Friday, July 30, 2010

Busy planning

This week has been busy even though I didn't have much planned for it.  I've been trying to work on a few projects including:

*Transcripts - Working on pulling together all of the grades and courses from the past 3 years.  I will say that I plan to do a better job of record-keeping in the coming year than I have done in the past.  I am not frustrated with my efforts thus far though because I have been keeping great records of other things over the last 3 years - several notebooks full of records from Eliana's first year and Joshua's past year.

*FIAR group - Still trying to get all the groups going and running.  I'm thankful to have friends coming alongside me to do this!

*Planning for the year.  This is such a huge task (or it seems that way).  I'm trying to be thorough now so that I can use my time more effectively during the year.  I'm planning for two high school students this year and needing/wanting to keep good records.  To aid in this, I'm designing a grading grid for each class, a syllabus for the year (dates things are due, expectations, etc) and a planner for each child. 

I want to design the equivalent of 3 IEP (Individualized Education Plan) for my children with special needs.  I want to ensure that I'm doing what I can each day to maximize their learning.  I want to set realistic goals and work towards achieving them. 

So, with all that needing to be done, I haven't had much time for blogging.  I have done a few fun things.  We attended a showing of Charlotte's Web with some families from the play.  I visited an office supply store with some friends (yes, that counts as fun!). 

More later on what we'll be doing for the coming year.  :-)  Hope you are having a fun and productive week!



Thursday, July 29, 2010

Answered Prayers

So many prayers.  Sometimes you wonder what ever happened in a situation.  What was the answer to your prayer.  Other times, the answer never seems to come.  Those are especially hard and I know I've experienced this quite a bit - yet, I know God is faithful and will answer.  And yes, I do still have plenty to learn about patience.

Other times though, there are solid answers.  It is especially sweet when the answers are ones that excite and thrill your heart.  I've had a couple of those today.

I talked with Christopher this afternoon.  It's the first good conversation I've had with him since he left.  He had so much to share about the classes, the experiences and the things he is learning.  I'm so excited for him!  I've been praying that God would plant seeds deep into good soil, that He would use this time to give Christopher vision and that his faith would have an even deeper rooting. 

He has done some neat things -  running up a mountain, serving in the community, listening to great lectures and making new friends.  He is being challenged in good ways.  He mentioned something he might do before he left - and told me today that he did it.  I was surprised, proud and excited!  He wrote one of the blog posts for the students on the Summit website!  It was so much fun for me to walk through the day with him

You can read Christopher's post here.

As a parent, you do your best knowing you have made mistakes.  There have been areas that I wanted to focus on with Christopher that I just haven't done.  Writing has been one of those.  My world has been overwhelmed with medical issues and special needs for much of the last 3 - almost 4 years (not an excuse, just my reality).  In spite of my failings, he has grown, matured and developed into a really incredible young man.  I see in my son a person who is focused, determined and confident.  I am proud of the work he has done and excited about the work God is doing in his life!  Thank you God!

He told me that he thought it would be fun to come back there and work for a summer.  :-)  I think it would be a great thing to do as well!  I miss my son, but am so very happy for him that he is experiencing this.  I'm thankful for the opportunity that he has to do this.  Thank you for those who have been praying for him!

Another answer to prayer came today too.  The family that is adopting sweet Tonya got their final piece of paperwork corrected so that they are ready to go get her!  They will be leaving next week - well, in just a few days - to go get her.  This brings tears to my eyes.  I'm so very thankful that this beautiful little girl is going to have a family.  I"ve been praying for this for 2 years now and it's finally happening.  Thank you God.  Please pray that everything would go smoothly - from flights to paperwork, childcare to bonding.  I hope to one day meet this precious child face to face - and her sweet mama that I've enjoyed getting to know too.

