One Year

One year has past since we drove away from our Woodstock, GA home and into a new state, new city and new home address. Wow. I cannot even begin to share ALL that The Lord has been to me and taught me. It’s overwhelming to think about, really. And so comforting to know that all along this journey of “new,” He has been the One that remains the same. Constant. Faithful. Loving. Patient. Caring. Personal. Breaker. Healer. Discipliner. Encourager. Friend. Listener. Compassionate Father.
He has walked with me each step, and has always been in the next thing—going ahead of me and preparing circumstances and preparing me for what is next. As hard as this year has been for me, it has been just as sweet, as I’ve leaned on The Lord more than ever.

I have read my Bible daily. I have prayed about everything and tried to give thanks in all things. I have journaled my way through the hills and valleys of the year. I have, more than ever, opened my hands and sat in the reality that there was so much I did not know, so many answers I did not have. And I have been encouraged in finding that I don’t have to know so much of what I thought I needed to know. I learned so much during seven months of counseling, too. She was a gift from God at the perfect time.

Streams In the Dessert devotional shared a poem that resonated with me and my reflections on our past year:
The hill was steep, but cheered along the way
By conversation sweet, climbing with the thought
That it might be so till the height was reached;
But suddenly a narrow winding path appeared,
And then the Master said, “My child,
Here you will walk safest with Me alone.”

I trembled, yet my hearts’ deep trust replied,
“So be it, Lord.” He took my feeble hand in His,
Accepting thus my will to yield Him all,
And to find all in Him.
One long, dark moment, And no friend I saw,
Save Jesus only.

But oh! So tenderly He led me on
And up, and spoke to me such words of cheer,
Such secret whisperings of His wondrous love,
That soon I told Him all my grief and fear,
And leaned on His strong arm confidingly.

And then I found my footsteps quickened,
And light unspeakable, the rugged way illumined,
Such light as only can be seen
In close companionship with God.

A little while, and we will meet again
The loved and lost; but in rapturous joy
Of greetings, such as here we cannot know,
And happy song, and heavenly embraces,
And tender recollections rushing back of life now passed,
I think one memory more dear and sacred than the rest will rise
And we who gather in the golden streets,
Will oft be stirred to speak with grateful love
Of that dark day Jesus called us to climb
Some narrow steep, leaning on Him alone.

“There is never a majestic mountain without a deep valley, and there is no birth without pain.” (Daniel Crawford)

I have been led by The Lord through different books of the Bible over the past few months, and I find it no coincidence that I am in Deuteronomy at this year-mark of living in Charlotte. G.Campbell Morgan writes that Moses was tasked with reminding the Israelites how, even amid the sorrowful and suffering, the God of the Universe had guided them. (For the record, I don’t count moving to Charlotte as reason for sorrow, nor would I call my last year full of suffering…hang in here with me for the bigger picture). God had “commanded them to new journeys….God is constantly disturbing us….yet, He leads us by no unnecessary pathways.” No unnecessary pathways. None. When you set the facts of your experience next to God’s character, you should be able to find great comfort in knowing that God wastes nothing.

Morgan says, “There is meaning and value in every stretch of the road.” Oh, so true. So good. So comforting to me.

I ran across a song called, “Every Mile Mattered,” and I cannot tell you how it ministered to me. The lyrics and music are beautiful. I hope you will listen to it and evaluate your own life journey. Spend time reflecting, remembering, noting the growth in your life, letting go, moving on, embracing the new, and feel your trust increasing in a God who walks with us all along the way.

 

 

Molly’s 12th Birthday!

Today is Miss Molly’s birthday!  She was a surprise to us when I took that pregnancy test while my 5 month old was sleeping upstairs all those years ago; she continues to surprise us with her many antics. And we love her to pieces!

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Thought we would re-create that precious photo…haha!

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Molly seems to have been born 12, so celebrating her turning 12 today is kind of funny to me. We are happy to spend our day celebrating her life, and we pray God’s very best for her all the days of her life!

HAPPY 12TH BIRTHDAY, MOLLY-MOO!

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Dorminy Academy 2017/18: Curriculum

Well, it seems as if my kids do get tired of sleeping until 10:00am and watching brainless Youtube videos and episodes of “Dance Moms.” They have been asking to start school!  They keep telling me that they are ready for a schedule, and Mack says he cannot wait to learn some History.

