Saturday, November 04, 2017

Our Trip to Sanibel Island

With us homeschooling (sort-of) this year, we planned a trip to the beach in late October, thinking that would be such a great time to go.  No crowds, lower prices, not so hot...perfect!   "Not so fast George Banks."  (Know what movie that line comes from?  I'm pretty sure it's Father of the Bride part 2.  Part 1 and 2 used to be my favorite movies...I haven't seen them in years now!  Should watch them again!) 

So....during the school year Veritas Classical Schools...equals...super hard.  I spent the couple weeks prior to our trip trying to help the kids get their work done ahead of time so they could take a break on the trip.  One weeks worth of Veritas work is PLENTY, trying to add more, downright insanity.  Without going into detail, it was so stressful, that combined with just getting ready to leave town for a week and packing, I had a headache for the first 5 days of our trip.  I've never had that prolonged of a headache that Ibuprofen wouldn't cure.  A trip to a massage therapist 5 days into the trip finally did the trick.  Apparently, muscles in my neck were all bent out of shape.  So trips during the school year because we are homeschooling?  Not so much. 

No crowds?  Cooler weather?  Oddly, these two things combined made me (and my 14 year old) feel like we weren't on vacation.  Weird, huh?  But I'm totally serious.  I don't really have an interest in traveling to the beach again when it's mostly deserted.  If it's just Steve and I, sure that's great, but with the kids--they like playing with other kids!  That's a highlight!  And admittedly Steve and I love to talk to new people!  :)

Oh, the other downside was that althought there were no kids at our condo, there were some retirees staying below us, so we had to be on our best and quietest behavior.  Ah'hem....five boys?  Quiet!  Recipe for a stress induced headache in and of itself!  Note to self-stay in a single-family dwelling next time if at all possible!  We almost got kicked out of our condo because I didn't realize the max was 6 people....our extra child put us right over the edge.  So added money and pressure to be on our best behavior.  (to our chagrin, the folks below us gave us a box of cookies at the end of their/our stay, because they didn't hear a peep out of us the whole week!  Miracles happen people.)

But at any rate, it was still a great trip full of memories for us and the kids! 

Shelling is great at Sanibel so the kids enjoyed lots of hunting :)

There is a large wildlife refuge on Sanibel, in fact a large portion of Sanibel is a devoted refuge for wildlife.  It's called the Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge.  Pretty interesting name!  We drove through one day and the next rode our bikes.  That was probably my favorite thing we did on the trip. 

Mangrove crabs--super cool.

On our way out of the refuge, the kids got to see an endangered turtle species!  I'm momentarily blanking on the name of this turtle.  Help!

These pictures are a good description of Jacob right now...see his fist balled up in the last picture!  He is 3 1/2, going on 4, and has found his voice and opinion about all matters concerning him or others.  He runs into life and grabs all his can get!  And if you tell him out!  You might just get punched in the nose or slapped in the eye (true story, he has done both to his precious momma this week).

It's at about this moment that Samuel starts saying "It's stinging me!  It's stinging me!"  Dear Samuel, it's not smart to pick up jellyfish :)

I couldn't take my eyes off this sunset!  It was SO SO beautiful!!!

5 little ducklings all in a row....

Fishing by the bridge between Sanibel and Captiva islands on the last night of our trip was the highlight for the boys.  Maybe for Steve-not so much.  Pesky little no-see'um insects bit him up like crazy-he has been itching from the hundreds of bites the past week since getting home! 

My dad recently told me he hates it when someone tells him to have a "great day".  If they would just say, "Have an average day", that would be so much less pressure.  I probably should approach vacations with that same type of attitude.  Isn't that the way it is with all of life?  Sigh... 

Just about anything is hard in a fallen, sinful world.  Vacations included.  But where sin abounds...grace abounds all the more!  (Romans 5:20)  I'm so thankful for a God whose mercies are new every morning, even mornings on vacation!  And thankful we are able to to take trips and explore God's beautiful world. 

Friday, August 11, 2017

Back to Homeschooling....Reality Check

You want to see pictures first right?  I'll talk some after...and add a few photo captions :)  These were taken on our first day of school, first nature walk.  Sort of nature walk.  When I got outside my 9th and 6th graders were riding their bikes through giant puddles spraying muddy water all over their clothes and then they went with their two younger boys to "hide from me" in their "fort".  Well, okay, so much for gingerly walking through the forest soaking in all the nature around us....sigh...

Jacob was my bud though all through the walk.  He prefered to hold my hand which I found so incredibly sweet.  He is my youngest through and through and I adore him.  Our forest is made up of many many lob-lolly pines (which crack and sway so beautifully in storms)---they have much much lichen growing on them which I hope is a sign of health!?

Jacob pointed this out to me to take a picture of the "cannon"....boys!

A couple weeks ago we found the remains of a dead animal back in our forest near the creek.  Boy oh boy does it smell!  Not as bad now, but we really need to bag it up and get rid of it.  Now there are only bones left for the most part.  It was really gross but kind of cool to see the giant colorful beetles that had come to eat the remains.

The boys decided to pick up the skull with a stick, bring it home, and said they are going to clean it properly and bring it inside.  Currently I think it's in our front garden bed.  Hello and welcome visitors!  Sigh....again.  ***smiling***   ***this is life***  ***with boys***

So many pics of Jacob...well, he is the only boy who stayed with me!