While you are praying, could you lift up another family?  I had the opportunity to meet Julia at the NC Homeschool conference and have been praying for them.  They travelled to bring Aaron home and ran into some difficulties and had to return home without him.  This was a heartbreaking decision.  There is someone there working to get the details fixed so they can return.  Please pray that all would work smoothly and that the money needed for these extra expenses would be provided.  Please visit Julia's blog to read more about this sweet family so taht you can pray specifically for them too!

Father, I thank you that You are involved in the details of our lives.  I thank you that you are with each of us, especially as we are separated from the ones we love.  Please protect and guide each of us.  Help us to keep our eyes on You, the author and perfecter of our faith.

In His Love


Sunday, July 25, 2010

A New Adventure

We just dropped off Christopher at the airport.  After a late night of packing and an early rising time, we've seen him off.  He is attending the Summit Worldview Conference  in Colorado.  He'll be there for two weeks.  I know he is excited and I'm excited for him!

Would you join me in praying for him?  Praying for his safety while he travels.  It has been many years since he has flown and never alone.  Praying for his safety while he is there.  He is still recovering from his marathon and I want him to be able to really enjoy all of the physical and outdoor activities while he is there and also to make good choices.  Praying for his roomate - that they would get along well and enjoy each other and be an encouragement to each other.  Praying for the relationships that he makes there - that they would be edifying.  Praying that he would learn a lot - in his head and also his heart.  Praying that this time would strengthen his faith and challenge him in his walk with God in really good ways.

You know, I was really fine with this as we were taking him to the airport.  I do have a peace about him going.  Still, I feel a tear slipping down my face.  I was pondering earlier this morning about how I used to be a person that didn't often cry and was able to really hold it together.  I think Christopher is a lot like me in that regard.  Then Eliana came.  Her heart had two big holes in it that needed repair.  I didn't realize that having her would also cause my heart to broken in ways that it needed to be broken so that God could do a repair on me as well.  The repair was His work, but didn't leave me the same.  My heart is more tender now and often feels raw still.  I can see good in this as it does help me to be more understanding at times (and sometimes I still really need more work in this area!).  He has replaced some of my heart's desires with His (and again there is more work that can be done there too).  I also feel more exposed, more fragile in some ways and definitely more prone to tears.  Its not something I'm entirely comfortable with, but I think it just is who I am now.  I'm trying to stay yielded to Him so that He can be the one working on my heart. 

So, back to Christopher.  He is flying now.  His plane just took off a short while ago. 

Father, thank you for being with my son.  I thank you that you love him more than I can even imagine.  Please protect him from all harm and use this time for your good and your glory.  Thank you for blessing me with this amazing young man.  I'm so very glad to be his mom!  Amen.

Christopher - if you read this, know that I love you and am proud of you.  It seems like yesterday that you were a tiny baby in my arms.  All was right with the world.  Then I turned around and you became a man right before my eyes.  I know you are ready to explore and take on the world.  Know that I'm praying for you always and love you so very much.  I'm proud of you and the man you are becoming.  I miss you already and look forward to hearing about all that you are learning and doing and experiencing there.  I love you!  Mom

Thank you friends for praying with me.  I know he is big and to some may seem so very old.  He is and always will be my "little boy" though.  My heart became intertwined in his 18 years ago when I learned I was going to be a mom.  Nobody told me that watching your child walk off into the world would be so hard.  This is just a glimpse as I know he is coming home in two weeks.  I know that in the future, those tears will slip much quicker.



Thursday, July 22, 2010

Guess what is in my back yard?

I bet you can't guess.

Its not something you typically see in a back yard.

I wouldn't be surprised if you have never seen one of these in a back yard before.

Would you like a hint?

It's larger than a breadbox.

Much larger actually.

It's large enough to hold several little boys with plenty of room to spare.

It's red.

If you are a rower (someone who uses Five in a Row), I'll give you some specific hints.

It has "wise eyes". 

Did you figure it out yet?

I'm hoping that you weren't able to see the picture before you had a chance to guess.  That would ruin some of the fun.

Need another hint?

Its something you might see in China ...

on the river.

It's a junk!

