Tuesday, September 15, 2015


September is my favorite month.  Yes, it's my birth-month, but I like it for more than that.  I like how the weather starts to change (in every place I've ever lived).  Here in Texas, the humidity starts to lessen and some days there's practically none.  We have had some wonderful September weather so far -- low 80's, low humidity, sunshine.  The best.  It's good for my soul.

Every year we have homeschooled until this one, we have always started our school year in September.  But this year, we started a month early.  So by the time September arrived, I felt like we'd been super productive already!  That makes this September especially sweet.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

First Day of School 2015-16

For the record...

O at the start of 5th grade.  His favorite subject is math.
J at the start of 6th grade.  Her favorite subject is science.
Z at the start of 8th grade.  His favorite subject is P.E., but writing is in second place.
H at the start of 10th grade.  His favorite subject is history.
S is taking a class at a local community college that started the same day!
Credit for this photo goes to O.  I bent down so he could get a better angle, ha.  I'm just hoping all goes well this school year.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Summer 2015 Update, Part IV-e: The Kids (O)

Last day of 4th grade.
Last, but not least is our small, but mighty little man, O.  He is ten ("and a half -- don't forget that, Mama") and though most people guess he's about seven or eight, we know the truth.  He's petite, but he's growing!  He may still fit in the same shorts from four years ago, but they're a little shorter every year.  And his attitude is definitely that of a tween these days.

O is still this incredible force of nature.  He's just an amazing miracle for all he has been able to learn and accomplish in spite of where he started out.  Most of the delays are hardly noticeable any more.  He still has a few cognitive/speech delays, but he works hard at getting better in those areas.  His ability to focus is a challenge, but we keep working on that, too.

Summer 2015 Update, Part IV-d: The Kids (J)

Last day of 5th grade.
Our girl, J, is officially a middle schooler! This simply cannot be.  Even though she's been going on 17 for a few years now, I am in great denial.

J is ten -- soon to be 11!  She tells me twenty times a day (at least) that she loves me and she has become a very gifted encourager lifting friends and family members up often and well.

Summer 2015 Update, Part IV-c: The Kids (Z)

Last day of 7th grade.

Look at that face!  Z is 13.  I can't believe this boy who arrived at 15 months old is now a teenager.  That's just craziness.  He may look tough, but he's still my teddy bear.  I'm not sure I'll ever let him grow out of that.

Summer 2015 Update, Part IV-b: The Kids (H)

Last day of 9th grade.
H is 15.  His growth took off over the past year and he's man-sized now.  It's freakish how quickly that happened and yet, it's extremely useful, too, since I'm only 5'3" and getting all my old lady traits in place.  When heavy stuff needs to get moved, I can call on our son.  When something on the high shelf needs to come down, I can call on our son.  All his usefulness is a good balance for his more surly teenager personality traits that have also revealed themselves to new levels in the past year.  Ha!

But seriously, he's a good kid.  He truly loves the Lord and seeks to grow in faith all the time. And he has worked at being more servant-hearted than ever before.  He is usually the first to volunteer when I need an extra job done around the house and he doesn't typically complain about it.  I love this attitude.

Summer 2015 Update, Part IV-a: The Kids (S)

I will do a brief update on each of the kids so that no one post is too long.

Celebrating 20 years of life.
S came back home last October and things are going well with her since then.  There have been obvious struggles of learning how to parent an adult child living at home, but our willingness to work at it and her willingness to extend us grace since it's our first time learning to do this have helped.  That and a lot of communication and prayer.

In June, we celebrated her turning 20.  We missed her last two birthdays because she lived elsewhere, so it was super special that we got to celebrate with her this year.

Summer 2015 Update, Part III: Homeschool, Part 2

So since I posted a couple days ago, I ventured into a "Mom's Night" with our new homeschool group and met six other local mamas.  It was a diverse group of ladies -- all of us Christian homeschool moms -- but I had something in common with each of them.  It was a pleasant evening getting to know a bit about each of them and just talking with some other female adults.  A rare treat!

Speaking of meeting new friends, I wanted to share a link to a great blog post shared with me by a long-time friend of mine specifically encouraging us to keep our (social) circles broken so that we can allow the Lord to work in us through the relationships we find and build.  Whether you are new to your community or have been there a long time, there is good counsel in this blog post for you.

