A Letter To My Daughter

I love you. Please do not ever think that I do not. Please do not ever think you have to be or act a certain way in order to have my love. I love you, always. Please do not think you must look a certain way or have certain talents to have my love.  I love you, always.

Please do not disrespect yourself by talking yourself down, thinking you are not ‘good enough’ for whatever. Please do not ever think you are not worthy of happiness. Please do not ever think you must change yourself to make someone else happy. Please do not ever think you must give yourself in unholy ways to get someone to like you.

Please never think you are not beautiful, because you are, always. Do not strive for attention by acting out or in unbecoming ways. Do not fish for compliments via a barrage of selfies on Instagram. Those who matter will let you know how beautiful and important and treasured you are, without being prompted or begged.

Always be you. Follow your heart. Follow your Lord. Believe.

Remember, you are loved, always.


I continue to go in waves today.

Updates on condition of the survivors and reports of what happened have flooded me all day. At times I had too many conversations and too much coming in at once. I had to just tell everyone “wait, I’m processing. I can do nothing else right now. I need a minute.” No one was at all ever being pushy. I just happened to have many conversations that had been going all day…re-emerge at the same moment.

I have looked at pictures and cried for children I barely knew. But loved deep down because I love their parents so.

What I found surprising though was how much more I was touched by one of them in particular. The one girl we all fell in love with for her sweet and gentle spirit. The one girl even my ‘not yet interested in girls’ boys commented on. The one we parents even talked about privately, thinking, perhaps, there could one day be something between this girl and one of our boys. She also at one time had mentioned a little ‘something’ about one of our boys.

There was potential there.

But there was nothing there yet…but, I almost feel there was. I went through those pictures of those eight babies and I cried and I cried. And when I came to Kenzie, time and time again I would wail out her name. I don’t know why. I don’t know what this means at all. I’m just putting this out here, as I process. Whatever the thoughts, the feelings, the crazy and the even crazier…I want it here.

I end this one with this FB post from my husband:

Today has been a very hard day. I’ve never felt so deep a loss for someone in my life. I can only sit here hoping and praying that Chad will survive this to be daddy for his little girl. I’ve often imagined how awful it would be to lose one of my own seven kids or my wife, but cannot imagine the devastation that Chad felt. A friend of the family got to him on the scene. He said Chad tried to save his family three times and that Chad said “I’ve done everything I can. They are safe in the arms of a loving God.” That statement is illustrative of the strong abiding faith in Jesus Chad has always exhibited.

Stay strong Chad. Keep that faith my friend and brother. We love you. I understand if it is easier for you to just go and be with them. I only pray that if you go, Kylie goes with you. Don’t leave her behind! You can’t leave her Chad. You have to stay and be her daddy. You cannot give up until she herself has nothing left. And right now, it sounds like she’s not giving up. So keep holding on, keep fighting, dig deep, cling to Him. Your brothers are gathered around you even now, pouring their strength into you. We love you Chad. We will be here for you. I know we can’t fix it, but we are here to walk alongside you. Keep that faith!!


This morning I was awakened with the worst news I have heard in my life thus far.

Our friends from my husband’s Bible college days….house fire….gone.

I only heard every few words.

A fellow big family, family. They had nine kids. Close in ages to ours. From 15 down to around 3 or 4. Nine of them.

All but one is gone.

Perished in a house fire.

Dad, who is very much like a brother to my husband, and their fourth daughter Kylie, are presently being treated at Vanderbilt in Nashville. They have burning in the lungs. Other than that, I do not know their condition.

We have been shut down here in the city of Birmingham. Two solid days there has been no traveling anywhere around here due to snow.

My husband has to be with his friend. Not going simply is not an option. He gets out to scope the conditions. Thank you Lord you can drive on these roads now!

He now has his truck loaded up with extra clothing and blankets, sand in the back for weight and he is on his way.

Praying for safe travels to Nashville.

Chad and Kylie, last I heard, were about to be intubated and unconscious. I have no idea what they know right now. I pray, Father, for their strength and recovery. I pray my husband and other friends, Sean and JD, make it to him to be there when Chad comes to.

My heart and words are so jumbled right now. A part of me wants to talk and just keep talking, like I have more to say. But then nothing really seems to come out and I am stuck here in stunned silence.

My husband told our children before he left. We were just focused on saying something to the three oldest boys as they are really the only ones who have spent much time around this family and know them. Even they, are not close, but at least they *remember* them.

I will never forget this scene that then unfolds:

My three boys gathered around, my husband telling the news. There’s no soft or easy way to put this, you understand. So, it was straight forward.

The youngest of the three, 12 yr old Nugget is our flighty one. He easily breaks down and cries, yet also laughs in serious situations. Within moments of the news, his head hung low and eyes filled with tears.

