The weather has changed and winter is here. There's a fresh dusting of snow out every window, and we're about to say goodbye to the last of the Autumn decorations to make room for the Christmas ones. I'm grateful that I was able to make time to get the outdoors prepped for winter early this year. While it was still warm, all the leaves were blown into the woods, the garden was pruned, the patio furniture and camping/fire pit stuff was put in storage, the Christmas lights were strung, and the deck was tarped for our new outdoor cat, Cinderpelt's, house. 

Cinderpelt showed up at our house a few weeks ago. Ezekiel and Logan were playing in the woods when she confronted them. I gave them a can of tuna for her, and they put her in the garage for the night, determined that we should find out where she was from. 

The next day, I took her to the vet to have her scanned for a microchip. They said she did not have one, but that she bear the markings indicative of a ferrel cat from the catch and release program. They told us that if she was at our house, she was probably wandering for a reason. They said she is an outdoor cat, but if wanted her we could put food out and see if she took to our land. 

Of course, that's what we did. It took her a couple of weeks to be more consistent. At first, we would have to call for her, and she would be there within minutes. Now she is almost always in sight somewhere in the yard, on the back deck, or in the screen room, hanging out. She's become very comfortable with the dogs, and she is VERY very sweet and loving towards us. 

We had new sliding glass doors put into the living room just in the nick of time for winter as well. They had to be special ordered (because none of the sliding glass doors in the house are standard) so we waited longer than we'd hoped, but they were still able to be installed just before the first cold snap of the season. We also had the house jacked up and the supporting beam replaced running horizontally against the west wall, the front door rehung, and installed all new hardware. It's amazing how much cozier warm the house has been since. 

We've been enjoying weekends filled with "family" at our house. Tony, Xzavier, and Logan have been coming and staying over frequently. It's been so much fun. We all get along so well, have so much in common, and are good for each other. We have joking and playing football, huge delicious meals, cookies, cakes and donuts, going for ice cream, watching movies, playing video games and board games, having long deep conversations, mentoring and guiding, acceptance and lots of love. It feels like a dream with all the sounds and hearts of the people we love the most, gathered together in one place. Our place. 

School is going well for Ezekiel. He enjoys his days, and has even asked me about his friends going to Middle School "without him" next year. He's told us that he really likes ALL of his school day now, and it doesn't feel like 15 minutes is an hour anymore. He is learning so much, and having such great experience, both good and bad, to grow from one way or another. It is truly a blessing for all of us. 

He has been having some slight struggles due to nightly homework. It would be our preference that he would not have to try to use his fried brain to complete more work at home, but that they would rather cover that during his 7.5 hour day of school so he could enjoy his family time, unwind, shut his brain off, be an active part of our household (including having time for chores), and PLAY like a nine year old should for a couple hours a day. But we knew going into this year, that things would be this way for now. And so it is what it is (sorry Mom). :) 

My work has been going really well. God has been stretching and growing and showing me so much through each experience. I love right where He has me, and the love and encouragement from the special people he has put in my life has seemed to come just in the perfect form, just as I've needed it. 

Greg has been working on renovating his office/techy lair downstairs the past few weeks. He's upgraded some of his gear, painted the walls, added some lighting and storage, replaced the drapes, stained his desks in a darker color, and rearranged their set up to make better use of the the space. It's gorgeous, and he and Ezekiel can't get enough of it down there. :)

I have been reading the Twilight series when I get a chance, and building puzzles. Ezekiel has been reading the Warrior Cats series, and LOVING it. 

The dogs are doing great. Ralph is sweeter than ever. And that about sums things up for an update. 
Writing hasn't been much my thing lately. 
I'm sure I'll get back to it when I need. 

Happy Holidays! 


hollow-ween @ the public school

I realize that some of this message can be considered a sinful process, and as I stand on my soap box in my freedom-of-speech/home-of-the-Brave, and stomp my teeny little foot in seek of relief and vindication under the partial accuracy that I'm only standing up for the Truth, I'm no better than anyone who I might inadvertently offend. I don't claim to be so grown that I'm eloquent and well spoken in the Word of God and His perfect love. I am a work in progress, and I await the day when I can say what is true and good without the need to point out how wrong and ugly lies and deception are. 

Having said that, here's how halloween at the public school went down:

School has been great so far, with the awkward and unfortunate exception of this past week. Thankfully, the "Harvest/Fall Celebration", which we now recognize as a public school cover up for the all-American holiday of halloween, is over

With Ezekiel's first expressions of true concern and disdain for the Public School system, and specifically his very own otherwise wonderful school itself, we stand on the other side of this week relieved that the worst is over for the year. 

We made it through, though not without some unexpected alienation, discrimination, pigeonholing, and pressure. Not without a good dousing of Old Mother Witch, Haunted House, Ghosts in the Graveyard, chanting in unison "Happy Halloween" as a classroom, a Fall Celebration full of only halloween crafts and prizes, and the like…

I was most surprised when the one person in the school who I respect the most and felt most respected by patronizingly encouraged that we use this opportunity to teach Ezekiel that "it's all just fun" and he should learn to "go with the flow". 

But just as I said to my friend, I can think of some other things that might feel "fun" to our kids one day. Things I would never teach them to "go with the flow" based on that determination - like racing cars down main street, spray painting art on the side of a building, getting high, picking on other kids, and so much more. 