One of the Dads in our group built this for our Family Event two years ago.  They graciously asked us if we wanted it.  You can see that I did say yes!

This is going to be a fun place to relive memories of that fun day with our friends as well as create new ones! 

Thanks Blake and Adele!  We love it (and you too!)


Tuesday, July 20, 2010


I haven't been blogging as much lately - but have still been keeping busy!  A lot of it hasn't had pictures involved (and I do love pictures!).  I'm busy trying to get a lot of planning done for the upcoming year.  I haven't done much "school planning" yet, but it's been a lot of other planning for our homeschool group.  Here's a peek at what's been going on.

1.  Five in a Row Group - This is a group that I started in Jan 2002 for families using the Five in a Row curriculum.  It has been a real blessing to be a part of this sweet group!  After being a part of the drama production with Rebecca in the spring, God really showed me how encouraging each member to have a part in the group was a blessing - not only to the group, but also to the individual!  In order to facilitate this, I talked with a core group of leaders within our group and we came up with ideas of ways that people could serve in the group.  I'm really excited to see so many new people taking on roles of leading in various areas!  I'm hoping that we will move to a point where everyone in the group is involved in helping to run it in some capacity.  I'm excited to see what God will do in this area.

2.  Field Trips - Our FIAR group does field trips every other week from August to May.  I LoVe field trips!  I've been planning them for groups since  Christopher was 2!  There are three of us organizing the outings this year.  We met over the week-end and developed a plan for the year.  I've gotten one confirmed and hopefully the others will fall into place just as easily!  I think we have a fun year ahead!

3.  Family Event - This is the largest event of the year for our FIAR group.  We hold this on a Saturday and plan it around one of the FIAR books or several if they have a similar theme.  We have done  WWII, Western, Medieval and more.  I had a great group of 6 gals come together to plan our events for the upcoming year.  One of the things that I love about this event is that everyone that signs up to attend, also signs up to have a job.  The creativity that comes out is amazing.  It to me is a beautiful example of the body of Christ working together.  It's also a LOT of fun!  More to come on this fun fall event!

4.  Mom's meetings - We host monthly Mom's meetings for our FIAR group.  We typically have a topic and also have a lot of social time.  We need this time of encouragement and refreshment!  We had our first meeting on Sunday and talked about planners.  People shared what they used and what worked for them.  It's a fun way to learn from others and to get inspired for the upcoming year.

5.  Beyond Co-op - The group that participated in the Volume 4 FIAR co-op wanted to continue into another co-op.  This co-op was such a fun time.  Again, lots of creativity and the shared workload and learning was incredible!  We are planning to work through Volume one this year and are in the midst of our planning for the year.

6.  Book club - This is something new for this year.  I wanted something special for some of the older kids and thought a book club would be fun.  We met tonight and discussed and chose books we will be using for the year.  We plan to have each girl take a turn leading the discussion and hosting the club.  She will also provide food for the event.  I hope this will be a fun time and also a time that will stretch the girls and help them to gain new skills while the deepen their friendships. 

7.  High School group - Organized several meeting where some of the moms of teens could view this dvd series on transcripts.   We are starting a loop to discuss transcripts and hopefully this will be a place where we can encourage each other.  I also think it would be fun to plan some outings that are especially geared for the older kids.  Nothing firm on this yet though.  I'd like to do some things that Christopher will really enjoy and want to focus on him during his senior year. 

I've toyed with starting a FIAR co-op, but have not felt a peace about it yet.  I don't want to take on too much.  If there is to be one, I'm thinking it will be a once month meeting so that the commitment level will not be too intense. 

I've also been spending a LOT of time working on Christopher's transcript.  My record keeping has been lax the last 3 years.  I've had a lot of other things on my plate.  Christopher has done the work, I just need to compile grades and record all that he has done.  I need to get this done soon as the college application process begins in a couple of months. 

