It was a short trip; just 2 full days.  But, it was long enough to give some much-needed refreshment!  We arrived in Florida at 1am, only to find out the only car for us to rent was a convertible Mustang.  Oh, the joy of driving down an empty highway with the top down and the temperature perfect!  Above you can see the view from our balcony which we woke up to.

Day one Daniel was at a conference, so I was stuck lounging around in a hotel room, reading, walking down the beach, sipping coffee, and napping.  Poor me.  (My kids said it seemed like my trip was boring; ha!)  Sadly, but interestingly there were several dead fish and creatures due to the red algae.  I had Daniel snap a few pictures for the kiddos.

The pier was just a  1.7 mile walk down the beach from the hotel.  I was smart enough to load up on sunscreen before making the trek, but still got a bit of color.  We were in the sun for quite some time!  We even swam with the dead fish until Daniel got nibbled by a live fish — then we jumped in the pool.

Driving around and gawking at the massive mansions was fun.  (Look at those colors!)  Both nights we had dinner with colleagues, and the second night we made it to the beach to watch the sunset right before getting soaked in a massive thunderstorm.  Somebody please tell my husband that thunderstorms are awesome and he won’t melt in the rain!

Yesterday was a long day of travel.  Today we are unpacking, doing laundry, and packing right back up for our family camp tomorrow.  I think I like starting school this way!

I Survived (a.k.a. The First Day of School)

Looks glorious, right?  Treats, painting, smiles… Don’t be fooled!  Here’s an honest look at some of the quotes from our day:

  • “Why can’t I have that binder… hers is better!”
  • “Do we have to do math?”
  • “You can’t let him do that!”
  • “We never do anything fun.
  • “Can I just do one page?”

I could go on… but I’ll spare you.  Homeschooling is tough.  It’s tough when things are going well and attitudes are (mostly) good because there is simply a lot to accomplish.  But, when attitudes are poor and it’s day one?

Thankfully, I woke up early and had my time with God this morning.  I don’t say that to boast.. I honestly don’t think I would have survived had I slept in like my body was telling me to do.  When I confessed to the kids that I felt like driving them all down to register for public school,  God gently reminded me that this was not His plan for our family… and I was also reminded of a sermon just a couple weeks back where our pastor said, “If God is in it, you better believe Hell wants to be in it, too.”  I needed that reminder.  It’s a battle… but it’s worth it.  On my own, I just want peace and comfort — but that’s not the life God has called us to live.  We are in a battle day in and day out, and our victory is in Him!

God so graciously gives us what we need when we ask Him, (and sometimes even when we don’t!)  Last night, like many other homeschooling nights, I asked for creativity and some ideas for our first day.  God brought to mind a song, and I thought it would be perfect to go through the lyrics with the kids.  After our Bible reading, we listened to “All In” by Matthew West and went through the lyrics.  (I may have heard a few “It’s my turn to read” quotes, as well!)  Overall, though, it was awesome.

Looking back over the day, I smile.  Our house is in chaos as our bathroom is being redone and the tile guy was here all day.  We are getting ready to go on vacation in 2 days, still ordering books and meeting with new people, and starting the school year.  It is not the ideal start.  But, we survived.  And, by God’s grace, we will continue to not only survive, but to thrive!

(Disclaimer: In all fairness, not all  of the kids were giving me a hard time.  Thanks, kiddos who were good today.  You know who you are!)

Just Like That…

…And the summer is OVER!

Boys eating watermelon…

Girls making homemade peach-filled almond cupcakes…

Afternoon swim…

Climbing on the roof…

It was a great last weekend of summer.  Although school starts tomorrow, we are easing our way back in… 3 mini-vacations over the next 3 weeks.  I am not sure if it’s a good way to start, but I know the kids think it’s awesome.  The beauty of homeschooling…


From this picture, it is really hard to tell how tall this sunflower is.  How tall is the person taking the picture?  Was the zoom used?  How tall are those trees behind it?

