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It’s Been Awhile, Hasn’t It?

Around the blog this past year, I’ve been quiet for the most part with the exception of sharing a little life update back in August. Considering we’ve been home the majority of the time and life has completely slowed down (comparatively speaking), it would seem that the opposite would be true. That said, life with four teens at home is nothing short of full. :)

Keeping up with school has been, at times, challenging – mainly keeping motivation going for both the kids and myself. College options are going back and forth with McKenna and Laurianna, and life is moving along in general.

Rather than sharing an exhaustive list of all that is happening in our lives, how about a quick sum-up?

  • Laurianna returned home in October 2020 (FINALLY) from Mercy Ships where she had been serving since May 2019.
  • Swim competitions began opening up, slowly but surely. At the end of March we even traveled to Florida for two big swim meets for the boys (so thankful they will both be in the same age group meets next year!). Zachary even had a chance to meet a few Olympic swimmers including Caeleb Dressel (pictured above) and Ryan Lochte.
  • McKenna and Zachary both started working at the same restaurant and have been loving their jobs
  • Zachary is now an officially licensed driver, after so many delays thanks to slooooooow mail and other restrictions.
  • We’ve enjoyed continuing with a small weekly co-op for literature and chemistry with Zachary and a few other high school kids (all girls – poor Zachary).
  • We are prepping for McKenna’s high school graduation and contemplating what her fall will look like.

In March I also traveled to Nashville to speak at Teach Them Diligently, where I was able to spend some time with one of my best friends, Carisa. I am so thankful we were able to see each other and incredibly thankful to be able to spend a few days relaxing. The trip to Nashville was the first time since everything shut down last March that I was by myself – literally a year. (Hear me on this – I love my family, but it was nice to just be completely alone for a few days!!)

A few weeks ago, while Rick and I were sitting on the beach and the kids were playing around in the water together as the sun was setting, I was honestly overwhelmed (and started crying) as we were watching the kids together. Life is far from perfect in our household. There are lots of stories and things that happen behind the scenes that aren’t shared for all the world to know (you know, respecting privacy and all). But in that moment – seeing them all together laughing, talking, and just being together – it was just so amazingly wonderful.

I’m probably feeling overly sentimental these days again as we prepare to graduate McKenna from high school and in a few short months send Laurianna off to Minnesota to start college. McKenna is weighing her options for school this fall as well and will likely start off with community college for now.

That’s the teeny, tiny nutshell of happenings in our home for the time being and in no way exhaustive because life is moving along.

How has your year been going?

Each Year is Different…and New

Tonight I’m sitting here and pondering. Feeling immensely behind in all that needs to be done and started for the upcoming year. 

Because here’s the truth you all – I haven’t completely wrapped up last year yet

There are so many excuses I could give and they are all valid, but the biggest one is this: we put stuff on hold because our girl was leaving to head across a huge ocean and would be gone for over a year. (gulp)

Every moment we had with her was precious. Filling out course descriptions for kids that aren’t close to graduating – well, that could be put aside. The focus was on the most important thing: relationship.

And yes, now I’m feeling a bit of the crunch in this moment. Each year isn’t just a “cookie cutter” year of what our older children have done. While that may have been a bit more so when the kids were younger, as our children have aged, both their interests and abilities have varied drastically. 

One kids loves medical stuff. 

Another one is a sports enthusiast. 

Still another – drama and music.

Each year is different and new, offering a chance to reevaluate decisions we’ve made in the past and the opportunity to make changes for the future. 

You know what I love about each new year though? Each year is an opportunity for me to learn all over again along with my kids. Sometimes that is in a new subject area and other times it’s an area that originally filled me with fear, but now I look forward to with anticipation (biology labs, I’m looking at you). 

In the next week I’m tackling some of the areas that have been driving me crazy. Curriculum that hasn’t been put away will find its way to the proper shelf. New curriculum to be ordered (and hopefully some missing items will show up…). A semblance of order should hopefully be established for the upcoming year.

Here’s the thing. We may not be starting as early as I had initially hoped, but we will be starting. One of the kids may be working on a few lessons that weren’t wrapped up last year (oh yes, it’s true) before launching into the upcoming year, but we will get it all in. 

And the focus? 

Enjoying the learning together and finding the JOY in the opportunity that we have: being with our kids and guiding them in the learning process. The past few months with our oldest out of the house have shown me nothing short of this: our time with our kids is so precious, so we need to soak up every second we have!

How are your plans coming for the upcoming year – no fear, friends! JOY!