So yes, fellow Parents, Christians, and leaders of entire schools full of beautiful, young, and impressionable people, as we stand here in the honored position of mentors and leaders, let's NOT break our children's censors of right and wrong, fun and fear, conviction and conformity - let's show them that a duck is a duck and we should never ever call it something it isn't. And if we're going to blatantly trick them into viewing dark as light, at least let's not act surprised when we get the call from the school, angry parents, police, or planned parenthood.

Over the past week, it has been painful at best, to watch Ezekiel stretch for a safe place between excused and excluded, finally deducing for himself and declaring that it is expected of him, in the Public School setting, to follow along as a rule, no matter what his beliefs are. 

I am grateful that we as his parents supported him in his choices, while above all, showing love toward others, no matter where they stood. We can't imagine how our son (or any child with a clear head about halloween) could have fared on his own four years ago as a Kindergardener, but we are sure proud of him in all that he did and didn't do. He's come a long way from days of being captive to legalism and fear. He showed off a brilliant means of balance in choosing his battles and observing with a strong sense of God's provision and protection. I can only imagine how Honored God is by Ezekiel's desire and heart for Him.  

Today, I am celebrating that the non-satanic, but clearly dark and discouraging, cultural indoctrination of halloween is out of our lives for this, our single year of public school. It breaks my heart to watch anyone fall under such the opposite of what God calls us to as His children. 

All in all, there was plenty of good in this week - no one was hurt or lost - God is Good all the time, and many seeds were planted in light-filled, loving, and unsalty ways - we learned who among us are true believers and why they keep their mouths shut about it (it's not our opinion that only the people who do not participate in halloween make that distinction) - we are taking it very seriously, that every single event that takes place in this year is an opportunity to allow God to grow us, and we continue to accept the challenge of setting ourselves aside and making room for His glory.  

If you are reading this and celebrate halloween, know that you are NOT judged by our family. We know that there are families who have invested in wisdom and have been led to redeeming this holiday, still honoring God in all that they do. We are also aware that we have all fallen victim to lies this world has fed us and have no business pointing fingers. 

I encourage you, if you are a follower of God, search the scriptures, invest yourself in the knowledge of Truth, pray for discernment and train yourself to distinguish between good and evil - light and darkness. Stand up for what you are and who you serve, even if it makes you different or seemingly strange to others. Don't settle for the things of this world. This is YOUR life. 

God Bless!

"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." Romans 12:2a



So tomorrow you turn 9 years old. 

If any of it rang true for me, I'd say "whoa" or "I can't believe it" or "it's gone by so fast", like most Moms exclaim when their kids turn another year older. 

But truly, sometimes I can't believe you're only nine. You're such  a young man already.

And it hasn't gone by fast for me, my love. Rather, it's been one long, beautiful, wonderful, fantastically full nine years. None of which I'd missed a single second, until now.

Now that you have begun your first year of public school, I am missing out on large chunks of our allotted time together, quite intentionally so.

And I don't regret one bit of it. We all would have been wrong to have held ourselves back from what God has for us this year in our public school adventure. Part of our history together is going to include this one year in particular where you and I learned to part ways and spread our own wings a little bit - where we made some room in ourselves for something besides coodles and snoogles and oodles of JUST US. 

This is the year where we won't end anywhere or way in the same place we began. 

And everyday feels like somebody opened a door on a cool spring day - like a butterfly came out of it's cocoon. 

And as different and sometimes difficult as it is to miss out on having every second of you, I already appreciate all this is worth.

I love watching you become a you who isn't geared and steered by my own rudders. 

I love watching you decide, and even more, evaluate the outcomes and re-decide. 

You really are a wonder to me, how resourceful and capable you are on your own.

I have heard you talk about how it's all going by so fast for you - how you want your life and you don't even like having dejah-vue, because it feels like it cuts into your time, "because what's the point if you already know what's coming next, Mom?"

Just nine, huh? One day your age and your face will match all that is going on in there. 
I would have been blessed to know what you do and think the way you can by just nine years old.

And don't you worry, little one, I'm still right here, loving and watching every minute. 



A Blessed Transition

As excited as I was for whatever God was up to with all these changes, I kept in mind that my true personal feelings could turn up different once the smoke cleared. I braced myself, knowing that there was a good chance this could suck - me working in a profession I not only never considered in my life, but doing a thing I was always grateful there were "other" people available to do - walking away from a lifestyle of fully investing nearly everything into knowing and watching you while teaching and learning beside you everyday - for you to go to public school, an institution I'm quite opposed to.
There was more than enough room for turmoil.

I know we're not so far into all this, but as things have begun to take shape on this different path, I am impressed and relieved. What a fun and sweet time for us.

This morning, Greg told me that this year is my time. He told me that I have spent the last 8 years taking constant care of everyone else, and he wants me to take this year to find things that are fulfilling to me. He said to work as much or as little as I want to. And while he certainly never made me feel obligated to work, I think it is so sweet of him to say that I deserve to take this year to enjoy myself.

I DO miss school and Zeek. But knowing this is for just one year, I feel comfortable. While I am aware that not everything we are called to do is pleasant, I am grateful that we've accepted a commision so full of blessings and goodness. 


