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No shame in being the “weak link”…

I grew up in Ohio which means I missed out on a few things…like sandy ocean beaches and hiking mountains.
Two things I fell madly in love with once moving to Virginia.
Seriously, love love love both.  Maybe the love affair is because my life was missing them for a couple of decades?  Maybe it is because we now live so close now?
When my homeschooling friend Maureen offered up a homeschool teen field trip I was like “HECK YA! Sign us up!”
I was so excited for two reasons.

  1. I love hiking any mountain.
  2. Maureen’s field trips have ALWAYS been my favorite.  They NEVER disappoint.  Ever.

Perhaps a bit of background on Maureen.  See she is this gal that HAS to be the toughest person I know.  She is ex-military, used to do the Eco-challenge Adventure Race (think hardcore challenges here) and still teaches Homeland defense classes at our local University.  She is quite simply a bada$$.  I tell her this often because one day I can only hope to be in as good of shape as she is.  The woman is a machine.
And she is kind, smart and well…just a great friend to have.  She will challenge you in every good way possible.
A girl needs a little push every once in a while to go outside of your comfort zone.

Old Rag mountain was the trail.
I think, in my mind at least, it was supposed to be “3-4 miles up and a bit of a rock scramble at the top”.
So I am thinking “I can do that…”
The original date was rained out and I am actually glad it was!  Going yesterday put us closer to the peak leaf change.  No better time of year to hike any mountain.
We met in the morning and caravaned up losing one of our carloads of folks to a carsick kiddo.  The problem was we also lost cell coverage so we didn’t know if they had to go home or push forward.  We decided to go ahead and start the trek up and hopefully they would catch up.

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What I loved most about this trail?  There wasn’t a place on either side of the mountain that didn’t give beautiful views!  Everywhere you looked was breath taking.
Poor Maureen and Nancy…they are both in much better shape than I am.
I may hike often but my pace is much different.  Think “weak link”.  For a few reasons…

  1. I am clearly not in bad shape but I am clearly not in marathon shape…lol!  I am totally at peace with that though;-)
  2. I am a lollygagger…daisy picker…”look!  Shiny light!” kindof hiker.  I want to stop and take in EVERYTHING around me.  I seriously am that girl that is in a constant state of wonder at the beauty that surrounds me.  I am a slow and leisurly kindof gal.  BUT I did the best I could at keeping focus and pace.  I did “so-so” with both.  LOL!

Those “rock scrambles”?  Yeah, so here is the thing they left out.  “Rock Scrambles” is code for “might possibly die every third step”.
It was a straight up, gloves would be nice, type of rock climbing.  It was definitely fun BUT not for the faint of heart at all!
Never have I been more thankful that I had purchased new sneakers plus new shoe cushion inserts the day before.  Probably saved my life…seriously.
Now my jeans?  Don’t get me started on my jeans!  I am at this crazy size where I am actually like a size 10 but only own a few pairs of 10′s purchased so far and that morning I grabbed a 12 and by mid hike I was losing them.  It was soooo annoying.  I was like “I should have bought jeans too!”  
Guess who is now going to chuck out every remaining size 12 that closet hides.  Tired of the “saggy bottom” look.  It simply is not a good look!  BAHAHAHA:-)
Back to the rocks…shall I show you?
Why yes, I should.
It was a lot of this…

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And Adam thought it was simply the best part of any hike EVER.

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And we survived…

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And then came one of my favorite parts!  We all caught back up together!  Car sick folks and all!
Which of course made the hike even more fun!:-)

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The plus for me was Adena…fellow shutter bug and daisy picker.   And Teresa who may not have had a camera but totally could get on board with daisy picking and shiny lights method of hiking.
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How about some “view from the top” pics…cell phone captures first…then back to the real camera (sadly I left the wide angle lens at home)

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And then came the long trek down…BEAUTIFUL.  The only adjective that fit.
We took “fire lane” down the mountain and if I ever go back this will be the trail I take…although if you ask Adam he will be dragging dad up the rock scramble trail.