When You Just Want to Cry

If there’s one thing I can tell you for sure, there are days when homeschooling makes me want to cry. There are also days completely unrelated to homeschooling that make me want to cry. Parenting is tough. (Can I get an amen?)

backyard hammock-2

Some days there is a whole lot of back and forth between the kids. And by back and forth, I mean of the “not kind” variety. They are quick to get offended, but equally as fast to dish it out when the mood strikes. (Before I pick on the kids too much, that also happens in adult life too.)

Some days there are bright shining moments of laughter and camaraderie between the kids. Hours are spent together without one unkind word. The moments we all long for as parents.

backyard hammock

Today was a gorgeous day outside – almost 80 degrees and a much needed break from all the yuck and snow we literally had falling last week. The kids all headed to the backyard and set up their hammocks. Laurianna brought out her guitar and while I was sitting on the back porch, the sounds of all four kids singing together began to float through the air.

I’m sitting on our deck crying (happy tears). The kids have all their hammocks set up in the backyard, Laurianna has her guitar, and together they are singing and worshipping. You all. THIS. Yes, we did math and reading today, but ultimately this is what makes my heart the happiest. There are days when they fight. Or love fiercely and deeply. They are passionate kids and so full of life. But these – these moments are the ones that last and will be remembered, not only in my momma heart, but for years to come.

Posted by Homeschool Creations on Wednesday, 9 March 2016

(feed readers can watch the video clip here)

I sat on my deck crying. Happy tears.

You all. THIS.

While we did all of our schoolwork today, crossed the various subjects off our list, and it all looks good on paper, THIS is what makes my heart the happiest and means more than what any test or piece of paper can say.

I love what Lindsey said on Facebook when I shared the above video with you all:

“The most important and life long lessons don’t come from pencil and paper.”

There are days when the kids fight. Or love each other fiercely and deeply. They are passionate kids and so full of life.

But these – these moments are the ones that last and will be remembered, not only in my momma heart, but for years to come.

The Last Few Weeks of Summer…

School officially started for us yesterday. I suppose that technically means we have to hole up in the house and forget to have fun, but we’re still milking the last days of summer as much as we can. (We may have celebrated our first completed day by heading to the pool.)

Over the last few weeks we’ve spent time camping and doing some fun things together as a family – in short, life. If you follow my Instagram or Facebook feed you may have seen some of this, but here’s a quick peek at what we’ve been up to.


We wrapped up our summer swim league with a long day of swimming at the final championship meet. The kids all did AMAZING! Zachary broke one of the league records and two of the kids placed first in their events. It was a great end to the season and the kids were so excited to share in the fun with their team. You can see a video clip of Zachary in his backstroke event here.


We’ve watched a ginormous spider build a web right outside my bathroom window and even saw her enjoy a tasty meal (if you are brave, you can see a little video snippet of that here).

reading and snuggles

Each morning the kids come snuggle in bed with me, sometimes chatting, sometimes reading. It makes my heart so happy to see this (and makes me not want to get out of bed!).


In just a few short weeks we are headed to Universal in Orlando for the Family Forward conference. The kids are literally counting down the days until we leave. They have been busy saving their money and working hard to earn spending money for the trip. It’s actually been a great lesson in what is worthwhile to spend your money on, especially when you see how much a sibling saves when not making seemingly small purchases like a candy bar here or a soda there (life in action!).

monarch chrysalis

The monarch caterpillars are out in full force and we have several that have already gone into the chrysalis stage. It doesn’t matter how many times I see it, there is something absolutely amazing and breathtaking watching the transformation from caterpillar to butterfly. It never gets old.

night sky

Last week we took the kids to the top of a nearby mountain, laid out in the field, and watched the meteor shower together. SO much fun. Until one child had to repeatedly use the bathroom. Then not as fun. But watching it all was unbelievably awe-inspiring. (The above is my proof to the kids that a picture from my iPhone was not going to work.)

campfire building

Camping – ah, how we have missed it! We’ve had the chance to take two trips recently, Rick has been teaching the kids new fire-building techniques, and we’ve just had fun relaxing with friends.

catching crawdads

While camping, the creatures abound. The kids caught crawdads and boiled them for a little pre-dinner snack (I’d rather have lobster, thank you very much).

tree frog

At the pond/lake – little tree frogs everywhere. McKenna had one that wanted to stay with her. We also found tons of tadpoles and froglets (I may have wanted to bring some home with us), but Kaleb found many in different stages of tail development and that was so neat to see.