Lego Robot Day

Your school rocks. I mean, completely and totally rocks! 

Today, five days into the school year, your entire class spent the entire day in the Gifted and Talented room, with the GT teacher, divided into teams of three, creating and programing your own original Lego Robots, and competing with them to complete certain tasks. 
I am in love.
Because learning doesn't have to happen in a traditional classroom doing routine dailies from the same desk day in and day out. 

What's even more awesome is what you told me on the way home. 

"Mom, I didn't like my team at first. But don't worry, that was only in the beginning. I ended up feeling differently. They wouldn't listen to what I wanted, and they just wanted to create their own idea without even thinking about winning. After I asked the teacher in private if I could have a different team and she said 'no' (I would have LOVED to hear that conversation) I realized that just because you might think you're ideas are amazing, and your's would be the best idea, doesn't mean that everyone else will agree and has to chose you. I mean, after all, it was two against one. So I decided that since my Dad works in computers, I would probably be great at the programming part. And that's what I did."

You also told me that your team lost in the end because of a glitch that had happened to other students too. But the OTHER teams got second chances and your team didn't. I asked you if you talked to the teacher about that, too. You said, "No mom, I'm not going to be that kid. I'm the quiet one (who asked for a different team) who does what I'm asked to do. I don't make loud noises in the halls, I don't yell in the lunch room, I'm not disrespectful like that, and I'm not going to be." 

I just love it. All of it. 
The best stuff. :) 

Get it baby.


Feelin' it

On the way home from school tonight you told me that you like Mrs. B, but I'm your favorite teacher. I was not ever looking for such a comparison and am in no competition with anyone over you - but it did make me smile, right before I thanked you and broke it down - we're not trying to find you a better teacher. We're obeying God and letting Him work out all the ways that our public school and the teachers you have are just perfect for what you need right now in your life. 

And we see it every single day. You're growing in such leaps!

Your schedule is surely catching up to you. You were so tired last night. You went through your afternoon routine really well, until dinner time. You were a little sass-talking and a lot emotional. You said all you wanted to do was just rest. After dinner we asked you to go to your room and do your 20 mins of reading for school.

Today, Mrs. Y, your School Counselor, taught you guys about feeling safe, knowing who you can trust, and being comfortable talking with those people. Apparently you listened to her, because when you came down from reading you talked about your feelings.  

You put your hand on your chest and you said your heart hurts - that you aren't sure why, but maybe it's because you feel kind of lonely. Then you said lonely wasn't the right word, but it's something like that. You said it was hard going back to school after the weekend. You said school is a lot - and I agree. 

Your school has very excellent, high standards for you - especially being the fourth graders and eldest of the school. They expect you be good examples, helpers, and mentors to the younger students. And that is exactly why you are right where you are. You can SO do this! You have the chance to walk the walk right now. For as sure as you are that you can follow the rules, be on task, and make right choices no matter what anyone else does, your Dad and I are sure that you are a strong leader with a Mighty God on your side, you shine the Light of Jesus in a dark world, and you will surprise yourself in the ways you succeed to grow this year. 

We are already so surprised by you, everyday. 
There is no mistake in this course our life is on. God is clearly in control, and we are going to walk this out in complete Trust in Him. 

(P.S. It's hard for me too, not having you home - not teaching you this year - not learning beside you - not exploring and cuddling and having our full afternoons together to hang out. I MISS YOU TOO, love.)


One Week into Our New Life

Our first week of public school has come to its end and I could not be more pleased. Well, maybe if the schools had a better Math curriculum than speed testing - but who's to say that won't be the one thing that gives you a Math edge in the long run? 

You were given your personal iPad Thursday. With rules and boundaries laid in place by the school, you will have ongoing "training" and instruction in using it for your year during the next couple of weeks. Your Dad and I are so glad that your school is so tech-savy. 

You are just amazing. Your whole gig has changed this week, and I am in love with the transformation. You stand and talk differently. You are direct and concise and looking people in the eye. You are taking responsibility on your own. You are being so solid and respectful. I'm so proud of you when I think of what you undertook this week and how you handled it like such a strong and capable young man. 

Just four days of public school - this place where God told us to bring you - and you have shaped up and grown so much. Amazing! 

I am excited to spend the weekend together. It's a looooooong four day week when I don't see you, and I'm working (only a bit so far) and we're trying to create new routines and learn schedules… 
From what I can see already, this is going to be even better for us all than I even imagined! 

God is so good. 


2nd Day Down

Today, when I picked you up from school you walked out talking with a friend! :) His mom started talking with me, and we spent about 15 minutes (ok, maybe 20) visiting and getting to know each other a bit. 

On the way home, you told me that school went pretty good today. You got to go to Art class and gym. You didn't have to wear your gym shoes in gym because it was all outdoors. You said you made some friends because you had to meet and introduce each other. You were paired with a boy in your class and you each had to tell the class two true things and one lie about each other. The class had to guess which was which. A classic "break the ice" game. :) 

At home we went through your stuff. You asked me to proof this letter that you have to hand in for your teacher… 

The cutest thing EVER. I seriously cried when I read it. LOVE!

Then you showed me your "after school plan" that you wrote in your mini notebook. 

IN LOVE!!! SO CUTE. I seriously can't handle this list. 
*resp to calls if any (and Nanna DID call you tonight to see how school went, again) 
*watch transformers prime

You are too cute honey. 