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Dillan is playing “turtle”. Conner knows how to work the camera though.  Handsome fella:-)
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This wooly bear tells me “hard Winter…mild Winter…followed by a few more storms before Spring”…you can take the girl out of Ohio but not the Ohio out of the girl;-)
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Mountain trees always amaze me.  They fight hard to position themselves in the most beautiful spots.  They find a way to adapt.
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Our traditional “selfie”…must always have our shot with each other (sweet boy)

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At the end of the day I came away so thankful for these friends of ours.
Refreshed….it has been quite a year already for us.
As we merge into the world of homeschooling teens these woman and children have been part of our lives for years now.  It’s nice to know that we aren’t alone on our journey.
Homeschooling older children can be lonely for the mama’s.  It can be frustrating, challenging and altogether exhausting.
We have all been teaching our children together for years, supporting each other, crying or laughing (depending on the day) with each other.  One day when these kids have all left us I hope we can all keep our connection and go hiking or daisy picking often.  There is something just wonderful about sharing a unique journey, like homeschooling, with the same friends year after year.
They understand things that “normal mama’s” might not get.  They don’t look at you funny when you explain how you have three different kids doing three different curriculims each, or have put 25k miles on a car in 6 months driving kids to “extras”.
They understand when you are sad because you have been fretting about where each child “fits” best and can get their needs met as teens.   Knowing that each child in a family is so different from the other.
Granted I think all those worries and concerns that plague homeschooling mothers can be found in traditional school settings but I am not so sure the bond between the mothers getting to do things like hiking up ginourmous mountains together get to happen as often as they should.
Perhaps the gift is in the shared struggle and support of the process of helping each other up that mountain…not facing it alone but surrounded by each other cheering the other on.
We have the chance to support each other, minus judgement, often in our small little community of homeschooled older children.  I am ever so thankful for these woman, their children and the gift we have had to watch our children grow up together.  They have all turned into such amazing young adults.
Did I just say “young adults”?  How did this happen so fast?  Weren’t they just hunting fossils at fossil beach yesterday?  Oh wait that was years ago…
I don’t often talk about our homeschool life on here these days.
Often, because I feel like there are a million homeschool blogs out there with much better advice or wisdom than I could ever give.
I feel like homeschooling is one of those things I will just never have all the answers to give folks.
I am NOT a “this is the best fit for EVERYONE!” type of homeschooler.  I am the “this was the best fit for our family” type of homeschooler…who happened to luck out 6 years ago and connect with a lovely group of like minded mothers.
They will be in my heart for a lifetime.  I have no doubt.
Off to continue daisy picking.

Oh and yes…the stats…thanks to my Fitbit in case you were wondering;-)

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Sharing the planet…

Every year, without fail, I spend a great amount of time saving turtles off of roads.  We live in a high construction part of the world these days.
New subdivisions, box shops and schools are springing up all over the place.  This leaves the wild life left to try and figure it all out.
Hence the turtle adventures.
For years I have kept a “critter cage” on the front porch.  We have collected everything from snakes, turtles, butterflies etc…and put them in there so the kids can just observe for a few days before we set them free.

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Being the nature fan I am I have no issue with picking up creepy crawly critters…I have always found this to be an important part of the kids educations over the years.
I used to collect critters as a child…your not surprised I am sure;-)
When I was about 10/11  I had one stint raising four baby bunnies (mama died in a corn combine) I learned the hard way that wild animals are NEVER meant to be in captivity for long periods of time.  After I lost a bunny to disease I knew it was time to let them go.
At that point they would only  let me touch them and for several years I would go out in the field I set them free in at sunset, when they would hop out to feed, I would just lay there watching them and sometimes if I was very still they would come up and let me visit with them.
I remember those sunsets with my wild bunnies as a bit magical.
When something wild chooses to spend a bit of time with you it just IS.  Animals knows things about people.
I pass this magic and respect onto the kiddos as often as possible.  The chance to help a tiny creature and in return free them is quite rewarding.

