.  It was super classy, at a beautiful venue, with amazingly delicious food.  SO THANKFUL he has a job!!

Christmas Tree!

When daughter G was home for Thanksgiving last weekend we took that opportunity to get and decorate our tree.  I always love this!

Each of the children now have quite a collection of their own personal ornaments to put on the tree.

Daughter H...

Daughter G...

Son G...

Son L....

Son C....

And Little Man.

One of my treasured ornaments from a dear friend!

This picture freaks me out a little bit....look how tall Little Man is getting!

I didn't want ALL the lights to be in the family room, so put some in our dining room, too.

The finished tree!

Friday, November 25, 2016

Giving Thanks

"I give thanks to my God for every remembrance of you."  ~ Philippians 1:3

Thanksgiving Breakfast

"We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you..."  ~ Colossians 1:3

"We always thank God for all of you, remembering you constantly in our prayers."  ~ I Thessalonians 1:2

"We must always thank God for you.."  ~ 2 Thessalonians 1:3

Little Man stroking his uncle's head! 

My mother in law had ALL of her children around her this Thanksgiving! 

The balancing game - totally made up and spontaneous!

God is so good - this year Thanksgiving came at the perfect time for me, personally.  While I have always been extremely thankful for my family, this year I have been struggling to be thankful for our current family dynamic.  Our adoption story is not, on the surface, wonderful or beautiful.  I know that in God's economy it is absolutely miraculous, but here in my economy, in my home, on a day to day basis, it is hard and messy and ugly and painful.  Daughter H is a very angry person, and while she has valid reasons for feeling angry, she doesn't yet know how to handle her anger and it often erupts onto me and various members of the family.  Each of the boys responds to her anger differently (daughter G being away at college means she deals with this the least now), and therefore our family dynamic is much different than it used to be, and different than I thought it would be at this stage.  

Most of the time all of my physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental energy is required for the here and now of daily life, and there is a large part of me that has been reluctant to spend time "looking back" for fear it would make me discontent with "now."  So I have just not allowed myself the time to grieve what used to be.  I did that this week, before Thanksgiving.  Just let myself feel all the sadness that has been hidden in my heart for a long time.  The regret.  The longing for things to be different.  

When Thanksgiving morning came, I woke up at 8 to get the turkey in the oven, and I felt refreshed. Cleansed.  Ready.

Holidays are complicated for us since daughter H joined our family. So many emotions are churned to the surface for her, and those emotions often bleed out to the rest of us.  I won't say it was "easy" to navigate this Thanksgiving, but it was easiER.  

Daughter H's emotional baggage will always be part of the backdrop of our lives, and helping our other children navigate it will be a full time job for the foreseeable future, but she and her baggage are part of God's plan for our family.  Our dynamic is meant to include her.  It is hard and messy and painful and amazing and mysterious and beautiful.

I am thankful. 

Friday, November 18, 2016

Our Week in Review

This is a bit of a photo dump, as it includes highlights from the last three weeks.  We were thrilled to have daughter G home from  college for fall break, and she brought her room-mate with her!  We had a fun and delightful weekend together.  While she was home we did our annual family tradition of painting little pumpkins for Halloween.

Daughter G is in the house!!

Her room-mate (in red shirt) is a sweet heart.

The finished pumpkins!  Don't we have a great variety?

Little Man did an impromptu science experiment when he found a caterpillar in the folds of some corn leaves, when shucking corn on the cob for supper one night.  He asked if he could create a habitat for the caterpillar and watch it turn into a chrysalis and then a butterfly.  We weren't sure if it was a butterfly caterpillar or some other type, but we were excited for Little Man to try.  In fact, in the pumpkin photo above you can see his caterpillar habitat in the jar behind the pumpkins.  He put fresh leaves in the jar each day for the caterpillar to eat, and we tried a variety of other food scraps as well.  We put water on a cotton ball for it to drink.  Not sure it ever used that, but we wanted to cover all our bases!

I wasn't sure what was going to happen to this little caterpillar, but lo and behold, after about three weeks it turned into a chrysalis!  And then one day about a week later we suddenly realized there was a little moth in the jar!  It successfully "hatched in captivity!"

Little Man watched it for another day and then let it free in our back yard.

Sons G and L, with another friend, have formed a band, and they practice in our music room every week.  So here it is, getting used!!  I love that our music room gets used so much.

We have been having such lovely fall weather.....this has been a common sight the last couple of weeks!

On November 11 we went to our local Veterans Day Memorial Service.  We were the only school aged kids there, since it was during the day.  I am so glad for the flexibility of homeschooling!

And last but not least, we packed an Operation Christmas Child shoe box this week.  Other years we have been able to pack more, but I'm thankful that we could do ONE this year!  One box is all it takes to make one child somewhere in the world supremely happy.  (our main gift was a deflated soccer ball and a ball pump).

We finished reading The Sign of the Beaver and started The Witch of Blackbird Pond this week.  The usual math and science and grammar and composition happened.   In history we are wrapping up our study of the origins of the original thirteen colonies and about to begin the lead up to the Revolutionary War.