Saturday, October 29, 2011

27 Hours

This past Saturday I was able to participate in the American Heart Association Heart Walk in Richmond in honor of Nate Asher Hill. It was a privilege to celebrate the life of a baby boy who lived for only 27 hours, yet has touched so many people.

Nate's story is one of hope.

Our friends, Jason and Shannon, are a testimony to what God can do even in the midst of unimaginable grief.

We anticipated along with Jason and Shannon the birth of their fourth child in April.

On April 7, 2011, with great joy, Jason and Shannon welcomed a baby boy into their family (the gender had been a surprise), Nate Asher Hill. We were all thrilled to get the news of his birth.

Not long after his arrival, it was learned that Nate's little heart was having some trouble.

The next day he was moved to another hospital so that a procedure could be done on his heart.

Many prayers were said.

Many tears were shed.

The doctors worked hard. Nate fought.

On April 8, 2011 his Heavenly Father lovingly and tenderly welcomed baby Nate into heaven.

Jason and Shannon know that God had a plan and a purpose for Nate's life. They have hope in knowing that one day they will be reunited with him. Standing on the Rock, Jason and Shannon's faith has remained strong.

So we walked in honor of Nate.

Because even when we don't understand, we can trust that God loves us and that He loves Nate.

"Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words."
I Thessalonians 4:13-18

"We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure."
Hebrews 6:19

The group that walked for Nate.

Capturing Quotes

We recently received a letter from Luis, our Compassion child in Ecuador. The boys enjoy getting correspondence from Luis. After reading the message to them, I remember making a point to show the boys the Spanish words that were written on one side and the English translation on the other.

As a handwriting assignment this past week, Bryce wrote a letter to Luis. After he had completed the assignment I looked at his beautiful artwork, but not so beautiful handwriting and asked him if this was his best work.

"But mom," he told me "it doesn't matter because they are going to transform it. Remember?"


My engineer husband cracks me up with the things he says sometimes.

Claire has introduced us to the world of girly screams. Oh yes, I've been told many times lately that she has a "good set of lungs."

This week when Brian was dealing with our squealing little girl he picked her up and said matter-of-factly, "Decibel per pound, she's the loudest kid we've got."

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Field Trips and Fun

We've been able to take a couple of field trips already this school year. We are studying American history and because we happen to live in the state of Virginia, the options for field trips are phenomenal.

Our first trip was to Colonial Williamsburg. We were able to go with friends who also homeschool. The children all had a blast and learned a little about what life was like in Williamsburg during the 1700's.

The older boys and I were also able to make a trip to Jamestown, Virginia. The Powhatan village was a highlight for the boys. Bryce has been creating his own bow and arrows ever since. They also couldn't get enough of the ships. They talked about the Susan Constant for days.

After learning about the letter A, Carter and I made caramel apples together ("A" is for apple). It was a fun and easy activity and the whole family was able to enjoy the apples later that night. Yum!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Fall Photos

This girl LOVES her pink boots!

Claire's "cute face."

First day of class at Classical Conversations.

Grant - 3rd grade

Bryce - 1st grade

Carter - Junior Kindergarten

Davis - age 3

Claire - age 20 months

Grant's first year of tackle football.

Grant has thoroughly enjoyed football this year. We have been impressed by his enthusiasm, sportsmanship, effort and abilities. We have all enjoyed cheering him on. Go Wildcats!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

A New Way of Learning

This year our family has embarked on a new adventure in home education! After much research, reading, discussing, and prayer Brian and I felt certain that God was redirecting us to home school this year. We have successfully completed seven weeks of homeschooling and I am feeling encouraged, excited, and blessed by this new way of learning.

After making the decision to homeschool, a lot of time and energy was spent selecting curriculum. This was both fun and overwhelming at the same time because there are just so many neat options available. I was able to get personal recommendations from several homeschoolers that I know and I also spent a lot of time researching curriculum and reading reviews online. One night while reading a review, I felt God directing me to a particular curriculum (this was something I had been fervently praying about and probably stressing over way too much). It was so clear it was as if God was saying, "This is the one!" I had wanted to be sure about this big decision and from that point on I was. God was so gracious to take that burden from me and to give me the confidence that it wasn't just me picking and choosing, but that He was leading me through it all.

Just in case you are curious, here is a list of curriculum that I am using for the boys. Grant is in the third grade and Bryce is in the first grade. Math, writing, reading, grammar, handwriting, and spelling are grade level specific. Science, history and Bible are taught together.