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Since the beginning of the kiddos lives we have always practiced “one finger touch” ….
at least whenever I need to make sure they don’t break something or harm a critter;-)
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Why yes turtle…the lemon balm jungle would be my first pick for a new home as well!  Yum!  Lucas loves it too!

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Farewell!

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“Who teacheth us more than the beasts of the earth, and maketh us wiser than the fowls of heaven?”  Job 35:11

“I don’t know”…

“The Sun will rise and set regardless.
What we choose to do with the light while it’s here is up to us.
Journey wisely.”

-Alexandra Elle

“I don’t know?”
This is our families theme this Fall.
Today was the first day of the big kids heading back to co-op…I can’t get over how old they are now.
When does this happen?  How?  Why?  Must it?

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So why the “I don’t know?”
There are just so many unknown’s for us right now.  You guys may remember that almost two years ago now Daryl was laid off.  It was horrid..no fun and absolutely that point in life where you are just saying “Why us?
The answer of course was two things…
1) Unknown
2) Why not us? What makes us so special that bad things can’t happen…nothing.  Bad things happen to everyone.  It’s called “life”.
But something fantastic came out of all of that mess.
Daryl switched up careers from “being the creative” to managing the creatives.  The end result?
His career has exploded and turns out…he is extremely good at this new path.
He was hired on with Capitol One and hasn’t complained, not one single day, once.  Ever.
He LOVES it there!  We all couldn’t be happier for him and proud of all he has accomplished these last few years.
On the other side of that coin?
He is based out of Washington D.C. , a good distance from Richmond.  Let’s just say in the last 14 days he was out of town for 6 of them.
We miss him.  The “I don’t know…”  on this one is…should we make the move up there so he gets to sleep in his own bed at night?  Or stay here and keep this crazy commute up?  Would we sell our house or rent it out?  What would a move up there look like?
Hmmm….I have no immediate answers.  Just an “I don’t know?”
And a “I miss my best friend at home every night.”

Then there is of course the school end of the “I don’t know?”
The kids have officially gotten to the high school subjects and grades.  Haley is a social butterfly and Adam is a lover of all things learning.
I simply can not teach subjects like Physics, Chemistry etc…  If nothing else I know that this year is probably the last year of full time homeschooling.
Whether they start going to regular school as part time or full time next year is the question currently in the house.
Public or private?  What grade levels?  Heck they are all over the place on that one.
Haley has subjects in 7th, 8th AND 9th this year…Adam has mostly 9th but Spanish and writing are in the 7th-8th grade co-op class (the ages are merged).
Homeschooling is like that.  You simply “are where you are”.
Need longer on a subject?  Take longer.
Get the concept on the first try and become bored?  Jump onto the next thing.
That has been the reason why we have loved it so much all these years!
If they had stayed in regular school Haley would be going into the 6th and Adam into the 8th.  They are clearly going to have to be tested at the end of this year by the school system before they head back because when asked “what grade are they?” my answer will be…
“I don’t know.” 
The good news is that they are in no way “behind” at this point.