After sitting in my disbelief for a few hours, I decided that we would go ahead and start school Monday then!  I was planning for after Labor Day, but I mean, C’mon….if they are asking for it, I would be crazy to delay! So here we go…..

RUBY ELIZABETH, 8th grade, 13 years old; loves music and funny quotes and inspirational quotes and wrote many of them down this summer in a notebook, still likes to read, I think…haven’t seen her with many books this summer! But I feel certain she will get back into that groove once the screens go bye-bye Monday–Thursday.

MATH–Online Pre-Algebra with Dr. D, Xtramath.org daily facts practice

SCIENCE– Online Apologia General Science

HISTORY–Beautiful Feet,  Early American and World History (with sketching and watercolors)

LANGUAGE ARTS–Grammar FixIt! Book 3, Phonetic Spelling Level C, BraveWriter Readers (copywork and literary discussions), Poetry TeaTime and Nature Walks weekly, Faltering Ownership Writing Program for monthly assignments and some online writing classes as mom sees fit

BIBLE– 30 Days to Understanding Your Bible and the Bible Project Videos, personal devotion

GEOGRAPHY– Beautiful Feet, Geography through Literature (probably start 2nd semester)

ELECTIVES– Typing program, weekly piano lesson, weekly chorus lesson, home-ec (Clean your room and do your laundry and fix your own lunch, help with dinner!), sex-ed (What Are You Waiting For? by Dannah Gresh), DOGGY 101 beginning some time in late October

MOLLY LEE, 7th grade, 12 years old tomorrow, loves to play guitar and taught herself!, sleeps really late and will probably have the hardest time with our new school schedule, has enjoyed making friends at church and always seems to be planning for the next social event, enjoys playing around with make-up and straightening her 10 pounds of naturally curly hair.

MATH–Saxon 8/7, Xtramath.org daily facts practice

SCIENCE– Online Apologia General Science

HISTORY–Beautiful Feet,  Early American and World History (with sketching and watercolors)

LANGUAGE ARTS–Grammar FixIt! Book 2, Phonetic Spelling Level B, BraveWriter Readers (copywork and literary discussions), Poetry TeaTime and Nature Walks weekly, Faltering Ownership Writing Program for monthly assignments and some online writing classes as mom sees fit

BIBLE– 30 Days to Understanding Your Bible and the Bible Project Videos, personal devotion

GEOGRAPHY– Beautiful Feet, Geography through Literature (probably start 2nd semester)

ELECTIVES– Typing program, weekly piano lesson, weekly chorus lesson, home-ec (Clean your room and do your laundry and fix your own lunch, help with dinner!), sex-ed (What Are You Waiting For? by Dannah Gresh), DOGGY 101 beginning some time in late October

MACK JOSHUA, 5th grade, 10 years old; loves wrestling and learning magic tricks, is growing like a weed!, still wishes he had a brother, but is super-excited to get a dog in a couple of months and tells me often how he will make sure that the dog is his best friend and not the girls’ best friend

MATH–Saxon 6/5, Xtramath.org daily facts practice

SCIENCE–Monthly TinkerCrates

HISTORY–Beautiful Feet,  Early American and World History (with sketching and watercolors)

LANGUAGE ARTS–Grammar FixIt! Book 1, Phonetic Spelling Level A, BraveWriter Readers (copywork and literary discussions), Poetry TeaTime and Nature Walks weekly, Faltering Ownership Writing Program for monthly assignments and some online writing classes as mom sees fit

BIBLE– 30 Days to Understanding Your Bible and the Bible Project Videos, personal devotion

GEOGRAPHY– Beautiful Feet, Geography through Literature (probably start 2nd semester)

ELECTIVES– wrestling lessons, home-ec (Clean your room and do your laundry and fix your own lunch, help with dinner!), sex-ed (What Are You Waiting For? by Dannah Gresh), DOGGY 101 beginning some time in late October

Ruby’s first Reader is ANNE OF GREEN GABLES. Molly’s first Reader is WONDER. And Mack’s first Reader is DANNY THE CHAMPION OF EVERYTHING. I chose these books specifically because Ruby loves Anne, I mean, who wouldn’t?!? Molly loves reading about people with special needs or with physical challenges, and when we saw the movie trailer for that book I knew she would want to read it.  And for Mack, I needed a book either about football or wrestling or at least about a BOY, so that’s why I landed on Roald Dahl’s, DANNY.

