Who needs bathing suits? When there’s a kayak and open water, how do you not just go for it? These kids had a blast after our nature outing. I met another mom who loves adventure as much as I do and we were both giddy over letting our boys frolic in the Moon River. And I got the chance to hang out with her (on her birthday) for hours on end. It was a gift to me for sure!
(These photos are all hers)
We are a part of a nature group that meets once a month to explore together in different environments. We took part in one of the gatherings over the summer and after hanging out with the moms for only a short time, I knew these people were my people. So now that school has resumed, we are back to meeting up once a month. We had 9 families meet up at a beautiful location that some of my friends manage. It has walking paths, marsh areas, open water, a pavilion, a playground, and lots of space to run wild and free. The hope was that we would explore, do a little nature journaling, make friends, and have fun. It far exceeded our expectations for all of that. In fact, it was so amazing that one mom and I stayed well into sunset.
(I can’t take credit for all of these photos as 2 other moms took some of the photos)
We found lots of sea squirts on the dock and the kids were quite amazed by them.
The faces she can make crack me up. She sometimes carries conversation on with us (but she is really talking to herself) and then she will make this confused kind of judgmental look as if she wants us to respond or hear the statement she is making. HA! And see all those babies behind her, for the last hour she carried them around, kissed their heads, laid out blankets for them to sleep on and was a great little mommy. She always makes me smile.
Me: “I’m sorry….were you reading a book to me? Can you start over, I wasn’t paying attention.”
Somedays, the words or constant noise or reading at a snails pace makes me retreat to my happy place….wherever that is…and I forget that I am supposed to be paying attention. Please tell me I am not the only one.
I used to love distractions. In fact, I welcomed them. Where I currently find myself in this season of lots of school work, the distractions seem more troubling than inviting. When we get off track, it’s really hard to get the momentum going again. I try to remind myself that God ordained my days, and he placed these things in my way to slow me down or cause me to depend on him more.
Yesterday, we got derailed quite early. Due to the storm and all the marsh grasses being deposited on the streets after the cleanup, tons of crabs have been displaced. So much so, that they have lost their way into my backyard. When I found one this particular morning and showed the boys, they immediately wanted to go put it back in the water at 8:00am. Which led to bumping into one of our neighbors from around the corner who proceeded to tell us all about his dog and show us all her tricks. Funny thing is, every time I see this man, he goes through the same routine. And then we saw another neighbor (Mrs Barbara) who asked the kids to come over and pick out a book from her private Curious George collection. Not only that, but we got to meet her other newest Weiner dog and played with the new puppies for over an hour. I was only slightly twitching knowing how much school we had to get done. But you know what? These are relationships and God calls us to love our neighbors. He doesn’t care if we are really good in math, or if we can spell really well. He wants us to have hearts for his people. He wants us to love them like He does. That time is precious in his eyes.
We are learning about kindness this week and one of the things we are talking about is learning to ask people questions about themselves. It’s so easy to share what is going on in your own life but how often to we pause to just listen. It’s a skill to be practiced for sure!
As we were chugging along today, Gress noticed a praying mantis on the back porch. And our math came to a halt to study the amazing insect and do a little nature drawing. It was sweet and I need those little distractions to remember that learning is happening at every turn of our day. It may not look like me sitting down teaching a lesson, or a child reading a book, but rather taking time to pause in nature, or learning how to serve your sibling, or struggling to grasp the idea of perseverance when you want to give up. These are all good things. Sometimes painful and stretching, but good!
(Not to gloat or be prideful but I am going to put this here so I can remember on the hard days why we do what we do.) I got a text from Gress’ new teacher at his class the other day and this is what it said, “You have laid a great foundation of character and integrity for Gressett. So much more important. The rest will come (regarding the struggle with keeping up with the rigorous school work required). He was a gentleman yesterday in art according to my daughter…wanting “ladies to go first.” Great example and restored some hope in my daughter that not all boys are what she deals with. Please let him know. He is and will be a great example but may have to “stand alone” sometimes.”
I really needed that reminder that the work is taking root!
This kid…..he amazes me. Not only is he easy to teach, but he rarely complains about the workload he takes on. He had been counting down the days until we finished his reading curriculum (we started it mid last school year). He was also counting all the pages he had read ON HIS OWN! He is quite amazed at his abilities and we are so very proud of his perseverance to get to the end. He liked the books so much he would read ahead and then tell me what was going to happen before we even got to that lesson. Thanks Mcree for being a great student and making it enjoyable to be your teacher! On to the next level buddy! You got this!
(On a sidenote, teaching reading to the first child didn’t seem this easy. I can tell you I didn’t have this great curriculum and there were lots of tears the first go around. But ‘All About Reading’ made it so fun for both of us. WAY TO GO to this company for making learning fun!)
When your friends are out of school, you have to take advantage of hanging out with them! We might have had to do school on the weekend just to catch up. But these opportunities for boy mayhem are rare so we went for it. I told Mabry her friends were going to be at the beach. She cried when she realized they were all boys and she didn’t have a girl to hang out with. She had fun anyway. She always does. The beach was filled with seashells from the storm and it was a gorgeous day.
This little girl felt extra loved on her birthday…despite a hurricane getting in the way. It’s extra fun to have her to celebrate!
It’s hard to believe I have known Rad for almost half my life. We met 20 years ago and this month we celebrate 17 years of marriage. We both weren’t sure we would ever get married, and here we are…..so many years later, still loving being married to each other. I am thankful for a husband who loves me deeply.. despite my flaws and wrinkles. He’s my best friend and I am so glad to be standing next to him in this life!
(The first photo is slightly before we got married and the second photo is 5 years later and the last photo on our date last week!)
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Right after we took a walk on the far side of the beach, I was taken back by his footprints in the sand. Not only have his feet grown in size since the last time I remember studying his footprints, but I realize what a great responsibility I have to help guide him on his path. I have been overwhelmed, impatient, not using the most encouraging words, and just plain blah. While I make it out that this homeschooling life is great, there is a great battle at war in my home and heart. The devil wants me to quit. To walk away. To let my children’s hearts be enamored with the things of this world. And sometimes quitting seems like the perfect answer. Wouldn’t that just solve everything? In my heart I know it wouldn’t. God called us on this journey some time ago, and I have to trust He will help carry us through. Jesus is my saving grace, my calm in the storm. And sometimes, I have to be reminded to lean hard into Him when I want to give up. I’m also thankful for a husband that reminds me what we are trying to accomplish. Yes, smart kids would be great, but kids who have great character and hearts that follow God are what we are after.
I realized in this photo, I was following him and he was inspiring me!