I'm looking forward to more school stories over dinner tonight. 
Last night, you said you would rather miss some of your Minecraft hour to be sure you ate dinner "with the family". Ugh, he sweetness! 

Your Dad and I love you so much and are proud of you enjoying and doing so well with your second day of school.


Respect & Responsibility

You're home and you haven't stopped talking about school yet. You made like you didn't like it at first when I picked you up. You said it was weird and hard to be away from home all day, knowing this would be your schooling the whole year. You missed having me and the dogs and your house, etc… You said the only thing you liked about school was recess.

And then it was like someone turned on a faucet. You started talking about school and haven't stopped!

You've talked about respect and responsibility as though they were new and amazing concepts you'd never heard of before. You've talked about your teacher, how she LOVES eye contact, and how she responds if you don't look her in the eye. How this is her 17th year of teaching, and how she is very very serious about eye contact. I can tell you have a great respect and admiration for her already.

You've spoken very fondly of your school counselor, Mrs. Y. You talked about what she tried to share with you, though you couldn't quite understand what she was getting at. You smile when you talk about her. I can tell you like her.

You've talked about lunch and how loud and crazy it is. How you didn't have any idea what to do. They only gave you 5 chicken nuggets, you ate half of one of your cucumber slices, and by the time you realized you could have had a roll you were too far along in the line to do anything about it. You were full from lunch, and it was good.

You had a school meeting (which sounded like a pep rally) in the large gym today. You said they introduced and clapped for all the teachers.

You talked about your cough and how it was hard to suppress, but you managed. You said you were so busy and figuring things out that you didn't really get to check out the other students in your class yet.

We unpacked your backpack and you let me look at your stuff. Your list of things you need. You were VERY serious about it. Like this was a matter of YOUR business, not mine. YES! ;)

You called your Dad to tell him how you liked your first day, and then you brought it all back to me.

You talked about some a loud classroom that as disrespectfully walking through the hallway past your class. You proudly mentioned you could tell that maybe not all the teachers in the school care about being respectful as much as your teacher does.

After about 30 minutes of straight stories, I realized it was time to scoop us some bowls of ice-cream and move this powwow out to the screen room. There you continued on and on, adding that you actually did kind of like it, except that you would rather be at home (who wouldn't).

Then your Nanna called. You have since been pacing around the house sharing stories with her about your first day. It's been about 30 minutes, and I get the feeling you will still have more to process when you get off the phone with her.

I told you on the couch in the screen room that I can tell you are different already. I can tell that you are stronger, and wiser, and more polite. I can tell that you are taking things seriously (things I've not been able to get you to take seriously at home) like respect and responsibility. You were proud, and you smiled and said, "mom, i can tell you might be about to cry some happy tears."

I am SO proud of you and happy for you. I can only imagine how wonderful this year is going to be for you, my love.

Happy happy first day.

First Day of Forth Grade

Your Daddy and I just dropped you off at school. We prayed together in the parking lot, and then I went in with you -all the "drop-off parents" went in with their kids. I had to give your teacher your portfolio from last year, and I wanted to make sure you knew where you were going, but mostly to have a mental picture of where you would be today, for myself. 

I was surprised to see that most of the boys were wearing sport and cotton shorts. You will be so happy to be allowed to wear yours while it's still warm enough. You look very handsome in your first day clothes. You are towering tall over almost every single kid. There are only a couple almost as tall as you.

When the bell rang at 8:30, giving you permission to go to your classroom, you took the correct turn to the right from the library, and then I showed you to look for the bananas in the hallway to take your next turn. We found your name tag over your hooks, hung your backpack, and went to your room. 

Your Teacher was very happy and calm for her first day. She smiled, greeted you, and gave you a blow pop sucker, instructing you to put it in your desk and then follow the directions on the smart board at the front of the classroom. She lovingly asked me how I was doing, knowing this is a very first for me too. I told her I was doing well and that we've been preparing for this day, praying for her and her kids… we chatted briefly, I dropped your portfolio, book order, and tissue box off at her desk and then checked on you one last time. 

You asked me if you were cold or hot lunch. I told you "hot". At the smart board you had to move your character to the box indicating which lunch you would have. Then you had to take a piece of loose-leaf paper to your desk to brain storm ideas of what you could write in a letter to your Teacher. 

I told you I was going to leave and asked if you were doing ok. You said you were fine and would actually like it if I would go. I refrained from hugging or kissing you. :)

On my way out of your room your Teacher kindly asked me again how I was doing. I told her that I would love to be a fly on the wall today. Then I feigned that I was doing well and encouraged her to have a great day. She said that in her opinion you were going to fit very well in her class. We both peeked in on you. You were sitting at your desk with your paper and pencil, brainstorming the cutest brainstorm I've ever seen in my life. 

I walked away with a big fake smile trying to blink away my tears. Thankfully, no one made eye contact. In the parking lot I actually forgot to look for cars before walking. Halfway through, I jokingly hoped someone might hit me with their car. In the driver's seat of my car I hugged myself a little while I let the tears come out, but it didn't feel better. I feel like I left a part of me inside that school today. I will miss our fourth grade year together in ways I won't dare utter to you.  