KEEPING UP WITH THE PLANS: I have a binder with monthly dividers that I will be using to keep up with our monthly writing project plans and also to record what we do each day.  Nothing fancy, but it will be a way to note our progress.  I also use the binder to house the list of books each child will be reading.  I still plan to start a construction paper chain to keep hung in the school room as a visual of our progress.

SOMETHING NEW: Last year the kids each had a small sketch book that they drew in.  We started with science pictures, but then it evolved into whatever they wanted to draw. That was ok, but this year I hope to use a sketch book and some water colors to keep them inspired during History to draw.  I don’t know exactly how this will go, but I am going to stay flexible, but intentional to have them doing something pertaining to History while I am reading aloud from our many books.

ANOTHER SOMETHING NEW: I also want to add a blog for each kid to have them type out summaries a few times a week from what they’ve read and to record “golden quotes” from their books that they don’t want to forget.  I thought it might be a good idea to have them use words to explain a new math concept since they say that if you can articulate a concept, then you probably understand it pretty well.  And of course, I would like them to use the blog for a Friday “FreeWrite,” so I can see what is on their minds or how creative they can be.

WHY: It is so important to keep my WHY in the front of my mind during home schooling.  There WILL be bad days.  There will be tears over math lessons.  There will be frustrations from everyone for various reasons, YET I cannot let the emotions and ups and downs (especially at these ages of my kids!) get me discouraged.  I tell myself regularly that I am the adult and need to act like it!  I can’t get on the rollercoaster.  I need to be steady and firm and loving and fun all at the same time.  NOT EASY. I began home schooling because I wanted to be the primary influence in my child’s life for as long as possible.  I wanted to know my kids by spending time with them, listening to them and watching them. It has been much more difficult and challenging than I ever imagined, but it has also been rewarding. I am still home schooling because I still feel called by God to it, and I enjoy being with my kids and helping them learn. And I still think it is a grand way to foster a love of learning and set my kids up for success.

So, here we go!  Our second year of homeschooling in North Carolina begins Monday. Will it be perfect? NO WAY!  Will it be hard? YES WAY! Will it be worth it? YOU BET!

 

Dorminy Academy Pre-Planning

Our curriculum has been ordered and delivered for fall 2017 at The Dorminy Academy.  I have spent time cleaning the school room. This week the kids will be tasked with making sure their desks are ready for a new beginning, and we will sign up for our online courses. We may even decorate a binder or two in preparation for our fresh start.  Each kid will need to start their own private blog for posting certain writing assignments—I am hoping this new addition will be a success! And I hope to document our year via this blog. The ups and downs. What worked and what didn’t and even pictures of some of their work.

But before we get going OFFICIALLY, I have spent time praying for God to guide me and help me prepare mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually for the new year. Ruby will be in 8th grade. Molly will be in 7th grade, and Mack is in his last year of elementary, 5th grade.  I cannot believe I am starting my 8th year of homeschooling. The Lord has helped me all along the way! I had no idea what I was getting into…and still don’t completely understand how all of this will work out, yet I know that today I am called to home school.

The Lord led me to 2 Corinthians 12:15 as a foundational verse for this year: “I will most gladly spend and be expended for your souls.” Just as Paul loved the Corinthians and met them with love even when he was met with judgment and criticism, I want to do the same with my kids.  They don’t usually face their work day with the greatest attitude or with excitement for grammar and math, but I have to be the mature one.  The one that shows perseverance and determination and grit. I realize that I am doing more than just teaching how to solve algebraic equations or spelling.  I am also tasked with caring for their souls.  And gladly!  That’s the kicker.

Which leads me to a few words that I hope will mark our school year:  

JOY, HUMILITY & HONOR (Romans 12)

Oh, how I hope joy will be a huge part of our days this year.  And humility is so critical in working well together day in and day out….counting others as more important than yourself. To honor others by doing things for them without complaining or griping.  There’s a lot of  “Can you grab my science binder for me?” and “Would you mind sharpening my pencil?” and even, “Would you go start lunch while we finish our grammar?” Joy, Humility and Honor…praying they fill our days!

