Wednesday, May 22, 2013

the state of the family: part 4 {jackson}

Jackson's just one of those kids.

You know the kind.

Parents can't really take credit for their tender heart and self-less ways.  

He just tends to be sensitive and kind to everyone.  

Okay, so maybe he and Brooks butt heads sometimes, but that's to be expected, right?  They're twin brothers for goodness sake.  And, let's be honest, as wonderful as Brooks is (more on that later), let's just say, he can push some buttons.  

Including mine.  :)  We'll save Brooks for the next post...

Jackson's just great to have around.  

Like all the time.

He has this sweet, sheepish smile and little giggle he does when you look at him adoringly.

Good gracious he reminds me of my brother here.

He's really taken to reading.  It's so sweet to hear him sound out words and listen to the words forming sentences and then watching page after page turn until he slams the book down like, 'Conquered another one, Mom!'  There are few milestones I love more than when my children learn to read.  What a gift.

He's forever helpful.

Always there with an extra hand.

He really reminds me of his daddy in this way.

And he loves him some James.  Mm-mm-mm.  

It's super sweet to watch his big-brotherly-ways with James.  He's a great big brother.

Just look at that sweet face on James when Jackson's got his arm around his shoulder.  Priceless.

Not sure what the plan is yet for him and Brooks for school next year.  We know homeschooling's in the future for them, but when?  Not sure.  We're going to check out the new elementary school and see what we think.  

But, I'll tell you one thing, it would be a joy to have that kid with me everyday.  

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

the state of the family: part 3 {avery}

This girl rocks my world.  

I couldn't love her more.

She celebrated her 9th birthday last week.  I am so thankful to have her in my life.  I remember Payton being this age when I felt the conviction to homeschool.  Now I remember so clearly why.  They grow up so dang fast.  And when a little girl is Avery's age, they're just downright joy -- easy going, so little sass, no pre-teen hormonal battle.  Ahhh...

She's picked out the green damask for an accent wall in her bedroom at the new house. 


Several weeks ago, we'd had a very busy week and had to speak at an adoption fundraiser dinner that Saturday night so we didn't go to church that night like we normally do.  We decided that instead of rallying the troops to go to church on Sunday morning, we would do church at home.  We've never done this before but know people who do and it sounded wonderful.  

Avery was on it.

She wrote out programs the night before.  She had the 'service' laid out: we were going to sing songs, read a Bible story, have a discussion and then pray.  

The next morning, she must've asked us 10 times when we were going to do church.  We just wanted to get through breakfast!  She was so excited.

And she wanted to lead it so she set herself up with a 'podium' and went to it.  It was so super sweet.

Reading the Bible story of Naomi and Ruth.

Notice the boys: they had to build a fort to sit in.  Ha!  JD was 'working the sound booth' by playing the songs.

Warm weather = ice cream in our family.


Remember I mentioned the bond these two have?  They're at it again.  

That's a spaghetti noodle hanging out of Jackson's mouth.  Boys!  Actually, the expression on his face reminds me so much of photos of my brother when he was little!


Avery had her state meet a couple of weeks ago and wrapped up her competition year.  She has worked so hard.  So much so that she came this close to quitting gymnastics a couple of weeks ago.  For several weeks, she said she was done, she was bored, it wasn't fun anymore, etc.  But then she rallied and now she's back to her flip-flopping-self.  

The reality is that competitive gymnasts is a demanding sport.  It requires a ton of practice -- straight through the summer, in fact.  :(  She'll practice four days a week this summer (for 3.5 hours/day!).  It's no wonder kids are weary by the end of the competition year.  We'll give this year a whirl and see how she feels at the end.

All this while waiting for the boys at the bus stop!  Phew.

The last year has been such a sweet time with her.  She has worked so hard in school too and the results are evident.  She was tested in April and blew the test away (testing well into the 3rd grade).  She's come so far.  

