Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Are you smarter than a fifth grader?

School. It's what we do. I've developed the mentality that school, for us, is not an 8am-to-3 pm-sit-down-and-do-book-work event. It's an all-day, learn-from-everything event. Yes, we do book work, but we also talk and cook and clean and play. I answer question after question. If they're interested in something, we explore and investigate it. My kids are learning and bright and excited for school every day and I love that!

I had a situation recently that blew me away. I was teaching a water aerobics class. As I jump and jog and reach for my toes and yell, "harder! faster!" ever so often, one lady strikes up a conversation. We'll call her, Judy (we have to change the names, to protect the guilty in this case). Conversation is great. We love conversation in water aerobics. Class flies by when people are talking. However, this conversation in particular could not be over soon enough for me. Picture Edith from Archie Bunker, "So Alyson, are you still trying to homeschool your kids?" Are you kidding me?!

"Yes, Judy, I sure am." I smile.

"Well, how is that going for you?"

I make an effort to change the subject by saying, "Just great," and then tell a story about Adelle on the table during school (this occurs about 400 times a day). Judy was not deterred.
(Check out this video to see how that usually goes down: Adelle's new groove).

"Well, you know [our small town] public school has very capable teachers and ..." blah blah blah. I do know that. Thank you for that information. She goes on, "Do you have a degree in teaching?" Nope, sure don't. "Well maybe you should work on that and then think about teaching your kids." Really?! "What grades are your kids in this year?"

I explain with the intention of shutting this down, "Hudson is 6, but he's doing 2nd and 3rd grade work. Pierce is 5 and doing Kindergarten work. Alayna is 3 - she's doing pre-K stuff."

Judy smiles, "Well you're probably learning right along with them." Was that slam?

I smile in return, "Actually, I am smarter than a 5th grader, much less a 2nd grader, Kindergartener and pre-schooler." I laugh and smile and try to lighten the moment. I want to explain what my kids are learning right now. I want to put them on display so she can really see how awesome they are. Yes, I'm biased. I am the mom and the teacher. But, good grief, at this point I am feeling so belittled and wrongly judged, like I'm doing my children a disservice. While everyone else in class is looking a little nervous, Judy is absolutely clueless and keeps going. "What school would your kids go to? ... Oh! they team-teach there. That's a great school." blah, blah, blah.

Finally, I can take it no longer and try to shut her down, "Judy, you're not going to change my mind. I homeschool. It's achoice my husband and I made intentionally. My kids are smart and doing just fine. We're all fine." I say firmly, but with a smile. She smiles back at me and says, "Well, I just have a vested interest in the public school system." I respond, "Well, I just have a vested interest in my children."

I'm not a confrontational person. I hate being put in situations like this. I don't preach that homeschooling is the only way. Everybody do what's best for your family. I'm all for it! But don't shove it down people's throats like it's really your way or the highway. Man, that wears me out.

Okay, in other news...I turned 31. I'm IN my 30's now. Fun, huh? In better news, Pierce turned 5 and had the best weekend of his life including a campout party and a day at the fair to see Toby Mac (who is like a black/white guy, gangster/Christian, vest/skull cap - whatever, he's got a couple of good songs and Pierce LOVES him). Anyway, that was crazy fun (exhausting).

The birthday boy in the tent with his big brother.
Owl cupcakes
"At dawn we ride!" The chocolate-covered tornado.
Camp scene - roasting marshmallows for s'mores.
The girlies in their tent.

Here's Alayna explaining her drawing to me

Someday I'll video the boys too :) Thanks for letting me vent.

Friday, September 23, 2011


My sister, Amanda, just read The Happiness Project (I haven't read it but I like her insights). She says, "It's an encouraging little book with practical tips that really do work. One of the things I see myself constantly failing at is her practice of 'act the way you want to feel.' Apparently, if you feel irritated and then you express that irritation, it doesn't relieve your irritated-ness. Looking back over motherhood, I see how true that is. But, oh the strength one must have to push that irritated feeling down into yourself, just absorb it, and gush out some sweetness and exercise patience and love. The outcome is that you will feel more patience and love and your irritation will lessen. So that's my happiness project for the week. Not so much for the purpose of me being happier, but I see the gospel in it, and my goodness gracious, it would just be really nice of me to be Christ to my kids, absorb their stuff, swallow my angry words, and decide to act gently and graciously towards them. But the motivation of, "so I can feel happier" isn't the best motivation, but happiness is nice." :)

Well, I just love my sister and her precious, crazy girls. I relate so well to her experience with my own children. Amanda and I took turns having babies. We shared maternity clothes and after-pregnancy clothes and, between the two of us, my parents have eight grandchildren under the age of 7! We love and discipline and train our children, but every mother knows there are those moments. They usually happen when dinner is on the stove, I'm on the phone, Adelle is climbing on the table, Hudson is trying to get her down while she screams, Pierce is kung-fooing Alayna while she's trying to twirl and sing. I hang up the phone, scream for everyone to just stop, and turn on a movie. (But Amanda's kids play "cooking" and mix cereal with dominoes and beads. Ah, such creativity!). There are those moments.