The next oldest, 14 yr old Yo, he’s our sensitive heart. Often will stand seemingly emotionless, he’s internalizing. He gets torn up inside. But this time, immediately his eyes reddened and filled with tears and he just looked up at his dad. As though he were hoping for more strength, a way to stop this feeling and this raw emotion. But that is not what he received.

My oldest man child, nearly 17 now, he stood there, seeming to tower above his dad (though has not quite yet beat him out on height), was motionless. Silent. Like a statue. Unmoving. Barely inching in for a group hug and prayer. He just stood.

Minutes later he brought breakfast to the table and just sat. Again, still and silent, staring. Then the image that is forever etched in my memory…he drops his head to the table, forehead resting where his oatmeal bowl once was, and he wept.

He just wept.

I knew there was nothing I could really do. I rubbed his head, as I did when he was but three and told him I knew. I told him I was here. I told him he could talk, or not, I was  here. I told him he could cry, it was ok. I told him he could be alone, or not, I was here. I told him he could even be angry. It was ok. This was called grieving and all of it was ok. It was a way of processing. It’s ok son, do what you need, let it out. I am here if and when you need me.

I am a bit concerned about him. None of our children were ‘hooked up’ with any of theirs. But I know my two oldest boys ‘liked’ their 14 yr old. She was but a month younger than my Yo. We parents had talked about finding ways to get these kids together more, to see if something developed. We are not into full on arranged marriages, but certainly not opposed to ‘priming the conditions’. We saw some good things here. The girl had talked about at least one of my boys. My boys had talked about her. There *could* have been something to be fostered there.

So maybe my man child is feeling that. We will have to talk.

I hurt for him.

I hurt for this family.

I rejoice that they are in the arms of Jesus!!!

But oh how I hurt for those left behind. Such a loss. Such a massive loss.

I still can hardly believe this is real. This cannot be happening.

So Short Summer

A little alliteration for my ‘back from the abyss’ post. How’s that for ya?

As I sit here thinking about, yet avoiding, school planning, I thought, “summer really is too short.”

And not just in the ‘seems like it just started and we haven’t had enough time to do all the fun things we wanted to do’ way.

I think the whole school year thing is set up wrong. We need six months of school, three months break to re-cooperate, summer, if you will. But then we home schoolers need another three months for planning.

I don’t know about you other home schooling families, but I cannot plan and simultaneously enjoy my summer. It just isn’t working. *I* am working. Constantly. Researching curriculum (if I haven’t hashed through all of that to the nth degree back in February as an attempt to keep my sanity when winter has kicked me in the teeth), ordering curriculum, then sorting it all out and planning. Making up planners or entering plans into your favorite computer based program.

I’ve been busy this summer, but there’s not been a lot of *fun* involved. Mostly I just sit right here in this spot on the couch, with this laptop in front of me, these fingers on these keys, punching in assignment after assignment.

Or tracking orders that got held up.

Rearranging something I thought I had figured out.

Ordering something I forgot.

And then realizing that’s not what I want anyway..and order something else. Which gets delayed. And is then received in parts.


All the while, I’m trying to sell my house, pack up the belongings of nine people. All the necessities we must have as well as extras we have accumulated over the 4 years we’ve been in this house.

Then add in the stress of that whole buying/selling process. 

That, my friends, will whittle away your summer at an astounding rate!

So now I sit, a mere three weeks away from our scheduled school start date, with maybe half of our stuff entered into Tracker. A poster board covered in Post-its lying on the floor. 

I had intentions of lining up science programs so that the littles (using one curriculum) could line up with an older (doing another curriculum, but same subject) could study the same topics at roughly the same time. Even sharing in some experiments. Sounded like a great idea at the time.

Now I’m just looking at that colorful board saying “meh, whatever” I think I’ll have them each just work through their books as-is. Nothing else is being entered into Tracker now anyway…because I don’t know when we’ll actually get to school.

Closing date on the house is the DAY BEFORE our scheduled school start date. And we have three days to get out of the house. Yay for long weekends! But, yeah, that kinda throws out that start date.

But then if THAT’s not enough, let’s just throw on top of that…we don’t know when OUR closing date is. We are still hoping it can be done the same day, but we are not sure. Several other things have to come together to have any hope of that.

So, essentially, I have no idea of when I will be in a home again in order TO start school.

I’m thinking we will probably go ahead and start our ‘slow start’ within the next week, then just pick back up whenever we are…somewhere.

It’s one thing to think about starting school when your family and all belongings are smashed into the basement of a house while the upstairs gets some much needed attention….