Then, I have three statements that rose to the surface in my time with The Lord:

BE PRESENT: No social media. Keep phone in downstairs office. Hugs, eye contact, smiles and HELP them!

BE PRAYERFUL:  I heard Jim Cymbala preach a simple, yet profound sermon on prayer from John 2. Invite Jesus into everything. Tell Him your need. Obey what He tells you. Expect great things.

BE PURPOSEFUL: We have a rhythm to our day that should keep us moving towards our goals (Bible and Breakfast, Math, Reading, Writing, Geography, History on MWF, Science on T/Th, xtramath.org, phonetic zoo, grammar FixIT!, piano and chorus, personal Bible reading, and doggy 101 starts mid-October), No screens Monday-Thursday!

 

So, a great plan is laid out. Pencils are sharpened and curriculum is upstairs just waiting for us to dig in! I will continue to pray that all of our hearts will be just as prepared to walk this plan out by the grace of God.

Housekeeping!

I’ve recommended Keeping Place by Jen Pollock Michel before, and I can’t tell you how good of a book it is.  Just read it! But the other morning I awoke to plenty to do– much like everyone else in the world. My sheets needed washing, my clothes stacked on the ironing board needed to be put away, my dishwasher needed to be unloaded, and trash needed to be taken out.

And get this--all of that needed to happen BEFORE my sweet housekeeper arrived. Mack is always sure to let me know that he does not understand why in the world we have so much cleaning to do before the cleaning lady gets here.

“Straightening, Mack. We’re straightening, so she can clean.”

That explanation falls flat.

But it is true! Even if you have a cleaning service twice a month, there’s still plenty of housekeeping going on.

And I was feeling it this morning, so this quote by Jen Pollock Michel greatly encouraged me in my housekeeping. She takes us to a sad day in the life of those who loved Jesus so much.

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While housekeeping is anything but fun and glamorous, it can be a “means for seeing Jesus.” I need The Lord to give me eyes to see Him in the daily, often repetitive, tasks I have been assigned. I need The Lord to give me His joy and strength and wisdom as I love my family and others through menial tasks that no one will know I ever did. Keeping house is a big deal. It takes time and great effort to keep things running smoothly in a home! And if I discount all of housekeeping as just tasks I need to check off, then I may miss Jesus in the middle of it all.

Here’s another quote from Keeping Place:

“Housekeeping points toward the thin places of daily life: where work, however monotonous and menial, becomes worship, witnessing to God’s kingdom coming and His will being done, on earth as it is in heaven.  In this sense, the effort to pour cereal and rinse one’ s bowl (even the bowl of one’s neighbor) can be a spiritual practice, preparing us for greater exertion, more heroic love……Doing the dishes is private practice with very public effects.”

House keeping actually encourages heart keeping if we let it.

Now, let me go switch that laundry and start dinner and check the mail and…..check my heart.  Happy HouseKeeping!

Familiar Falls Fresh

Sometimes the most familiar verses can fall fresh on our hearts and minds.

I love it when that happens and it has happened twice over the past couple of weeks.

The first one is Psalm 119:105, “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” This whole section of Psalm 119 is amazing and ministered to me this morning.  But zeroing in on the first verse just reminded me of the peace that can be mine when I take one step in the light of God’s guidance. He doesn’t show me a 5-year-plan.  He doesn’t even give me assurance of my next breath, but He promises to always guide us—- through His Spirit and His Word.  What a comfort.

I was reminded that when I first walked in to counseling I had so much anxiety, so many questions and not many answers.  She reminded me that the larger the circle of looking out into the future, the stronger anxiety grows in my heart. I have to bring that lens back into the present and stay dependent on The Lord.  It’s then I sense my anxieties dying because I am not trying to figure out (read: CONTROL) my future.

Trust grows in the tiny steps of putting one foot in front of the other.

Sometimes it seems I am taking leaps and have such clarity that I am joyfully jumping into my next steps.

Other times, I am not sure of anything.  However, that doesn’t change the truth that God is always with me. Shuffling my feet into the next bit of light is ok sometimes. God’s Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.  I can trust Him. His eye is always on me. He does all things well. He is good. Perfect even.