I know this is right, and when I think of you sitting alone at the kitchen table for a new "first day" of school at home, as a Homeschooler, I get it. I do. This is not where you belong this year. It's just so weird and hard knowing that if you're not here, neither am I. 

Good thing I have a long hair appointment today. Good Mama therapy. I may even get a pedicure if I have time left over. 

I love you and miss you and am so so happy for you, big guy. 

(p.s. i did not take the in-school photos, today. i wouldn't embarrass you like that)
(p.p.s. Pug did not get to go to school with you)


Getting Ready for School

** I'm writing directly to you from now on. If and when you get a sibling, I will write directly to you both. I prefer this personalized format much better. **

Today, we cleaned and organized your toy room, lego-land bridge area, bedroom and closet. You did really well helping me sort a billion legos into their correct bins, choosing which clothes you would like to keep, and trying on jeans to see which you've outgrown. You never complained once, and we cleaned for hours. You even asked me if there was anything you could do well after I dismissed you to play while I worked out the final touches. You're so considerate and sweet. I am proud of your hard work!

We also went into town for your dermetologist appointment. Your only two moles have been on watch for years and it's time to have them removed. One of them is a bother and the other is a concern. Your dermatologist was very considerate of your feelings on the matter. It was nice of him to tell you that the reason he was asking how you felt about them is because he respects your opinion. We made the appointment to return and have them taken off. It is never fun to have any kind of surgery, no matter how minor, but this brings relief knowing these moles will not be a problem anymore in the future. 

After that appointment, we went shopping for school supplies. This was the first "school supply" list we've ever fulfilled, and knowing it could also be the last, I made sure to enjoy it for all it was worth. It was so fun to watch you pick out your stuff. I should have known that you would want all black and grey for colors. If those weren't color options, you chose blue or red. We also picked up a pair of black and grey tennis shoes for you. 

You talked about some of the things you are worried about in going to school. Mostly you are afraid you won't be smart enough, and that no one will like you. I assured you that most kids are a little scared about going back to school even when they've been there before, and that it's normal for you to be nervous. As for how smart you are, I have tried to explain to you that you're academically very well equipped for fourth grade public school. I can't seem to convince you though. You'll just have to see for yourself. With your standardized test scores placing you between 5th and 12th+ grade, you're the only one worried. ;)

I reminded you that God called us to do this as a family, and that sometimes we don't like or want what He asks of us - the way Moses didn't like what God called him to do with Pharaoh, and Jonah didn't want to go to Nineveh. But that we can always trust that it will be for His good purpose, and that he will guide and protect us if we walk in His will. Our obedience will bring blessings, and all we have to do is listen, follow, and watch God do amazing things. I wrote Jeremiah 29:11 on the chalkboard for you, and we went over it. 

"'For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'"

Once in a while I get a little nervous about how I'm going to feel dropping you off the first few days - watching you walk - letting go of something that has always been ours until now. I don't worry about you. I know you will love school. Maybe even a little too much. And I don't feel sad to see you spend the days away from me. It will be good for you. But Homeschool. Loosing Homeschool for this year… I've said it 1000 times, Homeschooling has been the greatest, most fulfilling thing I've ever done. And not to have that, with you, this year, will be tough for me. I'm sure. 

On the other hand, I remember when Miss Emily's, Theo came piling in the door from school while we were visiting years ago. She and I unloaded his backpack of worksheets and remnants of his day while he settled in for some playing. I LOVED it so much. I thought for a second how fun it would be. And I love when you come home from summer school for the same reason. 

I can't wait to hear all about your days, your friends, teachers, classes, see what you are learning about, spy on your homework-doing, unload your backpack! I SO want to be able to come with you to school, maybe as a fly so I wouldn't embarrass you. :)

I'm very excited for the fun little changes this will bring to our lives, even with some of the challenges it will present. I feel ready for it all!!! 



I know there are a lot of parents who keep their kids from video games. They allow very limited access, and they are all well within their rights to do so.

Maybe it's because we're gamers. Maybe it's because we only have one child and he's a techy with a techy Daddy. Maybe it's because we don't feel the same about mindless television watching as we do about our child learning how to code through Project Spark, program, design, build and create through virtual worlds. To Greg and I, Minecraft is a glorified version of Legos we wish we would have been born into. Why would we take that from our son? 

We don't feel that computers are going away, and we believe it is our job to instill good sense and the important skills needed to maintain balance. People are naturally addicted to computers for one reason or another. It caters to everyone. With Zeek, we use the gaming aspect as our pallet for recognition, proactivity and self-control. 

Having prefaced with that: 
We let Zeek and Kaila play a lot of Minecraft together. They are apart all year long and it is their favorite bonding tool. The first week Kaila was here, I believe they clocked about 36 hours total. No lie. And we don't regret it one bit. We told them they would first have a week of scheduled days with Minecraft interwoven throughout. We told them the second week they would have a break for a couple of days and then they could play for 2-3 hours a day depending on how they were doing with reading, math, and enjoying other pastimes together. 