Now step back a minute…

It’s still hard to tell, but now it is more apparent that that is a very tall sunflower.  My guess is it’s about 11-12 feet.

She’s beautiful, isn’t she?  But, her grandeur is unclear from these pictures.  It takes stepping back and seeing her in person.  Sometimes we just need a different perspective.

Now, check out the photo below.

It looks like a lush variety of herbs and lettuces… which is true.  But, from the perspective of one picture, you may get the wrong impression.  It would seem that perhaps my garden is lush and thriving.  Sadly, this herb bed is the only spot thriving — all my other plants have been thrashed by rats.

So, I finally pulled out my gardening gloves and got to work.  I pulled out the beautiful tomato plant and gave it to the chickens in hopes that at least they will enjoy it, because I have given up hoping any tomatoes will ever make it without the rats stealing them.  And, I planted some spearmint seeds hoping to deter them.  I also planted some pumpkin seeds.  I am quite certain I am far too late to get any pumpkins for Halloween… but perhaps Thanksgiving?

My perspective right now:  I am thankful to see flowers and green, even if I wasn’t able to enjoy many fruits or veggies.  I am learning to step back… to change my view… to ask God for His perspective.

Monday a new school year begins.  I am finally excited, yet I was feeling slightly anxious because it feels like such a race!  Then I read this quote this week:  “We are not racing to a finish line, we are choosing a pace that brings life.”  Wow.  It struck me as so profound and I have been pondering it while planning the year.  A new perspective changes everything.

Saying Yes

I have said “yes” far too much this week.  Yes, we can go out to lunch.  Yes, you can have more screen time.  Yes, you can watch a movie.

Sometimes it’s just easier.  Sometimes I don’t have it in me to get down the play dough toys or hop in the pool with the kids.  (Of course, I did both those things and more this week.)  But, I also said yes to unhealthy choices WAY more often than I usually do.

Perhaps it’s because school is around the corner.  Perhaps it’s a treat since they’re stuck at home while the sisters are away at camp.  Perhaps it’s a chance for me to get some work done while they are happily distracted.  Yes, I think it must be the latter…

Hopefully, they will fondly remember the week  that I said yes.  Hopefully, they will not turn into screen time whiners and fuss when next week I actually say “no” and make them “play outside!”  Honestly, I may have my work cut out for me.  For now, I need to sign off and go get something done while they’re enjoying (yet another) movie!

Horse Camp

Desert… for as far as we could see.  Specifically, the Mohave Desert.  Yup.  Not exactly what you think of when you think of dropping your kids off at camp for the first time.  And then… we got there…

Yes, it was hot… but the cabins were air conditioned, there was plenty of shade, and this place was amazing.  It must have been the Holy Spirit’s presence, because there was such a peace and excitement!  I could tell the kids were going to have a blast.  Riding horses every day, tons of games, activities  and crafts, campfires, cool counselors, Bible teachings, and this: a 50 foot waterslide into the lake!

It’s only been about 36 hours since I said goodbye, yet I am missing them like crazy.  The dynamics over here are certainly different and I plan to blog more about that in another post.  I know this is so good for them.  I know they are having a wonderful time.  I know I can’t wait until Saturday to hug their little necks and kiss their dirty heads!

Snippets of Summer

That time the two of them actually got along for ten minutes and had a drawing date… (or was it 5 minutes?)

Slime making.  ALL.  SUMMER.  LONG. for the girl in the flamingo shirt!

Cool dudes chilling on my bed… because, after all, Mom loves making her bed 20 times a day!  (In all honesty, I don’t mind so much because we really do have a lot of fun games that they will remember their whole lives right there on my bed!)

Forts make everything more fun.

This girl making “lids” for all of our water jars in our favorite colors.  Guess whose she is making now?

Where is my Natalie?  Probably in the pool, drawing, or writing her story.  Having big kids is so different!

And those are some of the every day memories of summer 2018…

(A.K.A.  All the random pictures I took and just found sitting in my photos!)