So leap and jump if that is where He has you! Step confidently if that happens to be where you are. And shuffle if that is all you have to offer.  Just don’t stop believing His Word. It’s a lamp for your feet and a light on your path.

(This little post got longer than intended so I will share my other “familiar falls fresh” verse next time.)

Summer Beach Camp

We left the house before 7am this morning to drop the girls off at church.  They are headed to Student Life Camp at Daytona Beach, FL. My girls were so excited. I am happy for them; I loved, loved, loved summer youth camp.  I usually went to IMPACT and Super WOW every summer! I am praying that the girls will hear from the Lord very personally this week AND have a great time strengthening friendships.

We had some funny talks over the last few weeks leading up to camp. I am reminding them of so many things—mostly about manners and making sure you take care of your own stuff and to not leave clothes on the floor or forget to hang up your towel like you do at home! And I may have mentioned that I did not pay $$$ for you to go to camp and hang out with boys. 😐 We also talked about humility yesterday at lunch.  I asked them how they can show humility on the trip, and they didn’t want to answer with specifics.  They just said, “You know, be nice to everyone.” Ummm, not exactly, though that is a good place to start. We reminded them (and ourselves!) that you aren’t learning much of anything if you’re always talking. We challenged them to ask other girls about their families or what their favorite thing to do is or anything that might open the door for our girls to learn something about another girl. We also suggested that they let other girls shower before them and to not be overly concerned with their outer appearance. They shook their heads in agreement and told us they would do that. And all I can do at this point is hope and pray that they do! Finding people who are interested in other people, who ask good questions and listen to answers, who truly put others before themselves is extremely rare.  I want to be that kind of person, and I want my kids to be that kind of person. It’s a process, for sure!

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Mack and I left and went to Eddie’s Place for some breakfast! He is such a cute date.

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Thankful for all the time I have gotten with him lately while the girls are off on mission trips and camps! He is a fun one that loves me unashamedly still. I have no idea what our week will look like exactly, but I am pretty sure it will involve sno-cones and Chick-fil-A and throwing the football. And words.  Lots and lots of words.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Pray for my girls when they come to mind! Thank you!

To spend and be spent

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The church is having VBS this week for the elementary kids and the youth are having “Uptown Showdown.” There are teams and games and fun and sweat! Lots of sweat!  It’s kind of neat being in the city for church!

My kids are enjoying every minute of their time with friends and are learning more about Jesus, too. I am so thankful for the leaders that give of their time and energy…in particular, the youth leaders. These kids are competing in games each night AND being taught from God’s Word.  The energy needed to motivate and keep these youth engaged and having a blast is far beyond my capacity.  I am so thankful that there are leaders that love this age group and are pouring themselves out for my kids.

I was reading in 2 Corinthians this morning and came to chapter 12, verse 15.  Paul loved the Corinthian church despite the challenges they brought into his life. Here is the verse that struck a chord in my heart….

” I will most gladly spend and be expended for your souls….”

Personally, I prayed that the Lord would help me to spend my money and my time for others….specifically my three kids as we are together day in and day out.  It is easy to buy them what they need or want.  It is harder to give them undivided attention to listen to their ramblings about whatever they want to talk about.  Harder to give of myself for someone else’s soul, but that is what Jesus did for me.

Then, I prayed for the youth leaders and interns and VBS teachers that are gladly expending their time and energy for all those kids.  It is a blessing to my family!

Coping Skills

The Lord graciously allowed me to meet a counselor while we were visiting the first church we tried here in our new city.  She has been such a help to me in so many ways, and I don’t want to forget what she has taught me.

Two main coping skills rise to the top when I think of the most helpful things I have learned and practiced—1) floating cloud that I let pass right on by and 2) a purple house.

Let me explain.

First of all, I am an intuitive feeler.  I am extremely aware of my feelings, and I am very sensitive to my surroundings.  I pick up on what might be coming before others do.  Josh might feel the wind from a hurricane, but I feel the wind from a butterfly flapping its wings. The positive of this is that I can sense when something is up with someone in our family or I might have a check in my spirit about someone that Josh doesn’t, and in the past I have proven to be a pretty good read on people. Thankfully, Josh values my input and doesn’t just think I am crazy when I tell him my thoughts. As far as my feelings go, I can really share and share and share some more and sometimes sharing feelings is great and sometimes sharing feelings gets me nowhere except more sad or more distraught.