The last two days began our second week. We didn't let Zeek and Kaila play any video games at all. They laughed and played, swung and spun, hopped and skipped, giggled and fell in the warm green grass under the perfect clouds in a beautiful summer sky. They sat in circles with their friends, FACING each other, talking and sharing, leading, planning and following. They made messes and cleaned them up. They played board games late into the nights. Got that giddy night laughter they couldn't stop, rolled their heads back, holding their sides in stitches. They learned better who likes what, who can be persuaded and who stands firm. They stopped once or twice to remember their Minecraft game - dreamed a little - longed a little - even whined and complained some. But we stuck to our grounds and they forgot all about it as they returned to their real-life creative imagination games, exercising their minds and bodies, bonding as family and friends, turning red in the faces with more smiles and laughter than any of us should be missing out on this summer… it was nice to see. We will surely miss our Kay-Kay. 



I'm thinking about this coming school year. We are just one month away from your first day of public school. I know you are apprehensive and a little worried about what it will be like, what will happen to you, who you will be in this new school setting… but I know you, and I know you will enjoy this experience.

Homeschooling has always given us the opportunity to customize your education based on where you are at. Because we're your teachers and your parents, we have learned well the patterns and flow of your learning curves. It's our job to know when you are approaching new territory or are ready to move up to the next step. Whenever you're on the brink of something in particular, we make sure to meet that need and provide the right things to help you grow in it.

This normally happens in the form on something so subtle you haven't even noticed it in the past. Like when you started to sound out the "mmmm" in the upside down "walmart" from your position in toddler spot of the cart- three year olds don't usually learn to read, but we slowly offered you the beginning of your reading lessons after that day, and you were a beginning reader within a couple of months. And when you started writing stories in your spare time - stories that we knew kids would love to read - then you scored at a 12th grade reading level in the second grade standardized state testing - we put you in the fifth grade entrance level of Institute for Excellence in Writing, to broaden an area that we could see you were hungry and ready for. And even when you struggled in math, with Math-U-See, and we bought the entire 1st through 3rd grade Miquon program, half way through your 3rd grade year. We started you in book one, first grade, so we could strengthen your math foundation before moving up. This is what we do. It's the biggest and best part of our privilege as homeschoolers, tailoring your educations to fit you.

I won't for one second pretend that God wasn't the reason we even looked at the idea of putting you in public school this year, because He's the only way we would have ever considered it. We are homeschoolers, through and through, and still consider ourselves to be so.

But in the second that God made it clear you would be in public school this year, I began to become filled with understanding and joy for this provision. Despite my own hopes, dreams, wants, and plans (I did have your entire 4th grade curriculums and schedules planned already) I could see our year in the public school begin to take shape.

I know that you have come a very long way in a short time this year. You have shed a lot of inhibition, insecurity, and uncertainties about yourself. Since you were healed and freed from the things that held you back, you have become very strong, solid, and powerful in your perspectives, character, and beliefs these past few months. 

With this, we realize that you are ready for things that can not happen in our home. You're ready to call the people who teach you, just "teacher", and not also mom and dad. You're ready to be responsible for yourself in a way that we're not capable of providing for our only child in the middle of the country, having no other kids in our neighborhood. You're ready to be in a safe place with a multitude of different but familiar faces, everyday. You're ready to learn the responsibilities of being in a subculture, becoming socially accountable for yourself, and how to represent you, your belief system, and our family.

We are expecting that this will be a one year change. As far as we are planning, we will return to homeschooling from home next year. But I do believe that this year will be a much needed, welcomed time of learning life and personal growth for you in a very special and intentional way.

Not to worry, God's got you in His hands and His plans, and you are going to shine! 


All for Him

As we've surrendered ourselves and our life to God, asking Him to guide us in His will this past year, He certainly has. We are not a picture of what we set out to look like. Our intentions, goals, and desires for the future are completely different than what either one of us had thought or even dreamed of before now.  

To begin with, we, who were perfectly pleased with being a family of three, have been working for the past 10 months toward adopting a child. This month, Greg and I will sign our final certification papers and we will officially become a family in waiting! 
This did not happen lightly or easily. There was a process to getting my previously very broken heart back up and healthy beating in this direction again. 
In hindsight, it all seems so simple - but there were truly moments of concern, fear, and doubt for me. I expected to go through a lot of things I've heard other adoptive moms talk about experiencing on their roads to adopting their children, but I have not. Looking back at this year from here, I can see God's hand kneading, softening, and molding as He worked out every detail of this process with and for us. He is amazing, and we are so blessed. His plans and ideas are so much greater than ours. 

Secondly, and even more out of the norm for our family, we have enrolled Zeek in public school for his 4th grade year. NOT something we ever planned for or imagined in 100 years. Ever. But God laid His will out and there was absolutely no doubt. This already was and is. We just had to follow the road up to it.   
In what seemed like no time after, there were prayers and conversations, followed by research and phone calls, followed by more conversations and a tour, followed by more prayer and a willing enrollment from this otherwise 100% homeschooling family. 
Who are we and where did our old selves go? :)

Finally, I am in the process of getting a job outside of the house. In the past couple of years I have felt a calling to work with seniors in their own homes. I did not know when or how this would come to fruition in my life, and I honestly assumed it would be when Zeek was older, or even graduated. But I was open to entering some kind of ministry that would allow me to serve in this way. I had even tried a couple of doors to no avail. I never imagined it would be in a work setting as an employee. But again, after a series of undeniable messages from God, I applied for a position as a senior care provider for a local company, only to learn that they have a Christian foundation are very excited to welcome another believer to their company. I have not received an official hire as of yet, but this process is also underway. 