So, there is a little of what I've been up to.  More on these topics in posts to come.  If you have questions about any of it though, please ask as I'm happy to share.  I'm hoping that by focusing on dividing up the workload in our FIAR group that the work will be shared and not a burden to me or one of the others who is heavily involved.  It also frees me up to think about starting some of these other new groups.  I'm really excited about our upcoming year!  I'm thankful that we are healthy and able to participate in a variety of things too!  God is good.



PS  Soon I hope to be doing more school planning and will share what we will be doing this year in a later post.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Camp - Day 4 - Ice Cream

This was Rebeca's biggest camp day. She had 10 children attending. It was a lot of fun!  The beginning was a devotion and then a book on ice cream.  We did a unit study on ice cream a couple of years ago and had a blast with it!  It's a wonderful topic to explore.  I highly recommend it if you are looking for a fun thing to do this summer!

Next was an experiment about the effects of salt on the temperature of water.

The children were then given 10 tasks to accomplish.  They were to split up so that each child had one task.  This was so much fun and the kids loved it.  After going through it once, many of the children then wanted to go through the whole thing themselves.  Here were the items in the obstacle course.

Walking the balance beam - backwards

Carrying a beanbag on your head across the yard and back.

Hitting the golf ball into a large hole - blindfolded.  This was actually quite funny as the kids were trying to help him with his aim.

Carrying an egg on a spoon to the cones and back.


Jumprope 20 times

Kicking the ball around the cones and back again.

Crabwalk - forward and backwards across the yard

Jump through the rungs of the ladder


Next was the moment that they had all been waiting for - ice cream.  They took turns adding their ingredients into a baggie to make their own ice cream.  Rebecca also had an assortment of toppings - fruit and sprinkles - that they could add if they wanted to.

Another ice cream book and how the waffle cone was invented.

After listening to the story, the kids were to come up with their own ideas of how the cone was invented.  They split into 3 groups, gathered props from a box Rebecca provided and the acted out their story for the others.

The morning ended with some quizzes.  They tried to work together to figure out which countries eats the most ice cream, the top 5 ice cream flavors and the top 5 ice cream producing states.  Some of the kids held signs while the others tried to sort them. 

Fun day.  I think a lot of sweet memories were made this morning!



Thursday, July 15, 2010

Hiking - another fun day in the mountains

The day after the marathon, some of us decided to go for a hike.  I love to hike and the mountains are truly the best place (to me) to do this.  There is so much beauty there and you just can't beat the cooler temps this time of year!

My Mom and I headed out to Bass Lake with my three little boys.  It's such a beautiful place.

We walked around the lake. 

We decided to hike up the mountain to the Moses Cone Manor.

We took the "maze" on the way up.  It's just a windy path to the top.  There were interesting things to see all along the way.

The trails were beautiful and we saw lots of people (and horses).  We even saw one of the marathoners!!! 

This ended up being a longer route than Isaiah was interested in, so he and my Mom headed back down while Joshua, Daniel and I headed up.

We made it to the top and the view from here is spectacular.

The home is also lovely.  I hope we can come back soon and go on one of the ranger tours of the house.

I love days like this.  It was beautiful outside - the weather and the scenery.  I was spending time with people I love and doing something that I love.  Thank you God for creating days like this and places like this just for our pleasure.

Thanks Mom and Dad for taking good care of Christopher and giving him a quiet place to rest and prepare for the marathon.  He enjoyed being with you.  Love you both!



Monday, July 12, 2010


Marathon.  What does that word conjure up for you?  An impossible task?  A dream?  Something that you want to get to some day?  An accomplishment you are proud of?

This word took on a whole new meaning for our family last week-end.  Christopher started running last December.  He set the lofty goal of running a marathon this summer.  He has run in 5ks and 10ks.  He signed up for a half marathon, but wasn't able to run as he got sick the day before.  Well, last week-end was the marathon.  Did I mention that he chose to start with "one of America's toughest marathons"?  He did.

The Grandfather Mountain Marathon was held on Saturday.  We arrived at the ASU stadium in light rain at about 5:30am. 

