Monday, September 22, 2014

Snippets of Fall

Hooray! It’s officially Fall!
I’m pretty sure I say this every year, but Fall is my absolute favorite time of year.  The cool crispiness in the air, brightly colored leaves, pumpkin spice coffee, cozy blankets, warm fires, boots, sweaters, and scarves… it’s all my favorite.
And pumpkins!!  I’m addicted to pumpkins!  We found a pumpkin patch this year that grows all different kinds and colors of pumpkins, squash, and gourds.  There were so many to choose from that I might have gone a little bit overboard. I just couldn’t help myself.  Honestly, I do this every year now. Growing up, I thought pumpkins came in one shape and color – giant orange jack-o-lantern pumpkins.  There was nothing very exciting about that. Then a few years ago, I discovered that there were so many more colors and sizes and shapes of pumpkins than I ever imagined.  And I couldn’t choose just one pumpkin anymore.  I wanted them all!  But for the sake of my marriage and our bank account, I restrain myself (kind of).


Aren't they so cute sitting on my front porch?!



So when the leaves start changing and the mornings turn chilly, I get the urge to start cozying up the inside of our home.  As much as I usually love bright colors in my home, I am drawn to warm and cozy neutrals and lots of soft textures in the Fall and Winter.  I don’t have a lot of Fall decorations, but I really like using things from nature to create a warm and inviting feeling.  Not to mention, pinecones, acorns, leaves and branches are all free.


Shopping the house is another free way to switch things up.  It’s always a bit of a creative challenge to make do with the things we already have. I found neutral colored books, a candle, and a cozy fur for the hanging chair just by looking through different rooms in our house. And if need be, I’ll break out the white spray paint and spray paint something… like that vase holding the branches.


I had some leftover birthday money so I did splurge on this birch wreath from Target because I loved it so much.  And I picked up those two acorns at HomeGoods.


That little white candle needed a pick-me-up and I’ve had that fabric flower sitting around for months and months because it fell off of a pillow and I never sewed it back on, so I just decided to hot glue it to the candle.  Instant cuteness.




I found this little wooden potato crate the other day at an antique market and thought it would be fun to use on my table or coffee table to create a centerpiece.  At first I didn’t even think about putting pumpkins in it, but the lady checking me out said, “Wouldn’t this be cute filled up with pumpkins?!”  And I totally agreed with her. Genius!


I had some leftover chalkboard paint, so I painted a small chalkboard spot on my pumpkin.

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Happy Fall!!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

A new season

Labor Day was our official last day of summer around here and we wanted to send summer out with a fun goodbye.  There were a few slightly threatening rain clouds in the sky that day, but we took the hardtop off the jeep anyway (Have I even mentioned on the blog that Tim got a jeep for his birthday back in July?), cranked up the country music station, and went for a scenic drive through the Shenandoah mountains.  And it ended up being a perfectly beautiful day for it. 

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We had packed a lunch, so we pulled over on the side of the mountain to enjoy a picnic with a pretty view. 

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(Don’t worry… the side of the mountain was not steep, so although it looks like one misstep and she could just tumble down the mountain, she couldn’t.)

Then we stopped for ice cream on the way home.  It was a pretty great way to end the summer.

 

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The next day was our first day of school. If you follow me over on Instagram, then you already know that we decided to enroll the kids in public school this year.  It wasn’t an easy decision by any means and I literally bounced back and forth all summer feeling torn between the two, trying desperately to hear what the Lord was saying, but not having any peace or clarity at all.  Finally at the end of July (there was an August deadline to tell the school system), Tim and I took a week to really pray for the Lord to speak to us and line up our hearts together. We decided that we would pray separately and then discuss it at the end of that week.  We desired for the Lord to line up our hearts and we didn’t really want to influence each other by talking about it all week, we just wanted to hear the Lord and allow Him to do His thing. We cheated one night and talked a little bit about it, but otherwise, we stuck to our agreement of just praying and being open to what the Lord was saying to each of us. And by the end of that week, we both felt that the Lord was clearly leading us in the direction of public school. There were many reasons He laid on each of our hearts for our kids in this new season and it was neat to see how much our hearts had lined up on all those specific things.  It was very confirming for us.