So, in the course of a year, we went from where we were, which I can barely remember who, why, or how anymore - to an expectant family waiting for a child, a homeschool family in the public school system, and a stay-home-mom and homemaker, working outside of the home she's made. 

And I could cry for the joy that overwhelms me in this life being transformed from ours to His in such substantial and indisputable ways.

Only God. 

"If you cling to your life you will lose it, but if you give up your life for Me you will find it"
Matthew 10:39

"Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart." 
Psalm 37:4


Summer Camp

Zeek is enjoying summer camp. Last night when I picked him up, I could tell the exhaustion was starting to set in. By dinner time he was pretty much done. He was so tired he kept saying all he wanted was to sleep. And sleep he did. Unfortunately, the weather isn't usual right now. It's a little chilly with highs in the 60's. They weren't even able to swim yesterday, it was so cold. Today's forecast is only a high of 67 where he'll be.

Greg and I are loving the excitement of having him in camp. We think about him throughout the day, wondering if he's playing kickball, or painting rocks, or learning camp songs. We pray that he's enjoying himself. Each day, we can't wait to hear all that he's done at camp! He's so cute and sweet and fun.

He does not, however, like me hanging around for the bus to leave. He will barely look at me, and as for any hugs or kisses, forget about it. I'm surprised if I get so much as a half wave. He might be homeschooled, but he sure doesn't act like it when it comes to being seen with his parents! 

Tomorrow night we will attend family night at the campgrounds. We will have a bbq dinner and watch all the groups do their skits and performances. Then Zeek will have the choice to sleep at camp for one night. We are all set for him to do so. We'll see what he decides… 

P.S. Zeek did not end up choosing to stay the night at camp. Between his exhaustion and longing for home and admittedly his MOM :) he couldn't imagine staying overnight and through Friday. So we gladly took him home with us, and brought him back for the bus in the morning. 

Overall, Camp rocked and we're hopeful he will want to go again next year.


About Detours

This morning, on our drive to meet the bus at the YMCA for Zeek's first day of Summer Camp, we ran into a detour. At first I was a little worried thinking, "where will this take us? how far off the path will we have to go? how much later will we be? will we even make it?" 
Then I relaxed, remember that we left with plenty of time to be early, and most importantly, God is in control. 

Well, it seems that similarly, we also ran into a little detour the past 6 weeks on our road to adoption. And while there were definitely moments we asked ourselves all of the above questions, things tuned out to be all God and all good. 

I'm never surprised yet always amazed at the way God knows just what we need, and only He knows exactly how to administer those needs right to our hearts and souls. 

Everyday, our family prays for God to have us. We ask for Him to make clear the path to His will in our lives. We pray that He will remove any of our dreams and plans that are not in alignment with His own. We ask Him to put His own passions and desires for our lives burning in our hearts. We pray that he will open the doors to the things that will bring us to His will, and close the doors to those that will not. We surrender whatever it is that we could want for ourselves, and we ask Him to give us the strength to follow His perfect plan instead. 

We believe that He honors our hearts of submission to Him. 

The Bible says that God has given us a choice between good and evil. That we make a covenant with one or the other. That when we choose Him, HE is our God and King, and He is our all mighty, all powerful, unlimited, faithful, jealous, all knowing, defender, protector, provider, and author of all that was, is and will be.

We rest in this.  

After 10+ years of watching miracle after miracle transpire in our life, it would be difficult to believe anything otherwise. 


Strawberries & Summer

Every summer we pick strawberries. 

I love to walk the rows with Zeek...

I love to watch him pick and eat big red berries. 
He always ends up with hands and mouth covered in red.

We always go home with more than we can imagine eating.

Yet somehow, we always manage to eat every last one.


Camp LeBreck

So, the plan was to set up all our new camp stuff in the yard
to be sure it all works and will be ready for us to go camping with.

What we discovered is that we have the best possible campgrounds
we could ever ask for, right here on our property.

Woods, wildlife, beautiful views, peace and privacy.

Our own wood to burn, indoor bathrooms and kitchen, 
basketball hoop, 4 wheeler, bikes, scooters, and R & E's 
fishing/boating/swimming resort just up the street.  

Our pets, who didn't have to go to the Center while we were "out".

It was all just too convenient, costed us nothing, 
and requires no tear down and set up in-between weekends.

So, basically, we'll be camping as much as our hearts desire this summer.

All right here, at home.


Moving Right Along

We didn't quite realize it, but our foster-to-adopt training and requirements are nearly fulfilled! I think we saw what seemed an endless, insurmountable "start" ahead of us, and we just put our heads down and put one foot in front of the other... and with all God has been doing within our heads and hearts we  kept our attention on the corrections, leading, learnings, and changes. Now here we are, one day from our final home study!

Tomorrow, T will have her interview with Zeek, she will receive his wellness check papers, a few odds and ends from us, and complete the "home" portion of the home study.

We have installed all the smoke detectors required, as well as a fire extinguisher and a Carbon Monoxide detector on all three levels, drawn and laminated our fire escape plans for each floor and posted them on the walls, posted emergency numbers and info by the phones, and installed locks to keep sharp objects, poisons, medicines and power tools safe. 
We have been reading our book for training hours, and this weekend we will complete the online course requirement. 