I also wanted to follow up and just report that as a family, we have decided to start back to school on August 3rd this year instead of waiting until after Labor Day.  We have picked the date because it's when S will be starting back to school herself.  So the whole house will be in the educational mindset and we can support one another. 

This schedule is about four weeks early, so I have promised the kids we will take some shorter breaks throughout the year when the weather is nicer and we can get out and do fun stuff.  It's just so stinkin' hot in the summer here, no one wants to leave the air conditioned house.  So we might as well be doing our school routine.

Most everyone has a good attitude about the change of plan for this year and for those who are struggling with the change, we are praying they see the fruit of our choice in the months to come.

Finally, I neglected to mention math.  We are going to attempt to use Khan Academy this year.  We used it for S when she was in high school, but it wasn't nearly as organized then.  Back then, it was a list of educational videos and now it's a full-on curriculum online.  They offer other subjects, but for now, we are just trying the math.

So that's what I've spent some time this week trying to figure out!  Setting up student accounts and browsing through the lessons.

The ladies at the meeting had other great suggestions for math that I can check out if Khan Academy does not work for us.  The benefit of using Khan is that it is completely free.

Okay, I think that's all that I needed to add for the moment.  More on homeschooling to come as we jump into this next school year.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Summer 2015 Update, Part III: Homeschool, Part 1

Our Seven Light Academy is entering it's tenth year!  We started off with S in sixth grade, thinking we might just do this for one year and gradually, all the younger kids joined us and one year has become a decade.  Crazy.

Summer 2015 Update, Part II: On Marriage and Family

I will update you about the kids in a separate post, but I wanted to write a bit about things going on in our family, in general. 

I love these people.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Summer 2015 Update, Part I: Introduction & Texas Living

For those of you who don't know, I'm currently taking a break from Instagram.  I am using the time freed up to focus on our family and family-related needs.  But in the meantime, as I have come to rely on Instagram as one of my main ways to "journal" or track our lives, I have been falling behind in documenting this season in the lives of our family members.  I miss that part of it for sure.

I thought I would utilize my well-underused blog to write some update posts on various aspects of our lives at this time.  Instead of one big, long post, I'll divide it up into categories for easier reading.

So in this post, I'll focus on writing an update about our life in Texas since the move (and subsequent moves within the state).  If you recall, we arrived in Texas last June (2014) and stayed about a month in a hotel at the expense of C's new company.  We were in the process of buying a home in Seabrook, which is when we returned to New Mexico for a few weeks in order to finish packing up our stuff to bring it to our new house.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

After the Rain Photos

It rained all night long.  Thundered.  Lightning'd.  Rained and rained some more this morning.  All the roads were flooding.  Again.  The wet environment here in Texas takes some getting used to after six years of desert living.  And they say it's an especially wet year.

When the sun finally broke through midday, I was anxious to get outside.  The gray was gone and I needed to be out of the house so I could go find some nature.  My husband sent me on a photography venture.

I arrived at one of the Seabrook walking trails to find that it was muddy as ever.  Other trail walkers were coming back barefoot, shoes in hand, mud up past their ankles.  I was in long pants and flip flops, so I decided not to venture far down the path today.  I sat for awhile on a bench near the entry gate and listened to the sounds of birds chirping and insects singing.  I watched birds dipping down in the water, looking for an afternoon snack.  I lost count of the fish I saw jumping and flopping in the brook -- they too seemed to be longing for the sunshine.

Then I got curious about the things I could see at a distance on the other side of some trickling water along the opposite side of the trail.  My camera lens wasn't zooming in close enough.  So I decided to cross the water and get closer to the patch of cattails and tall grasses that grew over there.  I nearly lost a shoe as it stuck deep in the muddy stream bottom, but I was able to retrieve it. 

My journey across this three-foot wide creek was rewarded with an area rich with wildlife.  I saw a pair of Cardinals fly to their nest.  I watched an anole put on a mating display on a branch -- probably within eyesight of a female anole, which I did not see.  There were dragonflies, damsel flies and so many other insects and arachnids -- some new to me and others familiar.  There were teeny tiny frogs who thought they could elude me by tucking themselves in on blades of grass.  They were no bigger than the tip of my pinky finger, but I was close enough to see them here.