But to think about starting when you don’t know when you’ll even get to THAT point?? When you may be putting all your stuff in storage and living in a hotel for an indefinite period of time…

Which could get even MORE indefinite if you want to go all pessimistic on the whole thing and realize…things could fall through and NOT come together and we not get a closing date at all. Ie. we don’t buy the other house Ie. we sell ours and are left homeless.

Sounds like fun doesn’t it?

So, in the same way everyone always says they need a vacay after their vacay…I am requesting a summer after our summer.


Gee, I wonder how that would work? If it weren’t for those darn holidays in November and December..maybe one COULD manage to squeeze 180 days of learning into 6 months.

So, now that THAT’s in my head, I shall further procrastinate any scheduling and see what it would look like, to work around those holidays, using THAT as my ‘second summer’ time and see what six month schooling would actually look like.

Intrigued, aren’t you?

Hey, I go to the beach during off-season anyway. ;) I’m good!

Annual School Post aka Curriculum Picks 2013-2014

Of course when it’s ordering time, everyone wants to know what everyone else is doing. We’ve watched one another toil and mull over various options. We’ve contributed suggestions and recommendations. We’ve had our own queries.

And, since I’ve pretty much fallen off the blogging wagon, I’m calling this my ‘annual’ post. LOL I swear, I have intentions of getting back into this blogging thing. It’s just not back in me yet. Maybe I need to start re-posting things of old though, just to keep things flowing and making me come back here, perhaps prompting a meme of sorts.

Anyway, on to the picks.

Oh wow did I have a time this year!!

History, literature, geography (what bit we dabble in it), some church history and upcoming government are all encompassed in Tapestry of Grace. We are in Year 4 of the plan, come fall. I still often feel like this is a glorified book list for us. But, oh well. We have all year plans purchased now. I will work on building our private library of the core books used and continue trying to stretch us to make more use of the curriculum. Without feeling overwhelmed and like we have to do everything. It’s so easy to get sucked into that! With anything. Just in general. TOG kind of feeds though. So, that’s my warning to you. TOG is great. Yes, it’s huge. Yes, it’s intimidating. But you do NOT have to do everything. You do not HAVE to do everything. You are not EXPECTED to do everything. It overs above and beyond all that could conceivably be covered in those subjects in a year. It is giving you CHOICES! Like a buffet. Pick what you want from it. Really.

So, that’s that. All children participate at their individual levels in that. I have children with their toes in two levels. I have children firmly planted in just one. They do their own independent work. We join for some readings. They share in some projects.

Then we have Math-U-See for most of our math needs. I had one struggling with Algebra this year. Just could not progress. Partly attitude, partly material. Mostly attitude, I think, personally. But anyway… He will pick up with Key to Algebra. The others, as I said, will be in MUS in levels ranging from Primer to Geometry.

Science was my killer this year. I always struggle a bit with science. But this year was rough. I had older ones that needed something more than I could personally offer. Something more than reading a boring textbook. I was told about Derek Owens. Apparently he’s “da bomb”. I’ve heard many a rave over his classes, whether they be in real life, online, or the cd course. They were all raved about. He’s an awesome teacher, I’ve been told. Kids have been disappointed they ran out of classes to take with him. Sounds good, eh? So I took a look and found out about those DVD courses. I was previously under the impression these were all live or online classes. I didn’t realize there were DVDs available for purchase! Physical Science sounded like a good class for my older boys. And if for some reason this comes to fail us, I’m coming after Abbey! No, no, just kidding. Sort of. No, no, no. Really. :D

So that was my first science dilemma. I actually settled that one rather quickly, compared to my next woe.

I needed three more science programs. Two were in the same course of study, but different levels. A seven year old and an eleven year old each in Biology. And a nine year old needing Physics. I’ve long since fallen off the Well Trained Mind coordinating cycles of science and history. Yes, I still agree with it. But, we got wonky somewhere along the line and went from everyone combined for science/history, to separating for science which ended up in children studying different things on their own level. Next thing I knew, everyone had their own science study at their own level and I was just trying to keep them cycling through so they were still getting everything. I do not like science programs that do a little bit of everything each year. So that every year through the course of the school year, they will study a little biology, a little space, a little weather, a little chemistry, a little physics… That just doesn’t make sense to me. Not enough in depth. Too much jumping around. Just as we study history one ‘era’ at a time, I prefer we study science one ‘genre’ at a time. You can get the big and the small of it that way. So, that’s what we’ve done. And that is what I have fought to find, for each child, at their level, for whatever it was needed to study that particular year.

Then, with that whole cycling so they hit everything, I have to factor all of that in. She just studied chemistry so physics would be next in line…earth/space was last year…so… That sort of thing.