History, Geography, Spelling, Science, Art and Music: Heart of Dakota: Bigger Hearts for His Glory

Math: Horizons

Grammar: First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind

Writing: The Complete Writer: Writing With Ease

Handwriting: A Reason for Handwriting

Reading: SonLight Readers

Bible: Heart of Dakota along with Word of Life

Carter is in Junior Kindergarten. I am using Early Education at Home, Heart of Dakota: Little Hearts for His Glory, Horizons Math, A Reason for Handwriting along with many great ideas from the internet and of course our local library for his curriculum.

We are also supplementing with Classical Conversations (you can find out more at We meet with this group on Tuesdays to learn history, geography, math, Bible, Latin and science by the classical approach. The boys each go to their own class where their tutors instruct them on the weeks lesson and review memory work. They are also required to present to the class each week (a 2-3 min. presentation). Tuesdays have become the favorite day of the week at our house!

To get ready for the school year we set up a school room in our house. Each boy has his own work space. These photos were taken right before we started school. After seven weeks of school, the walls are now covered with artwork!

Grant and Carter's desks. We are learning about American history this year, hence the flag.

Bryce's desk along with a table for Davis.

I made this calendar that I found on a homeschool blog (

Our more traditional calendar, along with our flag for the pledge.

We are also using the workbox system. This was highly recommended to me and I would highly recommend it to anyone considering homeschooling. Basically, each child has their own set of workboxes. In each workbox is an assignment (handwriting sheet, math worksheet, map activity). On each box there is a number attached with velcro. As the child completes each assignment he moves the number from the workbox to the chart over his desk. Some workboxes can be done independently and others require mom's help. This allows for more efficiency and keeps the boys on task. If mom is working with someone else they can just move on to the next workbox until mom is available. The boys have really enjoyed this system and it has helped us get through all of our schoolwork every day!

I keep my lesson plans taped on the wall at the student's desk so that I can refer to them throughout the day. Grant, Bryce and Carter each have their own workboxes and their own lesson plans.

Each of the boys got a certificate after completing our first day of school.

I can't wait to share more about our adventures in home education. It has been a big undertaking and I can't say that it's been easy, but so far the results have been worth the investment. My mom and Brian's parents have been such a blessing by helping with Davis and Claire several mornings a week, allowing me to spend the needed quiet time with the older boys doing school.

As I said earlier, Brian and I both feel certain that God directed us to homeschool this year. I can see the benefits of this new way of learning starting to emerge and I am encouraged. But mostly, I am at peace knowing that I am in His will. There have been some challenging days. This new job of teacher/mom is very fun but also humbling and at times overwhelming and exhausting. But even in those times of difficulty or self-doubt, God keeps assuring me that He is faithful. If He has called me to do this, He WILL provide me with the ability to do it. I feel now more than ever a continual reliance on Him. Simply because I can't do it on my own. But He can. And that makes all the difference.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Funny Stuff

Life with children is oftentimes amusing (if you can see the humor through the chaos!). These are just a couple of funny little stories from this past week.

During lunch one day I left the table for a moment and came back into the room to hear one boy telling another, "Mix that in there too!"

The boy with the icky food concoction then questioned his brother in a most excited tone, "How much will you pay me to eat it?"


Brian had the younger three at the grocery store this weekend. He was able to experience the joy that is three preschoolers at Wal-mart.

By the time they got to the check-out line Brian was relieved as the exit was within reach. As he loaded the groceries up onto the check-out counter he intermittently took off items that Carter and Davis had put onto the counter (i.e. candy and other kiddie food). After unloading all of the groceries out of the cart he started putting the bagged groceries back into the cart. When he picked up the very last bag a very, very excited Carter exclaimed, "Davis we got the chips! Davis we got the chips!"

Brian peeked into the bag to see a small bag of Doritos laying on top. Those bags that align the check-out aisle. Being a cool dad and all, he just placed the bag in the cart and paid for the groceries.

Victory for Carter.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Our New Addition...

Introducing our new addition.....

drumroll please....



Yes, he is a rodent.

But he is fluffy and very cute (at least as cute as is possible for a rodent!). The kids have all thoroughly enjoyed our new pet hamster. And (so far) being the owners of a hamster has been a very good experience. I grew up with hamsters and this little critter brings back many fun childhood memories for me--I think I am smitten with our little furry friend almost as much as our five kids are! Pancake has proved to be a very friendly hamster and has dealt patiently with eager little hands grabbing for him and petting him not so gently. I have to remind the little ones often that the hamster is very, very small and that he is ALIVE-- he is not a stuffed animal.

I am hoping that his name, given to him on account of his color, is not bad luck for the little guy!

Carter is especially fond of Pancake. The hamster seems to find his way into Carter's backpack, into Carter's pockets, in Carter's pencil case, or going down the ramp made for matchbox cars in Carter's room. Yes, you could say these two are buddies.

Yes, we are very grateful for our newest "Little" guy!