And last week I spent some time sorting construction paper by color (because it’s easier to grab what you need that way). The paper was a great deal and on sale, but hindsight – I am willing to pay a little extra so that I don’t have to spend 20 minutes sorting a small pack of paper by color. Dear Crayola – please consider sorting your paper by color otherwise. Thank you very much. It’s not too much to ask, is it?

Well, that’s our last few weeks in a nutshell – what have YOU been up to?

The First Two Weeks of Homeschooling

Whew!! We’ve done it and managed to get back into a groove, survive the first two weeks, and have fun in the process. (Fun is always good!)

Homeschool Collage 1

I’m so glad that I’ve been taking a few pictures here and there, because looking back is reminding me of some things that I don’t want to forget!

I’ve mentioned before that Zachary isn’t a big reader. He’s not super fond of the process and picking up books to read on his own isn’t something he enjoys. He’s read some simple chapter books, but nothing of ‘substance’ as I would call it. Not a REAL book cover-to-cover.

As part of Learning Language Arts through Literature (Orange), he just finished The Boxcar Children. Ironically, we had a copy of the book before (couldn’t find it), so I ordered a new copy. He saw the new one with a snazzy cover, picked it up right away, and said he was so glad they had updated the book. I waited until he was done to tell him it was just a new cover. Smile He has been ALL SMILES because he read it from start to finish, and I am one proud momma.

Kaleb has been SO excited to start working on Teaching Textbooks. He has the computer out before school even starts in the morning and frequently wants to work on more than one lesson. I know it’s making him feel like one of the ‘big kids’, and it’s fun to watch.

Our first day of school = funnel cake for breakfast. I know it’s not healthy (in my defense I used whole wheat flour), but it is so much fun – and it’s TRADITION!!

Laurianna is working like a champ on her high school credits. We’ve figured out a good routine for her to work on her studies, many of which she is doing independently. We got halfway through the second week when I realized I’m going to really have to start tracking grades for high school credit – ack! Part of me wants to plug my ears and pretend she isn’t that old.

And that bigger picture in the collage – just makes me happy. I wasn’t feeling well this week (hello, migraine) and laid down on the floor in the school room. Zachary picked up our science manual, pulled out all the stuff we needed to finish the lesson, and HE followed the directions to do the lesson with Kaleb. It was so sweet to watch and he did a great job. The giggles on the buoyancy experiments were hilarious.

Six Flags Field Trip

Our first week of school (ok, I’ll admit it was officially the first day of school), we took a field trip to Six Flags. The weather was gorgeous, so we jumped on the trip and used our Read to Succeed tickets the kids earned last winter. There were lots of roller coasters and spinning rides that day. And I’m feeling old after all those bumps and turns!

Home Art Studio Chinese dragon

Kaleb’s favorite part of school starting again? The art supplies are all out in full force. He’s had his eye on our Home Art Studio dvd, so I piled a tray with the supplies, he popped in the DVD and did the lesson all by himself. I love that he can be independent with it and needs very little help from me at all! Art is one of that boy’s love languages – and he definitely gets some great art projects in this way!

Another exciting part of this week? A fun interview with the Weather Channel’s morning show about my Calendar Notebook Printables. They love that kids are learning how to track weather (and I think it’s pretty cool too). You can view the clip with Maria LaRosa here if you can’t see the clip above.


That’s a quick peek at our first two weeks? How is your homeschool going?


Mary_CollageFriday weekly wrap up


Linking up this week with Collage Friday and Weekly Wrap-up!

Shark’s Teeth–Moments to Remember


Moments to Remember was developed as a simple way to look back on our week as homeschoolers and find photos that encompass the memories we want to remember. 

The week may have been tough, there may have been more bumps than smiles, but in the end these are the moments that keep us going, the ones we need to remember.


We dug and dug and dug.

All in all we found over 30 shark’s teeth. There may have been a few big ones found that were accidentally dropped right back into the water by a few children.

That didn’t make it any less fun or the handmade shark’s teeth necklaces any less exciting to the kids.

Who knew a sifter could be so much fun, eh?


Ready to link up and share your moment this week?

Link up your moments to remember post below, be sure to provide a link back and be sure to use a permalink to link up your exact Moments to Remember blog post {not your blog home page}. Your post can be as simple as one photo, or as detailed as tons of photos and tons of words!  This linky is for homeschoolers, or families who are keeping their kiddos at home during the early years {we consider you homeschoolers too}.

When adding your link, just put your blog name for the title and choose an image from your post for the thumbnail.

Next week, link up with 1+1+1=1!

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