Thursday, July 10, 2014

House Hunting

I just needed to sit down for a minute and get these thoughts out.  We have been coming to terms with the fact that our 3 bedroom home is simple no longer a good fit for our family.  We put it on the market and sold it in 7 days.  And then the journey began.  Quickly we found what we thought was a great house for our family of 6 - lots of room and rooms, and while it needed some TLC, it would be a good fit for us.  Then we found out that where we live, the septic systems are often outdated and don't match the advertised bedrooms.  We ended the contract and happily went on to find another house.  Rejected offer due to the property being bank owned - they don't like contingencies and we had one, that our house had to close.  We decided we needed to look outside of BV - away from septics:)  Found another house - right school district, good price, but again bank owned.  We were out bid I suppose - didn't get that one either.  And then we searched the county high and low.  Literally from one end to another.  Left no stone unturned.  Imagined how closetless rooms could become bedrooms etc.  All the while asking for God's direction and guidance, and wisdom.
Here I sit, 5 days away from the closing on our home, and we are still without a place to move.  This has been a trying month and a half.  As we look at one more property, friends are dealing with children with cancer, foster children whose issues feel insurmountable, and babes going off to college.  House hunting pales in comparison to these trials.  Yet, I know He is in the details of our lives, not just the big ticket items.  He has a place, a house, and neighborhood.  So I will wait upon the Lord.
As I walked Chewie last night, I got a little teary when I hear the birds chirping in the twilight air, the gentle breeze moving through the trees.  I looked back at our home, the house that Jeff and Dave built.  What a blessing this house has been!  When we moved in it was just 4 of us.  Little did we know 2 more Simpson boys would join our family:)  It's hard to remember bringing those sweet babes home from the hospital.  So many tearful prayers for our Ryan went up, waiting for him to be strong and healthy so that he could come home.  My mom's last Christmas was spent here in this house.  With Laurie and Gran here too.  So many decisions were made under this roof, joyful celebrations of birthdays and holidays.  Because we moved around so much growing up, I think I have a soft spot for "place" in my heart.  Yet, it is also because of those moves, I also know how to adapt and enjoy the adventure of a new place.  Praying for God to prepare the way ahead of us, to our new home, our new neighbor, new friends.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

 We've had quite a winter this year.  The kids, of course, have loved it.  Sledding, snowball fights, etc.  The public schools won't get out until June this year.  We will just keep going:)  That is troublesome for these kiddos.   When they hear that public school is out for weather, and we just keep going.  Oh well.  They will get over it:)
Will is reading independently now.  So sometimes he settles on the couch with his little brother to share a story with him.  So sweet.
We continue to deal with Ryan's tantrums.  Daily.  Well, maybe not daily anymore.  But often.  He just becomes consumed with his way and he lacks the ability, in the moment, to garner enough self-control to communicate clearly what it is that he does want.  Hmm.  It is so true that God uses our children for our own refinement.  How many times do I lose my self-control.  Unable to stop myself from over communicating - emotionally manipulating my children, or distancing myself from them.  I am seeing just how broken I am.  I cannot, in my own strength, become whole.  With age and maturity I see more clearly my great dependence on Christ.  In His power, I can hold my tongue and keep my emotions in check, in order to clearly and calmly communicate with my children.  For them to become healthy adults who can thrive in their adult relationships, they must too realize their own incapacity to be whole without Christ.
It is easy to feel overwhelmed by this task.  Pointing our children continually to the Lord.  Whew.  It is tiring.  But it shouldn't be overwhelming.  Tiring, yes.  Exhausting, yes.  But never to the point of undoing us completely.  Because then we are surely not operating from a place of residing in trusting our Lord.  Then we are trying to do all of the work, instead of trusting in His grace to redeem what we cannot accomplish, and to rescue from sin those who chose Him.  We cannot force salvation on our children.  So for now I work on how to show them the holy work of our days.  The seemingly mundane tasks we repeat each and every day - that these are sacred too.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Happy 12th Birthday Jack!

