Sunday, December 15, 2013


My Judah Boy, Have I ever told you how much of a surprise you were? How those lines turned pink in a dear friend's bathroom just minutes shy of a grilled burger, a board game, and an awkward chorus of Happy Birthday to our host? How your daddy and I sat whirling, trying to answer questions about dead presidents and just what exactly makes up a Waldorf salad, all the while thinking about your twelve week self being knit within and the year old babies at home tucked in to cribs themselves and just how in the world would we ever survive three under two?

And now, just a blink later, and we are singing Happy Birthday again. Only this time it's to your four year old self.
This year, you didn't ask for much, just some BBQ chicken and a wedo-wedo {Despicable Me} cake. Talk of a party or presents never even crossed your lips, except when you older brothers tried to work you over in their ever-so-loving-older-brother-sorta-way. One of my favorite lines was Ben's admonishment that he, "would let you open a present on HIS birthday" and the other was Abe's wondering if, "you hoped to get Star Wars Legos for your birthday" because HE hoped you did.  You took it all in stride though, lovey. Always eager to just fit it with the big boys. And by the way, when you did open your Despicable Me action figures? You immediately distributed them equally amongst your brothers. No credit to us, it was just a glimpse of the compassionate heart that the Lord has begun fashioning in you. Don't think we didn't cheer a little inside, though.
In your fourth year of life, here are a few things that we celebrate about YOU!

You are still a water dog, although your little sis is giving you a run for the money on the title for the house. You are always and I do mean ALWAYS barefoot. You love red vitamins and and the pink plate, although you've been a little more divided lately on if pink is just for girls or not.You have the the chunkiest booty and best rhythm out of the bunch. One you get from me and the other your daddy, although I'll never tell which is which. You love Legos and your Superman costume and you are notorious for still peeing all over the bathroom seat {please outgrow this one soon, son?!} You constantly ask for the radio in the car and one of your favorite bands is Red Mountain Church. A close second is anything that brings the funk. You love helping me cook and bake and you are a work horse when it comes to outdoor projects. It's not out of your norm to devote several hours to helping me pull weeds or your daddy chop wood. And now, one of my most favorite memories of you is the half morning you spent with your pop on the beach carrying his shovel while he used his metal detector. You still give the best hugs and you reserve only the most special animal kisses for me at bedtime. 

You care for your brothers and sister whenever they are hurt or sad and you are the sweetest with any sort of baby, although you have a special affinity for your Baby Hannah. We often call you Pig Pen and let's just say it's never up for debate on where you sat at dinner. You loathe spankings and love "spicy sauce" {cinnamon applesauce}.You are the stealer of our hearts and you are FOUR. You, our Just Judah.

Monday, November 25, 2013

15 Weeks In

To say our Kindergarten year is flying by would be an understatement. This Friday found us completing our fifteenth week, or seventy-fifth day of school. But who's counting?! Oh wait...
The boys have been promised a celebration at day 100-what that will look like, I'm not quite sure yet but it has grand little boy expectations to live up to! "Like Pinkle {Hinkle Family Fun Center}, Mama!" The boys count to our current number and you better believe they start over if Judah someone messes up {their rule not mine}. And then, just because they like to prolong the counting pain, they count how many days are left until the 100th day. Even the baby joins in. It's positively magical, especially if you're not particularly caffeinated or you have somewhere to be by lunchtime.

But really though, we truly cannot be happier with our curriculum. Hands down, Sonlight has been a great fit for us and the boys are absolutely drinking it in. I'm sure this is the case with every sponge-y five year old but it's just so very different from our bland worksheet focused go at things last year. Almost every day looks different but also the same {if that makes sense} and the books have been OUTSTANDING. Read alouds are just everyone's favorite part of the day. Popcorn, the Fat Sak and a fire doesn't hurt the cause either.
While we have had a good amount of success, we've also had a handful of things that have failed and failed miserably.

What we've dropped: Blanket time. We gave it a go and it had to go.
What we do instead: Grace and Judah typically sit in for our morning routine {i.e. calendar, 100's chart, memory verses, Bible) and then they get the boot for "room time." It's not flawless by any means but it works well enough to give me and The Deuce a good solid chunk of time to work in the morning when we're all fresh. This IS our most difficult area of schooling at home. So much of our day is dependent on Grace and how well she does playing, not fussing, and the like. It drives me a bit crazy. Okay, a lot crazy but I keep trying to remind myself that distractions are part of life and it's not so much about how we learn but my attitude and heart in teaching my boys. Waaaaaaay easier said than done.

What we've dropped: Science. As much as I thought that we would love our Charlotte Mason inspired science book. We don't. Maybe it's that we run out of time, maybe we don't have enough interest, or maybe it's just the wrong thing for us. So we quit it.
What we do instead: Mostly we bake or take nature walks when we can and photograph things that interest us so we can come back and look them up on the internet. Like this White Lined Sphinx Moth Caterpillar that Judah captured.  
Or these suuuuuuuper friendly grasshoppers that Abe wanted to check out. Ahem.
What we've dropped: all the supplements, enrichment ideas, and  insanely crazy notions of  making paper-mache replicas of a viking era cauldron.
What we do instead: Pace ourselves. The boys are working HARD. I can tell when they are stretched or when they're actually excited about something. So we are sticking with the basics and add in an extra when it's truly convenient and appeals to us! This is a hard area for me because I am typically drawn to the "things seen." I like having projects and papers and things to validate how hard we've worked. A lot of Sonlight doesn't operate this way because it's literature based. So at the end of the day, we don't have a stack of completed things but rather just a lot of words read and talked about. At times, it does feel like I'm sort of walking a tight rope without a net but then the kids tell a stranger about the Pilgrim's and their perilous journey or how early explorers suffered from scurvy and I'm reminded that they are learning.