When I pulled her and Payton out of public school, I did it more in regard to Payton at the time.  I wanted to slow her childhood down by slowing down our pace and having more time with her.  Avery had just finished kindergarten.  And, just like with Payton, Avery's last two years have flown by.  She'll start third grade in the fall.  That's crazy!  

The crazier thing?  I'm finding that the homeschooling has benefited her the most.  Sure, Payton's thriving, but she kind of always did with school.  Not so much with Avery.  Being at home, having a less pressured approach to schooling has reduced the anxiety in Avery 10-fold.  She used to be a little of a worrier and she cowered to teachers.  Now, she's just a kid who does her school work, goes to gymnastics, plays outside and loves to be all kinds of hilarious!  I love, love, love spending my days with her.

Thankful for another one that's getting ready to start...  :)

Thursday, May 9, 2013

the state of the family: part 2 {payton}

This girl is growing like a weed.

I think she's grown three inches in the past year.

She's all legs.

And stunning.

I can see the adolescent version of herself all the time now.

And she's only 11.  

Lord, help me.


The accent wallpaper and paint she's picked out for her new room!

These two are still so very close.  It really is so special.

Payton has returned to horseback riding after several years off.  We had a little incident at the last place she rode (let's just say it involved Brooks and a pit bull and we'll leave it at that), so we left.  She was so patient for three or four years until I got over my PTSD and we got her back to a horse farm.  :)

This is her first day.  
Thanks to her Mimi and Pappy she got new riding pants and a helmet for her birthday.

We love her instructor, Lauren.  Little did we know until we met, that she was homeschooled too!  She loves the Lord and was so excited to meet Payton and embrace our family.  And she just got married after studying voice in college.  Payton is smitten.  As am I.  I love it when a great role model enters the scene for a child: a teacher, a coach, a counselor.  Love it.

This is Ginger who Payton's been riding.  P says she's sluggish and gassy.  :)

Payton's last day of school is Monday.  She is so excited to wrap up the year.  She's had a great year!  Westminster Academy's a great fit for her.  And for our family.  It's like part-time school, so I love it.  Payton gets to go to school two days a week (a few hours each day) and is home the other three.  She'll take four classes (math, science, writing, history) there next year and Avery will start with one (science).  I imagine all our kids will be there eventually.  

She took her end of the year tests but we haven't gotten the results back yet.  She's such a little lady in the making.  

And what I hoped so very much would happen has happened!  She and Avery love each other again!  Payton adored Avery until around the second or third grade.  Avery's always thought Payton hung the moon and has sought Payton's time and approval.  Payton had become so put out and intolerant of Avery, but now that they have more time together, they're becoming great friends.  It's a beautiful thing.  I am so grateful.  I have to believe this is one of the perks of homeschooling.  Some friends found it to be true with their children and I'm so pleased to see it happening with ours.

Can't say what the future holds, but for right now, it's all good with our P-girl.  

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

a little tangent.

In the midst of my 'State of the Family' addresses, I'm going out on a tangent and wanted to mention a book I'm reading and a study I'm participating in on-line.

Never done this before.

Nor have I posted about it on-line or on this blog.

But I thought what the heck!?

So the book's called The Reason for God by Tim Keller.

I'm super intrigued.  Sometimes I need to rock this complacent, wandering, stuck soul of mine.

The blogger whom I follow is going to have some discussions on her blog if you want to check them out.

Ni Hao Yall

No promises on whether I'll post frequently or not on what God's bubbling to the surface through this book.  Lord knows I've been slacking on posting of late.  But if I should be so compelled, I thought you might like to know what the heck I'm talking about.

Here goes!  Join in, if you'd like!  Sounds very, very compelling.

Friday, May 3, 2013

the state of the family address -- part 1

I have so much I should be doing that doesn't include blogging, but enough is enough already!

This is the first day in what feels like eons that we're not to and fro.

Love days like this.

So, I'm curled up on the couch with my laptop.