Socially, I am not going to lie about it though or leave out this part….half the reason they are now both thinking they may want to go back is the social part.
Let’s face it…homeschooling is much easier for elementary years.  Finding support groups, field trips and things geared towards homeschooled elementary kiddos is pretty easy around here.  Late middle and high school years so many of their friends are going back that there just aren’t the social outings and opportunities for teens.
In all honesty I am burnt out.
Not on teaching them, or being with them most of the time.  That part I don’t mind at all…I truly enjoy my kids.  They are amazing young people.
I am burnt out on the “hunting” for social opportunities for teens.
Jill and I were talking about it the other day.  Did our mothers ever even have a conversation when we were in high school?  Did they have to talk to each other and be bff’s in order for us to have sleep overs?  (we met our freshman year) We are pretty sure the answer is a “no”.   I think they probably gabbed at some point over the many years but Jill and I were the coordinators.
As teenagers we were in charge of our social scene for the most part.  Our friends, while parents may have guided us, were chosen by us. We planned our sleepovers and mall dates not our mothers (because Jill and I would spend HOURS at the mall…doing nothing.)  We had tons of opportunities to meet other teens and make new friends.  Strangely enough I am still close to several of my girlfriends from high school.  Rare I know…but they were gold.  I got lucky.
The long and the short of it has to be that the point is coming that we probably fit better in regular school system.
We have never homeschooled for any reason other than it simply fit our needs as a family and we fell into it and had a blast!
We have never “sheltered” them from the world and have gone out of our way to make homeschooling less about home and more about seeing the world around them…outside of a classroom.  It has been great.
So the question we ask ourselves alot these days?
Is this our last year of homeschooling?????  If I could find those teen outings and resources for the social end would we stick with it?  Is regular school the answer?  Would part time (in Va public schools they can take 2-3 subjects and be a part time student in the upper grades) or full time?  Will there be co-op’s in northern Va that could fill the needs like we have down here?  What do we need to be working on to prep them in case they head back?
Will Lucas go to regular school or homeschool?  Probably at least regular Kindergarten…private or public?
You guessed it… a whole lot of “I don’t know?”… like mind spinning amounts of “no clue”.
I can say for sure that I am thankful that we have the options.  Options are lovely and many have none.  We are blessed.

Little Lucas…big man turns three next week.  How did this happen?
Preschool?  Well we were going to send him this year BUT ended up with the older two BOTH in braces.  Sorry Lucas…braces first…preschool after.
Until then we have “mommy school” and he loves it.

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If I had all the money in the world he would be in a Montessori school somewhere…because I love Montessori.
But until that moment arrives we will have a ball and enjoy his “mommy school”.
Will he go to preschool next year?
“I don’t know.”

So in summary….
God gifted me with something.
A propensity to “roll with it”...I am NOT a high anxiety type of gal.  If I were I would be a mess.  ”Laid back” is my middle name…for realz.
All this is really no big deal.
The unknown simply isn’t something I fear right now.  I know that most of what happens in life is really out of my control…how I handle it all is in my control.
I shall smile….enjoy my time in Richmond and with my kiddos this year.  When and if the time comes for all this impending change we will handle it.  It will happen the way it is supposed to and however it plays out will not be the end of the world.
I know we will all be just fine with our changes as long as we are together.
I once asked a friend why they were moving to a “bad part of town”…I fell in love with her answer.
“A ‘home’ is exactly where you make it.  Where you are loved and where you can be together.  It’s really not a place.”
Attitude is always 90% of any inner voice battles…or maybe I am the only one with a crazy babbling  inner voice?
I don’t know….BAHAHAHAHA…get it?
Ok…time to take Haley to Volleyball and stop babbling and making stupid jokes.
Hope everyone has had a great start to their school year!  Whatever “school” looks like for your family:-)
The time goes by far too fast!

 

 

The Price of Inheritance { The Reading Corner

Have to say…
I spend so much time buried in books these days that I am in need of adding some new great reads that I have loved this Summer!

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The Price of Inheritance was such a fun read!
You guys know I love history..my kids love history as well (probably because I have crammed it down there throats for years now and  so many of our field trips are historical.)
I picked this book up thinking it was going to be a romance.  It was and it wasn’t.  What I like most about this book was exactly that.  A love affair BUT more about a gal just finding herself and along the way getting a glimpse into the world of big ticket auction houses and how the “other half” collect their lovelies.
You know I hate retelling a story because I feel like that ruins the book for others but I will say this much…
I normally like “happily ever after” type of romance novels.  The kind where they ride off happily into the sunset.
I was surprised when this book half way ended that way and halfway didn’t and I STILL loved it.
Says alot…if you know me;-)

 

 

 

 

Next up…  The Selection Series

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  If you read this blog then you know…I love me a good Young Adults series.  I tend to read all book with or before my teens.  Thank God I read Divergent first…ugh!  Don’t get me started on that series (I can grumble alot about that last book.)
When I picked up the Selection I thought “Pretty cover I bet Haley would like this series perhaps?!”  Of course I read it first.  I loved it!  So refreshing to read a series that was truly PG enough for my 12 year old to read.  One that isn’t about Vampires, wolves or some other sort of freak show.
Granted it is a dystopian fiction but still a great series!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That sums up the last few weeks….or at least the books I liked:-)
Now back to reading.

