"In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace
that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding." Ephesians 1:7-8

Monday, October 31, 2011


Last Thursday afternoon we prepared to complete the next phase of our yard work project. We had our flower bulbs and pansies and were ready to plant! However, this time my eager workers were much more easily distracted. They helped me with some digging, watering, dropping in bulbs but then disappeared to the back yard. I was grateful for their help, but was also pleased to find them playing their own version of football.
They were both so happy. Laughing and yelling and having a great time. It was a beautiful afternoon.

Tackling was the one skill they seemed to understand about the game of football. 
Physically they are pretty evenly matched. Luke has more height, but Ethan is strong and feisty! 
(Don't worry...there were no tears! Just happy laughter.) 

They tackled and wrestled every chance they could and then they'd jump up and go back to the 
home base and start again. Clearly they were mixing several sports all into one. :) 

 It was hilarious to watch. I found myself mesmerized watching their game. So thankful to see them enjoying one another and tiring each other out. I wish I snapped a picture of Aaron. Surprisingly, he stood in the corner of the yard just watching his brothers. Considering he is the sports fanatic of the family, maybe he was displeased they weren't playing the game right? :)

Friday, October 28, 2011


It's almost November and we've been in our school routine for a little over two months. It has been quite a ride so far! There have been some really fabulous moments and some really ugly moments. God is teaching me so much about the importance of having a thankful heart in EVERY moment... even the really ugly ones. Since this definitely does NOT come naturally to me (I'm a complainer!), I'm slowly learning that I need to practice being thankful. I need to be intentional about looking for the good things and the blessings of God no matter what my circumstances.

"The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever."
Psalm 23:1-4, 6

God is good to remind me that He is my shepherd. He leads me and guides me. He is with me in green pastures and in valleys. There is a future certainty that "I shall not be in want." As I look back in my "rear view mirror" at how the good Shepherd has led me I will see that He is faithful. He's been faithful before and He will be faithful again. I have MUCH for which to be thankful.

Here are my thankful reflections from the past several weeks of home schooling.

* I'm so thankful that I have been able to watch Ethan transform into a reader over the last few weeks. He's been reading individual words since last year but it wasn't until this week that he really took off reading full sentences and simple books. It warms my heart to watch this and see the delight in his eyes.

* I'm so grateful for all I am learning in our study of United States history. My knowledge is so poor but with our great curriculum it has been so much fun to learn alongside the boys. I definitely wouldn't be learning as much if the boys were not schooled at home.

* I'm thankful for some glimpses of progress, success and joy as we work hard on speed drills  and memorizing addition/subtraction facts with Luke.

* I'm thankful for the safety of the boys... even with all their crazy stunts! :)

* I'm thankful that Aaron mostly goes with the flow during our school day... some days better then others.

* I'm thankful for Darin's willingness to participate. We've had to employ some creative negative consequences for inappropriate behavior during school. It has been effective to relocate one school aged boy to Darin's office to work quietly there instead of playing at home with his brothers. We couldn't home school without Daddy's support! So thankful!

The theme for Ethan's curriculum this coming week is just what I need to hear!
Letter T is for turtle. Words to remember:  I don't quit; I persevere

" ...But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." Phillippians 3:13-14

" ...let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." Hebrews 12:1

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Galatians 6:9

Just for fun... my three sweet boys exactly 3 years ago! October 28, 2008

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


That was approximately the total number of perler beads in our very large funfusion container before I left the 3 and 5 year old playing with them unattended. I should know by now that cooperative focused play can quickly turn into MADNESS! 

Here is the scene when I came to check on all the joyful noise. 
(I was working with the 7 year old on school work.) 
The good news is that I remained calm. (Thank you Holy Spirit!) They were easily persuaded to clean it up while pretending they were the the construction clean up crew. Yeah! AND, the 7 year old happily assisted with the clean up even though he had no part in making the mess. 

I should have taken an "after" picture! :) Order temporarily restored... ahhh...