Payton, Avery and James are enjoying some vegetation downstairs watching what most young girls (and their toddler brother?) yearn to watch these days -- the Disney Channel.  Those silly sitcoms.  Worst writing ever, but all I have to do is think back to Family Ties, The Cosby Show, and Different Strokes and I totally get it.

I feel like it's been so long since I've updated on here in depth that it might be best to do a series of updates.  Much to share and one post just won't cut it.  Or it might go on forever.



Whom shall I start with?

Let's just jump in and call this the State of the Family Address.

Our current state is a good one.  But we're in flux.  Kinda feels like it's always in flux, but don't most families feel that way?

The kids won't stop changing.  Their teeth keep falling out; someone's hair, fingernails or toenails need trimming at all times; pants keep getting shorter and shoes keep getting smaller.  I hear 'I'm hungry' all day long, and the next thing I know, I'm back at BJ's buying more food again.

At the beginning of March, HOPE held their annual 5K and Fathered, the adoption and orphan care ministry, was chosen to be the recipient of the proceeds.  This is huge because although the 5K was a lot of work, we just learned that a $15,000 check is being written to the Fathered Fund which will help bring children into families right here in our community.  Awesome.

Poor Avery wasn't feeling so well that day.  And Brooks, who grumbled and complained every time we talked about the kids participating in the Kids' Mile, blew passed everybody and ran in on his own quite some distance in front of the rest of the family.  It was hilarious!  He was so proud of himself.

Ella and Payton at the start.

It was brisk.

But at least it was dry and sunny -- we had snow two days before!  Huh?

Green eggs for St. Patty's Day.  I think Brooks said, 'This is the best St. Patrick's Day ever!'  And that would be because we've never celebrated it before!  :)

A first: having this outside while doing this...

...dying Easter eggs.

Cutie Pie was so into it.

Easter morning.  These two are beyond-beyond awesome together.  I can't even explain how cute they are when it's just the two of them together.  Look at his hand on her back.  

There's Jackson again with his arm around Avery.  :)

Our church had Easter services at a historic theater downtown (we've outgrown our building).  It was gorgeous, but looks gothic in this photo.  

For spring break, we headed to JD's folks' in Tennessee.  One day, we went to Lynchburg to visit JD's dad at Jack Daniel's since he's retiring this summer.  We knew it might be our last chance to visit and let everyone see the kids -- and it was our first time in Tennessee since we brought James home.

Look at Jackson at his pappy's computer.  Little stinker.  :)

JD's brother, mom, niece, Payton, JD
Brooks, Jackson, JD's dad, Avery and James

JD's mom (from the back), dad, brother, sister-in-law, me, Jackson, James and JD.
Oh, and Brooks sticking his head in the shot!  

One of the things we love most when we go to Lynchburg is eating lunch at Miss Mary Bobo's Boarding House.  Oh my goodness, it was especially delicious this time!

Payton, our niece, Avery, Brooks, JD's aunt and uncle.

Payton, our niece, Avery, Brooks, JD's aunt and uncle, mom, dad, brother and sister-in-law.  

The fried okra just kept coming and coming and coming.  It was heaven.

Our trip to Tennessee was so nice.  It was wonderful to be with all our family there that we don't get to see enough.  We look forward to heading that way again in June since Avery will be attending a gymnastics camp there.  What a treat it will be to be together twice in just a matter of months!

One thing that's made life a touch more 'involved' of late is that when we returned from Tennessee we accepted an offer on our house and placed a contract on another.  We're only moving 5 or 6 miles down the road, but it's bittersweet since this house has been our home for almost seven years.  We have loved this house and weren't really looking to move.  In fact, we planned to do an addition to create a larger kitchen and a laundry room, but after doing some research realized it wouldn't be the best investment because (although it doesn't look like it from this photo) we are already the largest house in neighborhood.  

We know our new house will be home eventually, but this house will hold our hearts for a very long time.  

The boxes are starting to pile up.  

It's about to get ug-a-ly around here!


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