Every year like clockwork…

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I just tend to hit this blah moment in life every year at this time.
Summer is slipping away…buried under organizing the kids upcoming school year…my garden is soon to disappear…the leaves are about to change…
and the darn oak tree is about to drop her gazillion acorns that I simply despise because they put a fast end to playing barefoot in the backyard.
It all just puts me in a blah mood…
I end up feeling like I have so much to post about and nothing to post about all at the same time.
Things I want to say…but don’t want to.
I teeter between sharing and not sharing…does anyone really want to read about endless planning,  juggling kids and life in general?
Not really would be my guess.  Maybe?
I keep this blog going so my kids can have a little diary of our life…in my own voice.
Share to much and you just open yourself up to judgement and criticism from strangers…not really feeling up to that right about now.
Lots of posts for my kids just sit in the “draft” or “private” sections of this blog.  Secret corners for them to find mom’s thoughts well after I am gone and diary pages just for them and them alone.
Blogging is just the easiest family diary I can manage.  Most things we do are pretty generic but I love writing, even though I am not so great at it.
Gathering thoughts here is a very old habit.

Sigh.
I am not ready for Fall to happen.
And I am.
All at the same time.

Ready for the kids to be back on schedule.  Not ready to spend everyday as the “mom taxi cab driver”.
Ready to see all my mom friends again on a regular basis.  Not ready to juggle seeing everyone and a little fell missing his naptime.
Ready to learn with the kids…homeschooling them always refreshes my knowledge on things like History and Literature…I do love this part.  I love the closeness it brings us.
Ready for field trips…nothing bad about field trips.  Nothing.  LOVE THEM.
Ready for lettuce out of the garden.  Not ready for the tomatoes to go.
Ready for new challenges and adventures.  Not ready for the changes…I have a hard time with it sometimes.  I like to think all moms do from time to time.
Ready to watch Adam merge into High School. Not ready…no terrified…that he is so close to being grown.  Did I mention the part where I brought him home from the hospital as a baby and cried for at least a solid day at the knowledge that one day he would grow up and leave us?  Yep…I did.
Ready to start homeschool preschool with Lucas…seriously love this age.  So thankful to get to do it all over again from the beginning.

At the end of the day the Fall begins, whether I like it or not.
The time of the year to be “thankful” and at the end of the day that word sums it all up for me.
I am quite thankful for this wonderful little family we have here.
We have made a lovely little life for ourselves.
Thankful indeed.

On a last note of this rambling post…
I am ready for the month or two break I take from the Facebook  fan page each year in September/October.  I simply turn it off for a few months while we merge into our new schedule.  The family needs my full attention (especially with all the traveling Daryl does these days for work) and this year I am even debating the brave step of deactivating my entire Facebook account for a few weeks.
I just need a social media break.  Do you ever feel that way?
Like life was just way better BEFORE Facebook?
Before, when people would actually stop by and see each other for real…not just tag the “praying for you” on a FB wall and running away.
I have been truly trying to not be that person.  To physically get off my duff and go and help my friends, in person, when things go wrong in their life.
Rather that the “praying for you…best of luck with that…” sort of lives we seem to lead these days.
Sometimes friends need more than an impersonal response to a bad day.
I would like to spend my Fall drinking coffee with friends and being more “present” in my own life…in their lives.
Sometimes to do so you just have to unplug.
Step away from the key board…and go days without checking e-mail (which by the way I currently haven’t checked mine in several days.  Shame on me.)
At the end of this post I shall find my peace with Fall…
Ready or not, here it comes.

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