Enter the cloud.

My counselor said that when I have these feelings of sadness or loneliness or whatever the feeling might be, I could picture it like a cloud floating by.  I notice it.  I observe it and can even say to myself, “I know you are there, cloud of sadness. I see you, but I am not going to do anything with you…you can just float right on by.”  And I can visualize the cloud floating by.  I might pray, turn on praise music, or go do laundry or read a book.  What I don’t do is rehearse that sadness, make a list of why I am sad, plan my conversation with Josh about what I should do about my sadness, etc. You get the point.  And it may sound silly to you. That’s ok.  It totally has worked for me many times.  I’ve realized that after a few times of doing that with my floating cloud of sadness (or whatever else I may be feeling), it doesn’t grow into this big conversation with no solution or answer.  It stays between God and me, and I build up some resiliency. Not everything that goes on in my mind must be shared verbally.  I know, crazy, right???!??

On another visit, she told me that she could sense I had done some growing and maturing over our time together.  She called it radical acceptance.  There were some things in my life that I could not change…and I had gotten to the point that I had surrendered more than ever to the fact that God has a much better plan for me than I could ever dream up on my own.  Praying looked more like sitting before the Lord than asking for anything in particular.  Just sitting in His presence, trusting Him more and more.  Instead of wringing my hands before Him, they were open and laying in my lap. Nothing to do. Nothing to ask for. She gave an illustration about a purple house.

Suppose you find a house that is perfect for you and your family.  Exactly what you would want in all ways….except for the fact that it is purple.  You tell your real estate agent that you will buy this house as long as it is painted a different color for you.  You go to the closing, you sign the contract and get the keys to your new house.  You drive over with excitement in your heart, only to find that the house is still purple (forget the whole contract should have said it would be painted business….Josh couldn’t quite get past this part…but just go with me). Sooooo, you have choices.  You can go crazy-mad and call your agent and bless her out for not taking care of this.  You can cry and sulk and whine as you look at the purple house you just bought.  You can sue the previous owners.

Or you can get the house painted.

Radical acceptance. It helps us move forward.  We have to be mature enough to reign in our emotions (let the clouds float on by) and deal with reality.

So there you have it, two coping skills that have been a help to me.  Maybe they’ll be a help to you as well!

End of the year in mind

I have been planning for the new school year.  There is no set time that I start planning; I just write down ideas all year long… curriculum I would like to check out, books I want my kids to read, as well as what hasn’t worked well for our family so that I won’t try it again.

The most recent planning session included a list of ideas that would be great to implement to let me know, as the mom/teacher, that we are indeed making progress and learning!  Here are some things on that list:

1 -Keep a binder for all math tests and grades. That is pretty straight forward and boring, but the tests and numbers don’t lie when it comes to math.

2 -Make a paper chain of all the books read throughout the year.  Each child could have their own color assigned to the chain.  Ruby books- purple, Molly books- green, Mack books- blue and family read aloud books- yellow.  I think it would be encouraging to watch it grow and keep us challenged.

3 -Possibly have each child start their own private blog on wordpress where they can make entries of written narrations from books they are reading, explain a newly mastered math concept in words, and include “golden quotes” from their books, etc.  Lots of possibilities with this idea! Videos can even be posted from piano recitals, choir performances or when Molly plays guitar with the youth group. Field trip and vacation pictures and favorite assignments could also be posted.

4 -History Timeline kept up by the kids

5-Geography maps posted in the school room and completed!

6 -Woodcock-Johnson end-of-the-year test results, of course.

So planning while keeping these things in mind is very helpful for me. I enjoyed receiving our chat books in the mail and seeing all the documentation of our schooling.  There are so many things we do and learn, and yet at times I feel like we aren’t doing much at all, but having tangible things to look at and read help encourage me along the way. And I think it helps the kids, too.

The one area I am a bit stumped on is Ruby’s 8th grade science. Apologia is the science curriculum we have been using as a family, and I want to let Ruby take an online course for General Science with an Apologia teacher…but it is about $400.  Maybe that is totally worth it…I am just not quite ready to jump all-in on that one yet.  I welcome any input from friends who may be reading this. I think I have the rest figured out and hope to share more about our curriculum soon!