I don't think this is a fake-it-til-you-make-it mentality. I think it's grace, self-control, living TRUTH, and being Christ for my kids. Don't worry, be happy :) Here's some happy things ...
Little bitty piggy-tails! She looks like such a big girl, and her cheeks look extra chubby with her hair back. What mommy doesn't love smoochin' on some chubby baby cheeks?!
A little sister love. Adelle calls Alayna, "Nuh," just the end of her name. It's cute.
Guitar banana, singing the states and capitals song as loud as possible. I believe this shot was, "Baton Rouge, LouisianAAAAAAAH!"
Hudson was drumming, Pierce was strumming - Homeschooling at it's best!

Let me tell you a story. I get up every morning at 4:30 to have a cup of coffee and do my Bible study before I go train at 5:15. This morning I was extra tired. I got the coffee maker ready and started. Got dressed and tied my shoes and came back in the kitchen to coffee grounds and brown water dripping off the counter and running everywhere. I didn't get the pot pushed back in all the way. So I cleaned up the mess and went out the door without any coffee. When I came back in at 6:20 I made a fresh pot and now I have a smile on my face - happy things. :)

One more happy thing. One of my other sisters, Amanda's twin - Angela, got engaged to Bob this week! We're so excited for her! I'm corny and love saying, Bob's your uncle. Anyway, Yea Ange!!!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Fall Handprint Trees

It's FALL!!!  We're just a little bit excited.  Sooooo, we decided to do a fall project for our bulletin board (that I haven't changed since the beginning of July! So now that it's the middle of September...sigh).  Tempera paint was on sale at Hobby Lobby.  It was meant to be.  Admittedly, paint stresses me out a little.  We took all the precautions but, never fail, a handprint usually ends up somewhere that it shouldn't.  Today, however, was a success!

Apron clad children (one mad because I made her stand still - how dare I!).

Painting the hand and arm brown.  Hudson said, "I can't believe you're actually doing this to me!" Neither can I, son.  Neither can I.

Finger painting the falling leaves.

 The finished product!  So individually unique.

This is me after cleaning up Adelle and the rest of the mess - happy we did a project and happy it's all over!  

In other news, school is going great.  We're doing Classical Conversations this year and we love it.  We're all learning a lot and enjoying getting to know other home-schooling families with the same goals and like-minded teaching style.

I'm still training every morning and a couple nights a week as well as teaching at the Y.  Never thought I would see my alarm consistently set to 4:30 AM!!! But it is and I'm enjoying it ... and drinking lots of coffee.

The boys just started playing soccer at the Y and they are in their element.  Alayna would love to be in ballet but we'll probably wait until she's 4.  I think Adelle would probably love to be rock climbing.  That child's favorite spot is in the middle of my kitchen table.  I think this precious toddler has cured me of baby fever - I have my hands full!  And I love it :)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A few videos

Click on the sentences below to check out a few new videos. The one of Adelle laughing is a little dark, but so cute. :)

Adelle working on some motor skills.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Fabulous Fort Fun and a recipe

Cushion forts are fabulous Saturday morning fun. If we did these every day I might go crazy because my front room would be a complete and disastrously noisy mess. I'm in constant pick-up mode as it is, without complete destruction. Anyway, they have a blast and I get the kitchen clean ... at least for a little while. :)

She rules the roost.
Alayna is doing "school" in her newly fashioned t-shirt sleeve head band.
Here's me in mine and, drum roll please ....... I made homemade graham crackers this week! We've been trying to stick with the 100 days of real food plan. Check out THIS LINK for some great recipes! Anyway, kid snacks were my hardest thing. Goldfish and other processed food snacks don't qualify as edible under this plan. We'd been snacking on fruit and nuts and cheese sticks, etc., but we were missing the cracker variety. :) When I found the graham cracker recipe I had to give it a shot.