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


I am loving the themes for Ethan's My Father's World Kindergarten curriculum. Last week for the letter Nn, the topic was nests and the words to remember were: "God takes good care of me."  
We made the connection between birds taking care of their baby birds and God taking care of us and keeping us safe. (I experienced this morning how God keeps me safe!) 

"Those who go to God Most High for safety will be protected by the Almighty. 
I will say to the LORD, 'You are my place of safety and protection. 
You are my God and I trust you.' 
God will save you from hidden traps and from deadly diseases. 
He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you can hide." 
Psalm 91:1-4a

"...Hide me under the shadow of your wings. 
Keep me from the wicked who attack me, from my enemies who surround me." 
Psalm 17:8-9

"But the Lord is faithful and will give you strength and will protect you from the Evil One." 
2 Thessalonians 3:3

So in keeping with the nest theme, we worked to make some nests. 
We started with LOTS of glue, yarn and blown up balloons. 
This was a messy activity and Aaron did not want to participate.  :) 
He was happy just tossing around a balloon.

Ethan started from the bottom and worked his way up. 

Luke started at the top and worked his way down. 

Once the balloon was covered as much as they wanted, it was time to wait. 

We waited for three days for the nests to dry. 

Here they are dry and ready to have the balloon popped. Obviously, they were having some fun!
I love the uniqueness of their nests. 

Now we just need to find some eggs to fill our nests. 

Or maybe we'll just use them for hats? :)

We watched some amazing videos of birds actually making nests. Really cool to see them actually weaving their nests together with their beaks. How great is our God! His creativity is awe-inspiring.

Stunt Woman

One of the disadvantages of running in the early morning in the dark is that I occasionally crash into things. A couple weeks ago, a car blinded me with its headlights and I crashed into a mailbox. When I told the boys they thought this was hilarious and I was able to laugh it off. This morning, I had the opportunity to pretend I was a stunt woman. While trying to avoid a torn up sidewalk (there were large cones signaling this), I crossed a patch of grass. Unfortunately, my foot caught onto a large metal bar (or at least I think that is what it was in the pitch dark) and I did a forward roll into the street scraping my hands and knees and banging the side of my head on the curb. My instincts had me springing up and getting back over to the safety of a sidewalk. 
Three things went through my banged up head...

1) Ouch! This is what it feels like when the boys get skinned knees. 
I feel much more sympathetic to their scrapes now.
2) Praise the Lord there were no cars coming at that exact moment 
or I would have been a pancake!
3) I'm so thankful I was with a friend and not out here alone. 

This grateful stunt woman needs some ice and ibuprofen to make it through the day, 
and maybe a flashlight for running tomorrow? Praise the Lord for keeping me safe. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Yanked Out

When it comes to wiggly teeth, Luke is persistent and determined. After realizing last week that his tooth was wiggly, he wiggled and wiggled until he finally yanked it out during school last week. I'm not sure I can get used to the changing looks of my first born and all these big teeth growing in! That makes a total of 8 baby teeth out.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Eager Workers

Saturday morning, the boys were eager to put on their work clothes and help me spruce up the flower beds around our house. It was time for some trimming, raking and all around fall clean up. I had three happy helpers while Daddy worked on mowing the grass.
First, they got to work cutting out the browning hosta plants. 
Some of our best purchases are kids gardening gloves, rakes, and a kid size wheelbarrow.

Aaron needed knee pads, of course, and a bike helmet to keep him safe while helping.

So proud of this guy! He ran a fever on Friday night and most of the day on Saturday. 
He could NOT be persuaded to stay inside and rest, 
but worked alongside us with a happy grin. 

Aaron quickly lost interest in the yard work, but was cheerful to do lots of bike riding.
( ...All the while begging to have his training wheels removed! Oh my! )

It's amazing how much quicker the yard work is completed with my three little helpers. 
They even scooped up the piles into the trash bags and swept the front walk. 
I'm excited to plant some daffodil and tulip bulbs this week, and maybe even some pansies. 
I am grateful for these cooperative and joyful moments together. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Reaching for Apples

On Monday, we loaded our dear friends into the "Smith Bus" 
and set out on a field trip to Carter Mountain Orchard. 