As always, it is simply unbelievable that you are yet another year older:)  My dear first born!  We anxiously awaited you those 12 years ago.  We were living in a duplex in Fayetteville, AR.  I was in Grad school and you hear so much Shakespeare, Old English poems, and Post-Modern jibberish in-utero I shouldn't be surprised at all that you pick up foreign language just by ear!
Jeff was working for the Sheriff's office by then and on the eve of your birth, had gone in to work for a meeting.  When he came home, I told him, "well, I've never been in labor before, but I'm pretty sure this is it."  We headed to the hospital some hours later, and they tried to get rid of me, claiming I wasn't dilated enough.  Ha!  Little did they know about this mamma.  I had packed a bag and had your daddy drive us through the icy streets - I wasn't leaving that hospital for nothin'!
Our midwife was out of pocket til later, so the nurses kept checking me/you  and sure enough things were moving along - slowly, but surely.
After midnight GG and Poppy showed up - GG had woken up with a feeling that she needed to be at the hospital.  Thank goodness she came - her nursing experience and calm demeanor helped daddy and I stay calm too, even though we were a bit nervous.  Finally at around 2:30 I told the nurses that it was time!  They told me to hold on !  Are you kidding me!?!?  The midwife was on her way, so in the meantime the ER doc came up - he had on one of those plastic face shields and I thought I was being examined by a welder:)
Marni arrived - our dear Irish midwife, who had just returned from a trip to the Caribbean and had a head full of white blond corn-rows with beads click-clacking every time she turned her face!
It was time - after a few good pushes and some pretty ugly facial expressions, you arrived!
Our first born son, Jack Wingate Simpson.  And now you are 12, and then you will be 18, 21, 30...
It is so true that the days are long, but the years are short.
While school may not be your thing, we have been blessed to see you keep at your studies every day.  It may not always be a great day, but you always get your work done.  This demonstrate diligence and perseverance, and it has been a joy to see this develop in your young heart.  We know the Lord has great things in store for you - amazing ways you will serve and glorify Him!
Some fun facts about Jack:
He ride dirt bikes and enjoys racing Motocross.
Enjoys hunting/camping/hiking/being outdoors.
Likes video games like Need for Speed, MX vs. ATV, Castle crashers, Rise of Nations, and Paintball
Favorite music - contemporary Christian
Favorite color- red
Favorite Dirtbike - Kawasaki 85
Fave racer - Ryan Villapoto
Fave food - cheeseburgers
Fave place - dirtbike track and church
Fave movie - well, tv show, Psych the Musical
Fave thing about this past year - buying his dirtbike with money he made from his lawn mowing business

He's a great kid and we love him!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

When I Think of You

The past month has been a whirlwind in the truest sense of the word.  My life was blown apart a bit, and now slowly it is beginning to come back together.
We celebrated Will's 6th birthday back in Sept.  And while I say this every single birthday, for every single child, I simply cannot believe that he is now 6.  There are so many things tied to him, from his rough beginnings (failure to thrive!) and his presence in the room when my mom finally breathed her last breath, to the crazy boy he has become, so scrappy and strong and smart!  It is, most days, a joy to teach him.  He grasps most numbers/math with ease, and is becoming a proficient reader.  He sees and thinks outside the box, which challenges and rewards me.
A couple of pics from his bday party:

Just prior to his birthday we had to say goodbye to our sweet Hap.  Hap had been with us since the summer we married; through 4 babes, moves, life.  

We all got to say goodbye, here at home and then again at the vets office.  Jeff met us there to be with the kids, while I stayed in with Hap.  Ryan kept asking Jeff why he was crying, adding, "Policemen don't cry."  It was the first time Ryan had ever seen his daddy cry - he wasn't born when mom passed away, and he has no memory of all the tears we shed over him in the NICU.  
Life continued on, and then in late Sept, my friend Mel's mom came up for a visit, ended up contracting CDiff, a lethal bacterial infection, and was hospitalized for 3 weeks.  She only this past weekend returned home to TX.  
Two weeks ago, my other dear friend Kimberly, lost her mom.  Suddenly, she was gone.  Her service was last Thursday and Kimberly did what I wish I could have done at my mom's service; she gave a loving, thoughtful tribute to her mom.  She was so brave and amazing!  
Ryan came down with an ear infection the Monday before the funeral, and then this past weekend I succumbed as well:(  I sound rather manly, and feel rather shoddy.  The Zyrtec-D prescribed to me yesterday kept me up all night.  I will not be taking that tonight:)
We did squeeze in a camping trip somewhere in late Sept - can't even recall the exact day now.