Graham Crackers

3 c whole grain white flour (I bought Hogson Mill brand)
1/2 t salt
1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t cinnamon
8 T butter
1/2 cup raw honey (or agave nectar)
1 egg (my addition)

1. Stir together first 4 ingredients in bowl.
2. Melt the honey and butter together and pour over dry ingredients, adding enough extra butter to make the dough workable (I added 2 more T of butter and 1 egg at this point).
3. Lightly grease your cookie sheet and roll out dough to 1/8" thickness. Cut rectangles with a knife and prick with a fork. (You could sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar at this point too) :)
4. Bake 10 minutes at 375.

They are a little bit fluffier and grainier than the packaged variety, and I may be partial, but I thought they were wonderful and the kids think so too!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Your muscles get bigger while you're sleeping.

Three years ago, Hudson was 3 1/2 and Pierce was almost 2; Alayna was on the way and we needed to make room in the crib, so we put them in a queen size bed together. This summer we were able to get bunk beds for them, yet they still manage to sleep together some nights. Every day they're getting bigger, smarter, stronger. I love watching my babies become toddlers, then big boys. I love teaching them and seeing the fruit of it. I love marking the notch on the door frame that shows they've grown another two inches and seeing the excitement on their faces. Yet, something sweet hurts inside.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Splish, Splash, I was takin' a bath!

It's 4:50 am. I have to leave in 10 minutes to go train a couple of girls. But it's been ages and life is flying by so I thought I'd at least get a couple of pictures up. The boys are at VBS this week so the girls and I have been doing some gardening and cleaning. I stuck them in the bathtub a couple of nights ago and let them play while I cleaned. After a while I pulled Adelle out, got her jammies on and left Alayna with conditioner in her hair for a few more minutes. I set Adelle down with a book in her room (which is right next to the bathroom). I walked down the short hallway to the living room couch, grabbed a pile of towels, walked back to the towel closet right outside the bathroom, put the towels away, went back into the bathroom (maybe 15 seconds), then ran to get the camera. :)

She's a mess!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Summer is here!

Swimming days are taking over and wearing us all out and we love it! Everybody's hair is getting a little blonder and we're adding to our freckle collection. The heat is officially here. 90 to 100 degrees all week long, so we're playing outside in the morning and swimming or summer schooling in the afternoons.

Yesterday we went to Aldi to grab some snacks before heading to the pool. "Are those all yours?" Her voice wafted loudly down the aisle and I knew it was meant for me because I hear it EVERY time we go out. I smile and nod, "They sure are." She gawks, "Two boys, two girls?" Mmmhmm. "I'm sure glad having children is for the young." I smile again, "We have lots of fun, I drop into bed and sleep great every night ... from all that fun (wink, smile)." She grunts a little. Lovely. Well, here's some shots of all our fun :)
Grilled everything - Hooray for grilling!
Look out - she's a wild woman!
Chillin' on the backyard swing.
Whoa! My little American Woman playing on the playground set.
Watering the flowers.
Making monster dolls!
We love them!
Swimming, of course.
Caught the top of his head before he disappeared.
I didn't get a picture of her, but miss fearless swimming diaper will jump in anywhere. She wears me out.
Getting a little reading in - man, they're cute.
We're trying to get a little more sleep too - Ha!
Daddy is finishing the day with the boys and the cowgirl playing angry birds. Yeah, it's exhausting and so much fun!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

One Thousand Gifts

I don't mean for every post to be a book review! But these books are changing my perspective and my life, changing the way I talk to and raise my children. I'm even trying to be nicer to my husband (Haha! he'll like that :)!! ). Click onthe book that will lead you to the blog and dive in - I love it!


I'm only three chapters in, but I thought I'd go ahead and start my list of one thousand gifts and I plan on sharing them with you as often as I post. But, seriously, as I type I have one boy explaining to me the details of his paper airplane, one snuggling on my lap with his blanket, one girl "reading/singing" her book at the table while she's supposed to be eating her breakfast, and the baby is still sleeping. Posting isn't easy, then again, nothing is easy these days. So let that be at the top of the list!

1. The four warm little bodies in this house that need me to be their momma.

2. Chubby cheeks and sparkling blue eyes that greet me from the crib.

3. The laughing, talking, and sometimes squabbling that is the soundtrack of our breakfast this morning.

4. The adventure and danger of being a little boy!

5. Baby #4 and the joy that she brings this mama (remember how I reeled when I found out I was pregnant ... AGAIN!) Love her!