I'm sure there are other things here and there that we will need to tie up, last minute. But it's amazing that we are just now looking up and we're so close to being on the waiting list! 

We have learned and our hearts have grown so much on this journey, and yet we feel like we haven't even begun. We're grateful to be right here. We're taking it all in. We feel that we still don't know quite what is happening - that no one in this foster-to-adopt business knows what is happening - but trusting in God with the unknowns is more than enough for us.

We're very happy excited to take the next big step!!!


House Blessings

This morning I came out of my room to the most beautiful sun 
shining through the windows throughout our house. 

Somedays, it's still hard to believe we live in this amazing place. So beautiful. 

A couple days ago a girlfriend came with her kids to visit. 
I hadn't showered yet when she got here, and she told me to 
go ahead because he loves to just sit and enjoy the house. 

I feel the same way. I love to sit in one place and look around at out home. 
I love the house itself, with the walls of windows showing out to the woods 
and the clean line architecture… 

This morning, I decided to take my phone and get some snapshots of my favorite things - 
a list of our house blessings, I guess: 

This is a chair we had custom made for this house. 
I love this chair.
I love that Apple has claimed it for herself (proving she has exquisite taste)
I love the story Greg made up (while we waited months for this chair to arrive) 
about a little old man with arthritis from distant lands across the sea,
who worked so hard on making this chair, carefully hand stitching each thread...
I think of these things when I see this chair, and I smile. 

We have had this metal box planter forever. Probably 12+ years.
I love it. And I love the plant in it, which we have also had for 
longer than any other plant we own. 
It makes the kitchen sink feel like a visit, not just a dishwashing station. 

My best friend in high school had huge cacti growing 
in their bay window seat. They had been growing them for over a decade.
When I bought these 7 years ago, the tallest one was 4". 
I am always so proud how tall they are now, and all the growing they continue to do. 
They remind me of her and her family, and that I can.

I never knew a specific Bible book would mean more to me than another.
This is the Bible that Greg and I have made our "God place" together of. 
It lays on the dining room table or next to our bed.
We read from it and enjoy the interpretations below the passages.
I'm amazed how far we've come in our marriage, 
and I'm grateful that we both know it's all because of God.

I love our screen room, even though there are still things from 
our winter decor out there as Spring is springing.
I look forward to completing a summer theme and using it in the warmth.

My mom had a thing for bowls, and I have a similar kind of things for pillows.
I love our newest four that are not only beautiful
but fall perfectly together in the coming color scheme of our screen room.

Our red wire basket is so me. 
And I love the white blankie inside of it.
There's something about a sweet place to keep the things we use and love.

Our family plays a lot of board, card, and dice games.
This is the stack of our current faves.
I love that we don't have them hidden away someplace. 
They are just out in the open with a school bin and a lego bucket.
A house well lived in…  

Zeek likes to have his schedule laid out visually for him.
Right now we have May hanging, 
and two of my favorite days are coming up soon!

I enjoy reading this Amish book series. 
It's not about personal growth or homeschooling, parenting, being a wife...
It's just for peace, quiet and pleasure.
Something just for me.

I love that Zeek is old enough to really help me. 
He easily cut this project time in half.

I wanted this in this space for years. 
I remember when I found the barn doors for sale - 
when Sarita, Zeek and I went out to the shop to cut our first piece - 
when I brought home the hooks and put them on - 
when Robert helped me hang it just so.
And I love our bench, the wood floor and rugs,
the yellow door, old bi-fold closet doors, 
and all the light that streams into this wide open entrance way. 

I love being a homeschooling family. 
I love the charts and goals and lists we keep. 
I'm reminded of the dreams we put to rest 
and how much greater it's been to awaken to them in our reality
these past nine years.

I love our Xbox One. 
I love being able to tell my TV what to do with my voice.
I also love the Golf, 
and Greg's favorite blanket, "pink". 

After 4 years, with the exception of a few winters, 
we finally have our mantel "decorated" with things that are so very us. 

I love when I have friends over the night before
and wake up to the remnants of our fun the next day.

I love this rug.
Every time I walk into it I am surprised, as if it's new. 
It's so beautiful and fits my heart just right.

I love that when my husband is down I don't ignore him anymore - 
I'm not annoyed with him - 
I don't try to talk him out of it like he's being lame, the way I used to.
I love that I love him so much I can really hear him -
I find a way to understand his perspective - 
I make it my mission to do everything I can to see him smile again.

I love being in love with this man. 

On Mother's Day Zeek picked his own gift and card out for me. 
He also came in with this flower and these red stones he found in the yard, 
he got out a small vase, filled it with water and presented it to me.
I love it.

I love that we have our own art on display.

I love scentsys. 
The relaxing, the fun of a little something special added, 
the new smells in each room… 

I love that this worked,
and that we have window ledges wide enough to support it.

Ralph warms my heart -
when he almost died, I wondered why God ever let him come
 so close to death in the first place, if He was going to save him anyway.
Now, when I walk by him and I not only love him, 
but I know how blessed I am because I almost lost him,
I know exactly why God let it happen like it did.

The same with Zeek.
The same with this house.
The same with Greg and I.
The same with who is coming to be a part of us.

I love these things in our life that have and only could have come straight from His Hands.