I realized my eleven year old needs me more than he’s been getting. I expect my kids to be pretty independent pretty early. For the most part they have done okay with this. But we have problem areas here and there. And things crop up and I realize, we need to change. So, this year is about some change. The eleven year old did not thrive in his last two years of independent science. So I MUST work closely with him this year. The nine year old has been okay, but I want to watch that she doesn’t slip as well. The seven year old…is seven…he needs assistance.

After tossing around MANY ideas. From sticking with God’s Design Series which obviously hasn’t been working splendidly for us, to swinging over to Sonlight for a change of pace. But I then realized, wait, THAT would be pushing him to be independent again, and that was not the best answer for us. So I waffled with Elemental Science which we’ve used and has worked ‘fine’. It just wasn’t wowing me. And I think I’m suffering from a bit of ‘the grass is greener’. But that just wasn’t striking me as the answer. Finally, I looked at Real Science Odyssey and felt this was what we needed to do. I could have something hands on and involve me with teaching the eleven year old. We could have fun with a microscope! I totally got it in my head this year we HAD to have a microscope. Truth me told, we could survive without it, but I REALLY wanted it, if at all possible. So, maybe that swayed my science choices. But anyway, I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I would bring the seven year old in and go at his level. He could listen in and do a lapbook or narrations. He could play with the microscope, too.

That still left the nine year old and her physics.

Forget that. Bringing her in on Biology as well and she’ll pick up her Physics next year. It’s all good. And everyone is official OFF the cycle. LOL So, three kids, covering Biology, courtesy of Real Science Odyssey Biology 2.


Ok, so, now what? Writing that section was nearly as exhausting as picking it.

Language arts! We are going to try Essentials in Writing this year for the 9, 11, 13 and 16 year olds. This will cover their writing (surprised aren’t you? LOL) and some grammar for the younger two.

The seven year old will continue in First Language Lessons. The old one. Just one book containing first and second levels. Just…fyi. ;)

Spelling Workout will have the 9 and 11 year olds continuing their spelling skills.

What else?

I have some Explode the Code stuff for the 5 year old. Plaid Phonics for the 7 year old. New puzzles for the 2 and 5 yr olds specifically. I’m excited about the Human Body Puzzle so he can work on that while listening in on our Biology time.

Also various items from Critical Thinking. Mind Benders and Thinker Doodles I believe are two specifics.

Am I still missing something? We have fresh art supplies and drawing books coming. New erasers and a snazzy new pencil sharpener are also on the way.

Oh, the 9 and 11 will be picking up Elementary Greek while little dudes work with Hey Andrew! The elder two still have to finish up the last level of Elementary Greek….then I don’t know what we’re doing. Greek is falling to the wayside. Latin long ago did. Sooo…..I dunno.

I *think* that’s all now.


Are you as exhausted as I am?

My Little Fashionista

BabyGirl came into the living room today proudly displaying WHITE lips.


As in, creamy-covered-in-something-unnatural lips.

“WHAT did you get into?” I ask, as eldest two brothers stand looking on in shock. I could tell they were trying to imagine where she’d been and what had happened as well.

We immediately think “toothpaste!” because she has an affinity for the stuff. Forever slipping off into the bathroom, not-so silently digging through the drawer until she finds her treasure. Then loudly proclaims that which she has found “I find too-pay”. Put it back! *whine* Put. it. back. *slam bang stomp whimper* Thank you.


*sniff* That’s not toothpaste, as I fumble for a wipe.

We continue to inquire where she was, what she was into. She responded, but no one knew what she was saying. It was all jibberish.

Then my mind starts racing. Envisioning disaster of some sort, with this unknown, thick, white, substantially covering stuff.

We’ve been painting a lot here lately. But it’s been days now. There’s no paint left out anywhere, right? Right?

Oh carp! What the heck!?!

Continue rubbing this stuff off her nicely coated bottom lip.

We ask again what it is and where she was. She mumbles something. “Show me. Where were you?”

We then follow her down the hall and into the office. There we see an opened container of White-out on the desk.


Makes quite a statement as a lip gloss, let me tell ya!

Thankfully she had done no further damage. The desk, chair, floor and computer had remained unscathed. She was just all about the lip gloss. Her favorite thing to steal from her sister’s treasures.

Have y’all seen Steve Martin’s Cheaper by the Dozen? Where Lorainne (Hilary Duff…back when she was cute) is in the bathroom counting her coats of lip gloss as the tomboy sister bangs on the door to get her to emerge? Yep. That would be BabyGirl. Only without the counting part. She only gets to 3, occasionally 5. ;-)

The girl *loves* her some lip gloss.

*mental note: keep White-out and any other not lip coating but lip gloss looking items locked up out of reach