The oldest two (only 4 months apart) have been friends since they were itty bitty.  
The next two (only 6 months apart) have known each other since birth and 
then Aaron came along two years later to add a little comic relief. 
It's great fun to watch them interact and see how comfortable they are with one another. 
We were ready for a group adventure apple picking! 

It was a sunny warm day and I tried the "close your eyes and open them on the count of three." Obviously my timing was off, but I thought this was cute anyway!

You see who is doing all the work? Thanks Mrs. B! 
Unfortunately the apple trees were pretty sparse down low,  
so it required the use of the "apple picker." 
It was tricky for the kids to manage the long pole, 
so they made themselves useful eating some of our stash.  

My three amigos!

The stroller was brought along mostly to carry the apples. 
We collected 42 pounds of apples all together. So glad for a little help pushing!

Precious friends lined up in birth order. :) 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Surprise Adventure

After our day in Jamestown on Thursday, we checked into a hotel in Williamsburg and surprised the boys with our plans to go to Busch Gardens for the first time the next day. In hindsight, we should have waited to tell them until Friday morning... they were a bit too excited to go to sleep despite our best efforts. They eventually settled down after a little rearranging.

To give you some background, my husband grew up very close by Dorney Park in Allentown, Pennsylvania. (Dorney Park is an amusement park with lots of roller coasters.) Between the engineering and adventure involved in roller coasters, he is captivated by them. He worked at Dorney Park for several years as a kid and loved it. It is not unusual for him to tell the boys stories about roller coasters he has ridden or to show them You Tube videos of roller coaster rides. I think you get the idea... the little boys were not the only ones excited for our day at Busch Gardens. :)

It was fun to observe how each boy reacted to the adventure. Not surprisingly, Luke was cautious and tentative. Some rides he was adamant about not riding, others he would quickly change his mind about once he saw how much fun his brothers were having. Ethan was very eager and happy to try anything, as was Aaron.  We were blessed with wonderful weather and good time together as a family. Here are a few pictures from our time there.
Of course they all needed to ride the luggage cart.

We had an air mattress on the floor and a pull out couch for the boys. 

First roller coaster ride!

They loved it so much they wanted to go again with Mommy. 

This expression is priceless!

Of course when Luke and Aaron saw how much fun Ethan was having, they wanted to go on too.

They were so sweet to want to ride together on this one. 

Luke's favorite ride! (He's in red and Darin and Ethan are slightly behind him on a double swing.)

This ride is crazy. Darin rode it two times and would have loved to ride it more. The boys and I watched from below for Daddy's blue shirt to whiz past. The grin on Darin's face was enormous each time he found us after his thrilling rides! :)

Of course Ethan loved the horses!

It's been a hard adjustment to reality now that we're back from our trip, 
but I'm thankful for our time together. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


It's been one of those days.  Ugh! And here is what God is teaching me tonight...

* I am very tempted to want a smooth and easy life. He is with me in my trials.
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." James 1:2-4

* I try to avoid being weak. I want to appear like I have it all together. His strength is perfect.
"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

*I forget that I don't belong here. He created me for a place better then earth! 
"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am." John 14:1-3
"But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ." Philippians 3:20

Lord, give me eyes to see what You want me to learn, a heart full of repentance,  and a softness to your Spirit!


This past Thursday we packed our bags and went to the Jamestown Settlement on a field trip. I was super excited to bring our learning to life since we studied Jamestown this fall. The boys were excited too. I have never been overly interested in history (gasp! shh... please don't tell). However, this fall studying and learning alongside the boys has been so educational for me. This has been a topic in school that we have all enjoyed together with little conflict or complaint. Here are a few pictures from our day there on Thursday. We had one passing heavy shower, but besides that the weather was great!

Inside a wigwam at the Powhatan Village. Aaron did NOT want to sit on the animal skins.

They loved exploring the Settlement Ships.

They loved trying on the armor at the James Fort!

At the James Fort watching a blacksmith make some tools. 
More tomorrow on where we went on Friday!!