I grabbed my camera and went to work.  I am so rusty at this craft for lack of practice, but I still enjoy trying.  I felt good about some of the photographs I was getting and sure that many of them would be useless -- but still fun to attempt.

Then suddenly, my feet were on fire.  I looked down and saw swarms of Texas red ants crawling all over me.  Their bites are tiny, but vicious.  I took the last couple pictures and then made a run back through the water and up onto the trail again.  Mental note: I need some good galoshes for post-rain photography practice.

At home, after washing my feet and lathering them up in hydro-cortisone cream, I edited some of my pictures to share here.  I wish I'd been able to stay a bit longer and capture more of the beautiful creatures along the trail.  But I am glad for what I did get.  Next time I will try to remember bug spray and better shoes.  Maybe. 

Bugs and frogs.  If you are squeamish about either, move on, Friend.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

23 Reasons

This is a recent photo I snapped of my husband at Penzey Spices in Houston. It's one of his "happiest places on earth," I think.  I like it.  I like him.  Today we are celebrating our 23rd wedding anniversary and this photo inspired me to make a list of 23 reasons I would marry this man all over again (in no particular order).

1.  He has been part of my life longer and more consistently than anyone not related to me by birth.  He knows me well.  The good, the bad and the boring parts.  He knows it all and he still wants to spend more years with me.  It's hard to find that in a person.

2.  He loves with a passion and dedication that very few people understand.  I don't get it most of the time.  He loves deep and he loves wide.  Once you are in the folds of his life, he will never, ever, EVER let you go.  And that's a good thing.  Really.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Yard Photos

So that I don't clog up my Instagram feed (any more than usual), I'm posting some nature photos from our yard taken today.  Just trying to get back into the habit of using my Nikon D90 a bit more -- though I still have a lot to learn and improve on -- and wanted to share some of the fun things I captured.

WARNING: These pictures do contain some insects and reptiles, so if you are not the kind of person who likes looking at those kinds of things, please skip this post.

Friday, January 2, 2015

breathe. pray. create. || Part 1

If you have been following my Instagram account (if you haven't, you're missing a bunch since I barely make time for the blog anymore), you'll know that the theme words God has revealed to me for 2015 are the title of this post.

breathe. pray. create.

On the surface, these seem fairly simple.  I have to breathe just to stay alive.  Check! Done.  Since it's already January 2, I have officially breathed in 2015.  I also breathed last year and the year before that  and all the other years before that since 1973.  And pray?  Well yeah, duh.  I'm a Christian and Christians should generally talk to God in the form of prayer regularly -- or at least now and then.  Create seems pretty obvious, too, especially for those of you who appreciate making stuff.  I like to write.  I like to take photos.  Lately, I've even started incorporating some regular painting and drawing into my daily schedule.

So if it's so easy for me to do these three things, why is it that God is leading me to really focus on the trio for the whole year?

That's the question I'm left pondering.  While it's still January, I want to dive in a little bit to each part of this challenge in a separate post and then possibly a post about all three as a unified idea.  That's five posts I'm promising this month, including this one you're currently reading.  Hopefully I'll do a better job of following through than I did on my month-long challenge that lasted like three days.  These posts are about some of the ideas that I think the Lord may want me examining in my life a little closer beyond just doing what the words say.

THEN, maybe in December or at least later in the year, I can recap and post about what I've learned over the year and what God showed me with regard to these concepts of breathing, praying and creating.  So I'll be able to see where I started and then compare it with what actually happens over the course of the year.  I have a feeling it's going to be good -- because stuff with God usually is.  So I hope you'll journey with me here in the blog (when I show up) and maybe even over there on Instagram (link to the right) and see where this theme takes me.

I'm not big on New Year's resolutions, so I like this plan of hearing God whisper these words to me and seeing what He does with them in my life.  Do you have any New Year's traditions or practices?  This whole "word" concept is something I tried in 2014 and it had its ups and downs, but I don't think I really spent time doing the evaluation I needed to the way I'm planning to do with these words, so hopefully it'll go better this year.

Okay ... see you in Part 2.