I also felt like the Lord told me that the reason I was feeling so torn all summer was because He was leading my heart in a new direction (public school) and I needed to let go of the old thing (homeschooling).  I had been trying so hard to hold on to homeschooling even though it was feeling more like a burden lately than a joy because I thought that’s what He wanted me to do.  And I was feeling guilty for feeling worn out and overwhelmed instead of excited about homeschooling like I had felt in the past. Since He called me to homeschooling a few years ago, I didn’t feel free to let go of it until He told me clearly it was time.  So when He told me that all that conflict and tugging going on in my heart all summer was really just Him changing my heart and guiding us in a new direction, I felt so free and relieved and it was easy to let go and move forward with public school.  Granted, I still cried, because I knew I would miss my kids, but I also knew His plans are good and we can trust Him and so I had peace and excitement.  Don’t you just love that He leads us through our hearts?  That instead of Him just demanding our obedience, He changes our hearts to want to do His will and then He gives us the grace to obey.  I love that.  It’s so freeing. 

First Day of School picture:

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We all walked down to the bus stop, but Peyton asked us to drive her to school for her first day, so after Tyson got on the bus, we took Peyton to school and walked her to her class.

 

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The transition into school has not been as smooth as I had hoped for Peyton.  Many mornings, she is just in tears and it breaks my heart to see her struggling.  I’m so thankful for the teachers and staff that have been working hard to help her through this adjustment though. The guidance counselor has been a huge help.  As we were walking home from the bus stop the other day, Peyton told me that when she was sad that day the guidance counselor took her to give Tyson a hug. It’s sweet to me that Peyton wanted a hug from Tyson. But it also tickled me knowing that Tyson would not have been thrilled when his little sister showed up in his classroom needing a hug.  I’m sure he could have just crawled into a hole.  I asked Tyson about it and we all had a good laugh when he said, “She hugged me, but I didn’t hug her.”  Brothers.

And although the mornings are rough, she’s usually all smiles by the time she gets off the bus in the afternoons.

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This guy is loving having me all to himself.  As we prayed through the decision on whether or not to send Tyson and Peyton to school, one of the things we felt for Hudson was that it would benefit him to have my undivided time and attention without always feeling the need to compete with the other two.  And it really has been good for him.  I’ve noticed a big (positive) change in his behavior during our days together.  I don’t think he’s even missed them at all while they’re in school.

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So after the rush of waking up, getting lunches packed, kids dressed with breakfast in their tummies and teeth brushed, we all walk down to the bus.  Then after the older two are on their way to school, Hudson and I come home, I get my coffee, and we relax for a little while.  If he sits quietly nearby and looks at books or goes off to play alone, I get a chance to spend some time with the Lord, but then there are days when he just wants me to snuggle him and read books with him. This time with just him is nice.  It’s relaxed and (mostly) peaceful.  I’m less stressed and I feel like I can actually take time to read or play or go on a bike ride with him without feeling rushed. He needed this time with me and I’m cherishing it. 

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We signed Tyson up for baseball this year.  We tried baseball back when he was five years old (I’m not sure what we were thinking!), but quickly realized everyone was way more serious about five year olds playing baseball than we were.  We took a few years off and then Tyson showed some interest in it this year, so we decided to give it another shot.  And again, I’m finding out that the time commitment is more than any of us really want to make at this point. I definitely won’t be sad when it’s over and neither will Tyson.  He doesn’t particularly love baseball, but he is pretty good at it.

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During his game this weekend, his team was losing the entire game.  Then in the last inning, with two outs, they rallied and scored several runs.  They were still down by one run when Tyson got up to bat.  The bases were loaded and then on the first pitch, he smacked a double, scoring two runs and winning the game 5-4.  It was pretty awesome.

Doubles are hard to come by in little league because you have to hit the ball in the air all the way to the outfield (if it bounces in the infield, then it’s only a single no matter how far it rolls into the outfield), so it was a good hard hit. And I was one proud momma.

 

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It’s so fun to watch Peyton and Hudson clapping and cheering for Tyson and his team.  Hudson is especially into it and really wants Tyson’s team to win.  He was so excited when Tyson hit the double and won the game for his team.  During one game, a kid on the other team got a hit and I said, “Good hit!” and Hudson looked at me and told me not to cheer for the other team.  Haha!  He is serious about baseball and winning and only cheering for our team. 

While we’re discussing sports and extra curricular activities, Hudson is playing soccer now.  He’s been begging to play for quite a while, but I wasn’t ready to commit to weeknight practices and weekend games, so I kept putting him off.  Then I found a little toddler soccer league through our county that plays on Monday mornings while the big kids are in school, so I signed him up. The coach has them playing all kinds of fun soccer games and Hudson absolutely loves it, so it’s pretty perfect for us right now.

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Beachin it

I’m falling so far behind here on the blog…  I started this post weeks ago and I’m just now sitting back down to (hopefully) finish it up and get it posted.

At the end of August, we squeezed in a quick trip down to Florida to see our families before the summer ended. 

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Much of our time there was spent swimming and splashing in Mimi and Pop Pop’s pool.  The kids are getting so much more comfortable in the water and it was fun to see their confidence and swimming skills improve just over the few days were were there.