There were lots of people milling around, stretching, focusing, getting ready.   The brisk, damp morning led way to a beautiful day.

The race started with a lap around the track.

Christopher was the youngest runner in the race!  Most of the runners were in their 30s and up.  We drove to one of the points that was a little over the half way point.  As we were driving, I spotted Christopher on the Blue Ridge parkway ahead of us!  We pulled over at one of the parks, got out some chairs and waited for him.

We cheered the runners as they passed and waited to see Christopher.  We cheered loudly as we saw him approach.

Way to go Christopher!!!

As he ran by, his brothers ran along beside him for a short while to encourage him.  Or maybe to tease him.  You know how brothers can be!

We then drove to Grandfather Mountain to the finish line.  The race was completed at the gathering of the Highland Games!

This was our first time attending.  It's something I had  hoped to do for years and we were blessed to get a great price on tickets due to being there to watch the race.  I loved hearing the music, seeing the costumes and experiencing the culture.  I also loved the appreciative crowd that cheered for every runner that finished the course!

While we were waiting, we talked with some of the people there.  My boys loved learning about the clothing - and were very fascinated with the knives that most of the men had in their socks.

Mostly though, I just wanted to see my son.  We waited and waited - not knowing when he would arrive.  The runners came up the mountain and then entered through the circle of tents to get onto the track in the center.  There was a constant cry whenever runners would approach so that people would clear the way so the runners had a path to the track. 

I was surprised at the emotions I felt waiting for my son.  My heart was full with pride for what my son was doing.  I was also at times worried and wondered where he was and if he was alright.  I often found myself fighting back tears.  I reflect on the man he is becoming - one with purpose, goals and determination.  And yet, he is still my "baby".  I was elated when I spied him rounding the corner and heading up the last hill.

"Runner coming!"  "Ropes up!"  We cheered - as did many others as  he approached the finish.  And yes, I had tears of joy in my eyes.


He did a lap around the track and finished the race.  26.2 miles.  Wow!  He did it. 

(I'm hoping the professional photographer got a better picture of the finish than I did.  They moved the finish line and I didn't realize it until it was too late.)

I heard people doubt him.  Doubt that he could finish.  State that he had bitten off more than he could chew.  I didn't believe that though as I know what he is made of - determined, dedicated and focused.  He did it!  I'm so very proud of him!!!

When he finished, we all had a lot of questions for him.  He answered briefly, but really just needed time to rest. 

While he rested, we went to get lunch.  I met him back at the marathoner's tent.  As I walked with him to meet the others, I asked him if he planned to do this again and he emphatically stated "No!".  He also said that he was crossing the Ironman off his bucket list.  A man overheard our conversation and said just give him a week and he'll want to try it again.  We'll see.  For now, he can relish in knowing that he set a goal and worked hard to achieve it.  He is a marathoner!

We didn't spend much longer at the event.  It is a large event with lots of neat things going on, but Christopher was ready to leave.  (We were all pretty tired by that point - but nothing compared to him!)  The tents around the track mainly belong to the various clans.

We did go by the Maxwell clan tent.  This is my family's heritage.  Joshua was especially thrilled to do this and to learn more about our clan.  He is named for this clan and I think its great that he wants to learn more!  

He also pressed Roger to find out about any Scottish heritage on his side.  After a phone call home, he found the family name from his Dad's side too.  He and Roger went back in the afternoon to spend more time there.  He is hoping we can go back again next year.

Tonight, we celebrated his achievement with the "red plate".  I also bought him a few things - a black cap and white magnet each with 26.2 on it. 

Christopher, I'm proud of you.  I'm proud  of you for desiring to try something new, for setting goals and having a training schedule to meet that goal.  I'm proud of you for working hard and for finishing this race even when it got really hard!  I'm proud of you for the man you are becoming and pray that as you run the race of life that you will continue to set goals and that you will run in a way that is honoring to God.

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Hebrews 12:1-2

I love you!