But they all collected something in their outdoor adventure and we came in to do some water color paintings and paste them in their nature journals.

So let me back up in a minute.  Yes, we are homeschooling again.  I was about to say sort-of, because we are utilizing the help of  Veritas Classical School for our three older boys, but I'm gonna say we are totally homeschooling again.  Because a major component of homeschooling, that makes many a mother weary, is the fact that your kids will be with you 24/7.  And other than Tuesdays 9-2 and Wednesdays 9-11:15, I will have all of my boys, all the rest of the time.  And that's not bad, I love my boys.  And it's HARD.  There is no doubt about it.  Homeschooling is hard on many levels, and in varying ways depending on your family dynamics.  We have not one, not two, not three, not four, but FIVE boys at home and let me tell you, it's LOUD, and there is FIGHTING, and ARGUING, and RUNNING, and THROWING, and BREAKING, and it's ENDLESS ENERGY, and TRACKING in dirt, and it's know...what to do....all the time....and keep them in line....all the time....especially when your a gal who is so, very, imperfect....aka....NOT SUPERMOM.  But, I'm doing my best to stay dependent and to take a moment, a minute, and hour at a time.  And live in repentance and faith.  I want to live in "I'm Perfect" and I never need to repent and that's pride and idolatry of self.  And it is certainly not reality.  So this homeschooling thing, it really brings out the sin in me and highlights all my weaknesses.  I don't homeschool because I'm better or more patient or more organized than anyone else.  In fact, whenever I'm honored with being around other mother's and observe them in the act of mothering...I think...ahhh...I want to be like them :)  We are homeschooling for a myriad of reasons but not at all because "I'm so patient".  And certainly not because we didn't love the school the boys were going to.  (Shout out for Oak Hill Classical!)

Some of you saw my facebook post with all my beautiful homeschool organization.  And mind you, it does help.  It helps, but it doesn't prevent chaos from creeping up, swirling over you threatening to sweep you away into a current of water rushing hard towards total anarchy.  That's kind of how I felt this morning after our breakfast and morning reading, when they started running off to do our "Science experiment", of running laps in the driveway (gotta get that energy out!) and checking their pulse rate to see how high they could get their heart rate.  And then another started doing another experiment, making sugar crystals "aka rock candy".  And then with sugar, and spilled syrup, and strings, and Epsom salts and materials for making "needles" from evaporated salt water, all mixed around my kitchen, and I, feeling starving, having failed to eat a hearty enough breakfast, felt a little overwhelmed to say the least.  I'm looking around thinking...what are we supposed to be doing right now?!!  What does that lovely planner say and how did this HAPPEN!!?  And then moments later, when I find our dog, laying on the guest bed, and I've told her a million times NOT to get on the bed (because she LEAKS urine), I allow my feelings to rule and yell loudly at her spanking her hind end, in front of my eight year old, who proceeds to a few minutes later come in the living room, collapse on the couch, and cry with his hands covering his face saying "she's just a dog MOM" shouldn't yell at her or spank her.  And then I feel like crumbling..... but remember, repentance and faith, repentance and faith.  Your not going to be perfect Abby.  So, instead of crumbling and feeling like the lowest skum of the earth worst mom ever, I acknowledged my wrong and we moved on.

I guess it wouldn't be right to not share the GOOD parts too...Let's see...

More hugs....ummmm.....more hugs.....more hugs.....Oh alright, what else :)
More time with the boys...not having to be up and at'em and ready to leave the house at a certain time of the day and afternoon most days of the week...Learning with the boys...about artist Joseph Turner (reading a short bio now before we start studying his artwork), listening to Heinrich Schutz...a German composer from the 1700's who wrote beautiful beautiful music with the boys and finding my oldest at home likes his music!, listening to my boys really SING and finding that my 8 year old actually has a really nice voice--I decided to start our hymn singing with a hymn that I thought my boys would be really interested in---Battle Hymn of the Republic.  We watched/listened to it on YouTube complete with battle scenes on the first day of school and it has totally worked!  I have never heard my boys belt out a song like they are singing this!  I LOVE it!  I'm encouraged that this will be the thing that gets them over the hump of actually using the voices they have to sing.  In about 4 weeks we will move on to another hymn and I hope they will keep singing!  :)

I've loved reading a short biography to them about Robert Frost and reading his poems.  They are so lovely.  I've loved seeing Benjamin do THIRTY, yes 30, math lessons in three days!  He is my only boy doing Teaching Textbooks this year, I wanted to give it a try with him and I'm glad I did!  Each day when he is done (he has chosen to do about 10 lessons a day plus quizzes), I go down and go through each problem he missed, usually about 2 per lesson.  Because he is doing a computer based math, I don't feel comfortable just letting the computer do it all and not being in touch with him on a day to day basis.  So I hope this works out well.  My other boys are doing Saxon with DIVE CD's.  But again, I am spending time checking their work, each day, and then checking their corrections.  Math is too important to skimp on!  This in and of itself is going to be a big job!  I have enjoyed doing what is called "Living Math" with Samuel, using buttons and beans and other manipulatives to do simple oral equations.  And I love reading him great stories and giving him copywork to do and letting him draw a picture from the story.  I love the extra snuggle time with my boys.  The hugs and kisses, and leg hugs.  There's a lot of everything in homeschooling.  Good and Bad.  Easy and Hard.  It's just the way it is!

And so this year we are on an's surely going to be a ride, and an accelerated sanctification process.  No doubt about it.