Also true to form, we've added a few things in, as well.

What we've added: Explode the Code Book 1 and 2. After a phonics heavy curriculum last year with BJU Press, I felt the boys might benefit from something that would keep their skills fresh so I added in these inexpensive workbooks. They're not best thing I've ever seen but they're straight  forward, the boys can generally work through them independently, and I appreciate how they incorporate spelling. They also come in handy when I need a minute to change a diaper, grab a snack for the littles, or work one-on-one with either of the boys. 
What we've added: the occasional day off. Housework, sickness, housework, errands, housework, Sometimes we just need a day to collect ourselves and ensure that the bathrooms are still a welcome part of our home. This is another difficult area for me. The temptation to be all Type-A-must-check-off-the to-do-list crazy is a serious battle. However, a handful of school days where I have pushed through at the expense of every person in the house have started to convince me that sometimes it's better to just let the agenda go for the day. It's still hard to find the balance but I can usually tell when a day is needed because the idea of having a housekeeper, a cook, and a babysitter start rotating through my head on  instant replay.

All in all, things are moving along well but I'd be lying if I said it wasn't hard or that there aren't days that I doubt if they are learning or wonder just exactly what in the world we were thinking in schooling them at home. But by His grace, we are learning and managing a few smiles and sweet times along the way, as well.  
The word we were looking for was tub.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Thursday, November 7, 2013


...sometimes on a Thursday, you can't possibly do anything else but take off your shirt and get down to business with some Pumpkin Pie play-doh. If only everyone took their work so seriously. 
Recipe found here.


Sunday, November 3, 2013

Pumpkin Time

In keeping with fall tradition, our six pack hit the pumpkin patch a few weeks ago. It was a certain little someone's first time...
And while the pumpkin patch has been something we've done every year since The Deuce were born, for some reason we didn't go last year. I'm thinking because we were on the cusp of our RV trip and my eye wouldn't stop twitching. I guess it doesn't matter, though, because this year we reclaimed our zeal for the $11 a person ticket price and had a grand ol' time eating our way through the maze of people and things to do.
The big boys were a blast to watch this year. Just old enough to do everything and yet young enough to do it with a huge, nerdy smile on their face the entire time they were doing it. Here they are getting worked at the duck races. I don't know if they even knew what was going on. Ben was laughing hystericaly the entire time he was pumping. I think Abe's duck flipped on his side and staled out. As for Judah, well, he lost interest when he saw someone walk by with taffy. 
Cutest part of the day? Judah hitting this thing to the baby boo level. Court and I instantly died a thousand deaths. Please notice the tip toes. Swoon. 
When it comes to pictures, families of six take what they can get. This was the Best in Show, folks. Everyone's relatively clean and no one is crying, so I'm going with it.
Finally, we ended the day with some time picking pumpkins. Grace caught on right away with the find and pick up part...
 ...but the, "don't eat it" part was obviously lost in translation. 
Barrel full of pumpkins and bellies full of kettle corn, we finished out another fun year at the pumpkin patch!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Monday, September 30, 2013

The Fair

In true September fashion, our six pack loaded up and hit the State Fair. This year we happened to make it out for Military Day and the kids were absolutely entranced by all of the soldiers, weapons, and military trucks galore.
And then something happened to us that has never happened before.


And we saw that they saw the ride. 

While we would have normally just said no and scooted them along to the petting zoo or something equally as free, we decided to let them have a go at a few. So a quick ticket purchase later, Jer explained, "two rides per boy-so choose wisely, grasshoppers."

First up? Harley's. (Unless you're Abe. And then you just don't ride anything because you can't possibly choose.) Hilarious part of this ride? Ben stopping the operator to tell him, "Excuse me, sir? I don't really need a seat belt because I'm kinda five." One toothless scowl from that man later and Ben was buckled in quick. True story.
 After the Harley's, the boys decided they wanted something a little more exciting. And what else would do but the world largest traveling roller coaster?

I believe at this point, Jer is explaining to the older two that there is no turning back once you sit down in the cart. Meanwhile the roller coaster cars are crashing overhead and shaking the entire platform. I couldn't hear the conversation but I could read the facial expressions. Note Judah's contemplative lip pulling. It's a trademark move of his when he's really thinking.
Flash forward and only two grasshoppers made it past the platform. Shaky, rattling cars are not for Abe.
 He did make it on the next round, however. With momma. A fear mastered, he decided roller coasters just aren't worth all of his tickets and by the way, "can I just have cotton candy instead?" 
 A few more stops and we rounded out our trip to the fair! Another great trip in the books!