Monday, May 16, 2011

A little peek into my morning

There was a time in my life when I was much "godlier." I would sweep my long, flowing hair into a ponytail and pull on a warm, cozy sweater and slip my feet into warn house shoes. I would get my coffee, head out onto the front porch swing and read my Bible in the rising sunlight with singing birds and clucking chickens for background noise, offering up my prayers for the day. I was really living the Christian life and feeling really good about it. God must have been very happy with me. ;)

I'm reading a book right now I'd like to share with all the mother's of little ones out there.

Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches

She shares the same thought I just shared above with a great analogy: Back in those "godlier" days, I was like a rock in a stream, being refined by a slow river in a quiet place. Sure, I was growing spiritually, but so easily and so little. These days I'm in the rock tumbler where it's not so easy to feel godly. There's very little time for quiet reflection. "I do a lot of on-the-job failure and correction. Repenting and forgiving. Laughing. Lots and lots of laughing. Because if there is anything that life in the rock tumbler will teach you, it is that there is no room to take yourself seriously. Like trying to strike 'cool' poses on a rug that someone is continually pulling out from under you. Self-seriousness in mothering is totally pointless and probably painful!"

So, here's a real-life look at the first part of my morning:

At 6:30 this morning I rolled out of bed to iron a shirt for David before he left for work. I hit start on the coffee pot as Hudson came in asking for breakfast. A few minutes later I heard Adelle holler from her crib. I went in to get her up and change her diaper. Pierce and Alayna woke up soon after that. I got them all at the table eating their breakfast (funny question from Pierce: "Mom, are we city kids or country kids?" Ha!). We prayed together and said goodbye to daddy for the day.

After breakfast I pulled out my pen and paper to scribble out a meal plan and grocery list while the kids "played" (Adelle dumped toys and library books, Alayna begged me to draw flowers and princesses all over my list, Hud and Pierce were playing some kind of very noisy spy/ninja game involving swords and karate).

After my list was completed, I got Hudson going on piano practice and played his songs with him, Adelle on my hip. As I'm counting beats with Hudson, 1, 1, 1-2, 1-1, 1-2, Adelle is mimicking my words and Pierce is yelling at Alayna to get out of his room. After a talk with Pierce about how Jesus would treat him and Alayna, finishing up piano, cleaning up breakfast, getting Adelle down for her nap, and a lovely phone conversation with my mom, I sat down here (the kids are watching a movie - we're doing afternoon school today so I can catch up on a few things this morning).

After Adelle's nap we're headed to the grocery store, Chick-fil-a!!! Grandma's house, the library, and back home for school and Adelle's afternoon nap (this involves getting four kids in and out of the car at least 6 times!).

I need a shower and another cup of coffee (Don't you love my priorities!). As I corrected Pierce this morning I had the fleeting thought, why can't they just get along? Why can't everyone cooperate? Why am I constantly playing referee? And then TRUTH - "Every failure from them (my children) is a wonderful opportunity for repentance and growth." And I had to deal with myself in that instance as I asked Pierce if he was showing love or anger to his sister. How do I react when I'm trying to do something and they want my attention? Do I shoo them away? Do I get irritated or respond to them in frustration because they're interrupting me and the very important things I have to do? I told Pierce, "I know you want to play with your own toys in your own room without Alayna bothering you. But I want you to think about what Jesus would do. Would He let Alayna come and play with him or would He tell her to get out of His room?" Pierce smiled, "He would play with her." Such a good reminder for me this morning!

"Generations will reap what I sow. I could pass on a curse or a blessing, to those I may never know." --Sarah Groves

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother's Day 2011

For my mom this year we surprised her with a mother-daughter photo shoot by my friend, Katie. Shannon was able to come into town for the weekend. So, we all headed over to a lovely loading dock outside of our little town and got so many great shots. I'll post a few more later on. We have a brother too, but he lives in New York. He towers over us at 6'4", and weighs less than us - yeah, we don't like him too much (I'm kidding, of course).

Shannon 22, Alyson 30, MOM, Amanda 29, Angela 29 (Zach 26, not pictured).
We had so much FUN!

Then, we my family got back from Georgia we got the cousins together and REALLY surprised mom on Mother's Day with a grand-baby slide show by Sweeter Still Photography! So much fun!
Adelle (almost 1!), Kate 3, Alayna 2, Lola 1, Riley 7, Pierce 4, Hudson 6, Claire 5
It's a cousin pizza!
The Freddys!



What a blessed and happy Mother's Day!


About Me

My photo
I am the wife of an awesome man known to his friends as Fred :) The mom of four incredible kids, Hudson, Pierce, Alayna and Adelle. We homeschool and I teach a few classes at our local YMCA. Above all we love and worship Jesus Christ as Lord and this blog is a peek at our journey to raise children who delight in the Lord.