 Love this one- the 2 littles wanted to go swimming like the bigs were doing, but I had already run back to the campsite once, so I told them to swim in their skivvies.  They thought it was a hoot, but that water was chilly!
What happens when you try to take a selfie of a family of 6?  This many outtakes:
Whoops, no Jeff or Will...
 Ok, no Jack, or Will and half of me and Jeff
 Yay, everyone's in the shot, but EK, you're not looking!!!
 Oh well, maybe we should just give up...
 Almost...Ek, we need your eyes...
Hooray!  Blurry, but all in!
And that is how it's done!  
So, now Oct is here and we are trying to stay on top of school (we missed many days while helping our friends as they walked through their troubles.)   Dad and Theresa come this weekend and we are all so excited to see them!
I'll leave you with this handsome face - finally got a haircut and looks so stinkin' cute!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Happy 9th Birthday Ella-Kathryn!

 Our sweet girl, born in the wee hours of the morning.  Your heart condition that was diagnosed in utero, disappeared after you were born, and while you had taken in some yucky stuff during the birth, you perked up quickly.  Jack was so excited to meet you:)

 Your first birthday - we had a party in FL even though we had moved back to AR, and you REALLY liked the frosting on your cupcakes!
 Second birthday, at Grandma and PaPa Simpson's house, since we were still in the little blue house, almost ready to move into our new house on Hanover.
 Your first birthday celebrated at our home on Hanover - you turned 3 and GG, Gran, LaLa and Aunt KK, came with Emily and Case.
 4th Birthday - your hair was finally really growing long:)
Your 5th birthday - you were so sweet and understanding as Mommy and Daddy tried to juggle your baby brother Ryan's arrival and hospitalization with some kind of normal life at home.  We did manage to have a birthday party for you, and I think you felt good about it all, but man was it hard to be fully present here with you, knowing your brother was in the NICU alone.  You quickly became my biggest helper once he came home - always eager to help feed him, or change his diaper.  You started kindergarten that month too!

Birthday #6 - you had a Hannah Montana party:)

7 - you had a Rock Band party with your sweet friends.

Last year you headed to the pool with your friends - so fun!

This year you will go skating on Sat with 2 close friends.  We had the family party on Sun to celebrate all of the Aug birthdays.
Ella-Kathryn, I cannot believe you are 9!  You are becoming such a lovely young lady.  You continue to be the encourager in our family - always cheering everyone else on!  You are usually of great help to me, and do very well with your studies.  You love to read, and still enjoy playing with your dolls.  But you also love music and movies, and of course your friends.
Happy birthday sweet girl!
Photo: Happy 9th birthday to my favorite daughter!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Wedding

Top: First dance for Dad and Theresa.
Middle: Ryan and Mary Kate
Bottom: Harry and Evan dancing with the little cousins - Will, Emily, Case, and EK.

I didn't want to forget to detail Dad and Theresa's wedding.   The ceremony was at 7:30 AM on the beach - at Peter's Point.  It was overcast, but that helped keep the temps down, so I don't think anyone complained:) Dad and Theresa's families all gathered on the beach, and then Theresa made her way down the boardwalk to Dad.  It was a very sweet ceremony.  Theresa's niece and nephews read scripture selections that Dad and Theresa chose for the day.  
We headed back to the house for a catered breakfast - delish and a fun time to meet the new family:)  We got to hang out at the house with them until the afternoon reception, which was held downtown Fernandina in a swanky bar.  There was dancing and more yummy food, and dancing, and dancing!  I had to sit out because of my broken toe:(  But, the kids has a BLAST!  They boogied for most of the 3 hour reception!  And sweet Ryan had his first dance with a girl other than his momma.  Theresa's precious niece Mary Kate was kind enough  to dance with this little boy who had developed a HUGE crush on her that day.  She heads off to college this fall with a 4 year old's heart in her hands:)
We ended the night back at the house, Karen and family, our family, and the Caulers.  While the whole day was rather surreal in so many ways, it was a joy to get to be a part of such a special day for my Dad and Theresa.  They are making changes to the house, and I know that it will look significantly different when we return next, but that too is good for me.  A new life deserves some fresh pages, and I'm excited for Dad and T and their future together!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