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One day, we visited a small inlet that had plenty of hermit crabs for the kids to catch.

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Tim was convinced he saw a shark swimming around out there.

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We also went to the beach and played in the white powder sand and crashing waves.

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I prefer lounging to playing.

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We don’t typically do a lot of touristy things while we’re there, but this time, we were determined to make our trip feel more like a real vacation for the kids, with plenty of fun memories.  We called it our Summer Bash and we splurged on things like sno-cones, ice cream, go-cart riding, and putt-putt golf.

We had some nervous kids before riding the go-carts, but afterwards, they all agreed it was the highlight of their entire vacation.

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And since there are only two of us and we have three kids (Hudson rode with me), we persuaded Uncle Jared to come along and be a go-cart driver too. I’m pretty sure he didn’t mind.  He and Tim got pretty competitive out there on the track and they gave the two bigger kids quite an exciting ride.  (Hudson was content to NOT have such an exciting ride, so we set our own pace!)

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Putt-putt was high up on the kid’s fun meter too.  Guess who was the ONLY one to get a hole-in-one?!  ….  H-man!  He was so excited.  We celebrated afterwards with sno-cones.

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One evening, Tim and I and Jared and his girlfriend, Megan all got away for a night out while the grandparents watched our kiddos.  We drove over to Seaside to eat dinner and then went out on the beach to watch the sky turn pink and orange while the sun sunk down below the horizon.  I miss those sunsets over the water!  Afterwards, we ended up reminiscing, laughing, and talking while we wandered through the backstreets and quiet neighborhoods of Seaside as the last of the evening light faded into night.  Then Tim’s internal gps failed us all when he thought he knew a short cut to get us back to our car.  All of a sudden, we found ourselves lost in the dark woods and stumbling over tree roots in our flip-flops with only our measly cell phone flashlights to light our path. We eventually found our way out, but it was one of those funny mishaps that ends up making the best memories.

 

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And before we knew it, it was time to load up, give big hugs goodbye and get back on the road for the long drive home.

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On the way home, we made a quick stop near Atlanta to eat donuts with one of my best and longest friends, Becca and her kids.  So fun to see them!  It’s been years since we’ve seen them last, which is just completely too long.

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Somehow, we made it through our entire vacation without getting any pictures with my side of the family, but we did get to see and spend a few days with them too.  So glad to see everyone all in one trip!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Back–to–school Interviews

Last year, when school was starting back, I interviewed the kids.  I think it’s becoming a tradition now.  It’s fun to look back and see how much they’re growing and changing each year.  It’s also fun to see which of their answers stay the same.

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Peyton : Age 6 (1st Grade)

Favorite thing to do : Play Barbies and bake and play in my cottage

Favorite thing to eat : Macaroni and cheese and salad

What do you want to be when you grow up : A baker

Favorite color : Pink and purple

Favorite show or movie : Mickey Mouse and Barbie

Favorite Book : Boxcar Family

What do you like to learn about : Math

What do you like to do with Daddy : Eat Donuts

What do you like to do with Mommy : Bake

What makes you happy : Mommy

What are you really good at : Making beds

Favorite thing you did on summer vacation : Jumping off the diving board in Mimi and Pop Pop’s pool

 

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Hudson : 4 years old (K4)

Favorite thing to do : Play in that pool and play cars

Favorite thing to eat : Mac and cheese and carrots and gummies

What do you want to be when you grow up : I want to be what I am right now. 

(After Tyson’s interview, Hudson said, “I switched my mind, I want to be a police officer.”)

Favorite color : Blue and black and red

Favorite show or movie : Lightning Mcqueen and Monster Truck Adventures

Favorite Book : Berenstain Bears Move

What do you like to learn about : Letters

What do you like to do with Daddy : Eat ice cream

What do you like to do with Mommy : play

What makes you happy : Gigi (his blankie)

What are you really good at : play cars

Favorite thing you did on summer vacation : ride in the van and ride go-carts

 

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Tyson : Age 8 (3rd grade)

Favorite thing to do : Ride go-carts, play video games

Favorite thing to eat : Junk, pizza, ice cream, and cookie cake

What do you want to be when you grow up : A police officer

Favorite color : Bright orange, bright red, blue, and black

Favorite show or movie : Dino Dan and Monster Jam

Favorite book : Boxcar Family

What do you like to learn about : Minecraft

What do you like to do with Daddy : play in the pool

What do you like to do with Mommy : Read books and play games

What makes you happy : Mom and Dad

What are you really good at : Eating junk food

Favorite thing you did on summer vacation : Ride go-carts

 

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Goofy kids… I love them!