2013-2014 Curriculum

After last years disappointment with Learning Adventures, we returned to our Classical roots.  I have to say that LA was really a great program - it's all inclusive, except for math, and would have worked wonderfully if not for one of our students.  This students is a predominantly auditory learner who does not enjoy reading at all:(  This curriculum relies on the teacher reading the "core" and then the students must do further reading in each subject from a selection of books chosen from the library on those set topics.  Again, fine for those who can handle the independent reading, but it became overwhelming for me - I was reading from each subject out of the "text" provided by LA and then having to prod the slacking reader or do more read aloud time to feel like we were on top of the scheduled topics.  I loved the flow of the curricula and it truly is well done - thorough and well planned.  It was so sad to abandon it!  However, this is one of the important lessons I'm learning in this homeschool journey.  You must know your students and know when to cut your losses and move on.  
So about mid fall I realized we need to make a change, and I again felt drawn to the Classical model.  And really we are eclectic homeschoolers - pulling from Classical mainly and throwing in a dash of Charlotte Mason.  I think the main appeal of Classical education, is the structure.  I need the accountability of a series of subjects to pursue and check off.  So, without further ado, our curricula for this school year:

Jack - Grade 6
Bible - family reading time, followed by independent bible study time
Math - Teaching Textbooks 6.  This is our first year using TT.  We have tried MCP, Saxon, and MathUSee, all with little success.  Jack is finally caught up grade-level wise, so I'm glad we did what we did, but he's really enjoying TT and I'm hopeful it will give him more independence in math this year.
Spelling - Building Spelling Skills book 6 - used last year to mixed reviews from the kids, but it's thorough and at Jack's level introduces so many different words it's been fun to learn along with him navigation terms, world capitals, and tree names.
Grammar - Rod and Staff.  Tried and true, the one curriculum we have never veered away from.
Writing - Writing Strands.  Jack loathes writing, so we started this program last year.  Still hates writing but the books are clearly written for him to follow along with little intervention on my part.  EK also uses this.
Handwriting - A Reason For Handwriting - more cursive practice, using scripture as copywork, so I stuck with this for this year.  
History - finishing up Story of the World Vol. 3 (Early Modern) then moving on to Vol. 4 the Modern Age.  Looking forward to finally getting into the major wars that I know will intrigue and capture Jack's attention.  He will continue to outline from these and the history encyclopedia, as well as do more independent writing based on the books he's checked out on specific topics.
Science - Christian Kids Explore Physics.  We started this late spring and so far it's been easy to use and the kids seem to enjoy it.  There are some fun projects/experiments which keep them engaged and they are not too complex or expensive which I appreciate.
Latin- Latin Christina.  We did Prima Latina over 2 years, but I intend to complete this one in one.  We will get into declensions and I admit I'm a tad nervous!
Logic - Critical Thinking, books 1 & 2; more teacher intensive this year, but I did see improvement in this are of Jack's test scores and I do think it's beneficial to his over all academic performance.
Art - weekly art study of some kind
Music - piano lessons, taught by yours truly.

bible - same as above
Math - Saxon 5/4 (what Jack did last year as remediation, but it's target for her)
Grammar - R&S4
Handwriting - ARFH
History - same as above with less writing and no outlining
Science - same
Latin- same
Art/Music - same
I am hoping to get her interested in the kids book club at the library and we will continue to learn knitting and sewing together.

Both big kids will continue memory work on the following:
Beginning of the Declaration of Independence
US presidents 
Major wars 1600-present
Preamble to Constitution
The Gettysburg Address
Amendments to Constitution
US states/capitals

All same as above unless listed below
Math Saxon 1 (he probably should be in 2, but I goofed, so we'll see how quickly he finishes the first grade stuff)
Language Arts - Primary Language lessons 1 - loved this for EK, and it's so homeschool friendly.  So far, so good.
He will sit in on history with us, but will only narrate to me and I'll write down what he remembers.
Science - we will study animals together.  Physics is too much for him:)

Continue pre-k activities but mainly just reading to him and having him participate in Family Math when we do that once a week.

Ok, I'm exhausted!  It seems like a lot and it is, but if we don't have set goals and schedules we wander.  I hope to let each big kid pick a small scale unit study for some of the weeks we have off from our regular school time - something that interests them but we don't have time to study fully yet.